Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

April 30, 2003

Peter Stone, 73, who became one of Broadway's premier writers of books for musicals, winning three Tony Awards - for 1776, Woman of the Year and Titanic - died of pulmonary fibrosis Saturday in New York.

Mr. Stone, who also won an Oscar and an Emmy for his work and served as the longtime president of the Dramatists Guild, launched his career with a teleplay for Studio One in 1956. He won his Emmy in 1962 for an episode of the dramatic TV series The Defenders.

His first screenplay, Charade, a 1963 romantic thriller, became a box-office hit starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

He won his Oscar for best original story and screenplay (with S.H. Barnett and Frank Tarloff) for Father Goose, a 1964 World War II comedy starring Grant as a beach bum who is recruited by the Australians to watch out for enemy planes and finds himself guarding a group of schoolgirls and their teacher (Leslie Caron).

Mr. Stone amassed more than a dozen screenplay credits, many of them adaptations, including Sweet Charity, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Mirage, Arabesque, The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Skin Game, 1776, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? and Just Cause.

But it was as a musical book writer that Mr. Stone may have been best known. In addition to 1776, Woman of the Year (starring Lauren Bacall) and Titanic, he wrote the books for, among other musicals, Sugar (an adaptation of Billy Wilder's movie Some Like It Hot), My One and Only and The Will Rogers Follies.

Over the years, he lamented that "nobody knows what a [musical's] book is."

"People think it's the jokes, the dialogue, but that's the smallest part," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "It's really concept and structure. And without that, there's no musical. You can have the best score in the world, but if the book is weak, it won't work."

1776, a historical comedy-drama dealing with the events surrounding the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, became Mr. Stone's first major Broadway hit. When composer Sherman Edwards, a former history teacher, proposed the idea for the musical to him, Mr. Stone said in an interview for Contemporary Authors, he dismissed it as "the single worst idea I ever heard."

But Mr. Stone said he changed his mind after hearing Edwards' score.

A patriotic historical musical produced at the height of the Vietnam War seemed destined for box-office failure when it hit Broadway in 1969. Instead, 1776 was greeted with a standing ovation on opening night, and it generated more than $500,000 worth of advance ticket sales within a week.

Rose Augustine, 93, a classical guitar enthusiast who helped develop the first nylon guitar strings and ran a thriving business selling them, died April 21 in New York.

She and her husband, Arthur Augustine, together created the nylon strings, which lasted longer and could be more easily kept in tune than gut strings, traditionally used for the instrument's three treble strings.

To make the strings, the couple bought a grinding machine meant for making binoculars and reconfigured it to grind the nylon to the right thickness and consistency.

The Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia lived with the Augustines for 11 years, starting in the late 1940s, and was a vocal champion of the new strings. His picture and endorsement were featured on their packaging.

After her husband died in 1967, Mrs. Augustine, a former chemistry teacher, took over the business, Albert Augustine Ltd.

Janko Bobetko, the wartime army chief hailed at home as a hero of Croatia's 1991 struggle for independence but charged with war crimes by a United Nations court, died yesterday in Zagreb, his doctor said.

Bobetko, the most senior Croatian officer ever sought by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, was never tried due to his frail condition. The court, which revealed his indictment in September, acknowledged in February that he was too ill to stand trial.

Bobetko spent his last days at his home in Zagreb, after demanding April 23 to be released from a hospital.

The indictment charged Bobetko with responsibility in the killing of at least 100 Serb civilians and soldiers during Croatia's 1993 offensive to retake a central Croatian area seized by the Serb rebels in the 1991 war.

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