Other notable deaths


May 31, 2006

Hugh B. Patterson Jr., 91, publisher of The Arkansas Gazette in 1957 when it was thrust into national prominence for its stand against segregated schools during a federal-state confrontation, died Monday in Little Rock, Ark.

By supporting desegregation, The Gazette suffered severe losses in advertising and circulation. It also won two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage.

The Little Rock confrontation was instigated by Gov. Orval E. Faubus, who called out the Arkansas National Guard to block nine black students from enrolling at Central High School. The school board was under a federal court order to desegregate the school.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower eventually sent in troops to enforce the court order and escort the students past a crowd of angry whites.

The newspaper's decision to oppose Mr. Faubus and support desegregation was made largely by Mr. Patterson and Harry S. Ashmore, the executive editor. Its senior owner and editor, J.N. Heiskell, the son of a Confederate colonel under Gen. James Longstreet, was reluctant to go against the South's tradition of racial segregation, even though he disdained the white mobs and segregationist leaders.

Mr. Heiskell, the editor from 1902 until his death in 1972, was Mr. Patterson's father-in-law.

Mr. Patterson once told an interviewer that Mr. Heiskell's reluctance was overcome at a family dinner when Mr. Patterson and his wife, Louise, persuaded him that his grandchildren should not have to grow up in a racially unjust society. For its coverage of the confrontation, The Gazette was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for public service and another for editorials written by Mr. Ashmore, who died in 1998.

The paper also received a Freedom House award. But thousands of readers canceled their subscriptions, and a segregationist group, the Citizens Council, pressed for an advertising boycott. The boycott failed because large advertisers, especially department store owners, refused to honor it.

Unlike most other Southern publishers, who either actively opposed the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's desegregation efforts or simply kept quiet, Mr. Patterson was part of a small but influential group who bucked generations of history to work for an end to legal segregation.

The Gazette under Mr. Patterson's financial leadership not only recovered its losses but went on to set Arkansas records in circulation and advertising. In addition, it became a magnet for bright young journalists.

Mr. Patterson left The Gazette shortly after he and the Heiskell family sold it to Gannett Co. in 1986. He became bitterly critical of Gannett's ownership. Founded in 1819, The Gazette was closed in 1991 and merged with its politically conservative rival, The Arkansas Democrat, after years of fierce competition.

Ted Berkman, 92, a screenwriter and author whose film credits include Bedtime for Bonzo and Fear Strikes Out, died of cancer May 12 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mr. Berkman worked as a photo assignment editor at the New York Mirror, Middle East chief of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service and as an ABC radio correspondent in the Middle East.

In 1962, he wrote Cast a Giant Shadow: The Story of Mickey Marcus, Who Died to Save Jerusalem, a best-selling biography of the West Point graduate who was a military adviser to Israel during the 1948 War of Independence. Kirk Douglas starred in a 1966 film based on the book.

His 1969 book, Sabra, focused on a dozen Israeli fighters in the 1967 Six Day War.

Mr. Berkman's screen credits included co-writing the story for the 1951 comedy Bedtime for Bonzo, which is remembered for its star, Ronald Reagan. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1957 film Fear Strikes Out, which starred Anthony Perkins and was based on professional baseball player Jimmy Piersall's book about his mental illness.

Shohei Imamura, 79, an award-winning Japanese movie director, died of liver cancer Tuesday at a Tokyo hospital, a Japanese film directors' group said. He was 79.

Born in Tokyo, Mr. Imamura won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival for The Ballad of Narayama (1958) and another for The Eel (1997).

He was the fourth director, after Francis Coppola, Bille August, and Emir Kusturica, to win two Palmes d'or.

Ted Herbert, 90, whose Big Band was a New England favorite during World War II and a swinging reminder of that era until a decade ago, died Saturday night at his home in Manchester, N.H., the Boston Globe reported.

"When I think of Ted, I think of live music. That's what he was really about," said Jean Gearty, a singer with the band for three years, starting at age 15. `'He just knew how to set the tempo for dancing at different times of the night."

The house band at the Hampton Beach Ballroom and Casino for a quarter-century after World War II and a headlining act at the top dance clubs in New England, the Ted Herbert Big Band featured Mr. Herbert on alto sax.

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