Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

June 17, 2006

Tim Hildebrandt, 67, half of the famed Hildebrandt Brothers illustration studio, whose images fired popular imagination in the late 20th century, died Sunday in New Brunswick, N.J., of complications from diabetes.

He and his twin, Greg Hildebrandt, are probably best known for their illustrations and posters for The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. They also were famed among illustrators for their work on children's books, comics and fantasy illustrations, all of it characterized by unusual realism, depth and richness of color.

According to Terrance Brown, the director of the Society of Illustrators in New York, "Tim Hildebrandt earned more than a footnote in the history of American illustration. He and Greg are the long chapter." Mr. Brown described them as among "the roots of [U.S.] popular culture."

Greg Hildebrandt said in an interview this week that he and his brother, who were born in Detroit, shared "an obsession with color" so intense that it led them at age 2 to eat a box of crayons. He said he liked their taste.

Newspaper comic strips introduced the brothers to art, he said. At 19 they worked on animations for Navy training films. In the 1950s, they did documentary film work on world hunger for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

In the late 1960s, they began illustrating children's books. Then, in 1976, came the first "Lord of the Rings" calendar.

The calendar was Tim Hildebrandt's idea, his brother remembered. "I wanted to pursue gallery art at that point, but Tim was pushing and pushing" on the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, "and then I read it and said OK."

The calendar project was their studio's best known, after their poster for the 1977 movie Star Wars.

"It's almost become iconic: Luke Skywalker with his light saber thrust in the sky, Darth Vader's helmet in the background, Princess Leia at his feet," said Mike Chen, the director of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, N.J., where Tim Hildebrandt taught for three years.

The legend-creating Star Wars artwork "went around the world," Greg Hildebrandt said.

Wesley Hill, 76, who was credited with helping rescue more than 50 people from the Niagara River above and below Niagara Falls, died Monday in Niagara Falls, Ontario, his family said.

Mr. Hill was the last remaining brother of a family of rivermen whose business was river rescues and body recoveries.

Until a few years ago, Mr. Hill worked as a special constable and consultant with the Niagara Parks Police, possessing a wealth of knowledge about the river, falls and gorge from a lifetime of observation.

"Mr. Hill was their go-to man when it came to anything to do with river rescues," the Rev. Doug Schonberg said at his funeral Wednesday. "In addition to being a wonderful man, he was a valuable resource."

Mr. Hill was born in Niagara Falls the same year his father rode the lower rapids in a barrel, but Mr. Hill often expressed disdain for stunts. His brother, William "Red" Hill Jr., was killed in a 1951 attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel made of inner tubes.

"I enjoy life too much to challenge the river unnecessarily," Mr. Hill told The Buffalo News in 1979.

Daredevil Dave Munday recalled his 1985 attempt to go over the falls and how Hill lassoed an air pipe of his barrel and pulled it in after it became trapped above the falls.

"I asked him to push me back out into the current, but he said, `I can't do that,'" said Mr. Munday, who made it over the falls later that year.

German Goldenshteyn, 71, a clarinetist and native of Eastern Europe who was considered a kind of Woody Guthrie of the klezmer revival in America, died June 10 of a heart attack, said his friend and colleague, Michael Alpert.

Mr. Goldenshteyn was born in a shtetl called Otaci, then in Romania, now in Moldova. His first name, German, is the Russian version of Herman, pronounced with a hard "g."

Mr. Goldenshteyn, who lived in Brooklyn, moved to the United States 12 years ago, bringing along handwritten notebooks filled with nearly 1,000 klezmer tunes he transcribed over decades, many of them until now undocumented.

During World War II, when Romania was an ally of Germany, Mr. Goldenshteyn and his family were interned in a Romanian ghetto called Bershad. His parents died there of starvation and disease, and he and his brothers sold cigarettes in the streets to survive, then were brought up in orphanages.

He and a brother had musical talent that was noticed by the leader of a Soviet military band, who eased the way for them to attend a Romanian military academy, then a music school in Odessa, in Ukraine.

After serving in the Soviet army, while playing in Red Army bands, Mr. Goldenshteyn settled in Ukraine not far from his native Otaci, earning a living as a machinist while playing in a small band that performed at weddings, serenading guests from house to house.

A CD titled German Goldenshteyn: A Living Tradition was recently released, and another CD is due out this fall.

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