Obituaries in the News

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2008; 9:24 PM

-- Giuseppe Di Stefano

ROME (AP) _ Giuseppe Di Stefano, one of the greatest tenors of the 20th century and a celebrated singing partner of soprano Maria Callas, died Monday, his wife said. He was 86.

Di Stefano died at home in Santa Maria Hoe, north of Milan, from injuries sustained in a November 2004 attack at his family's villa in Kenya, wife Monika Curth said.

Unidentified assailants struck the retired tenor on the head during the attack. Di Stefano underwent surgery twice in Mombasa before being flown to Milan. He awakened from a coma, but never fully recovered.

Di Stefano, born in Sicily in 1921, made his debut in 1946 in the northern city of Reggio Emilia with Massenet's "Manon," and went on to sing at the world's top opera houses, including Milan's La Scala, New York's Metropolitan, and in Vienna and Berlin. His last performance was in Rome in 1992.

Known for his powerful voice, Di Stefano also is remembered for his duets with Callas, who performed and recorded with him several times in the 1950s through her final tour in 1973.

Di Stefano was at the height of his career when other stars of contemporary opera were taking their first steps. Luciano Pavarotti, who died in September, had his big international break when he stood in for Di Stefano as Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme" at London's Covent Garden in 1963.

At the Met, Di Stefano sang in 112 performances from 1948 to 1965, making his debut in Verdi's "Rigoletto" as the Duke.


Vitaly Fedorchuk

MOSCOW (AP) _ Vitaly Fedorchuk, who briefly headed the KGB and served as Soviet interior minister in the 1980s, died Friday, officials said. He was 89.

Fedorchuk died in Moscow of an unspecified illness, said the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency.

Fedorchuk, who was born to a farmer's family in Ukraine, joined the Soviet secret police in 1939 and worked in the SMERSH counterintelligence agency during World War II. He steadily rose through the ranks, becoming chief of the KGB's Ukraine branch in 1970.

In May 1982, he was named KGB chief to succeed his patron, Yuri Andropov, and stayed on the job through December that year.

Andropov became the Soviet leader in November 1982 following Leonid Brezhnev's death. He named Fedorchuk interior minister to replace Brezhnev's protege Nikolai Shchelokov.

Fedorchuk served as interior minister _ in charge of police _ through 1986, when he lost his job as part of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reshuffle. He was named to a group of general inspectors under the Soviet Defense Ministry.


Jeff Healey

TORONTO (AP) _ Blind rock and jazz musician Jeff Healey died Sunday. He was 41.

Healey died in a Toronto hospital after a lifelong battle against cancer, said bandmate Colin Bray, who was in the room with Healey's family when the guitarist died.

The Grammy-nominated Healey rose to stardom as the leader of the Jeff Healey Band, a rock-oriented trio that gained international acclaim and platinum record sales with the 1988 album "See the Light." The album included the hit single "Angel Eyes."

Healey had battled cancer since age 1, when a rare form of retinal cancer known as Retinoblastoma claimed his eyesight. Due to his blindness, Healey taught himself to play guitar by laying the instrument across his lap.

His unique playing style, combined with his blues-oriented vocals, earned him a reputation as a teenage musical prodigy. He shared stages with George Harrison, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Bray said he and many others expected the guitarist to rally from this latest illness. Healey had undergone numerous operations in recent years to remove tumors from his lungs and leg.

Healey's true love was jazz, the genre that dominated his three most recent albums. His love of jazz led him to host radio shows in Canada where he spun long-forgotten numbers from his personal collection of over 30,000 vinyl records.

His death came weeks before the release of his first rock album in eight years.

"Mess of Blues" is slated for a North American release on April 22.


Val Plumwood

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ Feminist and environmental activist Val Plumwood, who survived a horrific crocodile attack more than 20 years ago, was found dead Saturday from an apparent snake bite. She was 68.

Plumwood's body was found in the octagonal stone house where she lived alone near Braidwood in New South Wales, said friend Jane Salmon.

Salmon said it appeared that a snake bite killed her. State police Detective Sgt. David Kay declined to comment on the cause of death other than to say there were no suspicious circumstances. A coroner has yet to make an official finding.

Plumwood wrote "Feminism and the Mastery of Nature" in 1993 and "Environmental Culture: the Ecological Crisis of Reason" in 2002, and had been a leading campaigner against the logging of Australia's native forests and for the preservation of biodiversity since the 1960s.

Plumwood, originally known as Val Routley, took her adopted surname from a variety of tree near her wilderness home.

Plumwood was attacked by a crocodile in a river in Australia's northern Outback in 1985 and escaped with terrible wounds to her legs and groin after the animal dragged her underwater three times in a death roll _ the maneuver crocodiles use to drown their prey.

She said the near-death experience constantly reminded her of the wonder of being alive and gave her a better understanding of our place in nature.

The "human supremacist culture of the West" tries to deny that humans are also animals positioned in the food chain, she wrote in the Aisling Magazine in 2005. She vehemently opposed a plan to hunt the crocodile that nearly killed her, arguing that she had been the intruder in its habitat.

Plumwood's academic career took her to the United States where she held posts at North Carolina State University and the University of Montana. In Australia, she worked at the University of Sydney as well as the prestigious Australian National University.


Paul Raymond

LONDON (AP) _ Paul Raymond, a businessman whose pornography and property empire made him one of Britain's wealthiest men, has died, his office said. He was 82.

The Paul Raymond Organization did not provide a date or cause of death.

Known as the King of Soho, Raymond was the founder of Raymond Revuebar, one of London's first and most famous strip clubs and a landmark in London's entertainment district.

He also published a range of glossy soft-core magazines with names like Razzle, Men Only and Mayfair. For a time he owned a playhouse, the Whitehall Theater, staging racy farces such as "Yes, We Have No Pyjamas."

When police cracked down on the Soho sex trade in the 1970s, Raymond bought up properties at knockdown prices, becoming one of the area's biggest landlords. Last year, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated his worth at $1.3 billion. Many suspected the true figure was even higher.

Born Geoffrey Quinn in Liverpool in 1925, the son of an Irish trucker, Raymond left school at 15, determined to break into show business. He worked as a carnival mind reader and vaudeville impresario before moving into the world of nude entertainment.

In postwar Britain, nudity was allowed on British stages only if the subjects did not move. Raymond presented shows with models posed in topless tableaux, including one in which they were winched across the stage on platforms.

Later he circumvented the law by operating Raymond Revuebar as a private club, charging membership fees at the door. The club became a Soho landmark, its huge neon sign proclaiming it "The World Center of Erotic Entertainment." Raymond sold the club in 1998 and it closed in 2004.

Raymond largely withdrew from public appearances after his daughter Debbie died of a drug overdose in 1992.

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