December 28, 2008 in Nation/World

Robert Mulligan, film director


Robert Mulligan, the Academy Award-nominated director of “To Kill a Mockingbird” who later helped launch the career of Reese Witherspoon, has died at 83.

Mulligan died Dec. 20 at his home in Lyme, Conn., after a battle with heart disease, his wife, Sandy, said Monday.

Mulligan was nominated for an Oscar for “Mockingbird,” the adaptation of Harper Lee’s best-selling novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning look at a child’s world shaken by the racism of a Southern town.

The 1962 film starred Gregory Peck, who won the best-actor Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, the small-town lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of rape.

Mulligan was also known as the director of Witherspoon’s first film, “The Man in the Moon.” The 1991 family drama, Mulligan’s last movie, brought Witherspoon notice as the younger of two teenage daughters grappling with her first love in 1950s Louisiana.

He also carved out a solid career as a TV director before moving over to film, working on such drama series as “The Philco Television Playhouse” and “The Alcoa Hour.”


Page Cavanaugh, jazz musician

Jazz pianist and singer Page Cavanaugh, whose popular trio in the 1940s and 1950s played in motion pictures and on Frank Sinatra’s radio show, has died at 86.

Cavanaugh died of kidney failure Dec. 19 at a nursing home in San Fernando Valley, said Phil Mallory, his bass player of 18 years.

The Page Cavanaugh Trio was one of Southern California’s most popular nightclub acts from the 1940s to the 1990s, performing at Ciro’s, the Trocadero, the Captain’s Table, the Money Tree and the Balboa Bay Club.

The group played in the film “Romance on the High Seas” with Jack Carson and Doris Day. The trio showed up in movies such as “A Song Is Born,” “Big City” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”


Samuel Huntington, political scientist

Samuel Huntington, a political scientist best known for his views on the clash of civilizations, died Wednesday on Martha’s Vineyard, Harvard University announced Saturday. He was 81.

Huntington had retired from active teaching in 2007 after 58 years at Harvard. His research and teaching focused on American government, democratization, military politics, strategy and civil-military relations.

He argued that in a post-Cold War world, violent conflict would come not from ideological friction between nations, but from cultural and religious differences among the world’s major civilizations.

“Sam was the kind of scholar that made Harvard a great university,” Huntington’s friend of nearly six decades, economist Henry Rosovsky, said in a statement released by the university.

From wire reports

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email