Artists who died in 2007 include authors Mailer, Vonnegut

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2007

NEW YORK - World War II service shaped the lives and careers of authors Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut, and in turn their works were profoundly influential in the Vietnam era.

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Vonnegut turned his ordeal as a POW during the 1945 allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, into his 1969 novel "Slaughterhouse-Five." Its surrealistic approach made it a hit with young readers who were questioning the Vietnam War.

Mailer made his name with the postwar novel "The Naked and the Dead," drawing on his war service. Two decades later his 1968 account of Vietnam protesters' march on the Pentagon, "The Armies of the Night," won a Pulitzer.

They were two of the artists, entertainers and pop culture figures who died in 2007.

Through such masterpieces as "The Seventh Seal," director Ingmar Bergman combined startling imagery and a deep understanding of human nature. Michelangelo Antonioni, who died the same day as Bergman, explored alienation in films such as "L'Avventura." Ousmane Sembene of Senegal gained worldwide honors through such films as "Moolaade."

Along with their artistry on the opera stage, Luciano Pavarotti and Beverly Sills had star personalities that brought them millions of fans who saw them only on television. Pianist Oscar Peterson and drummer Max Roach were remembered as geniuses in the jazz world. Igor Moiseyev brought his Russian folk dance troupe to audiences worldwide, even during the Cold War, while Marcel Marceau kept the art of pantomime alive.

Many entertainers who died in 2007 predated the era when blue jeans and brutal candor became the norm for celebrities young and old.

Scottish-born Deborah Kerr epitomized elegance when she danced in 19th century finery in "The King and I." Oscar-winner Jane Wyman's old-fashioned class showed when she maintained silence about her failed marriage to Ronald Reagan. Also in 2007, the world of fashion said goodbye to American Liz Claiborne, who dressed the burgeoning ranks of career women in the 1970s.



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