Luminaries Lost: A look at some of the artists lost to virus
A fashion designer who made it to the runways of Paris and New York but never left her Dominican home. An Oklahoma boy who became the toast of 1990s Nashville. A comedian whose off-the-wall trio helped create a golden age in British comedy. In the fourth installment in a series, The Associated Press takes a look at prominent figures in arts, entertainment and culture who have died after contracting the coronavirus in a global pandemic.
JENNY POLANCO, FASHION DESIGNER, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Jenny Polanco, a fashion designer from the Dominican Republic, took her designs to the runways of Paris and New York for nearly 40 years.
She said the clothing, jewelry and accessories she designed were a fusion of avant-garde fashion with Caribbean styles and Dominican details.
Polanco operated several boutiques in her home country where she sought to find and mentor emerging designers.
She died March 24 at a hospital in Santo Domingo, the country’s public health minister, Rafael Sanchez Cardenas, said. She was 62.
TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR, COMEDIAN, ENGLAND
Tim Brooke-Taylor’s comedy trio The Goodies was an inspiration to a generation of British comedians.
Along with mates Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, Brooke-Taylor specialized in slightly surreal sketches incorporating visual inventiveness, slapstick and songs like “Funky Gibbon,” which became a U.K. chart hit in 1975.
Their Goodies TV show, which ran throughout the 1970s, was a hit in Britain, Australia and New Zealand and developed a cult following in many other countries. It became a part of a golden age of British television comedy that included “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “Not the Nine O’Clock News.”
For more than 40 years, Brooke-Taylor was also a panelist on BBC radio’s much loved comic quiz show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.”
Fellow comedian Stephen Fry said on Twitter that Brooke-Taylor was “a hero for as long as I can remember, and — on a few golden occasions — a colleague and collaborator” who was “gentle, kind, funny, wise, warm, but piercingly witty when he chose to be.”
Brooke-Taylor died April 12 in London, his agent said. He was 79.
MICHAEL SORKIN, ARCHITECT AND URBAN THEORIST, UNITED STATES
Michael Sorkin was a bold and loud voice for sustainability and social justice in architecture and urban planning.
Sorkin was an architect but was better known for his writings in books and as a critic for publications including the Village Voice and the Nation.
He often called his writing “architecture by other means.”
“He was by any measure the most important radical theorist of city life and architecture in the past half century,” the urban theorist and author Mike Davis, a protege of Sorkin’s, wrote in the Nation.
Sorkin died March 26 at a hospital in New York, his wife, film theorist Joan Copjec, said. He was 71.
VINCENT LIONTI, VIOLINIST, UNITED STATES
Vincent Lionti played the violin for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 33 seasons.
He was a substitute with the New York Philharmonic from 1981-83 and a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1983-87. He was artistic director of The Memling Ensemble and a member of the PBS All-Star Orchestra, New England Baroque Soloists and the Westchester Camerata.
His wife, Kristin, was a personal assistant to fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. Their son Nicholas Lionti was an onstage extra in the Met productions of “Nixon in China” and “Macbeth”.
Lionti died April 4 from complications of the coronavirus, the opera company said. He was 60.
JOE DIFFIE, COUNTRY SINGER, UNITED STATES
The 1990s were a heyday for country music and for Joe Diffie.
The Oklahoma-born Diffie worked as a demo in 1980s Nashville before landing his own record deal in 1990.
The decade that followed would be especially good to him, with hit blue-collar ballads and barroom singalong songs including “Home,” “Pickup Man,” “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “Bigger Than the Beatles” and “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).”
Eighteen of Diffie’s singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1.
“Joe was a real true honky tonk hero to every country artist alive today,” country duo Big & Rich said on Twitter. No one sang our music better than he did.”
Diffie died March 29 in Nashville, his publicist Scott Adkins said. He was 61.
ALLEN GARFIELD, ACTOR, UNITED STATES
Allen Garfield was a character actor who managed to capture the attention of some of cinema’s great directors.
Francis Ford Coppola cast him in “The Conversation,” Robert Altman put him in “Nashville” and Michael Ritchie hired him for “The Candidate.”
He had roles in Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” Billy Wilder’s “The Front Page,” William Friedkin’s “The Brink’s Job” and Richard Rush’s “The Stunt Man.”
Coppola would cast him again in “One From the Heart” and “The Cotton Club.” One of Garfield’s most famous turns was as the furious police chief in 1987’s “Beverly Hills Cop II.”
Author Don Winslow called Garfield “one of those not so well-known actors that makes everything they are in better.”
Garfield was a Golden Gloves boxer before becoming a journalist. He covered sports for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger and took acting classes at night, eventually studying under Lee Strasberg.
Garfield suffered several strokes, including one shortly before filming Roman Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate” in 1999, and one in 2004 that led to his residence at the Motion Picture Television Fund Home.
Garfield died April 7 in Los Angeles, according to his sister, Lois Goorwitz. He was 80.
Associated Press Writers and Jill Lawless in London and Ronald Blum, Mark Kennedy and Jake Coyle in New York contributed to this report.