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R.I.P. celebrity obits

by Katrina Kuntz

Nam June Paik, one of the most significant figures of video art, passed away at his Miami home at 8:00 p.m. EST on January 29, according to his official website, He was 74.

An avant-garde composer, performer, and member of the Fluxus movement, Paik was credited with inventing video art in the 1960s as well as coining the phrases “electronic superhighway” and “the future is now.”

Born in Korea, Paik moved to New York in 1964 and began working with multiple television sets, a technology that became a dominant force in his production. Highlights of Paik’s career include “TV Bra for Living Sculpture” (1969), a performance for which cellist Charlotte Moorman wore a bra with tiny TV screens covering her breasts, and “TV Buddha” (1974), an installation of an antique Buddha statue sitting in front of his own video-taped image on a television screen.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963) which set the foundation for the feminist movement, died at her home of congestive heart failure on her birthday, February 4, the Associated Press reports. She was 85.

In her groundbreaking, best-selling book, Friedan argued that society’s ideal of feminine fulfillment as a wife and mother was not enough for many women. Many women were left wondering, “Is that all?” Friedan encouraged women to cultivate their own individual identities in addition to domestic life.

Friedan worked for a number of organizations that supported women’s issues such as abortion, equal opportunity employment and pay, promotion opportunities and maternity leave. In 1966, she co-founded and served as the first president for the National Organization for Women. She also founded the National Conference for Repeal of Abortion Laws (which became the National Abortion Rights Action League) and the National Women’s Political Caucus. In her later years, she advocated the rights of the elderly.

Al Lewis, best-known for his role as the quick-tempered Grandpa Munster on the 1960s television sitcom The Munsters, passed away February 3 after years of failing health. He was 95.

Lewis began his television career opposite Fred Gwynne in the classic Car 54, Where Are You? In 1964, he and Gwynne went on to star in the popular comedy about the Munster family, a group of misfits adjusting to a suburban American lifestyle. The Munsters wrapped in 1966. Lewis would continue to act and make public appearances in character.

Lewis also worked as a high school basketball scout, operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant called Grandpa’s, became a popular radio personality, and ran as a Green Party Candidate for governor of New York. Not only did he lose the battle to have his name listed on the ballot as Grandpa Al Lewis, he also lost the election.

MARCH 2006