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Last Word
Listen to the latest editionFriday   16:00-16:30
Sunday 20:30-21:00 (rpt)

Radio 4's weekly obituaries programme
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This week
Friday 28th November 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 30th November
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Richard Hickox , Jacques Piccard, Sir Bernard Feilden, Gerard Damiano and Betty James.
Richard Hickox CBE
Conductor who has died aged 60

Richard Hickox was perhaps best known for his love of the work of British composers like Britten, Vaughan Williams and Elgar. He also had a long association with choral works. A former director of the London Symphony Chorus, his mother was a piano teacher and his father a clergyman. Therefore, Richard took up the organ at an early age and began playing for services at the age of seven. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music, he won an organ scholarship to Queens’ College Cambridge.

Richard Hickox made his professional debut as a conductor in 1971, and went on to work with many of the world’s leading orchestras and opera houses, to direct many festivals and to found a number of ensembles, including the City of London Sinfonia and the Richard Hickox Singers. He made many acclaimed recordings in a partnership with Chandos Records.

Matthew Bannister talks to Richard Hickox’s friends, the tenor Mark Padmore and the composer and broadcaster Michael Berkeley. 
 
Richard Hickox  was born March 5th 1948. He died after a suspected heart attack on November 23rd 2008. 
Jacques Piccard
Deep-sea explorer and engineer who has died aged 86

In the 1930s, Auguste Piccard twice beat the record for reaching the highest altitude in a balloon. In 1960, his son, Jacques Piccard, became one of two men to reach the earth’s deepest point, in the Mariana trench more than thirty five thousand feet below the Pacific Ocean. Then in 1999 Jacques’ own son, Bertrand, commanded the first non stop balloon flight around the world.

Jacques Piccard was born in Belgium but educated in Switzerland where he studied economics, history and physics at the University of Geneva. After serving with the French army during the war, Jacques started work with his father on a new type of submersible called a bathyscaphe. In 1953 the pair launched the Trieste which – seven years later - was to take Jacques and his colleague Lieutenant Don Walsh of the US Navy to the world’s deepest place.

Matthew Bannister talks to Bertrand Piccard. 

Jacques Piccard was born July 22nd 1922. He died November 1st 2008.
Sir Bernard Melchior Feilden
Architect who has died aged 89

Sir Bernard Feilden was the world’s leading authority on the conservation of ancient buildings. The Norfolk based architect was called in to work on some of the globe’s most iconic monuments, including the Taj Mahal, the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Great Wall of China. He also saved the spire of Norwich Cathedral and the central tower of York Minster from collapsing. For four years he was director of Unesco’s International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property based in Rome.

Bernard Feilden qualified as an architect in 1949 and took up his first job with a practice in Norwich. In 1954 he set up his own partnership with fellow architect David Mawson.

Matthew Bannister talks to David Mawson and our reporter Bob Carter went to Norwich Cathedral to meet the Vice Dean, Canon Jeremy Haselock.

Bernard Melchior Feilden was born September 11th 1919. He died November 14th 2008.
Gerardo Rocco Damiano
Writer and director who has died aged 80.

Gerard Damiano was the director of Deep Throat, often called the first mass market adult movie. The film polarised audiences in 1970s America. Although it was banned in 23 States, it grossed a reported 600 million dollars. Damiano saw hardly any of the money. The star of the film – Linda Lovelace – was paid just one thousand two hundred and fifty dollars and it took only six days to shoot.

Matthew Bannister talks to the feminist writer Erica Jong and to Georgina Spelvin who starred in Damiano’s next adult film – The Devil in Miss Jones..  

Gerardo Rocco Damiano was born August 4th 1928. He died October 25th 2008.
Betty James
Named the slinky toy and has died aged 90

Betty James was the woman who came up with the evocative name of the toy which was invented by accident when her engineer husband Richard knocked a spring off a table. The first four hundred slinkies went on sale for one dollar each at Gimbel’s department store just before Christmas 1945. They sold out in ninety minutes. The couple set up a company to exploit their success and ran it together for fourteen years. But in 1960, Richard left Betty and their six children and joined a religious cult. Betty was left to run the company.

Ray Dallavecchia who now runs the company which makes the toy pays tribute. 
 
Betty James nee Mattas was born February 13th 1918. She died November 29th 2008.
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