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Carol Easton, Biographer of Arts Figures, Dies at 87

Carol Easton, Biographer of Arts Figures, Dies at 87
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Carol Easton, Biographer of Arts Figures, Dies at 87

Carol Easton, Biographer of Arts Figures, Dies at 87

Carol Easton, whose curiosity for creativity inspired her to write the biographies of four eminent figures in the arts – Stan Kenton, Samuel Goldwyn, Jacqueline du Pré and Agnes de Mille – died on June 17 at her home in Venice, in California. She was 87 years old.

His death was confirmed on Saturday by his daughter, Liz Kinnon.

“She has always been fascinated by people, especially people who are creative in the arts,” Ms. Kinnon said. “After working as a freelance writer for years, she decided she wanted to write her first biography.”

His first subject was jazz composer and conductor Stan Kenton, whose popularity spanned four decades. His “Straight Ahead: The Story of Stan Kenton” was published in 1973.

She followed that up with “The Search for Sam Goldwyn” (1976), a profile of the pioneering Hollywood producer; “Jacqueline du Pré: a biography” (1989), on the child prodigy cellist who developed multiple sclerosis ending her career in her late twenties; and “No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille” (1996), which delves into the life of the choreographer who has endowed dance with a typically American energy.

“No Intermissions” was named the New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year in 1996. It was described by Jennifer Dunning, The Times dance critic, in a journal as a “thoroughly researched” look at the worlds. ballet and Broadway (including Ms. Mille’s groundbreaking choreography for “Oklahoma”); his passionate advocacy for the National Endowment for the Arts; and his outspokenness. (When she received the National Medal of Arts in 1986, wrote Ms Easton, she told President Ronald Reagan: “You are a much better actor now than you were in the movies.”)

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“No Intermissions,” the reviewer concluded, “is absorbing, enjoyable and thought-provoking read, and quite an accomplishment for a book about such a zesty, self-taught icon.”

In the New York Times Book Review, Joan Acocella said of Mrs. Easton’s book: “For those who still wonder, like me, how the dance is done, she describes in detail Mille’s choreographic method: how she performed. imagined a dance, what happened in her mind first, how many notes and what kind she did before entering the studio.

Ms. Easton’s biography of Jacqueline du Pré was described in The Times Book Review by Peggy Constantine as “overflowing with wonderful quotes” (including this one, from violinist Hugh Maguire: “She was like champagne, freshly uncorked, everything the weather “). .

In a letter to the Times in 1999, Ms. Easton also compared her account of Ms. du Pré’s life with the film “Hilary and Jackie” (1998), adapted from a book by Jacqueline’s sister, flutist Hilary du Pré. , which told of an affair between Jacqueline and Hilary’s husband.

“As a friend of Jacqueline du Pré and, at her request, her biographer, I know that she was neither the saint that the British media claimed to be nor the self-centered sacred monster of her sister’s selfish book,” said she declared. Easton wrote. “On the contrary, she was painfully human.”

Carol Evelyn Herzenberg was born on September 27, 1933 in San Francisco to Jean Miller, entrepreneur and journalist, and Herbert Herzenberg, businessman. Their marriage ended in divorce. Carol was legally adopted by her mother’s second husband, Jack Easton, a Hollywood agent, and took her last name.

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She grew up in Hollywood, where, according to her son Kelly, she used to sneak onto the grounds of Samuel Goldwyn Studios as a child and managed to be cast as an extra in the 1943 anti-war film ” The North Star “.

She studied theater arts at the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1956, she married Jerry Kinnon. They divorced in 1968.

Along with their daughter and son Kelly, she is survived by another son, Andy; five grandchildren; and one brother, Jack Easton.

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