Gabe Pressman, an intrepid, Emmy-winning journalist who still relished going to work at the age of 93, died in his sleep early Friday at a Manhattan hospital.

“This is an incredibly sad day for the WNBC family,” said Eric Lerner, president and general manager of the station where Pressman worked for more than 50 years. “He was truly one of a kind and represented the very best in television news reporting.”

Pressman launched his six-decade broadcast career after stints at New Jersey’s Newark Evening News and the New York World Telegram And Sun. He covered the 1956 sinking of the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria, riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Woodstock festival in 1969 and the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

He interviewed every New York City mayor since Robert Wagner in the 1950s and every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. Other notables interviewed by Pressman included Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Malcolm X.

Although he was primarily a broadcast journalist, he “never stopped loving writing,” said his daughter Liz Pressman, who called him “an inspiration.” He wrote on Facebook every few days and enjoyed “a large audience there,” she said.

Pressman starred for years — including April of this year — at Inner Circle, a charity show that pokes fun at politics.

Embracing self-deprecating humor about his age and experience, Pressman closed the show “playing ‘Gabe Madison,’ lecturing Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and President Trump on the First Amendment,” said Inner Circle President Terry Sheridan. “As always, his just appearing on stage would bring down the house.”

Amid the laughter, “there was no greater defender of the First Amendment than Gabe Pressman,” said Steve Scott, president of the New York Press Club, who also praised Pressman as a mentor, “moral compass” and a “tenacious seeker of the truth.”

Pressman graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism. The New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame inductee started working at WRCA radio in 1954. He went to WRCA’s television side, now WNBC, in 1956.

In 1972, Pressman moved to WNEW-TV. He rejoined WNBC in 1980.

And ever since then, “Gabe was still coming to work and thinking about the next story,” Lerner said. On March 17, he covered the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Survivors include his wife, Vera, four children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Funeral services were pending.

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Frank Kush, the fearsome coach who transformed Arizona State from a backwater football program into a powerhouse, has died. He was 88.

Arizona State confirmed the death on Thursday.

“Coach Kush built ASU into a national football power,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said in a statement. “He taught us how to make football work, and he put ASU on the map long before it was a full-scale university. Throughout his life he maintained his strong connection to ASU, working with coaches and devoting time to the football program.

“By growing ASU football he helped us build the whole university into what it is today. He will be sorely missed.”

Kush compiled a 176-54-1 record while coaching the Sun Devils from 1958 to 1979. His teams won two Border Conference and seven Western Athletic Conference titles.

Arizona State won the Peach Bowl in 1970 and the first three Fiesta Bowls. His 1975 team went 12-0, capped by a 17-14 Fiesta Bowl victory over Nebraska.

Kush’s intense style figured prominently in his firing in October 1979 for what the university said was his interference in an internal investigation of allegations by a former player of physical and mental harassment against the coach.

He was head coach of the NFL’s Colts for two years in Baltimore and one in Indianapolis from 1982 to 1984, compiling an 11-28-1 record. Kush also spent one season as head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

After a period of estrangement, Arizona State welcomed Kush back in 1996, holding a “Frank Kush Day” and naming the playing field at Sun Devil Stadium “Frank Kush Field.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Kush family,” current ASU coach Todd Graham said on Twitter. “It was a privilege to have known such a true coaching legend and man! His legacy will always be the cornerstone of the ASU Football Program! Coach Kush, I miss you my friend.”

He was hired as an assistant to the athletic director in 2000, helping with fundraising efforts. Kush was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.



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Jerry Nelson, an astronomer who designed advanced telescopes that help scientists glimpse far reaches of the universe, has died. He was 73.

UC Santa Cruz, where Nelson was a professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics, said he died June 10 at his home. No cause was given.

Nelson’s design using dozens of segmented mirrors rather than a single large one was the basis for the Keck Observatory’s twin 10-meter telescopes on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii. Those telescopes, among the largest in use, have allowed scientists to measure the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and to spot planetary bodies outside our solar system.

“Jerry’s impacts on the field of astronomy and astrophysics are legendary, and we will all benefit from his legacy for many years to come,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories.

Nelson’s concept has since been used for other large ground-based telescopes around the world. The space-based James Webb telescope, which is under construction, also has a segmented primary mirror design.

Nelson also played an important role in the development of adaptive optics technology, which sharpens the images from ground-based telescopes by correcting for the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere, the university said.

Even after a stroke in 2011 that left him partly disabled, Nelson continued work for the Thirty Meter Telescope, a project to build the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere.

“His endless curiosity always pushed the scientists around him to think more deeply, and his persistence and continued excellence after his stroke were inspirational to everyone,” said Michael Bolte, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.

Born near Los Angeles, Nelson earned an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD in physics at UC Berkeley, where he taught for years before moving to Santa Cruz. He also worked for more than a decade at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Nelson is survived by his wife, sister, two children from his first marriage and three grandchildren.



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A 26-year-old man was arrested Sunday after a Mexican woman he picked up near the border died while hiding in his truck, authorities said.

Efren Jimenez was taken into custody late Sunday when a father and son saw him dragging the woman’s body off a remote canyon road in San Juan Capistrano, according to an affidavit filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Jimenez has been charged with transporting or moving a person who has illegally entered the U.S., according to federal authorities.

Authorities are still seeking to notify the woman’s family of her death, said Lt. Lane Lagaret, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The 33-year-old woman’s name has not been released.

An autopsy was performed, but the cause of her death has not been determined, Lagaret said. Authorities are awaiting toxicology test results.

Jimenez’s trip to the border Sunday was prompted by a phone call from a smuggler called “Chorizo,” according to court documents.

Jimenez told federal authorities that the smuggler called him and offered to pay him $380 to transport a man and woman to Los Angeles, Monica Abend, a special agent with U.S. Department of Homeland Security, wrote in the affidavit.

The smuggler instructed Jimenez to pick up the man and woman Sunday afternoon near Viejas Casino in Alpine, according to the agent. He told Jimenez the woman was “slow,” Abend wrote.

At 5:30 p.m., Jimenez met the man and the woman, who was limping, in Campo. They got in Jimenez’s Nissan Titan pickup truck. She laid down on the back seat floor and the man laid flat on the back seat, according to the affidavit.

Jimenez said he gave them water, and then the male passenger told him the woman had asthma.

Before hitting the road, Jimenez met a friend at a gas station near Campo to pick up cash to buy gas. After refueling, he got onto the northbound 5 Freeway.

It was near Carlsbad when things took a turn for the worse, Jimenez told the agent.

The woman started shaking, Jimenez said. The male passenger told Jimenez she was dying, according to the affidavit.

Not long after, the woman was dead, Jimenez told authorities.

Jimenez said he called the smuggler, who instructed him to give her CPR, the agent wrote. He got off the freeway and shook the woman, Abend said.

“Jimenez felt her skin and thought she felt cool,” the agent wrote.

He got back onto the 5 Freeway and called his brother to arrange a meeting at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. On his way there, he stopped again to refuel. Jimenez later dropped off the male passenger at the fast food restaurant, according to the affidavit.

He called the smuggler again, Abend said.

“Chorizo” directed Jimenez to drop off the body behind a 7-11 store and call 911,” she wrote.

He instead drove off the road at La Novia Avenue and Forster Canyon Road and removed the woman’s body, according to the affidavit.

That’s when the father and son saw him dragging the woman. They went over and tried to feel for the woman’s pulse, Abend wrote.

When they walked over to Jimenez’s truck to call 911, he motioned at them to leave, according to court documents.

In response, the father took Jimenez to the ground and detained him while they called 911.

As the father and son waited for authorities, they allowed Jimenez to call his girlfriend in Tijuana.

They heard some of Jimenez’s conservation, including the phrases “went bad,” “got messed up” and “I love you.”

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating and could seek charges if they determine a crime was committed, authorities said.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA



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Prodigy, one half of the revered hip-hop group Mobb Deep, has died. He was 42.

After performing in Las Vegas over the weekend, the rapper, born Albert Johnson, was hospitalized for complications caused by sickle cell disease, his publicist said. He was found unconscious Tuesday morning.

“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary N.Y. rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis,” a statement from the group’s representative read.

“As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

News of Prodigy’s passing first broke when collaborator Nas posted a tribute to the rapper on Instagram. ”QB RIP King P. Prodigy 4 Ever,” he wrote.

Born in Hempstead, N.Y., Johnson was part of a family with deep musical connections. His mother, Fatima Johnson, who died late last year, had performed with ’60s girl group the Crystals. His grandfather, Budd Johnson, was a respected jazz saxophonist.

Albert Johnson formed Mobb Deep with rapper-producer Havoc in the early ‘90s. The duo released its first album, “Juvenile Hill,” in 1993 but broke out with 1995’s “The Infamous,” which was certified gold by the Recording Industry Assn. of America for shipments of more than 500,000 copies.

The Times once described “The Infamous” as a “dazzling album” that served as “a soundtrack for a lost generation of wild kids roaming the grimy New York streets in search of the next cheap thrill, illegal gain or suicidal showdown.”

Mobb Deep last released an album in 2014, “The Infamous Mobb Deep.” The group was respected for its relentlessly hard-core take on East Coast hip-hop, with The Times describing another one of the act’s albums as a “brutal batch of barbaric assaults with uncompromising edge.”

Prodigy launched his solo career in 2000 with “H.N.I.C.” He released his fifth solo album, “Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation),” earlier this year.

Last year he published “Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook,” a collection of recipes inspired by his three-year jail stint due to criminal possession of a weapon. He was released in 2011, and the book features meals created by inmates using the few ingredients available at the jail commissary.

Mobb Deep was in Vegas performing as part of the Art of Rap tour — a mega-bill of veteran hip-hop stars including Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T. The group was due to perform June 30 in Newark, N.J.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

For more music news follow me on Twitter:@GerrickKennedy



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Carla Fendi, one of the five sisters who transformed the family leather goods business into a global luxury fashion house long known for its furs, has died after a long illness. She was 79.

The Rome-based fashion house confirmed Fendi’s death Monday, expressing pain for the loss and gratitude for her continued contributions.

The sisters opened the first Fendi store in Rome’s historic center in 1964, and a year later hired a young designer named Karl Lagerfeld who helped catapult the Italian brand into global fame, with a focus on designing luxury furs.

Each sister had her role, and Carla Fendi, as Fendi president, was the family business’ public face until it sold to the French luxury group LVMH in 1999. She was honorary president until her death.



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Three-year-old Daleyza Hernandez-Avila recently visited a surgical center in Stockton for what was supposed to be a routine dental procedure.

But on the June 12 visit, her heart stopped about 30 minutes into the procedure. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Stockton girl’s unexpected death has devastated her parents and their community, said the family attorney, Omar Gonzalez. By all accounts, Daleyza was happy, healthy and “full of life,” he said.

“This family has been destroyed by the senseless loss of their beautiful daughter as a result of a routine dental procedure,” Gonzalez said.

Daleyza’s family is looking for answers on how their daughter died after visiting the Children’s Dental Surgery Center.

According to Gonzalez, Daleyza was referred by another dentist’s office to the surgical center.

At the center, she underwent general anesthesia for dental crowns, molar repairs and a possible tooth extraction, he said. At some point, something went wrong.

“They won’t tell me what happened. They just handed her over to me dead,” the girl’s mother, Araceli Avila, told KTXL-TV.

She said a nurse explained that Daleyza may have had heart problems. But Avila told the news station her daughter didn’t have a heart condition. Before an ambulance hauled Daleyza away, Avila said the nurse told her that her daughter was stable and that’s she shouldn’t worry.

The Stockton Police Department and Dental Board of California are investigating Daleyza’s death.

“At this time, it appears nothing criminal has happened, but this is still an active investigation,” said Officer Joseph Silva, the department’s spokesman.

The center’s attorney, John Supple, said his client is also conducting an internal investigation and will cooperate with authorities. He said the clinic is eager “to find out what happened in this tragic case.”

Citing patient privacy laws, Supple declined to provide details about Daleyza’s death.

The center has provided procedures to more than 20,000 pediatric patients since his client assumed control 2009.

Daleyza is the center’s first patient to die since his client took over, Supple said.

“This was highly unusual,” he said.

David Thompson, an office administrator at the nonprofit ambulatory surgery center, told KCRA-TV the clinic received death threats online and had to close its office Friday.

Daleyza’s family and friends created a Go Fund Me account to collect donations to help pay for funeral expenses.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA



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Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.

Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

With rousing music and sentimental scripts, Avildsen was a master at ennobling and lifting the underdog into states of grace. He won best director for “Rocky” (1976), the tale of Rocky Balboa’s gritty and unlikely transcendence from the streets of South Philadelphia, and was also known for “The Karate Kid” (1984), the story of a restless teenager and his Okinawan martial arts mentor.

But Avildsen was also known for deep and nuanced portraits of characters caught in the complexities of their times. His “Save the Tiger” (1973), which won Jack Lemmon an Academy Award for best actor, was the story of a garment manufacturer who burns down his company for insurance money. In “Joe” (1970), Peter Boyle starred as a racist factory worker and iconoclast in an exploration of hippies and murder that touched on the nation’s changing cultures.

In an interview with The Times in 2014, Avildsen recalled his encounter with Lemmon: “When I came to meet him for the first time I had long hair, an extensive beard and blue velvet jeans with daisies on my butt. I explained to him if he chose me to direct the movie, I didn’t want to see him in it. I didn’t want all the mannerisms, all of the things he had grown comfortable with over the years. I wanted to see [the character], not him.”

Avildsen explored social ills, unexpected relationships and the friction and forgiveness that run through life. “Lean on Me” (1989) cast Morgan Freeman as a New Jersey school principal trying to help students stay clear of violence and drugs. “Neighbors” (1981) starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as disparate middle-aged neighbors in a comedy that captured the insecurities and eccentricities of suburbia. Critic Roger Ebert called “Neighbors” a “truly interesting comedy, an offbeat experiment in hallucinatory black humor. It grows on you.”

But it was his film about a boxer that roused a nation, revived the well-worn pugilist melodrama and set loose a string of sequels. “Rocky” entered the consciousness at a time America was shaken by Watergate and the Vietnam War and was trying to find its way as the radicalism of the 1960s settled into the uncertain — and at times bland and hero-less — 1970s.

“Rocky” was a hit with audiences but not always with critics. Writing in the New York Times, Vincent Canby concluded: “Under the none too decisive direction of [Avildsen], Mr. Stallone is all over ‘Rocky’ to such an extent it begins to look like a vanity production…. It’s as if Mr. Stallone had studied the careers of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola and then set out to copy the wrong things.”

The Hollywood Reporter in its review credited Avildsen with “extraordinary insight, and an even more extraordinary feeling for the rhythm and pace of his film…. ‘Rocky is a picture that should make movie history.”

In an interview last year, Avildsen told the Baltimore Sun about his initial misgivings about “Rocky”: “When this script came to me from an old friend … I said I had no interest in boxing, I think boxing’s sort of a dumb thing,” he said. “He pleaded and pleaded, so I finally read the thing. And on the second or third page, he’s talking to his turtles, Cuff and Link. I was charmed by it, and I thought it was an excellent character study and a beautiful love story. And I said yes.”

Avildsen, who also directed Marlon Brando and George C. Scott in the World War II thriller “The Formula,” is the subject of a new documentary, “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs.” That film had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this year and is slated for a digital and home video release in August.

Born in Oak Park, Ill., Avildsen is survived by sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley; and daughter, Bridget.

See the most-read stories this hour »

Twitter: @JeffreyLAT

jeffrey.fleishman@latimes.com



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Helmut Kohl, the long-serving former chancellor whose life in the political limelight spanned the joyous zenith of German reunification and the shattering nadir of a corruption scandal, died Friday at his home in Ludwigshafen, Germany. He was 87.

Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union Party posted on Twitter: “We are in sorrow. #RIP #HelmutKohl.” The German newspaper Bild reported his death.

The “chancellor of unity” and the driving force behind European integration, Kohl suffered a fall from grace with his failed bid for a fifth term in 1998 and later allegations of criminal malfeasance that rendered him, in his own words, “a kind of unperson.”

But as the man who steered Germany through the most tumultuous years of the Cold War and the uplifting triumph of democracy over dictatorship, the massive politician left his mark on Europe over the past few decades, which saw some of the continent’s greatest achievements.

The last German chancellor whose outlook was shaped by personal experience of the Nazi era, Kohl also lived through the pain and sorrow of all 45 years of his nation’s division. But keen-eyed and famously stubborn, Kohl saw the chance to reunite his countrymen in East and West Germany when a reformer named Mikhail S. Gorbachev came to power in 1985 in the Soviet Union.

Few then dared to dream of a Germany free of the ideological and physical divides imposed by the Berlin Wall and the barbed wire, booby-traps and shoot-to-kill orders guiding the Communist world’s sentries.

But as the wily Kohl watched events unfold in the late 1980s in Moscow and Eastern Europe, where the Kremlin no longer threatened armed crackdowns on political dissenters, he made clear that West Germany’s doors were open to those Germans who could get free of their rulers’ clutches.

And as whole villages along Russia’s Volga River, where Catherine the Great had settled Saxon laborers 300 years earlier, emptied out to West Germany, those of other ethnic origins still behind the Iron Curtain began grass-roots revolution that would culminate in 1989’s dramatic overthrow of one-party rule.

In one of recent European history’s greatest ironies, Kohl was at center stage to take his bows along with Gorbachev at the tearful Nov. 9, 1999, celebrations here of the Berlin Wall’s fateful breaching a decade earlier. Within two weeks, however, the celebrated German statesman had been linked to a bribery scandal.

Defiant in the face of accusations of criminal wrongdoing, Kohl conceded to investigators that he had personally accepted at least $1 million in illegal donations but refused to identify the benefactors or what they expected in return.

Under threat of contempt charges and even jailing, Kohl retreated into the political background during the tarnished twilight of an illustrious career. Gala celebrations planned for his 70th birthday on April 3, 2000, were abruptly canceled, and one of Europe’s greatest living statesmen spent the occasion alone with his family at the home in Oggersheim he had mortgaged in a quixotic campaign to repay his party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), for the fines he had brought upon it.

“When in November, in connection with the 10th anniversary of the fall of the wall, you stand in the middle of great honors and then in a few weeks become a kind of unperson—or, according to some media, even a kind of monster—that is a change of situation that is very difficult to bear,” a dispirited Kohl told a radio interviewer.

A man whose physical girth and gusto came to symbolize the weight and power of Europe’s biggest country, Kohl spent little time at his new home in Berlin after the move of the capital from Bonn in the summer of 1999. After being forced to resign his honorary chairmanship of the CDU in January 2000, he often failed even to show up for sessions of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, of which he was a member.

Kohl’s legacy as the father of reunification and his personal conviction that he had done nothing wrong managed to carry him through the disgrace of being left out of the Oct. 3, 2000, celebrations marking a decade of German unity—the latest snub and reminder of the dark side of political life.

After Uwe Barschel, a CDU colleague and governor of Schleswig-Holstein state, took his own life in 1987 after being accused of election dirty tricks, the then-chancellor reflected on the loss as the high price sometimes demanded of public figures.

“We humans have an abyss inside us,” Kohl told fellow conservatives after Barschel’s suicide. “The more power people have, the greater the danger.”

Kohl’s 16-year tenure as chancellor, the longest in Germany’s post-World War II history, also was tainted in the mid-1980s by the notorious “Flick affair,” which reigned as Germany’s most grievous bribery scandal until the more recent slush-fund revelations.

Kohl’s entire political life seemed an undulating series of highs and lows. Even his most proud achievement in reunifying the country was criticized for controversial—some would say renegade—steps taken along the path of reconciliation.

Much to the dismay of many advisors, the late chancellor rammed through an economically dubious currency union in July 1990 that allowed East Germans to trade in their shaky eastmarks on a one-to-one basis for the powerful West German legal tender. The move brought about economic integration virtually overnight but cost tens of billions of dollars a year to underwrite and created an enduring source of resentment with its message that underachievers in the east had to be bailed out at the more productive westerners’ expense.

Analysts also have berated Kohl for grossly underestimating the costs of unification. “There were tremendous illusions created at the beginning. Helmut Kohl told the people this would be a process of two or three years and that it could be accomplished with pocket change,” historian Wolf Jobst Siedler chastised the former chancellor.

But internationally, such criticism was drowned out by a flood of praise for Kohl’s achievements.

Most impressive were his diplomatic strokes in convincing Germany’s neighbors and international partners—including the United States, France and the Soviet Union, all former enemies—that a reunified Germany would not be a threat to world peace but rather an asset.

In a matter of months after the wall fell, Kohl won blessings from then-U.S. President George Bush for unification by assuring him the former East German states would be integrated into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and transformed from Warsaw Pact adversaries to reliable allies.

France was warier still of newly empowering its eastern neighbor, but Kohl, a friend of the late French President Francois Mitterrand, successfully argued that he wanted to unite not just Germany but all of Europe in peace.

Most important, Kohl won consent for German self-determination from Moscow, which had dominated East Germany for nearly half a century. Gorbachev had plenty of reason to frustrate Kohl when the chancellor arrived in Moscow in February 1990 to plead the cause of German self-determination: about 20 million Russians died in this century at the hands of an aggressive Germany.

Yet Kohl won over the powerful Soviet leader by shedding coat and tie for a sweater, touring Gorbachev’s southern stamping grounds for a firsthand look at hungry peasants and convinced the Kremlin leader that his people would be richly rewarded for helping Germans end their painful era of divide.

As his vision of unification unfolded, Kohl promised anxious East Germans that they would soon see “blossoming landscapes” after the rusted wreckage of their planned economy had withered away. Those predictions would come back to haunt him, however, especially by the end of his fourth term in office, when unemployment in the east was still as high as 20% and westerners had long grown tired of reunification’s drain on national resources.

Dogged by discontent on both sides of the vanished divide, Kohl’s CDU lost the September 1998 election when a charismatic figure from the rival Social Democrats, Gerhard Schroeder, convinced voters that they needed to join him in “a new middle.” Schroeder’s leftists allied with the environmentalist Greens to end Kohl’s reign as the “eternal chancellor” and managed to push through vital tax reforms and reduce unemployment, further eroding Kohl’s reputation as the country’s salvation.

Eastern Germany today is undeniably more vibrant than before unification. Unemployable older citizens are, for the most part, entitled to the generous benefits of the western German social-welfare system. And the younger, more entrepreneurial easterners have unlimited freedom to test their skills in a market economy.

Kohl had to watch from the remove of the political opposition as the second of his two great dreams came to fruition—the unifying of Europe into a single trading zone with a shared currency, the euro.

As a German who had spent his adolescence amid the bombs and crater-scarred landscapes of World War II, Kohl saw European unification as an essential tool for preventing future wars on the continent. His hometown, Ludwigshafen, lies upon a strategically important stretch of the Rhine.

Kohl’s father had fought as a draftee on the western front in World War I; the former chancellor’s only brother was drafted into service and was killed in World War II.

The elder Kohl had taken son Helmut around to various European battlefields and cemeteries, lecturing him on what he saw as the younger generation’s obligation to work for peace.

“If there is another war in your time, your generation will be breaking its contract with all those who died in two world wars,” his father told Kohl.

Those words, combined with the memory that 75% of his hometown had been flattened by Allied bombing raids, made a lifelong impression on Kohl. Although his formative years were spent in a Germany run by Adolf Hitler and embarked on nationalist calamity that would culminate with the horrors of the Holocaust, Kohl emerged as a young man who saw broader European interests as indivisible from the interests of Germany.

“Germany is our fatherland; Europe is our future,” he used to say in his speeches.

Kohl managed during his years as chancellor to make Germany a more reliable and proven team player in European security operations. After five decades of constitutionally imposed restraints on how and where the modern German army could be deployed, Kohl spearheaded revisions to allow Bundeswehr soldiers to take part in foreign peacekeeping operations and fulfill a more prominent role as a member of NATO.

With Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the armed international effort to punish Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Germany came under heavy criticism for writing checks to finance the Persian Gulf War effort but keeping uniformed young Germans well out of harm’s way. The United States and Britain, in particular, spoke of Kohl’s Germany as a mature country with a responsibility to help keep the international peace.

Kohl was persuaded by these arguments, and, little by little, he found new ways to ease the German army back onto the battlefield—but always as a supportive partner in the cause of peace. After the pacifist constitutional language was reinterpreted and broadened, Kohl’s government sent medics, logistics experts, pilots and others to the NATO peacekeeping effort in the Balkans.

Helmut Kohl was born April 3, 1930, in the working-class Ludwigshafen, in southwestern Germany. His father was a minor civil servant whom Kohl once remembered as “Catholic but liberal at the same time.” His mother was a teacher and shared her husband’s faith.

Ludwigshafen’s economy was, and still is, dominated by a giant BASF chemical works, and on its tidy streets Kohl grew up amid well-entrenched beliefs in the promise of hard work and the virtue of modest living.

By the time he was 6, the Nazis had goose-stepped their way into Ludwigshafen, and when the war finally began, the BASF chemical plant—which made poison gas at the time—became a prime target for Allied bombing. Eventually, the bombers leveled the whole town. By age 13, Helmut was spending his nights helping to rescue people from burning buildings and sometimes digging corpses out of the rubble.

At the end of the war, he worked for a time as a farmhand, then completed high school and went on to study history, law and governmental science at the universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg. Amid the poverty of postwar Frankfurt, he met the woman he would marry—Hannelore Renner of Leipzig—at a dance sponsored by Quaker relief workers.

After completing his doctoral degree, Kohl held various jobs with a foundry, a private academic institution and a chemical-industry trade group.

He became active in conservative politics soon after V-E Day in 1945, co-founding the youth chapter of the CDU in his hometown and joining the adult chapter in 1947.

He rose steadily through the ranks of the party and entered the state legislature in 1959. He was elected governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state in 1969 and became the opposition leader in the Bundestag in 1976.

In 1982, Kohl became chancellor when the governing coalition of his predecessor, Social Democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, broke apart. Kohl mounted a no-confidence vote in parliament, won it and formed a governing coalition of his own. He held national elections the next year, and his CDU won, giving him his first term as chancellor.

Kohl was regularly condescended to by those who considered him provincial and unsophisticated. There were jokes about his huge appetite and weight, his annual diets, his blunders and his perceived lack of social graces. Far from being hurt by the put-downs, Kohl seemed to enjoy them and to believe that in politics, they could give him a competitive edge.

“I have made a very good living, for more than 30 years, by being underestimated,” he said while still in office.

Kohl’s humble character allowed him to hold informal—and productive—talks with then-Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin in a sauna, and to fete international dignitaries by bringing them to his house and offering them his favorite dish: saumagen, a baloney-like concoction of meat and vegetables boiled in a pig’s stomach.

He often summed up his political philosophy with a reference to German cooking: “Short speeches, long sausages,” he would say in deprecating those inclined to run on too long.

A classic example of one who fails to heed his own advice, Kohl’s defeat in 1998 and his tumble in the public’s esteem were seen by many as the results of seeking to hold power too long and suffering delusions of being above the law.

Still, many Germans took him to be the very soul of respected, old-fashioned values: persistence, hard work, simplicity and good will. It was these traits, and the humility and pacifism he was born to, that helped him to usher Germany back into the family of nations.

Hannelore Kohl preceded her husband in death in 2001, when she committed suicide to escape the pain of a rare illness that made her allergic to sunlight. Kohl is survived by their two sons, Walter and Peter.



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Gary Friedman, a longtime photojournalist who over the decades covered presidential elections, Olympic games and the devastation of the 9/11 terror attacks for the Los Angeles Times, has died after a long fight with cancer. He was 62.

Friedman, who died Wednesday in Los Angeles, had an expansive career, covering landmark moments such as the breakup of the Soviet Union and small yet tender stories of triumph, like his gripping photos of twin boys who were conjoined at the head. The photos won a World Press Photo award in 1981.

A self-avowed eccentric, Friedman was known as a master of being able to wiggle into news events while other journalists waited patiently for credentials or official escorts.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez recalled traveling with a group of colleagues to New York City after the terror attacks, only to find out that obtaining credentials to get near Ground Zero would be a grinding, hours-long process.

Inching closer to the front of the line, Lopez said he suddenly spotted Friedman crawling through the brush, covered in soot and flecked in mud. He’d somehow bypassed the security detail and had been shooting photos of the devastation for hours, having sent several batches of photos back to the newspaper while others waited dutifully in line.

“Hey, is this where we get credentials?” Friedman said, casually slipping into line with Lopez.

Bob Chamberlin, a former Times photographer who worked with Friedman for years, recalled a similar story of the photographer’s remarkable ability to get from point A to point B without detection. The two were in New York for an anniversary event at the Statue of Liberty, and organizers had issued credentials for only 50 journalists. Lacking credentials, Friedman looked to be the odd person out.

“No worries,” Friedman told Chamberlin.

With his head down and walking with a purpose, Friedman strode briskly through security and onto the boat headed to the statue. When he realized that he would no doubt be asked to produce his credentials at some point, Friedman came up with a plausible story: The wind, now whipping across the water, had swept the credentials into the harbor.

The story worked and he was promptly awarded a set of credentials.

Born in Detroit on July 20, 1954, Friedman attended Wayne State University and landed an internship at National Geographic Magazine after college. He was hired by The Times in 1980 and retired in 2015.

While Friedman had covered many of the defining moments in recent Los Angeles history — the riots of 1992, the fires that chewed through the hillsides, the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series — it was a photo he captured of the space shuttle Endeavour’s return to Southern California in 2012 that forced him to defend himself and his work.

The shuttle, riding atop a 747, circled the L.A. skyline in its return and — for a second or two — glided above the Hollywood sign. It was a classic L.A. moment, so perfect that one reader complained that the shot had to be photoshopped.

Friedman typed up a story on how he’d shot the picture. The day of the Endeavour’s arrival, he’d planted himself on the helipad at the top of the 73-story U.S. Bank building in downtown L.A. He had a 360-degree view and elected to use a 400-millimeter lens, fearing that with a longer lens the shuttle might move out of the frame before he could get off a shot. He kept his hand on the shutter, firing off three clicks. The first one was perfect.

“I felt like an excited kid,” he wrote.

Marc Friedman said his brother had battled prostate cancer for more than 15 years, far surpassing normal expectations.

Friedman is survived by his wife, Helen, and his brother.

steve.marble@latimes.com

twitter.com/stephenmarble



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