Carol Easton, biographer of art figures, dies at 87

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

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

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

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

He then followed up with “The Search for Sam Goldwyn” (1976), a profile of the pioneer Hollywood Producer; “Jacqueline du Pre: A Biography” (1989), about the child prodigy cellist who developed late-career cerebral palsy in his late 20s; and “No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille” (1996), which delved into the life of choreographer who endowed the dance with a distinctly American energy.

“No Intermission” was named a New York Times Notable Book in 1996. It was described by dance critic Jennifer Dunning of The Times in one. review as an “extensively researched” take on the worlds of ballet and Broadway (including Ms. de 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, Ms. Easton wrote, she told President Ronald Reagan, “You are a much better actor than you are in the movies now.”

“No intermissions,” concluded the review, “is an absorbing, insightful and thought-provoking read, and that’s quite a feat for a book about such a prickly and self-made icon.”

In The New York Times Book ReviewOf Ms. Easton’s book, Joan Acocella said of Ms. Easton’s book, “For those who still wonder, as I do, how the dance is made, she describes De Mille’s choreographic method in detail: How did he imagine a dance, what came to his mind first, how many notes and what kind did he make before going into the studio.”

Ms Easton’s biography of Jacqueline du Pre was described Times Book Review As “full of wonderful quotes” by Peggy Constantine (including this one, from violinist Hugh Maguire: “She was like champagne, unreserved fresh all the time”).

In letter to the times In 1999, Ms. Easton compared her account of Ms. Du Pre’s life to the film “Hillary and Jackie” (1998), which was adapted from a book by Jacqueline’s sister, flautist Hilary Du Pree, who played Jacqueline and Hillary described the relationship between. husband.

“As a friend of Jacqueline du Pre and, at her request, her biographer, I know that she was neither the saint that the British media made of her nor the self-serving book of her sister. Absorbed demonic rites,” Ms. Easton wrote. “Rather, she was a man full of pain.”

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

She grew up in Hollywood, where, her son Kelly said, she sneaked into the Samuel Goldwyn studio as a child and managed to be cast as an extra in the 1943 anti-war film “The North Star”. .

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

In addition to their daughter and their son Kelly, they have another son, Andy; five grandchildren; and a brother, Jack Easton.

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