Angela McEwan, whose late-in-life acting résumé included a brief but memorable turn as the former flame of a hapless old man played by Bruce Dern in the Oscar-nominated 2013 film “Nebraska,” died Sunday in Long Beach, Calif. She was 81.
The cause was cancer, her son Carlos said.
McEwan’s professional acting career began around her 70th birthday. Returning to a long-nurtured interest, she began taking acting classes and attending workshops in the Los Angeles area, and she landed small parts on television series including “New Girl” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Alexander Payne, the director of “Nebraska,” said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2014 that he decided to cast her from a tape, but that he wanted to meet her before offering her the job.
“I happened to be coming out to Los Angeles and I called her,” he said. “We had coffee together in the late afternoon. She had baked me cookies.”
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture.
A melancholy comedy shot in black and white, “Nebraska” tells the story of Woody Grant (Dern), a man beleaguered by age, alcohol and delusion who has been persuaded by an advertising come-on that he has won $1 million and is determined to travel from his home in Billings, Mont., to Lincoln, Neb., where he is convinced he will collect his prize. His son David (Will Forte), fearful his father will try to walk there — he has set out to do so more than once — agrees to drive him.
Along the way they stop in the bleak prairie town where Woody grew up, and there, David encounters Peg Nagy (McEwan), the sweet-tempered proprietor of the local newspaper, who reveals that as a young man Woody was a far different person, and that she had loved and lost him.
“The loveliest, most poignant scene in the film,” it was called by the critic Richard Brody of the New Yorker, who added, “It’s the scene that quietly wrenches the movie apart and makes the distant, unspoken past vibrate with a revived passionate power.”
In addition to sons Carlos and William, she is survived by three grandchildren.
Peggy Say, who waged a nearly seven-year campaign to keep the world from forgetting about her younger brother Terry A. Anderson, the American hostage held longest by Shiite militiamen in Lebanon, died Wednesday in Cookeville, Tenn. She was 74.
The cause was complications of lung disease, Anderson said.
Anderson, the chief Mideast correspondent for the Associated Press, was abducted on March 16, 1985, and held hostage by militiamen with ties to Iran, much of the time chained to furniture in a basement in Beirut. Afterward Say wrapped the nation in a figurative yellow ribbon of remembrance, making her brother a symbol of what began to seem like a lost cause.
She rallied his fellow journalists, ordinary Americans, humanitarian groups and world figures, including President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.
Say’s hopes for her brother seesawed as Reagan first refused to negotiate with terrorists, then struck a deal with hijackers of a TWA passenger jet to free their prisoners and traded an imprisoned Soviet spy for an American journalist detained in the Soviet Union.
“What I have learned is that when it’s politically expedient, they get the job done,” she said.
Anderson was released on Dec. 4, 1991, after being held longer than any of the more than 90 foreigners kidnapped during Lebanon’s civil war.
A year after Anderson’s release, Say wrote in Redbook magazine that Anderson had never thanked her. But she acknowledged that they had never been very close as siblings.
On Thursday, however, Anderson expressed gratitude for his sister’s relentless campaign in an e-mail, writing: “I am thankful for her unceasing efforts. I think they provided us, as well as all our families, with hope.
Snuff Garrett, who became a millionaire by the time he was 30 producing records for Bobby Vee, Del Shannon, Gary Lewis & the Playboys and other artists, died Dec. 16 in Tucson, Ariz. He was 76.
The cause was cancer, his wife, Nettie, said.
Garrett began producing records in 1959, working for Liberty Records in Los Angeles. At the time, Liberty was best known for novelty records by the Chipmunks, but with Garrett recruiting artists and finding material for them, the label became a major force in pop music.
His first significant signing was Bobby Vee, a singer from Fargo, N.D. Vee’s recording of “Take Good Care of My Baby,” which Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote, was his only No. 1 record and Garrett’s first.
Garrett signed Gary Lewis & the Playboys in 1964 after discovering them performing at Disneyland. The group’s “This Diamond Ring” topped the Billboard singles chart in 1965 and sold more than 1 million copies.
Of all his productions, Vee’s was his favorite, Garrett said, because “you only get one first No. 1 song.”