While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died.
Mere words cannot begin to capture the excellence of André Leon Talley. The fashion icon passed away Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 73. Visionary, legendary, phenom are all words that have been used to describe Talley and his impact on both fashion and journalism.
While younger generations may know him from his time as a judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” Talley has been a fixture in high fashion and journalism for almost 50 years.
Variety called the former creative director and editor-at-large for Vogue a “titan of fashion journalism.” Talley stood at an impressive 6-foot-six-inches, with his presence felt in each room he entered.
Talley’s bylines included Vanity Fair, HG, Interview, Ebony and Women’s Wear Daily. A prolific influence on fashion and beyond, Talley got his start at Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine in 1975, later becoming the fashion news editor at Vogue.
“Over the past five decades as an international icon was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, Diane von Furstenberg, Bethann Hardison and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers,” read a post on his official Instagram.
Speaking at Oxford Union in May 2013, Talley credited his grandmother Francis Davis as one of two women who helped him become his full self. He shared that his grandmother was a maid at Duke University.
“I learned style from my grandmother. Actually, I owe my grandmother a great deal about style,” Talley said. “We didn’t talk about style. For me, she was style.”
The other woman was Diana Vreeland, his entry point into the world of curation and museum-style. As a young person, Talley scored an internship with Vreeland at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He would later develop a deep working relationship with the French journalist and curator, later styling her for a shoot for W Magazine.
Part of his fascination with Vreeland stems from his interest in the French language. He attended Brown University on a scholarship, studying French. At one point, Talley planned on becoming a French teacher.
Talley is a masterful storyteller who weaves in anecdotes and life lessons with each passing minute. He went from being a small child obsessed with fashion magazines to being one of the leading fashion editors in the world.
He was known for giving back to young people, even serving on the Board of Trustees for the Savannah College of Art and Design for more than 20 years. For those unfamiliar with Talley’s work, the 2017 documentary “The Gospel According to André” is a journey through the life and career of the phenomenal creator.
Watch his full address at Oxford Union below.
Keep reading to learn more about the notable Black lives we’ve lost in 2022.
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2022 was originally published on newsone.com
1. General Charles McGeeSource:Getty
Whether you found out about the Tuskegee Airmen in a history book, the 1995 HBO television movie named after them or George Lucas’ criminally-ignored 2012 film Red Tails, it goes without saying that America was indefinitely made proud by the Black men in that legendary squadron.
One of those prestigious gentlemen who fought bravely in World War II was decorated war hero Charles McGee, who we’re sad to say has passed away recently at the age of 102.
McGee died this past Sunday (January 16) in his sleep at home in Bethesda, Maryland as reported by his son, Ron McGee. He’s credited with flying 409 fighter combat missions over the span of three wars, later in his military career helping to bring attention to the stateside racism against the same Black pilots who fought for America’s freedom.
More on the courageous and honorable life of Charles McGee below, via AP News:
“After the U.S. entry into World War II, McGee left the University of Illinois to join an experimental program for Black soldiers seeking to train as pilots after the Army Air Corps was forced to admit African Americans. In October 1942 he was sent to the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama for flight training, according to his biography on the website of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
“You could say that one of the things we were fighting for was equality,” he told The Associated Press in a 1995 interview. “Equality of opportunity. We knew we had the same skills, or better.”
McGee graduated from flight school in June 1943 and in early 1944 joined the all-Black 332nd Fighter Group, known as the “Red Tails.” He flew 136 missions as the group accompanied bombers over Europe.
More than 900 men trained at Tuskegee from 1940 to 1946. About 450 deployed overseas and 150 lost their lives in training or combat.”
McGee stayed with the Army Air Corps (now U.S. Air Force) for 30 years, going on to serve in record-breaking aerial fighter combat missions which included the Korean War and Vietnam War as well. He eventually retired in 1973 as a colonel in the
2. André Leon TalleySource:Getty
André Leon Talley quickly gained his fame and notoriety as the creative director of Vogue as he worked alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.
As reported by TMZ, Vogue’s former creative director had been in the hospital battling unknown illnesses. Sources say that Talley passed away Tuesday at a hospital in New York.
André was a key component to the vision and overall aesthetic of Vogue in the ’80s and ’90s. He climbed the ladder in the ranks of Vogue’s magazine, becoming the news director from 1983-87 and then in ’88, ascended to Vogue’s creative director.
Talley was also an influential fashion journalist who worked at Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. Standing at 6-feet-6 inches tall with a loud personality, bold looks, and originality at its finest, you could not miss, André Leon Talley.
In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled “The Eyeful Tower,” Talley was described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past.”
3. Lusia HarrisSource:Getty
Lusia “Lucy” Harris-Stewart, the legendary, barrier-breaking hall of fame basketball player whose largely unknown life story was recently told in a new documentary already being mentioned as an Academy Award contender, has died at the age of 66.
Harris’ death was first reported by journalist Howard Megdal, who attributed the announcement to Ann Meyers Drysdale, the Vice President of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Megdal, founder and editor of women’s basketball news website The Next Hoops, called Harris’ death “terribly sad news.”
Delta State University, Harris’ alma mater, confirmed the death and eulogized her in part as “One of the greatest women’s basketball players to ever grace the court.”
The cause of Harris’ death was not immediately reported. She was less than a month shy of her 67th birthday.
Harris was a natural winner in basketball
Not only did Harris win three straight national championships in the 1970s while starring for Delta University in Mississippi, but the dominating center also won a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games and was even drafted into the NBA — the first and still only time that the world’s premier professional basketball league selected a woman.
She won three straight national titles at tiny Delta State University in the 1970s, earned a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games, and in 1977 became the first woman officially drafted by an NBA team—the New Orleans Jazz. But she made her mark in an era when women’s basketball, and women’s sports in general, didn’t draw much attention.
The best women’s basketball player ever?
While legendary women’s players like Cheryl Miller and Candace Parker have received an outsized amount of attention for their exploits on the hardwood, Harris — who predated both aforementioned stars — managed to fly under the radar despite her impressive statistics. It was a time well before the WNBA, but Harris’ numbers remain undeniable.
By high school, Harris stood at a towering 6-foot-three inches tall. As a high school basketball star, Harris once scored 46 points in a game, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
In college, Harris scored a whopping 2,981 in a three-year career for an average of nearly 26 points per game, according to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, into which she has been inducted — the first Black woman to enjoy that distinction.
When she left Delta State, Harris was the owner of 15 separate statistical records and had only lost six games compared to the 109 she won. Delta State said Harris remains the school’s career record holder in points and rebounds.
Harris won a silver medal while competing in the 1977 Olympic Games and leading the team in scoring and rebounding. She scored the very first basket of the 1976 Olympics.
Harris displayed the sort of killer instinct on the basketball court that is associated with the game’s greatest players ever.
“When I got the ball, I knew my job was to score, and more than likely, I would score,” Harris once said.
In 1977, the Utah Jazz selected Harris with the 137th pick in the seventh round of the NBA Draft.
While Harris was known as the first woman to ever be officially drafted into the NBA, Denise Long was actually drafted straight out of high school by the then-San Francisco Warriors in 1969. However, because the NBA did not allow girls to play, she ended up playing in the all-women’s Warrior Girls Basketball League and Harris eventually — and technically — became the first woman to be drafted into the all-male NBA.
‘The Queen of Basketball’
More than a nickname, “The Queen of Basketball” is also the title of an independent documentary executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal that tells the previously untold story of Harris’ groundball prowess.
“My goal is to make Lucy a household name,” Shaq said in an interview published just last week. “This woman should be celebrated. It’s never too late to put up a statue or name an arena. Like I said, it’s way overdue for this young lady. I hope she gets her recognition.”
Ben Proudfoot, who directed “The Queen of Basketball” as part of the New York Time Op-docs series, called Harris “absolutely preeminent.” He said Harris’ willing participation was key to the documentary’s accuracy.
“You could zero in on a specific game and Lucy could tell you how it went with the narrative of the game and how she performed,” Proudfoot told Deadline. “Her memory was really at the highest level of recall that I have ever encountered.”
Watch “The Queen of Basketball” below.
4. Ronnie SpectorSource:Getty
Ronnie Spector, the pop music singer who rose to fame in the 1960s as part of the girl group the Ronnettes, died Wednesday at the age of 78. The Associated Press reported that Spector’s death came after a battle with cancer.
Born Veronica Bennett, the New York City native who was raised in Harlem began performing with her older sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley, as the Ronettes in the early 1960s. They were officially discovered after winning the renowned amateur night talent competition at the world-famous Apollo Theater.
After signing to the record label of music producer Phil Spector — who would later marry Ronnie Spector — the Ronettes turned the world performing the likes of “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” two of the group’s signature hit songs.
“… the Ronettes cultivated an image modeled on the streetwise women of their Spanish Harlem roots. Spector in particular is now known as “the original bad girl of rock n’ roll”—she and her band mates wore dark mascara and short skirts, which pushed the envelope at that time.”
Ronnie ultimately went solo in 1964 and enjoyed a career that spanned through 2017, when the Ronettes released their first single in decades.
She and Phil Spector married in 1968, after which the couple adopted three children. Phil Spector would ultimately die in prison as a convicted murder following their divorce.
Far Out Magazine recalled the tumultuous relationship the couple had.
“Phil Spector was the definition of abusive. From the get-go, owing to jealousy and other questionable elements of his ideation, he turned Ronnie into a shadow of her former self. Over the course of their marriage, Phil Spector became as controlling and psychologically dominant as was possible. He turned his 23-room mansion into a maximum-security prison. It boasted chain-link fences, barbed wire and intercoms in every room, making it nigh on impossible for Ronnie to leave. Her husband had come to embody Orwell’s Big Brother.”
In 1998, the Ronettes sued Phil Spector claiming he owed them more than $10 million in unpaid royalties.
The New York Times reported at the time:
“The plaintiffs claim that after recording 28 songs with Mr. Spector, they were paid a pittance in the early 1960’s, and that Mr. Spector has wrongly deprived them of millions, not only from the sale of their records but also from the licensing of their hit songs in commercials and television shows like ”Moonlighting,” and in films like ”Dirty Dancing” and ”Goodfellas.””
5. Harvard Law School Professor Lani GuinierSource:Getty
Civil rights lawyer, legal scholar and professor Lani Guinier, whose nomination to serve as the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in President Bill Clinton’s administration was derailed thanks to Republican opposition based on the topic of race, has died at the age of 71.
She died following complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the Washington Post reported, a citing family member.
Guinier broke a number of racial barriers in both academia and the legal profession with her work at Ivy League colleges, including Harvard Law School, where she became the first Black woman to be granted tenure.
On Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John Manning eulogized Guinier in a message to faculty and staff sharing the news of her death.
“Her scholarship changed our understanding of democracy — of why and how the voices of the historically underrepresented must be heard and what it takes to have a meaningful right to vote. It also transformed our understanding of the educational system and what we must do to create opportunities for all members of our diverse society to learn, grow, and thrive in school and beyond,” Manning wrote in part.
Despite all of Guinier’s amazing accomplishments in life — including but certainly not limited to being a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University as well as being assistant counsel at the NAACP LDF and serving as special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days in President Jimmy Carter’s administration — she will likely be most remembered for her controversial nomination to serve in the Department of Justice decades later.
After Clinton nominated Guinier for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1993, Republicans pounced because of her views on race and racial discrimination. As an explainer in The Atlantic pointed out, critical race theory became a part of public discourse during the confirmation hearing. Clinton was consequently accused of not fighting hard enough, or at all, for Guinier’s nomination and ultimately withdrew it.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed writer went so low as to call Guinier “Clinton’s Quota Queen,” which was just a few racist inches away from calling her a “welfare queen.”
Guinier, a leading legal mind in the area of alternative voting rights, ending up taking a bullet for the Democratic team. She didn’t protest (too loudly) about the smear job done on her by Republican hatchet men. But she did have some choice words during an NAACP conference following the nomination debacle.
“I endured the personal humiliation of being vilified as a madwoman with strange hair — you know what that means — a strange name and strange ideas, ideas like democracy, freedom and fairness that mean all people must be equally represented in our political process,” Guinier said at the time. “But lest any of you feel sorry for me, according to press reports the president still loves me. He just won’t give me a job.”
6. James MtumeSource:Getty
Grammy award-winning musician James Mtume reportedly passed away on Sunday, Jan 9 just six days after his 76th birthday. Born James Forman, he was a renowned musician, songwriter, and producer.
A Philadelphia native, Mtume was exposed to musical greatness from birth as the son of Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Health and stepson of James “Hen Gates” Forman a pianist for Charlie Parker. His love of jazz would continue in his own career joining Miles Davis’ band from 1971-1975 as a percussionist. During that time Mtume recorded three acoustic jazz compositions.
He later took his eclectic jazz sound, experimenting with digital sounds to create a jazz/R&B/funk blend called “Sophistafunk.” Mtume reached new heights with his self-titled group, recording on the Epic Label from 1978 to 1986.
Their hit single “Juicy Fruit” would go on to become a widely sampled song in the world of Hip Hop. In a 2018 interview with NBC News, Mtume shared that allowing the song to be sampled for “Juicy” by Biggie introduced a new generation to the classic.
He also wrote hit singles for artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Phyllis Hyman, Mary J. Blige and K-Ci & JoJo. Working with guitarist Reggie Lucas, Mtume co-wrote the classic “The Closer I Get to You” sung by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway.
“Never Knew Love Like This,” which Mtume wrote for songstress Stephanie Mills, won a Grammy for Best R&B song.
7. Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD’Source:Getty
Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD’s passed away at 57
8. 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards – ArrivalsSource:Getty
On January 6, P-Funk members Bootsy Collins and George Clinton confirmed the death of one their own. One of P-Funk’s original vocalists, Calvin Simon, has died at age 79. Bootsie and George took to social media to announce their friend’s passing.
9. Sidney PoitierSource:Getty
Oscar-winning actor Sir Sidney Poitier has died. An icon of black cinema, Poitier was also an activist, director, and ambassador to his native home of The Bahamas. His death was confirmed by Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell. He was 94 years old.
10. Max JulienSource:Getty
Max Julien, star of “The Mack,” passed away at the age of 88.