Oscar-winning composer John Barry died on January 30 from a heart attack, at age 77. Barry’s compositions heightened the drama and complimented the moods of films such as Out of Africa, Dances With Wolves, Midnight Cowboy and Born Free. He was also the man behind the iconic music heard in all of the James Bond installments from Dr. No to The Living Daylights.
Born John Barry Prendergast on November 3, 1933 in York, England, Barry became familiar with films at an early age. His father, a Cork native, started off as a projectionist and then ran a small chain of cinemas in northern England. At a young age, Barry learned to play the piano and the trumpet, and dabbled in many other instruments.
After performing with an army band during his few years in the service, he started the John Barry Seven. In addition to playing live, the group also scored theme music for a few hit TV shows, such as Juke Box Jury, which garnered them attention.
Soon after Barry began composing for films, he was signed to be Monty Norman’s back-up for Dr. No. Years later the two composers disputed whether Barry had actually taken charge of the soundtrack and Norman successfully sued him for libel. There was never any doubt, however, that the rest of the Bond music was entirely Barry’s.
He married four times, including once to Jane Birkin, and spent his last three decades mostly in Oyster Bay, N.Y. with his fourth wife, Laurie. Barry is survived by Laurie and their four children: Kate, Jonpatrick, Sian and Suzanne; and five grandchildren.
Mary Cleere Haran
Mary Cleere Haran, cabaret singer, passed away on February 5, 2011 in Deerfield Beach, FL. She was 58. Haran died two days after tragically being hit by a car while riding her bicycle.
Haran was born May 13, 1952 in San Francisco, CA, the second of eight children. Performing was in her blood – her father taught theater and film at San Francisco City College. She began as an Irish step dancer but, desiring to use the upper part of her body, Haran dropped step dancing and became a violinist. Unable to master the violin, she found that she could sing.
Though she came of age during the Haight-Ashbury period of the 1960s, Haran was inspired by the music and films of the 1930s and 1940s. She moved to New York in the 1970s, and made her Broadway debut in The 1940s Radio Hour in 1979. Her off-Broadway appearances included Manhattan Music, Swingtime Canteen and Heebie Jeebies.
Haran made her Manhattan cabaret debut in 1988 at the Ballroom. Four years later, the first of her six recordings, “There’s a Small Hotel,” was released. In addition to her cabaret work, Haran had a recurring role on 100 Centre Street, and produced, wrote or contributed to several PBS documentaries, including Doris Day: Sentimental Journey and Michael Feinstein’s The Great American Songbook.
Haran is survived by her son, Jacob, from her marriage to writer-director Joe Gilford; six siblings: Terence, Brigid, Ned and Time Haran, Bronwyn Harris and Eithne Bullick; and her stepmother, Loyce Haran.
John J. Horan, former CEO of Merck & Co. Inc, died of natural causes in New Jersey on January 22, 2011. He was 90.
From 1976 to 1985, Horan had a large impact on the pharmaceutical company. Under his leadership, Merck’s research, development and sales force increased significantly, making it the largest drug company in the world at the time. Horan also held an important role in humanitarian efforts by supporting the research for a drug to prevent and treat river blindness. Through the World Health Organization, Merck sent the drug to countries in need, free of charge.
A native of Staten Island, Horan graduated from Manhattan College in 1940. He went on to serve as an officer in the United States Navy Amphibious Forces from 1942 to 1946, during World War II. He was a part of history: he helped to send orders that led to the launch of the D-Day invasion while serving as communications officer on the staff of Admiral John Wilkes.
Following his time with the Navy, Horan earned a law degree from Columbia and worked his way up after starting out in the legal department of Merck in 1952. After retiring as CEO, he remained active in the company, serving as a member of the Board of Directors and as its vice chairman until 1993.
Horan is survived by his wife of 66 years, Julia Fitzgerald; four children, Mary Alice Ryan, Thomas, John, and David; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Kieran McGonnell, a contemporary Irish-born artist, died suddenly on January 11 due to complications from a head injury suffered in November. He was residing in Chicago, IL, where he had recently moved from Brooklyn, NY. In an Irish Echo article entitled “Top 40 under 40,” McGonnell had been selected as one of the top young Irish success stories living in the U.S.