Those We Lost: recent Irish-American passings

Murphy’s movie career took off in 1995 when she starred in the hit Clueless alongside Alicia Silverstone. A string of successful films followed, including 1999’s Girl, Interrupted and Drop Dead Gorgeous, 2001’s Don’t Say A Word, 2002’s 8 Mile, and Uptown Girls and Spun in 2003. She also dabbled in music, singing in a band called Blessed Soul in the late 1990s and as part of her vocal acting in 2006’s Happy Feet. She is survived by her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, whom she married in 2007.

John J. O’Connor

John J. O’Connor, former New York Times television critic, died in Manhattan at age 76 on November 13. His partner of 47 years, Seymour Barofsky, reported the cause as lung cancer, diagnosed a month prior. Born in 1933 in the Bronx, one of four sons of Kerry immigrants James O’Connor and Hannah Foley, O’Connor earned degrees from the City College of New York and Yale University before joining The Wall Street Journal’s staff in 1959 as a copy editor. In 1971, he became a television critic at The New York Times, beginning a career that spanned over 25 years of developments in the drastically changing medium until his retirement in 1997. He wrote also for the paper’s Sunday Arts & Leisure section and as a theater and dance critic.

The Times obituary quoted a 1972 column in which O’Connor said, “A reviewer is not, or at least shouldn’t be, in the game of picking hits and flops.” It is a critic’s job, O’Connor said, to measure quality, not popularity. And between the two, “no correlation has yet been convincingly established.”

O’Connor is survived by his partner, Seymour Barofsky, and two brothers, William and Joseph.