The Iron Lady, Architect of Arizona’s hippie utopia, Spain’s Elizabeth Taylor: This week’s notable deaths

Margaret Thatcher truly was the Iron Lady.
Margaret Thatcher truly was the Iron Lady.
Image: AP Photo/Jockel Fink
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Margaret Thatcher, 87 — Former British prime minister whose history-making stint at Number 10 Downing Street set Britain on a drastically new, free-market oriented course, but was blamed for inflicting deep wounds in the form of pervasive high unemployment.

Paolo Soleri, 93 — Italian-born architect who apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright. He was best known for Arcosanti, the desert community he founded north of Phoenix, Arizona in 1970, not far from Lloyd Wright’s own community Taliesin West, that embodied his attempt to fuse architecture and ecology.

Mikhail Beketov, 55 — Russian journalist and environmental activist whose investigation into corruption related to plans to put a road through a forest near the Moscow suburb of Khimki likely resulted in a near-fatal beating in 2008. The attack left him in a wheelchair and unable to form sentences. No one was ever arrested. “Last spring, I called for the resignation of the city’s leadership. A few days later, my automobile was blown up. What is next for me?,” he wrote in 2007.

Anne Smedinghoff, 25 — A foreign service officer with the US State Department, she was killed when her convoy was attacked in the southern Afghan province of Zabul. She was the first US diplomat to be killed since US ambassador Chris Stevens died in an attack on the embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya last year.

Jonathan Winters, 87 — Pudgy-faced US comedian whose characters and lightning-fast improvisations inspired a generation of comics including Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. “I was fighting for the fact that you could be funny without telling jokes,” he told the New York Times.

Sara Montiel, 85 — Voluptuous Spanish-born film star whose beauty made her first a star of Mexican movies and later Hollywood. Born to farm laborers in the La Mancha region, she became known as the Elizabeth Taylor of the Spanish-speaking world and was linked romantically, by turns, to James Dean, Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway and Mario Lanza, who she married. ”You don’t have enough paper to print them all,” she told a Miami Herald reporter, who asked about her exploits.

Robert Edwards, 87 — Nobel Prize-winning medical researcher who pioneered in vitro fertilization techniques and revolutionized child-bearing world-wide.

Zao Wou-ki, 93 — Beijing-born artist whose work bridged eastern and western sensibilities, fusing western abstraction with brushwork rooted in Chinese ink painting. He fled China in 1948 before Communist rule and spent most of his life in France. Later in his life his work became sought-after by Asian collectors driving prices sharply higher.