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Popular Topics in The Arts
Nyad, Diana Nyad, Diana
Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
 
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In Memoriam
 
In Memoriam: Cris Alexander (1920-2012)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 03/25/12
Last updated on: 03/25/12
 
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Douglas Martin reports in the New York Times that photographer and actor Cris Alexander died in Saratoga Springs, New York on March 7, 2012. He was best known as a celebrity photographer and for the photos he contributed to Patrick Dennis's Little Me (1961).

Alexander was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 14, 1920. He came to New York in 1938 and initially found some success as an actor, appearing in a number of Broadway shows, including the 1944 Leonard Bernstein musical On the Town. But he soon found greater success as a photographer, becoming known for his portraits of Martha Graham and Vivien Leigh, and his work for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. For many years, he was the official photographer of the New York City Ballet.

Alexander, who had appeared in the 1956 Broadway play based on Patrick Dennis's 1955 novel Auntie Mame, readily agreed to collaborate with Dennis on a fictitious biography of a movie star, Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of That Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, Belle Poitrine. He contributed 150 photos to the book, which is now regarded as a classic satire. Actor and playwright Charles Busch described its publication as "a seminal moment in the popularization" of camp.

Alexander also contributed photographs to another mock biography by Dennis: First Lady (1964), the story of Martha Dinwiddie Butterfield, wife of a robber baron who "stole" the U. S. presidency.

Alexander married celebrated ballet dancer Shaun O'Brien in 2011, soon after same-sex marriage became legal in New York. The two were life partners for more than 60 years and died within two weeks of each other, O'Brien on February 23, 2012.

When asked the cause of Alexander's death, his friend Jane Klain replied, "If there is a cause of death, it's a broken heart. It's as simple as that."

 
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