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​Al Abrams: Motown's first press officer

Al Abrams, who has died of cancer, was the founding press officer and publicist for Motown Records. Born in Detroit, home of the label, he was the first person to be hired by founder Berry Gordy Jnr, before the company officially existed. He promoted records to Detroit disc jockeys and went on to direct media relations at the label, handling stars like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and the Supremes. 

Brian Friel: The most acclaimed Irish playwright of his generation

The work of Brian Friel unquestionably places him in the great tradition of Irish theatre, with a dramatic landscape as distinctive as those of his 20th century predecessors O’Casey and Beckett. Many of his plays travelled widely beyond Ireland, and some – the haunting monologue -structured Faith Healer, Translations and his worldwide success, Dancing at Lughnasa – will surely survive as classics.

Georges de Paris: Tailor who worked for many US presidents

The Washington tailor Georges de Paris, who would become outfitter to the city’s power brokers and political elite, liked to talk of a romance that brought him from Paris to Washington but left him disillusioned, broke and living in a park. He said his fortunes changed when a woman who worked at a men’s clothing store found him work as a tailor’s cutter. He saved his earnings to purchase a sewing machine and, eventually, open his own work space.

Jack Larson: Actor who gave up his career to write for the stage

Jack Larson was reluctant to play Clark Kent’s bow-tied sidekick, Jimmy Olsen, in Adventures of Superman, the first television incarnation of the comic-book stories. With aspirations to become a Broadway actor and playwright, he worried that he would become typecast in the role of the Daily Planet newspaper’s wide-eyed, enthusiastic junior reporter in the fictional city of Metropolis.