The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on September 14, 1998 · 15
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 15

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Monday, September 14, 1998
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OBITUARIES 1 15 The Guardian Monday September 14 1998 Gordon Downer Asian words and water buffalo Across the great divide . . . among Freeman's grandest projects was the Humber Bridge, which until this year was the world's longest Sir Ralph Freeman Bridging generations UNDER the leadership of Sir Ralph Freeman, who has died aged 87, the consulting engineers, Freeman Fox & Partners, became a world leader in long-span bridge design. The firm was responsible for the Forth Road Bridge, the first Severn Bridge, the first two Bosphorus bridges and the Humber Bridge, which, with a main span of 1,410 metres, was the world's longest until this year. As senior partner from 1963 until his 1979 retirement. Freeman was perfectly equipped to lead a firm working on the frontiers of technology. He combined vision and inventiveness with practicality, judgment and commercial sense. Freeman's father, also Sir Ralph, was the founder of the firm and designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. His son was educated at Uppingham School and read engineering science at Worcester College, Oxford. On graduation he pursued his passion for bridges at the steelwork fabricators, Dor-man Long. He worked on the construction of the 330-metre Birchenough steel arch bridge over the Sabi river and the 320-metre span Otto Beit suspension bridge over the Zambesi in Zimbabwe both designed by his father. En route to South Africa he met Leonid Kinskey 'Why, you crazy Russian' AMONG the glories of the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s and 1940s were the cherishable character actors who appeared in hundreds of films, often only as walk-ons, but always recognisable and welcome. Many of them had found refuge in Hollywood from the turmoil of Europe. Leonid Kinskey (sometimes Kinsky), who has died aged 95, left his native Russia in 1921, where he had specialised in mime, before ending up in the US. After appearing in one silent film, The Great Depression (1926), he had to wait another six years before entering the talkies, in which his heavily Russian-accented English was used to such comic effect. In fact, whether Kinskey played an Arab (The Garden of Allah), an Indian snake charmer (Lives of a Bengal Lancer), Latins (Down Argentine Way, Weekend in Havana) or a French artist (Cafe Metropole), ironically expressing his dislike for Russians, he remained resolutely Russian. Kinskey and his near contemporaries, Mischa Auer and Gregory Ratoff, all born in St Petersburg, presented American audiences with a stereotyped image of Russians as eccentric and temperamental, until the cold war replaced them as villains. Kinskey had one of his great moments in his first talkie, Ernst Lubitsch's A Country Diary THE LAKE DISTRICT: If you're ever in the John Peel country at the "back o' Skid-daw", it would be a pity not to explore the Howk at Caldbeck, for there's nothing quite like it anywhere else in the national park. The Howk strangely among hills of volcanic rock is a limestone ravine with natural caves and caverns beside thundering waterfalls, rushing torrents and inviting pools, not unlike certain exciting corners in the Yorkshire dales. Indeed, a first view of the place may remind you of Gordale Scar. You enter the ravine by walking along a track, shadowed by trees, from the Li Joan Rose. They married in Cape Town in 1939. He joined Freeman Fox & Partners in 1939 and worked on the Royal Naval propellant factory at Caerwent until he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1943. At the Experimental Bridging Establishment he adapted Bailey bridging components for use on a 400ft span suspen- After Freeman was made consulting engineer to George VI at Sandringham, he called himself 'the Queen's plumber' sion bridge, a design later used in Burma. In July 1944, Freeman advised on the types of military bridges needed to cross rivers and canals during the Allied advance across Europe. He played the key role in the design and construction of three high-level Bailey bridges across the Rhine the one at Dusseldorf became known as the "Freeman Bridge". He was awarded the MBE and knighted by the Dutch. He returned to Freeman sparkling Trouble in Paradise (1932). Wrongly accused of stealing from wealthy widow Kay Francis, Kinskey, as an anarchist, makes a passionate speech about the Depression. Although the scene is meant to be comic, Lubitsch had the courage, and the right interpreter, to allow a reference to hardship to intrude into the hedonistic, sophisticated world he created. As Russians were associated with revolution, in his next film, the Marx Brothers's masterpiece, Duck Soup (1933), he had a bit part as a political agitator, Leonid Kinskey . . . with Bing and the cast of Rhythm on the crowded duck pond on the village green, and after a little way, step out into an open area of towering crags, and the sight and sound of falling water. Surprisingly, you see the massive ruins of a considerable building of enormous, red sandstone blocks, but the shape and situation of the remains, and nearly 150 years of weathering, almost makes them fit into the landscape. This was the famous bobbin mill once said to have had the largest water wheel in the country. Nowadays, you pass through the gorge along a fenced way with many stone steps, and further on a wooden bridge across the beck, and raHHHm 1 1 flaaBBeaaanaaiaaBaaaaanl Fox & Partners in 1945 and became a partner in 1947. Two years later, he was appointed consulting engineer to George VI at the Sandringham estate, and remained in the role until he retired. Freeman described himself as "the Queen's plumber" he was awarded a CVO in 1964. In 1949 the firm was appointed consulting engineer for the South Bank Exhibition part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. The most important element was the design of the 365ft diameter Dome of Discovery. After the death of his father in 1950, Freeman took over co-ordination of the design and construction of all the building and facilities of the South Bank site. He was later awarded a CBE. The first of Freeman Fox & Partners' major post-war bridges was across Auckland and in Manhattan Melodrama (1934), he was a Trotskyite. Gradually, however, Kinskey got more amiable parts, incongruously singing I'm An Old Cowhand in the Bing Crosby musical Rhythm on the Range (1936); was one of seven loveable old professors whose life is disrupted by striptease queen Barbara Stanwyck in Howard Hawks's Ball of Fire (1942), and very funny witli fellow Russian Akim Tamiroff as a pair of confused Slavic fortune hunters in the Deanna Durbin musical, Can't Help Singing Crosby, Martha Raye (right) Range joel finler collection carry on, if you like, to the main road. Many years ago, with a mountaineering friend, we did some scrambling around the rocks and caverns, but this doesn't seem to be encouraged nowadays. And, much longer ago, the Victorians came from far and wide to view the waterwheel and to picnic in and around the caves. To fill in your day, you can have a look at John Peel's ornate gravestone, or that of the "Beauty of Buttermere", in the crowded churchyard, or, better still, walk up High Pike, the most northerly two-thou-sander in Lakeland. A HARRY GRIFFIN harbour in New Zealand. Others included the Volta, Forth Road, Erskine, and Bosphorus. The aerofoil-shaped deck of the Severn and Humber bridges revolutionised the design of long-span bridges. The firm's other projects including the M5 motorway, the M2 its bridge over the Med-way was then the world's longest pre-stressed concrete bridge power stations at High Marnham and Aberthaw "B", the hydro electric scheme at Rheidol in Wales, and the then world's largest pumped storage hydro scheme at Ffestiniog. Radio telescopes in Canada and Australia, designed by the firm, were the first where the dish was supported by a single central support. It was also appointed, together with Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners, to design the Hong Kong Cross Harbour Tunnel. In 1960 Freeman foresaw the need for traffic engineering skills, then a new branch of engineering, and formed a joint company with Wilbur Smith & Associates, of the United States. Freeman Fox, Wilbur Smith Associates carried out the London Traffic Survey for the Ministry of Transport and the Greater London Council. This was followed by the Hong Kong Mass Transport Study and Freeman secured a follow-up study for Freeman Fox & Partners into an urban rail (1945). One of his largest roles was in the madcap 1941 Hal Roach comedy, Broadway Limited, in which he played a despotic movie director, who convinces the star of his latest film to pretend she has a baby on a publicity tour to make her seem less frivolous. Kinskey semi-retired from the screen in the late 1940s to run a restaurant on Sunset Strip, as well as directing and writing industrial films. He was married three times, his first wife being the Viennese society beauty Iphigenie Cas-tiglone, his third was violinist Tina York, 50 years his junior. "She supports me," he said in 1990. "I'm an 87-year-old gigolo." In 1955 Kinskey returned to the big screen to play a doctor treating drug-addict Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm, and then made sporadic appearances on TV. in series such as Perry Mason and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. However, most audiences know him for his portrayal of Sascha, the ingratiating barman at Rick's Cafe Americain in Casablanca (1942). After Humphrey Bogart has arranged for a young couple to win at roulette so they can pay for transit papers, Kinskey kisses Bogart on both cheeks. "Boss, you've done a beautiful thing." Bogart, half-smiling, pretends to be displeased. "Why, you crazy Russian," he says, gently pushing Kinskey away. It is as a "crazy Russian" that Leonid Kinskey will be most fondly remembered. Ronald Bergan Leonid Kinskey (Kinsky), actor, born April 18, 1903; died Septembers, 1998 Birthdays Paul Allott, cricketer, 42; Amanda Barrie, actress, 59; Denis Betts, rugby league footballer, 29; Sandra Blow, painter, 73; James Clappi-son, Conservative MP, 42; Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, CH, former Labour minister, 82; Prof John Coales, electrical engineer, 91; Sir James Cobban, educationalist, 88; Morten Harket, pop singer, 39; Michael Howard, organist, 76; Andy King, Labour MP, 50; Kate Millett, writer and feminist campaigner, 64; Sir Angus Ogilvy, 70; Ray Wilkins, footballer, 42; Nicol Williamson, actor, 60; Martin Wyld, head of conservation, National Gallery, 54. way for the colony. In 1972 this led to probably the firm's largest job, the design of the first line of the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway. Freeman was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1966-67, and was also chairman of the Association of Consulting Engineers. He was a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission from 1968 to 1985, and was knighted in 1970 for services to engineering. Away from his profession, he played golf, sailed and spent much time in his workshop. In later years, infirmity kept him chairbound, but his mind and memory remained razor sharp. He continued corresponding with friends around the world and writing letters to the technical journals on engineering matters. His son, Anthony, shared the family passion for bridge design, and father and son maintained a technical correspondence until Anthony's death in a fall from Lisbon's Vasco de Gama bridge in Lisbon in 1997, a terrible personal tragedy for Sir Ralph. He is survived by his wife Joan, daughter Elizabeth, son Hugh and nine devoted grandchildren. Colin R Coulson Sir Ralph Freeman, engineer, born Febiuary 3, 1911; died August 24, 1998 1291 33 333M-II dvd FamilyPC 333 MX (M-ll) New SuperFast IBM processor 1024k pipeline burst cache 128Mb high performance SDRAM Massive 10.1Gb Ultra DMA-33 hard disk AGPx2 3D graphics with 4Mb SGRAM TV-OUT facility for large screen gamesplay 15" SVGA 0.28dp colour monitor 56K Rockwell voicafaMfatalntemet modem 3D wavelable stereo sound DVD-ROM II drive (also functions as fast CD-ROM) DVD decoder and MPEG-II software Lord ol the Dance DVD movie included Educational SATS software bundle IBM ViaVoice Executive Speech Recognition Microsoft Windows 98 with manuals and CD FREE E800 of top quality sollware Including Lotus SmartSuite Millennium, GSP suite and Norton Antivirus. FREE Epson 400 Colour Printer FREE A4 Colour flatbed scanner (RRP 1 1 9) All SUndard FMturea. Free 30 day Internet trial, SF525 speaker system. Windows keyboard and PS2 mouse, fully year 2C00 compter and 100 millennium sale. 60 minulo VHS itdoortraining guide, 14 day money back guarantee ProAjd codas 333M-H DVD 15' 660 irffil 19 662 Exec Model: Include Joystick, headset mlaophono. 5 top gnmos (RRP CMS) and over 13 suporb mulumedH) titles (RRP C325I tor only 99 VAT-11633 extra Produd codes 333MIOVDCmc 15-663 ir664 19-665 -2 GORDON DOWNER, who has died aged 72, was an extraordinarily gifted linguist, who developed a lifelong fascination with Asian languages and peoples. He was born in Kingston, Ontario, and grew up speaking English from his Scottish and Irish-Canadian parents, French from his neighbourhood, and Sei Yap Chinese from playing with the children who lived next door. The money he received as a 10th birthday present went on a Chinese dictionary, and when he was offered a Canadian government scholarship at the end of his wartime naval service (on the strength of his knowledge of a Chinese language, he had been deployed as a Japanese-English interpreter), he chose to study Chinese at London University's School of Oriental And African Studies, graduating with first-class honours in 1950. SOAS immediately took him on to the staff as assistant lecturer in Cantonese, rapidly promoting him to lecturer in Cantonese and, in 1963, to lecturer in Chinese. In 1970 he succeeded Owen Lattimore as professor of Chinese at the University of Leeds, taking early retirement in 1980. Gordon was fluent not just in Sei Yap and standard Cantonese, but also in Mandarin. He could get by in Shanghain-ese, and worked on Min dialects. At one time he taught the Hakka dialect by learning it a week ahead of his class, a fear which he admitted to have been nga-yin (Cantonese for "teeth-smokingly" risky). He picked up Japanese, Ainu, Thai, Malay, Basque and an Inuit language, and could handle a number of European languages competently. Although he was an able CORRECTIONS AND IN THE obituary for Inge Aicher-Scholl, page 18, September 8, we placed Ulm in Bavaria. It's in Baden-Wiirttemberg; Neu-Ulm is in Bavaria. THE THEOLOGIST in the Birthdays, page 20, September 10, is a theologian. GEORGE CUKOR only started the direction of Gone with the Wind (page 4, Satur The UK's best multimedia PC complete with DVD is here. A truly incredible specification for just E1099VAT. Order the Exec model now and get 12 months Interest Free Credit with NOTHING to pay until September 1999 Epson Stylus 400 colour printer wiih 720dpi print and dual cartridges Untiled offer n-i hi loftartvf ptcki art tfiown Pay Nothing Until Sept 99 Exec models only See typical finance example below we're on your WW it ijrrtm mil mm KWCSt analyst of language, Gordon's classes in Cantonese were entirely free of linguistic jargon he had no pomp and scouted it in others. Instead, they consisted of pragmatic grammar lessons studded with brilliantly coloured extempore illustrations from the adrenalin-soaked patter of Hong Kong. I still use in class some materials which Gordon had transcribed from live conversations in the 1950s; they capture the spirit of the language and its speakers more accurately than any other. Gordon's skill as a teacher lay in his being able to communicate the life and gutsiness Downer . . . risks in Hakka which he discerned in the southern Chinese and in which he took such delight himself. The major thrust of his interest and scholarly attention was deflected from China by the long years of isolationism, which prevented all but the most sycophantic fellow travelling academics from working there, and from the mid-1950s he began to work on the peoples and languages of China's south-east Asian mainland neighbours. Helped by generous overseas leave from CLARIFICATIONS day Review, September 5) but was fired after a week or so. The credited director is Victor Fleming. IN A report headed. Scientists to build antimatter factory to supply perfect food, page 13, September 11, we made the child psychologist, Dr Spock, a member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise (for one trip only before returning the job to Mr Spock). Colour A4 flatbed scanner (RRP 119) allows you to scan pictures. photos and documents into your work Also works as a photocopier and a fax machine Limited offer NO Deposits NO Payments: NO Interests &flp(T99B ffVf WO n I bm l aci rati p j Cmmmqim Kuim t If fml onyuM t ICvau Lugo mO lmK n IiHnoi tJ Tin CJSTUit.Jii 4a mwm I :m trT:yt" ' ux-iiwtm I Blackburn 83 I Brighton SOAS, he made a series of protracted trips to the highlands of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, where he recorded the languages and customs of the semi-nomadic, agricultural Yao, the Green Miao, the White Miao, the Flowery Miao and others. SOAS became inured to his being out of contact for many months at a time, and his contemporaries recall the wondering resignation with which the school authorities received a telegram from him after one such absence asking for a water buffalo and a consignment of corrugated iron to be sent by way of research expenses. He needed them to pay for help from a Yao headman, who would not take money. Gordon's work on these rarely studied languages made him one of just one or two world specialists, but he published only a small part of his findings, most of it in the bulletin of SOAS, alongside his writings on tone patterns in Chinese poetry, one word derivation in early Chinese, and on Chinese historical phonology. At the time of his death he was nearing the completion of his most ambitious project, a Yao-English dictionary, and it remains to be seen whether anyone can be found to continue with it. Gordon often said that money was useful only for books, parties and travel he revelled in all three. He leaves his first wife, Lilian, a Chinese Canadian, and their children, Lesley and Geoffrey: and his second wife, Esther, a Hong Kong Chinese nurse, and their children, Alison and Belinda. Hugh Baker Gordon Boyd Downer, linguist, born February 6, 1926; died August 20, 1998 It is the policy of the Guardian to correct errors as soon as possible. Please quote date and page number. Readers may contact the office of the Readers' Editor by telephoning 0171 239 9589 between 11am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Surface mail should be directed to the Readers' Editor, The Guardian, 119, Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER. Fax: 0171 239 9897. E-mail: readerbiguardian.co.uk for.saesDeoae'vvffo take the time to undAnd.youf needs It's Time for Clear etolanations in plain Englief).-rtp't Jargon " for computers that grow with , you ami GSrj'be updated ' ' It's f irtie to cut out the middleman and cut the cost ol computers ltlme : to visit us ' '.: Tir.fj?mMMiiy,T,viMTJ1i:i1riiiXiSfc MIMlMbroiigh Mawcattte Nottingham OtnO0n Bromfoy Uwrpool Plymouth Cbtllannatn London cwKtfla . 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