Obituaries, August 2021

Athan Theoharis
Historian Athan Theoharis, whose work focused on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, died July 3, in Syracuse, New York. He was 84.

After earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Chicago, Theoharis taught at several colleges before going to Marquette University in 1969. He taught there until 2006. Theoharis’s first main area of study was the Cold War. Research he did on the topic led to his interest in the FBI’s methods and research. Theoharis focused on the bureau’s head, J. Edgar Hoover, for many decades. Theoharis’s books included the biography The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition, co-written with John Stuart Cox. He also wrote about Harry Truman’s role in the rise of anti-communism during his presidency.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan
Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who once worked for John F. Kennedy and later met and wrote about his assassin, died July 7, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was 92.

McMillan studied Russian at Bryn Mawr and then earned a master’s degree in Russian studies at Radcliffe College. After college, she worked briefly for Kennedy during his term as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. McMillan made her first trip to the Soviet Union in 1955, working as a translator for The New York Times. On a later trip, she met Lee Harvey Oswald, who was in Moscow trying to defect. McMillan later got to know Oswald’s wife and, in 1977, she wrote Marina and Lee: The Tormented Love and Fatal Obsession Behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Several media outlets reported that McMillan was the only person known to have met both Kennedy and Oswald. In 2005, she published her last book, a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Carol Easton
Carol Easton, a biographer of artists in four different fields, died June 17, in Venice, California. She was 87.

Easton was born in San Francisco and raised in Hollywood; her stepfather, Jack Easton, was an agent there. After studying theater arts at UCLA during the 1950s, Easton waited several years before writing her first book, a 1973 biography of jazz composer and band leader Stan Kenton. Over the years, she followed that book with biographies of film producer Samuel Goldwyn and classical cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Her last book, The Life of Agnes DeMille, was published in 1996. Easton also contributed 16 profiles to The Best of the Music Makers, which has mini-biographies of more than 280 musicians of the 20th century.

Margaret Hooks
Margaret Hooks, a journalist and author who profiled the lives and works of many artists, died July 19, in Jávea, Spain. She was 76.

Born in Belfast, Ireland, Hooks eventually settled in Mexico, where she began her writing career. She reported on events in Mexico and Guatemala for several newspapers, including The Irish Times. Her work also appeared in ARTnews, Vogue, and Elle. Hooks’s first biography was Tina Modotti: Photographer and Revolutionary, published in 1993. Other subjects she wrote about over the years included Frida Kahlo and Edward James. Her last book, in 2017, was Surreal Lovers: Eight Women Integral to the Life of Max Ernst.