Monday, February 11, 2008


Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Actor Roy Scheider, Dead.

Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, died Monday at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland of cancer of the esophagus.

Actor Roy Scheider died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock of multiple myeloma.

Associated Press

Tom Lantos

Lantos, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was serving his 14th term in Congress. He had said he would not seek re-election in his Northern California district, which takes in the southwest portion of San Francisco and suburbs to the south.

Lantos assumed his committee chairmanship when Democrats retook control of Congress. He said at the time that in a sense his whole life had been a preparation for the job — and it was.

Lantos, who called himself "an American by choice," was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping twice from a forced labor camp and coming under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status to save thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Lantos' mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust.

That background gave Lantos a unique moral authority that he used to speak out on foreign policy issues, sometimes courting controversy. He advocated for human rights in Sudan, Myanmar and elsewhere, and in 2006 was one of five members of Congress arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy protesting what the Bush administration describes as genocide in Darfur.

Flags at the White House and Capitol were lowered to half-staff in Lantos' honor. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both delivered remembrances on the Senate floor.

Lantos was elected to the House in 1980. He founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1983. In early 2004 he led the first congressional delegation to Libya in more than 30 years, met personally with Moammar Gadhafi and urged the administration to show "good faith" to the North African leader in his pledge to abandon his nuclear weapons programs. Later that year, Bush lifted sanctions against Libya.

In October 2007, as Foreign Affairs chairman, Lantos defied administration opposition by moving through his committee a measure that would have recognized the World War I-era killings of Armenians as a genocide, something strongly opposed by Turkey. The bill has not passed the House.

"(Lantos) saw his survival from the camps in Europe as a reason to devote his life to help victims of discrimination, oppression and persecution everywhere," said Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, a close friend. "He was outspoken in whatever he did."

"It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress," Lantos said upon announcing his retirement last month.
The Huffington Post

Roy Scheider

He was nominated for a best-supporting actor Oscar in 1971's "The French Connection" in which he played the police partner of Oscar winner Gene Hackman and for best-actor for 1979's "All That Jazz," the autobiographical Bob Fosse film.

However, he was best known for his role in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film, "Jaws," the enduring classic about a killer shark terrorizing beachgoers and well as millions of moviegoers.

Widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster, it was also the first movie to earn $100 million at the box office. Scheider starred with Richard Dreyfuss, who played an oceanographer.

"He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call 'a knockaround actor,'" Dreyfuss told The Associated Press on Sunday.

"A 'knockaround actor' to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor and doesn't' yell and scream at the fates and does his job and does it as well as he can," he said.

In 2005, one of Scheider's most famous lines in the movie _ "You're gonna need a bigger boat" _ was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute's list of best quotes from U.S. movies.

[Dreyfuss] added that Scheider "was a pretty civilized human being _ you can't ask for much more than that."
Rest in peace guys.

Thanks for all your work.