Lives in Brief
Geneticist Professor Esther Lederberg, who died in Stanford, California, on November 11, aged 83, made major virus discoveries. Born Esther Zimmer in New York, she worked at Stanford University medical school from 1959 until retiring in 1985, when she was made professor emeritus. Her 1950 seminal discovery of the “lambda phage”, when she noticed that her cultivated bacteria were being mysteriously eaten up, was overshadowed by the Nobel prize awarded in 1958 to her first husband, Joshua Lederberg, who discovered how bacteria replicate.
Classical pianist Leonid Hambro, who died in New York on October 23, aged 86, accompanied comedian Victor Borge from 1961-71, feeding deliberate musical mistakes for Borge’s gags. Chicago-born, the son of an immigrant Russian silent film pianist, Hambro studied at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. He gained fame in 1952 when he played Hindemith’s complex music brilliantly at 24 hours notice in front of the composer. He performed with violinists Kreisler, Heifitz and Stern on both sides of the Atlantic. From 1970-87 he taught at the California Institute of Arts.
Legendary basketball coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach, who died in Washington, DC, on October 18, aged 89, led the Boston Celtics to 16 championships as coach and general manager. Under him the team won 938 games between 1950 and 1966. Brooklyn-born Auerbach was a mediocre player at school and university but a born coach. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968.