Carol Easton, whose curiosity about creativity inspired her to write biographies of four prominent figures in the arts — Stan Kenton, Samuel Goldwyn, Jacqueline du Pré and Agnes de Mille — died June 17 at her home in Venice, California. She was 87.
Her death was confirmed Saturday by her daughter, Liz Kinnon.
“She was always fascinated with people, especially creative people in the arts,” Kinnon said. “After working as a freelance writer for years, she decided she wanted to write her first
Her first subject was jazz composer and orchestra leader Kenton, whose popularity spanned four decades. Her “Straight Ahead: The Story of Stan Kenton” was published in 1973.
She followed that with “The Search for Sam Goldwyn” (1976), a profile of the pioneering Hollywood producer; “Jacqueline du Pré: A Biography” (1989), about the child prodigy cellist who developed career-ending cerebral palsy in her late 20s; and “No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille” (1996), which delved into the life of the choreographer who endowed dance with a distinctive American energy.
“No Intermissions” was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1996. It was described by Jennifer Dunning, The Times’ dance critic, in a review as an “extensively researched” look at the worlds of ballet and Broadway (including de Mille’s groundbreaking choreography for “Oklahoma”); her impassioned advocacy for the National Endowment for the Arts; and her outspokenness. (When she received the National Medal of Arts in 1986, Easton wrote, she told President Ronald Reagan, “You’re a much better actor now than you were in the movies.”)