Saturday, February 22, 2014

Howland H. Sargeant and Myrna Loy

Howland H. Sargeant is the only American ever to have served as President of the UNESCO General Conference. He did so in 1951 at the GC meeting in Paris. At the time he was serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

He was also on his honeymoon at the time, having recently married actress Mryna Loy, who he met through the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. It is fun to consider the impact the she would have had on the people attending the General Conference. Here is how Lauren Bacall described Loy:
How many women do we know who were continually kissed by Clark Gable, William Powell, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Fredric March? Only one: Myrna Loy... And to meet whom did Franklin D. Roosevelt find himself tempted to call off the Yalta Conference? Myrna Loy. And to see what lady in what picture did John Dillinger risk coming out of hiding to meet his bullet-ridden death in an alley in Chicago? Myrna Loy, in Manhattan Melodrama.
According to the International Movie Data Base:
Some of her biggest fans included Jimmy Stewart, Winston Churchill, and the Roosevelts. FDR invited to the White House early on in his administration, and she became very friendly with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Sargeant, a Rhodes Scholar, was a career diplomat. In 1947, he had became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs In this capacity, he was a member of the United States delegation to UNESCO and in 1950 was Vice-President of the UNESCO General Conference that met in Florence. In 1952 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, serving in that position for nearly a year.

The American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia founded Radio Liberty in 1954, and Sargeant became Radio Liberty's first president. He held this position until 1975. (Radio Liberty merged with Radio Free Europe in 1976.) He died in 1984.

Myrna Loy was herself very active in supporting UNESCO. She became the first Hollywood star to be appointed a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in 1948 and in the 1950s served as Chair of the Hollywood Committee for UNESCO. Between 1949 and 1954 she served as a film advisor for UNESCO. She also made radio broadcasts supporting UNESCO.

Loy is today best known for her role as Nora Charles in six "Thin Man" movies made between 1934 and 1947. (My childhood neighbor and friend, Dean Stockwell, played her son in the last of these, Song of the Thin Man.) Ultimately, she made 129 movies, and acted in television, radio and the stage as well.

According to Wikipedia:
With the outbreak of World War II, Loy all but abandoned her acting career to focus on the war effort and work closely with the Red Cross. She was so fiercely outspoken against Adolf Hitler that her name appeared on his blacklist. She helped run a Naval Auxiliary Canteen and toured frequently to raise funds.
Late in her life she received an honorary Academy Award and a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. She was named Queen of the Movies in a nation-wide poll of moviegoers in 1936

She and Howland Sargeant were divorced in 1960. She continued acting until well into her 70s, and died in 1993.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Phil Hemily: Long time member of the Americans for UNESCO Board of Directors

PHILIP W. HEMILY died peacefully January 7, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida. He was a long term member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO.  He received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Science and Diplomacy in 1996.

Phil was the author of "Looking Back on Science and Engineering in UNESCO: 1946-2004" in Prospects and Retrospects, Volume 1, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2004, pages 22 and 23. He was also an editor of:

From 1984 through 1995 he served as a consultant, senior program officer, and Director of the Committee on International Organizations and Programs of the Office of International Affairs -- the international arm of the National Research Council. In that position, he gave priority attention to U.S. scientific and engineering relations with UNESCO, and with the International Council of Scientific Unions. He was instrumental in the establishment of international engineering organizations, and the follow up to the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development.

During this same period he was also a consultant to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government; the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the Department of State; the Stanford Research Institute, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Philip W. Hemily retired from the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State (1983) after serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Scientific Affairs (1976-82) of NATO and Science Counselor to the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 1965-1974.

He held senior staff positions at the National Science Foundation from 1957-1965 during which time he was instrumental in creating the international office of the Foundation.

He loved France, where he spent many years. He held a Doctorate from the Université de Paris (1953) and was Chargé de Recherche at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) from 1953 - 1956.

Early in his professional career, he was a research associate in physics and taught undergraduate mathematics at Auburn University, Alabama (1947-1949).

Born 1922 in Newaygo, Michigan, he received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan (1947) after serving three years (1943-1946) as an Ordnance Officer in the U.S. Army during WWII.

Philip is survived by his son, Philip Brendon Hemily of Toronto, Canada, daughters Valerie Hemily of Hilton Head Island and Laurenne Hemily-Figus of Rome, Italy and six grandchildren, Daphne, Julie, Oliviero, Orlando, Amadeo and Rocco.

A commemoration ceremony will be held. Please contact:

Tomas Malone: A Friend of UNESCO

Thomas F. Malone, an influential voice in the expansion of meteorological research and education during the second half of the 20th Century, and insightful commentator on the human future, died of natural causes at his home in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA on July 6, 2013. Among his many honors, he was the second person to be awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Science and Diplomacy.

Dr. Malone was the Chairman of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO from 1965 to 1967.  He was involved in a number of UNESCO activities in that and other roles.

He was a meteorologist of distinction, who served as president of both the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. He led in the creation of an international scientific network focusing on weather and climate, and was one of the first scientists to raise public concern for climate change.

I knew him when he was Foreign Secretary of the National Academies of Science. In that role he was instrumental in the creation of the grants program of the NAS Board on Science and Technology for International Development (a grant which I managed for USAID, the government funding agency).

Dr. Malone was profiled here as a friend of UNESCO early last year.

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