Famed Japanese Fashion Designer Issey Miyake Dies at 84

Issey Miyake, who built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands and was known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces as well as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks, has died. He was 84.

Miyake died August 5 of liver cancer, Miyake Design Office said Tuesday.

Miyake defined an era in Japan’s modern history, reaching stardom in the 1970s among a generation of designers and artists who reached global fame by defining a Japanese vision that was unique from the West.

Miyake’s origami-like pleats transformed usually crass polyester into chic. He also used computer technology in weaving to create apparel. His down-to-earth clothing was meant to celebrate the human body regardless of race, build, size or age.

Miyake even detested being called a fashion designer, choosing not to identify with what he saw as a frivolous, trend-watching, conspicuous consumption.

Again and again, Miyake returned to his basic concept of starting with a single piece of cloth — be it draped, folded, cut or wrapped.

Over the years, he took inspiration from a variety of cultures and societal motifs, as well as everyday items — plastic, rattan, “washi” paper, jute, horsehair, foil, yarn, batik, indigo dyes and wiring.

He sometimes evoked images of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin or collaborated with Japanese painter Tadanori Yokoo in images of monkeys and foliage in vibrant, psychedelic hues.

He also collaborated with furniture and interior designer Shiro Kuramata, photographer Irving Penn, choreographer and director Maurice Bejart, pottery maker Lucie Rie and Ballet Frankfurt.

In 1992, Miyake was commissioned to design the official Olympic uniform for Lithuania, which had just gained independence from the Soviet Union.

Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake was a star as soon as he hit the European runways. His brown top, which combined the Japanese sewn fabric “sashiko” with raw silk knit, was splashed on the cover of the September 1973 issue of Elle magazine.

Miyake was also a pioneer in gender roles, asking feminist Fusae Ichikawa in the 1970s — when she was in her 80s — to be his model, sending the message that garments must be comfortable and express the natural beauty of real people.

Although he made clothes that went beyond the mundane, appearing to reach for the spiritual, he made a point to never get pretentious, always approving of the T-shirt-and-jeans look.

“Designing is like a living organism in that it pursues what matters for its well-being and continuity,” Miyake once wrote in his book.

His office confirmed a private funeral had been held and other ceremonies will not be held in accordance with Miyake’s wishes. Miyake kept his family life private, and survivors are not known.

Nigerians Praise London Museum’s Decision to Return Precious Artifacts

The 72 artifacts that the Horniman museum agreed to return include 12 of the famous Benin Bronzes – symbolic of the ancient Benin Kingdom in southern Nigeria.

The museum said in a statement Sunday it was moral and appropriate to return the artifacts, stating the objects were taken by force during the British military invasion of Nigeria in 1897.

Nigerian authorities have praised the gesture. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments said it is a breakthrough after a meeting with the museum authorities in March this year, and they say they’re looking forward to loan agreements and collaborations with the museum.

Babatunde Adebiyi is a legal director at the museum commission.

“We’re simply very happy for Horniman museums and gardens to have kept their word. They have made a just determination of the issue by returning these antiquities. Some of these antiquities might be loaned to [the] Horniman museum for a period.”

For years Nigeria has been negotiating the return of thousands of looted artefacts to their cultural bases in the southern party of Nigeria.

The antiquities were mostly taken from the palace of the Benin Kingdom during the colonial era.

As more are returned, authorities aim to set up a museum in Benin to store them, says Adebiyi.

“We’re proposing and working hard toward having a royal museum in Benin city near the oba’s [king’s] palace. All these things are meant to house these antiquities. Apart from that, museums like the Lagos museum can provide adequate facilities.”

Nigeria center for Liberty’s Ariyo Dare Atoye welcomes the development.

“It’s a good development for arts and culture in our nation, in Africa. It’s a welcome idea that they decided to do this. A lot of people believe this ought to have been done decades ago, It is better late than never. It’s an opportunity to boost our culture and tourism sector.”

Abuja resident, Abdullahi Okugiya also welcomes the move.

“It will add value to our museum. Most of us read (about) it in the books, but we have not actually touched them or seen them.”

In July, German authorities signed an agreement with Nigeria and began the process to return up to 1,100 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, the most by a European country.

However, Atoye raises concerns about Nigeria’s readiness and expertise to properly manage and preserve these artifacts.

He also calls for monetary compensation, as well.

“What have we benefited from the ones that we have recovered? Ordinarily,,the return of these artifacts ought to have come with [an] apology, number two, with reparation. Money has been made through these artifacts in some of these countries like the UK. If we’re unable to make good use of the ones we’ve recoverd,,even Nigerians will be disinterested in the recovery of the ones leftover in the UK or any part of the world.

Nigeria has more than 50 national museums and authorities are looking to set up more.

Authorities and citizens are hoping the returns trigger more museums around the world to do the same, especially the British museum in London, which holds by far the largest and most significant collection of Nigerian cultural artifacts.

Serena Williams Says She Is ‘Evolving Away From Tennis’

Serena Williams says she is ready to step away from tennis after winning 23 Grand Slam titles, turning her focus to having another child and her business interests.

“I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give,” Williams wrote in an essay released Tuesday by Vogue magazine.

Williams said she does not like the word retirement and prefers to think of this stage of her life as “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

Williams is playing this week in Toronto, at a hard-court tournament that leads into the U.S. Open, the year’s last Grand Slam event, which begins in New York on Aug. 29.

The American has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than any other woman or man. Only one player, Margaret Court, collected more, 24, although she won a portion of hers in the amateur era. 

‘Grease’ Star Olivia Newton-John Dies Aged 73

Singer Olivia Newton-John, who gained worldwide fame as the high school sweetheart Sandy in the hit movie “Grease,” died Monday after a 30-year battle with cancer. She was 73. 

Newton-John “passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” said a statement from her husband John Easterling posted on her official social media accounts. 

The entertainer, whose career spanned more than five decades, devoted much of her time and celebrity to charities after first being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. 

The British-born and Australian-raised star dedicated a number of albums and concerts to raise funds for research and early detection of the disease, including the construction of a health center named after her in her adopted home of Melbourne.  

“I don’t like to say ‘battled,'” a defiant Newton-John told Australia’s Channel Seven TV in September 2018, after revealing she had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time.  

“I like to say ‘win over,’ because ‘battled’ sets up this anger and inflammation that you don’t want.” 

‘You’re the one that I want’ 

Newton-John is best-known for starring in the 1978 musical “Grease” alongside John Travolta, as the-girl-next-door Sandy, who trades her ankle-length skirt and prim and proper hair for skin-tight black pants and a perm. 

The high school sweetheart-turned-bad girl resonated with audiences worldwide and continues to capture hearts decades after the movie was released.  

“Making it was fun, but you never know with movies if audiences are going to go with it or not, even if you love it,” she said in a Forbes interview in 2018.  

“It is incredible that it is still going but it’s not even just that, it’s showing no signs of stopping. You say ‘Sandy and Danny’ and people instantly know what you’re talking about.” 

“Grease” remained the highest-grossing musical for three decades, with Newton-John and Travolta maintaining a close relationship long after the film was made. 

“She was my favorite thing about doing ‘Grease,'” Travolta said in an interview to mark the film’s 40 anniversary in 2018. 

There was no one else “in the universe” who could play Sandy, he said of Newton-John, who turned 29 during the making of Grease and later revealed she had to be convinced by Travolta to take up the role after self-doubts that she was too old to play a teenager.  

“If you were a young man in the 70s … if you remember that album cover with Olivia with that blue shirt on, with those big blue eyes staring at you,” Travolta recalled.  

“Every boy’s, every man’s dream was: ‘oh, I would love for that girl to be my girlfriend.'” 

Her career would span from singer and actor to author and philanthropist in the coming decades, with her passion for cancer research at the forefront, championing natural therapies, including medicinal cannabis in the treatment of cancer. 

She performed into her late 60s, until her latest diagnosis, including a two-year residency in Vegas, a 2015 tour with Australian music legend John Farnham and even recording a Club Dance track at 67 with her daughter Chloe Lattanzi. 

“I have done everything, and the icing on the cake as well,” she said, reflecting on her career.  

“So I feel grateful for anything that happens now.” 

 

UK Museum Agrees to Return Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

A London museum agreed Sunday to return a collection of Benin Bronzes looted in the late 19th century from what is now Nigeria as cultural institutions throughout Britain come under pressure to repatriate artifacts acquired during the colonial era. 

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in southeast London said that it would transfer a collection of 72 items to the Nigerian government. The decision comes after Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments formally asked for the artifacts to be returned earlier this year and following a consultation with community members, artists and schoolchildren in Nigeria and the U.K., the museum said. 

“The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria,” Eve Salomon, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step, and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer term care for these precious artifacts.” 

The Horniman’s collection is a small part of the 3,000 to 5,000 artifacts taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 when British soldiers attacked and occupied Benin City as Britain expanded its political and commercial influence in West Africa. The British Museum alone holds more than 900 objects from Benin, and National Museums Scotland has another 74. Others were distributed to museums around the world. 

The artifacts include plaques, animal and human figures, and items of royal regalia made from brass and bronze by artists working for the royal court of Benin. The general term Benin Bronzes is sometimes applied to items made from ivory, coral, wood and other materials as well as the metal sculptures. 

Increasing demand for returns

Countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Greece, as well indigenous peoples from North America to Australia, are increasingly demanding the return of artifacts and human remains amid a global reassessment of colonialism and the exploitation of local populations. 

Nigeria and Germany recently signed a deal for the return of hundreds of Benin Bronzes. That followed French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision last year to sign over 26 pieces known as the Abomey Treasures, priceless artworks of the 19th century Dahomey kingdom in present-day Benin, a small country that sits just west of Nigeria. 

But British institutions have been slower to respond. 

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Information and Culture formally asked the British Museum to return its Benin Bronzes in October of last year. 

The museum said Sunday that it is working with a number of partners in Nigeria and it is committed to a “thorough and open investigation” of the history of the Benin artifacts and the looting of Benin City. 

“The museum is committed to active engagement with Nigerian institutions concerning the Benin Bronzes, including pursuing and supporting new initiatives developed in collaboration with Nigerian partners and colleagues,” the British Museum says on its website. 

BLM inspires museum to ‘reset’

The Horniman Museum also traces its roots to the Age of Empire. 

The museum opened in 1890, when tea merchant Frederick Horniman opened his collection of artifacts from around the world for public viewing. 

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, the museum embarked on a “reset agenda,” that sought to “address long-standing issues of racism and discrimination within our history and collections, and a determination to set ourselves on a more sustainable course for the future.” 

The museum’s website acknowledges that Frederick Horniman’s involvement in the Chinese tea trade meant he benefitted from low prices due to Britain’s sale of opium in China and the use of poorly compensated and sometimes forced labor. 

The Horniman also recognizes that it holds items “obtained through colonial violence.” 

These include the Horniman’s collection of Benin Bronzes, comprising 12 brass plaques, as well as a brass cockerel altar piece, ivory and brass ceremonial objects, brass bells and a key to the king’s palace. The bronzes are currently displayed along with information acknowledging their forced removal from Benin City and their contested status. 

“We recognize that we are at the beginning of a journey to be more inclusive in our stories and our practices, and there is much more we need to do,” the museum says on its website. “This includes reviewing the future of collections that were taken by force or in unequal transactions.” 

Nigerian Artist Ekele Joins Denver Portraiture Exhibit

Nigerian artist Isaac Ekele is part of an exhibition of portraiture in the Western U.S. state of Colorado. VOA’s Scott Stearns reports on his hyper-realistic drawings.

Spanish Government’s Body Positivity Campaign Goes Awry

The Spanish government maybe had a good idea, but the execution of the body positivity campaign has gone horribly wrong. 

The idea was to encourage women to come out and enjoy the beaches – without any worries about how they looked in their swimsuits.

But three of the five women whose photographs were used in the campaign said they had not given permission for the images to be used. 

Arte Mapache the campaign’s creator, has apologized for failing to obtain permission to use the images.  

“Given the – justified – controversy over the image rights in the illustration, I have decided that the best way to make amends for the damages that may have resulted from my actions is to share out the money I received for the work and give equal parts to the people in the poster,” the artist said.

Two of the women in the campaign’s artwork are professional models.  One has a prosthetic leg that was airbrushed out of the campaign artwork. 

Sian Green-Lord told The Guardian, “It’s one thing using my image without my permission, but it’s another thing editing my body, my body with my prosthetic leg … I don’t even know what to say but it’s beyond wrong.”

Juliet FitzPatrick, a cancer survivor, told the BBC that the face of a woman who had a mastectomy may be based on a photograph of her.  However, while the woman in the Spanish government photo has had a single mastectomy, FitzPatrick had a double mastectomy. 

She told the BBC that using her likeness without her permission “seems to be totally against” the theme of the campaign.  “For me it is about how my body has been used and represented without my permission.”

British photographer Ami Barwell who had taken photos of Fitzpatrick told the BBC that she believes Fitzpatrick’s photo was a composite of photos that she had taken of Fitzpatrick and another woman.  

Barwell told the BBC, “I think that the person who created the art has gone through my gallery and pieced them together.” 

Another model, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who wears a gold bikini in the photo, said her image was taken from her Instagram account without her permission. 

Pat Carroll, Emmy Winner and Voice of Ursula, Dies at 95

Pat Carroll, a comedic television mainstay for decades, an Emmy-winner for “Caesar’s Hour” and the voice Ursula in “The Little Mermaid,” has died. She was 95. 

Her daughter Kerry Karsian, a casting agent, said Carroll died at her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Saturday. Her other daughter Tara Karsian wrote on Instagram that they want everyone to “honor her by having a raucous laugh at absolutely anything today (and everyday forward) because besides her brilliant talent and love, she leaves my sister Kerry and I with the greatest gift of all, imbuing us with humor and the ability to laugh…even in the saddest of times.” 

Carroll was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1927. Her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was 5 years old. Her first film role came in 1948 in “Hometown Girl,” but she found her stride in television.

She won an Emmy for her work on the sketch comedy series “Caesar’s Hour” in 1956, was a regular on “Make Room for Daddy” with Danny Thomas, a guest star on “The DuPont Show with June Allyson” and a variety show regular stopping by “The Danny Kaye Show,” “The Red Skelton Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show.” 

Carroll also played one of the wicked stepsisters in the 1965 television production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” with Lesley Ann Warren. 

In addition, she also played one of the wicked stepsisters in the 1965 television production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” with Lesley Ann Warren. Plus, she won a Grammy in 1980 for the recording of her one-woman show “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein.” 

A new generation would come to know and love Carroll’s voice thanks to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” which came out in 1989. She was not the first choice of directors Ron Clements and John Musker or the musical team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who reportedly wanted Joan Collins or Bea Arthur to voice the sea witch. Elaine Stritch was even cast originally before Carroll got to audition. And her throaty rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” would make her one of Disney’s most memorable villains. 

Carroll would often say that Ursula was one of her favorite roles. She said she saw her as an “Ex-Shakespearean actress who now sold cars.” 

“She’s a mean old thing! I think people are fascinated by mean characters,” Carroll said in an interview. “There’s a fatal kind of distraction about the horrible mean characters of the world because we don’t meet too many of them in real life. So when we have a chance, theatrically, to see one and this one, she’s a biggie, it’s kind of fascinating for us.” 

She got the chance to reprise the role in several “Little Mermaid” sequels, spinoffs and even theme park rides. 

Carroll was also the voice of Granny in the English-language dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro.”

Nichelle Nichols, Lieutenant Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 89

Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood when she played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek television series, has died at the age of 89.

Her son Kyle Johnson said Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.

“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt. Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans. It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89,” George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs starting in 1979 with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and frequented “Star Trek” fan conventions. She also served for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.

More recently, she had a recurring role on television’s “Heroes,” playing the great-aunt of a young boy with mystical powers.

The original “Star Trek” premiered on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966. Its multicultural, multiracial cast was creator Gene Roddenberry’s message to viewers that in the far-off future — the 23rd century — human diversity would be fully accepted.

“I think many people took it into their hearts … that what was being said on TV at that time was a reason to celebrate,” Nichols said in 1992 when a “Star Trek” exhibit was on view at the Smithsonian Institution.

She often recalled how Martin Luther King Jr. was a fan of the show and praised her role. She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.

“When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and I was leaving the show, he became very serious and said, ‘You cannot do that,'” she told The Tulsa (Okla.) World in a 2008 interview.

“‘You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed the minds of people,’ ” she said the civil rights leader told her.

“That foresight Dr. King had was a lightning bolt in my life,” Nichols said.

During the show’s third season, Nichols’ character and Shatner’s Capt. James Kirk shared what was described as the first interracial kiss to be broadcast on a U.S. television series. In the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” their characters, who always maintained a platonic relationship, were forced into the kiss by aliens who were controlling their actions.

The kiss “suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal,” Eric Deggans, a television critic for National Public Radio, told The Associated Press in 2018. “The characters themselves were not freaking out because a Black woman was kissing a white man. … In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We’re beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send.”

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners wanted to film a second take of the scene where the kiss happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories,” that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Despite concerns, the episode aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most “fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on Star Trek for one episode,” Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Born Grace Dell Nichols in Robbins, Illinois, Nichols hated being called “Gracie,” which everyone insisted on, she said in the 2010 interview. When she was a teen her mother told her she had wanted to name her Michelle but thought she ought to have alliterative initials like Marilyn Monroe, whom Nichols loved. Hence, “Nichelle.”

Nichols first worked professionally as a singer and dancer in Chicago at age 14, moving on to New York nightclubs and working for a time with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands before coming to Hollywood for her film debut in 1959’s “Porgy and Bess,” the first of several small film and TV roles that led up to her “Star Trek” stardom.

Nichols was known as being unafraid to stand up to Shatner on the set when others complained that he was stealing scenes and camera time. They later learned she had a strong supporter in the show’s creator.

In her 1994 book, she said she met Roddenberry when she guest starred on his show “The Lieutenant,” and the two had an affair a couple of years before “Star Trek” began. The two remained lifelong close friends.

Another fan of Nichols and the show was future astronaut Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman in space when she flew aboard the shuttle Endeavour in 1992.

Women’s Soccer Energizes England in a League of Their Own

Izzy Short, 13, struggles to pick her favorite England player as she anticipates the team’s appearance in Sunday’s final of the European soccer championships.

There’s forward Ellen White. Defender Lucy Bronze. Midfielder Georgia Stanway. Captain Leah Williamson. The whole team basically.

“I just look up to them really,” the high school player from Manchester said, excitement filling her voice. “They are all very positive … they all, like, appreciated one another and how they are such a good team and all of them just working together really. And they’re just so kind and so good as well.”

The march to Sunday’s final against Germany has energized people throughout England, with the team’s pinpoint passing and flashy goals attracting record crowds, burgeoning TV ratings and adoring coverage. The Lionesses, as the team is known, have been a welcome distraction from the political turmoil and cost-of-living crisis that dominate the headlines.

The final, set to be played before a sellout crowd of more than 87,000 at historic Wembley Stadium, is seen as a watershed moment for women’s sports in England. Although the game, known here as football, is a national passion, female players have often been scoffed at and were once banned from top-level facilities. Now the women’s team has a chance to do something the men haven’t done since 1966: Win a major international tournament.

Hope Powell played 66 times for England and coached the team from 1998 to 2013.

“I think we have to give thanks to the people that worked really hard before us, that went through all of that, being banned, fighting for the right to play,” Powell told the BBC. “I think we have to remember what came before is what got us to the point we are today.”

There were 68,871 people in the stands at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, when England beat Austria 1-0 in its opening game of this year’s European championship. That helped push total tournament attendance so far to 487,683 — more than double the record of 240,055, according to tournament organizer UEFA.

But it’s not just the victories that are attracting fans. It is how the team is winning.

With money from sponsorship deals and a new TV contract supporting full-time professional players, there is more flash and polish than many expected. While they don’t play like the men’s team, that’s not a bad thing.

There are fewer players flopping to the ground to draw fouls, less rolling around on the turf dramatically clutching purportedly injured knees or ankles and little shouting at the referees. Instead there is teamwork, artful passes and stunning goals like Stanway’s 20-meter (22-yard) screamer in the quarterfinal victory over Spain and the backheel from Alessia Russo in England’s 4-0 semifinal win against Sweden.

And here’s the thing: People like it.

Naomi Short, Izzy’s mom and the goalie for Longford Park Ladies Football Club, said fans are being treated to a “totally different vibe” at the stadium and on the field — one that’s more welcoming than the lager-fueled tribalism that has put some people off the men’s game.

“It’s not just girls watching it — it’s families, it’s men, women, children. Everybody’s watching it. It’s brought everybody together,” said Short, 44. “Whereas, you know, sometimes when you go to a men’s game, there is sometimes (a) slightly different atmosphere.”

There is also less distance between fans and the players, who know they have a responsibility to build a game their mothers and grandmothers were excluded from. The players stay after games and sign autographs. They take selfies. There is time for a chat. They know that little kids look up to them.

Coach Sarina Wiegman has made a point of noting that there’s more at stake than victory alone.

“We want to inspire the nation,” Wiegman said after the team’s semifinal victory. “I think that’s what we’re doing and we want to make a difference — and we hope that we will get everyone so enthusiastic and proud of us and that even more girls and boys start playing football.”

The groundswell of support for the team is also being fueled by the country’s dismal record in international competition and hopes that they can bring a European championship home to England, which prides itself as the place where modern football was invented.

England’s last major international championship, men’s or women’s, came at the 1966 World Cup — a lifetime ago for most fans. The men’s team disappointed fans again last year when they lost to Italy in the final of their European championship.

That leaves it to the women to end the drought.

Women’s football has a long and sometimes controversial history in England.

The women’s game flourished during and for a few years after World War I, when teams like Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club filled the sporting gap created as top men’s players went off to the trenches to fight. Women’s teams, many organized at munitions plants, attracted large crowds and raised money for charity. One match in 1920 attracted 53,000 spectators.

But that popularity triggered a backlash from the men who ran the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England. In 1921, the FA banned women’s teams from using its facilities, saying “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”

The ban remained in place for the next 50 years.

Women organized their own football association in 1969, and soon after the FA ended its ban on women. The FA took over responsibility for the women’s game in 1993, beginning the slow process of improving funding and facilities.

Things accelerated after the 2012 London Olympics, when authorities began to recognize there was a global audience for the women’s game, said Gail Newsham, author of “In a League of Their Own!” that tells the story of Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Last year, the FA signed a three-year deal for broadcast rights to the Women’s Super League, increasing funding and exposure for the game. Sky Sports will broadcast a minimum of 35 games a year on its pay TV channels, and the BBC will carry another 22 on its free-to-view network.

“It’s not that long ago that girls, you know, top players, were paying for their own travel to get to matches and then having to get up to go to work the next day. So all of this is helping,” Newsham said of the funding. “You can see the difference now in the professionalism of the girls playing football.”

The excitement about Sunday’s final has triggered a scramble for tickets.

Tickets that originally sold for 15-50 pounds ($18-$61) are now selling for 100-1,000 pounds ($122-$1,216) on resale sites.

The Short family has decided to watch the game at the local pub, making an afternoon of it, like fans around the country.

“I don’t think it will matter if it’s men or women,” Naomi Short said. “It’s England now. It’s coming home. You know, I’d like to think that’s what people are getting excited about.”

Giant Video Screen Falls on Boy Band Mirror Dancers at Hong Kong Concert

A huge video panel fell on the stage during a concert by popular Hong Kong boy band Mirror on Thursday, crushing one performer and trapping others, prompting a government investigation and the suspension of future shows.

At least two dancers were injured, with one in a serious condition and the other stable, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

Three members of the audience were also injured, local media reported, with many fans emotional after the harrowing scenes.

“I am shocked by the incident. I express sympathy to those who were injured and hope that they would recover soon,” Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said Friday.

The government would investigate and review safety procedures to protect performers, staff and the public, he said.

Kevin Yeung, the city’s culture secretary, said the show would be suspended until the stage structure was safe. The government’s leisure bureau had already contacted the concert organizer about other stage incidents in recent days, he said in a statement.

The hugely popular cantopop group was formed in 2018 through a reality television show and had planned a series of 12 shows at Hong Kong’s Coliseum, next to the city’s Victoria harbor.

More than 13,000 Mirror fans signed an online petition asking the concert organizer to resolve the problems and ensure safety for all performers, according to the petition’s website.

MakerVille, the concert organizer which is owned by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li’s PCCW Media Group, said it was thoroughly investigating the cause of the accident.

“We are deeply sorry that the incident caused unease to viewers or others affected.”

‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Law & Order’ Actor Paul Sorvino Dies at 83

Paul Sorvino, an imposing actor who specialized in playing crooks and cops like Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” and the NYPD sergeant Phil Cerretta on “Law & Order,” has died. He was 83.

His publicist Roger Neal said he died Monday morning in Indiana of natural causes.

“Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life, and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and stage,” his wife, Dee Dee Sorvino, said in a statement.

In over 50 years in the entertainment business, Sorvino was a mainstay in films and television, playing an Italian American communist in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and mob boss Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer.” He would often say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters, his real passions were poetry, painting and opera.

Born in Brooklyn in 1939 to a mother who taught piano and father who was a foreman at a robe factory, Sorvino was musically inclined from a young age and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York where he fell for the theater. He made his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in Carl Reiner’s “Where’s Poppa?” in 1970.

With his 6-foot-4-inch stature, Sorvino made an impactful presence no matter the medium. In the 1970s, he acted alongside Al Pacino in “The Panic in Needle Park” and with James Caan in “The Gambler,” reteamed with Reiner in “Oh, God!” and was among the ensemble in William Friedkin’s bank robbery comedy “The Brink’s Job.” In John G. Avildsen’s “Rocky” follow-up “Slow Dancing in the Big City,” Sorvino got to play a romantic lead and use his dance training opposite professional ballerina Anne Ditchburn.

He was especially prolific in the 1990s, kicking off the decade playing Lips in Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” and Paul Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” who was based on the real-life mobster Paul Vario, and 31 episodes on Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order.” He followed those with roles in “The Rocketeer,” “The Firm,” “Nixon,” which got him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” as Juliet’s father, Fulgencio Capulet.

Beatty would turn to Sorvino often, enlisting him again for his political satire “Bulworth,” which came out in 1998, and his 2016 Hollywood love letter “Rules Don’t Apply.” He also appeared in James Gray’s “The Immigrant.”

Sorvino had three children from his first marriage, including Academy Award-winning actor Mira Sorvino. He also directed and starred in a film written by his daughter Amanda Sorvino and featuring his son Michael Sorvino.

When he learned that Mira Sorvino had been among the women allegedly sexually harassed and blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein in the midst of the #MeToo reckoning, Sorvino told TMZ that if he had known, Weinstein “would not be walking. He’d be in a wheelchair.”

He was proud of his daughter and cried when she won the best supporting actress Oscar for “Mighty Aphrodite” in 1996. He told the Los Angeles Times that night that he didn’t have the words to express how he felt.

“They don’t exist in any language that I’ve ever heard — well, maybe Italian,” he said.

Britain to Host 2023 Eurovision Song Contest on Ukraine’s Behalf 

Britain will host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of winners Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict there, the competition’s organizers said on Monday.

While decades-long tradition dictates that the winner of the contest gets to host it the following year, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had said safety and security reasons meant runners-up Britain were instead invited to host.

The BBC will now stage the event, which normally draws a television audience of close to 200 million and was last held in Britain in 1998. Ukraine will automatically qualify to the grand final of the competition, the EBU said.

“It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest,” BBC Director-General Tim Davie said in a statement.

“The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month he believed Ukraine could and should host the 2023 competition.

Johnson said on Twitter he had agreed last week with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that “wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine.”

“As we are now hosts, the UK will honor that pledge directly — and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends,” Johnson, who has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine, added.

Britain’s entry to this year’s Eurovision contest in Italy in May came second behind Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which rode a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory.

The BBC said it would now begin the process of finding a city to host the event.

Diana Kennedy, Food Writer Devoted to Mexico, Dies at 99

Diana Kennedy, a tart-tongued British food writer devoted to Mexican cuisine, died Sunday. She was 99. 

Kennedy spent much of her life learning and preserving the traditional cooking and ingredients of her adopted home, a mission that even in her 80s had her driving hundreds of miles across her Mexico in a rattling truck as she searched remote villages for elusive recipes. 

Her nearly dozen cookbooks, including Oaxaca al Gusto, which won the 2011 James Beard Award for cookbook of the year, reflect a lifetime of groundbreaking culinary contributions and her effort to collect vanishing culinary traditions, a mission that began long before the rest of the culinary world was giving Mexican cooking the respect that she felt it was due. 

Her long-time friend Concepción Guadalupe Garza Rodríguez said that Kennedy died peacefully shortly before dawn Sunday at her home in Zitacuaro, about 160 kilometers west of Mexico City. 

“Mexico is very grateful for her,” Garza Rodríguez said. Kennedy had had lunch at a local hotel on March 3 for her birthday, but during the past five weeks had mostly stayed in her room. Garza Rodríguez visited Kennedy last week and said she cried when they parted. 

Mexico’s Culture Ministry said via Twitter Sunday that Kennedy’s “life was dedicated to discovering, compiling and preserving the richness of Mexican cuisine.” 

“Diana understood, as few do, that the conservation of nature is key to continue obtaining the ingredients that make it possible to keep creating the delicious dishes that characterize our cuisine,” the ministry said. 

Her first cookbook, “The Cuisines of Mexico,” was written during long hours with home cooks across Mexico. It established Kennedy as the foremost authority on traditional Mexican cooking and remains the seminal work on the subject even four decades later. She described it as a gastronomy that humbled her, and she credited those — usually women — who shared their recipes with her. 

“Cooking teaches you that you’re not always in control,” she had said. “Cooking is life’s biggest comeuppance. Ingredients can fool you.” 

She received the equivalent of knighthood in Mexico with the Congressional Order of the Aztec Eagle award for documenting and preserving regional Mexican cuisines. The United Kingdom also has honored her, awarding her a Member of the British Empire award for furthering cultural relations with Mexico. 

‘Good food, whole food’

Kennedy was born with an instinctive curiosity and love of food. She grew up in the United Kingdom eating what she called “good food, whole food,” if not a lot of food. During World War II, she was assigned to the Women Timber Corps, where food was simple and sometimes sparse — homemade bread, fresh cream, scones and berries on good days, nettle soup or buttered green beans when rations were lean. 

These meals awakened in Kennedy an appreciation of flavor and texture that would last a lifetime. 

She met her husband, Paul Kennedy, a New York Times correspondent in Haiti. He was on assignment in Haiti, she was traveling there. They fell in love and in 1957 she joined him in Mexico, where he was assigned. 

‘New, exciting, and exotic’

A series of Mexican maids, as well as aunts, mothers and grandmothers of her new friends, gave Diana Kennedy her first Mexican cooking lessons — grinding corn for tamales, cooking rabbit in adobo. While her husband wrote about insurrections and revolutions, Kennedy explored a land that was, for her, “new, exciting and exotic,” sampling unique fruits, vegetables and herbs of various regions. 

The couple moved to New York in 1966 when Paul Kennedy was dying of cancer. 

Two years later, at the urging of New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne, she taught her first Mexican cooking class, hunting out ingredients in the Northeast to reproduce the bursting flavors of Mexico. Soon she was spending more of her time back in Mexico, establishing a retreat there that still serves as her home in the country. 

She was known for her sharp-tongued commentary, even as her pioneering work helped turn Mexico into a culinary mecca for foodies and the world’s top chefs, and transformed a cuisine long dismissed as tortillas suffocated in heavy sauces, cheeses and sour cream. 

She once told Jose Andres, James Beard Award winning chef and proprietor of an acclaimed Mexican restaurant, that his tamales were “bloody awful.” 

She worried that famous chefs, who flocked to Mexico in recent years to study and experiment with the purity of the flora, fauna and flavors, were mixing the wrong ingredients. 

“Many of them are using it as a novelty and do not know the things that go together,” she said. “If you are going to play around with ingredients, exotic ingredients, you’ve got to know how to treat them.” 

Kennedy was fiercely private and guarded about who she let into her sustainable Mexican retreat near the city of Zitacuaro in the conflicted western state of Michoacan. No one was welcome unannounced. Cell phones were turned off and computers were kept in a writing studio. Her companions were her paid staff, who treated her like a dear friend, and several beloved — if somewhat fierce — dogs. 

In 2019, the documentary “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,” showed a still feisty Kennedy relishing in the production of her garden and driving the bumpy roads of Zitacuaro. 

In her later years, Kennedy had said she wanted to slow down, but couldn’t. 

“There are so many more recipes out there, handed down mother to daughter that are going to be lost. There are seeds and herbs and roots that could disappear. There is absolutely so much more that needs to be done!” she said

Change in Title With Men Working at Disney Dress-Up Shops

When Disney reopens its Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique shops at resorts in Florida and California next month, the workers who help children dress up as their favorite animated characters will have new, more gender inclusive titles.

That is because men are going to work at the shops for the first time.

The workers will be referred to as Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices instead of Fairy Godmothers-in-Training, as they were called before the shops closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to allow men to work at the shops was made before the pandemic but hadn’t been implemented before the closures.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique shops at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California are scheduled to reopen at the end of August after being closed for two years, according to a Disney blog post.

Workers at the shops provide hairstyling, makeup, costumes and accessories to help children between ages 3 and 12 transform into their favorite characters.

Tomorrow’s ‘Top Gun’ Might Have Drone Wingman, Use AI

Maverick’s next wingman could be a drone.

In the movies, fighter pilots are depicted as highly trained military aviators with the skills and experience to defeat adversaries in thrilling aerial dogfights.

New technologies, though, are set to redefine what it means to be a “Top Gun,” as algorithms, data and machines take on a bigger role in the cockpit — changes hinted at in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

“A lot of people talk about, you know, the way of the future, possibly taking the pilot out of the aircraft,” said 1st Lt. Walker Gall, an F-35 pilot with the U.S. 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in England. “That’s definitely not something that any of us look forward to.”

“I’d like to keep my job as long as possible, but I mean, it’s hard to argue with newer and newer technology,” he said. “And if that’s the way of the future, that’s what it is. But I’m just here to enjoy it while I can.”

The future for fighter pilots was on display this week at the Farnborough International Airshow near London, one of the world’s biggest aviation, defense and aerospace expos.

Defense contractors outlined how artificial intelligence and other technologies will be used in the newest warplanes as global military delegations browsed mockups of missiles, drones and fighter jets. At stake are many billions of dollars as countries update military fleets or pump up defense procurement budgets amid rising geopolitical tensions.

The original “Top Gun” movie released in 1986 follows Tom Cruise’s hot-shot Navy pilot, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, through fighter weapons training school. In the sequel, an aging Maverick, now a test pilot, learns the top secret hypersonic plane he’s working on is being canceled so the funding can be used for a pilotless drone program.

It’s a debate that’s been playing out for years in the real world. Drones have been used extensively in the war between Russia and Ukraine and other modern conflicts, raising the question of just how much need there is for human pilots to fly expensive fighter jets and other aircraft — or whether unmanned aerial vehicles could do the job.

At the Farnborough show, experts said the future of air warfare is likely to be manned and unmanned aircraft working together.

One day, fighter pilots will “have a drone aircraft that’s flying as a loyal wingman” under their control, said Jon Norman, a vice president at Raytheon Technologies Corp.’s missile and defense business.

Norman, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, said he used to complain about drones controlled from the ground that got in his way when he was flying fighter jets.

The latest communications systems let fighters, drones and other aircraft talk to each other, he said.

Technology has already removed the need for a second person to sit in the backseat to work the radar — a role portrayed in the original “Top Gun” movie by the character Goose.

It will continue to play a bigger role in the cockpit, Raytheon executives said. Artificial intelligence will analyze reams of data from sensors placed on planes, drones, the ground or missiles flying through the air to give pilots in the sky and commanders back at headquarters a better sense of the battlefield.

In future battles, AI might allow a pilot to send an armed drone close to an enemy position “and have them just fire at will,” Norman added.

But it’s too soon to write an epitaph for the pilot.

“If we had had this conversation 20 years ago, almost everyone was certain that some (drones) would be serving in a combat aircraft replacement role. That simply hasn’t happened,” said Richard Aboulafia, managing director at consultancy AeroDynamic Advisory.

Nowadays, he said, drones mainly support manned military aircraft, which “allows them to get out there with a greater combat aircraft punch.”

There was speculation that the F-35 fighter, which went into operation in 2015, would be the last manned fighter jet, said Gareth Jennings, aviation editor at defense intelligence provider Janes. “But no one says that anymore.”

The F-35, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., is a stealthy fighter part of today’s generation of warplanes. There is a next generation of fighter jets in the concept stages offering even more high-tech advances, including potentially pilotless versions, but they won’t arrive before the next decade at the earliest.

Gall, who recently graduated from fighter pilot training school, said the F-35 is easy to fly and that technology would likely make its successors even easier. But he stressed that the fighter pilot’s role would remain intense.

Even if that role isn’t going away anytime soon, the Pentagon is working on transforming it.

The Air Combat Evolution program, run by the Pentagon’s DARPA research agency, is working on incorporating artificial intelligence into warfighting, including designing a plane that can fly itself in a dogfight.

The program has already carried out a live simulation of air combat, pitting a virtual plane piloted by an AI agent against a human pilot. If all goes well, researchers plan to carry out a live dogfight with AI-enabled planes by 2024.

Experts, though, are skeptical pilots will be eliminated from the cockpit in the near future.

“I don’t think we’ll be at the stage of not needing fighter pilots for a few decades yet,” said Jennings, the aviation editor. “Unmanned technology and the public willingness to accept not having a human in the loop are just not there, and won’t be for at least another 30 years or so.”

Artist Claes Oldenburg, Maker of Huge Urban Sculptures, Dies

Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, who turned the mundane into the monumental through his outsized sculptures of a baseball bat, a clothespin and other objects, has died at age 93. 

Oldenburg died Monday morning in Manhattan, according to his daughter, Maartje Oldenburg. He had been in poor health since falling and breaking his hip a month ago. 

The Swedish-born Oldenburg drew on the sculptor’s eternal interest in form, the dadaist’s breakthrough notion of bringing readymade objects into the realm of art, and the pop artist’s ironic, outlaw fascination with lowbrow culture — by reimagining ordinary items in fantastic contexts. 

“I want your senses to become very keen to their surroundings,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1963. 

“When I am served a plate of food, I see shapes and forms, and I sometimes don’t know whether to eat the food or look at it,” he said. In May 2009, a 1976 Oldenburg sculpture, “Typewriter Eraser,” sold for a record $2.2 million at an auction of postwar and contemporary art in New York. 

Early in his career, he was a key developer of “soft sculpture” made out of vinyl — another way of transforming ordinary objects — and also helped invent the quintessential 1960s art event, the “Happening.” 

Among his most famous large sculptures are “Clothespin,” a 45-foot steel clothespin installed near Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1976, and “Batcolumn,” a 100-foot lattice-work steel baseball bat installed the following year in front of a federal office building in Chicago. 

“It’s always a matter of interpretation, but I tend to look at all my works as being completely pure,” Oldenburg told the Chicago Tribune in 1977, shortly before “Batcolumn” was dedicated. “That’s the adventure of it: to take an object that’s highly impure and see it as pure. That’s the fun.” 

The placement of those sculptures showed how his monument-sized items — though still provoking much controversy — took their place in front of public and corporate buildings as the establishment ironically championed the once-outsider art. 

Many of Oldenburg’s later works were produced in collaboration with his second wife, Coosje van Bruggen, a Dutch-born art historian, artist and critic whom he married in 1977. The previous year, she had helped him install his 41-foot “Trowel I” on the grounds of the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. 

Van Bruggen died in January 2009. 

Oldenburg’s first wife, Pat, also an artist, helped him out during their marriage in the 1960s, doing the sewing on his soft sculptures. 

Oldenburg’s first blaze of publicity came in the early ’60s, when a type of performance art called the “Happening” began to crop up in the artier precincts of Manhattan. 

A 1962 New York Times article described it as “a far-out entertainment more sophisticated than the twist, more psychological than a séance and twice as exasperating as a game of charades.” 

One Oldenburg concoction, cited in the 1965 book “Happenings” by Michael Kirby, juxtaposed a man in flippers soundlessly reciting Shakespeare, a trombonist playing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” a young woman laden with tools climbing a ladder, a man shoveling sand from a cot and other oddities, all in one six-minute segment. 

“There is no story and the events are seemingly meaningless,” Oldenburg told the Times. “But there is a disorganized pattern that acquires definition during a performance.” He said the sessions — unscripted but loosely planned in advance — should be a “cathartic experience for us as well as the audience.” 

Oldenburg’s sculpture was also becoming known during this period, particularly ones in which objects such as a telephone or electric mixer were rendered in soft, pliable vinyl. “The telephone is a very sexy shape,” Oldenburg told the Los Angeles Times. 

One of his early large-scale works was “Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks,” which juxtaposed a large lipstick on tracks resembling those that propel Army tanks. The original — with its undertone suggestion to “make love (lipstick) not war (tanks)” — was commissioned by students and faculty and installed at Yale University in 1969. 

The original version deteriorated and was replaced by a steel, aluminum and fiberglass version in another spot on the Yale campus in 1974. 

Oldenburg’s 45-foot steel “Clothespin” was installed in 1976 outside Philadelphia’s City Hall. It evokes Constantin Brancusi’s 1908 “The Kiss,” a semi-abstract depiction of a nearly identical man and woman embracing eyeball to eyeball. “Clothespin” resembles the ordinary household object, but its two halves face each other in the same way as Brancusi’s lovers. 

The Chicago “Batcolumn” was funded by the federal government as part of a program to include a budget for artworks whenever a big federal building was put up. It took its place not far from Chicago’s famed Picasso sculpture, dedicated in 1967. 

“Batcolumn,” Oldenburg told the Tribune, “attempts to be as nondecorative as possible — straightforward, structural and direct. This, I think, is also a part of Chicago: a very factual and realistic object. The final thing, though, was to have it against the sky, that’s what it was made for.” 

He had considered making it red, but “color would have simply distracted from the linear effect. Now, the more buildings they tear down around here, the better it will get.” 

Chicagoans weren’t uniformly pleased. At around the same time as the Tribune interview, another Tribune writer, architecture critic Paul Gapp, decried the trend toward “idiotic public sculpture” and called Oldenburg “a veteran put-on man and poseur who long ago convinced the Art Establishment that he was to be taken seriously.” 

Among Oldenburg’s other monumental projects: “Crusoe Umbrella,” for the Civic Center in Des Moines, Iowa, completed in 1979; “Flashlight,” 1981, University of Las Vegas; and “Tumbling Tacks,” Oslo, 2009. 

Oldenburg was born in 1929 in Stockholm, Sweden, son of a diplomat. But young Claes (pronounced klahs) spent much of his childhood in Chicago, where his father served as Swedish consul general for many years. Oldenburg eventually became a U.S. citizen. 

As a young man, he studied at Yale and the Art Institute of Chicago and worked for a time at Chicago’s City News Bureau. He settled in New York by the late 1950s, but at times had also lived in France and California. 

 

Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck wed in Las Vegas drive-through

U.S. actors Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were wed Saturday in a late-night Las Vegas drive-through chapel, culminating a relationship that stretched over two decades in two separate romances and headlined countless tabloid covers.

Lopez announced their marriage Sunday in her newsletter for fans with the heading “We did it.” Lopez initially made their engagement public in April in the same newsletter, “On the J Lo.”

“Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” wrote Lopez in a message signed Jennifer Lynn Affleck.

Lopez wrote that the couple flew to Las Vegas on Saturday, stood in line for their license with four other couples and were wed just after midnight at A Little White Wedding Chapel, a chapel boasting a drive-through “tunnel of love.” Lopez said a Bluetooth speaker played their brief march down the aisle. She called it the best night of their lives.

“Stick around long enough and maybe you’ll find the best moment of your life in a drive through in Las Vegas at 12:30 in the morning in the tunnel of love drive through with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with,” said Lopez.

News of their nuptials first spread Sunday after the Clark County clerk’s office in Nevada showed that the pair obtained a marriage license that was processed Saturday.

The marriage license filing showed that Lopez plans to take the name Jennifer Affleck.

Representatives for Lopez and Affleck declined to comment.

Lopez, 52, and Affleck, 49, famously dated in the early 2000s, spawning the nickname “Bennifer,” before rekindling their romance last year. They earlier starred together in 2003′s “Gigli” and 2004′s “Jersey Girl.” Around that time, they became engaged but never wed.

Affleck married Jennifer Garner in 2005, with whom he shares three children. They divorced in 2018.

Lopez has been married three times before. She was briefly married to Ojani Noa from 1997-1998 and to Cris Judd from 2001-2003. She and singer Marc Anthony were married for a decade after wedding in 2004 and share 14-year-old twins together.