British pop singer George Michael, who disclosed a decade ago that he had Jewish roots, died unexpectedly at the age of 53.
Michael died at his home in England of heart failure, his publicist said. His family asked for privacy during this time.
Michael first achieved fame as one of two members of the popular 80s band WHAM! before beginning his solo career, where he was known for his catchy dance tunes and provocative lyrics.
In a June 2008 interview, Michael told the Los Angeles Times that his maternal grandmother was Jewish but married a non-Jewish man and raised her children with no knowledge of their Jewish background due to her fear during the period of World War II.
“She thought if they didn’t know that their mother was Jewish, they wouldn’t be at risk,” Michael told the newspaper. His mother attended convent school, losing any shred of memory of her mother’s Jewishness.
He acknowledged his homosexuality in 1998 after being arrested for public lewdness in Los Angeles, where he attempted to pick up a man in a public bathroom.
His first solo album, 1987’s “Faith,” sold more 20 million copies, and he had several hit singles including “I Want Your Sex,” “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” and “Praying For Time.”
He was named Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou when he was born in 1963 in London to Greek Cypriot parents.
Police said in a statement that the death was “unexplained but not suspicious,” and his publicist said he had not been ill.
—JTA News and Features
Theodore Harold Morse
Theodore Harold Morse, 86, passed away peacefully on Dec. 21, in Centreville, Md.
Morse grew up in Brockton, Mass. After graduating high school, earning a certificate as a radio technician and serving in the Army, he moved to Washington, where he was a member of the board of directors and a counter man at Atlantic Plumbing Supply Co. He later bought Hampton Aquarium Inc. in Landover (1982-1993). After retiring and moving to Chester, Md. he helped the community as a driver for the Jewish Social Services Agency in Rockville. In addition to his family, his great passions were his dogs and sports. He was an avid fan of the Redskins (62 years) Capitals (42 years) the Washington Senators/Nationals and the Boston Braves.
Morse is survived by his spouse of 53 years, Sandra (Jacobs) Morse of Chester; his daughter, Anita (Morse) Silverman (Chuck) of Christiansburg, Va.; his son, Leonard B. Morse of Silver Spring; his brother, Jack (Jo) Morse of Palm Spring Gardens, Fla.; his brother-in-law, Malcolm Jacobs (Maxine) of Columbia; his granddaughters, Alexis and Victoria Silverman of Christiansburg, Va.; his nieces, Sallie Brantley-Morse, Tracey (Morse) McDonnel and Elisha (Jacobs) Anderson and nephew, Marc Jacobs. Morse was preceded in death by his parents, Anne and Bernard Morse.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or Children National Medical Center.
Online condolences may be made at www.fhnfuneralhome.com.