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Raymond Briggs, Illustrator of ‘The Snowman,’ Dies at 88

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Raymond Briggs, the children’s author whose cheeky illustrations dignified workaday British life and an audacious breadth of emotions, most prominently in the wordless escapades of “The Snowman,” died on Tuesday in Brighton, England. He was 88.

His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his publisher in Britain, Penguin Random House.

By piling up square and rectangular frames like toy blocks, Mr. Briggs helped bring the visual language of comic books to children’s stories. The technique allowed him to cram action onto a page before delighting or shocking a reader with a large canvas — two new friends soaring over an English palace, or five warplanes ominously approaching.

Despite primarily gearing his work for children, some of his most successful books are meditations on death. “The Snowman” (1978), which was adapted into one of England’s most popular Christmas films, focuses on a fleeting friendship between a young boy and a snowman. “When the Wind Blows” (1982), an argument for nuclear disarmament, shows a retired English couple blithely following the government’s precautions before they are killed by a Soviet attack.

“I don’t think about what children want,” Mr. Briggs told the BBC in 2017. “You get an idea and you just do it.”

Those offbeat ideas included “Fungus the Bogeyman” (1977), a shy green creature whose lengthy umbilical cord was censored by the publisher; “The Man” (1992), a rude homunculus who vexes a boy; and “Jim and the Beanstalk” (1997), about a bald, farsighted giant’s makeover.

Mr. Briggs often depicted domesticity and the routines of the working class. In “Gentleman Jim” (1980), a toilet cleaner imagines what it would be like to have more fashionable careers; “Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age” (2001), follows a young cave man whose parents think he should be content with drudgery instead of pursuing his ideas about fire and wheels.

The artist admired the Northern Renaissance’s emphasis on daily life — his studio wall included “Children’s Games” by the Flemish master Bruegel — but was not interested in painting with oil. After using sticky gouache for the grotesquerie of “Fungus,” he turned to colored pencils to emphasize light in “The Snowman.”

He was meticulous about his backgrounds, drawing hundreds of bricks for a facade, and his squat, rounded humans often wondered whether there was more to life than toil. His approachable nonhumans — giants were an early specialty — suggested that perhaps there was.

Yet failed aspirations and loss were consistent themes for Mr. Briggs, a melancholy soul. In later years, he told interviewers that he had contemplated suicide after his wife, Jean, died from leukemia in 1973, two years after he lost both his parents.

In “The Snowman” — which, unlike Mr. Briggs’s other books, has no words — rounded frames house the emotional arc of a boy’s winter adventure. He rejoices at a fresh snowfall, gleefully explores his home and country with a snowman who magically comes alive and, in a crushing final panel, stares down at a green hat and scarf.

“The books are funny and the books are also sad,” Nicolette Jones, who wrote the biography “Raymond Briggs” (2020), said in an interview for this obituary. “And he walks this incredible tightrope between those two things.”

A film adaptation of “The Snowman,” which was released in 1982 and features the haunting “Walking in the Air” in its symphonic score, was nominated for the Academy Award for best animated short film. Mr. Briggs briefly set the scene in the film’s introduction, which was later rerecorded, to his chagrin, by David Bowie. “He got it all wrong, terribly. Hopeless,” Mr. Briggs told the BBC.

His frustrations extended to the brief appearance of Father Christmas in the film. On his pages, there is not a present in sight.

In his earlier book “Father Christmas” (1973), Mr. Briggs had depicted the gift-giver as an old man burdened by the frigid weather and his demanding work rather than a jolly soul. The complaint “I hate winter!” was delivered on the toilet.

That irreverent wit was essential to “When the Wind Blows,” a satirical graphic novel published during the throes of the Cold War. The book was adapted several times, including as a radio dramatization and a West End play starring Patricia Routledge.

Before impending nuclear annihilation, a husband paints the windows white and builds a lean-to shelter while his wife frets about his staining the curtains and marking the wallpaper. Frames upon frames of frantic preparations and idle chatter are interrupted by gray spreads of a missile or a submarine.

The blast itself fills two pages with white, plus tinges of pink.

After waving aside their symptoms — fever, loss of appetite, splotchy blue spots on their limbs — the couple succumb while struggling to remember a prayer.

Raymond Redvers Briggs was born in Wimbledon, London, on Jan. 18, 1934, the only child of Ethel (Bowyer) Briggs, a maid, and Ernest Briggs, a milkman. During World War II, he was briefly sent to live with his aunts in the countryside.

Growing up in a house without many books, he gravitated instead to the storytelling found in newspaper cartoons. He studied at the Wimbledon School of Art as a teenager and, after spending two years as a draftsman in the British Army’s Royal Corps of Signals, graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1957.

Mr. Briggs dabbled in professional portraiture before focusing on illustration. His first commission, of tulip and daffodil bulbs for House & Garden magazine, was eventually followed by anthologies about mythical beasts and Cornish fairy tales.

He spent 18 months drawing nearly 900 illustrations for the “Mother Goose Treasury” (1966), for which he won the Kate Greenaway Medal, given for the best illustrated children’s book in Britain.

With more ideas than he could fit in a traditional picture book, Mr. Briggs, who had added writing to his repertoire for artistic and financial reasons, debuted his comic-strip approach in “Father Christmas,” which also won a Kate Greenaway Medal.

“I’ve been stuck with that method ever since, which is very laborious,” he said on the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” in 1983.

After the death of his wife, Mr. Briggs spent four decades in a relationship with Liz Benjamin, who died in 2015 of Parkinson’s disease. “The Puddleman” (2004) is dedicated to Ms. Benjamin’s three grandchildren.

Mr. Briggs taught illustration part-time at the Brighton School of Art from 1961 to 1986. He did not like to leave England and lived in a slightly eccentric house in East Sussex, where he collected jigsaw puzzles of the Queen Mother. The living room ceiling was papered with maps. Cupboard doors featured portraits of his parents.

He repeatedly conjured them — his mother’s wide face, his father’s blue-collar job, their longtime home — in his books. In “Father Christmas,” the only person the title character interacts with is a milkman who is also making his rounds before 6 a.m.

A book about his parents’ lengthy relationship and their traumatic deaths, “Ethel and Ernest,” was named the illustrated book of the year in 1999 by the British Book Awards, which had declared Mr. Briggs its children’s author of the year earlier that decade.

For his final published work, “Time for Lights Out” (2019), Mr. Briggs mixed quotes, sketches and verse in the exploration of a theme that had enthralled him through life: the inevitability of death.



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Mandy Moore shares her first day back at work on Dr. Death set after giving birth to second child

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Mandy Moore shared that she was back on set following an extended maternity leave after giving birth to her second baby Ozzie.

The This Is Us star, 38, shared a cute selfie with her co-star Edgar Ramirez, 45, while on set of Peacock’s hit series Dr. Death, which is now filming its second season, with a new medical malpractice plotline.

‘Day 1 in the can. #drdeath,’ the star captioned the snap shared with her 5.5M followers. 

Back on set! Mandy Moore, 38, shared that she was back on set after giving birth to her second child, as she posted a cute selfie with her co-star Edgar Ramirez, 45, on set of Dr. Death

The singer and actress looked chic as ever in the photo, wearing a Canada Goose parka and flashing a bright smile at the camera.

Meanwhile Edgar – who was holding the camera – was dapper in a brown coat and sported a meticulously styled beard. 

The entertainer also took to her Stories to show off her stylish outfit in a mirror snap with the caption: ‘First day of work.’  

Back at it: The entertainer also took to her Stories to show off her stylish outfit in a mirror snap with the caption: 'First day of work'

Back at it: The entertainer also took to her Stories to show off her stylish outfit in a mirror snap with the caption: ‘First day of work’ 

The proud mom-of-two also shared an adorable Story as she took a walk with her two kids: one and a half year old Gus and Ozzie, whom she welcomed on October 21.

‘2 under 2.’ she wrote on the adorable snap which saw the boys in their respective strollers and Mandy bundled up in a plaid coat.  

Moore shares her two boys with husband Taylor Goldsmith, 37. The two have been married since 2018.

It comes after Moore revealed she’s ‘relishing’ her longer maternity leave with Ozzie – after rushing back to work following Gus’ birth.

'2 under 2': The proud mom-of-two also shared an adorable Story as she took a walk with her two kids: one and a half year old Gus and Ozzie, whom she welcomed on October 21

‘2 under 2’: The proud mom-of-two also shared an adorable Story as she took a walk with her two kids: one and a half year old Gus and Ozzie, whom she welcomed on October 21

She admitted last month that she didn’t get the chance to ‘hunker down’ with first son Gus, returning to work on This Is Us a month after his March 2021 birth.

Speaking to Parents Magazine, she said: ‘To be able to close out this really seminal chapter of my life with This Is Us this past May and take this time now to kind of just hunker down and be a family, it’s something I didn’t get to experience with Gus. I’m relishing this time.’

‘Again, especially around the holidays, it’s so fun and it’s the perfect excuse to just stay home and be cozy and get my feet underneath me and figure out how to operate in this new chapter.

However, she will now make her TV return as Benita Alexander – while Ramirez will play Paolo Macchiarini – in the second season of Dr. Death, which is based on the third season of the Wondery podcast of the same name.

New baby: Last month the star revealed she's 'relishing' her longer maternity leave with Ozzie - after rushing back to work following first son Gus' birth

New baby: Last month the star revealed she’s ‘relishing’ her longer maternity leave with Ozzie (pictured) – after rushing back to work following Gus’ birth

Family: Moore shares her two boys with husband Taylor Goldsmith, 37. The two have been married since 2018

Family: Moore shares her two boys with husband Taylor Goldsmith, 37. The two have been married since 2018

Season two will follow Macchiarini ‘a charming surgeon renowned for his innovative operations that earn him the nickname “Miracle Man.” When investigative journalist Benita Alexander approaches him for a story, the line between personal and professional begins to blur, changing her life forever,’ according to Variety.

‘As she learns how far Paolo will go to protect his secrets, a group of doctors halfway across the world make shocking discoveries of their own that call everything about the “Miracle Man” into question.’

The first season of Dr. Death, was based on the true story of Christopher Duntsch (played by Joshua Jackson), a neurosurgeon who became infamous for mutilating his patients. The negligent neurosurgeon killed two of his patients during surgery and maimed nearly three dozen others. 

There is currently no release date for the new season of Dr. Death, though the expected air date is sometime in 2023. 

Dr. Death: She will make her TV return in the second season of Dr. Death. The first season was based on the true story of Christopher Duntsch (played by Joshua Jackson), a neurosurgeon who became infamous for mutilating his patients

Dr. Death: She will make her TV return in the second season of Dr. Death. The first season was based on the true story of Christopher Duntsch (played by Joshua Jackson), a neurosurgeon who became infamous for mutilating his patients

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Sharna Burgess Depends on Mom ‘A Lot’ With Her, Brian Austin Green’s Baby

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Celeb moms also need their mothers every once in a while! Sharna Burgess opened up about how her “mum” has been there for her after she and Brian Austin Green welcomed their son in July.

“How it started … how it’s going,” the Dancing With the Stars pro, 37, wrote via Instagram on Friday, December 2, alongside two sweet photos of her mom holding baby Zane.

“It really does take a village,” Burgess continued in her caption. “I have depended on my mum a lot these last few months and especially weeks with us moving house. Watching her be a Grandma to my son has been so beautiful. The memories and moments and sometimes unsolicited advice 😉 have all been exactly what I needed at the time.”

She added: “Mums just know things and I totally get that now. And she is LOVING her Grandma duties and her now big family filled with all the kids and all the animals and all the love,” concluding the emotional post by writing, “Deep gratitude for my Mums strength, ability and desire to move her whole life here to be with us. I love you Woo.”

Burgess’ fellow DWTS costar Sasha Farber appeared to appreciate the dancer’s sentiment, commenting, “❤️❤️❤️,” in the caption of the post.

The Australia native previously gave credit to her mom when gushing over her baby boy. “I now wholeheartedly understand everything my mother ever said to me about how a mother’s love is unlike any other,” Burgess wrote via Instagram in a post days after Zane’s birth. “You know, the whole ‘you’ll understand when you have kids’ thing parents say… I get it now.”

She concluded the heartfelt message with an emotional sentiment about her little one. “I will love him and worry for him to my last breath and beyond,” she penned. “Heaven is a place on earth and I have found it.”

While Burgess didn’t hesitate to praise her mother’s skills with her son in her latest upload, she previously opened up to Us Weekly about her own instincts as a new mom.

“You’re like, ‘What if I don’t know what to do? What if I don’t have an instinct? What if I drop him?’ You have all these insane, irrational fears,” she exclusively told Us in August about her worries before welcoming Zane. However, the Disney+ personality told Us, the “motherly instinct” kicks in. “And you just somehow know that to do,” she shared.

Burgess and Green, 49, have been dating since 2020. The Beverly Hills, 90210, alum is also dad to four more sons. He shares Kassius, 20, with ex Vanessa Marcil, and Noah, 10, Bodhi, 8, Journey, 6, with ex-wife Megan Fox.

The Transformers star, 36, came to visit her sons’ youngest half-sibling soon after his birth.

“She came in and got some Zane snuggle time,” Burgess exclusively told Us just weeks after delivering her baby boy. “Which was wonderful and really great to see.”



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Brooke Shields doesn’t cook for the holidays because she’s ‘busy doing Christmas movies’

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Brooke Shields tells daughters Rowan and Grier she doesn’t cook for the holidays because she’s ‘busy doing Christmas movies’ in fun Rachael Ray clip

Brooke Shields has revealed what she tells daughters Rowan. 19, and Grier, 16, when they ask why she doesn’t cook during the holidays in a candid new interview on the Rachael Ray show.

In a teaser for the episode the actress, 57, said she retorts: ‘I’m sorry, I’m busy doing Christmas movies for you to watch!’

Dressed in a glittering gold long-sleeved top and black-rimmed aviator eyeglasses, the star said, ‘They are always complaining to me… “How come you don’t cook? Other mothers cook.”‘ 

Funny: Brooke Shields has revealed what she tells daughters Rowan, 19, and Grier, 16, when they ask why she doesn’t cook during the holidays in a candid new interview on the Rachael Ray show

Shields shares her daughters with her husband of 21 years, Chris Henchy, 58.

The entrepreneur said she yields kitchen duties to her screenwriter spouse during the holiday season.

‘The tradition that happens now is my husband smokes brisket and pork shoulder and all of that,’ she dished.

Pride and joy: Shields shares the teenage girls with her husband of 21 years, Chris Henchy, 58

Pride and joy: Shields shares the teenage girls with her husband of 21 years, Chris Henchy, 58

‘We have to bring them through security. You’re traveling with meat, and they know and they’re like “Brisket? Brisket again? Really?” 

‘They see us coming and then you see the little pork shoulder go through the x-ray. That’s our tradition,’ she told the talk show host with a laugh.

Ray opened the segment by noting that Brooke’s daughters ‘do love it’ when she cooks, although the former child model thinks she can’t.

The New York-born entertainer will also discuss her new movie Holiday Harmony on Tuesday’s episode of the long-running show. 

Mom duties: Ray opened the segment by noting that Brooke's daughters 'do love it' when she cooks

Mom duties: Ray opened the segment by noting that Brooke’s daughters ‘do love it’ when she cooks

The family-oriented superstar covers the holiday edition of Hamptons Magazine with her daughters.

‘Inside the Hamptons Holiday issue, Brooke discusses building the platform and community @BeginningIsNow, her upcoming role in HBO Max’s “Holiday Harmony,” and celebrating the simple things this Holiday with her family,’ read a caption on the publication’s Instagram account.

Shields showed appreciation for the opportunity as she also took to social media to post photos from the shoot.

She wrote in a caption to her 1.6 million followers: ‘Tis the season for family and gratitude ✨ Loved doing this shoot for @hamptonsmag… and I loved my girls being there with me even more.’

Sentimental: Brooke gushed to Rachael about her family, who she referred to as 'my heart' in a recent Instagram post

Sentimental: Brooke gushed to Rachael about her family, who she referred to as ‘my heart’ in a recent Instagram post

Guest star: Brooke will appear on Tuesday's episode of the long-running TV show

Guest star: Brooke will appear on Tuesday’s episode of the long-running TV show

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