Category Archives: Life with Pratts

Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water


The water is snow on the roof and the smoke is coming out of the chimney. We are once again, for the fourth consecutive week, buried in Boston. I feel bad for people in the purple zone, with up to 24″ of new snow. We’re in the magenta zone, which is bad enough, with more than a foot added to the 4-5 feet we already have. The only upside is we won’t have to worry about a drought this summer, but the catch is the springtime melt will keep the sump pump busy.

So cold

7:30 on a Saturday night and I’m going to bed without any dinner. I wouldn’t be able to taste it anyway. Stupid cold.

Follow-up: And here it is, 5:30 AM on Sunday, and I’ve been up for nearly an hour. I”m still suffering, but less than I was last night. Today’s news is from Saugerties, New York, home of Joe Sinnott and family, and it was where Jimmy Fallon grew up. It was also where Jim Henson’s son John lived, who died there of a heart attack on Friday.

Mr. Lucky Strikes Out

Another one of my mother’s friends from her acting days was John Vivyan, who seemed to be headed for major success when Blake Edwards picked him to star in his TV series Mr. Lucky, for the 1959-60 season.


I heard Vivyan’s name a lot while growing up, but I don’t recall him ever visiting the family, like Vince Beck did. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out who he was. MeTV is currently running Mr. Lucky late on Sunday nights. Ross Martin, later Robert Conrad’s sidekick on The Wild, Wild West, played Vivyan’s sidekick.


In the era of cigarette advertising on TV, you’d think that Lucky Strike would have sponsored the show, and indeed the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. was a sponsor, along with Lever Brothers. The ratings for Mr. Lucky were very good, but then Brown & Williamson, or possibly Lever Bros., decided the gambling premise wasn’t respectable, and when they demanded that it be changed Blake Edwards handed the series over to journeyman director Jack Arnold, who is known for his 1950’s science fiction movies and for directing a lot of the “Gilligan’s Island” episodes. The advertiser meddling didn’t work out, CBS couldn’t find another primary sponsor, and Mr. Lucky was cancelled after only one season.

After Mr. Lucky, John Vivyan had mostly bit parts in TV shows. Today, if Mr. Lucky is remembered at all, it’s for its theme music by Henry Mancini.

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Dr. Jane Pratt, 1943-2013

Dorothy Jane Pratt was one of my father’s cousins. In recent years Jane and I had many interesting e-mail exchanges, including her comments about Paul Wolfowitz, who she didn’t care for when he was in charge of the World Bank, and about her years working for Robert McNamara at the bank. Jane liked McNamara personally, despite the damage done by the Vietnam War, but she said he was “difficult to know.” Here is a remembrance of Jane by The Mountain Institute, an organization that was near and dear to her interests in economic development and the environment.

JanePrattThe Mountain Institute mourns the passing of Jane Pratt — a staunch advocate for mountain communities and environments around the world.

Jane Pratt passed away on Monday, August 12, 2013, after a remarkable career benefitting mountain communities and environments. From 1994 to 2002 Dr. Pratt was President and CEO of The Mountain Institute where she led a leadership transition, focused the Institute’s mission, and pioneered new programs and partnerships in Asia, Latin America and around the world. Among her many accomplishments, she reoriented the Institute’s development and conservation work using the appreciative inquiry approach, which aims interventions to build more on success rather than respond to problems. She also started the Sacred Mountains Program. During her tenure, Dr. Pratt contributed globally to the cause of mountain sustainable development as a key founder of the Mountain Forum, and through helping coordinate the United Nation’s International Year of the Mountains in 2002. In 2010 she rejoined the Institute as a board member where she was extraordinarily effective and energetic despite failing health.

Between 1979 and 1994, Dr. Pratt served in various executive positions at the World Bank, including as Chief of Environmental Operations and Strategy. She also headed World Bank’s office for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (The Earth Summit – Rio ‘92). While at the Bank, she pushed for transparency and open information access to the public, and promoted critical examination of major infrastructure projects, particularly dams, in terms of their potential environmental and social impacts.

Throughout her career, she published and spoke frequently on environment and development issues. She was a particular advocate for challenges and opportunities related to gender, including serving as an organizer and contributor to the Women of the Mountains conference series hosted by the Utah Valley University and the International University of Kyrgyzstan. Other institutions she has supported, often at board level, include Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the United in Diversity Forum (an Indonesian based non-profit), Aspen International Mountain Foundation, EcoLogicaLLC, and others focused on advancing economic and ecological sustainability.

Above all, Dr. Pratt was an enthusiastic mentor and supporter of people. She shared her knowledge and experience generously, and was deeply loyal to friends and colleagues. In addition, she was a great advocate for education. Dr. Pratt was an important, and proud, supporter of The Mountain Institute’s work in Appalachia at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center, where children from underserved communities are provided with a top notch environmental education experience.

Dr. Pratt held a Ph.D. in political science and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and was in one their first cohorts of women admitted into a doctoral program. She also held a certificate in Southeast Asia Area Studies from Yale University, and a BSc in Zoology from University of Michigan. She also received numerous awards and was a member of many professional associations and commissions.

Dr. Pratt is survived by her husband John D. Shilling, and their two daughters, Kaile and Kaitlin; as well as two grandchildren.

The Mountain Institute is committed to continuing Dr. Pratt’s pioneering work on behalf of everyone who benefits from healthy mountain systems around the world. We will miss her warmth, mentorship and tenacious support for mountain issues. Her family is in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.