Saturday November 17, 2001
Albert Hague, a refugee from Nazi Germany who
became a Tony-winning Broadway composer and then a familiar TV presence in the
series "Fame," has died. He was 81.
Hague died Monday of cancer at Daniel Freeman Medical Center in Marina del Rey.
"I'm living proof that America works," Hague wrote for an unpublished
autobiography. "Here I was, an 18-year-old kid, all alone in a foreign country,
not speaking a word of English, without two pennies to rub together. Sixteen
years later, I celebrated the opening night of my first Broadway hit." That 1955
show, "Plain and Fancy," was set in Amish country and featured Barbara Cook and
the hit song "Young and Foolish." It was followed in 1959 by Hague's
Tony-winning score for "Redhead," a musical murder mystery set in Victorian
London, starring Gwen Verdon.
Hague wrote the score for the 1966 TV show "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,"
which became a holiday perennial.
His later stage musicals weren't successful. "The Fig Leaves Are Falling" closed
on Broadway within three days of opening in January 1969. "Miss Moffat," a Bette
Davis vehicle in 1974, closed outside New York.
Saturday November 17, 2001
ORLANDO, Fla. -- David "Panama" Francis, whose
drumming was featured both in top Harlem nightclubs and legendary rock songs,
has died. He was 82.
Francis died Tuesday in Miami after a stroke.
His career spanned seven decades. He first achieved fame in the late 1930s
playing with the Savoy Sultans--once described by Dizzy Gillespie as "the
swingingest band there ever was"--at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. The Sultans
reemerged four decades later under Francis' leadership and drumming prowess. The
group was named the best big band by the New York Jazz Society in 1980 and
received Grammy nominations for two of its six albums.
Sunday October 21, 2001
OCTOBER 16, 2001 - Grammy-nominated Jazz
vocalist, Etta Jones, died of complications due to cancer. She was 72. Jones
reportedly collaborated with such greats as Oliver Nelson, Earl "Fatha" Hines,
Kenny Burrell and Cedar Walton, both in concert and on recordings. She recorded
prolifically for RCA, Prestige, Muse and more recently Highnote Records. She
earned a gold record for her 1960 recording "Don't Go to Strangers," and
received a Grammy nomination in 1981 for "Save Your Love For Me." She got a
second Grammy nomination in 1999 for a collection of songs: "My Buddy - Etta
Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson."
Saturday October 20, 2001
Otis Young, the first black actor to co-star
in a television Western series--"The Outcasts" in the 1968-69--has died. He was
Young, who later became an ordained minister and a community college professor,
died Oct. 12 of a stroke in Los Angeles.
Young's best-known movie role was as a career sailor transporting a prisoner to
the brig with Jack Nicholson in the 1973 movie "The Last Detail." But he was a
relative unknown when he landed a co-starring role in "The Outcasts," an
hourlong Western that ran on ABC for one season. The series co-starred Don
Murray as a former Confederate officer and former slave owner who had lost
everything during the Civil War and teamed up with Young's character, a former
slave who became a bounty hunter.
Produced during a time of racial unrest in the United States, "The Outcasts"
depicted an interracial relationship in which blacks and whites lived
together--but not without an underlying and sometimes open hostility toward one
"Even though they worked together as bounty hunters, we never lost the awareness
between our characters," Murray said. " . . . It never got to be a buddy-buddy,
'I Spy' thing at all."
Young was the only unknown among a number of well-known black actors who did
screen tests with Murray for the part.
"He just stood out among all the rest because he was the one actor who was
totally unapologetic about this hostility" between the two characters, Murray
Young's concerns over his portrayal extended to the scripts. In a 1990 interview
with Sh-Boom magazine, he recalled that he was required to play "a real tough
black cowboy, but they also wanted me to say things that a black man wouldn't
In one episode, he and Murray found some children whose parents had been killed
by Indians. "So we bury the parents and I said a prayer," Young recalled. "My
partner in the scene looked at me and said, 'Gee, Jemal, I didn't know you could
pray like that.' In the script, my reply was, 'Well, there's nothing like
darkies for praying.' "
Young recalled in the interview that while the scene was being shot, a group of
60 black children from Watts were visiting the set. "Here was these kids
watching this black cowboy in action, and I didn't feel that line was valid for
the character, so I refused to say it," he said.
Murray said "The Outcasts" debuted shortly after the assassinations of the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and during a time of urban riots
and the rise of the Black Panthers. And though the show received good reviews,
he said, "a lot of the audience felt very uncomfortable turning it on and seeing
these two guys so hostile to each other, even when saving each other's lives."
In the end, the political climate of the times hurt the show's ratings.
Born in Providence, R.I., Young was one of 14 children. He joined the Marine
Corps at 17, and after serving in the Korean War he enrolled in acting classes
at New York University on the GI Bill.
He appeared in the off-Broadway production of "In a Garden" at the Penthouse
Theatre in New York in 1956. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of
Drama in New York in 1960 and appeared in numerous theater productions in New
York and Los Angeles.
Young continued to act occasionally in the 1980s, including a role in the 1981
miniseries "Palmerstown USA," but his daughter, Saudia Young, said her father
finally stopped pursuing his acting career.
"His focus became more spiritual," she said.
Young earned a bachelor's degree from L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles in
1983. The same year, he became an intern pastor at Angelus Temple (International
Church of the Foursquare Gospel) in Los Angeles. From 1986 to 1988, he served as
senior pastor of the Elim Foursquare Gospel Church in
Murray, who remained a close friend of his former co-star, said he noticed a
change in Young's sometimes volatile personality, which had once led to
arguments on the set.
"One of the great things about Otis was he had a great sense of humor, and even
when he was being totally crazy [with anger], five minutes later he'd start
laughing. After his conversion, he still had that sense of humor, but he just
seemed to have lost all of that terrible anger that made him difficult to work
with. So there was a tremendous change in him; it was like night and day,"
In the late 1980s, Young taught acting at the School Without Walls in Rochester
and the art of preaching at Rochester Bible College.
In 1992, he received a master's degree in communications from the State
University of New York at Brockport. And from 1989 until his retirement in 1999,
he taught speech and communications at Monroe Community College in Rochester,
where he also taught theater and directed student productions.
Young wrote nine plays, including "Right On Brother," a drama of ghetto life in
which he starred as a disabled folk singer, at the Oxford Theater in Hollywood
He moved back to Los Angeles last October. His daughter said he was working on
an autobiography and writing plays, and had planned to begin teaching speech
classes at Los Angeles Valley College in January.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and children El Mahdi, Jemal Lucien,
Lovelady and Saudia.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at the chapel at Pepperdine
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Otis Young
Memorial Fund, which will benefit the Twin Towers Orphan Fund. Information is
available on the Web site www.ttof.org, or by calling (661)
Wednesday October 17, 2001
Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Jay
Livingston, whose collaborationwith Ray Evans led to such hits as "Silver
Bells,""Que Sera, Sera" and"Mona Lisa," died Wednesday. He was 86.
Livingston, whose songwriting partnership with Evans spanned 64 years,died of
pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, family spokesman FrankLiberman said.
Often called the last of the great songwriters, Livingston and Evans hadseven
Academy Award nominations and won three - in 1948 for "Buttons andBows" in the
film "The Paleface," in 1950 for "Mona Lisa" in "CaptainCarey, USA," and in 1956
for "Que Sera, Sera" in "The Man Who Knew TooMuch."
They wrote the television theme songs for "Bonanza" and "Mr. Ed," and
werehonored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for"the
most performed music for film and TV for 1996."
The members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame also produced such hits as"The Cat
and the Canary" from the 1945 film "Why Girls Leave Home,""Tammy"from the 1957
movie "Tammy and the Bachelor,""Almost in Your Arms" fromthe 1958 film
"Houseboat" and the title song of the 1964 film "DearHeart."
Livingston was born on March 28, 1915, in the Pittsburgh suburb of McDonald. He
met Evans in 1937 at the University of Pennsylvania, where
they were both students.
The team's final project was the recording, "Michael Feinstein Sings
theLivingston and Evans Song Book," due for 2002 release.
Thursday October 11, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) - Herbert Ross, a choreographer and
director who worked on films including ``Funny Girl'' with Barbra Streisand and
``Steel Magnolias'' with Julia Roberts, died Tuesday. He was 74.
The cause of death was not immediately released. He had been hospitalized for
the past three months, according to Barbara Wrede, media relations manager for
Lenox Hill Hospital.
Ross began his career as a dancer and started choreographing Broadway shows in
the early 1950s. He was soon directing musical sequences and choreographed his
first film, ``Carmen Jones,'' with Dorothy Dandridge, in 1954.
In the 1970s, Ross directed Woody Allen's ``Play it Again Sam'' and was a
frequent collaborator with playwright Neil Simon. Ross directed five Simon
scripts, including ``The Sunshine Boys'' in 1975 ``California Suite,'' in 1978
and 1981's ``I Ought to Be in Pictures.''Ross enjoyed critical and box-office
success in the 1980s and 90s with ``Pennies From Heaven,'' ``Soapdish,'' and
``Boys on the Side.''In 1977, Ross returned to his dancing roots with his
acclaimed study of the ballet world, ``The Turning Point'' with Anne Bancroft,
Shirley MacLaine, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The film earned numerous Academy
Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture.
His first wife, prima ballerina Nora Kaye, died of cancer in 1987.In 1989, he
married Lee Radziwill, the sister of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy
Onassis. They divorced in 1999.Some of Ross' other credits include ``The Secret
of My Success,'' ``The Owl and The Pussycat,'' ``Footloose,'' ``The Sunshine
Boys,'' and ``The Goodbye Girl''
The son of a postal clerk, Ross was born May 13, 1927 in Brooklyn. After his
mother died, when Ross was 9, the family moved to Miami where his father opened
a luncheonette. A chance appearance in a walk-on role with a roadshow company of
Ballet Theatre when he was 15 put Ross on his career path.``I've never been to a
shrink, so I can't explain my compulsion on psychological grounds,'' he said in
a 1978 interview with The New York Times Magazine. ``The idea just suddenly
popped into my head and took over.''
Thursday October 11, 2001
Dagmar, the voluptuous actress who became an
overnight sensation playing the sexy dumb blond on NBC's pioneer late-night show
"Broadway Open House" with comedian Jerry Lester in the early '50s, has died.
She was 79.
Dagmar, who had been in ill health for a few years, died Tuesday at her home in
Ceredo, W. Va.
"She was very unique--there was only one Dagmar and that was Dag," said Milton
Berle, who had her on his "Texaco Star Theater" TV show in the late '40s and
worked with her in his Las Vegas act in the '50s. "I don't think she got enough
credit for that character she played," Berle said Wednesday.
"She played it so naturally, like a dumb Dora but beautiful. She was
extra-talented. She could sing, she could dance, she knew how to throw a line
and she was a good 'feed,' like a straight woman. She was a pro."
Born Virginia Ruth Egnor in Logan, W. Va., in 1921, Dagmar was one of seven
children whose father worked as a coal miner and construction worker. Growing up
in Huntington, W. Va., she attended business school for a year after high school
and worked in a local drugstore. Married at 20, she moved to New York City
during World War II to be with her Navy commander husband.
When he was shipped overseas, she remained in New York and began a career
With no previous show business experience, she was hired by the comedy team of
Olsen and Johnson as a principal in their Broadway show "Laughing Room Only," in
the mid-1940s. Renamed Jennie Lewis, sh appeared in a revival of
"Burlesque" with Bert Lahr and appeared frequently on early television variety
shows calling for an amply proportioned young woman for comedy skits.
Then in 1950 came the career-making "Broadway Open House," a precursor to "The
Tonight Show." Lester, a onetime Borsch-belt comic, renamed Jennie Lewis Dagmar
for what originally was intended as a onetime bit.
"I supposedly was the band singer, but I never sang," she recalled in 1975.
"When Jerry walked out the first night, he said, 'Who's that?' And someone said,
'That's my new band singer, Dagmar.' And he said, 'Does she sing?' And the other
guy said, 'I don't know. I'm afraid to ask her.' "
An instant hit, Dagmar read poems and gave lectures--"treasises," she called
them in her garbled English--on a variety of subjects.
Wearing low-cut gowns and standing 5-foot-11 in high heels, she delivered her
poems and "treasises" in a high voice and with a deadpan, wide-eyed innocence.
To Dagmar, a mushroom was "a place where you make love." The word "singular"
meant you're "musically inclined." And the word isolate? "That's when you admit
that you are tardy."
She was such a hit that her salary soared from $75 a week to $1,250. She earned
$25,000 for two weeks at the Roxy with Berle and appeared at the Paramount
Theater with Frank Sinatra. Edward R. Murrow did a "Person to Person" interview
with her in her lavish penthouse on Central Park South, and she even appeared on
the cover of Life magazine.
Dagmar became so popular so fast that Lester, the veteran performer, resented
her overnight success and reportedly attempted to minimize her role on the show.
Finally, after a year of friction between the two, Lester left the show, and
"Broadway Open House" disappeared from the air soon after.
In 1952, Dagmar returned as host of her own short-lived variety show, "Dagmar's
Canteen," and she later served as a panelist on "Masquerade Party."
Although she once received 2,000 fan letters and even recorded a duet with
Sinatra, her celebrity was short-lived.
After her initial fling with fame in the '50s, she semiretired but kept a hand
in show business by doing a nightclub act and appearing in summer stock.
Dagmar, who never had children, was married three times--to Angelo Lewis, a
Huntington businessman; actor Danny Dayton; and bandleader Dick Hinds, a
marriage that ended with his death in the early '70s.
After retiring in the '70s, she lived in Newtown and Waterbury, Conn., and five
years ago moved to Ceredo, where she lived with her brother, Bob Egnor, and his
Family was always important to Dagmar, even during the years when her
show-business career took priority.
"She was generous and caring," said her sister Mary Ann Wolf, of Huntington.
"When she started making money, we had money."
And contrary to Dagmar's dumb blond image, Bob Egnor describes his sister as
"brilliant and very vivacious," someone who "reached out to people and was a
good friend to everybody." In her later years in Ceredo, he said, she would
occasionally stop by a senior center in nearby Huntington "to talk to seniors
and try to cheer them up."
In addition to Bob Egnor and Mary Ann Wolf, Dagmar is survived by two other
brothers, Danny Egnor of Huntington, and Jack Egnor of Tubac, Ariz.; and two
other sisters, Jean Nichols of Miami; and Tresa Jacobs of Vancouver, Wash.
A memorial service will be held Saturday in Huntington, W. Va.
Friday October 5, 2001
Gloria Foster, the distinguished stage actress
who portrayed generations of African-American characters in plays like "In White
America" and "Having Our Say," died on Saturday at her home in Manhattan. She
The cause was diabetes, said Clarence Williams 3rd, her former husband.
Born in Chicago and reared by her grandmother, Ms. Foster studied at the Goodman
Theater School of Drama and made her professional debut in the County Theater at
the University of Chicago.
In 1963 she moved to New York and walked into an open audition for Martin B.
Duberman's "In White America," a dramatic overview of the black American
experience from life aboard 18th-century slave ships to the 20th-century crusade
for civil rights.
Soft-spoken and polite and with a Mona Lisa smile, Ms. Foster won her role over
dozens of seasoned New York actresses. She soon found herself onstage at the
Sheridan Square Theater in Greenwich Village, portraying no fewer than 27
It was a performance that won her ample attention from New York critics and
producers. Writing in The New York Times, Howard Taubman called Ms. Foster "the
most moving of all" the actors in the play. He later wrote that she "shook New
York" in that role. In particular he cited her portrayal of the teenage black
girl who was the first to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Ark. Life
magazine also singled out the scene, and later published a two-page spread on
Ms. Foster. She won an Obie Award for that performance, one of three she would
Judith Rutherford James, who produced "In White America," soon cast Ms. Foster
again, in 1965, this time as Medea at the Martinique Theater on West 32nd
Street, an Off Broadway house that has since vanished. That performance won Ms.
Foster another Obie in addition to a Theater World Award, and officially
established her as a formidable classical actress.
In later decades, Ms. Foster took on a range of classical roles, including
Titania and Hippolyta in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Andromache in "The Trojan
Women" and the mother in "Blood Wedding." Many of these productions were
produced under the auspices of the New York Shakespeare Festival, whose longtime
producer, Joseph Papp, also cast Ms. Foster as modern-day characters, including
Miss Molly Hoffenburg in Bill Gunn's "Forbidden City," for which she won a third
Obie in 1989.
Perhaps more than awards, however, Ms. Foster's career was notable for the
directorial talent that sought her out, including Andrei Serban, who chose her
for his Clytemnestra in "Agamemnon," in a 1977 production at the Delacorte
Theater in Central Park, and Joseph Chaikin, who cast her as the central
character in "Trespassing," in 1982.
Ms. Foster also worked in film and television, playing a supporting role in the
movie "Nothing but a Man" (1964). Younger hipster audiences were
later introduced to Ms. Foster in the 1999 hit "The Matrix," in which she played
the Oracle, a mystical seer who sends the movie's hero (played by
Keanu Reeves) on his reality-bending mission.
Though familiar Off Broadway, Ms. Foster became famous on Broadway in 1995 as
Sadie Delany, the gracious 103-year-old whose story, and that of her more
vinegary 101-year-old sister, Bessie, was told in Emily Mann's "Having Our Say."
The play, based on the sisters' best-selling memoir, opened at the Booth Theater
to near-unanimous good reviews, including stellar notices for Ms.
Foster and her co-star, Mary Alice. So seamless were the performances that
audience members standing at the stage door often mistook the two
actresses for the actual centenarians, offering to help Ms. Foster and Ms. Alice
navigate the sidewalk.
In 1999 Ms. Foster made her last appearance, in a revival of "A Raisin in the
Sun," alongside Ruben Santiago-Hudson, at the Williamstown Theater
Festival in Massachusetts. Again, as she had throughout her career, Ms. Foster
turned her natural reserve into a strength as Lena Younger, the
matriarch at the play's center. The mother is the last to leave the stage, a
moment that was tailor-made for Ms. Foster's quiet power.
No immediate family members survive.
Thursday September 27, 2001
Lani O'Grady, who played Mary, the strong,
self-confident eldest daughter on the television series "Eight Is Enough," has
died. She was 46.
O'Grady, a talent agent, was found dead in her Valencia mobile home Tuesday.
Authorities say O'Grady apparently died of natural causes. The coroner's office
said a post-mortem examination is pending.
Born in Walnut Grove, O'Grady was the daughter of Mary Grady, one of Hollywood's
top children's agents. Her brother was Don Grady, one of the original
Mousketeers and a co-star of the 1960s TV comedy "My Three Sons." It was while
visiting her brother on the "My Three Sons" set when she was 6 that O'Grady
began thinking of following in his footsteps.
In a 1994 interview with The Times, O'Grady recalled that when the show's star,
Fred MacMurray, heard her naturally low voice, he turned around and said, "Who
She looked up at the towering MacMurray and said, "I did, sir." MacMurray
responded by saying, "Boy, you ought to be in the business."
Aware of the emotional toll on child actors, Mary Grady never pushed her
daughter into acting. But when Lani was 13, her mother finally gave in to her
persistent requests to be sent on an audition.
After reading a two-line bit for "High Chaparral," she won the lead role in the
episode. O'Grady never looked back, working constantly as a teenager.
Born Lanita Rose Agrati, she changed her name to Lani O'Grady after landing her
role in "Eight Is Enough," a comedy-drama that starred Dick Van Patten as the
newspaper columnist father of eight children. The series ran from 1977 to 1981.
In a 1994 Times interview, O'Grady said she had long suffered from severe panic
attacks, which led to her abusing prescription drugs and alcohol for more than a
Although fans were never aware of it, O'Grady said, the attacks caused her to
frequently run to her dressing room to pop a Valium. She said she once shook so
much during a scene that she had to be driven home.
Although she began experiencing panic attacks at 18, O'Grady said, she was not
diagnosed with panic disorder until she was 21. Over the years, she said, she
saw 32 doctors, most of whom prescribed various tranquilizers.
After the series ended, O'Grady said, she was in and out of five rehabilitation
The lowest point in her long struggle with panic attacks, she said, came in
1993, when agoraphobia kept her at home, and her body was so filled with toxins
from abusing prescription drugs and alcohol that she was experiencing memory
But in 1994, she began being treated with a nonnarcotic medication for what was
diagnosed as a brain chemical imbalance.
The treatment, she said at the time, made all the difference in the world.
"I have a life today," she said.
In December 1998, however, O'Grady checked herself into the Thalians Mental
Health Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to detoxify from a prescription
Although many child stars bitterly complain about the drawbacks of growing up in
show business, O'Grady was not one of them.
"I have a real hard time with people who have been successful in this business
as young children . . . and [as adults] they are no longer wanted by
Hollywood--and, yeah, Hollywood is not a user-friendly place," she said in 1994.
"But rather than accepting responsibility for their life, it's easier to say,
'The business is the reason I'm so messed up today.' I hate that."
Saturday September 22, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) - Isaac Stern, the master violinist
who saved Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball, died Saturday. He was 81.
Stern was one of the last great violinists of his generation and helped advance
the careers of generations of musicians who followed, including Itzhak Perlman,
Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma (news - web sites).
Stern died of heart failure at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, said Ann
Diebold, spokeswoman for Carnegie Hall. He had suffered from heart disease for
several years and had been in and out of the hospital for the past six weeks,
said Carnegie Hall Chairman Sandy Weill.
``Isaac was far more than a musician. He was a person who was outstanding in
everything, whether thinking about politics, or business, or as a
humanitarian,'' Weill said. Five-foot-6, rotund and with pudgy, dimpled hands,
Stern commanded a
rich tone and steady rhythm from his 18th century Guarneri. With his dynamo
energy and fluid bow strokes, he was equally at home with the mathematical
contortions of Bach, the fury of Beethoven, the syncopations of Brahms and the
convulsions of 20th century composers.
Stern was one of the most recorded classical musicians in history, making well
over 100 recordings.
Tuesday September 18, 2001
Ernie Coombs, friend to generations of Canadian
children as Mr. Dressup, has died.
Coombs, 73, died at 1:35 a.m. Tuesday at Toronto Western Hospital following
complications from a stroke, a close friend of the family said.
"He actually suffered the stroke . . . last Tuesday," Brad Jones, son of Coombs'
manager Don Jones, said from London, Ont. "The family's wishes were to keep it
Coombs has three children, Christopher, Kenneth and Catherine Minott. His wife
Marlene was killed in a traffic accident in 1992.
A quiet man with thinning grey hair and round, dark-rimmed glasses, Coombs was a
fixture on CBC-TV for more than 30 years as the kindly man with the puppet
sidekicks who kept the kids entertained with make-believe and simple crafts.
With Casey, a mop-haired 4-1/2-year-old boy, and his dog, Finnegan, both created
by puppeteer Judith Lawrence, the American-born Coombs and the down-to-earth Mr.
Dressup became a Canadian institution.
"I'm getting a lot of parents who tell me they used to watch me when they were
children and now their kids are," Coombs said 20 years into his career in 1986.
"That feels good."
Coombs was never worried about looking silly.
Once, when he was pretending to be a lizard, a cameraman asked: "Don't you feel
stupid doing that?" Coombs replied he was only doing what any father would do
with his kids.
Children were invited to attempt the arts and crafts Coombs demonstrated, to
sing along and to use their imaginations.
"I've had many parents tell me: `Yours is the only program my child will sit and
watch for a half hour,"' Coombs said. "It's a quiet time when the children can
watch friends and not get overly stimulated."
He was never in a hurry.
"We don't feel children have to have everything cut up into little pieces and
fired at them like guns," said Lawrence, who retired with Casey and Finnegan in
At the 1992 Gemini Awards, comic Mike Myers of Saturday Night Live and Wayne's
World listed Mr. Dressup as one of the top five things he loves about Canada —
above gun control, medicare and even Hockey Night in Canada.
Coombs, in his own right, went on to win the Earle Grey Award for excellence in
TV from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television in 1994. He was awarded
another Gemini in 1996 for best performance in a children's program.
Also in 1994, Coombs finally became a Canadian citizen. Coombs, who was born in
Lewiston, Me., in 1927, had arrived in Canada in 1963 to work with Fred Rogers,
of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, on a CBC children's show.
"It was just going to be for one season, and when Fred went back, they offered
me a part in a new show," Coombs said.
When Rogers retired in August, Coombs remembered his old friend fondly.
"I could probably safely say I owe it all to him," Coombs said. "He was
definitely a mentor."
Mr. Dressup was just one of several characters on Butternut Square, but in 1967,
he got his own show and went on to dominate the 10:30 morning spot for decades.
When Coombs retired Mr. Dressup in 1996 after taping about 4,000 shows in all,
Jim Byrd, then CBC-TV's vice-president of English TV networks said: "He is a
cornerstone of Canadian children's television programming. He has touched the
lives of countless Canadian children and his contribution to the medium is
In 1996, Coombs was named a member of the Order of Canada. Also that year, a
poll of two- to five-year-olds nominated Coombs for the first annual Children's
Choice Award from the Alliance for Children and Television.
His other awards included a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children's
Broadcast Institute in 1989, an ACTRA Best Program Award in 1978 and he was
twice nominated for a Juno Award for best children's album. He cut five musical
albums and wrote, with co-author Shelley Tanaka, Mr. Dressup's Things to Make
and Do, Mr. Dressup's 50 More Things to Make and Do and Mr.
Dressup's Birthday Book.
After taping the final show, which spared the feelings of small children by
making no mention of his retirement, Mr. Dressup continued seamlessly on TV in
re-runs and Coombs hit the fundraising circuit for charities such as Save the
Children Canada. Coombs was also a board member of Upper Canada Creative Child
After 1996, Coombs continued to make personal appearances and performed in
Toronto in several Ross Petty productions for children — Peter Pan, Cinderella
"After all the years of being beloved by people in this country for him to come
and do my shows, it was a real honour for me," Petty said.
Monday September 17, 2001
LOS ANGELES (Sept. 17) - Fred De Cordova, who
produced ``The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson'' for 22 years and called it
``the best job in television,'' has died. He was 90.
De Cordova died Saturday of natural causes at the Motion Picture and Television
Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, said Carla White, a hospital spokeswoman.
A suave, elegant man who remained strikingly handsome in his 80s, De Cordova
proved the perfect overseer for Carson's brand of entertainment. De Cordova
could make split-second decisions to keep the show moving. He kept a close eye
on the broadcast from his station offstage, where he was often seen on camera
answering Carson's questions or serving as the butt of a joke.
``I can't think of anything else that would be as interesting and as much fun as
this,'' he once said. ``It's the best job in television.''
He wouldn't hesitate if a guest needed to be bumped off the show for time
reasons. He even bumped himself twice when he was scheduled to appear and plug
his 1988 autobiography, ``Johnny Come Lately.''
``He cares,'' de Cordova wrote of Carson. ``He does not phone it in. He works
very hard and he wants everyone else to work as hard as he does.''
He started his show business career in the theater, then came to Hollywood in
1942 as a dialogue director at Warner Bros. He moved up to director in 1945, but
most of his films involved medium-size budgets and lesser stars. Among the
titles: ``That Way with Women,'' ``The Countess of Monte Cristo,'' ``The Gal Who
Took the West,'' ``Here Come the Nelsons'' (with Ozzie and Harriet and sons) and
``I'll Take Sweden'' (Bob Hope).
His 1951 comedy ``Bedtime for Bonzo,'' with Ronald Reagan as a college professor
who experiments with raising a chimpanzee, became a target for satirists when
Reagan turned to politics.
``I thought it then and I still think it is a good movie,'' De Cordova said in a
1988 interview with The Orange County Register. ``But until Ronald Reagan became
governor of California, it was just another picture. Now it's all anybody talks
about, including Johnny.''
When television was booming in the 1950s and 1960s, De Cordova produced or
directed such series as ``December Bride'' and ``My Three Sons'' and variety
shows starring Jack Benny, George Gobel, Burns and Allen and the Smothers
He began as producer of ``The Tonight Show'' in 1970, eight years after Carson
became the show's star, and became executive producer in 1984. After Carson
retired in 1992, De Cordova remained as executive consultant for Jay Leno.
De Cordova was born Oct. 27, 1910, in New York City and spent a childhood on the
move. As he revealed in his memoir, his parents were con artists, living in posh
hotels and dining in top restaurants, then skipping town without paying.
``My father made up for his aberration by bringing me up scrupulously honest
...,'' De Cordova said. ``He sat me down and admonished me as to how vitally
important it was.''
De Cordova was studying law at Harvard when he decided on a life in the theater.
In 1933 he joined the Shubert theatrical organization in New York and worked his
way up to director and producer.
Over the years De Cordova and his wife, Janet, remained highly popular in
Hollywood society. Expectably, he had little derogatory to say in his
autobiography about any of the stars he worked with, and certainly not Carson.
``I'm a great fan,'' he admitted, ``so it wasn't likely I would say Johnny is a
star but not a nice guy. ... We've had our differences, but we've never carried
anything over to the next day.''
Monday September 17, 2001
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Samuel Z. Arkoff, a
maverick Hollywood producer who churned out more than 500 low-budget -- and
often hugely profitable -- cult movies, died of natural causes on Sunday, his
son Louis said. He was 83.
Arkoff, who said movies were no good unless they titillated audiences, tapped
into the youth culture long before the major studios took notice of the
Among his best-known releases were the Michael Caine thriller ``Dressed To
Kill,'' ``The Amityville Horror,'' ``I Was a Teen-Age Werewolf'' and the ``Beach
Blanket'' series starring teen idol Frankie Avalon and ``Mickey Mouse Club''
belle Annette Funicello.
The stout, cigar-smoking producer, an Iowa farm boy who graduated from law
school in Los Angeles, was a businessman first. The word ``art'' never crossed
his lips, trade paper Daily Variety said.
``Thou shalt not put too much money into one picture,'' ran one of Arkoff's many
mottoes. ``And with the money you do spend, put it on the screen. Don't waste it
on the egos of actors or nonsense that might appeal to highbrow critics.''
With the late Jim Nicholson, Arkoff co-founded American International Pictures
in 1954 and hit pay dirt that year by distributing ``The Fast and the Furious,''
a gritty action film directed by future B-movie king Roger Corman. The $60,000
film grossed $250,000.``I Was a Teen-Age Werewolf,'' made in 1957 and starring
Michael Landon, cost $100,000 and was shot in six days. It grossed $2 million.
``The Amityville Horror,'' a haunted-house thriller starring James Brolin and
Margot Kidder, grossed $65 million domestically in 1979, making it the biggest
independent film until ``Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles'' 10 years later.
In 1979, AIP also picked up the North American distribution rights to ``Mad
Max'' after the major studios passed on the Mel Gibson breakthrough picture.
Horror was a mainstay of AIP films, but the company was quick to capitalize on
other genres, such as gangster films (''Machine Gun Kelly,'' ``Dillinger''),
blaxploitation (''Blacula,'' ''Black Caesar'') and drug culture sagas (''Wild
Angels,'' ``Wild in the Streets'').
``I think my dad was one of the first mavericks,'' Louis Arkoff told Reuters.
``A movie was never a good movie unless it contained two thrills a reel. He
always said people go to the movies to be entertained and to be titillated.''
Perhaps more important than most of the films themselves, AIP provided early
springboards for the likes of directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, Woody
Allen, Ivan Reitman and Brian De Palma and actors Robert De Niro, Jack
Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Peter Fonda and Melanie Griffith. AIP was also a
marketing dynamo. To help promote the 1956 film ``Black Cat,'' one of many AIP
films based on works by Edgar Allan Poe, the producers lined some 500 black cats
up along a Hollywood street for a cat contest, the winner of which would make it
into the film. Life magazine captured the image for a cover. Arkoff approached
the business with a sense of humor and never countenanced Hollywood bureaucracy,
his son said. He often blasted the studios for allowing production costs to
skyrocket and was mostly ignored -- to their eventual regret. But the studios
did take notice of the audiences who flocked to his pictures, and they gradually
usurped his turf.Arkoff and Nicholson sold AIP in 1979, and Arkoff attempted
several comebacks via a new company. Largely retired for the last 20 years, he
published his memoirs, ``Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants,'' in
1992. Last September, he attended the premiere of ``It Conquered Hollywood: The
Story of American International Pictures,'' a documentary narrated by filmmaker
Peter Bogdanovich.He served as executive producer of ``Creature Features,'' a
series of five new feature-length films inspired by five of his monster films
from the 1950s. The first episode will premiere on the Cinemax cable channel on
Oct. 4, said Louis Arkoff, who served as a producer.In addition to his son,
Arkoff is survived by a daughter, Donna Arkoff, who is married to producer Joe
Roth. Arkoff died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank,
California. Funeral services are set for Thursday.
Friday September 14, 2001
Actress Dorothy McGuire Dies at 85
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dorothy McGuire, the lovely, soft-voiced actress who lent
dignity and inner strength to such films as ``Gentlemen's Agreement'' and
``Friendly Persuasion,'' has died. She was 85.
The actress died Thursday night at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, her
daughter, Topo Swope, said Friday. She had broken her leg three weeks ago and
then developed heart failure, Swope said.
``She had a wonderful life and accomplished a lot,'' she said. ``She went very
From 1943 to the 1960s, the Omaha, Neb.-born actress was a favorite leading lady
to such stars as Robert Young, Gregory Peck, Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper,
often playing the gentle, understanding wife.
She became a star in her first film, ``Claudia,'' based on the Rose Franken play
in which she had appeared on Broadway. In her later years, she moved gracefully
into character roles in films, television and theater.McGuire's controlled,
well-crafted portrayals won critical praise but no Academy recognition until she
was nominated as best actress from her role as Peck's wife in the 1947 film
``Gentleman's Agreement.'' The film, one of the first to attack anti-Semitism in
America, won the Oscar as best picture.
``I love my career, but I never felt much about it, about how to nurture it,''
she remarked in a 1982 interview.
``To this day I don't know what shapes a Hollywood career. ... I was never a
classic beauty. I had no image. So I found myself in a lot of things
accidentally,'' she said.
Her other films included ``A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'' 'The Spiral Staircase,''
the sequel ``Claudia and David,'' ``The Enchanted Cottage'' ``Three Coins in the
Fountain,'' ``Till the End of Time,'' ``Mister 880,'' ``Old Yeller,'' ``A Summer
Place'' ``The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,'' ``Swiss Family Robinson,''
``Susan Slade'' and ``The Greatest Story Ever Told'' (as the Virgin Mary). She
veered from the sweet roles only once, when she played an older woman who
seduces Guy Madison in the 1946 ``Till the End of Time.'' The film failed, and
``I went right back to playing nice girls and faithful wives.''It was the same
in real life. She had a long, storybook marriage to John Swope, who helped found
an airline and later became an acclaimed
photographer for Life magazine. In addition to their daughter, they had a son,
Mark Swope, who also survives.Omaha is a city rich in theatrical tradition,
having spawned the careers of Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando and others. McGuire,
who was born there in 1916, grew up with theater-loving parents who encouraged
her ambition to become an actress.
Her stage debut came in 1930, when Fonda, who was beginning to have success on
Broadway, returned to his home town for an engagement in James Barrie's ``A Kiss
for Cinderella.'' The teen-age Dorothy was chosen to play the role opposite him.
When she auditioned for ``Claudia,'' the play's producers recognized her elfin
charm and gave her the role immediately. Movie producer David O. Selznick signed
her to a film contract and bought the film rights to ``Claudia'' as well. He
wound up selling the rights to Twentieth Century-Fox and persuaded that studio
to let McGuire repeat the role in the 1943 film.
Friday September 14, 2001
ST. PAUL (AP) - Larry Kegan, a singer-songwriter
who performed in concert with Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown and others, died Tuesday
of cardiac arrest. He was 59.
Kegan sang at Gov. Jesse Ventura's inaugural celebration in 1999, at American
Indian functions and at Stillwater prison.
A paraplegic since a diving accident when he was 15, and a quadriplegic after a
car accident a decade later, Kegan was nonetheless very active.
Kegan ran a resort for disabled veterans in Mexico and managed orange groves in
Florida before returning to Minnesota in the mid-1970s.
He met Dylan when they were teen-agers at a summer camp. Decades later, in 1978,
Dylan dedicated his album "Street Legal" to Kegan.
Tuesday September 11, 2001
David Angell, Barbara Olson, Daniel Lewin, Edmind Glazer, Berry Berenson
David Angell, co-creator of the hit sitcoms
"Frasier" and "Wings," and his wife, Lynn, are confirmed as being on board
American Airlines 11 from Boston, one of the two hijacked passenger aircraft
that smashed into the World Trade Center towers. MSNBC commentator Barbara Olson
was on board the second aircraft. CNN reports that Olson phoned her husband
several times after hijackers took over the craft. A statement from Paramount on
the death of the Angells said, "Words cannot express our sorrow at this
incredible loss. David has been at Paramount since 1983 and his talent, wit and
humor will be deeply missed. Also killed on board AA flight 11 were Daniel Lewin,
chief technology officer of Akamai Technologies, and Edmind Glazer, chief
financial officer for MRV Communications. Lewin was a co-founder of Web-content
provider Akamai. MRV makes fiber optic components for telecommunications
Sunday September 9, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Gene Shacove, a hairstylist to
the stars who inspired the movie "Shampoo," died Wednesday of a thoracic
aneurysm followed by kidney failure. He was 72.
Shacove styled the hair of celebrities such as George Hamilton, Jill St. John,
Lucille Ball and Marlene Dietrich. He continued to work several days a week up
until his death.
He set a trend with his loose, tousled haircuts for St. John and Joey
Heatherton, fellow salon owner Allen Edwards said.
But it was his eventful love life that inspired the 1975 comedy "Shampoo,"
starring friend Warren Beatty and written by another friend, Robert Towne.
Although married several times, he was more often single.
Sunday September 9, 2001
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Jazz saxophonist Jay
Migliori, who worked with musicians and singers ranging from Frank Zappa to
Frank Sinatra, died Sept. 2 of colon cancer. He was 70.
Migliori, who was also a founding member of the Grammy-winning jazz group
Supersax, played on some 4,000 recordings during his career.
Although he described his own style as "modern acoustic jazz with roots in
bebop," he was equally comfortable working with country stars like Glen
Campbell, a wide variety of rock musicians including Zappa and the Four Seasons
and pop stars as varied as Dean Martin and Celine Dion.
He performed with more than two dozen bands over the years, including those led
by Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, Terry Gibbs and Maynard Ferguson.
In 1971, he joined Supersax, an ensemble built around a five-saxophone section
that specialized in orchestrated Charlie Parker solos. He also recorded several
albums of his own, including "Jazz in Transition" and "Smile."
Sunday September 9, 2001
Daniel Adrian Carlin, who earned a
music-editing Emmy Award for the 1987 miniseries "Unnatural Causes" and in the
1970s altered Hollywood's post-production practices by founding a series of
independent music-editing companies, has died. He was 73.
Carlin died Aug. 14 at his home in Carpinteria, Calif., of complications from
lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis, his family said.
Among the films for which he edited the music were "Scorpio," "The Outlaw Josey
Wales," "Ghost," "Gorillas in the Mist," "Dead Poets Society," "Fatal
Attraction," "Parenthood" and "Cliffhanger." Third in a line of five Irish
American Daniel A. Carlins, he founded La Da Music in 1972. The company, now
called Segue Music and run by his son Daniel Allen Carlin, is part of Zomba
Entertainment and is considered the leading film and television music editing
company in the business.
The father also founded Segue's Triad Music with his daughters, Kathryn and
Patricia, and Tacet Music.
"My father, during his splendidly successful career as a music editor, was
always willing to train any hard-working person possessing reasonable smarts and
a decent sense of rhythm," Daniel Allen Carlin once said.
The senior Carlin collaborated with such major soundtrack composers as Hugo
Friedhofer, Lionel Newman, Lalo Schifrin, Elmer Bernstein and Ennio Morricone.
Carlin also wrote the book "Music in Film and Video Production" and lectured at
UCLA, the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the University of Texas and Dublin
Carlin, a Navy veteran, served for 30 years on the executive committee of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' music branch.
In addition to Daniel, Kathryn and Patricia, he is survived by his wife, Annie;
a son, Thomas; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was to be held Saturday in Santa Monica.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be sent to MusiCares at the
Recording Academy, 3402 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405; or to the
Motion Picture Academy Foundation's Film-Score Preservation Fund, 8949 Wilshire
Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
Sunday September 9, 2001
Heywood Hale Brown
KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Heywood Hale Broun, the
sports commentator known for his handlebar mustache and prose as colorful as his
sport coats, has died at 83.
Broun died Wednesday at Kingston Hospital. The cause of death was not released.
The son of newspaper columnist Heywood Broun, he had lived in nearby Woodstock
since 1948. His television work included essays on top sports events, with his
mustache bobbing and the garish plaid of his coat filling the screen.
"I think we've taken the fun out of sports by insisting that everybody must be a
champion or a failure," he once said. "Sports do not build character. They
Known as Woody, Broun was a CBS correspondent for 19 years."He had a way with
words, something modern Americans don't know much about," said Bud Lamoreaux,
his friend and former producer at CBS. "He was a master of the metaphor, and he
read more books than most people know the titles of."
Broun's career also extended into acting. He was in TV soap operas, 14 Broadway
plays and some movies, including a bit part in 1954's "It Should Happen to You"
and the role of Judge Hiller in 1977's "For Pete's Sake."
"If I had a good part, it was a bad show," Broun quipped. "If it was a good
show, I had a bad part."
He also wrote three books: "A Studied Madness," "Tumultuous Merriment" and
"Whose Little Boy Are You?: A Memoir of the Broun Family."
Broun had surgery this spring after he fell and broke a hip while visiting
Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., forcing him to watch the Kentucky
Derby on TV from his hospital bed. Broun had covered more than a dozen Kentucky
Derby races for CBS, beginning in 1966.
Throughout the 1990s, while working "just enough to say I'm not retired," Broun
was a frequent guest and speaker at church dinners, literacy
fund-raisers, libraries and local schools, where he never failed to keep his
Woodstock Times reporter Rene Houtrides said she spent time with Broun at his
home about a month ago.
She said Broun faced complications after hip surgery, including a bout with
pneumonia, but never lost his vigor for life.
"He was still full of curiosity and alertness and interested and thinking about
things and anecdotes," she said. "None of his sort of 'Woody-ness'
left him. All of that was still there."
Broun's father, a columnist in the 1920s and '30s, founded the Newspaper Guild
and was a regular at the Algonquin Round Table in Manhattan. His
mother, Ruth Hale, was an early feminist.
Born in New York City, Broun graduated in 1940 from Swarthmore College near
Philadelphia and became a newspaper baseball writer after returning from
service in World War II.
Broun was married to actress Jane Lloyd-Jones, who died in 1991. His son, writer
Hob Broun, died in 1987, four years after a spinal operation left him paralyzed
from the neck down.
Sunday September 9, 2001
Raymond Edward Johnson, 90, a radio actor who
played the title roles in "Mandrake the Magician" and "Don Winslow of the Navy"
but was best known as host of "Inner Sanctum Mysteries," died of complications
from multiple sclerosis Aug. 15 in Wallingford, Conn.
During radio's Golden Age, Johnson performed frequently on such shows as "The
First Nighter," "The Guiding Light," "Stella Dallas," "Lights Out," "Gang
Busters" and "Mr. District Attorney."
But Johnson, who once played boyfriends and leading men, became known as the
"scary guy" once he began hosting "Inner Sanctum." The weekly show opened with a
squeaking door, followed by Johnson's eerie welcome, "Good e-e-evening, and how
are you this evening?" and a sinister laugh. Johnson left the popular show to
serve in the Army during World War II. He returned
to radio after the war, but was stricken by multiple sclerosis in his 40s and
was forced to retire.
Sunday September 9, 2001
Julie Bishop, titian-haired actress who
appeared in 84 movies opposite such stars as Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne from
1923 to 1957 and in the television series "My Hero" with Bob Cummings in the
early 1950s, has died.
Bishop, who also acted under her birth name of Jacqueline Wells, died of
pneumonia Aug. 30, her 87th birthday, in Mendocino, Calif., said her daughter,
actress Pamela Shoop Sweeney of Sherman Oaks.
The long-retired actress began her career as a child in silents, first in the
1923 "Children of Jazz," and worked with such luminaries as Clara Bow and Mary
Pickford. Segueing easily into talkies, she made 49 films and four serials from
1925 to 1940, her daughter said. Among them were "Tarzan the Fearless" with
Buster Crabbe, "Tillie and Gus" with W.C. Fields, "Any Old
Port" and "The Bohemian Girl" with Laurel and Hardy and the 1934 "The Black Cat"
with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
Briefly acting under the name Diane Duval, Bishop starred in the 1940 serial
titled "Heroes of the West."
Born in Denver, the daughter of a wealthy banker and oilman, the actress was
reared in Wichita Falls, Texas, and, after her parents divorced, in Los Angeles
where she began her movie career. She retained her name through child roles and
several credits as an ingenue, but changed it to Julie Bishop at the studio's
request in 1940 when she won a contract with Warner Bros.
The renamed star flourished, working opposite Errol Flynn in "Northern Pursuit,"
Bogart in "Action in the North Atlantic," Wayne in "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The
High and the Mighty," Robert Taylor in "Westward the Women," Roy Rogers in "The
Ranger and the Lady," Gene Autry in "Back in the Saddle" and Alan Ladd in "Her
First Romance" and "The Big Land," her final picture
The actress appeared infrequently but memorably on stage, in such demanding
roles as Ophelia in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at the Pasadena Playhouse.
A licensed private pilot, Bishop painted still lifes, staging several
exhibitions and decorating her homes with her art. She also was active in
charitable work, beginning with entertaining soldiers at the Hollywood Canteen
during World War II.
Bishop served as national president of the Achievement Rewards for College
Scientists, an organization that provides scholarships for outstanding
students of science and engineering. She also lent her energies to the National
Charity League, Diadames and the League for Children.
During her years as a society matron and doyenne of philanthropic endeavors in
Beverly Hills, she was named among the 10 best dressed women in Los Angeles.
Bishop was married three times--to wealthy scion Walter Booth Brooks III from
1936 to 1939; Maj. Gen. Clarence A. Shoop, a test pilot who flew for
Howard Hughes and later became vice president of Hughes Aircraft, from 1944
until his death in 1968; and for the last 33 years to retired Beverly Hills
surgeon William F. Bergin.
Bishop is survived by Bergin; daughter Sweeney; a son, Stephen Allen Shoop; and
Thursday September 5, 2001
Heywood Hale ``Woody'' Broun
Television Commentator Broun Dies
KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) - Heywood Hale ``Woody'' Broun, a television commentator and
sports correspondent, has died. He was 83.
Broun died Wednesday at Kingston Hospital, which did not release a cause of
death. This spring, he underwent surgery for a broken hip.
Broun was a CBS sports correspondent for 19 years and was the son of newspaper
columnist Heywood Broun. Broun became a newspaper baseball writer after
returning from service in World War II. He also was a character actor in 14
Broadway plays and some movies, including 1977's ``For Pete's Sake'' and 1954's
``It Should Happen to You.''
Broun's father, a columnist in the 1920s and 1930s, founded The Newspaper Guild.
The guild, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, has sponsored
the annual Heywood Broun Award for distinguished journalism in his name since
1941. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
Thursday September 5, 2001
Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf
The 4-foot-1 Howard Stern sidekick, known for being, well,
drunk and angry, died Tuesday at the age of 39. The cause of death was not
Born Henry Nasiff, the diminutive performer got his break in 1996, when he and a
friend from Boston dinner theater (yes, Hank was in dinner theater) drove to New
York City and decided to try to get on the Stern show. Hank's vigil at New
York's K-Rock studios began at about 5:30 a.m., and the Stern crew quickly took
As Doug Z. Goodstein, Hank's manager and the producer of Stern's E! TV show,
once recounted to E! Online, "There was just a compelling feature of a
drunk, belligerent midget." (As Hank was fond of yelling, "I'm not a
midget, I'm a dwarf, you a--hole.)"
He soon become a recurring member of Stern's so-called "Wack Pack,"
joining the likes of Crackhead Bob and the Elephant Boy in Howard's pantheon of
Hank appeared more than two dozen times on the Stern show, most notably
outfitted in a pink bunny suit and always sounding off in his inimitable way.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Actor Troy Donahue, a blonde-haired,
blue-eyed teen movie heartthrob of the 1950s and '60s, died Sunday. He was
Donahue died at St. John's Hospital and Medical Center in Santa Monica after
suffering a heart attack on Thursday, said family friend Bob Palmer.
The actor played Sandra Dee's young lover in 1959's ``A Summer Place'' a role
that made him a teen matinee star.
Dr. Christiaan Barnard
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - Dr. Christiaan Barnard, who
performed the world's first heart transplant and became an international
celebrity, died Sunday in a resort on the southwest coast of Cyprus. He was
The heart transplant pioneer collapsed in the morning as he was sitting by a
swimming pool at the Coral Bay Hotel in the southwest coastal town of Paphos,
said the hotel's assistant manager. A Cypriot doctor tried to revive him
with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but without success, the assistant manager
said on condition of anonymity.
Barnard was rushed to the Paphos General Hospital, where his death was confirmed
on arrival, said Cypriot Health Minister Frixos Savvides. Savvides said the
cause of death was probably a heart attack but that this would verified in an
autopsy to be conducted Monday.
Barnard was a frequent visitor to Paphos, which made him a freeman of the town
earlier this year.
A native of South Africa, Barnard performed the world's first heart transplant
at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town on Dec. 3, 1967. The patient, 53-year-old
dentist Louis Washkansky, lived 18 days before succumbing to rejection of the
The transplant transformed Barnard into an international
celebrity. He received awards from around the world and was entertained by
glitterati such as the late Princess Grace of Monaco and Princess Diana.
"We really did not see it as a big event," Barnard told The Associated
Press in 1997. "We did not even take photographs of the operation that
After Washkansky died, Barnard and his team persevered with their innovative
His second transplant patient, Philip Blaiberg, lived for 18 months after the
operation, and the survival time of patients has increased ever since.
The son of a clergyman, Barnard grew up in Beaufort West, a small town in the
dusty Karoo semi-desert region of South Africa. He said the highlight of his
career was performing operations on children with abnormal hearts, each
operation requiring different techniques and skills.
"That was real surgery," he said.
He was married three times and had six children.
Tuesday August 27, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Actress Jane Greer, a
film noir star and former wife of bandleader Rudy Vallee, has died. She was 76.
Greer, who as an icy brunette bested both Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in
1947's noir classic "Out of the Past," died Friday, August 24, 2001 of
complications from cancer, said her son, Alex Lasker.
The native of Washington, D.C. and former beauty contestant and model caught the
eye of Hollywood after appearing in Life magazine. She later signed with RKO,
after studio head Howard Hughes became smitten with her.
While still a teen-ager, she married crooner Vallee in 1943. The two divorced in
1945. She then married attorney and producer Edward Lasker in 1947, earning the
spite of Hughes who then sought to stymie her career. They later divorced.
Greer was best known for her role as the seductive Kathie Moffat in "Out of
the Past," which cemented her reputation as a noir vixen.
"She was a bad girl you could fall in love with - who could take on Robert
Mitchum and really make him melt," Lasker said.
Bettejane Greer and her twin brother, Don, were born Sept. 9, 1924, and grew up
Greer later said she was set on becoming an actress at 15, after awaking one
morning to find the left side of her face was paralyzed. Months of facial
exercises eventually cured her.
"I'd always wanted to be an actress, and suddenly I knew that learning to
control my facial muscles was one of the best assets I could have as a
performer. Emotions often must be portrayed from an inner feeling, of course,
but I had a double advantage because I was learning to direct my as-yet
expressionless feelings, as well as gaining an ability to express emotion by a
very conscious manipulation of my muscles," Greer once told an interviewer.
Throughout the 1940s and '50s, she worked consistently, appearing in "Dick
Tracy, Detective," "The Prisoner of Zenda," and "Man of a
Thousand Faces." Her career slowed by the mid 1950s, although she continued
In 1984, Greer appeared in "Against All Odds," a remake of "Out
of the Past." In it, she played the mother of her original character. She
later acted in David Lynch's TV series "Twin Peaks."
Her on-screen character was not matched by her countenance in person, said
daughter-in-law Anne Wile-Lasker.
"She was just gracious and sweet. She had this image on film that she
wasn't in life," Wile-Lasker said.
Greer is survived by her twin brother; sons Alex, Lawrence and Steve; and two
grandchildren. Her common-law husband, acting coach Frank London, died in
A private memorial service will be held Sept. 9 on what would have been Greer's
Saturday August 25, 2001
Aaliyah, the 22-year-old
Grammy-nominated R&B singer and actress, was killed along with eight others
Saturday when the small plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff in the
The cause of the crash was not
immediately known, but engine failure was suspected. The plane took off in
Grand Bahamas Police Superintendent
Basil Rahming says one of the Cessna's engines "apparently failed."
He says the plane crashed about 200 feet
from the end of the runway, killing two women and four men
"instantly." Three other men later died of their injuries.
The Cessna 402 was leaving Marsh Harbour
airport for Opa-locka, Florida, police spokesman Marvin Dames said. Marsh
Harbour is located on Abaco Island, about 100 miles north of Nassau.
On Sunday, the Cessna's nose section was
lying about 20 yards from the rest of the battered fuselage, and luggage and
pieces of the plane were scattered about, covered in sand.
Rahming said the other passengers killed
were Scott Gallian, 41; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles; Douglas Kratz, 28, a
representative for Virgin Records, and makeup artist Eric Foreman, 29, both of
Hollywood, Calif.; Gina Smith, 29, also of Hollywood; Anthony Dodd, 34, of Los
Angeles; and Christopher Maldonado, 32, of New Jersey. The plane's pilot,
identified only as L. Maradel, also died.
The bodies were being taken to a funeral
home in Nassau, where they were to be kept for relatives to help identify them,
U.S. embassy spokesman Brian Bachman said. Some were badly burned in the crash,
Virgin Records offered to pay for the
relatives to come, Bachman said. He said the Caribbean country's government had
not yet asked for the assistance of U.S. investigators, but still could do so.
Abaco Island Chief Councilor Silbert
Mills said he happened to be at the airport and saw the plane taxi out. The next
thing he knew, the plane was on the ground. He said he helped rescuea
"I pulled one from the aircraft,
and he was screaming," Mills said. "He said he was in a lot of
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, said the plane was owned by
Skystream, a company based in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She said the plane
crashed at the end of the airport's runway at 6:50 p.m.
A spokeswoman for Wichita, Kan.-based
Cessna, Marilyn Richwine, said she was not aware of any safety problems with the
twin-engine 402 model. The company has not manufactured that model for about 12
to 15 years, she said.
Aaliyah, of Detroit, was to begin
shooting the video for "Rock The Boat" this month in Miami, according
to her Web site. It was not clear whether she filmed that video while in the
The singer was born Aaliyah Haughton on
January 16, 1979 in New York. She began performing at the young age of 11 when
she sang on stage with Gladys Knight's troupe in Las Vegas. Her first album, Age
Ain't Nothing But A Number, came out when she was 15 years old. She has
collaborated with R&B singer R. Kelly, who produced her debut album and
wrote many of the songs that appeared on it.
Aaliyah struck a licensing deal as a
teen-ager after her uncle, Barry Hankerson, formed Blackground Records.
By age 18, Aaliyah had two hit records
to her name.
"She was like one of my daughters,
she was one of the sweetest girls in the world," said Quincy Jones, 68, the
Grammy-winning producer, arranger and composer. "She vacationed with me and
my family together in Fiji. I loved her and respected her and I am absolutely
Saturday August 25, 2001
SANTA CRUZ - Walter Reed, a Hollywood character actor who
appeared in more than 150 films and 400 TV shows, died Monday of heart failure.
He was 85.
Born in 1916, Reed grew up in Los Angeles and had made Santa Cruz his home since
He got his start in motion pictures at age 13, cast as an
Indian boy in "Redskins" (1929). He honed his craft on the stage in
New York. He was "discovered" there by Hollywood talent scouts who
sent him back to Los Angeles, where he landed a contract at RKO.
Reed was cast as a leading man in such films as "Seven Days' Leave"
(1942) with Lucille Ball and "Bombardier" (1943) with Robert Ryan,
Eddie Albert and Randolph Scott. After serving in the Army in World War II, he
returned to Hollywood to make his living as a character actor.
"If you're not working, you're not an actor," Reed told the Sentinel
His decision led to 20 years of steady employment. Reed appeared in such
classics as "Young Man With a Horn," "The Carpetbaggers,"
"I was a Teenage Werewolf," "The Horse Soldiers," "How
the West Was Won" and "Tora, Tora, Tora." He also acted in
episodes of "Dragnet," "Dennis the Menace," "The
Twilight Zone" and "77 Sunset Strip."
Tall, barrel-chested and able to handle a horse, Reed appeared in many Westerns
and was a regular in films by legendary directors John Ford and Bud Boetticher.
After suffering a massive heart attack in 1962, Reed moved to Santa Cruz with
his wife and three children. Reed became active in the real estate business
while his wife earned a doctorate in theology.
Last year in Hollywood, Reed was presented with the
prestigious Golden Boot - the Western movies' equivalent of the Academy Award.
July 14 of this year was declared "Walter Reed Day" in Santa Cruz
County. Arriving at The Nickelodeon Theatre in a horse-drawn carriage, Reed
imprinted his hand- and footprints in a cement square in front of the film art
house to commemorate the occasion.
Reed is survived by a brother, Jack Smith; three children, Kim Tice, Kirk Reed
and Peggy Reed; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His wife, Elizabeth Reed, died in 1998. In the final years of his life, Reed
donated his Western movie memorabilia to the collection in the University of
He had a business card he loved to hand out, with his name, address, phone
number, and occupation: "Moderately Important Actor."
Tuesday August 20, 2001
Lester Pine, 84, a stand-up comedian of the 1940s who
became a television and motion picture writer for such series as "Ben
Casey" and such films as "Claudine," starring Diahann Carroll,
died Saturday in Los Angeles of prostate cancer.
A native of Chicago, Pine established himself in the mid-1950s as a writer for
such TV series as "Mr. Lucky," "Dobie Gillis" and the
pioneering medical show "Ben Casey."
With his late wife, Tina, Pine wrote such films as the 1966 "A Man Called
Adam" starring Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Armstrong and Mel Torme. The Pines
also wrote "Claudine" and the 1969 film "Popi" starring Alan
Arkin and Rita Moreno. They later turned "Popi" into a 1975-76
television series featuring Hector Elizondo as a hard-working Puerto Rican
widower supporting his two young sons in New York City. Pine continued writing
novels, plays and screenplays until his death.
Monday August 19, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jack Elliott, a composer and conductor
who worked on numerous hit television shows and movies, has died. He was 74.
Elliott died Saturday of a brain tumor at UCLA Medical Center. He had been
diagnosed with the tumor three weeks ago while working as musical director of
the Henry Mancini Institute, which brings talented young musicians from around
the world to Los Angeles for a summer training program, his son said.
Elliott came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to work as a musical arranger on
Judy Garland's television show.
He later gained a reputation as one of the top composers and arrangers in
Hollywood. If a television show was popular in the 1970s, it most likely had the
music of Elliott and his frequent collaborator Allyn Ferguson.
Saturday August 17, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) - Sally Gracie, an actress in television,
film and theater, died Monday. She was 80.
Gracie, who studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, appeared in Broadway
revivals of "Major Barbara" and "Goodbye Again."
She had roles in television's "Studio One," "Kraft Theater,"
"Alcoa Hour" and "Robert Montgomery Presents." Her films
included "Stage Struck" (1958) and "The Fugitive Kind"
Gracie's first marriage to actor Rod Steiger ended in divorce. Her second
husband, Charles Kebbe, died last year.
Saturday August 17, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Attorney Paul Caruso, whose clients
ranged from entertainers and athletes to Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins,
died Tuesday. He was 81.
"Call Paul" became a popular anthem among celebrities in trouble in
the 1950s through the 1980s. He represented Atkins on murder charges before
lawyer Daye Shinn took over her defense in the Tate-La Bianca murders.
Caruso also was the attorney for war hero and actor Audie Murphy, who was
charged with firing a gun at a dog trainer; Eddie Nash, who was accused of four
Laurel Canyon slayings; and TV sports reporter Stan Duke in the gunshot slaying
of radio commentator Averill Berman.
Caruso also sued UCLA and Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for
$1 million in 1969 on behalf of American Basketball Association player Dennis
Grey, whose jaw was broken during a pickup basketball game.
Caruso in 1978 became founding president of the Italian-American Lawyers
Friday August 10, 2001
Hall of Fame baseball player Lou Boudreau died today, age
84. Boudreau was a shortstop and manager for the
Cleveland Indians in the 1940's, including the 1948 World Series championship
Friday August 10, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Emmy winner Alan Rafkin, the
self-described curmudgeon who directed many of television's most popular
comedies during a career spanning four decades, died Monday of heart disease. He
His directing credits include "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Andy
Griffith Show," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "I Dream of
Jeannie," "Murphy Brown," "M-A-S-H," "The Love
Boat," "Laverne & Shirley," "Suddenly Susan,"
"Veronica's Closet" and "The Jeff Foxworthy Show."
Rafkin won an Emmy in 1982 for an episode of "One Day at a Time" and
two Cable ACE awards, in 1988 and 1990, for "It's Gary Shandling's
In all, he directed episodes for more than 80 prime-time series.
Rafkin, who began as a nightclub comic, also acted in prime-time series and soap
operas and directed a handful of movies.
Wednesday August 8, 2001
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Billy Byrd, who once played lead
guitar for Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, died Tuesday. He was 81.
William Lewis Byrd was born in Nashville, and taught himself guitar by copying
the records of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. In the 1940s, Byrd backed
the Oak Ridge Quartet (predecessor of the Oak Ridge Boys), Little Jimmy Dickens,
George Morgan and others. In 1949, Byrd succeeded Tommy ``Butterball'' Paige as
lead guitarist in Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours.
On many of Tubb's hit records, Tubb would introduce Byrd's
tight melodic solos by exclaiming, ``Aw, Billy Byrd now,'' or ``Play it pretty,
Billy Byrd.'' Byrd played on scores of Tubb hits, including ``Jealous Loving
Heart,'' ``Two Glasses Joe'' and ``Answer the Phone.'' Byrd also drove Tubb's
bus during his first tenure with the Texas Troubadours, which lasted a
He briefly returned to the band twice in the late '60s and
early '70s. Byrd released three solo instrumental albums, and during a stint in
California backed Tab Hunter and Tex Ritter. In 1950, Byrd and guitarist Hank
Garland designed the popular Byrdland guitar for Gibson Guitars.
Wednesday August 8, 2001
LOS ANGELES -- Maureen Reagan, the outspoken presidential
daughter who became a crusader for Alzheimer's disease awareness after her
father fell ill, died Wednesday. She was 60 and had suffered from skin cancer.
Ms. Reagan, the first child of Ronald Reagan's first marriage, to actress Jane
Wyman, died peacefully at her Sacramento-area home, said her husband, Dennis C.
She was "surrounded by loved ones after a courageous 5-year-long battle
with malignant melanoma," Revell said. She lived with Revell and their
16-year-old daughter, Rita, a Ugandan girl they adopted in 1995.
In "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan," author Edmund Morris wrote of
her: "Had she Ronald Reagan's emotional discipline, she might be an
assemblywoman somewhere. She is fascinated by politics, and is, if anything, a
better speaker than he is, with an avid interest in every issue and a near
Neapolitan fluency of gesture."
She made a couple of unsuccessful bids for public office, trying for the U.S.
Senate nomination in California in 1982 that was eventually won by Pete Wilson.
In 1992, she finished second among 11 candidates for the Republican nomination
for a new House seat, capturing 31 percent of the vote.
An outspoken feminist, Ms. Reagan disagreed with her father on abortion and the
Equal Rights Amendment. From 1987-89, she served as co-chairwoman of the
Republican National Committee, and she created a political action committee that
supported more than 100 women candidates.
She also chaired the U.S. delegation to the 1985 World Conference of the United
Nations Decade for Women, and served as U.S.
representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Over the years, she was also a political analyst, radio talk show host,
commentator and author of "First Father, First Daughter: A
"My relationship with my father hasn't changed with the years," she
wrote. "I still feel for him the same love and respect and admiration I've
always felt; if anything, those feelings have deepened with time. He will always
be a big, warm, cuddly teddy bear of a father to me, and I will always be his
wise-eyed, precocious little girl."
She became a national spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association after her
father announced in 1994 that he had the disease and was beginning "the
journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life."
Ms. Reagan wrote movingly of her father's mental decline in an essay in Newsweek
last year: "Earlier in the disease we did jigsaw puzzles, usually animal
scenes: a farmyard, horses in a meadow, a jungle scene. We started with
300-piece puzzles and worked our way down to 100. Unfortunately, he can't do
She traveled the nation to spread the word about Alzheimer's patients and their
caregivers. She testified before Congress to get more funds for Alzheimer's
research and family support.
She told interviewer Larry King earlier this year that the National Institutes
of Health "can only finance about 25 percent of the viable
grant requests that they get in a year, which means the science is way ahead of
In addition to Alzheimer's disease, she was dedicated to raising public
awareness of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and promoting the
importance of skin examinations.
She was diagnosed with the disease in 1996, undergoing infusions of interferon
and other treatments. "I had so many nuclear tests I was a night
light," she quipped in 1998.
Last fall, it was discovered the disease had spread and she underwent a new
round of chemotherapy and other treatments. But she was stricken with mild
seizures on the Fourth of July, and tests showed the cancer had spread to her
brain. She received radiation treatment and was released from the hospital July
23. "She's taking every day as it comes," Revell said at the time.
"Maureen has been a great comfort to me these last few years, and has
always filled in for Ronnie when she was asked," her stepmother, Nancy
Reagan, said earlier this year.
Maureen Reagan was born Jan. 4, 1941, a year after her movie star parents
married. Reagan and Wyman also adopted a son, Michael, and had another daughter
who was born premature and died a day later. They divorced in 1949.
Despite a hectic schedule and family obligations, Ms. Reagan made regular trips
to her father's Bel-Air home to visit the ailing former president.
Friday August 3, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Christopher Hewett, the British-born
stage actor perhaps best remembered as television's endearing English butler,
``Mr. Belvedere,'' died Friday. He was 80.
Hewett, whose career began at age 7 on a stage in Ireland, had been in declining
health, said his nephew, Paul Hewett.
Although the stage was his first love, Hewett likely gained his greatest fame
playing the endearing title role on television's ``Mr. Belvedere'' from 1985 to
As Lynn Belvedere, he was a one-time butler for England's royal family who moved
to the United States and wound up working for a dysfunctional family, some of
whose members never did learn to pronounce his name properly. He made his way
through the job with wisecracks and sarcasm.
Hewett also appeared in several movies, including ``Pool of London'' and ``The
Lavender Hill Mob,'' both in 1951, as well as the Mel Brooks film ``The
Producers,'' in 1968.
Thursday August 2, 2001
Alex Nicol, a character actor who was in about 40 motion
pictures ranging from "Strategic Air Command" with James Stewart to
spaghetti Westerns and science fiction films, had prominent roles on Broadway
and delved into directing, has died. He was 85.
Nicol died Sunday in Montecito near Santa Barbara, where he had lived in
retirement since 1987, said his son Alexander L. Nicol III.
Born in Ossining, N.Y., Nicol began his acting career performing Shakespeare
with the Maurice Evans company. After serving in the Army in Europe throughout
World War II, he established himself in New York City, where he became a charter
member of Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio. Nicol landed key roles in original
Broadway productions that became classics, including "South Pacific,"
"Mr. Roberts" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." While handling
his own role, he was an understudy for Henry Fonda in "Mr. Roberts"
and later played the title role at the Pasadena Playhouse.
When Nicol portrayed Brick in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof," Williams wrote that Nicol captured the part exactly as he had
A contract at Universal Studios brought Nicol west, where he made his film debut
in "The Sleeping City" in 1950, and quickly followed that with 1951's
"Tomahawk," his first of many Westerns.
Along with his movie career in the 1950s and 1960s, Nicol appeared on television
in such science fiction fare as "The Twilight Zone" and "The
Outer Limits." He was a director on the TV series "Daniel Boone"
and "The Wild, Wild West."
Nicol also directed a few "Tarzan" motion pictures, one horror film in
which he acted, "The Screaming Skull," and the 1961 feature "Then
There Were Three."
He gravitated to Europe to make films in Spain and Italy during the 1960s, and
later appeared in more television shows. Frequently cast as a doctor, he was in
the 1970s television series "Return to Peyton Place" and the 1975
television movie "Huckleberry Finn."
Nicol is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jean Fleming Nicol; another son,
Eric; a daughter, Lisa; and four grandsons.
The family asked that memorial contributions be sent to Hospice of Santa
Barbara, 520 W. Junipero, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
Friday July 27, 2001
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson,
one of the founding members of legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died Friday,
a spokesman for the band's record label said. He was 49.
Wilkeson died in his sleep, said Bret Adams, a spokesman Sanctuary Record
Group/CMC International Records.
"We're all just finding out about this ourselves," said Judy Van Zant
Jenness, the former wife of fellow band founder Ronnie Van Zant. Speaking to the
Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville, she said, "We don't know what to do
other than just to be in shock and be surprised ourselves."
WJXT-TV reported that Wilkeson died at a hotel in Ponte Vedra Beach, about 17
miles south of Jacksonville. The St. Johns County Sheriff Office confirmed that
a man died at a Ponte Vedra Beach hotel Friday, but would not identify him.
The band, best known for songs "What's your Name?", "Sweet Home
Alabama" and "Freebird," debuted in 1973 and was named after the
members' high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner.
Wilkeson was involved in a 1977 plane crash in Mississippi that killed Van Zant,
guitarist Steve Gaines and singer Cassie Gaines.
The group disbanded after the crash, but re-formed with others in 1987 for a
reunion tour. The band toured for most of the 1990s and had a concert scheduled
for Aug. 23 in Jacksonville.
Tuesday July 24, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Barton, who played Raoul, the
dashing, romantic lead in both the original London and Broadway productions of
''The Phantom of the Opera,'' died July 21 of heart failure. He was 47.
The actor originated the role in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical when it opened
in London in 1986 and appeared in the Broadway production with Michael Crawford
and Sarah Brightman when it arrived in New York in 1988.
As Raoul, Barton portrayed the young man who wins the affection of Christine,
the soprano pursued by the Phantom. The actor later played the title role in the
musical on Broadway for nine months. Most of Barton's career was spent in
Europe, where he appeared in such Lloyd Webber shows as ''Jesus Christ
Superstar,'' ''Evita'' and ''Cats.''
Barton recently portrayed the Beast in the Austrian production of Disney's
''Beauty and the Beast'' and originated the role of Count von Krolock in Jim
Steinman's musical ''Dance of the Vampires'' in Vienna in 1997.
The actor's only other Broadway musical was ''The Red Shoes,'' which had a short
run in New York in 1993.
Tuesday July 17, 2001
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Katharine Graham, the veteran top executive of The
Washington Post who steered the paper to a Pulitzer prize for coverage of the
Watergate scandal, died on Tuesday in Boise, Idaho. She was 84.
Graham, the former Post publisher who was chairwoman of the executive committee
of The Washington Post Co., suffered a head injury on Saturday in Sun Valley,
Idaho, after a fall on a walkway at a conference of business leaders. She
underwent surgery on Sunday and died at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in
Graham never regained consciousness after Saturday's injury, which caused
massive bleeding in her brain. Her immediate family was at her bedside when she
died, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Born to a life of privilege in 1917 and shy by nature, Graham took sudden charge
of The Washington Post media empire after the suicide of her husband, Philip
Graham, in 1963.
She put her stamp on the powerful newspaper and stood behind the Watergate
expose that helped topple (U.S.) President Richard Nixon, making final decisions
on the paper's coverage of the scandal despite legal pressures to keep it off
A prominent hostess, Graham invited presidents -- from John F. Kennedy to George
W. Bush -- to her mansion in Washington's historic Georgetown section. Always
immaculately turned out, with a gracious bearing that might have seemed at odds
with the rough-and-tumble of the newsroom, Graham was a personal friend to many
of the public figures her paper covered.
'STEELY YET SHY'
Microsoft's Bill Gates and Berkshire-Hathaway's Warren Buffett were among those
who entered her social circle. So were the late Princess Diana and foreign
dignitaries ranging from Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic to Kenneth Kaunda of
``Presidents come and go, and Katharine Graham knew them all,'' President Bush
said in a statement. ``...Mrs. Graham became a legend in her own lifetime
because she was a true leader and a true lady, steely yet shy, powerful yet
humble, known for her integrity and always gracious and generous to others.''
As the mother of four and the subservient wife of a troubled man, Graham never
expected to run the Post, which her father Eugene Meyer had bought in 1933 in a
bankruptcy sale. Her husband Philip published the paper until his suicide, and
she took over months after his death.
``I felt awfully new and raw, and the job, even as I had limited it, looked very
big,'' Graham wrote of her first days at the Post in her 1997 autobiography
``Personal History.'' She told a friend, ``I am quaking in my boots a little but
trying not to show it.''
She took over in September 1963; in November of that year, her friend President
John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
More turbulent times lay ahead. The Post newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for its
relentless investigative coverage of the Watergate scandal and was then
celebrated in a best-selling book and then a popular film, ``All the President's
The book and movie recounted how Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
tracked the 1972 burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate
building back to the White House.
Graham backed Woodward and Bernstein's coverage, despite attempts by the Nixon
White House to keep the matter quiet.
``Kay was an extraordinary person, of course, a bereaved widow who surprised
everyone with her strength, took over the Washington Post to make it one of the
world's great newspapers,'' veteran CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite told CNN.
''She is greatly admired everywhere in the very competitive worlds of politics
Nixon's secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, considered her a friend, and told
CNN: ``Her legacy will be as a symbol of integrity, of courage and of high
quality ... She is irreplaceable.''
Graham is survived by her son Donald, chairman and chief executive officer of
The Washington Post Co.; her daughter Lally Weymouth, a Washington Post and
Newsweek journalist, of New York; her son William, an investor, of Los Angeles;
her son Stephen Graham, a producer, philanthropist and doctoral student of
English literature, of New York; 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, and
her sister Ruth Epstein of Bronxville, New York.
The funeral service will be held Monday at 11:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), at Washington
National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Saturday July 7, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Criminal attorney Barry Levin, who helped
handle Erik Menendez's murder defense and more recently represented actor Robert
Blake, apparently committed suicide by shooting himself in the head Saturday at
a veterans cemetery.
Levin, 54, appeared to have committed suicide, said FBI (news - web sites)
spokesman Matthew McLaughlin. Levin suffered from Gaucher's disease, said Ron
Dorfman, a fellow attorney who spoke at a news conference at the cemetery.
Gaucher's disease is an inherited enzyme-deficiency disorder whose victims bleed
and bruise easily. Levin was in constant, severe pain and had already had a
shoulder replaced because of the disease, Dorfman said.
``True to his character, Barry did not want to burden his friends and colleagues
with his suffering, and they were not aware of his deteriorating physical
condition,'' Dorfman said. ``I was certainly devastated, but not surprised. The
discomfort he was in was extreme.''
Levin was found slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle about 2 p.m.,
McLaughlin said. The FBI was investigating because the death occurred at the Los
Angeles National Cemetery, which is federal property.
KFWB-AM said Levin talked to some people at the cemetery Saturday before going
off alone and shooting himself.
Levin, a former city police officer, was one of the best-known attorneys in Los
Angeles. Levin was a co-counsel for Menendez, who was sentenced to life without
parole in 1996 with brother Lyle for killing their parents.
Attorney Leslie Abramson, who was Levin's co-counsel on the Menendez case,
described Levin as ``all heart for his clients.''
``He had a tremendous understanding for people, especially veterans. He was a
great guy with a fair amount of tragedy in his own life. He's been a colleague
and a friend for many years, and a wonderful lawyer. He was always my hero.''
Levin recently represented Blake, star of the ``Baretta'' TV series, whose
wife's recent murder is unsolved.
He was also the lead defense attorney in a case stemming from alleged corruption
in the city's police department.
He represented Sgt. Edward Ortiz who with two other officers was convicted in
November of conspiracy and other charges alleging they framed alleged gang
members. The convictions were overturned.
In May, attorney Harland Braun brought Levin into the Blake case, saying his
police experience would be valuable in monitoring the investigation. Braun said
he had not known Levin was ill.
``He was always optimistic. We talked every three days. I can't believe a
suicide - he was such a fighter.''
Levin served as an Army staff sergeant and paratrooper and was awarded the
Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He wrote about post-traumatic stress disorder and
defending Vietnam veterans with the disorder.
Levin is survived by a wife, Debbie, and two daughters.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Chet Atkins, whose guitar style
generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country
style to compete with it, died Saturday. He was 77.
Atkins died at home, a funeral director said.
Atkins had battled cancer several years. He underwent surgery to remove a
brain tumor in June 1997, and had a bout with colon cancer in the 1970s.
Atkins recorded more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and sold more
than 75 million albums. He played on hundreds of hit records, including
those of Elvis Presley (''Heartbreak Hotel''), Hank Williams Sr. (''Your
Cheatin' Heart,'' ''Jambalaya'') and The Everly Brothers (''Wake Up Little
As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957,
Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley
Pride, Dolly Parton, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many
Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots
of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in
rock music. Among his notable productions are ''The End of the World'' by
Skeeter Davis and ''He'll Have to Go'' by Reeves.
''I realized that what I liked, the public would like, too,'' Atkins said in
a 1996 interview with The Associated Press. '''Cause I'm kind of square.''
Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell,
Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins
also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins' first
professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was
singer Bill Carlisle.
''He was horrible,'' Carlisle said at a tribute concert to Atkins in 1997.
''But I heard him during a break playing guitar and decided to feature him
Atkins' unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced
by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired
and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes
joked that early on his playing sounded ''like two guitarists playing
During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter
Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a
protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording
RCA began issuing instrumental albums by Atkins in 1953. George Harrison,
whose guitar work on early Beatles records is heavily influenced by Atkins,
wrote the liner notes for ''Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles.''
Sholes put Atkins in charge of RCA Nashville when he was promoted in 1957.
There, he helped Nashville survive the challenge of rock 'n' roll with the
Nashville Sound. The lavish sound has been criticized by purists who prefer
their country music raw and unadorned.
Atkins was unrepentant, saying that at the time his goal was simply ''to
keep my job.''
''And the way you do that is you make a hit record once in a while,'' he
said in 1993. ''And the way you do that is you give the audience something
Atkins quit his job as an executive in the 1970s and concentrated on playing
his guitar. He's collaborated with a wide range of artists on solo albums,
including Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Eric Johnson, George Benson, Susie
Bogguss and Earl Klugh.
At the time he became ill, Atkins had just released a CD, ''The Day Finger
Pickers took over the World.'' He also had begun regular Monday night
performances at a Nashville club.
''If I know I've got to go do a show, I practice quite a bit, because you
can't get out there and embarrass yourself.'' Atkins said in 1996.
''So I thought, if I play every week I won't be so rusty and I'll play a lot
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Leona Johnson Atkins, and
a daughter, Merle Atkins.
The funeral is Tuesday morning at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the former
home of the Grand Ole Opry.
Sunday June 27, 2001
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran actor Jack Lemmon, whose
roles ranged from
brash or befuddled young men to grumpy old ones and who formed one of
cinema's great odd couples with late partner Walter Matthau, has died at age
76, a spokesman said Thursday.
Lemmon, a two time Oscar winner and an Emmy winner for ''Tuesdays with
Morrie,'' died Wednesday night at the University of Southern California's
Norris Cancer Center with his wife, former actress Felicia Farr, and his son
and daughter at his side, his longtime spokesman Warren Cowan said.
He said that Lemmon died of complications from cancer.
The Harvard-educated son of a baker, Lemmon dreamed of becoming an actor
during a sickly boyhood. His father gave him the go-ahead, $300 in cash and
his blessing and Lemmon was off and running winding up in Hollywood in the
early 1950s as the co-star of Broadway great Judy Holliday in two films.
Lemmon's career took off in 1955 when he won an Oscar for best supporting
actor as Ensign Pulver in ``Mister Roberts.'' The role was ideal for
Lemmon -- he played a dithering, conniving ship's officer who develops a
backbone thanks to an inspiring mentor -- Henry Fonda as Mister Roberts.
It was his first Oscar. He received a best actor's one for ''Save the
Tiger'' in 1973 for his portrayal of a clothing manufacturer trying
desperately to save his business.
He received six other Oscar nominations.
Lemmon was known for two great longtime screen collaborations -- one with
director Billy Wilder and the other with actor Walter Matthau.
He made the screen classic ``Some Like it Hot'' with Wilder directing and he
playing one of two Chicago musicians who hide out from the mob by posing as
women. In the film he winds up being courted by a confused Joe E. Brown
while his partner played by Tony Curtis does a lot better -- Marilyn Monroe.
``Happiness,'' said director Wilder, ``is working with Jack Lemmon.''
LEMMON TEAMS UP WITH MATTHAU
It was Wilder who teamed Lemmon with Matthau in ``The Fortune Cookie'' in
1966. They starred in the 1968 film version of Neil Simon's ``The Odd
Couple'' in which Lemmon played the fastidious ''neatnik'' to Matthau's
total slob. And in 1993, they made the popular film ``Grumpy Old Men.''
Matthau died last year.
Lemmon made seven films with Wilder and eight with Matthau. Whether playing
the comically conniving Pulver or the desperate businessman in ``Save the
Tiger,'' Lemmon displayed a sense of humanity that audiences could easily
Critic David Shipman called Lemmon ``Mr. Average Guy, Junior Executive
version, immeasurably committed to Right and Truth, and permanently insecure
about the choice he has made.''
Lemmon also starred in such popular movies as ``The Apartment'' (1960),
``The Days of Wine and Roses'' (1962), ``The Front Page'' (1974), ``The
Prisoner of Second Avenue'' (1975) and ``The China Syndrome'' (1979).
Thursday June 21, 2001
CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Carroll O'Connor, whose
portrayal of irascible bigot Archie Bunker on ''All in the Family'' helped make
the groundbreaking TV comedy part of the American dialogue on race and politics,
died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 76.
O'Connor collapsed at his home and was taken to Brotman
Medical Center, publicist Frank Tobin said. He said O'Connor died with his wife
of nearly 50 years, Nancy, by his side.
The actor had diabetes and had undergone coronary artery
bypass surgery in 1989.
Personal tragedy darkened O'Connor's later years. His only
child, Hugh, a co-star with his father on the TV series ''In The Heat of The
Night,'' shot himself in a drug-related suicide in 1996.
A native of New York, O'Connor had been working for two
decades on stage and in TV and movie supporting parts when he was tapped by
producer Norman Lear to play a blue-collar worker from New York's borough of
Queens with the gift of gab and a big chip on his shoulder.
On Jan. 12, 1971, Archie began spouting off against
minorities, liberals and his long-haired son-in-law (whom he called
''Meathead'') and kept at it for 13 years. O'Connor didn't flinch at playing an
unlikeable character and deftly brought Archie's intolerance to feisty comic
The actor also managed to give Archie a vulnerability that
allowed him to be seen as a beleaguered soul, bound by his unthinking prejudices
and buffeted by the changes sweeping Vietnam War-era America.
Further softening the character was his love for wife
Edith (Jean Stapleton), lovingly known as ''Dingbat,'' and their daughter,
Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his grudging affection for Meathead Mike (Rob
''All in the Family,'' adapted from the British series
''Till Death Do Us Part,'' shattered the sitcom mold that had produced decades
of superficial and bland series featuring, invariably, a wise and kindly
Lear considered other actors for the pivotal role of
Archie, but said he found the right combination of ''bombast and sweetness'' in
O'Connor, whom he had seen in the film ''What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?''
The sitcom got off to a rocky start. Many found it
unsettling and offensive, and tuned it out. Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint
called the show's bigotry ''dangerous because it's disarming.''
Eventually, however, viewers came to embrace Archie and
the series as a comedy and a source of debate. It ranked No. 1 for five years,
was top-rated for much of its 1971-92 run and gave birth to two spin-offs,
''Maude'' and ''The Jeffersons.''
O'Connor moved from ''All in the Family'' (1971-79) to
''Archie Bunker's Place'' (1979-83), which was based in a bar owned by Archie
rather than in the Bunker household.
The actor put his controversial character in perspective.
''I have a great deal of sympathy for him,'' O'Connor said
of Archie in a 1986 Playboy magazine interview. ''As James Baldwin wrote, the
white man here is trapped by his own history, a history that he himself cannot
comprehend and therefore what can I do but love him?''
O'Connor and his two brothers were raised by their father,
an attorney, and schoolteacher mother in the New York City neighborhood of
Forest Hills, a more prosperous section of Queens than Archie would ever know.
O'Connor grew up in a life of financial comfort and social tolerance.
''I never heard Archie's kind of talk in my own family,''
he once said. ''My father was a lawyer and was in partnership with two Jews, who
with their families were close to us. There were black families in our circle of
friends. My father disliked talk like Archie's -- he called it lowbrow.''
O'Connor served as a merchant seaman in World War II,
enrolling at the University of Montana on his return. Although both his siblings
became physicians, O'Connor studied literature and discovered acting.
He met his future wife, Nancy Fields, while appearing in a
Captivated by Ireland during a visit in 1950, O'Connor
finished his undergraduate studies at the National University of Ireland. Fields
joined him and they were married in Dublin in 1951.
O'Connor appeared on stage throughout Ireland and in
London, Paris and Edinburgh. Making it in New York proved to be a struggle. He
worked as a substitute teacher, earned his master's degree at Montana and, in
the late 1950s, finally began getting roles in theater and film.
''Lonely Are the Brave'' and ''Cleopatra'' (both 1963),
''Hawaii'' (1966) and ''Point Blank'' (1967) were among the movies in which he
Then ''All in the Family'' made him a star and,
eventually, a four-time Emmy winner.
''Today's public recognition is something I never wished
for or even cared about,'' he said in 1971. ''But now that it is here, I find it
wonderful, of course.''
He followed ''Archie's Place'' with a return to New York
theater, then came back to TV series in 1988 with ''In the Heat of the Night,''
a police drama based on the Rod Steiger-Sidney Poitier film. O'Connor played
Bill Gillespie, police chief of a small Mississippi town; Howard Rollins
co-starred as detective Virgil Tibbs.
O'Connor continued with the series through health problems
and a network change, from NBC to CBS. His son played a police officer on the
The O'Connors adopted their son as an infant in 1962 in
Italy, where O'Connor was filming ''Cleopatra.'' Hugh O'Connor battled a
longtime alcohol and drug addiction problem.
On March 28, 1995, in several phone conversations, Hugh
told his father ''this is a very black day,'' said he had a gun and was going to
''cap'' himself. O'Connor recalled telling him ''you're just saying crazy
things'' and advising him to seek a doctor's care.
''So long, I love you,'' his son replied. O'Connor called
police, who arrived just as Hugh O'Connor shot himself.
O'Connor turned his grief over the death of 32-year-old
Hugh into an anti-drug crusade and a quest for legal vengeance against his son's
''Nothing will help,'' O'Connor said after the man was
sentenced to a year in jail. ''Our lives have changed. My wife's and mine, and
O'Connor was hospitalized in November at the UCLA Medical
Center, where he had a toe amputated because of a circulatory problem related to
Thursday June 7, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Drummer Steve Ettleson, who played for
Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and Juliet Prowse, died Friday of injuries
sustained when he was struck by a car. He was 56.
Ettleson, who also was an artists' liaison with drum manufacturers,
played in the house band for the popular television show ''Name That
He was also the drummer for the original Los Angeles production of
Wednesday June 6, 2001
Marvin ''Smokey'' Montgomery
DALLAS (AP) -- Marvin ''Smokey'' Montgomery, the longtime
for the seminal Western swing band The Light Crust Doughboys, died
Wednesday after a long battle with leukemia. He was 88.
Montgomery joined the band in 1935, four years after it was founded, and
was still performing as late as last month. The band was nominated for
three Grammy awards in recent years.
''I'll get ladies in their 70s coming up and saying, 'I listened to you
in grade school,''' Montgomery said in 1996. ''I can't play quite as
fast as I used to, but I can still keep up.''
The Light Crust Doughboys were founded in 1931 by W. Lee ''Pappy''
O'Daniel to advertise his Fort Worth-based flour company, Burrus Mill,
and its Light Crust Flour. It was a pioneer in the style of Western
swing, a combination of jazz, country blues and fiddle music.
In their heyday, The Light Crust Doughboys could be heard on 170 radio
stations with their signature opening, ''The Light Crust Doughboys are
on the air!''
Montgomery joined the band in 1935, around the time Bob Wills, Western
swing's greatest star, left to start the Texas Playboys.
''We'd pull into the square in some little town that didn't have but
5,000 people living in it, and there would be 10,000 people in the
crowd,'' Montgomery once recalled.
Montgomery regrouped the band after World War II intervened and split it
up. Their repertoire included old cowboy songs, Spanish classics and
what was then popularly called ''hillbilly'' music. But they played a
hymn every day, Montgomery said, and avoided dance halls or honky-tonks.
''That's why Bob Wills left the band. He wanted to play the dances, and
the Doughboys didn't do that,'' Montgomery said.
The Doughboys quit recording in 1985, and Montgomery appeared only
occasionally with the band. But newcomer Art Greenhaw persuaded the
members to regroup in 1993.
The group shared a Grammy nomination this year in the category of
Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album for ''The Great Gospel Hit
Parade: From Memphis to Nashville to Texas,'' recorded with James
Blackwood and The Jordanaires. Similar collaborations brought Grammy
nominations in 1998 and 1999.
Montgomery was born Marvin Wetter in Rinard, Iowa. His show business
name came from his favorite actor, Robert Montgomery.
Sunday June 3, 2001
Actor Anthony Quinn Dies in Boston Hospital
BOSTON (Reuters) - Actor Anthony Quinn died on Sunday in a Boston
hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 86.
The spokeswoman at Brigham and Women's hospital told reporters he died at
about 9:30 a.m. but declined to give further information.
Born in Mexico in 1915, Quinn won two Academy Awards for best supporting
actor. But his ``Zorba'' filmed in 1965 remains his most memorable role,
one which he recreated on Broadway in 1984.
Saturday June 2, 2001
Jeannette Kerner, 85, character actress for 60 years in
films from "History Is Made at Night" in 1937 to "George of the
Jungle" in 1997, died May 25 of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in
Born in Omaha, she came to Los Angeles to study costume design at the Art Center
College of Design, but also took acting and voice lessons. She was a charter
member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1936, appearing regularly in film and
television and on stage.
In recent years, she was in several motion pictures produced by her son, Jordan
Kerner. Among them were "Less Than Zero," "Funny About Love"
and "The Mighty Ducks" and its sequels.
She had roles in several movies for TV produced by her son, including "Do
You Know the Muffin Man?" "Backfield in Motion" and the 1995
"Naomi and Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge."
Friday June 1, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Hank Ketcham, whose lovable scamp
``Dennis the Menace'' tormented cranky Mr. Wilson and amused readers of comics
for five decades, died Friday at age 81.
Ketcham, who died at his home in Pebble Beach, had suffered from heart disease
and cancer, said his publicist, Linda Dozoretz.
``He had had some bad spells and he slipped away in his sleep,'' said Ellen
James, a neighbor and family friend.
Unlike the late ``Peanuts'' creator Charles Schulz, who insisted on drawing
every panel himself and had a clause in his contract dictating that original
drawings would end with his death, Ketcham stopped drawing Sunday panels in the
mid-1980s and retired from weekday sketches in 1994.
Ketcham's assistants handled the bulk of the work after that, with Ketcham
overseeing the feature daily by fax. The team, Marcus Hamilton and Ronald
Ferdinand, will continue the panels.
Ketcham began the strip in 1951, inspired by the antics of his 4-year-old son.
In March, Ketcham's panels celebrated 50 years of publication - running in 1,000
newspapers, 48 countries and 19 languages.
The strip inspired several books of cartoons, a television show, a musical, a
1993 movie and a playground in Monterey, where Ketcham had his studio. The TV
show, starring Jay North as Dennis and Joseph Kearns as Mr. Wilson, ran on CBS
from 1959 to 1963.
``It's a joyful pursuit realizing that you're trying to ease the pain of
front-page news or television,'' Ketcham told The Associated Press in March.
``There's some little bright spot in your day that reminds you that it's fun to
``I look back at some of my old stuff and I laugh. I just burst out because I
forgot about it,'' he said.
Despite its longevity, the strip has changed little since the 1950s. Dennis was
always a freckle-faced ``five-ana-half'' - an appealing if aggravating mixture
of impishness and innocence.
``Mischief just seems to follow wherever Dennis appears, but it is the product
of good intentions, misdirected helpfulness, good-hearted generosity, and,
possibly, an overactive thyroid,'' Ketcham wrote in his 1990 autobiography,
``The Merchant of Dennis The Menace.''
``But what a dull world it would be without any Dennises in it! Peaceful, maybe
- but dull,'' he said.
Fellow cartoonists praised his skills. Bil Keane, creator of ``Family Circus,''
once called him ``the best pen-and-ink line artist in America today. He still is
a brilliant technician when it comes to drawing the lines that make his cartoons
so beautifully artistic.''
Henry King Ketcham was born March 14, 1920, in Seattle and grew up there. He
recalled he was no more than 6 when he knew he wanted to be a cartoonist. One
day he watched a family friend sketch Barney Google (news
- external web site) and other then-popular
``I couldn't wait to borrow his `magic pencil' and try my own hand at drawing
these comic-strip characters,'' said Ketcham, who promptly copied every comic he
could get his hands on. ``It was a major discovery, and I was floating on air
In 1938, he dropped out of the University of Washington after his freshman year
and went to Southern California to work as an animator, first for Walter Lantz,
creator of ``Woody Woodpecker,'' and then for Walt Disney. Ketcham worked on
``Pinocchio,'' ``Bambi,'' ``Fantasia'' and Donald Duck shorts.
When the United States entered World War II, he enlisted in the Navy, where he
was put to work drawing cartoons for Navy posters, training material and war
A free-lance cartoonist after the war, Ketcham was living in Carmel when he got
the idea for ``Dennis the Menace'' in October 1950. His wife, Alice, burst into
his home studio, exasperated that their 4-year-old son, Dennis, had dismantled
his room instead of taking a nap.
``Your son is a menace!'' she said.
The strip with the towhead tornado, crabby neighbor Mr. Wilson and a rangy,
bespectacled dad who looked like Ketcham himself debuted in 16 newspapers. It
was an instant hit, and the following year a collection of Dennis cartoons was a
Despite the strip's real-life inspiration, Ketcham didn't depend on family life
for ideas. He used comedy writers and credited the team approach for the strip's
``Anyone in the humor business isn't thinking clearly if he doesn't surround
himself with idea people,'' Ketcham told The Associated Press in a 1994
interview. ``Otherwise, you settle for ... mediocrity - or you burn yourself
Ketcham and his first wife had been separated when she died in 1959 of a drug
overdose. He and son Dennis drifted apart, and they spoke infrequently in later
He made his first trip abroad in 1959, to swap Dennis drawings for
Soviet-sketched cartoons. The CIA (news - web
sites) heard of the trip and asked him to take snapshots with a spy
On a flight from Moscow to Kiev, he saw ``big circles and long rectangular
shapes,'' he said. ``I had my sketch book and I would put them down, and the
flight attendant would walk by and I would put a big nose and some eyes and make
the whole thing into a funny face. So I had a whole book full of funny-face
cartoons at the end that I didn't know how to read.''
Sometime later, Ketcham met a CIA official and mentioned his days behind the
Ketcham said, ``I'm sorry I didn't have anything to report. He said, 'Yeah, I
know, Hank, we haven't sent any more cartoonists on any more missions.'''
Ketcham stayed in Europe, drawing Dennis from Geneva for 17 years and relishing
the peace of being thousands of miles away from business associates. He returned
to the United States only infrequently and used the Sears catalogue to keep
abreast of details of the changing American way of life.
A second marriage ended in divorce. He moved back to California in 1977 with his
third wife, Rolande and their two children, Scott and Dania, and drew the comic
from his home along scenic 17 Mile Drive.
He stopped drawing the Sunday strip in the mid-1980s but carefully supervised
the process. He kept up the weekday strip through 1994.
For Ketcham, giving up ``Dennis the Menace'' did not mean retirement; he
concentrated on his more serious artwork, oil and watercolor portraits. While
glad the strip continued, Ketcham didn't care if it outlived him.
``I'm not in it for posterity. People look at it for 30 seconds ... then it gets
used to wrap fish,'' he said. ``Now my paintings, that's something else. My bid
to posterity is my paintings.''
Wednesday May 23, 2001
ATLANTA (AP) - Whitman Mayo, who played Grady
Wilson on the 1970s
television series "Sanford and Son," died Tuesday. He was 70.
Mayo, who has taught drama at Clark Atlanta University since 1996,
recently was the host of Turner South's original weekly series "Liars &
Mayo will forever be remembered as the sidekick of junk dealer Fred
Sanford, played by Redd Foxx. The Grady character became so popular that
in 1975 NBC briefly aired Mayo's own show, "Grady."
After "Sanford and Son," Mayo appeared in such television shows as
"Diff'rent Strokes," "In the Heat of the Night" and
"ER." His movie
credits include "Of Mice and Men," "The Main Event" and
"Boyz N the Hood."
Mayo spent seven years as a counselor for delinquent boys before pursuing
his acting career.
Saturday May 12, 2001
MIAMI, Fla. (AP) - Perry Como, the crooning
baritone barber famous for his
relaxed vocals, cardigan sweaters and television Christmas specials, died
Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 87.
Como died in his sleep at his home in Jupiter Inlet Beach Colony, his
daughter Terry Thibadeau said.
``We spent two beautiful hours (Friday) with dad, me and my grandson,
Holden,'' Thibadeau told The Palm Beach Post. ``We shared ice cream. It
was a wonderful moment for us.''
The charming Italian-American whose name became synonymous with mellow
performed through seven decades, starting in the 1930s. His idol, the late
singer Bing Crosby, once called Como ``the man who invented casual.''
Como left his job as a steel town barber to sing with big bands in the
1930s and his songs were a mainstay of radio and jukeboxes in the late
1940s. He helped pioneer variety shows on the new medium of television in
the 1950s and performed on television specials over the last four decades.
His music remained popular in recent years on easy-listening radio.
In 1945, Como had his first million-selling hit, ``Till the End of Time.''
It was among many songs including ``Prisoner of Love'' that topped the
charts. He competed with Frank Sinatra and Crosby to be the era's top
While Como emulated Crosby in his early years, some of his best-known
numbers were light novelty songs like ``Hot Diggity'' and ``Papa Loves
Mambo.'' He made a brief foray into wartime movie musicals in Hollywood,
but decided to pursue a career in radio.
Como often said he far preferred singing romantic ballads to some of the
lightweight numbers, but the novelty songs were a frequent audience
``They get tired of hearing `Melancholy Baby' and those mushy things,''
Como said in a 1994 interview. ``But those are the songs that, as a
singer, you love to sing.''
Some music experts say Como, with his naturally melodic baritone voice,
might have carved a deeper niche if he had taken firmer control of his
Will Friedwald, author of ``Jazz Singing'' and an expert of music from
Como's era, once called Como ``a marvelous singer'' who ``seemed to do
everything they put in front of him.''
Como made his television debut in 1948 on NBC's ``The Chesterfield Supper
Club'' and in 1950 he switched to CBS for ``The Perry Como Show,'' which
ran for five years. Como then returned to NBC for a variety show that ran
for eight years, first on Saturday nights opposite Jackie Gleason, then on
In 1963, he gave up the regular television show and began doing occasional
specials. Rock 'n' roll had crowded out the crooners who once charmed
hordes of screaming bobby-soxers.
His career saw a resurgence in the 1970s with songs like ``It's
Impossible,'' ``And I Love You So'' and several best-selling Christmas
In 1994, Como put out a three-CD boxed set including his most popular
songs since he started recording in 1943. And his former hit, ``Catch a
Falling Star,'' became familiar to a new generation of fans when it became
part of the Clint Eastwood-Kevin Costner movie ``A Perfect World.''
Como said he occasionally tired of the jokes about his somnambulant style,
although he found a skit on the SCTV comedy show particularly amusing. The
spot showed a Como impersonator lying on the floor nearly comatose with a
microphone in front of his barely moving lips as dancers leaped about him.
His casual legend grew from his first pressure-packed appearances on the
pioneering medium of live television - with its crashing scenery,
misplaced cue cards and camera confusion.
``I decided the only thing to do was take it as it came,'' he recalled in
a 1985 interview. ``People wrote in asking how I could be so casual. It
all started to grow.'' Pierino Roland Como was born May 18, 1913, in
Canonsburg, Pa., the middle offspring of 13 children of Italian
At age 11, he went to work sweeping floors after school at a barbershop in
the town just south of Pittsburgh. He got lessons on how to cut the hair
of coal miners and other workers, and by the age of 14 he had his own
barber business earning $150 a week. His pay dropped off during the
Depression when he went to work for another barber.
But he got an offer to sing with Freddie Carlone's band in Cleveland in
the early 1930s. He began his rise in show business when he was signed to
sing with Ted Weems big band in 1936, a relationship that continued for
In 1943, he began what turned into a 50-year contract with RCA-Victor
Records with the recording of the song ``Goodbye Sue.''
In his later years, Como lived in a private semiretirement with his wife
Roselle, whom he met at a picnic when he was 16 and married in 1933. They
divided their time between the North Carolina mountains and the Palm Beach
County town of Jupiter where he played golf, took long, brisk walks and
entertained his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mrs. Como died in
August 1998, less than two weeks after she and Como celebrated their 65th
wedding anniversary. She was 84.
He reappeared on television periodically for Christmas television specials
from exotic, international locales. Even as he grew older, the graying
Como retained a tanned, fit appearance and youthful charm.
Friday May 11, 2001
SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) - Actress Deborah Walley, who
appeared in a series of
1960s beach movies, died Thursday of esophageal cancer. She was 57.
Walley appeared in 15 feature films, including the title role in the 1961
movie "Gidget Goes Hawaiian," a sequel to the 1959 production "Gidget"
that starred Sandra Dee.
She also was featured in the 1965 film "Beach Blanket Bingo," starring
Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and "Spinout" with Elvis Presley
Walley had a role in the television series "The Mothers-In-Law," which
from 1967-1969, and made guest appearances on several television shows,
including "Route 66," "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." and "The
She made sporadic appearances on television shows in the 1980s and 1990s,
including "Baywatch" and a short-lived series called
Monday April 30, 2001
Los Angeles May 1 (AP) Ken Hughes, who wrote and
of films, including the Disney Classic, a British children's movie called
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" died Saturday at the age of 79.
In addition to that film, a 1968 fantasy based on Ian Flemings popular
childrens story about a flying car, featuring Dick Van Dyke as an eccentric
inventor, Mr. Hughes credits included "Cromwell", with Richard Harris
"The Trials Of Oscar Wilde", starring Peter Finch.
Born in Liverpool in 1922, Mr. Hughes began working as a technician for the
BBC at the age of 16. He began his film career in 1941, making documentaries
and short features. In 1958, he shared an Emmy Award for writing the
television play "Eddie" starring Mickey Rooney. His first American
"Sextette" in 1979 that starred Mae West was her last screen
Mr. Hughes is survived by his widow, Charlotte and a daughter, Melinda
Sunday April 29, 2001
APRIL 29, 2001 - Accomplished musician Isaac
"Ike" Cole, who was the
brother of crooner Nat "King" Cole, died of cancer in Sun Lakes near
Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 73. Isaac played on his niece Natalie's Grammy
award-winning record, "Unforgettable With Love," and was the head of
Ike Cole trio.
In 1966, when he did his first U.S. tour, a Los Angeles Times critic
wrote: "Ike's piano work, like Nat's, is outstanding, and he seems to
enjoy every minute he's in the spotlight." That constant comparison
reportedly upset the pianist when people would say that he was "trying to
live off the name." He thought about changing it to quiet the critics, but
opted against it at the request of Nat.
Tuesday April 24, 2001
UTICA, N.Y. (AP) -- Harold ''Hal'' White, who
pitched for the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals in the
1940s and 1950s, died Saturday in Venice, Fla., after a stroke. He was 82.
White, a native of Utica, broke into the majors with the Detroit Tigers in 1941
after a stellar 1940 season with the International League's Buffalo Bisons,
where he compiled a 16-4 record.
He had his best year in 1942, going 12-12 with a 2.91 ERA. He pitched 336 games
in all, most of them with the Tigers, ending with a 46-54 record. White was one
of only five major league pitchers to throw shutout wins in his first two
White missed two seasons -- one in 1945 when the Tigers won the World Series --
to serve in the military during World War II.
He went to the Browns in 1953 and finished his career with the Cardinals in
Tuesday April 24, 2001
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Former astronaut
David Walker, whose space shuttle flights including the 1989 mission to launch a
probe mapping the surface of Venus, died Monday in Houston. He was 56.
Walker was among the first group of space shuttle astronauts chosen by NASA in
1978. He flew as a pilot aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1984 and went on to
command three space shuttle missions, in 1989, 1992 and 1995. In all, he logged
nearly 725 hours in space.
His career at NASA suffered a setback in 1990, when he was temporarily grounded
for flight rule infractions. They included a 1989 incident in which the NASA
T-38 jet trainer he was flying came within 100 feet of a Pan Am jetliner outside
Saturday April 21, 2001
Jack Haley Jr.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jack Haley Jr., longtime Hollywood producer, actor
and writer and the former husband of Liza Minnelli, died early on Saturday
morning April 21st. He was 67.
Haley, who had recently been in poor health, died of respiratory failure
at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., Haley's longtime
assistant Kelly Brandt said. Brandt said Haley had been admitted to the
hospital on Friday in semi-comatose condition.
During a career that spanned more than 30 years, Haley produced numerous
films and television specials including a number of Academy Award Shows
and "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" a 1990 film documenting the making of
He was the son of actor Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man in "The Wizard
of Oz" and in 1974, he married Minnelli, the daughter of Judy Garland, who
played Dorothy in that film.
Haley and Minnelli divorced in 1979 but remained close friends.
"I fell in love with him the first time I met him, and I have loved him
with all my heart ever since," Minnelli said in a statement on Saturday.
Sunday April 15, 2001
NEW YORK (April 15) - Singer Joey Ramone, the punk rock icon whose signature
yelp melded with the Ramones' three-chord thrash to launch an explosion of
bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols, died Sunday. He was 49.
Ramone, the gangly lead singer with the leather jacket, tinted glasses and
permanently-torn jeans, was hospitalized in March 2001 with lymphoma. His
death was confirmed Sunday by Arturo Vega, the Ramone's longtime artistic
The Ramones - its four members adopted the common last name after forming the
band in 1974 - came out of Queens, a motley collection of local losers with
limited musical skills. Joey became the lead singer only after his drumming
proved too rudimentary to keep up with his bandmates' thunderous riffs.
Friday April 13, 2001
LEESBURG, Fla. (AP) - Robert Aurand Moon, inventor of the ZIP code, died
Wednesday after a lengthy illness. He was 83.
Moon started his postal career in the 1940s as a postal inspector in
Philadelphia and Chicago. It was around that time that he began working on
his idea for a Zoning Improvement Plan.
ZIP code numbers first appeared in postal directories on July 1, 1963.
After retiring in 1965, Moon went to Washington, D.C., in 1970 to become
director of delivery services. He retired again in 1977.
Friday April 13, 2001
WORCESTER, Mass. (April 13) - Harvey R. Ball, inventor of the Smiley Face,
died Thursday after a short illness. He was 79.
Ball, who co-owned an advertising and public relations firm in Worcester,
designed the Smiley Face in 1963 to boost the morale of workers in two
recently merged insurance companies.
Ball was paid $45 for his artwork by State Mutual Life Assurance Cos. of
America - now Allamerica - in 1963. He never applied for a trademark or
At its peak of popularity in 1971, more than 50 million Smiley Face buttons
were sold. In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Smiley Face stamp.
Wednesday April 11, 2001
David Graf, 50, a character actor remembered as Eugene Tackleberry in the
1984 comedy "Police Academy" and its six sequels. Graf portrayed
military officers in last year's motion picture "Rules of Engagement"
and the current television series "West Wing."
A native of Lancaster, Ohio, Graf spent the last two decades in Hollywood as a
busy supporting actor. Among his films were "Guarding Tess," "The
Brady Bunch Movie," "Citizen Ruth" and "Irreconcilable
Differences." His television credits included guest roles on "Touched
by an Angel," "Sports Night," "Becker" and
"Caroline in the City."
In 1994, Graf portrayed Tom Arnold in the television movie "Roseanne: An
On Saturday, after suffering a heart attack while attending a family wedding in
Wednesday April 11, 2001
By MYRNA OLIVER, Times Staff Writer
Nobody was more surprised than the actress when she won an Academy Award. But
nobody disputed the choice, either, because although her scenes were brief and
few, she was that good.
Beatrice Straight, who earned the best supporting actress Oscar in 1976 for
three days' work and three scenes as William Holden's estranged wife in the
classic motion picture sendup of television, "Network," has died. She
Straight, who also earned a Tony for her work on Broadway and was nominated for
an Emmy for television, died Saturday in Los Angeles, said her son Tony Cookson.
Although little known in Hollywood, Straight was a distinguished actress long
before her memorable turn in "Network." She made her Broadway debut in
1935 in "Bitter Oleander," and in 1953 earned a Tony for best
supporting actress as Elizabeth Proctor, a Puritan woman accused of witchcraft
in the original production of Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible."
For more than 40 years, she also had a continuing presence on television,
earning an Emmy nomination in 1978 as Alice Dain Leggett, matriarch in the
miniseries "The Dain Curse." She was also the Queen Mother to Lynda
Carter's "Wonder Woman" in the 1970s.
Dignified, competent, strong-willed, at times imperious, the elegant, red-haired
Straight was often cast as the doyenne, the matriarch or the professional. She
was Mother Christophe in the 1959 film "The Nun's Story," the
investigator of the paranormal in the 1982 film "Poltergeist," and
Rose Kennedy in the 1985 CBS miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His
Born to the wealth, privilege and prominence she sometimes emulated as an
entertainer, Beatrice Whitney Straight grew up in Old Westbury on New York's
Long Island. Her father was banker and diplomat Willard Dickerman Straight, who
had been a business associate of J.P. Morgan, and her mother was the Whitney
dynasty heiress Dorothy Payne Whitney Straight.
Beatrice was educated at private schools in New York and Devonshire, England,
where she appeared in Ibsen's "A Doll's House" to such critical
acclaim that she decided to study acting. After taking classes from Michael
Chekhov, nephew of the playwright Anton Chekhov and a member of the Moscow Art
Theatre, she persuaded him to start an acting school and later taught there.
Early in her career, Straight worked primarily on Broadway and in smaller New
York theaters, appearing as Lady MacDuff in "Macbeth," and as the
leading lady in "The Heiress" opposite Peter Cookson.
She married Cookson in 1949, and they lived in New York and Los Angeles until
his death in 1990.
Her early television work included a 1951 role in the long-running soap opera
"Love of Life," and her first film was the 1952 "Phone Call From
a Stranger." Her final film, in which she portrayed Goldie Hawn's mother,
was "Deceived" in 1991.
She is survived by two sons; a stepson and a stepdaughter; one brother; a
stepbrother; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Friday April 6, 2001
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the sign painter turned car designer whose
outrageous automotive creations and grungy cartoon alter ego, Rat Fink, made
him an outlaw icon of Southern California pop culture of the 1950s and '60s,
has died. He was 69.
Roth's wife, Ilene, found him dead Wednesday in his workshop
home in Manti, Utah, said his business associate and friend, David Chodosh.
The cause of death had not been determined, Chodosh said Thursday, but he
said Roth had been in good health.
In fact, Roth had been at work Wednesday morning on the
latest in a long
line of custom vehicles. He had first gained fame with the Beatnik Bandit in
1958 and a fiberglass hot rod called the Outlaw in 1959.
His influence on the culture of Southern California was huge,
Fleurov, museum director at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido,
where Roth's works are on display in "Customized: Art Inspired by Hot Rods,
Lowriders and American Car Culture."
Nora Donnelly, who organized the "Customized"
exhibition for the
Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, where it premiered last fall, said:
"An enormous amount of people have been influenced by him, in the hot rod
art world as well as in the contemporary art world."
"His stuff was all outrageous," said Dick
Messer at the Petersen
Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where the Outlaw car now resides. "He was
creative, but outrageous."
Roth developed Rat Fink in the '50s as the underground
response to Mickey Mouse. Rat Fink's sinister glare, razor-sharp teeth and
bulging, bloodshot eyes became ubiquitous on T-shirts, posters and car
decals in the '60s. The character's wise-guy, street smart attitude lives on
in such descendants as Bart Simpson, Ren & Stimpy and the foulmouthed
The Revell company sold millions of Big Daddy Roth
model car kits, from
which Roth received a royalty of 1 cent each.
It was a Revell publicity man who came up with Roth's
telling him, "We can't put 'Beatnik Bandit by Ed Roth' on the box."
Roth, who was 6 feet 4, mentioned that he had been
called "Big Ed" in
high school, so the publicist suggested "Big Daddy," which Roth loved.
Revell, however, lost its love for Roth when he began hanging out with
members of the Hells Angels as his interest in customizing motorcycles grew.
The company canceled his contract in 1967.
"I know what I am," Roth told The Times in
1973. "I'm a weirdo. I never
No funeral or memorial services have
been arranged, but the second
annual Rat Fink Party is expected to go on as scheduled on July 21 in
Woodland Hills, said organizer and Roth associate Jeffrey Hillinger, also
known as Moldy Marvin.
In addition to Ilene, Roth is survived by four
Ilene's previous marriage and five sons from his first marriage
Thursday April 5, 2001
Walter Craig, who acted under the stage name Anthony Dexter and rocketed
to fame when he was selected from 75,000 applicants as a Rudolph Valentino
look-alike for the 1951 biopic "Valentino," has died. He was 88.
Craig died March 27 in Greeley, Colo., where he had
retirement, said Joe Walker, a former student who is now a Los Angeles
"He was kind of a one-hit wonder, but a heck of a
nice guy and an
inspiration to his students," said Walker, who met Craig when the actor
taught public speaking and drama at Eagle Rock High School from 1971 to
As Dexter, Craig was groomed to reincarnate the silent
screen lover in
early 1950s epics akin to those Valentino had made 30 years earlier. Craig
starred as John Smith in "Captain John Smith and Pocahontas," as Kidd
"Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl," as the pirate chief in "The
Pirates" and as Christopher Columbus in "The Story of Mankind."
But nothing garnered as much publicity for Craig as his
selection as a
new Valentino, and he later slipped into smaller and smaller roles in minor
science fiction films. His final screen performance was a bit part in
"Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 1967.
The "Valentino" film, which also starred
Eleanor Parker, Patricia
Medina and Richard Carlson, never quite lived up to its hype. Producer
Edward Small claimed to have searched for 11 years, considered 75,000 men
and made 400 screen tests to find the perfect copy of the renowned
Valentino, who died in 1926 at age 31. Small touted the search, and his
grooming of a handful of top prospects, as the "greatest talent hunt in the
history of motion pictures."
The producer announced with great fanfare and myriad
that he had found his celluloid clone in Craig. Members of Valentino fan
clubs across the country praised the choice.
"It's incredible! The same eyes, ears, mouth--the
same grace in
dancing," George Melford told The Times in 1950, comparing Craig to the
thing. Melford, who had an acting role in Small's "Valentino" and had
directed Valentino in "The Sheik," said the uncanny resemblance was
profound in the look in both men's eyes.
A farm boy from Talmadge, Neb., Craig earned a football
St. Olaf's College in Minnesota, where he sang with the school's choir. He
went on to earn a master's degree in speech and drama from the University of
During World War II, Craig was a sergeant in Army
touring England and other war zones in the show "Claudia."
He later acted on Broadway in such shows as "The
Three Sisters," "Ah,
Wilderness!" and "The Barretts of Wimpole Street." During his
career, he acted occasionally on television and starred in San Francisco
summer theater in "The King and I."
Craig is survived by two daughters, Kimberly and
Claudia, and four
Friday March 23, 2001
MATHEWS, Va. (AP) - Actress Toby Wing Merrill, who made 38 films under the
Toby Wing, died Friday of natural causes. She was 85.
Merrill was an original ``Goldwyn Girl'' in the 1931 film ``Palmy Days.''
``Goldwyn Girls'' were dancers who appeared in numerous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
In 1932, she appeared in the Warner Brothers film ``The Kid from Spain''
Eddie Cantor. She signed with Paramount Studios, where she made a number of
films including the 1933 Busby Berkeley musical, ''42nd Street.''
Other films include 1934's ``Murder at the Vanities,'' with Ida Lupino and
Oakie, 1934's ``Here Come the Marines'' and 1937's ``True Confession,'' with
Fred MacMurray, Carole Lombard and John Barrymore.
She later was honored with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Thursday March 22, 2001
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Norma Macmillan, the voice of television's
Casper the Ghost, Gumby and other animated characters, has died of a heart
attack, her husband said Wednesday. She was 79.
Thor Arngrim said his wife of 47 years died Friday.
Macmillan entertained a generation of children by giving a voice to popular
cartoon characters such as Casper, the mild-mannered ghost who refused to
frighten children, and Sweet Polly Purebread of the Underdog series.
``She was an amazing talent because she was so versatile,'' Arngrim said by
telephone. He also said his wife ``never took herself too seriously,'' and she
would gladly perform the Casper voice when asked by people in shops or on the
Born in Vancouver, Macmillan began her career as a stage actress and met
Arngrim, a young producer. The couple moved to New York in the 1950s, and
Macmillan landed the role as Casper's voice with Paramount Famous Studios.
Eventually they moved to Hollywood, where Macmillan became the voice of the
bendable Gumby in the claymation series Gumby and Pokey. Her work on Underdog
paired Macmillan with Wally Cox, who provided the voice of the shoe shining
Among Macmillan's acting credits was the 1986 television movie ``Mrs. Delafield
Wants to Marry,'' with Katherine Hepburn, and numerous guest appearances and
recurring roles on television shows.
She and Arngrim had two children - Alison, who played Nellie on television's
``Little House on the Prairie'' series, and Stefan, who was Barry Lockridge in
the television series ``Land of the Giants'' and has appeared in television
shows and films.
Thursday March 22, 2001
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animation legend William Hanna, who with partner
Joseph Barbera helped turn television into their own personal cartoon world,
creating such characters as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, the Flintstones,
Scooby Doo and the Jetsons, died on Thursday at age 90, a spokesman for Warner
Hanna, the co-chairman and co-founder of Hanna Barbera Studios, died at his home
in North Hollywood, Warner Brothers spokesman Scott Rowe said.
The cause of death was not immediately released.
Born in Melrose, New Mexico on July 14, 1910, Hanna received early training as
an engineer. He began his animation career during the Depression when he took a
position in the ink and paint department of Hollywood's Harman-Ising studios.
He was hired by MGM in 1937 where he met his future partner, Barbera, and the
two began a creative partnership that lasted over 60 years.
They were famed for their work on the ``Tom and Jerry'' cartoons and founded
Hanna-Barbera in 1957 after MGM closed its cartoon division. They went on to
produce more than 3,000 animated half-hour television shows, carefully
streamlining the process of animation to make it easier to do for television.
Their studio has been owned by Warner Bros., a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc.
The duo received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in 1976 and were inducted
into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993.
Hanna was involved with the studio until his death. He was also a charter member
of the Boy Scouts of America and remained active in the organization throughout
He is survived by wife, Violet, two children, and seven grandchildren.
Sunday March 18, 2001
John Phillips, cofounder and guru of legendary '60s folk-rocker the Mamas and
the Papas, succumbed to heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital Sunday morning.
He was 65.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer behind such harmonious hippie hits as
"California Dreamin'," "I Saw Her Again Last Night" and the
Grammy-winning "Monday, Monday" had a long history of substance abuse,
which wreaked havoc on his body and led to a liver transplant in 1992. He
claimed he finally kicked his drug and booze habit in the 1980s, following a
court-ordered rehab stint.
A seminal force of '60s music, Phillips, with impresario Lou Adler, staged the
1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, which featured a mind-blowing lineup
of Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel, the Who, Ravi Shankar and
Fueled by the era's free-loving, high-living culture, Phillips saw his greatest
success with his sweet-sounding group, the Mamas and the Papas. Papa John joined
with his then-wife, Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot to form the
vocal group in 1964. Phillips was considered the band's mastermind, serving as
chief songwriter and arranger. The band's catalog also included "Creeque
Alley" and a cover of the Shirelles' "Dedicated to the One I
In 1968, the quartet's notorious infighting led to a break-up. Two years later,
John and Michelle divorced. Despite all this, the band decided to regroup. They
recorded a few more tracks and released the album People Like Us before
splintering for good in 1971--three years before a heart attack claimed the life
of Mama Cass.
Over the past two decades, Phillips had attempted to revive the Mamas and the
Papas with different players, including his daughter, Mackenzie Phillips. The
refurbished quartet made the rounds on the county fair oldies circuit, but never
reproduced the original band's musical magic.
In 1998, the Mamas and the Papas got the ultimate nod from their music industry
peers, getting enshrined in the Rock Hall of Fame.
Just before entering the hospital, Phillips had finished a new solo album, Slow
Starter, and completed another, Pay Pack and Follow--a collaboration
with Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that was some 25 years in the
making. It is slated for release in May.
Survivors include his widow, Farnaz, a trio of actress-singer daughters,
Mackenzie, Chynna and Bijou, and sons Jeffrey and Tamerlane
Tuesday March 13, 2001
Glenn Hughes, the "leather-clad biker" of disco
group the Village People, died on March 4 at the age of 50, following a
long illness. Hughes was one of the original founding members of the wildly
popular ensemble in 1977, and became known as the "leatherman" with
trademark black leather and chain outfits, thick handlebar mustache, and
The Village People first charted in 1978 with "Macho Man" and went on
have several more hits, including their most popular Number Two hit
"Y.M.C.A." and "In The Navy." Along with the other five
members of the
group, Hughes appeared in the 1980 group-documentary film Can't Stop The
Music. Hughes stopped performing with the Village People in 1995, but
remained an active partner in the group's business, Sixuvus Ltd. At his
request, Hughes was buried in his leatherman outfit.
Tuesday March 13, 2001
Morton Downey, Jr.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Morton Downey Jr., the abrasive, chain-smoking talk show
host whose reign over "trash TV" in the 1980s opened the way for the
likes of Jerry Springer, has died at 68.
Downey died Monday of pneumonia in his remaining
lung, his doctor said. Downey, who smoked for 53 years, had lost his other lung
"The Morton Downey Jr. Show" made its
debut in the New York area in 1987 and became a hit almost immediately. It was
syndicated nationally the following year, and it wasn't long before critics were
bemoaning the end of civil discourse in America.
Downey would go nose-to-nose with his guests,
spittle and insults flying. He deliberately blew cigarette smoke in their faces,
and his outbursts sometimes provoked shrieking arguments. One show erupted into
a fistfight between civil rights advocates Al Sharpton and Roy Innis.
Known as "Mort the Mouth," the snarling
Downey insulted his sometimes bizarre guests as "slime" or "scumbucket"
and argued with members of his studio audience, dismissing liberals in
particular as "pablum pukers."
"If not for him, we wouldn't have trash
television," said Mark Schwed, a TV Guide critic who wrote about Downey's
program. "As much as people thought he was a complete jerk, he was a really
nice guy, soft-spoken and thoughtful.
"But that wasn't his job. His job was to
scream at people."
"Do you applaud him?" Schwed asked.
"In a way - yes. Not everybody deserves to be talked to nicely. It was the
end of polite discourse."
Downey grew up in privilege, attending military
school and earning marketing and law degrees. He was the son of popular singer
Morton Downey and his dancer-wife, Barbara Bennett.
The younger Downey appeared in such TV shows and
movies as "Tales from the Crypt," "Meet Wally Sparks,"
"Revenge of the Nerds III," "Predator II" and the new
He was also a songwriter, with credits that
included "My Last Day on Earth," "Lonely Man," "Now I
Lay Me Down to Cry" and "The Loud Mouth Theme Song," first
performed in 1987.
Perhaps the biggest embarrassment of Downey's
career came when he claimed neo-Nazi skinheads attacked him in a San Francisco
airport restroom in 1989, cutting off his hair and painting a swastika on his
Authorities could never verify the attack, and
Downey's critics called it a publicity stunt. A few months later, the show was
Five years later, Downey launched a new show,
"Downey," but it met with less success, and Downey acknowledged he had
toned it down.
Downey later said he may have taken his
belligerence too far.
"It got out of control because the producers
... wanted me to top myself every night," he said in the early 1990s.
"If I did something outlandish on Monday night, on Tuesday night, we'd have
to think of something even more outlandish."
Yet he said he was proud of many aspects of the
original show, and called it cathartic for working-class Americans fed up with
the troubles of the world.
"It isn't the rich people who come up and
say, `Oh, Mort, you're just great,"' Downey once said. "It's the
blacks and the ethnics and the blue collars, those guys with too much hair on
their shoulder blades. They want some answers."
Downey once was a board member of the
smoking-rights National Smokers Alliance. But after cancer surgery in 1996, he
became an anti-smoking crusader, saying he had been "an idiot" for
smoking so much.
Downey is survived by his wife, Lori Krebs, and
their daughter. He has three daughters from former marriages.
Tuesday March 13, 2001
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) - Robert Ludlum, the author whose spy adventure novels had
unbelievable plot twists that kept millions of readers turning pages and critics
sometimes rolling their eyes, has died. He was 73.
The cause of death is believed to be a heart
attack, Matthew Shear, a spokesman for the author's publisher, St. Martin's
Press, said Monday.
"It's a horrible loss for all of his fans
and for his publisher," said Shear. "Fortunately, he had been working
on several books and to honor him we're going to continue to publish him."
Readers can expect at least three more novels,
While some critics have called his writing -
characterized by the liberal use of exclamation points, italics and rhetorical
questions - crude, others have acknowledged its popular appeal and inimitable
More than 210 million of the author's books are
in print, according to www.ludlumbooks.com,
the official Web site of St. Martin's Press.
Ludlum was always somewhat astonished by his
success, but had a theory to explain why his novels of international intrigue
and conspiracy are so popular.
"When I came along writing novels in 1971,
so much of the previous generation of novelists was very self-indulgent,"
he said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press. "It was always me,
me, me. ... The craft of storytelling has kind of gone out the window for the
sake of the writer himself. And I think I came along at a time when people were
sick and tired of that. They wanted stories again. And I'm basically a
Government secrets and corruption were also
recurring themes in his spy adventures, which were known for outrageous twists
A Washington Post critic once said: "It's a
lousy book. So I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish it."
In "The Chancellor Manuscript," Ludlum
fictionalized J. Edgar Hoover's death, unraveling an assassination plot that
killed the head of the FBI.
One of his most popular series began with
"The Bourne Identity," which tells the tale of a spy suffering from
amnesia who's followed by assassins. Jason Bourne repeatedly escaped death as he
feared the worst of his past, leaving himself and readers guessing why he would
be the target of killers.
Two others followed in the series: "The
Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."
Ludlum said anger about how the world is run
fueled many of his stories.
"Generally it's in the area of outrage, as
in the abuse of power, either elected or appointed," he said.
"We are supposed to be a republic, a
democratic society, and so many things are done and manipulated without us, as
the body politic, knowing about it," he said. "And it bothers me. I'm
not a statesman. I'm not a scholar. I just have a certain anger.."
Many believe Ludlum, who worked in the theater
before taking up writing, was a former CIA agent because of his plot lines. The
notion amused him.
"Anybody can if he decides to take the time
to research it and talk with people," he said. "And I was quite lucky
that three of my roommates in college ended up in the intelligence community. So
I had an opportunity to at least be able to talk with them."
"But," he added, "most of what I
write about in terms of intelligence and espionage is really just an extension
Born in New York in 1927, Ludlum attended prep
schools in Connecticut and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1951 as a fine
arts major. He started his career in the theater, working as an actor and a
producer, and with his wife, Mary Ryducha, founded a theater at a New Jersey
shopping center - the first of its kind in the nation.
But he was always a closet writer. At age 40, he
decided to write professionally, getting his first book, "The Scarlatti
Inheritance," published in 1971.
The best-selling novel about a group that
financed Adolf Hitler's Third Reich was followed by 20 novels which include
"The Matarese Circle," "The Parsifal Mosaic," "The
Holcroft Covenant," "The Aquitaine Progression," which have been
published in 32 languages.
Two of his novels, "The Matlock Paper"
and "Trevayne," were written under the pen name Jonathan Ryder, and
for "The Rhineman Exchange" he used the pen name Michael Shepherd.
As an actor, Ludlum performed minor roles on
Broadway and appeared in television dramas in the 1950s. He opened the
Playhouse-on-the-Mall in Paramus, N.J., in 1960, where he produced "The Owl
and the Pussycat," which featured then-unknown actor Alan Alda.
Sunday February 18, 2001
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18) -- Reuters is reporting seven-time Winston Cup
champion Dale Earnhardt was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital
after a crash Sunday on the final lap of Daytona 500.
Earnhardt, considered the greatest star of his era and the biggest fan
attraction in NASCAR history, had to be cut out of the car.
Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr., left Daytona International Speedway to be with him
immediately after teammate Michael Waltrip won the race. The elder Earnhardt
owns both cars.
"My heart is hurting right now,'' Waltrip said in his postrace interview.
"I would rather be any place right this moment than here.
"I want to be with him to try to help. It's so painful.''
The accident happened a half-mile from the finish of the NASCAR season opener
when Earnhardt, running fourth, hit Sterling Marlin, hit the wall in the
high-banked fourth turn and was smacked hard by Ken Schrader.
"We were three deep and he hit me,'' Marlin said. "Then he turned
It was the second major wreck in five years in the race for Earnhardt. He
flipped wildly on the backstretch near the end of the race in 1997 but was not
seriously hurt. He came back to win the race the next year on his 20th try.
Earnhardt is the leader among active Winston Cup drivers with 76 career
The crash was not as spectacular as an 18-car wreck 25 laps earlier that took
out 18 cars. Tony Stewart was injured in that accident, but the track said he
did not have life-threatening injuries.
Stewart did have a concussion and was undergoing a CT scan.
Earnhardt was a factor in the race throughout, and spent the final laps in close
proximity to his son and Waltrip, trying to block Marlin. The Dodge driver had
just passed Earnhardt, who was trying to get back by him on the low side of the
track when there was slight contact that set his Chevrolet spinning up the
It turned to the right, and Schrader could not avoid hitting it.
Both cars slowly began to slide down the banking to the bottom of the track as
the rest of the field race by, but there was no further contact.
Earnhardt Jr. quickly left the postrace celebration for Waltrip, and sprinted to
the infield care center to be with his father. It took several minutes to get
the elder Earnhardt out of the car, and he was quickly taken to Halifax
With his crewmen chanting "DEI, DEI,'' for Dale Earnhardt Inc., which owns
the cars, Waltrip was not immediately aware his boss was injured.
"I think Dale Sr. might have been in an accident,'' he said. "I hope
he's not hurt.''
The winner's circle celebration, which usually lasts 30 minutes, was quickly
"He wasn't there in Victory Lane, and I didn't know he was hurt,'' Waltrip
Thursday February 15, 2001
Hall-of-fame baseball player Eddie Mathews died today, of a lengthy
illness, age 69. Mathews played third base in the major leagues from 1952
to 1968, mostly for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He
crushed his pelvis in an accident several years ago and never fully
Wednesday February 14, 2001
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Character actor Lewis Arquette, whose five
children, including Rosanna, Patricia and David, followed in his show
business footsteps, has died in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure,
relatives said on Tuesday.
Arquette died Saturday, February 10, 2001 at UCLA Medical Center. He was
Born in Chicago and raised in Hollywood, Arquette was the grandson of a
vaudeville team and the son of the late Cliff "Charley Weaver"
"Tonight Show" and "Hollywood Squares" fame.
He spent his early years in New York City studying at Lee Strasberg's
Actor's Studio with Marilyn Monroe as a classmate.
An eclectic performer who also directed and worked as a puppeteer,
Arquette's notable roles included a recurring role from 1978 to 1981 as
J.D. Pickett in the television series "The Waltons." In films he
in "Johnny Got His Gun,"
"The China Syndrome", "Waiting for Guffman", "Best in
Show", and "Ready to
Arquette was also a master of improvisational acting. He worked with Paul
Sills' Story Theater, which performed in Los Angeles and on Broadway in
the early 1970s.
He is survived by five children: Rosanna, Patricia, David, Alexis and
Richmond, as well as a brother, a sister, and two grandchildren.
Wednesday February 7, 2001
BIGGS, Calif. (AP) -- Songwriter Hal Blair, who co-wrote songs performed by
singers including Elvis Presley and Della Reese, died Friday. He was 85.
Blair co-wrote ''Please Help Me, I'm Falling'' for Hank Locklin, ''Ringo'' for
Lorne Greene, ''I Was the One'' for Presley and ''Not One Minute More'' for
He began his songwriting and acting career in Western films, working with stars
such as Gene Autry. He met his main songwriting collaborator, Don Robertson, in
the early 1950s and they developed a partnership that last nearly five decades.
Wednesday February 7, 2001
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Associated Press has reported the death of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 94.
Lindbergh flew with her husband, Charles Lindbergh, as co-pilot and radio
operator on several transcontinental and transoceanic voyages. She was
also an award-winning author.
Wednesday February 7, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dale Evans, the singer-actress who teamed with husband
Roy Rogers in popular Westerns and wrote their theme song, ``Happy Trails
to You,'' died Wednesday at 88.
Evans died of congestive heart failure at her home in Apple Valley in the
high desert east of Los Angeles, said Dave Koch, son-in-law of Evans'
stepson, Roy ``Dusty'' Rogers Jr. She had suffered a heart attack in 1992
and a stroke in 1996.
Evans' son and other family members were at her side. A memorial service
will be held Saturday, Koch said.
She was the ``Queen of the West'' to Rogers, the ``King of the Cowboys.''
She rode her horse, Buttermilk, beside him on his celebrated palomino,
``There's the last of the great ladies from a great era - the cowboy
era,'' said Fran Boyd, executive director of the Academy of Country Music.
``She was always really gracious and a very big supporter of her
The first movie she made with Rogers, already an established singing
cowboy star, was ``Cowboy and the Senorita'' in 1944. They married in
1947, and together appeared in 35 movies, including such Saturday
afternoon favorites as ``My Pal Trigger,'' ``Apache Rose'' and ``Don't
Fence Me In.''
When the B Western faded in the early 1950s, they began their television
career. ``The Roy Rogers Show'' ran from 1951 to 1957; later incarnations
included ``The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show,'' 1962, and ``Happy Trails
Theatre,'' 1986-89, a show of repackaged Rogers and Evans movies on cable
TV's Nashville Network.
In 1951, she wrote ``Happy Trails,'' which became their theme song. She
also wrote the 1955 gospel music standard ``The Bible Tells Me So,'' with
the refrain, ``how do I know? the Bible tells me so.''
She and Rogers recorded more than 400 songs. Their most recent album was
``Many Happy Trails,'' recorded in Nashville in 1985.
Rogers died in July 1998 at age 86. In a statement, Evans remembered him
as ``a wonderful human being. What a blessing to have shared my life
together with him for almost 51 years. To say I will miss him is a gross
understatement. He was truly the king of the cowboys in my life.''
Through her life, she was active in Christian evangelism, which she called
``the most meaningful, the most enjoyable part of my life.''
``She was one Hollywood personality who truly lived what she preached,''
said longtime friend Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood. ``She
was a strong supporter of the family and religion.''
She wrote more than 20 books, including the best-selling ``Angel
Unaware,'' a poignant account of their daughter, Robin, the only child
born to the couple. Robin, who had Down syndrome, died of complications
from the mumps shortly before her second birthday in 1952.
It wasn't the couple's only taste of tragedy. Korean-born Debbie, one of
the couple's adopted children, was killed with seven others in a 1964
church bus crash; the following year, their adopted son John choked to
death while serving in the Army in Germany.
``In the Bible, it doesn't say you're going to get by without having
troubles,'' Rogers once said.
The couple also adopted another daughter and raised a daughter by foster
parenthood. In addition, Evans had a son by a previous marriage, and
Rogers had a son and two daughters, one of them adopted, with his first
wife, Arline. She had died in 1946, shortly after giving birth to Roy Jr.
Evans was born Frances Octavia Smith on Oct. 31, 1912, in Uvalde, Texas.
When she was a girl her family moved to Osceola, Ark., where she attended
She was working as a secretary in Chicago when she tried to launch a show
business career, she recalled in the 1984 interview.
``I wanted to get a foothold in radio, but I couldn't get a job,'' she
said. ``Finally I succeeded in Memphis, then I got jobs in Louisville and
Dallas before going back to Chicago.''
She became Dale Evans during her brief stint in Tennessee. Initially, she
used her married name, Frances Fox, and then Marian Lee. Over her
protests, the station manager changed it to Dale Evans, because he felt it
was ``euphonious'' and would roll easily from the lips of announcers.
>From local radio singing jobs, she worked up to national radio, signing on
in 1940 as a singer on a weekly CBS radio show ``News and Rhythm.''
Shortly afterward, she started working in Hollywood, appearing in films
such as ``Orchestra Wives'' and ``Swing Your Partner.''
She said she felt sorry from some of today's rock stars: ``They are
overnight successes making unbelievable amounts of money. They're like
meteors, shooting up and then falling just as fast. People like Bob Hope,
Jack Benny, Roy and me, we paid our dues. We've known the hard times and
the good, and we appreciate what we've got.''
Besides Roy Jr., she is survived by her son by her first marriage, Tom
Fox; adopted daughter Dodie Sailors; foster daughter Marion Swift;
stepdaughter Linda Lou Johnson; adopted stepdaughter Cheryl Barnett; 16
grandchildren; and more than 30 great-grandchildren.
Tuesday January 2, 2001
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Jan. 2) - Ray Walston, who
played the lovable
extraterrestrial Uncle Martin on the 1960s TV sitcom ``My Favorite Martian''
and the devil in ``Damn Yankees,'' has died. He was 86.
The slim, icy-voiced actor died Monday of apparent natural causes at his home
here, said his agent, Harry Gold.
Walston made a career of playing charismatic, cranky characters. He won a
Tony in 1955 for his performance in Broadway's ``Damn Yankees'' and two
successive Emmys in 1995-96 for his role as acerbic Judge Henry Bone in the
quirky small-town series ``Picket Fences.''
In ``My Favorite Martian,'' Walston played opposite Bill Bixby as a Martian
explorer stranded on Earth. His antennae-sprouting alien character
masqueraded as Bixby's ``Uncle Martin'' and spent most of the episodes trying
to conceal his identity from curious Earthlings.
Walston once said he auditioned and accepted the role for the money. But
after just four episodes, he recalled, ``I thought, 'What am I doing here?
I'm running around with two pieces of wire coming out of my head. I must be
Despite its popularity, the role of Uncle Martin actually slowed Walston's
Hollywood career. When the series went off the air in 1966 after a three-year
run, the typecast actor returned to the stage for several years before
re-emerging with a succession of solid supporting roles in movies and
But it took Walston decades to receive award recognition from the Hollywood
community: ``I have 30 seconds to tell you I have been waiting 60 years to
get on this stage,'' he said in his 1995 Emmy acceptance speech.
Walston's film debut came in the 1957 movie ``Kiss Them For Me'' with Cary
Grant, and the next year he played the devil again in the film version of
``Damn Yankees.'' The smash musical told the story of a frustrated baseball
fan who sells his soul.
He also appeared in ``Say One For Me'' with Bing Crosby and in director Billy
Wilder's films ``The Apartment'' and ``Kiss Me, Stupid.''
In addition, he had supporting roles in ``South Pacific,'' ``Portrait in
Black,'' ``Wives and Lovers,'' ``Caprice,'' ``Paint Your Wagon,'' ``The
Sting,'' ``Silver Streak'' and ``Stephen King's The Stand.''
Walston was known to younger film fans as the irascible Poopdeck Pappy in
Robert Altman's live-action film ``Popeye'' in 1980, and as the crusty,
slacker-hating teacher Mr. Hand in the 1982 teen comedy ``Fast Times at
In 1999, Walston made a cameo appearance in the feature film version of ``My
Favorite Martian,'' which starred Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin and Jeff
Daniels in Bixby's role as the alien's beleaguered partner.
In a 1996 interview, Walston said he had recently turned down a request to
appear on a television news in a report on the possibility of life on Mars.
``Would you believe they were planning a sequence featuring two of the
world's most distinguished scientists evaluating this monumental discovery,
and they wanted to sandwich me in as sort of comedy relief?'' Walston said.
``Of course, I said no.''
Born in New Orleans, Walston started his acting career with a local stock
It wasn't until the mid-1940s that Walston's stage career really started
taking off, with roles in 22 productions by the famed Cleveland Playhouse.
By 1945, he had moved to New York to appear on Broadway, which later brought
him the biggest break of his career - George Abbott casting him as the devil
in ``Damn Yankees.''
The musical also became a breakthrough for Gwen Verdon, who played the
devil's amorous assistant, Lola. Verdon, who died last year at 75, teamed up
with Walston in the film version, too.
Monday January 1, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Julius J. Epstein, a prolific
Hollywood writer whose
Archived Obits for 2000
reworking of a little-known stage play earned him and his co-writers the 1943
Academy Award for ``Casablanca,'' has died. He was 91.
Epstein died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, hospital
spokeswoman Grace Cheng said Sunday.
Epstein was born Aug. 22, 1909, in New York City and teamed with his twin
brother, Philip, on numerous scripts for movie comedies and melodramas, often
adapted from stage shows.
``Casablanca,'' which won the brothers the 1943 Academy Award for Best
Screenplay, had its origins in an unproduced play called ``Everybody Comes to
A handful of writers actually worked on the script, but the Epstein brothers
and writer Howard Koch - who also shared the screenwriting Oscar - have been
recognized as the screenplay's main authors. The film also won awards for
best picture and best director.
Over the years, the enduring popularity of ``Casablanca'' surprised Epstein,
who repeatedly said he viewed it as just another movie in the vast Warner
Bros. assembly line of the early 1940s. He said the death of star Humphrey
Bogart in 1957 propelled the film into cult status.
After his brother's death in 1952, Epstein continued his solo screenwriting
career. He received Academy Awards nominations in 1972 for ``Pete 'n'
Tillie'' and in 1983 for his adaptation of the novel ``Reuben, Reuben.'' He
also received a nomination in 1938 for co-writing ``Four Daughters'' with
In 1998, Epstein was given a career achievement award by the Los Angeles Film