3/8/99 Joe DiMaggio (see below for funeral details) - Joe DiMaggio, the elegant Yankee Clipper whose 56-game hitting streak endures as one of baseball's greatest records, died Monday at his home in Hollywood, Fla. Joltin' Joe has left and gone away, as the song said, at age 84. DiMaggio, who underwent lung cancer surgery in October and battled complications for weeks afterward, died shortly after midnight, said Morris Engelberg, his longtime friend and attorney. At his bedside were his brother, Dominic, a former major league outfielder; two grandchildren; Engelberg; and Joe Nacchio, his friend of 59 years. "DiMaggio, the consummate gentleman on and off the field, fought his illness as hard as he played the game of baseball and with the same dignity, style and grace with which he lived his life,'' said Engelberg, DiMaggio's next-door neighbor. During his 99 days in the hospital, DiMaggio suffered several setbacks from lung infections and even fell into a coma briefly, but he astounded his doctors by repeatedly bouncing back. At one point, NBC reported in error that he had died. When DiMaggio left the hospital Jan. 19, he was invited by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to throw out the ceremonial first ball at the Yankees' home opener April 9. After DiMaggio came home from the hospital, a sign was placed on his bed saying "April 9 Yankee Stadium or Bust.'' Steinbrenner said Monday he visited a weak but alert DiMaggio five days ago to remind him of the invitation. "He just smiled,'' Steinbrenner said. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called DiMaggio "the personification of grace, class and dignity on the baseball diamond.'' "As an immigrant's son, he represented the hopes and ideals of our great country,'' Selig said. The Hall of Fame flag in Cooperstown, N.Y., was lowered to half staff and a wreath was placed around DiMaggio's plaque. U.S. flags at Yankee Stadium, including one at Monument Park in left field where another plaque honors DiMaggio, were at half staff as well. The New York Yankees' center fielder roamed the basepaths for 13 years through 1951, missing three seasons to serve in World War II. During that time he played for 10 pennant winners and nine World Series champions, batted .325 and hit 361 home runs. But more than anything it was The Streak, during the magical summer of '41, that riveted a country fresh from the Depression and elevated him from baseball star to national celebrity. He ascended even higher atop the rank of popular culture in 1954 when he wed Marilyn Monroe, a storybook marriage that failed all too quickly and left him brokenhearted. For years after she died in 1962, DiMaggio sent roses to her grave but refused to talk about her. His swanky swing and classy countenance inspired wistful lines in literature and song, including Paul Simon's lament to lost heroes in "Mrs. Robinson'' from the movie "The Graduate'': "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? "A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. "What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? "Joltin' Joe has left and gone away.'' Indeed, but his legend stands -- shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and very few others who could measure up to them on the sports scene this century. He won three American League Most Valuable Player awards, appeared in 11 All-Star games and entered the Hall of Fame in 1955. He played for 10 pennant winners and nine World Series champions. For half a century, he was introduced as "the greatest living player.'' Yet DiMaggio's exceptional numbers don't account fully for his almost legendary place on the American cultural landscape, the reason why Simon sang about him and Ernest Hemingway wrote about him. There was something about the courtly bearing of this son of Italian immigrants that made him special. "I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing,'' the ancient Cuban fisherman says in Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea.'' "They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand.'' A handsome man of quiet strength -- unpretentious, proud and intensely private -- DiMaggio embodied the kind of hero parents wanted their sons to emulate. He had class, on and off the field. Though unusually shy, DiMaggio also could come across as your friendly neighbor, as he did in his later years, touting the virtues of a savings bank and "Mr. Coffee'' on television to a generation that never saw him play. In more recent years, he devoted himself to his grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and to raising money for the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. DiMaggio's only child was a son, Joe Jr., from his first marriage to Dorothy Arnold, an actress he met while working on a movie, "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round,'' in 1937. Their marriage ended in divorce. He didn't seek the limelight, but lived his life slipping into and out of it, uncomfortable when it shined on him. The story goes that when Monroe squealed delightedly that she had been cheered by tens of thousands of troops in Korea, and told DiMaggio he couldn't imagine what that was like, he deadpanned, "Oh, yes, I can.'' No ballplayer ever heard more cheers than DiMaggio did during The Streak. There was a song written about it, and crowds waited for him to come to town. In city after city, he kept The Streak alive, getting at least one hit in every game from May 15 until July 17 in Cleveland -- 56 games. No one has come close since. During an appearance in 1991, commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Streak, DiMaggio expressed surprise it was still a record. "There are a lot of great ballplayers,'' he said. "One day, someone's going to come along and break it. But I've been saying that for 50 years.'' Pete Rose fell 12 games short of tying DiMaggio during his best challenge in 1978. During The Streak, DiMaggio batted .408 with 91 hits in 223 at-bats, 15 homers and 55 RBIs. It took a pair of remarkable fielding plays by third baseman Ken Keltner in the 57th game to stop DiMaggio. He then immediately began another streak of 16 games -- meaning he batted safely in 72 of 73 games. There was no demonstration of disappointment that day in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium when Keltner robbed him of two hits. That typified the stoic DiMaggio, who rarely displayed emotion. A rare departure from the DiMaggio cool was captured on what is probably the most famous film clip of his career. It was one of the greatest plays in World Series history -- a game-saving catch by Brooklyn's Al Gionfriddo in 1947 -- and a broadcast classic by Red Barber. "Back, back, back, back, back, and he makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen. Oh-ho, doctor!'' Barber said. The camera caught DiMaggio kicking the dirt in an ever-so-gentle display of frustration as he neared second base. DiMaggio arrived in New York in May 1936, at age 21. He introduced himself to Yankees fans with two singles and a triple in his first game, and never slowed until retirement. Before DiMaggio, baseball's biggest stars were men like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Although his accomplishments rivaled theirs in many ways, DiMaggio's style was in sharp contrast. Cobb and Ruth were colorful, larger-than-life characters, one a belligerent, short-tempered man who played the game with a vengeance, the other a gregarious, party-going slugger who set the standard for all home-run hitters. DiMaggio was quiet and reserved with a gift for making everything look easy, whether it was an over-the-shoulder catch of a 400-foot drive or a home run to the deepest part of then-cavernous Yankee Stadium. He also had a strong, accurate arm rarely challenged by base runners. "I was out there to play and give it all I had,'' he said in 1991. "I looked at it like `I'm doing my best.' If I got the hit, fine. I always felt good that I had given my best.'' Only twice did DiMaggio bat less than .300. He accumulated 3,948 total bases and drove in 1,537 runs. He finished his career with 2,214 hits. He was the MVP in 1939, 1941 and 1947. He was the AL batting champion in 1939 with a .381 average and in 1940 at .352. He led the league in RBIs in 1941 with 125 and in 1948 with 155. He had the most homers in the league in 1937 with 46 and in 1948 with 39. There were other records, and undoubtedly there would have been even more had he not volunteered for Army service during World War II. Though bothered by stomach ulcers part of the time, he spent 2 1/2 years in the Army's physical training program for air cadets. Paying tribute to DiMaggio and fellow slugger Ted Williams in a 1991 White House salute, President Bush said their military service "deprived them of even greater statistics, but also enhanced their greatness in the eyes of Americans.'' DiMaggio battled a string of injuries during his career, and seven times missed opening day. He underwent three operations within two years for bone spurs in his heels and bone chips in his arm. In 1949, an inflamed heel kept him sidelined for 65 games. When he returned to the lineup, his home run helped the Yankees beat Boston 5-4, and he went on to bat .500 in their three-game series. It was as if he'd never been gone. DiMaggio decided to call it quits at age 37. It was not a sudden decision. "The old timing was beginning to leave me, and my reflexes were beginning to slow up,'' he explained. By the end of his last season, he said, "it had become a chore for me to play. "I found it difficult getting out of bed in the morning, especially after a night game,'' he said. "I was full of aches and pains.'' The Yankees won the World Series in his final year, and he finished with a flourish. He hit a home run in the fourth game, and had six hits in 11 at-bats. DiMaggio was born on Nov. 25, 1914, in Martinez, Calif. His father operated a fishing boat in San Francisco and expected his sons to follow in his footsteps. But Joe and brothers Vince and Dom spent most of their time playing baseball. The elder DiMaggio called it "a bum's game,'' but he lived to see all three of his boys become professional players. Dom, the youngest, played with the Boston Red Sox. Vince, the eldest, was with five National League teams. New York actually took a chance by signing Joe. He had been a star with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, and once had a 61-game hitting streak. But a knee injury scared off all but the Yankees. They signed him for $25,000 -- one of the greatest bargains in baseball history. DiMaggio earned $7,500 in his first year, but got $100,000 in each of his final three seasons, making him the highest-paid player of his time. He made more than that in recent years just for signing his name at baseball memorabilia shows. The Yankees retired his No. 5 in 1952. Long after retiring as a player, DiMaggio served briefly as a vice president and coach for the Oakland A's, and as a member of the board of directors of the Baltimore Orioles. When he was not traveling, DiMaggio lived alone in his home on exclusive Harbour Island, Fla. Besides his brother, Dom, survivors include his son, Joe Jr.; two grandchildren, Paula and Cathy; and four great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and to the Hospice Care of Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
****Info on DiMaggio's funeral for March 11, 1999****Joe DiMaggio's estranged son will be a pallbearer at his father's private funeral. Only about 30 relatives and close friends will attend the service Thursday at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where DiMaggio married his first wife, Dorothy Arnold, in 1939. ``Joe insisted that his funeral be a private, religious service, and his family is intent on carrying out his wishes,'' said Morris Engelberg, DiMaggio's friend and attorney. There was some dispute about whether New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was invited. ``George Steinbrenner asked to come. So did Reggie Jackson and a lot of other people he knew and liked, but the family had to say `no,''' Engelberg told The Associated Press from San Francisco. Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone disputed that Steinbrenner wasn't invited, saying the Yankees owner was asked to accompany the family to the West Coast. And it was Steinbrenner who declined the invitation because he didn't want an exception to the guest list made in his case, Cerrone said. ``If there was one more person outside the family to be there, Joe would have wanted George Steinbrenner,'' Engelberg said this morning. ``He really loved George, and said he was one of the most humane people he knew. I agree. But the family had to say, and reluctantly so, no one else.'' DiMaggio's only son, Joe Jr., will be one of the pallbearers. The two had been estranged and had not seen each other in two years. Other pallbearers will be Roger Stein and James Hamra, the husbands of DiMaggio's two granddaughters; Joseph DiMaggio, son of ballplayer's late brother, Mike; Joe Nacchio, a friend of DiMaggio's for 59 years, and Engelberg. ``There will be memorial services in other parts of the country,'' Engelberg said. ``Steinbrenner said there would be one at Yankee Stadium in the Memorial Park there. And, there are plans to erect a monument next to the one for Babe Ruth.'' The church's twin steeples tower over the North Beach section of San Francisco where DiMaggio spent most of his childhood. The funeral procession will drive into Beach Street in San Francisco's Marina section, where the DiMaggio family lived as it makes its way to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, where DiMaggio will be buried. DiMaggio's body was flown from Miami to San Francisco late Monday on private jet. The Hall of Famer died Monday at age 84 at his home in Hollywood, Fla. DiMaggio divorced Arnold in 1943. DiMaggio wed Marilyn Monroe in 1954 and they divorced later that year.
3/7/99 Stanley Kubrick - LONDON (March 7) - Stanley Kubrick, the director of ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' and ''A Clockwork Orange,'' whose films often puzzled and shocked audiences only to end up as classics, died Sunday at his home in England, his family said. He was 70. Police were summoned to Kubrick's rural home north of London on Sunday afternoon, said authorities in Hertfordshire, where he was certified dead. ''There are no suspicious circumstances,'' police said. Kubrick's family announced his death, and said there would be no further comment. Kubrick's films included ''Spartacus'' in 1960, ''Lolita'' in 1962, ''Dr. Strangelove,'' in 1964, ''2001'' in 1968 and ''A Clockwork Orange'' in 1971. He also made ''Barry Lyndon,'' released in 1975, ''The Shining'' in 1978 and ''Full Metal Jacket'' in 1987. Malcolm McDowell, who starred in ''A Clockwork Orange,'' issued a statement through his publicist calling Kubrick ''a heavyweight of my life.'' ''He was the last great director of that era. He was the big daddy,'' said McDowell. His latest film, ''Eyes Wide Shut,'' is still slated for release on July 16, Warner Bros. said Sunday. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in the story of jealousy and obsession, which Kubrick made in great secrecy. ''He was like family to us and we are in shock and devastated,'' Cruise and Kidman said in a statement released by their publicist. Kubrick was born July 26, 1928, in New York. At 17, he was hired as a staff photographer by Look magazine, which had been impressed by a picture Kubrick had snapped on the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. While working at Look, he studied film by attending screenings at the Museum of Modern Art. ''I was aware that I didn't know anything about making films, but I believed I couldn't make them any worse than the majority of films I was seeing. Bad films gave me the courage to try making a movie,'' Kubrick once said. In 1951, he sold a 16-minute short documentary about a boxer, ''Day of the Fight,'' to the RKO film studio. Kubrick was drafted by actor Kirk Douglas into the film ''Spartacus'' when the production - then the most expensive ever mounted in the United States - ran into trouble. The film, about a slave revolt in ancient Rome, included some footage shot by the original director, Anthony Mann, and Kubrick did not regard the finished product as a great success. ''I tried with only limited success to make the film as real as possible but I was up against a pretty dumb script which was rarely faithful to what is known about Spartacus,'' Kubrick told an interviewer. ''Lolita,'' starring James Mason and Shelley Winters, was based on Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel about a professor who is sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl. The work was filmed in Britain, in part because of censorship problems, and thereafter Kubrick was based in Britain.''Dr. Strangelove,'' starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, was a black comedy about nuclear war released in the early '60s during a period of great fears over the bomb and Cold War tensions. ''2001,'' a science fiction film about the evolution of man and humanity's place in the universe, used dazzling visual imagery and an inspired use of music that proved to be a great success for Kubrick. In an interview with Playboy magazine, Kubrick said he had ''tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content ... just as music does. ... You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning.'' ''A Clockwork Orange,'' set in a violent future, is a graphic film about a young thug who carries out rapes and beatings before being sent to prison where he is brainwashed. The film was one of Kubrick's most controversial - it was even disparaged by Anthony Burgess, whose novel was the basis of the film, and Kubrick eventually removed it from screens in Britain. One of Kubrick's memorable touches was to have his hero sing ''Singin' in the Rain'' while dishing out a brutal beating. Kubrick married Suzanne Harlan in 1958, and they had three daughters. Details about funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
3/3/99 Dusty Springfield - LONDON (AP) -- Singer Dusty Springfield, whose husky-voiced white soul could simultaneously ``chill the spine and warm the heart,'' has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 59. Springfield, who recorded such 1960s hits as ``Son of a Preacher Man'' and ``Wishin' and Hopin','' died Tuesday night at her home in Henley-on-Thames, west of London. Mike Gill, who worked with the singer for nearly 32 years and is compiling a four-CD tribute for release later this year, called hers ``an intimate voice with wonderful pathos.'' The box set was put together ``with Dusty's full knowledge and her blessing when she knew she was dying. She said, `Tell Mike to get things organized. I want to go out with a bit of style,' '' he said. Singer Elton John, on tour in the United States, called Springfield ``as good a singer as Aretha Franklin in her own way, and completely timeless.'' The Encyclopedia of Popular Music paid tribute to her inviting voice, saying she could ``chill the spine and warm the heart.'' Springfield's finest album is considered 1969's ``Dusty in Memphis,'' which she made in Tennessee. Though she started out in several groups, her first solo success came in 1964 with the jaunty ``I Only Want To Be With You.'' Other hits included ``I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself'' and ``You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.'' In 1988, she returned to the charts by teaming up with the Pet Shop Boys duo for the pop single ``What Have I Done to Deserve This?'' Her resurgence was capped this decade with the inclusion of ``The Son of a Preacher Man'' on the ``Pulp Fiction'' soundtrack, which introduced her to a whole new audience. Springfield's breast cancer was diagnosed in 1994 shortly after she recorded her most recent album, ``A Very Fine Love.'' She underwent extensive chemotherapy until 1995, when she was diagnosed as being clear of the disease. But the cancer returned the following year. After the first diagnosis, she told The Mail on Sunday in January, ``I shed about three tears in the hallway and then said, 'Let's have lunch.''' ``It was only when I came home one night and saw my cat lying asleep that I thought, 'Who's going to look after you?' It was as if somebody had run a train through me. I wept and wept and wept because then I realized: It is you. It's you. Yes, it might kill you.'' Dusty Springfield was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in north London on April 16, 1939. She changed her name in 1960, using the name of the folk-country trio The Springfields, which she and her brother formed before she launched her solo career. She became known for her glitzy gowns, peroxide-blonde beehive hairdo and dark, smudgy eye make-up, an effect achieved by leaving on the same caked-on mascara for three weeks at a time. But she once said she never shook off the feeling of being an ``awful fat, ugly middle-class kid.'' She told The Mail on Sunday that her personal and musical epiphany came at the age of 16 when she looked at her reflection in the mirror and said: ``Be miserable or become someone else.'' And she did. Springfield's biographer, Lucy O'Brien, whose book ``Dusty'' will be published in April, wrote: ``As youth mod culture came to a head in the Sixties -- with its stringent attention to fashion, Motown and television pop programs -- Dusty Springfield, panda-eyed and urbane, emerged as Queen Bee.'' Professing herself ``bored with Britain,'' Springfield moved to Los Angeles in 1972, where she lived for 15 years, embarking on drinking and drug binges and suffering from depression. She later disclosed she had attempted suicide in California. Springfield's death came 11 days before she was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York, along with Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. In December, Queen Elizabeth II included her in her biannual honor's list, as an Officer of the Order of British Empire. Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying the queen was ``saddened to hear of her death.'' Springfield never married, and information on survivors was not immediately available. Funeral plans were not released.
2/22/99 Gene Siskel - HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Chicago Tribune film columnist and critic Gene Siskel, whose nationally televised thumbs-up, thumbs-down assessment of films with Chicago Sun Times scribe Roger Ebert made him a household name, died Saturday after battling complications of a brain tumor. He was 53 years old. Siskel had been operated on last May and soon thereafter returned to the nationally syndicated ``Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.'' But earlier this month, he announced he was taking a leave of absence to recuperate. He died at Chicago's Evanston Hospital. ``Gene was a friend and a colleague, but most of all, a gentleman,'' said Howard Tyner, vice president and editor of the Chicago Tribune, in the paper's obituary for Siskel. ``People might've thought he only felt passionately about film. But his first love was his family, whom he loved as much as he hated injustice and bigotry. ``We appreciated his incredible loyalty to the Tribune for nearly 30 years. His television career made his a household name nationally, but his first allegiance was always to the Tribune.'' In addition to his contributions to the Tribune and television duties with Ebert, Siskel also served as film critic for TV Guide, on CBS' ``This Morning'' and Chicago's WBBM-TV. ``Gene was a lifelong friend and our professional competition only strengthened that bond,'' Ebert wrote in a prepared statement. The rival Chicago critics first began reviewing on television in 1975 via Chicago public television's ``Sneak Previews'' -- originally tagged ``Opening Soon at a Theater Near You.'' The following year it was playing on PBS outlets nationally but the duo had a falling out with the public broadcaster and went independent. In 1982, ``Siskel & Ebert the Movies'' was nationally syndicated and later bought by the Walt Disney Co. Their contentious arguments over current movies often made the show more entertaining than the films they were dissecting. The show made them both rich and influential. They were so well known that they were often referred to under the collective name ``Sisbert.'' Yet, unlike many other television pundits, their personalities never overshadowed their critical acumen. Their opinions were closely followed and their influence on a film's success, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area, was powerful. They were more than populist film critics, often championing independent and foreign films, and even movies they felt were being overlooked by the public. They were never averse to attacking the Hollywood establishment either. Siskel in particular was no friend of the Academy Awards, implying that the statuettes could be bought through expensive advertising campaigns. A Chicago native, he was born Eugene Kal Siskel on Jan. 26, 1946. Orphaned by the age of 10, Siskel attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana and received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Yale University in 1967 with the intention of becoming a lawyer. After winning a public-affairs fellowship, he joined the Army Reserve where he wrote press releases for the U.S. Dept. of Defense Information School. It sparked an interest in journalism. And upon returning to Chicago, he was hired by the Tribune in January 1969. He initially worked as a news reporter and staff writer for the paper's Sunday department. But shortly thereafter, he reviewed his first movie, a Disney family effort, ``Rascal.'' That September he was named the Tribune's film critic at the age of 23. Ebert was already ensconced at the Sun Times and the rivalry between the critics soon became Chicago legend. Ebert admits that the two personally disliked each other as well, even after they joined forces to air their disputes on public television. ``We had lots of big fights,'' Ebert said in a WLS-TV interview. ``We were people who came together one day a week to work together and the other six days of the week we were competitors on two daily newspapers and two different television stations. So there was a lot of competition and a lot of disagreement.'' ``Opening Soon at a Theater Near You'' was created by WTTW producer Eliot Wald, who in 1975 had the idea of pairing the two rivals. ``These are two men who never would have chosen each other for friends,'' Thea Flaum, the show's executive producer, told the Tribune. ``They have no natural affinity for each other. But TV forced them to find a way to work together. Under the title ``Sneak Previews,'' their show reached a national audience when PBS syndicated it in 1978 to the highest ratings ever on public television. By 1982, they signed with Tribune Entertainment, expanding their national reach (the show was then known as ``At the Movies''). Four years later, the show, now ``Siskel & Ebert at the Movies,'' was bought by Disney's Buena Vista Television and has been running continuously since then. Despite his many responsibilities and his well-known fiercely competitive nature (in 1970 he challenged Tribune readers to outpick him in the annual Oscar derby), Siskel said in one interview that he viewed himself as basically lazy. ``I don't have the greatest work habits. I'm not a natural like (Ebert). I'm more of a plugger. I have a set of responsibilities that Roger doesn't have, and that's my family. It's the sustaining pleasure of my life. And if that means that I can't work as much as (Ebert), I'll take that deal anytime.'' Since 1980, Siskel had been married to the former Marlene Iglitzen, whom he had met when she was producer of WBBM's afternoon newscasts for which he provided reviews. She survives him as do their three children, two girls and a boy. Siskel had other passions: tennis (he was an avid and fiercely competitive player) and especially the Chicago Bulls. He was ubiquitous at their games, both home and away. Another obsession was the 1977 film ``Saturday Night Fever,'' which he claimed to have seen 18 times. In the 1980s he bought the famous three-piece white disco suit John Travolta wore in the film and kept it in his closet until 1995, when it sold for $145,000 at a Christie's auction. Tom Shales, a syndicated critic for the Washington Post, was recently announced as one of a series of co-hosts for Ebert during Siskel's convalescence. Disney has not yet announced its long-term plans for the show or a possible replacement.
12/25/98 Marcella Rabwin - (From the Hollywood Reporter by David Osborne) NEW YORK (BPI) _ This year comes to a sadder end for anyone who knew the lively and delightful Marcella Rabwin who, I'm sorry to report, died on Christmas Day at New York University Hospital after heart surgery and a stroke. Marcella wasn't as known to the general public as many of the movie institutions we lost in the past year, like Frank Sinatra, Roddy McDowall and Robert Young. But to many _ especially ``Gone With the Wind'' fans and aficionados _ she was a queen, a spirited and lively woman who was one of the last direct links not only to the legendary ``GWTW'' but also to the glamorous era of Hollywood that included names such as Selznick, Garbo, Garland, Bergman and Hitchcock. Marcella had two primary reasons for celebrity: First, she was the wife, and later the widow, of Dr. Mark Rabwin, a much respected medico in Hollywood circles who not only looked after the aches and pains of many Hollywoodites but also socialized with them. But before Dr. Mark became a part of her life, Marcella had a lively existence as one of David O. Selznick's executive secretaries, working for the great filmmaker when he was in charge at RKO and making such classics as ``King Kong'' and the 1933 ``Little Women.'' Later, Marcella went with Selznick when he moved to MGM to produce more great films (including ``Dinner at Eight'' and Garbo's ``Anna Karenina'') and stayed with him when he began his own Selznick International studios in Culver City. It was there that she worked closely with DOS in the making of ``GWTW,'' a great adventure she later talked about, with justified enthusiasm and a no-nonsense candor, at many film conventions and cinema gatherings, sharing insights about ``GWTW'' and her other adventures in the Hollywood swim. Her devotion to Selznick was unflagging, but she eventually left his employ when his famous penchant for writing memos into the wee small hours began playing havoc with her marriage. But to the end she stayed keenly interested in everything to do with life and Hollywood and was, quite definitely, the most vibrant 90-year-old survivor imaginable. She was, at the time of her final illness, in the midst of plans for a Christmas holiday in Hawaii with grandchildren; she'd also just been given the good news that, at long last, an autobiography she'd written about her former boss, called ``Yes, Mr. Selznick,'' had found a publisher (It's set for bookstores next year). On that high note Marcella made her exit, to the end an indefatigable spirit, a devoted friend, the kind of good sort that makes the world, and the film industry, such an interesting place to be around.
12/14/98 Norman Fell - LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Norman Fell, who played the irritable landlord Stanley Roper on the 1970s television sitcom ``Three's Company'' and in the spin-off series ``The Ropers,'' died Monday of cancer. He was 74. Fell died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund's retirement home in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb, said Stan Schneider, his longtime business manager. Among Fell's credits were the films ``The Graduate'' and ``Catch-22'' and TV series including Burt Reynolds' 1970-75 detective drama ``Dan August.'' But it was the part of Stanley Roper he was most identified with, like it or not, Schneider said. ``I think he felt toward the end ... it typecast him. But it was the one everyone knew him as. Everyone called him Mr. Roper, on the street, wherever he went,'' he said. Fell and Audra Lindley played Stanley and Helen Roper on ABC's ``Three's Company,'' which debuted in 1977 and starred John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers as their tenants. The Ropers spent a fair amount of time poking into the unusual living arrangements of their young neighbors and the rest sparring among themselves. Fell and Ms. Lindley left the sitcom in 1979 to star in ``The Ropers,'' which aired until 1980. Ms. Lindley, 79, died in 1997 of complications from leukemia. ``Three's Company'' continued until 1984 with Don Knotts as the new landlord and other cast changes. A native of Philadelphia, Fell served as a tail gunner in the Pacific during World War II and earned his bachelor's degree in drama from Temple University. He studied acting after his return from the war and struggled to win small parts in New York stage and TV productions, including 1954's ``Twelve Angry Men.'' His first regular series role was in the short-lived 1956 comedy ``Joe & Mabel.'' Moving to Los Angeles in 1958, Fell won supporting roles in films and, in 1961-62, the part of police Detective Meyer in the drama ``87th Precinct,'' based on the Ed McBain mystery novels. His wit also won Fell repeated appearances as a guest on ``The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.'' Fell, who was divorced, is survived by two daughters. Burial at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Burbank.
11/18/98 Esther Rolle - LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Esther Rolle, who played the feisty maid in the hit 1970s sitcom ``Maude'' and the strong-willed mother who kept her ghetto family together in the spinoff series ``Good Times,'' has died at 78. Ms. Rolle died Tuesday at a hospital in Culver City, her spokesman Larry Calhoun said. The cause of death was not determined, but she had diabetes and was undergoing dialysis, he said. Norman Lear, creator of ``Good Times,'' said he cast Ms. Rolle because of her strong presence. ``Wherever she was, you knew she was there,'' he said. ``The woman had strong conviction. We may not have agreed on everything, but that is what happens when you have two creative minds at work.'' Long a crusader against black stereotypes in Hollywood, Ms. Rolle was nevertheless best remembered in the role of a maid, and her stout build and stern demeanor reminded some of the ``Mammy'' roles of an earlier generation of movies. Her character Florida Evans was Bea Arthur's maid in ``Maude'' and a maid in ``Good Times,'' about a family struggling to make ends meet in inner-city Chicago. Ms. Rolle also played a servant in the TV movie ``Summer of My German Soldier,'' a retired maid in the play ``A Raisin in the Sun'' and a long-suffering housekeeper in the film ``Driving Miss Daisy.'' She told The Associated Press in 1987 that she was intent on shattering the image of a ``Hollywood maid with the rolling of the eyes'' who doted on her white charges but ignored her own children. Being a maid, she said, was a reality for black Americans. When CBS was planning a ``Maude'' spinoff series in which she played a single mother, Ms. Rolle demanded that her family be led by a father. That part went to John Amos. ``I told them I couldn't compound the lie that black fathers don't care about their children,'' she said. ``I was proud of the family life I was able to introduce to television.'' She left ``Good Times'' after three seasons because she felt her TV son, played by Jimmie ``J.J.'' Walker as a clownish character with the catchphrase ``Dy-no-mite!,'' was a poor example for black youth. But she was persuaded to return for a year. The show ran from 1974 to 1979. After ``Good Times,'' Ms. Rolle appeared in TV movies, winning an Emmy for her performance in ``Summer of My German Soldier.'' She was also the movie ``Rosewood'' last year and played an Alzheimer's victim in ``Down in the Delta,'' a movie that will come out on Christmas. Ms. Rolle was born in Pompano Beach, Fla., the 10th of 18 children. Her father was a vegetable farmer. Her older siblings wrote skits that she performed for the younger children. After high school, she followed her actress sister to New York and landed Broadway roles. She was appearing in Melvin Van Peebles' play ``Don't Play Us Cheap'' when she won the role as Florida in ``Maude.'' In 1990, she became the first woman to receive the NAACP Chairman's Civil Rights Leadership Award for helping raise the image of blacks. She is survived by two sisters and a brother. Funeral arrangements were incomplete. Burial in her hometown in Florida.