Here are some
of the recently departed celebrities: (Please note that I have arranged the
Dearly Departed list to read from newest to oldest)
Please note that
the 2004 obits have been archived under Archive 9 . For past years please scroll down. The archive list is on
the left side of the screen.
8/30/06 - Glenn Ford - BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP)- Actor Glenn Ford, who played strong, thoughtful protagonists in films such as “The Blackboard Jungle,” “Gilda” and “The Big Heat,” died Wednesday, police said. He was 90.
Paramedics called to Ford’s home just before 4 p.m. found Ford dead, police Sgt. Terry Nutall said, reading a prepared statement. “They do not suspect foul play,” he said.
Ford suffered a series of strokes in the 1990s.
“It comes to mind instantly what a remarkable actor he was,” actor Sidney Poitier, who also starred in “The Blackboard Jungle,” said Wednesday evening. “He had those magical qualities that are intangible but are quite impactful on the screen. He was a movie star.”
Failing health forced Ford to skip a 90th birthday tribute on May 1 at Hollywood’s historic Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. But he did send greetings via videotape, adding, “I wish I were up and around, but I’m doing the best that I can.... There’s so much I have to be grateful for.”
At the event, Shirley Jones, who co-starred with him in the comedy “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” called Ford “one of the cornerstones of our industry, and there aren’t many left.”
Ford appeared in scores of films during his 53-year Hollywood career. The Film Encyclopedia, a reference book, lists 85 films from 1939 to 1991.
He was cast usually as the handsome tough, but his acting talents ranged from romance to comedy. His more famous credits include “Superman,” “Gilda,” “The Sheepman,” “The Gazebo,” “Pocketful of Miracles” and “Don’t Go Near the Water.”
No stranger to the saddle
An avid horseman and former polo player, Ford appeared in a number of Westerns, “3:10 to Yuma,” “Cowboy,” “The Rounders,” “Texas,” “The Fastest Gun Alive” and the remake of “Cimarron” among them. His talents included lighter parts, with roles in “The Teahouse of August Moon” and “It Started With a Kiss.”
On television, he appeared in “Cade’s County,” “The Family Holvak,” “Once an Eagle” and “When Havoc Struck.” He starred in the feature film “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” which later became a TV series featuring Bill Bixby.
A tireless worker, Ford often made several films a year, Ford continued working well into his 70s. In 1992, though, he was hospitalized for more than two months for blood clots and other ailments, and at one point was in critical condition
“Noel Coward once told me, ‘You will know you’re old when you cease to be amazed.’ Well, I can still be amazed,” Ford said in a 1981 interview with The Associated Press.
After getting his start in theater in the 1930s, he got a break when he was signed by Columbia Pictures mogul Harry Cohn.
In 1940, he appeared in five films, including “Blondie Plays Cupid” and “Babies for Sale.” After serving with the Marines during World War II, Ford starred in 1946 as a small-time gambler in “Gilda,” opposite Rita Hayworth.
The film about frustrated romance and corruption in postwar Argentina became a film noir classic. Hayworth plays Ford’s former love, a sometime nightclub singer married to a casino operator, and she sizzles onscreen performing “Put the Blame on Mame.”
Ford speaks the memorable voiceover in the opening scene: “To me a dollar was a dollar in any language. It was my first night in the Argentine and I didn’t know much about the local citizens. But I knew about American sailors, and I knew I’d better get out of there.”
Two years later he made “The Loves of Carmen,” also with Hayworth.
“It was one of the greatest mistakes I ever made, embarrassing,” Ford said of the latter film. “But it was worth it, just to work with her again.”
Among his competitors for leading roles was William Holden. Both actors, Ford said, would stuff paper in their shoes to appear taller than the other. “Finally, neither of us could walk, so we said the hell with it.”
Ford also played against Bette Davis in “A Stolen Life.”
‘He was truly gifted’
One of his best-known roles was in the 1955 “The Blackboard Jungle,” where he portrayed a young, soft-spoken teacher in a slum school who inspires a class full of juvenile delinquents to care about life.
“We did a film together, and it was for me a great experience because I had always admired his work,” recalled Poitier. “When I saw him in films I had always marveled at the subtlety of his work. He was truly gifted.”
In “The Big Heat,” 1953, a gritty crime story, Ford played a police detective.
“Acting is just being truthful,” he once said. “I have to play myself. I’m not an actor who can take on another character, like Laurence Olivier. The worst thing I could do would be to play Shakespeare.”
He was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford on May 1, 1916, in Quebec, the son of a railroad executive. The first name reflected his family’s Welsh roots. When Ford joined Columbia, Cohn asked him to change his name to John Gower; Ford refused but switched his first name to Glenn, after his father’s birthplace of Glenford.
He moved to Southern California at 8 and promptly fell in love with show business, even sneaking onto a Culver City studio lot at night. He took to the stage at Santa Monica High School. His first professional job was as a searchlight operator in front of a movie house.
He started his career in theater, as an actor with West Coast stage companies and as Tallulah Bankhead’s stage manager in New York. In 1939, he made his first Hollywood film opposite Jean Rogers in the romance “Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence.”
His director, Ricardo Cortez, told Ford he would never amount to anything and the actor returned to New York. He didn’t stay away from Hollywood long, though, signing a 14-year contract with Columbia Pictures.
He married actress-dancer Eleanor Powell in 1943; the two divorced in 1959. They had a son, Peter. A 1965 marriage to actress Kathryn Hays ended quickly. In 1977, he married model Cynthia Hayward, 32 years his junior. They were divorced in 1984.
8/11/06 - Mike Douglas - WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Mike Douglas, who drew on his affable personality and singing talent during 21 years as a talk show host, died Friday on his 81st birthday, his wife said.
He died at 5:30 a.m. in a Palm Beach Gardens hospital, said his wife, Genevieve Douglas. She wasn't sure of the cause, but said he had been admitted Thursday.
Douglas became dehydrated on the golf course a few weeks ago and had been treated on and off since. "He was coming along fine, we thought. It was really a shock," she said. "We never anticipated this to happen."
Douglas' afternoon show, which aired from 1961 to 1982, featured his ballad and big-band singing style, other musicians, comedians, sports figures and political personalities, including seven former, sitting or future presidents.
"People still believe 'The Mike Douglas Show' was a talk show, and I never correct them, but I don't think so," Douglas said in his 1999 memoir, "I'll Be Right Back: Memories of TV's Greatest Talk Show."
"It was really a music show, with a whole lot of talk and laughter in between numbers."
Douglas did about 6,000 syndicated shows, most 90 minutes long, and estimated that at its peak the show was seen in about 230 cities.
Tom Kelly, who co-authored Douglas' memoir, said he had about 30,000 guests appear on his show over the years.
"One big key to his great success was he had his ego in check," Kelly said. "He always let the guest have the limelight. He was a fine performer. He could sing, he could do comedy, he did it all, but he always gave the guest the spotlight."
Douglas was among the "early settlers" in daytime talk shows, said Robert Thompson, a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
"Mike Douglas was an old-fashioned traditionalist, holding down the fort while the culture was changing," Thompson said. "He was always the very friendly talk show host, nice to everybody. He would lean toward his guest as if he really cared. He owned that territory."
Hosts Phil Donahue, Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin also found success about the same time. Douglas said in his book that people often confused him with Griffin, another singer of Irish heritage. (Douglas was born Michael Delaney Dowd Jr. in Chicago, Illinois.)
Douglas fondly recalled when Tiger Woods, who as a preschooler was already drawing attention, appeared on the same 1978 show as Bob Hope, an avid golfer. "I don't know what kind of drugs they've got this kid on," Hope quipped, "but I want some."
Douglas was genial most of the time -- he was nicknamed "the Cary Grant of the coffee break," according to Allmusic.com -- but confided in his memoir that his composure was sorely tested one week in 1972 when former Beatle John Lennon and wife, Yoko Ono, were his unlikely guest hosts. One of the guest celebrities they selected was well-known anti-war activist Jerry Rubin.
"He just got on my nerves. It sounded like this guy hated the president, the Congress, everyone in business, the military, all police and just about everything America stands for," Douglas said.
He recalled becoming confrontational with Rubin. But Lennon "picked up the mantle of Kind and Gentle Host, and he did it quite well, reinterpreting Jerry's comments to take some of the sting out and adding a little humor to keep things cool," Douglas said.
Douglas also had a number of hit singles, first with Kay Kyser's big band -- he was a featured performer on the radio and eventual television program, "Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge" -- and later on his own. "The Men in My Little Girl's Life" hit the top 10 in 1966.
As the rock 'n' roll era began to emerge in the late 1950s, his style became less marketable, so he started looking for a way to energize his career.
He briefly hosted "Hi, Ladies!", a daytime television program on WGN in Chicago. In 1961, Woody Fraser, a Westinghouse Group W program director who had known Douglas in Chicago, recruited him to a Group W station in Cleveland (then KYW) to host a talk and entertainment program.
The show syndicated starting in 1963 but had a limited budget, and Cleveland was not a frequent destination for well-known potential guests. The show moved to Philadelphia in 1965 and to Los Angeles in 1978.
Three years later, Group W replaced Douglas with a younger singer, John Davidson. "The Mike Douglas Show" continued in syndication under Douglas' control until he retired in 1982 to North Palm Beach, Florida. Douglas appeared as a guest on several talk shows but spent much of his leisure time on the golf course.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, but surgery was successful.
7/25/06 - Mako
- LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Mako, the Japan-born actor who used his Oscar nomination for the 1966 film "The Sand Pebbles" to push for better roles for Asian-American actors, has died. He was 72.
Mako, whose birth name was Makoto Iwamatsu, died Friday of esophageal cancer at his home in Somis, California, said Tim Dang, artistic director of East West Players, the Asian American theater company Mako co-founded in 1965.
In an acting career that spanned more than four decades, Mako was a familiar face in film and television, sometimes playing roles that stereotyped Asians. His TV roles included appearances on "I Spy," "M*A*S*H," "and "Walker, Texas Ranger."
In films, he was a Japanese admiral in 2001's "Pearl Harbor," a Singaporean in 1997's "Seven Years in Tibet," and played Akiro the wizard in "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer" with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On Broadway, his multiple roles as reciter, shogun, emperor and an American businessman in Stephen Sondheim's 1976 musical "Pacific Overtures" earned him a Tony Award nomination for best actor in a musical.
His portrayal of a Chinese laborer in "The Sand Pebbles," starring Steve McQueen, earned him a best supporting actor Oscar nomination. (The film has a whole Web site devoted to it.)
Mako used the prominence the Oscar nomination gave him to address the dearth of parts for Asian Americans in general. As artistic director of East West Players, Mako staged classics such as Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and Chekhov's "Three Sisters."
In 1981, he devoted the entire season to plays pertaining to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to coincide with the start of a national discussion on internment reparations.
7/13/06 - Red Buttons - (AP) Red Buttons, the carrot-topped burlesque comedian who became a top star
in early television then went dramatic to win the 1957 Oscar as supporting actor in "Sayonara," died Thursday. He was 87.
Buttons died of vascular disease at his home in the Century City area of Los
Angeles, publicist Warren Cowan said. He had been ill for some time, and was with family members when he died, Cowan said.
With his eager manner and rapid-fire wit, Buttons excelled in every phase of
show business, from the Borscht Belt of the 1930s to celebrity roasts in the
His greatest achievement came with his "Sayonara" role as Sgt. Joe Kelly, the
soldier in the occupation forces in Japan whose romance with a Japanese woman
(Myoshi Umeki, who also won an Academy Award) ends in tragedy.
Josh Logan, who directed the James Michener story that starred Marlon Brando,
was at first hesitant to cast a well-known comedian in such a somber role.
"The tests were so extensive that they could just put scenery around them and
release the footage as a feature film," Buttons remarked.
Buttons' Academy Award led to other films, both dramas and comedies. They
included "Imitation General," "The Big Circus," "Hatari!" "The Longest Day," "Up
From the Beach," "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" "The Poseidon Adventure,"
"Gable and Lombard" and "Pete's Dragon."
A performer since his teens, Buttons was noticed by burlesque theater owners and he became the youngest comic on the circuit. He had graduated to small roles on Broadway before being drafted in 1943.
7/10/06 - June Allyson - (AP) LOS ANGELES - June Allyson, the sunny, cracked-voiced "perfect wife"of James Stewart, Van Johnson and other movie heroes, has died, her daughter Pamela Allyson Powell said Monday. She was 88.
7/3/06 - Jan Murray
Allyson died Saturday at her home in Ojai, with her husband of
nearly 30 years, David Ashrow, at her side, Powell said. She died of
pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis after a long
During World War II, American GIs pinned up photos of Rita Hayworth
and Betty Grable, but June Allyson was the girl they wanted to come
home to. Petite, blond and alive with fresh-faced optimism, she
seemed the ideal sweetheart and wife, supporting and unthreatening.
"I had the most wonderful last meeting with June at her house in
Ojai. We had gotten lost in the car. She told me: `I could wait for
you forever.' We were such dear friends. I will miss her," lifelong
friend Esther Williams said.
With typical wonderment, Allyson expressed surprise in a 1986
interview that she had ever become a movie star:
"I have big teeth. I lisp. My eyes disappear when I smile. My voice
is funny. I don't sing like Judy Garland. I don't dance like
Cyd Charisse. But women identify with me. And while men desire Cyd
Charisse, they'd take me home to meet mom."
LOS ANGELES - Jan Murray, one of the fabled generation of comics who
rose from the Catskills to prime time TV, tickling fans of the 1950s
game show "Treasure Hunt," has died. He was 89.
Murray, who appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, died Sunday at
his home in Beverly Hills, son Howard Murray said in a telephone
"Treasure Hunt" ran from 1956 to 1959 in both daytime and prime time
versions, first on ABC and later on NBC. The contestant who won a
quiz got to pick among treasure chests, which contained
anything "from a head of cabbage to a check for a large sum of
money," according to the book "The Complete Directory to Prime Time
Network TV Shows."
Born Murray Janofsky on Oct. 4, 1916, in New York, Murray honed his
craft by watching vaudeville shows and performing at Catskills
resorts that catered to the crowds of Jewish vacationers.
As a resort's resident "tummler," he was expected to entertain guests
all day, not just on the stage at night, he told The Jewish Journal
of Greater Los Angeles in 2002.
"In the morning, the fat ladies in the exercise room," Murray
said. "I'd pass by and do shtick." But it wasn't tiring, he insisted.
"Until I was 80, I wasn't exhausted," he said. "Theres no medicine
like being on stage hearing people laugh."
Among the other veterans of that vanished show business training
ground were Mel Brooks, Red Buttons, Sid Caesar
and the late Buddy Hackett.
Murray went on to host a string of game shows in the 1950s,
including "Dollar a Second," before moving to Los Angeles to pursue
an acting career.
Among the movies he appeared in were "The Busy Body," "Who Killed
Teddy Bear" and, in a small role, Brooks' "History of the World Part
He also served as a guest host on "The Tonight Show" and did many
guest shots in 1960s and '70s TV series, including "Love, American
Style," "The Name of the Game" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
Murray, who retired 10 years ago, balanced his work with a rich
family life, his son said.
"He was a person who fully loved his life and wanted to continue as
long as he could," his son said.
In addition to son Howard, Murray is survived by his wife, Toni; son
Warren; daughters, Diane and Celia; eight grandchildren; and two
6/28/06 - Moose - LOS ANGELES (AP) - The scrappy dog known as Eddie on TV's "Frasier"
has died. The 16-year-old Jack Russell terrier, whose real name was
Moose, passed away of old age Thursday at the Los Angeles home of
trainer Mathilde Halberg, Halberg told People magazine.
The canine character Eddie drove Kelsey Grammer's lead character
crazy for 10 years on the show.
It wasn't all acting on Moose's part, though. He was
naturally "extremely mischievous," Halberg said.
His contribution to the show's and Grammer's success was publicly
noted by the actor when he accepted a 1994 Emmy for best actor in a
"Most important, Moose, this is for you," Grammer added good
Moose, who also played the older dog Skip in the 2000 film "My Dog
Skip," was retired in recent years.
6/23/06 - Aaron Spelling - (AP) Prolific television producer Aaron Spelling, whose shows such as
"Beverly Hills 90210" and "Dynasty" helped shape U.S. prime-time television, died on Friday, days after suffering a stroke, his publicist said. He was 83.
Spokesman Kevin Sasaki said Spelling died at his home in Los Angeles about
6:25 p.m. local time. He had been hospitalized briefly after a stroke over the
Among Spelling's other television shows were "Fantasy Island," "Starsky and
Hutch," "Hart to Hart, "Charlie's Angels," and "Love Boat." He is survived by
his wife, Candy, daughter Tori Spelling, who starred on 'Beverly Hills 90210,"
and son Randy Spelling, also an actor.
Spelling, a decorated war veteran, lifted himself out of poverty to become one
of the richest and most powerful men in Hollywood. The Texas native was listed
in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most prolific producer.
For better or worse, few people did more to influence TV viewers' habits --
and perhaps to shape the international view of American culture -- than
Spelling. Although his shows were created by other people, Spelling was a
hands-on producer who helped craft storylines and character development.
Many of Spelling's shows offered a glimpse of fabulously wealthy and
photogenic people whose lives were often miserable, a reminder that the grass is
not always greener on the other side. The same could be said about his own life.
Shy and reclusive, he rarely left his 123-room mansion in the exclusive Los
Angeles suburb of Holmby Hills.
Never shy about his shows' cultural import, he once dubbed them "mind candy."
But he also helped bring some significant works to the small screen, among them
the AIDS-themed TV movie "And the Band Played On" and the dramatic series
AARON"S BROADCASTING COMPANY
Born in Dallas, Texas on April 22, 1923, the son of impoverished Russian and
Polish immigrants, Spelling was taunted during his childhood for his Jewish
roots. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1945, and was honored with a
Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart.
He began his Hollywood career in 1953 as an actor, playing villains and losers
in TV Westerns like "Gunsmoke," an unusual career choice for a painfully shy and
He quickly decided he was better off behind the camera, working as a writer
and then as a producer. His first major hit came in 1963 with "Burke's Law,"
which starred Gene Barry as a millionaire detective. Spelling tapped into the
counter-culture with "The Mod Squad," an action series about three young
delinquents who become crime-fighters. It ran on ABC from 1968 to 1973.
Soon, Spelling virtually owned primetime at ABC -- dubbed Aaron's Broadcasting
Company. During the 1980s, he was the king of soaps with "Dynasty," a rip-off of
"Dallas," which made Joan Collins a star for her portrayal of the bitchy Alexis.
After a fallow period, Spelling bounced back in 1990 with "Beverly Hills,
90210," which followed the travails of fresh-faced teens in America's most
exclusive zip code. The show co-starred his daughter, Tori, as the virginal
"Melrose Place," which revolved around young adults in a West Hollywood
apartment complex, followed in 1992, making a star out of villainous vixen
Spelling found one of his greatest successes with "7th Heaven," about a church
minister's family. It just began its 10th season on the WB Network.
5/29/06 - Paul Gleason - BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - Paul Gleason, who played the go-to bad guy in
"Trading Places" and the angry high school principal in "The Breakfast Club," has died. He was 67.
Gleason died at a local hospital Saturday of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung
cancer linked to asbestos, said his wife, Susan Gleason.
"Whenever you were with Paul, there was never a dull moment," his wife said. "He
A native of Miami, Gleason was an avid athlete. Before becoming an actor, he
played Triple-A minor league baseball for a handful of clubs in the late 1950s.
Gleason honed his acting skills with his mentor Lee Strasberg, whom he studied
with at the Actors Studio beginning in the mid-1960s, family members said.
Through his career, Gleason appeared in over 60 movies that included "Die
Hard,""Johnny Be Good," and "National Lampoon's Van Wilder." Most recently,
Gleason made a handful of television appearances in hit shows such as "Friends"
Gleason's passions went beyond acting. He had recently published a book of
"He was an athlete, an actor and a poet," said his daughter, Shannon
Gleason-Grossman. "He gave me and my sister a love that is beyond description
that will be with us and keep us strong for the rest of our lives."
Actor Jimmy Hawkins, a friend of Gleason's since the 1960s, said he remembered
Gleason for a sharp sense of humor.
"He just always had great stories to tell," Hawkins said.
Gleason was survived by his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter. Funeral
plans were pending.
5/17/06 - Lew Anderson - (NYT) Lew Anderson, whose considerable success as a musician, arranger
and bandleader paled before the celebrity he achieved as Clarabell the Clown, Howdy Doody's sidekick on one of television's first children's shows, died on Sundayin Hawthorne, N.Y.
He was 84, but always felt he was around 25, his son Christopher said. His
father died of complications of prostate cancer, he added.
"Well, his feet are big, his tummy's stout, but we could never do without,"
Buffalo Bob Smith and the Kids of the Peanut Gallery sang in appreciation of his
character, in a baggy, striped costume, who communicated by honking a horn for
yes and no, Harpo Marx style.
Other times, Clarabell the Clown made his feelings known by spraying Buffalo
Bob with seltzer, or playing a trick on him that everybody but Bob figured out
Before there was Big Bird, Barney or SpongeBob, there was Howdy Doody and his
friends in Doodyville. Baby boomers grew up with "The Howdy Doody Show," which
began in December 1947 at a time when only 20,000 homes in the country had
television sets. It was the first network weekday children's show, the first to
last more than 1,000 episodes and NBC's first regularly scheduled show to be
broadcast in color.
When it ended on Sept. 24, 1960, after 2,243 episodes, it was Clarabell who
had the show's last words. Since until then he had only honked, they were also
his first words.
The camera moved in for a close-up of Mr. Anderson, who had a visible tear in
his eye. A drum roll grew louder and then died. With quivering lips, Clarabell
whispered, "Goodbye, kids."
When Lewis Burr Anderson was born on May 7, 1922, in Kirkman, Iowa, nobody
envisioned he would become a clownish celebrity. He was not the first Clarabell:
that was Bob Keeshan, later known as Captain Kangaroo. He was not even the
second Clarabell. That was Bobby Nicholson, who went on to play J. Cornelius
Cobb on the show.
What seems certain is that Mr. Anderson was Clarabell for an overwhelming
majority of "Howdy Doody" shows from 1954 to 1960. In the opinion of Buffalo Bob
Smith, who originated and starred in the show, he was also by far the best,
according to Mr. Smith's memoir.
Mr. Anderson's father was a railroad telegrapher. He began playing his
sister's clarinet when she tired of it, and soon had his own band. He attended
junior college in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Drake University in Des Moines. He
enlisted in the Navy during World War II and started a band between battles in
the Pacific theater.
After leaving the service, toured the Midwest with bands, honing his talent
for arranging and composing music. In the late 1940's, he joined the Honey
Dreamers, a singing group that appeared on radio and early television shows like
"The Ed Sullivan Show." The group appeared on a musical variety television show
Mr. Smith produced for NBC.
When the Clarabell part opened up on Mr. Smith's other show, "Howdy Doody,"
Mr. Smith and the other producers asked Mr. Anderson if he could juggle. "No."
Dance? "No." Magic tricks? "No." What can you do? "Nothing."
"Perfect, you start tomorrow," Mr. Smith said.
At first, Mr. Anderson saw Clarabell simply as a job paying more than $400 a
week. Then, he began to be mobbed at personal appearances, and his fame lasted
decades after the last broadcast. Mr. Anderson later profited from writing
advertising jingles, but live music remained his passion. He formed his
All-American Big Band, expert musicians from recording studios and Broadway
shows, playing a book of 300 songs, a quarter of which he wrote himself. The
band plans to play its regular gig this Friday at the Birdland jazz club in
In 1990 John S. Wilson wrote in The New York Times, "Mr. Anderson's band is
not merely recalling the days of great swing bands; it is doing so with
freshness, polish and originality."
Mr. Anderson, who lived in South Salem, N.Y., is survived by his wife, Peggy;
his sons Christopher, of Ridgefield, Conn., and Lewis Jr., of Providence, R.I.;
and five grandchildren.
In 1987 Mr. Smith recalled the day Clarabell said goodbye. Unlike the first
broadcasts, which were live, it had been taped earlier. When it was broadcast,
he watched it with his family. "I looked at my son and he was crying," Mr. Smith
said. "I looked at my wife and she was crying. I went straight to the country
club where I played golf and shot the worst round of my life."
5/12/06 - Larry Attebery - (LAT) Larry Attebery, an award-winning broadcast journalist who covered Los
Angeles for more than three decades, including stints as anchor and news director at KTTV-TV Channel 11 and as a reporter for KCOP-TV Channel 13, has died. He was 73.
Attebery, who retired in 2001, died May 5 at a hospital in Henderson, Nev.,
after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said.
The Chicago-born Attebery began his broadcast career in 1960 at WBBM-AM (780),
the CBS affiliate in Chicago, where he worked as a reporter and anchored a
popular call-in program.
From 1965 to 1967, he anchored "Today in Chicago" and "Larry Attebery's Private
Line" for WMAQ-TV Channel 5. He also produced and anchored a series of half-hour
specials for NBC that earned him a local Emmy Award.
Arriving in Los Angeles in 1968, Attebery became the morning drive co-anchor for
KNX-AM (1070), which had just switched to an all-news format. In 1973, he joined
KTTV's "On Target" investigative team and was later promoted to principal news
anchor. In 1983, he became the news director at KTTV.
"He not only was a damn good street reporter, but he was a good writer, a good
producer and, on top of that, a damn good director of news," TV news veteran
George Putnam, who worked with Attebery at KTTV, told the Los Angeles Times on
"He was incisive in his approach to news, and he was a tough master," Putnam
said. "If he differed with you, and he was on firm ground, he let you know it.
He was preeminently fair, however. And you listened to Larry, because he had
done it himself."
While reporting for KCOP from 1988 to 2001, Attebery covered the criminal and
civil trials of O.J. Simpson, delivered a series of "insider" political reports
on the California primary and general elections, and covered the Los Angeles
Police Department corruption scandal.
"He was a gentleman," said TV news reporter Hal Eisner, who worked with Attebery
at KTTV and KCOP. "The guy was polite but aggressive. He knew how to go out and
get a story, but he was nice about it.
"He was a very familiar person to all in Los Angeles for a very long time."
Attebery won more than 50 local and national awards, including three local
Emmys, seven Golden Mikes and eight from the Los Angeles Press Club. In 1999, he
received the Edward R. Murrow Award for his series of reports on construction of
the troubled Belmont Learning Center.
Attebery, a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism
who served as a journalist during a stint in the Navy, was a past president of
the Los Angeles Press Club and of the Radio and Television News Assn. of
Attebery also wrote, with Marvin J. Wolf, the 1993 book "Family Blood: The True
Story of the Yom Kippur Murders."
He is survived by his wife, Carol; two daughters, Tara Phelps and Michelle
Attebery; a sister, Donna Attebery; and two grandchildren.
Instead of flowers, donations can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action
Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245.
5/3/06 - Earl Woods - (AP) Earl Woods, who was more determined to raise a good son than a great golfer and became the architect and driving force behind Tiger Woods' phenomenal career, died Wednesday morning at his home in Cypress,
Calif. He was 74.
"My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss
him deeply," Tiger Woods said on his Web site. "I'm overwhelmed when
I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He
was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I
wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honored to continue
his legacy of sharing and caring."
A habitual smoker who had heart bypass surgery in 1986, Woods was
diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998 and was treated with
radiation, but the cancer returned in 2004 and spread throughout his
Last month, he was too frail to travel to the Masters for the first
The last tournament Woods attended was the Target World Challenge in
December 2004, when his son rallied to win and then donated $1.25
million to the Tiger Woods Foundation that his father helped him
establish. The Tiger Woods Learning Center, another vision inspired
by his father, opened in February.
Earl Woods was more than a golf dad, more than a zealous father who
lived vicariously through his son's achievements.
He had played catcher for Kansas State, the first black to play
baseball in the Big Eight Conference, and he had been a Green Beret
for two tours in Vietnam. But he felt his true purpose was to train
Tiger, and he watched his son evolve into the dominant player of his
time -- the youngest player to win the career Grand Slam -- and one
of the most celebrated athletes in the world.
"I knew Tiger was special the day he was born," Woods said in a May
2000 interview with The Associated Press.
Woods introduced Tiger to golf by swinging a club as his son watched
in a high chair. Tiger appeared on the "Mike Douglas Show" at age 2,
played exhibitions with Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus, and his
television appeal was solely responsible for quantum gains in PGA
Tour prize money.
Even so, Woods said he never intended to create a champion golfer.
"I make it very, very clear that my purpose in raising Tiger was not
to raise a golfer. I wanted to raise a good person," Woods told Golf
Digest magazine about his book, "Training a Tiger: A Father's Guide
to Raising a Winner in Both Golf and Life."
Woods gave his son freedom to develop a love for golf on his own, not
letting him play unless his homework was done, making him call his
father at work to ask if they could practice. Along with the games
they played, Woods taught him to be mentally strong by jingling
change in his pockets and warning him of water hazards when his son
was in the middle of his swing.
It all worked.
Tiger Woods set records that might never be broken by winning three
straight U.S. Junior titles, followed by three straight U.S.
Amateurs. In 10 years as a pro, he already has won 48 times on the
PGA Tour with 10 major championships, and he set a PGA Tour record by
going seven years and 142 consecutive events making the cut.
In the forward to his father's book, Woods said: "In retrospect, golf
for me was an apparent attempt to emulate the person I looked up to
more than anyone: my father. He was instrumental in helping me
develop the drive to achieve, but his role -- as well as my mother's -
- was one of support and guidance, not interference."
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Woods will be remembered for
providing Tiger every opportunity "to become the world's best golfer
and an outstanding representative of the game and its values."
Foremost for Earl Woods was raising a son who could influence life
beyond golf. Woods was black and his wife, Kultida, whom he met
during one of his tours to Vietnam, was Thai and Chinese.
Tiger Woods won twice in his first seven PGA Tour events after
turning pro in 1996 at age 20 and was named Sports Illustrated
Sportsman of the Year. Woods predicted greatness for Tiger on and off
the course, telling the magazine that his son "will do more than any
other man in history to change the course of humanity."
"He's the bridge between the East and the West," the father
said. "There is no limit because he has the guidance. I don't know
yet exactly what form this will take. But he is the Chosen One. He'll
have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is
just getting a taste of his power."
Perhaps the lasting image of Earl Woods came the next spring, at the
1997 Masters, when he stepped onto the 18th green and wrapped his
arms around a 21-year-old son who shattered records at Augusta
National, a watershed victory that changed the appeal of golf and
sent him to the greatness his father had always predicted.
Earl Woods was born March 5, 1932, in Manhattan, Kan., the youngest
of six children. His parents died by the time he was 13.
His father wanted him to play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the
Negro Leagues, and his mother stressed education. Woods wound up
going to Kansas State, graduating in 1953 with a degree is sociology.
Woods did two tours during the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S.
Army Special Forces, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. It was
his second tour that shaped the latter part of his life.
He met Kultida Punsawad, who was working as a receptionist in
Thailand, and married her in 1969. He fought alongside Lt. Col.
Nguyen T. Phong of the South Vietnamese army, a friend he
nicknamed "Tiger" because of his courage and bravery. Woods promised
Tiger Phong that he would name a son after him.
Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was born Dec. 30, 1975.
Earl Woods moved to Cypress, Calif., -- to the house where he died --
and set up a makeshift practice range in the garage with a mat and a
net, placing his son in a high chair as he practiced.
The education went beyond swinging a club.
"I tried to break him down mentally, tried to intimidate him
verbally, by saying, 'Water on the right, OB on the left,' just
before his downswing," Woods once said in an AP interview. "He would
look at me with the most evil look, but he wasn't permitted to say
anything. That's the frustration. He couldn't say a word, but he
always had an escape word. He never used it.
"One day I did all my tricks, and he looked at me and smiled," Woods
said. "At the end of the round, I told him, 'Tiger, you've completed
the training.' And I made him a promise. 'You'll never run into
another person as mentally tough as you.' He hasn't. And he won't."
Woods was proud of saying he never left his son with a babysitter,
but his goal was to eventually let Tiger run his own life.
"I had pulled back, one item at a time," Woods once told the
AP. "Instead of going to several tournaments, it was a couple of
tournaments, then one tournament. All of a sudden, he was running
everything. I stood there and watched it happen. Because that was my
job -- to prepare him to leave."
Besides his wife and Tiger, Woods is survived by three children from
his previous marriage.
4/28/06 - Steve Howe - (AP) Steve Howe, the relief pitcher whose promising career was derailed by cocaine and alcohol abuse, died Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella. He was 48.
Howe was killed at 5:55 a.m. Friday morning, Dalyn Backes of the Riverside
County coroner's office said. The accident occurred about 130 miles east of Los
Angeles. Howe was the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers, and helped
them win the World Series the next year.
But for all of Howe's success on the field, the hard-throwing lefty was
constantly troubled by addictions - he was suspended seven times and became a
symbol of the rampant cocaine problem that plagued baseball in the 1980s.
"Steve played for me for five years and I thought the world of him," former
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "I am truly sorry to hear about his passing
and my deepest sympathies go out to his family."There was a moment of silence
at Yankee Stadium before New York played Toronto on Friday night. Howe played
for the Yankees from 1991-1996. Howe was 47-41 with 91 saves and a 3.03 ERA
with the Dodgers, Minnesota, Texas and Yankees. His final season in the majors
was 1996, and the Yankees released him in June. Two days after the Yankees let
him go, Howe was arrested at a Delta Airlines terminal at New York's John F.
Kennedy International Airport when a loaded .357 Magnum was detected inside his
suitcase. He later pleaded guilty to gun possession and was placed on three years probation and given 150 hours of community service. Howe tried a comeback in 1997 with Sioux Falls of the independent Northern League. In August, he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in Montana and charged with drunken driving.
4/21/06 - Amanda Duff Dunne - (AP) Amanda Duff Dunne, a former actress and the widow of distinguished
screenwriter and film director Philip Dunne, whose bluff-top house in Malibu was a social and political gathering spot for the elite of Hollywood for many years, has died. She was 92.
Dunne died of cancer April 6 at her home in an assisted-living residence in San
Francisco, said her daughter, Miranda Dunne Parry.
Born Amanda Duff in Fresno on March 6, 1914, and raised in Santa Barbara, Dunne
studied music at Mills College in Oakland before moving to New York City to
study piano. While appearing in an amateur play, she was spotted by playwright
Robert E. Sherwood, who cast her as the young lead in the comedy "Tovarich" on
Broadway in 1936.
The play was a hit, and Dunne was offered a contract with 20th Century Fox.
As Amanda Duff, she appeared in half a dozen films between 1938 and 1941,
including "Just Around the Corner" with Shirley Temple, "Mr. Moto in Danger
Island" with Peter Lorre and "The Devil Commands" with Boris Karloff.
While working on the Fox lot, she met Philip Dunne, one of Hollywood's top
writers, whose later credits included "How Green Was My Valley," "The Ghost and
Mrs. Muir," "Pinky" and "The Robe."
The Dunnes were married in 1939 and had three daughters.
After World War II, they built their Malibu home on nine acres overlooking the
ocean — around the same time that Philip Dunne, along with directors William
Wyler and John Huston, formed the Committee for the First Amendment to protest
the procedures of the House Un-American Activities Committee and "to head off
blacklisting and censorship" in Hollywood.
"Their house was kind of an ad hoc center for liberal Hollywood," said
screenwriter and novelist David Freeman, a longtime friend. "Political meetings
were held there for both local issues and big national issues — the war in
Vietnam, for instance. It's a way of Hollywood life that we just don't have now,
and I don't think it will come again.
"Whenever their names come up now among Hollywood people old enough to remember,
it's the house and the life in that house that come to mind."
And, Freeman said, "it was a great romance that Phil and Amanda lived."
Most mornings, Freeman said, "they would play the recorder together. Sometimes
they'd go out on the bluff looking out to the sea and just play old ballads to
"It felt like one was watching a first date that was going really well. They'd
been married 40 years at that point. They were wonderfully suited together."
Amanda Duff Dunne, who was known for her sense of humor, winning laugh and
adventurous spirit, learned to fly in the late 1930s. She also was active in
local Democratic politics, the League of Women Voters and the Audubon Society.
After she quit acting in the early 1940s, she turned to photography. Her
photographs of American children were part of designers Charles and Ray Eames'
multiscreen presentation, "Glimpses of the USA," shown at the American National
Exhibition in Moscow in 1959.
Philip Dunne died in 1992.
In addition to her daughter Miranda, Dunne is survived by her other daughters,
Philippa Dunne and Jessica Dunne; her brother, George T. Duff; and two
A private memorial service will be held.
The family suggests that donations be made to Amnesty International.
4/20/06 - Scott Brazil - (AP) Emmy-winning producer-director Scott Brazil, whose television shows
included "The Shield" and "Hill Street Blues," has died. He was 50.
Brazil died Monday of respiratory failure due to Lou Gehrig's disease and lyme
disease complications, FX Networks spokesman John Solberg said Wednesday.
Brazil was executive producer of "The Shield," the first original drama series
on FX Networks, and he directed 11 episodes. Brazil and "Shield" creator and
executive producer Shawn Ryan won the 2002 Golden Globe for drama series.
Although his condition had worsened, Brazil used a motorized wheelchair to go
about his duties as "The Shield" producer-director, Ryan said.
"He worked (last) Thursday, working to the very last day, talking to the
writers, doing casting and prepping our next episode," Ryan said Wednesday.
"That's what made all this so stunning for us. We're kind of shocked."
Shooting on the set of "The Shield" continued on schedule Tuesday in tribute
"I think everyone would have felt lost if they went home and had to deal with
this and had nothing to do," Ryan said.
"This was really one of the great guys of Hollywood," he added.
Brazil also directed episodes of "Nip/Tuck," "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI: Miami,"
"NCIS," "JAG," "Nash Bridges" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." He also directed
the pilot of "Playmakers" for ESPN.
As a producer on NBC's "Hill Street Blues," Brazil won two Emmys for drama
series in 1983 and 1984, and a Golden Globe in 1983 for TV drama series.
Brazil graduated from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School
of Journalism and was a member of the Directors Guild and the Academy of
Television Arts & Sciences.
He is survived by his wife, Marie; daughter Lindsay, 15; son Mark, 11; his
father David; his mother Barbara; and brother Griff. A memorial service will be
held at 11 a.m. Friday at the television academy's Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre
in North Hollywood.
4/11/06 - June Pointer - (AP) June Pointer, the youngest of the singing Pointer Sisters known for the
1970s and 1980s hits "I'm So Excited," "Fire," and "Slow Hand," has died, her family said Wednesday. She was 52.
Pointer died of cancer Tuesday at Santa Monica University of California, Los
Angeles, Medical Center, the family said in a statement. She had been
hospitalized since late February and the type of cancer wasn't disclosed.
She died "in the arms of her sisters, Ruth and Anita and her brothers, Aaron
and Fritz, by her side," the family statement read. "Although her sister,
Bonnie, was unable to be present, she was with her in spirit."
The Pointer Sisters began as a quartet in the early 1970s with sisters Ruth,
Anita, Bonnie and June. The group became a trio when Bonnie embarked on a solo
The group's hits also included "He's So Shy," "Automatic" and "Jump (For My
The sisters, along with their two older brothers, grew up singing in the choir
of an Oakland church where their parents were ministers.
Bonnie and June formed a singing duo and began performing in clubs around the
San Francisco Bay area. Anita and Ruth later joined the group and together, they
sang backup for Taj Mahal, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop, among others.
Their first, self-titled album, "The Pointer Sisters," debuted in 1973 and the
song "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They followed up with the album
"That's A Plenty," which featured an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from
jazz to country and pop. They won the first of their three Grammy awards in 1974
for best country vocal performance by a group for the song "Fairytale."
Bonnie left the group in 1977, and the sisters recorded several more albums,
scoring several hit songs that became identified as the soundtrack of the 1980s.
The successful 1984 album "Break Out" earned two Grammy awards for the songs
"Automatic" and "Jump (For My Love)." The album's other hit song, "Neutron
Dance," was prominently featured in the movie "Beverly Hills Cop."
June recorded two solo albums, and later left the trio.
Anita and Ruth still perform under the group's name. Ruth's daughter, Issa
Pointer, is the trio's newest member.
Two years ago, June Pointer was charged with felony cocaine possession and
misdemeanor possession of a smoking device. She was ordered to a rehabilitation
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
4/2/06 - Gloria Monty - (AP) Gloria Monty, the executive producer of the ABC soap opera "General Hospital" who made the characters Luke and Laura global icons, died
Thursday of cancer in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Ms. Monty took over the reins of "General Hospital" in 1978, at a
time when the show was struggling. During her 10 years on "GH" she
updated the look of the soap opera, added more adventurous, even
outrageous, story lines and introduced younger characters, including
Luke and Laura Spencer, the first of a series of "super-couples" that
helped define the show.
"In the late 1970's, Gloria Monty transformed soap opera viewing from
a housewives' pastime to 'the' cool thing to do," veteran "GH"
actress Jane Elliot said in a release. "As I was a beneficiary of
that transformation, I will be eternally grateful and will miss her
terribly. I can't wait to see what she does with heaven."
Funeral arrangements are private. Ms. Monty is survived by her sister
3/25/06 - Buck Owens - (AP) Singer Buck Owens, the flashy rhinestone cowboy who shaped the sound
of country music with hits like "Act Naturally" and brought the genre to TV on thelong-running "Hee Haw," died Saturday. He was 76.
Owens died at his home, said family spokesman Jim Shaw. The cause of death was
not immediately known. Owens had undergone throat cancer surgery in 1993 and washospitalized with pneumonia in 1997.
His career was one of the most phenomenal in country music, with a string of
more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.
They were recorded with a honky-tonk twang that came to be known throughout
California as the "Bakersfield Sound," named for the town 100 miles north of Los
Angeles that Owens called home.
"I think the reason he was so well known and respected by a younger generation
of country musicians was because he was an innovator and rebel," said Shaw, who
played keyboards in Owens' band, the Buckaroos. "He did it out of the Nashville
establishment. He had a raw edge."
Owens was modest when describing his aspirations.
"I'd like to be remembered as a guy that came along and did his music, did his
best and showed up on time, clean and ready to do the job, wrote a few songs and
had a hell of a time," he said in 1992.
An indefatigable performer, Owens played a red, white and blue guitar with
fireball fervor. He and the Buckaroos wore flashy rhinestone suits in an era
when flash was as important to country music as fiddles.
Among his biggest hits were "Together Again" (also recorded by Emmylous
Harris), "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," "Love's Gonna Live Here," "My Heart
Skips a Beat" and "Waitin' in Your Welfare Line."
And he was the answer to this music trivia question: What country star had a
hit record that was later done by the Beatles?
"Those guys were phenomenal," Owens once said.
Ringo Starr recorded "Act Naturally" twice, singing lead on the Beatles' 1965
version and recording it as a duet with Owens in 1989.
In addition to music, Owens had a highly visible TV career as co-host of "Hee
Haw" from 1969 to 1986. With guitarist Roy Clark, he led viewers through a
potpourri of country music and hayseed humor.
"It's an honest show," Owens told The Associated Press in 1995. "There's no
social message — no crusade. It's fun and simple."
Owens himself could be rebellious, choosing among other things to label what
he did "American music" rather than country.
"I took a little heat," he once said. "People asked me, `Isn't country music
good enough for you?' "
He also criticized the syrupy arrangements of some country singers, saying
"assembly-line, robot music turns me off."
After his string of hits, Owens stayed away from the recording scene for a
decade, returning in 1988 to record another No. 1 record, "Streets of
Bakersfield," with Dwight Yoakam. He spent much of his time away concentrating
on his business interests, which included a Bakersfield TV station and radio
stations in Bakersfield and Phoenix. "I never wanted to hang around like the
punch-drunk fighter," he told The Associated Press in 1992. He had moved to
Bakersfield in 1951, hoping to find work in the thriving juke joints of what in
the years before suburban sprawl was a truck-stop town on Highway 99, between
Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. "We played rhumbas and tangos and
sambas, and we played Bob Wills music, lots of Bob Wills music," he said,
referring to the bandleader who was the king of Western swing. "And lots of
rock 'n' roll," he added. Owens started recording in the mid-1950s, but gained
little success until 1963 with "Act Naturally," his first No. 1
Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. was born in 1929 outside Sherman, Texas, the
son of a sharecropper. With opportunities scarce during the Depression, the
family moved to Arizona when he was 8. He dropped out of school at age 13 to
haul produce and harvest crops, and by 16 he was playing music in taverns. He
once told an audience, "When I was a little bitty kid, I used to dream about
playing the guitar and singing like some of those great people that we had the
old, thick records of." Owens' first wife, Bonnie Owens, sometimes performed
with him and went on to become a leading backup singer after their divorce in
1955. She had occasional solo hits in the '60s, as well as successful duets with
her second husband, Merle Haggard. One of her two sons with Owens also became
a singer, using the name Buddy Alan. He had a Top 10 hit in 1968, "Let the World
Keep on a-Turnin'," and recorded a number of duets with his father. In
addition to Buddy, he is survived by two other sons, Michael and John.
3/17/06 - Oleg Cassini - Oleg Cassini, who created a fashion powerhouse and helped make
Jacqueline Kennedy America's most glamorous first lady, died on Friday, his family said. He was 92.
Cassini's wife, Marianne, said the designer suffered a broken blood vessel in
his head and died in a Long Island hospital.
Born in Paris in April 1913 to an Italian countess and a Russian diplomat,
Cassini was raised in Italy and began his career in Europe, operating a fashion
boutique in Rome. He moved to the United States in 1936.
"He arrived with a tennis racket, a tuxedo and talent and he made it into an
empire," said Marianne Cassini, a former model and now president of Oleg Cassini
Cassini began designing costumes for Paramount Studios, taking advantage of a
social contact he made at a tennis tournament, his wife said.
He started with the film "I Wanted Wings," starring Veronica Lake, and went on
to dress some of Hollywood's most famous actresses, including Natalie Wood,
Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, to whom he was once engaged, and Gene Tierney, to
whom he was married from 1941 to 1952.
"He was a man's man and a ladies' man," Marianne Cassini said. "He was a
tremendous creator in women's wear and tremendously creative in men's wear."
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War Two, Cassini opened his own
design house in New York's Seventh Avenue fashion district.
His business grew to include two especially well-known clients -- Jacqueline
Kennedy and Johnny Carson, popular host of the "Tonight Show."
Marianne Cassini said her husband knew the future first lady before she
married John F. Kennedy in 1953.
"They were very good friends," she said. "He knew her when she was a
debutante. She had something special and they recognized it in each other. They
made magic together."
Cassini chronicled his days as couturier to the Kennedys' "Camelot" White
House in a book titled "A Thousand Days of Magic: Dressing Jacqueline Kennedy
for the White House," which said he had designed more than 300 outfits for her.
He said he was initially stumped on how to approach the job before falling
back on his Hollywood experience.
"Suddenly it came to me, this is like a film and you have the opportunity to
dress the female star," Cassini wrote. "This was not so different from my old
job in Hollywood, designing for motion pictures ...
"Jackie reminded me of an ancient Egyptian princess -- very geometric, even
hieroglyphic, with the sphinx-like quality of her eyes, her long neck, slim
torso, broad shoulders, narrow hips and regal carriage."
Cassini helped popularize the sheath dress, as well as the Nehru jacket and
the turtleneck look for men. He was also a pioneer in licensing agreements that
put his name on a range of products other than clothes.
His wife said Cassini had been in excellent health until complaining of a
serious headache last Friday. He had been busy with work that day, attending
meetings, reviewing designs and writing letters. Later at their Long Island home
he complained of a serious headache and was taken to a hospital where a broken
blood vessel was detected in his head.
3/13/06 - Maureen Stapleton - (AP) Maureen Stapleton, the Oscar-winning character actress whose
subtle vulnerability and down-to-earth toughness earned her dramatic and comedic roles on stage, screen, and television, died Monday. She was 80.
Stapleton, a longtime smoker who had been living in Lenox, died from chronic
pulmonary disease, said her son, Daniel Allentuck.
Stapleton, whose unremarkable, matronly appearance belied her star personality
and talent, won an Academy Award in 1981 for her supporting role as
anarchist-writer Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's "Reds," about a left-wing
American journalist who journeys to Russia to cover the Bolshevik Revolution.
To prepare for the role, Stapleton said she tried reading Goldman's
autobiography, but soon chucked it out of boredom.
"There are many roads to good acting," Stapleton, known for her
straightforwardness, said in her 1995 autobiography, "Hell of a Life." "I've
been asked repeatedly what the 'key' to acting is, and as far as I'm concerned,
the main thing is to keep the audience awake."
Stapleton was nominated several times for a supporting actress Oscar,
including for her first film role in 1958's "Lonelyhearts"; "Airport" in 1970;
and Woody Allen's "Interiors" in 1978.
Her other film credits include the 1963 musical "Bye Bye Birdie" opposite
Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke, "Johnny Dangerously," "Cocoon," "The Money Pit" and "Addicted to Love."
In television, she earned an Emmy for "Among the Paths to Eden" in 1967. She
was nominated for "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" in 1975; "The Gathering" in
1977; and "Miss Rose White" in 1992.
Brought up in a strict Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father,
Stapleton left home in Troy, N.Y., right after high school. With $100 to her
name, she came to New York and began studying at the Herbert Berghof Acting
School and later at the Actor's Studio, which turned out the likes of Marlon
Brando, Paul Newman and Julia Roberts.
Stapleton soon made her Broadway debut in Burgess Meredith's 1946 production
of "The Playboy of the Western World."
At age 24, she became a success as Serafina Delle Rose in Tennessee Williams'
Broadway hit "The Rose Tattoo," and won a Tony Award. She appeared in numerous other stage productions, including Lillian Hellman's "Toys in the Attic" and
Neil Simon's "The Gingerbread Lady," for which she won her second Tony in 1971.
She starred opposite Laurence Olivier in Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Stapleton's friendship with Williams was well-known and he wrote three plays for
her, but she never appeared in any of them.
Along the way, she led a chaotic personal life, which her autobiography
candidly described as including two failed marriages, numerous affairs, years of
alcohol abuse and erratic parenting for her two children.
She often said auditioning was hard for her, but that it was just a part of
acting, a job "that pays."
"When I was first in New York there was a girl who wanted to play 'St. Joan'
to the point where it was scary. ... I thought 'Don't ever want anything that
bad," she recalled. "Just take what you get and like it while you do it, and
Cast throughout her career in supporting roles, Stapleton was content not
playing a lead character, Allentuck said.
"I don't think she ever had unrealistic aspirations about her career," he
Beside Allentuck, Stapleton is survived by a daughter, Katharine Bambery, of
Lenox and a brother, Jack Stapleton, of Troy, N.Y.
3/7/06 - Dana Reeve - NEW YORK - Dana Reeve, who fought for better treatments and
possible cures for paralysis through the Christopher Reeve
Foundation, named for her late actor-husband, has died. She was 44.
Reeve died Monday of lung cancer, said Kathy Lewis, president and
CEO of the foundation.
"On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and staff of the
Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are extremely saddened by the death
of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of
circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us,"
Lewis said in a statement.
Reeve won worldwide admiration for her support of her husband, best
known for as the star of "Superman," after he was paralyzed in a
horse-riding accident in 1996.
She served as chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Foundation and
founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.
Christopher Reeve died in 2004. In August, Dana Reeve announced she
had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
She lived in Westchester County, near New York, with the couple's
son, Will. She has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and regional
stages and on the TV shows "Law & Order," "Oz," and "All My
"Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength and
ceaseless courage that became her hallmark," Lewis said. "Along with
her husband, Christopher, she faced adversity with grace and
determination, bringing hope to millions around the world."
3/2/06 - Jack Wild -(AP) Actor Jack Wild, who played The Artful Dodger in 1968 film Oliver!, has died
at the age of 53.
Wild was nominated for an Oscar when he was just 16 for the role. He also
starred in late-1960s US children's fantasy TV series HR Pufnstuf. He suffered
from mouth cancer after years of heavy drinking and smoking and had his voice
box and tongue removed. Wild's agent Alex Jay said the actor "died peacefully
at midnight last night after a long battle with oral cancer".
Mark Lester, who played Oliver in the musical film, paid tribute to him. He
told the BBC: "Jack was like a brother to me during the making of the film and
always was very protective. "I gained a lot. The chemistry between us was just
something very, very special, which lasted throughout our lives." Wild was
diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and was unable to speak, drink or eat after having
surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He had to communicate through his wife
and his meals were delivered in liquid form via a tube that went straight into
Wild recently said: "Until I was diagnosed with mouth cancer, I'd never
heard of it. "What I learned very quickly was that my lifestyle had made me a
walking time bomb. "I was a heavy smoker and an even heavier drinker and
apparently together they are a deadly mixture." The former child star from
Royton, near Oldham, made his TV debut aged 13. He had a string of screen
credits when he was chosen to star as the pickpocketing urchin in the musical
adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. The role saw him appear alongside
Oliver Reed and Harry Secombe in one of the final films to be directed by
British movie legend Carol Reed. The film's success helped Wild land the
starring role in popular children's series HR Pufnstuf, in which he played a boy
with a magic flute on a psychedelic island.
The vivid and outlandish stories and imagery led to a spin-off film, Pufnstuf,
in 1970. But his acting career failed to take off and his TV and film roles
became patchy in quality and frequency as the years progressed. He said he
spent the "70s and 80s in a drunken haze" but had been sober since 1990 and
returned to screens with a small role in 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of
Thieves. He was reunited with Ron Moody - who played Fagin in Oliver! - in
independent film Moussaka & Chips last year. The actor's agent Alex Jay said:
"He said he wanted The Entertainer played at his funeral, because he always saw
himself as an entertainer.
There was always a next day. He always got on with it. He wasn't one
to sit back Alex Jay, Jack Wild's agent. "We had lots of work lined up for him this year, it's very sad. "He was working really hard on his autobiography, which was almost finished, and he had great plans for that. "He always looked at the positive side of things. He always looked at the sunny side, despite all the things that he had been
through. "There was always a next day. He always got on with it. He wasn't one
to sit back. "Even in his drinking days, he was always very careful about
being photographed with a drink or cigarette in his hand because he didn't want
to encourage young people."
2/25/06 - Don Knotts - (AP) LOS ANGELES (Feb. 25) - Don Knotts, the skinny, lovable nerd who
keptgenerations of television audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on "TheAndy Griffith Show," has died. He was 81.
Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, said Paul Ward, a spokesman for
the cable network TV Land, which airs "The Andy Griffith Show," and another Knotts hit, "Three's Company."
Unspecified health problems had forced him to cancel an appearance in his
native Morgantown in August 2005.
The West Virginia-born actor's half-century career included seven TV series
and more than 25 films, but it was the Griffith show that brought him TV
immortality and five Emmies.
The show ran from 1960-68, and was in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings each
season, including a No. 1 ranking its final year. It is one of only three
series in TV history to bow out at the top: The others are "I Love Lucy" and
"Seinfeld." The 249 episodes have appeared frequently in reruns and have spawned
a large, active network of fan clubs.
As the bug-eyed deputy to Griffith, Knotts carried in his shirt pocket the
one bullet he was allowed after shooting himself in the foot. The constant
fumbling, a recurring sight gag, was typical of his self-deprecating humor.
Knotts, whose shy, soft-spoken manner was unlike his high-strung characters,
once said he was most proud of the Fife character and doesn't mind being
remembered that way.
His favorite episodes, he said, were "The Pickle Story," where Aunt Bea
makes pickles no one can eat, and "Barney and the Choir," where no one can stop
him from singing.
"I can't sing. It makes me sad that I can't sing or dance well enough to be
in a musical, but I'm just not talented in that way," he lamented. "It's one
of my weaknesses."
2/25/06 - Darren McGavin - (NYT)
Darren McGavin, an actor with hundreds of television, movie and theatrical credits to his name, died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 83.
The cause of his death, which was reported to The Associated Press by his son Bogart, was not announced, nor was the precise location, identified only as a Los Angeles area hospital.
Among the television roles with which Mr. McGavin was most closely identified were Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane's tough-talking New York detective, and Carl Kolchak, the cynical newspaper reporter in the horror series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," which had a short run but became a cult classic.
Mr. McGavin was not particularly proud of Mike Hammer, describing him to a reporter in 1968 as "a dummy." "I made 72 of those shows and I thought it was a comedy," he said. "In fact I played it camp. He was the kind of guy who would have waved the flag for George Wallace."
Spanning almost seven decades, his versatile career took him from "Macbeth" to "Marcus Welby M.D." He played General George S. Patton in the television biography "Ike" and appeared recently in "The "X Files," a show said to have been inspired by "The Night Stalker." He won an Emmy Award in 1990 for playing Candice Bergen's father in "Murphy Brown." He also was the voice for a time on Budweiser's "This Bud's for You" commercials.
His childhood is an enigma. Born in San Joaquin, Calif., he told TV Guide in 1973 that his parents disappeared and that he spent his teenage years living in warehouses in Tacoma, Wash., eluding the police and social workers.
He attended the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., for a year before moving on to Hollywood. He also studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse under the legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner and at the Actors Studio.
According to The Associated Press, his career started after he was hired at Columbia Pictures as a dishwasher and a painter. He was painting a movie set in 1945 when he learned of an opening for a small role in the film "A Song to Remember."
"I climbed off a painter's ladder and washed up at a nearby gas station," he later recalled. Hired by the director Charles Vidor, he returned through Columbia's front gate. No one recognized him but the paint crew foreman, who promptly fired him. The role was a Polish peasant with one line.
Mr. McGavin went on to more substantial roles in movies including "Summertime"; "The Man With the Golden Arm," in which he played Frank Sinatra's drug dealer; "The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell"; and "A Christmas Story."
He also acted on Broadway and off in plays including "Death of a Salesman," "The Rainmaker" and "The King and I."
He and his first wife, Melanie York, were divorced in 1969. That year he married Kathie Browne, who died in 2003. He is survived by four children from his first marriage, York, Megan, Bridget and Bogart.
2/24/06 - Dennis Weaver - (AP) Dennis Weaver, the slow-witted deputy Chester Goode in the TV classic
western "Gunsmoke" and the New Mexico deputy solving New York crime in "McCloud," has died. The actor was 81.
Weaver died of complications from cancer Friday at his home in Ridgway, in
southwestern Colorado, his publicist Julian Myers said.
Weaver was a struggling actor in Hollywood in 1955, earning $60 a week
delivering flowers when he was offered $300 a week for a role in a new CBS
television series, "Gunsmoke." By the end of his nine years with "Gunsmoke," he
was earning $9,000 a week.
When Weaver first auditioned for the series, he found the character of Chester
"inane." He wrote in his 2001 autobiography, "All the World's a Stage," that he
said to himself: "With all my Actors Studio training, I'll correct this
character by using my own experiences and drawing from myself."
The result was a well-rounded character that appealed to audiences, especially
with his drawling, "Mis-ter Dil-lon."
At the end of seven hit seasons, Weaver sought other horizons. He announced
his departure, but the failures of pilots for his own series caused him to
return to "Gunsmoke" on a limited basis for two more years. The role brought him
an Emmy in the 1958-59 season.
In 1966, Weaver starred with a 600-pound black bear in "Gentle Ben," about a
family that adopts a bear as a pet. The series was well-received, but after two
seasons, CBS decided it needed more adult entertainment and cancelled it.
Next came the character Sam McCloud, which Weaver called "the most satisfying
role of my career."
The "McCloud" series, 1970-1977, juxtaposed a no-nonsense lawman from Taos,
N.M., onto the crime-ridden streets of New York City. His wild-west tactics,
such as riding his horse through Manhattan traffic, drove local policemen crazy,
but he always solved the case.
He appeared in several movies, including "Touch of Evil," "Ten Wanted Men,"
"Gentle Giant," "Seven Angry Men," "Dragnet," "Way ... Way Out" and "The Bridges
Weaver also was an activist for protecting the environment and combating world
He served as president of Love Is Feeding Everyone (LIFE), which fed 150,000
needy people a week in Los Angeles County. He founded the Institute of
Ecolonomics, which sought solutions to economic and environmental problems. He
spoke at the United Nations and Congress, as well as to college students and
school children about fighting pollution and starvation.
"Earthship" was the most visible of Weaver's crusades. He and his wife Gerry
built a solar-powered Colorado home out of recycled tires and cans. The thick
walls helped keep the inside temperature even year around.
"When the garbage man comes," Jay Leno once quipped, "how does he know where
the garbage begins and the house ends?"
Weaver responded: "If we get into the mindset of saving rather than wasting
and utilizing other materials, we can save the Earth."
The tall, slender actor came by his Midwestern twang naturally. He was born
June 4, 1924, in Joplin, Mo., where he excelled in high school drama and
athletics. After Navy service in World War II, he enrolled at the University of
Oklahoma and qualified for the Olympic decathlon.
He studied at the Actors Studio in New York and appeared in "A Streetcar Named
Desire" opposite Shelley Winters and toured in "Come Back, Little Sheba" with
Universal Studio signed Weaver to a contract in 1952 but found little work for
him. He freelanced in features and television until he landed "Gunsmoke."
Weaver appeared in dozens of TV movies, the most notable being the 1971 "Duel."
It was a bravura performance for both fledgling director Steven Spielberg and
Weaver, who played a driver menaced by a large truck that followed him down a
mountain road. The film was released in theaters in 1983, after Spielberg had
become director of huge moneymakers. Weaver's other TV series include
"Kentucky Jones," "Emerald Point N.A.S.," "Stone" and "Buck James." From 1973 to 1975, he served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Weaver is survived by
his wife; sons Rick, Robby and Rusty; and three grandchildren.
2/12/06 - Peter Benchley - (AP) NEW YORK - Peter Benchley, whose novel "Jaws" terrorized millions of
swimmers even as the author himself became an advocate for the
conservation of sharks, has died at age 65, his widow said Sunday.
Wendy Benchley, married to the author for 41 years, said he died
Saturday night at their home in Princeton, N.J. The cause of death,
she said, was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and a fatal
scarring of the lungs.
Thanks to Benchley's 1974 novel, and Steven Spielberg's
blockbuster movie of the same name, the simple act of ocean swimming
became synonymous with fatal horror, of still water followed by
ominous, pumping music, then teeth and blood and panic.
2/9/06 - Franklin Cover - (AP) Franklin Cover, who became a familiar face as George and Louise
Jefferson'swhite neighbor in the long-running TV sitcom "The Jeffersons," has died, his publicist said Thursday. He was 77.
Cover died of pneumonia Sunday at the Lillian Booth Actor's Fund of America
home in Englewood, N.J., said publicist Dale Olson. He had been living at the
home since December 2005 while recuperating from a heart condition.
In his nearly six decades in show business, Cover made numerous appearances on
television shows, including "The Jackie Gleason Show," "All in the Family,"
"Who's the Boss?" "Will & Grace," "Living Single," "Mad About You" and "ER."
He began his career on the stage, appearing in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and
"Henry IV," and later in numerous Broadway productions, including "Any
Wednesday," "Wild Honey and "Born Yesterday."
But Cover was best known for his role as Tom Willis, who was in an interracial
marriage with a black woman, in "The Jeffersons."
He and his wife lived in the same "deluxe apartment" building that Sherman
Hemsley moved his family to after making money in the dry-cleaning business.
There, Cover often played a comic foil to Hemsley's blustering, opinionated
black businessman. The show ran from 1975 to 1985.
Cover also appeared in several films, including "The Great Gatsby," "The
Stepford Wives" and "Wall Street."
He is survived by his widow, Mary, a son and a daughter.
2/4/06 - Betty Friedan - WASHINGTON (AP) - Betty Friedan, whose
manifesto "The Feminine Mystique" became a best seller in the 1960s and laid the
groundwork for the modern feminist movement, died Saturday, her birthday. She
Friedan died at her home of congestive heart failure, according to a
cousin, Emily Bazelon.
Friedan's assertion in her 1963 best seller that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals, was highly unusual, if not revolutionary, just after the baby and suburban booms of the Eisenhower era. The feminine mystique, she said, was a phony bill of goods society sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no name" and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and psychoanalysis. "A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, 'Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She
mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own,outside of husband and children," Friedan said.
In the racial, political and sexual conflicts of the 1960s and '70s, Friedan's was one of the most commanding voices and recognizable presences in the women's movement. As a founder and first president of the National Organization for Women in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on such issues as abortion,
sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay, promotion opportunities and maternity
2/3/06 - Al Lewis -
(AP) Al Lewis, the cigar-chomping patriarch of "The Munsters" whose work as a basketball scout, restaurateur and political candidate never eclipsed his role as Grandpa from the television sitcom, died after years of failing health. He
Lewis, with his wife at his bedside, passed away Friday night, said Bernard
White, program director at WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly radio
program. White made the announcement on the air during the Saturday slot where
Lewis usually appeared.
"To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a
profound understatement," White said.
Lewis, sporting a somewhat cheesy Dracula outfit, became a pop culture icon
playing the irascible father-in-law to Fred Gwynne's ever-bumbling Herman
Munster on the 1964-66 television show. He was also one of the stars of another
classic TV comedy, playing Officer Leo Schnauzer on "Car 54, Where Are You?"
But Lewis' life off the small screen ranged far beyond his acting antics. A
former ballplayer at Thomas Jefferson High School, he achieved notoriety as a
basketball talent scout familiar to coaching greats like Jerry Tarkanian and Red
He operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant, Grandpa's, where he was
a regular presence — chatting with customers, posing for pictures, signing
Just two years short of his 90th birthday, a ponytailed Lewis ran as the Green
Party candidate against incumbent Gov. George Pataki. Lewis campaigned against
draconian drug laws and the death penalty, while going to court in a losing
battle to have his name appear on the ballot as "Grandpa Al Lewis."
He didn't defeat Pataki, but managed to collect more 52,000 votes.
Lewis was born Alexander Meister in upstate New York before his family moved
to Brooklyn, where the 6-foot-1 teen began a lifelong love affair with
basketball. He later became a vaudeville and circus performer, but his career
didn't take off until television did the same. Lewis, as Officer Schnauzer, played opposite Gwynne's Officer Francis Muldoon in "Car 54, Where Are You?" — a comedy about a Bronx police precinct that aired from 1961-63. One year later, the duo appeared together in "The Munsters," taking up residence at the fictional 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
The series, about a family of clueless creatures plunked down in middle
America, was a success and ran through 1966. It forever locked Lewis in as the
memorably twisted character; decades later, strangers would greet him on the
street with shouts of "Grandpa!"
Unlike some television stars, Lewis never complained about getting typecast
and made appearances in character for decades.
"Why would I mind?" he asked in a 1997 interview. "It pays my mortgage."
Lewis rarely slowed down, opening his restaurant and hosting his WBAI radio
program. At one point during the '90s, he was a frequent guest on the Howard
Stern radio show, once sending the shock jock diving for the delay button by
leading an undeniably obscene chant against the Federal Communications
He also popped up in a number of movies, including the acclaimed "They Shoot
Horses, Don't They?" and "Married to the Mob." Lewis reprised his role of
Schnauzer in the movie remake of "Car 54," and appeared as a guest star on
television shows such as "Taxi," "Green Acres" and "Lost in Space."
But in 2003, Lewis was hospitalized for an angioplasty. Complications during
surgery led to an emergency bypass and the amputation of his right leg below the
knee and all the toes on his left foot. Lewis spent the next month in a coma.
A year later, he was back offering his recollections of a seminal punk band on
the DVD "Ramones Raw."
He is survived by his wife, Karen Ingenthron-Lewis, three sons and four
2/1/06 - Moira Shearer - (AP) LONDON – Moira Shearer, a British ballerina who rose to worldwide prominence with the lead role in the 1948 film "The Red Shoes," has died, her husband said Wednesday. She was 80.
Shearer died Tuesday at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said her husband,
journalist and broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy, whom she married in 1950.
Shearer, born in Dunfermline, Scotland, became principal dancer at London's
Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in 1942 and won her first major role in 1946,
playing the lead in "Sleeping Beauty" at the Royal Opera House.
But it was as the young ballerina Victoria Page in Michael Powell and Emeric
Pressburger's film "The Red Shoes" that the stunning redhead caught the world's
"She was full of spirit and also she was very beautiful. She moved wonderfully
gracefully as you would expect of a ballet dancer," Kennedy told reporters.
The film, loosely based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, is celebrated for
its rich use of color and intimate view of backstage life in ballet.
Shearer's character becomes a great star but is torn between her love for a
young composer and her career, which is guided by a jealous impresario. The film
contained a complete ballet, telling the Andersen story in dance, performed by
Shearer and others.
It was a huge international hit and was nominated for the Oscar for best
picture; it won Oscars for best art direction and best music. A 1999 British
Film Institute survey of movie industry professionals ranked "The Red Shoes" as
one of the 10 greatest British films of all time.
The size three satin pointe shoes Shearer wore in the film sold for $25,000 at
auction in London in 2000.
Though she took roles in later films - including Pressburger's "The Tales of
Hoffmann" in 1951 and Powell's 1960 thriller, "Peeping Tom" - Shearer remained
ambivalent toward the medium, preferring to focus on dance.
"The ballet was the thing to which she was really committed. The film industry
was a bit of a distraction," Kennedy said. "She was quite otherworldly. She
didn't have a commitment, if you look, in herself to making films, but she had a
total commitment to ballet.
Shearer, who became Lady Kennedy after her husband was knighted, is also
survived by her four children. Funeral arrangements and a memorial service were
1/31/06 - Corretta Scott King - (AP) Coretta Scott King, who surged to the front of the fight for racial
equality in America after her husband Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, has died at age 78, friends and family said on Tuesday.
She had suffered a stroke and a heart attack in August, and was last seen in
public January 14 at a dinner marking the Martin Luther King, Jr., national
holiday, where she received a standing ovation from the 1,500 people in the
Mrs. King's steely determination, grace and class won her millions of admirers
inside and outside the civil rights movement.
Rep. John Lewis (news, bio, voting record), a Democratic congressman from
Georgia and civil rights leader, said it was "a very sad hour."
"Long before she met and married Dr. King, she was an activist for peace and
civil rights and for civil liberties," he told CNN. "She became the embodiment,
the personification (of the civil rights movement after Dr. King's death) ...
keeping the mission, the message, the philosophy ... of nonviolence in the
At the White House, Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, told Fox
television: "President Bush and first lady Laura Bush were always heartened by
their meetings with Mrs. King. What an inspiration to millions of people. I'm
deeply saddened by today's news."
Coretta Scott King played a major back-up role in the civil rights movement
until the death of her husband, who was assassinated on a Memphis motel balcony
on April 4, 1968, while supporting a sanitation workers strike.
Mrs. King, who was in Atlanta at the time, learned of her husband's shooting
in a telephone call from Rev. Jesse Jackson, a call she later wrote, "I seemed
subconsciously to have been waiting for all of our lives."
As she recalled in her autobiography "My Life With Martin Luther King Jr.,"
she felt she had to step fully into the civil rights movement.
"Because his task was not finished, I felt that I must rededicate myself to
the completion of his work," she said.
Determined to make sure Americans did not forget her husband or his dream of a
color-blind society, she created a memorial and a forum in the Martin Luther
King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
The center has archives containing more than 2,000 King speeches and is built
around the King crypt and its eternal flame.
CHILDHOOD HOME TORCHED IN ARSON
Coretta Scott was born April 27, 1927, near Marion, Alabama. Spending much of
her early years on a farm she saw little racial prejudice until she reached high
school, when she and her sister were sent into town to board with a family while
attending Lincoln High School, one of the black schools in the segregated South.
"It was awful," she said of living in Marion. "Every Saturday we would hear
about some black man getting beat up, and nothing was done about it."
Her father had built up a small trucking business but his success began to
irritate poor whites in the area, she said, and, after considerable harassment
someone burned down the Scott home on Thanksgiving night 1942.
"I guess I was being prepared for my role when I was growing up, because when
we were young children my father's life was in danger," Mrs. King told Reuters.
"We were afraid he was going to be killed.
"A white man threatened him, and he never ran. He was fearless. He said, 'If
you look a white man in the eyes, he can't harm you."' Church had always been
a major part in young Coretta Scott's life, church and music, and she got a
chance to explore the latter in high school. "Of course, I sang, I always
sang," she said but in high school she learned to play the piano. She was about
15 when she became choir director and pianist at her church. Her sister Edythe
won a scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1943, the first
black student to attend the school. Two years later, Coretta followed. One of
three blacks in her class, she made friends with whites, dated a white boy
during her junior year and worked on her music. But, as the first black at the
school to major in elementary education she ran into racial discrimination that
limited the classrooms where she could student teach. Antioch, she wrote,
"gave me an increased understanding of my own personal worth."
After graduation in 1951, she began studying singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. King, who was studying for his doctorate in theology at Boston University, had told a mutual friend he was looking for a wife. The friend gave him Coretta Scott's phone number, but when he came calling she was not impressed. "I saw this green car coming up the street and this short man. He leaned over to open the door, and when I got in the car I saw this very young looking man. I thought, 'Oh my God, I expected to see a man but this is a boy."' When he began to speak, however, the young Miss Scott changed her mind. There was never any doubt, either, that King was not going to be content with the status quo. "Even at the time we were courting," she said, "Martin was deeply concerned -- and indignant -- with the plight of the Negro in the United States." They were married at her parents' home on June 18, 1953, and moved to Atlanta, where King was the co-pastor at
Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father. They moved in 1956 to Montgomery,
Alabama, where the 26-year-old minister took over the pulpit at the Dexter
Avenue Baptist Church. It was there that he became active in the civil rights
movement, involving himself in the Montgomery bus boycott. Mrs. King
occasionally substituted for him as a speaker and sang in a series of Freedom
Concerts across the country to raise money for the movement. In the 1970s she
campaigned for Jimmy Carter, who after he was elected appointed her as a public
delegate to the U.N. General Assembly, where she devoted much of her time
developing relationships with emerging Third World nations.
1/30/06 - Wendy Wasserstein - (AP) Wendy Wasserstein, the Brooklyn-born playwright whose award-winning
works chronicled love, motherhood, marriage and complex sibling relations against a backdrop of feminism, has died. She was 55.
Wasserstein's play agent Phyllis Wender said she died on Monday. She gave no
further details except that a memorial service would be held in March. It had
been reported in recent weeks that the author of "The Heidi Chronicles, which
won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award, had been battling cancer.
Sonny Mehta, chairman of the Knopf Publishing Group, and Victoria Wilson,
Wasserstein's long-time editor, said in a joint statement: "She was as well a
writer of enormous talent and genuine spirit. Her works brought joy to many. Her
admirers were legion."
Wasserstein was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn and was a
graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Generally considered to be the play that
put her on the map, "The Heidi Chronicles" also won the 1989 New York Drama
Critics Circle Award. It was also a commercial success and ran for more than 600
On the heels of "Heidi" came "The Sisters Rosensweig" in 1993, which detailed
the lives of three diverse siblings.
Wasserstein's latest work, "Third," premiered off Broadway late last year.
1/25/06 - Fayard Nicholas - Fayard Nicholas, who with his brother Harold wowed the tap dancing world
with their astonishing athleticism and inspired generations of dancers, from Fred Astaire to Savion Glover, has died. He was 91.
Nicholas died Tuesday at his home from pneumonia and other complications of a
stroke, his son Tony Nicholas said.
"My dad put Heaven on hold and now they can begin the show," the younger
Nicholas said Wednesday.
The Nicholas brothers were still boys when they were featured at New York's
Cotton Club in 1932. Though young, they were billed as "The Show Stoppers!" And
despite the racial hurdles facing black performers, they went on to Broadway,
Astaire once told the brothers that the acrobatic elegance and synchronicity
of their "Jumpin' Jive" dance sequence in "Stormy Weather" (1943) made it the
greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. In the number, the brothers tap
across music stands in an orchestra with the fearless exuberance of children
stone-hopping across a pond. In the finale, they leap-frog seamlessly down a
The two were vaudeville brats who toured with their musician parents, Fayard
stealing dance steps as they went along and teaching them to his brother, who
was seven years younger.
"We were tap-dancers, but we put more style into it, more bodywork, instead of
just footwork," Harold Nicholas recalled in a 1987 interview.
Harold, who died in 2000, once said of his older brother's dancing, "He was
like a poet ... talking to you with his hands and feet."
Their dancing betrayed not only creative genius but the athletic marvel of
what no one else would dare attempt.
Their trademark no-hands splits — in which they not only went down but sprang
back up again without using their hands for balance — left film audiences
wide-eyed. The legendary choreographer George Balanchine called it ballet,
despite their lack of formal training.
"My brother and I used our whole bodies, our hands, our personalities and
everything," Fayard Nicholas said in an interview last year. "We tried to make
it classic. We called our type of dancing classical tap and we just hoped the
audience liked it."
The great dancer and actor Gregory Hines, who died in 2003 at age 57, once
said that if a film were ever made about their lives, the dance numbers would
have to be computer-generated because nobody could duplicate them.
Fayard, born in 1914, and Harold, born in 1921, learned to dance watching
vaudeville shows while their parents played in the pit orchestra.
"One day at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia, I looked onstage and I
thought, 'They're having fun up there; I'd like to do something like that',"
Fayard recalled in a 1999 interview.
"We worked up an act called 'The Nicholas Kids,' and did it in the living
room. Our father said: 'When you're dancing, don't look at your feet, look at
the audience. You're not entertaining yourself, you're entertaining the
The brothers were good enough by 1928 to debut in vaudeville. In 1932 they
made their film debut in the short "Pie Pie Blackbird," and were booked at the
Cotton Club, which became their base. They were allowed to mingle with the white
celebrity patrons before going home to bed at 5 or 6 a.m. They would sleep until
3 p.m., when their daily tutoring began, then return to the club by
chauffeur-driven limousine for the first show at midnight. Fayard was 18, Harold
Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn spotted them at the club and cast them in the Eddie
Cantor musical "Kid Millions" (1934).
Their polished urbanity and classic good looks made them film stars despite
the celluloid segregation that relegated them to non-speaking parts and dance
sequences that could be easily cut for racially squeamish audiences in the
South. They finally danced with a white star, Gene Kelly, in their last film
together, "The Pirate" in 1948. "If you were black, you experienced
(prejudice)," Harold Nicholas once said. "It wasn't a real horrible thing for
us; we went through it." In later years, Harold did solo work in Europe, then
returned to Broadway in "The Tap Dance Kid" and "Sophisticated Ladies" and to
film in "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974). Fayard won a Tony award in 1989 for his
choreography of "Black and Blue," and the brothers were awarded Kennedy Center
Honors in 1991. The two remained close throughout their lives, despite their
different personalities. Fayard was known as the more outgoing of the two, the
one whose optimism kept the act afloat. Harold was more withdrawn
and introspective. Both brothers had tumultuous personal lives. Harold
admitted that his first marriage, to famed actress Dorothy Dandridge, collapsed
because of his relentless womanizing. Dandridge, the first black woman nominated
for a best-actress Oscar, died of a drug overdose in 1965 at 42. In an
interview for A & E's Biography in 1999, Fayard said wistfully, "I tried to be a
good husband and father. ... I don't know what happened." But he remained on
good terms with his first wife, Geraldine, and by all accounts, had a long and
happy marriage to his second wife, the late Barbara January. He married dancer
Katherine Hopkins in 2000.
1/24/06 - Chris Penn - (BBC) Actor Chris Penn, the younger brother of Sean Penn, has been found dead at his home in Santa Monica, California.
Penn, who was in his 40s, starred in Reservoir Dogs as Nice Guy Eddie, as well as Mulholland Falls and Rush Hour.
Police said there were no obvious signs of foul play. A post-mortem examination will determine the cause of death.
Penn's latest film, The Darwin Awards, was scheduled to have its premiere on Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah.
He features alongside Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes and David Arquette in the comedy adventure.
Police said the actor was 40 years old but other sources indicated that he was 43.
Penn's body was found inside the four-storey condominium complex where he lived after police were called by someone within the building.
His mother, Eileen Ryan, is an actress whose credits include I Am Sam, Magnolia and Parenthood. His late father, Leo Penn, was a TV director. Another brother is musician Michael Penn.
Sean Penn's publicist Mara Buxbaum issued a statement saying that "the Penn family would appreciate the media's respect of their privacy during this difficult time".
1/20/06 - Anthony Franciosa - (AP) Anthony Franciosa, whose strong portrayals of moody, troubled characters
made him a Hollywood star in the 1950s and '60s but whose combative behavior on movie sets hampered his career, has died, his publicist said Friday. He was 77.
Franciosa died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center after suffering a massive
stroke, publicist Dick Guttman said. The actor's wife of more than 35 years,
Rita, and other family members were present.
Franciosa was part of a new wave in the mid-20th century who revolutionized
film acting with their introspective, intensely realistic approach to their
roles. Most of them were schooled in the method acting of New York's Actors
Studio. They included Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters
and Paul Newman.
Franciosa was once married to Winters, who died last weekend.
From his first important film role as the brother of a drug addict in "A
Hatful of Rain," Franciosa became known for his portrayals of complicated young
men. He received a 1956 Tony nomination for his performance in the role he
created on Broadway, then an Oscar nod. In 1957, the actor appeared in three
other films, "This Could Be the Night," "A Face in the Crowd" and "Wild Is the
Franciosa's career continued in high gear with such films as "The Long Hot
Summer," "The Naked Maja" (as Goya), "The Story on Page One," "Period of
Adjustment," "Rio Conchos" and "The Pleasure Seekers."
The actor's behavior on movie productions became the subject of Hollywood
gossip. The stories alleged fiery disputes with directors, sulks in his dressing
room, outbursts with other actors.
"I went out to Hollywood in the mid-1950s," he remarked in a 1996 interview,
"and I would say I went there a little too early. It was an incredible amount of
attention, and I wasn't quite mature enough psychologically and emotionally for
Franciosa's assertive attitude extended beyond movie stages; in 1957 he served
10 days in the Los Angeles County jail for slugging a press photographer. His
reputation contributed to the downturn in Hollywood offers, and his career
veered to European-made films and television.
His first TV series, "Valentine's Day," cast him as a swinging New York
publishing executive involved in numerous romances. It lasted one season
In "The Name of the Game" (1968-71) Franciosa alternated with Gene Barry and
Robert Stack as adventurous members of a Los Angeles publishing firm. In 1971
the producing company, Universal Pictures, fired him from the series, charging
erratic behavior. He countered that the company had treated him badly and
demanded that he take a pay cut.
The 1975 TV series "Matt Helm," with Franciosa as a wisecracking detective,
was canceled after half a season.
He was born Anthony Papaleo in October 1928, in New York City. He was 1 when
his father disappeared, and the boy grew up tough in Manhattan slums. "Getting
in the first blow was something I learned in childhood," he said in an
After working in odd jobs and sometimes sleeping in flophouses, at 18 he
attended an audition for actors at the YMCA. and was chosen for two plays. He
later studied at the Actors Studio and the New School for Social Research.
Adopting his mother's maiden name, Franciosa, he began getting roles in
television and the theater. "A Hatful of Rain" made him a star.
Besides Winters, Franciosa was married to writer Beatrice Bakalyar and real
estate agent Judy Kanter, with whom he had a daughter, Nina. His lasting
marriage was to Rita Thiel, a German fashion model. They had sons Christopher
1/19/06 - Wilson Pickett - RESTON, Va. (AP) -- Wilson Pickett, the soul pioneer best known for the
fiery hits ''Mustang Sally'' and ''In The Midnight Hour,'' died of a heart attack Thursday, according to his management company. He was 64.
Chris Tuthill of the management company Talent Source said Pickett had been
suffering from health problems for the past year.
''He did his part. It was a great ride, a great trip, I loved him and I'm sure
he was well-loved, and I just hope that he's given his props,'' Michael Wilson
Pickett, the fourth of the singer's six children, told WRC-TV in Washington
after his death.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pickett -- known as the ''Wicked
Pickett'' -- became a star with his soulful hits in the 1960s.
''In the Midnight Hour'' made the top 25 on the Billboard pop charts in 1965
and ''Mustang Sally'' did the same the following year.
Pickett was defined by his raspy voice and passionate delivery. But the
Alabama-born picket got his start singing gospel music in church. After moving
to Detroit as a teen, he joined the group the Falcons, which scored the hit ''I
Found a Love'' with Pickett on lead vocals in 1962.
He went solo a year later, and would soon find his greatest success. In 1965,
he linked with legendary soul producer Jerry Wexler at the equally legendary
soul label Stax Records in Memphis, and recorded one of his greatest hits, ''In
the Midnight Hour,'' for Atlantic Records. A string of hits followed, including
''634-5789,'' ''Funky Broadway'' and ''Mustang Sally.'' His sensuous soul was in
sharp contrast to the genteel soul songs of his Detroit counterparts at Motown
As Pickett entered a new decade, he had less success on the charts, but still
had hits, including the song ''Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You.''
In later years, he had legal problems and battled substance abuse; in 1994 he
served jail time on an assault charge.
Besides his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, he was also
given the Pioneer award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation two years later.
1/14/06 - Shelly Winters - (AP) Shelley Winters, the forceful, outspoken star who graduated from
blond bombshell parts to dramas, winning Academy Awards as supporting actress in "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "A Patch of Blue," has died. She was 85.
Winters died of heart failure early Saturday at The Rehabilitation Centre of
Beverly Hills, her publicist Dale Olson said. She was hospitalized in October
after suffering a heart attack.
The actress sustained her long career by repeatedly reinventing herself.
Starting as a nightclub chorus girl, advanced to supporting roles in New York
plays, then became famous as a Hollywood sexpot.
A devotee of the Actors Studio, she switched to serious roles as she matured.
Her Oscars were for her portrayal of mothers. Still working well into her 70s,
she had a recurring role as Roseanne's grandmother on the 1990s TV show
In 1959's "The Diary of Anne Frank," she was Petronella Van Daan, mother of
Peter Van Daan and one of eight real-life Jewish refugees in World War II
Holland who hid for more than a year in cramped quarters until they were
betrayed and sent to Nazi death camps. The socially conscious Winters donated
her Oscar statuette to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
In 1965's "Patch of Blue," she portrayed a hateful, foul-mouthed mother who
tries to keep her blind daughter, who is white, apart from the kind black man
who has befriended her.
1/11/06 - Katharine Thalberg - (AP) Katharine Thalberg, 70, who led a campaign to ban the sale of fur in
Aspen, Colo., died Friday of cancer at Aspen Valley Hospital.
In 1989, Thalberg and her third husband and then-mayor of Aspen, Bill Stirling,
attracted international publicity when they fought to pass the country's first
city ordinance banning the sale of wild animal fur. The battle between
Thalberg's Aspen Society for Animal Rights and fur sellers and wearers was
quickly dubbed the "fur fight." Voters resoundingly defeated the proposed
ordinance in early 1990.
Born in Santa Monica, Thalberg was the daughter of MGM mogul Irving Thalberg and actress Norma Shearer. She learned to ski at age 3 and honed her interest while
attending schools in France and Switzerland. After attending Vassar College and
Stanford University, she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature at
Thalberg moved to Aspen in 1973 and two years later opened Explore Booksellers
in an old building she restored. She turned the attic into the Bistro, Aspen's
first vegan restaurant.
1/6/06 - Lou Rawls - (AP) Lou Rawls, the velvet-voiced singer who started as a church choir boy and
went on to sell more than 40 million albums has died, his publicist said. He won three Grammy Awards in a career that spanned nearly five decades and a range of genres. He was 72.
Rawls died early Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was
hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer, his publicist
Paul Shefrin said. His wife Nina was at his bedside when he died, Shefrin said.
The family and Shefrin said Rawls was 72, although other records indicate he
Rawls' voice was his inimitable trademark.
Jazz historian Leonard Feather wrote in "The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the
Sixties" that Rawls "has a vigorous, confident style, a strong affinity for the
blues and a personal sound."
"I've gone the full spectrum, from gospel to blues to jazz to soul to pop,"
Rawls once said on his Web site. "And the public has accepted what I've done
through it all."
Rawls' grandmother introduced him to gospel in his hometown of Chicago. The
singer moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s to join a touring gospel group, the
After a two-year stint in the Army, Rawls returned to Los Angeles and rejoined
the Pilgrim Travelers, where he sang with Sam Cooke. Rawls performed with Dick
Clark at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959, and two years later, he opened for The
Beatles at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
Rawls was playing small blues and R&B clubs in Los Angeles when his
four-octave range caught the ear of a Capitol Records producer, who signed him
to the label in 1962.
His debut effort, "Stormy Monday," recorded with the Les McCann Trio, was the
first of 28 albums Rawls made with Capitol.
His 1966 hit, "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing," topped the charts and earned Rawls
his first two Grammy nominations. He received 13 during his career.
Rawls, whose hits included "Dead End Street" and "You'll Never Find Another
Love Like Mine," released his most recent album, "Seasons 4 U," in 1998 on his
own label, Rawls & Brokaw Records.
The stalwart singer also appeared in 18 movies, including "Leaving Las Vegas"
and "Blues Brothers 2000," and 16 television series, including "Fantasy Island"
and "The Fall Guy."
A longtime community activist, Rawls visited schools, playgrounds and
community centers in the 1960s, encouraging children to continue their studies
and have confidence in their abilities. In the '80s, he helped the United Negro
College Fund raise more than $200 million through telethons.
In 1976, Rawls became the corporate spokesman for the Anheuser-Busch Cos.
Rawls was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2004 and brain cancer in May
Besides his wife Nina, Rawls is survived by four children, Louanna Rawls, Lou
Rawls Jr., Kendra Smith and Aiden Rawls.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete, Shefrin said.
1/3/06 - Neil Strawser - (AP) Former broadcast newsman Neil Strawser, who anchored CBS radio coverage
of President John Kennedy's assassination, the Watergate hearings and NASA space launches, has died at age 78, the network said on Tuesday.
The veteran Washington correspondent, who left CBS News in 1986 before taking
a job as a press officer on Capitol Hill, suffered a heart attack at his home in
Washington and was pronounced dead at George Washington University Hospital
December 31, according to CBS.
Born and raised in Ohio, Strawser was a familiar face on CBS television during
the late 1950s and early '60s, appearing frequently on the nightly 15-minute
broadcast of the "CBS News with Douglas Edwards."
Strawser was the lone TV network "pool" reporter admitted to Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis and reported the departure of
freighters carrying nuclear missiles back to the Soviet Union.
But Strawser was perhaps better known for his radio work, most memorably as
anchor of CBS Radio's four straight days of coverage of the Kennedy
assassination and its aftermath in November 1963.
He also moderated CBS Radio coverage of NASA missions ranging from the Gemini
program through the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, as well as the Senate
Watergate hearings in 1973 and the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment
hearings in 1974.
Strawser got his start at CBS in 1952 as an editorial research assistant. He
was promoted to correspondent four years later and spent his entire CBS News
tenure based at the network's Washington bureau.
Starting in 1987, Strawser became a press officer for the House Budget
Committee, from which he retired in 1994.