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Obits: October 2005


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'Fences' Playwright August Wilson

by Michael Kuchwara, AP Drama Writer

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Playwright August Wilson

NEW YORK, New York - Playwright August Wilson, whose epic 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in 20th-century America included such landmark dramas as "Fences" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," died Sunday, October 2 of liver cancer, a family spokeswoman said. He was 60.

Wilson died at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, surrounded by his family, said Dena Levitin, Wilson's personal assistant. The playwright had disclosed in late August that his illness was inoperable and he had only a few months to live.

"We've lost a great writer, I think the greatest writer that our generation has seen and I've lost a dear, dear friend and collaborator," said Kenny Leon, who directed the Broadway production of "Gem of the Ocean" as well as Wilson's most recent play, "Radio Golf," which just concluded a run in Los Angeles.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright August Wilson

Leon said Wilson's work, "encompasses all the strength and power that theater has to offer. I feel an incredible sense of responsibility on walking how he would want us to walk and delivering his work."

Wilson's plays were big, often sprawling and poetic, dealing primarily with the effects of slavery on succeeding generations of black Americans: from turn-of-century characters who could remember the Civil War to a prosperous middle class at the end of the century who had forgotten the past.

The playwright's astonishing creation, which took more than 20 years to complete, was remarkable not only for his commitment to a certain structure

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Veteran TV Comedian Nipsey Russell

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Comedian Nipsey Russell

NEW YORK, New York -- Comedian Nipsey Russell, veteran of stage, television and film, died Sunday, October 2 at Lenox Hill Hospital. He was 80. The actor, who played the Tin Man alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in "The Wiz," had been suffering from cancer, according to his longtime manager, Joseph Rapp.

Every season since his first appearance on "The Tonight Show," Nipsey Russell's wit and poetry enlivened game shows and celebrity panels

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Veteran Comic Louis Nye

by John Rogers, Associated Press Writer

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Comic Louis Nye

LOS ANGELES, California - Comedian Louis Nye, who created a national catchphrase belting out "Hi, ho, Steverino!" as one of the players on Steve Allen's groundbreaking 1950s TV show, has died. He was 92. Nye died Sunday, October 9 at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with lung cancer, his son, Peter Nye, told The Associated Press.

Nye had worked regularly in nightclubs and on television until only a couple of years ago, his son said. He had a recurring role from 2000 to 2002 in the HBO comedy, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as the father of Jeff Garlin's character. When he joined Allen's show in 1956 he was already well established as one the era's hippest comics, appearing regularly on radio, in clubs and on early TV shows.

A master of voices and accents, he could go from being droll one moment to prissy the next. He could also switch effortlessly from comically evil Nazis to bumbling Russians. "He has a great business card from that time that lists something like 15 accents that he could do," his son recalled with a chuckle.

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Don Knotts, Lt. Col. Mark Azzolina (conductor of NORAD

band), Louis Nye, and Col. Barney Oldfield on 'The Steve

Allen Show.'

On "The Steve Allen Show," which ran until 1961 under various names, he quickly endeared himself to audiences as Gordon Hathaway, the effete, country-club snob who would welcome Allen's arrival with the "Hi, ho, Steverino!" salutation. "I'm not sure if he improvised that or if it was given to him and he just ran with it as a catchphrase," Nye's son said.

Other regulars on the landmark show included comedians Don Knotts, Tom Poston and Bill Dana. After the show's run ended, Nye appeared often on TV game shows, in films and as a regular on "The Ann Sothern Show." He was often cast as the second banana, never the lead.

Nye appeared as Sonny Drysdale, the prissy son of harried banker Milburn Drysdale, in the debut 1960-61 season of "The Beverly Hillbillies." He once said his character was dropped after one season because a CBS executive thought he was "too sissified." Nye returned as Sonny for the 1993 TV movie "The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies."

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Comic Louis Nye

Nye teamed with Allen again in 1967, on "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour," a CBS show in which he also portrayed Gordon Hathaway. His cohorts included Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows, Ruth Buzzi and John Byner, among others.

In the summer of 1970, he hosted the variety show "Happy Days" on CBS and three years later co-starred with Norman Fell in the New York garment industry sitcom, "Needles and Pins." He played Kirby Baker in the 1978 TV show, "Harper Valley P.T.A."

In the 1980s and '90s Nye provided various voices for the "Inspector Gadget" cartoon show. His film credits included "Cannonball Run II," "Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood," "A Guide for the Married Man," "Good Neighbor, Sam" and "Sex Kittens Go to College."

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Comic Louis Nye with Jack Benny

He also guest starred on such shows as "St. Elsewhere," "The Love Boat," "Laverne & Shirley" and "The Munsters," and appeared frequently as a guest on "The Jackie Gleason Show," "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "The Andy Williams Show."

Nye was born May 1, 1913, in Hartford, Connecticut, where he began his career in theater before moving to New York City to enter radio. Although the son recalled his father as being "just naturally funny," the elder Nye once told The Associated Press that when he began his career he had aspirations of being a serious actor.

"I still think of myself as an actor," he said in that 1970 interview. "In the radio days I was busy playing rotten Nazis, rich uncles and emotional juveniles

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'SNL' Actor Charles Rocket

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Charles Rocket

Actor Charles Rocket committed suicide October 7 in Connecticut. He was 56. Rocket was a film and television actor who made his network debut on the popular sketch comedy program, "Saturday Night Live." Rocket was cast for the 1980

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'Star Trek's' Scotty Remains Face Final Frontier

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James 'Scotty' Doohan

LOS ANGELES, California - Evidently "Star Trek" actor James 'Scotty' Doohan took the catch phrase "beam me up" very seriously -- his cremated remains will be launched into space in accordance with his last wishes. Doohan, who portrayed feisty chief engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott on the original "Star Trek" television series, died July 20 at age 85.

Commercial space flight operator Space Services Inc. will launch the late actor's remains into space aboard its Explorers Flight on December 6. A company spokeswoman said the remains of more than 120 others will be aboard the flight, including those of Mareta West, the astrogeologist who determined the site for the first spacecraft landing on the moon.

In addition, Space Services will launch the ashes of an unidentified astronaut. Space Services spokeswoman, Susan Schonfeld declined to identify the astronaut whose cremated remains will be launched into space. She said the name would be announced the day of the launch.

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The crew of the Enterprise on 'Star Trek'

One of Scotty's chief functions on the show was to operate the devise used to transport fellow crew members onto the starship Enterprise from other space vessels or planets, often in response to a request to "beam" them aboard. The phrase entered the pop cultre as "beam me up, Scotty," though it was never uttered exactly that way on the show.

To mark the flight into his final frontier, Doohan's family will hold a service for fans on a 60-acre site near Vandenberg Air Force Base north of Los Angeles the day of the launch to pay tribute to him. Some fans are expected to attend in the formal white suit of a Star Fleet commander.

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NASA astronaut Mario Runco and James 'Scotty' Doohan in

the Shuttle Mission Simulator at the Johnson Space Center.

"I can't think of a more fitting send-off than having some of his fans attend this, his final journey," his widow, Wende Doohan, said in an open invitation to the service. "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry also had his remains shot into space after his death in 1991. They returned to Earth in 2002, Schonfeld said.

Doohan's cremated remains will be packed into a special tube that is ejected from the rocket and expected to orbit Earth for about 50 to 200 years before plunging into the planet's atmosphere and burning up. Fans can post tributes to Doohan at the Space Services Web site Space Services. Those messages will be digitized, packed with 'Scotty' and blasted into space . . . his final frontier.

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'Our Gang's' Gordon 'Porky' Lee

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Gordon 'Porky' Lee . . . Yesterday and Today

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Gordon Lee, the chubby child actor who played Spanky McFarland's little brother, "Porky," in "Little Rascals" comedies, has died. He was 71. Lee died Sunday, October 16 in a Minneapolis nursing home after battling lung and brain cancer, said Janice McClain, his partner of 13 years.

Lee played one of the younger members in the "Our Gang" shorts in the 1930s, appearing in more than 40 of them from 1935 to 1939. The comedies, produced by Hal Roach, became known as "The Little Rascals" when shown on TV in the 1950s. Among the films Lee appeared in were "Bored of Education," which won the Oscar for best one-reel short subject in 1937; "Our Gang Follies of 1936," "The Awful Tooth" and "Roamin' Holiday."

In a 1998 interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, the Texas-born Lee said he was two-years-old when his mother sent his picture to studio executives who were seeking an actor to play McFarland's brother. "We were on the next train to L.A. and I had a contract within a few days," Lee said. "Fat kid got lucky."

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Gordon 'Porky' Lee

"My memories are not about making movies. We played with our toys and the adults played with theirs (the cameras)," he said. He and Billie 'Buckwheat' Thomas teamed up against older boys Spanky and Alfalfa in many of the comedies. The 'Porky' character is credited with originating the catchphrase "otay."

In the interview, Lee recalled a warm friendship with his black costar when they were kids and praised their interracial relationship on screen, saying, "Buckwheat played an absolute equal part in the Gang." Lee told friends his career ended when a growth spurt made him thinner. "They wanted Porky to be a chunky fellow, so they looked for someone else," McClain said.

Lee spoke about his 'Our Gang' experience in the interview. "I didn't know I was making movies at the time. I had no idea. The big car would come and pick me up, and I would go to the movie lot and play with the same kids every day. We were just playing and having fun on the greatest playground in the world."

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Gordon 'Porky' Lee

Discussing his departure from show business, Lee explained, "One morning, the big car didn't show up. I had grown a few inches suddenly and was too big for the role. I wondered why the attention went away. Just my luck. I lost my job for getting too tall."

He was born Eugene Lee in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1933. His adoptive parents began calling him Gordon after Gordon Douglas, who directed many of the films Lee appeared in. He kept the first name as an adult. Lee was a schoolteacher, living in Colorado for a time. As a teacher, Lee didn't share his child star status with colleagues or friends. He grew shoulder-length hair and a 4-inch beard.

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Gordon 'Porky' Lee

"It was no big deal to me. It was just another part of my life," Lee said. "I'm much more proud of what I did as an educator and as a father than what I did in 'Our Gang.'" He moved to Minnesota after he retired to be closer to his only son, Douglas, said a friend, Tracy Tolzmann. His son was given the first name of Douglas also as a homage to the 'Gang' and 'Rascals' director.

Lee didn't start joining "Our Gang" and "Little Rascals" reunions until about 1980. In recent years, Lee sold autographed photos of himself as 'Porky,' Tolzmann and McClain said. "Before that he felt like he was forgotten," McClain said. "It really made him feel good about himself."

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Jazz legend Shirley Horn dies at 71

Pianist, singer considered one of the last of the greats

Saturday, October 22, 2005; Posted: 9:44 a.m. EDT (13:44 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shirley Horn, the jazz pianist and vocalist who got her start opening for Miles Davis and became revered as a master interpreter of American standards, has died at the age of 71, her record label said.

Horn died Thursday night in her native Washington, D.C., after a long illness, according to a statement released by Verve Records.

Horn was often compared to Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae, and considered one of the last great jazz vocalists of her era.

"I like to be referred to as a good singer of good songs in good taste," she told The Associated Press in a 1991 interview.

Horn started playing the piano when she was a child, and by the time she was a college student at Howard University, she had put together her first jazz trio. Her talent drew the attention of music legend Quincy Jones, who would produce her first albums, as well as Miles Davis, who asked her to open for him at the renowned Village Vanguard in 1960.

However, after producing two albums for Mercury Records, she had creative differences with the label and left. At the same time, she had a young daughter and decided to scale back on her performances and recordings.

"I just remembered when I was a young girl and 11 and 12 and I would come from music school, my mother was there with a hot meal," she said in an interview with National Public Radio in 2002. "I was there, and I was happy that I was."

Horn's career entered a renaissance when she signed with Verve Records in 1986. She went on to release several acclaimed albums, and was featured at major jazz festivals and venues around the globe.

In her later years, she performed with artists ranging from Davis, who reunited with her for a rare appearance as a sideman on her 1991 album "You Won't Forget Me," to Wynton Marsalis.

Horn was nominated for multiple Grammys and won the award in 1991 for best jazz vocal performance. Last year, Horn was honored as a jazz master last year by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Civil rights icon Rosa Parks dies at 92

Monday, October 24, 2005; Posted: 10:23 p.m. EDT (02:23 GMT)

(CNN) -- Rosa Parks, who helped trigger the civil rights movement in the 1950s, died Monday, her longtime friends told CNN. She was 92.

Parks inspired the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in December 1955.

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks and led to court rulings desegregating public transportation nationwide.

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Civil Rights Pioneer Rosa Parks

by Bree Fowler, Associated Press Writer

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Rosa Parks

DETROIT, Michigan - Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died Monday, October 24. She was 92. Mrs. Parks died at her home during the evening of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years.

Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement." At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South.

Jim Crow laws legally sanctioned racial discrimination while keeping blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North. The Montgomery, Alabama seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was riding on a city bus December 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.

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Rosa Parks

Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to the man, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, in whose office Parks worked for more than 20 years, remembered the civil rights leader as someone whose impact on the world was immeasurable, but who never saw herself that way. "Everybody wanted to explain Rosa Parks and wanted to teach Rosa Parks, but Rosa Parks wasn't very interested in that," he said.

"She wanted them to understand the government and to understand their rights and the Constitution that people are still trying to perfect today," Conyers explained. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he felt a personal tie to the civil rights icon: "She stood up by sitting down. I'm only standing here because of her."

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Rosa Parks

Speaking in 1992, Mrs. Parks said history too often maintains "that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. "At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this," Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."

The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the Supreme Court's landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were "inherently unequal," marked the start of the modern civil rights movement. The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations.

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Rosa Parks

After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and harassment, she and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide in the Detroit office of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers from 1965 until retiring in 1988. Raymond Parks died in 1977.

Mrs. Parks became a revered figure in Detroit, where a papier-mache likeness of her was featured in the city's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Detroit has recognized Mrs. Parks in many other ways including naming a street and middle school in her honor.

Mrs. Parks said upon retiring from her job with Conyers that she wanted to devote more time to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. The institute, incorporated in 1987, is devoted to developing leadership among Detroit's young people and initiating them into the struggle for civil rights.

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Rosa Parks

"Rosa Parks: My Story" was published in February 1992. In 1994 she brought out "Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation," and in 1996 a collection of letters called "Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today's Youth." She was among the civil rights leaders who addressed the Million Man March in October 1995.

Mrs. Park's story has been the subject of numerous film projects over the years. The documentary "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks" received a 2002 nomination for Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. That same year, she also actively participated in a TV movie of her life, "The Rosa Parks Story" starring Angela Bassett in the title role.

Throughout her lifetime, Mrs. Parks garnered many accolades for her courage. In 1979, the NAACP awarded Mrs. Parks the Spingarn Award, its highest honor and she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award the next year. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame for her achievements in civil rights in 1983.

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President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of

Freedom to Rosa Parks in 1996.

She received the Rosa Parks Peace Prize in 1994 in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1996, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded for making outstanding contributions to American life. In 1998, she became the first awardee for the International Freedom Conductor Award given by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

In 1999, Mrs. Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor. She was also bestowed with the Detroit-Windsor International Freedom Festival Freedom Award that same year. Mrs. Parks received the NAACP Image Award for her 1999 appearance on CBS' "Touched by an Angel."

Also, in 1999, Time magazine named Parks one of the top twenty most influential and iconic figures of the twentienth century. In 2000, her home state awarded her the Alabama Academy of Honor as well as the first Governor's Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Courage. She was also awarded two dozen honorary doctorates from universities worldwide.

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The Rosa Parks Library and Museum

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, was dedicated to her in November 2001. The most popular item in the museum is a sculpture of Parks sitting on a bus bench. The Rosa Parks Library and Museum features a 1955-era bus and a video that recreates the conversation that preceded Parks' arrest.

"Are you going to stand up?" the bus driver asked.

"No," Parks answered.

"Well, by God, I'm going to have you arrested," the driver said.

"You may do that," Parks responded.

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Rosa Parks Montgomery Bus Boycott Historical Marker

Mrs. Parks' later years were not without difficult moments. In 1994, Mrs. Parks' home was invaded by a 28-year-old man who beat her and took $53. She was treated at a hospital and released. The incident created outrage throughout America. The man, Joseph Skipper, pleaded guilty, blaming the crime on his drug problem and was sentenced to 8 to 15 years in prison.

The Parks Institute had its share of problems as well, predominantly in money matters. It struggled financially since its inception. The charity's principal activity

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Voice of 'Jolly Green Giant' Falls Silent

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'Jolly Green Giant' Voice Elmer 'Len' Dresslar Jr.

PALM SPRINGS, California - Elmer 'Len' Dresslar Jr., who extolled vegetables to generations of TV watchers as the booming voice of the Jolly Green Giant, has died. He was 80. Dresslar died Sunday, October 16 of cancer, according to his daughter, Teri Bennett. Dresslar was an entertainer and singer for nearly six decades.

It is one of the most memorable tag lines in advertising history: "Ho Ho Ho -- Green Giant!" The "Ho Ho Ho" belonged to Len Dresslar. Dresslar's voice rang through millions of households when he sang that simple refrain in an ad jingle for Green Giant foods.

"His was the most consistent and most frequent voice of the Jolly Green Giant over the years, the one consumers are going to recognize," said Tara Johnson, a spokeswoman for General Mills, which owns Green Giant Co.

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The Singers Unlimited 'Masterpieces'

After attending the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, Dresslar toured nationally with the musical, "South Pacific," for over two years. Next, Dresslar moved to Chicago with his wife in the early 1950s to further his vocal training. In the 1960s, Dresslar sang with a vocal group, "The J's with Jamie," which recorded easy-listening music along with commercials and jingles.

Throughout the next decade, the Navy veteran had carved out a career singing in clubs, on television and in advertising jingles. Bennett said her father auditioned for the Green Giant job without any idea his baritone would become so recognizable. "He never got tired of it," she said. "If nothing else, it put my sister and I through college."

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'The Singers Unlimited' include (L-R) Len' Dresslar, Don Shelton,

Bonnie Herman and Gene Puerling.

Dresslar recorded 15 albums with The Singers Unlimited jazz group and appeared nightly on the Chicago-based CBS live variety television show, "In Town Tonight" from 1955 to 1960. During the run of the show, Dresslar was twice voted the most popular singer in Chicago by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. However, ad jingles were the most consistent part of his career.

The Green Giant spot was among the first of many that Dresslar lent his vocal talents. He spoke or sang in commercials for United Airlines and Amoco Oil. Dresslar landed roles for Marlboro and Kent cigarettes, as well as Dinty Moore canned beef stew. He was 'Snap' in the 'Snap-Crackle-Pop' trio for Rice Krispies cereal and was 'Dig'em,' the frog that sold Sugar Smacks for Kellogg's.

Dresslar's voice was used in so many different advertising campaigns that family members frequently couldn't keep track of all of his projects until they heard his voice on radio or television. The key to his long, varied career was his rich, booming voice, family members said.

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Len Dresslar put a voice to 'Snap' and 'Dig'em'

"He had a great voice -- bass, very deep," his daughter, Teri Bennett said. "We'd hear him in something we didn't even know he was doing," Bennett said. Dresslar left Chicago in 1991, retiring to Palm Springs, California, with his wife, but continued doing occasional work until about four years ago, his daughter said.

Dresslar periodically re-recorded the "Ho, Ho, Ho" for Jolly Green Giant commercials, most recently about 10 years ago for the Green Giant Food Corporation. His daughter said her father would often give advice to his family and friends with one of his favorite sayings, "If you love what you do, you've got it made!"

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Dorothy 'Nicki' H. Dresslar of Palm Springs; two daughters, Teresa 'Teri' D. Bennett of Baltimore, Maryland and Jody H. Fossell of Spokane, Washington; a sister, Corrine 'Connie' Weber of Denver, Colorado; and three grandchildren. A celebration of Mr. Dresslar's life was held Friday, October 21 at his California home.

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'Judging Amy' Teen Slain in Gang Shooting

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'Judging Amy's' Tara Correa-McMullen

LOS ANGELES, California - In a tragic case of life imitating art, teen actress Tara Correa-McMullen, who portrayed a former gang member in the TV show, "Judging Amy," was shot to death amid gang violence in Inglewood, a suburb south of Los Angeles, police said. She was 16. Funeral services were held Friday, October 28 in the Old North Church at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills.

Police authorities in Inglewood said the actress was shot several times as she stood outside an apartment complex on Friday, October 21. Two men with her were wounded. No suspects have been identified in the shooting, which is believed to be gang-related, police said. "She may have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time," Sgt. Steve Overly said.

Correa-McMullen's first movie, "Rebound," with Martin Lawrence was released this summer. During filming, the crew brought her a cake to celebrate her 15th birthday on May 24, her parents said in the eulogy. "The girl stood out in a crowd," they added. "She had a special energy and an infectious personality."

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Tara Correa-McMullen with Martin Lawrence in 'Rebound.'

After filming "Rebound," Correa-McMullen won a recurring role on "Judging Amy" as a former gang member named Graciela Reyes. Amy, portrayed by Amy Brenneman, was helping to rehabilitate her character when Graciela was arrested for murder during a drive by shooting. Ironically, at the end of season six, Graciela was killed in prison by gang members.

Sadly, Cindy Osbrink, whose agency had represented Correa-McMullen, said the teen actress had become unreliable partway through her "Judging Amy" appearances and the agency staff decided to pick her up and drive her to ensure she made the day's filming. The agency later dropped her as a client. She was signed again several months ago but dropped a second time when she missed an audition.

Correa-McMullen was remembered at her funeral as an energetic and unassuming teen. At the funeral services, her family and friends said unfortunately, Correa-McMullen recently had been hanging out with a "bad crowd" in Inglewood. "However, She didn't judge anyone," her parents said in their daughter's eulogy.

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Devora Correa, the mother of Tara Correa-McMullen, is

embraced at the funeral for her daughter.

Overcome by grief, her parents, Devora Correa and Thomas McMullen, wrote their daughter's eulogy that was read at the 16-year-old's funeral by a mortuary employee during services at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Hollywood Hills. "Whether they were a grip or a caterer, it didn't matter to her. She made friends with everyone at every level."

"She was an angel," Tara's friend, Maurice Tipton, 18, said before the service. "She had a lot of obstacles in her way that took her motivation away. She kind of went wherever she got attention," Tipton said. "But she was a good person, a sweet, giving person who cared about people and didn't want to see people get hurt."

She is survived by her mothers, Mary Devora Correa; father, Thomas McMullen; 18-year-old sister, Abigail and grandfather William H. Brown. In addition to her immediate family, she is survived by numerous uncles, aunts, cousins and close friends. In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made in her remembrance to Tara Correa-McMullen Memorial Fund: Citi Bank, Burbank Financial Center, 360 E. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502.

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'Dead Zone', 'Star Trek' Producer Michael Piller

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'Dead Zone', 'Star Trek' Producer Michael Piller

Michael Piller, co-creator of USA Network's "The Dead Zone" TV show and a veteran "Star Trek" writer/producer, died in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 1 after a long fight with cancer, the official "Star Trek" Web site reported. Piller suffered from an aggressive form of head and neck cancer. He was 57.

Piller is perhaps best known among SciFi fans for his contributions to the "Star Trek" franchise, for which he wrote and/or produced episodes of the 'Next Generation,' 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager.' Piller co-created that latter series with Rick Berman and Jeri Taylor. He also wrote the screenplay for the ninth "Star Trek" movie, "Insurrection."

Earlier in his career, Piller served as a staff writer on such shows as "Cagney & Lacey," "Miami Vice" and "Simon & Simon." He first joined the "Star Trek" fold in 1989, during the third season of 'The Next Generation,' when he arrived at Paramount to head up the show's writing staff.

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'Zone' Co-Creators Shawn and Michael Piller

Subsequently, Piller scripted such acclaimed episodes as the "Best of Both Worlds" two-parter, "Ensign Ro" and "Unification, Part II." An avid baseball fan, Piller worked his appreciation of the game into the 'Deep Space Nine' character of Sisko (Avery Brooks), who kept a ball on his desk throughout the run of the series.

After deciding to scale back his involvement in 'Trek,' Piller became a consultant on 'Voyager' and channeled his energy into such projects as the short-lived UPN series, "Legend," which starred 'Trek's' John de Lancie (Q) and eventual "Stargate SG-1" lead Richard Dean Anderson. Piller actually co-wrote "Death Wish," a controversial 'Voyager' episode, with his son, Shawn.

Father and son later joined forces to form the production company, Piller2 Inc. Together, they co-created "The Dead Zone," which is based on Stephen King's novel and stars Anthony Michael Hall. 'Zone' will begin its fifth season in 2006 on USA Network. In addition, Piller was creator and co-executive producer of the ABC Family TV series, "Wildfire," which co-stars 'Deep Space Nine' alumna Nana Visitor. It will begin its second season early next year.

Piller is survived by his wife, Sandra, and their children, Shawn and Brent.

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