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Obits: December 2005


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'Saw' Producer Gregg Hoffman

by Claire Hoffman, Times Staff Writer


Gregg Hoffman

LOS ANGELES, California - Gregg Hoffman, producer of the recent hit film "Saw II," died early Sunday, December 4 at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been admitted overnight after complaining of neck pain, his business partners said. He was 42. Hoffman died of natural causes, according to a news release issued from Lions Gate Entertainment, which distributed Hoffman's recent films. An autopsy is pending.

A former Walt Disney Co. executive, Hoffman was at the peak of his career in Hollywood with the back-to-back successes of the low-budget horror films "Saw" and "Saw II." Hoffman and his partners at Twisted Pictures independently financed the films, which allowed them to potentially reap tens of millions of dollars. "We've won the lottery," Hoffman said in a Times interview last month.

Hoffman's family and colleagues described him as selfless in an industry where inflated egos are common. "He never put himself in front of anybody," said Oren Koules, one of Hoffman's Twisted Pictures partners. "He never did anything for the ego

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'Erin Brockovich's' Mentor Ed Masry


Ed Masry

Attorney Edward L. Masry, the crusty personal injury lawyer and champion of the underdog for decades before Albert Finney portrayed him in the Oscar-winning movie "Erin Brockovich," died Tuesday, December 6. Masry, who practiced law for more than 40 years, died of complications of diabetes, said his son, Louis Masry. He was 73. Masry was forced to resign from the Thousand Oaks City Council on November 30 due to ill health.

Masry and Erin Brockovich, his legal assistant, gained fame when they won a $333 million settlement on behalf of more than 600 residents of the town of Hinkley. They claimed Pacific Gas & Electric tanks leaked carcinogens into the groundwater. Their efforts were depicted in the 2000 movie "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts. Roberts won the best-actress Oscar and Finney received a nomination.

Edward was born in Patterson, New Jersey, on July 29, 1932, the youngest of four children. His family moved to Southern California in 1940. He graduated from Van Nuys High School in 1950 and began attending Valley Junior College. In 1952, during the Korean Conflict, Ed waived his college deferment and joined the U.S. Army. In 1954 he was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal.


Ed Masry met with Sen. Tom Daschle and the real Erin

Brockovich to discuss environmental issues.

Upon returning to California, Masry attended the University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California. Although he never received a Bachelor's Degree, Loyola Law School accepted him on an exemption due to high placement scores. He graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1960.

Thereafter, Masry was admitted to the California State Bar, U.S. District Courts in California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Masry started his legal career as a sole practitioner in 1961 in downtown Los Angeles. His experience and expertise over his 40-year career was in criminal defense, business litigation, entertainment law, 1st Amendment causes and toxic torts (cases involving toxic environmental contamination).

Masry became heavily involved in his community and received many awards for his actions to preserve the environment and open space. Numerous organizations have recognized Masry for his commitment to the environment. Masry dedicated his life to environmental causes, humanitarian endeavors and political service including serving a year as Mayor Pro Tem of Thousand Oaks, California.

Masry is survived by his second wife, Joette; their two children, Chris and Tim; three children, Louanne, Louis and Nicole by his first wife, Jacqueline Wilson and 10 grandchildren.

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'Hulk's' McGee Actor Jack Colvin


Jack Colvin

LOS ANGELES, California - Actor Jack Colvin, best known for his role as tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the 1970s television series, "The Incredible Hulk," has died. Colvin died Thursday, December 1 in North Hollywood of complications following a stroke. He was 71.

"Jack was, in every sense of the word, a consummate artist," said his longtime friend, actress Maaren Edvard, an instructor and administrator at Michael Chekhov Studio USA West, which was founded by Colvin. "He wrote, painted and read philosophy, but he always came back to acting."

Colvin appeared in numerous TV shows, including "The Rat Patrol," "Kojak," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Rockford Files," "Cagney and Lacey" and "Murder, She Wrote." He also had minor roles in several films, including "Scorpio" and "Rooster Cogburn."


Jack Colvin in 'The Incredible Hulk'

He had a long history as a stage actor when he was approached about the "Hulk" role in 1977. The series, based on the Marvel Comics character, aired on CBS until 1982. "When they told me the title, I laughed. But then they gave me two scripts to read and I knew the series would go," he once told the Los Angeles Times.

In the show, as in the comic book, a lab experiment that went awry caused a mild-mannered scientist to turn into the green, muscular Hulk every time he lost his temper. "People identify tremendously with the frustration, the rage and the anger that breaks out in a man," Colvin once said.

The actor, who once studied under Michael Chekhov, taught the Chekhov technique at USC; California State University, Northridge; the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Central School of Cinematography in Rome. He was teaching acting two days a week and working on an original play, "A Day of Jubilo," at the time of his death, Edvard said.

He had no immediate survivors. A memorial service is planned for January.

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Comedian Richard Pryor

by Jeremiah Marquez


Richard Pryor

LOS ANGELES, California - Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, has died. He was 65. Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. of a heart attack at a hospital in the San Fernando Valley, according to his business manager of 14 years, Karen Finch.

Pryor's wife told CNN that she first tried to revive her husband who was later rushed to the hospital by paramedics. "He did not suffer, he went quickly and at the end there was a smile on his face," Jennifer Pryor said. "I'm honored now that I have an opportunity to protect and continue his legacy."

"I want to preserve his memory because he's a very, very, very amazing man and he opened doors to so many people," Jennifer Pryor continued. Richard Pryor, whose audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.


Richard Pryor

Among those most influenced by his comedy were fellow black artists such as Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others. Pryor's pioneering success made their roads to stardom all the smoother.

Regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, Pryor gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

A series of hit comedies in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, helped make him one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own Hollywood deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.


Richard Pryor provided comical relief in 'Superman III' to the late

Christopher Reeve in 1983.

Among his films: "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings," "Superman III," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip." Throughout his career, he focused on racial inequality, once joking as the host of the 1977 Academy Awards that Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier were the only black members of the Academy.

Pryor once marveled "that I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that." His records, three of which won Grammys, included "That Nigger's Crazy," "Is It Something I Said?," "Bicentennial Nigger," "Reverend Du Rite" and "Live on the Sunset Strip."

Pryor nearly lost his life in 1980, when he suffered severe burns over 50 percent of his body while freebasing cocaine at his home. An admitted "junkie" at the time, Pryor spent six weeks recovering from the burns and much longer from drug and alcohol dependence. He battled multiple sclerosis throughout the 1990s.


Richard Pryor appears scared to death as he mugs for the crowd

when facing Muhammad Ali in a benefit fight in 1978.

In his last movie, the 1991 bomb "Another You," Pryor's poor health was clearly evident. Pryor made a comeback attempt the following year, returning to standup comedy in clubs and on television while looking thin and frail, and with noticeable speech and movement difficulties.

In 1995, he played an embittered multiple sclerosis patient in an episode of the television series "Chicago Hope." The role earned him an Emmy nomination as best guest actor in a drama series.

"To be diagnosed was the hardest thing because I didn't know what they were talking about," he said. "And the doctor said 'Don't worry, in three months you'll know.' So I went about my business and then, one day, it jumped me. I couldn't get up. . . . Your muscles trick you . . . they did me."


Richard Pryor waves to the audience after receiving the Hall

of Fame award at the NAACP in 1996.

While Pryor's material sounds modest when compared with some of today's raunchier comedians, it was startling material when first introduced. He never apologized for it. Pryor was fired by one hotel in Las Vegas for "obscenities" directed at the audience. In 1970, tired of compromising his act, he quit in the middle of another Vegas stage show with the words, "What the (blank) am I doing here?" The audience was left staring at an empty stage.

He didn't tone things down after he became famous. In his 1977 NBC television series, "The Richard Pryor Show," he threatened to cancel his contract with the network. NBC's censors objected to a skit in which Pryor appeared naked save for a flesh-colored loincloth to suggest he was emasculated.

In his later years Pryor mellowed considerably, and his film roles looked more like easy paychecks than artistic endeavors. His robust work gave way to torpid efforts like "Harlem Nights," "Brewster's Millions" and "Hear No Evil, See No Evil."


Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder co-starred in the buddy comedy,

'See No Evil, Hear No Evil.'

"I didn't think 'Brewster's Millions' was good to begin with," Pryor once said. "I'm sorry, but they offered us the money. I was a pig, I got greedy. I had some great things and I had some bad things. The best and the worst," he said in 1995. "In other words, I had a life."

Recognition came in 1998 from an unlikely source: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. He said in a statement that he was proud that, "like Mark Twain, I have been able to use humor to lessen people's hatred." He was funnier in person: Asked about getting an award named for Twain, he quipped, "I didn't know him personally."

Born in 1940, to a Peoria, Illinois, construction worker, Pryor grew up in a brothel his grandmother ran and where his mother worked. His first professional performance came at age 7, when he played drums at a night club. Following high school and two years of Army service, he launched his performing career. He eventually played dives and bars throughout the United States, honing his comedy skills.

By the mid-1960s, he was appearing in Las Vegas clubs and on the television shows of Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. His first film role came with a small part in 1967's "The Busy Body." He made his starring debut as Diana Ross' piano man in 1972's "Lady Sings the Blues."


Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Buddy Hackett on NBC's 'The Flip

Wilson Show' in 1973.

Pryor also wrote scripts for the television series, "Sanford and Son," "The Flip Wilson Show" and two specials for Lily Tomlin. He collaborated with Mel Brooks on the script for the hit comedy classic, "Blazing Saddles."

Later in his career, Pryor used his films as therapy. "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling," was an autobiographical account of a popular comedian re-examining his life while lying delirious in a hospital burn ward. Pryor directed, co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the film. "I'm glad I did 'Jo Jo,'" Pryor once said. "It helped me get rid of a lot of stuff."

He had his legal problems over the years. In 1974, Pryor was sentenced to three years' probation for failing to file federal income tax returns. In 1978, he allegedly fired shots and rammed his car into a car occupied by two of his wife's friends.


Richard Pryor, lower right, poses with family members, left to right,

daughter Rain Pryor, daughter Jennifer Lee, son-in-law Jerry Stordeur

and daughter Elizabeth Pryor in 1998.

Even in poor health, his comedy was vital. At a 1992 performance, he asked the room, "Is there a doctor in the audience?" All he got was nervous laughter. "No, I'm serious. I want to know if there's a doctor here." A hand finally went up. "Doctor," Pryor said, "I need to know one thing. What the (expletive) is MS?"

Pryor was married six times, most recently to Flynn. The two had a son, Steven. Previous children included a son, Richard, and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee.

Daughter Rain became an actress. In an interview in 2005, she told the Philadelphia Inquirer that her father always "put his life right out there for you to look at. I took that approach because I saw how well audiences respond to it. I try to make you laugh at life." One of his ex-wives, Jennifer Lee, returned to Pryor's side after he fell ill, serving as his assistant and companion.

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Guest ranster627

Thanks for posting that, I was watching CNN this afternoon when the tragic news came through as breaking news. I was listening to his wife, my heart goes out to her. Seems like all the legends are going, although it was sudden and tragic, I am glad he didn't suffer, according to his wife.

He passed away of a cardiac arrest this morning (7ish).

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Former Senator Eugene McCarthy

by Frederic J. Frommer


Eugene McCarthy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign toppled a sitting president in 1968 and forced the Democratic Party to take seriously his message against the Vietnam War, died Saturday, December 10. He was 89.

McCarthy died in his sleep at assisted living home in the Georgetown neighborhood where he had lived for the past few years, said his son, Michael. Eugene McCarthy challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination during growing debate over the Vietnam War. The challenge led to Johnson's withdrawal from the race.

The former college professor, who ran for president five times in all, was in some ways an atypical politician, a man with a witty, erudite speaking style who wrote poetry in his spare time and was the author of several books. "He was thoughtful and he was principled and he was compassionate and he had a good sense of humor," his son said.


Eugene McCarthy

When Eugene McCarthy ran for president in 1992, he explained his decision to leave the seclusion of his home in rural Woodville, Va., for the campaign trail by quoting Plutarch, the ancient Greek historian: "They are wrong who think that politics is like an ocean voyage or military campaign, something to be done with some particular end in view."

McCarthy got less than 1 percent of the vote in 1992 in New Hampshire, the state where he helped change history 24 years earlier. Helped by his legion of idealistic young volunteers known as "clean-for-Gene kids," McCarthy got 42 percent of the vote in the state's 1968 Democratic primary. That showing embarrassed Johnson into withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to his vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey.

Sen. Robert Kennedy of New York also decided to seek the nomination, but was assassinated in June 1968. McCarthy and his followers went to the party convention in Chicago, where fellow Minnesotan Humphrey won the nomination amid bitter strife both on the convention floor and in the streets.


Senator Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy prepare for their

presidential debate at KGO-TV in San Francisco on June 1, 1968.

"Gene's name will forever be linked with our family," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. "In spite of the rivalry with Bobby in the 1968 campaign, I admired Gene enormously for his courage in challenging a war America never should have fought. His life speaks volumes to us today, as we face a similar critical time for our country."

Humphrey went on to narrowly lose the general election to Richard Nixon. The racial, social and political tensions within the Democratic Party in 1968 have continued to affect presidential politics ever since. "It was a tragic year for the Democratic Party and for responsible politics, in a way," McCarthy said in a 1988 interview.

"There were already forces at work that might have torn the party apart anyway - the growing women's movement, the growing demands for greater racial equality, an inability to incorporate all the demands of a new generation. But in 1968, the party became a kind of unrelated bloc of factions . . . each refusing accommodation with another, each wanting control at the expense of all the others."


Sen. Eugene McCarthy talks to campaign workers and the press

at his Bedford, New Hampshire, campaign headquarters in 1968.

Although he supported the Korean War, McCarthy said he opposed the Vietnam War because "as it went on, you could tell the people running it didn't know what was going on." Former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., said McCarthy's presidential run in 1968 dramatically changed the antiwar movement.

"It was no longer a movement of concerned citizens, but became a national political movement," McGovern said. "He was an inspiration to me in all of my life in politics." McGovern won the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, when McCarthy ran a second time.

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who ran for vice president in 2004, said McCarthy "was a remarkable American, a man who spoke his conscience, and he was a great leader for my party." In recent years, McCarthy was critical of campaign finance reform, winning him an unlikely award from the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2000.


Former Senator Eugene McCarthy in

front of New York City Hall in 1996.

In an interview when he got the award, McCarthy said money helped him in the 1968 race. "We had a few big contributors," he said. "And that's true of any liberal movement. In the American Revolution, they didn't get matching funds from George III."

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, McCarthy said the United States was partly to blame for ignoring the plight of Palestinians. "You let a thing like that fester for 45 years, you have to expect something like this to happen," he said in an interview at the time. "No one at the White House has shown any concern for the Palestinians."

In a 2004 biography, "Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism," British historian Dominic Sandbrook painted an unflattering portrait of McCarthy, calling him lazy and jealous, among other things. McCarthy, Sandbrook wrote, "willfully courted the reputation of frivolous maverick."


Eugene McCarthy's strong second-place finish in the Democratic

primary in New Hampshire 1968 was seen as a strong statement

against the Vietnam War.

In McCarthy's 1998 book, "No-Fault Politics," editor Keith C. Burris described McCarthy in the introduction as "a Catholic committed to social justice but a skeptic about reform, about do-gooders, about the power of the state and the competence of government, and about the liberal reliance upon material cures for social problems."

McCarthy was born March 29, 1916, in Watkins, a central Minnesota town of about 750. He earned degrees from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., and the University of Minnesota. He was a teacher, a civilian War Department employee and college economics and sociology instructor before turning to politics. He once spent a year in a monastery.

He was elected to the House in 1948. Ten years later he was elected to the Senate and re-elected in 1964. McCarthy left the Senate in 1970 and devoted much of his time to writing poetry, essays and books. With a sardonic sense of humor, McCarthy needled whatever establishment was in power.


Eugene McCarthy

In 1980 he endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan with the argument that anyone was better than incumbent Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. On his 85th birthday in 2001, McCarthy told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that President Bush was an amateur and said he could not even bear to watch his inauguration.

In an interview a month before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, McCarthy compared the Bush administration with the characters in the William Golding novel "Lord of the Flies," in which a group of boys stranded on an island turn to savagery. "The bullies are running it," McCarthy said. "Bush is bullying everything."

McCarthy was an advocate for a third-party movement, arguing there was no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. He blamed the media for deciding who is and is not a serious candidate and suggested he should have kept his 1992 candidacy a secret, since announcing it publicly did no good.

In 2000, he wrote a political satire called "An American Bestiary," illustrated by Chris Millis, in which high-level advisers are portrayed as park pigeons - "they strut and waddle" - and reporters are compared with black birds who flock together. McCarthy also ran for president in 1972, 1976 and 1988.


Eugene McCarthy, left, and his wife, Abigail, celebrate the victory

by the senator in the Oregon Democratic presidential primary on

May 29, 1968.

For McCarthy, the 1950s and 1960s were the Democratic Party's high points because it pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and championed national health insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. "I think he probably would consider his work in civil rights legislation in the 1960s to be his greatest contribution," his son said.

The bad times, Eugene McCarthy said, began with America's increased involvement in the Vietnam War and the simultaneous failure of some of Johnson's Great Society social programs. Instead of giving people a chance to earn a living, McCarthy said, the Great Society "became affirmative action and more welfare. It was an admission the New Deal had failed or fallen."

In recent years McCarthy had lived at Georgetown Retirement Residence, an assisted living center in Washington. He and his wife, Abigail, separated after the 1968 election. She died in 2001.

Survivors include daughters Ellen and Margaret and six grandchildren, Michael McCarthy said. A private burial is planned for next week and a memorial service in Washington will be scheduled, Michael McCarthy said.

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'Little Women' Actress Jean Parker

by Mary Rourke


Jean Parker

LOS ANGELES, California - Jean Parker, the lovely brunette star of "Sequoia," "Little Women," "The Ghost Goes West" and other hit films of the 1930s and '40s, has died. Parker died November 30 of complications from a stroke at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital. She was 90. Her son, Robert Hanks, told the Los Angeles Times that she had lived at the retirement home since 1998.

A petite beauty from Butte, Montana, the 5-foot-3-inch Parker had her acting career launched by a lucky chain of circumstances, at least according to Hollywood legend. An aspiring artist, Parker had won a statewide prize for a poster depicting Father Time. Her poster, along with her photograph, appeared on a float in that year's New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Ida Koverman, secretary to MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, is said to have seen the poster and her photograph and recommended her for a contract. "My ambition was to be an artist. I had no thought of acting," Parker, who had moved from Montana to Pasadena at age 6 with her family, said later.


Jean Parker

Some biographical sources say she was born Luis (or Luise) Stephanie Zelinska in Butte, Montana, in 1912, but Hanks said she was born Lois May Green in Deer Lodge, Montana, in 1915. She came to California in the early 1930s with her father, who took a job as a chef at the Green Hotel in Pasadena. Her mother and Parker's sister, Levona, joined the family soon afterward; her parents later divorced.

Parker began her career as a contract actress at MGM studio in the early 1930s. Pretty and vivacious, she gained a reputation for working quickly and well. Parker made her debut in 1932 as the Duchess Maria in "Rasputin and the Empress," a film that starred three members of acting's Barrymore family, Ethel, Lionel and John.


Katharine Hepburn, Spring Byington, Jean Parker, Joan Bennett

and Frances Dee as the March family in 'Little Women.'

She went on to play ingenues in such other MGM films as "The Secret of Madame Blanche" with Irene Dunne, "Operator 13" starring Marion Davies and Gary Cooper), and "Gabriel over the White House" with Walter Huston.

Her most prestigious films were made by other studios: Frank Capra's "Lady for a Day" in 1933, Rene Clair's "The Ghost Goes West" with Robert Donat in 1935, and notably "Little Women" as Beth in 1933, opposite Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett and Francis Dee as the other sisters in the heralded film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's literary classic.

In 1934, some critics considered "Sequoia" Parker's finest accomplishment. As the solo star of that film, she played a girl living near a national park who raises an unlikely pair, an orphaned fawn and mountain lion who grow up as friends.


Jean Parker and Gregory Peck in 'The Gunfighter.'

In 1950, Parker had a supporting role in "The Gunfighter" with Gregory Peck in the lead as a gunman who wants to retire and settle down. The film remains a strong example of the psychological dramas set in the American West that were popular in the 1950s.

Throughout her career, she often had small roles in movies that featured major stars. In 1934 she appeared in "Operator 13," set during the Civil War, with Marion Davies and Gary Cooper in the leading roles. Other notable films included "Texas Rangers," a western with Fred MacMurray and "Bluebeard" with John Carradine.

She also made an appearance in "The Flying Deuces," a Laurel and Hardy classic comedy of 1939 in which she played the daughter of an innkeeper. In the film, Ollie Hardy falls in love with her, but things don't work out and, to forget her, he joins the Foreign Legion.


Jean Parker

Parker had leading roles in a number of B movies in the 1930s and '40s, including "Detective Kitty O'Day" in 1944. That year she also played opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in a whodunit, "Dead Man's Eyes." Later, Parker made guest appearances in several TV series, including "Private Secretary," "Suspense" and "Starlight Theater" in the 1950s.

"Acting is truly a glorious and noble profession," Parker said in an interview for 1992's "Who's Who in Hollywood," edited by David Ragan. "When anyone can give other people a few hours of escape or enchantment away from the ills of the world and their own personal lives, that's a very worthwhile occupation."

Her career waned in the 1950s as the roles became smaller and less frequent. In "Those Redheads from Seattle" in 1953, she played a bartender in a Klondike saloon. Her only 1960s film was "Apache Uprising," in which she had just one scene.


Jean Parker

During the lulls in movie work, Parker also appeared on stage in Broadway shows and in touring productions. In 1946, she had a small role in "Burlesque," starring Bert Lahr. Parker played in regional theater, often with her fourth husband, actor Robert Lowery. She and Lowery also formed a nightclub act and toured the United States and Australia.

Parker replaced Judy Holliday in a leading role on Broadway in "Born Yesterday" when Holliday left to make a movie in 1949. The play ran for about a year with Parker in the lead. She also had roles in the West Coast productions of several plays, including "Born Yesterday" in the 1950s.

In the 1960s and '70s, she worked as an acting coach to numerous young actors, but eventually became known in Hollywood as a recluse. Her final years were spent at the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement home in Los Angeles' Woodland Hills section.


Jean Parker

Married four times, all of her marriages ended in divorce. Her husbands were New York newsman George MacDonald, radio commentator Douglas Dawson and insurance broker Curtis Grotter.

Her third husband was actor Robert Lowery, most noted as the hero in the 1949 serial, "Batman." He and Parker had a son, Robert Lowery Hanks, named for his father whose real last name was Hanks. She later separated from Lowery, who died in 1971, Hanks said.

Along with her son, Parker is survived by two granddaughters, Katie and Nora Hanks

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'Daily Show' Saddened by Suicide

An employee of the Comedy Central program "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" has committed suicide, leading the network to suspend production of the Monday, December 12 episode of the program, a spokesman confirmed.

Bill Clarey, 25, took his own life over the weekend, according to the network. A former "Daily Show" intern, Clarey also worked as a receptionist at the program's offices in New York. Comedy Central has sent grief counselors to the "Daily Show" set to help its employees, sources said, who first learned of the suicide upon coming to work on Monday, December 12.

"Bill Clarey, a young staff member of 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,' passed away over the weekend. He was a wonderful and dedicated employee and all of us at Comedy Central and 'The Daily Show' are devastated by his loss. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends," the network said in a statement.

The network was scheduled to shoot a week's worth of new episodes before shutting down for the final two weeks of the year. The network will air a "Daily Show" repeat instead of the regularly scheduled episode.

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'West Wing' Actor John Spencer


John Spencer

LOS ANGELES, California - John Spencer, who played a tough and dedicated politico on "The West Wing" who survived a serious illness to run for vice president, died of a heart attack Friday, December 16. He was 58. Spencer died after being admitted to a Los Angeles hospital during the night, said his publicist Ron Hofmann. He was four days shy of his 59th birthday on Tuesday, December 20.

"John was a consummate professional actor and everyone adored him," said actress Allison Janney, C.J. Cregg on the NBC series. "We will miss him deeply." Co-star Bradley Whitford released a statement, "I can't believe that he is gone. We have all lost a dear, dear brother." Actor Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler, said Spencer had been struggling with health issues but seemed to have rebounded.

Schiff went on to speak fondly of his "West Wing" co-star, "John was one of those rare combinations of divinely gifted and incredibly generous. There are very few personal treasures that you put in your knapsack to carry with you for the rest of your life, and he's one of those," Schiff recalled in an interview on the passing of his acting colleague.


Martin Sheen and John Spencer in 'The West Wing'

Spencer played Leo McGarry, the savvy and powerful chief of staff to President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet, portrayed by Martin Sheen, through the first few seasons of the NBC series. In a sad parallel to life, Spencer's character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job.

The character recovered and was picked as a running mate for Democratic presidential contender, Congressman Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits. The campaign against Republican Arnold Vinick, acted by Alan Alda, has been a central theme for the drama this season.

Smits, who worked with Spencer on both "West Wing" and "L.A. Law," said he was grateful his friend would continue to live on via his work. "John was a true pillar of a man, he set the stage for kindness and generosity," Smits said in a statement. "His humor and smile were infectious, he will be greatly missed."


John Spencer gets affectionate with his best

supporting actor Emmy Award in 2002

Spencer's death would seem to throw into disarray the series' season-long presidential campaign storyline. In an episode that had been slated to air on January 8, Spencer's character, Leo McGarry engages in a vice presidential debate with his Republican counterpart, played by Brett Cullen. There is no official word on what producers plan to do with the episode yet.

In 2002, Spencer received an Emmy Award for his performance on "The West Wing." He received an additional four Emmy nominations for the drama. The character of Leo McGarry also earned Spencer a Golden Globe nomination as well.

"We're shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden death of our friend and colleague," Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme said in a joint statement today. Sorkin was the creator behind "The West Wing" and Schlamme was one of the original executive producers.


John Spencer

"John was an uncommonly good man, an exceptional role model and a brilliant actor. We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He'll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends," they said.

Series executive producer John Wells remembered Spencer not only for his acting but as "a generous and gracious friend." NBC and producer Warner Bros. Television issued a statement calling Spencer a "remarkable man with enormous talent." However, they did not address how his death would affect the Emmy Award-winning series, in production on its seventh season.

The actor, whose world-weary countenance was perfect for the role of McGarry, mirrored his character in several ways: both McGarry and Spencer were recovering alcoholics. Spencer argued that, of the two, McGarry was the "better man." He said, "McGarry has qualities that I wish I had more of. I often say to Aaron [sorkin], 'You're writing the man I'd like to be.'"


Often seen on his arm at award ceremonies was Patty

Mariano with John Spencer at the 2004 SAG Awards

In addition, Spencer once said that he and his alter ego were both driven. "Like Leo, I've always been a workaholic, too," Spencer told The Associated Press in a 2000 interview. "Through good times and bad, acting has been my escape, my joy, my nourishment. The drug for me, even better than alcohol, was acting."

Spencer grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of blue-collar parents. With his enrollment at the Professional Children's School in Manhattan at age 16, he was sharing classes with the likes of Liza Minnelli and budding violinist Pinchas Zukerman.

As a teenager, Spencer landed a recurring role on "The Patty Duke Show" as the boyfriend of English twin, Cathy. Stage and film work followed. Then his big break: playing Harrison Ford's detective sidekick in the 1990 courtroom thriller, "Presumed Innocent."


In a light moment, John Spencer shares the limelight with fellow

muppet thespians, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog

Spencer's role in "Presumed Innocent" led to his hiring for the final four years of "L.A. Law" as attorney Tommy Mullaney. Spencer played a streetwise lawyer on the David E. Kelley drama that was in sharp contrast to the show's otherwise glamorous cast and setting.

After attending the Manhattan Performing Arts School, Spencer studied at Fairleigh Dickenson University. Spencer then began working on stage in New York and in regional theaters. Spencer also had numerous theatrical credits including David Mamet's "Lakeboat" and Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."

Spencer won an Obie Award for the 1981 off-Broadway production of "Still Life," about a Vietnam veteran, and received a Drama Desk nomination for "The Day Room." Spencer was featured in the 2002 theatrical production of "The Exonerated."


Kevin Spacey, John Spencer, Ron Rifkin and David Morse in the

Samuel L. Jackson dramatic action film, 'The Negotiator'

His made his feature film debut with a small role in "War Games," which was followed by roles in "Sea of Love" and "Black Rain." Spencer said his work in "Presumed Innocent" represented a "watershed role." Later, he acted in the 1996 Billy Crystal romantic comedy "Forget Paris" as a wisecracking co-worker to Billy Crystal's basketball referee.

Spencer also had a role in 1996's "The Rock" as the untrustworthy FBI official Womack. In recent years, he worked both in studio and independent films, including "The Negotiator," "Albino Alligator," "Lesser Prophets," "Black Rain" and "Cold Heart."

Spencer, an only child, is survived by "cousins, aunts, uncles, and wonderful friends," Hofmann said. Service and funeral arrangements were pending.

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Pulitzer-Winning Columnist Jack Anderson

by Connie Cass


Columnist Jack Anderson

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Jackson 'Jack' Northman Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning muckraking columnist who struck fear into the hearts of corrupt or secretive politicians, inspiring Nixon operatives to plot his murder, died Saturday, December 17. Anderson died at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from Parkinson's disease, said one of his daughters, Laurie Anderson-Bruch. He was 83.

Anderson gave up his syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column at age 81 in July 2004, after Parkinson's disease left him too ill to continue. He had been hired by the column's founder, Drew Pearson, in 1947.

The column broke a string of big scandals, from Eisenhower assistant Sherman Adams taking a vicuna coat and other gifts from a wealthy industrialist in 1958 to the Reagan administration's secret arms-for-hostages deal with Iran in 1986. It appeared in some 1,000 newspapers in its heyday. Anderson took over the column after Pearson's death in 1969, working with a changing cast of co-authors and staff over the years.


Journalist Jack Anderson (center) makes a rare public appearance at

American University with University Librarian Patricia Wand and Music

Librarian James Heintze.

A devout Mormon, Anderson looked upon journalism as a calling. Considered one of the fathers of investigative reporting, Anderson was renowned for his tenacity, aggressive techniques and influence in the nation's capital.

"He was a bridge for the muckrakers of a century ago and the crop that came out of Watergate," said Mark Feldstein, Anderson's biographer and a journalism professor at George Washington University. "He held politicians to a level of accountability in an era where journalists were very deferential to those in power."

Anderson won a 1972 Pulitzer Prize for reporting that the Nixon administration secretly tilted toward Pakistan in its war with India. He also published the secret transcripts of the Watergate grand jury.


Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Jack Anderson

Such scoops earned him a spot on President Nixon's "enemies list." Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy has described how he and other Nixon political operatives planned ways to silence Anderson permanently

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Bread Drummer Mike Botts


Mike Botts

LOS ANGELES, California - Mike Botts, best-known as the drummer for the 1970s soft rock band, Bread, died of cancer on Friday, December 9 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 61.

Botts, who also recorded and toured with Linda Ronstadt, Dan Fogelberg, Eddie Money, Tina Turner and others, grew up in Sacramento and began playing the drums in high school. He joined Bread in time to make the group's second album, "On the Waters." That album included Bread's most enduring hit,"If."

Bread had a series of hit singles along with a hit album, "Baby I'm-A Want You." Their follow-up album, "Guitar Man" proved an equal success. Personal disputes between band members caused Bread to disband. With the dissolution of Bread in 1973, Botts became a session drummer and recorded and toured with Ronstadt.

Botts rejoined Bread in 1977 for a one-album reunion and released another album, "Lost Without Your Love." The title track was the band's last Top Ten hit, and it peaked at Number 9. Tensions soon drove the band apart again, this time permanently. After the tour, Botts resumed session playing.

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'Waltons' Actress Mary Jackson


Mary Jackson

LOS ANGELES, California - Mary Jackson, a character actress best remembered for portraying Miss Emily Baldwin on the CBS series, "The Waltons," died Saturday, December 11, of complications from Parkinson's disease at her home in Hollywood, said her assistant, Woody Roll. She was 95.

Jackson's television and movie career, which began in 1952, spanned five decades and dozens of roles. In the movies, she played Jane Fonda's mother in 1977's "Fun With Dick and Jane" and one of the nuns in 1970's "Airport." She portrayed the great-grandmother on NBC's "Parenthood" in 1990. Jackson made her last TV appearance in the 1997 CBS reunion movie, "A Walton Easter."

Born in 1910 in Milford, Michigan, Jackson graduated with a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in 1932. She briefly taught school before acting in summer stock and on stage in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

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'Entourage's' Turtle Inspiration Donnie Carroll

by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa


Donnie Carroll and Mark Wahlberg

Donnie Carroll, the Dorchester rapper and inspiration for the character "Turtle" in Mark Wahlberg's hit HBO comedy, "Entourage," died over the weekend, reportedly of an asthma attack. Carroll, who was known as "Donkey," collapsed in his fiancee's arms on the evening of Sunday, December 18. He was 39.

Carroll was rushed to the hospital but died in the emergency room. "He didn't make it," a tearful Mira Shanti, Carroll's fiancee, told the Track. Shanti cried, "He had asthma and he had an attack. He fell into my arms. We rushed him to the hospital but they couldn

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'It's A Wonderful Life' Actress Argentina Brunetti

by Dennis McLellan


Argentina Brunetti

LOS ANGELES, California - Argentina Brunetti, a veteran character actress who played multiethnic roles

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Character Actor Vincent Schiavelli Dies

ROME - Vincent Schiavelli, the droopy-eyed character actor who appeared in scores of movies, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Ghost," died Monday at his home in Sicily. He was 57.

He died of lung cancer, said Salvatore Glorioso, mayor of Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian village where Schiavelli resided.

Schiavelli, whose gloomy look made him perfect to play creepy or eccentric characters, made appearances in some 150 film and television productions, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Among the movies: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Amadeus," "Batman Returns," and "The People vs. Larry Flynt." He was selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of America's best character actors.

Schiavelli, who was born and raised in New York, studied acting at New York University's School of the Arts.

He also wrote three cookbooks and many food articles for magazines and newspapers, possibly inheriting his love for cooking from his grandfather, who had been a cook for an Italian baron before moving to the United States, according to IMDB.

"He was a great friend, a great chef and a great talker," Glorioso, who has known Schiavelli for almost four years, said in a telephone interview.

"With a smooth, witty conversation, he would make everything look more colorful. I've lost a brother," he said.

Schiavelli also had worked in Italy, including in 2001 when he directed a theater piece in Sicily based on nine fables.

A funeral service will be held Tuesday in Polizzi Generosa, Glorioso said.


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Thanks Yana, I was just about to post it myself. I'll find some further details and post another one later in the day. I really enjoyed this character actor. They don't mention his ex-wife. He was married to the quirky character actress, "Moonlighting's" Allyce Beasley from 1985 to 1988. I've put together a biography from numerous sources including Wikipedia.com to pay tribute to this amazing and strangely talented actor.

Vincent Schiavelli


November 10, 1948 - December 26, 2005

Character actor Vincent Schiavelli, who appeared in scores of movies, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Ghost," died Monday, December 26 at his home in Sicily. He was 57. He died of lung cancer, said Salvatore Glorioso, mayor of Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian village where Schiavelli resided.

Some actors work a lifetime to perfect what Vincent Schiavelli could do with a glance. This wasn't because of his acting ability - though he was a fine actor. Schiavelli had the countenance of a melting clock, the hooded eyes of a serial killer, the smile of someone who might be off his medication. It was a curse he forged into a career.

Usually, Schiavelli was cast as a hit man, a madman or a mad scientist. He was the name you couldn't remember with a face you couldn't forget. Along the way, Schiavelli became the ultimate, "Hey! It's That Guy!" - a term invented by authors Tara Ariano and Adam Sternbergh to encompass those journeymen actors we all recognize but can't identify.


Vincent Schiavelli

"See him once, and he catches your eye," Sternbergh wrote. "See him again, and he catches your eye, puts it in a cage, gives it a name and keeps it as a pet. We don't want to say what happens when you see him a third time."

If Schiavelli begrudged this lot, he never admitted it. "I'm tall," he told the Washington Times in 1990. "Well, tall is a little wrong. I would say I'm elongated. I think I have very sad eyes. I think I have a very aristocratic nose - that means large. The fact that I'm an actor is beginning to show more. Rather than just another pretty face."

His looks were at least partly attributed to Marfan Syndrome, a genetic defect that affects the connective tissue of the body. Those who have Marfan - and Abraham Lincoln is considered to be one - tend to be very tall and loose-jointed, with limbs disproportionate to the rest of the body. Schiavelli was an honorary co-chair of the National Marfan Foundation, and would speak to youth about the disorder.


Vincent Schiavelli in 'Ghost'

Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, has made over 150 film and television appearances. He first appeared on film in 1971, in Director Milos Forman's "Taking Off." He was featured in many of Forman's future projects. Forman once said that he used Schiavelli in his films as a good luck charm.

Schiavelli's aptitude and distinctive appearance soon gave him a steady career in supporting roles. His well known movie roles include biology teacher, Mr. Vargas, in the 1982 hit comedy movie, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which he reprised in the film's 1980s television spin-off series, "Fast Times." His role as a "subway spirit" in the hit 1990 drama, "Ghost" won him much critical acclaim, as the character, although minor, noticeably stood out with viewers.

Standing six foot five inches, Schiavelli cut an ominious figure on screen. He appeared in two different, completely unrelated productions in which he played a hit man targeting a character played by Teri Hatcher. He first stalked Hatcher in the 1985 television series, "MacGyver" and again in 1997 on the big screen in the James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies."


Vincent Schiavelli as Frederickson in 'One Flew Over

The Cuckoo's Nest' in 1975.

Schiavelli appeared as Frederickson in the 1975 Academy Award-winning film, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" opposite Jack Nicholson and his future "Taxi" co-star, Christopher Lloyd. He had a recurring role in 1980's hit series as Reverend Gorky. His most notable appearance was in the episode, "The Wedding of Latka and Simka."

Schiavelli portrayed 'Salieri's' valet in the critically-acclaimed 1984 Milos Forman film, "Amadeus." Schiavelli continued to collaborate with Forman, having appeared in a strong supporting role of Maynard Smith in Forman's 1997 biopic of Andy Kaufman, "Man on the Moon," opposite Jim Carrey.

Schiavelli's first television work came in 1972, as a minor character in a short-lived ABC sitcom, "The Corner Bar." His character Peter Panama, a set designer, was the first openly gay character on American network television. He played an alien on "Star Trek," a pagan on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and a conjoined twin on "The X-Files." Other television credits include "Moonlighting" and a regular guest spot on "Cheers."


Vincent Schiavelli

Vincent Andrew Schiavelli was born into a Sicilian-American family in Brooklyn, New York. During his high school years, he was the star of all the Drama Society's presentations and was a member of the National Honor Society. He studied acting through the Theater Program at New York University Tisch School of the Arts where he met 'Cuckoo's' director Milos Forman. Schiavelli began working on the stage in the 1960s.

Having a respected Sicilian chef for a grandfather rubbed off on Schiavelli, as he was also the author of three cookbooks and numerous food articles for magazines and newspapers. Schiavelli was nominated numerous times for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award. In 2001, he achieved the literary honor for a Los Angeles Times article on Sicilian cooking.

His cookbooks include 1996's "The Sicilian Cookbook, Recipes from a Sicilian Chef as Remembered by his Grandson" and 1998's "Bruculinu, America: Remembrances of Sicilian-American Brooklyn, Told in Stories and Recipes." Published in 2002, "Many Beautiful Things" is a compilation of recipes and anecdotes about his visits to Polizzi Generosa, the small hilltop town that was his grandparents' birthplace.

Schiavelli was married to actress Allyce Beasley from 1985 until their divorce in 1988. They had a son, Andrea Joseph in 1987. On October 23, 1992, Schiavelli married musician Carol Mukhalian. They have one child together.

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Dunkin' Donuts Ad Actor Michael Vale

by Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer


Michael Vale

NEW YORK, New York - Michael Vale, the durable character actor who starred in more than 100 Dunkin' Donuts commercials as the early-rising Fred the Baker and joked that he got paid in doughnuts, has died. He was 83. Vale died Saturday, December 24, at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City of complications from diabetes, said his son, Tracy Vale of Los Angeles.

The Brooklyn-born character actor was a veteran of a dozen Broadway shows, a handful of movies and about 1,000 commercials when he joined some 300 other actors for a Dunkin' Donuts casting call in 1982.

About 40 of the contenders, including the short, folksy Vale, were called back to try their lines as the self-sacrificing Fred, who would rise each morning at 4 a.m. to help boost Dunkin' Donuts into the world's largest coffee and doughnut chain.

"The first time he said 'Time to make the doughnuts,' we were hysterical," Ron Berger, partner and creative director of the company's advertising agency, told the Boston Herald in 1997. "We knew the importance of the role. It was such that you want someone that people are going to like and definitely relate to. Michael was it."

Vale became the personification of the burgeoning doughnut chain. The phrase "time to make doughnuts," which he uttered so memorably and so often for 15 years, was used as the title for a 2001 autobiography by Dunkin' Donuts founder William Rosenberg.

The Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin' Donuts said in a statement that Vale's character "became a beloved American icon that permeated our culture and touched millions with his sense of humor and humble nature." Police officers, known for a love of doughnuts and coffee, were special fans

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New Orleans Filmmaker Stevenson J. Palfi

Filmmmaker Stevenson J. Palfi, best known for the award-winning documentary, "Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together," has died. He was 53. Palfi shot himself December 14 at his home, his family told The Times-Picayune.

Relatives said Hurricane Katrina had destroyed or severely damaged almost all of his property and possessions, and he was severely depressed. He had been living with his former wife and co-producer, Polly Waring, whose home was one of the few still habitable in the Mid-City area where both lived.

Palfi grew up in Chicago, where he graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The 1982 documentary for which he was best known features three generations of New Orleans pianists: Isidore 'Tuts' Washington, Henry Roeland 'Professor Longhair' Byrd and Allen Toussaint, composer of such hits as "Workin' in a Coal Mine," "Mother-in-Law" and "Southern Nights." The film is still in distribution.

At the time of his death, Palfi was in the final stages of production on a feature-length program about Toussaint titled "Songwriter, Unknown." He had been working on the film for more than 15 years.

"My friend Stevenson Palfi's life's work was immortalizing others, and, in so doing, he has immortalized himself. His work will outlast all of us," Toussaint said. Other New Orleans musicians who were subjects of Palfi's works included singer Ernie K-Doe and Preservation Hall banjoist Emmanuel 'Manny' Sayles.

His work included a 13-week series of documentaries and short films produced for The Learning Channel and hosted by actor Martin Sheen, a personal friend. That series included "Setting the Record Straight," showing the musical versatility of violinist Papa John Creach, former fiddler for the rock band, Jefferson Starship.

Mr. Palfi received grants, fellowships and awards from, among others, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Channel Four Network of Great Britain, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Survivors include a daughter, Nell Palfi; his father, Alfred M. Palfi of Michiana Shores, Indiana; and a sister, Cynthia Penfold of Avon, Indiana. A tribute to Palfi is planned at Offbeat Magazine's "Best of the Beat" Awards ceremony January 21 at the New Orleans House of Blues. Plans for a musical celebration of his life and work will be announced later.

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'Tiger' Creator Bud Blake


Bud Blake

Bud Blake, the genial cartoonist whose "Tiger" comic strip was adored worldwide by comics fans for its warm and humorous glimpses into childhood, died on Monday, December 26, at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was 87.

Blake created "Tiger" in 1965. Fed up with a two-hour commute, administrative details, long business trips and client lunches, Blake quit his job as executive art director of the Kudner Advertising Agency, having started there at age 18 as a paste-up boy.

Even though he was surrounded by what he called "good men and good pay," Blake realized that all the time he spent commuting and traveling meant less and less time at the drawing board, where he was happiest.


Animator Bud Blake

After a three-month sojourn to Spain, Blake returned to his drawing board as a freelance cartoonist for a variety of advertising clients and magazines, such as Business Week and Family Circle. He created a series of one-panel cartoons, which he brought to King Features Syndicate.

The syndicate signed him to do a daily panel called, "Ever Happen to You?" But, the panel and extra assignments were not exactly what Blake had in mind for his career. He aspired to write and draw his own daily and Sunday comic strip.

Blake envisioned a strip about a little boy named Tiger and his scrappy group of friends. More of a catalyst than a leader, Tiger pals around with his little brother Punkinhead, his best friend Hugo and his faithful, spotted dog, Stripe. Suzy and Bonnie, Tiger's feminine rivals, and Julian, the bespectacled "brain," round out Blake's rich cast of endearing characters.


Bud Blake's 'Tiger'

During this period, King Features Syndicate had turned down more than 50 "kid strips" in search of "the perfect comic strip portraying the wisdom and humor of children." When Blake submitted samples of "Tiger," the search was officially declared over. Blake's characters, humor and artistic talent met the high standards that King Features sought.

"Throughout his long and illustrious career, Bud Blake maintained a reputation as one of the country's most talented cartoonists. He was highly respected by his peers for the quality and charm of his artwork and his inspiring view of a child's world," said Jay Kennedy, editor in chief at King Features Syndicate.

Describing his characters, Blake often said, "The characters are composites of various youngsters in my neighborhood and from my own childhood." For example, Hugo was a boy who used to beat up Blake regularly. "I don't remember his real name, but I know it wasn't Hugo. I'll never forget that he was bigger and tougher than the rest of us," Blake recalled. Stripe, Tiger's canine companion, was modeled after Blake's own dog Jenny.


Bud Blake's 'Tiger'

As the popularity of "Tiger" grew, Blake had to give up "Ever Happen To You?" and his freelance work to concentrate on his snub-nosed tykes. The National Cartoonists Society selected "Tiger" three times as the year's best humor strip in 1970, 1978 and 2000. "Tiger" has been nominated multiple times for the NCS' top honor, the Reuben Award.

"Tiger" still appears in more than 100 newspapers in 11 different countries. Syndication of the strip will continue internationally using reprints of Blake's classic work.

Blake was born in Nutley, New Jersey in 1918 and attended grammar and high school there. As a boy, he was fond of woodcarving, so he left high school to work the carnivals, state fairs and seaside boardwalks as a demonstrator for a penknife company, doing quick, three-dimensional sketches of spectators in balsa wood.

Encouraged by the sale of a few cartoons to the old Judge magazine, he studied art at various schools, among them the National Academy of Design. After brief stints as a soda jerker, lifeguard and sketch man in a commercial art studio, Blake joined the Kudner Advertising Agency in New York. He moved quickly from paste-up boy to renderer to layout artist.

Finally, by the age of 36, he was promoted to Executive Art Director of the Agency. Then, on a sudden impulse in 1954, he decided to turn his back on the corporate world to happily return full-time to his drawing board. Blake will be remembered for his individual artistic style and for allowing the kids in "Tiger" to just be kids.

A widower, Blake is survived by his son Jay and daughter Marianna. A memorial service for family and friends will be held at Strong Funeral Home in Damariscotta, Maine. In lieu of flowers, fans may make a donation in memory of Bud Blake to their favorite charitable organization.

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'Old School' Actor Patrick Cranshaw

by Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer


Patrick Cranshaw

Patrick Cranshaw, a veteran character actor who unexpectedly attained pop-culture status playing "Blue," the elderly fraternity brother in the hit comedy "Old School," has died. He was 86. Cranshaw died of natural causes Wednesday, December 28 at his home in Fort Worth, said his personal manager, Jeff Ross.

After launching his screen career in 1955 playing a bartender at a dance in the western, "Texas Lady," Cranshaw appeared in a variety of roles, including a bank teller in "Bonnie and Clyde" and the demolition derby owner in "Herbie: Fully Loaded."

But he was well into his 80s when he was cast in the small part that gave him the kind of public recognition rarely afforded to a character actor: his scene-stealing role as white-haired and bearded Joseph 'Blue' Palasky in "Old School," directed by Todd Phillips and starring Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn.


Vince Vaughn and Patrick Cranshaw

In one of his key scenes, a long-johns-clad Blue is supposed to wrestle with two topless girls, but he never gets a chance: He looks at them and is so excited that he keels over dead of an apparent heart attack. Ferrell's character delivers the eulogy for Blue, who is seen with angel wings during the closing credits playing a piano and singing "Dust in the Wind."

After the movie's release, Cranshaw was frequently recognized by fans of the film, who couldn't resist calling out Ferrell's signature line, "You're my boy, Blue." Cranshaw was also invited to meet with the Texas Rangers when they were playing the Angels in Anaheim. "A lot of the ballplayers loved that movie," said Ross, who accompanied Cranshaw to the stadium.

"When we got there, the Angels wanted him to come to their locker room too," Ross said. While the Rangers were playing catch along the foul lines after batting practice, "fans in the stands saw Patrick throwing the ball," Ross said, "and they wanted his autograph more than the Texas players'." The following spring, the Angels invited Cranshaw for a return clubhouse visit.


Patrick Cranshaw as 'Blue' in 'Old School'

And even then, Ross said, the actor couldn't leave his seat without fans yelling out, "Hey, Blue! It was a great experience and an acknowledgment for him," said Ross. "He loved the recognition and would turn back and say, 'I'm your boy Blue.'"

Born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1919, Cranshaw became interested in acting while entertaining the troops with the Army Air Forces before World War II. Cranshaw acted in small parts in films such as "Bandolero," "Best in Show" and "The Hudsucker Proxy."

Cranshaw appeared frequently on television and had recurring roles on "Mork & Mindy," "The Dukes of Hazzard" and other series. He had recently returned home to Fort Worth after shooting the movie "Air Buddies," due for release next year.

The actor is survived by three children, Jan Ragland, Joe Cranshaw and Beverly Trautschold; his sister, Billie Vi Gillespie; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. The family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Assn., American Lung Assn. or the American Cancer Society.

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'Gomer Pyle' Actor Roy Stuart


Roy Stuart as Cpl. Boyle

Roy Stuart, a veteran character actor who played Cpl. Chuck Boyle on the 1960s sitcom, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," died of complications of cancer Sunday, January 1, at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 78.

Stuart played Cpl. Boyle, the eager-beaver aide to Frank Sutton's Sgt. Vince Carter, on "Gomer Pyle," starring Jim Nabors, from 1965 to 1968. Stuart also made guest appearances on "Mister Ed," "Bewitched," "General Hospital," "Golden Girls," "Mama's Family" and numerous other television shows.

The Bronx-born actor, who launched his career in New York, performed in nightclubs, theater and films, and appeared in more than 100 commercials in the 1970s.

Stuart's stage credits include the Broadway productions of "Caf

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'The Wire' Actor Richard De Angelis


Richard De Angelis

SILVER SPRING, Maryland - Actor and comedian Richard De Angelis, who played Baltimore police Col. Raymond Foerster on the HBO crime drama "The Wire," died of congestive heart failure at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland on Wednesday, December 28. He was 73. According to his son, Richard M. De Angelis, his father also had complications from prostate cancer.

De Angelis appeared in plays, Television commercials, radio spots and print advertisements in an acting career that spanned four decades. He performed stand-up comedy for several years under the name Ricky Roach. De Angelis appeared as an extra in several movies including "Being There," with Peter Sellers.

In addition to his recurring role on "The Wire," De Angelis also appeared as a hot dog vendor in the 1989 motion picture, "Chances Are" and as a witness in the 2000 film, "Homicide: The Movie." He had larger roles in the John Waters films, 2000's "Cecil B. Demented" and 2004's "A Dirty Shame."


Richard De Angelis

Born in Boston, De Angelis served in the Navy during the Korean conflict and worked as an accountant for 14 years. At 38, he markedly changed his life

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