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Obituaries for July 2005


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Grammy winner Luther Vandross dies at 54


(AP) Grammy award winner Luther Vandross, whose deep, lush voice on such hits as "Here and Now" and "Any Love" sold more than 25 million albums while providing the romantic backdrop for millions of couples worldwide, died Friday. He was 54. Vandross died at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, N.J., said hospital spokesman Rob Cavanaugh. He did not release the cause of death but said in a statement that Vandross "never really recovered from" a stroke two years ago.

Since the stroke in his Manhattan home on April 16, 2003, the R&B crooner stopped making public appearances -- but amazingly managed to continue his recording career. In 2004, he captured four Grammys as a sentimental favorite, including best song for the bittersweet "Dance With My Father." Vandross, who was still in a wheelchair at the time, delivered a videotaped thank you. "Remember, when I say goodbye it's never for long," said a weak-looking Vandross. "Because" -- he broke into his familiar hit -- "I believe in the power of love." Vandross also battled weight problems for years while suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

He was arguably the most celebrated R&B balladeer of his generation. He made women swoon with his silky yet forceful tenor, which he often revved up like a motor engine before reaching his beautiful crescendos. Jeff O'Conner, Vandross' publicist, called his death "a huge loss in the R&B industry. He was a close friend of mine and right now it's shocking." O'Conner said he received condolence calls Friday from music luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones.

Singer Roberta Flack, on tour in Japan, said she was mourning the loss of her friend of more than 20 years. "He was a musician who couldn't help but give you all he had," she said by telephone. "He was the kind of guy who was born to do what he did musically and let the world know about it. He was not born to keep it smothered in the chest."

Vandross was a four-time Grammy winner in the best male R&B performance category, taking home the trophy in 1990 for the single "Here and Now," in 1991 for his album "Power of Love," in 1996 for the track "Your Secret Love" and a last time for "Dance With My Father." The album, with its single of the same name, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts while Vandross remained hospitalized from his stroke. It was the first time a Vandross album had topped the charts in its first week of release.

In 2005, he was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for a duet with Beyonce on "The Closer I Get To You." Vandross' sound was so unusual few tried to copy it; even fewer could. "I'm proud of that -- it's one of the things that I'm most proud of," he told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview. "I was never compared to anyone in terms of sound."

Vandross' style harkened back to a more genteel era of crooning. While many of his contemporaries and successors belted out tunes that were sexually charged and explicit, Vandross preferred soft pillow talk and songs that spoke to heartfelt emotions. "I'm more into poetry and metaphor, and I would much rather imply something rather than to blatantly state it," he said. "You blatantly state stuff sometimes when you can't think of a a poetic way to say it."

A career in music seemed predestined for the New York native; both his parents were singers, and his sister, Patricia, was part of a 1950s group called the Crests. But he happily toiled in the musical background for years before he would have his first hit. He wrote songs for projects as varied as a David Bowie album ("Fascination") and the Broadway musical "The Wiz" ("Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)"), sang backup for acts such as Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, and even became a leading commercial jingle singer.

Vandross credited Flack for prodding him to move into the spotlight after listening to one of his future hits, "Never Too Much." "She started crying," he recalled. "She said, 'No, you're getting too comfortable (in the background). ... I'm going to introduce you to some people and get your career started."' Vandross' first big hit came as the lead vocalist for the group Change, with their 1980 hit, "The Glow of Love." That led to a recording contract with Epic Records, and in 1981, he made his solo recording debut with the disc "Never Too Much." The album, which contained his aching rendition of "A House is Not a Home," became an instant classic.

Over the years, Vandross would emerge as the leading romantic singer of his generation, racking up one platinum album after another and charting several R&B hits, such as "Superstar," "Give Me The Reason" and "Love Won't Let Me Wait." Yet, while Vandross was a household name in the black community, he was frustrated by his failure to become a mainstream pop star. Indeed, it took Vandross until 1990 to score his first top 10 hit -- the wedding staple "Here & Now."

"I just wanted more success. I didn't want to suddenly start wearing blond wigs to appeal to anyone," he told the AP. "This is the same voice that sang Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, NBC 'proud as a peacock,' ... America, the world, has heard the voice, so there's no reason that that music shouldn't have gone the complete distance, I mean, to number one." Another frustration for Vandross was his lifelong battle with obesity. Health problems ran in his family, and Vandross struggled for years to control his waistline. When he first became a star, he was a hefty size; a few years later, he was almost skinny. His weight fluctuated so much that rumors swirled that he had more serious health problems than the hypertension and diabetes caused by his large frame.

Vandross' two sisters and a brother died before him. The lifelong bachelor never had any children, but doted on his nieces and nephews. The entertainer said his busy lifestyle made marriage difficult; besides, it wasn't what he wanted.

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'Obie' Benson, of Four Tops, Dies at 69

By Mike Householder, Associated Press Writer


Members of the Four Tops, left to right, Levi Stubbs,

Renaldo 'Obie' Benson, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir.

DETROIT - Renaldo "Obie" Benson, a member of the legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, died Friday. He was 69.

Benson died of lung cancer that was discovered when he had a leg amputated several weeks ago because of circulation problems, said his publicist, Matt Lee.

The Four Tops sold more than 50 million records and recorded hit songs such as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Reach Out (I'll be There)," "I Can't Help Myself" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love."

Benson's death leaves two surviving members of the original group: Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir. The fourth original Top, Lawrence Payton, died of liver cancer in 1997. They are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Benson "enjoyed every moment of his life," Fakir told the Detroit Free Press through a publicist. "He put a smile on everyone's face, including my own."

The Four Tops began singing together in the 1950s under the name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops.

The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced a string of hits over the next decade, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy's Motown lineup.

Benson was active with the group even into his 60s, spending more than a third of each year performing on the road. The group last played on April 8 on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

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Paul H. Cassidy dead at 94;

Designed S for Superman


Back when Clark Kent was reporting to the Daily Star, and even before there was a Daily Planet, a mild-mannered Milwaukee teacher became the first ghost artist to draw America's superhero for comic books. Paul H. Cassidy, the first ghost artist for "Superman" comics in the late 1930s, credited with adding an S to the superhero's cape, died of natural causes May 15 at a senior facility in Milwaukee. He was 94.


Cassidy was a graphics arts teacher at the Milwaukee Vocational School when he was offered the chance to join Superman comic book artist Joe Shuster's studio in Cleveland in 1938. Shuster's workload had increased with the addition of a newspaper strip version of his and writer Jerry Siegel's superhero. Assigned to do the inking and detail work, Cassidy provided what has been described as a more fluid line to Shuster's style, a bolder, darker line that filled in various details. In addition to adding the S to Superman's cape, he also made the cape more dynamic, adding folds and wrinkles to it.

Cassidy eventually got to do entire stories by himself. But with a salary that was insufficient to support his wife and family, he quit working for Shuster in 1940. Over the years, Cassidy had no idea that his uncredited contributions to "Superman" had been recognized by comic-book fans.

That changed about three years ago when his son, Dick, and granddaughter, Katy, visited him in Milwaukee and Katy asked if he had ever run a Google search of his name and Superman on the Internet. When Katy searched, Dick Cassidy recalled Thursday, she turned up "zillions" of references.

For his technologically "unwired" father, it was a revelation."When Katy showed him this on the screen, I think it was astounding to him," recalled Dick Cassidy, of Addison, Texas. "He probably knew there were Superman movies, but he had no idea of this kind of interest in comic books that seems to be going on."

Since Cassidy's death was first reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 22, the newspaper's obituary has been widely reprinted in other papers. "We got a copy sent back from Australia," Cassidy's other son, Larry, of Costa Mesa, said Thursday. He added that a number of "Superman" fans have asked if any of his father's original "Superman" artwork is available. "He kind of did it for the love of it, and he didn't keep hardly anything," Larry Cassidy said. "He was just an unassuming guy."

Born in 1910 and raised in Cherry Valley, Ill., Cassidy earned bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he was a cartoonist for the school newspaper. He later moved to Milwaukee as a graphics arts teacher at the Milwaukee Vocational School. After leaving the Shuster studio in 1940, he landed a job at Field Enterprises in Chicago, where he worked as an artist for the World Book Encyclopedia and served as art director and managing director for its ChildCraft books.

He later worked for Grolier's Book of Knowledge in New York City. In 1964, he returned to Milwaukee, where he headed the graphics arts department at his former vocational school, which later became Milwaukee Area Technical College. About a decade after leaving the Shuster studio, Cassidy tried unsuccessfully to develop his own comic strip, a science fiction adventure tale called "Fantasy, the Moon Boy."

In addition to his two sons and granddaughter Katy, who lives in Morningside, Australia, Cassidy is survived by three other grandchildren and a great-grandson. His wife, Inez, died in 1996.

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Thomas Rogers Dead at 87

Created "Charlie The Tuna," "Keebler Elves", "Morris the Cat"


Thomas Russell Rogers, a retired advertising copywriter who created Charlie the Tuna and other colorful television icons, died suddenly at his home in Charlottesville on June 24, 2005, at the age of 87. Mr. Rogers was the man who brought us "Charlie the Tuna," the Starkist Tuna mascot. Charlie the Tuna became a memorable TV Icon during the 1960s and 70s.

He was born April 29, 1918, in Minneapolis, Minn. He grew up and attended schools in Winnipeg, Canada, and Minneapolis and served in WWII.

After the war he found work as a "script doctor" in Hollywood, writing and fixing dialogue in screenplays. He later wrote for nightclub comedians and for the stage and radio while hanging out in the New York beat scene.

He was an advertising copywriter for 25 years. For most of that time, he was employed at the Leo Burnett agency in Chicago. Charlie the Tuna was a character modeled on the streetwise hustlers and rogues he encountered over the years. He directed and produced the commercials that showcased the scheming StarKist spokesfish. His other creations included the Keebler Elves and 9 Lives' Morris the Cat.

Tom also worked on the Marlboro Man campaign, did commercials with Colonel Sanders for KFC.

Although he never finished high school, he was a gifted wordsmith who was especially talented at writing dialogue.

Mr. Rogers is survived by 3 sons.

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Italian filmmaker Alberto Lattuada dies at 90

By Peter Kiefer

ROME (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Alberto Lattuada, famed for his satirical take on Italy's sexual norms during a career that spanned his country's golden age of cinema, died on Saturday in Rome. He was 90, and had been ill for several years.

Lattuado helped discover a bevy of female talent including Catherine Spaak, Natassja Kinski, Clio Goldsmith and Barbara de Rossi.

His best known credits include the 1954 movie "La Spiaggia," about a vacationing prostitute and her daughter, and 1960's "I Dolci Inganni" (Sweet Deceits), which explored a 16-year-old girl's first sexual experiences.

Lattuada again provoked audiences with one of his last films, 1978's "Cosi Come Sei" (Stay As You Are) which centered on the relationship between an older man (Marcello Mastroianni) and an adolescent girl (Kinski).

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Paris Socialite Nan Kempner Dead at 74


NEW YORK - Socialite Nan Kempner, a society page fixture and former correspondent for French Vogue, has died. She was 74.

Kempner, who had been a heavy smoker, died Sunday of emphysema at her Manhattan apartment. Gossip columnist Liz Smith said Kempner "was just a lot of fun" and did not take herself seriously like her peers in her social set. "Her greatest quote was that if there was no shopping in heaven she wasn't going," Smith said Tuesday. "She was just a very lighthearted charmer. She was painfully thin and wore clothes beautifully."

Kempner was known as an unabashed clotheshorse particularly dedicated to designer Yves Saint Laurent. She donated many of her outfits to museums and charities, and she served on a number of boards and charity committees.

She also worked as a special editor of Harper's Bazaar in the 1960s, as a design consultant for Tiffany & Co. in the 1970s and as a correspondent for French Vogue in the 1980s.

Her book, "R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining From People Who Really Know How," was published in 2000 with the proceeds going to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Born Nan Field Schlesinger in San Francisco in 1930, she attended Connecticut College for Women but did not graduate. She studied at the Sorbonne during a junior year abroad and took art lessons from Fernand Leger. "He said I was a disgrace, and had so little talent I should go back to San Francisco and stop wasting my parents' money," she recalled.

She married Thomas Kempner, chairman of the investment banking house Loeb Partners, in 1952. The couple lived in a Park Avenue duplex filled with art and clothes; Kempner turned her children's rooms into walk-in closets after they left home.

Besides her husband, she is survived by two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.

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'Girl Next Door's' June Haver dead at 79

Actress' works include 'Gang's All Here,' 'Irish Eyes Are Smiling'


June Haver, who was groomed to be the successor to Betty Grable in the 1940s and was actor Fred MacMurray's wife until his death in 1991, died Monday at her Brentwood home from respiratory failure. She was 79. A Rock Island, Ill., native, she started performing onstage at age 6, won musical contests and by 1936 was appearing on local radio. Touring with bands, she eventually reached Hollywood, where at 16 she was picked to join the Fox stable by Darryl F. Zanuck in 1942.

The next year she appeared in "The Gang's All Here," followed in 1944 by "Home in Indiana." That led to "Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and, in 1945, "Where Do We Go From Here?," with future husband MacMurray, as well as "The Dolly Sisters," with Grable.

Other films include top billing in "Three Little Girls in Blue," "Wake Up and Dream," "Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!," "Look for the Silver Lining" (for Warners, along with "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady") and "Oh, You Beautiful Doll."

Upset after a brief 1947-48 marriage and the death of her subsequent fiance, the devout Catholic announced before 1953's "The Girl Next Door" that after her contract ended, she would become a nun. She did enter a convent, but stayed only a few months and reunited with the recently widowed MacMurray, who became her second husband. The couple later adopted twins.

Haver's last appearance before the cameras was to portray herself briefly on TV's "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" in the late 1950s, with MacMurray.

She didn't get around to joining the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences until best friends Ann Rutherford and Ann Miller prevailed upon her when she was 75.

Haver is survived by her two daughters, Laurie and Kate; two stepchildren, Robert MacMurray and Susan Pool; son-in-law Marc Gerber, trailers producer at Ignition Creatives; and seven grandchildren.

Services will be private. Memorial donations are suggested for the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills or St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica.

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Arvo Ojala Dead at 85

Matt Dillon's Dueling Gunfighter


Arvo Ojala, the nameless gunslinger that faced off with Matt Dillon each week on the opening sequence of

Gunsmoke died July 1 at age 85. For twenty years, fans of the Western TV series "Gunsmoke" watched the

opening credits in which James Arness as Matt Dillon faced down a gunslinger. Each week, Dillon killed the badguy.

What many people didn

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Frances Langford dead at 92;

Globe-Trotting Singer Helped Bolster Troops' Morale in World War II


(AP)Frances Langford, the 1930s and '40s singer known for her warmth and rich voice who traveled widely with Bob Hope entertaining troops in World War II, died Monday at her home in Jensen Beach, Fla. She was 92. Langford, who dropped out of Hollywood in the mid-1950s but kept performing for many years at the Outrigger, a restaurant she had owned in Jensen Beach, died of congestive heart failure, said her lawyer, Evans Crary Jr.

Langford's biggest hit was "I'm in the Mood for Love." She first performed the song in "Every Night at Eight," a 1935 musical comedy film starring Alice Faye about three singers seeking fame with a bandleader, played by George Raft. The Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh song, which she also sang in the 1936 film "Palm Springs," became Langford's signature tune.

Langford appeared in other movies, including "Born to Dance," "Hollywood Hotel," "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "This Is the Army." Her last film role was in 1954, when she appeared as herself in "The Glenn Miller Story."

Langford was also heard for many years on the radio, including several seasons in the late 1940s and early '50s as Blanche Bickerson to Don Ameche's John Bickerson on NBC (later on CBS, with Lew Parker) in a comedy show about a relentlessly squabbling couple. Yet it was her role as an entertainer for GIs abroad as well as for those who returned home injured that earned her a lasting reputation as a star whose patriotism and compassion exceeded her desire to burnish her own image. Besides World War II, Langford entertained troops abroad during the Korean and Vietnam wars. She regarded her wartime experiences as "the greatest thing in my life." "I'd sing a song, and I could just see the guys getting this faraway expression," she told the Palm Beach Post of Florida in 2000. "I knew they were going home in their minds." And it never failed that when she sang "I'm in the Mood for Love," some GI would stand up and say, "You've come to the right place, sister!" "She knows just how much sex to pour and still be dignified," Hope once said of the singer.


During World War II, Langford and Hope shared many adventures in traveling with their troupe. She told a Florida newspaper in 2003 that one night the two of them had to jump out of a jeep to avoid fire from a German fighter plane. Both of them landed, Hope first, in a culvert. She said Hope screamed, "Oh my God, I'm hit!" But it was just Langford landing on top of him. Another time she, Hope and others spent the night in the basement of a hotel in Algiers as bombs burst overhead and Hope cracked jokes. In all, she visited bases in England, Africa, Sicily, the Caribbean and the Pacific, earning the nickname "sweetheart of the fighting fronts."

She continued her commitment to servicemen when she returned to the United States. In 1944-45, she wrote a diary for the New York Journal-American about her experiences visiting servicemen who had been wounded in World War II. Her "Purple Heart Diary" included passages such as this, written after a visit to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland: "As I sang, I felt a surging response from these men like I've never before received from an audience. I could hardly hit the high notes, there was such a lump in my throat. Their emotions fairly rolled and broke across the ward

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'Little House's' Doc Baker dead

Kevin Hagen, veteran of Westerns, was 77

Tuesday, July 12, 2005; Posted: 3:38 p.m. EDT (19:38 GMT)

GRANTS PASS, Oregon (AP) -- Veteran television character actor Kevin Hagen, who left behind a string of Western bad guy roles to become the kindly Doc Baker in "Little House on the Prairie," died Saturday. He was 77.

Hagen died at his home a year after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, said his wife, Jan.

Hagen's first movie part was in the 1958 Disney film "The Light in the Forest," but he credited his role in the 1965 film "Shenandoah" with starting him on a long trail of TV Western heavies.

Hagen had guest-starring roles on "Gunsmoke," "Rawhide" and "Cheyenne," and won his first regular role in the 1958 series, "Yancy Derringer," in which he played a city administrator of post-Civil War New Orleans.

He was best known for his portrayal of Dr. Hiram Baker in "Little House on the Prairie," which ran from 1974 to 1983.

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Ann Loring

Actress, writer, teacher


Actress, writer and teacher Ann Loring died July 10 in New York from stroke complications. She was 90. A memorial will be held at Frank E. Campbell's, Madison Ave and 81st St., July 24 at 3:00 p.m.

Loring played Tammy Forrest on "Love of Life" for 13 years, winning Emmys for daytime actress in 1961, '62 and '63. She worked in radio, TV, film and on stage.

For seven years, she served as president of the New York local of AFTRA and continued on the local and national boards. She was also a governor and trustee of the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences.

She taught writing at the New School Of Social Research for more than 20 years, mentoring scores of writers over the years.

Her books include "Mark of Satan," "Thirteenth Doll," "Emergency" and "Write and Sell your TV Drama." She produced and was a panelist on "The Barry Farber Show" for 2000 airings.

She is survived by two sons.

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Actress Geraldine Fitzgerald dies at 91


(AP)NEW YORK - Geraldine Fitzgerald, who appeared in such classic 1930s films as Dark Victory and Wuthering Heights and later had a career on the New York stage, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 91. Fitzgerald died Sunday at her Manhattan home, Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Fitzgerald's family, said Monday.

The Irish-born actress received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights (1939), appearing with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in director William Wyler's memorable screen version of the Emily Bronte novel. That same year she also starred with Bette Davis, George Brent and Humphrey Bogart in the popular Hollywood tearjerker Dark Victory.

Fitzgerald had a tumultuous career at Warner Bros. in the 1940s, refusing roles and being placed on suspension by the studio. Yet during that decade she managed to appear in such films as Shining Victory (1942), The Gay Sisters (1943), Watch on the Rhine (1944) and Nobody Lives Forever (1946), a film noir gem which starred John Garfield.

In later years, she appeared as a character actress in such movies as Ten North Frederick (1958), The Pawnbroker (1965), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Harry and Tonto (1974), Arthur (1981) and Easy Money (1983). "I was a great fan. She was a consummate actress, and I just loved everything she did", said Shirley Jones, who co-starred with Fitzgerald in the 1970s made-for-TV movie Yesterday's Child. "It was a great joy for me to work with her".

Fitzgerald received a Tony nomination in 1982, for directing Mass Appeal, Bill C. Davis' play about the conflicts between an older and younger priest. Among her New York stage appearances were roles in several Eugene O'Neill revivals, most notably as Mary Tyrone in a 1971 off-Broadway production of Long Day's Journey into Night, which starred Robert Ryan. In 1977, she starred with Jason Robards in a revival of O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet. Fitzgerald also developed a nightclub act, called Geraldine Fitzgerald Singing Songs of the Street - later shortened to Streetsongs - in which she would talk and sing about her life, including reminiscences from her childhood.

Born in Dublin, Fitzgerald made her stage debut in 1932 at the Gate Theater and later appeared in several British films. She came to New York to act with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, but was quickly signed by Hollywood.

Fitzgerald's first marriage to Edward Lindsay-Hogg ended in divorce. She later married businessman Stuart Scheftel, who died in 1994. Fitzgerald is survived by a son, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg of Los Angeles, and a daughter Susan Scheftel of New York.

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'Star Trek' Star James Doohan Dead at 85


(AP) James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and movies who responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty," died Wednesday. He was 85. Doohan died at 5:30 a.m. at his Redmond, Wash., home with his wife of 28 years, Wende, at his side, Los Angeles agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens said. The cause of death was pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, he said. He had said farewell to public life in August 2004, a few months after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.


The Canadian-born Doohan was enjoying a busy career as a character actor when he auditioned for a role as an engineer in a new space adventure on NBC in 1966. A master of dialects from his early years in radio, he tried seven different accents. "The producers asked me which one I preferred," Doohan recalled 30 years later. "I believed the Scot voice was the most commanding. So I told them, 'If this character is going to be an engineer, you'd better make him a Scotsman.'" The series, which starred William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the enigmatic Mr. Spock, attracted an enthusiastic following of science fiction fans, especially among teenagers and children, but not enough ratings power. NBC canceled it after three seasons.

When the series ended in 1969, Doohan found himself typecast as Montgomery Scott, the canny engineer with a burr in his voice. In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow." "I took his advice," said Doohan, "and since then everything's been just lovely."

"Star Trek" continued in syndication both in the United States and abroad, and its following grew larger and more dedicated. In his later years, Doohan attended 40 "Trekkie" gatherings around the country and lectured at colleges. The huge success of George Lucas' "Star Wars" in 1977 prompted Paramount Pictures, which had produced "Star Trek" for television, to plan a movie based on the series. The studio brought back the TV cast and hired director Robert Wise. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was successful enough to spawn five sequels.

The powerfully built Doohan, a veteran of D-Day in Normandy, spoke frankly in 1998 about his employer and his TV commander. "I started out in the series at basic minimum_ plus 10 percent for my agent. That was added a little bit in the second year. When we finally got to our third year, Paramount told us we'd get second-year pay! That's how much they loved us."

He accused Shatner of hogging the camera, adding: "I like Captain Kirk, but I sure don't like Bill. He's so insecure that all he can think about is himself."

James Montgomery Doohan was born March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, youngest of four children of William Doohan, a pharmacist, veterinarian and dentist, and his wife Sarah. As he wrote in his autobiography, "Beam Me Up, Scotty," his father was a drunk who made life miserable for his wife and children. At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case. After the war Doohan on a whim enrolled in a drama class in Toronto. He showed promise and won a two-year scholarship to New York's famed Neighborhood Playhouse, where fellow students included Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone. His commanding presence and booming voice brought him work as a character actor in films and television, both in Canada and the United States. Oddly, his only other TV series besides "Star Trek" was another space adventure, "Space Command," in 1953.

Doohan's first marriage to Judy Doohan produced four children. He had two children by his second marriage to Anita Yagel. Both marriages ended in divorce. In 1974 he married Wende Braunberger, and their children were Eric, Thomas and Sarah, who was born in 2000, when Doohan was 80.

In a 1998 interview, Doohan was asked if he ever got tired of hearing the line "Beam me up, Scotty." "I'm not tired of it at all," he replied. "Good gracious, it's been said to me for just about 31 years. It's been said to me at 70 miles an hour across four lanes on the freeway. I hear it from just about everybody. It's been fun."

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L.A. Times

Latin Comedian Freddy Soto

by Valerie J. Nelson


Freddy Soto

Freddy Soto, an up-and-coming comic who received a standing ovation after a performance on Saturday, July 9 at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, was found dead on the morning of Sunday, July 10. He was 35. Soto left the club just after midnight and died in his sleep at a friend's house in Los Angeles, said Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory. The cause of death is under investigation, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Soto made his name as a Latino comic whose routines centered on the absurdities of family and life growing up in El Paso. He joked about subjects that many could relate to, which gave his humor universal appeal, Masada said. Critics praised his skill in sketching the people he talked about, and the comedian's father was an endless source of material.

His dad had "a little trouble with the English language," Soto told the Sacramento Bee in 2004. "He's always asking me how to spell. He says, 'How many S's in chicken?' And I say, 'Well, the way you pronounce it

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Myron Floren, Accordion Player Featured on Welk Show Dies


(AP) Myron Floren, the accordion virtuoso who came to fame in the mid-1950s as a regular on "The Lawrence Welk Show," the long-running weekly musical program that brought "champagne music" into millions of American homes, has died. He was 85.Floren, who continued performing until the last few months, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Rolling Hills Estates, according to Margaret Heron, syndication manager for the Welk show. Dubbed "The Happy Norwegian" for his perpetual grin, Floren joined Welk's orchestra on the road in 1950. A year later, the orchestra made its first appearance on KTLA-TV Channel 5, broadcast from the Aragon Ballroom in Santa Monica.

Highly popular locally, the Welk program began its 27-year national run on Saturday nights in 1955, first on ABC-TV for 16 years and then, after the network deemed the show's audience "too old" and canceled it, in syndication on more than 250 stations around the country

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Actor Richard Eastham dead at 89;

Starred on Broadway, Co-starred in the 1950s TV western "Tombstone Territory"

(AP)Richard Eastham, a singer-actor who went from starring on Broadway opposite Mary Martin in "South Pacific" to co-starring in the 1950s TV western "Tombstone Territory," has died. He was 89. Eastham died July 10 of Alzheimer's disease at an assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, said his friend Marilyn Rudley.

The character actor also appeared in about 10 films, including Disney's "That Darn Cat!" (1965) and "Toby Tyler" (1960), and was regularly featured on television through 1983. He was proudest of taking over the male lead in "South Pacific" from the highly regarded Italian opera singer Ezio Pinza, who originated the role on Broadway. "He was a magnificent singer, and he covered for Pinza in 'South Pacific' when he was 29 years old," said actress Marjorie Lord, a longtime friend who met the actor when the pair performed in "Anniversary Waltz" in San Francisco in 1955.

From 1957 to 1959, Eastham introduced and narrated "Tombstone Territory" on ABC and portrayed Harris Claibourne, editor of the Epitaph in Tombstone, Ariz., "the town too tough to die." He considered the adventure series a "sagebrush opera" and said he was always called on for singing roles in the East, but "here, it's always the dramatic."

Dickinson Swift Eastham was born June 22, 1916, in Opelousas, La. While a student at Washington University, he sang with the St. Louis Grand Opera. During World War II, he spent four years in the Army and for part of that time was stationed in Paris. After his return, he studied acting at the American Theatre Wing in New York City.

Ethel Merman became a close friend after Eastham appeared on Broadway with her in "Call Me Madam" in the early 1950s and in his first film, "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954), Lord said. He made his television debut on CBS in "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1949 and was featured as Gen. Phil Blankenship in "Wonder Woman", which aired on ABC and CBS from 1976 to 1979. In his last TV role, he appeared as Dr. Howell in 1982 and 1983 on CBS' "Falcon Crest."

After moving to Los Angeles in 1958, he and his wife, Betty Jean, bought a home off Doheny Drive, which they lived in until her death in 2002. They had been married 60 years. At his wife's urging, he gave up singing to concentrate on acting. "His voice could break your heart," Lord said. "If I had been married to him, he would have never dropped it."

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Chicago Sun-Times

'Chi-Lites' Founder Eugene Record

by Stephanie Zimmerman


Eugene Record

Few music fans know the name Eugene Record, but many know his music. He was the composer and musical guiding force behind the greatest songs of The Chi-Lites. Eugene Record, whose velvety voice and talent for writing soulful ballads for local soul superstars, The Chi-Lites, died July 22 at his daughter's south suburban Chicago home after a long battle with cancer. He was 64.

For a generation of fans reared on the soul sound, 'Chi-Lites' hits such as "Have You Seen Her," "Oh Girl" and "Coldest Days of My Life" were part of the musical backdrop of their lives during the 1970s. And even though they might not know Record's name, legions of young music fans continue to be exposed to Record's music in such varied places as Beyonce Knowles' hit "Crazy in Love" (which was remade from the Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman") and Fantasia Barrino's controversial "Baby Mama," which samples 'Chi-Lites' music.

"It brought us back into view," said bandleader Marshall Thompson, who remained friendly with Record even after the band's original lineup split in 1976. Record, who later rejoined the band for several more years, is an integral part of a retrospective DVD the group plans to release in about 30 days, Thompson said.

As a student at Englewood High School in the 1950s, Record played with The Chanteurs, a band that included Robert 'Squirrel' Lester and Clarence Johnson. The three men later formed The Hi-Lites with Thompson and Creadel 'Red' Jones. By the mid-'60s, Johnson left the group, and it changed its name to The Chi-Lites in a nod to its hometown.

'Fantastic Lead Singer'


Eugene Record (center) reunited with The Chi-Lites for one night on

the 2004 PBS 'Soul Music Special.'

Thompson, the group's drummer, was The Chi-Lites' leader and relentless publicity machine. But Record provided other key ingredients to the group's future success: a smooth voice and soulful songs about love won and lost. The group caught its big break when Thompson happened to run into singer and producer Otis Leavill on a city bus. Leavill suggested they audition for producer Carl Davis. That, in turn, led to a contract with Brunswick Records and their first national hit, "Give It Away" in 1969.

Longtime WVAZ-FM (102.7) disc jockey Herb Kent, who has followed the band since its beginnings, said Record had "God's gift" of musical ability. "He played guitar, he wrote and he sang lead on most of the hit songs of the Chi-Lites," the V-103 DJ said. "I think his legacy was being a fantastic lead singer in a group out of Chicago that just smacked of Chicago and sweet love music . . . sweet, haunting love music that we'll probably never see the likes of again." The band wasn't limited to love songs, however. Their "Give More Power to the People" album was radical at the time for its foray into race and social justice.

Record left the band in 1976 to launch a solo career, releasing three albums but having limited commercial success. He rejoined the band in 1980, but left again in the late '80s and became a born-again Christian and gospel singer. In 1998, Record released a gospel album, "Let Him In." He had planned to remix and re-release it, said his wife of 31 years, Jacki Record, but he fell ill before he could realize his plans.

Jacki Record said her husband's attraction to Christianity in his later years wasn't a response to any one event but rather a spiritual journey Record had been undertaking for some time. Even so, he still got a kick out of seeing young black pop stars using his classic material in their own songs - a sign that his life's work is still relevant.

In 2001, Record co-produced a local Chicago R&B girl group called C-Nario and worked with the Praise and Worship Team at his Chicago church, Crusaders Church. He also reunited with The Chi-Lites for one night for the PBS Soul Music Special in March, 2004. The Chi-Lites and Record most recently appeared in the documentary, "Only the Strong Survive," directed by D.A. Pennebaker.

Funeral Services will be held in Gatlings Chapel, 10133 South Halstead Street, Chicago, Illinois, Valley Kingdom Ministries International.

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Pat McCormick Dead at 78;

Comedy Writer, Comedian, Actor


(AP)Pat McCormick, a veteran comedian and comedy writer who made scores of appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, was a regular guest on "The Gong Show" and appeared in three "Smokey and the Bandit" movies, died Friday at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 78. McCormick entered the facility in 1998 after suffering a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and also affected his speech.

"Few, very few, will ever be able to craft a joke as beautifully as Pat," comedian Shelley Berman, a longtime friend, told The Times on Friday. "He was able to just make it all happen. I don't think he was great at telling them, but he was sure great at putting them down."

The walrus-mustachioed McCormick was known to have a gift for wacky and sometimes warped humor. Some of his tamer lines went like this:

On the television writers strike in 1988:

We writers will know we're missed when we see our pictures on milk cartons.

On going on the wagon:

I gave up drinking booze when my liver started showing up on airport metal detectors.

And a classic joke that Carson delivered after a big temblor hit the Southland:

Due to today's earthquake, the God is Dead rally has been canceled.

In sketches on Carson's show, McCormick played several human characters but dressed in costume to play a variety of wildlife, including turkeys, peacocks, squirrels and the shark from "Jaws." In one memorable 1974 "Tonight Show," a naked 6-foot-7, 270-pound McCormick streaked across the stage behind Carson during the opening monologue.

McCormick was born June 30, 1927, in Lakewood, Ohio. He was a champion hurdler in high school and served in the Army from 1946 to 1948. After military service, he graduated from Harvard University. A year into Harvard Law School, he dropped out to work in advertising in New York City.

But his advertising career was short-lived after he began making money writing comedy material for television and nightclub performers, including Jonathan Winters, Henny Youngman and Phyllis Diller. He also briefly did a stand-up act with Marc London, whom he had known from Harvard. Eventually, he became a full-time writer for "The Jack Paar Show," the start of a comedy writing career that spanned five decades. He wrote for Merv Griffin, Red Skelton and Danny Kaye. He also wrote and appeared on "Candid Camera."

He served as announcer and straight man on Don Rickles' short-lived TV variety show in 1968, and was a regular on "The New Bill Cosby Show" 1972. He also was a key player in the legendary Friars Club roasts for several years. McCormick was also a popular fixture on TV talk shows. On radio, he voiced and wrote hundreds of commercials.

In addition to his role as Big Enos Burdette opposite Burt Reynolds in the "Smokey and the Bandit" films, McCormick was in two Robert Altman movies: "Buffalo Bill and the Indians," in which he played President Grover Cleveland, and "A Wedding," in which he played wealthy industrialist Mackenzie "Mac" Goddard, husband of the character played by Dina Merrill.

Comedic actor Jack Riley, who played the part of Elliot Carlin on "The Bob Newhart Show," commented Friday on his friend's career. "Pat's life was enhanced by a never-failing comedic spirit, contagious to all around him," Riley said in a statement released by the Motion Picture & Television Hospital.

"I was walking with Pat one night outside of the Braille Institute on Ventura Boulevard. Pat looked to the second floor and noticed five or six totally darkened windows, 'Ah," he said, 'I see they're working late.' "His mind went to places that most people's don't

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