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Obituaries For March 2005


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Actor Ossie Davis Dies at 87

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Ossie Davis, the actor distinguished for roles dealing with racial injustice on stage, screen and in real life, has died, an aide said Friday. He was 87.

Davis, the husband and partner of actress Ruby Dee, was found dead Friday in his hotel room in Miami Beach, Fla., according to officials there. He was making a film called

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Entertainer/Lip-sync Innovator Roy Davis Dies at 91

Roy Davis, in the Bronx, N.Y. He started out working in a bank, but after winning amateur night competitions, turned his party stunt into a career.

In the 1940s and early 1950s, . He also coached actors learning to lip-sync songs onscreen.

When his performing years were over,

Davis

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Robert Dwan "You Bet Your Life" Director Dies at 89

Robert Dwan died last Friday, January 21, of complications related to pneumonia at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, his family said.

staged the performance and supervised the editing.

"I did not directmanaging the tours.

Born in San Francisco,

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Ray Peterson , Pop -Country Singer Dead at 69

Top 10 Hit With 'Tell Laura I Love Her'

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Ray Peterson,, who spent the most successful part of his recording career in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s and early '60s, died Tuesday at his home in Smyrna, Tenn., outside Nashville.

premature death in a car crash in 1955.

Tragic tales that subsequently hit the pop airwaves included

a song that peaked at No. 25 but became a hit again for him when it reentered the charts in 1964, reaching No. 70 its second time around.

"

"

He was hospitalized for a long period, during which he got a taste for performing while singing for other patients. He moved from Texas to Los Angeles in 1956 and began playing clubs, landing a record contract in 1958 with RCA. With the money he earned from the success of.

Like so many American rockers whose careers nosedived with the 1964 arrival of the tour and played shows in Las Vegas. He later became an ordained minister but still made about 20 concert appearances a year, usually on oldies bills.

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Jim Capaldi Hall of Fame Drummer Dead at 60

Founding Member and Drummer for Rock Group Traffic

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Jim Capaldi was the drummer in Traffic

Jim Capaldi, died Friday in London after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 60.

Five months after the induction of .

.

was weary of the pop strictures of his former band, and with his new jam group he holed up in a cottage in Berkshire, England, to craft a sound that was in tune with the mind-flights of the late 1960s.

In the 1990 book."

The band's membership was as unpredictable as their live improvisations. induction.

"

After

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TV Land Remembers

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Johnny Carson, the "Tonight Show" host who tucked America into bed laughing every night for 30 years, died on January 23, 2005. He was 79. His nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press, "Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning. He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial service."

Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, and raised in nearby Norfolk, Nebraska. He started his show business career at age 14 as the magician "The Great Carsoni." After World War II service in the Navy, he took a series of jobs in local radio and TV in Nebraska before starting at KNXT-TV in Los Angeles in 1950. There he started a sketch comedy show, "Carson's Cellar," which ran from 1951-53 and attracted attention from Hollywood. A staff writing job for "The Red Skelton Show" followed. The program provided Carson with a big break -- when Skelton was injured backstage, Carson took the comedian's place in front of the cameras. Producers tried to find the right program for the up-and-coming comic, trying him out as host of the 1954 quiz show "Earn Your Vacation" and in the variety show "The Johnny Carson Show," which ran from 1955-56. From 1957-62 he was host of the daytime game show "Who Do You Trust?" and, in 1958, was joined for the first time by Ed McMahon, his long-time "Tonight Show" sidekick. A few acting roles came Carson's way, including one on "Playhouse 90" in 1957, and he did a pilot in 1960 for a prime-time series, "Johnny Come Lately," which never made it onto a network schedule. In 1958, Carson sat in for "Tonight Show" host Jack Paar. When Paar left the show four years later, Carson was NBC's choice as his replacement.

Carson made his debut as "Tonight Show" host in October 1962 and viewers instantly responded to his modest charm and easy wit. "Heeeeere's Johnny!" Ed McMahon would boom, and the show would unfold in its now familiar format: the topical monologue, the guests, the visits with ordinary people with eccentric hobbies (such as the "potato chip lady"), the comic interactions with wild animals and their handlers, the broadly played skits such as "Carnac the Magnificent." Carson's style and ability to handle an audience were impressive, and some might argue that he was at his funniest when his jokes missed their mark -- the smooth Carson never failed to win over a groaning studio audience with a wry look or sly, self-deprecating remark. He made headlines with such clever stunts as the 1969 on-air marriage of eccentric singer Tiny Tim to Miss Vicki, which won the show its biggest-ever ratings. The wedding and other noteworthy moments from the show were collected into a yearly "Tonight'' anniversary special. In 1972, "Tonight'' moved from New York to Burbank. Growing respect for Carson's consistency and staying power, along with four consecutive Emmy Awards, came his way in the late 1970s.

Politics provided monologue fodder for Carson as he poked fun at lawmakers across the political spectrum. His Watergate jabs at President Nixon were seen as cementing Nixon's fall from office in 1974, and he made presidential history again in July 1988 when he had then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton on his show a few days after Clinton came under widespread ridicule for a boring speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton traded quips with Carson and played "Summertime" on the saxophone. Four years later, Clinton won the presidency.

In the 1980s, Carson was reportedly the highest-paid performer in television history with a $5 million "Tonight'' show salary alone. His Carson Productions created and sold pilots to NBC, including "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Carson himself made occasional cameo appearances on other TV series. He also performed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., and was host of the Academy Awards five times in the 1970s and 1980s.

Despite his long and prosperous career with NBC, there was the occasional battle with the network. In 1967, Carson walked out for several weeks until the network managed to lure him back with a contract that reportedly gave him $1 million-plus yearly. In 1980, after more walkout threats, the show was scaled back from 90 minutes to an hour. Carson also eased his schedule by cutting back on his work days; a number of substitute hosts filled in, including Joan Rivers, David Brenner, Jerry Lewis and Jay Leno, Carson's eventual successor.

Rivers was one of the countless comedians whose careers took off after they appeared on Carson's show. She made her debut on the show in 1965. In 1986 she tried her own talk show, becoming one of the many challengers who attempted to topple Carson from his late-night talk show throne. Competing networks tried a variety of formats and hosts but never managed to best "Tonight" and Carson; he would not be budged, and dispatched all would-be late-night competitors with aplomb. His wealth, the adoration of his guests - particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched -- the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson's Midwestern accessibility made him a welcome nightly guest in viewers' living rooms and bedrooms.

Indeed, America never grew tired of Carson, and he went out on top when he retired in May 1992. In his final show, he told his audience: "And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it."

Carson choose to let "Tonight" stand as his career zenith and his finale, withdrawing into a quiet retirement that suited his private nature and refusing involvement in other show business projects. He was open to finding the right follow-up to "Tonight," he told friends. But his longtime producer, Fred de Cordova, said Carson didn't feel pressured -- he could look back on his TV success and say "I did it."

Carson's graceful exit from "Tonight" did not avoid a messy, bitter tug-of-war for control of the show between Jay Leno and fellow comedian David Letterman. The intense corporate battles surrounding the late-night talk shows in the wake of Carson's retirement is the subject of Bill Carter's book "The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night," which was later turned in to a film for HBO. Leno took over as "Tonight" host on May 25, 1992, becoming the fourth man to hold the job after founding host Steve Allen, Paar and Carson.

Carson spent his retirement years sailing, playing tennis, and socializing with a few close friends. He and his wife, Alexis, traveled frequently. The pair met on the Malibu beach in the early 1980's; he was 61 when they married in June 1987, she was in her 30s.

He was married four times, divorced three. His first wife was his childhood sweetheart, Jody, the mother of his three sons. They married in 1949 and split in 1963. In 1991, one of their sons, 39-year-old Ricky, was killed in a car accident. Carson married Joanne Copeland Carson in 1963; they divorced in 1972. His third marriage, to Joanna Holland Carson, took place in 1972. They separated in 1982 and reached a divorce settlement in 1985.

Carson won a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1992, with the first President Bush saying, "With decency and style he's made America laugh and think." In 1993, he was celebrated by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for career achievement.

this Thursday, January 27 at 10:00 p.m. See our schedules online for more information.

Mr. Carson, we bid you a very heartfelt goodnight.

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Danny Joe Brown Dead at 53;

Original Singer in Rock Band Molly Hatchet

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Danny Joe Brown, died Thursday at his home in Davie, Fla., of renal failure and pneumonia. He had diabetes since age 19.

Brown joined lead guitarists David Hlubek and Steve Holland in 1974, and the trio added guitarist Duane Roland, bassist Banner Thomas and drummer Bruce Crump the following year to form the six-member band. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the group was named for a 17th-century prostitute known as "Hatchet Molly" for her proclivity of chopping off clients' heads.

After performing in clubs, the band released its debut album, "Molly Hatchet," in the fall of 1978, selling a million copies. The band's second album, "Flirtin' with Disaster," sold double that. But Brown, exhausted from touring and struggling with diabetes, left the band in 1980 and made a solo album, "Danny Joe Brown & the Danny Joe Brown Band."

He rejoined Molly Hatchet in 1982 and can be heard on subsequent albums, including "No Guts

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Carmaker DeLorean Dies of Stroke at 80

By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - John DeLorean, the flashy automotive executive whose equally flashy car of the same name proved a financial folly but burned its way into pop culture with the "Back to the Future" films, has died at the age of 80. DeLorean died on Saturday at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, after suffering a stroke, Michael Thomson of A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors in Royal Oak, Michigan, which is handling funeral arrangements, told Reuters on Sunday.

With his mane of silver hair and penchant for marrying much younger women after divorcing his wife of 15 years, DeLorean cut a striking figure during the 1980s, his flashy style perfectly in tune with a time of excess, marked by conspicuous consumption and widespread recreational drug use. At the height of his success, he owned two estates, a 20-room apartment on New York's Fifth Avenue, and had a personal fleet of 22 trucks, cars and motorcycles and dropped in on his favorite golf course by helicopter. He also underwent cosmetic surgery and was a perpetual dieter.

But he was best known for his abandoning a promising career in Detroit that began at age 24 as a Chrysler engineer to create his own sports car company in 1973. It surprised no one when he named the car after himself.

A maverick known for technical innovations and risk taking, after switching to General Motors he developed top-selling models for its Pontiac division, and at 44 he was the head of General Motors' giant Chevrolet division. Analysts predicted he would become the next GM chief.

It was eight years before the DeLorean Motor Car Company, based in Northern Ireland, produced its first car, the DeLorean DMC-12. The striking car, with its gull-wing style doors, super-sleek design and metallic finish was one of fewer than 9,000 produced over three years before the company failed in 1983.

Despite its failure, the car achieved a permanent spot in pop culture history when it was used as the time-travel vehicle in "Back to the Future," a huge hit starring Michael J. Fox that spawned two sequels.

The car was even featured in a "Back to the Future" thrill ride at Universal Studios theme parks, in which riders sat in mock DeLoreans that pitched and rolled in front of a giant screen projecting high-speed scenes.

In October 1982, he was arrested in a Los Angeles hotel and accused of conspiring to import 220 pounds of cocaine, estimated by the prosecution to have a street value of $24 million, in a desperate attempt to save his failing business. DeLorean's lawyers pleaded entrapment, and he was acquitted. He was also cleared of racketeering and fraud charges.

True to form, he ran newspaper ads appealing for donations to help pay his legal expenses. He published his autobiography, "DeLorean," in 1985 and filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

Funeral services will be held next week and will be private, the funeral home said.

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Celebrated cabaret singer Bobby Short dies of leukemia at 80

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NEW YORK -- Cabaret singer Bobby Short, the tuxedoed embodiment of New York style and sophistication who was a fixture at his piano in the Carlyle Hotel for more than 35 years, died Monday. He was 80.

Short died of leukemia at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said Virginia Wicks, a Los Angeles-based publicist. The hospital did not immediately return a call seeking further detail.

As times changed and popular music shifted from Sinatra to Springsteen to Snoop Dogg, Short, a three-time Grammy nominee, remained irrevocably devoted to the "great American songbook": songs by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Billy Strayhorn, Harold Arlen. "I go back to what I heard Marian Anderson say once: `First a song has to be beautiful,"' Short told The New York Times in 2002. "However, `beautiful' covers a wide range of things. I have to admire a song's structure and what it's about. But I also have to determine how I can transfer my affection for a song to an audience; I have to decide whether I can put it across."

With his classic songs and suave presence, he entertained thousands over the years in the Carlyle's Upper East Side boite. In 2003, he celebrated his 35th anniversary there. His fans inevitably included New York's rich and famous: Norman Mailer and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the '70s, Barbara Walters and Dominick Dunne in the new millennium.

Short, despite his veneration of the classics, was no nostalgia act. His musical taste, like his smooth voice and elegant wardrobe, was always impeccable. As an ambassador of vintage songs, Short played the White House for presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. "My audience," he once said, "expects a certain amount of sophistication when they are coming to hear me."

When Short first played the Cafe Carlyle in 1968, the Vietnam War was raging and Mayor John Lindsay was in City Hall. The quintessential "saloon singer" remained through another five administrations, becoming as familiar a New York landmark as the Empire State Building or Central Park. He appeared in the movies "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Splash," along with the television miniseries "Roots" and the program "In The Heat of the Night."

While suffering from a vocal problem in 1970, Short began work on an autobiography, "Black and White Baby." In 1995, he updated his memoirs with "Bobby Short: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer."

Robert Waltrip Short was born Sept. 15, 1924, the ninth of 10 children in a musically inclined family. By age 4, he was playing by ear at the well-worn family piano, recreating songs heard on the radio.

By age 9, the self-taught pianist was performing in saloons around his Danville, Ill., home to earn extra money during the Depression. Even then, his material included Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady." Within two years, Short graduated to playing Chicago under his nickname, the "Miniature King of Swing."

Short played the vaudeville circuit: St. Louis, Milwaukee, Kansas City. On one date, he teamed with Louis Armstrong. And by age 12, he was headlining Manhattan nightclubs and regular engagements at the Apollo Theater. But Short, afraid of missing out on his youth, returned to his hometown and his high school. Four years later, a still-teenage Short was back performing; by 1948, he had a regular gig at a tony Los Angeles club, the Cafe Gala. Three years there left Short in what he called "a velvet rut," and he left the United States for gigs in London and Paris. His success overseas led to an album for Atlantic Records.

During the '60s, Short's audience began to shrink. The Beatles and the British Invasion dominated music; suburban flight and urban crime cut into the nightclub business.

He overcome those woes in 1968 with an extraordinary concert featuring singer Mabel Mercer in Manhattan's Town Hall; their live album became a success. He signed a deal with the Cafe Carlyle in the same year: six nights a week, eight months a year at the lounge inside the posh East 76th Street hotel.

During his vacations, Short spent much of his time in Mougins, France. Short lived on Sutton Place in Manhattan, sharing an apartment overlooking the East River with his pets. He was never married. Short is survived by his adopted son Ronald Bell and brother Reginald Short, both of California, Wicks said.

Short made headlines in 1980 when designer Gloria Vanderbilt filed a discrimination complaint against the posh River House apartments, which had rejected her bid to buy a $1.1 million duplex. Short had appeared with her in television ads promoting her designs, and she claimed the board was worried that the black singer might marry her. She later dropped the suit.

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Andre Norton 'Grand dame' of fantasy, sci-fi novels dies at 93.

Andre Norton, a prolific author best known for her science fiction and fantasy novels, including the popular "Witch World" series, died Thursday. She was 93. Norton, who earned a reputation as the "grand dame of science fiction and fantasy," died of congestive heart failure at her home in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

During her 70-year writing career, the former Cleveland children's librarian wrote more than 130 books in various genres, including spy novels, gothic novels, adventure stories, mysteries and historical novels.

Among her best-known science fiction and fantasy novels are "Fur Magic," "Dragon Magic," "Star Gate," "The Time Traders" and "The Zero Stone." The "Witch World" series, begun in 1963 with the book of the same name, dealt with an imaginary planet reached only through hidden gateways and included more than 30 novels. Norton also wrote nearly 100 short stories and edited numerous anthologies in the science-fiction, fantasy, mystery and western genres. Although often classified as a writer for young adults, her skillful plots, imaginative settings and strong characters - especially strong female characters - appealed to readers of all ages.

"Andre Norton inspired people, both writers and readers," Jean Rabe, an author and editor who collaborated with Norton on two forthcoming fantasy novels, told the Los Angeles Times this week. "She had an incredible imagination up to the very end, she had wit, and she knew a staggering amount of history, which she just layered in her manuscripts." Wanting to make it easier for other authors writing about anything from mythology to ancient weapons, she established the High Hallack Genre Writers' Research and Reference Library in Murfreesboro in 1999.

Housed in a converted three-car garage, the library boasted more than 10,000 volumes, including biographies, histories, diaries and science books. Age and health concerns caused Norton to close it last year. Norton's last complete solo novel, "Three Hands of Scorpio," will be published by Tor Books in April.

Jane Jewell, executive director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, said Norton, who never married and had no immediate survivors, requested that she be cremated with copies of her first and last books.

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Gordon Kay, Dead 88;

Produced Westerns for Republic, Universal

Gordon Kay, 88, a Republic Pictures and Universal producer who specialized in westerns, died of undisclosed causes March 8 at the Motion Picture & Television Fund hospital in Woodland Hills.

Kay, who launched his movie career as a gofer on westerns at Republic in 1939, worked his way up to producing the first 26 Allan "Rocky" Lane westerns beginning in 1947.

Moving to Universal in 1955, he produced seven westerns starring Audie Murphy, as well as several starring Fred MacMurray, Rory Calhoun and Tony Young. During his 12 years at Universal, he also produced non-westerns such as "Twilight for the Gods," starring Rock Hudson, and "Fluffy," starring Tony Randall.

Born in Montreal, Kay grew up in New York and Massachusetts. After graduating from Williams College in 1938, he worked as a reader and gofer for a Broadway producer. During World War II, he served in the Coast Guard off the Atlantic Coast.

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Barney Martin, 82; Veteran Actor Played Father on 'Seinfeld'

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Barney Martin, a film, television and stage actor who became known to millions of TV viewers in the 1990s as Jerry Seinfeld's dad on the popular "Seinfeld" show, has died. He was 82. Martin died Monday of cancer at his home in Studio City.

Martin was a New York City police detective who used humor to spice up speeches for deputy commissioners when he started in show business by writing on the side in the 1950s for "Name That Tune" and "The Steve Allen Show." He began acting in the 1960s, and Mel Brooks cast him in the "The Producers" in 1968. In 1981, he played Liza Minnelli's father in "Arthur."

Martin also appeared several times on Broadway, including the role of murderer Roxie Hart's husband, Amos, in the original production of the Bob Fosse musical "Chicago," in 1975. Martin introduced the song "Mr. Cellophane." Although Martin was the third actor to play Seinfeld's father, he is the one most identified with the role of the Florida retiree, Morty. He once said that Morty's job as a father was to save his son money. "Morty's whole drive is to take care of his family," Martin said.

Among the more notable episodes involving his character was one in which Morty and his wife, Helen, played by Liz Sheridan, were the stars of their Florida condo association's annual show. There was also the episode in which Morty invents the "Executive," a beltless trench coat that Kramer wanted to sell. Martin wore the raincoat to the show's wrap party in 1998 and had the cast sign it. He said at the time: "Playing Jerry's dad was like having whipped cream on top of a mountain of ice cream."

Martin is survived by his wife of 63 years, Catherine; a son, Donald; two grandsons and two great-grandsons. Memorial services are pending. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Actors Fund of America, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

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Don Durant, Dead at 72;

TV Cowboy "Johnny Ringo"

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Don Durant, who sang with Ray Anthony and His Orchestra in the 1950s and starred in the short-lived TV Western "Johnny Ringo," has died. He was 72. Durant, who had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia since 1992, died March 15 at his home in Monarch Beach, Calif., said his family.

As the gunfighter-turned-lawman in "Johnny Ringo," a half-hour series that ran on CBS from 1959 to 1960, Durant had the distinction of being the only prime-time TV cowboy to not only sing but compose

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Guitarist Rod Price of Foghat Dies at 57

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Guitarist Rod Price, founding member of the blues boogie band Foghat, died Tuesday after falling down a stairway at his home, a family friend said. He was 57.

The London native's solos drove Foghat to three platinum and eight gold records during the band's quarter-century career. After many years of touring he settled in Wilton in 1994.

Many in town knew Price as a loving father who never missed his son's baseball, soccer or basketball games. Fewer people knew of Price's musical background.

Price had played with Champion Jack Dupree, Eddie Kirkland, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Honey Boy Edwards.

In recent years, Price concentrated on his blues projects, cutting several CDs and giving private guitar lessons at his home.

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'Beverly Hillbillies' Creator Dies at 93

BURBANK, Calif. - Paul Henning, who created the hit TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies" and wrote its theme song, died Friday at the age of 93. Henning, who lived in Toluca Lake, died in a Burbank hospital of natural causes. He had been sick for some time, his daughter Carol said.

Henning created "The Beverly Hillbillies," which debuted in 1962, based on his encounters with residents of the Ozarks during camping trips as a youth, his daughter said. The CBS series starring Buddy Ebsen as the patriarch Jed drew up to 60 million viewers at its peak and ran until 1971.

Henning also wrote the words and music to "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," which was sung by Jerry Scoggins while Nashville bluegrass stars Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs played guitar and banjo. The ballad Megan, "Come and listen to a story about a man name Jed/ a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed/ then one day he was shootin' for some food/ and up through the ground came a bubblin' crude." In 1963, Henning created "Petticoat Junction," a "Hillbillies" spinoff.

Henning was born on a farm in Missouri on Sept. 16, 1911 and grew up in Independence. As a teenager, he worked behind the soda fountain at Brown's Drugstore, where he met Harry Truman, who advised the young boy to become a lawyer, his daughter said. He graduated from Kansas City School of Law, but soon went to work writing for radio. He wrote for "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show," among others. While Henning is sometimes credited with creating the TV show "Green Acres," his daughter said Henning helped the show's creator Jay Sommers cast the show and served as its executive producer.

Henning also worked in films, writing the 1964 film "Bedtime Story," starring Marlon Brando and David Niven. The film later served as the basis for the 1988 "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." Later in his life, Henning and his wife Ruth donated land near Branson, Missouri to the state for a conservation area.

Henning is survived by two daughters, a son and two grandsons.

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Egyptian Actor Ahmed Zaki Dies at 55

By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt - Ahmed Zaki, one of Egypt's most acclaimed actors who portrayed former Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, died Sunday. He was 55. Zaki was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2004. He had been hospitalized since March 8 and suffered a brain hemorrhage almost two weeks later.

A close friend of Zaki's, Gen. Kamel Abdel Halim, and doctors at the Dar el-Fouad Hospital in Sixth of October City just outside Cairo confirmed he had died Sunday. Before slipping into a coma earlier this month, Zaki had received calls from President Hosni Mubarak and celebrities had flocked to his hospital room.

Zaki died before accomplishing one of his dreams

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Crowded House Drummer Hester Found Dead

AP Gossip/Celebrity

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SYDNEY, Australia - The drummer from popular 1980s Australian rock band Crowded House hanged himself in a park in southern Australia, an emergency services spokeswoman said Monday. Paul Hester, 46, failed to return home after taking his two dogs for a walk on Friday night.

The drummer's body was later found in a park near his home in the southern city of Melbourne. Metropolitan Ambulance Service spokeswoman Liraje Memishi said ambulance officers arrived on the scene shortly after midday Saturday and reported that Hester had "attempted suicide" and suffered strangulation.

Officers declared Hester dead more than 20 minutes later, Memishi said. "They attempted resuscitation but he was dead when they arrived. There was nothing they could do," she said. Memishi said she could not confirm where Hester's body was found, but reports have suggested he was discovered hanging from a tree.

Hester played in several small bands before joining the New Zealand group Split Enz in 1983. He and Split Enz singer Neil Finn formed Crowded House in 1985 with bass player Nick Seymour.

Crowded House was one of Australia's most successful bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with international hits such as "Don't Dream it's Over" and "Weather with You."

Currently touring in London, Finn mourned the loss of his one-time band member. "I am deeply saddened by the loss of a close friend," Finn told The Daily Telegraph.

Hester is survived by his girlfriend Mardi Sommerfield and their two daughters aged 8 and 10.

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Anthony George, Dead at 84;

Starred in 'Checkmate,' 'The Untouchables'

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Anthony George, 84, an actor who had long runs in the popular television series "Checkmate" and "The Untouchables," died March 16 in Los Angeles of complications from lung disease.

A native of Endicott, N.Y., George had bit parts in motion pictures and television in the 1950s. He was sometimes credited as Tony George or Ott George. Often, as in the blockbuster 1956 film "The Ten Commandments," he received no credit at all.

George came into his own in 1960, when he was cast as agent Cam Allison in "The Untouchables" and as Don Corey on "Checkmate." He later starred in soap operas, playing Dr. Tony Vincente in "Search for Tomorrow" from 1970 to 1975 and Dr. Will Vernon in "One Life to Live" from 1977 to 1984. He had guest roles in "Rin Tin Tin" in 1956 and "Simon and Simon" in 1988.

George, who once described himself to The Times as "just another television series actor," took breaks from the small screen to appear on stage, notably as Nicky Arnstein in "Funny Girl," which ran at the Ahmanson Theater in 1966.

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Jason Evers Dead at 83;

Actor Known for 'The Brain That Wouldn't Die'

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Jason Evers, 83, an actor remembered for the 1963 cult film "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," died of heart failure March 13 in Los Angeles. The native New Yorker grew up seeing 25 to 30 plays a year thanks to his ticket-broker father. He dropped out of school to join the Army during World War II and later went into acting through repertory companies.

Evers, sometimes billed under his birth name Herb Evers, burst onto the Hollywood scene in 1960 in the western television series "Wrangler" and the motion picture "Pretty Boy Floyd." In "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," he was cast in the lead role of Dr. Bill Corter, a surgeon seeking a body for his fiancee's decapitated head.

Evers played an English professor in the 1963-64 ABC series "Channing," set at a mythical university, and the elusive missing son James to Walter Brennan's Will on ABC's "The Guns of Will Sonnet." A popular guest on TV series through the 1980s, Evers made his last film appearance in 1990's "Basket Case 2."

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