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Obituaries for April 2005


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Famed Attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Dies at 67

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By Carla Hall, Times Staff Writer

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., the masterful attorney who gained prominence as an early advocate for victims of police abuse, then achieved worldwide fame for successfully defending football star O.J. Simpson on murder charges, died this afternoon. He was 67.

Cochran died at his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles of an inoperable brain tumor, according to his brother-in-law Bill Baker. His wife and his two sisters were with him at the time of his death.

Cochran, his family and colleagues were secretive about his illness to protect the attorney's privacy as well as the network of Cochran law offices that largely draw their chachet from his presence. But Cochran confirmed in a Sept. 2004 interview with The Times that he was being treated by the eminent neurosurgeon Keith Black at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Long before his defense of Simpson, Cochran was challenging the Los Angeles Police Department's misconduct.

From the 1960s on, when he represented the widow of Leonard Deadwyler, a black motorist killed during a police stop in Los Angeles, Cochran took police abuse to court. He won historic financial settlements and helped bring about lasting changes in police procedure.

His clients weren't always black

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Terri Schiavo Passes

(CNN) -- Terri Schiavo died a "calm, peaceful and gentle death" around 9 a.m. ET Thursday, cradled by her husband and legal guardian, Michael, said attorney George Felos. Felos, who is Michael's Schiavo's attorney, told reporters that when his client entered his wife's room at the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, about 8:45 a.m., "it was apparent that it was the final moments for Mrs. Schiavo."

Also in the room were hospice caregivers; Michael's brother, Brian; and another Schiavo attorney, Deborah Bushnell, said Felos, who was himself there. Terri Schiavo died nearly two weeks after doctors, acting on an order issued by a state circuit court judge, removed her life-sustaining feeding tube.

She was 41 and had been incapacitated since 1990 after suffering a heart attack that caused permanent brain damage. Her husband has said she suffered from bulimia, an eating disorder, that resulted in a potassium deficiency that triggered the heart failure.

Felos said Michael Schiavo had been staying in a room just down the hall from his wife for the past two weeks, ever since her feeding tube was removed March 18 on an order issued at Schiavo's request by Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer.

Felos said it had become apparent Wednesday that she was nearing death, with her heart beating rapidly, her skin mottling and her breathing becoming more difficult.

Even in Terri Schiavo's final moments, there was one last dispute between her husband and other family members -- with Michael Schiavo rejecting a request by her brother, Bobby Schindler, to be in the room.

Bobby Schindler and his sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, had been in the room visiting their sibling for about an hour and 45 minutes when a hospice administrator notified Michael Schiavo that his wife was in her final stages.

The hospice official asked the siblings to leave the room so that Schiavo's condition could be evaluated.

Felos said that according to a hospice administrator Schindler resisted and got into a dispute with a law enforcement officer there, saying he wanted to stay in the room, too. "Mr. Schiavo's overriding concern was Mrs. Schiavo has a right and had a right to die with dignity and die in peace," Felos said. "She had a right to have her last and final moments on this Earth be experienced by a spirit of love and not of acrimony."

He added, "I emphasize it because this death was not for the siblings and not for the spouse and not for the parents. This was for Terri."

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had begged to be with their firstborn while she drew her last breath but police denied their request, said Brother Paul O'Donnell, the Schindlers' spokesman and spiritual adviser. When they were notified that their daughter had died, the couple hurriedly came to the hospice and stayed in the room where her body lay. "It's our understanding that the Schindlers spent some time with Terri's body," Felos said. "They were free to spend as much time as they chose with her body. After they left, the hospice workers bathed Terri's body, and Mr. Schiavo and all of us went back in to spend some more time."

Michael Schiavo was not present in the room during their visit.

'Terri, we love you dearly'

At one point about 30 to 40 hospice workers, many of whom had stayed past their shifts, formed a circle around Terri Schiavo's body, Felos said. A hospice chaplain said a prayer, he said. "It was a very emotional moment for many of us there," Felos said.

Bobby Schindler later told reporters: "Terri, we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do. We must accept your untimely death as God's will." Neither he nor his sister mentioned that morning's incident in the hospice room, but they both indirectly criticized their brother-in-law. "After these recent years of neglect at the hand of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity," Vitadamo said.

I was of two minds of if I should post this. But I think its something we have all been thinking about of late.

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'German Frank Sinatra' Harald Juhnke Dies

BERLIN (Reuters) - Harald Juhnke, the actor and entertainer hailed by many as the German Frank Sinatra, has died aged 75 after a long battle with dementia and alcoholism.

Juhnke, who passed away on Friday, was one of Germany's best-loved stars of television, film and stage, but his later years were clouded by his battle with the bottle and media reports about his deteriorating mental state. "Harald Juhnke embodied ability and human tragedy like almost no other person," wrote German state broadcaster ARD in remembrance of the Berlin-born tabloid fixture.

His death sparked a wave of tributes, from President Horst Koehler down. The news, announced by his manager, also stopped reports of the Pope's failing health from monopolizing German media coverage.

After making dozens of feature films in West Germany in the 50s and 60s, Juhnke rose to the peak of his fame on television in the decades that followed, both as an actor and presenter. However, his career was dogged by a persistent weakness for alcohol. He made headlines in 1997 when it was reported he called a security guard in a Los Angeles hotel a "dirty nig***" when drunk, an incident for which he later apologized.

Juhnke, whose second wife was half-Chinese, made his stage debut in 1948. He enjoyed a recording career which spanned four decades and included a German cover of Sinatra's hit "My Way." Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said Juhnke was a real Berliner whose achievements would live long in the memory. "Berlin bows down before one of its great sons," he said. "He was a voice of Berlin which will not fall silent."

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Comedian and Actor Mitch Hedberg, 37, Dies

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Mitch Hedberg, a Minnesota-born comedian who worked in nightclubs, television and film in a wide-ranging career, died in New Jersey, his family said. He was 37. Hedberg, who struggled with drugs and alcohol, died Wednesday in a hotel room in Livingston, N.J. Pending the medical examiner's report, the cause of death appears to be heart failure, said his mother, Mary Hedberg. She said her son was born with a heart defect and frequently felt anxious about his condition.

Mary Hedberg said speculation that her son's death was drug-related was gossip. "We don't know that for a fact," she said, but added, "it's not a secret Mitch used drugs. Whether that played a role in his death or not, we don't know."

A hit on "The Late Show With David Letterman," on which he appeared 10 times, and "The Howard Stern Show," Hedberg once was dubbed "the next Seinfeld" by Time magazine. But TV-series fame eluded him because his unique style of mumbled one-liners didn't lend itself to the sitcom format. Hedberg delivered absurdist, random observations in a spacy staccato. His long, dirty blond hair harkened to the image of a 1970s stoner. Jokes about Hedberg's drug use were a staple of his act. He took a hiatus from performing for several months after a May 2003 arrest in Austin, Texas, for felony possession of heroin.

Born in St. Paul, Hedberg rose through the ranks at Minneapolis' Acme Comedy Co. and caught his big break through a Comedy Central special. His rambling, non-sequitur style often drew comparisons to Steven Wright, but Hedberg disagreed.

"If I made potato chips and put them in a can, people would say I was ripping off Pringles," he said. "But what if I put them in a bag?" Hedberg had two popular comedy CDs, "Strategic Grill Locations" and "Mitch All Together." He acted in the movie "Almost Famous"

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Jack Keller, Wrote 'Bewitched' Tune, Dies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Pop songwriter Jack Keller, who wrote the theme song for "Bewitched" and other TV sitcoms and was a producer on the Monkees' first album, died Friday. He was 68.

Keller had leukemia, according to his son, Jordan Keller.

The son of a musician, Keller got his big break when he joined Aldon Music, Don Kirschner's Brill Building publishing company, which also employed a stable of young pop songwriters including Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, and Howard Greenfield.

Keller and Greenfield wrote "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own," both No. 1 hits for Connie Francis in 1960, and "Venus in Blue Jeans" for Jimmy Clanton.

After Aldon was purchased by the TV production company Screen Gems, Keller and Greenfield wrote the theme song for the shows "Bewitched" and "Gidget."

The TV work led Keller to the Monkees, getting producer credit on their TV theme song and first album.

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Jack Keller.... was a producer on the Monkees' first album

Ususally I never comment in this informational thread but I had to say, somewhere in my stacks (actually not stacks, but banker boxes full) of vinyls, I still have that Monkees first album. I really should catalog and put my whole collection on eBay. It goes back to the mid 60's.

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Pope John Paul II dies

Pontiff

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II died Saturday night, succumbing finally to years of illness endured painfully and publicly, ending an extraordinary, if sometimes polarizing, 26-year reign that remade the papacy. He died at 9:37 p.m. in his apartment three stories above St. Peter's Square, as tens of thousands of the faithful gathered within sight of his lighted window for a second night of vigils, amid millions of prayers for him from Roman Catholics around the world as his health declined rapidly.

People wept and knelt on cobblestones as the news of his death spread across the square, bowing their heads to a man whose long and down-to-earth papacy was the only one that many young and middle-aged Catholics around the world remembered. For more than 10 minutes, not long after his death was announced, the largely Roman crowd simply applauded him. "I have looked up to this man as a guide, and now it is like a star that has suddenly disappeared," said Caeser Aturi, 38, a priest from Ghana, which the widely traveled pope visited in 1980, on a continent where the Roman Catholic church grew sizably under his reign. He was born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. He was 84 years old.

Hospitalized twice since Feb. 1 and suffering for a decade from Parkinson's disease, John Paul's health hit its last crisis on Thursday, when the Vatican announced that a urinary tract infection had caused a high fever and unstable blood pressure. In the next day, his kidneys and cardio-respiratory system began to fail. On Saturday morning, his chief spokesman, Dr. Joaqu

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Greg Garrison dead at 81;

TV Pioneer With a Flair for Comedy, Variety Shows

Greg Garrison, a television pioneer who directed Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" in the early 1950s and later produced and directed Dean Martin's long-running variety show and his "Celebrity Roasts," has died. He was 81. Garrison died of pneumonia March 25 at his home in Thousand Oaks, said his wife, Judy.

In a television career of more than 40 years that began after World War II when he became a "gofer" on an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, Garrison directed nearly 4,000 shows. Brought to New York City by the legendary producer Max Liebman and NBC executive Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, Garrison directed "Your Show of Shows," the live, 90-minute comedy-variety program featuring Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris, from 1950 to 1952. "He was a very good director, and he always brought something to the show," Caesar told The Times this week.

At the same time Garrison was directing Caesar and company, he was doing the same for "The Kate Smith Evening Hour," a live program that aired five afternoons a week. Garrison, who had stints directing "The Milton Berle Show" and "Ford Television Theatre" in the 1950s, also directed numerous TV specials over the years, including productions starring Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Jack Benny, George Burns, Lucille Ball, Phil Silvers, Bob Newhart and Jonathan Winters.

Garrison also directed television coverage of the 1948 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and produced and directed one of the televised Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960. Although he never won an Emmy as a producer or director, he was nominated more than a dozen times.

Beginning in 1965, he produced and directed "The Dean Martin Show" for nine years and performed similar duties for seven years on "The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts." "Anyone who has watched the assembling of the weekly Martin [variety] bash gets the idea that Garrison can do anything," Times critic Cecil Smith wrote in 1969. "Greg assembles the show in its entirety, standing in for Martin through all the rehearsals

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Our sincere condolences to Slowpoke on the loss of her cousin, noted Jazz singer Ann Dee.

Jazz Singer Ann Dee Dead at 85

Angela Maria De Spirito

Ann Dee, of Ann's 440 Club, San Francisco fame, is credited with giving such entertainers as Johnny Mathis, Fran Jefferies, Lenny Bruce, T.C. Jones, Charles Pierce and many more their start. Ann Dee heard Johnny Mathis in a bar across the street from her place on Broadway and gave him his first job. In early September of 1955, Johnny landed a job singing weekends at Ann Dee

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Saul Bellow, Author and Nobel Winner, Dead at 89

By Greg Frost

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Saul Bellow, who rose from writing book reviews for $10 apiece to become one of America's greatest novelists after World War II, passed away on Tuesday at age 89. Friend and lawyer Walter Pozen said Bellow died of natural causes at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter by his side.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and three National Book Awards, Bellow was the author of such novels as "The Adventures of Augie March," "Herzog," and "Henderson the Rain King."

His work touched on the essence of human existence, the experience of immigrants and Jews, and class and social mobility in 20th century America. "Saul Bellow was not only a great writer, he was also a superb teacher and friend -- a whole and marvelous man," said Boston University President Emeritus John Silber, who helped recruit the author to the school in 1993.

Born in 1915 in Canada to Russian immigrants, the young Bellow moved with his family to Chicago, the city with which his work would become most closely associated. Bellow's mother wanted her son to be a Talmudic scholar, and he could read Hebrew before he entered kindergarten, but young Bellow always knew he wanted to be a writer. "From my earliest days I had a conviction that I was here to write certain things and so from the age of 13, I kept working at that," he told Britain's Guardian newspaper in 1997.

After serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II, Bellow spent time as a self-described Bohemian in New York's Greenwich Village and supported himself writing book reviews.

His first published novel came in 1944 with "Dangling Man," but his literary career really only took off with 1953's "The Adventures of Augie March," a saga of an amiable but aimless young Chicago man borne along by the forces around him.

Bellow's greatest critical success was 1975's "Humboldt's Gift," which won him the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. Themes of death and mortality run through many of Bellow's works, and two near-death experiences marked the early and late stages of the author's life.

The first occurred when Bellow was eight years old and was hospitalized for six months with a respiratory infection.

In 1995, Bellow ate a toxic fish while vacationing in the Caribbean. Bacteria attacked his nervous system, and he spent five weeks in intensive care. It took the aging author more than a year to recover.

Bellow's five marriages resulted in four children. His fifth wife, Janis Freedman, gave birth to daughter Naomi Rose in 1999 when Bellow was 84. "I learned that the sexual revolution is a very bloody affair, like most revolutions," Bellow told an interviewer in 1997 when asked for his thoughts on marriage.

He spent his later years teaching literature at Boston University, although he stopped holding regular classes several years ago because of declining health, the school said.

Bellow could be a cantankerous personality, bemoaning the quality of contemporary literature and the decline of reading in American society. In an interview with Reuters in 1998, Bellow said: "There are only a few wonderful writers around, and then there's the field, as they say in horse racing."

He cited Philip Roth, Don DeLillo and Denis Johnson as contemporary writers he liked, but slammed Tom Wolfe as a "very gifted journalist," but not much of a novelist.

Asked about his thoughts on what happens after death, Bellow offered two scenarios: oblivion or immortality. "My intuition is immortality," said Bellow, who was ambivalent about whether he believed in God. "No argument can be made for it, but it's just as likely as oblivion."

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Monaco's Prince Rainier Dies at 81 - Palace

By Marco Trujillo

MONACO (Reuters) - Monaco's Prince Rainier III, Europe's longest reigning monarch, died at the age of 81 on Wednesday after a battle with lung, heart and kidney problems, the palace said.

Rainier had ruled the tiny Mediterranean principality since 1949. He will be succeeded by 47-year-old Prince Albert, who took over his father's royal duties last week as hopes faded that Rainier would recover. "His Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier III died on Wednesday April 6 2005 at 6.35 in the morning (0435 GMT)," the palace said in a statement.

Rainier brought Hollywood glamour to Monaco by marrying beautiful American actress Grace Kelly in 1956 and transformed the world's smallest state except for the Vatican from a faded gambling center into a billionaires' haven.

He strengthened the sovereignty of Monaco as enshrined by a 1917 treaty with France, its territorial waters and air space were recognized and it won a United Nations seat.

But Rainier -- the world's second longest-serving monarch after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand -- cut a lonely figure in later life as media focused on his children's problems and on charges that Monaco had become a mafia refuge for dirty money.

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Rainier's reign added to the legendary curse of the Grimaldi dynasty that has haunted his family during its seven centuries of rule over Monaco. Princess Grace (above) died in a car crash in 1982 and his daughters Stephanie and Caroline have had a succession of disastrous, high-profile relationships.

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Creator of 'Brenda Starr, 'Dale Messick Dies at Age 98

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Dale Messick, whose long-running comic strip "Brenda Starr, Reporter" gave her entry into the male world of the funny pages, has died at age 98.

Messick, whose strip ran in 250 newspapers at its peak in the 1950s, died Tuesday, said her daughter, Starr Rohrman, who had been caring for her mother in Sonoma County. Messick once said Brenda had "everything I didn't have." But she charmed acquaintances with spunk and style worthy of her redheaded creation. Approaching the century mark, she stunned interviewers with her youthful appearance, cheating time by decades. At 96, frail but still formidable, she told The AP that she never watched "soap operas and stuff like that because I used to write them. In fact," she added, "I started them."

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Mixing hot copy with high fashion, Brenda plunged from one thrilling adventure to another, sassing her tough-talking editor, Mr. Livwright, and sometimes filing her copy with the only person left in the newsroom, the cleaning woman. As World War II raged Brenda did her part, parachuting into action every red hair in place. "Most comics, the main characters are heroes, guys, and they don't write for women," Messick told The Associated Press in a May 2002 interview. "I was a woman so I was writing for women and I think that's what put her over."

Brenda would later come under fire for being too preoccupied with her looks and her men, and too far removed from the routine of real newspaperwomen: city council meetings and supermarket openings. "I used to get letters from girl reporters saying that their lives were nowhere near as exciting as Brenda's," Messick told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1986. "I told them that if I made Brenda's life like theirs, nobody would read it." Young women looked at Brenda and dreamed of adventure. Young men liked the strip, too, and quite a few, thinking they were dealing with one of the boys, asked "Dale" for private sketches of Brenda in sexier poses than a family newspaper could bear. Messick obliged once by sending back a saucy picture of Brenda in a barrel going over Niagara Falls. Attached was a note: "Is this daring enough?"

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Born in South Bend, Ind., on April 11, 1906, with the name Dalia a moniker she jettisoned to further her career Messick developed her artistic skills early, scribbling illustrations on her schoolbooks and telling stories to her classmates. She studied art and got a job at a greeting card company, only to quit in a huff in the depths of the Depression when her boss dropped her pay to make a new hire. She cried all the way home, but regrouped, moving to New York and getting a job at another greeting card company, working on her strips at night.

Her break came when her work came to the attention of another woman, Mollie Slott, who worked for publisher Joseph M. Patterson. Patterson, reputed to be no fan of women cartoonists, wouldn't take the slot for daily publication but it began running in the Sunday comics in June 1940. The name came from a '30s debutante; she borrowed the figure and flowing red hair from film star Rita Hayworth.

The love of Brenda's life was the mysterious Basil St. John, a man with an eyepatch and a mysterious illness that could be cured only with a serum taken from black orchids growing in the Amazon jungle. The orchids were fantasy, but Basil was based on a real-life assistant artist Messick hired to help do lettering. "I was intrigued with him. He was so handsome," she said. But the real-life artist couldn't letter and was fired. Basil courted Brenda for three decades. When they finally married in the 1970s, President Ford sent congratulations.

Messick, who received the National Cartoonist Society's Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, married a man in the art supply business, Everett George, with whom she had her daughter. She later married attorney Oscar Strom. Neither marriage lasted.

In old age, Messick moved to Northern California to be near her daughter and two grandchildren, Curt and Laura. She joked about writing her autobiography, "Still Stripping at 80," never completed but retitled a decade later to "Still Stripping at 90." She did write a single-panel strip "Granny Glamour" until age 92. Messick had a stroke in 1998, her daughter said. "She just went into a decline after that. She couldn't draw anymore," Rohrman said.

There will be no services, and Messick will be cremated, Rohrman said.

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Debralee Scott Dead at 52;

Actress Appeared in Films, 1970s TV Series

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Debralee Scott, 52, an actress best-known for her roles in the television shows "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," died April 5 at her home in Amelia Island, Fla., according to her sister, Jerilyn Scott.

Scott said her sister died of natural causes.

Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Scott completed high school in San Francisco while attending the American Conservatory Theatre. Her first film appearances were in "Dirty Harry" and "American Graffiti."

Scott came from a family of show-business insiders. Her eldest sister, Scott Bushnell, produced many of director Robert Altman's films.

Scott got her first major role at age 22, playing Cathy Shumway on "Mary Hartman.'' She later played the role of Hotsy Totsy on the show "Welcome Back, Kotter,'' and acted in 1984's "Police Academy'' and 1986's "Police Academy 3: Back in Training.''

She appeared in "Welcome Back, Kotter" from 1975 to 1976 as Rosalie "Hotzi" Totzi. In 1976 and 1977, she played the role of Cathy Shumway, the younger sister of series star Louise Lasser on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." She also appeared in the series "Angie" as the title character's younger sister.

She was a frequent guest on game shows, including "The Match Game" and "Password Plus."

She had been engaged to John Dennis Levi, a police officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who was killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Scott had just moved to north Florida to be with her older sister.

Funeral plans were pending.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Johnson Dies

By Jim Salter

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ST. LOUIS - Johnnie Johnson, a rock 'n' roll pioneer who teamed with Chuck Berry for hits like "Roll Over Beethoven" and "No Particular Place to Go," died Wednesday. He was 80.

Johnson died at his St. Louis home. The cause of death was not immediately known, said publicist Margo Lewis. He had been hospitalized a month ago with pneumonia and was on dialysis for a kidney ailment, said John May, a friend and fellow musician.

Though he was never a household name, Johnson and Berry's long collaboration helped define early rock 'n' roll. Johnson often composed the music on piano, then Berry converted it to guitar and wrote the lyrics. In fact, Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was a tribute to Johnson.

After he and Berry parted ways, Johnson performed with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, among others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 in the "sidemen" category. "It was so much fun to play with Johnnie," Diddley said. "The world has lost a great man and a great musician."

Berry, 78, who returned from a European tour Wednesday, said he would perform a tribute concert to honor "the man with a dynamite right hand ... the greatest piano player I ever had" who gave the then-struggling Berry his first paid gig

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Robert F. Slatzeread at 77;

Author Claimed Brief Marriage to Monroe

Robert F. Slatzer, 77, who wrote two books on Marilyn Monroe and claimed that he was briefly married to her, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness, his wife, Deborah Slatzer, said.

In "The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe" (1974), Slatzer contended that he and Monroe were married secretly in Mexico in 1952 but that the relationship was ordered dissolved by Darryl F. Zanuck, then the head of 20th Century Fox Studios, who was worried about Monroe's image.

Slatzer later told The Times that he and Monroe, whom he had met at Fox when she was a model, returned to Mexico and "undid" the marriage by burning the copy of the certificate filed in Mexican courts. The marriage could not be independently confirmed. Slatzer wrote a second book on Monroe, "The Marilyn Files," published in 1992.

A native of Marion, Ohio, Slatzer attended Ohio State University and began his writing career as a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch and the Scripps Howard newspapers. He came to Hollywood in 1946 to write about the movie business and eventually found work in films as a screenwriter, director and producer.

In addition to his books on Monroe, he wrote "Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne" and "Bing Crosby: Hollow Man."

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John Fred Gourrier Dead at 63

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John Fred Gourrier died today of kidney disease.

John Fred & His Playboy Band had a regional following in the South and broke through with a number one hit early in 1968, although it proved to be the band's only top forty entry.

John Fred Gourrier was born in 1941 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His father, Fred Gourrier, had played professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers organization. In 1956 John formed a band that he called John Fred and the Playboys, a white group that played primarily rhythm and blues music. While still in high school, they cut their first record in late 1958 with Fats Domino's band. The song was titled Shirley and John Fred and the Playboys saw their song rise as high as number 82 on the national record charts. The group also cut other singles that were not as successful, working at times with Mac Rebennack and with the Jordanaires. John Fred attended Southeastern Louisiana University from 1960 to 1963 and spent some time as a college basketball player.

He formed a new band and began to cut singles on the Jewel and N-Joy labels. The band was very popular regionally. Eventually they became known as John Fred & His Playboy Band and signed with the Paula label. After six singles that met with little success nationally, they recorded a parody of the popular Beatles' song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds which they called Judy In Disguise [With Glasses]. A song with a snappy beat and well orchestrated, it entered the charts on December 16, 1967 and by January 20 it had supplanted another Beatles' song, Hello Goodbye, as the number one record on the U.S. charts. It remained there for two weeks.

John Fred & His Playboy Band continued doing pop songs and soul songs, recording material that had been done by Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Otis Redding and other well-known soul artists of the day. They toured through Europe, at one point playing with the supergroup Traffic in Hamburg. They recorded an album Permanently Stated that was psychedelic in nature, in keeping with the times. Before breaking up the group had one more single that was a hit regionally, Hey, Hey Bunny in 1968.

John Fred put together another group that recorded more records from 1969 to 1976, but never again had a hit that even came near the success of Judy In Disguise [With Glasses]. He went on to become vice president of RCS in Baton Rouge, where he worked as a record producer. According to band member Bill Dunnam, many members of John Fred & His Playboy Band went on to successful careers in business. John Fred has worked as a high school baseball coach.

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Composer "Tutti" Camarata, 91

By AP

BURBANK, Calif. -- Salvador "Tutti" Camarata, who worked with everyone from Bing Crosby to Billie Holiday to Disney teen heartthrob Annette Funicello in a long and distinguished career as a composer, arranger and trumpeter, has died at the age of 91. Camarata died Wednesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank after a brief illness, said his son, Paul Camarata.

In addition to his Big Band work in the 1930s and '40s, Camarata was the musical conductor for several TV series, including "Startime," "The Vic Damone Show" and "The Alcoa Hour." He was also the vocal supervisor for the 1963 movie "Summer Magic," which included musical performances by Hayley Mills and Burl Ives.

While living in England in the late 1940s, Camarata co-founded London Records with Sir Edward Lewis to make classical and pop recordings for U.S. distribution. Among the label's best known artists were the Rolling Stones.

Returning to the United States in the 1950s, he joined with Walt Disney in co-founding Disneyland Records, which recorded such pop stars as Funicello and Mills. It was there that he helped Funicello the former "Mickey Mouse Club" mousketeer, develop the vocal style that briefly made her a pop star in the mid-1960s. "Annette felt she couldn't sing," Camarata once said. "So I developed a way of recording her voice, creating an echo. The first time she heard it, she was surprised and happy. She began to gain more confidence as a vocalist." In 1960 he opened Sunset Sound Recorders, where the Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Miles Davis and others have recorded. His son currently runs the studio.

Camarata studied music at the Juilliard School in New York before embarking on a career as a Big Band trumpeter in the 1930s. He was both lead trumpeter and arranger for Jimmy Dorsey's band, arranging such hits as "Tangerine," "Green Eyes" and "Yours." He left Dorsey in the early 1940s to work as an arranger for Glen Cray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and for Benny Goodman's band. He also arranged music for Crosby, Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and others.

His own recordings include "Tutti's Trumpets," recorded in 1957 and considered a classic for trumpet composition. In the 1970s, he orchestrated and conducted a series of albums for the London label that showcased the work of Bach, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

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Ruth Hussey, 93; Oscar Nominee for Her Role in 'Philadelphia Story'

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Actress Ruth Hussey, who was best known for her Oscar-nominated role as James Stewart's sassy photographer girlfriend in the classic 1940 film "The Philadelphia Story," has died. She was 93. Her son, John Longenecker, said Hussey died Tuesday at Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent Home in Newbury Park of complications from an appendectomy. "But my mom told her children and grandchildren she had 'Cholery Marbles,' a term for whatever ails you, invented by her mother in Rhode Island and well known and used by all the Hussey cousins and family," he said, adding, "She was fun."

Ruth Carol Hussey was born Oct. 30, 1911, in Providence, R.I., and graduated from Pembroke Women's College at Brown University. She studied acting at the University of Michigan. She began her career as a fashion commentator on local radio and later was a model in New York for the famed Powers agency. After Hussey began acting, she became a contract player for MGM when she was spotted by a talent scout while in Los Angeles with the road tour of "Dead End."

Her first film was an uncredited role in "The Big City" in 1937, starring Spencer Tracy; in 1940 she was Tracy's leading lady in "Northwest Passage." She also starred opposite Robert Taylor in "Flight Command" (1940), Melvyn Douglas in "Our Wife" (1941), Van Heflin in "Tennessee Johnson" (1943), Ray Milland in "The Uninvited" (1944), and John Carroll in "Bedside Manner" (1945). "She has had a steady film career in which strong womanly roles have been her forte," Times writer Edwin Schallert wrote of Hussey in 1949. "She is generally an important force in the plot of any film in which she appears."

In 1945, Hussey appeared on Broadway, starring in the successful "State of the Union" as the wife of a presidential candidate, Ralph Bellamy. She was on Broadway in 1949 in the hit comedy "Goodbye, My Fancy," and she toured with "The Royal Family of Broadway." "I personally am happy when I am acting, whether on stage or screen," Hussey told The Times in 1949. Her later movies included "I, Jane Doe" (1948), the 1949 remake of "The Great Gatsby," and "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1952). Her last feature film role was in 1960 in "The Facts of Life," playing Bob Hope's wife.

Hussey later moved into television, including guest appearances in "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Time Out for Ginger." She played the love interest of Robert Young in the 1973 television movie "My Darling Daughters' Anniversary."

But for many film fans, she will always be Elizabeth "Liz" Imbrie, the saucy journalist who works with reporter Mike Connor (Stewart) to cover the forthcoming wedding of socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) in George Cukor's "The Philadelphia Story." The script by Donald Ogden Stewart earned an Oscar and provided snappy dialogue to all the actors, including Cary Grant, who played Lord's troublesome ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven.

"We all go haywire at times and if we don't, maybe we ought to," Hussey says at one point. "Ruth Hussey is splendidly true as Stewart's friend and co-worker," a Los Angeles Times writer commented after the picture was released. Though nominated, she lost the best-supporting actress Oscar to Jane Darwell's portrayal of Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath."

Hussey's husband of 60 years, talent agent George Longenecker, died in 2002. She is survived by her sons, John of Beverly Hills and Rob of Houston, and a daughter, Mary Hendrix of Oak Park, Calif.; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, 22212 Ventura Blvd., Suite 300, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.

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Oscar-Winning Actor John Mills Dies at 97

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LONDON - Actor Sir John Mills, the quintessential British officer in scores of films, died Saturday after an Oscar-winning career spanning more than 50 years that included roles in "Gandhi" and "Ryan's Daughter." He was 97.

Mills died at home in Denham, west of London, after a short illness, a statement from his trustees said. Details of the illness were not given.

Mills' roles ranged from Pip in David Lean's "Great Expectations" to the village idiot in Lean's "Ryan's Daughter," for which he won his Academy Award as best supporting actor in 1971. But he took his place in film history as soldier, sailor, airman and commanding officer, embodying the decency, humility and coolness under pressure so cherished in the British hero.

On Mills' 80th birthday in 1988, historian Jeffrey Richards called him "truly an English Everyman. His heroes have been on the whole not extraordinary men but ordinary men whose heroism derives from their levelheadedness, generosity of spirit and innate sense of what is right."

Small, fair-haired, with a boyish face and very blue eyes, he was the son, the brother, the boy next door who went off to fight the Germans and only sometimes came back. In "Forever England" he was the ordinary seaman who pins down a German battleship. In "Waterloo Road" he played an AWOL soldier. In Noel Coward's 1942 classic "In Which We Serve" he was a Cockney able seaman, and in Anthony Asquith's "The Way to the Stars," one of the most popular films of the war, he was a schoolmaster-turned-RAF pilot.

These performances were touching and restrained, within the wartime bounds of acceptable sentimentality, and they made his name.

Age seemed hardly to touch him and he carried on in military roles for decades, eventually becoming the commander, as in "Above Us the Waves" in 1955. He was trapped in a submarine in 1950's "Morning Departure," toiled through the desert in "Ice Cold In Alex" (1958), and in "Tunes of Glory" (1960) he was the commander of a Scottish regiment, tormented by a fellow officer.

In a recent survey of British film legends by Sky television, voters puts Mills in 8th place all-time among British male actors.

But Mills started his career as a hoofer, a song and dance man in old Fred Astaire roles, far from the trenches.

Born Lewis Ernest Watts, the son of a Suffolk schoolmaster, he started work at 17 as a grain merchant's clerk but longed for the stage.

His older sister Annette, part of a dancing duo at Ciro's, the London nightclub, encouraged his ambitions and he moved to the capital and changed his name.

Mills recalled how he spent the mornings selling disinfectants and toilet paper to pay the rent, and his afternoons at tap dancing lessons. "Then I got into a very tatty double act with a man called George Posford who played the balalaika while sang 'Sonny Boy' and that was how it all started," he added.

He was acting with at traveling troupe called The Quaints, in Singapore in 1929 when Noel Coward saw the show and suggested Mills look him up in London.

That led to parts in Coward's revues and eventually his war movies, where Mills swapped dancing shoes for uniform. Mills' own military career in the Royal Engineers lasted little more than a year after the outbreak World War II, until he was declared unfit because of an ulcer.

Mills was married first to actress Aileen Raymond, then in 1941 to Mary Hayley Bell, an actress-turned-playwright. Their son Jonathan is a screenwriter and daughters Juliet and Hayley are actresses.

Among Mills' many non-military films were "Great Expectations," "Hobson's Choice," "The Wrong Box," "Tiger Bay" with his daughter Hayley, and "Gandhi" in which he played the viceroy of India.

He was made a CBE, or Companion of the Order of British Empire, in 1960 and knighted in 1976.

Mills was wiry, fit and remarkably youthful in to old age, which his daughter Hayley attributed to "joie de vivre." "Maybe what attracts people is that exuberant spiritual quality that they recognize is still present," she said in 1986.

At 80, Mills rejected any idea of giving up acting. "I've never considered myself to be working for a living; I've enjoyed myself for a living instead," he said.

Mills is survived by his wife and their children. The funeral service will be held on April 27 in Denham.

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I know this is a little older obit...but I just found out about it today and it made me very sad...

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"Meet the Parents" Actress Dies

by Sarah Hall

Mar 10, 2005, 2:45 PM PT

Nicole DeHuff, an actress who played Teri Polo's sister in Meet the Parents, has died of causes related to pneumonia. She was 30.

The actress died Feb. 16 in Hollywood, four days after she reportedly checked into a Los Angeles hospital, was misdiagnosed and sent home with orders to take Tylenol.

When her condition worsened, she returned to the hospital and was prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis and again sent home. Two days later, paramedics were called to her home after she collapsed, gasping for breath. By the time she reached the hospital, she was unconscious and passed away soon after.

Meet the Parents marked DeHuff's feature-film debut. She played Deborah Byrnes, the sister whose wedding prompts Gaylord "Greg" Focker's (Ben Stiller) visit to girlfriend Pam Byrne's (Polo) childhood home to attend the ceremony and, as suggested by the title, meet the parents. Hilarity ensues.

In one of the movie's most memorable scenes, a Speedo-clad Stiller spikes a volleyball into DeHuff's face, breaking the bride-to-be's nose and cementing his own unpopularity.

DeHuff also appeared in 2004's Suspect Zero with Ben Kingsley and in an independent film called Killing Cinderella.

She also starred in the as yet unreleased independent film Unbeatable Harold, directed by her husband, Ari Palitz, and costarring Dylan McDermott and Gordon Michaels.

On the small screen, DeHuff had roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Court, The Practice, Dragnet, Without a Trace and Monk. She also appeared in the TV movie See Arnold Run.

A native of Oklahoma, DeHuff graduated from the Carnegie Mellon University acting program.

She is survived by Palitz, her husband of four years, as well as her sister, her mother and her father.

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'Rambo' director Cosmatos dies at 64

Donner states helmer had been diagnosed with cancer

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VICTORIA, British Columbia -- Director George P. Cosmatos, best known for box-office hits "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and "Tombstone," has died. He was 64. Cosmatos, who had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, died earlier this week, his friend and fellow director Richard DonnerRichard Donner said Saturday.

Known for an ability to fix troubled projects, he delivered what many consider his finest achievement in 1993 with "Tombstone," the film about legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. Pic starred Kurt Russell and Val KilmerVal Kilmer.

It was a rough ride on the pic for Cosmatos, who was brought in by executive producer Andrew G. VajnaAndrew G. Vajna to replace director Kevin JarreKevin Jarre on the film's set in Arizona. The development stirred feelings of resentment among some cast and crew. "No matter where I go or what I do, I'll be admitted to heaven for rewriting 'Tombstone' with George," said John Fasano, the film's associate producer. "He did everything that was expected of him and he did it well."

Known for his gruff demeanor as much as his keen intellect, he dismissed criticism of violence in "Rambo," the 1985 film about a U.S. combat veteran who returns to Vietnam on a one-man mission to rescue soldiers missing in action. "It's a psychological release for people to have a hero who can do the fighting and dirty work while we eat our popcorn," Cosmatos once said.

Born in Florence, Italy, and raised in Egypt and Cyprus, Cosmatos spoke six languages and was an avid bibliophile with a passion for cigars and film restoration. He got his start as assistant director on Otto Preminger's "Exodus" (1960), played a small role in "Zorba the Greek" (1964) and wrote for the film journal Sight and Sound. His other credits include "The Beloved" (1970); "Cobra" (1986), his second collaboration with "Rambo" star Sylvester Stallone; and the underwater thriller "Leviathan" (1989).

The writer-director moved to Victoria, Canada, 24 years ago after living in London, Sweden, Mexico and briefly in Los Angeles. His wife, Swedish sculptress Birgitta Ljungberg Cosmatos, died in 1997. Cosmatos is survived by his son, brother and nephew.

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Austrian Actress Maria Schell Dies

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

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A 1957 file photo shows actor Yul Brunner, left, and actress

Maria Schell, right, as Brunner prepares to take snapshots

of her during a break in the shooting of the Hollywood movie

'The Brothers Karamazov'.

VIENNA, Austria - Maria Schell, an icon of the German-speaking film world who achieved international fame before withdrawing into retirement only to return in dozens of memorable character roles, has died. She was 79.

Schell, sister of the actor Maximilian Schell, died Tuesday in her sleep in the town of Preitenegg, Mayor Franz Kogler said Wednesday.

Best known internationally for her role as the enigmatic Grushenka in Richard Brooks' 1958 movie "The Brothers Karamazov," Schell starred in dozens of popular German language films in the 1950s. She later made hundreds of television appearances to become an idol to the postwar generation in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Recognition came early. She first stood in front of the cameras at age 16 in the Swiss film "Der Steinbruch," ("The Quarry.") Though a limited success, the film led Schell to turn to professional coaching.

She did not appear in another film until six years later, when she starred in Karl Hartl's 1948 production "Der Engel mit der Posaune." The film was known in an English-language version as "The Angel with the Trumpet," bringing Schell her first measure of world recognition.

She also started in "The Hanging Tree," (1959), and "Cimarron," (1960) and dozens of other productions in supporting roles.

Retirement in 1963 was short-lived, with Schell returning to acting just five years later. Her later roles included Nazi architect Albert Speer's mother in the 1982 television production "Inside the Third Reich."

Born to a Swiss writer and an Austrian actress, Schell had three siblings

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Mason Adams, 86; Played Managing Editor on 'Lou Grant,' Was TV Voice of Smucker's

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Mason Adams, the veteran character actor who won acclaim playing the compassionate newspaper managing editor on "Lou Grant" and was a familiar voice in countless radio and TV commercials, has died. He was 86. Adams died of natural causes at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, said his family.

As an actor whose career spanned more than 60 years and included playing the title role on the long-running radio soap opera "Pepper Young's Family," Adams was best known as managing editor Charlie Hume on "Lou Grant," the Emmy Award-winning dramatic series starring Ed Asner.

A spinoff of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," the series ran from 1977 to 1982 and earned Adams three Emmy nominations as best supporting actor.

"I thought he was a gorgeous actor," Asner told The Times on Thursday. "He was a tremendous, key part of whatever good there was in 'Lou Grant.' " Being with Adams, Asner said, "was an enriching experience both on camera and off. He had a presence filled with depth and interest and underlying passion. And I stole more from him than he stole from me. I will miss him greatly." Allan Burns, co-creator and executive producer of "Lou Grant," said Adams "was one of the best actors I ever worked with."

"What he brings to every part and especially to Charlie Hume was what he was himself, which is smart as hell," Burns told The Times on Thursday. "He had tremendous integrity and he was such a wonderful, wonderful actor." Burns said Adams constantly challenged the writers "to find depth to his character," and when they wrote scripts that fleshed out this "sort of mild, smart, quiet guy," Adams "would always do it beautifully."

Adams, who spent time with several newspaper managing editors in preparing for the role, felt he had a special responsibility to maintain the integrity of the job.

"Early on, the writers saw Charlie as a comic buffer between Lou and Mrs. Pynchon," the strong-willed owner-publisher played by Nancy Marchand, Adams told Associated Press in 1981. "There were times when Charlie came across as a fool. I said to earn respect and credibility, the managing editor has to be like the major general in an army. The character soon achieved its current image." That image apparently rang true.

In 1979, a Florida newspaper conducted a poll of the most trusted men in America, and Adams' Charlie Hume ranked with legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite.

As a character actor whose credits included a stint playing Dr. Frank Prescott on the TV soap opera "Another World," Adams may not have been a household name. But millions recognized his face and voice even before "Lou Grant."

His distinctive voice was ideal for commercials; and, between film, TV and stage roles, he did scores of them. For more than 30 years, Adams could be heard pitching jams and jellies for the J.M. Smucker Co., for which he delivered his trademark line: "With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good."

Over the years, journalists tried to describe Adams' voice, coming up with "mellow, with a hint of a rasp," a "crackling Middle America drawl," and having a "friendly, light gravelly" quality. To Adams, it sounded "like a broken clarinet." "I even have imitators," he told Associated Press in 1981. "We'd be watching TV, and my wife would say, 'I didn't know you did that one.' I'd tell her, 'I didn't; it wasn't me.' "

Born in Brooklyn, Adams received a bachelor's degree in theater and speech from the University of Wisconsin in 1940 and a master's degree in theater arts a year later. He also studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City and taught speech there for several years. He made his Broadway debut in "Get Away Old Man" in 1943 and acted frequently on radio, including roles in "Big Town," "Gasoline Alley," "Inner Sanctum," "Grand Central Station" and "Superman," on which he played the Kryptonite-powered Atom Man.

In the mid-'40s, he took over the title role in "Pepper Young's Family," staying with the popular soap opera until it left the air in 1959.

Adams, who co-starred with Jack Warden in the short-lived 1989 sitcom "Knight & Daye," also narrated documentaries, including "Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait," and worked frequently in the theater. His last stage role was in the 2002 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "The Man Who Had All the Luck."

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Margot; his daughter Betsy and son Bill, both of Manhattan; and a brother, Dr. Herbert Abrams of Palo Alto.A memorial service in New York City is pending.

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Mexican TV Actress Dies After Seeing Gun

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MEXICO CITY - A Mexican television actress died on Friday of a heart attack after a man armed with a pistol approached her vehicle on a Mexico City street, officials said.

Mariana Levy, 39, featured on the "Nuestra Casa" show on the Televisa network, developed labored breathing after seeing the weapon, said prosecutor Carlos Gurrea.

Her husband, Jose Maria Fernandez Jr., drove her to a nearby clinic where she died, Gurrea said, quoting Fernandez.

A man was arrested and later identified by Levy's husband as the man who approached the vehicle, in which the couple was taking several children to a local amusement park.

Gurrea said the suspect

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