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Obituaries for May 2005


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Veteran TV scribe Herb Sargent dead at 81

By Jesse Hiestand


LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Veteran television writer Herb Sargent, a six-time Emmy Award-winner whose career ranged from "The Victor Borge Show" to "Saturday Night Live," died Friday in New York. He was 81.

The cause of death was not immediately released.

Sargent was also president of the East Coast wing of the Writers Guild of America for the past 14 years. "Herb was exceptionally generous to all writers and brought an unfailing sense of decency and good will to everything he did for the guild," WGA East executive director Mona Mangan said. "And, always, he was gloriously, brilliantly funny. We will miss him terribly."

Starting in radio in the 1940s, Sargent shifted to television and such shows as "Colgate Comedy Hour," "The Tonight Show with Steve Allen," "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "The Perry Como Show" and "The Week That Was."

As a writer-producer on "Saturday Night Live" for more than 20 years, Sargent was known to have inspired and mentored generations of comedy writers.

Sargent wrote the screenplay of "Bye Bye Braverman" and worked on TV specials for Como, Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr., Alan King, Paul McCartney, Lily Tomlin and Burt Bacharach. He further contributed to such specials as "The 43rd Annual Emmy Awards" and "NBC's 75th Anniversary."

Sargent was raised in Upper Darby, Penn., where he graduated from high school. He studied architecture at Penn State before joining the U.S. Army. During World War II, he served in New Guinea with the Air Transport Command of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He moved to Los Angeles after the war, graduated from UCLA and then moved to New York to begin writing for radio.

Sargent is survived by his wife, LeGrand Council Mellon, and his brother, screenwriter Alvin Sargent.

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Disney 'Snow White' artist Joe Grant dies


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Joe Grant, a legendary Disney artist who designed the Queen/Witch in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," died of a heart attack while doing what he loved most, drawing, the Walt Disney Co. said on Monday.

Grant, 96, died at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, last Friday while sitting at his drawing board.

He is best known for helping create Disney characters of old. He co-wrote "Dumbo," about the elephant with ears so big he could fly, and Grant conceived of "Lady and the Tramp," about two dogs from different backgrounds who fall love.

But even at his advanced age, Grant still worked four days each week at the film studio's animation division, and he helped conceive the recent Oscar nominee for animated short film, "Lorenzo," which was directed by Mike Gabriel.

"Despite his extraordinary accomplishments, Joe never lived in the past," said film critic Leonard Maltin. "He was always on top of current films and trends and was the biggest cheerleader for young talent that you could imagine."

Grant joined Disney in 1933. He left in 1949 when his "Character Model" department was disbanded, and he went on to start several successful ventures including a ceramics studio and greeting card company.

After 40 years away, Grant returned in 1989 to consult on Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."

He is survived by two daughters and grandchildren.

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Actress Elisabeth Fraser dead at 85

TV Sitcom Actress; Phil Silvers Girlfriend


Actress Elisabeth Fraser died of congestive heart failure May 5 in Woodland Hills, Calif. She was 85.

Fraser, who often played a brassy blonde gal, was known for her roles as Shelley Winters' pal in "A Patch of Blue" and as Phil Silvers' girlfriend on "The Phil Silvers Show."

A Brooklyn native, she began her career in 1940 on Broadway, just six weeks out of high school. She was cast in the role of the ingenue in "There Shall Be No Night" with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The play won the 1940-41 Pulitzer Prize, and she won a contract at Warner Bros.

Some of her roles on Broadway through the 40s, 50s and 60s included "The Russian People," "The Family," "Tunnel of Love""Tunnel Of Love" and "The Best Man."

She was featured in over 30 films including: "The Man Who Came to Dinner", "Death of a Salesman" "Two for the Seesaw," and "The Glass Bottom Boat."

Fraser appeared extensively on TV in shows including the Four Star Playhouse and Kraft Theater and later on "Bewitched," "The Addams Family," "Maude" and "The Monkees."

A collection of her showbiz memorabilia from stage, film and television is on display at the Library of Performing Arts in the Lincoln Plaza Center. She is survived by three daughters. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m., Friday, May 20 in the Louis B. Mayer Theater at the Motion Picture & Television Fund, 23388 Mulholland Dr., Woodland Hills. Donations may be made to the ASPCA.

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Afghan Pop Star Nasrat Parsa, 36, Killed


VANCOUVER (AP) - British Columbia - Afghan singer Nasrat Parsa died after an attack outside his hotel following a weekend performance at a downtown Vancouver theater, police said Monday. He was 36.

Parsa, who had performed in Toronto earlier in the week, was outside his hotel with his brother, Najib, when he was assaulted by three men early Sunday, police constable Tim Fanning said.

Parsa, who had been living in Germany, died later after sustaining a brain injury, according to his official Web site.

A 19-year-old man was arrested and faced an initial charge of aggravated assault. Police later recommended the charge be upgraded to manslaughter.

Parsa "had been approached by three male suspects, one punched him and he fell down some stairs hitting his head," Fanning said. "He was rushed to hospital and was pronounced dead."

Fanning said police searched the area and detained two suspects. Information about the second suspect was not immediately available.

The death was a huge blow to the Afghan community around the world, said Mohammed Nayebzadah, who was the caterer for the Vancouver concert. He sold tickets to the show at his family business, the Silk Road Cafe, where Parsa's CDs were being played in tribute on Monday.

"He was very popular," Nayebzadah said. "I'm sorry for his mother and this is very sad news for all Afghans."

Parsa, who was born in Kabul, had released 10 albums since he started recording in 1989, including his new collection "Dil." He toured all over the world and had been in Canada for the past month, promoting the collection of soft melodies.

According to the Web site, Parsa began performing as a young boy, appearing on a radio show in Kabul at the age of 7.

He later was discovered during a New Year's celebration on Radio Kabul. Parsa left Afghanistan with his family for Pakistan when he was 12, and the family later moved to India, where he attended music school and took private lessons.

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Lane Nakano Dead at 80;

Prominent Japanese American Singer and Actor in Film 'Go for Broke1'


Lane Nakano, who co-starred in the 1951 film "Go for Broke!," the dramatic story of the Japanese American soldiers who fought in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 80. A Studio City resident, Nakano died April 28 in a Sherman Oaks hospital after a long bout with emphysema, his family said.

He was a prominent singer in the Japanese American community in his native Los Angeles after World War II when "Go for Broke!" writer-director Robert Pirosh saw him perform and recruited him for the MGM movie.

Nakano, who had played a bit part as a rickshaw driver in the 1949 movie "Tokyo Joe," suddenly found himself playing the lead Japanese American role of Sam in the film about the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The movie starred Van Johnson as a bigoted Army lieutenant from Texas who undergoes a change in attitude after being assigned to lead and train the volunteer Japanese American unit.

Nakano was ideal casting for the film: He had served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, volunteering after he and his family were taken from their home in Boyle Heights to Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After serving in France and Italy, Nakano returned to Los Angeles, where he became a fixture as a singer on the local Japanese American social circuit. Although he continued acting after "Go for Broke!," Nakano never again had such a prominent role in a major film.

He starred in "Three Weeks of Love," a 1965 American film shot in Japan and Hong Kong, but mostly he had small parts in films such as King Vidor's 1952 film "Japanese War Bride."

Nakano also had small roles in episodes of TV shows such as "Hawaiian Eye" and "Route 66." After retiring from acting and singing

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Martha Montgomery, 84; Former Goldwyn Girl, Philanthropist


Martha Montgomery, one of the glamorous Goldwyn Girls who toured extensively promoting Hollywood in the 1940s, has died. She was 84. Montgomery, who later became a community volunteer and philanthropist, died Monday of natural causes at a Pacific Palisades nursing home.

The Goldwyn Girls, named for movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, who organized them, were beautiful dancers who appeared in movies, mostly Goldwyn's musicals. But they also made goodwill appearances on behalf of the motion picture business, across the country and overseas. Montgomery traveled with other Goldwyn Girls to Britain and to Central and South America after World War II. "The English are starved for glamour," one of her group told The Times in 1946 after their return from a two-month tour to boost morale in the war-weary British Isles.

Montgomery was born in Clarksdale, Miss., on Dec. 5, 1920. She graduated from the University of Tennessee where she was chosen, on the basis of a photograph, to work with the New York modeling agency of John Robert Powers. After 18 months of modeling, she was brought to Hollywood under contract to 20th Century Fox. Montgomery appeared in a dozen films, many with comedian and song and dance man Danny Kaye, with whom she also toured. Montgomery was not credited for her small roles, described as "showgirl," "pretty girl," "cameo girl" or simply Goldwyn Girl.

Her brief screen career largely ended after her 1947 marriage to composer Alfred Newman, longtime head of the 20th Century Fox music department. Newman, the winner of nine Academy Awards, died in 1970, and in 1998 his widow attended the dedication of their studio's renovated scoring stage named in his honor. As a tribute to her late husband, Montgomery in 1989 donated $1 million to USC, the recipient of the composer's papers. Her gift largely paid for what a decade later became the Alfred Newman Recital Hall in a rebuilt corner of the university's Hancock Foundation building.

Montgomery is survived by her second husband, Robert Ragland; five children: Oscar-nominated composers Thomas and David Newman, violinist and composer Maria Newman, Lucy Whiffen and Fred Newman; 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church. The family has asked that, instead of flowers, memorial contributions be sent to Community Bible Study, 200 Fairbrook Drive, No. 102, Herndon, Va. 20170.

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Bluegrass Singer Jimmy Martin Dies at 77


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jimmy Martin, a pioneering bluegrass singer and guitarist who performed with the Blue Grass Boys and many other performers, died Saturday. He was 77.

Martin died in a Nashville hospice, more than a year after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, said his son, Lee Martin.

"He loved bluegrass music, country music. Bill Monroe was his idol and someone he patterned himself after musically," Lee Martin said, referring to bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, head of the Blue Grass Boys.

After performing as lead vocalist for the Blue Grass Boys periodically through 1955, Martin formed his own band, the Sunny Mountain Boys, and recorded with Decca records for 18 years.

"In his heyday, he could take an audience of any size and have them eating out of his hand," said Sunny Mountain Boy member Bill Emerson. "He'd just smoke those people, and they'd be waiting in line for him when he got offstage."

Martin recorded several bluegrass standards, including "Rock Hearts," "Sophronie," "Hold Watcha Got," "Widow Maker" and "The Sunny Side of the Mountain."

Martin was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor in 1995. His life was also the subject of an independent documentary film, "King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin," which was released in 2003.

"Jimmy's strong, high vocal range pushed (Bill) Monroe's tenor up into the sky, helping shape what has become known as the 'high lonesome sound,'" wrote George Goehl in the liner notes to "Don't Cry To Me," a compilation that accompanied the documentary.

According to the film's Web site, Martin was fired at the age of 21 for singing on the job at a factory in Morristown. He then went to see the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and talked his way backstage, where he persuaded Monroe to sing a couple of songs with him.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Martin performed on both the "Louisiana Hayride" and "WWVA Wheeling Jamboree," which were well-known country music shows. He also made guest appearances on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, but never became a regular cast member, which was his childhood dream.

Martin collaborated with many other artists throughout his career, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. His voice was the first heard on the Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album in 1972, and his appearances on subsequent albums brought his feisty spirit to audiences that might never have attended a bluegrass festival.

"Jimmy's temperature is higher than the rest of ours," Dirt Band member Jeff Hanna said in a 2002 interview. "He's a wild man in the best sense of the term, and he's the only one who brought the fire of rockabilly music to bluegrass."

Martin performed until his later years, usually from April until October. He also served as a mentor to many musicians, including J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams.

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June MacCloy, 95; Actress Epitomized Golden Era's Glamour


June MacCloy, a statuesque actress whose glamorous looks typified the Golden Age of Hollywood and whose mannish voice set her apart, has died. She was 95. MacCloy died May 5 of natural causes in a nursing home in Sonoma, Calif., a town she long called home, said Peter Mintun, a family friend. "She didn't even volunteer to tell people she'd been in the movies. She was of the old frame of mind that movie people were looked down upon by certain people in society," Mintun, a New York pianist and singer who befriended the actress a decade ago, told The Times.

By age 21, MacCloy had left New York and a role in a vaudeville production designed by a young Vincente Minnelli for a film career that ran for 10 years. Paramount Pictures signed her to appear in film shorts in 1930 and immediately lent her to United Artists, for which she made her first feature, "Reaching for the Moon," with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Her singing in that film of Irving Berlin's "When the Folks High Up Do the Mean Low Down," following renditions by a young Bing Crosby

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Jay Marshall Dead at 85

Magician,Ventriloquist, Stage Magic Historian


Magician Jay Marshall died May 10 of heart failure in Chicago. He was 85.

Since 1992, Marshall was known as the Dean of Magic, named by the Society of American Magicians. One of the magic world's most well-known figures, he was also a writer, edtitor and collector and owner of the Magic Inc. store in Chicago, where he also lived.

Born in Abington, Mass., he began developing routines by watching magicians and researching at the New York Public Library. After marrying and divorcing Naomi Baker, whose father, Al was a dean of magic, he married Frances Ireland, whose husband owned a magic store until he died. Frances was a magic writer, merchant and performer until her death in 2002.

Marshall performed professionally for over 50 years, appearing in nearly every state and several foreign countries. On Broadway, Marshall portrayed the magician in the Alan Lerner/Kurt Weill musical "Love Life" (1949); and Crumleigh in Vinton Freedley's "Great To Be Alive" (1951). He participated in and performed a speciality magic monologue in the Golden Jubilee edition of "Ziegfeld Follies" (1957).

He appeared on the Jackie Gleason Show, the Sid Caesar show, the "aul Winchell show and fourteen times on the Ed Sullivan Show. He opened for Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas, and was part of the last variety act to play vaudeville's famous Palace Theater in 1957.

Also a practiced ventriloquist, he appeared with his hand puppet Lefty the rabbit on the Ed Sullivan show. Lefty is now in the Smithsonian Institution.

Customarily clad in a tuxedo -- though later in life he wore a plaid jacket and bow tie -- Mr. Marshall appeared at the microphone with his left hand covered with a white glove with two black buttons sewn on for eyes. It was to create the illusion of his alter ego, a sharp-witted rabbit named Lefty.

''Shall we sing?" Mr. Marshall asked the loquacious rabbit in one memorable routine.

''What do you want to sing?" Lefty asked.

'' 'If I Had My Way,' " said the self-deprecating prestidigitator.

''If I had my way, I wouldn't sing," Lefty replied.

He was editor of magic pub "The New Phoenix," and wrote several books for magicians.

He is survived by a sister, two sons, four grandsons, four great-grandsons, and one great-granddaughter. Donations may be made to the Actors' Fund of America 203 N. Wabash, Suite 2104, Chicago, IL 60601

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'The Riddler' Frank Gorshin Dies at 72


Associated Press Writer


BURBANK, Calif. - Frank Gorshin, the impressionist with 100 faces best known for his Emmy-nominated role as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV series, has died. He was 72.

Gorshin's wife of 48 years, Christina, was at his side when he died Tuesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, his agent and longtime friend, Fred Wostbrock, said Wednesday. "He put up a valiant fight with lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia," Mrs. Gorshin said in a statement.

Despite dozens of TV and movie credits, Gorshin will be forever remembered for his role as the Riddler, Adam West's villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on "Batman" from 1966 to '69. "It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in a 2002 Associated Press interview. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down."

West said the death of his longtime friend was a big loss. "Frank will be missed," West said in a statement. "He was a friend and fascinating character."

Gorshin earned another Emmy nomination for one for a guest shot on "Star Trek," a 1969 episode called "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield."

In 2002, Gorshin portrayed George Burns on Broadway in the one-man show "Say Goodnight Gracie." He used only a little makeup and no prosthetics. "I don't know how to explain it. It just comes," he said. "I wish I could say, `This is step A, B and C.' But I can't do that. I do it, you know. The ironic thing is I've done impressions all my life

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Voice of Fred Flintstone Dies at 85

By RYAN PEARSON, Associated Press Writer


LOS ANGELES - Henry Corden, the voice of cartoon caveman Fred Flintstone's "Yabba-dabba-doo!" for more than two decades, has died. He was 85.

Corden died of emphysema Thursday night at AMI Encino Hospital, his longtime agent Don Pitts said Friday. Corden's wife of nine years, Angelina, was with him at the time.

He took over as the lovable loudmouth Fred Flintstone when original voice Alan Reed died in 1977. Reed had been doing Flintstone since the character debuted in 1960.

Born in Montreal, Corden moved to New York as a child and arrived in Hollywood in the 1940s. His first acting role was in the 1947 film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Known for playing villains, he found small parts in movies, including 1952's "The Black Castle" and "The Ten Commandments" in 1956. "As Henry said, he always played the cold-blooded creeps," Pitts said.

Corden moved into voice acting in the 1960s, and deployed his dialect skills in bit parts for Hanna-Barbera, including "Jonny Quest," "Josey and the Pussycats" and "The New Tom & Jerry Show."

Since "The Flintstones" echoed "The Honeymooners," Corden tweaked his role to approximate Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character, Pitts said.

Corden, who lived in Encino, had been working until his health suffered about three months ago. He can most recently be heard on ubiquitous cereal commercials yelling "Barney, my Pebbles!"

Besides his wife, Corden is survived by five children and five grandchildren. A private memorial "party" is planned, Pitts said.

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Eddie Barclay, Recording Magnate, Dies at 84


Eddie Barclay, who for three decades after World War II was arguably the most powerful music mogul in Europe and inarguably the most flamboyant, died on May 13 in Paris. He was 84.

The cause was a heart attack, his family told Agence France-Presse.

The founder and longtime head of Barclay Records, Mr. Barclay was best known for three things: popularizing American jazz in France in the postwar years; keeping the traditional French chanson alive into the age of rock 'n' roll; and presiding over parties so lavish that they were considered just the tiniest bit excessive even by the standards of the French Riviera, where he owned a palatial home.

He worked with Quincy Jones, and recorded or promoted singers including Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, L

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Howie Morris Dead at 85

Played Ernest T. Bass


Howie Morris, the compact comic whirligig from the early days of TV who lent his raspy voice to hundreds of cartoon and commercial voice-overs, died May 21 at his home in Hollywood. He had heart ailments in recent years. He was 85.

Morris was a bar mitzvah band drummer, a radio performer and briefly a Shakespearean actor before he shot to prominence as part of the Sid Caesar ensemble casts of the 1950s, along with Carl Reiner and Imogene Coca. Although "second banana" to the domineering forces of Caesar and Reiner, Morris was regarded as a staple of "Admiral Broadway Review," "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour" - programs beloved by tens of millions of viewers. He found kindred actors among his cohorts, who thrived on improvisation and turned scripts into free-for-alls. He had mixed, sometimes profane, feelings about Caesar, a dynamo whose substance abuse often made him difficult.

Morris's favorite sketch role, which appeared on "Your Show of Shows," was a spoof of the mawkish reunion show "This Is Your Life." He played Uncle Goopy, the emotional wreck who constantly leaps into the arms of his long-lost nephew (Caesar).

Perhaps one of the more memorable characters he created was on the "The Andy Griffith Show." Playing hillbilly Ernest T. Bass, he wooed the local women by throwing too-large rocks through their windows and reciting doggerel. He also provided voices for Hanna Barbera-produced cartoon, including several different characters on "The Flintstones," "Jetsons" and "Magilla Gorilla." He also ran an advertising agency for a while.

Howard Jerome Morris was born Sept. 4, 1919, in the Bronx. His father, a rubber company executive, had a fatal heart attack shortly after losing his job during the Depression, and Morris, the only child, helped support his mother. She played organ during silent movies, and Howard found himself drawn to mimicking on-screen performers. He attended New York University on a scholarship but dropped out to serve in the Army during World War II. He worked in the entertainment unit based in Hawaii.

"We did everything from small shows called 'Five Jerks in a Jeep' to 'Hamlet,'" he told an interviewer. The latter was a production starring the classical actor Maurice Evans as the doomed Dane and Morris in the minor role of Rosencrantz. It was in this 1945 "GI version" that Morris made his Broadway debut. Twelve years later, he and Evans appeared in a much-praised 1957 television production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," with Morris as the clownish Feste and Evans as Malvolio.

While continuing to do theater work in the late 1940s, he was hired for a bit part in "The Admiral Broadway Review," produced by Max Liebman. Catching sight of the burly Caesar ("a hulk"), the diminutive Morris found himself being assaulted: "He grabbed me by the lapels and lifted me up in the air and said, 'Max! Him! Get!' And that was my audition for 'The Admiral Broadway Review.'"

Morris directed the pilot episode of "Get Smart," the spy comedy created by his friend Mel Brooks - as well as helming a feature films including "With Six You Get Eggroll" (1968) and Donny and Marie Osmond's "Goin' Coconuts" (1978).

Morris was married and divorced five times, twice to the same woman. His son, David, said his father's personality mirrored what audiences saw. "Living with him, for me, was like having a cartoon character as a best friend," he said. "It was craziness."

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Thurl Ravenscroft Dead at 91

Well known voice Tony The Tiger, Dumbo, Grinch


SANTA ANA, Calif. - Thurl Ravenscroft of Fullerton, Calif., whose voice was known worldwide through his work in movies, TV and at Disneyland, died Sunday from prostate cancer. He was 91.

Tony the Tiger?

That was Ravenscroft.

Disneyland? Too many voices to mention, but Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room were all graced by Ravenscroft's pliable, unique voice.

Movies? How about "Cinderella," "Dumbo" and "Lady and the Tramp"? "Disneyland wouldn't have been, and wouldn't be, the same without him," said former park President Jack Lindquist. "It's all part of the experience. You can't go home with a ride, but you can go home with a memory, and part of that is the audio - the sound part of it. His voice was one of the things that made it all come alive."

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft was born Feb. 6, 1914, in Norfolk, Neb. He moved to California in 1933 to study interior design at the Otis College of Art and Design. While in school, he was encouraged to go into show business and auditioned at Paramount studios to be a singer.

By the mid-1930s, he was appearing regularly on radio, first on a program titled "Goose Creek Parson." In the late 1930s, he appeared on the "The Kraft Music Hall" with Bing Crosby, singing backup in a group called the Paul Taylor Choristers. That group eventually became the Sportsmen Quartette. After military service during World War II, he returned to Hollywood, later becoming involved in the Mellomen singing group, and he began a career in radio, movies, television and commercials. The group could sing anything from rock 'n' roll to bebop to barbershop, and it performed with a list of stars including Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

In 1952, Ravenscroft achieved a measure of immortality, thanks to a TV commercial. "I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeeat!" Ravenscroft roared in a 1996 interview with The Orange County Register. "When Kellogg's brought up the idea of the tiger, they sent me a caricature of Tony to see if I could create something for them. After messing around for some time I came up with the 'Great!' roar, and that's how it's been."

Ravenscroft's involvement with Disneyland goes back to opening day in 1955, when he was the announcer for many of the ceremonies and events. His voice has been heard on numerous Disneyland attractions and rides, including Adventure Through Inner Space (1967-1986). He was the original narrator on Submarine Voyage. In 1966, Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones teamed up to do "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for CBS. Ravenscroft recalled the Grinch fondly, saying, "That was my chance to prove I could really sing." The success of the Grinch led to other projects with Dr. Seuss, including "Horton Hears a Who" and "The Cat in the Hat."

His singing career continued into the 1970s. As a member of the Johnny Mann Singers, he sang on 28 albums, appeared on television for three seasons and performed for President Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev at the White House.

June, Ravenscroft's wife of 53 years, died in 1999 at age 80. He is survived by two children, Ron and Nancy, and four grandchildren. Services are pending.

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Stephen Elliott, Dead at 86

character actor


LOS ANGELES - Stephen Elliott, a veteran character actor best known as the bullying millionaire father in the film "Arthur," died of congestive heart failure Saturday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, his family said. He was 86.

Most of Elliott's success in films came after he turned 50. He played authority figures in such movies as "The Hospital," (1971) "Death Wish" (1974) and "The Hindenburg" (1975), and his portrayal of Burt Johnson, Dudley Moore's nemesis in "Arthur," was praised by critics.

"Even to smaller parts, he could bring a dignity and truthfulness to a role that I thought was very, very special," said Walter Seltzer, a producer and longtime friend who lived near the actor in Sherman Oaks.

Elliott was born Elliott Pershing Stitzel in 1918 in New York. His mother, a victim of that year's flu epidemic, died soon after he was born. He was raised in Manhattan by his father, who worked in the textiles business, and a stepmother.

Elliott studied with noted acting instructor Sanford Meisner in 1940-42 at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York before serving in the Merchant Marine in World War II. After returning, he made his Broadway debut in 1945 in "The Tempest." "He often said to me that he viewed himself as a born actor," said his stepson David Hirson of Manhattan. "He was most comfortable when he was on stage." He was always proudest of his stage work, including playing Dr. Thomas Stockmann in the 1971 Lincoln Center production of Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People," Hirson said.

Elliott received a Drama Desk Award for his role in 1969's "A Whistle in the Dark," and he was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Monsieur Coulmier in the 1967 Broadway revival of "Marat/Sade."

His television career began in 1949 in "Hands of Murder," a series of live TV plays on the DuMont network. Over the years, he would appear in dozens of comedies and dramas, starring as patriarch Benjamin Lassiter on the short-lived 1975 CBS prime-time soap "Beacon Hill" and playing matriarch Jane Wyman's ex-husband on "Falcon Crest," also on CBS, in 1981-82. His final TV role was in 1999 as Judge Harold Aldrich, a recurring character that appeared over a five-year span on CBS's "Chicago Hope."

Elliott married Nancy Chase, a summer-stock actress with whom he had two children, in 1947. They divorced in 1960. He met his second wife, Alice Hirson, when they appeared in "Traveller Without Luggage" in 1964 on Broadway. They married in 1980. In addition to his wife and stepson, Elliott is survived by a daughter, Jency, of Woodstock, N.Y.; a son, Jon, of Manhattan; another stepson, Christopher Hirson of Berlin; and three grandchildren.

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Filmmaker Ismail Merchant Dies

By BETH GARDINER, Associated Press Writer


LONDON - Filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who with partner James Ivory became synonymous with classy costume drama in films such as "A Room With A View" and "Howards End," died Wednesday. He was 68.

Merchant died surrounded by family and friends at a hospital in London, Merchant Ivory Productions said. "It is with great sadness that Merchant Ivory Productions announces that Ismail Merchant, our company founder and beloved producer for more than 44 years, has passed away after a brief illness in a London hospital," the production company said in a statement on its Web site.

Merchant, who was born in Bombay but spent most of his life in the West, had been ill for some time and recently underwent surgery for abdominal ulcers, according to Indian television reports.

Merchant and Ivory, an American, made some 40 films together and won six Oscars since forming their famous partnership in 1961 with German-born screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Their hits

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