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posted: 2/16/2013 4:54 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • William Watts Biggers

      William Watts Biggers

 

William Watts Biggers, the co-creator of the cartoon "Underdog," the mild-mannered canine shoeshine boy who turned into a caped superhero to rescue his girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebred, has died. He was 85.

The native of Avondale Estates, Ga., worked for the New York City advertising firm DFS when he accepted an assignment from the agency's largest client, General Mills, to create television cartoons to promote its breakfast cereals. The most famous was "Underdog," which debuted on NBC in 1964.

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A blacklisted screenwriter who later named names to Communist hunters during the McCarthy era has died in California. Richard Collins was 98.

Collins was one of 19 writers and directors called by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 in a probe of supposed Communist subversion in Hollywood. He wasn't asked to testify but 10 who refused to answer questions about their beliefs were jailed in what has widely been called a witch hunt.

Collins was subpoenaed again in 1951 and identified more than 20 colleagues as Communist sympathizers. He later expressed regrets.

He went on to have a three-decade career in TV writer and producer on shows including "Bonanza" and "Matlock."

Edgar Douglas "Doug" Kenna II, the quarterback of West Point's 1944 undefeated national championship team and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, has died. He was 88.

Rabbi David Hartman, one of the world's leading Jewish philosophers and a promoter of both Jewish pluralism and interfaith dialogue, has died in Israel. He was 81.

Three-time world table tennis champion Zhuang Zedong, a key figure in the groundbreaking "pingpong diplomacy" between China and the United States, has died, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported. He was 72 and had struggled with cancer since 2008.

Edith Houghton, the first female scout in Major League Baseball, has died at the age of 100.

After a playing career that included a stint with the Philadelphia Bobbies, Houghton worked for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1946-52, and also had a decorated career in the military.

Rem Vyakhirev, the man who helped create Russia's state-run Gazprom natural gas giant and led it for nearly a decade, has died at 78. The cause of death wasn't given.

Jazz musician Donald Byrd, a leading hard-bop trumpeter of the 1950s who collaborated on dozens of albums with top artists of his time and later enjoyed commercial success with hit jazz-funk fusion records such as "Black Byrd," has died. He was 80.

John Kerr, the stage and film actor whose credits include the movie "South Pacific," the thriller "The Pit and the Pendulum" and a Tony Award-winning turn in "Tea and Sympathy," has died. He was 81.

He was perhaps best known for playing a sensitive prep school student who is bullied for being a suspected homosexual in Elia Kazan's 1953 Broadway production of "Tea and Sympathy." He went on to reprise the role in a 1956 film version.

Charlie Morgan, a chief warrant officer in the New Hampshire Army National Guard who fought to repeal the federal law that bars her wife from receiving benefits to help care for their daughter, has died. She was 48.

Morgan died at a hospice in Dover after a battle with breast cancer. She was a nationally recognized advocate in the effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. She was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit in 2011 saying the act violated her constitutional rights.

Former Hofstra athletic director and official in football, basketball and lacrosse Jim Garvey has died. He was 70.

Bass player Rick Huxley, one of the founding members of the Dave Clark Five, has died. He was 72.

Huxley played on the band's signature hits from the era when they briefly rivaled the Beatles in popularity.

Their best-known songs included "Bits and Pieces" and "Glad All Over." They enjoyed a large following in the United States after appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The band, with a middle-of-the-road pop rock sound, was known for drummer Clark's driving beat and exuberant vocals. But it faded after several years when harder-edged bands such as Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Doors rose to popularity. The Dave Clark Five broke up in 1970 after 12 years together.

American philosopher and constitutional law expert Ronald Dworkin, a liberal scholar who argued that the law should be founded on moral integrity, has died at the age of 81.

"If we manage to live a good life well, we create something more," he wrote. "We write a subscript to our mortality. We make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands."

The man credited with designing the famed blue star logo of the Dallas Cowboys has died.

The Cowboys say Jack Eskridge died at 89.

According to the team website, Eskridge was one of coach Tom Landry's first hires in 1959, the year before the Cowboys' debut season. It was he who designed the white-bordered blue star used after the Cowboys began with a white star.

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