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posted: 2/23/2013 5:04 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss

      Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss

 

Perhaps there was one heartbreak too many for Mindy McCready.

The former country star apparently took her own life last week at her home in Heber Springs, Ark. Authorities say McCready died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot to the head. She was 37, and left behind two young sons.

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Magic Slim, a younger contemporary of blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf who helped shape the sound of Chicago's electric blues, has died. He was 75.

Magic Slim and his backing band, the Teardrops, performed a no-holds-barred brand of Chicago-style electric blues, led by his singing and guitar playing, and were regulars on the music festival circuit.

In Grenada, at age 11, he met Magic Sam, an older guitarist and influential blues figure. Sam taught him about the instrument and gave him his first job as a bass player years later when he first moved to Chicago.

Actor Lou Myers, best known for his role as ornery restaurant owner Mr. Gaines on the television series "A Different World," has died. He was 76.

His TV credits included "NYPD Blue," "E.R.," "The Cosby Show," "Touched by an Angel," and more. He also appeared in a number of films, including "Tin Cup," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Wedding Planner" and more.

Wojciech Inglot, a Polish chemist and businessman who founded and ran a cosmetics company, Inglot, which grew into an international success with nearly 400 stores in 50 countries, has died. He was 57.

Gerhard Frey, the former head of the nationalist German People's Union party who financed a range of far-right groups and publications, has died at age 80.

Louis F. Oberdorfer, a former deputy to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the 1960s who later heard hundreds of cases as a federal judge in Washington, has died.

Oberdorfer died Thursday on his 94th birthday, said Sheldon Snook, a spokesman for the federal court in Washington.

Rex Scouten, who served 10 first families as a Secret Service agent, White House chief usher and chief curator, has died. He was 88.

Scouten's career began during Harry S. Truman's administration and continued through Bill Clinton's presidency.

Cleotha Staples, the eldest sibling in the highly influential gospel group The Staple Singers, has died. She was 78.

The Staple Singers began as a way for Roebuck "Pops" Staples to entertain his family, which included five children -- Cleotha, known as "Cleedi," Pervis, Yvonne, Mavis and Cynthia. He taught the children gospel songs and accompanied them on his guitar. Two decades later they became unlikely hit makers for the Stax label.

Kevin Ayers, an influential singer-songwriter who co-founded the band Soft Machine, has died in France, his record label said. He was 68.

Alexei German, a Russian film director best known for his works offering a bitter view of life in the Soviet Union under dictator Josef Stalin, has died at 74.

In a 2012 article, critic Anton Dolin observed that "to many Russian critics, cinephiles, and viewers, German is their national cinema's foremost figure after (Andrei) Tarkovsky."

Sophie Kurys, who stole 201 bases in 1946 while playing in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, has died. She was 87.

Robert C. Richardson, a Cornell University professor who shared a Nobel Prize for a key discovery in experimental physics, has died. He was 75.

He and fellow Cornell researchers David Lee and Douglas Osheroff were awarded the Nobel for 1996 for their 1971 work on low-temperature physics involving the isotope helium-3, which has contributed to research ranging from the properties of microscopic matter to astrophysics.

Otfried Preussler, a bestselling German children's author who created "The Robber Hotzenplotz" and "The Little Witch" books, has died. He was 89.

Petro Vlahos, a two-time Academy Award winner whose blue- and green-screen technique on movies like "Mary Poppins" and "Ben Hur" made the modern blockbuster possible, has died. He was 96.

He kept up his partnership with Disney in effects-heavy films like 1969's "The Love Bug" and 1971's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

Alan Westin, one of the first and most widely respected scholars to explore the dilemmas of privacy in the information age, has died at 83.

A professor of public law and government, Westin taught at Columbia University for nearly four decades. Through his prolific academic writing and frequent media appearances, he became nationally known as one of the most knowledgeable, prescient and reasonable voices on privacy questions in modern society.

Martin E. Zweig, who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and whose newsletters influenced U.S. investors for a quarter century, has died. He was 70.

Donald Richie, a Tokyo-based expert on Japanese cinema who wrote dozens of books and articles about the country's people and culture, has died at age 88.

A priest who left the Roman Catholic church and founded a nondenominational chapel to honor the victims of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 has died.

The Rev. Alphonse Mascherino died Friday after a long battle with cancer. Mascherino, who was 69, bought a former Lutheran church and converted it into the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel to honor 40 passengers and crew killed when the airliner crashed during the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Tony Sheridan, a British singer who performed with the Beatles during their early years in Hamburg, has died in Germany. He was 72.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney said on his website that Sheridan "was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg."

Sheridan was born in Norwich, England, on May 21, 1940. He went to Hamburg in 1960 with a makeshift band, the Jets -- and during his time in the German port city was backed by the Beatles. Sheridan and the Beatles together recorded "My Bonnie," released in 1962.

Jerry Buss, who shepherded the Los Angeles Lakers from their 1980s dynasty through the current Kobe Bryant era while becoming one of the most important and successful owners in pro sports, has died at 80.

Few owners in sports history can approach Buss' accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA Finals 16 times during his nearly 34 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010.

The bestselling author of self-help book "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers" has died in San Diego. Debbie Ford was 57.

A family spokeswoman says Ford died in her home after a long battle with cancer.

"The Dark Side of the Light Chasers" spawned a self-help enterprise for Ford. The 1998 book aimed to help readers overcome their darker side.

Duke says former star Phil Henderson has died.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Henderson's mother told him that her son died at his home in the Philippines. He was 44.

Henderson was a senior captain and the leading scorer on the 1989-90 Duke team that lost to UNLV in the national championship game.

British actor Richard Briers, an avuncular comic presence on TV and movie screens for decades, has died at the age of 79.

Ken Clark, one of the top all-time rushers at Nebraska who went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts, has died. He was 46.

Shadow Morton, a 1960s pop-song writer and producer whose biggest credits include "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember (Walking in the Sand)," has died. He was 71.

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