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posted: 6/1/2013 5:05 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Andrew Greeley

      Andrew Greeley

  • Jean Stapleton in the off-Broadway musical theater piece called "Bob Appetit."

      Jean Stapleton in the off-Broadway musical theater piece called "Bob Appetit."
    Associated Press/1991

  • Vollis Simpson

      Vollis Simpson

  • Rituparno Ghosh

      Rituparno Ghosh

 
From news wire reports

The Rev. Andrew Greeley was, it seems, always writing. At home on a typewriter, later on a computer, then on a plane with a laptop and even in his car dictating into a tape recorder as he drove.

By the time he finished, the outspoken Roman Catholic priest and Chicago newspaper columnist had written more than 100 non-fiction books and some 50 novels, many international mystery thrillers that routinely climbed onto best-seller lists. They were translated into a dozen languages.

And he also often spoke out about various religious topics, even criticizing the hierarchy of his own church over the child sex abuse scandal.

"His mind was never idle," said Tom Smith, Greeley's longtime colleague at the University of Chicago, where Greeley spent years as a sociology researcher.

"He was the kind of person who could be writing a column and get an idea for a novel, have a conversation he would use in a novel, use his novels to inspire his academic work and his academic work to inspire his novels," Smith said shortly after learning about his friend's death.

Greeley was born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park in 1928, and he spent much of his life close to home. He worked as a sociology professor at the University of Arizona and a researcher at the University of Chicago's NORC, formerly known as the National Opinion Research Center. He earned post-graduate degrees from the University of Chicago in the 1960s.

Jean Stapleton, the stage-trained character actress who played Archie Bunker's far better half, the sweetly naive Edith, in TV's groundbreaking 1970s comedy "All in the Family," has died. She was 90.

Little known to the public before "All In the Family," she co-starred with Carroll O'Connor in the top-rated CBS sitcom about an unrepentant bigot, the wife he churlishly but fondly called "Dingbat," their daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and liberal son-in-law Mike, aka Meathead (Rob Reiner).

Stapleton received eight Emmy nominations and won three times during her eight-year tenure with "All in the Family." Produced by Norman Lear, the series broke through the timidity of U.S. TV with social and political jabs and ranked as the No. 1-rated program for an unprecedented five years in a row. Lear would go on to create a run of socially conscious sitcoms.

Stapleton also earned Emmy nominations for playing Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 film "Eleanor, First Lady of the World" and for a guest appearance in 1995 on "Grace Under Fire."

Her big-screen films included a pair directed by Nora Ephron: the 1998 Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romance "You've Got Mail" and 1996's "Michael" starring John Travolta. She also turned down the chance to star in another popular sitcom, "Murder, She Wrote," which became a showcase for Angela Lansbury.

The theater was Stapleton's first love and she compiled a rich resume, starting in 1941 as a New England stock player and moving to Broadway in the 1950s and '60s. In 1964, she originated the role of Mrs. Strakosh in "Funny Girl" with Barbra Streisand. Others musicals and plays included "Bells Are Ringing," "Rhinoceros" and Damn Yankees," in which her performance -- and the nasal tone she used in "All in the Family" -- attracted Lear's attention and led to his auditioning her for the role of Archie's wife.

Vollis Simpson, a self-taught North Carolina artist famed for his whimsical, wind-powered whirligigs, has died. He was 94.

Simpson became known for his whirligigs, wind-driven creations that stand as high as 50 feet and are constructed from recycled parts including motor fans and cotton spindles.

He built the contraptions on land near his machine shop in Lucama, about 35 miles east of Raleigh. More than 30 of them were on display there until last year, when an effort to restore them began. The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is scheduled to open in November in Wilson, about 50 miles east of Raleigh.

Rituparno Ghosh, who directed award-winning films mostly dealing with the dilemmas of India's urban middle class, has died of cardiac arrest at age 49.

Ghosh shot to fame with his first film, "Hirer Angti" or "The Diamond Ring," in 1994. Then followed a string of Bengali-language movies that earned him 12 national film awards, including for best director.

Bill Austin, a former National Football League lineman who helped Vince Lombardi develop what became known as the Green Bay Packers' power sweep offense, has died. He was 84.

Austin became the Packers' offensive line coach under Lombardi in 1959, keeping the job for six seasons.

The power sweep, in which the guards would pull around the offensive line and block for the running backs, was the signature play of Lombardi's offense, helping the team to five NFL titles in the 1960s, including wins in the first two Super Bowls after the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

The man who designed Clemson's tiger paw logo has died.

The university said 83-year-old John Antonio died Thursday in Greenville after a long battle with cancer.

Cliff Meely, one of the best basketball players to ever play at the University of Colorado, has died. He was 65.

The school said in a news release Wednesday that Meely died at Boulder Community Hospital on Tuesday from complications from a blood infection.

Meely was born in Rosedale, Miss., and went to high school in Chicago.

He played for Colorado from 1968-71 and averaged 24.3 points per game and 12.1 rebounds, school records that still stand. He also holds the single-game scoring mark of 47 points and his jersey number 20 is one of two retired by the program.

Jack Vance, an award-winning mystery, fantasy and science fiction author who wrote more than 60 books, has died. He was 96.

Vance collected a number of awards over the years, including Hugo Awards for "The Dragon Masters" in 1963, "The Last Castle" in 1967, and for his memoir "This is Me, Jack Vance!" in 2010.

Marshall Lytle, the original bass player for Bill Haley & His Comets, one of the first bands to take rock 'n' roll music mainstream, has died. He was 79.

Lytle recorded hits like "Rock Around the Clock" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" with Haley in the 1950s. He was known for his percussive bass style, slapping the strings as he played, and his lively performances. He would sometimes take the bass over his head or ride it like a surfboard.

"He's known as the father of rock bass by some people," said Michael Jordan Rush, who published a memoir by Lytle titled "Still Rockin' Around the Clock" in 2011. "He certainly influenced rock bass more than any other individual."

Franca Rame, an Italian actress and wife of Nobel laureate Dario Fo, has died at the age of 84 after a long illness.

Born into a theatrical family, Rame was a stage and film actress who married the actor and playwright Fo in 1954 in Milan's St. Ambrose Cathedral.

In 1980, Rame and Fo were refused entry visas to the United States because of their support for left-wing activities in Italy. Then, in 1984, the U.S. government relented and allowed the couple to visit and see the New York production of "Accidental Death of an Anarchist."

The play, Fo's most internationally known, is a work of fiction based on real-life events involving the suspicious death of an anarchist who fell from the window of the Milan police station.

Clarence Burke Jr., lead singer of the group the Five Stairsteps that sang the 1970 hit "O-o-h Child," has died. He was 64.

Formed in Chicago in 1965, the Five Stairsteps included Burke, three of his brothers and a sister. They owed their name to their mother, who said that they looked like stairsteps when they stood beside each other in order of age.

Burke, the eldest brother, was the group's producer and choreographer, played guitar and wrote many of the songs. He wrote the group's first single, "You Waited Too Long." He was not yet 17 when it rose to No. 6 on Billboard's R&B charts in 1966.

Other hits included "World of Fantasy," "Don't Change Your Love" and "From Us to You."

However, the group's biggest hit was 1970's "O-o-h Child," written by Stan Vincent. Its signature refrain croons "o-o-h child" and promises that "things are gonna get easier."

Austrian painter Otto Muehl, whose radical notions of art were only exceeded by the excesses in his lifestyle, has died. He was 87.

Ed Shaughnessy, the jazz drummer who for nearly three decades anchored the rhythm section of Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band, has died in Southern California. He was 84.

John Q. Hammons, a prominent hotel developer and southwest Missouri philanthropist who rose from a poor Depression-era childhood to build a national real estate empire, has died. He was 94.

Wayne Miller, a photographer who captured some of the first images of the destruction of Hiroshima, Japan, after it was struck by an atomic bomb during World War II has died at his home in Orinda, Calif. He was 94.

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