Notable deaths last week
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Carl Reiner remembers Sid Caesar as a great flame who drew comedy writer “moths” including Mel Brooks and Neil Simon to his side.
The genius of 1950s TV comedy is illuminating television even today. Shows from “Saturday Night Live” to sitcoms owe a debt to Caesar’s brilliant interpretation of material by Brooks, Simon, Woody Allen and Reiner himself, among others.
He was “inarguably the greatest pantomimist, monologist and single sketch comedian who ever worked in television,” Reiner said of the actor-comedian, who died Wednesday at his Los Angeles area home after a brief illness. He was 91.
“Your Show of Shows,” 1950-54, with co-star Imogene Coca, and “Caesar’s Hour,” 1954-57, were his major achievements.
Any kid who ever tap-danced at a talent show or put on a curly wig and auditioned for “Annie” can only dream of being as beloved — or as important — as Shirley Temple.
Temple, who died at 85, sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of dispirited Depression-era moviegoers and remains the ultimate child star decades later.
Dimpled, precocious and oh-so-adorable, she was America’s top box office draw during Hollywood’s golden age, and her image was free of the scandals that have plagued so many other child stars — parental feuds, or drug and alcohol addiction.
Temple remains such a symbol of innocence that kids still know the drink named for her: a sweet, nonalcoholic cocktail of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.
Her hit movies — which included “Bright Eyes” (1934), “Curly Top” (1935), “Dimples” (1936), “Poor Little Rich Girl” (1936) and “Heidi” (1937) — featured sentimental themes and musical subplots, with stories of resilience and optimism that a struggling American public found appealing. She kept children singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” for generations.
Ralph Waite, who played the kind-and-steady patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series “The Waltons,” has died at 85.
Waite appeared last year in episodes of the series “NCIS,” in which he played the dad of star Mark Harmon’s character. He also appeared in “Bones” and “Days of Our Lives.”
“The Waltons,” which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, starred Waite as John Walton, and Richard Thomas played his oldest son, John-Boy, an aspiring novelist. The gentle family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.
Waite received an Emmy nomination for “The Waltons” and another for his performance in the ABC miniseries “Roots.”
Jim Fregosi’s big league career got off to a real quiet start. His first three at-bats, as a teenager for the expansion Los Angeles Angels, he hit grounders back to perennial Gold Glove pitcher Jim Kaat.
Over the next half-century, Fregosi made a lot more noise in majors.
Fregosi, a six-time All-Star shortstop who went to manage the Angels to their first playoff appearance and guide the rowdy 1993 Philadelphia Phillies into the World Series, died Friday after an apparent stroke. He was 71.
Along with the Phillies and Angels Fregosi managed the Chicago White Sox and Toronto. He took over the White Sox in the middle of the 1986 season after Tony La Russa was fired, and was hired by the Blue Jays after manager Tim Johnson was dismissed during spring training in 1999 for lying about his military service record.
Gabriel Axel, the first Dane to win an Oscar for best foreign film with “Babette’s Feast,” which he directed, has died at the age of 95.
Betty Jaynes, the first executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, died Monday after a brief illness, the WBCA announced. She was 68.
Els Borst, a former health minister who drafted the Netherlands’ 2002 law permitting euthanasia, has been found dead in her garage, police said Tuesday. She was 81.
Arvella Schuller, who helped her husband found a Southern California ministry in a drive-in movie theater and grow it into the Crystal Cathedral megachurch, has died at 84.
Schuller was married to the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who founded the ministry at an Orange County drive-in in 1955 and turned it into a megachurch — housed in a landmark glass-paned building — with a global television reach.
Children’s book artist Erik Blegvad, known for his whimsical illustrations of more than 100 books, has died in London. He was 90.
Among his best known works are the illustrations for “Bed-Knob and Broomstick,” “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” and his own translation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Stories and Fairy Tales.”
George Wilson, an author and former Washington Post reporter who covered the military from the perspective of soldiers crawling in the mud and from the offices of decision-makers in Washington, and who played a notable role in the Pentagon Papers case, died Feb. 11 at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 86.
Alberto Benavides de la Quintana, who established Compania de Minas Buenaventura and turned it into Peru’s largest precious metals producer, has died at 93.
John Edward Horner, who served three decades as Hanover College’s president and oversaw its reconstruction following a devastating 1974 tornado, has died at age 92.
Tom Finney, who scored 30 goals in 76 soccer matches for England, including appearances at three World Cups, has died. He was 91.
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