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updated: 5/17/2014 5:40 PM

Watergate conspirator; renowned artist of the macabre

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  • Jeb Stuart Magruder, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.

    Jeb Stuart Magruder, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
    Associated Press/Dec. 20, 1995

  • Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul.

    Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul.
    Associated Press/Dec. 18, 2012

  • Swiss artist H.R. Giger,  right, poses with model Anneka Vasta at the opening of an exhibition in New York.

    Swiss artist H.R. Giger, right, poses with model Anneka Vasta at the opening of an exhibition in New York.
    Associated Press/April 1980

From daily Herald news wires

• Jeb Stuart Magruder, a Watergate conspirator who claimed in later years to have heard President Richard Nixon order the office break-in, has died. He was 79.

Magruder, a businessman when he began working for the Republican president, later became a minister, serving in California, Ohio and Kentucky. He also served as a church fundraising consultant.

He spent seven months in prison for lying about the involvement of Nixon's re-election committee in the 1972 break-in at Washington's Watergate complex, which eventually led to the president's resignation.

In a 2008 interview, Magruder said he had long ago come to peace with his place in history and didn't let the occasional notoriety bother him. The interview came after he pleaded guilty to reckless operation of a motor vehicle following a 2007 car crash.

"I don't worry about Watergate, I don't worry about news articles," Magruder said. "I go to the court, I'm going to be in the paper -- I know that."

Magruder, who moved to suburban Columbus in 2003, served as Nixon's deputy campaign director, an aide to Nixon's chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, and deputy communications director at the White House.

In 2003, Magruder said he was meeting with John Mitchell, the former attorney general running the Nixon re-election campaign, when he heard the president tell Mitchell over the phone to go ahead with the plan to break into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building.

Magruder previously had gone no further than saying that Mitchell approved the plan to get into the Democrats' office and bug the telephone of the party chairman, Larry O'Brien.

• Malik Bendjelloul, the cash-strapped film maker who shot to Hollywood stardom overnight with the Oscar-winning music documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" about an obscure Mexican-American folk-rocker who became a cult hero in apartheid-era South Africa, has died. He was 36.

Swedish police spokeswoman Pia Glenvik said Bendjelloul died in Stockholm late Tuesday, but wouldn't specify where his body was found or the cause of death.

• Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who designed the creature in Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic "Alien," has died at age 74 from injuries suffered in a fall, his museum said Tuesday.

Giger's works, often showing macabre scenes of humans and machines fused into hellish hybrids, influenced a generation of movie directors and inspired an enduring fashion for "biomechanical" tattoos.

"My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy," Giger said in a 1979 interview with Starlog magazine. "If they like my work they are creative ... or they are crazy."

"The greatest compliment is when people get tattooed with my work, whether it's done well or not," he told Seconds magazine in 1994. "To wear something like that your whole life is the largest compliment someone can pay to you as an artist."

• The Soviet interpreter who for three decades brought the words of Kremlin leaders to the English-speaking world has died in Moscow at the age of 81.

Ekho Moskvy radio reported the death Friday of Viktor Sukhodrev, citing his son.

• Mel Patton, a standout sprinter of the late 1940s who won two gold medals at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and for 13 years reigned over his sport as the unofficial "fastest man in the world," has died at his home in Fallbrook, Calif., near San Diego. He was 89.

• Charles Weedman, a Los Angeles lawyer who gained international fame representing singer Claudine Longet in the shooting death of her ski champion lover, has died.

Longet, whose wispy beauty and French-accented singing voice gained her a following, was charged with manslaughter in the killing of Olympic skier Vladimir "Spider" Sabich in Aspen, Colorado, in 1976.

The defense achieved a legal victory as the jury convicted Longet of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor.

• Former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, who worked as hard to keep his linguistically divided nation together as he did to give Europe more unity, has died. He was 73.

• Former Times Mirror Co. Chairman Robert F. Erburu, who led the media company through an expansion that included the purchase of paper mills, cable television outlets and a book publisher, has died. He was 83.

• A.J. Watson, a mechanic and designer who played a key role in several Indianapolis 500 victories in the 1950s and '60s, has died at age 90.

• Robert D. Stuart Jr., the politically active heir to the Quaker Oats Co. who led the company for 15 years and, as a student at Yale Law School in 1940, ignited the America First movement against U.S. intervention in what became World War II, has died. He was 98.

Quaker Oats, maker of brands including Gatorade, Rice-A- Roni, Cap'n Crunch and Aunt Jemima, was bought by PepsiCo Inc. in 2001, which was the 100th anniversary of its founding in Chicago. Its roots go back further to the 19th century, when several businesses merged to become American Cereal Co.

One of those businesses, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was run by Stuart's great-grandfather, John, and grandfather, Robert. His father, known as R. Douglas Stuart, served as Quaker Oats president.

As CEO from 1966 to 1981, Stuart oversaw the introduction of instant oatmeal and Quaker Chewy Granola bars. He also continued the Chicago-based company's growth beyond its oatmeal roots. The 1969 purchase of Fisher-Price Toy Co. of East Aurora, New York, was Quaker Oats' first non-food acquisition since 1942, when it had expanded into dog food by buying Chappel Brothers Inc., maker of Ken-L-Ration.

• Dr. Jacinto Convit, who played a key role in fighting two of the world's most feared diseases, has died in Venezuela at age 100, the foundation that bears his name announced Monday.

Convit's work toward a vaccine for leprosy helped develop a therapy against the tropical disease leishmaniasis, which kills some 20,000 to 30,000 people annually across the world.

He work led the Pan American Health Organization to declare him a "public health hero" in 2002. He was honored with Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize for scientific research in 1987.

• Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has died. He was 96.

Lucey also ran for vice president of the United States as an independent in 1980.

Patrick Lucey was elected governor in 1970 and won re-election in 1974, but left midway through his second term to serve as then-President Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Mexico.

• Thomas "Lem" Johns, a Secret Service agent at the side of President Lyndon Johnson in the chaotic aftermath of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, has died. He was 88.

Lem Johns served more than two decades in the Secret Service, including time as the special agent in charge of the president's detail during the Johnson administration.

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