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updated: 5/24/2014 7:11 PM

GI Joe creator; crooner Vale; Chicago novelist

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  • G.I. Joe creator Don Levine holds up his original scuba diver G.I. Joe.

    G.I. Joe creator Don Levine holds up his original scuba diver G.I. Joe.
    Associated Press/Jan. 30, 2003

  • New York Time's editors A.M. Rosenthal, left and Arthur Gelb, are seated at a desk in Rosenthal's office.

    New York Time's editors A.M. Rosenthal, left and Arthur Gelb, are seated at a desk in Rosenthal's office.
    Associated Press/1967

  • Northern State basketball coach Don Meyer talks with Northern forward Colin Pryor.

    Northern State basketball coach Don Meyer talks with Northern forward Colin Pryor.
    Associated Press/Feb. 27, 2010

  • Ruth Ziolkowski, president and chief executive of the Crazy Horse Memorial, stands in front of a plaster rendering of Crazy Horse with what will be the world's largest mountain carving in the background, near Custer, S.D.

    Ruth Ziolkowski, president and chief executive of the Crazy Horse Memorial, stands in front of a plaster rendering of Crazy Horse with what will be the world's largest mountain carving in the background, near Custer, S.D.
    Associated Press/Aug. 21, 2010

From Daily Herald news wire reports

• Donald Levine, the Hasbro executive credited as the father of G.I. Joe for developing the world's first action figure, has died. He was 86.

Levine shepherded the toy through design and development as Hasbro's head of research and development. He and his team came up with an 11½-inch articulated figure with 21 moving parts, and since the company's employees included many military veterans, it was decided to outfit the toy in the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, with such accessories as guns, helmets and vehicles.

Levine, who served in the Army in Korea, said he got the idea for the moveable figure as a way to honor veterans.

• Jerry Vale, the beloved crooner known for his high-tenor voice and romantic songs in the 1950s and early 1960s, has died. He was 83.

Born Genaro Louis Vitaliano, Vale started performing in New York supper clubs as a teenager and went on to record more than 50 albums. His rendition of "Volare," "Innamorata" and "Al Di La" became classic Italian-American songs. His biggest hit was "You Don't Know Me."

Vale's recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the 1960s was played at sporting events for years.

He also appeared as himself in the movies "Goodfellas," "Casino" and the TV series "The Sopranos."

Vale was a friend of fellow Italian-American crooner Frank Sinatra, and he was an honorary pallbearer at Sinatra's funeral on May 20, 1998.

• Poet and novelist Sam Greenlee has died in Chicago at the age of 83.

Greenlee was best known for his 1969 novel "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," later adapted into a political drama movie.

Greenlee was one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. foreign service. From 1957-1965, he worked for the U.S. Information Agency, serving in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Greece.

"The Spook Who Sat by the Door" tells the story of a black CIA agent who becomes a revolutionary training young Chicago blacks for a violent rebellion. His other works include "Baghdad Blues," in which he describes witnessing the 1958 revolution that brought down Iraq's British-backed monarchy.

• German photographer Michael Schmidt, who documented post-war Berlin, has died at age 68.

• Former Venezuelan President Jaime Lusinchi, who struggled to tame an economic crisis sparked by plunging oil prices in the late 1980s and then saw his reputation tarnished by allegations of corruption after leaving office, has died at age 89.

• He was the prince who helped make the Rolling Stones as rich as kings.

Prince Rupert Loewenstein, the band's former business manager, helped the Stones churn their musical talent into mountains of gold. He died at age 80 in a London hospital after suffering from Parkinson's disease, friend Hugo Vickers said.

The Oxford-educated aristocrat -- whose full name was Prince Rupert Ludwig Ferdinand zu Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg -- advised the Stones for almost four decades beginning in 1968.

• Duncan Cole, who played for New Zealand at the 1982 World Cup, has died. He was 55.

Football New Zealand said Cole died suddenly at his Auckland home on Wednesday night.

• Ruth Ziolkowski, who carried on her late husband's dream of honoring Native Americans by carving the massive likeness of warrior Crazy Horse into the Black Hills in South Dakota, has died. She was 87.

Ziolkowski, a soft-spoken visionary, oversaw the ongoing project until she entered hospice care in April, a month after her cancer diagnosis.

"Ruth Ziolkowski, the remarkable matriarch of Crazy Horse Memorial, was loved and admired by millions who were inspired by her example to 'never forget your dreams,"' said Jack Marsh, a member of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. "Ruth, as much as anyone, advanced reconciliation between the Native and non-Native people of the United States."

• In March of 1967, taking note of anti-war protests at his alma mater, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sent a telegram care of Vincent Harding to the "men of conscience" at Morehouse commending their courage and calling them his inspiration.

Days later in New York, King delivered one of his most stinging criticisms of American involvement in Vietnam. Harding, at the time an adviser to Morehouse students as well as to King, is credited with writing that speech. Harding has died at 82.

• Veteran editor Arthur Gelb, whose news sense, arts sensibility and journalistic vigor sculpted The New York Times for decades, has died at age 90.

Arthur Gelb joined the Times as a copy boy in 1944 and rose to become its managing editor, retiring in 1989. Along the way, he was an influential arts writer, a metropolitan editor who oversaw a famous expose of police corruption and a newsroom leader who helped create the now-familiar Sports Monday, Science Times and other daily sections, the newspaper said.

• Stephen R. Hertz, a law partner in the mergers and acquisitions and private equity groups at New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where he worked for almost three decades, has died. He was 55.

He died after jumping from his 22nd-floor apartment opposite Central Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side, according to police. His body was found in a tree in the courtyard of 455 Central Park West by the property manager.

Stephen Richard Hertz was born on April 18, 1959, according to the website of Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in New York.

He joined Debevoise in 1985, after receiving his law degree from the University of Chicago, and became a partner in 2000. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1982 from Middlebury College in Vermont.

• A woman who with her son was convicted of murder in the death of a wealthy New York widow has died in her prison cell. Sante Kimes was 79.

Kimes and her son, Kenneth Kimes, were convicted in 2000 in connection with the disappearance of 82-year-old widow and former Radio City Music Hall Rockette Irene Silverman. Prosecutors said the Kimeses wanted to steal Silverman's town house.

• Gordon Willis, one of Hollywood's most celebrated and influential cinematographers, nicknamed "The Prince of Darkness" for his subtle but indelible touch on such definitive 1970s releases as "The Godfather," "Annie Hall" and "All the President's Men," has died. He was 82.

Through much of the 1970s, Willis was the cameraman relied on by some of Hollywood's top directors during one of filmmaking's greatest eras. Francis Ford Coppola used him for the first two "Godfather" movies, Woody Allen for "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan," and Alan J. Pakula for "Klute" and "All the President's Men."

During a remarkable run from 1971 to 1977, films he worked on won 19 Oscars and were nominated 39 times, from best picture for "The Godfather" and "Annie Hall" to acting for Jane Fonda in "Klute" and John Houseman in "The Paper Chase." Yet Willis never won a competitive Oscar and was nominated just twice, for Allen's "Zelig" and for Coppola's "The Godfather, Part III," which came out in 1990.

• He was a Romanian-born historian, professor and philanthropist who intrigued American popular culture by writing a book linking the fictional Count Dracula to the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler.

Radu Florescu has died at age 88.

Florescu wrote a dozen books but was most famous for "In Search of Dracula," which he co-authored with Raymond T. McNally in 1972. In it, he asserted that Irish author Bram Stoker based the Dracula character in his 1897 novel on Vlad the Impaler. Florescu's work was translated into 15 languages and the pair went on to write five more books on Dracula.

• Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula One champion who famously pushed his car to the finish line to claim his first season title, has died at 88.

The Australian driver -- known as Sir Jack in racing paddocks around the world after he was knighted in 1979 -- won world titles in 1959 and 1960 and became the only F1 driver to win a world championship in a car of his own construction -- the rear-engined BT19 -- which he drove to the title in 1966.

• Clyde Snow, a forensic anthropologist who worked on cases ranging from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to mass graves in Argentina, has died. He was 86.

• Don Meyer, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball who came back from a near-fatal car accident and liver cancer before closing out his career, has died at 69.

Meyer led his teams into the playoffs 19 times and compiled a 923-324 during his 38-year career, most of which he spent at Lipscomb in Tennessee and Northern State in South Dakota.

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