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updated: 8/9/2014 6:08 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Brig. Gen. Harold Greene, right, speaks beside Gen. Ann Dunwoody at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.

      Brig. Gen. Harold Greene, right, speaks beside Gen. Ann Dunwoody at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.
    Associated Press/March 3, 2011/U.S. Army

  • Former U.S. surgeon general Jesse Steinfeld.

      Former U.S. surgeon general Jesse Steinfeld.
    Associated Press/circa 1970

  • James Brady, selected by president-elect Ronald Reagan to become his press secretary, talking to reporters.

      James Brady, selected by president-elect Ronald Reagan to become his press secretary, talking to reporters.
    Associated Press/Jan. 6, 1981

 

• Henry Stone, a fixture on the R&B and disco scene who was instrumental in the careers of Ray Charles, James Brown and KC & the Sunshine Band, has died. He was 93.

Stone, a co-founder of the famed TK Records, died Thursday of natural causes at a Miami-area hospital.

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Stone opened up a record-distribution business and recording studio in South Florida in 1948 and within a few years recorded his first artist, a pianist-singer from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind who would later become the legendary Ray Charles.

Stone's hits were on TK Records, which he co-founded with Steve Alaimo in 1972, and similar labels he founded. They included: "Get Down Tonight," "That's the Way (I Like It)", "Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)", "I'm Your Boogie Man" for KC & the Sunshine Band and "Ring My Bell" for Anita Ward, The Miami Herald reported.

Stone released Otis Williams and the Charms' No. 1 R&B hit, "Heart of Stone", in 1954. He was also instrumental in signing James Brown and the Famous Flames, earning the hit, "Please, Please, Please," which topped the R&B in 1956.

• Menahem Golan, a veteran Israeli filmmaker who built an empire on the back of brawny men beating others senseless across a host of 1980s action films, has died in Tel Aviv. He was 85.

Throughout his long career, Golan produced more than 200 movies and directed a fourth of them. But while others attended the Cannes film festival in tuxedoes, Golan wore rainbow-colored suspenders over his T-shirts and proudly hawked a different type of fare.

It was the 1987 film "Bloodsport" that he produced that introduced American audiences to the face -- and kicks -- of a then-unknown Jean-Claude Van Damme. He produced Sylvester Stallone's take as a stone-faced cop in "Cobra" and later directed him as a truck-driving arm-wrestler in "Over The Top." And he produced Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" -- sequels two through five.

"Schlock is entertainment for the masses," he told The Associated Press in 1985. "It's fantasy. Storytelling without challenging the mind too much."

• Richard Marowitz was just a day removed from witnessing the horrors of Dachau when he found a top hat on a shelf in a closet in Adolf Hitler's Munich apartment.

Still furious over the gruesome sights he had seen at the nearby Nazi concentration camp, the 19-year-old self-described "skinny Jewish kid" from New York threw the black silk hat on the floor, jumped off the chair he had used to reach it and stomped Hitler's formal headwear until it was flat.

"I swear to this day I could see his face in it," Marowitz said, recalling how he "smashed the hell out of it."

Marowitz, who brought the souvenir back to New York after World War II ended, died this week at age 88 at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albany.

Marowitz's story was told in a 2003 documentary film, "Hitler's Hat." At the veteran's request, the family will donate the hat to a museum.

• Dorothy Salisbury Davis, a prize-winning mystery writer whose books include the best-selling "A Gentle Murderer" and numerous other works praised for their psychological suspense, has died. She was 98.

A native of Chicago, Davis was nominated several times for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award, and was named an MWA "Grand Master" in 1985. Her other books included "The Little Brothers" and "Shock Waves." Her stories were often anthologized, most recently in the 2013 release "Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives."

• Chung Eun-yong, an ex-policeman whose half-century quest for justice for his two slain children led the U.S. Army in 2001 to acknowledge the Korean War refugee massacre at No Gun Ri, has died, the No Gun Ri International Peace Foundation reported. He was 91.

The No Gun Ri killings occurred in the first weeks of the 1950-53 war, when U.S. and South Korean troops were being driven south by North Korean invaders, and reports spread that northern infiltrators were disguising themselves as South Korean refugees.

On July 26, 1950, outside the central South Korean village of No Gun Ri, hundreds of civilians from nearby villages, ordered south by U.S. troops, were stopped by a dug-in battalion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment, and then were attacked without warning by U.S. warplanes. Survivors fled under a railroad overpass, where for the next three days they were fired on by 7th Cavalry troops.

Korean witnesses estimated 100 were killed in the air attack and 300 under the bridge, mostly women and children.

• Martha Stewart says her younger sister, Laura Kostyra Plimpton, has died in a Connecticut hospital of a brain aneurysm. She was 59.

Stewart said her sister, the youngest of the six siblings, worked for her and her company for more than 25 years. She edited, researched, wrote and photographed content for Stewart's blog and other publications.

• Actress Marilyn Burns, perhaps best known as the heroine in the 1974 horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," has died at her Houston-area home. She was 65.

Burns' career included roles in several horror films spanning 40 years, including last year's "Texas Chainsaw 3D." The 3-D version debuted at No. 1 at the box office when it was released, a testament to the continuing popularity of the franchise.

In the 1974 film, her character was the only one among a group of friends to escape the rampage of the chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface.

Burns appeared in another horror film, "Sacrament," that was released this year.

• Harold J. Greene, the two-star Army general who became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in either of America's post-9/11 wars, was an engineer who rose through the ranks as an expert in developing and fielding the Army's war materiel. He was on his first deployment to a war zone.

Greene was killed Tuesday when a gunman believed to be an Afghan soldier opened fire at a military academy near Kabul.

In a 34-year career that began at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Greene, a native of upstate New York, earned a reputation as an inspiring leader with a sense of humility. He had been in Afghanistan since January, serving as the No. 2 man in a unit called the Combined Security Transition Command, in Kabul.

At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks Greene was serving at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and when the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 he was a student at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

• Dr. Jesse Steinfeld, who became the first surgeon general ever forced out of office by the president after he campaigned hard against smoking during the Richard Nixon era, died Tuesday. He was 87.

Steinfeld was a cancer researcher and taught at the University of Southern California medical school before serving as Nixon's surgeon general from 1969-1973.

In office, Steinfeld won the ire of the tobacco industry for his stubborn efforts to publicize the hazards of smoking. He changed cigarette package labels that lukewarmly stated tobacco use might be connected to health problems.

Steinfeld's label boldly warned: "The surgeon general has determined that smoking is hazardous to your health."

He issued a report in 1971 that argued for tighter restrictions on smoking in public to protect people from secondhand smoke. He promoted bans on smoking in restaurants, theaters, planes and other public places -- decades before such prohibitions became commonplace.

• Ed Sprinkle, a star defensive end for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s and '50s who was called the "meanest man" in football, has died. He was 90.

He died July 28 in Palos Heights, daughter Susan Withers said.

Sprinkle played for the Bears from 1944 to 1955 under coach George Halas, including the 1946 championship team. Sprinkle was elected to the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

"He loved playing football and his whole career he never went to another football team," Withers said.

Despite being only 200 pounds, Sprinkle was labeled the "meanest man" in football in a Collier's magazine article in 1950. He was nicknamed "The Claw" for using his forearm to deliver blows to opponents. He leveled plenty of quarterbacks, although it was hard to say how many because he played long before such statistics were kept.

• A major trait that endeared Jim Brady to the Washington press corps was his sense of humor, especially when he made fun of his own boss.

When Ronald Reagan was campaigning for president in 1980, Reagan drew scorn from environmentalists for saying that trees were a greater source of pollution than cars. Aboard the campaign plane, Brady pointed at a forest fire in the distance and yelled, "Killer trees! Killer trees!" to the great amusement of reporters.

Brady, who died Monday at 73, would need humor and much more after March 30, 1981. On that day John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel just two months into the new president's term. Reagan nearly died from a chest wound. Three others, including Brady, were struck by bullets from Hinckley's handgun.

Shot in the head, Brady lived through hours of delicate surgery and then many more operations over the years. But he never recovered the normal use of his limbs and was often in a wheelchair. Besides partial paralysis from brain damage, he suffered short-term memory impairment, slurred speech and constant pain.

Still, along with his wife, Sarah, he went on to become the face and as much as possible the voice of the gun-control movement in the United States. A federal law requiring background checks for handgun buyers bears his name, as does the White House press briefing room.

Brady was a strong Republican from an early age. As a boy of 12 in Centralia, Illinois, where he was born on Aug. 29, 1940, he distributed election literature for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In a long string of political jobs, Brady worked for Sen. Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, Sen. William V. Roth Jr. of Delaware and John Connally, the former Texas governor who ran for president in 1979. When Connally dropped out, Brady joined Reagan's campaign as director of public affairs and research.

• Gene Callahan has died. He was a former newspaper reporter and longtime aide to top Democratic elected officials, including the late U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon. He was 80.

He worked for a Springfield newspaper before serving as press secretary for several elected officials, including former U.S. Sen Paul Simon while he was lieutenant governor.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin called Callahan a "trusted friend." He says he never made an important decision in politics without calling Callahan.

Best-selling author Billie Letts has died at an Oklahoma hospital.

Letts' novels include "Where the Heart Is," which was turned into a movie starring Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusak. Letts also taught English and creative writing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant.

She is survived by three sons -- Dana Letts, musician Shawn Letts and playwright and actor Tracy Letts. Tracy Letts won a Pulitzer Prize for his play "August: Osage County," which was also made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

• Alan 'Ace' Greenberg, who transformed Bear Stearns Cos. from a small bond shop into the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm, never lost his faith in the bigness of banks.

Greenberg died this week at 86.

In 2012, when Citigroup Inc. founder Sanford "Sandy" Weill recommended that deposit-taking banks and investment banks be separated again, to avoid the hazards posed by "too-big-to- fail" institutions, Greenberg sarcastically disagreed.

"That was not Sandy," he joked in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "I think it was a guy making a movie about Wall Street or something."

A "huge country," he said, needs "big banks."

Greenberg took over New York-based Bear Stearns in 1978, when it was a private partnership with about 1,000 employees and $46 million in capital. He expanded shareholders' equity to $1.8 billion and headcount reached 6,300 by 1993.

• Pete Van Wieren, the bespectacled broadcaster who was part of the landmark team that carried Atlanta Braves games throughout the nation on Ted Turner's "SuperStation," has died after a battle with cancer, the team said. He was 69.

• "American Idol" contestant Michael Johns, who appeared in season 7 of the hit Fox singing competition and was voted off in an eighth-round stunner, has died. He was 35.

His family says it appreciated the support streaming in from around the world but said the loss of "a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend" was devastating.

After "Idol," he released an album, "Hold Back My Heart," in 2009.

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