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updated: 1/12/2013 4:47 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Television host Hull Howser poses for a photo at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancster, Calif.

    Television host Hull Howser poses for a photo at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancster, Calif.
    Associated Press/March 31, 2005

  • Swiss Claude Nobs, founder and director of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

    Swiss Claude Nobs, founder and director of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

  • Ned Wertimer, a versatile character actor who was perhaps best known as Ralph the Doorman for 11 seasons on TV's "The Jeffersons."

    Ned Wertimer, a versatile character actor who was perhaps best known as Ralph the Doorman for 11 seasons on TV's "The Jeffersons."

From Daily Herald news wire reports

Huell Howser, the homespun host of public television's popular "California's Gold" travelogues, has died at age 67.

A co-founder of Reddit and activist who fought to make online content free to the public has been found dead, authorities confirmed Saturday, prompting an outpouring of grief from prominent voices on the intersection of free speech and the Web.

Aaron Swartz, 26, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment weeks before he was to go on trial on accusations that he stole millions of journal articles from an electronic archive in an attempt to make them freely available.

Swartz was a prodigy who as a young teenager helped create RSS, a family of Web feed formats used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video for users. He later co-founded the social news website Reddit, which was later sold to Conde Nast, as well as the political action group Demand Progress, which campaigns against Internet censorship.

In February 1956, Fred Turner was a 23-year-old Army veteran who approached McDonald's founder Ray Kroc with the ambition to invest in the young franchise.

"He had a baby face and the most infectious grin I'd seen in years," Kroc later recalled in his memoir, "Grinding It Out."

As one of Kroc's first hires and then his protege, Turner became a burger fryer to learn the ropes before rapidly ascending in the corporate hierarchy at the Oak Brook headquarters. Turner, who died a day after turning 80, became critical to McDonald's transformation into the largest and most emulated restaurant chain in the world.

If Kroc was the gregarious public face of McDonald's, the media-averse Turner was the savvy operations chief who also helped keep the company a pacesetter in the competitive world of brand marketing.

Rhythm guitar player John Wilkinson, who performed with Elvis Presley more than a thousand times, has died at his home in southwest Missouri. He was 67.

Wilkinson first met Elvis Presley when he was 10 years old after sneaking into his dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield. He amused Presley when he told him, "You can't play guitar worth a damn."

He was 23 when Presley saw him perform on a television show in Los Angeles in 1968, and asked him to join the TCB Band -- not knowing he was the youngster who insulted his playing a decade earlier, a friend recalled.

Wilkinson went on to play 1,200 shows as Presley's rhythm guitar player until the legendary singer's death in 1977.

Dyer Brainerd Holmes, director of manned space flight for NASA when Americans were making their early forays into space in the early 1960s, has died at 91.

Margaret Brewer, 82, a retired brigadier general who was the first woman to hold the rank of general in the Marine Corps and who led the Marines' public affairs division late in her career, has died.

Veteran radio broadcaster Frank Page, the man who helped introduce Elvis Presley to worldwide audiences through the Louisiana Hayride -- the state's version of the heralded Grand Ole Opry country radio show -- has died. He was 87.

Italian actress Mariangela Melato, known for her critically acclaimed performance as a spoiled socialite stranded with a sailor she had tormented in the 1974 film comedy "Swept Away," has died in a Rome hospital at age 71.

Evan S. Connell gained some attention via his better known books, but the acclaimed author was well-known and regarded fondly by students of literature, critics, and others as an adventurous writer whose body of work reflected a diversity of interests.

Connell's Depression-era Kansas City in the twin novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge" was even made into a movie starring husband and wife movie actors, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

On Thursday, the author of "Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn" -- a book about Custer's last stand -- was found dead in his apartment in Santa Fe, where he had lived in recent years. He was 88, his niece said.

Claude Nobs, who founded the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1967, has died. He was 76.

A writer whose street gang novel "The Warriors" was adapted into a film of the same title that became a cult favorite has died. Sol Yurick was 87.

Robert Rock, who was Indiana's lieutenant governor in the 1960s and later was Anderson, Ind., mayor for eight years, has died at age 85.

Mirko Jurkovic, a former University of Notre Dame football standout who was part of the 1988 national championship team and later a consensus All-American offensive guard, died of cancer in Indiana, according to the university's athletic department. He was 42.

Jurkovic, a 6-foot-4, 289-pounder from Calumet City, played defensive tackle on the '88 team and offensive guard in 1990 and 1991.

Louise Bundy, who was a staunch defender of her serial killer son, Ted Bundy, before he made a series of death-row confessions, has died. She was 88.

Nobel Prize-winning economist James M. Buchanan, who helped develop the public choice theory of economics, has died. He was 93.

Manuel Mota, a Spanish dress designer specializing in bridal gowns for top models and high society, has died. He was 46.

Pittsburgh-born jazz trombonist Tom Ebbert, who spent more than five decades of his career playing swing, ballroom and polka music at burlesque houses and jazz joints in New Orleans' French Quarter, has died. He was 93.

Former Associated Press fashion editor and foreign correspondent Nadeane Walker Anderson, who interviewed legendary designers including Coco Chanel and Christian Dior while working in Paris, has died in Texas. She was 91.

San Francisco residents are mourning the passing of Vivian Brown, 85, who along with her twin sister, became a local celebrity by walking through the city's streets in matching high-end outfits, identical hairdos and cheerful smiles.

Patsy Sutton, the wife of Hall of Fame coach Eddie Sutton and the matriarch of a family of college basketball coaches, has died in Oklahoma at age 74.

Ned Wertimer, who played Ralph the Doorman on all 11 seasons of the CBS sitcom "The Jeffersons," has died at 89.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., and a Navy pilot during World War II, Wertimer had one-off roles on dozens of TV shows from the early 1960s through the late 1980s, including "Car 54 Where Are You?" and "Mary Tyler Moore."

Ada Louise Huxtable, who turned her love and appreciation of the built environment into a pioneering and prize-winning career as an architecture critic, has died at age 91.

David R. Ellis, the actor-turned-stuntman-turned-director of "Snakes on a Plane," has died. He was 60 years old.

Ellis' body was found in a hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was working on "Kite," a remake of the 1998 Japanese anime film that was to have starred "Snakes on a Plane" actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Ellis' directing credits include "Shark Night 3D," "The Final Destination," "Cellular" and "Final Destination 2." He also worked on such films as "Misery," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Waterworld."

Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer, a German refugee who wrote extensively about the rise and fall of the Nazi regime has died in Massachusetts. He was 96.

Arena Football League player Chandler Williams has died. He was 27.

The AFL said Williams died while playing in a local flag football tournament in South Florida. The league did not release a cause of death.

Gloria Pall, the sultry hostess of a 1950s Los Angeles TV show that was canceled because it was deemed too hot for television, has died at 85.

Northern Arizona assistant coach Jeff Lewis, a former Lumberjacks quarterback who played for Denver and Carolina in the NFL, has died. He was 39.

Northern Arizona didn't provide a cause of death.

Jayne Cortez, a forceful poet, activist and performance artist who blended oral and written traditions into numerous books and musical recordings, has died. She was 78.

Zimbabwe's organization of tribal healers says its leader, the eminent academic, author, sociologist and politician Professor Gordon Chavunduka, has died at age 82.

John Sheardown, a former Canadian diplomat who sheltered fugitive American Embassy staffers at his Tehran home at great personal risk during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, has died. He was 88.

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