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  Toonami Infolink :: View topic - Dead Celebrity Roundup (2005-2006 Editon) :(
Toonami Turner Cartoon Network Thundercats Voltron Space Ghost Birdman Herculoids Dino Boy Galaxy Trio Mighty Mightor Moby Dick Shazzan The Impossibles Max Fleisher's Superman (a.k.a. Roulette) The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest Robotech Sailor Moon DragonBall Z Filmation Superman Batman Superfriends ReBoot Ronin Warriors G-Force Powerpuff Girls Batman: The Animated Series Gundam Wing Tenchi Muyo! Universe in Tokyo Superman Outlaw Star Big O CardCaptors Mobile Suit Gundam O8th MS Team DragonBall Batman Beyond Gundam 0080 Zoids: Zero Hamtaro Zoids: Chaotic Century Guardian Force G Gundam He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Transformers: Armada G.I. Joe .hack//Sign Yu Yu Hakusho Rurouni Kenshin QuickTime .mov MOV AVI .avi MPEG .mpg Movies movie Videos Clips Sounds articles rants essays images files CNX inner circle cn2 revolution Japan japanese multimedia saban funimation toei graz harmony gold mainframe Tyler Zogg TylerLToonami Turner Cartoon Network Thundercats Voltron Space Ghost Birdman Herculoids Dino Boy Galaxy Trio Mighty Mightor Moby Dick Shazzan The Impossibles Max Fleisher's Superman (a.k.a. Roulette) The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest Robotech Sailor Moon DragonBall Z Filmation Superman Batman Superfriends ReBoot Ronin Warriors G-Force Powerpuff Girls Batman: The Animated Series Gundam Wing Tenchi Muyo! Universe in Tokyo Superman Outlaw Star Big O CardCaptors Mobile Suit Gundam O8th MS Team DragonBall Batman Beyond Gundam 0080 Zoids: Zero Hamtaro Zoids: Chaotic Century Guardian Force G Gundam He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Transformers: Armada G.I. Joe .hack//Sign Yu Yu Hakusho Rurouni Kenshin QuickTime .mov MOV AVI .avi MPEG .mpg Movies movie Videos Clips Sounds articles rants essays images files CNX inner circle cn2 revolution Japan japanese multimedia saban funimation toei graz harmony gold mainframe Tyler Zogg TylerL
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Dead Celebrity Roundup (2005-2006 Editon) :(
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Zechs

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Hunter S. Thompson, the writer of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas commited suicide on Sunday.

ESPN.com Article
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PostTue Feb 22, 2005 2:53 pm
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Nobuyuki

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My best friend and I are going to be down in the dumps this week because this. Sad
He was almost like a Hemingway for boomers.
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PostTue Feb 22, 2005 6:20 pm
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Nobuyuki

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Jef Raskin, lead designer of the Macintosh, dies

By James Niccolai, IDG News Service

Jef Raskin, the lead designer of the first Macintosh computer and a pioneer in the development of user interfaces, died Saturday at age 61. He had been diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, his family said in a statement.

Raskin joined Apple in 1978 as employee number 31 and headed the company's Macintosh development team from its founding until 1982. He named the project after his favorite type of apple, changing the spelling for copyright reasons.

He is credited with significantly advancing the design of user interfaces, which in the early 1980s were largely text-based and required users to memorize complex commands. Raskin convinced his peers at Apple that to reach a wider audience, the Macintosh needed an interface that was elegant and easy to use.

"Up to that time, at Apple and most other manufacturers, the concept was to provide the latest and most powerful hardware, and let the users and third-party software vendors figure out how to make it usable," he wrote later on his Web site.

Raskin left Apple in 1982, two years before the Macintosh went on sale, but he continued to influence the design of computers through his writing, lectures and consulting work. Soon after leaving the company he founded Information Appliance Inc., where he designed the Canon Cat computer for Canon USA Inc., although the product was not a commercial success.

His consulting clients have included Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and many other big names in computing. In 2000 he published a book, "The Humane Interface," that is widely assigned at universities.

Raskin was currently at work on a project called Archy, where he hoped to put many of the ideas expressed in his book into software. Archy uses simple commands for common operations in word processing and e-mail, but "doesn't work like anything else on this or nearby planets," meaning users would have to learn it from scratch, he wrote on his Web site.

His son, Aza Raskin, will continue to develop the project, a preview version of which is due out later this year, his family said in the statement.

Raskin's interests were not restricted to computers: He taught the recorder, harpsichord and music theory at San Francisco Community College in the 1970s, and his family described him as an orchestral soloist and composer. He also founded a company that designed and sold radio-controlled model aircraft.

Along with Aza, he is survived by his wife, Linda Blum, and his other children, Aviva and Aenea. Raskin lived most recently in Pacifica, Calif
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PostMon Feb 28, 2005 4:28 pm
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Zechs

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MegamanTrigger wrote:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050402/ap_on_re_eu/pope

He died peacefully in his apartment today. Contrary to the article, he died at about 9:57 p.m. in the Vatican with a crowd of tens of thousands praying for him. I watched the news channels so I would be able to hear the announcement as soon as possible.
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AdmiralGreer wrote:
Meh. He's the Pope. He was old. Fred Korematsu, of Korematsu v. United States, died a few days ago. Anybody hear about that?
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PostTue Apr 05, 2005 11:47 pm
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Zechs

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The Daily Texan wrote:


The entertainment world lost one of the best comedians of our time Wednesday when Mitch Hedberg passed away. Hedburg's publicist confirmed that he died from a still-unknown cause of death, at age 37 years old.

Hedberg was, is and will always be one of my favorite comedians. He has a dry sense of humor mixed with a hippie's attitude rendered a flawless delivery. Some reporters, including "Time" columnist Joel Stein, were so bold as to say that Hedberg would be the next Seinfeld, and to many, he was.

From Comedy Central specials to guest appearances on such hilarious shows as "Home Movies" as Dr. Fizzel and Mitch the 5th grader, and the newer "Shorties Watching Shorties," Hedberg has continuously made us laugh with his seemingly drug-induced outlook on all of the little things in life. I mean, who doesn't think about Hedberg's joke when you're handed one of the millions of flyers from the organizations on the West Mall: "When someone hands you a flyer, it's like they're saying, 'Here. You throw this away.'"

I had the opportunity to see Hedberg last semester when he came to the Paramount with Steven Lynch. People were rolling in the aisles (literally, some girl fell down the stairs in the aisle. It was hilarious) laughing at such jokes as his donut joke: "I bought a donut, and they gave me a receipt for the donut. I don't need a receipt for the donut, man. I'll just give you the money, you give me the donut. End of transaction! We don't need to bring ink and paper into this. I just cannot imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a donut. Some skeptical friend? 'Oh, come on, man, don't even act like I didn't get that donut, I got the documentation right here!'"

His comedy is genius and his delivery is amazing, and I know many people will miss him.

Rest in peace, Mitch Hedberg. Comedy won't be the same without you.




==========

On a personal note, Mitch was my favorite entertainer comedian or otherwise. He was the kindest, most real comedian I've ever heard. The first time I saw his special on comedy central I was literally on the floor laughing in pain for fifteen minutes. Just recollecting the jokes brought the laughter back and I was yet again on the floor. Mitch had a great future ahead of him and was about to return to my area to do a show in June. There won't be an HBO special, there will never be another show, there will never be another joke.

Mitch, the world is a less funnier place without you, I'm happy that you were here at least for a short time.
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PostWed Apr 06, 2005 3:08 pm
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Chibi_Zero

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I heard about that on April 1st,So I thought it was a joke at first. But I was pretty sad to hear it.
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PostWed Apr 06, 2005 3:58 pm
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Nobuyuki

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Actor Frank Gorshin, ‘The Riddler,’ dies
Actor gives final performancein 'CSI' season-ender
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:08 p.m. ET May 18, 2005

BURBANK, Calif. - Frank Gorshin, the impressionist with 100 faces best known for his Emmy-nominated role as the Riddler on the “Batman? TV series, has died. He was 72.

Gorshin’s wife of 48 years, Christina, was at his side when he died Tuesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, his agent and longtime friend, Fred Wostbrock, said Wednesday.

“He put up a valiant fight with lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia,? Mrs. Gorshin said in a statement.

Despite dozens of TV and movie credits, Gorshin will be forever remembered for his role as the Riddler, Adam West’s villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on “Batman? from 1966 to 1969.

The Riddler’s high-pitched laugh was based on his own, Gorshin told AP Radio in 1997. “I fooled around with all kinds of different laughs and then I found out that when I do laugh I get this high-pitched laugh and I thought, ‘This is what I’m going to use.?’

“It really was a catalyst for me,? Gorshin recalled in a 2002 Associated Press interview. “I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can’t put it down.?

West said the death of his longtime friend was a big loss.

“Frank will be missed,? West said in a statement. “He was a friend and fascinating character.?

In 2002, Gorshin portrayed George Burns on Broadway in the one-man show “Say Goodnight Gracie.? He used only a little makeup and no prosthetics.

“I don’t know how to explain it. It just comes,? he said. “I wish I could say, ‘This is step A, B and C.’ But I can’t do that. I do it, you know. The ironic thing is I’ve done impressions all my life — I never did George Burns.?

Gorshin’s final performance will be broadcast on Thursday’s CBS series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.?

Born in Pittsburgh, Gorshin broke into show business in New York. He did more than 40 impressions, including Al Jolson, Kirk Douglas, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and James Cagney.

Later, he took his impressions to “The Ed Sullivan Show? on a memorable evening — the same night the Beatles were featured.

When asked by the AP how it felt to be the unlucky performer following the Beatles, he said, “I looked out the window of my dressing room and said, ‘Look at all the kids that came to see me!?’

He also did impressions in Las Vegas showrooms, opening for Darin and paving the way for other impressionists like Rich Little. Sammy Davis Jr. said it was Gorshin who taught him to do impressions, Wostbrock said.

“He said you had to look like them and walk like them. Once you get that down, the voice comes easy,? he said.

Gorshin’s movie roles included “Bells are Ringing? (1960) with his idol Dean Martin and a batch of fun B-movies such as “Hot Rod Girl? (1956), “Dragstrip Girl? (1957) and “Invasion of the Saucer Men? (1957).

“He was fun, fascinating, wild and always a class act,? Wostbrock said. “Here’s a guy who always wore great clothes, stood up when a woman walked into the room — he was a gentleman. We did all our deals with a handshake. There was never a signed contract.?

His other TV credits included roles on “General Hospital, “The Edge of Night? and “The Munsters? as well as guest appearances on “Donny & Marie,? “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,? “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,? “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,? “Murder, She Wrote,? “The Fall Guy,? “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,? “Wonder Woman,? “Charlie’s Angels? and “Police Woman.?

Wostbrock said the funeral would be private and Gorshin would be buried in the family plot in Pittsburgh.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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PostWed May 18, 2005 8:48 pm
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Nobuyuki

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LOS ANGELES -- Henry Corden, the voice of cartoon caveman Fred Flintstone's "Yabba-dabba-doo!" for more than two decades, has died. He was 85.

Corden died of emphysema Thursday night at AMI Encino Hospital, his longtime agent Don Pitts said Friday. Corden's wife of nine years, Angelina, was with him at the time.

He took over as the lovable loudmouth Fred Flintstone when Alan Reed, who originally did the voice, died in 1977. Reed had been doing Flintstone since the character debuted in 1960.

Born in Montreal, Corden moved to New York as a child and arrived in Hollywood in the 1940s. His first acting role was in the 1947 film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Known for playing villains, he found small parts in movies, including 1952's "The Black Castle" and "The Ten Commandments" in 1956.

"As Henry said, he always played the cold-blooded creeps," Pitts said.

Corden moved into voice acting in the 1960s and deployed his dialect skills in bit parts for Hanna-Barbera, including "Jonny Quest," "Josey and the Pussycats" and "The New Tom & Jerry Show."

Since "The Flintstones" echoed "The Honeymooners," Corden tweaked his role to approximate Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character, Pitts said.

Corden, who lived in Encino, had been working until his health suffered about three months ago. He most recently can be heard on cereal commercials yelling "Barney, my Pebbles!"

Besides his wife, Corden is survived by five children and five grandchildren. A private memorial is planned, Pitts said.
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"When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
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PostSun May 22, 2005 7:35 am
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Nobuyuki

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Voice actors are dropping like flies this week... Crying or Very sad

Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, dies at 91

The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. - (KRT) - Thurl Ravenscroft of Fullerton, Calif., whose voice was known worldwide through his work in movies, TV and at Disneyland, died Sunday from prostate cancer. He was 91.

Tony the Tiger?

That was Ravenscroft.

Disneyland? Too many voices to mention, but Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room were all graced by Ravenscroft's pliable, unique voice.

Movies? How about "Cinderella," "Dumbo" and "Lady and the Tramp"?

"Disneyland wouldn't have been, and wouldn't be, the same without him," said former park President Jack Lindquist. "It's all part of the experience. You can't go home with a ride, but you can go home with a memory, and part of that is the audio - the sound part of it. His voice was one of the things that made it all come alive."

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft was born Feb. 6, 1914, in Norfolk, Neb. He moved to California in 1933 to study interior design at the Otis College of Art and Design. While in school he was encouraged to go into show business and auditioned at Paramount studios to be a singer.

By the mid-1930s, he was appearing regularly on radio, first on a program titled "Goose Creek Parson." In the late 1930s, he appeared on the "The Kraft Music Hall" with Bing Crosby, singing backup in a group called the Paul Taylor Choristers. That group eventually became the Sportsmen Quartette.

After military service during World War II, he returned to Hollywood, later becoming involved in the Mellomen singing group, and began a career in radio, movies, television and commercials. The group could sing anything from rock `n' roll to bebop to barbershop, and it performed with a list of stars including Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

In 1952, Ravenscroft achieved a measure of immortality, thanks to a TV commercial.

"I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeeat!" Ravenscroft roared in a 1996 interview with The Orange County Register. "When Kellogg's brought up the idea of the tiger, they sent me a caricature of Tony to see if I could create something for them. After messing around for some time I came up with the `Great!' roar, and that's how it's been since then."

Ravenscroft's involvement with Disneyland goes back to opening day in 1955, when he was the announcer for many of the ceremonies and events. His voice has been heard on numerous Disneyland attractions and rides, including Adventure Through Inner Space (1967-1986). He was the original narrator on Submarine Voyage.

In 1966, Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones teamed up to do "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for CBS. Ravenscroft recalled the Grinch fondly, saying, "That was my chance to prove I could really sing." The success of the Grinch led to other projects with Dr. Seuss, including "Horton Hears a Who" and "The Cat in the Hat."

His singing career continued into the 1970s. As a member of the Johnny Mann Singers, he sang on 28 albums, appeared on television for three seasons and performed for President Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev at the White House.

One of Ravenscroft's biggest local claims to fame undeniably was his narration of Laguna Beach's Pageant of the Masters, a job that began in 1973 and lasted for two decades. He told the Register upon his retirement that it was his favorite gig of all time.

"I've learned more about art doing the Pageant than I ever did in art school," he said.

Pageant scriptwriter Dan Duling remembered working with Ravenscroft as "a wonderful collaboration.

"He was a gentleman who was beloved, and is still beloved, at the pageant," Duling said. "He was considered the grandpa of the pageant. Everyone backstage adored him."

Ravenscroft possessed, said Duling, "one of the great basso voices, so distinctive. For me, it was like writing music for an instrument that has a few tones that are absolutely unmistakable. It was so distinctive that you had to play to its strengths. He could bring a kind of deep, resonant reverence to something that deserved proper respect. Also, in his folksy manner, he could be the grandpa that everybody loved," Duling said.

Another fan with memories is Werner Weiss, Web master of www.yesterland.com, an Internet site that highlights popular Disneyland attractions, including many that no longer exist.

"(Ravenscroft) is one of the busts in the Haunted Mansion," Weiss said. "He's uncredited, as so many cast members at the park are, but it's his face and voice. It's unusual. You actually SEE him in that attraction, a man whose voice you're heard a thousand times."

June, Ravenscroft's wife of 53 years, died in 1999 at age 80. He is survived by two children, Ron and Nancy, and four grandchildren. Services are pending.

-and-



HOLLYWOOD - Howie Morris, the compact comic whirligig from the early days of television who lent his raspy voice to hundreds of cartoon and commercial voice-overs, died May 21 at his home in Hollywood. Morris had heart ailments in recent years. He was 85.

Morris was a bar mitzvah band drummer, a radio performer and briefly a Shakespearean actor before he shot to prominence as part of the Sid Caesar ensemble casts of the 1950s, along with Carl Reiner and Imogene Coca.

Although "second banana" to the domineering forces of Caesar and Reiner, Morris was regarded as a staple of Admiral Broadway Review, Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour.

Morris' favorite sketch role, which appeared on Your Show of Shows, was a spoof of the mawkish reunion show This Is Your Life.

He played Uncle Goopy, an emotional wreck who constantly leaps into the arms of his long-lost nephew (Caesar). He also sticks to the leg of the host (Reiner) like an adhesive and cries inconsolably, evidently much to the surprise of fellow cast members. Morris was largely responsible for tearing down the set and ending the episode on a high note.

Howard Jerome Morris was born Sept. 4, 1919, in the Bronx, N.Y.

His father, a rubber company executive, had a fatal heart attack shortly after losing his job during the Depression, and Morris, the only child, helped support his mother. She played organ during silent movies, and Howard found himself drawn to mimicking on-screen performers.

Perhaps one of the more memorable characters he created was on The Andy Griffith Show. Playing hillbilly Ernest T. Bass, he wooed the local women by throwing too-large rocks through their windows and reciting doggerel.
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PostTue May 24, 2005 3:05 am
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Nobuyuki

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It's like my whole childhood is disappearing in front of my eyes this week... Crying or Very sad

Eddie Albert dies at age 99
Star of ‘Green Acres’ died of pneumonia in his home
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:10 p.m. ET May 27, 2005

LOS ANGELES - Eddie Albert, the actor best known as the constantly befuddled city slicker-turned-farmer in television’s “Green Acres,? has died. He was 99.

Albert died of pneumonia Thursday at his home in the Pacific Palisades area, in the presence of caregivers including his son Edward, who was holding his hand at the time.

“He died so beautifully and so gracefully that literally this morning I don’t feel grief, I don’t feel loss,? Edward Albert told The Associated Press.

Albert achieved his greatest fame on “Green Acres? as Oliver Douglas, a New York lawyer who settles in a rural town with his glamorous wife, played by Eva Gabor, and finds himself perplexed by the antics of a host of eccentrics, including a pig named Arnold Ziffel.

He was nominated for Academy Awards as supporting actor in “Roman Holiday? (1953) and “The Heartbreak Kid? (1972).

The actor moved smoothly from the Broadway stage to movies to television. Besides the 1965-1971 run in “Green Acres,? he costarred on TV with Robert Wagner in “Switch? from 1975 to 1978 and was a semi-regular on “Falcon Crest? in 1988.

He was a tireless conservationist, crusading for endangered species, healthful food, cleanup of Santa Monica Bay pollution and other causes.

Albert’s mother was not married when he was born, in 1906. After marrying, she changed his birth certificate to read 1908, the younger Albert said.

Rarely the star of films, Albert often portrayed the wisecracking sidekick, fast-talking salesman or sympathetic father. His stardom came in television, especially with “Green Acres,? in which, ironically, he played straight man. The show joined “The Beverly Hillbillies,? “Petticoat Junction? and other high-rated CBS comedies of the 1960s and ’70s.

“Some people think that because of the bucolic background ‘Green Acres’ is corny,? Albert told an interviewer in 1970. “But we get away with some of the most incredible lines on television.?

His break in show business came during the ’30s in the Broadway hit “Brother Rat,? a comedy about life at Virginia Military Institute. Warner Bros. signed him to a contract and cast him in the 1938 film.

According to Hollywood gossip, he was caught in a dalliance with the wife of Jack L. Warner and the studio boss removed him from a film and allowed him to languish under contract.

The actor left Hollywood and appeared as a clown and trapeze artist in a one-ring Mexican circus. He escaped his studio contract by joining the Navy in World War II and served in combat in the South Pacific. He received a Bronze Star for his heroic rescue of wounded Marines at Tarawa, his son said.

Albert managed to rehabilitate his film career after the war, beginning with “Smash-up? with Susan Hayward in 1947.

Among his other films: “Carrie,? “Oklahoma!? “The Teahouse of the August Moon,? “The Sun Also Rises,? “The Roots of Heaven,? “The Longest Day,? “Miracle of the White Stallions,? “The Longest Yard? and “Escape to Witch Mountain.?

Edward Albert Heimberger was born in Rock Island, Ill., grew up in Minneapolis and worked his way through two years at the University of Minnesota.

Amateur theater led to singing engagements in nightclubs and on radio. During that time he dropped his last name “because most people mispronounced it as ’Hamburger.?’

Moving to New York, Albert acted on radio and appeared in summer stock before he broke into Broadway and the movies.

“Green Acres? made Albert a rich man and allowed him to pursue his causes. He traveled the world for UNICEF. He continued acting into his 80s, often appearing in television movies.

“Acting was a tenth of his life. The majority of his life was committed to helping other people,? said his son, also an actor. “This guy was, from the absolute depth of his soul, one of the true heroes of our world.?

Edward Albert, 54, who became a prominent actor in “Butterflies Are Free,? “40 Carats? and other films, said he put his career on hold for the past eight years to aid his father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

On Friday, he remembered a moment several years ago in which the two sat in a garden together.

“I said to him ‘You’re my hero.’ I saw him struggling to put together the words, and he looked at me and said: ‘You’re your hero’s hero.’ I’ll take that to my ... grave.?

Albert was married to the dancer-actress Margo for 40 years until her death in 1985. In addition to his son, Albert is survived by a daughter, Maria Albert Zucht, and two granddaughters.

A private funeral was planned.
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"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
PostSat May 28, 2005 12:00 pm
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FinalDivineDragoon

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You seem pretty down there Nobu, need a virtual group hug? Wink
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PostSat May 28, 2005 5:20 pm
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AdmiralGreer

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Virtual group hugs are not a good idea.
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PostSat May 28, 2005 7:30 pm
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Nobuyuki

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AdmiralGreer wrote:
Virtual group hugs are not a good idea.

Yeah, I don't think we need to go that far.
I just hate to see them go, even though I know they've lived a long, full life already. When I was a kid Cable TV didn't exist in the form it does now, so my afterschool hours were filled with old Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Morris) and reruns of Batman (Gorshin), The Andy Griffith Show (Morris again) and Green Acres (Albert), among others.
Not to mention "Tony the Tiger" and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". Sad

And it's just an odd twist of fate that Mr. Albert would pass away on the premiere weekend of the unneccessary remake of The Longest Yard.
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PostSun May 29, 2005 3:33 am
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I just learned about Eddie Albert. I am deeply saddened by this Crying or Very sad
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PostMon May 30, 2005 8:59 pm
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Nobuyuki

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Basketball legend Mikan dies at 80
NBA's first dominant big man led Lakers to 5 championships
The Associated Press
Updated: 12:50 a.m. ET June 3, 2005

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - George Mikan, the “gentle giant? who a half-century ago brought fame and stability to the fledgling world of professional basketball and literally transformed the game, has died 18 days shy of his 81st birthday.

Mikan died Wednesday night at a Scottsdale rehabilitation center following a long fight with diabetes and kidney ailments. His right leg was amputated below the knee in 2000, and he had undergone kidney dialysis treatment three times a week for five years, son Terry said.

A superstar decades before the term existed, Mikan was the first big man to dominate the sport. No one before had seen a 6-foot-10 player with his agility, competitiveness and skill.

When the Minneapolis Lakers came to New York in December 1949, the marquee at Madison Square Garden read “Geo. Mikan vs. the Knicks.?

“He literally carried the league,? Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy said. “He gave us recognition and acceptance when we were at the bottom of the totem pole in professional sports. He transcended the game. People came to see him as much as they came to see the game.?

College basketball instituted the goaltending rule because of him, and the NBA doubled the width of the free throw lane. Slowdown tactics used against him — his 1950 Lakers lost 19-18 to the Fort Wayne Pistons in the lowest-scoring game in NBA history — eventually led to the 24-second shot clock.

“George Mikan truly revolutionized the game and was the NBA’s first true superstar,? NBA commissioner David Stern said. “He had the ability to be a fierce competitor on the court and a gentle giant off the court. We may never see one man impact the game of basketball as he did, and represent it with such warmth and grace.?

Shaquille O’Neal, speaking after Miami’s playoff victory over Detroit on Thursday night, said he wanted the Mikan family to contact the Heat so he could pay for the funeral.

“Without No. 99, there is no me,? O’Neal said.

Terry Mikan said he appreciated O’Neal’s offer but said it would be up to his mother whether to accept it.

“It just speaks to what Shaquille is all about,? Terry Mikan said. “He had a bond with my dad. They were close friends.?

A private memorial service is planned in Scottsdale on Monday night. At some unspecified date, a public ceremony will be held in Minneapolis, where Mikan’s ashes will be interred, Terry Mikan said.

Ray Meyer, who was in his first year as DePaul coach when he began transforming Mikan into a basketball star, said that despite Mikan’s longtime illnesses, he was shocked and saddened at the death of his lifelong friend.

“He had the most positive attitude you ever heard,? the 91-year-old Meyer said. “Never once did he feel sorry for himself. He was a great basketball player, but I think he was a better human being. I loved the guy. I thought he was one of my family.?

“He had a fierce determination to excel, which he exhibited in his athletic career and business career,? Terry Mikan told The Associated Press on Thursday, “and that probably extended his life five years.?

Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to five league titles in the first six years of the franchise’s history. Nearsighted with thick glasses, he was as rough on the court as he was mild-mannered off it. Mikan led the league in personal fouls three times and had 10 broken bones during his playing career. He averaged 23.1 points in seven seasons with Minneapolis before retiring because of injuries in 1956. Mikan was the league’s MVP in the 1948-49 season, when he averaged 28.3 points in leading the Lakers to the title.

“Ed McCauley was our center. Eddie was 6-9, but weighed about 185 pounds where George was probably 250,? Cousy recalled. “When we’d walk down the street in a group, Eddie would brush against a pole or big tree and say ‘Excuse me George.’ Even to someone close to his height, George seemed humongous.?

A statue of Mikan taking his trademark hook shot was dedicated at the Target Center in Minneapolis in April 2001 at halftime of a Timberwolves-Lakers game.

“We were in hiatus a long time, the old-timers,? Mikan said at the time. “They forgot about us. They don’t go back to our NBA days.?

Timberwolves star and 2004 MVP Kevin Garnett knew of Mikan, though.

“When I think about George Mikan, I skip all the Wilt Chamberlains and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars and I call him the ’The Original Big Man,?’ Garnett said. “Without George Mikan, there would be no up-and-unders, no jump hooks, and there would be no label of the big man.?

The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became one of the most successful franchises in professional sports.

“Frankly, without George Mikan, the Los Angeles Lakers would not be the organization we are today,? Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss said.

Born June 18, 1924, in Joliet, Ill., Mikan didn’t play high school basketball, but when he entered DePaul, Meyer, the young new coach, recognized the potential.

Meyer said he worked with Mikan for six weeks alone, making him shoot left-handed and right-handed, a procedure still known as the “George Mikan drill.?

He had him punch a speed bag, take some dancing lessons to improve his grace and also jump rope.

Mikan was two-time college player of the year and led DePaul to the 1945 National Invitation Tournament title. He scored 53 points in the semifinals against Rhode Island, a phenomenal number in that era, and was named the tourney’s MVP.

Mikan played one season with the Chicago Gears before moving to the new Lakers franchise.

“George was a giant among men in the early days of the NBA,? said Celtics president Arnold “Red? Auerbach, who coached against him. “He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was the first player to really be an imposing and intimidating figure on the court.?

Mikan coached the Lakers for part of the 1957-58 season, and was commissioner of the American Basketball Association in 1967, introducing the 3-point line and the distinctive red, white and blue ball.

He practiced law and, in his later years, began pressing the NBA and the players’ union to boost the tiny pensions given to those who played in the league before 1965. Terry Mikan said most of his father’s awards and memorabilia has been sold. Mikan received a monthly pension check of $1,700, his son said. Under current rules, his widow will get half that much.

Terry Mikan said one of his father’s reasons for fighting so hard against his illnesses “was his hope that he would be alive when the collective bargaining agreement was reached and the decision had been finalized on the pre-65ers and their surviving families. He gave his heart and soul to that effort.?

Mikan is survived by his wife of 58 years, Patricia; sons Larry, Terry, Patrick and Michael; daughters Trisha and Maureen, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I’ve got one word that describes my dad, and that’s kindness,? Terry Mikan said. “Whenever he would make a toast at a family function, dad would ask us to raise our glass to kindness, and that’s the type of man he was.?
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PostFri Jun 03, 2005 1:06 am
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