February 12, 2011
Kenneth Mars, a Mel Brooks collaborator
who played a Hitler-worshipping playwright
in "The Producers" and an earnest police
inspector with a malfunctioning artificial
arm in "Young Frankenstein," has died. He
In a statement Monday, Mars family said
the actor died Saturday of pancreatic
cancer at his home in Grenada Hills.
In both films, the Chicago-born Mars
demonstrated his talent for vocal farce,
lending over-the-top German accents to
Mars' nearly 50-year career included a long
list of voice credits, including "The Little
Mermaid," "The Jetsons" and the "The
Land Before Time" movies and TV series.
February 27, 2011
America's last World War I veteran dies
Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran
of World War I, has died. He was 110.
Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW
in the Philippines in World War II, died
peacefully of natural causes early Sunday at
his home in Charles Town, biographer and
family spokesman David DeJonge said in a
statement. Buckles turned 110 on Feb. 1 and
had been advocating for a national memorial
honoring veterans of World War I in
Buckles lied about his age to join the army at
age 16.The Missouri native was among nearly
5 million Americans who served in World War I
in 1917 and 1918.
"I knew there'd be only one (survivor)
someday. I didn't think it would be me," he
was quoted as saying in recent years.
February 16, 2011
Len Lesser, the veteran character actor best
known for his scene-stealing role as Uncle Leo on
"Seinfeld," died Wednesday. He was 88.
Lesser's family said in a statement that he died in
Burbank, Calif., from cancer-related pneumonia.
"Heaven got a great comedian and actor today,"
his daughter, Michele, said in the
statement. "The outpouring of sympathy we've
already received has been amazing and is so
greatly appreciated. Thank you to all the people
who helped make my father's last journey special
and surrounded with love."
Lesser's lengthy list of television credits included
parts on "Get Smart," "That Girl," "The
Munsters," "The Monkees," "The Rockford Files,"
"thirtysomething," "ER," and "Everybody Loves
Raymond," which featured Lesser in a recurring
role as the arm-shaking Garvin. His film credits
included "Outlaw Josey Wales," "Kelly's Heroes,"
"Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Death Hunt." He most
recently appeared on the TV drama "Castle."
February 28, 2011
Voloptuous actress Jane Russell, one of the
best-known sex symbols of the 1940s and
1950s, has died at age 89.
Russell's daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield says
the actress died Monday at her home in Santa
Maria, Calif. of a respiratory-related illness.
Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire, cast
Russell in his sexy, and controversial, 1941
Western "The Outlaw," turning her into an
overnight star. It was reported in her
autobiography that although Hughes did
design one of the earliest underwire bras for
Russell to wear in the film, she found it
uncomfortable and did not use it.
She would go on to appear opposite such
leading men as Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope,
as well as fellow actress Marilyn Monroe.
Although her film career slowed in the 1960s,
Russell remained active throughout her life.
February 27, 2011
Gary Winick, a pioneering producer and
director of independent digital films who
found mainstream success with such
movies as "13 Going on 30" and "Letters to
Juliet," has died. He was 49.
Winick, who was diagnosed with brain
cancer about two years ago, died Sunday at
Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City,
said Niels Mueller, a longtime collaborator.
When he won the 2002 Sundance directing
award for 'Tadpole,' shot with digital
cameras for $150,000, Gary Winick didn't
even have an agent. He went on to
big-budget fare including 'Letters to Juliet,'
'13 Going on 30' and the 2006 'Charlotte's
February 22, 2011
Songwriter Jean Dinning, who wrote the teen
tragedy hit "Teen Angel," has died. She was 86.
Daughter Cynthia Wygal tells the Orange
County Register that her mother died Feb. 22
in Garden Grove.
Dinning's brother Mark performed "Teen Angel,"
which is about a girl who dies tragically. A
couple's car stalls on railroad tracks and they
safely get out, but the girl runs back to get the
boy's high school class ring and a train hits the
The song was released in October 1959 and it
became an instant hit.
February 12, 2011
Garrett, a vivacious Broadway star who
played Frank Sinatra's sweetheart in two
MGM musicals and later had recurring roles
on "All in the Family" and "Laverne and
Shirley," died at 91.
February 17, 2011
Monroe, best known for hosting
the Washington political television
show "Meet the Press" for nearly a
decade, died at age 90.