Robert N. Wilentz,69, a former New Jersey Supreme Court...

Deaths Elsewhere

July 25, 1996

Robert N. Wilentz,69, a former New Jersey Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the landmark Baby M opinion barring surrogate parenting agreements, died of cancer Tuesday in Trenton, N.J. He headed the state's judges for 17 years and had retired from the court July 1, two weeks after announcing he had "disabling cancer."

In the 1988 Baby M case, William and Elizabeth Stern of Tenafly, N.J., paid Mary Beth Whitehead $10,000 to bear them a child. Judge Wilentz criticized the surrogate parenting agreement as "illegal, perhaps criminal, and potentially degrading to women." He banned such contracts and awarded custody to the Sterns.

He also wrote opinions upholding community notification of sex offenders' whereabouts under "Megan's Law," expanding low-income housing and pressuring lawmakers to do more to help inner-city schools.

Samuel Toledano,66, a Jewish leader who played a key role in reconciling Spain and its tiny Jewish community after centuries of strain, died Monday of a heart attack in Madrid.

A native of Tangier, Morocco, he was a descendant of a 15th-century grand rabbi of Toledo, whose family was expelled from Spain with the rest of Spanish Jewry in 1492. The family returned to Spain in the 1950s.

He was a vice president of the World Jewish Congress in the 1980s, and helped Spain establish diplomatic ties with Israel in 1986.

Herb Edelman,62, a popular film and television character actor who played Bea Arthur's ex-husband in "The Golden Girls" TV series, died Sunday of emphysema at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in suburban Woodland Hills, Calif.

He was a regular in seven television series and had prominent roles in the stage and film versions of "Barefoot in the Park." He also had prominent roles in the movies "In Like Flint," "The Odd Couple" and "The Front Page."

Jean Muir,85, whose dismissal from the television series "The Aldrich Family" in 1950 brought widespread attention to the television industry's practice of blacklisting suspected Communists, died Tuesday at a nursing home in Mesa, Ariz.

On Aug. 27, 1950, Ms. Muir was preparing to appear in the role of Mother Aldrich in the premiere episode of "The Aldrich Family," ,, when the show was abruptly canceled by NBC and General Foods Corp., the sponsor of the series. The company and the network were responding to angry telephone calls and telegrams from readers of a publication that included Ms. Muir on a list of suspected Communists and Communist sympathizers in television and radio.

Ms. Muir denied the charges.

Colin Mitchell,70, a popular commander who fought insurgents in British-controlled Yemen and more recently led a charity devoted to clearing minefields, died Saturday, his family said yesterday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

He commanded the Scottish unit that retook a district of Aden from mutineers in South Yemen in 1967. A previous British assault had been repulsed.

He was a founder of the Hazardous Areas Life-Support #i Organization Trust in 1986 and led a British mine-clearing operation in Cambodia in 1991.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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