Senor Wences, 103, the master ventriloquist who delighted...

Deaths Elsewhere

April 21, 1999

Senor Wences, 103, the master ventriloquist who delighted "Ed Sullivan Show" audiences by bantering in a comic Spanish accent with his puppet-in-a-box Pedro ("S'OK?" "S'awright!") and his falsetto-voiced hand puppet Johnny, died yesterday at his home in New York City.

During the Golden Age of television in the 1950s and '60s, the Spanish-born Senor Wences, whose real name was Wenceslao Moreno, bickered and bantered with his puppets while he drank, smoked and juggled.

One of his puppets was gravelly voiced Pedro, who consisted only of a head in a box. Pedro was born out of necessity when Senor Wences' ventriloquist's dummy was damaged and only the head was spared.

Another puppet was Johnny, whose comeback line was: "Deefeecult for you, easy for me." Senor Wences created Johnny by scrunching up his fist, drawing a mouth where thumb and index finger met, and draping a blond wig over the top.

Senor Wences would talk to his puppets with his face right in theirs, as if daring the audience to watch his lips, which never moved.

Mary Lutyens, 90, a prolific novelist, biographer, magazine writer and editor whose career spanned more than six decades, died April 9 in London. Her father was the well-known architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Although she wrote 13 novels and excelled as an editor, she was most acclaimed for her biographies, including writings on her father's work. She also wrote a biographical series on the Indian religious teacher Krishnamurti and about art critic and social theorizer John Ruskin and his wife, Effie.

Bill Wendell, 75, the veteran radio and television announcer perhaps best known for his "Late Night" introduction of "Da-a-avid Letterman!" died in Boca Raton, Fla., on April 14 of complications from cancer.

Albert "Poppy" Popwell, 72, a character actor who played various thugs in Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" films, died April 9 of complications from open-heart surgery. Mr. Eastwood, as Dirty Harry, trained his magnum on Mr. Popwell's character and challenged him to "Go ahead, make my day."

Grace Zia Chu, 99, who introduced Americans to Chinese cooking through her book, "The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking," died Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

Cao Huoxing, 75, a composer whose best-known song was "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China," died Friday in Beijing, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Shijaku Katsura, 59, a popular performer of traditional "rakugo" comic monologues, died Monday at a hospital in western Japan. He had been in a coma since last month, when he tried to hang himself in his home in Suita, 250 miles west of Tokyo.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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