Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

January 03, 2003

Mary Brian, 96, a film star and memorable ingenue who bridged the silent and early sound eras, died Monday in Del Mar, Calif.

Between Peter Pan in 1924 and Dragnet in 1947, Miss Brian appeared in 82 films. She was one of Hollywood's romantic leading ladies from the mid-1920s through the late 1930s.

While she did not rank with superstars such as Clara Bow or Mary Pickford, she was a bankable contract player and a gratifying attraction at the box office. Her leading men were the likes of Gary Cooper, Lew Ayres, James Cagney, Cary Grant, William Haines, Warner Oland and Dick Powell.

Among her films still shown at film festivals and on television are Peter Pan and one of the earliest Western talkies, The Virginian, from 1929, with Cooper as the title character and Walter Huston as the villain.

Miss Brian was born Louise Byrdie Dantzler in Corsicana, Texas. After her family's move to Long Beach, Calif., she entered a beauty contest -- and though she did not win a prize, Paramount invited her to audition for a child's part in its film version of Peter Pan. Director Herbert Brenon cast the young Louise as Wendy. The studio gave her a new name, Mary Brian, and pared her age to 16, deeming 18 too grown up for the part. (After that, Miss Brian kept her real age to herself, calling it "negotiable.")

She remained under contract to Paramount until 1932, appearing in more than 40 of its productions.

Miss Brian said she gained a new perspective on life during World War II when she entertained troops, venturing closer to the front lines in Europe than most headliners. She spent Christmas 1944 with the soldiers fighting the Battle of the Bulge.

She ended her movie career after the war with Dragnet, but continued to make occasional television appearances.

James Monroe McReynolds,75, a bluegrass musician and Grand Ole Opry member, died of thyroid cancer Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.

Mr. McReynolds, a guitarist, formed the duo Jim & Jesse with his brother, a mandolin player.

Mr. McReynolds was born in the Appalachian mountain town of Carfax, Va. The brothers -- grandsons of 1927 Bristol Sessions recording artist Charles McReynolds -- made their first musical appearance at a talent show in southwest Virginia. Their performance won first place, which came with a bag of flour.

Jim & Jesse recorded in the 1960s with Epic Records, experimenting with snare drums and recording material by songwriters such as rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry. Their 1965 Berry Pickin' in the Country was the first long-playing bluegrass recording devoted to songs popularized by black artists.

Jim & Jesse, who joined the Opry 38 years ago, were members of the International Bluegrass Association's Hall of Honor and were honored by the National Endowment for the Arts. They were also known through their syndicated television show.

Patricia Brooks Carey, 81, who founded the planetarium that grew into a space museum housing the Apollo 13 and Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft, died Wednesday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Ms. Carey launched the museum in 1962 as a small planetarium in the poultry house on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. After moving to the science building at Hutchinson Community College in the mid-1960s, the planetarium grew from a two-person operation into a space museum attracting about 285,000 visitors each year and employing about 70 people.

The museum features the multistory IMAX Dome Theater, the Hall of Space Museum and such educational programs as the Future Astronaut Training Program. The museum also is home to one of the most significant collections of American and Russian space artifacts in the world.

Kazimierz Dejmek, 78, a stage director whose work sparked a student-led revolt against the Communist government, died Tuesday.

Born in the then-Polish city of Kovle, now part of Ukraine, Mr. Dejmek was known for his political productions, most notably the 1968 production of Dziady, or Forefathers. Authorities said the production criticized Poland's allegiance to Moscow and banned it, provoking a student revolt that grew into broad criticism of the government and calls for greater freedoms.

After the events of March 1968, Mr. Dejmek quit the Communist party. He served as Polish culture minister in 1993 and from 1995 to 1996.

Before his death, he was working on a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet that was to open Jan. 30 at the New Theater in the central city of Lodz, about 90 miles southwest of Warsaw. The theater plans to go ahead with the performances.

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