Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

December 25, 2003

George E. Elliott Jr.,

85, whose unheeded warning about aircraft approaching Pearl Harbor was depicted in history books and movies like Tora, Tora, Tora, died of stroke complications Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla.

As an Army radar operator, he detected the incoming Japanese aircraft Dec. 7, 1941; he issued a warning, which was brushed aside. Nearly an hour later, the enemy planes reached the Navy fleet in the harbor.

A 50-year anniversary story by the Associated Press told how Mr. Elliott and another private, Joseph L. Lockard, had been on duty since 4 a.m. at Kahuku Point on the northern tip of Oahu, Hawaii, familiarizing themselves with a new marvel that could "see" 130 miles to sea -- radar.

Just after 7 a.m., Mr. Elliott saw "something completely out of the ordinary" on the screen, a huge blip, due north, 137 miles out. The information was called in to headquarters, and the operators were told it was a flight of B-17 Flying Fortresses due in from California.

They kept tracking for practice, and the blip grew so large that Mr. Lockard figured the set was broken. They turned it off at 7:45, after the blip disappeared behind Oahu's mountains.

About 10 minutes later, the first bombs were falling on battleship row.

Dave Dudley,

75, a pioneer of truck-driving country songs and former radio disc jockey who recorded more than 40 country hits from 1961 to 1980, died of a heart attack Monday in Danbury, Wis.

Mr. Dudley was not the only progenitor of country songs for and about truckers; C.W. McCall's "Convoy" had a brief run at the top of the charts in 1975. But Mr. Dudley had the greatest success in truckers' music.

His influence on American culture went beyond music; his portrayal of truckers as independent, outspoken heroes facing impossible odds was incorporated into popular movies such as Smokey and the Bandit (1977).

Born and raised in Wisconsin, David Darwin Pedruska recorded under the name Dave Dudley, a variant of a childhood nickname, Duddy.

In 1961, Mr. Dudley first appeared on the Billboard country charts with "Maybe I Do" on Vee Records, and he returned in 1962 with "Under Cover of the Night" on Jubilee Records.

In 1963, the Grand Ole Opry star Jimmy C. Newman let Mr. Dudley hear a new tune, "Six Days on the Road." An up-tempo song, it was a departure from the ballads Mr. Dudley had specialized in, and he was initially reluctant to record it.

With its driving guitar, straightforward vocals and descriptions of the challenges and heartbreaks facing truck drivers, "Six Days on the Road" was an instant hit and ushered in the genre of truck-driving songs.

He became a national star, with other hits including "Mad" (1964), "Truck Drivin' Son of a Gun" and "What We're Fighting For" (1965), and his only No. 1 single, "The Pool Shark" (1970).

Les Tremayne,

90, a honey-voiced leading man of radio's golden age, died of heart failure Friday in Santa Monica, Calif.

Among his radio credits were The Thin Man, The Falcon, Betty and Bob, The Romance of Helen Trent, and, from 1936 to 1943, playing the debonair leading man of The First Nighter opposite actress Barbara Luddy.

Mr. Tremayne later acted in television and film, including a leading role as the general in the 1953 movie version of The War of the Worlds.

Of his more than 40 film credits, most were for minor roles, such as the auctioneer in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. One of his last roles was on ABC's General Hospital in the late 1980s.

Hans Koller,

82, a saxophonist who rose to world fame and played with some of America's jazz legends, died Monday, Austrian state radio reported.

Mr. Koller, who also made his mark as a jazz composer, played with Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Konitz, Zoot Sims and Stan Kenton during his career.

At 14, he was already a veteran performer when he registered at the Vienna Music Academy as a student in 1935.

After being drafted into the German Wehrmacht in 1941, Mr. Koller was captured by the U.S. Army. He set up a band as a prisoner of war -- and its popularity was so great that he was among the last to be released, the Austria Press Agency reported.

He returned to Vienna in 1946 and immediately founded the Hot Club Vienna. He later went to Germany to launch his international career.

Harold von Braunhut,

77, who used comic-book advertisements to sell whimsical mail-order inventions like Amazing Sea Monkeys, tiny shrimp that pop to life when water is added, died Nov. 28 at his home in the Charles County community of Indian Head, after a fall.

Mr. von Braunhut was to quirky inventions what Barnum was to circuses. His X-Ray Specs, which advertisements said allowed wearers to see through flesh and clothing, are still selling after 50 years of guffaws. Hermit crabs as a pet? Thank Mr. von Braunhut for Crazy Crabs.

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