Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

December 29, 2003

George R. Zambelli Sr., 79, whose family-owned fireworks company is one of the oldest and largest in the country, died of the flu Thursday in New Castle, Pa.

He was president and general manager of Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, based in New Castle, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

The company was founded in 1893 by Italian immigrant Antonio Zambelli and has staged thousands of shows in the United States and abroad, including July Fourth celebrations, presidential inaugurations, Super Bowls, the Kentucky Derby, concerts and parades.

Amalia Perez Diaz, 80, one of Venezuela's most beloved actresses, died Friday of a heart attack.

She was born in Chile in 1923 and arrived in Venezuela in 1952. In her adopted country, she launched a prolific acting career that included dozens of soap operas, plays and films. She was also host of several television shows.

In the 1980s, she founded an acting school that launched the careers of many Venezuelan television and theater actors. Venezuela showered her with dozens of awards and honors.

Betty Receveur, 73, who became an author of best-selling historical romances despite dropping out of high school at age 14, died Dec. 22 in Salem, Ind., after a long illness.

Her second novel, Molly Gallagher, was published in 1982 and reached sixth place on the Los Angeles Times' best-seller list. It was a romance set in 19th-century New Orleans, as was her third book, Carrie Kingston.

Ms. Receveur left high school to marry and became a mother at age 15. But she remained an avid reader and spent her 20s working on her first novel. That book, Sable Flanagan, was a story about the gold rush set in San Francisco. It was rejected by publishers for a decade before it was accepted by Avon with an advance, royalty deal and encouragement to write more.

Charles R. Grean, 90, a pop composer, arranger and music industry executive for more than 60 years, died Dec. 20 at a hospital in New York City. He lived in Weston, Conn.

He was a copyist for the orchestras of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Charlie Spivak. He arranged the string accompaniment for Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" and composed the novelty hit "The Thing," which told the story of a man who finds an unnamed object in a box on the beach. Performed by Phil Harris in 1950, it went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

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