Deaths Elsewhere

April 10, 2004

Jack Smith,

58, a former Washington-based correspondent for ABC News who covered world events before helping that network shape its technology beat, died Wednesday at a hospital in Greenbrae, Calif. He had lived in Mill Valley, Calif.

The cause was cancer, ABC News said.

Mr. Smith joined the news staff at ABC in 1976 and was a Washington correspondent from 1980 until he left the network in 2001. As senior correspondent for This Week With David Brinkley for nine years, he provided viewers with background reports on major events such as the Iran-Contra affair and the collapse of Soviet communism.

He reported from presidential campaigns and from Lebanon during the Israeli invasion. He covered the White House and the State Department for Good Morning America and climbed Mount Everest with a Canadian team in 1982.

More recently, he helped create the technology segments "Cutting Edge" on World News Tonight With Peter Jennings. After leaving ABC, he was the host on A&E Biography programs and worked on documentaries for the Discovery Channel, as well as the award-winning series Vietnam: The Soldier's Story on the Learning Channel, into which he poured his own experiences.

Mr. Smith was born in Paris, the son of Howard K. Smith, the broadcast journalist and a former anchorman for ABC News. He grew up in London and Washington, and enlisted in the Army in 1964. He survived some of the bloodiest fighting in Vietnam, and earned the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

He received bachelor's degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in 1971 and from Oxford University in 1974. He was a television reporter and producer for a Chicago station before ABC hired him in New York in 1976 and sent him, conversant in French, German and Danish, back to Paris as a correspondent.

Victor Argo,

69, a New York character actor who played dozens of heavies, hoodlums and hardened detectives in movies by directors such as Martin Scorsese, Abel Ferrara and Jim Jarmusch, died Tuesday at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.

The cause was lung cancer, said Lillian LaSalle, Mr. Argo's manager.

With a jowly, lived-in face and a deep voice that suggested danger ahead, Mr. Argo carved a 40-year acting career around an array of small but well-defined performances in films and on television. In Mr. Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), he played a young tough alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, two friends and fellow actors whom he also worked with in Taxi Driver (1976). In that film, Mr. Argo played a deli owner who had no problem using a baseball bat to make a point.

Years later Mr. Scorsese would cast Argo somewhat against type in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) in the role of the Apostle Peter. But Mr. Argo continued to explore his malevolent side with meatier roles as an aging gangster in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), directed by Mr. Jarmusch, and as Jennifer Lopez's father in the thriller Angel Eyes (2001).

He began his career onstage, and in recent years he had returned there. In his final project, he played the owner of the Tampa, Fla., cigar factory in Anna in the Tropics, Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which closed a Broadway run in February.

The child of Puerto Rican parents, Mr. Argo was born Victor Jimenez in the Bronx. He worked as a jewelry seller, a printer and a cabdriver as he struggled to land acting jobs. "I felt the prejudice was against the name, not even against me," he said in a recent interview with The New York Times. "They couldn't conceive that someone with an obvious Latino name could play anything."

In response Mr. Argo adopted his stage name in the mid-1960s and soon found himself being cast in regional theater and smaller local productions. A fan of country music, he once considered a career in Nashville, going so far as to go there to record several country songs. But acting paid the rent, and in 1972 Argo made his film debut - as the "second Cuban" - in the movie Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston 40-Brick Lost-Bag Blues.

The roles became bigger and more regular; between his first role and his last, Mr. Argo appeared in nearly 75 films.

In one of his last films, the unreleased Lustre, Mr. Argo stayed true to his character niche and his character, playing a tough-guy bill collector who nonetheless periodically breaks into song.

Ben DeFelice,

79, the CIA's longtime liaison to families of missing, killed or captured employees, died Monday in Arlington, Va.

Mr. DeFelice joined the CIA in 1953. As chief of the casualty affairs branch, he took care of the finances and families of agents who were gone.

He spent considerable time on the cases of Richard Fecteau and John Downey, two CIA employees who were shot down over Manchuria by the Chinese government in 1952, during the Korean War. Mr. Fecteau was sentenced to 20 years for espionage, Mr. Downey a life term. Through phone calls and visits, Mr. DeFelice kept family members informed.

"I know they were a big part of his life," Mr. DeFelice's son Paul said.

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