Deaths Elsewhere

August 01, 2004

Jackson Beck,

92, a radio actor best known for narrating The Adventures of Superman and who later used his versatile voice to promote products including Aqua Fresh toothpaste and Combat roach killer, died Wednesday in New York City. He had suffered a series of small strokes several years ago.

On the radio in the 1940s, he also was announcer-narrator on shows including Mark Trail and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and played heroes such as detective Philo Vance and the Cisco Kid. He was the voice of the bully Bluto in more than 300 Popeye cartoons.

"He had a hugely powerful voice," radio historian Anthony Tollin said last week. "Along with Fred Foy, who was the classic announcer-narrator on The Lone Ranger, Jackson was the greatest adventure narrator."

He also did voice-overs for two Woody Allen movies, Radio Days and Take the Money and Run, and could be heard on National Lampoon radio broadcasts and Saturday Night Live. He worked well into his 80s.

William A. Mitchell,

92, the food scientist who invented Pop Rocks candy and discovered a substitute for tapioca, died Monday of congestive heart failure in Stockton, Calif.

Mr. Mitchell, who worked as a chemist for General Foods Corp. in White Plains, N.Y., for 35 years until his retirement in 1976, held over 70 patents, including inventions related to Cool Whip, quick-set Jell-O gelatin and the drink mix Tang. He developed the tapioca substitute during World War II when tapioca supplies were running low.

His most famous invention was Pop Rocks - the exploding candy that became a cultural phenomenon after it hit the market in 1975. He made the discovery accidentally, while trying to design an instant soft drink, when he put some sugar flavoring mixed with carbon dioxide in his mouth. For years, Mr. Mitchell, who patented Pop Rocks in 1956, fought to dispel the myth that the carbonated candy was deadly if eaten while drinking carbonated drinks.

Jane Hoffman,

93, who acted in more than 20 Broadway shows and was known for her portrayal of the character Mommy in two plays by Edward Albee, died Monday at a hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. The cause of her death was not reported.

She appeared as Mommy, a perverse mother figure to the Young Man character in Mr. Albee's The American Dream, in the first production of the play in 1961. A review in The New York Times said she made Mommy "the predatory creature she is meant to be." She also performed as another character called Mommy in Mr. Albee's 1960 Sandbox.

She made her Broadway debut in 'Tis of Thee in 1940, and was in the original casts of such classics as Arthur Miller's Crucible, Tennessee Williams's Rose Tattoo and Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children.

Dalayad Haji Hashi Jama,

72, the former first lady of Somalia, died Monday of complications from diabetes in Columbus, Ohio.

She was married to former Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre for 45 years. After he died in exile in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1995, she joined eight of her children in Columbus, which has the second-largest Somali population in the United States.

Somalia was thrown into chaos in the aftermath of Mr, Barre's 22-year reign, which ended in 1991 in civil war between feuding clans and led hundreds of thousands of Somalis to flee the impoverished country. Somalia has been without a government since his ouster. As first lady, Mrs. Jama shunned the spotlight in favor of supporting her husband's career.

Irvin Shortess "Shorty" Yeaworth Jr.,

78, who directed the 1958 cult movie The Blob and later made hundreds of films with religious and social messages, died July 19 in a car accident in the Middle East.

His vehicle went off the road near Petra, Jordan, where was completing a major entertainment complex called Jordanian Experience at the Aqaba Gateway. For 25 years, he took tours to the Middle East and aspired to help bridge the gap between Arabs and Israelis.

He produced more than 400 education, entertainment and motivational films, including theatrical features released by Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures.

He often struggled with his legacy as director of the camp sci-fi classic, much of which was filmed in his Chester County, Pa., back yard. But fan adoration of the film endured. Last month, the annual BlobFest tribute was held at Phoenixville's Colonial Theatre, where a scene was filmed of moviegoers screaming and fleeing the phlegmatic monster.

Myra Waldo,

88, a writer who filled bookshelves with advice on places to see and their cuisine, died July 25 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., of congestive heart failure.

Starting in the mid-1950s, she wrote more than two dozen travel guides and cookbooks, which she periodically updated. Her Serve at Once: The Souffle Cookbook of 1954, for instance, was revised as The Souffle Cookbook in 1961 and, reissued in 1990, remains in print. A book she wrote in 1955 with the actress Gertrude Berg, The Molly Goldberg Cookbook, based on Mrs. Berg's famous television character, was reissued most recently in 1999.

Martin E. Weaver,

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