Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

August 06, 2004

Gloria Emerson, 75, a former correspondent for The New York Times who reported from Vietnam in the early 1970s and was known for writing about the personal impact of war on soldiers and civilians, was found dead at her Manhattan apartment Wednesday, according to her physician. She suffered from Parkinson's disease.

While the cause of death awaited a medical examiner's ruling, friends said she had planned her own death and carried it out Tuesday, after leaving notes that indicated she intended suicide and comments meant for her obituary.

Among them was a review of her book on Vietnam, Winners & Losers, that won a National Book Award in 1978. It was, she wrote, "too huge and messy."

Her Vietnam dispatches won a George Polk Award for excellence in foreign reporting, and she was featured in Reporting America at War: An Oral History, a compilation of interviews with war correspondents published in October.

She also was the author of Some American Men (1985) and Gaza: a Year in the Intifada (1991) and a novel, Loving Graham Greene (2000).

Ms. Emerson maintained ties with many Vietnam veterans and became an advocate for their causes. She had been working on another novel, about Vietnam veterans resolving grievances, according to her former editor at Random House.

Frank Smith, 70, a central figure in the Attica prison uprising who later became a spokesman for fellow prisoners in a lawsuit against New York state, died of kidney cancer Saturday in Kinston, N.C.

Smith was appointed by fellow inmates to keep prisoners under control amid negotiations after 40 prison employees were taken hostage during a four-day standoff at Attica that began Sept. 9, 1971.

The uprising involving nearly 1,300 inmates erupted after complaints about conditions at the prison. It ended in the deaths of 32 inmates and 11 prison employees, most after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to storm the prison and retake control.

After the guards took over, Smith, who was serving time for armed robbery, was tortured after being falsely accused of castrating a guard. Released from prison in 1973, he was indicted for his role in the riot but later granted amnesty by Gov. Hugh Carey and eventually received $375,000 as part of a settlement of inmates' civil rights lawsuit.

Sam Edwards, 89, a character actor who made scores of appearances on such TV shows as Gunsmoke, Barnaby Jones, McCloud and Happy Days, as well as portraying the town banker on Little House on the Prairie, died of a heart attack July 28 in Los Angeles.

He appeared on radio programs from the 1930s to the mid-1950s -- his most noted role that of Dexter Franklin, the bumbling teenage boy next door in Meet Corliss Archer -- and worked regularly in TV into the 1980s. His film credits included Twelve O'Clock High, Hello Dolly! and The Postman Always Rings Twice."

He supplied voices in several children's productions, including the adult Thumper the rabbit in the 1942 animated Disney film Bambi.

Holly Halsted Balthis, 95, oldest living queen of the Tournament of Roses Parade, died Friday at her home in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Described in the Los Angeles Times in 1930 as a "vivacious brunette," Mrs. Balthis never dreamed her stint as Rose Queen would mean much once it ended.

"I thought it was a short deal, New Year's Day, and that'd be it," she said in a 1986 interview. "But it's something that stays with you all your life."

In recent decades, she was considered "the grand dame" of the Tournament of Roses. She remained active in tournament functions until her death and each year welcomed the new queen and her court.

Her escort as parade queen was her future husband, Frank S. Balthis, a Harvard law student who would later become a Superior Court judge and an appellate court justice. Frank Balthis Jr., whose father died in 1978, said his mother was living alone and driving until a week and a half before her death.

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