Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

June 20, 2005

J.J. "Jake" Pickle, 91, who helped pass major Social Security reform in the 1980s and was a senior Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee during three decades in Congress, died Saturday at his home in Austin, Texas.

He was elected in 1963 to the House seat Lyndon B. Johnson once held. As chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee, he helped pass Social Security reform in 1983 that eased the system's financial woes by raising the age for full benefits from 65 to 67.

Mr. Pickle was a Naval officer during World War II, serving in the Pacific. He survived three torpedo attacks. He returned to Austin after the war and, with other veterans, started a radio station, still known as KVET.

Lorna Thayer, 85, the actress who in portraying a waitress memorably refused to let Jack Nicholson order toast in the 1970 movie Five Easy Pieces, died June 4 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement home after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Her career spanned 40 years during which she appeared in more than 40 motion pictures and had dozens of guest roles on television shows. Most of her work, however, consisted of bit parts. She often was cast in movies credited only as "flower vendor," "warden" or "suntan lady," although she co-starred in the 1956 horror cult favorite The Beast With a Million Eyes.

In her testy exchange with Nicholson's character, Bobby Dupea, he tries to order wheat toast, which isn't included with the omelet he wants. After trying repeatedly to get around the diner's "no substitutions" policy, he finally tells Thayer's increasingly annoyed waitress to bring him a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast and to hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise and the chicken.

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