Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

August 01, 2005

Pat McCormick, 78, a walrus-mustachioed comedy writer for Phyllis Diller, Red Skelton and others who also appeared on The Tonight Show and had a role as Big Enos in three Smokey and the Bandit movies, died Friday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund's hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Mr. McCormick was admitted to the facility in 1998 after a stroke left him partially paralyzed.

He dropped out of Harvard Law School to pursue advertising work in New York but abandoned that career when he began earning money writing jokes for television and nightclub performers.

Mr. McCormick eventually became a writer for The Jack Paar Show. Over a five-decade career, he wrote for the 1960s comedy series Get Smart and The Danny Kaye Show. He also wrote and appeared on Candid Camera and was an announcer and straight man on Don Rickles' short-lived TV variety show in 1968.

He was a regular on The New Bill Cosby Show in 1972.

Mr. McCormick wrote for and made scores of appearances on The Tonight Show. He played characters in sketches, dressing up as turkeys, squirrels and the shark from Jaws. In one 1974 show, he streaked naked across the stage behind Carson during the opening monologue.

Robert Wright, 90, a composer and lyricist who collaborated with George Forrest on the scores for such Broadway musicals as Kismet, Song of Norway and Grand Hotel, died Wednesday at his home in Miami, Fla.

For much of their careers, Mr. Wright and Mr. Forrest specialized in adapting someone else's music, usually a classical composer, and spinning it into something new.

They used their talent, for example, to turn an obscure wedding dance by Edvard Grieg into "Strange Music," a smash from Song of Norway (1944). They later transformed the exotic themes of Russian composer Alexander Borodin into songs such as "Stranger in Paradise" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" for Kismet (1953), which won a Tony Award for best musical.

The songwriting team did much the same thing in Hollywood, working on dozens of films including Maytime, Sweethearts and I Married an Angel. Among their Hollywood hit tunes was "The Donkey Serenade," adapted from a piano piece by Rudolf Friml and sung by Allan Jones in the film The Firefly (1937).

The Wright-Forrest partnership lasted some 70 years -- from the late 1920s, when they wrote their first song at Miami senior High School, until Mr. Forrest died in 1999.

Willem F. Duisenberg, 70, the blunt-spoken Dutch central banker who oversaw the introduction of the euro as the first president of the European Central Bank, was found dead yesterday in a swimming pool at his villa in the south of France, the French government said.

An autopsy showed that Mr. Duisenberg drowned after suffering unspecified heart trouble.

Tall and snowy-haired, with a dry wit and a gravelly voice, Mr. Duisenberg became the human face of a new currency after he presided over an epic money transfer on Jan. 1, 2002, when 305 million Europeans turned in their francs, marks, lira and other currencies for euros.

As president of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, he steered the euro through its first unsteady years -- a time when it plummeted to record lows against the dollar. He also fended off calls for the European bank to lower interest rates during the recession of 2001, which gave the fledgling institution credibility at a crucial stage in its development.

The euro bounced back, and by last year it had hit a record high against the dollar, which is now viewed as the weaker currency.

Danny Simon, 86, a comedy writer who together with his brother, Neil, wrote for such classic 1950s television programs as Your Show of Shows, died Tuesday of stroke complications in Portland, Ore.

It was Danny Simon who mentored his younger sibling and nicknamed him "Doc." They worked together in radio in the late 1940s and then in television, a period of their lives chronicled in Neil Simon's 1993 play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor.

Danny Simon later wrote for Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas; Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life; and provided material for many of Joan Rivers' appearances on The Tonight Show.

Al Held, 76, an American abstract painter known for his large-scale works, was found dead Wednesday in the swimming pool of his house in the Umbrian countryside of Italy. Authorities said he died of natural causes.

He was a prominent abstract expressionist, according to the Robert Miller Gallery in New York, which held several exhibits of his work. "Highly stylized and geometric language" defined his work since the 1970s, the gallery said when promoting eight of his works. That exhibit, which ran in late 2003 and early 2004, was titled Al Held: Beyond Sense.

In the early 1950s he moved to Paris, where his first solo show was in 1952. His works include colossal paintings and canvasses filled with colored geometric shapes.

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