Other Notable Deaths


October 11, 2005

Jerry Juhl, 67, whose Emmy Award-winning

Jerry Juhl, 67, whose Emmy Award-winning writing gave life to Jim Henson's whimsically irreverent Muppets on television and film, died from pancreatic cancer Sept. 27 in San Francisco.

Mr. Juhl was the head writer for Muppets programs including The Muppet Show on television and, in some capacity, all the Muppet films, from the Muppet Movie in 1979 to Muppets From Space in 1999.

The Muppet Show, a vaudeville-like variety show featuring Kermit the Frog and his many friends, was introduced in 1976 and ran until 1981, ultimately reaching more than 100 countries.

"When people say about the Muppets, `It's a gentle soul with a naughty sense of humor,' Jerry was just as responsible for that as my dad," said Brian Henson, Jim Henson's son, who serves with his sister Lisa as chairman and chief executive of Jim Henson Co.

Jim Henson, a Hyattsville native and University of Maryland graduate who died in 1990, created the Muppets, coining the name to describe his combination of marionette and foam-rubber hand puppets.

Before working on The Muppet Show, Mr. Juhl helped build the Henson legacy through work on Henson's first television show, Sam and Friends, guest appearances on variety shows and later on Sesame Street as a puppeteer, writer and voice talent, among other jobs.

He won two Emmy awards for his work on Sesame Street, two Writers Guild Awards as head writer of The Muppet Show and an Emmy in 1981 for the "Dance Marathon" episode featuring Carol Burnett.

"He's the one who knew the characters better than anyone else; he brought the heart to the characters," said Frank Oz, another early creative force in the Jim Henson Co., who lent his talents to Miss Piggy, among other characters.

Harold Leventhal, 86, a renowned folk music promoter who worked with Woody Guthrie and introduced Bob Dylan in his first major concert hall show, died Oct. 4 at a New York City hospital

From the 1950s to the end of the 20th century, Mr. Leventhal was a champion of folk music who introduced audiences to both foreign and American artists. He presented a 21-year-old Bob Dylan at Town Hall in New York on April 12, 1963, and was also the longtime producer of the Thanksgiving folk concert at Carnegie Hall which featured Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Mr. Leventhal won a Grammy in 1989 as a producer for the album Folkways: A Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

He also produced several movies about the folk music world, including Alice's Restaurant in 1969, a 1976 biography of Woody Guthrie called Bound for Glory, and Wasn't That a Time! in 1982.

Bound For Glory received Academy Awards for music and cinematography.

Leopold B. Felsen, 81, an expert on the properties of waves who co-authored a standard text on electromagnetics, died of complications after surgery Sept. 24 in Boston.

His books included Radiation and Scattering of Waves, co-authored with Nathan Marcuvitz and considered one of the most important works on electromagnetics.

Born in Munich, Dr. Felsen was sent to the United States when he was 16 to escape Nazi persecution of Jews. His parents survived and came to the United States in 1946, but many relatives, including an older sister, died in the Holocaust.

He attended Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, now Polytechnic University, after World War II and spent most of his career there. He was dean of engineering from 1974 to 1978, and a teaching professor at the school until his retirement in 1994.

Dr. Felsen, who suffered from muscular dystrophy for 30 years, traveled extensively to lecture on wave physics. After retiring, he moved to Boston to be closer to his family, and was persuaded by Boston University to join its faculty, teaching there until his death.

Stefan Presser, 52, a civil-rights activist who spent more than two decades as legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, died in Philadelphia on Friday of complications from brain cancer.

During his tenure, Mr. Presser's successes included a 1990 lawsuit against Philadelphia in which the ACLU alleged that city child-welfare officials and other agencies violated the civil rights of dependent, abused or neglected children.

The case known as the "Baby Neal" lawsuit was settled out of court in 1999 and officially closed in 2001, after forcing improvements in the child-welfare system that resulted in more adoptions and fewer children being placed in foster care.

In 2000, he helped broker an agreement between the city and activist groups that allowed large demonstrations in advance of the Republican National Convention.

John van Hengel, 83, credited as the founder of food banking with the start of Phoenix-based St. Mary's Food Bank in 1967, died Wednesday in a Phoenix hospice facility.

After proving successful in gleaning food from the food industry and distributing it to agencies for people in need, Mr. van Hengel worked for many years as a consultant to cities starting food banks.

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