Other Notable Deaths


February 13, 2006

Author of `Jaws,' Peter Benchley dies at 65

Peter Benchley, 65, whose novel Jaws terrified millions of swimmers even as the author became an advocate for the conservation of sharks, died Saturday at his home in Princeton, N.J. The cause of death was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs, said his wife, Wendy Benchley.

Thanks to Mr. Benchley's 1974 novel, and Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie of the same name, the simple act of ocean swimming became synonymous with fatal horror, of still water followed by ominous, pumping music, then teeth and blood and panic.

"Spielberg certainly made the most superb movie; Peter was very pleased," Mrs. Benchley told the Associated Press. "But Peter kept telling people the book was fiction, it was a novel, and that he no more took responsibility for the fear of sharks than Mario Puzo took responsibility for the Mafia."

Mr. Benchley, the grandson of noted essayist Robert Benchley and son of author Nathaniel Benchley, also was a speechwriter for President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Dr. Norman Shumway, 83, the first surgeon to perform a heart transplant operation in the United States, died of lung cancer Friday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif.

He completed the first successful U.S. adult heart transplant in 1968, but he may be best known for continuing with transplant research as many others quit.

During the 1970s, when most recipients died soon after their operations because of organ rejection or infection, many surgeons became discouraged and stopped performing transplants. But Dr. Shumway stuck with it and built a large transplant research team at Stanford University that found ways to overcome rejection problems. He greatly improved survival rates for transplant recipients.

During the early 1960s, Dr. Shumway developed a heart transplant technique on dogs that was used by Dr. Christiaan Barnard, who transplanted the first human heart in December 1967.

Franklin Cover, 77, who became a familiar face as George and Louise Jefferson's white neighbor in the TV sitcom The Jeffersons, died of pneumonia Feb. 5 at the Lillian Booth Actor's Fund of America home in Englewood, N.J.

During nearly six decades in show business, he made numerous appearances on television shows, including The Jackie Gleason Show, All in the Family, Who's the Boss?, Will & Grace, Living Single, Mad About You and ER.

He began his career on the stage, appearing in Broadway productions, including Any Wednesday, Wild Honey and Born Yesterday. But he was best known for his role as Tom Willis, who was in an interracial marriage with a black woman, in The Jeffersons, which ran from 1975 to 1985.

John J. Partington, 77, who as a federal marshal helped develop the witness protection program, died Friday at a Pawtucket, R.I., hospital of a viral infection after surgery.

Mr. Partington, after a stint in the Army, spent his entire career in law enforcement, starting in 1955 as a patrolman in his hometown of Cumberland, R.I. He took over as police chief in Cumberland in 1980, serving for nine years before a 15-year stint as commissioner of public safety in Providence. He retired in 2004.

He served the U.S. Marshals Service from 1962 until 1980, working closely with the IRS on organized-crime cases. He participated in the formation of the witness protection program in the 1960s, also helping protect organized crime figures during the early days of the program.

Nadira, 75, a veteran Indian actress, died Thursday at a Bombay hospital after a prolonged illness.

Nadira, who used only one name, was best-known for playing negative characters in films in the 1950s and 1960s, when most top actresses shied away from such roles.

She appeared in 63 movies after her debut in Aan in 1952, where she played a haughty princess untouched by the suffering of her people. She acted in television serials in the late 1990s.

Alan Shalleck, 76, who collaborated with the co-creator of Curious George to bring the mischievous monkey to television and a series of book sequels, was found dead Tuesday outside his home in Boynton Beach, Fla. Police are investigating the case as a homicide.

His death came the week that Curious George was debuting as a full-length feature film featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore and Dick Van Dyke, among others.

He wrote and directed more than 100 short episodes of Curious George, which were seen on the Disney Channel. Mr. Shalleck and Margret Rey, who with her husband H.A. Rey created the original Curious George books, wrote more than two dozen more books about George.

Max Rosenn, 96, a senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, died Tuesday died at Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital.

He was appointed to the bench by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970 and became a senior judge in 1981. A graduate of Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mr. Rosenn also worked as an assistant district attorney in Wilkes-Barre and served as Pennsylvania's secretary of public welfare.

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