Other notable deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

February 17, 2006

Robert E. Rich Sr., 92, a frozen food pioneer whose invention of the first nondairy whipped topping launched Rich Products Corp., died Wednesday at his home in Palm Beach, Fla.

In 1945, while Mr. Rich was war food administrator in Michigan and milk was scarce, he began investigating the soybean and came up with a whipped topping said to be better than cream because it was more stable and could be frozen.

Rich's Whip Topping remains a staple in school food service, restaurants and supermarket bakeries. The company also makes bread, pizza dough, seafood and appetizers.

Mr. Rich was one of the first four inductees in the National Frozen Food Industry Hall of Fame in 1990.

A year later, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, in recognition of a lifelong involvement in sports. He was chairman of the Buffalo Bisons, Cleveland's Triple-A baseball farm team, and oversaw construction of a baseball stadium for the team. The Buffalo Bills' football stadium bore the Rich name for decades, after Mr. Rich purchased the naming rights in 1972.

Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, 80, a comedic entertainer and character actor who appeared in John Wayne films and other movies, died Feb. 6 in Culver City, Calif.

In 1953, he appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx's TV quiz show You Bet Your Life, and his banter with the legendary entertainer stole the show. John Wayne saw the performance and signed Mr. Gonzalez Gonzalez to his production company.

The films with Wayne, among them The High and the Mighty, Rio Bravo and Hellfighters, and guest appearances on such TV series as Gunsmoke made Mr. Gonzalez Gonzalez one of the most recognizable Mexican-American actors at the time.

John Belluso, 36, a playwright who championed the rights of disabled people in both his work and through the writer's program he helped direct, was found dead Friday in his Manhattan hotel room. Police said foul play was not suspected.

Mr. Belluso, who used a wheelchair, had a debilitating bone disease called Engleman-Camurdrie Syndrome, friends said. Until July, he had helped direct the Other Voices Project, a development program at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum for writers with disabilities.

"He was a good storyteller, and he wanted to tell the stories of the disabled from a personal point of view," said Gordon Davidson, the forum's founding artistic director and producer of Mr. Belluso's 2001 play, The Body of Bourne, about Randolph Bourne, a World War I pacifist and writer disfigured by childhood spinal tuberculosis.

Belluso had been staying in New York while he completed The Poor Itch, a play about a disabled American veteran returning from Iraq. It had been commissioned by New York's Public Theater.

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