Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

February 24, 2006

Bruce Hart, 68, who wrote lyrics for Sesame Street and Free to Be You and Me, died of lung cancer Tuesday at his home in New York City's Manhattan.

Mr. Hart and his wife, Carole, were among the first writers on "Sesame Street" when it began in 1969 as a children's show that tried to be equally entertaining and educational. To shake up the creative process, its producers hired people new to children's television.

Mr. Hart, who had written for Candid Camera and composed the lyrics to "One Way Ticket," a hit for Cass Elliott, was hired to write sketches and help with the theme song. With a clear whistle of a melody and lyrics that seemed to come straight from the mind of a happy child, the song - written with Joe Raposo and Jon Stone - became a touchstone of children's music:

Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away

On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

"That opening bar summoned children all over the world to the television set," said Phil Donahue, a longtime friend. "Its purity is its strength."

Mr. Hart and his wife left Sesame Street after the first season and went on to a variety of other projects for children and young people, including Free to Be You and Me, the groundbreaking album and television special created by Marlo Thomas. Mr. Hart was a writer and producer of the special, with Thomas, and wrote many of the songs with longtime collaborator Stephen Lawrence.

Odell Horton, 77, the first black federal judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction, died of respiratory failure Wednesday at a Memphis retirement home.

Judge Horton graduated from Morehouse College in 1951 and Howard University Law School in 1956, attending both after service in the Marine Corps.

In 1968, at the height of the civil rights struggle and sanitation strike by black workers in Memphis, Mayor Henry Loeb appointed him director of the city's hospitals, making him the only black division director in City Hall at the time.

He dealt with a bitter strike by hospital workers, who were represented by the same union leadership as the sanitation workers. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis while on a mission to help lead the sanitation strikers.

He was criminal court judge in Shelby County in 1969 and president of LeMoyne-Owen College from 1970 to 1974. He was a federal bankruptcy judge from 1976 to 1980, when he was nominated in 1980 as a U.S. District Court judge for western Tennessee.

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