Other Notable Deaths


April 14, 2006

June Pointer, 52, the youngest of the Pointer Sisters - known for the '70s and '80s hits "I'm So Excited," "Fire" and "Slow Hand" - died of cancer Tuesday at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif.

The four sisters grew up singing in the choir of an Oakland church where their parents were ministers. Bonnie and June formed a singing duo and began performing in clubs around the San Francisco Bay area. Anita and Ruth later joined the group.

Their self-titled debut album was released in 1973, and the song "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They followed up with "That's A Plenty," which featured an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from jazz to country and pop. They won a Grammy Award in 1974 for best country vocal performance by a group for the song "Fairytale." June Pointer recorded two solo albums, and later left the trio.

William Woo, 69, the former editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, died Wednesday at his Palo Alto, Calif., home from complications of cancer.

He was interim director of Stanford University's Graduate Journalism Program, which he joined in 1996 after 34 years at the Post-Dispatch, where he also worked as a reporter, foreign correspondent, Washington columnist, editorial writer and editorial page editor.

Born in Shanghai to a Chinese father and an American mother, Mr. Woo was the first Asian-American named editor of a major U.S. metropolitan daily newspaper, according to the Asian American Journalists Association.

Vilgot Sjoman, 81, a Swedish director and screenwriter whose provocative and sexually explicit films stirred controversy in the 1960s, died of complications from a brain hemorrhage April 9 at a Stockholm hospital.

Many of his films were socially critical and sexually explicit, such as the 1967 I Am Curious Yellow, which was banned in the United States for two years, and its sequel, I Am Curious Blue. He also worked with renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman on the film Winter Light, released in 1962.

He made his debut as a director the next year with The Mistress and directed a total of 15 films. His last film was Alfred in 1995, about the life of Alfred Nobel, founder of the prestigious Nobel Prizes. Mr. Sjoman also wrote more than 20 books.

Helen Cohn, 92, who along with her husband Nudie Cohn helped clothe Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and a host of stars with rhinestone creations during the height of cowboy chic, died April 7 at a hospital near her home in Valencia, Calif.

In the 1940s through the 1960s, the now-closed Nudie's store in North Hollywood was the place where singing cowboys, country singers such as Hank Williams and other celebrities went for their sparkly duds. A gold lamM-i suit for Mr. Presley and an outfit embroidered with pills and marijuana leaves for singer Gram Parsons were some of Mrs. Cohn's creations.

Mrs. Cohn and her husband were an inseparable business team from the day he fell in love with her over dinner at her mother's boardinghouse until his death in 1984. She ran the business for another decade before retiring.

Richard Pearlman, 68, who groomed and launched young singers as director of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago, died of cancer April 8 in Chicago.

Before taking the post in Chicago, he served from 1976 to 1995 as director of the Eastman Opera Theatre at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where his students included soprano Renee Fleming.

Singers coached by Mr. Pearlman at Lyric included Matthew Polenzani, Maria Kanyova, Erin Wall, Dina Kuznetsova, Nicole Cabell, David Cangelosi and Christopher Feigum.

Henry Farrell, 85, author of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and other melodramatic thrillers that spurred a genre of psychological horror movies featuring female protagonists, died March 29 after a long illness at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Baby Jane, which he wrote in 1960, was the basis for the film two years later. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford played once-famous sisters whose lives ended in disappointment and tragedy.

Farrell and director Robert Aldrich tried to bring the two together again in Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, which was based on Mr. Farrell's 1964 campy short story. Miss Crawford declined to act in the film, which ultimately starred Miss Davis as a demented recluse and Olivia de Havilland as her scheming cousin who comes from Europe offering to help her. The film won seven Academy award nominations.

Ann Calvello, 76, the original "Roller Derby Queen" known for intimidating rivals and even teammates while skating well into her 60s, died of liver cancer March 14 at a hospital near her home in San Bruno, Calif.

Miss Calvello is best known as the star skater for the San Francisco Bay Bombers. Roller derby, which reached its popular heights in the 1970s, featured choreographed moves, hair-pulling brawls and flashy outfits.

She joined her first roller derby team in 1948, when she was 18. She quickly gained a reputation as a bad girl. Calvello skated in charity events into her 60s. She was the subject of a 2001 film, Demon of The Derby.

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