Other Notable Deaths


December 23, 2006


21 Club proprietor

Jerry Berns, a proprietor of the 21 Club for a half-century and the last link to the restaurant's past as Manhattan's most celebrated speakeasy, died Thursday in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

For the better part of the 20th century, Mr. Berns and his two partners were the faces of 21. He received the most powerful people in the nation as they arrived at the restaurant, housed in a brownstone at 21 W. 52nd St.

The club, which opened on New Year's Eve of 1929, served as a glamorous speakeasy in the Prohibition era. Despite numerous police raids, its owners were never caught operating an illegal bar, thanks to an ingenious system of levers used to tip the shelves of the bar down a chute.

Every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter dined at the club. Authors John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway had their favorite tables there, as did Frank Sinatra. Mr. Berns sold the club in 1985 -- for $21 million.


TV sitcom actor

Mike Evans, best known as Lionel Jefferson in the TV situation comedies All in the Family and The Jeffersons, died of throat cancer Dec. 14 at his mother's home in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Mr. Evans, along with Eric Monte, also created and wrote for Good Times, one of the first TV sitcoms that featured a primarily black cast. He studied acting at Los Angeles City College before getting the role of Lionel Jefferson in 1970s situation comedy All in the Family. He kept the role of Lionel when The Jeffersons launched in 1975.

He also acted in the 1976 TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and made guest appearances on the TV series Love, American Style and The Streets of San Francisco.

His last role was in a 2000 episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. In recent years he had invested in real estate in Southern California.

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