Other Notable Deaths

Other Notable Deaths

January 05, 2007

Owner of Sardi's restaurant in New York dies in Vt. at 91

Vincent Sardi Jr., 91, owner of Sardi's restaurant, the legendary Broadway watering hole where for decades the New York theater celebrated its opening nights, died yesterday in Berlin, Vt., of complications related to a urinary tract infection.

"This is a loss to the restaurant and the Broadway community," said Max Klimavicius, managing partner of Sardi's who knew Mr. Sardi for more than three decades. "He was a true gentlemen, a one of a kind."

Sardi's, in the heart of midtown Manhattan's theater district, was a magnet for celebrities, particularly in the years before and after World War II. Many, especially when they were appearing on Broadway, had their caricatures on its walls.

Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization, Broadway's biggest landlord, said Sardi's was once a place where deals and careers were cemented.

"His restaurant was the focal point for meetings in the business," Mr. Schoenfeld said. "They all ate and hung out there. It was the theatrical hangout."

Mr. Schoenfeld said Mr. Sardi was a larger-than-life figure, a beloved man from a bygone era who worked the room and everybody in it like a consummate host.

Mr. Sardi's father started the restaurant in 1921, and the son took over about 1945 after serving in the Marines.

Mr. Sardi sold the restaurant in 1985, but took control again about five years later. He retired in 1997, and a grandson, Sean Ricketts, now manages the landmark restaurant.

KATHRYN GEMME, 112 Oldest in Massachusetts

Mrs. Gemme, at age 112 the oldest person in Massachusetts and a devoted Boston Red Sox fan whose attendance at games in Fenway Park dated to its opening season in 1912, died Dec. 29 at a nursing home in Middleborough.

At 109, Mrs. Gemme had been a Red Sox fan longer than anyone in Fenway when former player Johnny Pesky stopped by to chat in May 2004.

"Kate asked Pesky how old he was," said state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, who had arranged her trip to the game and was close by. Pesky was 84 at the time.

"She said, `Ah, Johnny, you're just a kid.'"

Mrs. Gemme had of late become the eighth-eldest in the United States and the 20th-oldest in the world. On her birthday in November, she listened to the longevity statistics tabulated by Gerontology Research Group, which keeps track of supercentenarians worldwide, then exclaimed, "Imagine that!"

Mrs. Gemme had cheered on Babe Ruth when he played for the Red Sox, and as the team's oldest fan found that age had its perks. While many people traveled far to see the 2004 World Series trophy in person, team representatives brought it to Mrs. Gemme for her 111th birthday, on Nov. 9, 2005.

"She had her picture taken with the trophy," said her daughter, Lucille Findley of Jacksonville, Ill. "That was a treasure. That was a big day of her life."

Long before any of today's players were alive, she used to sit next to a crystal radio set summer after summer and listen to the games, filling page after page with notes about each at-bat.

"She always had a yellow legal pad in her lap and she would write every play - runs, hits, errors, she kept everything," her daughter said. "She knew all the team members, she knew their batting averages. She'd yell at them, `Do it, do it! You can do it!'"

When her husband, Ovella, returned home from work, "We'd sit down at the table, and she would read it to him," her daughter said.

Born in Chicopee, Mass., the former Kathryn R. Moreau attended secretarial school and married Mr. Gemme. They moved to Stoughton, Mass., during the Depression, when one of his friends opened a factory.

During World War II, Mrs. Gemme worked in a factory, too, helping to prepare parachutes to slow the descent of bombs.

She outlived her husband, who died in the 1960s, and one of their two daughters.

Paul Findley, her son-in-law, attributed her longevity to "a simple, quiet life" - and neither smoking nor drinking.

FRANK CAMPANELLA, 87 Actor in television, movies

Mr. Campanella, a hulking character actor who played tough guys in 100-plus films and television shows, died Saturday at his home in California's San Fernando Valley.

One of the 6-foot-5-inch actor's most distinctive roles was his first - Mook the Moon Man on the TV series Captain Video and His Video Rangers in 1949. "Guardian of the Safety of the World," private citizen-scientist Captain Video, was assisted by his teenage helper, The Ranger, in fighting off the evil Dr. Pauli of the Astroidal Society and other bad guys, including Nargola, Mook, Kul and Clysmok.

Mr. Campanella's movie credits included Dick Tracy, Pretty Woman, Beaches, Overboard and The Flamingo Kid.

On television, he appeared on such shows as The Fall Guy, Hardcastle and McCormick, St. Elsewhere, The Love Boat, Barnaby Jones, Maude, The Rockford Files, All in the Family, Kojak, Route 66 and Quincy M.E.

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