Other notable deaths

December 28, 2007

PAT KIRKWOOD, 86 Musical theater star

Pat Kirkwood, once a star of British musical theater, died Tuesday at Kitwood House nursing home in Ilkley, northern England. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and a chest infection, said author and royal biographer Michael Thornton, a family friend.

Ms. Kirkwood's career included leading roles in musicals written by Noel Coward, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein. But Ms. Kirkwood, who was married four times, was dogged much of her life by rumors of a romantic liaison with Prince Philip -- which she always denied -- after the two were seen dancing at a London nightclub.

Born Feb. 24, 1921, to a Scottish shipping clerk, she was first spotted at a talent contest on the Isle of Man and began her professional career as a 14-year-old singer in the British Broadcasting Corp. radio's The Children's Hour.

She made her London stage debut as Dandini in Cinderella at what is now the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1937, and rose to national prominence after her appearance in Black Velvet in 1939, where she wowed critics with her renditions of Mr. Porter's "My Heart Belongs To Daddy" and "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love."

Ms. Kirkwood made a bid for Hollywood stardom, appearing in Van Johnson's No Leave, No Love in 1946. But the musical was a flop, and Ms. Kirkwood suffered a nervous breakdown, spending eight months in a New York sanatorium.

She led a sparkling postwar career. Mr. Bernstein offered her the lead role in his 1955 London production of Wonderful Town. She continued to work on stage throughout the 1960s, appearing in Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife and Mr. Coward's Hay Fever. She made her farewell bow in 1973, at the age of 52, as Principal Boy in the title role of Aladdin at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.

JOE DOLAN, 68 Irish pop music star

Joe Dolan, one of Ireland's first pop music stars who entertained audiences for decades with Vegas-style showmanship, died Wednesday of a brain hemorrhage. He collapsed at his family home in suburban south Dublin on Christmas night and died after falling into a coma at a hospital, his family said.

Mr. Dolan was the most celebrated -- and fondly caricatured -- survivor of Ireland's bygone "show band" era of the 1960s and 1970s, when homegrown rock 'n' roll acts toured the country playing cover versions of international hits.

His biggest hit, "Make Me an Island" in 1969, reached No. 3 in Britain and No. 1 in 14 other countries. Other hits that climbed the European charts included "You're Such a Good-Looking Woman" in 1970, "Lady in Blue" in 1975 and "I Need You" in 1977.

His last Irish No. 1 came in 1997, when he re-recorded "Good-Looking Woman" with a popular fictional TV comedian, a puppet named Dustin the Turkey.

"He was a fantastic showman, had great stage presence, had a distinctive singing voice and never forgot his roots," said Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

Mr. Dolan, with a bushy brow and beaming smile, was known for the power and quality of a voice that fell somewhere between Tom Jones and Tony Bennett. Unlike other show band stars, he found success overseas with original material.

He had an irreverent sense of humor, most recently demonstrated when he underwent a hip replacement operation in 2005 -- and had his original hip bone sold for charity on eBay.

In recent years, Mr. Dolan kept touring and recording regularly, and was in the middle of a concert series in Dublin in November when he left the stage after just four songs, suffering from exhaustion. He canceled a planned Christmas tour.

G.P. SIPPY, 93 Indian filmmaker

G.P. Sippy, an Indian filmmaker and director whose 1975 blockbuster Sholay (Embers) remains the most famous Hindi-language movie and the biggest commercial success for Bollywood, died Tuesday in Mumbai. The cause was liver and other age-related ailments, family sources said.

Sholay, directed by Mr. Sippy's son Ramesh, revolutionized Hindi filmmaking and brought true professionalism to Indian script writing. Written by Mr. Sippy's favorite scriptwriting team, Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, Sholay was loosely styled on The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, and has been called India's first "curry western."

On its release, the film ran for a record 286 straight weeks at the Minerva Theater in Mumbai, then called Bombay. It also broke all previous earning records for commercial cinema in India. In 1999, BBC India declared it "the film of the millennium."

Mr. Sippy produced his first hit film, Marine Drive, in 1955. A series of successful romantic, social and musical films such as Shrimati 420, Mr. India, 12 O'Clock and Andaz followed, all produced and directed by Mr. Sippy.

He later asked his son to quit his studies at the London School of Economics and help him produce films. The father-and-son duo, working in tandem as producer and director, made some of the most memorable Hindi films, beginning with the enormously successful Seeta aur Geeta in 1972, followed by Sholay.

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