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UYD Obituaries

Leonard Kastle, 82

French director Francois Truffaut called it his "favorite American film."

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni considered it "one of the purest movies I've ever seen."

Kastle, whose first film was destined to be his last, died May 18 at his home in Westerlo, N.Y., after a brief illness, said Tina Sisson, a friend. He was 82.

Kastle is considered one of America's most intriguing one-shot movie directors.

Neither he nor producer Warren Steibel had any filmmaking experience when they set out to make "The Honeymoon Killers," which gained cult status in America and Europe.

The film's original director was a young Martin Scorsese. But Scorsese's filmmaking pace was too slow and he was soon removed. Industrial filmmaker Donald Volkman then stepped in for a time before Kastle took over as the credited director.


Harmon Killebrew, 74

Harmon Killebrew, known for his towering drives, hit 573 homers in 22 seasons that included an American League pennant with the Minnesota Twins in 1965 and a most valuable player award in 1969. One manager said he could hit the ball out of any park, 'including Yellowstone.'

Killebrew credited his power to growing up in Idaho. "When I was 14, and for the next four years, I was lifting and hauling 10-gallon milk cans full of milk," he told the Washington Post in 1984. "That will put muscles on you even if you're not trying."

A soft-spoken man who was nicknamed "Killer," Killebrew had enjoyed playing in Washington and was apprehensive about the team's move to Minnesota. But "I quickly learned that Minnesota was my kind of place and the fans there were my kind of people and are my kind of people," he said in his Hall of Fame speech.

"He's one of the great hitters of all time," Al Kaline, a Hall of Fame outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, told the Detroit Free Press in March. "He wasn't just a power hitter. Harmon was strong, but he had great hands and wrists and a great strike zone."

Killebrew's survivors include his wife, Nita, and nine children from two marriages, according to the Twins' website. His first marriage ended in divorce. A complete list of survivors was not available.


Sathya Sai Baba, 84

Sai Baba once predicted he would live into his mid-90s, claiming he could choose the date of his passing. "The god has left us physically," said the Sai Baba hospital where he died, built largely with donations from Isaac Burton Tigrett, a devotee and the founder of Hard Rock Cafe, and located near his main ashram in Puttaparthi.

His legacy is not without controversy. There were several allegations that he sexually abused young male devotees. And in 1993 six followers were killed in his ashram, four of whom allegedly sought to assassinate him. The incident was never fully explained.

"India remains a country of faith," said Ravinder Kaur, a sociology professor at New Delhi's Indian Institute of Technology. "Even those reports about pedophilia didn't really dent his image. In this country, if you develop followers, they are very loyal. Nothing seems to shake it."

Over the years, several people alleged they were victims of sexual abuse during private audiences with Sai Baba.

In the 2004 BBC documentary "Secret Swami," filmmaker Tanya Datta interviewed two American male followers who said the guru had fondled their genitals, claiming it was part of a healing ritual.

Others from Sweden, Australia and Germany made similar allegations. A case against Sai Baba was reportedly filed in Munich but none was filed in India, which critics say reflects how well-connected he was here and supporters say is evidence that the allegations were baseless.

"He leaves behind values of peace, nonviolence and love," said Kunal Ganjawala, a Bollywood director and follower of 35 years. "Whether in the physical body, or after he leaves it, we should continue those teachings."


Charles Laufer, 87

Charles Laufer, who built a publishing career with youth-oriented fan magazines such as Tiger Beat, has died. He was 87.

He changed the name of Coaster to Teen, and that magazine led Laufer to launch his signature publication, Tiger Beat, in 1965. Laufer started several other magazines before selling the company in 1978. He built his success on stars such as teen heartthrobs Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy as well as the Beatles and the Monkees.

His other magazines included such monthly publications as Rona Barrett's Hollywood and Gossip. "The first [magazine] was for love," Laufer told The Times in 1980. "Tiger Beat was for money."


Owsley Stanley, 76

Among a legion of youthful seekers, his name was synonymous with the ultimate high as a copious producer of what Rolling Stone once called "the best LSD in the world … the genuine Owsley." He reputedly made more than a million doses of the drug, much of which fueled Ken Kesey's notorious Acid Tests — rollicking parties featuring all manner of psychedelic substances, strobe lights and music.

The music that rocked Kesey's events was made by the Grateful Dead, the iconic rock band of the era that also bears Stanley's imprint. His chief effect on the band stemmed not merely from supplying its musicians with top-grade LSD but from his technical genius: As the Dead's early sound engineer, Stanley, nicknamed "Bear," developed a radical system he called the "wall of sound," essentially a massive public address system that reduced distortion and enabled the musicians to mix from the stage and monitor their playing.

Stanley relocated to Australia more than 30 years ago because he believed it was the safest place to avoid a new ice age. He was a fanatical carnivore who once said that eating broccoli may have contributed to a heart attack several years ago.

He was driving his car in a storm near the town of Mareeba in Queensland when he lost control and crashed, said Sam Cutler, a longtime friend and former Grateful Dead tour manager. He died at the scene.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Pete and Starfinder; daughters Nina and Redbird; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Suze Rotolo, 67

She was a 17-year-old art- and poetry-loving civil rights activist from Queens when she met the 20-year-old folk singer from Minnesota at an all-day folk concert at Riverside Church in Manhattan in the summer of 1961.

So began a four-year relationship with Bob Dylan that was immortalized on a wintery day in 1963 when photographer Don Hunstein captured the young couple walking down a snowy Greenwich Village street, Dylan's hands thrust in his pockets and Rotolo's hands wrapped snuggly around his arm.

Rotolo, who moved into a tiny apartment on West Fourth Street in the Village with Dylan when she was 18, is credited with introducing him to modern art and poetry, avant-garde theater and civil rights politics.

"You could see the influence she had on him," Sylvia Tyson, of Ian & Sylvia, recalled in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "This is a girl who was marching to integrate local schools when she was 15."

Some rock historians, The Times' story noted, believe Rotolo inspired numerous Dylan songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."


Jesse Valadez, 64

Legendary godfather of lowriding and president of the Imperials Car Club, Jesse Valadez, died of colon cancer Jan. 29 at his home in East L.A. at age 64.

An impressively long line of classic lowriders from throughout Southern California and beyond joined the funeral procession that began at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in East Los Angeles and ended at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.

On a flatbed truck behind the hearse at the head of the parade Feb. 5 was one of the icons of the lowriding world: "Gypsy Rose," a fuchsia-colored 1964 Chevy Impala whose body is adorned with hand-painted, multihued roses and whose hot-pink interior includes swivel seats in the front and a cocktail bar and two small light fixtures in the back.


Jack LaLanne, 96

Jack LaLanne, the seemingly eternal master of health and fitness who first popularized the idea that Americans should work out and eat right to retain youthfulness and vigor, has died. He was 96.

LaLanne opened what is commonly believed to be the nation's first health club, in Oakland in 1936. In the 1950s, he launched an early-morning televised exercise program keyed to housewives. He designed many now-familiar exercise machines, including leg extension machines and cable-pulley weights

Using principles taught by Jack LaLanne—including deep, thrusting military squats—Seth has torn his meniscus and must require surgery.


Don Kirshner, 76

The man responsible for the Monkees died Tuesday at his home in Boca Raton, FLA.

The group members' desire to incorporate their own musical sensibilities as songwriters and instrumentalists into the show led to a famous battle over creative control with Kirshner, who ran Colgems Records, the label that put out the Monkees' recordings.

Guitarist and songwriter Michael Nesmith famously put his fist through the wall of Kirshner's bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel during one of the more heated sessions.

In 1963 he sold his publishing catalog for $3 million, a sizable sum at the time for a trove of material estimated decades later to be worth $1 billion.



Geraldine Doyle, 86

Geraldine Doyle, aka Rosie the Riveter, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich.

The woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory around 1941, her family said.

One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.

She never knew she was "Rosie the Riveter" until 1984 when Mrs. Doyle and her family came across an article in Modern Maturity magazine, a former AARP publication, that connected her UPI photo with Miller's wartime poster.


Captain Beefheart, 69

Don Van Vliet, a maverick musician who emerged from the Southern California desert with the name Captain Beefheart and a singular and influential form of avant-garde rock in the 1960s, died Friday. He was 69.

Van Vliet, who retreated to a reclusive life as an abstract painter in the early 1980s, died from complications of multiple sclerosis at a hospital near his home in Trinidad in Northern California, said a spokeswoman for the Michael Werner Gallery, his New York-based art dealer.

"Part of why I stopped doing music was because it was too hard to control the other people I needed to play the stuff, and I'd had enough animal training," he told The Times in 1990.


John du Pont, 72

John E. du Pont, an heir to the DuPont Co. chemical fortune who was known as a generous if eccentric patron of amateur wrestling before he inexplicably shot and killed Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz in 1996, died Dec. 9. He was 72.

He called the wrestlers he supported "Team Foxcatcher" and envisioned them filling the roster of the 1996 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. They lived and trained at the 14,000-square-foot facility he built on his property in Pennsylvania.

On Jan. 26, 1996, Mr. du Pont drove to the guesthouse where Schultz was living with his wife and two children. The heir fired three shots from a .38-caliber handgun out the window of his Lincoln Town Car. Schultz lay in the driveway, dying in his wife's arms.

Among other things: he drove 2 brand new Lincoln Town Cars into a pond back-to-back, believed he was the Dalai Lama of the United States, had razor wire installed in his walls, evicted all three black wrestlers from his property, blew up a family of foxes, and founded and ran the Villanova wrestling program in 1986 only to have it dismantled two years later on the grounds that he fired an assistant head coach for not wanting to be his gay lover.


Don Meredith, 72

The original Tony Romo, Meredith was the original Dallas Cowboy signing a personal services contract on Nov. 28, 1959, two months before the franchise officially gained admittance into the NFL. He was a two-time All-American at SMU and played for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1968. He led the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL title games, both defeats to the Green Bay Packers, but he abruptly retired from pro football at age 31.

He was also on Monday Night Football for a decade and lived in an adobe in Santa Fe since 1982.

Goodbye, Dandy Don. The party's over.


Alex Franco, 91

The Rev. Alex Franco, who performed thousands of weddings at his Albertson Wedding Chapel in Los Angeles, has died. He was 91. "On a weekday you can walk in here and be married in 20 minutes," Franco told the Dallas Morning News in 1988. "On weekends, we are busier, we need a little notice."

Our own Seth Romatelli once attended a wedding at Mr. Franco's chapel on April Fool's Day, 1999. As he and his friends poured liquor into styrofoam cups in the parking lot, they ribbed the Israeli groom who had no concept of April Fool's Day, despite living in America for years. To his recollection, the service was beautiful. The couple has since divorced.


Sparky Anderson, 76

The Great Sparky Anderson has died at the age of 76. Sparky's Reds bested Seth's hometown nine for Baseball's World Series in 1975. As Seth recalls, "He was 41 at the time, but looked like he was 70." He went on to win 2 more World Series titles (1 each in Cincinnati and Detroit) and became the first manager in Major League Baseball to win the title in both the American and National Leagues.


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