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In passing

Dorris Bowdon, 90, in ‘Grapes of Wrath’

Los Angeles Dorris Bowdon, a movie actress best remembered for John Ford’s “The Grapes of Wrath” who left acting after she married that film’s screenwriter, has died. She was 90.

Bowdon’s death Tuesday at the Motion Picture and Television hospital in Los Angeles was caused by strokes, heart failure and old age, said her daughter-in-law, Fredda Johnson.

Soon after a talent scout spotted her at Louisiana State University, Bowdon took a train to Hollywood and became a contract player with 20th Century Fox. Trying to rise above bit parts, she camped out in the office of writer-producer Nunnally Johnson in 1938 until he agreed to see her.

He had no work to offer but she found him to be “the quickest-witted man” she had ever met, she told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1999.

Two years later, she married Johnson, who scripted 77 films and received Oscar nominations for “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) and “Holy Matrimony” (1943). The wedding was in the home of actress Helen Hayes.

After acting in two earlier Ford films, Bowdon was cast as Tom Joad’s pregnant sister Rose-of-Sharon in “The Grapes of Wrath,” which was based on John Steinbeck’s novel and starred Henry Fonda. “I was so proud of my husband’s script,” Bowdon told the Los Angeles Times in 2001. “I was doubly pleased when I heard John Steinbeck say to him, ‘That’s the best script I have ever read.’ “

Alexander Kossiakoff, 91, military innovator

Washington Alexander Kossiakoff, who helped develop the Navy’s first guided missiles and who directed Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, died of congestive heart failure Aug. 6 at Montgomery General Hospital. He lived in Brookeville, Md. He was 91.

Kossiakoff spent nearly 60 years as a scientist, director and academic innovator at the Applied Physics Laboratory, one of the country’s leading centers of research on military technology, space science and engineering.

His first project at the laboratory, undertaken early in 1946, was to manage the laboratory’s Bumblebee program to develop missiles for the Navy to guard against airborne attacks on ships. The project – so named because, aerodynamically, a bumblebee should not be able to fly – resulted in the development of the Terrier, Tartar and Talos radar-guided supersonic missiles.

Kossiakoff helped devise the technology for the solid rocket fuel that enabled the missiles to launch. In later years, he guided the laboratory’s research in radar, air defense systems, communications, submarines, space science and spacecraft.

“Dr. Kossiakoff was curious about the nature of the universe and the world around him, and he also cared a great deal about people,” said Sam Seymour, an Applied Physics Laboratory administrator who worked with Kossiakoff for more than 30 years.

David Lange, 63, New Zealand’s leader

Wellington, New Zealand Former New Zealand prime minister David Lange, architect of the nation’s anti-nuclear policy that strained relations with the United States, died Saturday. He was 63.

He died at a hospital in the northern city of Auckland of complications from kidney failure, his family said.

Lange, a Labour prime minister from 1984-89, defied the United States and other Western allies in 1985 by banning nuclear arms and nuclear-powered ships from New Zealand territory and waters. The ban is still in effect.

Lange also is credited with giving his nation of 4 million its most radical economic overhaul in an attempt to open its markets. Though he was forced from power in 1989 by his own lawmakers, the center-right National Party that took power the next year continued his economic program.

A Methodist lay preacher, Lange spurned the trappings of official life by not moving into the official premier’s residence. Instead, he rented a small apartment in Wellington while his first wife, Naomi, and their children remained in Auckland.

Known for his down-to-earth wit, Lange said to retiring U.S. Ambassador H. Monroe Browne, who owned a racehorse called Lacka Reason, “You are the only ambassador in the world to race a horse named after your country’s foreign policy.”

In a debate with nuclear weapons’ supporters at Oxford University, Lange’s quips included: “Lean forward, I can smell the uranium on your breath.”


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Zimbabwe leader calls assassination attempt ‘cowardly act’

UPDATED: 8:14 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s president was unscathed Saturday by an explosion at a campaign rally that state media called an attempt to assassinate him, later visiting his two injured vice presidents and declaring the “cowardly act” will not disrupt next month’s historic elections.