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In passing

Tom Rogers, creater of Charlie the Tuna, 87


Tom Rogers, a retired advertising copywriter whose beret- and sunglasses-wearing hipster tuna became an icon of pop culture, died June 24 in Charlottesville, Va., where he lived with his son’s family. He drowned while swimming alone in the family’s backyard pool. He was 87.

Charlie the Tuna was the likably obtuse deep-sea striver who never lived up to the taste standards of Starkist Tuna. (“Sorry, Charlie. Starkist wants tuna that tastes good, not tuna with good taste.”) The character was based on an acquaintance of Rogers’ who was a habitue of the beat scene in 1950s New York City, said his son, Lance Rogers.

Rogers had a hand in creating other memorable ad mascots of the 1960s and ‘70s, the cookie-baking Keebler elves and the finicky feline in the 9 Lives cat food ads, Morris the Cat. He didn’t originate the characters, his son said, but he infused them with distinctive personalities.

In addition to his son, survivors include two daughters, Valerie Rogers Ewing and Sara Rogers DeVito, and seven grandchildren.

June Haver, actress, 79

Los Angeles

June Haver, the sunny blond star of 1940s musicals who was promoted as the next Betty Grable, has died. She was 79.

Haver, who was married for years to actor Fred MacMurray, died of respiratory failure Monday at her home, her family said.

A role in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Home in Indiana” in 1944 brought her to the attention of studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, who envisioned the wholesome, vivacious actress following in Grable’s footsteps as Hollywood’s next blonde pinup girl.

Dubbed the “pocket Grable,” she costarred with Grable herself in “The Dolly Sisters” before going on to appear in a series of other frothy musicals that appealed to wartime audiences.

Haver is survived by daughters Kate and Laurie MacMurray; stepson Robert MacMurray; stepdaughter Susan Pool; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Claude Simon, author, 91


Nobel laureate Claude Simon, a pioneer of the experimental “new novel” style of the late 1950s and early 1960s, has died. He was 91.

Simon died Wednesday and was buried Saturday in Paris, according to France’s Culture Ministry.

The Swedish Academy that awarded Simon the 1985 Nobel Prize in literature cited the novel “Les Georgiques” (“The Georgics”) as perhaps his most important work. The 1981 novel depicts Simon’s experience with the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.

Eddie Smith, stuntman, 81

Los Angeles

Edward “Eddie” Smith, who co-founded the Black Stuntmen’s Association in 1967 and fought to generate jobs for black stuntmen in Hollywood, has died. He was 81.

Smith, who had a variety of illnesses, died June 24 in a nursing home in Culver City, said his wife, Denise Shaw Smith.

Over the years, Smith worked as a stuntman or stunt coordinator on numerous television shows and films, including “MASH,” “Dirty Harry,” “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Earthquake,” “Scarface,” “The Nutty Professor” and the TV mini-series “Roots.”

He also took pride in being the only black stunt coordinator on the 1973 James Bond movie “Live and Let Die.”

But it was in his little-recognized role in launching the Black Stuntmen’s Association and helping break through the color barrier in the stunt business that Smith had the most impact.

In addition to his wife, Smith is survived by numerous sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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