August 19, 2007 in Nation/World

In Passing

The Spokesman-Review
 

Los Angeles

S. M. Handelman, comedian

Stanley Myron Handelman, the Brooklyn-born comedian known for his cerebral humor, soft-spoken delivery and trademark flat cap and oversize glasses, has died.

Handelman, 77, died of a heart attack Aug. 5.

In a comedy career that began in the 1950s, Handelman appeared in clubs such as the Bitter End and the hungry i and had his heyday on television in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when he made frequent guest appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Flip Wilson Show.”

In the late ‘60s, Handelman was a frequent opening act for Frank Sinatra. He headlined at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1970 and a year later released the comedy album “Spiro T. Agnew Is a Riot.” Handelman also formed a close friendship with comedian Rodney Dangerfield, for whom he often wrote material.

Santa Rosa, Calif.

R. Todd Williams, winemaker

R. Todd Williams, co-founder of Toad Hollow Vineyards and the older brother of comedian Robin Williams, used his own outgoing personality to help build his boutique winery into one of Sonoma County, Calif.’s best-known wineries. He has died. He was 69.

Williams died Tuesday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital of complications from heart surgery performed in July, said his wife, Frankie.

A onetime bartender – and sometimes owner – at 17 different bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Oklahoma, Chicago, Jamaica and Northern California, Williams had a background in wine sales, distribution and marketing before founding Toad Hollow Vineyards in Healdsburg with his late partner Rodney Strong in 1993.

The winery, which is best known for its unoaked chardonnay and its distinctive labels featuring whimsical toads, saw its sales rise from 3,000 cases in 1994 to more than 100,000 last year. It has won dozens of medals for its varietals, including a silver medal for its chardonnay in the New World Wine Competition last year.

Williams, who for many years made cross-country marketing treks promoting his winery, was known as “Dr. Toad.” He had picked up the “Toad” moniker as a boy and later added the “Dr.”

When he was tapped to play a bit part as a bartender in his brother’s 1993 comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Williams was listed in the credits not by his own name but as Dr. Toad.

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