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In Passing

Los Angeles

R. Scott Hitt, AIDS expert

R. Scott Hitt, a specialist on AIDS and the HIV virus who was the first openly gay person to head a presidential advisory council, died of metastatic colon cancer Thursday in West Hollywood. He was 49.

Hitt was a Democratic activist and highly regarded Los Angeles physician when named chairman of President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 1996.

The council moved swiftly under his leadership, outlining eight actions within the first six weeks that the White House should take immediately to address the AIDS crisis.

Clinton promptly adopted all eight ideas, assembling in record time a White House conference on the disease.

“He took the fight against AIDS to a whole new level,” said David Mixner, a veteran activist and political strategist who was a co-founder with Hitt of Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, a Los Angeles-based political organization.

“As the epidemic changed,” Mixner said, “he was one of the leaders who insisted on changing the face of the fight against AIDS to include people of color. That was one of his greatest contributions.”

Hitt headed the advisory council while maintaining a private practice at Pacific Oaks Medical Group in Beverly Hills, one of the country’s largest HIV/AIDS medical providers.

New York

Thomas W. Dawes, pop musician

Thomas W. Dawes, a rock musician whose band opened for the Beatles on their final tour but who made a broader mark on pop culture writing music for such well-known commercial advertising jingles as “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” for Alka-Seltzer and “Our L’Eggs Fit Your Legs” for the hosiery maker, has died. He was 64.

Dawes died Oct. 13 at a New York hospital of a stroke after carotid artery surgery.

In 1966, his band with an upbeat folk-rock sound had a No. 2 hit with the Paul Simon song “Red Rubber Ball,” and a name – the Cyrkle – that supposedly was suggested by Beatle John Lennon.

That same year, the group had its only other Top 20 hit, “Turn Down Day,” which featured a sitar-playing Dawes.

The four band members were performing as the Rhondells in Atlantic City, N.J., when they were discovered by an associate of Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Soon, they were presenting their tight-knit harmonies on arena-size stages at the height of Beatlemania in summer 1966.

The three-week tour “was sort of a life adventure,” Dawes told the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call in 1995.

The Cyrkle released two albums between 1966 and 1968 but never had another hit single.

After the Cyrkle recorded a jingle for 7-Up’s “Uncola” campaign, Dawes turned to writing catchy tunes for advertising. The work gave Dawes something he craved musically – creative control.

Among the dozens of musical ditties Dawes wrote are “We’re American Airlines, Doing What We Do Best” and “Nothin’ Beats a Great Pair of L’Eggs.” Advertising Age placed the “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” ad that featured his melody among the top 15 advertising campaigns in history; the Alka-Seltzer ad ran from 1975 to 1980.


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