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In Passing: Alton Kelley, 68, rock ‘n’ roll artist

Sun., June 8, 2008

Alton Kelley, 68, a graphic artist whose mind-blowing posters and album covers for the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company and legendary San Francisco concert halls ushered in the psychedelic rock-and-roll era, died June 1 of complications of osteoporosis at his home in Petaluma, Calif.

Kelley, with his life-long collaborator, Stanley “Mouse” Miller, created some of the most distinctive and memorable images in rock music, including the famous skull-and-roses emblem for the Grateful Dead.

Kelley and Miller scored their first big hit with a 1966 poster advertising a concert of Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. The art was based on the logo of the Zig-Zag cigarette rolling-paper company.

“When Stanley and I did that poster, we got really paranoid,” Kelley said. “We figured, ‘Oh no. Now they know we smoke dope!’ And we took what little pot we had and flushed it down the toilet. But we wanted to create something that was visual and would make people stop in the streets and read and figure it out. It worked like a charm.”

Robert Anderson, 75, film actor

Robert J. Anderson, a former child actor best known for playing the young George Bailey in the 1946 Christmas film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has died. He was 75.

Anderson died Friday of melanoma at his Palm Springs, Calif., home, said Stephen Cox, a family friend.

Anderson was 12 when director Frank Capra cast him as Jimmy Stewart’s youthful counterpart in the heartwarming tale set in Bedford Falls.

The film, which initially flopped, became a favorite in recent decades after it started airing repeatedly on TV when the copyright lapsed in the 1970s.


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