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In Passing

Sun., July 5, 2009

Herbert Klein, Nixon aide

La Jolla, Calif. – Herbert Klein, a San Diego newspaperman who was a longtime aide to Richard M. Nixon and was White House communications director during much of the Watergate era, died Thursday at his home in La Jolla, Calif., after a heart attack. He was 91.

Klein, who later was the top editor at the San Diego-based Copley newspaper chain, began working for Nixon in 1948, when the future president was running for Congress in California. He was Nixon’s press aide during the 1952 presidential campaign when Nixon was the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket. In 1960, Klein helped arrange the televised debates between Nixon and John F. Kennedy during the presidential campaign.

Klein, whose career alternated between newspaper work and politics, came to Washington after Nixon was elected president in 1968. “Truth will become the hallmark of the Nixon administration,” Klein announced.

He was the first director of communications at the White House, a job he created and held until 1973.

Harve Presnell, actor, singer

Santa Monica, Calif. – Harve Presnell, whose booming baritone graced such Broadway musicals as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Annie,” has died at age 75.

The actor died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Although he was best known for his roles in musical theater, Presnell also is remembered as William H. Macy’s father-in-law in the Coen brothers’ 1996 film “Fargo.” Among his other movies were “When the Boys Meet the Girls,” “The Glory Guys,” and “Paint Your Wagon,” as well as the TV series “The Pretender.”

Yet it was in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” that the rugged, 6-foot-4 Presnell was first noticed by Broadway audiences. In the Meredith Willson musical, he played lucky mining prospector “Leadville” Johnny Brown opposite Tammy Grimes’ feisty Molly. Presnell repeated his role in the 1964 film version, which starred Debbie Reynolds as the buoyant title character.

Fred Travalena, impressionist

Los Angeles – Fred Travalena, the master impressionist and singer whose broad repertoire of voices ranged from Jack Nicholson to Sammy Davis Jr. to Bugs Bunny, has died. He was 66.

Travalena, who began being treated for an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002 and saw the disease return last July after going into remission in 2003, died June 28 at his home in Los Angeles.

Dubbed “The Man of a Thousand Faces” and “Mr. Everybody,” Travalena emerged on the national stage as an impressionist in the early 1970s.

Over the next three decades, he was a headliner in Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City, performed in concerts around the country, appeared on “The Tonight Show” and other talk shows and starred in his own specials, such as “The Many Faces of Fred Travalena” and “Comedy in the Oval Office.”

The boyish-faced entertainer was said to have had a repertoire of more than 360 celebrity, political and cartoon-character voices.


 

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