Meinhardt Raabe, Munchkin coroner
Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz” and proclaimed in the movie that the Wicked Witch of the East was “really most sincerely dead,” has died. He was 94.
His caregiver, Cindy Bosnyak, said Raabe died Friday morning at a hospital in Orange Park, Fla. He was one of the few surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film.
Bosnyak said Raabe complained of a sore throat at his retirement community before collapsing and going into cardiac arrest. He was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, where he later died, she said.
“He had a headful of hair at 94 and he … remembered everything every day,” she said. “To me he was a walking history book, very alert.”
Raabe was one of the 124 Munchkins in the film classic and one of only nine who had speaking parts. He was 22 years old and a show business veteran, earning money for college as a “midget” performer, as they were called then, when the movie was shot in 1938.
In a 1988 Associated Press interview, he said he had no idea the movie would become a classic, because at the time of its release, it was overshadowed by “Gone With the Wind.”
“There is nothing in the picture that dates it,” he said. “There are no old vintage cars or old vintage streetcars. … It’s a fantasy picture that will be fantasy for generations to come.”
Dixie Carter, ‘Designing Women’ actress
LOS ANGELES – “Designing Women” actress Dixie Carter, who used her charm and stately beauty in a host of roles on Broadway and television, died Saturday. She was 70.
Publicist Steve Rohr, who represents Carter and her husband, actor Hal Holbrook, said Carter died Saturday morning. He would not disclose where she died or the cause of death.
“This has been a terrible blow to our family,” Holbrook said in a written statement. “We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy.”
A native of Tennessee, Carter was most famous for playing quick-witted Southerner Julia Sugarbaker for seven years on “Designing Women,” the CBS sitcom that ran from 1986 to 1993.
She was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for her seven-episode guest stint on the ABC hit “Desperate Housewives.”
Carter’s other credits include roles on the series “Family Law” and “Different Strokes.”
Timothy White, kidnapping victim
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Timothy White, the youngest victim and last survivor of a notorious California kidnapping saga whose rescue offered hope to parents of missing children, has died. He was 35.
Timothy “Timmy” White was 5 years old when he was kidnapped by child molester Kenneth Parnell as he walked home from his Ukiah school in 1980. Two weeks later, fellow kidnap victim Steven Stayner fled with the boy and hitchhiked to safety.
The 14-year-old Stayner had been held captive and sexually abused for years by Parnell.
“He didn’t want what happened to him to happen to me,” White said in 2004.
White’s stepfather, Roger Gitlin, said in an e-mail to family friends that White died April 1 of an apparent pulmonary embolism. He was buried Thursday in the town of Newhall in Los Angeles County, where he had worked as a sheriff’s deputy since 2005.
Parnell died at age 76 in 2008 while serving a life term for trying to buy a 4-year-old boy for $500 while living in Berkeley. He spent five years in prison during the 1980s for the abductions of Stayner and White.
Stayner, who returned to his family in Merced after living with Parnell for more than seven years, died in a 1989 motorcycle crash.
Eddie Carroll, voice of Jiminy Cricket
LOS ANGELES – Eddie Carroll, an actor who for decades gave voice to Jiminy Cricket in Disney projects and impersonated Jack Benny in a noted one-man stage show, has died. He was 76.
Carroll died Tuesday from a brain tumor at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in Los Angeles, said his wife, Carolyn.
“He was so proud to do both roles,” his wife said. “He just admired the whole fantasy of Jiminy Cricket, and he loved the man … who was Jack Benny.”
In 1973, Carroll became the second actor to voice the cricket, who was the title character’s conscience in the 1940 animated film “Pinocchio.”
Before auditioning, Carroll studied Jiminy’s signature song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” sung by Cliff Edwards. The Canadian-born Carroll realized that he needed to adopt a Midwestern accent.
His agent did “back flips” when Carroll got the part, he told the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News in 2008. “He knew the role was a cottage industry,” Carroll said. “ … There’s something practically every month – a singalong film, computer game, recording as spokesman for Disney on Ice, a show at Disneyland or Disney World.”
No one else has voiced a Disney character for as long as Carroll did, said Rick Dempsey, senior vice president of Disney’s Character Voices division.
“He totally was Jiminy Cricket,” Dempsey said. “He really took what the character was into his own heart and in a sense lived that in his own life. He also was one of the best Jack Benny impersonators on the planet.”
Morris Jeppson, Enola Gay crewman
LAS VEGAS – Morris Jeppson, a weapons test officer aboard the Enola Gay who helped arm the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, has died in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 87.
Molly Jeppson, the wife of the Air Force second lieutenant who flew only one combat mission, told the Associated Press on Thursday that her husband died March 30 at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center.
Jeppson’s wife said her husband was taken to the hospital several days earlier after complaining of a violent headache.
Molly Jeppson described her husband as a “great, wonderful” man who spoke with her and their children about his role aboard the Enola Gay.
“He told me that he was just doing the job and that’s what they all were doing,” Molly Jeppson said. “They all felt that way that were on the plane.”
A coin toss put Jeppson on the infamous B-29 bomber that dropped the first of two atomic bombs which helped bring an end to World War II.
Jeppson mostly avoided the inevitable spotlight that came with his role in the war, but stepped forward later in his life to ensure his place in history and share his views about the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing that would change the world.
“It’s not a proud thing. It was a devastating thing,” Jeppson said in a 2003 interview. “It’s unfortunate, but it probably saved hundreds of thousands of American lives and many more Japanese lives.”