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Obituaries in the News

July 12, 2005

Vidal Cerrato

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Vidal Cerrato, a former vice president of Honduras and a representative of the Central American Parliament, died Sunday. He was 63.

Cerrato died of a heart attack following a hernia operation, according to a statement Monday by the main opposition Liberal Party to which he belonged.

A rancher and businessman in Honduras’ wealthy southeastern Olancho province, Cerrato served as vice president from 1998-2001 under President Carlos Flores.

At the time of his death, Cerrato was Olancho director of the Liberal Party’s campaign for November’s presidential elections, a position he also held in the 1981 and 1985 elections.

Since 2001, he had been Honduran representative to the Central American Parliament, a Guatemala City-based, 132-member body representing five of the seven Central American nations.

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Kevin Hagen

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) _ Veteran television character actor Kevin Hagen, who left behind a string of Western bad guy roles to become the kindly Dr. Hiram Baker in ``Little House on the Prairie,″ died Saturday. He was 77.

Hagen died at his home a year after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, his wife, Jan Hagen, said Monday.

Hagen’s first movie role was in the 1958 Disney film ``The Light in the Forest,″ but he credited his role in the 1965 film ``Shenandoah″ with starting him on a long trail of TV Western heavies.

Hagen had guest-starring roles on ``Gunsmoke,″ ``Rawhide,″ and ``Cheyenne,″ and won his first regular role in the 1958 series, ``Yancy Derringer,″ in which he played a city administrator of post-Civil War New Orleans.

He was best known for his portrayal of Doc Baker in ``Little House on the Prairie,″ which ran from 1974 to 1983.

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Frances Langford

MIAMI (AP) _ Frances Langford, whose steamy rendition of ``I’m in the Mood for Love″ captivated soldiers when she was part of Bob Hope’s USO tours during World War II, died Monday. She was 92.

Langford had been ill with congestive heart failure and died at her home in Jensen Beach, said her lawyer, Evans Crary Jr.

Langford, a recording artist, radio star and actress from the 1930s to the 1950s, joined Hope’s troupe to boost wartime morale at military bases and hospitals in Great Britain, Italy, North Africa and the South Pacific. She also entertained new generations of soldiers in Korea and Vietnam and became known as the ``Sweetheart of the Fighting Fronts.″

Her trademark was ``I’m in the Mood for Love,″ written for her for the 1935 movie ``Every Night at Eight.″

Langford appeared in 30 Hollywood movies, including ``Broadway Melody,″ ``Yankee Doodle Dandy″ and ``The Hit Parade.″

Langford was discovered by bandleader Rudy Vallee when he was in Florida for a performance, and he invited her to be a guest on his radio program.

Her first marriage was to actor Jon Hall, who appeared in films such as ``The Hurricane″ and ``Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.″

After World War II, she was singing in nightclubs when she met outboard motor heir Ralph Evinrude. They married in 1955.

In 1994, she married Harold Stuart, assistant secretary of the Air Force under Harry Truman.

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Eddie Smith

CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) _ Edward ``Eddie″ Smith, who fought to get Hollywood jobs for African-American stuntmen and co-founded the Black Stuntmen’s Association, has died. He was 81.

Smith died June 24 in a nursing home where he was suffering from dementia and dehydration, his wife Denise Shaw Smith said Monday.

Smith worked as a stuntman or stunt coordinator on such motion pictures and TV shows as ``Dirty Harry,″ ``Blazing Saddles,″ ``Scarface,″ and the miniseries ``Roots.″

Smith started working in Hollywood in 1955 as a movie extra and the idea for a black stunt group was hatched in 1963 while he was working as an extra on ``It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.″ Smith saw a white stuntman being made up to be the double for black actor Eddie ``Rochester″ Anderson and considered it an insult.

Smith and Henry Kingi were later among a group of blacks _ fellow re-enactors of the all-black Buffalo Soldiers cavalry _ who broke the color barrier in the Hollywood stunt industry by establishing the Black Stuntmen’s Association in 1967. The group was eventually phased out as more blacks entered the field.

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