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Obituaries in the News

May 10, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Heinz Berendes, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who did groundbreaking work on the safety of contraception, died Thursday of prostate cancer. He was 74.

A pediatrician and epidemiologist, Berendes joined NIH in 1961. Early in his career, he directed the Collaborative Perinatal Project, the largest effort of its kind in the country.

He also conducted studies on perinatal health in the Middle East, the Far East and in the District of Columbia.

From 1972 to 1979, Berendes ran the NIH’s contraceptive evaluation branch, studying the safety of various means of contraception. More recently, he worked on projects aimed at improving the care of women and newborns in developing nations.

Dirk Bogarde

LONDON (AP) _ Sir Dirk Bogarde, the British actor who starred in more than 70 films and captured the hearts of many women in the 1950s, died of a heart attack Saturday. He was 78.

The British film star, who achieved his greatest fame in ``Death in Venice,″ suffered a stroke in 1996 and had been under 24-hour nursing care since last May.

He returned to England from military service in World War II and joined a small theater group. Soon, he landed roles in the lighthearted ``Doctor in the House″ series, and by the 1950s had become a matinee idol.

Screaming audiences mobbed him at public appearances. The attention soon led to bigger roles in movies such as ``A Tale of Two Cities,″ in which he played Sidney Carton, and other films such as ``Darling″ and ``The Servant.″

During the 1960s, Bogarde sought a quieter life and retreated to a 15th century farmhouse in France. He began a second career, producing several novels and a series of autobiographical works, including ``For The Time Being.″

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1986, he reluctantly returned to England, where he became an enthusiastic supporter of voluntary euthanasia.

The actor was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992.

Robret T. Forsyth

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Robert T. Forsyth, a veteran reporter, editor and political consultant who took a lead role in negotiating journalists’ union contracts, died Saturday of causes related to cancer. He was 58.

The popular Forsyth, an aggressive, unabashed liberal who began his newspaper career in the 1960s at the Spokane Daily Chronicle, had battled cancer of the lymph glands for 12 years.

Following a stint with The Associated Press in San Francisco in 1970, Forsyth worked for six years as a reporter and editor at the now-defunct Sacramento Union. He covered major stories of the day, including the attempted assassination of President Ford and the Patricia Hearst kidnapping.

He became active in the Newspaper Guild and helped negotiate labor agreements at both the Union and The Sacramento Bee for journalists and advertising sales people. In 1976, he took a leave of absence from the Union and traveled the country as an international representative of the guild.

Forsyth joined the Bee in 1978 and worked as a reporter, assistant city editor and city editor. He left the Bee in 1985 to work as a press secretary for Sen. David Roberti, the president pro tem of the state Senate.

In 1992, Forsyth went to work as press spokesman for former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan. After a year, he returned to Sacramento where he became a consultant to trade associations representing trial and workers’ compensation attorneys.

Survivors include a daughter, two sons, a stepson and two grandchildren.

James J. Humes

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ James J. Humes, the lead pathologist at President Kennedy’s autopsy and a target of conspiracy theorists, died Thursday of lung cancer. He was 74.

Humes was chief pathologist at Bethesda Naval Hospital when Kennedy’s body was flown there for an autopsy. The pathology team concluded Kennedy was killed by two bullets fired from behind _ a finding disputed to this day.

Humes stood by his work in his most famous case. Aside from testimony before government panels, he rarely spoke of the autopsy and gave only one interview published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1992.

He called the conspiracy theories ``general idiocy″ and ``a tragedy.″

Dana Plato

MOORE, Okla. (AP) _ Dana Plato, who like her fellow ``Diff’rent Strokes″ child co-stars had seen legal troubles since the show was canceled, died Saturday of apparant drug overdose. She was 34.

Ms. Plato apparently took the painkiller Loritab along with Valium. Police said the death appeared accidental.

Ms. Plato played Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1984.

She was arrested in 1991 for robbing a Las Vegas video store, and was placed on five years’ probation. In 1992 she was given an additional five years’ probation for forging prescriptions for Valium.

Ms. Plato’s recent career had included mainly low-budget films such as 1992′s ``Bikini Beach Race″ and the 1997 film ``Different Strokes: A Story of Jack and Jill ... and Jill,″ a direct-to-video softcore tale about a sexual threesome.

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