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Lew Ayres

December 31, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lew Ayres, whose film career covered six decades and weathered the furor of his objection to combat duty in World War II, died Monday after being in a coma for several days. He was 88.

During his long career, Ayres played opposite Greta Garbo, starred in the Oscar-winning ``All Quiet on the Western Front,″ and found success portraying Dr. Kildare in the MGM film series.

Shunned by the studios after he became a conscientious objector during the war, he managed to revive his career and get an Academy Award nomination for ``Johnny Belinda.″

A student of comparative religion, Ayres produced ``Altars of the World,″ a film on world faiths. The production won the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary of 1976.

He was married to actress Lola Lane from 1931 to 1933, and to Ginger Rogers from 1934 to 1941. In 1964, he married British flight attendant Diana Hall; they had one son, the actor’s only child.

Gene Brabender

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Gene Brabender, a former pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Pilots and Milwaukee Brewers, died Friday after collapsing on his farm west of Madison. He was 55.

Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1961, Brabender broke into the majors in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles and posted a 4-3 record and 3.55 ERA for the World Series champions that year.

He spent three seasons with the Orioles and then played for the Pilots in 1969, going 14-13 with a 4.36 ERA.

Brabender moved with the franchise to Milwaukee in 1970 and posted a 6-15 record with the Brewers that season.

After retiring from baseball, Brabender went into the mobile home and construction businesses.

Magda Denes

NEW YORK (AP) _ Magda Denes, a psychoanalyst who had just completed a book describing her struggle as a Jewish child in Budapest during World War II, was found dead Saturday at her home in Manhattan. She was 62.

Denes apparently suffered a heart attack or stroke, her family said.

Her second book, ``Castles Burning: A Child’s Life in War,″ is to be published in January by W.W. Norton. The book recounts her torment as one of the so-called hidden children, estimated to number from 10,000 to 100,000 who spent the war in stables and caves and secret rooms.

After the war, she and her mother, grandmother and aunt fled to France and then Cuba before settling in the United States.

In 1976, Denes published her first book, ``In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital.″

Denes was a faculty member and supervisor in the psychiatry department at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s School of Medicine.

Lyle C. Fitch

HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (AP) _ Lyle C. Fitch, an authority on urban problems who served as city administrator under New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner, died Saturday after a bout with lung cancer. He was 83.

Fitch addressed such matters as transportation, construction, hospitals and nursing homes in New York, first as deputy city administrator from 1957 to 1960 and then as city administrator. The duties of the city administrator were moved into the city’s Budget Bureau in 1974.

In 1961, Fitch left city government to become president of the Institute of Public Administration, an education research and consulting center.

Mel Greb

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Mel Greb, once one of the world’s top boxing matchmakers who organized the second Liston-Patterson heavyweight championship fight, died Monday after suffering a stroke. He was 73.

Greb, who worked for Top Rank Boxing for much of his matchmaker career, was credited with arranging some 60 world championship fights.

The favorite among the many fights he pieced together was the July 1963 rematch between Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson. That fight served not only as a springboard for Greb’s career, but it established Las Vegas as a boxing capital.

Johnny Heartsman

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Johnny Heartsman, an internationally known blues musician, died of a stroke Wednesday. He was 59.

His records were prized in Europe, Asia and Africa. His album ``Sacramento″ won him France’s blues musician of the year award in 1990.

Heartsman was one of the best studio and back-up musicians in the United States, playing with such legends as Jimmy McCracklin, Willa Mae ``Big Mama″ Thornton and ``Little Willie″ Littlefield.

But he became widely known as a guitar soloist and leader of his own bands, such as Nightfeast and Johnny Heartsman And His Band. His recordings included ``The Touch″ and ``Johnny Heartsman: Still Shinin’ Live in Germany.″

Julian Mateos

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Spanish film producer Julian Mateos, whose films won international acclaim, died of lung cancer Friday. He was 57.

Mateos’ film ``Los Santos Inocentes″ (The Holy Innocents) won the international prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985. His other films include ``El Viaje a Ninguna Parte″ (Trip to Nowhere, 1986) and ``El Nino de la Luna″ (The Moon’s Child, 1988).

Robert E. Rhodes

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ Robert E. Rhodes, a longtime newspaper editor and former president of the Associated Press Managing Editors association, died Monday of cancer. He was 69.

Rhodes began his reporting career at the Utica (N.Y.) Daily Press in 1949. He went to Newsday in 1955, working his way up to section editor and then Washington bureau chief in 1962.

He became managing editor of The Janesville (Wis.) Gazette in 1965, then was named editor of the Home News of New Brunswick (N.J.) in 1970, a job he kept until going to Corpus Christi as executive editor in 1978.

Rhodes first held APME office in 1971 and served as president of the organization from 1986 to 1987.

After leaving the Caller-Times, Rhodes was a Gannett Professor in Residence at the University of Kansas from 1988 to 1989, then Atwood Professor at the University of Alaska at Anchorage from 1989 to 1991.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, two daughters, and six grandchildren.

Philip M. Wagner

RIDERWOOD, Md. (AP) _ Philip M. Wagner, founder of Maryland’s most well-known winery and a former editorial page editor at The (Baltimore) Sun, died Sunday of emphysema and heart failure. He was 92.

Wagner founded Boordy Vineyards in 1945 after years of experimenting with grape varieties on a 4.7-acre suburban property outside Baltimore. He sold the winery in 1980.

Wagner’s 1933 book, ``American Wines and How to Make Them,″ was revised repeatedly and last printed in 1976 by Alfred A. Knopf under the title ``Grapes Into Wine: The Art of Winemaking in America.″

He was hired in 1930 as an editorial writer at The Evening Sun. In 1938, he succeeded H.L. Mencken as editor of the editorial page. In 1943, he was placed in charge of editorials for The Sun.

Wagner retired from The Sun in 1964, but continued to write a syndicated column about national affairs.

He described winemaking as ``the perfect foil for the nervous and intellectual strains of newspaper work. It is slow-paced, provides plenty of exercise in the open, and in both the vineyard and the winery, is deliciously free of ethical problems.″

Wagner is survived by his daughter Susan Wagner, a journalist who lives in Washington and Paris; a son, Philip Wagner; and a sister, Mary Elizabeth Gall.

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