May 25, 2012
William C. Wampler Sr.
Virginia Republican

William C. Wampler Sr., a moderate Republican who represented southwestern Virginia in Congress in a career that spanned four decades, died May 23 at his home in Bristol, Va. He was 86.

The death was confirmed by his son, former state Sen. William C. Wampler Jr. The cause was not disclosed.

The elder Wampler’s tenure in Congress began in 1952, when he was elected from the 9th District in the mountainous western tip of Virginia. He was 26, and Republicans had been virtually shut out of Virginia politics by the Democratic Party machine that dominated the state for much of the 20th century.

He was defeated for reelection in 1954 and again when he tried to regain the seat in 1956.

He was again elected to the House in 1966 and remained there until he lost in 1982 to Democrat Ric Boucher. Boucher held the seat until 2010, when Republican H. Morgan Griffith defeated him.

Mr. Wampler remained in Washington for several years as a lobbyist after leaving Congress for the last time 30 years ago, his son said. He later returned to Bristol.

William Creed Wampler was born in Pennington Gap, Va., served in the Navy in World War II and was a 1948 graduate of Virginia Tech.

Before entering politics, he had worked at the family’s Bristol furniture store. He also worked in the early 1950s at newspapers in Bristol, Tenn., and Big Stone Gap, Va., writing sports stories and editorials, according to a biographical directory of Congress.

Edoardo Mangiarotti
Olympic fencer

Edoardo Mangiarotti, a fencing great and one of Italy’s most celebrated Olympians, died May 25 at his home in Milan. He was 93.

The death was reported by Italian media outlets. No cause was disclosed.

Mr. Mangiarotti won 13 Olympic medals between 1936 and 1960, including six golds. The medal total is a record for an Italian and the most of any fencer.

Mr. Mangiarotti also won 26 world championship medals, including 13 golds.

He was born in Renate in Lombardy and came from a family of fencers. His father was a 17-time national champion and represented Italy at the 1908 Olympics.

Al Gordon
writer for Jack Benny

Al Gordon, an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer who spent much of his more than 40-year career writing for radio and television comedian Jack Benny, died May 23 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 89.

His son confirmed the death but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Gordon teamed with Hal Goldman in the late 1940s, and they became an integral part of Benny’s stable of writers for “The Jack Benny Program” on the radio and, starting in 1950, television.

Over the next 24 years — through Benny’s TV show and his post-series TV specials until his death in 1974 — the comedian always referred to Mr. Gordon and Goldman as “the new writers.”

Mr. Gordon and Goldman shared Emmy Awards with fellow Benny writers in 1959 and 1960.

Mr. Gordon and Goldman, who also shared an Emmy with writer Sheldon Keller in 1966 for “An Evening with Carol Channing,” had different personalities.

Mr. Gordon, who grew up in the Bronx, was characterized in a Los Angeles Times story as the fast-talking, pushy one. He would pace back and forth, shouting out one-liners as the urbane Goldman, a mild-mannered Minnesota native, sat at the typewriter.

“Look, I was Jack’s unpolished diamond, the guy who could really deliver the one-liners,” Mr. Gordon said. “Hal was a nice man, but I was more active. He wanted to take it easy.”

To which Goldman responded in a separate interview: “I was the typist, as Al probably told you. And, yes, he couldn’t type. I don’t think he could even spell! Al came up with very good jokes, but I had better judgment.”

— From news services

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