Obituaries

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Allan MelvinCharacter Actor

Allan Melvin, 84, a character actor best known for playing Sam the butcher on "The Brady Bunch," died of cancer Jan. 17 at his home in Los Angeles, said Amalia Melvin, his wife of 64 years.

The jowly, jovial Mr. Melvin spent decades playing a series of sidekicks, second bananas and lovable lugs, including Archie Bunker's friend Barney Hefner on "All in the Family" and Sgt. Bilko's right-hand man Cpl. Henshaw on the "Phil Silvers Show."

But his place in pop culture will be fixed as butcher and bowler Sam Franklin, the love interest of Brady family maid Alice Nelson, who was played by Ann B. Davis. Mr. Melvin played the role from 1970 to 1973.

He was appearing on Broadway in "Stalag 17" when he began his decades-long television career with "The Phil Silvers Show," playing the role that was his favorite.

He saw steady employment as a voice actor from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, most famously providing the voice of "Magilla Gorilla" for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name.

His other credits include several guest appearances on "The Andy Griffith Show," "Gomer Pyle: USMC" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

-- Associated Press

Bill BelewCostume Designer

Bill Belew, 76, who created Elvis Presley's jumpsuits and the tight black leather outfit he wore on his 1968 television special, died Jan. 7 of complications from diabetes at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Calif.

In his nearly 50-year career, Mr. Belew designed costumes for many stars of stage, screen and television, from Ella Fitzgerald to Gloria Estefan. But it is his work with Presley for which Mr. Belew will be best remembered.

In the 1970s, Presley began wearing bejeweled jumpsuits designed by Mr. Belew. They included a tall collar, pointed sleeves, bell-bottoms, a matching cape and wide belts.

Milton WolffAnti-Fascist

Milton Wolff, 92, the last American commander of anti-Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War, died Jan. 14 of heart disease in Berkeley, Calif., said Peter Carroll, chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, an organization devoted to preserving the history of North American volunteers in the war.

Mr. Wolff was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 7, 1915, and was only 21 when he stepped off the New York soapboxes, where he defended his communist views, and into the Spanish war theater. By the time he was 22, he was the ninth leader of what was known as the Lincoln Brigade, which fought to support Spain's elected leftist government against Gen. Francisco Franco.

About 3,000 Americans fought in volunteer battalions in Spain, and more than 900 were killed. About 40 are alive today.

While in Spain, Mr. Wolff befriended Ernest Hemingway, who was writing about the conflict. Mr. Wolff would later say that Hemingway served him his first Scotch.

Soon after the American fighters returned home Dec. 15, 1939, Madrid fell to the Fascists, and the war was over. But Mr. Wolff never stopped fighting for what he considered worthy causes, including support of integration in baseball, civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War.

Jules HellerArtist, Arts Educator

Jules Heller, 88, a printmaker and arts educator whose work was exhibited across the United States and Canada and in several European countries, died Dec. 28 of lung cancer at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mr. Heller, who experimented with a variety of techniques during a career that spanned seven decades, was the author of "Printmaking Today: An Introduction to the Graphic Arts" (1958), an influential textbook. His other publications include "North American Women Artists of the 20th Century: A Biographical Dictionary" (1995) and a catalogue of the life and work of Mexican printmaker Leopoldo Mendez, with whom Mr. Heller lived and worked in 1947 in Mexico City.

In 1968, Mr. Heller completed a manuscript surveying the history of female artists throughout the world. It is on deposit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington.

Mr. Heller was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and grew up in Brooklyn. He received an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University in 1939, a master's degree from Columbia University in 1940 and a doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1948. He was chairman of the fine arts department at USC from 1959 to 1961 and was the founding dean of the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State University from 1963 to 1968. He also held deanships at York University in Toronto and at Arizona State.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports

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