Stan Durwood

Multiplex Inventor

Stan Durwood, 78, the movie theater entrepreneur credited with inventing the multiplex theaters that now populate every suburban mall, died of esophageal cancer July 14 at his home in Kansas City, Mo.

Mr. Durwood was chief executive officer of AMC Entertainment Inc., one of the nation's largest-grossing theater chains. His legacy as a theater owner includes such amenities as cup holders, stadium seating and, most recently, the love seat.

Over the course of four decades, he took his family's Durwood Theaters from little more than a handful of second-run venues to one of the largest exhibition chains in the world, redubbed American Multi-Cinema, with more than 2,700 screens in the United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Spain and Portugal.

Mr. Durwood's company first built a four-plex in 1966. In 1969 came a six-plex. Now, the multiplexes range up to 30 screens, and the biggest ones are known as megaplexes.

Clarence L. 'Curly' Harris

Sit-In Target

Clarence L. "Curly" Harris, 94, manager of the Greensboro, N.C., F.W. Woolworth Store lunch counter where the sit-in movement for civil rights caught fire, died July 12 in Greensboro. The cause of death was not reported.

It was at Mr. Harris's downtown Woolworth Store diner where, on Feb. 1, 1960, four students from North Carolina A&T State University refused to leave the segregated lunch counter after being refused service. Black students in other cities drew inspiration from the protests to begin similar sit-ins. The sit-ins lasted nearly six months before store managers relented and integrated the lunch counters.

Sherley Ann Williams


Sherley Ann Williams, 54, an author who used her experience as a migrant farmworker to write a critically acclaimed novel about black slavery, died July 8 of cancer, the Associated Press reported in San Diego.

Ms. Williams had been working on a novel and a sequel to her 1986 historical novel, "Dessa Rose," a story about a privileged Charleston bride and a young pregnant slave. The New York Times praised the novel as "artistically brilliant, emotionally affecting and totally unforgettable."

Ms. Williams's first book of verse, "The Peacock Poems," was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1975. Her second book of verse, "Some One Sweet Angel Chile," was another National Book Award nominee, and a TV performance based on the book won an Emmy Award. Her 1992 children's book, "Working Cotton," received the American Library Association Caldecott Award.

Paul Novak

Mae West Companion

Paul Novak, 76, Mae West's companion of 26 years and the acknowledged love of her life, died July 14 at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was undergoing treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

One of the muscle men in the chorus line of West's fabled 1950s nightclub act that played Las Vegas and toured the country over five years, Mr. Novak soon fell in love with West, who was nearly 30 years his senior. She died in 1980.

The epitome of the strong, silent type and an intensely private man to the end, Mr. Novak tried always to stay in the background, content to let the public believe he was West's bodyguard, when in fact he became her husband in everything but name.

Everett Greenbaum

TV Writer

Everett Greenbaum, 79, who collaborated with fellow writer Jim Fritzell on the 1950s television sitcom "Mr. Peepers" and other series, including "The Andy Griffith Show" and "M-A-S-H," died Sunday of brain cancer, the Associated Press reported in Los Angeles.

After World War II, Mr. Greenbaum wrote, produced and starred in a Boston radio show called "Greenbaum's Gallery." He and Fritzell teamed up in 1952 for Wally Cox's "Mr. Peepers," a collaboration that continued until Fritzell's death in 1979.

The pair earned a Peabody Award, four Emmy nominations, three Writers Guild comedy awards and the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award. They wrote eight feature films, including "Good Neighbor Sam" and "The Shakiest Gun in the West." On his own, Mr. Greenbaum wrote two books, including the memoir "The Goldenberg Who Couldn't Dance," and worked on "The George Gobel Show." He also appeared in brief roles on Griffith's "Matlock" series and other programs.

Henry Kimbro

Baseball Player

Henry Kimbro, 88, a Negro League outfielder known as the "black Ty Cobb," died July 11, the Associated Press reported in Nashville.

Mr. Kimbro batted .320 over 18 seasons. He played from 1934 to 1951 for the Nashville Elite Giants, the Washington Elite Giants, the New York Black Yankees, the Baltimore Elite Giants and the Birmingham Black Barons. He hit .393 for Baltimore in 1946.

Carlos D. Ramirez


Carlos D. Ramirez, 52, the publisher of el diario/La Prensa who helped modernize and bring financial security to New York's largest and oldest daily Spanish-language newspaper, died July 11 of pancreatic cancer in New York.

Mr. Ramirez was hired by el diario's former owner Gannett Co. as a comptroller in 1981 and became publisher in 1984. The newspaper, founded in 1913, is believed to be the oldest Spanish-language daily in the nation.

In 1989, when Gannett first started shopping the newspaper around, Ramirez and 16 others formed an investment group--El Diario Associates--and bought the newspaper for a reported $20 million to $25 million to keep it under Hispanic ownership.