Edward L. Palmer
Children's Program Developer
Edward L. Palmer, 66, one of the minds behind "Sesame Street" and other children's educational programs, died of prostate cancer Aug. 1 in Ithaca, N.Y.
He was among the first people hired in 1968 by Children's Television Workshop, parent company of "Sesame Street," and his research gave the producers insights into how to hold preschoolers' attention. He found that children enjoyed watching other children and animals, loved music and slapstick, wanted characters to be kind to each other and were bored by adult talking heads. That led to the development of enormously popular characters such as Big Bird and Grover on "Sesame Street," which first aired in 1969.
He was vice president for research at Children's Television Workshop for 16 years and senior research fellow for three. He helped develop several programs for adults and three other well-known children's shows: "Electric Company," "3-2-1 Contact" and "Ghostwriter."
Carlos Cachaca, 97, whose graceful, bittersweet compositions helped bring samba out of the slums to become Brazil's most popular music, died Aug. 16 of pneumonia, the Associated Press reported in Rio de Janeiro.
Cachaca, whose real name was Carlos Moreira de Castro, began composing in 1923, when samba was still largely unknown. He picked up his nickname from the cane liquor that animated the late-night samba sessions at the Mangueira hill shantytown, or "favela."
His compositions spoke of life in the favelas, and for that reason were initially frowned on by much of Brazilian society. Among his best-known works was Alvorada -- "Dawn" in Portuguese -- written in partnership with the composer Cartola. It begins: "Dawn, on the hill, such beauty, no one weeps in sadness, no one feels bitterness."
Ross Elliott, 82, the veteran character actor best remembered for his roles on such popular television series of the 1950s and 1960s as "I Love Lucy," "The Jack Benny Show" and "The Virginian," died Aug. 12 of cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Fund residence facility in Los Angeles.
Mr. Elliott moved from stage to screen to television and from serious drama to comedy to Westerns. For Lucille Ball, he played the director of her classic commercial for "Vitameatavegamin" and earned a recurring role as Ricky Ricardo's agent on the series. He also was a frequent guest of Jack Benny and the comedy team of Burns and Allen.
He portrayed Sheriff Abbott for more than three years on the long-running 1960s Western series "The Virginian." He was a series regular on the soap opera "General Hospital," originating the role of Lee Baldwin.
Paddy Devlin, 74, a committed socialist who helped found Northern Ireland's largest Roman Catholic party, died Aug. 15 of complications related to diabetes, the Associated Press reported in Belfast.
A tireless campaigner against sectarianism and violence, Mr. Devlin participated in Northern Ireland's first and only experiment in a joint Protestant-Catholic government. As minister for health and human services, he was the second highest ranking Catholic in that 1974 administration. That government soon collapsed, and the British government resumed "direct rule" from London, an arrangement that continues today.
As an idealistic member of the IRA, Mr. Devlin served a three-year prison sentence starting in 1942 for membership in the group. He renounced violence in prison, and later became a fierce critic of the IRA campaign to destabilize Northern Ireland. In 1970, he co-founded the moderate Social Democratic and Labor Party, which since has always won the most votes from the province's Catholic minority, but resigned in 1977 in protest that the party appealed too narrowly to Catholic interests at the expense of working-class Protestants.
Journalist & Author
Celestine Sibley, 85, a Southern author, journalist and newspaper columnist for the Atlanta Constitution since 1941, died of cancer Aug. 15 on Dog Island, near Apalachicola in northwest Florida.
Ms. Sibley wrote poignant and thoughtful essays on Southern culture and was the author of more than 25 books published between 1958 and 1997, including the Kate Mulcay mystery series.
She covered politics, the courts and the Georgia legislature for the Atlanta Constitution before shifting to what she called "personal stuff" in her newspaper column. Her final essay, published last month and written just before her health declined, described the joys of an old quilt, a swing and a sleepless night on the tin-roofed back porch of her 1840s log cabin in northwest Atlanta.