Benjamin S. Bloom
Benjamin S. Bloom, 86, an education professor whose research led to an upsurge in interest in early childhood education, died Sept. 13 at his home in Chicago. The cause of death was not reported.
Dr. Bloom, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Chicago, was known for expanding notions of who is capable of learning and performing well in school. In the early 1960s, he demonstrated that 50 percent of the variations in intelligence test results at age 17 can be estimated at age 4. That, and research showing that early experiences at home affect learning later in life, helped lead to the establishment of Head Start.
He went on to advance a theory that said all students are capable of learning if material is presented in a logical, systematic way. During his career, he wrote 17 books and served as president of the American Educational Research Association.
TV and Movie Writer
Harry Crane, 85, co-creator of Jackie Gleason's classic 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners" and a comedy writer for Red Skelton, the Marx Brothers, Bing Crosby and others, died of cancer Sept. 14 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Mr. Crane, who worked on movies as well as TV, had another link to Hollywood: He was the grandfather of actresses Melissa Gilbert ("Little House on the Prairie") and Sara Gilbert ("Roseanne"). He was 19 when he started performing stand-up comedy.
He was recruited by MGM as a screenwriter, earning his first credit on "Air Raid Wardens," a 1943 comedy starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
He and Joe Bigelow were staff writers for "Cavalcade of Stars" when Gleason, the variety show's new host, asked for help in developing a sketch.
Gleason told the writers he wanted to play an "everyday working stiff" who lived with his long-suffering wife in a little Brooklyn flat. The two created a scene involving squabbling Ralph and Alice Kramden, and the couple became a variety show mainstay for Gleason -- and then in 1955 the basis for the 39-episode sitcom "The Honeymooners."
Janet Adam Smith
Biographer and Editor
Janet Adam Smith, 93, a biographer and former literary editor of the New Statesman magazine, died Sept. 11 in London. The cause of death was not reported.
Ms. Smith first landed a job for the British Broadcasting Corp.'s new weekly magazine, the Listener. She rose to assistant editor and was responsible for publishing new poetry by W.H. Auden, Conrad Aiken and Stephen Spender, the Daily Telegraph reported.
She published biographies of writer Robert Louis Stevenson and of John Buchan, a governor-general of Canada and adventure writer. After the death of her first husband, she returned to full-time work as an assistant editor of the New Statesman and Nation. She became literary editor in 1952, a position she held for eight years.
Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams, 66, whose career highlight was a 1966 bout against heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, died Sept. 10 in Houston after being struck by a car while crossing the street on Sept. 3.
He overcame tremendous odds to face Ali in the Astrodome on Nov. 14, 1966. A year and a half before stepping into the ring against Ali, the fighter quarreled with a Texas state trooper during a traffic stop. The officer shot Mr. Williams in the midsection, leaving the boxer with lifelong kidney problems.
Mr. Williams eventually lost to Ali in a three-round knockout. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Commerce, Calif., in 1997.
John F. White Sr.
John F. White Sr., 75, considered the "dean of African-American politics" in Philadelphia, and a strategist in the former mayoral campaign of his son, John F. White Jr., died Sept. 15 at his home in Philadelphia. The cause of death was not disclosed.
He played a key role on the Philadelphia political scene for more than three decades and in 1968 founded the Black Political Forum. He was instrumental in establishing the city's Town Watch program and retired as an assistant managing director in the administration of former Mayor W. Wilson Goode.