John Wilson

Sightsavers Founder

John Wilson, 80, who campaigned to improve the lives of disabled people around the world and founded the organization that became Sightsavers International, died at his home in Brighton, England, on Nov. 24. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Mr. Wilson was only 12 when a glass test tube exploded in his face in a school lab, leaving him permanently blinded. In 1946, the British government sent him on a fact-finding mission to conduct a survey of blindness in Britain's overseas territories. The trip changed his life. With his wife, he discovered a community in Ghana plagued by blindness. The couple dubbed the disease "river blindness" and began international campaigns to eradicate it, leading to a massive drop in cases.

In 1950, Mr. Wilson created the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, now known as Sightsavers International, to help the blind in countries around the world. As head of the charity, he distributed Braille study packs, brought ophthalmic surgeons to remote regions in India and Pakistan and helped save the sight of thousands of babies in Bangladesh in 1972 by distributing Vitamin A tablets to prevent blindness from malnutrition. He also established the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and the international charity Impact.

Bethel Leslie


Bethel Leslie, 70, a Tony-nominated actress in theater, films and television shows such as "Gunsmoke," died Nov. 28 of cancer, the Associated Press reported in New York.

Ms. Leslie was a 15-year-old student when she was discovered by producer George Abbott, who cast her as the girl next door in the 1944 Broadway production of the comedy "Snafu." She appeared in 10 Broadway plays before she was 25 and acted alongside Fredric March, Sam Wanamaker and Helen Hayes, among others. In 1955, she played the conflicted daughter of a Bible-wielding preacher in "Inherit the Wind." The show earned her strong reviews and a ticket to Hollywood, where she appeared on "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason" and "The Fugitive."

Ms. Leslie's first film was 1964's "Captain Newman, M.D.," in which she played the wife of a traumatized Air Force pilot, played by Robert Duvall. In 1986, she was nominated for a Tony for her work as the morphine-addicted mother in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night."

John Berry


John Berry, 82, the American filmmaker who was blacklisted in the 1950s after making a documentary in support of the "Hollywood Ten," died Nov. 29 in Paris after a bout with pleurisy.

Mr. Berry left the United States for France after making "The Hollywood Ten," a documentary supporting American directors accused of being members of the Communist Party. Embraced by the French film establishment, he made several commercial successes, including "Ca Va Barder" ("Things are Going to Get Tough") starring Eddie Constantine. He also worked in London as a theater director.

He returned to the United States in 1974 to make the movie "Claudine." Other hits included "Thieves" and "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan" in 1978.