Nikolai Rukavishnikov


Nikolai Rukavishnikov, 70, a cosmonaut whose three trips into outer space for the Soviet Union included two that encountered hair-raising problems, died Oct. 19 after an apparent heart attack. The location of his death was not reported.

His first space voyage was in 1971 aboard Soyuz 10, which was to have delivered the first humans to the orbiting Salyut 1 space station. The craft docked with the space station, but the crew was unable to gain access and the mission was aborted, lasting less than two days.

In 1974, he made his next flight, aboard Soyuz 16, and spent a largely trouble-free six days in space. His Soyuz 33 mission in 1979 ran into engine failure when the craft was docking with the Salyut 6 station. Mr. Rukavishnikov returned to Earth on a backup engine and landed under manual control.

Keene Curtis


Keene Curtis, 79, who portrayed Daddy Warbucks in the Broadway musical "Annie" and who played the upstairs restaurant owner on the NBC-TV sitcom "Cheers," died Oct. 13 in a retirement center in Bountiful, Utah. He had Alzheimer's disease.

He won a Tony Award in 1971 as best featured actor in a musical for playing four diverse characters, each with a different accent, in "The Rothschilds." He also won a Drama-Logue Award for his role in "Annie," and co-starred in the national company of "La Cage aux Folles" for two years.

On television, he played the snippy restaurant owner John Allen Hill on "Cheers" and had appearances on "MASH," "Touched by an Angel," "Caroline in the City" and "E.R." His movie credits included "Heaven Can Wait," "American Hot Wax" and "Richie Rich's Christmas Wish."

Mehli Mehta

Music Educator

Mehli Mehta, 94, founder of the Bombay Symphony, longtime leader of the American Youth Symphony and father of conductor Zubin Mehta, died of a heart ailment Oct. 19 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif.

The elder Mr. Mehta, an Indian-born lifelong devotee of Western classical music, founded the Bombay Symphony in 1935 and served for 10 years as concertmaster before becoming its conductor. He came to the United States in 1945 and retired in 1976 as head of the orchestra department of the University of California at Los Angeles.

He mentored generations of music students during 33 years as music director and conductor of the American Youth Symphony, where he was known as an inspiring taskmaster. Under his leadership -- he retired in 1998 -- the orchestra grew to 110 musicians and performed around the world.

Charles A. Kiesler

Social Psychologist

Charles A. Kiesler, 68, a social psychologist who was a past executive officer of the American Psychological Association in Washington and who was the author of books on mental health, human behavior and social interaction, died of cardiac arrest Oct. 11 in San Diego. He had lung cancer.

Dr. Kiesler, former provost of Vanderbilt University and chancellor of the University of Missouri, helped restore APA's financial stability and coordinated the advocacy efforts of scientists and health care practitioners during his tenure from 1975 to 1979. The APA is the world's largest association of psychologists.

He was founding president of the American Psychological Society and spearheaded the creation of its Fund for the Advancement of Psychological Science. His books include "The Psychology of Commitment: Experiments Linking Behavior to Belief" and "Psychology and National Health Insurance: A Sourcebook," of which he was co-author.

Beecher Ray Kirby

Country Comic

Beecher Ray Kirby, 90, an innovator of the dobro guitar and country comedian on the Grand Ole Opry who performed as Bashful Brother Oswald, died Oct. 17 in Nashville. The cause of death was not reported.

He was a member of the Smoky Mountain Boys -- the backing group for Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Acuff -- from 1939 until Acuff's death in 1992. He became a regular cast member of the Grand Ole Opry as a solo act in 1995.

He used his dobro guitar on such Acuff records as "The Wreck on the Highway" and "The Precious Jewel," released some solo albums in the 1960s and was a guest on the landmark 1972 album by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

Wu-chi Liu


Wu-chi Liu, 95, a literature professor who as the publisher of more than 25 books, including the anthology "Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry" helped familiarize American readers with Chinese literature, died Oct. 3 at his home in Menlo Park, Calif. The cause of death was not reported.

Dr. Liu, a native of China's Jiangsu Province, came to the United States in 1927. A graduate of Lawrence University in Wisconsin, he received a doctorate in English literature from Yale University.

Over the years, he taught literature, philosophy and drama at Yale, Rollins College, the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University.

Sidney Pink

Movie Producer

Sidney Pink, 86, the producer of more than 50 films, including the groundbreaking 1952 three-dimensional feature "Bwana Devil," who has been called the father of the feature-length 3-D movie, died Oct. 12 at his home in Pompano Beach, Fla. The cause of death was not reported.

In 1959, he co-wrote and produced "The Angry Red Planet," the tale of the first expedition to Mars. The science-fiction movie was filmed in what was advertised as a "revolutionary" process called "Cinemagic," a printing-process technique that gave the Mars scenes a pink glow.

Mr. Pink, who discovered actor Dustin Hoffman in an off-Broadway production, cast him in "Madigan's Millions."

Tatyana Velikanova

Soviet Dissident

Tatyana Velikanova, 70, a mathematician who became a leading member of the Soviet-era dissident movement and was arrested and jailed for chronicling human rights abuses by the authorities, died of cancer Sept. 19 in Moscow.

In 1968, she appeared on Red Square with her husband and six other people to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1969, she helped found the Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights and later played a leading role in publishing the Chronicle of Current Events.

Ms. Velikanova was arrested in 1979 and sentenced to four years in a prison camp and five years of exile in the steppes of western Kazakhstan. She was pardoned by the government in 1987.

Ed Rossbach

Fiber Artist

Ed Rossbach, 88, a fiber artist and influential contemporary basket maker who chaired the design department at the University of California at Berkeley, died Oct. 7 in a hospital in Berkeley. The cause of death was not disclosed.

His work was included in the collections of such major museums as the Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. Washington's Textile Museum hosted a retrospective of his work.

Mr. Rossbach, a pioneer in the use of such nontraditional basketry materials as newspaper, plastics, foils, twine and fabric, was credited with sparking a basketmaking revival in the 1960s. He was considered a pivotal figure in developing the San Francisco area as a center for fiber arts.

Allen Walker Read

Language Authority

Allen Walker Read, 96, a longtime Columbia University professor who was an authority on the English language, died Oct. 16 at his home in New York. The cause of death was not reported.

He explored such linguistic topics as the origins of the ubiquitous initials "O.K.," studied the names that people from Connecticut have called themselves, and traced the origin of the word "Dixie."

Mr. Read, who taught English at Columbia from 1945 to 1974, was a former head of the International Linguistic Association.

Zara Nelsova


Zara Nelsova, 84, a cellist who performed as a soloist with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, William Steinberg, Seigi Ozawa and Zubin Mehta, died Oct. 10 at her home in New York. The cause of death was not reported.

Ms. Nelsova, who performed until 1997, was a professor at the Juilliard School from 1985 until this year. She played a Stradivarius cello called the Marquis de Corberon and dated 1726.

Roman Tam

Pop Star

Roman Tam, 52, a pop star known as the godfather of Hong Kong's music industry, died of liver cancer Oct. 18 in Hong Kong.

The former amusement park security guard made his musical debut in 1967 with the group Roman and the Four Steps, embarking on a career that lasted more than three decades and included 56 albums. He sang canto-pop -- songs in the Cantonese dialect, the dominant form of Chinese in Hong Kong.