Richard Heffner
TV host

Richard Heffner, host of the long-running public affairs television show “The Open Mind,” died Dec. 17 in Manhattan. He was 88.

The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage, his son Daniel Heffner said.

Mr. Heffner hosted his show for decades, starting in 1956, and he interviewed a wide range of public figures, including Malcolm X, Mario Cuomo and Elie Wiesel. He also taught at colleges and universities, including Rutgers University, Sarah Lawrence College and New York University.

Mr. Heffner was born in New York City and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Columbia University. As a scholar, he was best remembered for his book “A Documentary History of the United States,” first published in 1952. He was a past chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America’s Classifications and Ratings Administration, which gives ratings on hundreds of films every year.

Paul Torday
novelist

Paul Torday, the British author who had a surprise bestseller with his debut novel, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” died Dec. 18 at his home in Northumberland, England. He was 67.

His publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, announced the death but did not provide a cause. The London Independent reported that Mr. Torday learned he had cancer soon after “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was published.

Mr. Torday launched his writing career in his late 50s, publishing “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” in 2007. It was the story of a rich sheik who dreams of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his desert country.

The novel was adapted for a 2011 film starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, with Blunt as the sheik’s representative and McGregor as a cynical fisheries expert who begrudgingly accepts the challenge.

After receiving a degree in English literature, Mr. Torday spent years in the engineering business before he turned to writing. After the success of his first novel, Mr. Torday went on to write six more novels and two e-books.

Kirsty Dunseath of Weidenfeld & Nicolson Fiction said Mr. Torday had invented his own genre. “He was a gentle observer of the foibles of human nature and our social behavior,” she said in a statement. “He wanted to entertain, but his novels were also infused with a deep social awareness, exploring issues such as political expediency, alcoholism, mental illness, class and our national heritage.”

— From news services