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Of Note

Klemens von Klemperer
authority on German history

Klemens von Klemperer, a German refugee who wrote extensively about the rise and fall of the Nazi regime, died Dec. 23 at his home in Easthampton, Mass. He was 96.

His family announced the death but did not disclose the cause.

Dr. von Klemperer was an emeritus professor of history at Smith College in Northampton, N.Y. He wrote books and articles related to German and central European history, including “German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945” (1993).

“He felt his greatest accomplishment was to give a balanced view of this period of German history, that while it was dominated by evil and by terrible misuse of power, that there were some good Germans who tried to make a difference and change this,” said his son James von Klemperer.

Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer was born in Berlin and became one of the leaders of the anti-Nazi student movement in Vienna until he fled to the United States in 1938.

He enrolled at Harvard University, but his studies were interrupted in the 1940s by service in the U.S. Army. He received a doctorate from Harvard in 1949 and soon began teaching at Smith College.

Dr. von Klemperer retired from Smith in 1987 but continued to teach classes at Smith and Amherst colleges, and the University of Massachusetts.

Pete Elliott
football museum director

Pete Elliott, the longest-tenured executive director in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s history, died Jan. 4 in Canton, Ohio. He was 86.

His son David confirmed the death to the New York Times and said the cause was congestive heart failure.

Mr. Elliott served as the museum’s director from 1979 to 1996 and continued as a member of the Hall’s board of trustees in his retirement. Mr. Elliott also was head football coach at the University of Illinois from 1960 to 1966.

Mr. Elliott was an All-American quarterback at Michigan in the 1940s before a long coaching career. He led Illinois to the 1964 Rose Bowl. He was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Tony Lip
‘Sopranos’ actor

Tony Lip, a veteran actor known for playing mob roles on “The Sopranos” television show and in many feature films, died Jan. 4 at a hospital in Teaneck, N.J. He was 82.

His family confirmed the death to New Jersey newspapers but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Lip, whose real name was Frank Anthony Vallelonga, was best known for playing the mob kingpin Carmine Lupertazzi in several episodes of “The Sopranos,” the HBO series focused on a mob boss played by James Gandolfini.

Mr. Lip has also had roles in movies including “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “Donnie Brasco.”

Mr. Lip also worked at the Copacabana club in Manhattan during the 1960s, where he met numerous celebrities of the era, including the kind of gangsters he would later portray.

David R. Ellis
film director

David R. Ellis, the director of “Snakes on a Plane,” the 2006 movie starring Samuel L. Jackson that veered between humor and horror and became an Internet sensation even before its release, was found dead Jan. 7 in Johannesburg. He was 60.

Mr. Ellis, a chameleon of the entertainment industry who worked as an actor and stuntman earlier in his career, was found dead in the bathroom of his hotel room in the upscale neighborhood of Sandton.

“Nothing was found to be missing from his room and no foul play is being suspected at this stage,” Lt. Col. Lungelo Dlamini, a police spokesman, told the South African Press Association. SAPA said an autopsy was conducted, but the cause of death was still unknown.

Mr. Ellis was in Johannesburg working on “Kite,” a remake of the 1998 Japanese anime film that was to have starred Jackson.

Mr. Ellis’s directing credits include “Shark Night 3D,” “Cellular,” “The Final Destination” and “Final Destination 2.” Mr. Ellis began his Hollywood career as an actor in the 1970s before moving into stunts and directing.

“Snakes on a Plane” was a raucous ride that alternately delighted or appalled critics. Jackson played a law enforcement agent whose job is to protect a murder witness, and the criminals who would rather he didn’t testify try to take him out by releasing a batch of poisonous snakes on a long-haul flight over the ocean.

“This is a movie that is uniquely, ideally suited for the rowdy, crowded communal experience, the likes of which we haven’t seen since ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ ” Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire wrote in a review. She called the movie “intense and suspenseful, scary and gory, darkly funny and sometimes giddily hysterical.”

It helped that bloggers created an Internet buzz that heightened anticipation before the film’s release in a case study of how social media could spotlight what many might have dismissed as campy, B-grade, forgettable movie fare.

Jackson has had memorable roles in numerous movies, but not all of them contain dialogue with the same kind of expletive-laden punch as his standout line in Mr. Ellis’s snake movie: “I have had it with these . . . snakes on this . . . plane.”

Ned Wertimer
‘Jeffersons’ actor

Ned Wertimer, who played Ralph the Doorman on all 11 seasons of the CBS sitcom “The Jeffersons,” died Jan. 2 at a Los Angeles area nursing home. He was 89.

Mr. Wertimer’s manager, Brad Lemack, said his client fell at his home in Burbank, Calif., in November.

Mr. Wertimer was a native of Buffalo, N.Y., and a Navy pilot during World War II. He had one-off roles on dozens of TV shows from the early 1960s through the late 1980s, including “Car 54, Where Are You?”

But he was best known by far as Ralph Hart, the uniformed, mustachioed doorman at the luxury apartment building on “The Jeffersons,” the “All In the Family” spinoff that ran from 1975 to 1985.

The show’s star, Sherman Hemsley, died July 24.

— From news services

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