Bawdy British comic Benny Hill, 67, was found dead of a heart attack in his London home over Easter weekend. He became a popular figure on British television in the ’50s, and gained fame stateside when The Benny Hill Show began airing here in 1979. Hill, who wrote many of his own skits, employed such comic standbys as cross-dressing, sight gags, double entendres and Hill’s Angels, a group of skimpily clad, big-busted women. Accusations of sexism helped to bring about the cancellation of his show in 1989….
Hollywood tough guy Neville Brand, 70, whose 76 movies included Stalag 17 and Birdman of Alcatraz, died of emphysema April 16 in Sacramento. Brand became an actor after first gaining fame as the fourth-most-decorated U.S. soldier in World War II, having served in Europe as an Army platoon sergeant. After the war he used the GI Bill to finance his drama studies. Although his battered face resulted in his being cast as bad guys for most of his career, Brand played Texas Ranger Reese Bennett on NBC’s western series Laredo (1965-67)….
Grand Duke Vladimir Romanoy, 74, pretender to the Russian throne (his father was a cousin of Czar Nicholas II), died April 21 while talking to reporters in Miami about restoring Russia’s monarchy. Born in Finland, he later lived in Paris and Brittany. He visited his would-be homeland for the first time last November….
Singer Andy Russell, 72, who succeeded Frank Sinatra in 1947 as the lead vocalist on the radio show Your Hit Parade, died April 16 in Phoenix from stroke complications….
Florence Randall, a former model for designer Bill Blass, and the wife of actor Tony Randall for 54 years, died of cancer on April 18 in Manhattan.
Actor Ray (Wiseguy) Sharkey, 39, and his wife, actress Carole Graham, have split after more than three years of marriage. The couple have one daughter, Cecilia, 3.
Actress Tracy Nelson, 27, formerly of Father Dowling Mysteries, and her husband, actor Billy Moses, 32, who was in Falcon Crest, have revealed they are expecting their first baby, a girl, in August. Nelson and Moses are costarring in Perry Mason: The Case of the Reckless Romeo, which airs next Tuesday (May 5).
CBS sportscaster Pat Summerall, 61, has taken a medical leave from the network and has reportedly entered the Betty Ford Center for treatment of alcohol problems. The NFL commentator had quit drinking in late 1990 after nearly dying of a bleeding ulcer (PEOPLE, March 4, 1991). A CBS rep says the network “looks forward to his return.”
Surprise, surprise: Model Bernadette Robi, the ex-wife of football great Lynn Swann, was doubly surprised by her current beau, boxing champ Sugar Bay Leonard, 35, when he threw a surprise 34th birthday and engagement party for her in Washington, D.C., on April 18. No date set yet.
Swedish tennis ace Stefan Edberg, 26, wed his No. 1 sweetie, model Annette Olsen, in her hometown of Växjö, Sweden, on April 18. After the ceremony the two walked under an arch of tennis rackets held by attendants.