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Entrepreneur Raymond Jacobs, 69, who marketed the Earth Shoe, that clunky ’70s fashion phenomenon, died of heart failure on March 17 in Torrington, Conn. Between 1970 and 1977, Jacobs and his wife, Eleanor, sold $14 million worth of Earth Shoes from 135 stores….

Actor Skip Young, 63, who played overweight frat boy Wally on TV’s The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, died March 17 in Apple Valley, Calif., of natural causes….

Author John Hersey, 78, died March 24 in Key West, Fla. Mersey had suffered a stroke last year and was also battling cancer. A correspondent during World War II, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1945 novel, A Bell for Adano, and wide critical acclaim for Hiroshima, his 1946 account of the devastating effects of the first atom bomb.

One of the richest men in America, Bill Gates, 37, who as cofounder and CEO of the Microsoft Corporation has amassed a $6.9 billion fortune, became engaged over the March 19 weekend to his off-and-on girlfriend of almost five years, Microsoft product unit manager Melinda French, 28. French, who holds an M.B.A. from Duke, and Gales have not yet set a date for the wedding.

Singer Jennifer Holliday, 32, married Rev. Andre Woods, 38, at the Revival Tabernacle Church of Christ in Detroit, where Rev. Woods preaches, on March 21. It is his first marriage; she was married once before, for eight months in 1991, to songwriter Billy Meadows. In May, Holliday, who won a Tony for Dreamgirls in 1981, starts work on her fifth album, a live gospel recording.

Actress Tawny Kitaen, 31, of the syndicated The New WKRP in Cincinnati and ABC’s America’s Funniest People, became a single mom on March 18 in Los Angeles with the birth of her first child, a 7-lb., 1-oz. daughter named Wynter Merin Finley. The father is California Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, 30. The couple have no immediate plans to wed….

Actor Carl Anthony Payne, 23, who played Cockroach on The Cosby Show and is now Cole on Fox’s Martin, and wife Malieka, also 23, had their first child, a boy, in L.A. on March 16. Carl Anthony Payne III weighed in at 6 lbs., 8 ozs. Malieka has another son, Landon, 6, from an earlier relationship with singer Bobby Brown.

Opera legend Luciano Pavorotti, 57, underwent surgery to relieve an acute pain in his right knee on March 21 in Rome. The surgery forced the Italian tenor to postpone his planned April 1 return to the stage in Milan. Pavorotti, who has been on a doctor-ordered hiatus since January while trying to lose some of his more than 300 lbs., now expects to resume performing April 22 in Berlin….

Hugh Rodham, 81, the father of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, remained in critical condition at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Little Rock last week after suffering a stroke on March 19.

Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White, 75, announced March 19 that he will retire when the Court adjourns in June. Appointed in 1962, While became known for his increasingly conservative opinions, especially on abortion and criminals’ rights.