Former light-heavy-weight boxing champion Billy Conn, 75, a fleet-footed pugilist who nearly upset legendary heavyweight champ Joe Louis in a celebrated 1941 title fight, died in Pittsburgh on May 29 of pneumonia. He and Louis had a subsequent title rematch, which Louis again won with a knockout. Conn retired from boxing in 1948 and lived off his real estate investments….
Jazz and blues pianist Sun Ra, 79, known for his avant-garde playing style and costumes, died on May 30 in Birmingham, Ala., after suffering a series of strokes. The man Rolling Stone recently called “the missing link between Duke Ellington and Public Enemy” was known as Herman “Sonny” Blount in the ’40s, when he played in Fletcher Henderson’s big band. Having changed his name to Sun Ra (after the Egyptian sun-god, Ra) in the mid-’50s, he became the leader of the Arkestra, a sprawling multimedia, multimember road show, whose work combined music with dance and theatrical effects….
Radio dramatist Carleton Morse, 91, who created radio’s longest-running soap opera, One Man’s Family (1932-59), died in Sacramento on May 26.
After nearly three years of marriage, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., 63, has asked his third wife, aspiring singer Grace Eaton, whose age is unavailable, for a divorce. The couple have no children; property will be split according to a prenuptial agreement….
Diana Rigg, 54, who played Emma Peel on The Avengers and who now hosts PBS’s Mystery!, has divorced her second husband, Archie Stirling, 51, a gentleman farmer and industrialist. They have a daughter, Rachel, 16.
All is going as planned for George Bush, 68, who vowed to be “big in the grandchild business” after losing the presidential election. On May 20 daughter Doro, 33, and her second husband, lobbyist Bobby Koch, also 33, welcomed their first child, a son named Robert Daniel (10 lbs. 6 oz.). Doro has two children from her earlier marriage. The ex-President now has 13 grandchildren….
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi, 31, and wife Dorothea Hurley, 30, had their first child, daughter Stephanie Bose, on Memorial Day in Red Bank, N.J….
Actor Miguel Ferrer, 38, who plays touchy-feely tough guy Harbinger in Hot Shots! Part Deux, and his wife, actress Leilani Sarelle, 26, who was Sharon Stone’s gal pal in Basic Instinct, had their first child, son Lucas Brandon Jose (7 lbs. 8 oz.) on May 19 in L.A. Lucas is the grandchild of singer Rosemary Clooney and the late actor Jose Ferrer.
Kim Basinger, 39, filed for bankruptcy on May 24 in L.A. The filing is a legal maneuver by the actress to delay payment of a $7.4 million settlement she was ordered to make after a jury found her guilty last March of backing out of an oral contract to appear in the movie Boxing Helena. In court paper-filed for the bankruptcy, she estimated her assets at $5 million….
Let’s call the calling-off off: On May 26, just two days after filing for divorce, Elizabeth Stone, 43, second wife of director Oliver Stone, 46, withdrew her petition. Wed for nearly 12 years, they have two sons, Sean, 8, and Michael, 1.