Jeremy Helligar
December 02, 1996 12:00 PM

Actor Robert Urich, 49, underwent surgery to treat synovial sarcoma on Nov. 14 in Los Angeles. Urich was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer in August and underwent three months of chemotherapy in L.A. According to his spokesperson, his prognosis is excellent….

Astronomer Carl Sagan, 62, returned home to Ithaca, N.Y., in late October, after being hospitalized since June 28 in Seattle for treatment of myelodysplasia, a rare blood disease that can lead to leukemia. “The signs look very good now,” said Sagan, who plans to return to lecturing at Cornell University next spring….

NBA star Hakeem Olaju-won, 33, was hospitalized on Nov. 19 in Houston for an irregular heartbeat. The Houston Rockets center was expected to be given an exercise stress test and sit out about a week of games….

Actor Charlton Heston, 72, had hip surgery on Nov. 6 in L.A. According to his spokesperson, “Heston is doing great and recovering fantastically.”

An L.A. judge finalized the divorce of actress Elizabeth Taylor, 64, and Larry Fortensky, 44, on Oct. 31. Taylor filed for divorce last February, citing irreconcilable differences, after nearly 4½ years of marriage to the former construction worker. Details of the settlement will be worked out at a later date.

Dancer and actress June Levant, widow of pianist and actor Oscar Levant, died of pneumonia on Nov. 13 in L.A. Levant, who was believed to be in her late 70s, began hosting 4:30 Matinee, her own local daytime television show, in 1958 after an on-air marital spat prompted her to leave her husband’s The Oscar Levant Show….

Actress Virginia Cherrill, 88, who played the blind flower girl who won Charlie Chaplin’s heart in 1931’s City Lights, died of undisclosed causes on Nov. 14 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Cherrill was married briefly to actor Cary Grant in the early 1930s….

Radio and television pioneer Alma Kitchell, 103, star of network TV’s first commercial series (and first cooking show), NBC’s In the Kelvinator Kitchen, died on Nov. 13 in Sarasota, Fla. Kitchell also sang in the first televised opera, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, in 1939, and hosted one of the first radio talk shows, Let’s Talk It Over, from 1938-39….

Former U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Gingrich, 71, father of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, died of lung cancer in Harrisburg, Pa., on Nov. 20, just hours before his adopted son was renominated to be Speaker.

Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, 59, announced on Nov. 19 that he will resign at the end of the season after 11 years on the job. Holtz gave no specific reason for his decision and said he hopes to coach again.

Film director Brian De Palma, 56, and his estranged wife, ballet dancer Darnell De Palma, 37, became parents when Darnell gave birth to a 6-lb., 12-oz. daughter, Piper, on Oct. 21 in Palo Alto, Calif. She has two children—Brianna, 8, and Willa, 5, from a previous marriage. He has a 5-year-old daughter, Lolita, from his marriage to film producer Gale Anne Hurd….

Rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (otherwise known as Christopher Wallace), 22, and his wife, R&B singer Faith Evans, 23, welcomed an 8-lb., 4-oz. son, Christopher Wallace, on Oct. 29 in New York City. Both have daughters from previous relationships.

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