Actor Kirk Alyn, 88, who played the first movie Superman, died on March 14 in Houston. After playing the Man of Steel in two 15-part serials in 1948 and 1950, Alyn was courted by producers of the 1951 television series. Already annoyed by the kind of attention the films had brought him, he turned down the offer, which then went to George Reeves. Years later Alyn took the uncredited role of Lois Lane’s father in the 1978 big-screen version of Superman starring Christopher Reeve….
Basket ace David Longaberger, whose zeal for woven containers led him to design the Newark, Ohio, headquarters of his company to look like a seven-story market basket outfitted with a pair of 75-ton handles, died at his home near there on St. Patrick’s Day. He was 64 and had been suffering from kidney cancer. Founded in 1973, Longaberger’s basket business turned hardwood maple into highly prized and collectible examples of double-splint weaving (some 8.3 million pieces of the handiwork were sold last year), while its overgrown basket building (160 times larger than the standard basket) lured thousands of devoted pilgrims bearing Longaberger baskets.
On March 17 a military judge in Fort Lewis, Wash., ordered retired Maj. Gen. David Hale, 53, to pay $22,000 in penalties as punishment for engaging in adulterous affairs with the wives of four subordinate officers. Hale is only the second U.S. Army general to be court-martialed in nearly 50 years.
On March 16 in Los Angeles, novelist Faye Keller-man, 46, author of the bestselling books Moon Music and Serpent’s Tooth, filed a copyright infringement suit against Shakespeare in Love screenwriters Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, as well as Miramax, the film corporation that co-produced the Academy Award-winner. Keller-man’s complaint alleges that the writers lifted the idea for their movie from her 1989 historical tome The Quality of Mercy (which also features a young Bard involved in a secret affair) and seeks payments she would have received for the right to adapt her novel, as well as other damages. In a statement Miramax said, “The two stories are so different that the idea that one was copied from the other is absurd.”
Country singer George Jones, 67, left Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on March 19, 13 days after he landed there following a near-fatal accident. Jones crashed his SUV into a bridge on March 6, bruising his liver and puncturing a lung….
New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, 58, departed a St. Louis hospital on March 21 after successful prostate cancer surgery there three days earlier. He’ll soon undergo tests to determine if further treatment is needed.
Under his doctor’s orders, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, 65, plans to take a four-month sabbatical to rest and recover from the lingering effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
On March 17 in Cape Town, Allan Boesak, 54, an ex-leader of the anti-apartheid movement, was convicted of fraud and theft in the misuse of funds donated to his Foundation for Peace and Justice, including about $70,000 raised by singer Paul Simon.