Anamika Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio, spelled the word “stromuhr” (an instrument used to measure blood) correctly to win the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee June 4 in Washington, D.C. Veeramani, who aspires to become a cardiovascular surgeon, author and screenwriter, beat out 272 other contestants before calmly besting Shantanu Srivatsa in the final elimination.
A year after being detained in North Korea for five months, journalist Laura Ling, 33, and financial analyst Iain Clayton, 43, welcomed daughter Li Jefferson Clayton June 2 in Burbank. The baby girl’s name is a tribute to former President Bill Jefferson Clinton, who helped secure Ling’s release, and to her sister Lisa Ling, a correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Dog Whisperer host Cesar Millan and his wife, Ilusion, have called it quits after 16 years of marriage. Ilusion, 34, filed for divorce June 4 in L.A., citing irreconcilable differences. She is seeking primary physical custody of their two boys with visitation for Cesar, 40, as well as spousal support. “The decision was made after much consideration and time. We remain caring friends and are fully committed to coparenting,” read a statement on Millan’s website. • After 14 years of marriage, actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar and his wife, Lisa Ann Russell, have separated. The former Saved by the Bell and NYPD Blue star, 36, and Russell, 39, wed in 1996 and have two children.
Veteran Washington, D.C., journalist Helen Thomas is retiring as a columnist for Hearst News Service following controversial remarks she made regarding Jewish people in Israel that surfaced on YouTube. On the May 27 video, Thomas told rabbilive.com during a White House celebration of Jewish heritage that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and suggested they go to Germany, Poland or the U.S. Days later, Thomas said in a statement, “I deeply regret my comments.” The political reporter, 89, who was considered the dean of the White House press corps, covered every President since the ’60s.
John Wooden, the revered UCLA basketball coach who guided the Bruins to unparalleled success, died June 4 in L.A. at the age of 99. Wooden’s teams won an unprecedented 10 national championships in the ’60s and ’70s and included Bruins basketball greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
HOPPER LAID TO REST
Hollywood rebel Dennis Hopper’s June 2 memorial service in Ranchos de Taos, N.Mex., drew former pals and costars Jack Nicholson (left), Peter Fonda (top right) and Val Kilmer (bottom). Four days earlier Hopper, 74, lost his battle with prostate cancer. “It was a very singular relationship I had with him,” Nicholson told the AP. “We were soulmates in a way. I really miss him.”