Art Blakey, 71, a powerful jazz drummer whose influence ranged far beyond pounding out the tight propulsive beat that came to be called hard bebop, died of lung cancer in New York City Oct. 16. Over the past 35 years, Blakey’s band, the Jazz Messengers, served as an ever-evolving showcase and proving ground for young, up-and-coming talents, including Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett.
Novelist Seth Morgan, 41, a onetime heroin addict, convict and lover of Janis Joplin, died in a motorcycle crash Oct. 17 in New Orleans. His only book, Homeboy, a vivid journey into San Francisco’s drug underworld, was published last year. “I hope my work carries the conviction of someone who has really been there,” he said recently, “and is lucky to be here.”
Joel McCrea, 84, lanky, low-key actor who ambled through such classics as Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, William Wyler’s These Three and Preston Sturges’s The Palm Beach Story (with Claudette Colbert, above) before saddling up as one of Hollywood’s most enduring Western stars (The Virginian, Ride the High Country), died of pulmonary complications Oct. 20 in Woodland Hills, Calif. McCrea grew up in L.A.—as a boy, he delivered newspapers to Sam Goldwyn and Cecil B. DeMille—but, once established as an actor, he fashioned his life into something of a horse opera, buying up acres of land and listing his occupation as “rancher.” “A horse to him.” a columnist once wrote, “was like a sonnet to Keats.”
The Judds are cutting back to a Judd: Naomi, 44, the elder half of the Grammy-winning mother-daughter team, has announced that she’s suffering from hepatitis and will drop out of the duo after their current tour is finished in October 1991. Wynonna, 26, will work on a solo album next year….
Actress Dyan Cannon, 53, married in the ’60s to Cary Grant, is divorcing her second husband, real-estate mogul Stanley Fimberg. Those old irreconcilable differences….
Moving in the opposite direction: Sean Penn, 30, and pregnant bride-to-be Robin Wright, 24, have set the date—Nov. 18 in Los Angeles….
Superman, who holds a day job as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, has proposed to co-worker Lois Lane in the comic book’s latest installment. Whether she says yes, no. or “Get a life. Clark,” remains to be seen.
Tom Carvel, 84, the ice-cream tycoon whose voice—a near-indescribable mix of grumble, mumble, rasp and gasp—peddled his company’s wares in radio and TV ads for 35 years, died in his sleep in Pine Plains, N.Y., Oct. 21. Born in Greece, Carvel invented the frozen-custard machine in the ’20s and started selling ice cream in 1934 with a $15 loan from his wife, Agnes. He began selling franchises in 1941; more than 700 stores are now in operation. Carvel launched his distinctive voice-over vérité—unedited, flubs, poor syntax and all—in 1955. “Our commercials,” he said, “are for the people who look like us, talk like us and sound like us.” Unlike us, he sold his company to Investcorp in 1989 for $80 million; the new owners announced this year that Carvel’s narration was being dropped from future ads.