Actor Ben Johnson, 77, died of an apparent heart attack on April 8 in Mesa, Ariz. Born in Oklahoma, Johnson went to Hollywood in 1940 and was working as a stuntman and double for actors like John Wayne and Henry Fonda when director John Ford gave him his first big role in 1948’s 3 Godfathers. He performed in dozens of westerns, but it was his role as Sam the Lion, an aging, small-town pool-hall owner in 1971’s The Last Picture Show that won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor….
Best-selling author Richard Condon, 81, died of heart and kidney failure on April 9 at Dallas’s Presbyterian Hospital. Condon, who began writing novels in his 40s after working as a film publicist, saw two of his books made into critically acclaimed movies: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Prizzi’s Honor (1985)….
Sweet ‘N Low developer Benjamin Eisenstadt, 89, died of complications from bypass surgery on April 8 at a New York City hospital. In 1957, Eisenstadt, a Brooklyn businessman, and his son Marvin, a chemistry whiz, concocted the sugar substitute mix of saccharin, dextrose and other ingredients that sweetens millions of cups of coffee for weight watchers….
Onetime singer Larry LaPrise, 83, who in the late 1940s cowrote “The Hokey Pokey,” died on April 4, of undisclosed causes, at a Boise, Idaho, hospital. LaPrise wrote the song for après-skiers in a Sun Valley bar where his band played.
Actress Jane Fonda, 58, had an emergency appendectomy at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital on April 3. She was released three days later and is recovering at home….
Humor columnist Erma Bombeck, 69, received a kidney transplant on April 3 at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. Bombeck, who was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 20, had a kidney removed in 1993 and had been on dialysis.
Victoria’s Secret model Stephanie Seymour, 28, and her husband, Interview magazine owner Peter Brant, 49, expect an addition to the family this fall. The two have a son, Peter Jr., 2, and Seymour’s son Dylan, 5, from a previous relationship….
Lady Sarah Chatto, 31, daughter of Britain’s Princess Margaret, and her husband, fellow artist Daniel Chatto, 38, are expecting their first heir in July. The little royal, Princess Margaret’s first grandchild, will be 14th in line to the throne.
You can’t touch this: Rap star Hammer, 34, filed for bankruptcy protection April 1 in a federal court in Oakland. The Grammy winner, né Stanley Kirk Burrell, claims $10 million in debts. He became a star with the release of his 1990 album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, and Forbes magazine estimated his gross earnings at $33 million in 1991.
Chicago police are investigating a 25-year-old woman’s complaint that heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, 29, sexually assaulted her at a nightclub. After the alleged victim sought treatment for undisclosed injuries, her lawyer filed a police report on April 9. A Tyson spokesman refused to comment, and a club employee disputed the woman’s complaint.
Surprise! Newly wed Tonya Harding announced she and husband Michael Smith, a Portland machinist, are splitting after 3½ months of marriage.