Obituaries in the news

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 27, 2009 15:05 hrs

NEW YORK (AP) — Author Dominick Dunne, who told stories of shocking crimes among the rich and famous through his magazine articles and best-selling books, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Dunne's son, Griffin Dunne, said that his father had been battling bladder cancer at his home.

The cancer, however, had not prevented Dunne from working and socializing, his twin passions.

In September 2008, against his doctor's orders and his family's wishes, Dunne flew to Las Vegas to attend O.J. Simpson's kidnap-robbery trial, a postscript to his coverage of the football great's 1995 murder trial, which spiked Dunne's considerable fame.

In the past year, Dunne had traveled to Germany and the Dominican Republic for experimental stem cell treatments to fight his cancer.

Dunne discontinued his Vanity Fair column to concentrate on finishing another novel, "Too Much Money," which is to come out in December. He also made a number of appearances to promote a documentary film about his life, "After the Party," which was being released on DVD.

Dunne, who lived in Manhattan, was beginning to write his memoirs and until recently had posted messages on his Web site commenting on events in his life and thanking his fans for their support.


Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim

BAGHDAD (AP) — Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the scion of a revered clerical family who channeled rising Shiite Muslim power after the fall of Saddam Hussein to become one of Iraq's most influential politicians, died Wednesday. He was 59.

His death was announced by his son and political heir Ammar, who said that al-Hakim died of lung cancer in Iran.

Calm and soft-spoken, al-Hakim was a kingmaker in Iraq's politics, working behind the scenes as the head of the country's biggest Shiite political party.

But for many in Iraq's Shiite majority, he was more than that — a symbol of their community's victory and seizure of power after decades of oppression under Saddam's Sunni-led regime. Al-Hakim's family led a Shiite rebel group against Saddam's rule from their exile in Iran, where he lived for 20 years, building close ties with Iranian leaders.

After Saddam's 2003 fall, al-Hakim hewed close to the Americans even while maintaining his alliance with Tehran, judging that the U.S. military was key to the Shiite rise.

Among Iraq's minority Sunnis, he was deeply distrusted, seen as a tool of Shiite Iran.

The alliance of Shiite parties that al-Hakim helped forge and that has dominated the government since the first post-Saddam elections in 2005 has broken apart ahead of January parliamentary elections, pitting a coalition led by al-Hakim's party against another led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


Ellie Greenwich

NEW YORK (AP) — Ellie Greenwich, who wrote such classic pop songs as "Chapel of Love," ''River Deep, Mountain High" and "Be My Baby" with Phil Spector, died Wednesday. She was 68.

Greenwich died of a heart attack at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York, where she had been admitted a few days earlier to treat her pneumonia, said niece Jessica Weiner.

Greenwich, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, was considered one of pop's most successful songwriters. She had a rich musical partnership with the legendary Spector, but he wasn't her only collaborator.

She also had key hits with her ex-husband Jeff Barry, including dynamic song "Leader Of The Pack" (years later, Broadway would stage a Tony-nominated musical based on her life with the same name).

Greenwich was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and while she garnered her greatest success as a songwriter, initially started out as a performer in her own right. By the time she was a teen, she had her own group, called The Jivettes.

She got her break working for songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. She had her first chart success with the Jay and the Americans song "This Is It," which she wrote with Doc Pomus and Tony Powers.

Besides her work with Spector, Greenwich also worked as an arranger and singer, a role that saw her working with artists including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.


Edward M. Kennedy

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. (AP) — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in an enduring political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday. He was 77.

Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008, died at his home on Cape Cod, his family said.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

His only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter turned back his challenge for the party's nomination. More than a quarter-century later, he handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.

To the American public, Kennedy was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.

He was first elected to the Senate in 1962, taking the seat that his brother John had occupied before winning the White House, and served longer than all but two senators in history.


Mary Morris Lawrence

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mary Morris Lawrence, among the first female photographers at The Associated Press, died Aug. 12. She was 95.

She died at her home in Oakland, her husband, Harold Lawrence, said. She was suffering from heart failure.

The Chicago native joined the AP in New York on November 16, 1936 and worked as a features photographer.

Morris described herself as a "groundbreaker" in an interview with The Oakland Tribune in 2007 and recalled male colleagues at the AP joking that they would no longer be able to change their pants in the darkroom.

Lawrence, the former general manager of the London Symphony Orchestra, said his wife was a photographer for the AP at Yankee Stadium, where she was once greeted with an ovation by the crowd when she walked on the field in a skirt. He also recalled she worked on stories about child labor in Pennsylvania.

Morris worked at AP for three-and-a-half years before leaving in 1940. She went on to work for the New York tabloid PM. Her work also appeared in magazines such as Look, Life and Mademoiselle.

Morris was born in Chicago on March 27, 1914. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1936.

She made a name for herself photographing Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra.

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