Jerry Lewis was a comedy legend who achieved fame in a partnership with Dean Martin and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons. He died Aug. 20 in Las Vegas of natural causes. He was 91. Lewis was just 20 when his pairing with Martin made them international stars. After his break with Martin in 1956, Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films. He made such movies as “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor,” was featured in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” and appeared as himself in Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night.” As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he raised vast sums for charity.
Dick Gregory was a comedian and activist who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health. He died Aug. 19 in Washington, D.C., after being hospitalized for about a week, his son told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection. He was 84. In the early 1960s, Gregory was one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences. His sharp commentary soon led him into civil rights activism, where his ability to woo audiences through humor helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks. In the late 1980s, he developed and distributed products for the popular Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet.
Jay Thomas was an actor with recurring roles on the sitcoms “Cheers” and “Murphy Brown.” He died Aug. 24 at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. The cause was cancer, his agent said. He was 69. Thomas’ best-known roles were as Eddie LeBec, the former-hockey-player husband of barmaid Carla on “Cheers,” and tabloid-talk-show host Jerry Gold on “Murphy Brown,” for which he won two Emmys. His film roles included “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and the second and third “Santa Clause” films. He also made many guest appearances on comedy and drama series, most recently on “Ray Donovan,” “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Bones.” He was host of a SiriusXM Radio talk show in recent years.
Cecil D. Andrus was a former secretary of the Interior who engineered the conservation of millions of acres of Alaska land during the Carter administration. He died Aug. 24 at his home in Boise, Idaho, of complications from lung cancer, his daughter said. He was 85. Andrus was a onetime lumberjack who resigned midway through his second term as Idaho governor in 1977 to become President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of the Interior Department. He served until Carter’s term ended in 1981 and then was elected governor two more times, becoming the first four-term governor in Idaho history.
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Thomas Meehan was a three-time Tony Award-winning book writer who was best known for transforming the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip into the smash Broadway musical “Annie.” He died Aug. 21 at his home in New York, longtime friend and “Annie” collaborator Martin Charnin said. He was 88. Meehan wrote books for three shows that ran over 2,000 performances on Broadway: “Annie,” “The Producers” with Mel Brooks and “Hairspray,” which he wrote with Mark O’Donnell.
Rafael “Felo” Ramirez was a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans for more than three decades. He died Aug. 21 in Miami, according to the Miami Marlins. He was 94. Ramirez, who began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945, called 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He had been the Florida Marlins’ Spanish-language announcer since 1993. He received the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters in 2001.
Brian Aldiss was one of the most prolific and influential science fiction writers of the 20th century. He died Aug. 18 at his home in Oxford, England. He was 92. Aldiss had a huge influence on sci-fi as a writer of stories and novels and as editor of many anthologies. His work includes “Greybeard,” set in a world without young people, and the “Helliconia” trilogy, centered on a planet in which the seasons last for centuries. His 1969 short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film “A.I.”
Compiled from news service reports by Chris Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org.