Lot of death notices today.
Max Schmeling, German Boxer, Is Dead at 99
Max Schmeling, the German boxer whose legendarily brief 1938 heavyweight title bout against Joe Louis was so fraught with political and racial overtones that it was called "the undercard of World War II," died Wednesday at his home in Hollenstedt, Germany, near Hamburg. He was 99 years old.
In one of boxing's most memorable nights and surely among the most electrifying 124 seconds in the history of sport, Louis, then heavyweight champion of the world, crushed Schmeling before 70,000 fans at Yankee Stadium.
For Louis, the first-round knockout was sweet revenge: two years earlier, in what many consider one of the greatest upsets in heavyweight history, Schmeling had knocked out the undefeated, heavily-favored Louis in the 12th round.
The Nazis had embraced Schmeling after his victory over Louis, touting him as proof of German racial superiority. Schmeling never joined the Nazi Party himself. But from the moment Hitler came to power in 1933, he had walked a tightrope, seeking simultaneously to please the Nazis while maintaining his relations in New York, the world capital of boxing, where he made most of his money and where a large percentage of the boxing community - managers, promoters, fans - was Jewish.
In later life Schmeling came to be known as one of sport's finest ambassadors and a generous man who would help to pay a stricken Louis' medical bills.
Actor Ossie Davis Found Dead in Hotel
Ossie Davis, the imposing, unshakable actor who championed racial justice on stage, on screen and in real life, often in tandem with his wife, Ruby Dee, has died. He was 87.
Davis was found dead Friday in his hotel room in Miami Beach, Fla., according to officials there. He was making a film called ``Retirement,'' said Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in suburban New Rochelle and confirmed the death.
Ernst Mayr, 100, Premier Evolutionary Biologist
Dr. Ernst Mayr, the leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century, died on Thursday in Bedford, Mass. He was 100.
Dr. Mayr's death, in a retirement community where he had lived since 1997, was announced by his family and Harvard, where he was a faculty member for many years.
He was known as an architect of the evolutionary or modern synthesis, an intellectual watershed when modern evolutionary biology was born. The synthesis, which has been described by Dr. Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard as "one of the half-dozen major scientific achievements in our century," revived Darwin's theories of evolution and reconciled them with new findings in laboratory genetics and in field work on animal populations and diversity.
One of Dr. Mayr's most significant contributions was his persuasive argument for the role of geography in the origin of new species, an idea that has won virtually universal acceptance among evolutionary theorists. He also established a philosophy of biology and founded the field of the history of biology.
"He was the Darwin of the 20th century, the defender of the faith," said Dr. Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, a historian of science at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Eric Griffiths, 64, Member of Band That Became Beatles, Dies
ric Griffiths, a guitarist for the Quarrymen, the rock and skiffle band led by John Lennon that eventually evolved into the Beatles, died on Saturday at his home in Edinburgh. He was 64.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, said Rod Davis, who played banjo in the original group.
Mr. Griffiths was born in Denbigh, Wales, and moved with his family to Liverpool at a young age. On his first day at Quarry Bank School when he was at 11, he met two students, John Lennon and Pete Shotton, who, Mr. Griffiths later said, shared an interest in "music, girls and smoking."
The friends began to play skiffle, the ragtag mix of American blues and early rock 'n' roll that captivated English youth in the mid-50's. The band rehearsed at Mr. Griffiths's home while his mother was at work, and began to perform in Liverpool. Along with other revolving members, Lennon and Mr. Griffiths played guitar, Mr. Shotton played washboard percussion, Bill Smith played tea-chest bass and Colin Hanton played drums.
At a concert on July 6, 1957 - a hallowed date in Beatles lore - the Quarrymen were heard by a 15-year-old Paul McCartney, who soon joined the group. The next year George Harrison joined as another guitarist and Mr. Griffiths was asked to switch to bass. The instrument was prohibitively expensive, so he left the group and joined the British merchant navy. He first heard "Please Please Me," the Beatles' first No. 1 hit, on the radio while on duty in the Persian Gulf.
John Vernon, 'Animal House's' Wormer, dies
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- John Vernon, a stage-trained character actor who played cunning villains in film and TV and made his comedy mark as Dean Wormer in "National Lampoon's Animal House," has died. He was 72.
Movie fans may know him best for his role in "Animal House" as Dean Wormer, who is bent on expelling the hard-partying Delta fraternity house. The movie, starring John Belushi and Tim Matheson, is one of the most popular comedies ever made.
Vernon went on to work with other celebrated filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock ("Topaz," 1969); Don Siegel ("Dirty Harry," 1971), and Clint Eastwood ("The Outlaw Josey Wales," 1976).