July 31, 2005

Inductee Ryne Sandberg waves to the crowd during his acceptance speech on Sunday, July 31, 2005, at the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Chicago Cubs player Ryne Sandberg waves after he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York July 31, 2005.

In this hand out photo from the Baseball Hall of Fame is the bronze Hall of Fame plaque of Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Sunday, July 31, 2005 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Boggs, Sandberg inducted into Hall of Fame

Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on Sunday.

Boggs, who played the majority of his career with the Boston Red Sox, retired with 3,010 hits and a .328 lifetime batting average, one of the highest in the modern era.

"Baseball is just a game," Boggs said in his induction speech. "You should always play the game with passion, play the game with heart, and play the game you love, and possibly one day your dreams can come true just like mine did."

Boggs also played for the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Sandberg was one of the best fielding second basemen in history, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves with the Chicago Cubs after arriving from the
Philadelphia Phillies.

He was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1984.

"I didn't play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel," said Sandberg.

"I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do -- play it right and with respect."

Longtime San Diego Padres announcer Jerry Coleman received the Ford C. Frick Award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting, while sportswriter and broadcaster Peter Gammons, received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

Boggs, Sandberg Inducted Into Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Wade Boggs cried. Ryne Sandberg simply was Ryno — smooth as silk. Four decades after they once dreamed of baseball greatness, Boggs and Sandberg were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday to the raucous cheers of thousands of Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cub fans.

"There were many stops along the way," said Boggs, who began playing minor-league baseball in Elmira, N.Y., in 1976. "But today that train has pulled into Cooperstown, and I've found this family here at the Hall of Fame. My wife and I believe this is the beginning of another baseball journey."

Boggs, who batted left-handed, was a scrawny kid who didn't attract much attention even though he finished his senior year at Plant High in Tampa, Fla., on a 26-for-33 tear. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Red Sox and then spent five-plus seasons in the minors before finally forcing the Red Sox to promote him in 1981 after he led the International League in batting.

"Life is about obstacles," said Boggs, who also played for the Yankees and Tampa Bay. "Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens. Baseball is just a game. You should always play the game with passion, play the game with heart, and play the game you love, and possibly one day your dreams can come true just like mine did."

Boggs learned the trademark inside-out swing that produced 3,010 hits from his father, Winfield, a fast-pitch softball star. He learned well, going on to hit .300 or higher 15 times and finishing with a .328 career average. He was the only player in the 20th century with seven straight 200-hit seasons.

And when it came time to pay tribute to his 80-year-old father, Boggs broke down as his dad, too, brushed away tears.

"Daddy, I wouldn't be up here without you, my mentor, my idol," Boggs said. "Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad. That's why I call you dad, because you are so special to me. You taught me the game, and you taught me how to play it right. Without you, I wouldn't be here. Thank you, dad."

The tears continued when Boggs remembered his deceased mother, Susan.

"She couldn't be here today, but she's here in spirit," Boggs, only the 41st player elected on his first try, said as he glanced skyward. "She was the rock of the family. She had to wear two hats, my father being in the Air Force. Mom, I love you. I miss you. I wish you were here."

Sandberg, a darling of Cubs fans because he excelled in every facet of the game as a star second baseman who shunned the spotlight, said he became a Hall of Famer because he respected the game. And the 48 Hall of Famers sitting behind seemed to nod in unison.

"A lot of people say this honor validates my career," said Sandberg, who wasn't picked until the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. "But I didn't work hard for validation. I didn't play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do — play it right and with respect. Turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light on the dugout camera."

Although the 6-foot-2 Sandberg began at short, he eventually was switched to second and blossomed in 1984, two years after the Phils traded him to the Cubs.

The trade gave Sandberg a chance to play every day, and he quickly quieted the skeptics who thought he was too tall to play second. He won the first of nine consecutive Gold Gloves, establishing a major league record of 123 consecutive errorless games over two seasons.

Sandberg won MVP honors in 1984, hitting a career-high .314 with 19 homers, 84 RBIs, 114 runs, 32 stolen bases, and made only six errors in 156 games.

"Baseball wasn't easy for me. I struggled many times," said Sandberg, who was elected in his third year of eligibility. "I had to work hard every day, and I didn't leave many scraps for the writers. I hope you also understand why I would not campaign for this or help to sell this. It's the best award in all of sports, and I think if I had expected anything, if I was thinking about it too much or crunching the numbers, it would have taken away from the prestige of this incredible honor."

Also enshrined were longtime San Diego Padres announcer Jerry Coleman, winner of the Ford C. Frick Award presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting, and veteran sportswriter and broadcaster Peter Gammons, recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented annually for meritorious contributions to baseball writing,

Coleman's playing career was interrupted twice because of military service as a Marine pilot during World War II and Korea. He flew 120 missions, received two distinguished flying crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations, while earning the rank of lieutenant colonel.

And for that he received a standing ovation.

"This is the highest honor of my life," said Coleman, a star second baseman for the Yankees and 1950 World Series MVP. "I'm here because my peers put me here. The journey has been incredible. I feel finally, finally I've come home."

Pete Rose, ineligible for the Hall of Fame because of his lifetime ban from baseball for gambling, originally was scheduled to appear at Pete Rose Ballpark Collectibles to sign autographs. However, within the last week the sign above the front of the store, located a little over a block away from the Hall of Fame on Main Street, was taken down and Rose never appeared.

Andrew Vilacky, owner of the store and a close friend and business associate of Rose, has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of felony tax fraud for his part in a scheme that authorities said bilked the U.S. and New York state governments of nearly $3 million in fraudulent tax refunds between 1997 and 2001. Vilacky is scheduled to be sentenced in October and could face up to five years in prison.
Boggs, Sandberg ready to enter Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Growing up, Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were just like any other kids in love with baseball, playing imaginary games and dreaming.

"In the backyard, when you were playing whiffle ball, you always imitated all the great players," Boggs said. "I was always Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose. All those guys."

"I had a rope line for the home run on top of the garage, off the garage was a double, trees and picnic tables were the fielders," Sandberg said. "I played with a solid plastic golf ball. I remember putting my arms up in the air on a game-winning hit, 'Is it out of here? Yes!' And I was by myself."

Four decades later, those childhood dreams will culminate with the greatest of honors - induction Sunday into the Hall of Fame. Also being enshrined are San Diego Padres announcer and former New York Yankees second baseman Jerry Coleman, and longtime writer and broadcaster Peter Gammons.

"The Hall of Fame is not something an athlete can set as a goal," said Boggs, a five-time AL batting champion for the Boston Red Sox who became just the 41st player elected on his first chance. "It's something that evolves."

For both Boggs and Sandberg, it evolved slowly at first.

Boggs, who batted left-handed, was a scrawny kid who didn't attract much attention even though he finished his senior year at Plant High in Tampa, Fla., on a 26-for-33 tear. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Red Sox and then spent five-plus seasons in the minors.

Although he won one batting title and finished among the top four hitters four other times, the Sox didn't even invite him to spring training after he barely missed winning the batting title while playing third base for Triple-A Pawtucket in 1980.

"The only thing that I was told by the Red Sox was that I don't hit for power and that I play in a power position and that I wasn't going to be able to play in the big leagues if I don't hit for power," said Boggs, who also played for the Yankees and Tampa Bay, retiring with 3,010 hits.

Boggs learned his inside-out swing from his father, Winfield, a fast-pitch softball star. He went on to hit .300 or higher 15 times, finished with a .328 career average and was the only player in the 20th century with seven straight 200-hit seasons.

"It was just one of those things, when someone tells you can't do something, you go out and work twice as hard and try to hone your craft," said Boggs, a notorious creature of habit who believed his game-day rituals, such as eating chicken before every game, contributed to his success. "Honing my craft was the ability to get on base, hit for high average, and score runs. That was my game. I knew I could hit a line drive the majority of the time when I swung."

While Boggs was a star kicker in high school and could have played college football, Sandberg was all but signed, sealed and delivered to be the starting quarterback at Washington State instead of a minor league shortstop.

"I signed a letter of intent. I had all my classes picked, and I had a roommate," Sandberg said. "All of my college trips my senior year were college trips for football. I was highly recruited. I think I even had a backpack and a bathrobe that said Washington State on it, so I was ready to go."

Apparently, big league executives figured the same - he wasn't picked until the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Although the 6-foot-2 Sandberg began at short, he eventually was switched to second and, like Boggs, had to endure a label of his own.

"I heard a lot of talk about being too tall to play the position - how can you move around, turn the double play? - because I wasn't the prototype that everybody was used to as a second baseman," said Sandberg, who was traded in January 1982 by the Phillies with Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs for Ivan DeJesus. "It felt like I was fighting that a little bit."

The trade gave Sandberg a chance to play everyday, and he quickly quieted the skeptics. When the Cubs acquired Ron Cey from the Dodgers to play third base in 1983, Sandberg became the starting second baseman and won the first of nine consecutive Gold Gloves.

"I really liked the transition from third base," said Sandberg, who was elected to the Hall of Fame on his third try. "I just liked being in the middle of the diamond, loved turning the double play. As I got more confident and mature, the power numbers started."

And after a signature moment at Wrigley Field, he figured he could be just as good as anybody who played the game.

On June 23, 1984, Sandberg went 5-for-6 against the Cardinals and drove in seven runs, hitting a home run in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings and tied the game again one inning later with another home run - both off Bruce Sutter, one of the best relief pitchers in history. The Cubs won the game one inning later.

"That game took me to a whole other level," Sandberg said. "It really brought to life what Jim Frey, my manager, was talking about that spring training, being more of an impact type of a player and being capable of having big games."

July 30, 2005

Penguins Make Phenom Crosby No. 1 Pick

OTTAWA - Welcome to the NHL, Sidney Crosby. As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins used the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft to take the 17-year-old phenom from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

"This is amazing," Crosby said. "I'm just really relieved. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy right now."

For the NHL, the arrival of a young superstar is just what the league needed after the lockout erased the 2004-05 season. For Crosby, the waiting is finally over.

Crosby, who turns 18 on Aug. 7, is a 5-foot-10, 193-pound forward with surprising strength and masterful vision on the ice. A prolific scorer, Crosby won nearly every trophy up for grabs the last two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He had 66 goals and 102 assists in 62 games, after a rookie campaign that featured 54 goals and 81 assists in 59 games, and was the Canadian major junior player of the year both seasons.

"He creates a lot of excitement," Crosby's boss and possible linemate Mario Lemieux said. "He has all the tools to be a great player. He sees the ice well, he's a great skater. He says he needs to work on his shot, but it looks pretty good to me."

The young star will share center stage in Pittsburgh with Lemieux, the first overall pick himself in 1984, and is expected to help rescue the struggling franchise.

"I'm not really thinking about it right now," Crosby said. "I want to come and play in the NHL next year. That's my goal, that's my focus right now. I'm going to put everything into that and try to move on from there."
Indiana 62, Washington 58

Tamika Catchings scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, helping the Indiana Fever rally in the second half for a 62-58 win over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

Natalie Williams scored 14 points, and Kelly Miller had 13 for Indiana.

Catchings and Williams scored seven points each as the Fever went on an 18-4 run in a 6:41 span of the second half and built a 51-41 lead with 11:02 remaining.

Temeka Johnson scored 15 points, and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 for Washington, which closed to one point with a late 14-4 run.

Chastity Melvin's baseline drive cut the deficit to 59-58 with 22.4 seconds remaining, but Catchings made one of two free throws with 15.9 seconds to play.

After Johnson missed a hook shot in the lane, Jurgita Streimikyte rebounded, was fouled with 0.4 seconds remaining, and sank both free throws.

Alana Beard, who scored a career-high 27 points in Washington's home win over San Antonio on Thursday, scored 10 points Friday on 3-of-11 shooting. After a fast start, she scored just two points over the final 32 minutes.

Indiana, second in the Eastern Conference at 14-8, moved three games ahead of third-place Washington (12-12). The Fever have won six of eight. They have held opponents to fewer than 60 points in each of those wins.

July 29, 2005

One-time throw-in becomes Hall of Famer

Ryne Sandberg had a dream. He'd pull on the red-and-white of the Philadelphia Phillies, trot out to shortstop and ... It didn't happen. Sandberg, one of the most celebrated "throw-ins" of all time, was dealt by the Phillies to the Chicago Cubs in 1982 and his dream was shattered.

Sunday, Sandberg and Wade Boggs will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

"When I was at Double-A Reading, the bus would often go by Veterans Stadium on the way to our road games. I'd look out the window, and there was the Vet," Sandberg says. "That was a goal of mine - to play at Veterans Stadium."

Sandberg knew all about the World Series champions of 1980. Larry Bowa was the shortstop, Manny Trillo at second base and the greatest third baseman ever, Mike Schmidt. And don't forget Garry Maddox in center field.

Replacing any of those All-Stars was virtually impossible. So after the 1981 season, Sandberg reduced his goal. "I hoped to break in as a utility infielder," he says.

Dallas Green, the tough, demanding manager who produced the only World Series championship in Phillies franchise history, had other ideas.

Green brings him along

Green, who as farm director was instrumental in choosing Sandberg in the 20th round of the 1978 draft, had followed the youngster from Spokane, Wash., every step of the way through minors.

After the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Cubs searched for someone to lead them out of the depths of National League despair. Green left the Phillies and became Chicago's vice president and general manager.

In Philadelphia that offseason, the franchise was sold to a group headed by Bill Giles, son of former NL President Warren Giles. Almost from the moment Giles took over, he and the fiery Bowa feuded.

"It was well-documented that Bowa probably wasn't going to be around," Green says. "I knew the other part of the puzzle was that I had the only shortstop (Ivan DeJesus) who could play on a championship team. That's really what Pope (late Phillies GM Paul Owens) wanted."

Bowa for DeJesus happened Jan. 27, 1982. Sandberg was the "throw-in" to complete the deal.

"Pope desperately, or thought he did, needed DeJesus," says Green, who's now an adviser to Phillies GM Ed Wade. "I wasn't going to settle for anyone but Sandberg. We knew they had no place to play him, so we hung on. The Pope finally gave in."

Sandberg was in Venezuela playing winter ball and learning other positions, hoping to increase his value as a utility infielder. "I was very surprised by the deal - three shortstops were involved," he says. "It was my goal to someday take over for Larry Bowa at shortstop. I wasn't too happy.

"As I got back from playing winter ball that year, I looked at the situation and had second thoughts. I knew Dallas Green was general manager of the Cubs, and they were going to be a rebuilding team. I looked at this as a good situation for me."

Sandberg had an outstanding spring, playing shortstop, second base and some center field.

"My offense was so good it actually got to a point where they had to find a spot for me," he says. "I ended up breaking camp as the opening-day third baseman."

Green says he encouraged manager Lee Elia, also from the Phillies, to play Sandberg at third.

"We had Bowa at shortstop and had just drafted Shawon Dunston, also a shortstop," Green says. "We didn't have a third baseman. I told them to play him around. We didn't know what position he'd settle in, but I really wanted to see him at third base to see how he handled it. He took to it like a glove."

Sandberg played third in 1982 but moved to second in '83 and by '84 was a fixture there. In fact, as the Cubs won the NL East title, "Ryno" was the league MVP, batting .314 with 19 homers and 84 RBI. He made six errors en route to his second of nine consecutive Gold Gloves.

And from there, Sandberg was on his way to the Hall of Fame, a destination I believe he wouldn't have reached if he'd remained with the Phillies.

"I don't know how it would have turned out," Sandberg says. "If I had remained with the Phillies, I don't think I would have gotten 635 at-bats in 1982. Don't know if I would have been MVP in '84. Those are all the things I've thought about."

Indebted to Phillies

Sandberg says he owes much of his success to his Phillies upbringing, especially Green and his first manager at Helena, Larry Rojas. "They instilled in me how to do things the right way, having good fundamentals, having good work habits - and even how to put on my socks."

For that, he adds, he's forever indebted.

"As it turns out, my goal and that dream (to play at Veterans Stadium) did come true, but I was in a different uniform. I remember the first time I played there with the Cubs. It was an eerie feeling. I looked around, saying, 'This is Veterans Stadium, where I wanted to play and I'm here - as a Chicago Cub.' "

And now a Hall of Famer.
Caltech astronomer finds solar system's 10th planet

LOS ANGELES - A California astronomer has discovered what he believes is the 10th planet in our solar system, a group of NASA-funded researchers said on Friday.

The new planet, known as 2003UB313, has been identified as the most distant object ever detected orbiting the sun, California Institute of Technology astronomer Michael Brown said.

Brown and colleagues Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz have submitted a name for the planet to the International Astronomical Union and are confident it will be designated a planet. Brown did not reveal the proposed name.

The procedure for approving the new planet is somewhat hazy as no new bodies have received that designation since Pluto was discovered in 1930, Brown said.

"We hope that it's fairly noncontroversial among those who believe Pluto is a planet," Brown said. "I would say get out your pens and start rewriting the textbooks today."

The planet is located about 9.7 billion miles from the sun and is about 1 1/2 times the size of Pluto, the researchers said.

The new planet orbits the sun once every 560 years and is now at its farthest point from Earth, he said. In about 280 years, the planet will be as close as Neptune, he said.

Like Pluto, the object's surface is believed to be predominantly methane, but its size -- about 1,700 miles in diameter -- qualifies it as a planet, Brown said. Earth is about 7,900 miles in diameter.

The new planet is believed to be part of the Kuiper Belt, a large ring of icy objects that orbit beyond Neptune and are believed to be remnants of the material that formed the solar system.

Brown said the new planet was detected in January by the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego.

The Caltech team, funded in part by NASA, had been waiting to announce the find until they had completed their studies, but changed their minds after a hacker threatened to go public with their data, Brown said.

Their finding comes a day after a Spanish team of astronomers announced the discovery of another relatively large object orbiting in the solar system's outer reaches. That object, Brown said, was about three-quarters the size of Pluto.

The new planet went undiscovered for so long because its orbit is tilted at a 45-degree angle to the orbital plane of the other planets, and travels in an elliptical orbit, Brown said.

The team had been scanning the skies with the 48-inch (120-cm) telescope for five years, searching for large bodies orbiting in higher planes than that of the Earth and other planets.

The new planet is so far away that an observer standing on its surface could cover the view of the sun with the head of a pin, Brown said. It was sufficiently bright, however, for amateur astronomers to track it in the early morning sky, he said.

July 28, 2005

Patti LuPone to Return to Broadway

NEW YORK - From Eva Peron to Mrs. Lovett. Patti LuPone, who won a Tony Award for her performance in "Evita," will portray the entrepreneurial meat-pie maker in a revival of "Sweeney Todd," opening Nov. 3 on Broadway.

The production, which will also star Michael Cerveris as the murderous "demon barber of Fleet Street," will be performed with only 10 actors, who will play all the musical instruments in the show. It will be directed and designed by John Doyle.

"Sweeney Todd," which has a score by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, originally opened on Broadway in 1979, with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou heading the cast. It was revived 10 years later with Beth Fowler and Bob Gunton in the lead roles.

Preview performances for this new production, which originated in London last year, begin Oct. 3 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
'Dancing' bows to controversy, adds results show

LOS ANGELES - A day after coming under critics' fire about the "Dancing With the Stars" voting procedures, ABC said it will return the hit competition with a results show next season.

The 30-minute results show will follow an hourlong episode in "Dancing's" second season every week. There will be two dances per hourlong episode with judges' scores and comments, followed by a period of viewer votes via telephone and Web site. The couple with the lowest combined score will be eliminated at the end of the results show every week, the network said.

"Dancing" has been a big hit for ABC this summer, pitting celebrities with no ballroom dancing experience with professionals to train and then perform as couples.

But the show, which became a competition between "General Hospital" actress
Kelly Monaco and former "Seinfeld" personality John O'Hurley, raised eyebrows among some viewers -- and Television Critics Assn. attendees -- about whether the voting was somehow skewed to favor the ABC personality. Network executives and the judges vigorously denied the charge.

Still, ABC and "Dancing" executives believed there could be some changes when the show returns for a second season. A premiere date hasn't been decided yet. Producer Izzie Pick said Tuesday that with the U.K. show, there's only one time zone, so it's easier to have everything happen in one show compared to the continental U.S., with three time zones. But the "Dancing" show in Australia, which also has several time zones, has a results show.

"In an ideal world, we would have a results show," Pick said.

ABC granted that wish Wednesday afternoon in a decision that was hailed -- literally -- at the TCA summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton. Several critics, who had a day earlier pressed ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson and "Dancing" producers about the judging, cheered when the results show was announced.

In an interview following the announcement, McPherson said the critics' concerns were only a part of the decision. It had been in the works anyway. He said there weren't any other big changes on the table for the show.

"A lot of it is great, so we don't want to fix what isn't broken," McPherson said.

Blondie and Dagwood to celebrate 75th anniversary

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead are about to celebrate their 75th anniversary as one of the world's most popular couples and many of their cartoon colleagues are coming to the party.

Garfield, Hagar the Horrible, Dick Tracy and Beetle Bailey are among the characters who will join the Bumsteads on Sunday, Sept. 4.

President Bush and his wife Laura will appear a week earlier, according to Blondie cartoonist Dean Young. He said the strip appears in over 2,300 newspapers in 55 countries with a readership of 250 million in 35 languages.

And Blondie and Dagwood will show up in several other comic strips during the next few weeks as they prepare for the big event.

"I'm hoping it will be a lot of fun for the readers," Young said in an interview at his studio in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Blondie was started by Young's father Murat "Chic" Young in 1930. Dean Young, 66, took over the strip in 1973 when his father died.

"He created these wonderful characters. He was a genius," Young said of his father.

Chic Young had worked on other strips including "Beautiful Bab" and "Dumb Dora" before "Blondie."

When the strip debuted on September 8, 1930, its heroine was Blondie Boopadoop, who was pretty and single. Dagwood was the playboy son of a railroad tycoon and one of her several boyfriends.

Blondie was popular at first but interest in a strip about rich characters declined as the Depression spread.


In 1932, Chic Young had Blondie and Dagwood fall in love. They were married in 1933, but Dagwood's parents disapproved of Blondie and disinherited him, forcing him to go to work and live a middle class life.

Their son Alexander was born in 1934 and daughter Cookie joined the family in 1941. Both children grew until they became teenagers while Blondie and Dagwood remain in their early 40s.

Young said he tries to keep the strip contemporary with the characters using computers and cell phones.

In 1991, Blondie got her first job when she started a catering business with her friend Tootsie.

But many of the jokes in the strip focus on recurring themes. Dagwood knocks over his mailman running to work and gets interrupted when he tries to take a nap or a bath. He still works for the J.C. Dithers Construction Company even though his boss yells at him and never gives him a raise.

"The strip is ageless and enduring, continuously reinventing itself to stay current while remaining true to its core," King Features Syndicate President T.R. Shepard said.

Young said at the heart of the strip's success was the couple's relationship. "Blondie and Dagwood love each other. It's nice to see that," he said.

The strip's popularity led to a series of 28 Blondie movies between 1938 and 1950 as well as radio and television shows. Blondie was featured on a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service and in a Library of Congress exhibit. The characters are even seen on casino slot machines.

Young said he hopes Blondie can continue for many more years. He said one of his daughters may take over for him some day, but not anytime soon.

"I love being a cartoonist," he said.

July 23, 2005

Myron Floren, accordion player on 'The Lawrence Welk Show,' dies

ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. - Myron Floren, a maestro accordion player who entertained generations of TV viewers on "The Lawrence Welk Show," died Saturday at the age of 85.

Floren died of cancer at his Rolling Hills Estates home in Los Angeles County, his daughter Randee Floren said.

A consummate musician versed in everything from polka to Bach, he joined Lawrence Welk's band in 1950 and stayed on until the television show ended in 1982.

The orchestra, which also included saxophonist Dick Dale and singer Jim Roberts, was famous for bouncing, effervescent dance music that Welk began playing as a young man in his native North Dakota.

More recently, Floren performed at music festivals around the country and frequently appeared at the Lawrence Welk Resort and Champagne Theater in Branson, Mo.

Parody singer "Weird Al" Yankovic, who also plays the accordion, has called Floren an inspiration in his youth.

Singer Bill Lennon, whose older sisters were regulars and who occasionally performed on Welk's show, described Floren as a gentlemen and a dedicated musician.

"A lot of folks in the orchestra said he conducted better with his elbows than many conductors do with the baton," Lennon said, referring to Floren's ability to play the accordion and keep the band on tempo.

Randee Floren recalled going out in public with her father as a young girl.

"People would recognize him and go crazy. It was like going out with a rock star in those days," she said.

Born on a farm outside Roslyn, S.D., in 1919, Floren took up the instrument after hearing an accordionist at a fair as a child. He married his former student Berdyne Koerner in 1945 and first played with Welk when the couple saw the band leader play at a ballroom in St. Louis.

The two musicians had met previously, and this time Welk invited Floren to perform a number with his band.

Myron chose "Lady of Spain" and the crowd was so enthusiastic Welk asked him to play the rest of the evening and quickly hired him, according to Margaret Heron, syndication manager for the show.

He and his wife Berdyne had five daughters, none of whom were musically talented, Randee Floren said.

She remembered one Father's Day when band members taught her and two of her sisters to sing a three-part harmony.

"We were terrible, but he was proud even though we stunk," she said.

Floren is survived by his wife, five daughters and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service was pending. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the USO.
Indiana 63, Charlotte 46

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Indiana Fever now know how to win even when Tamika Catchings has a low-scoring game.

Ebony Hoffman and Jurgita Streimikyte scored 13 points each to lead the Fever to a 63-46 victory Saturday over the Charlotte Sting.

Catchings managed just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, but the Fever made up for it.

Before this season, Indiana was 1-6 when the three-time All-Star failed to reach double figures. This year, they're 6-0.

``It all starts with Tamika Catchings,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. ``Defensively she plays very well, she kept those stats up. I got a good performance out of my bench. We have a strong team one through 12. Our defense is really solid.''

The Fever (13-7), off to the best start in team history, limited the Sting to a season-worst 27 percent shooting to win for the fifth time in six games.

Tammy Sutton-Brown had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Sheri Sam added 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting for the last-place Sting (3-18), who lost their sixth straight after falling at Connecticut on Friday.

``That was a pretty poor effort,'' Sting coach Trudi Lacey said. ``I know we were fatigued, but we have to execute better offensively. We have to be a lot tougher and play a lot harder.''

The Fever outscored the Sting 19-5 in an eight-minute stretch to take a 32-19 lead. Hoffman had two putbacks in the spurt and rookie Tan White, the No. 2 pick in the draft, hit a 3-pointer.

Sting rookie Janel McCarville, the top pick in the draft, continued to struggle. She entered with 18:13 left in the second half and the Fever immediately went after her.

Streimikyte drove past McCarville on the way to a three-point play to make it 42-29. Thirty seconds later Streimikyte scored an uncontested layup after McCarville fell down in the paint. She was taken out a minute later.

``She has struggled with a back injury all season long,'' Lacey said. ``But with everyone on our team, it has to be a more focused effort.''

The Sting got within 51-43 with nine minutes left, but Hoffman scored on consecutive post moves in an 8-0 run to seal it.

Indiana, which has held opponents to 60 or fewer points in eight of nine games, limited Charlotte's WNBA-worst offense to 5-of-20 shooting in the second half.

``They were going man-to-man, they were going zone, they were just being aggressive,'' Sutton-Brown said. ``They're a good squad. We were getting good looks, but our shots weren't falling.''

Indiana, 2-0 in Charlotte this season after eight straight losses, moved within 2 1/2 games of Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut. Indiana will play at Connecticut on Tuesday.

``We had a long home stretch, so every game we win on the road now is important in making sure we make the playoffs,'' Catchings said.

July 22, 2005

Indiana 66, San Antonio 53

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever's defense went through an extreme makeover in a matter of days.

The Fever recovered from their worst loss of the season with their largest victory margin, beating the San Antonio Silver Stars 66-53 Thursday night.

Indiana lost by 21 points at Minnesota on Tuesday, but bounced back by allowing its lowest point total of the season.

``We got back to it after the Minnesota game,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. ``Tonight we pressured people. Our bread and butter is defense.''

Jurgita Streimikyte led the Fever with 14 points, and Indiana is 4-1 since inserting her into the starting lineup.

Indiana (12-7) led by as many as 12 points on the way to a 31-24 halftime lead.

San Antonio (5-16) started the second half on a 7-2 run that trimmed Indiana's lead to 33-31, but the Fever responded with a 15-4 run to gain control.

``I thought we did a good job cutting it to two points,'' San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. ``Indiana is a good defensive team. We just didn't take care of the basketball.''

Tamika Catchings, the WNBA's player of the week, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with five points and six rebounds on her 26th birthday. The Fever improved to 5-0 this season when Catchings scores fewer than 10 points.

Catchings might have had trouble coming down to Earth after receiving a ring in a ceremony before the game representing her winning a 2004 Olympic gold medal.

``Getting that ring was a dream come true,'' she said. ``It recalls that moment when we won. It seems like it just happened. Still hard to believe I was in the Olympics, and then winning the gold on top of that.''

Natalie Williams added 12 points and eight rebounds and reserve Kelly Schumacher had 11 points for Indiana.

Marie Ferdinand led San Antonio with 14 points and Shannon Johnson added 11. The Silver Stars had 22 turnovers and took 21 fewer shots than the Fever.

July 20, 2005

'Star Trek' Engineer James Doohan Dies

LOS ANGELES - James Doohan, who played engineer Montgomery Scott, the scrappy Scotsman who repeatedly gave the Starship Enterprise "all she's got" in the original "Star Trek" TV series and motion pictures, died Wednesday. He was 85.

Almost every week, the frazzled Scott was asked to perform an engineering miracle with the warp drive, shields or phasers to save the ship from certain death at the hands of Romulans, Klingons or other assorted aliens.

Doohan died at 5:30 a.m. at his Redmond, Wash., home with his wife of 31 years, Wende, at his side, Los Angeles agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens said. The cause of death was pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, he said.

Doohan inspired the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," although Capt. Kirk never issued that order until the fourth movie. He told his family he wanted his ashes blasted into space, Stevens said. Houston-based Space Services Inc., which specializes in space memorials, said it would send Doohan's remains, along with 125 others, aboard a rocket later this year.

Doohan will join "Star Trek" series creator Gene Roddenberry, whose ashes were launched into space six years after he died in 1991.

The Canadian-born Doohan was enjoying a busy career as a character actor when he auditioned for a role as an engineer in a new space adventure on NBC in 1966. A master of dialects from his early years in radio, he tried seven different accents.

"The producers asked me which one I preferred," Doohan recalled 30 years later. "I believed the Scot voice was the most commanding. So I told them, 'If this character is going to be an engineer, you'd better make him a Scotsman.'"

The series, which starred William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the enigmatic Mr. Spock, attracted an enthusiastic following of science fiction fans, especially among teenagers and children, but not enough ratings power. NBC canceled it after three seasons.

"A long and storied career is over. I knew Jim when he started out in Canada and I knew him in his last years in America, so we go way back. My condolences go out to his family," Shatner said.

When the series ended in 1969, Doohan found himself typecast as the canny engineer with a burr in his voice. In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow."

"I took his advice," said Doohan, "and since then everything's been just lovely."

"Star Trek" continued in syndicated TV both in the United States and abroad, and its following grew larger and more dedicated. In his later years, Doohan attended 40 "Trekkie" gatherings around the country and lectured at colleges.

The huge success of George Lucas' "Star Wars" in 1977 prompted Paramount Pictures, which had produced "Star Trek" for TV, to plan a movie based on the series. The studio brought back the TV cast and hired director Robert Wise. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was successful enough to spawn five sequels.

The powerfully built Doohan, a veteran of D-Day in Normandy, spoke frankly in 1998 about his employer, Paramount, and his TV commander:

"I started out in the series at basic minimum_ plus 10 percent for my agent. That was added a little bit in the second year. When we finally got to our third year, Paramount told us we'd get second-year pay! That's how much they loved us."

He accused Shatner of hogging the camera, adding: "I like Capt. Kirk, but I sure don't like Bill. He's so insecure that all he can think about is himself."

Shatner was on hand when Doohan received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in August 2004 and it appeared the men had mended fences. The star was part of a two-day fan farewell tribute to Doohan, who was retiring from public life after being diagnosed with Alzeimer's several months earlier.

James Montgomery Doohan was born March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, the youngest of four children of William Doohan, a pharmacist, veterinarian and dentist, and his wife Sarah. As he wrote in his autobiography, "Beam Me Up, Scotty," his father was a drunk who made life miserable for his wife and children.

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in the artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he usually managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.

After the war, Doohan on a whim enrolled in a drama class in Toronto. He showed promise and won a two-year scholarship to New York's famed Neighborhood Playhouse, where fellow students included Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone.

His commanding presence and booming voice brought him work as a character actor in films and television, both in Canada and the United States.

Oddly, his only other TV series besides "Star Trek" was another space adventure, "Space Command," in 1953.

Doohan's first marriage to Judy Doohan produced four children. He had two children by his second marriage to Anita Yagel. Both marriages ended in divorce. In 1974 he married Wende Braunberger, and their children were Eric, Thomas and Sarah, who was born in 2000, when Doohan was 80.

In a 1998 interview, Doohan was asked if he ever got tired of hearing the line "Beam me up, Scotty."

"I'm not tired of it at all," he replied. "Good gracious, it's been said to me for just about 31 years. It's been said to me at 70 miles an hour across four lanes on the freeway. I hear it from just about everybody. It's been fun."
Actress Geraldine Fitzgerald Dies at 91

NEW YORK - Geraldine Fitzgerald, who appeared in such classic 1930s films as "Dark Victory" and "Wuthering Heights" and later had a career on the New York stage, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 91.

Fitzgerald died Sunday at her Manhattan home, Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Fitzgerald's family, said Monday.

The Irish-born actress received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Isabella Linton in "Wuthering Heights" (1939), appearing with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in director William Wyler's memorable screen version of the Emily Bronte novel.

That same year she also starred with Bette Davis, George Brent and Humphrey Bogart in the popular Hollywood tearjerker "Dark Victory."

Fitzgerald had a tumultuous career at Warner Bros. in the 1940s, refusing roles and being placed on suspension by the studio. Yet during that decade she managed to appear in such films as "Shining Victory" (1942), "The Gay Sisters" (1943), "Watch on the Rhine" (1944) and "Nobody Lives Forever" (1946), a film noir gem which starred John Garfield.

In later years, she appeared as a character actress in such movies as "Ten North Frederick" (1958), "The Pawnbroker" (1965), "Rachel, Rachel" (1968), "Harry and Tonto" (1974), "Arthur" (1981) and "Easy Money" (1983).

"I was a great fan. She was a consummate actress, and I just loved everything she did," said Shirley Jones, who co-starred with Fitzgerald in the 1970s made-for-TV movie "Yesterday's Child." "It was a great joy for me to work with her."

Fitzgerald received a Tony nomination in 1982, for directing "Mass Appeal," Bill C. Davis' play about the conflicts between an older and younger priest.

Among her New York stage appearances were roles in several Eugene O'Neill revivals, most notably as Mary Tyrone in a 1971 off-Broadway production of "Long Day's Journey into Night," which starred Robert Ryan. In 1977, she starred with Jason Robards in a revival of O'Neill's "A Touch of the Poet."

Fitzgerald also developed a nightclub act, called "Geraldine Fitzgerald Singing Songs of the Street" — later shortened to "Streetsongs" — in which she would talk and sing about her life, including reminiscences from her childhood.

Born in Dublin, Fitzgerald made her stage debut in 1932 at the Gate Theater and later appeared in several British films. She came to New York to act with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, but was quickly signed by Hollywood.

Fitzgerald's first marriage to Edward Lindsay-Hogg ended in divorce. She later married businessman Stuart Scheftel, who died in 1994.

Fitzgerald is survived by a son, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg of Los Angeles, and a daughter Susan Scheftel of New York.
Fever F Catchings named WNBA Player of Week for second time

For Tamika Catchings, twice is nice.

Catchings, an All-Star forward for the Indiana Fever, was named the WNBA Player of the Week for the second time this season Monday.

Leading her team to a 3-0 record last week, Catchings averaged 19.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.3 steals to capture the seventh weekly honor of her four-year career.

Last Wednesday, Catchings scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and collected a season-high eight steals in a 64-53 victory over Connecticut.

Catchings is the only player in the top 10 in scoring (15.5), rebounding (7.4), assists (4.5) and steals (2.88). She is seventh in scoring and leads the WNBA in steals.

Other candidates were Charlotte's Jia Perkins, Connecticut's Nykesha Sales, Detroit's Deanna Nolan, Phoenix's Penny Taylor, Sacramento's Nicole Powell, Seattle's Sue Bird and Washington's DeLisha Milton-Jones.

July 18, 2005

Indiana 59, Detroit 58

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer has seen the same pattern develop the last two seasons with his struggling team.

``It's the same old routine,'' Laimbeer said after the Shock lost to the Indiana Fever for the second time in three days, 59-58 on Sunday. ``We didn't play hard enough and we didn't want the game bad enough.''

Detroit (7-10) has lost three straight and is 3-10 since starting the season with four straight wins. They are now 24-27 in the past two seasons despite fielding four All-Stars -- the core of the team that won the WNBA championship in 2003.

``We've been talking about this for over a year now,'' Laimbeer said. ``We've had the same issues with the same players and the same combinations. Our starters are getting us down 6-10 points at the beginning of every game and they can't score. We're going to have to make some changes.''

Tamika Catchings scored 21 points for Indiana (11-6), winner of three straight.

``She did many things,'' Fever coach Brian Winters said. ``She led us in scoring, but she also made a lot good plays and only had two turnovers.''

Kelly Miller added 10 points for the Fever, who beat the Shock 62-57 at home Friday night.

``We made a few mistakes down the stretch, but the biggest thing was just trying to keep our composure,'' Catchings said. ``If we make a mistake, we are trying to figure out a way to get the ball back and do whatever we need to do to stay ahead.''

Cheryl Ford had 18 points for Detroit, but the other four starters, including All-Stars Deanna Nolan, Swin Cash and Ruth Riley, combined for just 20.

``This is very frustrating for us all,'' Ford said. ``Everyone on this team has to take a hard look into herself and find a way to change what is happening.''

Indiana broke open a tie game with an 11-2 run to take a 37-28 lead four minutes into the second half. The Fever stretched the lead to 47-37 on Deanna Jackson's free throws with 10:15 remaining, before Detroit started chipping away.

Detroit pulled within 51-49 with 3:50 left, but five missed free throws slowed their rally.

Tully Bevilaqua hit a desperate 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to push the Fever's lead to 56-51 lead with 2:44 left.

The Shock had a chance to pull within one with 1 minute left, but Deanna Nolan missed a fastbreak layup and Ford fouled Catchings on the rebound.

Catchings made one free throw, putting the Fever up 59-55, and Kara Braxton made one at the other end to cut Detroit's deficit to three with 46 seconds left.

Bevilaqua missed a 3-pointer and Ford hit a layup to make it a one-point game with 5 seconds left.

Detroit then fouled Tan White, who missed both free throws, but grabbed her own rebound and dribbled out the clock to secure the Fever's win.

``Hopefully, we can use this to get some momentum,'' Catchings said. ``We want to keep going.''

Laimbeer had All-Star starters Riley and Cash on the bench down the stretch, and hinted that one or both might not remain in the starting lineup.

``Plenette Pierson and Kara Braxton are playing hard, rebounding and attacking the basket,'' he said. ``That's why they are out there right now.''

Indiana led 26-23 at the break after a sloppy first half in which the teams combined for 24 turnovers.

Detroit was missing starting point guard Elaine Powell, who was serving the third of a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington's Coco Miller -- Kelly Miller's twin sister -- in the head.
Dick Van Dyke stumbles on 'Murder 101'

Dick Van Dyke is returning to the small screen in "Murder 101," an occasional mystery movie series that debuts in January on cable's Hallmark Channel.

Van Dyke, star of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and more recently "Diagnosis: Murder," will play a criminology professor who is less than brilliant when it comes to everyday tasks though incredibly smart when it comes to solving crimes.

"His short-term memory is not too good, and his long-term vision is not too good. He's going to have all the ailments that I have," Van Dyke, 79, said Saturday during the network's portion of the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour Saturday at the Beverly Hilton.

"What attracted me when I heard from Hallmark was the fact that ... I can trust them to do family entertainment, and the family can sit down and watch whatever they put on the air and not worry about being shocked," he added.

Van Dyke's son, Barry, will co-star.

"Murder 101" will join the once-a-month rotation of Hallmark Channel Mystery Movies, which already include "Mystery Woman," "McBride" and "Jane Doe." All air on Sundays.
Kirk, Michael Douglas explore the personal

If the term "Hollywood royalty" applies to anyone, it applies to Kirk and Michael Douglas.

At 88, Kirk reigns as one of the last of the golden era icons, and his son Michael, 60, remains one of America's most popular leading men. Separately, they each have Oscars for their film work and awards for their humanitarian efforts.

Together, they have the kind of bond, issues, conflicts and love common to many fathers and sons. And they explore that bond in the Lee Grant-directed documentary A Father... A Son ... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which premieres on HBO Aug. 13.

Though the men appeared together Friday at the meetings of television critics in Los Angeles, they were not physically in the same place. Kirk, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery, was beamed into the room by satellite from his backyard. Still, the parent/child connection between them was obvious, as was their apparent fondness for the film.

"I learned a lot about you through it, and I think you learned a little bit about me, no?" Kirk asked his son. "A little bit," Michael answered.

As happens in families, the two men's relationship was not always an easy one. And the problems were magnified, the film says, by Kirk's fame, image and womanizing and later by Michael's problems with alcohol.

Their relationship changed, Michael says, in 1991 when Kirk had a near-fatal helicopter crash. His injuries, and the natural slowing effect age had on his acting career, changed Kirk's outlook.

Indeed, Kirk lists reconnecting with his four sons (two from each of his marriages) as his "greatest personal accomplishment."

"I finally got in contact with all my sons from my first marriage and from my second marriage. That was very important to me, because it leads to contact with my grandchildren. I'm in the late stage of life. I have become interested in what is the world going to do with our grandchildren."

Connection, however, doesn't mean there aren't still points of contention. Kirk had tried to get One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest made into a movie for more than 10 years before he turned the rights over to Michael, and he's still angry that his son didn't give him the role that won Jack Nicholson his first Oscar. "It's nice and healthy to see that some issues 25 years later don't die," Michael says.

It's also nice to see that even famous fathers can find their famous sons exasperating, even when the son is trying to be complimentary. Michael praised Kirk for living his life for challenges, including going through with his knee operation even though "every statistic shows at his age that he should not be having his knees replaced. He did it, and he's recovering faster than anybody ever anticipated. I just think that's an inherent quality of what makes him kind of special."

Kirk's response? "I think you make me appear dumb."

For Kirk, whose speech is still affected by the stroke he had in 1996, acting is a thing of the past. He is, he says, "a man who has difficulty talking, difficulty walking, difficulty seeing, difficulty hearing. There are not many parts for me."

There is one part that he still wants: A spot on the next edition of Dancing with the Stars. But only if he gets to dance with his son's wife.

"Think of it. Kirk Douglas dances with Catherine Zeta-Jones. And we will re-create the dance from Zorro."

July 17, 2005

'Blondie' Marks 75 Years on Comics Pages

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - Hard to believe it's been almost 75 years since ditzy flapper Blondie Boopadoop fell for bumbling Dagwood Bumstead in a love match made in the funny papers.

In those days, Dagwood was a rich playboy whose snooty parents greatly disapproved of the union. When he and Blondie married in 1933, the J. Boling Bumsteads disinherited their son, relegating him to a modest suburban life of raising kids, carpooling, battling blowhard boss Mr. Dithers and making really big sandwiches.

Now one of the most famous married couples in the world in the most widely read strip in comics history, Blondie and Dagwood are celebrating the milestone anniversary this summer in a running story line featuring cameos by their comics-page cohorts, whose creators also will pay tribute to "Blondie" by inviting the happy couple into their own panels.

Garfield, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, baby Marvin, Dennis the Menace, Dilbert, the kid from "Zits" and others — a virtual who's who of the funnies — will drop in and out as the Bumsteads plan a huge party for an unspecified wedding anniversary to be celebrated in the Sunday comics Sept. 4. President Bush and wife Laura are also set to make an appearance.

Introduced by cartoonist Murat "Chic" Young on Sept. 8, 1930, "Blondie" is now written seven days a week by his son, Dean, who took over when his father died in 1973, and artist Denis Lebrun. Reaching about 250 million readers in more than 2,000 newspapers in 55 countries, "Blondie" ranks among the top five most popular strips in newspaper comics surveys year in and year out.

"It's survival of the funniest — it's like Darwinian evolution on the comics page," says "Hagar the Horrible" cartoonist Chris Browne. "It's such a funny strip. Humor really comes out of honesty, and there's a lot of honesty and lot of stuff we recognize in 'Blondie.'"

The Bumsteads have been depicted on a U.S. postage stamp, featured in a Library of Congress exhibit and inspired movies and a TV series. An overstuffed sandwich is known in pop culture lexicon — as well as in Webster's dictionary — as a "Dagwood." "Blondie" is an American institution, translated into more than 30 languages.

"God bless my daddy," the jovial Young says in an interview in his Clearwater Beach studio. "He was the genius who created this wonderful menagerie of characters. A monkey could do my job with the characters I have to work with. He left me this cast of characters and this dominant gene."

Dean Young, 65, has shepherded the Bumsteads through myriad modern day travails and family upheavals, including Blondie going off to work in her own successful catering business, a plot twist that made international headlines in 1991.

Twice in 75 years, though, it looked as if "Blondie" could go the way of "Terry and Pirates" and "Krazy Kat," into comics oblivion. The first time, during the Depression when hard-luck Americans tired of the flapper comics predominate in the day, Chic Young solved the problem by having Blondie and Dagwood marry and transition to a life of domesticity.

The second rough patch came in 1973 when Chic Young died of emphysema at age 73. Some 600 newspapers dropped the strip on that basis, despite Dean Young taking over after working alongside his dad for a decade. He rescued "Blondie" that time by modernizing the characters' situations and the Bumsteads' marriage, eventually getting back the papers he lost and adding 700 more.

Cartoon characters have been known to cameo in each other' strips from time to time, but nothing like what's happening in this summer's tribute. Browne notes that Hagar the viking will have to travel 1,000 years through time to show up at the Bumstead's gala. Garfield, of course, will be looking forward to the food.

"It's a way we get to pay homage to 'Blondie' and to Dean for their status," says "Garfield" cartoonist Jim Davis. "It also gives a nod to the comics as a community. These characters could all be neighbors. They look a little different, but we all look a little different too."

Young attributes the strip's longevity to the quality of the art and the gags, but also to Blondie and Dagwood's strong bond over all these years.

"You need to have lovable characters for people to like you," he says. "And I think a lot of that has to do with the love that Dagwood and Blondie have for each other in the comic strip. Look at all the dysfunction that's going on everywhere, and here's a man and wife, they love each other and they've loved each other all these years. The passion continues undiminished. And hopefully it's funny, too."

July 11, 2005

Singer Frances Langford Dies at 91

MIAMI - Frances Langford, whose steamy rendition of "I'm in the Mood for Love" captivated soldiers when she was part of Bob Hope's USO tours during World War II, died Monday at the age of 92. Langford had been ill with congestive heart failure and died at her home in Jensen Beach, said her lawyer, Evans Crary, Jr.

Langford, a recording artist, radio star and actress from the 1930s to 1950s, joined Hope's troupe to boost wartime morale at military bases and hospitals in Great Britain, Italy, North Africa and the South Pacific. She also entertained new generations of soldiers in Korea and Vietnam.

Even with her hair swept up in a bandanna, the 5-foot-1 singer was a glamorous vision of home and became known as the "Sweetheart of the Fighting Fronts."

Her trademark was "I'm in the Mood for Love," written for her for the 1935 movie "Every Night at Eight."

Langford appeared in 30 Hollywood movies, including "Broadway Melody," "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "The Hit Parade." She played herself in her final film, 1954's "The Glenn Miller Story."

She was also known for her role as the insufferable wife, Blanche, opposite Don Ameche on the popular 1940s radio comedy "The Bickersons."

She recalled in interviews decades later that entertaining the troops "was the greatest thing in my life."

"We were there just to do our job, to help make them laugh and be happy if they could," Langford told The Associated Press in January 2002.

"She was a charming person, very warm-hearted," said Crary, who had known her for more than 70 years. "She was very interested in other people and appreciative of their interest in her."

Born in Citrus County in April 1913 and raised in Lakeland, Langford was discovered by bandleader Rudy Vallee when he was in Florida for a performance, and he invited her to be a guest on his radio program.

After a brief stint in the Broadway musical "Here Goes the Bride" in 1931, she moved to Hollywood, where she appeared on Louella Parsons' radio show "Hollywood Hotel" and began to appear in movies.

She was singing on Hope's "Pepsodent Show" when he held his first military program at March Field in Riverside, Calif., in 1941. The response was so positive he continued broadcasting from training bases and asked Langford to join him. Soon there were enough soldiers overseas to bring his variety show to them.

Langford wrote a daily newspaper column, "Purple Heart Diary," about her war experiences and later starred in a movie of the same name.

Her first marriage was to actor Jon Hall, who appeared in films such as "The Hurricane" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."

After World War II, she was singing in nightclubs when she met outboard motor heir Ralph Evinrude. They married in 1955 and moved to her 400-acre estate in Jensen Beach, 100 miles north of Miami.

The couple built a Polynesian-themed restaurant and marina on the Indian River called the Outrigger Resort. She entertained locals and celebrities, including Hope, until Evinrude died in 1986 and she sold the property.

Langford kept up her pastimes of boating and sport fishing and her collection of mounted tuna, marlin and other fish adorns the wall of the Florida Oceanographic Society's visitor center in nearby Stuart that is named after her.

In 1994, she married Harold Stuart, assistant secretary of the Air Force under Harry Truman. They spent summers on Canada's Georgian Island, traveling from Florida aboard her 110-foot yacht.

She is survived by her husband. She had no children.

July 07, 2005

Blasts cause carnage, Blair breaks off summit

LONDON - Four blasts ripped through London during rush hour on Thursday morning, killing at least 45 people and disrupting a summit of Group of Eight leaders in Scotland in attacks Prime Minister Tony Blair called "barbaric."

British interior minister Charles Clarke called the explosions "terrorist attacks."

Witnesses saw the top ripped off a double-decker bus near Russell Square close to King's Cross train terminal, and three more apparently coordinated explosions caused carnage on packed subway trains as Londoners made their way to work.

Security sources told Reuters there were fatalities at all four bomb sites, and Sky Television said at least 45 people had been killed. A further 150 were seriously wounded, and hospital staff said some were unlikely to survive.

"I was on the bus," said one dazed passenger. "I looked round and the seats behind me were gone."

"You could see bodies on the road outside," said another eyewitness, Peter Gordon. "There was smoke everywhere. It was carnage."

President Bush, speaking at the G8 summit, told reporters that "the war on terror goes on."

"We will not yield to these terrorists, we will find them, we will bring them to justice," he said.

A previously unknown group, "Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe," claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Police have so far declined to give a death toll or comment on suggestions that suicide bombers were involved.

Financial markets tumbled as the scale of the attacks became clear and Blair told reporters he would return to London from the G8 summit to oversee the emergency. He planned to return to the talks in Gleneagles later in the day.

The attacks recalled the 2004 train bombings in Madrid blamed on al Qaeda and left Londoners in shock. The Islamic Human Rights Commission warned London Muslims to stay at home to avoid any violence aimed at them.

The attacks came a day after a jubilant London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games.

"I'm deeply saddened that this should happen at the heart of an Olympic city. Unfortunately there is no safe haven. No one can say their city is safe," said International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge in Singapore.

Italy's interior minister said all Europe was on alert.

Britain has been key ally of the United States in its war in Iraq, where al Qaeda is waging a bloody insurgency. The blasts occurred one day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.


Police said two people were killed at Aldgate East underground station in the financial center of the city, with a further 90 people wounded. Around 100 wounded people were taken to Royal London Hospital, 10 of them in critical condition.

London's police chief Ian Blair said there were indications of explosives at the blast sites.

"We are concerned that this is a co-ordinated attack," he told Sky television.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, speaking in Singapore, said suicide bombers may have been involved.

"I wish to speak to you directly -- to those who came to London today to take lives," he said. "I know that you personally do not fear to give your own life in exchange for taking others, which is why you are so dangerous."

People were seen streaming out of one underground station covered with blood and soot. Passengers were evacuated from stations across the capital, many in shock and with their clothes ripped to shreds, witnesses said.

The city's streets rapidly emptied and financial markets plummeted as it became increasingly apparent that the blasts were an attack, and not a power surge on the underground train system as had first been reported.

Security experts said the blasts bore all the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

"If what we are looking at is a simultaneous bombing, and it does look like that, it would very certainly fit the classic al Qaeda methodology which centers precisely on that: multi-seated hits on transport and infrastructural targets," said Shane Brighton, intelligence expert at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense.

On the currency market, the safe-haven Swiss franc hit a six-week high against sterling and rose more than 1 percent against the dollar following the explosions.

"The market is showing a textbook reaction, buying safe-haven currencies like the Swiss franc and euro and away from the dollar," said Marios Maratheftis, currency strategist at Standard Chartered.

Oil prices initially fell three percent before recovering and London's FTSE stock exchange lost two percent.

July 06, 2005

"North by Northwest" Writer Dies

Troublemakers didn't have anything on Ernest Lehman. He put Cary Grant into harm's way on Mount Rushmore, helped Audrey Hepburn bewitch Humphrey Bogart and gave the Sharks and the Jets something to fight about in their big-screen face off.

But Lehman was no ordinary troublemaker; he was a screenwriter.

The celebrated scribe, whose résumé included Oscar nominations for endangering Grant in North by Northwest, matching up Hepburn and Bogart in Sabrina, engaging street gangs in West Side Story and heaping on the domestic turmoil in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, died Saturday at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles following a lengthy illness, the Writers Guild of America announced Tuesday. He was 89.

In a statement, writer-director Daniel Petrie Jr., president of the Writers Guild of America, West, praised Lehman as a "creative giant among writers and within the industry.

A three-time cowriter of the Academy Awards telecast, Lehman never won a competitive Oscar as either a writer or a producer, a title he held on two Best Picture hopefuls, Hello, Dolly! and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

The Academy made it up to Lehman in 2001, presenting him with an honorary Oscar in appreciation of "a body of varied and enduring work."

"I accept this rarest of honors on behalf of screenwriters everywhere," Lehman told the black-tie audience. "We have suffered anonymity far too often."

If Lehman wasn't a household name like Grant and Hepburn, then he was a familiar name to the right people--the people who got pictures made.

In little more than 20 years, Lehman earned screenplay credits on 15 films, three of which (North by Northwest, West Side Story, The Sound of Music) would go on to be named by the American Film Institute as among the 20th century's 100 greatest U.S. movies.

True to the spiel that went along with the honorary Oscar, Lehman was versatile. He wrote big, showy prestige pictures, specializing in the stage-to-screen transformations of The King and I, West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Hello, Dolly!. He wrote stark black-and-white dramas, chiefly, Sweet Smell of Success, the arguable signature work, cowritten with Clifford Odets, that exposed the very dark underbelly of the publicity trade, Somebody Up There Likes Me, the biopic about boxer Rocky Graziano, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, yet another play adaptation. And he wrote North by Northwest, the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

As a writer-director hyphenate, Lehman brought Philip Roth's comic novel Portnoy's Complaint to the screen in 1972.

Born Dec. 8, 1915 in New York City, Lehman wrote for radio, a theater publicist and the literary world before breaking into Hollywood in 1948 with the story for the comedy, The Inside Story. His past work provided him and Hollywood with a wealth of material--his novella, The Comedian, begat a celebrated 1957 TV production; his former life as a lackey for a publicist provided the inspiration for J.J. Hunsecker and Sidney Falco, the slicksters of Sweet Smell of Success.

"Sweet Smell of Success is one of those rare films where you remember the names of the characters because you remember them," critic Roger Ebert wrote in 1997, "as people, as types, as benchmarks."

Lehman, who became a father for the third time in his late 80s, is survived by his children and wife Laurie. A private memorial service is scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles, the WGA said.

July 02, 2005

Swoopes, Catchings top WNBA All-Star voting

NEW YORK -- Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes and Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings were the top vote-getters for the WNBA All-Star Game in balloting released Thursday.

Swoopes, one of nine remaining players from the WNBA's inaugural season in 1997, garnered the most votes for the fifth time -- receiving 108,999. She will be joined in the Western Conference starting lineup by Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, forward Lauren Jackson and guard Sue Bird of the defending champion Seattle Storm.

Catchings, leading the league in steals and fifth in assists, received 93,842 votes. Other starters for the Eastern Conference are guards Dawn Staley of the Charlotte Sting and Becky Hammon of the New York Liberty, forward Swin Cash and center Ruth Riley of the Detroit Shock.

Cash, recovering from offseason knee surgery, has yet to play this year. She was cleared to resume on-court activities Wednesday, but Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer was still not sure when she will be able to play.

The sixth WNBA All-Star Game will be played July 9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Last year, the U.S. national team played an All-Star team of remaining WNBA players at Radio City Music Hall at the start of the league's monthlong Olympic break.

Seattle's Anne Donovan will coach the West, and Connecticut's Mike Thibault the East.

The coaches of each conference will vote for the reserves, who will be announced Tuesday.