Don Grady, Robbie on ‘My Three Sons,’ Is Dead at 68

Don Grady, who played Chip and Ernie’s wholesome, heartthrob big brother Robbie on the long-running television sitcom “My Three Sons,” died on Wednesday at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 68.

Don Grady, center, surrounded by fellow “My Three Sons” cast members: clockwise from top right, William Demarest, Barry Livingston, Stanley Livingston and Fred MacMurray.

A family spokesman said the cause was cancer.

Mr. Grady, a versatile musician and singer who got his start in television as a Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” considered music his vocation and his acting career something of an accident. At 14, he was an aspiring musician in high school who played ukulele, drums, accordion and clarinet while acting on the side when he was called to audition for the part of Robbie Douglas, one of three sons of the wistful, pipe-smoking widower Steve Douglas, played by Fred MacMurray.

The producers had already cast another actor. “But, for reasons I never found out, they needed to replace him,” Mr. Grady wrote in the forward to “Fred MacMurray,” a 2007 biography by Charles Tranberg. “I was summoned to a hastily held audition at noon, and by 3 p.m. I was cast as the new Robbie. My acting abilities probably helped, but I still believe the reason I got the part was because the cleft in my chin looked like Fred’s.”

He played Robbie throughout the life of the show, more than 300 episodes from 1960 to 1972, although his place in the fictional family hierarchy shifted slightly over time. He was Mr. Douglas’s middle son in the first few years, until the role of the original older brother, Mike (Tim Considine), was written out of the script and a new brother — the adopted son, Ernie (Barry Livingston) — was written in. Chip Douglas (Stanley Livingston, Barry’s older brother in real life) took Robbie’s place in the middle.

 Mr. Grady’s Robbie was always the coolest son. He was the teen idol of the cast, his face having been featured on the cover of teen magazines since his days as a Mouseketeer. Like Ricky Nelson of “Ozzie and Harriet,” Robbie sang in a band, and it performed on the show.

As the eldest son for most of the show’s run, Mr. Grady was the family’s earnest grown-up-in-training and the most frequent recipient of the fatherly advice that capped almost every episode.

“Now, Rob, do you really think that’s the right thing to do?” Mr. MacMurray said in the 13th episode of Season Four, poking the air with his pipe.“Well, no, Dad,” Robbie answered. “Not when you put it like that.”

 Don Louis Agrati was born in San Diego on June 8, 1944. His parents divorced when he was in his teens, and his mother, Mary, became a theatrical agent. One of his two sisters, the actress Lani O’Grady, died in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Ginny, his two children, Joey and Tessa, his mother, and another sister, Marilou Reichel.

Mr. Grady appeared in other shows besides “My Three Sons,” including “The Rifleman” and “Wagon Train.” But he focused mainly on his music after the series ended, forming a pop singing group, “The Yellow Balloon,” which recorded a song of the same name in 1967. It was the band’s only hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard pop charts.

He later composed music for television, theater and films, including the theme song to Phil Donahue’s talk show, songs for the TV series “The Kid-a-Littles” and the 1985 film “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” He was a co-writer of “Keep the Dream Alive,” which was recorded by Herbie Hancock, Della Reese and others for the Jazz to End Hunger project.

Stanley Livingston said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Grady was a lot like the character he played on “My Three Sons.”

“He had a lot of charm,” said Mr. Livingston. “He was a good guy to be with. People loved him. He really was a wonderful big brother.”

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Sgt. Jason Hale directs National Guard film

ROCKFORD — A 1995 graduate of Christian Life High School is directing a documentary about the work and home lives of members of the Army National Guard unit he’s serving with in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Jason Hale, a sniper, will tell the journey of Charlie Troop, attached to the 1-126th Calvary of the Michigan National Guard. The documentary is entitled “Citizen Soldiers: The Real Life Stories of the Boys of Charlie Troop.” It is expected to be released in late 2013.

Hale moved to the Detroit suburbs in 2004 to work as a fundraiser for charitable giving. He enlisted in the National Guard in 2006 for a six-year commitment.

Hale asked to direct the documentary after he was interviewed and became part of the story of the documentary, “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good.” That documentary featured the travels of Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise as he and his band traveled around the world entertaining troops.

“During several of the screenings we had for ‘Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good,’ including the Capitol Building and across the U.S., Jason would be part of our question and answers sessions following the screening,” said Jonathan Flora, director and producer of the “Lt. Dan Band” film. He made his comments in an email interview.

Hale explained to Flora differences been a National Guard unit preparing to deploy as compared with Army soldiers. He asked Flora if that might be a good documentary and told him he’d like to direct such a film. Flora liked the idea and asked him to direct. Flora’s company, Lamplight Entertainment of Northridge, Calif., is backing the National Guard documentary.

“Jason is a storyteller who gets it, lives it and knows how to express it,” Flora said.

“Too often, there is no distinction in the minds of the general public as to the differences,” Flora said. “Or they may feel the Guard stays here at home and assists primarily during national disasters, etc.

But since 9/11, more than 200,000 Guard soldiers have been mobilized for active duty overseas. At one point in 2005, half the combat brigades in Iraq were Army Guard units, Flora said.

Flora said individuals in the regular Army are “pretty much military 24-7.” On the other hand, a Guard member is military one weekend a month and two weeks every summer. “If a person is single and a homeowner, who takes care of their home while they are deployed? If a small business owner, who runs the shop? And like the regular Army, who takes care of their families, and how will their wives handle being a single parent for such a long period of time.”

Many National Guard members serve extended duty for a year to 18 months at a time. Hale left for Afghanistan in December last year. “It is normal today to say (Guard) soldiers with a six-year commitment will see at least two war-type deployments,” Hale said in an email interview.

In his sniper job, Hale goes ahead of troops and searches out the enemy.

Because of his work with Sinise and Flora in Iraq on the “Lt. Dan Band” movie and his desire to document the Afghanistan deployment, Hale has worked with the military to get the OK to photograph and interview soldiers and their families before, during and after the soldiers’ return.

“I always have my camera at the ready and notebook to write down what I am seeing live, on the spot,” he said. “But my job is to perform as a senior sniper, and all else is secondary.”

Hale spent several hundred hours filming Charlie Troop members before they left for Afghanistan. Spouses, girlfriends, parents, siblings, friends were interviewed. He filmed weddings and talked with soldiers about the babies that would be born while they were away.

He has filmed Afghanistan soldiers, citizens and children. And he appreciates the supplies, clothes, candy, gifts and musical recorders groups and families back home have sent.

When Hale returns, he will interview again all those he’d talked to before the soldiers left for Afghanistan.

“For some, it will be hard, because for those that have been injured and even lost limbs, their lives and their families’ lives will have been changed forever.

“It will be time to readjust back to civilian life, and I will try to document how that is doing.”

Georgette Braun is a GO columnist for the Rockford Register Star. Contact her at or 815-987-1331.

I had the honor of meeting Jason during the screening o Jonathan Flora's award winning film "Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good" at the Heartland Film Festival. I'm looking forward to someday screening Jason's film as well!
Ray Tharaldson

Profile: Jason Hale
Born: 1977 in Arlington Heights
High school: Christian Life High School, Rockford, 1995

Career: After high school, received degree from World Harvest Bible College in Columbus, Ohio, and traveled with a friend doing evangelism work with youth; returned to Rockford and was a window washer, owned his own business and in fall of 2004 moved to Detroit area to work as a fundraiser for charitable giving.

Military career: Joined the Army National Guard in 2006. Worked as a gunner on a Humvee and with Iraqi government officials to improve relations in Iraq in summer of 2007. His unit’s shift were 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with special missions added on. “We provided supplies and many items for the children and schools,” Hale said. “I knew there was a different story that was not reaching back to America, and I yearned in my heart to tell the good that was being done.” Hale returned to the U.S. in late summer 2008 and continued with his job in planned giving in eastern Michigan and doing military training weekends and annual summer training with the Guard. He left for Afghanistan with his Guard unit in December last year and was promoted from corporal to sergeant.

Parents: Father, Scott Hale, who grew up in Michigan and moved to Chicago in 1969 and then to Rockford in 1979. He worked as an insurance sales agent and manager for 29 years for Liberty Mutual Insurance; stepmother, Carol, a Rockford elementary school music teacher. Mother Barbara Hale Ruggerio, and stepfather, Rich Ruggerio, live in Michigan. Scott Hale served in the Army. His home on North Mulford Road near Spring Creek Road has a large flag, Statue of Liberty replica and a banner stating “God Bless America.”

Expert to outline threats to photographers

Mickey H. Osterreicher 
By Darlene Shields | l
Mickey H. Osterreicher, an attorney and award-winning photojournalist, will discuss "The Ongoing Assault on the Right to Photograph/Record in Public" at noon, Wednesday, June 27, at a joint luncheon meeting of the Club's Photography and Press Freedom Committees in the McClendon Room.
Osterreicher will discuss the tension between the press and government regarding news coverage of matters of public interest. His talk will be an update of events since his presentation at the Club on Jan. 25, 2012.
Osterreicher will also discuss recent developments in the field of copyright as it pertains to photography, as well as the latest in the Authors' Guild lawsuit against Google. Osterreicher is Counsel to Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, and general counsel to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).
All Club members and their guests are welcome; however, space is limited. No reservations are required.
As a photojournalist, Osterreicher has almost 40 years' experience in print and television. His work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and USA Today, as well as on "ABC World News Tonight," "Nightline," "Good Morning America," "NBC Nightly News" and ESPN.
As a lawyer, he is experienced in contract, media, copyright and First Amendment law. Osterreicher has been actively involved in such issues as cameras in the courtroom, the federal shield law, media access, public photography, and copyright infringement.

Out-of-Town Business Owners Fix Hollywood Hills Flag Mural

HOLLYWOOD HILLS, Calif. (KTLA) -- Two Lancaster business owners volunteered to paint over graffiti on a Hollywood Hills mural of the American flag Sunday after hearing a call for help on the KTLA 5 Weekend News.

The mural -- painted on a retaining wall on La Punta Drive -- was intended to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City. The residents of the neighborhood were disheartened when they realized the mural had been defaced by taggers Thursday.

"Shock was my first reaction," said resident Abe Porter. "I couldn't believe how disrespectful someone could be to destroy our flag."

After airing the story Sunday morning about 6:30 a.m. on the KTLA 5 Weekend News, anchors Chris Burrous and Wenedy Burch put out a call for help to viewers, asking for someone to step forward and help paint over the graffiti.

Two men, living more than 60 miles away, heard the call and decided to come help. Bart Avery, owner of Bravery Brewing Company, and Barry White, owner Carpeteria, both of Lancaster, knew they had to help.

"We are proud Americans," White said. "We saw the story, I called Bart (and said), 'We got a little mission here, buddy. We're going to Hollywood to paint a flag.' "

They also had the materials needed to do the job. Avery just finished painting a flag at his brewery, so he already had the paint needed to clean up the La Punta mural.

"When I heard about this (flag) this morning, I just jumped in the car and drove down here," Avery said.

As the KTLA 5 Weekend News ended at 9 a.m. Sunday, images played of White and Avery getting to work on cleaning up the flag. And the residents who were so upset to see their neighborhood flag defaced, expressed their gratitude to the men who came forward to help.

"It just shows you that the people of this country are always out there and when they have to step up to the plate, they always come out," Porter said.

Beverly Hilton: 2 Dead in Murder-Suicide

By Pablo Pereira
Two people have been found dead in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide at the Beverly Hilton, just hours before the Daytime Emmy Awards are being held at the posh hotel, police said Saturday.

Police responding to a report of a shooting late Friday found a man and a woman dead from gunshot wounds in a hotel room, Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said.

Police described the victims only as "elderly," but would give no other details on the victims or the circumstances of the shooting. The coroner's office picked up the bodies early Saturday.

The luxury hotel was also the site of Whitney Houston's death in February. The singer drowned in the bathtub of her fourth-floor room, just a few hours before she was to attend record executive Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party in the ballroom downstairs.

The 39th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards are scheduled to be held there later Saturday. The awards ceremony that honors the best in soap operas and talk shows will be broadcast live on cable news channel HLN.

Police would not comment on whether the deaths were connected to the awards. It was not immediately clear whether there would be any effect on the show.

The hotel also hosts several other annual galas, including the Golden Globe Awards.

Before the Friday shootings, Beverly Hills had just six homicides since 2008. Such rare cases usually draw national attention, as in the death of a Hollywood publicist who was shot while she was driving after a movie premiere in November 2010. Police say Ronni Chasen was killed in an apparent bungled robbery by a career criminal who later killed himself when approached by police.

Gibson and Sheen to share silver screen

Picture: Supplied
HOLLYWOOD hotheads Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson will be on the same movie set in Robert Rodriguez's movie Machete Kills.

Sheen was just cast to play the US president in the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Rodriguez announced Sheen's casting on Twitter, saying, "I just cast Charlie Sheen in #machetekills as the President of the United States! Who better? More soon..."
The ensemble movie, already filming in Austin, Texas, also co-stars one of Hollywood's other most legendarily unpredictable actors, Gibson, as well as sexy stars including Jessica Alba, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara and Zoe Saldana.
It's unclear what role Gibson is taking on in the sequel to the pulpy 2010 movie Machete.
The move to cast Sheen adds to the actor's career rehabilitation after a very public meltdown last year which saw his exit from the hit show Two and a Half Men. Sheen said in a Playboy interview recently that the episode was a "psychotic break."
"I started to unravel," Sheen said. "I finally just said things I had always been thinking. But in the middle of a psychotic break."
He's making a comeback with a new comedy, F/X's Anger Management.

Madagascar 3' Tops Box Office Food Chain


Madagascar 3 continued to captivate audiences over the weekend, returning to the top of the box office for its second week out.

The animated family film pulled in $35 million, bringing its cumulative to $120 million domestically. While the third installment of the Madagascar franchise was enjoying the limelight, Rock Of Ages found a difficult time filling theater seats, landing in third place behind Prometheus.

The sci-fi drama reeled in $21 million, while the big budget musical earned just $15 million over the weekend.

Goodfellas gangster Henry Hill dies

HENRY Hill, who went from small-time gangster to big-time celebrity when his life as a mobster-turned-FBI informant became the basis for the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, has died at 69.

His girlfriend Lisa Caserta said Hill died of complications from long-time heart problems related to smoking.

An associate in New York's Lucchese crime family, Hill told detailed, disturbing and often hilarious tales of life in the mob that first appeared in the 1986 book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family, by Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist Hill sought out shortly after becoming an informant.

In 1990 the book, adapted for the screen by Pileggi and Scorsese, became the instant classic Goodfellas, starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta as Hill, a young hoodlum who thrives in the Mafia but is eventually forced by drugs to turn on his criminal friends and lead the life of a sad suburbanite.

The film became a pop cultural phenomenon that provided the template for the modern gangster story.

Unlike older Mafia tales, which focused on family and honour, Wiseguy and Goodfellas mostly dwelled on how utterly awesome it was to be in the mob - at least until the life caught up with you.

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster," Liotta, as Hill, says in the movie. "For us to live any other way was nuts."

Born in Brooklyn to an Irish father and an Italian mother, Hill's life with the mob began at age 11 when he wandered into a taxi stand across the street in 1955 looking for work. He began running errands for the men that soon led to small-time crimes. He was first arrested at age 16 for using a stolen credit card in an attempt to buy tyres for the brother of gang leader Paul Vario, and impressed the gang leaders for refusing to squeal on them.

Far bigger crimes awaited, including the 1967 theft of $US420,000 ($423,323) in cash from the Air France cargo terminal at JFK airport in New York, among the biggest cash heists in history at the time.

And in 1978, Hill had a key role in the theft of $US5.8 million in cash from a Lufthansa Airlines vault, a heist masterminded by Jimmy Burke, the inspiration for De Niro's character in Goodfellas.

But the crew involved in the heist would soon turn on each other, and several would end up dead, leaving Hill paranoid he could be next, he later told Pileggi.

More afraid of his associates than prison, Hill decided he had no choice but to become an informant. He signed an agreement with a Department of Justice task force that would prove more fruitful than anyone imagined.

Hill's testimony did send dozens of men to prison, many for the Lufthansa heist, and he and his wife Karen, played by Lorraine Bracco in the movie, went into hiding together, spending years fearing retribution by a gun to the back of his head from his old colleagues.

In the early 1990s, after more drug arrests, Hill was booted from the witness protection program.

His fears for his life waned as many former associates died, and he led a more public life in later years, appearing in documentaries and becoming a popular call-in guest on Howard Stern's radio show.

Tom Cruise Talks Top Gun 2 & Mission: Impossible 5

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Tom Cruise attends The Friars Club and Friars Foundation Honor at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City on June 12, 2012 Caption Rumors of a possible “Top Gun” sequel have circulated in recent months, and Access Hollywood caught up with Tom Cruise to get the skinny on whether fans will get the chance to see Maverick on the big screen once again.

“You know what, if we can get the script right, then we’ll do it,” the 49-year-old superstar told Access Hollywood at the Friars Club Gala in New York on Tuesday, when asked about a follow-up to the 1986 film. “And that’s what we hope to do.”

Also in the beginning stages is a fifth installment of Tom’s wildly successful “Mission: Impossible” franchise.

“Again, yeah, if I could get the script right, we’re going to do it,” he said of “MI5.” “We’re going to do our best.”

The “Rock of Ages” actor was on hand to receive the fourth ever Friars Club Entertainment Icon Award, an honor Tom called “very humbling.”

“It’s a great honor, it’s a great honor. It is a big deal,” he said of earning the honor previously bestowed on Frank Sinatra, Douglas Fairbanks and Cary Grant. “I’m truly – really, all I can say is just how honored I am, and you kind of think about, you know, all the years I’ve been making movies and these people who literally, you know, set the tone and changed the culture and it means a great deal to me.”

With nearly 40 films under his belt, Tom said he couldn’t possibly pick a film that best represented “the real Tom.”

“That is too difficult,” he told Access. “That’s like asking which one, you know, is your favorite child! I mean, each one, I put so much into them.”

Watch Tom rock the big screen along with Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Malin Akerman and Russell Brand in “Rock of Ages,” in theaters on Friday.

--Erin O’Sullivan

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years. It's some sage stuff, although there's nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.

    #1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

    #2: You gotta keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

    #3: Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about til you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.

    #4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

    #5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

    #6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

    #7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

    #8: Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

    #9: When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

    #10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.

    #11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.

    #12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

    #13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.

    #14: Why must you tell THIS story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.

    #15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

    #16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.

    #17: No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on - it'll come back around to be useful later.

    #18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

    #19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

    #20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d'you rearrange them into what you DO like?

    #21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can't just write ‘cool'. What would make YOU act that way?

    #22: What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Ray Bradbury dies at 91; author lifted fantasy to literary heights

Ray Bradbury was a huge influence on the film world too

The death of Ray Bradbury Tuesday night at the age of 91 throws into relief not only his literary legacy but his abundant influence on the movie world.
Starting with the Jack Arnold-directed "It Came From Outer Space," about the crash-landing of a mysterious craft in the Arizona desert, in 1953, Bradbury's work has formed the basis of numerous films.
Rod Steiger starred in a 1969 adaptation of his futuristic short-story collection "The Illustrated Man." In 1983, Jason Robards took on Bradbury's horror novel, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," about a pair of teenage boys who experience nightmares when a carnival comes to town.
And in perhaps the most notable big-screen spin on Bradbury's work, French New Wave pioneer Francois Truffaut helmed a version of Bradbury's dystopian book-burning classic "Fahrenheit 451" in 1966.
Bradbury's stories and novels also yielded many television adaptations, with the author also writing and creating the cable series "The Ray Bradbury Theater," a collection of standalone science-fiction and fantasy episodes.
In perhaps the most unusual collaboration between Bradbury and Hollywood, the author wrote the screenplay for the 1956 adaptation of "Moby Dick," which was directed by John Huston and starred Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.
 New versions of Bradbury's work are scattered around Hollywood in various stages of development--a "Martian Chronicles" at Paramount, a "Farenheit 451" at Universal, an "illustrated Man" at Warner Bros.
Maybe more important than any particular film adaptation, however, is how Bradbury's aesthetic influenced a filmmaking zetigeist we now take for granted.
In print, he is often credited with elevating a genre from pulp to literature. His work had a similar effect on the movies, paving the way for the creation and broad popular acceptance of humanity-infused science-fiction hits ranging from "Star Wars" to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" to "Avatar."
[Updated at 9:56 a.m., June 6: "Close Encounters" director and science-fiction maestro Steven Spielberg released a statement calling Bradbury "my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career.... On the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal."]
Bradbury also left his mark on the fantasy genre, broadly defined, that would eventually yield "Harry Potter" and a host of other cultural landmarks. (Bradbury himself preferred the fantasy designation. “I'm not a science fiction writer,” he once said, “I've written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can't happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”)
It's perhaps fitting that Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," emerging as the science fiction-fantasy hit of the summer, opens in the U.S. in the same week that Bradbury has died. It's hard to imagine it, or so many other high-profile films, without him.

Ray Bradbury's more than 27 novels and 600 short stories helped give stylistic heft to fantasy and science fiction. In 'The Martian Chronicles' and other works, the L.A.-based Bradbury mixed small-town familiarity with otherworldly settings.

By Lynell George
Ray Bradbury, the writer whose expansive flights of fantasy and vividly rendered space-scapes have provided the world with one of the most enduring speculative blueprints for the future, has died. He was 91.

Bradbury died Tuesday night, his daughter, Alexandra Bradbury, told the Associated Press. No other details were immediately available.

Author of more than 27 novels and story collections—most famously "The Martian Chronicles," "Fahrenheit 451," "Dandelion Wine" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes"—and more than 600 short stories, Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often-maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.

"The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinleinand then later [Arthur C.] Clarke," said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor who is also a Nebula award-winning science fiction writer. "But Bradbury, in the '40s and '50s, became the name brand."

Much of Bradbury's accessibility and ultimate popularity had to do with his gift as a stylist—his ability to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity.

The late Sam Moskowitz, the preeminent historian of science fiction, once offered this assessment: "In style, few match him. And the uniqueness of a story of Mars or Venus told in the contrasting literary rhythms of Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe is enough to fascinate any critic."

As influenced by George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare as he was by Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bradbury was an expert of the taut tale, the last-sentence twist. And he was more celebrated for short fiction than his longer works.

"It's telling that we read Bradbury for his short stories," said Benford. "They are glimpses. The most important thing about writers is how they exist in our memories. Having read Bradbury is like having seen a striking glimpse out of a car window and then being whisked away."

An example is from 1957's "Dandelion Wine":

"The sidewalks were haunted by dust ghosts all night as the furnace wind summoned them up, swung them about and gentled them down in a warm spice on the lawns. Trees, shaken by the footsteps of late-night strollers, sifted avalanches of dust. From midnight on, it seemed a volcano beyond the town was showering red-hot ashes everywhere, crusting slumberless night watchman and irritable dogs. Each house was a yellow attic smoldering with spontaneous combustion at three in the morning."

Bradbury's poetically drawn and atmospheric fictions—horror, fantasy, shadowy American gothics—explored life's secret corners: what was hidden in the margins of the official family narrative, or the white noise whirring uncomfortably just below the placid surface. He offered a set of metaphors and life puzzles to ponder for the rocket age and beyond, and has influenced a wide swath of popular culture--from children's writer R.L. Stine and singer Elton John (who penned his hit "Rocket Man" as an homage), to architect Jon Jerde who enlisted Bradbury to consider and offer suggestions about reimagining public spaces.

Bradbury frequently attempted to shrug out of the narrow "sci-fi" designation, not because he was put off by it, but rather because he believed it was imprecise.

"I'm not a science fiction writer," he was frequently quoted as saying. "I've written only one book of science fiction ["Fahrenheit 451"]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can't happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen."

It wasn't merely semantics.

His stories were multi-layered and ambitious. Bradbury was far less concerned with mechanics—how many tanks of fuel it took to get to Mars and with what rocket—than what happened once the crew landed there, or what they would impose on their environment. "He had this flair for getting to really major issues," said Paul Alkon, emeritus professor of English and American literature at USC.

"He wasn't interested in current doctrines of political correctness or particular forms of society. Not what was wrong in '58 or 2001 but the kinds of issues that are with us every year."

Benford said Bradbury "emphasized rhetoric over reason and struck resonant notes with the bulk of the American readership—better than any other science fiction writer. Even [H.G.] Wells ... [Bradbury] anchored everything in relationships. Most science fiction doesn't."

Disney to banish junk-food ads from kid shows

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney says its programming will no longer be sponsored by junk food.
The Walt Disney Co. says it plans to ban such ads for its TV channels, radio stations and websites intended for children. That means kids watching Saturday morning cartoons on the company's ABC network will no longer see ads for fast foods and sugary cereals that don't meet Disney's nutrition standards.
The guidelines won't go into effect until 2015 because of existing advertising agreements.
Disney isn't the first company to pledge to police marketing aimed at children.
In 2006, the Better Business Bureau and major food companies launched the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which is intended to encourage healthier food choices.

Barry Diller Gives $30 Million to Motion Picture & Television Fund

News by Sophia Savage
Photo courtesy of Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

Motion Picture & Television Fund member George Clooney has announced that Barry Diller and family have donated a $30-million legacy gift to the MPTF campaign.

The three-year campaign, with a goal of $350 million, is led by Diller's old Paramount cohort Jeffrey Katzenberg. The funds will be used to support charitable programs and services provided to thousands of individuals in the entertainment industry who rely on the MPTF for health and social services, child and retirement care. Clooney states: “It is estimated that over 75,000 industry members will be retiring over the next ten years and this Campaign will help insure that MPTF will remain a vital part of the safety net of care for our industry at a time that state and federal programs are coming under such great stress.”

Diller states: “Seems impossible to me to have had success in the entertainment industry and not strongly support the MPTF. I’m just glad and happy to be able to do so.”

Richard Dawson Host of 'Family Feud' dies at 79


NEW YORK (AP) — Richard Dawson, the wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes" and a decade later began kissing thousands of female contestants as host of the game show "Family Feud" has died. He was 79.

Dawson, also known to TV fans as the Cockney POW Cpl. Peter Newkirk on "Hogan's Heroes," died Saturday night from complications related to esophageal cancer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, his son Gary said.

The game show, which initially ran from 1976 to 1985, pitted families who tried to guess the most popular answers to poll questions such as "What do people give up when they go on a diet?

He made his hearty, soaring delivery of the phrase "Survey says..." a national catchphrase among viewers.

Dawson won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best game show host. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him "the fastest, brightest and most beguilingly caustic interlocutor since the late great Groucho bantered and parried on 'You Bet Your Life.'" The show was so popular it was released as both daytime and syndicated evening versions.

His swaggering, randy style (and British accent) set him apart from other TV quizmasters. He was known for kissing each woman contestant, and at the time the show bowed out in 1985, executive producer Howard Felsher estimated that Dawson had kissed "somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000."

"I kissed them for luck and love, that's all," Dawson said at the time.

One of them he kissed was Gretchen Johnson, a young contestant who appeared with members of her family in 1981. After a decade together, she and Dawson wed in 1991. They had a daughter, Shannon.

Dawson reprised his game show character in a much darker mood in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "The Running Man," playing the host of a deadly TV show set in a totalitarian future, where convicts try to escape as their executioners stalk them. "Saturday Night Live" mocked him in the 1970s, with Bill Murray portraying him as leering and nasty, even slapping one contestant (John Belushi) for getting too fresh.

The British-born actor already had gained fame as the fast-talking Newkirk in "Hogan's Heroes," the CBS comedy that starred Bob Crane and mined laughs from a Nazi POW camp whose prisoners hoodwink their captors and run the place themselves.

Despite its unlikely premise, the show made the ratings top 10 in its first season, 1965-66, and ran until 1971.

"We ran six years," Dawson once quipped, "a year longer than Hitler."

Both "Hogan's Heroes" and "Family Feud" have had a second life in recent years, the former on DVD reissues and the latter on GSN, formerly known as the Game Show Network.

On Dawson's last "Family Feud" in 1985, the studio audience honored him with a standing ovation, and he responded: "Please sit down. I have to do at least 30 minutes of fun and laughter and you make me want to cry."

"I've had the most incredible luck in my career," he told viewers, adding, "I never dreamed I would have a job in which so many people could touch me and I could touch them." That triggered an unexpected laugh.

Producers brought out "The New Family Feud," starring comedian Ray Combs, in 1988. Six years later, Dawson replaced Combs at the helm, but that lasted only one season. Steve Harvey is the current host.

Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm in 1932 in Gosport, England. When he was 14 he joined the Merchant Marines, serving three years.

He first got into show business as a stand-up comedian, playing clubs in London's West End including the legendary Stork Room. It was there, in the late 1950s, he met blond bombshell Diana Dors, the film star who became known as Britain's answer to Marilyn Monroe. They married in 1959 and divorced in the late 1960s.

Dawson landed roles in U.S. comedy and variety shows in the early 1960s, including "The Steve Allen Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Then his performance as a military prisoner in the 1965 film "King Rat" led to his being cast in "Hogan's Heroes," which truly made him a star to American audiences.

After that, he was a regular on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" and "The New Dick Van Dyke Show."

Meanwhile, he became a frequent celebrity contestant on game shows, including both daytime and prime-time versions of "The Match Game."

While still a panelist on "The Match Game," he began hosting "Family Feud," where his popularity grew to such levels that he was mentioned as a frontrunner to win the "Tonight Show" host chair to succeed Johnny Carson, who at the time was considering retirement. Though Carson stayed put, Dawson made appearances as a guest host.

Dawson is survived by his widow, Gretchen, their daughter Shannon, two sons, Mark and Gary, from his first marriage, and four grandchildren.


Associated Press writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report