PASSINGS: Prescott S. Bush Jr., Deborah Jo White, Vince O'Brien
Prescott S. Bush Jr., President George H.W. Bush's brother, dies at 87; Deborah Jo White, former Lynyrd Skynyrd backup singer, dies at 58; Vince O'Brien, actor and Shell's Answer Man, dies at 91
Prescott S. Bush Jr. was a retired insurance executive who founded a nonprofit that backed U.S.-China trade. (July 25, 2014)
President George H.W. Bush's brother
Prescott S. Bush Jr., 87, the brother of one U.S. president and another's uncle, died Wednesday in Hingham, Mass., after a long illness, according to his family.
A retired insurance executive, Bush was the brother of former President George H.W. Bush and the uncle of former President George W. Bush.
FOR THE RECORD:
Prescott Bush Jr.: A brief obituary of Prescott Bush Jr. in Friday's LATExtra section mistakenly included a photo of Prescott Bush Sr. A photo of Prescott Bush Jr. appears above. —
Bush was born Aug. 10, 1922, in Portland, Maine, the oldest of five children of U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut and Dorothy Walker Bush. He grew up in Greenwich, Conn., later returned to live in Greenwich, and moved to Hingham about three years ago.
He attended Phillips Academy Andover and Yale University. He was active in Connecticut politics as an advisor, campaign manager and fundraiser to Republican candidates, and in 1982 was briefly a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat his father held for two terms.
After graduating from Yale in 1944, Bush lived in Brazil, where he helped Pan American Airways build and operate airfields. He returned to the United States in 1949 to take a job with Pan Am in New York City and later went to work for the Wall Street insurance brokerage firm Johnson & Higgins, where he became a partner.
In the 1980s, he became an international business consultant, primarily in Asia, and founded the United States- China Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that encourages U.S.-China trade and investment.
Bush's business dealings abroad occasionally raised questions about whether he improperly benefited from his family connections.
"It doesn't hurt that my brother is president of the United States," Bush told the Boston Globe in 1990, while denying any impropriety or conflict of interest.
Deborah Jo White
Former backup singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd
Deborah Jo White, 58, a former Lynyrd Skynyrd backup singer who performed under her maiden name Jo Jo Billingsley, died Thursday at her home in Cullman, Ala. She had cancer.
White toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd for 3 1/2 years as a member of the backup singers known as the Honkettes before leaving the Florida-based boogie-hard-rock group in August 1977. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and several others were killed in a plane crash that October.
She later left rock music, got married and became a minister and Christian singer in Cullman.
She rejoined the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd when they performed at the band's 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
White was born in Tennessee and grew up in Mississippi, where she sang in church choirs as a girl. She said in a 2007 interview with the Birmingham (Ala.) News that she especially enjoyed singing "Sweet Home Alabama" with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"It was special because it glorified the South, and since I was from the South and all the places that we played in the South, it made us think of home," she said.
Character actor was Shell's Answer Man
Vince O'Brien, 91, a character actor who played an earnest hotel doctor in Woody Allen's film classic "Annie Hall" and appeared as the Shell Answer Man in TV and print ads for the petroleum company, died of heart failure Saturday at his home in Haworth, N.J.
O'Brien's long career included a memorable turn as a debauched businessman in the Broadway musical comedy "Promises, Promises." He also had recurring TV roles as judges on "Law and Order" in the 1990s and the soap operas "Ryan's Hope" in the '70s and "The Edge of Night" in the '60s, and as a sheriff in the cult soap "Dark Shadows," also in the '60s.
The second of nine children, Vincent O'Brien was born in New Britain, Conn., in 1919. He served in the Army during World War II and earned a drama degree at Carnegie Mellon University in 1949.
He came to New York in 1950, the same year he married his wife, Kate, whom he met at college. They eventually had 10 children.
O'Brien immediately began getting stage and TV work, starting with live drama productions on CBS' "Studio One." His stage credits also include the Broadway play "Advise and Consent" in 1960-61. His final film roles were in "Six Degrees of Separation" and "Quiz Show" in the early '90s.
— Times staff and wire reports