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PASSINGS: Jerry Coleman, Alicia Rhett

Jerry Coleman, longtime Padres announcer, dies at 89.

11:21 PM EST, January 5, 2014

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Jerry Coleman

Longtime announcer for Padres

Jerry Coleman, 89, the longtime voice of the San Diego Padres and a former major league ballplayer whose career was interrupted by combat in two wars, died at a hospital Sunday, the team announced.

Coleman's baseball career spanned more than 70 years and included sharing in four World Series titles with the New York Yankees.

As a Marine Corps pilot, he flew 120 missions in World War II and the Korean War. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

"We mourn the loss of an American hero and a great man," Padres officials said Sunday via Twitter.

Coleman started out with a Yankees minor league club in 1942 and made his big league debut in 1949. A second baseman, he was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 1950.

Retiring as a player with a lifetime .263 batting average after the 1957 season, Coleman he worked front office jobs with the Yankees for a few years but was talked into broadcasting by Howard Cosell.

His first appearance as a play-by-play broadcaster was at Yankees spring training in 1963 and it wasn't stellar, he told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2012. The top of the inning featured 12 batters — not exactly the three-up, three-down affair Coleman expected.

"I had no idea what was going on," he recalled. "The Yankees make a couple of pitching changes and I lost track of who was in the game.... I crawled into a fetal position over in the corner."

Coleman soon rebounded. He stayed in broadcasting and started with the Padres as lead radio announcer in 1972.

He was "the perfect voice" for the Padres, the Union-Tribune wrote — a soothing antidote to rumors of the Padres leaving town.

"I once met a man whose first words to me at a party were: 'Jerry, my wife goes to bed with you every night,'¿" he told an interviewer. "I didn't know what to say. The man explained that his wife listened to Padres broadcasts every night as she fell to sleep. And again, I'm a little speechless ... am I putting her to sleep or does she like the broadcasts?"

Born Sept. 14, 1924, in San Jose, Coleman grew up in San Francisco.

Known for his on-air exclamations of "Oh, doctor!" and "Hang a star!", he was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. The same year, he was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame, and, two years later, into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, Maggie.

 

Alicia Rhett


‘Gone With the Wind' actress


Alicia Rhett, 98, one of the last surviving cast members of “Gone With the Wind,” died Friday in Charleston, S.C., according to a spokeswoman for the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community.

Rhett played India Wilkes, the sister of Scarlett O'Hara's unrequited love interest, Ashley Wilkes.

Other cast members from the 1939 film who are still living include Olivia de Havilland, who played Ashley Wilkes' cousin and wife, Melanie Hamilton; Mary Anderson, who played Maybelle Merriweather; and Mickey Kuhn, who played Beau Wilkes.

Born Feb. 1, 1915, in Savannah, Ga., Rhett graduated from high school in Charleston and worked as a painter and artist for the Works Progress Administration. She acted in several local productions and was spotted by a scout for “Gone With the Wind,” according to an article in the Charleston Post and Courier.

Rhett and her mother settled in Hollywood for the film's shooting and left when it was done.

“It was likely Rhett's Southern breeding, with its emphasis on absolute decorum, which kept the fledgling starlet upbeat through principal photography,” said Richard Harland Smith, a film writer who summarized her career for TCM. “In interviews with the press corps, Rhett assigned only the highest marks to her costars, whom she sketched while off-camera while passing along the results to Charleston's News & Courier.”

The epic film was her first and last. Returning to Charleston, she became a portrait painter and illustrated children's books.

Times staff and wire reports

news.obits@latimes.com