Stephen Birnbaum, 54, a travel authority noted...


Stephen Birnbaum, 54, a travel authority noted for guidebooks, articles and broadcast commentary, died Friday in New York of complications from leukemia. He was creator and editor of the Birnbaum Travel Guide series, which includes books covering the United States and Europe. He also wrote guides to the Disney theme parks. Mr. Birnbaum was a travel commentator for 14 years on the CBS Radio Network and also worked in television for ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today Show" and the "CBS Morning News." He contributed articles to numerous magazines and was travel editor for Good Housekeeping at the time of his death.

Ernest Kellogg Gann, a prolific author of adventure novels and short stories, has died. He was 81. Mr. Gann died Thursday night after a brief illness at his home on San Juan Island, north of Puget Sound. He had been ill with a kidney problem, said Lynne Rogers, a family friend. Mr. Gann's books, many of which had aeronautic themes, included "The High and The Mighty," "Fate is the Hunter," "Fiddler's Green" and "In the Company of Eagles."

Martin Sylvester Payne, a World War I veteran who survived the )) sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, has died at age 96. Mr. Payne, who died Wednesday, was a lieutenant in the British army when a German submarine sank the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, in the Irish Sea, killing nearly 1,200 people. He was among the approximately 700 passengers rescued. The sinking helped bring the United States into the war against Germany. Mr. Payne, a native of Lincoln, England, moved to the United States after the war and became a locomotive engineer. In 1969, he moved to Birmingham, Ala., where he died.

Simone Beck, a passionate cook, author and teacher who collaborated with Julia Child on the influential cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," died Friday at her home in Placassier, a small village in southern France. She was 87. Miss Beck, who preferred to be called Simca, had been having heart problems for several months and had stopped eating, said Harold Earle, a cousin. Miss Beck, a champion of regional French cooking, also wrote two cookbooks of her own, "Simca's Cuisine,'" and "New Menus from Simca's Cuisine." Her latest book, "Food and Friends: A Memoir With Recipes," was written with Suzy Patterson. "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," a two-volume set published in 1961 and 1970, was a seminal work in the development of cooking in the United States.

Kent Rhodes, the former chief of Reader's Digest and retired spokesman for the nation's magazine industry, died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 79 and also lived in Fishers Island, N.Y. He died of cancer, relatives said. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College.

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