George Kirby, 71, a comedian who delighted audiences for more than 40 years with impressions ranging from John Wayne to Ella Fitzgerald, died Saturday after a long bout with Parkinson's disease.
He began his career in Chicago and came to Las Vegas in 1952 as part of the Count Basie show, the first black entertainment act to play Vegas. As his act caught on, he headlined solo shows at Caesars Palace and the Riviera and Sahara hotels and began to appear on TV with Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas in the 1960s and 1970s. He was also a regular on "The Copycats," a weekly showcase for impressionists.
He was arrested in 1977 for making several cocaine and heroin deals with an undercover officer and served 3 1/2 years in prison. After his release, he visited schools to tell students to stay off drugs.
Romulo Escobar Bethancourt, 68, Panama's chief negotiator for the 1977 Panama Canal treaties, died of cancer Friday in Panama City. Labor minister in the early 1970s under the late dictator Gen. Omar Torrijos, he was a founder of General Torrijos' Democratic Revolutionary Party, which governs Panama today.