Minnesota Fats, the boastful billiard wizard who could shoot pool with either hand, stuffed $100 bills in his chest pocket and was portrayed in the movie "The Hustler," died yesterday in Nashville, Tenn., a day before his birthday. Fats, whose exact age was unknown, died of congestive heart failure.
"He was the world's greatest," his wife, Theresa Bell Wanderone, said in announcing his death. "Now he's finally in heaven shooting it out again with [Willie] Mosconi. He always said, 'St. Peter, rack 'em up.' "
Mr. Mosconi, Minnesota Fats' legendary rival, died in 1993 at 80.
Fats' age was a matter of dispute. Associates said he was born Jan. 19, 1900, but a 1966 biography, "Bank Shot," listed his date of birth as Jan. 19, 1913.
Fats, whose real name was Rudolf Wanderone Jr., was portrayed by Jackie Gleason in the 1961 movie that starred Paul Newman. He was born in New York City and played pool all his life in various parts of the country.
Fats, who once weighed 245 pounds, was known earlier in his pool days as New York Fats, but became known as Minnesota Fats because of the Gleason character in the movie.
He also was nicknamed "Fatty," and described as "triple smart," "dean of the green," "the sultan of stroke" and "bank shot bandit."
He suffered a heart attack in 1992. The same year, he married Theresa Ward Bell. A previous marriage ended in divorce.
Josephine Patterson Albright, 82, a journalist and philanthropist, died Monday in Woodstock, Vt., of complications after a stroke. She began her career in journalism as a court reporter for the Chicago Daily News before joining Newsday in 1949. Her column, "Life with Junior," chronicled her experiences raising four children. She was the widow of artist Ivan Albright, sister of Newsday founder Alicia Patterson, and part of a family whose members at one time owned the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and the Washington Times Herald.
Sam Griffith, 38, the son of actor Andy Griffith, was found dead of unknown causes Wednesday in his Los Angeles home. Sam Griffith pleaded no contest to spousal abuse charges in 1992. Renee Denise Griffith said he struck her several times and kicked her. She was two months pregnant and suffered a
F. Don Miller, 75, who helped the U.S. Olympic Committee emerge from the turmoil of Cold War confrontation to become a multimillion-dollar sports giant, died of cancer Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo. As executive director of the USOC from 1973-1984, he led it through a turbulent era that included the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games and the hugely profitable 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He and then-USOC president Robert Kane helped Los Angeles keep the 1984 Games after the city council rejected any financial support. He also helped organize the National Sports Festival and introduced a sports medicine program for U.S. athletes.
Dr. Ernst Morch, 87, an inventor, anesthesiologist and member of the Danish resistance during World War II, died Saturday. During the German occupation of Denmark, he created what became known as the Morch Piston Respirator, a forerunner of respirators in use today, out of sewer pipe rigged to a cast-off piston and motor.