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Deaths Elsewhere


Eddie Clontz, 56, longtime editor of The Weekly World News, died of liver and kidney disease and complications from diabetes Jan. 26 at his home in Salt Springs, Fla.

As editor of the outlandish national weekly tabloid, Mr. Clontz always knew what he would do if he received a phone call from someone who said he had a Martian living in his bedroom. It wasn't what other editors would do.

"I'd tell the guy, 'Great, we'll send a reporter right over,'" Mr. Clontz said in a speech to the Florida Press Club some years ago.

Mr. Clontz operated in an alternate journalistic universe - one populated by space aliens, talking cats and gardeners who married their vegetables.

He turned an obscure woman's claim about the late Elvis Presley into a front-page headline - "Elvis is Alive!" - that sold more than a million copies of the paper and launched a nationwide frenzy of Elvis sightings.

Dubbed by the mainstream press as the King of Supermarket Tabloids and the Yoda of the industry, Mr. Clontz saw himself as something of a tabloid P.T. Barnum.

"We are a throwback," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000, the year he left the tabloid. "We are a sideshow, and we've got to get people into the circus tent. So we will put the three-headed woman out there, and we will put the 1,000-pound fat guy out there."

At Weekly World News, Mr. Clontz encouraged his reporters to follow the axiom: "Never question yourself out of a good story."

"We don't sit around and make them up," he said, "but if we get a story about a guy who thinks he is a vampire, we will take him at his word."

Out of that philosophy came stories that inspired memorable Weekly World News headlines such as:

"12 U.S. Senators Are Space Aliens."

"Fire Breaks Out on the Moon."

"Blind Man Regains Sight and Dumps Ugly Wife!"

From his desk in the middle of the newsroom - in Lantana, Fla., during his heyday - Mr. Clontz kept his 18-person staff motivated with his booming baritone, raucous laugh and sense of fun that included donning a rubber dog mask.

Mr. Clontz took pride in writing the famous 1988 "Elvis Is Alive!" headline, whose subhead read: "King of Rock 'N' Roll Faked His Death and Is Living in Kalamazoo, Mich.!"

The Elvis edition became the tabloid's biggest-seller, gave birth to the Elvis-is-alive phenomenon and led to dozens of spin-off Elvis-sighting stories.

Andrew J. Kuehn, 66, a movie advertising pioneer whose creativity and innovation revolutionized the motion picture "trailer," died Thursday of complications from lung cancer at his home in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Mr. Kuehn, founder and head of the movie advertising company Kaleidoscope Films, over the last four decades conceived of trailers for an impressive array of American movies including Jaws, the "Indiana Jones" trilogy, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Schindler's List, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The French Connection, The Sting, Star Wars, Funny Girl, Aliens, Top Gun, Back to the Future and Witness.

He used smart writing, strong use of music and innovative editing to invigorate what had been the cliched genre of studio-produced previews.

"A trailer is two or three minutes long, about the length of a song, and I think of trailers as songs," he told The New York Times some years ago. "One of the hardest things to do when looking at a movie is to determine the overall tone, tempo, mood, pacing and rhythm of the trailer. They may not be the same as the tone and rhythms of the picture itself."

An example of his smart writing would be the line "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ... ," which he used to establish the dramatic tone for the trailer for Jaws 2. The line, harking back to the seaside terror of the first Jaws film, became the buzz words for 1978 when the film was released.

Charlotte Zwerin, 72, who was in the vanguard of American documentary filmmaking for four decades as an editor and director and collaborated with David and Albert Maysles on the landmark Gimme Shelter, died of lung cancer Jan. 22 at her home in New York City.

Ms. Zwerin, whose documentaries frequently focused on visual artists and jazz legends, had a talent for structuring narratives in the editing room that earned her a co-director credit after she edited the Maysleses' 1966 documentaries Meet Marlon Brando and A Visit With Truman Capote.

Her most notable collaborations with the Maysles brothers as co-director were Salesman, a 1969 feature-length chronicle about four Boston-based door-to-door Bible salesmen; and Gimme Shelter in 1970, a feature-length documentary on the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour.

The tour ended with the Stones' notorious free concert at Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif., where members of the Hells Angels, serving as security guards, brawled with out-of-control fans in the crowd of 300,000 and stabbed a teen-ager to death after the youth charged the stage with a gun.

After learning that the Rolling Stones wanted to view footage of the concert, Ms. Zwerin suggested to the Maysleses that they film the Stones' reactions to what they were viewing in the editing room and use that sequence as a structuring device for the documentary.

"It gave us a way to let the audience know right away that what they were about to see was something very disturbing and not just a music documentary," she told The New York Times last year.

Among her solo films are De Kooning on de Kooning (1981), about the abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning; and Sculpture of Spaces: Noguchi (1995), a look at sculptor Isamu Noguchi's gardens, playgrounds and other public spaces.

Tapping her lifelong love of music, she made documentaries including the 1999 Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For, a biography of the legendary singer originally shown as part of the PBS American Masters series.

Robert Harth, 47, who became the head of Carnegie Hall days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and led America's premier classical music venue into an adventurous new era, died Friday of a heart attack, a Carnegie Hall spokeswoman said.

The hall's executive and artistic director, Mr. Harth was planning to announce the new season today - a schedule that includes a second year of programs at the Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall, the $72 million, 644-seat hall that sealed Mr. Harth's reputation as a cutting-edge arts administrator.

He spearheaded an eclectic blend of programming at Zankel, from new classical compositions, jazz and rock to avant-garde theater that drew a wider audience than usually attends Carnegie performances.

Mr. Harth arrived in New York on Sept. 8, 2001, and was soon planning a Concert of Remembrance in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Metal detectors were installed at Carnegie's front entrance to screen spectators arriving for concerts.

Frank Mantooth, 56, a Grammy-nominated jazz musician, died Friday in Garden City, Kan., of what a coroner described as natural causes.

Mr. Mantooth was commissioned to write music for Doc Severinsen, the Kansas City Symphony and Madison Symphony Orchestra. He had published more than 165 works for combo and jazz ensembles since 1978.

He also recorded five albums of his own that earned 11 Grammy nominations. His musical accomplishments won him a listing in the 2001 edition of Groves Dictionary of Jazz.

Jose Luis Castillo-Puche, 84, a prize-winning novelist and journalist whose friendship with Ernest Hemingway led him to write a memoir about the American author, died of pneumonia yesterday in Madrid.

Mr. Castillo-Puche's first book on Hemingway, translated into English in 1974 under the title Hemingway in Spain: A Personal Reminiscence of Hemingway's Years in Spain by his Friend, made his name known in the United States and beyond.

He also collaborated on numerous books about the maverick writer, and wrote screenplays for a film and TV series on Hemingway in later years. Mr. Castillo-Puche wrote more than a dozen novels.

Karl Kaldestad, 83, a pioneer of the Alaska king-crab fishery and veteran of World War II's Battle of the Bulge, died Jan. 24 in Seattle, where he had arrived from his native Norway at age 17.

Mr. Kaldestad fished in Alaska for 50 years, and in the 1950s and 1960s was among the Seattle and Kodiak fishermen who launched the Alaska king-crab fishery, which became a lucrative enterprise in the 1970s and '80s. He stopped commercial fishing in Alaska when his son took over day-to-day operations of the family business in 1979.

In 1995, the Kaldestads experienced the first and only tragedy in their business: the sinking of the Northwest Mariner on the first day of the snow-crab season with the loss of all six crew members.

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