Other Notable Deaths

The Baltimore Sun

MITCHELL MARS, 55

Mob prosecutor

Federal prosecutor Mitchell A. Mars, who sent Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and other big-name mobsters to prison, died Tuesday.

He had been battling lung cancer since shortly after last year's Operation Family Secrets trial, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago said. The trial ended in September with the conviction of Lombardo and other top organized crime figures.

Mr. Mars led the organized crime unit in the U.S. attorney's office for 15 years and won convictions against mobsters Albert Tocco and Rocky Infelice, Cicero town President Betty Loren-Maltese and others.

Mr. Mars was a Chicago native and graduated from Georgetown University law center before joining the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He was appointed to work on the House panel that investigated the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mars joined the criminal division of the Justice Department in 1978 and in 1980 became a member of its organized crime strike force in Chicago.

RICHARD TULISANO, 68

Connecticut state representative

Richard Tulisano, a former longtime Democratic state representative who championed constitutional issues and civil liberties, died Wednesday.

Mr. Tulisano died at Hartford Hospital, said former House Speaker Moira Lyons, a longtime associate and Mr. Tulisano's former boss. The cause of death was not immediately available, but Ms. Lyons said Mr. Tulisano had been ailing for some time and had to use oxygen.

Mr. Tulisano, a lawyer from Rocky Hill, was House chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1985 and from 1987 to 1993. He served in the House for 26 years before he resigned in January 2001 to work for Ms. Lyons.

Mr. Tulisano pushed for legislation that provided compensation for crime victims, barred strip searches by police and phased out Connecticut's supervised home release program.

CHARLES RYAN, 92

Musician and songwriter

Charles Ryan, the musician and songwriter who co-wrote the hit song "Hot Rod Lincoln," died Saturday of heart disease, his family said.

Mr. Ryan and W.S. Stevenson wrote "Hot Rod Lincoln," and Mr. Ryan first recorded it in 1955. The song was inspired by his commutes in his 1941 Lincoln from Spokane, Wash., to play gigs at the Paradise Club in Lewiston, Idaho. It has been recorded many times since.

Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen made it a hit in 1972, and it has been a mainstay of popular culture for decades. The song passed the 1 million-play mark in the summer of 2000, according to Broadcast Music Inc.

Mr. Ryan was born in Graceville, Minn., on Dec. 19, 1915, grew up in Polson, Mont., and moved to Spokane in 1943. He served in the Army in World War II.

He was a musician and songwriter, touring with Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton and others.

Mr. Ryan's version of "Hot Rod Lincoln" hit the Billboard Top 100 charts in 1960 and stayed there for six months.

Mr. Ryan is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

RICHARD WESTENBURG, 75

Conductor

Richard Westenburg, a choral conductor who founded the Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra in 1964 and made it one of the most renowned choruses in New York by the end of the 1970s, died Wednesday at a hospital in Norwalk, Conn. He lived in Redding, Conn.

The cause was colon cancer, said Bob Gallo, the spokesman for Musica Sacra.

Mr. Westenburg was a lively, inspiring director who kept close tabs on changing musicological notions about the performance of Baroque works but balanced those prescriptions with his own strongly etched sense of style, usually with stimulating results. His signature work was Handel's Messiah, in which he led Musica Sacra at Carnegie Hall most years at Christmastime.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Westenburg's Messiah performances were widely considered the best in New York. His choir was a trim ensemble of between 30 and 35 singers, and his brisk readings offered a striking contrast to the mammoth Victorian Messiah performances that had become commonplace.

Mr. Westenburg, whose two marriages ended in divorce, is survived by his sons Eric, of Reno, Nev., and Mario, of Redding; his daughters, Kirsten Westenburg Barnhorst, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and Nadia Westenburg, of Redding; and six grandchildren.

LIONEL MARK SMITH, 62

Actor

Lionel Mark Smith, an actor who was one of David Mamet's stock film and stage players and whose casting in the play Oleanna created controversy in Los Angeles theater, died of cancer Feb. 13 at his Inglewood home, said his friend Paula Fins. He was 62.

Mr. Smith appeared in seven Mamet films, including Edmond (2005) and Homicide (1991), and many of his plays.

One of them was Oleanna, which was set to debut at the Mark Taper Forum in 1994 when playwright Mamet insisted on casting Mr. Smith as a professor in his two-character drama about sexual harassment on a college campus.

Taper officials reportedly contended that Mr. Smith, who was black, would inject a confusing racial angle into the play - and refused to stage it. Mr. Smith charged the Taper with behaving in a racist manner, but theater officials denied it, citing other considerations for the decision, including being unfamiliar with Mr. Smith's work.

Another production of Oleanna, with Mr. Smith appearing opposite Kyra Sedgwick, was soon staged at the 99-seat Tiffany Theatre in West Hollywood. The review in the Los Angeles Times praised the pair's near-mastery "of Mamet's rapid-fire exchanges" but concluded that the casting of Mr. Smith diluted the play's feminist message.

In a remembrance of Mr. Smith, Mr. Mamet wrote: "He never made anything up, he always told the truth, and every scene and every project was better for his presence."

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