Noted coroner


Dr. Ronald N. Kornblum, a former Los Angeles County coroner who performed autopsies on such celebrities as John Belushi, Natalie Wood and Truman Capote, died Tuesday at his home in La Canada Flintridge, Calif., after a long illness, his family said.

Dr. Kornblum served eight years as county coroner before resigning in 1990 amid charges of poor management.


In 1980, he was hired as chief of forensic medicine by Dr. Thomas Noguchi. After succeeding Dr. Noguchi in 1982, he received praise for a time for improving the efficiency and professionalism of the medical examiner's office. He attributed his department's later failings to a rise in county homicides that strained the office's resources.

An independent management audit found unsanitary conditions and poor oversight that allowed misconduct by some employees.

During his tenure, Dr. Kornblum handled the autopsies of Mr. Belushi, Ms. Wood, William Holden and other actors, as well as those of Mr. Capote and Karen Carpenter.

He often lamented the morbid image people had of coroners and said he wished to change the way people saw his profession.

"Everyone thinks of a coroner walking with a limp; he's got a humped back, he's covered with blood," he said in 1988.

In 1966, Dr. Kornblum accepted a job working under Baltimore's top forensic pathologist, Dr. Russell S. Fisher. He was Maryland's deputy chief medical examiner in 1974, when he moved to California to become Ventura County coroner.

He was frequently consulted as an expert on chokehold deaths, even testifying on the "preppie killer" case involving the 1986 strangulation of a young woman in New York's Central Park.



Famed chocolatier

Dr. Robert Steinberg, a physician who helped revolutionize America's appreciation of fine chocolate after launching a San Francisco Bay Area company that produces some of the best chocolate in the country, has died.

Dr. Steinberg, who had lymphatic cancer, died Sept. 17 at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center near his home in San Francisco, announced officials at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, which he co-founded in 1996.

With a former patient, Dr. Steinberg started a small chocolate company that "completely transformed American understanding of chocolate," said Alice Medrich, a cookbook author known for her chocolate expertise.

"He changed chocolate from being seen as a mere sweet candy to having the status of a complex and interesting food. A new age of chocolate was started in this country with that company," she told the Los Angeles Times.

By emphasizing premium ingredients and bringing artisan standards to what had been a largely industrialized process in the United States, Scharffen Berger helped move gourmet chocolate from a special-occasion purchase to an everyday indulgence. Devotees likened it to drinking an espresso instead of truck-stop java.


Before becoming a chocolate perfectionist, Dr. Steinberg practiced medicine in Ukiah, Calif. After being diagnosed in 1989 with cancer - and given a 50 percent chance of dying within 10 years - he soon sold his practice.

At the suggestion of a friend, Dr. Steinberg read a 600-page textbook on the science of chocolate making. It opened the door to "an underground world," he wrote in The Essence of Chocolate, a 2006 cookbook-memoir.


Former Newsweek editor

Osborne Elliott, a former Newsweek editor widely credited with making the magazine competitive with archrival Time magazine, has died in New York City. Details of his death have not been released.

Mr. Elliott, known as "Oz," was editor of the magazine from 1961 to 1976.


Newsweek editor Jon Meacham called Mr. Elliott "the architect of the modern Newsweek." He says Mr. Elliott's vision and passion "made the magazine into a global force."

Mr. Meacham says that every election day Mr. Elliott would leave a telephone message saying, "My soul craves exit polls."