SARAH BRADY, GUN CONTROL ACTIVIST
Her family said in a statement that the cause was pneumonia. Mrs. Brady had been treated for lung cancer in the past. Mr. Brady died last August, also at 73.
The two became perhaps the most visible champions of gun control in the United States and shaped the debate over the issue as much as anyone. Side by side, with Mrs. Brady often pushing her husband in his wheelchair, they built a nonprofit organization to further the cause, lobbied members of Congress and campaigned around the nation as implacable foes of the National Rifle Association.
Mrs. Brady had been a schoolteacher in Virginia before embarking on a decade-long career in Republican politics in the late 1960s while her husband pursued a career in government. He worked for three federal agencies, served as a communications consultant to the House of Representatives and was an aide to senators before being named Reagan’s press secretary in January 1981.
“The first two months of that year were the most exciting we ever spent,” Mrs. Brady wrote in an op-ed article in The New York Times in 1985.
But their lives were changed forever that March, when, outside a Washington hotel, Mr. Brady was shot in the head by John W. Hinckley Jr., a mentally troubled young man who wanted to kill the president because he thought it would win him the affections of the actress Jodie Foster.
President Reagan and two police officers were wounded in the attack as well, but Mr. Brady the most grievously. The bullet damaged the right section of his brain, paralyzing his left arm, weakening his left leg, damaging his short-term memory and impairing his speech. When he died last year, the authorities said the gunshot wound he sustained in 1981 was the cause of death and ruled the case a homicide.
As James and Sarah Brady campaigned for gun control laws, many saw Mrs. Brady as the wellspring of much of that energy. It was she who began their battle against the gun lobby in 1985 with a phone call to Handgun Control Inc., a small organization later renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And it was she who often spoke for the group in the news media.
Mr. Brady was initially constrained not only by his injuries but also by the fact that he technically remained White House press secretary until the end of Reagan’s presidency, in 1989, and so was unable to campaign actively on the issue.
It was not her husband’s shooting that turned Mrs. Brady into an activist, however. It was an episode in 1985 in her husband’s hometown, Centralia, Ill., when her 5-year-old son, Scott, found a loaded .22 pistol — the kind that had been used to shoot her husband — on the seat of a family friend’s pickup truck and pointed it at his mother.
“I stormed about it for days and weeks,” she told The New York Times Magazine in 1990, “and then back in Washington I picked up the paper and saw the Senate was getting ready to vote on the McClure-Volkmer bill.”
That bill, which was strongly backed by the National Rifle Association, became law in 1986 and significantly weakened the Gun Control Act of 1968. But it also spurred Sarah Brady and later her husband into action. Their efforts were rewarded 12 years after the shooting, when President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which mandated background checks and waiting periods for many gun buyers.
Mrs. Brady is survived by her son, James Scott Brady; a brother, Bill Kemp; and a stepdaughter, Melissa Brady.
The Brady Campaign estimated that the 1993 law they championed stopped some two million illegal gun purchases and helped save countless lives.
Mrs. Brady served as the chairwoman of both the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Brady Center.
Mrs. Brady was born Sarah Kemp on Feb. 6, 1942, to Frances and L. Stanley Kemp and grew up in Alexandria. Her mother was a schoolteacher, and her father was an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1964. After teaching school, she entered Republican politics in 1968 as an assistant to the campaign director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Sarah and James Brady met in the late 1960s when he traveled to Washington, from Illinois, where he was managing a congressional campaign. Mrs. Brady was working as the finance liaison for the Republican Party and the two first met so that he could ask her for money. They carried on a long-distance courtship and married in 1973, when he was 32 and she was 31.
Mrs. Brady, who often wrote that she was raised with her father’s handgun in the house, did not oppose all gun ownership. In her 1985 op-ed article in The Times, she said she was mainly concerned with guns that fell into the hands of “the mentally incompetent, children, drunks, drug users, criminals and the person who has just had a fierce argument with a spouse, relative, friend or neighbor.”
Mrs. Brady recounted her battle with lung cancer in a 2002 memoir, “The Good Fight.” A family spokeswoman, Gail Hoffman, said Mrs. Brady’s death was unrelated to that earlier diagnosis.
“We are enormously proud of Sarah’s remarkable accomplishments and the impact she had on so many people,” her family said in the statement. “Sarah fought the good fight her whole life.”
RUDOLPH PERZ, CREATOR OF PILLSBURY’S DOUGHBOY
The cause was cardiac arrest, his daughter Martha Nora said.
The pudgy Pillsbury mascot, known as Poppin’ Fresh, became instantly recognized as the symbol of the company’s line of refrigerated biscuit, roll and cookie dough that popped out of a cardboard tube.
He made his debut in a 1965 commercial for crescent rolls. Within three years the figure, sporting a kerchief and toque and always tickled by a signature tummy poke, claimed an 87 percent brand recognition among American consumers. That was enough to immortalize it in the pantheon of other anthropomorphic hucksters, including the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger and Morris the Cat.
Since then, the Doughboy has rescued cooks both fledgling and overwhelmed, spawned dolls and play sets, and joined the cast of giant balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In 1987, Adweek magazine declared him “America’s most loved character.”
Mr. Perz, who lived in Glenview, Ill., was the creative director of the Leo Burnett agency in Chicago when he imagined a blue-eyed Poppin’ Fresh springing from a tube of dough, like a fast-forward version of evolution from primordial ingredients.
To distinguish him from a plumper incarnation of Casper the Friendly Ghost in cartoon illustrations, the Doughboy became a three-dimensional clay figure designed by Milt Schaffer, an animator. “We made two Doughboys,” Mr. Perz said in an interview with a colleague at Leo Burnett in 1972. “One was a rubber Doughboy with an armature inside, and you could move his arms a little bit at a time. And the other was a hard Doughboy.”
The hard version had many heads carved with different expressions, “and you shifted the head or you shifted the body,” Mr. Perz said. The tummy poke, he said, was shot using a frame-by-frame stop-motion technique. “Then when you ran them together it looked very pliable.” General Mills, Pillsbury’s parent, said the first Doughboy television commercial required five bodies and 15 heads and cost $16,000 to make. Thirty seconds of Poppin’ Fresh on camera required 720 photographs.
The Doughboy’s voice — “Hi! I’m Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy,” he announced, giggling “Hee-Hee” (later “Hoo-Hoo”) when poked in his soft belly — was originally supplied by Paul Frees. A busy voice actor, he also voiced the Disney duck Professor Ludwig Von Drake and Admiral Yamamoto in the 1976 movie “Midway.”
Rudolph Robert Perz was born in Chicago on Dec. 6, 1925, to immigrants from what became Yugoslavia. His father, also named Rudolph, was a carpenter. His mother was the former Lucy Opperman.
He graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago. His wife, the former Lois Wagberg, died in 1971. In addition to Martha, he is survived by another daughter, Laura Matlin, and six grandchildren.
Mr. Perz worked for J. Walter Thompson in Chicago on the 7-Up and Aunt Jemima accounts and joined Leo Burnett as a copy supervisor in the television and film department in 1959. Burnett won the refrigerated foods account in March 1965, and Mr. Perz handled Pillsbury products until the early 1970s. He left the agency in 1980 to work for the Minneapolis-based firm Campbell Mithun (now just Mithun).
Poppin’ Fresh has appeared in more than 600 commercials; in the most recent, he wears jeans (presumably relaxed fit). He has guest-starred in advertisements for MasterCard and Geico.
Mr. Perz’s work will be featured in “A Salute to Advertising’s Greatest Icons,” an exhibition opening in May at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications, along with StarKist’s Charlie the Tuna, the Keebler Elves and more.
“Perz was a creative icon who created another icon,” said Bruce DuMont, the museum’s president.
GARY DAHL, INVENTOR OF THE PET ROCK
The wonder of it was, for a few frenzied months in 1975, more than a million consumers did, becoming the proud if slightly abashed owners of Pet Rocks, the fad that Newsweek later called “one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever.”
Gary Dahl, the man behind that scheme — described variously as a marketing genius and a genial mountebank — died on March 23 at 78. A down-at-the-heels advertising copywriter when he hit on the idea, he originally meant it as a joke. But the concept of a “pet” that required no actual work and no real commitment resonated with the self-indulgent ’70s, and before long a cultural phenomenon was born.
A modern incarnation of “Stone Soup” as stirred by P. T. Barnum, Pet Rocks made Mr. Dahl a millionaire practically overnight. Though the fad ran its course long ago, the phrase “pet rock” endures in the American lexicon, denoting (depending on whether it is uttered with contempt or admiration) a useless entity or a meteoric success.
But despite the boon Pet Rocks brought him, Mr. Dahl came to regret the brainstorm that gave rise to them in the first place.
Mr. Dahl’s brainstorm began, as many do, in a bar.
One night in the mid-’70s, he was having a drink in Los Gatos, the Northern California town where he lived for many years. At the time, he was a freelance copywriter (“that’s another word for being broke,” he later said), living in a small cabin as a self-described “quasi dropout.”
The bar talk turned to pets, and to the onus of feeding, walking and cleaning up after them.
His pet, Mr. Dahl announced in a flash of bibulous inspiration, caused him no such trouble. The reason?
“I have a pet rock,” he explained.
A pet rock, Mr. Dahl quickly realized, might just have legs.
“People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” he told People magazine in 1975. “This takes them on a fantasy trip — you might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”
He recruited two colleagues as investors, visited a building-supply store and bought a load of smooth Mexican beach stones at about a penny apiece.
The genius was in the packaging. Each Pet Rock came in a cardboard carrying case, complete with air holes, tenderly nestled on a bed of excelsior. Mr. Dahl’s droll masterstroke was his accompanying manual on the care, feeding and house training of Pet Rocks.
“If, when you remove the rock from its box it appears to be excited, place it on some old newspapers,” the manual read. “The rock will know what the paper is for and will require no further instruction. It will remain on the paper until you remove it.”
Pet Rocks hit the marketplace in time for Christmas 1975. They were soon featured on “The Tonight Show” and in a blizzard of newspaper articles. In a matter of months, some 1.5 million rocks were sold.
“I had one phone to each ear,” Mr. Dahl recalled in a 2011 interview. “I taught my P.R. guy to impersonate me so he could also answer my calls.”
Mr. Dahl traded his Honda for a Mercedes and moved into a house with a swimming pool that was larger than his cabin had been.
Gary Ross Dahl was born on Dec. 18, 1936, in Bottineau, N.D., and reared in Spokane, Wash. His mother was a waitress, his father a lumber-mill worker. After studying at what is now Washington State University, the young Mr. Dahl made his way into advertising.
While Pet Rocks were the must-have gift of the 1975 holiday season, they soon went the way of all fads. The idea’s very simplicity proved its undoing: Though Mr. Dahl trademarked the name, there was nothing to stop someone from putting a rock into a box and selling it, and many did. Nor did the spate of auxiliary businesses that sprang up around his creation — the official Bicentennial Pet Rock, inscribed with an American flag; mail-order college degrees for Pet Rocks ($3 for a bachelor’s, $10 for a Ph.D.) — bring him any compensation.
In the late ’70s, Mr. Dahl was sued by his original investors, who claimed they had received too small a share of the profits. A court found in their favor, and he was obliged to pay a six-figure judgment. His later inventions, including the Original Sand Breeding Kit, which let buyers grow their “own desert wasteland,” never matched the success of Pet Rocks.
Mr. Dahl’s first marriage, to Barbara Eisiminger, ended in divorce, as did his second, to Melinda Aucott. His survivors include his third wife, the former Marguerite Wood, who confirmed his death, in Jacksonville, Ore., from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; a sister, Candace Dahl; two children, Christine Nunez and Eric Dahl, from his first marriage; a daughter, Samantha Leighton, from his second; a stepdaughter, Vicki Pershing; and seven grandchildren.
On the proceeds of Pet Rocks, Mr. Dahl opened a saloon and ran a sailboat brokerage before returning to advertising. He was the author of “Advertising for Dummies,” first published in 2001.
Mr. Dahl, a resident most recently of Jacksonville, was also vastly proud of having won, in 2000, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which honors deliberately dreadful prose. (His winning entry began, “The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, hunched precariously over the moors.”)
But in the end, it is for the Pet Rock that he will be remembered. Though the rock made him wealthy, it also made him wary, for he was besieged ever after by hordes of would-be inventors, seeking his advice on the next big thing.
“There’s a bizarre lunatic fringe who feel I owe them a living,” Mr. Dahl told The Associated Press in 1988. “Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn’t have been simpler if I hadn’t done it.”
CYNTHIA LENNON, THE FIRST BEATLES WIFE
The cause was cancer, according to a memorial on the website of her son, Julian.
Ms. Lennon, then Cynthia Powell, met Lennon when he was a student at the Liverpool College of Art in the late 1950s. She was a studious, proper young lady, in stark contrast to him.
“He was a total rebel, and everybody was amazed by him,” she said in a 2005 interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
She ended her engagement to another man, he broke up with his girlfriend, and they began dating. It was during this period, Ms. Lennon said, that she first dealt with his jealousy and anger. She said that he smacked her in the face for dancing with another man, after which she broke up with him for several months.
She became pregnant in 1962 and married Lennon on Aug. 23, just weeks before the Beatles recorded their first single, “Love Me Do.” She was ill prepared for the fame that engulfed John and his bandmates.
“I didn’t marry a Beatle,” she told the British newspaper The Independent in 1999. “I married a broke student who played the guitar and ponced all my grant money off me.”
Their son was born in April 1963, as Beatlemania was spreading across England. Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, hid the existence of Lennon’s wife and son to make him seem available to the legions of young women obsessed with him. Many fans were distraught when the Beatles appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 and the words “Sorry, girls, he’s married” appeared with his image on the screen.
As the Beatles’ fame grew, Lennon became more distant, with little time for his wife and their son. Ms. Lennon stayed home with Julian while John toured and traveled. Lennon came to resent his wife’s conventional ways.
It was around this time that Lennon met the artist Yoko Ono. Ms. Lennon discovered their relationship after finding the two of them sitting on the floor of the Lennon home cross-legged, clad only in robes. John and Cynthia Lennon divorced in 1968, and she received a reported settlement of £100,000 (roughly $240,000 at the time).
After the divorce, Lennon cut off contact with her and their son for years, and many accounts of the Beatles’ history minimized them. “We are like walk-on parts in John’s life,” Ms. Lennon said in 2005.
Ms. Lennon told her side of the story in two memoirs: “A Twist of Lennon,” which she also illustrated, and “John.”
Julian Lennon rekindled his relationship with his father before he was murdered by Mark David Chapman in 1980. Ms. Lennon wrote that Ms. Ono asked her not to come to the memorial ceremonies in New York. But the two women grew closer over time.
“I felt proud how we two women stood firm in the Beatles family,” Ms. Ono wrote on her website on Wednesday.
Cynthia Powell was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, on Sept. 10, 1939. She was married four times, most recently to Noel Charles, who died in 2013.
Julian, who is also a singer and songwriter, is her only immediate survivor.
On the last page of “John,” Ms. Lennon wrote that if she had had another chance, she would have lived differently.
“If I’d known as a teenager what falling for John Lennon would lead to,” she said, “I would have turned ’round right then and walked away.”
An obituary on Thursday about Cynthia Lennon, the former wife of the Beatles’ John Lennon, miscalculated in some editions the currency conversion for her settlement when they divorced in 1968. Her £100,000 settlement was the equivalent of about $240,000 at the time, not $150,000.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
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