Jan Berry


Categories: Musicians

William Jan Berry, one-half of the 1960s duo Jan & Dean, died on March 26. Cause of death was not released. He was 62.
Berry was attending University High School in West Los Angeles when he and his friends formed a doo-wop group called The Barons. Berry transformed his family’s garage into a practice area, complete with reel-to-reel tape machines and a piano, and hooked up with his friend Baron Arnie Ginsburg to record the song, “Jennie Lee.”
They went to a local recording studio to convert their tape into a record, and the catchy tune was overheard by producer Joe Lubin, vice president of Arwin Records. In June 1958, “Jennie Lee” by Jan & Arnie became a Top 10 hit. They appeared on the “Dick Clark Show” and played in front of nearly 12,000 fans at the first rock-n-roll show ever held at the Hollywood Bowl, but their follow-up singles didn’t sell as well. The duo broke up at the end of the year, and Arnie went to college to study architecture. The Barons also disbanded at graduation.
Berry and classmate Dean Torrence still wanted to make music, so they joined forces in college to form Jan & Dean. Inside Berry’s garage, they recorded the song, “Baby Talk,” which hit the Top 10 in 1959 and led to an appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” Jan & Dean became pioneers of the West Coast sound during the 1960s, chronicling the surf world of Southern California with a string of hits such as “Linda,” “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” and “Surf City.”
“Deadman’s Curve,” which was co-written with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, became a prophetic anthem for teens who risked their lives by driving too fast. In 1966, Berry’s own career was cut short when his speeding Corvette hit a parked landscaping truck. He suffered severe brain damage that left him partially paralyzed and unable to talk, and was forced to undergo years of recovery in order to resume singing and songwriting. In the mid-1980s, Southern California Rehabilitation Services launched the Jan Berry Center for the Brain Injured.


Matthew Gribble


Categories: Sports

Matthew Gribble, an Olympic swimmer who once held the world record in the 100-meter butterfly, died on March 21 in an automobile accident. He was 41.

Gribble and his 3 1/2-year-old son, Trahern, were returning home from the Miami-Dade County Fair when another driver hit their car head-on. Gribble died at the scene; his son was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and later listed in stable condition.

An All-American at the University of Miami, Gribble won two NCAA titles and still holds the school record in the 100-meter fly with a time of 47.26. During his freshman year, he was selected for the Olympic swim team, but did not compete because the United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games.

Gribble was a member of the 400-meter medley relay team that won the gold medal at the 1982 World Games in Ecuador. The following year, he set and held the world record for the 100-meter butterfly for 326 days.

After winning three gold medals at the 1983 Pan American Games, Gribble made the 1984 U.S. swim team. He attended the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but suffered a back injury and never competed past the preliminary round.

A financial officer at Hasbro, Gribble was a member of the University of Miami Hall of Fame.

[Update – June 2, 2005: The corner of SW 117th Ave. and 128 St. was renamed Matthew O. Gribble Street in honor of the late University of Miami swimmer and Olympian.]


Toni Onley


Categories: Artists

tonley.jpgToni Onley, an experienced pilot and well-known Canadian painter, died on Feb. 29 in a plane crash near Vancouver. He was 75.
Onley was practicing landings and take-offs in his LA4 Buccaneer amphibious plane when it went down. The aircraft plunged into the Fraser River, floated for a bit then submerged. The cause of the accident is under investigation. Onley previously survived the crash of another plane several years ago when it struck the side of a glacier.
Born in England, Onley studied painting under landscape watercolorist John Nicholson and attended the Douglas School of Fine Arts. He moved to Canada in 1948 and continued his education at the Doon School of Fine Art.
To support his artistic endeavors, Onley worked as a surveyor, draftsman, commercial artist and teacher. In 1957, he won a scholarship to the Institute Allende in Mexico, where he studied mural painting and fresco. During the 1960s, the prolific artist completed a 300 sq.ft. mural for the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse in Vancouver, and was one of seven artists chosen to represent Canada at the Paris Biennial.
Onley sold a painting for $500 in 1965 and used the money to learn how to fly. Wherever he traveled — Italy, England, Japan — Onley captured the landscape in his art. Inspired by the wilderness he viewed from the air, many of Onley’s later pieces focused on the coastal and mountainous areas of British Columbia. He also donated artwork to raise funds for environmental groups that worked to save some of the area’s old growth forests.
Onley earned $930,000 for a single canvas in 1981, which at the time was the highest price ever paid to a Canadian artist. His work was shown in galleries around the world and featured in his autobiography, “Flying Colours.” He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999.
Watch Video Interviews With Onley


Kiki McCabe

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Categories: Hollywood, Medicine, Writers/Editors

Mary Catherine “Kiki” Priester McCabe, an Emmy Award-winning soap opera writer, died on March 7 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 75.
The Iowa native first broke into show business as a secretary to soap opera maven Agnes Nixon. In the early 1960s, Nixon created the daytime dramas “One Life to Live” and “All My Children,” and served as the head writer on many others. Originally, Nixon dictated to McCabe. But over time, Kiki came to know the characters intimately and would offer story suggestions.
For the next 20 years, they were a top notch writing team with Nixon developing plotlines and McCabe writing dialogue for soaps like “Guiding Light” and “Another World.” From 1970 to 1983, they penned scripts for “All My Children”; McCabe even won an Emmy Award for her writing.
In 1986, McCabe obtained a master’s degree in social work from the University of Georgia. She spent her final years working as a counselor for the DeKalb Mental Health Center in Atlanta, Ga.

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