Tommy Kirk, 79, a young Walt Disney actor who came to personify the studio’s brand of wholesome family entertainment in the late 1950s, most famously as the boy who befriended a scrappy dog on the Texas frontier in “Old Yeller” (1957), was found dead Tuesday at his home in Las Vegas.

He had been in poor health, according to friends.

Kirk had a busy career at Disney, starring in 11 movies in eight years until he was abruptly fired in 1964.

Frances “Sissy” Tarlton Farenthold, 94, an ardently liberal Texas state legislator who remained a lodestar for her state progressives for decades, particularly women, as she became one of the nation’s most prominent feminists, died Sept. 26 at her home in Houston.

The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Farenthold ran for governor in 1972 on a platform that included imposing a tax on corporate profits, strictly regulating utilities and liberating state government from Big Oil and a “tyranny of private interests.”

Théoneste Bagosora, 80, a senior Rwandan military figure who was one of the masterminds of the Rwandan genocide, died Sept. 25 in a prison in Mali.

His death was confirmed by the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals at The Hague. No cause of death was given.


Bagosora was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2008 and was serving a 35-year sentence, which was reduced from life in prison, for the 1994 genocide, in which ethnic Hutu extremists killed as many as 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutu.

Pee Wee Ellis, 80, a saxophonist who was the musical director for soul star James Brown in the late 1960s and is considered an architect of funk music for his groundbreaking songwriting and arrangements on such songs as “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” died Sept. 23, from heart complications.

No further details were available.

He had lived in the southern English county of Dorset since the early 1990s.

After leaving Brown in 1969, Eliis returned to jazz, becoming a respected arranger and conductor. In 1979 he began a partnership with the Belfast-born Van Morrison, both recording and touring, that lasted more than two decades.

Marilyn Golden, 67, a nationally known disability rights advocate who spent nearly her entire adult life — ever since she was paralyzed in an accident during college — working on behalf of laws and public policy that made it easier for disabled people to ride buses, enter buildings and otherwise navigate the world, died Sept. 21 at her home in Berkeley, California. The cause was melanoma.

Golden, who had worked with the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund since 1988, was a leading advocate for passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark law, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas including transportation, employment and access to public accommodations.


George Malkemus, 67, the steady, sunny Texan who helped turn the designs of an eccentric shoe designer named Manolo Blahnik into a global empire and then attempted the same business alchemy with actor Sarah Jessica Parker for her own shoe brand, died Sept. 16 of cancer at home in Manhattan.

Cliff Freeman, 80, an award-winning copywriter and creative director behind many witty TV commercials, most memorably the one for Wendy’s in which a gravelly voiced old woman shouts “Where’s the beef?” at the sight of a puny hamburger patty in an oversized bun, died Sept. 5 at home in Manhattan. He was 80. The cause was pneumonia.

In a career of nearly 40 years, Freeman’s sense of humor made brands stand out — first at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample and then, starting in 1987, at his own agency, Cliff Freeman & Partners.

For the candy bars Almond Joy and Mounds, Freeman coined the song lyrics “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.”

The campaign created for the Wendy’s burger was already on its way to go viral when Walter Mondale turned to Gary Hart during a debate for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination and asked on national TV, “Where’s the beef?”