A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Nov. 10.
Irv Refkin, 96, an impromptu but daring spy who served the United States and Britain as a saboteur, assassin and courier behind enemy lines in Europe during World War II, died on Thursday at his home in San Diego.
Dispatched from England, the scrappy 5-foot-6 Wisconsin native, was said to have smuggled explosives to the French Resistance in Paris, infiltrated Nazi Germany to kill specific targets integral to the Nazi war machine, and sabotaged train tracks to slow the deployment of German tanks to Normandy before the Allied invasion on D-Day. His preferred disguise: a German corporal, because “No one has ever noticed a corporal,” he said.
John Hillerman, 84, actor who played stuffed-shirt Higgins to Tom Selleck’s freewheeling Detective Thomas Magnum in the 1980s TV series “Magnum, P.I.” died Thursday at home in Houston. Besides playing manager of the Hawaiian estate that Magnum used as home base, he was known for his 1970s roles as arrogant radio-show detective Simon Brimmer on the “Ellery Queen” series and the difficult boss on the sitcom “One Day at a Time.” The Denison, Texas, native used a quasi-British accent on “Magnum” and elsewhere that was honed during several decades of playing varied roles on the New York stage before he turned to TV and movies.
Antonio Carluccio, 80, the celebrity chef and author who helped popularize inexpensive Italian fare as the founder of an eponymous restaurant chain and a prolific cookbook writer, died at his London home. His death was announced on Wednesday.
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Roy Halladay, 40, a former star pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner. He pitched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter in 2010 for the Philadelphia Phillies. He died Tuesday when his private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The son of a corporate pilot, he quickly got his license to fly after his retirement upon the end of the 2013 season. The eight-time All-Star fulfilled his dream when he purchased his own plane last month. “I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!” Halladay tweeted on Oct. 13.
Paul Buckmaster, 71, arranger and orchestra conductor who provided the atmospheric backdrop and sonic flourishes for Elton John, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and other titans of rock over the decades, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He had worked extensively with John, providing the orchestral arrangements for radio favorites such as “Tiny Dancer” and “Your Song,” and teamed with the Rolling Stones on darker fare like “Moonlight Mile” and “Sway” on the group’s “Sticky Fingers” album. And when Bowie recorded “Space Oddity,” he helped give it an ominous depth with his arrangement.
Richard Gordon, 88, who undertook what became a harrowing and abortive spacewalk in a 1966 NASA mission, then orbited the moon three years later, but never achieved his dream of walking on the lunar surface. The Seattle native died Monday at his home in San Marcos, California, near San Diego.
Joe Fortunato, 87, the speedy linebacker who helped the Chicago Bears win the 1963 NFL title, died Monday in Mississippi, where he starred as linebacker and fullback at Mississippi State. In 12 seasons with the Bears, Fortunato was a three-time All-Pro selection and a five-time Pro Bowl pick. He was an assistant coach with the Bears in 1967 and 1968 before returning to Mississippi.
Nancy Friday, 84, the author whose books about gender politics helped redefine American women’s sexuality and social identity in the late 20th century, died last Sunday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in Manhattan.