Merger mania has caught up with director Brian (The Bonfire of the Vanities) De Palma, 50, and film producer Gale Anne (The Abyss) Hurd, 35, who have become engaged. No wedding date set yet. Both De Palma and Hurd have been married before—he to actress Nancy Allen and she to director James (The Terminator) Cameron.
Chalk up another babe for Hugh Hefner. Baby, that is. Hefner, 64, and wife Kimberley Conrad, 26, are expecting a playmate this September for their 10-month-old son, Marston....
Debonair quiz show host Alex (Jeopardy!) Trebek, 50, had to rush from the taping of his new show, To Tell the Truth, to a Los Angeles hospital, where he helped wife Jean, 27. deliver their first child, 8-lb., 15-oz. Matthew Alexander, who did not arrive in the form of a question.
Character actor Dean Jagger, 87, I died on Feb. 5 of complications resulting from influenza, in Santa Monica. Jagger, who made some 40 movies, won an Oscar in 1949 for his performance as the bald, bespectacled Maj. Harvey Stovall (above, at right with Gregory Peck) in the World War II classic Twelve O'Clock High. "It was the first picture he did without a toupee," says Peck. "He said he felt liberated, that he had never felt comfortable as a leading man anyway."
Harry Ackerman, 78, a producer who helped create such landmark TV series as I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Our Miss Brooks and Bewitched, died of pulmonary failure on Feb. 3 in Burbank. Calif. Ackerman helped move prime-time television programming away from its early concentration on variety shows to endearingly ridiculous family-comedy shows, including Leave It to Beaver, The Farmers Daughter and Hazel. His widow, to whom he was married for 30 years, is Father Knows Best's Elinor Donahue, currently on Fox's Get a Life....
James MacDonald, 84, who supplied the squeaky voice of Walt Disney's cartoon rodent Mickey Mouse from 1946 to 1976, died of heart failure on Feb. 8 in Glendale, Calif.
The Reverend James Cleveland, 59 (right), long anointed the King of Gospel, died of heart failure on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles. The robust baritone could make church pews shake with his Grammy award-winning songs, including "Peace Be Still," "The Love of God" and "Everything Will Be All Right." In the late 1960s, Cleveland helped spirit gospel out of the choir loft and onto the record charts, acting as collaborator and coach to such performers as Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones and Edwin Hawkins. "Once you met him, you just adored him," said Franklin, who began singing gospel under Cleveland's tutelage at age 9. "He could sing and make you feel that you had been to church."