Passages

updated 07/23/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/23/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Nathaniel Wyeth, inventor of the plastic soda bottle, died July 4 in St. George, Maine, of a heart attack at age 78. Although he had a hand in some 25 inventions, his best known is the lightweight plastic bottle he created for Du Pont in the late '60s. More than 15 billion of Wyeth's bottles, used for carbonated drinks and food, are now made worldwide each year. (Recycling experts say Wyeth's bottles are fine, provided the plastics industry recycles them.) Says Edward Jefferson, former chairman of Du Pont: "Nat was blessed with perceptions that outstrip most of us, and used this special insight in elegant experimental work." Wyeth was the son of artist N.C Wyeth, and the brother of painter Andrew Wyeth.

Television reporter Paul Wynne (below), who chronicled his own battle with AIDS in emotional three-minute spots for San Francisco's KGO-TV (PEOPLE, Feb. 12), died from the disease on July 5 in San Francisco. "He was comfortable, and his family was at his side," says David Sampson, his producer. In 20 reports over a six-month period, Wynne told viewers about his declining health and his emotional highs and lows. He also cracked jokes, once opening his medicine cabinet to show viewers "the parade of potions" that he swallowed daily. "It's been a joy knowing all of you," he told his audience in one of his final segments.

Bill Cullen (above), known as the Dean of Game Shows, died July 7 of lung cancer in Los Angeles at age 70. Groucho Marx, then hosting his own You Bet Your Life game show, once called Cullen "the second-wittiest man in the business." Cullen had a hard time landing his first on-camera job because childhood polio had left him with a limp. Once he did, though, he went on to a 30-year career that included hosting some 5,500 half-hour game show episodes, including The $25,000 Pyramid, The Price Is Right and Name That Tune. He was also a panelist on To Tell the Truth and I've Got a Secret. "I've made my contribution to culture," Cullen once said, "for better or worse." Game show producer Mark Goodson, who gave Cullen his first game show job, as the host of radio's Winner Take All, says, "He was very fast on the draw and very witty, with a great sense of humor and a kind of exuberant, boyish quality. He looked like a perpetual sophomore."

Los Angeles Kings hockey star Wayne Gretzky, 29, and his wife, actress Janet Jones-Gretzky, 29, had their second child, a boy, Ty Robert Gretzky, on July 9 in Los Angeles. Baby Ty weighed in at 8 lbs. 7oz. The couple's daughter, Paulina, is 18 months. Gretzky says, "Both Janet and I feel very blessed to have two healthy children."

Tough-guy actor Howard Duff, who worked steadily for 50 years but never quite broke through to top stardom, died July 9 of a heart attack in Santa Barbara, Calif., at age 76. Born in Bremerton, Wash., Duff started in theater and then came to public attention as detective Sam Spade on the 1940s CBS radio series of the same name. He made his movie debut in 1947's Brute Force; more recent movie appearances included 1978's A Wedding and 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer. On television, he was a regular in such series as Mr. Adams and Eve (in which he co-starred with his then wife, actress-director Ida Lupino, from 1957 to '58), Felony Squad (1966-69) and, most recently, Flamingo Road (1981-82), where he portrayed Sheriff Titus Semple. Ex-wife Lupino, to whom he was married for 22 years, says, "I first remember him as a marvelous radio actor. I fell in love with his voice. There was a natural attraction which, in the end, was much better professionally than personally. I will always remember him as Sam Spade." The day before his death, Duff had appeared in a telethon to raise money for those left homeless by Santa Barbara's recent brush fires.

Hollywood animal trainer Ray Berwick, the man who put the birds in Birdman of Alcatraz and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, died July 2 of heart failure in Westlake Village, Calif., at age 75. He also trained the animals used in many TV shows, including Fred, the pet cockatoo in Baretta. "He truly was Dr. Dolittle," said Robert Blake, Baretta's star. "He just talked to the animals, and they did whatever he wanted them to."

Burmese, the black mare that Queen Elizabeth rode sidesaddle in Britain's annual Trooping the Color parade for 18 years, died July 3 of a stroke in the Royal Mews, Windsor Castle, at age 28. The mare was presented to the Queen by the Canadian Mounties in 1969. Burmese worked with the police when not on royal call and kept her cool even when the Queen, in the 1981 trooping, had six blank shots fired at her by a deranged 17-year-old youth. Burmese retired from her royal duties in 1986 and grazed her last years away at Windsor, where she has been buried. A bronze statue of Burmese is on display at the Windsor Castle museum. According to a stablehand quoted in a British tabloid, The Sun, "The Queen has never loved an animal as much...she has been totally devastated."

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