The man who helped Fred Astaire to dance, Academy Award-winning choreographer Hermes Pan, 79 (above, left, with the great man himself), died on Sept. 19 at his home in Beverly Hills. Born Hermes Panagiotopoulos in Memphis, Pan was Astaire's chief collaborator. Together the two choreographed, with incomparable wit and elegance, nine of the 10 classic 1930s RKO musicals that starred Astaire and dancing partner Ginger Rogers, including Flying Down to Rio, Top Hat and Swing Time, "With Fred, I was Ginger, and with Ginger, I was Fred," the soft-spoken, modest Pan recalled in 1988. He won his Oscar in 1937 for Damsel in Distress, which starred Astaire, a very young Joan Fontaine and a chorus line of treadmills, revolving barrels, slides and fun-house mirrors. Pan helped define the look of movie musicals with some 40 other films, including Moon over Miami and My Fair Lady. Astaire once said Pan "was the only person I ever saw who could dance like I did."
Robert Rodale, 60, a publishing "mogul, health enthusiast and prominent exponent of organic farming, was killed Sept. 20 in Moscow when the car in which he was riding was hit by a bus. Rodale was there to discuss a joint venture with a Russian publisher. As head of Rodale Press, he oversaw a network of magazines on health and fitness, including the 3.3 million-circulation Prevention, as well as The New Farmer and Runner's World.
Singer-actress Lorna Luft, 37, and her husband, rock star-turned-record producer Jake Hooker, 39 (left), welcomed an 8 lb. daughter, Vanessa Jade, on Sept. 21 in Los Angeles. Luft, whose mom was Judy Garland and whose older sis is Liza Minnelli, and her husband have a son, Jesse Cole, 6. Luft says Vanessa is the name of a New York City restaurant the couple likes and that she has always admired Vanessa Redgrave....
And game-show big wheel Pat Sajak, 43, and his wife, Lesly, 25, a model, had a son. Patrick Michael James, on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles, The couple's first child weighed in at 7 lbs. Although he is a wee bit young for alphabet blocks, Sajak says, "We've already opened negotiations with Merv Griffin Productions for Patrick to take over Wheel of Fortune in 2011. Now it's up to Vanna to produce her replacement."
Regular-guy actor Jim Belushi, 36, wed actress Marjorie Bransfield, 26, on Sept. 22 in their hometown, Chicago. Some 200 guests filled St. Nicholas's Albanian Orthodox church before waving the couple off to Europe for a honeymoon. Belushi, who starts shooting director John Hughes's new movie, Curly Sue, this month, has a son, Robert, 10, from his first marriage.
After an 11-year marriage, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II, 37, and his wife, Sheila Rauch Kennedy, 40 (below), filed for divorce on Sept. 18 in Suffolk County. Mass., seven months after announcing a split. The no-fault parting provides for joint custody of their 10-year-old twin sons, Matthew and Joseph. Joe, the first of the "next generation' " of Kennedys to win public office, is also the first of Sen. Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children to divorce.
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