Empty"Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, a steel guitar prodigy who rose to fame as one of the original members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, died Jan. 6 of Alzheimer's disease at a Petaluma, Calif., convalescent home. He was 72.
Kleinow — who also worked in film and TV and won an Emmy in 1983 for his VFX work on the miniseries "The Winds of War" — helped define the country-rock genre in the late 1960s and '70s by taking the instrument he had picked up as a teenager in South Bend, Ind., to California. During a musical career that spanned six decades, Kleinow's prowess with the pedal steel guitar influenced a generation of rock 'n' rollers, including the Eagles, the Steve Miller Band and Poco.
Besides founding the Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons in 1968, he enjoyed a steady gig as a first-call session musician.
Before, during and after his steady run as a Burrito Brother, Kleinow amassed credits as an animator, special effects artist and director of commercials. His work ranged from the original "Gumby" series — he wrote and performed the theme music as well as designed cartoons — and the relaunched "The Twilight Zone" to the movies "Fearless" and "The Empire Strikes Back."
Iwao Takamoto, an animator who designed the cartoon dog Scooby-Doo as well as characters on such shows as "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons," died Jan. 8 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a massive coronary. He was 81.
Takamoto, who had become a vp at Warner Bros. Animation, designed Scooby-Doo, his master Shaggy and their pals Velma, Daphne and Fred in the late 1960s while working at the Hanna- Barbera animation studio.
Takamoto assisted in the design of some of the biggest animated features and TV shows for Disney and the Hanna-Barbera animation team, including "Cinderella" and "Lady and the Tramp." He also directed 1973's "Charlotte's Web."
Bong Soo Han, a Korean martial arts master who helped revolutionize Hollywood's use of the skill by creating fight sequences for modern American films, died Jan. 8 at his home in Santa Monica. He was 73.
Han was discovered by Hollywood in 1969, shortly after he arrived in the U.S., while giving a Hapkido demonstration at a park near Malibu. Actor-director Tom Laughlin saw him perform and asked for help with his action film "Billy Jack."
Han choreographed fight scenes for the film, a cult classic, and served as a stunt man. His credits include "The Presidio," "Force Five," "Kill the Golden Goose" and "The Kentucky Fried Movie."
Frank Campanella, a brawny character actor who played tough guys in 100-plus films and television shows, died Dec. 30 at his San Fernando Valley, Calif., home. He was 87.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Jan. 17 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in suburban North Hollywood.
One of Campanella's most distinctive roles was his first: Mook the Moon Man on TV's "Captain Video and His Video Rangers" in 1949.
His movie credits include Judge Harper in "Dick Tracy," Pops in "Pretty Woman," Frank the Doorman in "Beaches," Capt. Karl in "Overboard" and Col. Eastland in "The Flamingo Kid."
Vincent Sardi Jr., owner of the legendary Broadway watering hole that bears his name, died Jan. 4 in Berlin, Vt. He was 91.
Sardi's father started the restaurant in 1921, and it became the gathering place where the New York theater crowd celebrated opening nights. The son took over around 1945 after serving in the Marines.
The younger Sardi, who was born in New York, eventually sold the restaurant in 1985 but ended up taking control of it again five years later. He retired in 1997. His grandson, Sean Ricketts, now manages the eatery.