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Robert Adler, the co-inventor of the TV remote control, died Feb. 15 of heart failure at a Boise, Idaho, nursing home. He was 93.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded Adler and co-inventor Eugene Polley, another Zenith engineer, an Emmy in 1997 for the landmark 1956 invention. Adler joined Zenith's research division in 1941 after earning a doctorate in physics from the University of Vienna.



Janet Blair, an actress who appeared in several 1940s musicals and comedies, then turned to television and such stars as Sid Caesar and Henry Fonda, died Feb. 19 from complications of pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica. She was 85.

Blair was singing with Hal Kemp's band at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles in 1941 when she was spotted by a talent scout from Columbia Pictures. Later, Rosalind Russell recommended her for the title role in "My Sister Eileen."

She appeared opposite George Raft in the gangster movie "Broadway" and co-starred with Cary Grant and a dancing caterpillar in the 1944 comedy-fantasy "Once Upon a Time." She was the love interest in "The Fabulous Dorseys," starring bandleaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and appeared opposite Red Skelton in the 1946 sleeper hit "The Fuller Brush Man."



Michael Shurtleff, a top Broadway casting director in the 1960s and '70s who wrote "Audition," a best-selling book for actors, died Jan. 28 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Shurtleff became casting director for producer David Merrick in 1959, casting nearly a dozen of Merrick's Broadway productions, including "A Taste of Honey," "Do Re Mi," "Carnival!" "Irma La Douce," "I Can Get It for You Wholesale" and "Oliver!"

Shurtleff, who launched an independent casting service, Casting Consultants, in the early 1960s, also cast the Broadway productions of "1776," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Pippin" and "Chicago."



Randy Stone, an Oscar-winning producer and Emmy- winning television casting director, died Feb. 12 of cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 48.

In 1994, Stone won an Oscar for producing the short film "Trevor," a tender and humorous tale of a young gay boy's attempted suicide. His Emmy was for casting the 1990 movie of the week "The Incident."

As head of casting at 20th Century Fox Television, he was responsible for shaping "The X-Files" and "Millennium." He developed and executive produced the 1991 feature film "Little Man Tate," starring Jodie Foster and Dianne Wiest.



Rod Colbin, acclaimed for his portrayal of a 15th century religious reformer in the movie "John Hus," died Feb. 4 in Denver after a series of strokes. He was 83.

Colbin worked on many '70s sitcoms, including "Three's Company," "The Ropers," "Barney Miller," "The Jeffersons" and "Sanford and Son" as well as "The A-Team," "Charlie's Angels," "Quincy M.E.," "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Greatest American Hero."

He also appeared in dozens of commercials, including a two-year stint as the Roman Meal Bread man.



Ellen Hanley, a musical-theater performer best known for playing Fiorello LaGuardia's first wife in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Fiorello!" died Feb. 12 of a stroke at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. She was 80.

In 1959, she joined the cast of the hit Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical about the mayor of New York, which ran for nearly 800 performances. The actress, born in Lorain, Ohio, made her Broadway debut in "Annie Get Your Gun," starring Ethel Merman, in 1946.
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