EmptySidney Ellis, whose television writing and production career spanned nearly four decades, died Sept. 6 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 89.
Ellis' career began in New York in the 1950s, when he wrote for such groundbreaking series as "I Spy" and "Captain Grief," one of the first television shows to be filmed almost entirely on location.
A nephew of Yiddish theater legend Boris Thomashefsky, Ellis became head writer on "The Verdict Is Yours," an innovative courtroom drama that featured actual criminal cases tried by practicing judges and attorneys, with actors playing the roles of real defendants and witnesses.
Reaching Los Angeles in 1960, Ellis focused on writing for such primetime dramas as "Bonanza," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Combat," "The Fugitive" and "The Outer Limits." He was a story editor and supervising producer for several popular series in the '70s and '80s, including "Baretta," "The A-Team" and "Hunter."
Gordon "Specs" Powell, a jazz drummer who recorded with Billie Holiday and played for "The Ed Sullivan Show" as part of the CBS network orchestra, died Sept. 15 at a care center near his home in San Marcos, Calif., of complications from kidney disease. He was 85.
Powell began his career doubling as a pianist but rose to fame as a drummer during the swing era and became a fixture on the 52nd Street jazz scene in New York.
In 1943, he was hired by CBS, becoming one of the first black musicians to play for a national network.
Powell worked with several jazz greats, including Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker and Red Norvo.
He stayed with CBS until 1972, playing for "The Jackie Gleason Show," "Candid Camera" and other specials as well as for the Sullivan show.
Michael Evans, an actor who starred on Broadway, in films and on television during a 40-year career, died Sept. 7 in Los Angeles. He was 87.
As a young man in his native England, he studied at the Old Vic and came to the U.S. in the Broadway show "Ring Around the Moon," appearing opposite Harry Belafonte.
Evans then won the starring role in "Gigi" opposite Audrey Hepburn. Then he toured as Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady," giving thousands of performances worldwide.
He and his family settled in Hollywood, and a string of appearances began, ranging from such showcases as "Kraft Theater" and "Studio One" to popular series including "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Perry Mason." He eventually began a remarkable 16-year run on the CBS daytime drama "The Young & the Restless" from 1980-95.
Jay Harris, an entertainment attorney, Tony-winning producer, author and recently the host of his radio show "One Great Song," died Sept. 24 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 69.
Harris was the founder and producer of Weissberger Theater Group, which most recently presented on Broadway the musicals "Never Gonna Dance," based on the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers classic film "Swing Time," and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
He and the group received the 1999 Tony for best play for their production of "Side Man" by Warren Leight, which they originally produced off-off Broadway. He produced all of Weissberger Theater Group's off-off-Broadway productions, including "Down the Road," "Freefall," "Dates and Nuts," "Where the Truth Lies," "Enter the Guardsman" and "Tamicanfly."
Harris was a practicing entertainment attorney in New York and the author of "TV Guide: The First 25 Years."