EmptyKon Ichikawa, a Japanese director who married artistic technique with humanistic spirit in such films as the Oscar-nominated "Harp of Burma" and "Tokyo Olympiad," died Feb. 13 of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital. He was 92.
Known for his artistic technique and the wide range of genres in which he worked, Ichikawa won a jury prize at the Festival de Cannes in 1960 for "Kagi."
He also received a lifetime achievement award in 2001 from the World Film Festival of Montreal.
John Brunious, a jazz trumpeter who devoted his career to the music of his native New Orleans, leading the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for more than a dozen years, died Feb. 12 of an apparent heart attack in Casselberry, Fla., where he had settled after Hurricane Katrina drove him from his home. He was 67.
Brunious had a bright, clear sound on trumpet and a casually appealing vocal style.
His older brother, Wendell Brunious, also is a prominent trumpeter. Their father, John Brunious Sr., was a trumpeter and pianist who contributed to the traditional jazz repertory by transcribing songs by earlier musicians like the drummer Paul Barbarin.
The younger John Brunious did not limit himself to playing traditional jazz. He gravitated toward bebop and later worked as a sideman in rhythm and blues bands.
David Groh, the hardworking character actor who was best known as the easygoing man Rhoda Morgenstern married and divorced during the run of the 1970s sitcom "Rhoda," died Feb. 12 of kidney cancer in Los Angeles. He was 68.
Divorce was not a subject generally addressed on television in the 1970s, and when Groh's character, Joe Gerard, and Valerie Harper's Morgenstern split up during the show's third season, viewers were stunned. Their wedding had resulted in one of the show's highest-rated episodes, and when they split, people sent them condolence cards.
Groh went on to appear in dozens of TV shows and films, as well as on Broadway. He played D.L. Brock on "General Hospital" from 1983-85 and recurred on "Baywatch," "Law & Order" and other shows.
His film credits included "Get Shorty," "Two Minute Warning" and "Broken Vow," and he appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Chapter Two" and Jon Tolin's "The Twilight of the Golds."
Perry Lopez, a veteran character actor perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Lou Escobar opposite Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson in the classic 1974 film "Chinatown," died Feb. 14 of lung cancer at the Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly Hills. He was 78.
Born in New York, Lopez got his start on the stage before moving into film with an uncredited role in "Creature From the Black Lagoon." He also had roles in such familiar films as "Mister Roberts," "McClintock," "Che!" and "Kelly's Heroes."
In addition, he appeared in dozens of television shows, including "The Lone Ranger," "Bonanza," "Charlie's Angels," "Mission: Impossible" and "Star Trek."
Steve Gerber, a comic book writer and creator whose signature character was the alienated, cigar-chomping Howard the Duck, died Feb. 9 in a Las Vegas hospital of complications related to pulmonary fibrosis. He was 60.
Gerber also co-created Marvel's "Omega the Unknown" and created the 1980s animated series "Thundarr the Barbarian."
"Howard the Duck" became a fast hit after its January 1976 debut on Marvel and remains a cult favorite. Its lead, a disgruntled duck from another universe with a bombshell sidekick named Beverly "Thunder-Thighs" Switzler, was hailed as both smart and subversive. George Lucas executive produced the 1986 Universal film "Howard the Duck."