EmptyMichel M. Grilikhes, a network television executive, producer and writer and developer of arena theatrical spectaculars, died March 9 of kidney failure at Kindred Hospital in Culver City. He was 83.
Grilikhes joined CBS Television in the 1950s as a production executive and producer-director on such programs as "Wanted," "Suspense," "Danger," "21st President," "Best of Broadway," "Studio One," "Festival of Light," "General Electric Theater" and "The Seven Lively Arts."
He served as program executive for CBS on "Route 66," "Have Gun, Will Travel," "Checkmate," "The Tom Ewell Show," "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" and "Dennis the Menace" and produced, wrote or directed such classic shows as "Playhouse 90," "Let Freedom Ring" and "An American Original — Grandma Moses."
He wrote the screenplay for the 1966 United Artists feature "Duel at Diablo" and was a producer-director on "Color It Happy" for Hanna-Barbera and ABC, among other projects.
His arena shows included "Disney on Parade," "Peter Pan" with Cathy Rigby and "The Wizard of Oz Live!"
Gareth Hunt, a British actor best known as secret agent Mike Gambit on the 1970s spy series "The New Avengers," died March 14 of pancreatic cancer at his home south of London. He was 65.
The London-born Hunt first gained attention playing footman Frederick Norton in the long-running TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs." But he is best remembered for "New Avengers," a sequel to the 1960s spy series "The Avengers." In later years, Hunt appeared on such British shows as "EastEnders," "Doctors" and "New Tricks."
Buck Jones, a rising country music singer, died March 17 when he was struck by a passing vehicle while walking on a roadside near Greenville, Texas. He was 33.
He and his guitarist were traveling to a party for a gig when they had a tire blowout. Jones was trying to find a mile marker to give his location to road-assistance crews when he was struck. The driver was charged with intoxicated manslaughter.
Nashville-born Jones reached the top 10 of Radio & Records' Americana chart and had received a national performance activity award from SESAC. He released the album "Lucky Star" in 2005. By the end of 2006, he had signed a deal to rerelease "Lucky Star" with national distribution.
Jay Kennedy, a former cartoon editor of Esquire magazine who became editor in chief of King Features Syndicate, drowned March 15 while swimming off Costa Rica. He was 50.
Kennedy became King Features editor in chief in 1997. There he revived "Prince Valiant" and introduced the popular newspaper comic strips "Curtis," "Mutts" and "Zits."
While serving from 1983-88 as cartoon editor at Esquire, he worked as a cartoon consultant for magazines and publishers, including People and Whittle Communications.
Lanna Saunders, who followed her father, Nicholas Saunders, and grandfather, Nicholas Soussanin, into the family craft of acting and was best known for a long-running role on "Days of Our Lives," died March 9 from complications of multiple sclerosis, which she'd had for 25 years. She was 65.
Saunders was 13 when she started performing on Broadway. She studied with Elia Kazan, joining his Lincoln Center Company and performing under his direction in Arthur Miller's "After the Fall."
She joined the cast of the soap opera "Days" in 1979 and left the show in 1985, when she became too ill to continue.