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PASSINGS: Michael Gough, Murray Warmath, James C. Tyree, Marty Marion, John Kronenberg

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Michael Gough

Actor played butler in 'Batman' movies

Michael Gough, 94, a British actor best known for playing Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred in a series of "Batman" movies, died Thursday at home in England, his former wife Anneke Wills said through her agent. Gough's agent told the BBC that the actor had been unwell for some time.

During a career that began in the 1940s, Gough appeared in more than 150 films and television shows, including the popular British sci-fi TV series "Doctor Who" and the 1951 Alec Guinness film "The Man in the White Suit." He was something of a cult figure among horror film fans for roles in such movies as "Horror of Dracula" and "The Phantom of the Opera."

But it was U.S. director Tim Burton who thrust Gough into the international limelight, casting him as Alfred Pennyworth in "Batman" in 1989 alongside Michael Keaton in the title role.

He would reprise the part of Bruce Wayne's butler in three more installments: opposite Keaton in 1992's "Batman Returns," directed by Burton; and with Val Kilmer in "Batman Forever" (1995) and George Clooney in "Batman and Robin" (1997), the latter two directed by Joel Schumacher.

Gough worked with Burton again on "Sleepy Hollow" and also provided voices for the director's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Corpse Bride."

Gough was born in what was then known as Malaya to British parents on Nov. 23, in either 1916 or 1917. "There was some indecision as to when I was born," Gough told the Times of London in 1997. "My sister said it was 1916. I'd lost my birth certificate."

Gough indicated in the interview that he considered 1916 his birth year.

Besides his film and TV roles, he also acted on stage, winning a Tony Award in 1979 for his work in "Bedroom Farce."

Murray Warmath

Coach led Minnesota Gophers to national championship

Murray Warmath, 98, the football coach who led the Minnesota Gophers to a national championship and back-to-back Rose Bowls in the early 1960s, died of natural causes Wednesday in Bloomington, Minn., the university said.

The Gophers have not won a Big Ten title since Warmath led them to a share of the conference crown in 1967.

Warmath was hired in 1954 and went 87-78-7 in 18 seasons at the helm in Minnesota. After the Gophers finished in last place in the Big Ten in 1959, angry fans tossed garbage on his front lawn and hanged the coach in effigy. But it was just a year later that Warmath led Minnesota to the national championship.

Warmath was born Dec. 26, 1912, in Humboldt, Tenn., and played for the University of Tennessee under coach Bob Neyland from 1930 to 1934. He served in the Navy during World War II, held assistant coaching positions at Tennessee and Army and was the head coach at Mississippi from 1952 to '53.

His coaching style has been described as hard-nosed and disciplinarian, but he was also remembered as a man committed to social change. At a time when segregation was still the norm in the South and many Northern schools still refused to recruit black players, Warmath started one of his black recruits, sophomore Sandy Stephens, at quarterback.

The Gophers went to the Rose Bowl after the 1960 and '61 seasons. They lost to Washington, 17-7, in 1961, and beat UCLA, 21-3, the next year.

Warmath became an assistant coach for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in 1978 and worked as a scout in the organization into the 1990s before retiring.

Marty Marion

Cardinals shortstop and 1944 MVP

Marty Marion, 93, the brilliant shortstop and 1944 National League most valuable player with the St. Louis Cardinals and a former manager of the Cardinals and St. Louis Browns, died of natural causes Tuesday in St. Louis, the Cardinals said.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Marion was nicknamed the "Octopus" and "Slats" for his long-armed, rangy fielding prowess, and was considered the best shortstop in Cardinals history before Ozzie Smith joined the franchise in 1982.

Marion, who played on World Series championship teams in 1942, '44 and '46, batted only .267 with six homers and 63 runs batted in during his MVP season, numbers that paled against teammate Stan Musial's .347 average with 12 homers and 94 RBIs. But Marion got the nod on the basis of defense and team leadership.

Though he had an all-time batting average of just .263 and never hit .300, Marion was an eight-time All-Star. His playing career cut short by a back injury, he managed the Cardinals in 1951, then was player-manager for the Browns in 1952-53. He also managed the Chicago White Sox for part of the 1954 season and all of the 1955 and '56 seasons.

Marion was born Dec. 1, 1917, on a farm in Richburg, S.C., was drafted by the Cardinals out of high school in 1935 and played 13 seasons in the majors.

James C. Tyree

Chicago media and financial executive

James C. Tyree, 53, the Chicago businessman who helped lead the Sun-Times Media Group Inc. out of bankruptcy, died Wednesday at a Chicago hospital after "an unexpected complication" from stomach cancer, according to Richard Price, president and chief operating officer of Chicago-based Mesirow Financial.

Tyree, who was chief executive and chairman of the financial services company, also suffered from diabetes and had kidney and pancreas transplants in 2006.

In 2009, Tyree led an investment group that took the Chicago Sun-Times' parent company out of bankruptcy. Sun-Times Media, which also owns dozens of suburban Chicago newspapers and websites, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March of that year, after months of cost-cutting measures.

The company's troubles played out during the 2007 federal trial of Lord Conrad Black, chief executive of the Sun-Times' former owner, Hollinger International. Black was convicted of siphoning millions of dollars from Hollinger.

Born in 1957, Tyree grew up on Chicago's South Side and earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Illinois State University. He worked as a forklift operator and used academic scholarships and grants to pay for his education.

Tyree joined Mesirow Financial in 1980, beginning as a research assistant and working his way up. He was named president in 1990 and chief executive in 1992.

John Kronenberg

Longtime Los Angeles magistrate judge

John Kronenberg, 87, a U.S. magistrate judge for more than two decades in Los Angeles, died of kidney failure March 11 at the Covington retirement community in Aliso Viejo, said his wife, Marilyn.

Kronenberg was appointed a magistrate judge in 1973 and served until retiring in 1992. He returned in 1994 and worked until the next year. He had been an L.A. County deputy public defender from 1959 to 1973.

Magistrate judges are appointed by U.S. district judges to eight-year terms. A magistrate judge's duties include presiding over pretrial arraignments and deciding whether the accused may be freed on bail.

In 1986, Kronenberg turned down a bid by former Black Panther leader Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt for a new trial on charges in a 1968 shooting. Kronenberg generated controversy in 1985 by ordering the release on bail of an accused child molester. The ruling was overturned by a U.S. district judge.

John Robert Kronenberg was born March 15, 1923, in Spokane, Wash., and grew up in Santa Monica. He returned to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University but was drafted into the Army after one semester. He served in Europe during World War II.

Kronenberg worked six years for the Douglas Aircraft Co. as a tool design engineer before graduating from Loyola University's law school in 1958.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

news.obits@latimes.com

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