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PASSINGS: Donald L. Taffner, Wardell Quezergue, Eve Brent

Donald L. Taffner

Distributor brought British TV shows to U.S.

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Donald L. Taffner, 80, an independent television distributor and producer who adapted and delivered

"The Benny Hill Show"

and other British

comedy

programs for U.S. broadcasts, died Tuesday after a short stay at

Lenox Hill

Hospital in

New York City

, according to publicist Henri Bollinger.

and former

William Morris

agent, Taffner founded his own company in 1963 to negotiate international television rights. One of his biggest successes was "The

Benny Hill

Show," the risque and politically incorrect British sitcom that the businessman sold to small independent local channels in the United States in the late 1970s.

He also adapted the British sitcom "Man About the House" into

starring

John Ritter

,

Joyce DeWitt

and

Suzanne Somers

, and he turned "Keep It in the Family" into "Too Close for Comfort" for American audiences. Taffner also imported John Mortimer's British drama "Rumpole of the Bailey" to U.S. television.

"Two hundred episodes of one show is boredom. Now deals, that's the creative part," Taffner told the Guardian newspaper of London in 1995.

Born Nov. 29, 1930, in Brooklyn, Taffner grew up working in his father's candy store. After attending what is now St. John's University, he got a job in the mail room at the William Morris Agency in 1952 and became an agent handling international negotiations.

Taffner and his wife, Eleanor Bolta, whom he married in 1961, were major collectors of furniture and other work by the Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. She died in 2010. They had a daughter, Karen, and a son, Don Jr., who now runs the company.

In 1986 Taffner received an International Emmy and Founders Award for his efforts to bring foreign shows to the U.S. market.

Wardell Quezergue

New Orleans composer, arranger, bandleader

Wardell Quezergue, 81, a New Orleans composer, arranger, bandleader, producer and teacher who arranged

and was dubbed the "Creole Beethoven" by fellow musician

died Tuesday at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, La. The cause was

congestive heart failure

, his family said.

FOR THE RECORD:

A previous version of this obituary incorrectly reported that "Mr. Big Stuff" and "Groove Me" were recorded on the same day in 1961. They were recorded in 1970.

"What a mark he made. In fact, what several marks he made," Toussaint said. "He was just a magnificent man in every way. He was a superb musician and bandleader. He always inspired the best out of people who were playing with him."

Hits arranged by Quezergue include

and

— the last two recorded the same day in 1970 at Quezergue's Malaco Records in

Jackson

, Miss.

Quezergue also worked with artists as diverse as

B.B. King

, the Meters,

Paul Simon

,

Stevie Wonder

,

Willie Nelson

and the Dameans — a quintet of New Orleans priests whose folky liturgical songs were popular after the Vatican decided the Mass should be in local languages rather than Latin.

Quezergue lost his house and his collection of musical scores to

Hurricane Katrina

in 2005, and his sight to

diabetes

in about 2003.

A New Orleans native, Quezergue left high school in his junior year and joined

the Army

, serving during the

Korean War

, then returned to Louisiana.

Eve Brent,

81, a starlet who found enduring fame after becoming the 19th actress cast as Jane in the string of Tarzan adventure movies, died Aug. 27 at Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley. Her representative at the CESD Talent Agency confirmed her death. Born Jean Ann Lewis on Sept. 11, 1929, in Texas, she changed her name for professional reasons in 1957. A year later, she appeared opposite Gordon Scott in "Tarzan and the Trappers" and "Tarzan's Fight for Life." She went on to a successful career as a character actress in episodic television and in movies, including "The Barefoot Executive,"

"The Green Mile"

and "

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

."

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
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