PASSINGS: Geraldine Washington, Denise Darcel

Geraldine Washington

Former head of NAACP's L.A. chapter

Geraldine Washington, 81, an educator and civil rights activist who led the Los Angeles chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People for 14 years, died of natural causes Thursday in Los Angeles, according to her family.

Washington was president of the NAACP's Los Angeles chapter from 1995 to 2009. She was particularly known for her activism on issues involving education and police hiring and misconduct.


"She was not a self-promoter. She wanted to change this city," said John Mack, a Los Angeles police commissioner and civil rights leader.

Washington was born Geraldine Robinson in Little Rock, Ark., on June 19, 1930. She attended the Pine Bluff and Fayetteville campuses of the

University of Arkansas

, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education.

In 1957, during the crisis over integrating Little Rock's Central High School, she moved to Los Angeles. After earning a doctorate in education at


, she taught elementary school in the

Los Angeles Unified School District

and later worked as a reading specialist. She was a district personnel administrator when she retired in 1991.

As head of the local NAACP, she was a sharp critic of the

Los Angeles Police Department

after the Rodney King beating and also drew attention to what she and other activists said were discriminatory hiring practices in the

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department


Washington was a vocal advocate for expanding opportunities for African Americans in University of California admissions after affirmative action was banned in the late 1990s, and helped coordinate a campaign to reverse a decline in African American enrollment at UCLA in 2006.

During her tenure, she also worked to strengthen bonds between the NAACP and other ethnic constituencies. In announcing that the L.A. chapter for the first time would honor leaders from other ethnic communities at its annual dinner in 2000, she said: "We realize that Los Angeles' demographics are continuing to evolve, so we must also evolve our traditional attitudes."

Washington also served as a national coordinator for women for the NAACP's western region.

Denise Darcel

Actress in films in late 1940s into the '50s

Denise Darcel, 87, a buxom, French-born actress known for her vivacious roles in such films as "Vera Cruz" and "Thunder in the Pines," died Dec. 23 at a Los Angeles hospital of complications from emergency surgery to repair a ruptured


, said her son Craig.

Darcel came to the United States in 1947 with the first of her four husbands, an American G.I. who had served in Europe during

World War II


She starred in a string of films from the late 1940s into the '50s, including "Battleground" with

Van Johnson

, "Tarzan and the Slave Girl" with Lex Barker, "Westward the Women" with

Robert Taylor

and "Young Man with Ideas" with

Glenn Ford


She most famously played a vivacious, double-crossing countess in 1954's "Vera Cruz" opposite

Burt Lancaster


Gary Cooper


Darcel also sang and acted in the 1950s Broadway musicals "Pardon Our French" and "Oh Captain!"

Los Angeles Times wire reports