Jon Hager

'Hee Haw' comedian, musician

Jon Hager, 67, who performed in the musical comedy duo the Hager Twins on the television show "Hee Haw," was found dead in his Nashville apartment Friday. Hager had apparently died in his sleep, said Sam Lovullo, who produced the syndicated TV show. Hager had been in poor health and had been depressed since the death of his identical twin brother in May 2008.

The twins were in the original cast of the show, which debuted in 1969 satirizing country life with a mixture of music and comedy. Both were guitarists and drummers.

Lovullo said they were originally hired for their musical talent, but as the show went on they incorporated more comedy into their act.

The Hagers left the program in the mid-1980s and continued to perform together.

The twins were born in the Chicago area and served in the Army together. They said in 1998 that they had been together all their lives except for 3 1/2 years, after Jon left Los Angles and moved to Nashville. Jim remained on the West Coast but eventually followed.

Joe Hirsch

Columnist on horse racing

Joe Hirsch, 80, the longtime columnist for the Daily Racing Form who was known as the dean of American turf writers, died Friday at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, said Steven Crist, chairman and publisher of the Daily Racing Form. A lifelong resident of New York, Hirsch had Parkinson's disease and was recovering from a broken hip suffered in a fall last spring.

Hirsch's career spanned more than 50 years, and he chronicled the road to the Kentucky Derby with his detailed reports -- called "Derby Doings" -- on prep races in Florida, California, Kentucky and New York. He retired in 2003.

Hirsch was also known for helping new racing writers learn the sport and was the first president of the National Turf Writers Assn. in 1959. He had the respect of horse owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and track owners, as well as fellow journalists and the racing public.

A general sports fan, Hirsch was famous for being Joe Namath's roommate for three years in the 1960s when the star quarterback played for the New York Jets.

Hirsch was born Feb. 27, 1928, and studied journalism at New York University. He was hired by the Morning Telegraph, a publication affiliated with the Daily Racing Form, in 1948 and moved to the Daily Racing Form in 1954. He served four years in the Army.

When the new press box at Churchill Downs in Kentucky was completed in 2005, it was named the Joe Hirsch Media Center. In 1994, the Thoroughbred Club of America honored him for his distinguished service to racing.

Gaston Lenotre

Chef known for creative desserts

Gaston Lenotre, 88, the French pastry maker known for his innovative desserts, died Thursday at his home in Sologne, south of Paris, after a long illness.

"Thanks to his talent, creativity, rigorous and exacting standards, he elevated patisserie to an art," President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.

Born in the Eure district of Normandy in 1920, Lenotre developed a passion for baking early in life. The son of cooks, he revolutionized French pastry making by inventing lighter versions of the country's traditional desserts such as macaroons, mousses and charlotte cakes.

He opened his first pastry shop in his native region in 1947 before moving to Paris 10 years later. His shop in the well-to-do 16th arrondissement featured his trademark "Success" nougat cream and macaroon cake.

In 1964, he expanded into catering for receptions, a business that later grew into an international chain of chic pastry and catering outlets.

His company was acquired by hotel and services group Accor in 1985, leading to further expansion abroad. There are Lenotre outlets in 12 countries, including the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

-- times staff and wire reports