Joel Murray, 69, an entrepreneur who took a tiny airline that operated a handful of flights in the Midwest and built it into a competitive regional carrier that was bought in 1988 by the parent of American Airlines, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his brother and former business partner, Marvin.
A flamboyant and outspoken man, Murray already had established himself as a successful criminal defense attorney and investor in Chicago when he put about $200,000 into Simmons Airlines.
At the time, around 1980, Simmons flew between Detroit and towns in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, taking in less than $1 million a year. Murray and his brother took over management, adding routes and planes through the decade, and Simmons became part of American Airlines' American Eagle feeder system.
When Simmons was sold to Dallas-based AMR Corp. in 1988, it flew almost 40 planes to nearly 40 destinations around the Midwest. The selling price was $78 million.
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1940, Murray served in the Marine Corps and then attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned bachelor's and law degrees. He earned a master's degree in criminal law at Northwestern University.
In 1979, he gave up his law practice to become a full-time entrepreneur.
After selling Simmons, Murray split his time between homes in Chicago and Los Angeles, where he was a musical theater producer.
Linda Day Varnum
TV director in the 1980s, '90s
Linda Day Varnum, 71, a former TV director who was nominated for an Emmy Award for an episode of the comedy series "Archie Bunker's Place" in 1981, died Oct. 23 in Georgetown, Texas, after battling leukemia and breast cancer, her family announced.
As Linda Day, she had many directing credits in the 1980s and '90s, including the pilot of the comedy series "Married With Children" in 1987 and 32 more episodes of the show.
Among the other series she directed were "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Who's the Boss," "Dallas," "Gimme a Break!," "Kate and Allie," "Unhappily Ever After," "Clueless" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch."
She was born Linda Brickner on Aug. 12, 1938, in Los Angeles to Sylvia and Roy Brickner, a film editor. She attended UCSanta Barbara and worked as a script supervisor before directing.
In 2002, she reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Steve Varnum, and they were married.