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PASSINGS: Manuel Solis, Bill Shepard

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Manuel Solis

Ex-president of Panama

Manuel Solis, 91, who served as president of Panama during Manuel Noriega's military regime, died of respiratory failure Friday at his home in Panama City, said Mitchell Doens, the secretary general of the Democratic Revolutionary Party to which Solis belonged.

Solis served as education minister during the military regime dominated by Noriega and then was named acting president in February 1988 after President Eric Arturo Del Valle was fired. Solis ruled until Sept. 1, 1989.

Doens said Solis fought for Panama's sovereignty and led the movement in the 1940s against U.S. military presence in the Central American country, where the U.S. built and ran the Panama Canal for generations.

His brief term as president ended with the U.S. invasion that ousted Noriega.

Solis went on to serve as education minister from 2004 until this year in Martin Torrijos' administration.

Bill Shepard, a longtime casting director for Walt Disney Studios and director Mel Brooks whose credits include "Splash," "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," "Spaceballs" and " Robin Hood: Men in Tights," died Sept. 20 at Sherman Oaks Hospital and Health Center after suffering a heart attack, Disney announced this week. He was 79.

-- times staff and wire reports news.obits@latimes.com

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