Frank Melton

Troubled mayor in Mississippi

Frank Melton, 60, the mayor of Jackson, Miss., died early Thursday, less than two days after losing a reelection bid in a contentious Democratic primary that came a week before his second federal trial.

The mayor, who had a history of serious heart problems, was taken to a hospital from his home by ambulance Tuesday night, shortly after the polls closed.

Unofficial results show Melton, who was elected mayor in a landslide in 2005, came in fourth out of nine candidates.

Next week, a second trial was set to start for Melton and a former bodyguard, who each faced two federal civil rights charges related to an Aug. 26, 2006, sledgehammer attack on a duplex that Melton considered a crack house.

A judge declared a mistrial in the first case in February after a jury failed to reach a verdict. Melton and the bodyguard, Jackson Police Officer Michael Recio, were both acquitted in April 2007 on state charges related to the raid.

A native of Houston, Melton came to Mississippi in the 1980s to run NBC affiliate WLBT-TV. He soon made a name for himself with an opinion piece called "The Bottom Line," in which he called out criminals and verbally attacked city officials he considered ineffective.

Donald 'Ean' Evans

Bassist for band Lynyrd Skynyrd

Donald "Ean" Evans, 48, bassist for the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died Wednesday at his home in eastern Mississippi after a battle with cancer.

In a statement posted on, the band said, "It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of longtime Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Ean Evans. Ean put up a valiant battle with an aggressive form of cancer and he will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans."

Evans was born in Atlanta and moved to Columbus, Miss., after marrying his wife, Eva. He joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2001 and had been touring regularly with the band until being diagnosed with cancer in 2008, when he cut back on performances.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based band was formed in 1966 by a group of high school students. Famously, it took its name from a physical education teacher they disliked, Leonard Skinner.

The band's first album was "Pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd." The band became one of the South's most popular rock groups and gained national fame with such hits as "Free Bird," "What's Your Name" and especially "Sweet Home Alabama," which reached the top 10 on the charts in 1974.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mickey Carroll

Munchkin in 'Wizard of Oz'

Mickey Carroll, 89, one of the last surviving Munchkins from the classic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," died in his sleep Thursday in suburban St. Louis.

His caretaker, Linda Dodge, said Carroll had heart problems and received a pacemaker in February, but she attributed his death at her home in Crestwood, Mo., to natural causes.

Carroll was one of more than 100 adults and children who were recruited to play the natives of what author L. Frank Baum called Munchkin Country in his 1900 book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

Carroll was born Michael Finocchiaro on July 8, 1919, in St. Louis, the son of Italian immigrants. In the 1920s, he worked in Chicago clubs and on the Orpheum Theater vaudeville circuit.

Carroll's gift of gab and comedic timing helped his popularity. He warmed up crowds for President Franklin Roosevelt while campaigning in New York City and served as a crowd-getter in President Truman's whistle-stop campaign.

"Oz" was Carroll's only movie. When it appeared on television in the 1960s, he found a new career at charitable events, retail events and Oz- related events.

He played the part of the Munchkinland Town Crier, marched as a Munchkin Soldier and was the candy-striped Fiddler who escorted the movie's wide-eyed orphan, Dorothy Gale, played by Judy Garland, down the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City.

In the mid-1940s, Carroll returned to St. Louis to run the family's cemetery monument business. He sold it in 1996.

In November 2007, Carroll and six other surviving Munchkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

-- times wire reports