Death took a heavy toll on Hollywood’s old guard in 1990, the victims ranging from the reclusive Greta Garbo to “Mr. Entertainment” himself, Sammy Davis Jr.
Other show biz notables who passed away in 1990 included Rex Harrison, Ava Gardner, Jim Henson, Sarah Vaughan, Mary Martin, Joel McCrea, Irene Dunne, Pearl Bailey, Bob Cummings and Xavier Cugat.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. chairman and art patron Armand Hammer died at age 92, only one day before his long-delayed bar mitzvah. Another well-known Los Angeles businessman died at 76, lingerie king Frederick Mellinger--as in Frederick’s of Hollywood.
Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert W. Lindsay, the city’s first black council member, passed away amid commotion over his long-term absence from City Hall. Before Lindsay’s December death, council members had begun efforts to replace the 90-year-old, known as the “Emperor of the 9th District,” because his downtown and South-Central Los Angeles district had gone unrepresented for several months.
Veteran Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Kuster was murdered in a fierce gun battle that erupted when he tried to calm an angry patron inside a Hollywood restaurant. Air Force Staff Sgt. John Francis Campisi of West Covina was struck by a truck on a darkened Saudi Arabian aircraft runway, the first U.S. serviceman to be killed during the ongoing Persian Gulf troop buildup.
Other 1990 passings: former U.S. attorney general and Ronald Reagan confidante William French Smith; Unocal oilman Fred L. Hartley; longtime real estate developer Paul W. Trousdale; U-2 spy plane designer Clarence (Kelly) Johnson; football coach George Allen and Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers.
The sudden, public death of Gathers from cardiac arrest was particularly shocking. The graceful athletic star had trotted to midcourt at Loyola’s Westchester gym after hammering home a slam dunk when he collapsed before a stunned crowd of 4,000.