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Obituaries

* Lord Martin Charteris; Courtier to Queen Elizabeth

Lord Martin Charteris, 86, for 40 years one of Queen Elizabeth’s most trusted courtiers, who publicly denounced the Duchess of York as “a vulgarian.” The grandson of the 11th Earl of Wemyss, Lord Charteris joined the royal household in 1949 when Elizabeth was a princess. He served as her lord-in-waiting, or private secretary, from 1972 to 1977 and was described in the British press as the man who stood quietly by her side during the most important moments of her life, including the mourning of her father, King George VI, and her coronation. He left the queen’s service in 1977 but remained in her inner circle. In 1995 he made headlines when remarks he thought were off the record were published in the conservative Spectator magazine. Most shocking was his comment that Sarah Ferguson was unsuited to be a princess. “I was only saying what everyone else thought. Quite simply, the Duchess of York is a vulgarian. She is vulgar, vulgar, vulgar,” he said. Ferguson was divorced from Prince Andrew the following year. In the same interview, Charteris said the queen was resigned to the fact that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would divorce, and said it was a pity “that the Prince of Wales had to marry a virgin.” He defended Charles’ right to be king, adding that Charles was “such a charming man, when he isn’t being whiny, which he can be, rather.” Charteris said he was never scolded for his critical remarks by the queen, who was among his visitors when he was diagnosed with liver cancer several weeks ago. On Friday at his home in Gloucestershire.

Jesse Dvorska; Vaudevillian, Silent Film Actor

Jesse Dvorska, 101, a vaudevillian and actor in silent films, including the series of shorts called “Jake the Plumber.” Born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1898, Dvorska lost both his parents in anti-Jewish pogroms and as a child lived on the streets. He found a job as a baker’s helper, living in the bakery, until 1914 when a relative in Syracuse, N.Y., sent him money to immigrate there. In Syracuse, he worked as a pharmacy delivery boy and then got a job in a local theater owned by the Schuberts, to whom he was distantly related. That connection helped him move into vaudeville and then silent films as an actor. When a Hollywood agent saw Dvorska dance in a vaudeville show, he brought him to California to dance in a 1920 film starring Lon Chaney. Dvorska appeared in silents through the 1920s and made his “Jake the Plumber” series during that time. But when talkies began, said distant relative Andrew Reamer, Dvorska’s heavy Yiddish accent precluded him from continuing an acting career. He rarely held a regular job after that, and supported himself in old age by betting on horses. Dvorska served in the Navy in World War I and World War II. On Monday at Veterans Hospital in Westwood.

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Dan Pursuit; Co-Founded Anti-Delinquency Institute

Dan Pursuit, 88, co-founder, first director and veteran teacher at USC’s innovative Delinquency Control Institute. Pursuit helped create the institute in 1946 to combat the rise in youth crime, and taught until his retirement in 1984. He also co-wrote several textbooks on law enforcement and crime prevention, including “Police Work With Juveniles” in 1954. The institute will honor Pursuit at its graduation ceremonies on Feb. 11. In recognition of his work, the California State Juvenile Officers Assn. in 1982 created the Dan Pursuit Award, which is given annually to one of its outstanding members. A native of Cleveland, Pursuit, at 5 feet, 8 inches, was a superb basketball player and won a full scholarship to Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. He earned a master’s degree in social work from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, worked as a juvenile court referee, and during World War II supervised training of black soldiers, including Harry Belafonte. On Saturday in Manhattan Beach of heart failure.

John Taylor; Edited Jane’s Aircraft Reference Books

John W.R. Taylor, 77, former editor in chief of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. During his 30-year tenure at Jane’s, Taylor was credited with creating a tradition of accuracy and comprehensiveness that made the reference book required reading for air force officers, aircraft makers, intelligence services and defense experts worldwide. An aeronautical engineer by profession, Taylor joined Jane’s in 1955, became its editor in 1959 and was named editor in chief in 1985. In 1989 he became an emeritus editor. One of his greatest gifts was his penetrating observation of photographs and television pictures, the London Times said in an obituary. He could judge the capacities of new Soviet aircraft from photographs. When the first Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles were paraded in Moscow, he was able to give accurate figures for their dimensions and performance by estimating their length against markings painted at intervals on the Red Square military parade area, the Times recalled. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. On Dec. 12 in Kingston, England. The cause of death was not announced.

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