PASSINGS: Frederic Franklin, David Morris Kern

Frederic Franklin

Dancer helped popularize modern ballet in U.S.

Frederic Franklin, 98, a British-born dancer who helped popularize modern ballet in the United States, died Saturday at a Manhattan, N.Y., hospital of complications from pneumonia, according to his partner, William Ausman.


Franklin last appeared with the American Ballet Theatre at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts three years ago — as a friar in “Romeo and Juliet.”

“He was a seminal figure in the ballet world,” said the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie.

Franklin was born June 13, 1914, in Liverpool and as a child began taking dance lessons in classical ballet and tap. He moved to London as a teenager and found work dancing in musical comedies on stage. In the early 1930s he performed in a Paris revue backing Josephine Baker. He danced with the Markova-Dolin ballet company before choreographer Leonide Massine invited him to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Often costarring with Russian ballerina Alexandra Danilova, Franklin performed with the troupe in “Swan Lake,” “Gaite Parisienne,” “Rodeo,” “Coppelia” and other productions. He toured the United States with Ballet Russe in the 1940s and ‘50s and made short films in Hollywood.

Franklin also danced with the National Ballet of Washington, among others, and created a version of “Giselle” for the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

David Morris Kern

Pharmacist helped create toothache medicine

David Morris Kern, 103, who helped create Orajel, a medicine aimed at fighting toothaches that was later also used for mouth sores, died Friday at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., said his son, Allan.

Born in 1909 in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Kern graduated from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist before becoming a salesman for Norwich and Warner Pharmaceuticals. After buying a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility with his brother and two partners, he created Orajel with the help of a chemistry professor. Kern later told family members he developed Orajel because he sought to find relief for teething babies.

Kern later sold the company to Del Laboratories in 1961 and moved to the Phoenix area in the 1990s with his wife, Rose Ziedenweber Kern. The couple were married for 65 years until her death in 2001.

Daughter-in-law Carol Kern said that in retirement Kern bragged he had great genes that would allow him to live past 100.

“I said during a toast on his 100th birthday that he’d say his secret to a long life was having a martini every day and not eating green vegetables,” she said.

Kern gave another explanation in a 2009 interview with the Arizona Republic. “If you are optimistic, and feel young, you will always look and remain young,” he said. “Take advantage of every day.”

Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports