Robert Quarry
Robert Quarry was best known for his B-movie roles as Count Yorga and the Deathmaster in the 1970s. Quarry died Feb. 20 at the age of 83.

Robert Quarry

Actor in ‘70s horror films

Robert Quarry, 83, a prolific actor best known for his horror-movie roles as Count Yorga and the Deathmaster, died Feb. 20 at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, a hospital spokeswoman said. He had heart trouble in recent years.

In a stretch of a few years during the 1970s, Quarry made his mark in a series of B-movies for American International Pictures, starting with the title role in “Count Yorga, Vampire” in 1970. Former Times film writer Kevin Thomas described Quarry as an actor “in the suavely sinister tradition of Bela Lugosi” and said the vampire movie had “an ingratiating off-the-cuff spontaneity.”

Quarry followed up with “The Return of Count Yorga” in 1971 and then played Khorda in “The Deathmaster” in 1972. Quarry starred opposite Vincent Price in “Dr. Phibes Rises Again” in 1972 and in “Madhouse” in 1974.

As a tribute to his performances, Quarry won the Count Dracula Society’s 1972 cinema award for his portrayals of Count Yorga.

Born Nov. 3, 1925, in Santa Rosa, Quarry had a long acting career in theater and television in addition to movies. He had roles in many TV series, including “The Fugitive,” “Perry Mason” and “The Rockford Files.”

Out of work during most of the 1980s after a serious car accident, Quarry returned to acting in a stream of independent and straight-to-video movies for low-budget director Fred Olen Ray in the late ‘80s and the 1990s.

Quarry also began appearing at horror-movie conventions, connecting with fans of Yorga and his other roles.

“He wasn’t one of those who was rediscovered too late,” Ray said. “He had a great, full life.”

Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung

Retired Hanoi archbishop

Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, 89, the retired archbishop of Hanoi who was an advocate for restoring ties between Vietnam and the Vatican, died Feb. 22 in Hanoi, Vatican Radio reported.

His death came days after the Vatican and Vietnam said they had laid a good basis for establishing diplomatic relations.

Tensions have existed for years between the church and Vietnam’s communist government, which cut off ties with the Vatican after taking power in 1954. The government closely monitors religious groups and insists on approving most church appointments.

Vietnam’s estimated 8 million Catholics are a small percentage of the country’s population of 79 million, but they constitute the largest Catholic community in Southeast Asia outside the Philippines.

Tung, who was named a bishop in 1963, had been under virtual house arrest until the 1990s. Vatican Radio said during that time he dedicated himself to studying the Gospels, Christian doctrine and sacramental poetry.

Tung was born May 20, 1919, in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. He went to seminary school in Hanoi and was ordained a priest in 1949.

He was elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

Clarence Swensen

Munchkin actor in ‘Wizard of Oz’

Clarence Swensen, 91, who played a Munchkin soldier in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” died Wednesday, according to a funeral home in Pflugerville, Texas, where he lived.

Swensen, who was an electronics technician, had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2005, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Swensen had regularly attended Wizard of Oz festivals. He was among seven of the surviving actors who played the inhabitants of Munchkinland who were present when the Munchkins received a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

A native of Austin, Texas, Swensen wasn’t allowed to attend public school until he was 9 years old because of his size. He eventually reached the height of 4 feet 6 inches.

In the late 1930s, he joined the Stanley R. Graham All Midget Circus troupe, which performed at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas. It eventually led to an offer from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to play a Munchkin, earning a salary of $700.

“And we worked hard -- 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- but it was fun,” Swensen said.

-- Times staff and wire reports