PASSINGS: Glenn Shadix, Lucius Walker, LeRoy A. Beavers Jr., Mike Edwards, Larry Ashmead, Corneille

Glenn Shadix

Character actor worked with Tim Burton

Glenn Shadix, 58, a character actor best remembered for his portrayal of the portly, pretentious interior designer Otho in director Tim Burton’s 1988 ghost comedy “Beetlejuice,” died Tuesday at his home in Birmingham, Ala., according to his personal manager, Juliet Green. Shadix’s sister, Susan Gagne, told the Birmingham News that he had been using a wheelchair for mobility and appeared to have fallen in his kitchen and struck his head.

Green said the prolific actor had one of his closest professional relationships with Burton, who also cast him in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as the voice of the mayor of Halloweentown and in 2001’s “Planet of the Apes” as Sen. Nado.

William Glenn Shadix was born April 15, 1952, in Bessemer, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham. As a youth he acted in local theater productions. He moved to Los Angeles in the ‘70s and appeared in film and on television and the stage, gaining critics’ praise in 1986 for his role as Gertrude Stein in “Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights” at the Ensemble Studio Theatre.


Lucius Walker

Pastor’s group defied trade embargo against Cuba

The Rev. Lucius Walker, 80, who led an annual pilgrimage of U.S. aid volunteers to Cuba in defiance of Washington’s nearly half-century-old trade embargo, died Tuesday of a heart attack in New York.

Walker headed the nonprofit Pastors for Peace, which since 1992 has taken tons of supplies to Cuba via Mexico and Canada — walkers, wheelchairs, computer monitors, clothing and more.

Walker led 21 relief trips to Cuba, the last of which was in July. Pastors for Peace violates the embargo by refusing to apply for permission to export to Cuba, instead traveling through third countries to deliver supplies donated by people in the United States.

The organization is one of several that take goods to Cuba in open defiance of the embargo targeting Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship. Most are allowed to leave and return to the United States without incident, though some participants have received letters threatening fines and other sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department. The embargo’s current form began in February 1962.

Walker was born Aug. 3, 1930, in Roselle, N.J. He graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., in 1954 and earned a master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School four years later.

LeRoy A. Beavers Jr.

Pioneering black insurance executive

LeRoy A. Beavers Jr., 87, a pioneering insurance executive from a prominent Los Angeles family, died Sept. 1 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after battling cancer, his family announced.

In 1925, his uncle George A. Beavers Jr. co-founded Golden State Mutual Life Insurance, a company dedicated to serving the African American community of Los Angeles. LeRoy began his career working in the family business and in 1963 became one of the first blacks hired by white-owned Equitable Insurance. He was promoted to agency manager, the first black to hold that position for Equitable Insurance, and ran the company’s Century City office.

Beavers was born in Los Angeles on June 3, 1923, and attended UC Berkeley. He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He and his first wife, Jessie Mae Brown Beavers, who was an editor at the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper and a community activist, had three children. She died in 1989, and he later married Lilia Valderrama.

Mike Edwards

Cellist with Electric Light Orchestra

Mike Edwards, 62, who played cello in the British rock band Electric Light Orchestra from 1972 to 1975, was killed Friday in southwestern England in a freak collision with a huge hay bale that rolled down a steep hill.

Sgt. Steve Walker of the Devon and Cornwall Police said Edwards was driving a van when he hit a 1,300-pound hay bale that had rolled down a hill to the road.

Edwards, a London native who was classically trained, joined the band for its second album, “ELO II,” and played on two more before his final appearance on the album “Eldorado,” which yielded the hit single “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.”

He left the group, became a Buddhist and changed his name to Deva Pramada. He later taught cello.

Larry Ashmead

Former editor at HarperCollins

Larry Ashmead, 78, a former book editor who worked with Isaac Asimov, Tony Hillerman and other authors, died Friday in a Hudson, N.Y., hospital after a short illness, said his former employer HarperCollins.

Ashmead edited more than 40 books by the science fiction writer Asimov, and also worked on crime stories and books by Sister Wendy Beckett about art and spirituality.

He was known for his fascination with wordplay. Ashmead took on Simon Winchester’s account of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, “The Professor and the Madman,” a surprise bestseller that Winchester credited Ashmead with rescuing from the “garbage bin” after other publishers had turned it down. Ashmead compiled “Bertha Venation and Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People,” published in 2007 and included such entries as Roger Gotobed and Ida Slaptor.

Ashmead was born July 4, 1932, in Rochester, N.Y. He received a doctorate in geology from Yale University but began a 43-year publishing career with Doubleday and retired from HarperCollins in 2003.


Member of Cobra art movement

Corneille, 88, the last surviving Dutch member of the influential European art movement Cobra, died Sunday in Paris, according to the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands. The cause was not given.

Corneille, whose full name was Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo, was part of a small group that formed the Cobra movement in a Paris cafe in 1948 and which the museum near Amsterdam says “developed a totally new poetic painting style.”

His spontaneous expressionist paintings, influenced by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Vincent van Gogh, often featured women and animals such as cats and birds painted in bright colors.

The Cobra movement, named for the cities Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, included Danish, Belgian and Dutch artists such as Carl-Henning Pedersen and Karel Appel. The members of the group went their separate ways in 1951.

Corneille was born July 3, 1922, in Liege, Belgium, to Dutch parents. He studied at the Academy of Art in Amsterdam and was based in Paris for most of his artistic career. He traveled widely and had an extensive collection of African art.

-- Times staff and wire reports