PASSINGS: Richard J. Dorso, Elisabeth Sladen, Roy Edward Burris


Talent agent, TV exec, boutique owner

Richard J. “Dick” Dorso, 101, whose lengthy Hollywood career ranged from talent agent to television writer and producer to haberdasher, died April 6 at his home in Los Angeles, his family said. The cause was not given.


Born in San Francisco in November 1909, Dorso as a talent agent represented such entertainers as Artie Shaw, Judy Holliday, Ethel Merman, Gordon McRae, the Andrews Sisters and Doris Day.

When television was overtaking film and becoming the dominant entertainment medium, Dorso was an executive overseeing programming for United Artists Television.

“Television was a freewheeling business,” Dorso said in “David Susskind: A Televised Life,” Stephen Battaglio’s 2010 biography about the producer, who was one of Dorso’s partners in the 1950s and ‘60s. “You can create something that gets on the air and it’s a hit and you’re wealthy. And you have a lot of opportunities. In those days … there were dozens of advertising agencies that bought television, and the opportunities to create things were unlimited.”

Among the many shows Dorso helped sell to the networks were “Outer Limits,” “Bat Masterson,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “The New Phil Silvers Show” and “The Doris Day Show.”

Dorso was featured in the 1964 book “Only You, Dick Daring,” Merle Miller and Evan Rhodes’ inside look at the TV business.

Always considered a dapper dresser, Dorso opened Dorso boutique in 1969 with his wife, Betty. The store, on Camden Drive in Beverly Hills, was frequented by industry executives, celebrities and other well-heeled customers. The couple offered for sale high-end clothing, accessories, art and objets d’art.

Elisabeth Sladen, a British actress who starred in the BBC’s popular “Doctor Who” science-fiction TV series and the spin-off show “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” died Monday of cancer, the BBC reported from London. She was 63.

Roy Edward “Eddie” Burris, a drummer for Merle Haggard’s band the Strangers who co-wrote the 1969 song “Okie From Muskogee” with Haggard, died Tuesday of heart-related problems at a Tulsa hospital. Burris, a native Oklahoman who grew up in Bakersfield, was 79.

Times staff and wire reports