PASSINGS: Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, Elaine Stewart

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt

Pioneering Egyptologist saved antiquities from Aswan flooding

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, 97, a pioneering French Egyptologist who helped salvage Nubia’s vaunted antiquities from flooding caused by the construction of the Aswan Dam, died Thursday at a hospital in Epernay, east of Paris, after a stroke.

Born Nov. 17, 1913, in Paris, Desroches Noblecourt developed an early passion for Egypt after reading about the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the early 1920s. She later studied at the Louvre and the Sorbonne.


After an initial trip to Egypt in the late 1930s, she became the first woman to be put on a stipend with the Cairo-based French Institute of Oriental Archaeology, cracking the male-dominated world of Egyptology.

After Egyptian officials began planning the Aswan High Dam project on the Nile in 1954, Desroches Noblecourt expressed concerns that 32 ancient temples and chapels in southern Nubia were facing submersion.

She was allowed to petition UNESCO for help mobilizing nearly 50 countries for a vast project in the 1960s to dismantle, move and reconstruct the antiquities, including massive statues of Pharaoh Ramses II at Abu Simbel, which were broken down into 1,000 pieces and rebuilt over four years.

Desroches Noblecourt helped organize a Louvre exhibit in 1967 about King Tut’s treasure that drew more than 1 million visitors.


Desroches Noblecourt wrote dozens of books, including “The Fabulous Heritage of Egypt,” a bestseller in France in 2004 and 2005.

Elaine Stewart

Actress was featured on game shows

Elaine Stewart, 81, an actress who appeared in a string of films in the 1950s and after taking a break to start a family appeared on the 1970s TV game shows “Gambit” and “High Rollers,” died Monday at her home in Beverly Hills after a long illness, said her agent, Fred Wostbrock.


Born Elsy Steinberg on May 31, 1930, in Montclair, N.J., she landed her first movie roles in 1952. Her first starring role came in the 1953 crime drama “Code Two.” She also appeared in “Brigadoon,” “The Adventures of Hajji Baba,” “The Tattered Dress” and “Night Passage” among other films.

She married game-show producer Merrill Heatter in 1964, and the couple had two children. She returned to the business in the 1970s, as a card dealer with host Wink Martindale on “Gambit” and as co-hostess alongside host Alex Trebek on “High Rollers.”

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports