PASSINGS: Shelagh Delaney, Gregory Papalexis

Shelagh Delaney

Playwright wrote ‘A Taste of Honey’

Playwright Shelagh Delaney, 71, best known for her 1958 play “A Taste of Honey,” died of cancer Sunday at her daughter’s home in England, said her agent, Jane Villiers.

Born Nov. 25, 1939, in England, Delaney was the daughter of a bus inspector, and her early work was rooted in her hometown of Salford, an industrial suburb of Manchester.

Delaney later said she wrote “A Taste of Honey” in response to her dissatisfaction with contemporary theater and the unrealistic dialogue she heard there. She penned the play in two weeks, reworking material from a novel she was writing, and it premiered when she was 19.


The play’s story verged on scandalous at the time, but it had successful runs in London and New York. It tells a downbeat tale of a young woman’s pregnancy after a one-night stand with a black sailor, and her supportive relationship with a gay artist.

After “A Taste of Honey” was adapted into a 1961 movie, Delaney and the film’s director, Tony Richardson, shared an award for best screenplay from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

The play, and its subsequent film adaptation, are generally considered to be part of Britain’s “kitchen sink realism” movement of the late 1950s and ‘60s, which portrayed the gritty reality of working-class life.

Her second play, “The Lion in Love,” about a difficult marriage, did not enjoy the same success when it opened in 1960, and she largely turned to screenwriting.

Her several screenplays include 1968’s “Charlie Bubbles,” which featured Liza Minnelli in her screen debut, and 1985’s “Dance with a Stranger,” about the last woman to be executed for a crime in Britain.

Gregory Papalexis

Sabrett hot dog company’s CEO

Gregory Papalexis, 86, whose Sabrett hot dogs have become a part of the New York City experience, died Friday in Rockleigh, N.J., according to the New Jersey funeral home handling the arrangements.

He was president, chief executive and chairman of Englewood, N.J.-based Marathon Enterprises, a supplier of hot dogs, buns, onion sauce and other products, and the owner of the Sabrett trademark.

Sabrett hot dogs are available nationwide, but on the streets of New York, they are sold from stainless-steel pushcarts with instantly recognizable blue-and-yellow umbrellas. Marathon also supplies franks to Papaya King and Gray’s Papaya restaurants, and sells more than 35 million pounds of hot dogs a year.

The son of a baker, Papalexis was born March 3, 1925, in New York City and grew up next door to a hot dog factory in upper Manhattan. He earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial relations at New York University in 1948 and entered the food business.

With a $2,500 GI loan, Papalexis bought his father’s bakery and sold rolls to clients throughout New York City, making deliveries in a Cadillac because it had the biggest trunk he could find. He soon began selling hot dogs as well.

He formed Marathon Enterprises in 1964 and acquired a series of competitors, including Sabrett Food Products in 1989.

Papalexis, who retired two years ago, practiced what he preached, relatives said. He ate Sabrett hot dogs four or five days a week.

-- Los Angeles Times wire reports