PASSINGS: Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner, Lloyd Phillips, Donald F. Hornig


Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner

Lead singer and guitarist for Ohio Players

Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, 69, lead singer and guitarist for the Ohio Players, a band that fused rock, soul and funk for a string of R&B hits in the 1970s, died Saturday in a Dayton suburb after battling cancer, his family announced.

The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics, offbeat sound effects, flamboyant outfits and provocative album covers, topped music charts in the 1970s with hits such as “Love Rollercoaster,” “Fire,” “Skin Tight” and “Funky Worm.”

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, in March 1943, Bonner teamed up in the late 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The band had a string of Top 40 hits in the mid-1970s, and continued to perform for years afterward. He remained active in recent years with a spinoff band called Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.

Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians.

He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who formed the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.

“Love Rollercoaster” gained new fans through a 1990s cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Lloyd Phillips

Producer won Oscar

for live-action short

Lloyd Phillips, 63, an Oscar-winning movie producer whose credits included “Inglourious Basterds,” “The Tourist,” “Vertical Limit,” “The Legend of Zorro” and the latest Superman remake, “Man of Steel,” died Friday of a heart attack in Los Angeles.

Phillips, a longtime resident of Malibu, was stricken at his home and died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to his representatives at ICM Partners in Los Angeles. His agent Paul Hook confirmed his death.

Born in South Africa on Dec. 14, 1949, the son of an engineer and a writer, Phillips grew up in New Zealand, a country that became his own. In 1981, he became the first New Zealander to win an Academy Award when his film “The Dollar Bottom,” about an enterprising Scottish boy who sets up an insurance scheme against being caned for his boarding school classmates, won for best live-action short.

Phillips began his career as a photojournalist, then graduated from the National Film School in England. In addition to his Oscar-winning effort, other early films included “Nate and Hayes” in 1983 with Tommy Lee Jones and “Ruby Cairo” in 1993 with Andie MacDowell, Liam Neeson and Viggo Mortensen.

His more recent Hollywood credits included the 2009 Quentin Tarantino film “Inglourious Basterds” with Brad Pitt and “The Tourist” in 2010 with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, as well as “Man of Steel,” which is scheduled for release in June and stars Russell Crowe, Amy Adams and Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman.

Donald F. Hornig

Presidential advisor,

Brown University chief

Donald F. Hornig, 92, a scientist who served as a key figure on the Manhattan Project, an advisor to three U.S. presidents and president of Brown University, died Jan. 21 in Providence, R.I., said his son, Chris. He had Alzheimer’s disease.

A Harvard-trained physical chemist, Hornig worked from 1944 to 1946 on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos, N.M., laboratory, which developed the atomic bomb during World War II. He was one of the youngest group leaders and designed the firing unit that triggered the simultaneous implosion of the bomb’s plutonium device.

Hornig sat in a tower with the bomb the night before the first test of the weapon amid a thunder and lightning storm. In a 1968 interview that was held at Lyndon B. Johnson Library, he recalled the moment the bomb was detonated.

“The minute the firing needle dropped off and I knew it had detonated, I dashed out the door in time to see the fireball rising into the sky,” he said, later continuing, “I was awe-struck, just literally awe-struck. This thing was more fantastic than anything I had ever imagined.”

After the war, he joined Brown as a chemistry professor in 1946. He moved to Princeton in 1957.

Hornig served as a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee for Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and then as special assistant to the president for science and technology in the Johnson administration.

He was named Brown’s president in 1970 and stayed at the Ivy League university until 1976. Hornig then joined Harvard University’s School of Public Health, where he was founding director of its Interdisciplinary Programs in Health, which focused on health, the environment and public policy. He retired in 1990.

Hornig was born March 17, 1920, in Milwaukee and was the first in his family to go to college. He earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Harvard in 1943.

Times staff and wire reports