PASSINGS: Lionel Jeffries, Emilio Lavazza

Lionel Jeffries, 83, acted in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Prisoner of Zenda."

Lionel Jeffries

British film actor, director

Lionel Jeffries, 83, a British actor-director whose 50-year career included portraying Grandpa Potts in the film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” died Friday in London after a long illness, the Associated Press reported.

He also wrote the screenplay for and directed the 1971 film “The Railway Children,” which the British Film Institute named one of Britain’s 100 best films in 1999. It was one of five movies he directed.

Born June 10, 1926, in London to social workers with the Salvation Army, Jeffries served in the British military and then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

After debuting on the London stage in 1949, he made his first real impression in film as one of the prisoners of war in “The Colditz Story” (1954).

Known for his ability to summon up both dry comedy and menace, he played an inquisitive reporter in “The Quatermass Xperiment” (1955), Inspector Parker opposite Peter Sellers in “The Wrong Arm of the Law” (1963) and Gen. Sapt in “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1979).

Jeffries, who was prematurely bald, was cast as Dick Van Dyke’s father in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968) although, Jeffries later recalled, he was six months younger than Van Dyke.

Emilio Lavazza

Led family’s coffee business

Emilio Lavazza, 78, who helped make Lavazza coffee the best-selling espresso in Italy and expand its global reach to 90 countries, died Tuesday of a heart attack in Turin, Italy.

Lavazza started working in 1955 in the family-run business founded by his grandfather Luigi in the late 1800s in Turin. He became chief executive after his father’s death in 1971 and chairman after the death of his uncle in 1979. He retired in 2008.

Under his leadership, Lavazza captured 47% of the Italian market to become the most popular coffee brand, the company said. Lavazza also helped expand Italy’s espresso culture around the world.

-- times staff and wire reports