Former Chicago Bulls guard Norm Van Lier, seen in 1999, found a new career as a sports radio talk-show host and commentator in Chicago after retiring from the National Basketball Assn.
(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Norm Van Lier

Ex-Chicago Bulls guard, broadcaster

Norm Van Lier, 61, a former Chicago Bulls guard and broadcaster, was found dead Thursday afternoon in his Chicago home, authorities said.

Firefighters went to his home, just blocks from the United Center arena where the Bulls play, and found Van Lier unresponsive shortly before 1 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said.

Van Lier began his NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals in 1969, starting at guard in his first season opposite Oscar Robertson. He led the league in assists in the 1970-71 season, then was traded to the Bulls 10 games into the 1971-72 season. Van Lier spent nearly seven seasons with Chicago before finishing his pro basketball career with Milwaukee in 1979.

The 6-foot, 1-inch three-time All-Star played on five playoff teams. He was a defensive standout and a fan favorite who was given the nickname “Stormin’ Norman” because of his fiery play. Picked for the NBA All-Defensive first team or second team eight times, he retired after the 1979 season with 8,770 points and 5,217 assists.

Norman Allen Van Lier III was born April 1, 1947, in East Liverpool, Ohio, and grew up in the western Pennsylvania town of Midland, the son of a steelworker and his wife. He played basketball at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania, where he earned a degree in history.

After retiring from the NBA, Van Lier coached in the Continental Basketball Assn., but couldn’t break into the NBA ranks. He worked as a motivational speaker for a youth program affiliated with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. He then found a new career as a sports radio talk-show host and commentator in Chicago.

Wendy Richard

British actress on soap ‘EastEnders’

Wendy Richard, 65, a British actress whose four-decade television career included roles as a sexy sitcom shop assistant and a working-class matriarch on the soap opera “EastEnders,” died Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer.

Richard’s agent, Kevin Francis, said she died in a London clinic with her husband, John Burns, by her side.

Born Wendy Emerton in the northeastern English city of Middlesbrough, Richard was raised above the pub that her parents ran in central London. She left school at age 15 and worked at the Fortnum and Mason department store before studying drama.

She had parts in several of the cheap-and-cheerful “Carry On” film comedies, and in TV shows including “Up Pompeii!” and “The Likely Lads” before becoming famous as Miss Brahms, a staff member of the fictional Grace Bros. department store in the 1970s sitcom “Are You Being Served?”

Richard was known to millions around the world as put-upon matriarch Pauline Fowler in “EastEnders,” a long-running soap set in a close-knit east London neighborhood.

Richard appeared in the show’s first episode in 1985 and stayed for 21 years, depicting Fowler through trials that included her daughter’s teen pregnancy, her son’s HIV diagnosis and her husband’s breakdown, imprisonment and death.

Richard was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1990s and again in 2002, and learned last year that the disease had returned and spread. She married Burns, her fourth husband, in October.

-- times staff and wire reports