Virginia Carroll

Character actress and leading lady

Virginia Carroll, 95, a movie character actress and B-western leading lady who appeared opposite cowboy stars such as Don “Red” Barry and Tex Ritter, died of natural causes July 23 in a Santa Barbara retirement community, said her daughter, Carroll Byrd Evangeline.

A Los Angeles department store model when she launched her film career with a bit part as a fashion model in the 1935 movie “Roberta,” Carroll appeared in her first western in 1936 opposite Jack La Rue in “A Tenderfoot Goes West.”

Mixing leads with supporting and character roles, Carroll appeared in westerns with Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Bill Elliott, Roy Rogers, Whip Wilson and other stars. She later appeared on TV shows such as “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok,” “The Roy Rogers Show,” “Dragnet” and “Perry Mason.”

Carroll was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 1913. She was married to actor Ralph Byrd, who starred as Dick Tracy in movie serials and on early television, from 1936 until his death in 1952. She was married to her second husband, Lloyd McLean, a projectionist at 20th Century Fox, from 1957 until his death in 1969.

Alexander Heard

Ex-chancellor of Vanderbilt

Alexander Heard, 92, the longtime chancellor of Vanderbilt University and an advisor to three U.S. presidents, died Friday in Nashville after a long illness.

Heard, who led the private university in Tennessee from 1963 to 1982, helped guide it peacefully through the turbulent political conflicts that struck many other schools during the Vietnam War era.

“The university’s obligation is not to protect students from ideas, but rather to expose them to ideas and to help make them capable of handling and, hopefully, having ideas,” Heard said in 1966.

He promoted dialogue with campus radicals and supported a controversial, student-organized forum that brought Martin Luther King Jr. and black power advocate Stokely Carmichael to speak on campus in 1967.

A political scientist and expert on presidential elections, Heard served on President Kennedy’s Commission on Presidential Campaign Costs and President Johnson’s Task Force on Education. He also advised President Nixon on campus affairs and served on the Commission on White House Fellows from 1969 to 1971.

Heard was born in Savannah, Ga., on March 14, 1917. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1938 at the University of North Carolina and a master’s and doctorate at Columbia University in 1948 and 1951, respectively.

In 1950, he joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina and was dean of its graduate school when he was named Vanderbilt’s chancellor in 1963. During his two decades at Vanderbilt, he oversaw the addition of new schools in management, education and music.

He stepped down in 1982 to complete a three-year study of the U.S. presidential election process for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and continued writing on politics.

Joan Rapoport

Potter taught at Van Nuys school

Joan Rapoport, 66, an artist and potter who taught classes at Everywoman’s Village in the San Fernando Valley, died of pancreatic cancer July 21 at her home in Van Nuys, said her husband, Ron.

Rapoport specialized in raku, a centuries-old ceramic technique used to fire cups and bowls for traditional Japanese tea services as well as other vessels. For years, she taught pottery courses at Everywoman’s Village in Van Nuys, a now-defunct, nonprofit adult school that offered instruction in a broad spectrum of subjects.

Born in Cleveland on Sept. 23, 1942, Rapoport attended Tufts University in Boston. While there she studied ceramics at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Besides teaching at various studios in the Los Angeles area, she also led classes at art centers in the Chicago area while living there with her husband, a veteran sportswriter and columnist.

Gayatri Devi

Former queen of Indian kingdom

Gayatri Devi, 90, the former queen of the western Indian desert kingdom of Jaipur who often was described as one of the most beautiful women in the world, died Wednesday in Jaipur, where she had been hospitalized for stomach and respiratory problems.

Devi’s classical good looks ensured that photographs of her in elegant chiffon saris and diamonds and pearls were splashed across fashion and lifestyle magazines. She also was known for her love of horses and polo.

She was born into the royal family of Cooch Behar in what is now eastern India on May 23, 1919, decades before the demise of Indian royalty. She became the third wife of Sawai Man Singh, the “maharaja” or ruler of Jaipur, in 1939. Devi was the “maharani.”

In 1960, Devi launched a political party and won a place in India’s Parliament. A supporter of education for women, she withdrew from politics in the 1970s.

Martha B. Watson Stern, the owner of a Texas kennel where President Obama’s dog, Bo, was bred, died of kidney failure July 21 at a hospital in Charlottesville, Va., where she and her husband, Art, had a summer home. Stern, who drew attention in April as breeder of the Portuguese water dog that became the Obama family’s pet, was 72.

Olga Mendez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to a state legislature in the mainland United States, died of cancer Wednesday in New York City. The former New York state senator, who served from 1978 to 2004, was 84.

Zhuo Lin, the widow of late Chinese paramount leader and economic reformer Deng Xiaoping, died from an unspecified illness Wednesday in Beijing. She was 93.

-- times staff and wire reports