PASSINGS: Richard F. ‘Dick’ Stolz, J. Michael Riva

Richard F. ‘Dick’ Stolz

Respected CIA operative, official

Richard F. “Dick” Stolz, 86, who joined the CIA in 1950 and became one of the agency’s most respected operatives, died Saturday at a hospital in Williamsburg, Va., of complications from a fall, the Washington Post reported. He was 86.

Stolz, who had previously served 31 years in the agency, was called out of retirement in 1987 in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the sale of weapons to Iran and the diversion of profits to the right-wing Nicaraguan rebels known as Contras.

Then-CIA Director William H. Webster credits Stolz with helping restore confidence and credibility in the agency.

“I felt that Dick’s background in intelligence had been superb, and his personal character and the respect he had within the agency were A-No. 1,” Webster told the Post.

During his second stint with the CIA, Stolz was deputy director of operations until his retirement in 1990. He led the agency’s spy network around the globe and guided the clandestine branch through a period of transition.

Before his first retirement in 1981, Stolz became one of the agency’s most respected covert officers. He served in Cold War hot spots around Eastern Europe before he became the chief of Soviet operations in the mid-1970s.

Stolz was serving as chief of station in Moscow under State Department cover in 1965 when he was declared persona non grata by Russian authorities. He was accused of espionage and expelled from the country.

He received the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal and was awarded the National Security Medal by President George H.W. Bush.

Stolz was born Nov. 27, 1925, in Dayton, Ohio, and fought in France while serving with the Army during World War II. He joined the CIA after graduating from Amherst College.

J. Michael Riva

Oscar-nominated production designer

J. Michael Riva, 63, a production designer who was nominated for an Academy Award for art direction on “The Color Purple” and whose credits included the recent “Iron Man” movies, died June 7 in New Orleans. He had suffered a stroke June 1 while on location for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film “Django Unchained.” Riva’s assistant, Lauren Abiouness, confirmed his death.

Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said Riva was “a tremendous talent, able to tailor the look and mood of a story to the emotion in the script.”

As a production designer, Riva helped create the look of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” scheduled to be released next month, and 2007’s “Spider-Man 3.” His film work also included “Charlie’s Angels” (2000) and its follow-up, “Full Throttle”; 1987’s “Lethal Weapon” and two sequels; and the 1980s movies “Scrooged,” “The Goonies” and “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.”

John Michael Riva was born in New York on June 28, 1948. His grandparents were German actress Marlene Dietrich and director Rudolf Sieber; his mother, Maria Riva, was also an actress and his father, William, was a set designer.

Besides sharing an Oscar nomination with Robert W. Welch for 1985’s “The Color Purple,” Riva won an Emmy Award for art direction for the 2007 Academy Awards show.

Riva described the behind-the-scenes role of a production designer in a 2009 interview with NPR: “It’s like a marionette theater,” he said. “You want to look at the puppets, you don’t want to look at the strings. So my job is to keep the strings and the hands off camera and keep the puppets doing what they’re doing.”

-- Times staff and wire reports