Jay Leggett, 50, a comic actor and screenwriter who performed in television, movies and improvisational clubs, died Saturday in Lincoln County, Wis., after hunting on the opening weekend of the state’s nine-day firearms deer season, authorities said. Leggett was a Wisconsin native who lived in Los Angeles.
Emergency crews were called Saturday afternoon to a cabin near Tomahawk, Wis., where Leggett had returned from a deer stand on an ATV just before collapsing. Family members and paramedics performed CPR without success.
A one-time mainstay in Chicago’s improv comedy clubs with the Blue Velveeta and Improv Olympic ensembles, Leggett was a regular cast member of the TV comedy “In Living Color” in the 1993-94 season. He had guest roles in other series including “Ally McBeal,” “NYPD Blue,” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “The Drew Carey Show.”
Leggett also co-wrote, produced and acted in the 2004 independent film “Employee of the Month” starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and he co-wrote the 2004 movie comedy “Without a Paddle.” Actor and writer Mitch Rouse was his frequent collaborator.
The son of a paper-mill worker, Jay Michael Leggett was born Aug. 9, 1963, in Tomahawk and studied theater at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, graduating in 1986. Despite moving to California once his career took off, he maintained ties to his home state.
He produced and directed a 2010 feature-length documentary, “To the Hunt,” about the Wisconsin deer hunting culture as told through scenes at several remote hunting shacks.
“It’s not for everyone,” Leggett told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2010. “You either connect to the social outdoors mentality, or you don’t. If you do, it’s something you start when you’re 12. It’s when adults start treating you like one of the men. It might seem unusual to the outside world, but it’s an important point in a young person’s life, like getting a driver’s license or being married. I liken it to a North Woods bar mitzvah.”
Ex-NFL officials supervisor
Jerry Seeman, 77, a former NFL supervisor of officials who is credited with improving and modernizing the league’s officiating crews, died Sunday night at his home in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine, Minn., after a long bout with cancer. League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed his death.
Seeman was an NFL game official from 1975 to 1990, including 12 years as a lead referee and two appearances as the Super Bowl’s chief referee. He moved to the league office in 1991 and served 10 seasons as the head supervisor of officials.
The detail-oriented Seeman was credited with introducing a program for sending officiating crews to training camps to work practices and scrimmages and meet with players and coaches. That program was designed to improve communication and understanding between the two sides. He also helped facilitate regular offseason meetings among officials and coaches, enhance the use of video technology and expand the grading system for game officials, according to the NFL.
“If I were to do a 10-chapter book on refereeing,” Seeman told The Times in 1990, “the first nine chapters would be on preparation — on rules study, mechanics, communication and the like.
“The 10th and shortest chapter would be headed, how to referee a football game. If you’re fully prepared, refereeing takes care of itself.”
Seeman was born in 1936 in Winona, Minn., and attended Winona State University. He became a high school mathematics teacher and official who worked his way up from calling high school to small college and Big Ten games before reaching the NFL.
The youngest of Seeman’s three sons, Jeff, is an NFL line judge who worked the Denver-New England game Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass. He has been a game official in the league for 12 years.
Won 4 titles as a Manchester United defender
Bill Foulkes, 81, a Manchester United defender who survived the 1958 air crash that killed eight players and had a key role in the storied soccer team’s recovery, died Monday. His death was announced by United, which gave no other details.
Foulkes won titles four times in the top tier of English soccer and helped the club capture the European Cup for the first time.
“He was as hard as nails, as tough as teak — I was always glad I didn’t have to play against him,” said Bobby Charlton, a former United teammate who also survived the crash. “He was a really, really good defensive player and you could say he helped change the course of history for United.”
Foulkes still worked five days a week in a coal mine initially after joining United in 1950. He made his first-team debut in 1952 and went on to make 688 appearances.
“Bill used to turn up pitch black with coal dust, straight from the pits in St. Helens and straight into training,” Charlton said Monday, recalling a time when pay for soccer players was capped at 20 pounds a week. “It took a long time to persuade him to become a full-time professional.”
Foulkes was one of the survivors of the Feb. 6, 1958, accident in which 23 people died. The plane carrying manager Matt Busby’s team of “Busby Babes” back from a European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade stopped to refuel in Munich, Germany, but crashed on takeoff. Foulkes was able to escape the plane.
A decade after the disaster, at 36, Foulkes scored the goal against Real Madrid that took United to its first European Cup final, where it beat Benfica in the final.
After spending his entire playing career at United, Foulkes enjoyed less success in management, mostly in the United States and Norway. He took charge of three teams in the North American Soccer League: the Chicago Sting, Tulsa Roughnecks and San Jose Earthquakes.
Prolific French film director
French director Georges Lautner, 87, whose films from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are part of the French canon and are still adored, died Friday in Paris, according to Radio France Internationale. He had been in poor health for some time.
President Francois Hollande lamented Lautner’s death, noting that his movies were “great popular comedies that became cult films of our cinematic heritage.”
Of Lautner’s roughly 50 films, “Les Tontons Flingeurs,” which appeared as “Monsieur Gangster” for English-speaking audiences, was perhaps the most beloved.
Audiences warmed to Lautner’s aging gangsters and their rapid-fire repartee. Fans still quote one-liners from the film, which is regularly shown on French TV.
Lautner directed such prominent French actors as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon.
Born in Nice, France, on Jan. 24, 1926, Lautner was introduced to film by his mother, the actress Renee St. Cyr. His first professional job was as an assistant producer in 1949, shortly after he dropped his study of law.
Although best known for his comedies, Lautner directed darker police dramas later in his career, including “The Professional,” a 1981 thriller about a secret agent assigned to assassinate an African dictator.
Times staff and wire reports