Deaths elsewhers, Sept. 23, 2013

Staff reports Updated: October 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm • Published: October 4, 2013 | 7:49 am 0

- Legendary Mexican rock 'n' roll singer Johnny Laboriel, 71, an icon for the Afro-Mexicano community, died early Wednesday in Mexico City.

Laboriel's specialty was to reinterpret American hits of the 1960s, classics like "Poison Ivy" and "Yakety Yak," translated into Spanish and sung with buoyant enthusiasm and an infectious smile. Launching his career in the late 1950s and '60s, he was a pioneer for Mexico.

- Dr. Donald Low, 68, died Wednesday night after being diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. Low's capacity to explain to the public what was going on in the fast-moving outbreak made him the face of Toronto's response to the 2003 SARS epidemic, which killed 44 people in the city and cost it $1 billion in tourism.

- Literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, 93, who survived the Warsaw Ghetto to become post-war Germany's best-known literary critic, died Wednesday in Frankfurt.

The sharp-tongued Reich-Ranicki established himself as West Germany's premier arbiter of literary taste after arriving with no money in 1958 from communist Poland, where he served as a diplomat and intelligence agent in the late 1940s.

Reich-Ranicki didn't shy away from hard-biting criticism, saying once that "clarity is the politeness of the critic; directness is his obligation and his job."

- Influential film director Richard Sarafian, 83, died Wednesday in Santa Monica.

Sarafian worked primarily in television in his early career, directing episodes of 60s shows like "Gunsmoke," "I Spy," and "77 Sunset Strip."

But Sarafian was best known by far for "Vanishing Point," a dark story of a drug-fueled auto pursuit through the Nevada desert brought on by a bet between a Vietnam vet and his drug dealer.

Warren Beatty was a particularly devoted fan, casting Sarafian as an actor in two of his own 1990s films, "Bugsy" and "Bulworth."

Sarafian was close friends with director Robert Altman, and twice married Altman's sister, Helen Altman, who died in 2011.

- Eiji Toyoda, 100, who spearheaded Toyota Motor Corp.'s expansion in the United States as the automaker's longest-serving president, died Tuesday at Toyota Memorial Hospital in Toyota City, Japan.

During his 57-year career, he shaped the company into an automaker known for its manufacturing efficiency.

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