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Sam Berns, public face of a rare illness, dies at 17

n Mae Young, 90, who was, by her own account and that of many other female wrestlers, the greatest and dirtiest of them all, died Tuesday in Columbia, S.C. Her last round in the ring was in 2010.

. Sam Berns, 17, a Massachusetts high school junior whose life with the illness progeria was the subject of the documentary film Life According to Sam, died Jan. 10 in Boston. Extremely rare — it affects one in 4 million to one in 8 million births — progeria is a genetic disorder resulting in rapid premature aging.

Burton R. Lifland, 84, a pre-eminent federal bankruptcy judge who for three decades rode herd on some of the nation's biggest corporate rescue efforts and presided over the financial chaos left by swindler Bernard Madoff, died of pneumonia Jan. 12 in New Haven, Conn. He was the chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York for most of his 33 years there.

Juan Gelman, 83, a renowned Argentine poet and left-wing activist who was awarded the prestigious Cervantes Prize, died Tuesday in Mexico. His life and work were deeply affected by personal loss suffered during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Government forces kidnapped and killed his son and daughter-in-law, among tens of thousands of suspected leftists who were "disappeared" across Latin America in that era.

Dave Madden, 82, the actor and comedian who played the curmudgeonly band manager on the popular 1970s TV series The Partridge Family, died of complications of the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome Thursday in Jacksonville. He played Reuben Kincaid, who managed the family band and clashed with the wisecracking bassist played by Danny Bonaduce.

Dale Mortensen, 74, a Northwestern University professor who shared the 2010 Nobel Prize in economics for developing innovative methods to analyze unemployment and labor markets, died of lung cancer Jan. 9 in Wilmette, Ill. He also was a visiting professor at many universities, from Russia to Australia to Denmark to California.

Sam Berns, public face of a rare illness, dies at 17 01/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 18, 2014 12:38am]
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