Willie Williams, who became head of 2 police forces in turmoil, dies at 72

Published April 30 2016
Updated April 30 2016

Willie L. Williams, 72, the first African-American to lead the police forces in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, cities in which hostilities between the police and black citizens had recently flared into violence, died of pancreatic cancer Tuesday in Fayetteville, Ga. He was named chief in Los Angeles after officers were videotaped beating a motorist, Rodney King, as they arrested him and two passengers after a high-speed chase.

Harry Wu, 79, a Chinese dissident who was brutalized for 19 years in communist prison labor camps and who had ever since then refused to let the world overlook human rights violations in his former homeland, died Tuesday in Honduras. He settled in the United States in 1985 and became a citizen in 1994. He returned to China undercover a number of times to expose prison conditions, including the sale of organs from executed inmates.

Robert E. Linton, 90, a prominent Wall Street executive who led the swashbuckling investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert in the years before it imploded in scandal but who was largely untainted himself, died of heart failure Tuesday in New York. In 1989, prosecutors filed six felony counts of mail and securities fraud against the firm, which pleaded guilty and later dissolved. Michael Milken, the "Junk Bond King" and a central figure in the case, also admitted to crimes, providing the capstone to what was then the largest criminal prosecution in Wall Street history.

Les Waas, 94, the advertising legend behind the Mister Softee jingle heard in hundreds of ice cream trucks for more than half a century, died April 19 in Warminster, Pa. The Mister Softee jingle, originally written in 1960 for the company started in his Philadelphia hometown just a few years earlier, played in the company's ice cream trucks as a way to signal their approach. Soon, the song became ubiquitous with ice cream, summer and fun as the opening notes became instantly recognizable to anyone within earshot. The owner of an advertising agency, he wrote nearly a thousand jingles.

Billy Paul, 81, a singer whose suave but impassioned vocal style made Me and Mrs. Jones, a slow ballad about a man's love for a married woman, a No. 1 hit in 1972, died of pancreatic cancer April 24 in Blackwood, N.J. The song was one of the signature expressions of the 1970s Philadelphia sound, heard on a stream of hit records produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for Philadelphia International Records.

Philip Kives, 87, the tireless TV pitchman whose commercials implored viewers to "wait, there's more!" while selling everything from vegetable slicers to hit music compilations on vinyl, died Wednesday in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In touting one product after another, he reputedly coined the catchphrase "As Seen on TV."

Madeleine Sherwood, 93, a distinguished Canadian-born character actor who played saints and sinners on Broadway and TV and who endured blacklisting in the 1950s and a prison term in the 1960s for her civil rights activism, died April 23 in Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec. She also portrayed the stern Mother Superior on the ABC sitcom The Flying Nun (1967-70), opposite Sally Field's young and airborne novice. She faced a prison term after her arrest at a civil rights protest in Alabama in 1963.