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Former film mogul Marvin Davis dies

Billionaire Marvin Davis, a former oilman who sold his 20th Century Fox studios to Rupert Murdoch in the 1980s, died Saturday (Sept. 25, 2004) at his Beverly Hills home. He was 79.

Mr. Davis died surrounded by his family after a long illness, his publicist Allan Mayer said. The exact cause was not released.

Mr. Davis had also owned the Pebble Beach Co. and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Nicknamed "Mr. Wildcatter," he started his road to fortune in oil and gas exploration, later expanding into real estate and the entertainment industry.

Earlier this year, Mr. Davis' fortune was valued at $4.9-billion by Forbes magazine, where he placed 85th on the annual ranking of billionaires.

Over the years, Mr. Davis made attempts to buy CBS, NBC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Mr. Davis also tried to bring an NFL franchise back to Los Angeles in the late 1990s, but abandoned the bid because the league required his family to dispose of its gambling interests.

Cataract surgery pioneer among medical honorees

NEW YORK _ A researcher who turned cataract surgery into a brief outpatient procedure and three scientists who illuminated how some hormones and vitamins act on the body's cells have won prestigious medical awards.

The $50,000 prizes, from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, will be presented Friday in New York. Sixty-eight scientists who have won such awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, the foundation said.

The award for clinical research will be given posthumously to Dr. Charles Kelman, who made cataract removal an outpatient procedure. Previously, cataract operations were risky ordeals that required more than a week of hospitalization with the patient's head immobilized by sand bags.

The Lasker award for basic research will be shared by Dr. Pierre Chambon of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg, France; Ronald Evans of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and Elwood Jensen of the University of Chicago.

The Lasker foundation will also present a $25,000 award for special achievement in medical science to Matthew Meselson of Harvard University. The award honors his discoveries about DNA and his leadership in public policy.

Little girl's 911 call now labeled a prank

PATERSON, N.J. _ A 911 call that triggered a desperate search for an unidentified 4-year-old girl in distress was a hoax, authorities said Saturday.

The caller told a dispatcher Tuesday evening that her mother "got hit" and was in the bathroom and not breathing. The dispatcher kept the girl on the line as long as she could, but the child hung up after five minutes, saying she was tired.

Paterson Police Chief Lawrence Spagnola said investigators have now reviewed an enhanced copy of the 911 tape and found several inconsistencies, including the fact that the caller gave one phone number to state police but was unable to give the same number to the city police dispatcher.

Authorities at first could not trace the call, made from a cell phone. They suspect the caller used a 2-year-old prepaid phone card that was only able to dial 911 and placed the call from Irvington, N.J.

The Paterson Police Department's entire 22-member detective squad worked on the case, which included exhausting tips that poured in from around the country.

Also . . .

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE: Firefighters were close to encircling a nearly 800-acre blaze in the Los Padres National Forest on Saturday. The blaze was in chaparral-covered terrain in a wilderness area southeast of Monterey. It was 90 percent contained Saturday morning, forest officials said. Nearly 900 firefighters were battling the fire, which began Wednesday and forced the closure of the Arroyo Seco campground. Its cause remains under investigation.

HIGH BIDDER: Donald Feldpausch's bid of $37,500 on Saturday in Fredericksburg, Texas, bought him a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro that once belonged to Branch Davidian leader David Koresh. He said he was motivated by the car's value as a collector's item, not its history.

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