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Ventriloquist Rickie Layne of Ed Sullivan fame dies

Rickie Layne, a ventriloquist who frequently appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with his Yiddish-accented dummy Velvel, has died at age 81. Layne died Feb. 11 of heart failure at Tarzana Hospital, family members said.

Singer Nat "King" Cole discovered Layne in 1955 at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip and urged Sullivan to put the act on his popular Sunday night variety show.

He was born Richard Israel Cohen, the son of Russian immigrants. His mother was a popular vaudeville comic billed as Gypsy Sonya.

"Madea's Family Reunion' in top spot for weekend

Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, a comic drama in which writer-director Perry also stars in three roles, debuted as the weekend's No. 1 movie with $30.25-million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The weekend's other new wide releases flopped. The animated tale Doogal debuted at No. 8 with $3.6-million. The crime thriller Running Scared opened at No. 9 with $3.1-million.

Lachey's moves carry him

to victory on "Dancing'

Drew Lachey danced away as the winner of Dancing with the Stars on Sunday night.

The former 98 Degrees pop singer outhoofed pro wrestler Stacy Keibler, thought to be the favored finalist, along with NFL great Jerry Rice, as ABC's ballroom hit wrapped its second season, airing live from Los Angeles.

With his professional dancer-partner Cheryl Burke, Lachey wowed the audience with a freestyle dance to Hound Dog, which concluded with him vaulting himself over Burke's shoulders.

The couple racked up a total score of 27 out of a perfect 30 from the three-judge panel, which, combined with their score from Thursday's prefinale, gave them a total of 87 out of 90.

But it was viewers, whose vote carried half the weight, who settled the matter.

- Times wires