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July 23, 2017

The oldest manatee living in captivity, Snooty, died two days after his 69th birthday in a "heartbreaking accident," the South Florida Museum said Sunday.

Officials said Snooty, who was also the first manatee born in captivity, in 1948, drowned after being trapped by a hatch door at the museum's Parker Manatee Aquarium. Jeff Rodgers, provost and chief operating officer of the museum, said the hatch was normally bolted shut, and they will investigate how it opened. It's believed that Snooty, who weighed 1,300 pounds and moved to the aquarium in 1949, was also the oldest captive manatee on record.

Rodgers said the staff is "heartbroken" and grieving alongside Snooty's fans, who have been leaving flowers for him outside the aquarium. The museum has a manatee rehabilitation program that takes care of manatees and prepares them to return to the wild, but Rodgers said the staff is "still processing Snooty's loss right now," and it's yet to be determined if they will have another resident manatee. Catherine Garcia

July 22, 2017

Actor John Heard, best known for his roles in Home Alone and The Sopranos, died Friday in Palo Alto, California. He was 72.

Heard was staying in a hotel room and recovering from minor back surgery at the time of his death, which has been confirmed by the Santa Clara Medical Examiner’s office.

Heard came to fame in the 1970s and 1980s with roles in movies including Tom Hanks' Big, Martin Scorsese's After Hours, and Bette Midler's Beaches. Today, however, he is best remembered for playing Kevin McAllister's dad in the first two Home Alone films. "At the time, we didn't know the movie was funny," he later said of the role. "We were playing the parents who lost their kid, so we didn't how funny-stupid we could be."

Heard is survived by three children and continued acting through this year. Bonnie Kristian

July 16, 2017
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Martin Landau, the Oscar-winning actor who starred in television's Mission: Impossible and the films North by Northwest, Ed Wood, and Crimes and Misdemeanors, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 89.

Over the course of his career, Landau, who served as the West Coast co-artistic director of the Actors Studio, was nominated for three Academy Awards and five Emmys. He was a cartoonist with the New York Daily News from 1948 to 1951, and then became an actor. Many of his leading roles were on television, and he received his first Oscar later in life, for his 1994 portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's Ed Wood. His role in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest led to a part in Cleopatra, but after a year of filming, his scenes were all cut, Variety reports. "What could I do?" he said later. "They couldn't cut Richard Burton or Elizabeth Taylor." He was also Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Spock on Star Trek, but after Landau chose to star in Mission: Impossible, the part went to Leonard Nimoy.

Landau is survived by daughters Susan Landau Finch, a writer, producer, and casting director, and actress Juliet Landau; a sister; and a granddaughter. Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2017
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Joan Lee, the wife of comics icon Stan Lee and said to be the person who inspired him to create the Fantastic Four, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 93.

A spokesman for Stan Lee said she died surrounded by her family; she reportedly suffered a stroke earlier this week and had been hospitalized. The Lees were married on Dec. 5, 1947, and had two children, Joan Celia (J.C.) and Jan, who died in 1953, three days after she was born. Joan Lee was a hat model, and she met Stan Lee when he was looking for a different model that his cousin had told him to go on a date with. Stan Lee told The Hollywood Reporter last year that when he first saw Joan, "she was the girl I had been drawing all my life," and he was so smitten "I think I proposed at lunch."

Stan Lee got his big break in comics in 1961, when he co-created The Fantastic Four with Jack Kirby. He has said that he was depressed over the state of the industry, but before quitting, his wife told him, "Why don't you write one comic you are proud of?" That's what launched the Fantastic Four, and from there the Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, and other members of the Marvel universe. In 1987, Joan Lee wrote a book, The Pleasure Palace, and her daughter said she had three additional completed but unpublished novels at home. Catherine Garcia

July 5, 2017

The New York police officer who was shot and killed early Wednesday while sitting in a marked truck in the Bronx is being remembered as a "jovial" and loving mother of three.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was a 12-year veteran of the force who worked in the 46th Precinct. She was with her partner when she was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops," said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner. The suspect, 34-year-old Alexander Bonds, allegedly shot through the window of the truck, and then took off. Officers found Bonds running a block away from the shooting, and he drew a gun when confronted; he was then shot and killed by police, O'Neill said. A silver revolver found at the scene, CNN reports, had been stolen four years ago in Charleston, West Virginia.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Familia's fellow officers for quickly coming to her aid after she was shot "serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in, and doing the job she loved." Friend Isabel Roman told CNN that Familia was a "very jovial, happy person," and devoted to her children — 12-year-old twins and a 20-year-old — while brother-in-law Carlos Corporan called her an "excellent" person, adding that the family was "completely devastated" by her death. Catherine Garcia

June 20, 2017
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Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy died Tuesday, days after being hospitalized for complications caused by sickle cell anemia, his publicist announced in a statement. He was 42.

"It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary New York rap duo Mobb Deep," the statement said. "Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined."

Prodigy and his Mobb Deep partner, Kejuan "Havoc" Muchita, grew up in Queens, and released their first demo together in 1992; their last album, The Infamous Mobb Deep, was released in 2014. Prodigy came from a family of musicians, and launched a solo career in 2000. In 2011, he wrote an autobiography, My Infamous Life. Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2017
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The bodies of seven U.S. sailors who were missing after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan early Saturday were found in flooded compartments, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement Sunday. The victims of the crash have not been identified, but their families are being notified and rescue efforts are complete. "I ask your thoughts and prayers for the family members and the crew," said 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin.

The collision created a "large gash near the keel of the ship, so the water flow was tremendous" and the crew "had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface," Aucoin added. "I can't tell you how proud I am of the crew for what they did to save the ship." Though the Navy ship came close to sinking, it will be repaired and returned to service in about a year.

Investigations into why the crash happened are ongoing. The merchant ship made an unexpected turn, but the more agile destroyer should have been able to avoid its path. Bonnie Kristian

June 16, 2017

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl died Friday at the age of 87. Kohl, who led Germany for 16 years between 1982 and 1998, is credited with reuniting East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and for helping introduce the euro currency to the European Union.

Kohl reportedly died at his home in Ludwigshafen, in western Germany. "We mourn," tweeted Kohl's party, the Christian Democratic Union, on Friday.

The CDU is now led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a former mentee of Kohl's. Jeva Lange

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