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Obituaries

Anita Morris, comedic actress known for roles that displayed her good-natured sexuality, died Wednesday in Los Angeles after a brief battle with cancer. She was 50.

She was known for her role in the Broadway musical “Nine,” an award-winning performance that helped her gain recognition.

Morris began her career in the American Mime Theatre, where her face was frequently hidden behind masks, her expression limited to her body.

An appearance in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” opened doors for her.

Featured roles followed in such plays and musicals as “Seesaw,””The Magic Show,””Rachel Lily Rosenbloom,””Sugar Babies” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

For her role in “Nine,” the musical based on the Fellini film “8 1/2,” she received a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award nomination. Wearing a black, see-through body stocking, Morris sang “Call to the Vatican” while acting out an acrobatic sexual fantasy. Her performance of that number was banned from the 1982 Tony Awards telecast, although “Nine” won the award for best musical that year.

She appeared in 12 films, including “The Hotel New Hampshire,””Maria’s Lover, “”Absolute Beginners,””Ruthless People,””18 Again,””Blue City” and “Me and the Kid.” She will appear in the George Lucas film “Radioland Murders,” which is yet to be released.

Survivors include her husband, director Grover Dale; a son, James; her parents, J.B. and Eloise; and brothers Byron and Douglas.

A memorial service will be held at the Morris’ home Sunday.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Anita Morris Scholarship Fund established at the Los Angeles-based Choreographers Resourcenter, 350 South Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

* * *

Brian Eckhardt

Brian Eckhardt, casting director, talent agent and associate producer, died Feb. 18 in Los Angeles of complications due to diabetes. He was 42.

Eckhardt began as casting assistant with MTM Prods., working on such shows as “Mary,””The Bob Newhart Show” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

He was promoted to casting director and worked on “The Stockard Channing Show” and soap operas “Another World” and “Capitol.”

Eckhardt also was a talent agent at the Wilhemina Agency and Associated Talent.

Recently, he worked as associate managing director of the Los Angeles Theatre Center and as production associate on the King Arthur Prods. documentary about the life of Rita Hayworth.

His last position was as associate producer of the pilot “Travels Across America: Mystical, Magical, Mysterious Places.”

Survivors include his longtime companion, Alfonso de la Barrerra; his parents , a brother and two sisters.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at North Hollywood Church of Religious Science, 6161 Whitsett Ave., North Hollywood.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, 10811 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232-3311.

* * *

Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Lonnie Johnson Jr., disc jockey, died Feb. 24 in Sylmar of liver disease. He was 64.

As a disc jockey in the 1960s, Johnson interviewed Elvis Presley and B.B. King.

He worked for KGFI in Hollywood and KALI in Santa Monica.

Survivors include four daughters, a son and a sister.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Calvary Baptist Church in San Fernando.

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