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‘Boston Legal’ actor dies in car crash

Justin Mentell involved in fatal accident in Wisconsin

Justin Mentell, who appeared on the TV show “Boston Legal,” was killed in an automobile crash near Mineral Point, Wis., on Monday. He was 27.

Mentell portrayed attorney Garrett Wells on “Boston Legal” from 2005-06.

Born in Austin, Texas, he was raised in Waukegan, Ill., and competed on the U.S. Junior National Speedskating team. He graduated from Northern Illinois U. and then appeared in films including “Gotham, Il.,” “Roll Bounce,” “Palo Alto, CA” and “G-Force.”

Legit actress Lindsay Thomas died Feb. 3 in Canada of cancer. She was 31.

Thomas was a member of Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival company, and appeared in shows including “Oklahoma!” and “My One and Only.” She also had featured performances in “The Music Man” and “Fuente Ovejuna.”

She made her Stratford debut in 2006, appearing in “Oliver!” and “Don Juan.”

Her career took her throughout Canada and to Broadway, where she appeared in the original production of “Hairspray” in 2002. She was a member of “Hairspray’s” original Canadian company and first U.S. tour. Thomas also played Francine in the original Toronto production of “Jersey Boys,” directed by Stratford artistic director Des McAnuff.

She is survived by her partner, actor Gareth Potter, her parents and a brother.

Production designer Robert Rappaport died of cardiac arrest Jan. 28 in Lakeland, Fla. He was 67.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., he graduated Carnegie Mellon U. and NYU, where he earned a masters in theater design.

Rappaport was art director for “The Mike Douglas Show” for 10 years. Among his other credits were “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Split Second,” “Scrabble,” “PM Magazine” and daytime serials “Santa Barbara” and “Days of Our Lives.” He also served as production designer for 10 years on the “Miss Universe,” “Miss USA” and “Miss Teen USA” pageants.

He is survived by a son, a daughter, two brothers and his girlfriend, Gail.

Teacher, composer and vocal coach Maurice Finnell, who taught talent including Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Tyne Daly and Warren Beatty, died Jan. 5 in New York of complications from a fall. He was 93.

Finnell was born in New Jersey and started singing as a boy, performing the theme song for Douglas Fairbanks film “Reaching for the Moon” at the RKO Lincoln and Capital Theaters at the age of 16.

He performed on radio networks in New York and Philadelphia, and made his opera debut with the Trenton Opera Company in 1941. During WWII he served as a music instructor for soldiers. After the war, his song “A Lonely Town” was recorded by Herb Lance and the Ray Charles Singers and he directed the musical department of Camp Wigwam in Harrison, Maine, which was attended by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, the Selznicks and the Zukors.

He began teaching in 1947 and continued until the time of his death, teaching sight-reading and musicianship at the American Theater Wing, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYU, the Vocal Arts Foundation and the Turtle Bay Music School, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Ansonia Hotel.

He is survived by a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

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