THE SCION OF A CAR-racing family and the first Brit to win the World Rally Championship road race, Colin McRae was famous for his ability to walk away from peril. Aggressive and flamboyant, he was dubbed "McCrash" for his rolls, wrecks and wins in such competitions as the X Games, the Paris-to-Dakar rally and the Race of Champions. But there were no survivors last weekend when the helicopter that McRae was piloting crashed near his home in Lanark, Scotland. McRae, his son Johnny, 5, and two others died in the blaze. McRae was 39.
FOR TWO DECADES, PILGRIMS flocked to the Christ of the Hills monastery in Blanco, Texas, to lay eyes on what founder Samuel Greene Jr. and his fellow monks claimed was a miracle: a painting of the Virgin Mary that wept tears of myrrh. In 2000, after a fellow monk was convicted of indecency with a male monastic student, Greene also pleaded guilty to indecency. When the compound was closed, investigators found eyedroppers and bottles of rosewater used to fake the tears that prompted donations. Last year Greene confessed to the ruse, and his sexual relations with teenage students, to his probation officer. Greene, who died after taking medications, was 63. His death is under investigation.
HE FOUGHT JAMES BROWN IN the recording studio--and once even in court--but that did little to dampen the friendship and creative partnership Bobby Byrd shared with the Godfather of Soul over a half-century. In the early '50s, the singer helped secure the release of a young Brown from a Georgia youth detention center, invited him to join his gospel band and began to shape the future funk king's sound. As collaborators in the Famous Flames, the band that launched Brown, the pair co-wrote tunes, including Brown's signature Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine. On the recording, Byrd sings the recurring riff, "Get on up." He was 73 and had cancer.
HIS PERSONA--THE bandito mustache, the Stetson hat--screamed "bold adventurer dude," and with good reason. Self-taught American explorer Douglas (Gene) Savoy, called "the real Indiana Jones" by PEOPLE magazine, discovered more than 40 lost cities in Peru, including the storied Vilcabamba, thought to have been the last refuge of the Incas as they fled Spanish conquistadors. Archaeologists who said some of his findings had already been established by locals were dismissed by Savoy, who called them "fuddy-duddy academics." Scientists, he said, "tell you what you have found, but you have to find it in the first place." He was 80.
IN THE 1970S, WHEN GAME shows "starred" guest panelists who appeared for years, smoky-voiced character actress Brett Somers--familiar from spots on such TV sitcoms as The Odd Couple and Love, American Style--became a household name when her then husband Jack Klugman insisted she deserved a spot on Match Game. A smart, bitingly witty performer, she became a favorite on the hit show, bantering bawdily with fellow panelist Charles Nelson Reilly and delivering a mean impression of Ethel Merman. "It was the best job I ever had," said Somers. She was 83.
DURING AN ERA WHEN AN African American portraying a doctor on TV was a news event, veteran actor Percy Rodrigues--whose 30 years of film, TV and booming voice-over work included narrating the famously eerie ad campaign for 1975's Jaws--resolutely fought against typecasting blacks. One result: his breakthrough 1968 role as neurosurgeon Harry Miles on TV's Peyton Place, which influenced a generation of artists and inspired this headline in the Los Angeles Times: A DOCTOR'S ROLE FOR NEGRO ACTOR. He was 89.
FOR YEARS BEFORE the veteran reporter-anchor Dan Rather, 75, broke ties with CBS, he and his bosses, who were famously eager to grab younger viewers, had been at odds. In 2006 the brusque newsman, known for his fearless field reporting and mysterious metaphors, finally left the anchor chair, ending his 44-year career at the network. His reputation was tainted after he oversaw a 60 Minutes report on George W. Bush's National Guard service that was later discredited. Now Rather is suing CBS and three of its top executives for $70 million, claiming the company made him a "scapegoat," failed to give him enough airtime after the episode and ostracized him to "pacify the White House." A spokes- man for CBS said the suit was "old news" and "without merit."