It's no coincidence that California, land of the experimental health regimen, was home to Judy Mazel's wildly successful 1981 best seller, The Beverly Hills Diet. An aspiring actress with no medical training, Mazel became frustrated in her quest to lose weight and invented her own program, which required eating fruit for 10 days and consuming just one type of food, such as carbs or proteins, at a time. Panned by health professionals, Mazel struck a chord with dieters who believed that self-educated people often know better than experts. In the '80s, Mazel, who said she lost 72 lbs. (33 kg) on the diet, treated hundreds weekly at her Beverly Hills clinic. She was 63 and died of complications from peripheral vascular disease.
In the Golden Triangle, the war-torn, drug-financed area encompassing the northern regions of Burma, Laos and Thailand, Khun Sa was both king and kingpin--the man the U.S. once called the world's largest heroin producer. In the '80s and '90s, when Burma produced three-quarters of the world's heroin, the charming, ruthless guerrilla leader fended off ethnic rivals to control some 75% of Burma's trade--as well as a cadre of brutal armies to cement his rule. He surrendered with amnesty to Burmese officials in 1996. Now the Golden Triangle grows just 5% of the world's heroin supply. Khun Sa, who died of unknown causes, was 73.
Las Vegas had Liberace. Nashville, for more than a half-century, had Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner, the king of country glam. The Grand Ole Opry legend's blond pompadour and rhinestone suits made him a popular hitmaker (Green Green Grass of Home, Skid Row Joe) and influential ambassador, but he was best known for mentoring and performing with Dolly Parton, whom he launched on TV's syndicated 1960-79 Porter Wagoner Show. Last summer Wagoner made a national comeback with the critically acclaimed indie-album Wagonmaster. To promote it, he opened for rock's White Stripes, firing up, for at least one more night, an adoring capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. He was 80.
Love can be a powerful motivator even, it turns out, when the object of your passion is a molecule. Charismatic, enthusiastic biochemist Arthur Kornberg, who won a 1959 Nobel Prize for his discovery of DNA polymerase, the enzyme needed to produce synthetic DNA, credited his research and teaching career to his "love affair with enzymes." In recent years Kornberg, whose work on DNA helped spark the biotechnology revolution, studied polyphosphate--a substance dismissed as useless by colleagues. Kornberg, who lamented the "clannishness" and lack of creativity of many in the scientific community, was convinced that it could aid in the development of disease-fighting drugs. He was 89.
John Le Carre's novels, in which secret agents confound one another with twisted espionage games, may have taken inspiration from legendary, real-life Soviet master-spy Alexander Feklisov, the cold-war operative who ran some of the KGB's deadliest spies in the West. Feklisov's recruits included Julius Rosenberg, widely believed to have provided information on the Manhattan Project, and German scientist Klaus Fuchs, who had worked at the Los Alamos lab. Feklisov was pivotal in his country's acquisition of the nuclear bomb, first exploded in 1949, some five years before U.S. agents expected. He was 93.