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Milestones, Dec. 4, 1972

2 minute read

Married. Charles Njonjo, 52, Kenya’s debonair Attorney General; and Margaret Bryson, 34, daughter of white Christian missionaries and a supervisor of French instruction for Kenya’s Ministry of Education; both for the first time; in Nairobi.

Died. Marie Wilson, 56, one of the most durable “dumb blondes” of show business; of cancer; in Hollywood. Wilson’s bosomy innocence won her a Warner Brothers contract at age 15, and she started a series of forgettable films (Boy Meets Girl, Never Wave at a WAC) that established her stereotype. She attracted a national audience as the lovable dimwit in My Friend Irma, first on radio, then in two movies and finally for two years on television.

Died. Don Loper, 66, designer of celebrity wardrobes; in Santa Monica, Calif. Loper went to Hollywood in the early ’40s to co-produce and dance in the Ginger Rogers movie Lady in the Dark. At MGM he enjoyed a seven-way contract that made him dancer, choreographer, costume designer, set designer, producer, director and actor. He later opened a Sunset Strip couture house from which he clothed some of Hollywood’s most famous women—including Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, Claudette Colbert—for prices up to $25,000 a dress.

Died. Jennie Grossinger, 80, owner and reigning hostess of a vast Catskill Mountain resort 100 miles northwest of New York City; of a stroke; in Grossinger, N.Y. From guests to cuisine, Grossinger’s has always been predominantly Jewish, but the nearly 150,000 people who take advantage of its lavish hospitality every year are an ecumenical crew. Its style might be called Borscht Belt Baroque—rich food served copiously, big name entertainment, luxurious facilities that encouraged year-round patronage. Jennie and Husband Harry, who died in 1964, built Grossinger’s from a tidy family boardinghouse into a 600-room enterprise that grosses $7,000,000 a year and has its own post office and small airport.

Died. Nathan Ohrbach, 87, founder of the retail clothing chain that made low prices yield high profits; in Manhattan. Ohrbach grew up in Brooklyn, and began selling women’s coats from rented space in a friend’s hat shop. He opened his first large store in 1923 on the sound principle that women love bargains. Anticipating the methods that later created a discount merchandising boom, Ohrbach stocked items that would move fast and attract crowds. He also sold low-priced copies of Paris originals, but provided a personal touch by greeting shoppers at the door.

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