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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 15:40 GMT
Poet Stan Rice dies
Stan Rice, the poet, painter and husband of author Anne Rice, has died of brain cancer at the age of 60.

Rice, who published seven volumes of poetry to critical acclaim, won the Edgar Allen Poe award of the Academy of American Poets among other honours.

He met his wife, the author of the Vampire Chronicles, when the pair studied journalism together.

They married in 1961 and enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he went on to become assistant director of the Poetry Center and later headed the creative writing department.


Abba hit tops dance music poll

Abba's Dancing Queen has been voted the top dancefloor tune of all time, according to viewers of cable music channel VH1.

The evergreen Swedish disco tune beat Kylie Minogue's recent hit Can't Get You Out Of My Head.

Abba member Benny Andersson said: "It's rather fantastic that our music is still around and that they didn't kill us for being so corny at the time."

The third most popular tune was Gloria Gaynor's anthem I Will Survive.


Ponti marks his 90th

Film producer Carlo Ponti, who risked excommunication from the Roman Catholic church to marry actress Sophia Loren, is preparing to celebrate his 90th birthday on Wednesday.

He was nominated for an Oscar as producer of Doctor Zhivago in 1965, while his other works include Blow-Up, The Cassandra Crossing, The Verdict and The Squeeze.

Speaking from the home he shares with Loren in Geneva, he spoke about his favourite memories, with particular praise for Marcello Mastroianni, who appeared in many of his films.

"He was a completely normal person, even in front of the camera. His success never went to his head. That was the secret of his greatness," Ponti said.


Townshend 'going deaf'

Rock legend Pete Townshend is going deaf after 40 years in the music industry, according to a report.

The Who guitarist, once known for smashing up his instrument on stage, told The Sun his hearing had worsened since the band's US tour earlier this year.

"The recent return to touring and to me playing electric guitar - albeit more quietly than in the 1970s - led to further deterioration of my hearing," the paper quoted Townshend, 57, as saying.

"I am unable to perform with in-ear monitors. In fact, they increase the often unbearable tinnitus I suffer after shows."


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