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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Beefcakes and fruitcakes
By Bob Chaundy
BBC News Profiles Unit

Our regular column covering the passing of significant - but lesser-reported - characters of the past month.

Mickey Hargitay
A side order of man: Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield in 1964
William Auld was nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature three times, even though his poetry was written in a language no-one is raised speaking. He began learning Esperanto, the most widely-spoken constructed international language, in 1937, and went on to be one of its most enthusiastic supporters. As well as writing poetry, he was a translator of the language, which he believed should be considered as a major work of art. He argued Esperanto was greater than the Mona Lisa or the nine symphonies of Beethoven because, unlike these, it could itself be used to create other works of art.

• Using a language that everyone understands - music - Daniel Flores got hundreds of parties started with his cry of "Tequila". He wrote the song under a pseudonym, Chuck Rio, and made it a number one hit for The Champs in 1958 with his "dirty sax" and infectious vocal. Flores was known as the Godfather of Latino rock. Tequila was his biggest hit and enjoyed a resurgence after being featured in the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Flores signed away the US rights to the song but retained world-wide rights until his death.

Paul Vance, who also died last month, claimed he had sold the rights to Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini when he was 19. When his death was announced, however, it was revealed that the song had actually been written by another Paul Vance, who is still alive and who had the unsettling experience of reading what appeared to be his own obituary. The wife of the deceased Paul Vance, Rose Leroux, said she was surprised and "kind of devastated" by the news that her husband had not actually written the smash hit song, as he had always claimed.

• No stranger to distinctive swimwear in his youth, Mickey Hargitay was said to have done for body building what President Eisenhower did for golf, because he brought it to the forefront. He was born in Hungary and was a former Mr Universe and actor. After winning his title, he joined Mae West's revue (a precursor of male strip shows), where he was spotted by the screen siren, Jayne Mansfield who is reported to have said "I'll have a steak and the man on the left!". They married and had three children, including the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit actress Mariska Hargitay, who was born after the couple divorced.

• Another man keeping it in the family was William "Bill" McNutt Jr, who used direct marketing and mail order to transform his family's bakery into a worldwide supplier of fruitcakes. He had employees copying names and addresses of potential customers from telephone directories from all over the United States, compiling a database that was later computerised. He also began a direct marketing campaign overseas and built up the business so it now ships its fruitcake to 196 countries.

Abraham Saffron had a seedier recipe for success, which led to his nickname of Mr Sin. He was an Australian nightclub owner and property developer who faced accusations of criminal activity including involvement in police corruption and bribing politicians. He denied it all and was known to be quick to sue his accusers for libel. As his notoriety grew, so did his various epithets: he was also known as "a Mr Big of Australian crime" and "the boss of the Cross", in reference to the red light district of King's Cross. He was finally jailed for tax evasion, prompting the judge to say "In my view the maximum penalty of three years is inadequate."

Others who have died this month include the Hollywood actor Glenn Ford the golfer, Byron Nelson; "Tokyo Rose": Iva Toguri D'Aquino; leading British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold ; BBC TV presenters Raymond Baxter; and Anne Gregg; British TV actor Frank Middlemass; and the Australian naturalist, Steve Irwin.


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