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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 11:38 UK

Famous gorilla says farewell

By Nick Serpell
BBC Obituary Unit

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

Malalai Kakar
Malalai Kakar, who had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world

Malalai Kakar had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, as a woman police officer in Afghanistan. She became the first woman to graduate from the Kandahar Police Academy but was forced into exile in Pakistan when the Taleban took over. She returned to her job when Hamid Karzai came to power, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, responsible for combating the increasing level of domestic violence against women. Under constant threat of death from the Taleban she was gunned down in her car as she left for work.

The session musician is usually the unsung hero of great hits, and drummer Earl Palmer had more than his fair share. Unlike many contemporaries he had a formal musical education and was playing sessions with artists such as "Fats" Domino in the early 1950s. He took his distinctive syncopated style to Hollywood in 1957 and appeared on a host of famous recordings including Little Richard's Tutti Fruti, and You've Lost That Loving Feeling, by the Righteous Brothers as well as backing a host of Phil Spector hits. He also worked with the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello and BB King.

Norman Whitfield
Unsung half of Motown - Norman Whitfield

Norman Whitfield had his fair share of musical success but, as a writer and producer, rather than a musician. In collaboration with Berry Gordy, he was responsible for the distinctive Motown sound. He wrote and produced a number of hits including Marvin Gaye's I Heard It through The Grapevine, Motown's best ever selling single, and a string of successes for the Temptations, whom he steered in the direction of psychedelia on their ground breaking album Cloud 9. He left Motown in 1973 and had a huge hit on his own label with Car Wash by Rose Royce.

Don LaFontaine spoke to the BBC in 2007

Don LaFontaine had one of the most distinctive voices in cinema but he never appeared on screen. Nicknamed "Thunder Throat", his deep, gravelly tones appeared on thousands of cinema trailers including Shrek, Terminator 2, Fatal Attraction, Chicken Run and Batman Returns. He became famous for the phrase "In a World in" which has become a cliché, frequently used in parodies of LaFontaine's style. He once said his favourite trailer was the one he recorded for the film, The Elephant Man, starring John Hurt.

Actress Anita Page was one of the last survivors from the era of silent movies. She made her screen debut in 1925 becoming one of MGM's biggest stars, appearing alongside Joan Crawford in three films including the 1928 production Our Dancing Daughters. She made the transition into talkies and starred with, among others, Buster Keaton and Clark Gable. At one time she was receiving more fan mail than any other actress except Greta Garbo. She quit films at the height of her fame in 1933 claiming, years later, that her refusal to submit to the casting couch led to a falling out with studio bosses.

Anita Page
Silent screen star Page died at the age of 98

The driving force behind the famous Waterford crystal brand was not Irish but Czech. Miroslav Havel was working in the glass industry in Bohemia when he was invited over to Ireland, on a temporary basis, to revitalise the designs produced by the Waterford factory. The Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia meant he was unable to return home and he became the company's chief designer. During his tenure Waterford moved from making glasses for the Irish pub trade to elaborate and expensive creations which were exported all over the world. Havel specialised in massive chandeliers, some of which were produced for Westminster Abbey and the Kennedy Centre in Washington.

Jenny as a young girl, in the late 1950s

Jenny held the distinction of being the oldest gorilla in captivity at the time of her death. Born in the wild in 1953 she was captured and sent to Dallas Zoo in Texas four years later. She gave birth to a daughter in 1965 but failed to conceive again, becoming the focus of a scientific study into the menopause in gorillas. She was reported to have thrown away the fruit of the bananas she was given, preferring to eat the peel. Earlier this year the zoo celebrated her 55th birthday.

Among others who died in September were blue eyed philanthropist and Hollywood legend Paul Newman; keyboard player and founder member of Pink Floyd Richard Wright; designer of a string of successful Americas Cup winning yachts, Olin Stephens; the former chairman of British gas who oversaw the company's privatisation in 1986, Sir Denis Rooke; and Lebanese politician Saleh Aridi.

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