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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 15:55 UK

Beer, sandwiches and Ivory Snow

Tam Paton and the Bay City Rollers
High rollers: Paton (centre, front) with the Bay City Rollers in 1976, and recently

By Nick Serpell
BBC Obituary Unit

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

The Scottish band, The Bay City Rollers, owed much of their high-profile but ultimately short-term success to their flamboyant manager Tam Paton . A former big band leader he maintained tight control over his charges with a bewildering series of line-up changes. He also tried to boost their boy-next-door image by insisting they preferred milk to alcohol. He took the band from the first chart success, Keep on Dancing in 1971, through the hype of Rollermania with its hordes of tartan-clad, mainly female, fans. The band reached their peak in 1975 when Bye Bye Baby topped the charts for six weeks, going on to be the best-selling single of the year. But by 1979 the group's popularity had begun to wane and Paton was fired following rows over royalty payments. He was jailed in 1982 for gross indecency with teenage boys but went on to build a multi-million pound property business.

Bea Arthur in 1974 and 2002
Bea Arthur in Mame in 1974, and 28 years later

Actress Bea Arthur only achieved real fame at the age of 50, when she appeared in the US TV series Maude. She began her career in New York's Greenwich Village, augmenting her salary with singing stints at local nightclubs. There were a number of small parts in film and TV before she won a Tony in 1966 for her role as Vera Charles in the musical Mame. She had originally created Maude Findlay for the sitcom All in the Family and CBS executives decided to give her the lead role in a spin-off series. The show did not hesitate to tackle what were then divisive social issues, including abortion, drug use and family abuse. She picked up an Emmy for the role but decided to quit in 1978 as ratings fell. Seven years later she was back, this time in the Golden Girls, a gentle comedy about a group of women sharing a house in Florida. Screened at the same time as Miami Vice it was referred to by its many fans as "Miami Nice".

Marilyn Chambers and Ivory Snow
Chambers, holding the detergent pack on which she appears with a baby

The film Behind the Green Door, starring Marilyn Chambers, was a world away from Bea Arthur's gentle comedies. It was the first hard-core pornographic film ever put on general release in the United States and was especially shocking to 1972 audiences as it depicted a white woman having sex with a black man. Chambers' previous career had been as an advertising model, notably for Procter & Gamble's Ivory Snow, where she appeared under the slogan "99 and 44/100% pure." Boxes of the detergent were swiftly withdrawn after her cinema debut and the notoriety which accompanied the film made it almost impossible for her to break into mainstream cinema. She later regretted her career in porn, saying: "If I were to do things over again, I'd do them differently." In 2004 she ran for US vice-president as a member of the libertarian Personal Choice Party, gaining just over 900 votes

A paucity of votes was also the preserve of Colin Jordan , whose extreme right-wing views were distinctly at odds with the new spirit of liberalism which was being engendered during the 1960s. The son of a Birmingham postman, he formed the National Socialist Movement in 1962, an organisation which was both anti-Semitic and opposed to black and Asian immigration. In 1965 Jordan led a group of fascist demonstrators that invaded a Labour Party meeting at which he ended up being punched by the then defence secretary, Denis Healey. Jordan stood for Parliament on several occasions, regularly losing his deposit. In 1968 the NSM was reconstituted as the British Movement with Jordan as leader. However, he was forced to stand down in 1975 after being convicted of stealing women's underwear from the Leamington Spa branch of Tesco.

Jack Jones
Jack Jones - once more powerful than the prime minister, said the British public

Jack Jones spent his early years fighting fascism before becoming one of the most influential trade union leaders of the 20th Century. He was beaten up by Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts on the streets of his native Liverpool before being badly wounded fighting with the International Brigade against Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. He became a full-time official with the Transport & General Workers' Union and was elected general secretary in 1968. It was the time of beer and sandwiches at No 10 when the union block vote wielded massive power within the Labour Party. A 1977 poll revealed that 54% of the respondents believed Jones was the most powerful man in Britain. His hardline attitudes were, in part, responsible for the winter of discontent in 1979 which precipitated the return of a Conservative government and curbs on trade union powers.

Exotic Dancer became famous for his rivalry with Kauto Star, a horse he never managed to beat. Bred in France, and trained by former jump jockey Jonjo O'Neill, he won his first race at Cheltenham as a novice in 2005. He tasted success in the 2006-07 season with wins in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Boylesport Gold Cup and the Letheby & Christopher Chase, all at Cheltenham. But he was beaten into second place by Kauto Star in both the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Entered for the 2009 Grand National he was subsequently withdrawn and ran in the Totesport Bowl on the Thursday of Grand National week finishing second. He died of a heart attack shortly after the race.

Among others who died in April were Clement Freud, former Liberal MP and Just a Minute star; Lennie Bennett, comedian and quiz show host; Peter Rogers, producer of the Carry On films.

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