Obituaries in the news

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2009 6:34 AM

Bernard Birnbaum

NEW YORK (AP) _ CBS News producer Bernard Birnbaum, who helped shape the public's view of issues ranging from poverty to the Watergate scandal while working alongside Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt, has died. He was 89.

Birnbaum died on Thanksgiving Day at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, N.Y., after having a heart attack while visiting relatives nearby, CBS News said in a statement Saturday. His death had been announced on the network news broadcast Friday.

Birnbaum's CBS career won him seven Emmy Awards and took him to places ranging from Vietnam to the small-town America seen in "On the Road with Charles Kuralt."

He and Kuralt first joined forces on the acclaimed 1964 documentary "Christmas in Appalachia," about unemployed miners in Kentucky. Released as President Lyndon Johnson mobilized his war on poverty, the program spurred $70,000 in unsolicited donations for the families it featured.

As a producer for "The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" and other programs, Birnbaum covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War and Watergate in depth.

Birnbaum joined CBS as a lighting director in 1951 and worked into this decade, producing short documentaries for "Sunday Morning."

Born in Brooklyn on Oct. 18, 1920, he began learning photography by working at a studio, his daughter Amy Birnbaum said. He served as a U.S. Army Air Corps combat cameraman during World War II and earned a film degree from New York University, CBS News said.


Mike Penner

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Los Angeles Times sports writer Mike Penner, who announced two years ago he was a transsexual and was changing his name to Christine Daniels, has died. He was 52.

Penner was pronounced dead Friday at a hospital, said Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Brian Elias. He said coroner's officials hadn't yet performed an autopsy or issued an official cause of death.

The Times said in a story Saturday Penner was believed to have committed suicide. Penner had returned to using the name Mike Penner last year and was a Times columnist at the time of his death.

In 25 years with the newspaper, Penner covered Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the Olympics, World Cup soccer, tennis and other sports. A fluid writer with a sharp wit, he worked at various times as a reporter, columnist and the newspaper's Los Angeles Angels beat writer.

Times Editor Russ Stanton said Penner "respected our readers a great deal, enough to share with them his very personal journey."

Penner revealed that journey on April 26, 2007, when he wrote a story for the Times headlined "Old Mike, New Christine," in which he revealed he was taking a few weeks vacation and when he returned to his job as a sports writer it would be as a woman named Christine Daniels.

The announcement sent shock waves through the sports world, but Penner's bosses were supportive.

After his vacation, Penner did indeed return as Christine Daniels, not only continuing to report on sports for the Times but also authoring a blog called "Woman in Transition," detailing his experiences.

At the time of his announcement he was married, and he declined to discuss his family situation. He said he was undergoing female hormone treatments but declined to say whether he planned to undergo a sex-change operation.

However, he eventually dropped the "Woman in Transition" blog and returned to writing under the name Mike Penner.