Public can now sign up for tickets to presidential inaugural ball

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WASHINGTON — People who wish to attend the official Inaugural Ball with President Obama and wife after his swearing-in ceremony next month were able to begin signing up Friday to obtain a limited number of tickets, a source at the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.

In light of the struggling economy, the committee — which is overseeing the planning of the Inauguration Day parade, the balls and other events before and after the oath-taking ceremony — will hold only two official balls this time.

Both the Inaugural Ball and the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush in 2005 to honor members of the armed forces, will be Jan. 21 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the source said Friday. Having them at one place should also economize on security and law enforcement personnel needed.

People who wish to attend the Inaugural Ball must purchase tickets at $60 per person. Interested parties can fill out a form to get more information at bit.ly/U7GxdZ .

Harry Carey Jr., actor in John Ford films, dies at 91

LOS ANGELES — Harry Carey Jr., a venerable character actor who was believed to be the last surviving member of director John Ford’s legendary western stock company, died Thursday. He was 91.

Carey, whose career spanned more than 50 years and included such Ford classics as “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “The Searchers,” died of natural causes in Santa Barbara, said Melinda Carey, a daughter.

“In recent years, he became kind of the living historian of the modern era,” film critic Leonard Maltin told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “He would get hired on films by young directors who just wanted to work with him, to be one step away from the legends. Some hired him to just hear his stories between takes.”

Director Joe Dante, who used Carey in his 1984 comic-fantasy “Gremlins,” told the Times in 2003: “You got a lot of free movie history when you cast him.”

The son of silent-film western star Harry Carey Sr. and his actress wife, Olive, Carey made more than 100 films. They included “Red River,” “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” “Big Jake,” “Cahill U.S. Marshal,” “The Long Riders,” “The Whales of August” and 1993’s “Tombstone.”

The boyishly handsome Carey lacked the screen-dominating star quality of his longtime pal and frequent co-star, John Wayne. Instead, Carey brought a rare authenticity to his westerns as one of Hollywood’s best horsemen.

That was amply illustrated in 1950’s “Rio Grande,” for which he and cowboy-turned-character actor Ben Johnson learned to ride two horses while standing up, with one foot on the back of each horse.

Harris, who killed her celebrity lover, dies at 89

With her regal bearing and patrician accent, Jean S. Harris seemed to be the very model of the classic girls’ school headmistress. She was always the proper lady.

In 1977, she was named headmistress of the Madeira School, an exclusive private school for girls set amid rolling hills in McLean, Va..

She sometimes lectured her students on honor and propriety, which made the events of March 10, 1980, that much harder to grasp. On that night, in Purchase, N.Y., the 56-year-old Harris shot and killed her longtime lover, Herman Tarnower, a millionaire cardiologist who was famous as the creator of the Scarsdale Diet.

For the next year, the nation was transfixed as Harris took the stand at her trial and spoke of her self-loathing, jealousy and rage. Overtones of feminism, male entitlement and revenge enlivened the trial, which left some viewing Harris with sympathy, others with contempt.

In the end, Harris was convicted of second-degree murder and spent almost 12 years in prison before her sentence was commuted when she was 69. She was the subject of books and movies, wrote two books in prison and remained a source of fascination until her death Dec. 23 at an assisted living facility in New Haven, Conn. She was 89.

Co-founder of Pew Education Fund, dies at 89

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — Robert C. Pew II had many loves in his life — sailing, tennis, skiing, playing bridge — but none of them meant more to him than his family.

“We did so many things together and took vacations,” said his son, John Pew. “He was a great father and a man with great integrity.”

The elder Pew, co-founder of the Robert and Mary Pew Public Education Fund, died Dec. 22 at Hospice of Palm Beach County’s facility at Jupiter Medical Center, 10 days after suffering a massive stroke. He was 89.

Pew, who lived in North Palm Beach, died in the company of his sons, John and Rob, his daughter, Kate Wolters and his good friend and partner, Patty Stichnoth. His wife, Mary, to whom Pew was married for 60 years, died of lung cancer in 2007, also on Dec. 22.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Pew graduated from Wesleyan University and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II and the Korean Conflict. He got a job at Steelcase, an office furniture company, in 1952 as a manufacturing expediter. He wound up leading the company for 33 years.

Pew became president and general manager in 1966 and was chairman of the firm’s Board of Directors from 1974 to 1999. In March 1999, Pew was named Chairman Emeritus. Under his leadership, Steelcase became the world’s largest producers and distributors of office furniture and furnishings.

But Pew was just as passionate about public education, which is why he and his wife started the Pew Education Fund in 1999. In 13 years, the foundation has awarded $22 million in grants to public schools.

“He thought all kids deserved a fair shake at life and deserved the same opportunities that kids from wealthier schools got all the time,” said Stephanie Pew, his daughter-in-law. “He was dedicated to public education.”

Besides his three children, Pew is also survived by five grandchildren — all boys — and one great granddaughter.

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