- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Ray DeForest, a nationally renowned artist and professor who was a founding member of what was described as the “California funk” art movement, died May 18 at a San Francisco Bay Area hospital after a brief illness. He was 77.

Mr. DeForest, whose work was exhibited throughout the United States, disliked the “California funk” term coined by Washington Post art critic Sidney Lawrence, who described it as a Northern California style in which “counterculture thinking fused with an anything-goes, anti-art attitude.”

Mr. DeForest was born to a farmworker family in Nebraska during the Great Depression and grew up in Nebraska, Colorado and Washington state. He studied art at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco before joining the University of California at Davis art faculty as a lecturer in 1965. He became a full professor in 1974 and retired in 1992.

During his early tenure, he became part of a faculty that included Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and William Wiley, who helped the university develop a national reputation in fine arts. Primarily a canvas painter, he created whimsical scenes in vivid colors that often included fantastical creatures and dogs inspired by his cattle dogs.

Ben Weisman, 85, songwriter

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ben Weisman, a classically trained pianist who helped write nearly 60 songs for Elvis Presley, including many for his movies, died May 20 of complications of a stroke and pneumonia at a long-term care hospital in Los Angeles, a relative said. He was 85.

Mr. Weisman, whom Mr. Presley dubbed “the mad professor,” wrote or co-wrote a string of gold- and platinum-selling songs for him, including “Follow That Dream” and “Fame and Fortune.” His songs include “Wooden Heart” for the movie “G.I. Blues,” “Rock-a-Hula Baby” for “Blue Hawaii” and “Crawfish” for “King Creole.”

He also wrote for other pop stars, including Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Vee and the Beatles.

Born in Providence, R.I., Mr. Weisman was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y.

He studied classical piano as a teenager and at the Juilliard School of Music. He began writing for Mr. Presley in 1956 at the request of his music publisher, Jean Aberbach.

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