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PASSINGS: Lee Thompson Young, Amy Wallace, Cedar Walton

Lee Thompson Young, 'Famous Jett Jackson' star, dies at 29; Amy Wallace, writer on 'Book of Lists,' dies at 58; Cedar Walton, jazz pianist and composer, dies at 79.

August 19, 2013
  • Lee Thompson Young in a scene from the TNT series "Rizzoli & Isles." Los Angeles police say his death is being investigated as a suicide.
Lee Thompson Young in a scene from the TNT series "Rizzoli & Isles."… (Doug Hyun, Associated Press )

Lee Thompson Young

Star of '90s 'Famous Jett Jackson' series

Lee Thompson Young, 29, an actor best known for playing the lead role in the 1990s Disney Channel series "The Famous Jett Jackson," was found dead Monday morning at his home in North Hollywood, Los Angeles police said.

A law enforcement source told The Times the death was being investigated as a possible suicide.

"It is with great sadness that I announce that Lee Thompson Young tragically took his own life this morning," Young's manager, Jonathan Baruch, said in a statement issued to the website Deadline. "Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed."

Young had most recently been starring in TNT's popular police drama "Rizzoli & Isles." As Det. Barry Frost, Young played the affable partner to Jane Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon.

Born Feb. 1, 1984, in Columbia, S.C., Young developed an affinity for acting at age 10. He rose to fame in 1998 when he starred in "The Famous Jett Jackson." On the program, which ran for three years, the actor played a teenage celebrity trying to live a normal life as a high school student.

Young went on to attend USC, where he was a recognizable presence on campus, often dressing in all-white ensembles. He attended the School of Cinematic Arts on a full academic scholarship and graduated magna cum laude in 2005.

After graduation, he booked guest-starring roles on various television programs. His next big break came in 2010, when he was cast in "Rizzoli & Isles."

His movie appearances included "Friday Night Lights" (2004) and "Akeelah and the Bee" (2006).

Amy Wallace

Writer worked on family's books of lists

Amy Wallace, 58, a writer who collaborated with her family on the popular "Book of Lists" series and also published her own works of fiction and nonfiction, died Aug. 10 at her home in Los Angeles, said her brother, David Wallechinsky. He said she had a heart condition. Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, said a determination on the cause of death is pending toxicology and other tests.

After her father, bestselling novelist Irving Wallace, and her brother teamed to write "The People's Almanac" in 1975, they invited her to help write and edit "The Book of Lists," released in 1977. Feeding an appetite for trivia and factoids in the '70s and '80s, the prolific Wallaces published several more follow-up nonfiction books. Titles included "The Book of Lists, No. 2" (1980), "The Book of Predictions" (1980) and "The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People" (1981). Amy's mother, Sylvia, also a writer, collaborated on some.

Amy Wallace's solo works include the novel "Desire" (1990), "The Prodigy: A Biography of William Sidis" (1986) and "Sorcerer's Apprentice" (2002), a memoir of her relationship with countercultural anthropologist Carlos Castaneda.

She was born in Los Angeles on July 3, 1955. Her father wrote mainly fiction, and her mother was an editor for the Hollywood fan magazine Photoplay.

Cedar Walton

Jazz pianist and composer

Cedar Walton, 79, an acclaimed jazz pianist who played in a hard bop style and composed the modern classics "Bolivia," "Mosaic" and "Ugetsu," died Monday at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., of an unspecified illness, said his manager, Jean-Pierre Leduc.

The pianist had been performing in France as recently as a few weeks ago, Leduc said.

Walton came into his own as a pianist in New York in the late 1950s, playing first with trombonist J.J. Johnson and trumpeters Art Farmer and Kenny Dorham. It was while playing with drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, from 1961 to '64, that Walton began to raise his profile as a musician and composer. He also collaborated with vocalist Abbey Lincoln and trumpeter Lee Morgan in the 1960s. Starting in the 1970s, Walton led his Eastern Rebellion, a widely admired ensemble that endured for more than two decades.

Critics noted his subtle and understated touch on the keys and the complexity of his harmonic language.

"Walton, always a superb accompanist, with a dynamic sense of rhythm, has never been widely acknowledged for the extraordinary compositional qualities of his improvisations," jazz critic Don Heckman wrote in a 2004 review of a Walton appearance at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Los Angeles. "His soloing in the more pensive numbers ... was filled with subtle interior movement, richly layered chording and a masterful contrasting of sounds and silences."

Cedar Anthony Walton Jr. was born Jan. 17, 1934, in Dallas to jazz-loving parents. His mother, a schoolteacher, taught him to play piano; his father ran a tavern and invited traveling jazz musicians into their home. Walton attended the University of Denver, served in the Army in the mid-1950s, then settled in New York.

A former Los Angeles resident, Walton received the country's highest jazz honor — a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship — in 2010.

Times staff reports

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