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PASSINGS: Jay Leggett, Jerry Seeman, Bill Foulkes, Georges Lautner

Jay Leggett, comic actor, dies at 50; Jerry Seeman, ex-NFL officials supervisor, dies at 77; Bill Foulkes, ex-Manchester United defender, dies at 81; Georges Lautner, French film director, dies at 87.

November 25, 2013
  • Jay Leggett, right, co-wrote the 2004 movie comedy "Without A Paddle." Actor and writer Mitch Rouse, left, was his frequent collaborator.
Jay Leggett, right, co-wrote the 2004 movie comedy "Without A Paddle."… (Mel Melcon, Los Angeles…)

Jay Leggett, 50, a comic actor and screenwriter who performed in television, movies and improvisational clubs, died Saturday in Lincoln County, Wis., after hunting on the opening weekend of the state's nine-day firearms deer season, authorities said. Leggett was a Wisconsin native who lived in Los Angeles.

Emergency crews were called Saturday afternoon to a cabin near Tomahawk, Wis., where Leggett had returned from a deer stand on an ATV just before collapsing. Family members and paramedics performed CPR without success.

A one-time mainstay in Chicago's improv comedy clubs with the Blue Velveeta and Improv Olympic ensembles, Leggett was a regular cast member of the TV comedy "In Living Color" in the 1993-94 season. He had guest roles in other series including "Ally McBeal," "NYPD Blue," "Star Trek: Voyager" and "The Drew Carey Show."

Leggett also co-wrote, produced and acted in the 2004 independent film "Employee of the Month" starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and he co-wrote the 2004 movie comedy "Without a Paddle." Actor and writer Mitch Rouse was his frequent collaborator.

The son of a paper-mill worker, Jay Michael Leggett was born Aug. 9, 1963, in Tomahawk and studied theater at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, graduating in 1986. Despite moving to California once his career took off, he maintained ties to his home state.

He produced and directed a 2010 feature-length documentary, "To the Hunt," about the Wisconsin deer hunting culture as told through scenes at several remote hunting shacks.

"It's not for everyone," Leggett told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2010. "You either connect to the social outdoors mentality, or you don't. If you do, it's something you start when you're 12. It's when adults start treating you like one of the men. It might seem unusual to the outside world, but it's an important point in a young person's life, like getting a driver's license or being married. I liken it to a North Woods bar mitzvah."

Jerry Seeman

Ex-NFL officials supervisor

Jerry Seeman, 77, a former NFL supervisor of officials who is credited with improving and modernizing the league's officiating crews, died Sunday night at his home in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine, Minn., after a long bout with cancer. League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed his death.

Seeman was an NFL game official from 1975 to 1990, including 12 years as a lead referee and two appearances as the Super Bowl's chief referee. He moved to the league office in 1991 and served 10 seasons as the head supervisor of officials.

The detail-oriented Seeman was credited with introducing a program for sending officiating crews to training camps to work practices and scrimmages and meet with players and coaches. That program was designed to improve communication and understanding between the two sides. He also helped facilitate regular offseason meetings among officials and coaches, enhance the use of video technology and expand the grading system for game officials, according to the NFL.

"If I were to do a 10-chapter book on refereeing," Seeman told The Times in 1990, "the first nine chapters would be on preparation — on rules study, mechanics, communication and the like.

"The 10th and shortest chapter would be headed, how to referee a football game. If you're fully prepared, refereeing takes care of itself."

Seeman was born in 1936 in Winona, Minn., and attended Winona State University. He became a high school mathematics teacher and official who worked his way up from calling high school to small college and Big Ten games before reaching the NFL.

The youngest of Seeman's three sons, Jeff, is an NFL line judge who worked the Denver-New England game Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass. He has been a game official in the league for 12 years.

Bill Foulkes

Won 4 titles as a Manchester United defender

Bill Foulkes, 81, a Manchester United defender who survived the 1958 air crash that killed eight players and had a key role in the storied soccer team's recovery, died Monday. His death was announced by United, which gave no other details.

Foulkes won titles four times in the top tier of English soccer and helped the club capture the European Cup for the first time.

"He was as hard as nails, as tough as teak — I was always glad I didn't have to play against him," said Bobby Charlton, a former United teammate who also survived the crash. "He was a really, really good defensive player and you could say he helped change the course of history for United."

Foulkes still worked five days a week in a coal mine initially after joining United in 1950. He made his first-team debut in 1952 and went on to make 688 appearances.

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