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PASSINGS: Wilbur 'Moose' Thompson, Bob Grant, Joseph Ruskin

Wilbur 'Moose' Thompson, 92, USC athlete won gold medal at 1948 Olympics; Bob Grant, 84, conservative radio host fired for remarks about black official; Joseph Ruskin, 89, versatile actor in TV, film

January 02, 2014
  • Wilbur "Moose" Thompson, center, and fellow U.S. athletes Francis "Jim" Delaney, left, and James Fuchs swept the awards for the shot put event at the 1948 Olympics in London. Thompson won gold, Fuchs silver and Delaney bronze.
Wilbur "Moose" Thompson, center, and fellow U.S. athletes… (Associated Press )

Wilbur 'Moose' Thompson

USC athlete won gold medal

in shot put at 1948 Olympics

Wilbur "Moose" Thompson, 92, a USC athlete who won the shot put gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics, died Christmas Day, the university announced. No cause of death was given, but Thompson, a longtime Long Beach-area resident, had a heart ailment in recent years.

At the London Games, Thompson won the shot put with a career-best mark of 56 feet, 2 inches, breaking the Olympic record by more than 3 feet. The U.S. swept the shot put, with Francis "Jim" Delaney taking the silver and James Fuchs winning the bronze.

Born April 6, 1921, in Frankfort, S.D., Thompson was an infant when his family moved to Modesto. He was given the nickname "Moose" when he grew to 6 feet and 200 pounds as a sophomore at Modesto High School. He won the state high school shot put title in the late 1930s.

After winning national shot put titles in 1939 and 1940 while attending Modesto Junior College, Thompson enrolled at USC. He was a member of the school's 1942 NCAA championship track and field team, but left school to serve stateside in the Army during World War II.

When he returned to USC, he was named co-captain of the track and field team and placed second in the NCAA shot put finals. After the Olympics, he completed his master's degree in petroleum engineering at USC.

Thompson worked in the oil business and was later with the California State Lands Commission.

Bob Grant

Conservative radio host fired

for remarks about black official

Bob Grant, 84, a longtime conservative radio host known for his combative style, died Tuesday in Hillsborough, N.J., after a short illness. His death was confirmed by New York radio station WABC, which once fired him over his acid-tongued remarks about the plane crash death of one of President Clinton's Cabinet members, the first black Commerce secretary.

"Remember this: If you are offended during the next two hours, it's nobody's fault but mine," Grant said at the top of a broadcast featured in a 2010 tribute. "Because somebody's got to say these things. It has to be me."

Grant was born Robert Ciro Gigante in Chicago in 1929. He began his broadcasting career in the 1940s at WBBM in Chicago. He moved on to radio jobs in Los Angeles at KNX and KLAC and was named afternoon drive time host at WABC in 1984.

Over the years, Grant, who was white, offended some listeners by referring to former New York Mayor David Dinkins, who is black, as a "washroom attendant," calling Clinton a "sleazebag" and suggesting women on welfare should be sterilized.

WABC mostly defended Grant's 1st Amendment right to voice his opinions. But he apparently crossed the line in 1996 amid early reports that there was only one survivor of the crash of a plane carrying U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown in Croatia.

"My hunch is that [Brown] is the one survivor," he said. "I must have a hunch. Maybe, 'cause at heart, I'm a pessimist."

Two weeks later, Grant was taken off the air. He moved to WOR in New York before returning to WABC in 2006.

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Joseph Ruskin, a versatile actor who garnered more than 100 television credits, including "Mission: Impossible" and "Star Trek" and appeared in "The Magnificent Seven," "Prizzi's Honor" and other films, died Saturday of natural causes at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, according to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Ruskin, 89, made his last performance on stage last year in the Antaeus Theatre Company's production of "The Crucible" in North Hollywood.

Times staff and wire reports

news.obits@latimes.com

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