Obits in Brief

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The Independent Online

Des Newton

Des Newton, who died on 30 January at the age of 67, was one of the world's leading ship bottlers, as well as making model ships for the Royal Family.

Newton kept a ship bottling and model workshop at the Merseyside Maritime Museum for 20 years. Born in Barrow-in-Furness, he became a welder working on submarines in the Vickers shipyard, and later worked as a railway-carriage builder and a nightclub entertainer. The latter served him well during his years at the Maritime Museum, where he knew well how to put on a show.

Among his achievements was recognising the world's oldest known example of a ship in a bottle, dating from before 1740, while the model he made of the Royal Yacht was kept by the Queen when the yacht was retired. He also made models of royal yachts for Prince Charles and Princess Margaret.

Howard Zieff

Having established a reputation as one of New York's leading advertising photographers, Howard Zieff, who died on 22 February aged 81, forged a second career as a film director, best known for Private Benjamin.

Born in Chicago, Zieff studied art for a year before joining the navy, learning photography at the Naval Photography School in Florida. He then became a commercial photographer, noted for his work on campaigns like "Mamma Mia, that's a spicy meatball!" for Alka-Seltzer.

Making more than 200 television commercials led on to feature films, and Zieff – one of the first directors to have made that particular leap – carved out a reputation for smart, fast-paced comedies. His biggest hit was Private Benjamin (1980), about a privileged young woman who inadvertently joins the army.

Among his subsequent films were My Girl (1991) and My Girl 2 (1994); it was after the latter that Zieff retired, beginning to feel the increasingly debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.