PASSINGS: William Coblentz, Bent Larsen, Carlton Coleman, Juan Mari Bras, Hadley Caliman
William Coblentz

Former University of California regent

William Coblentz, 88, an attorney and former University of California regent who fought against South Africa's apartheid policies and upheld the right of communist philosopher Angela Davis to teach at UCLA, died Monday at his San Francisco home. The cause was not given.

Coblentz worked for then-California Atty. Gen. Pat Brown in the 1950s. When Brown became governor, Coblentz became his special counsel. The governor appointed him to the UC Board of Regents in 1964 and Coblentz served until 1980, the last two years as chairman.

During his time as a regent, he was part of a bloc that pushed the university system to consider social responsibilities in addition to conventional corporate investment strategies, leading to an effort to divest from South Africa while it was controlled by an apartheid government.

Coblentz, an expert in land use and real estate development, and his partners at the law firm now known as Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass were involved in major civic projects, including Levi Plaza, Mission Bay, Pac Bell Park and Yerba Buena Gardens.

William Kraemer Coblentz was born July 28, 1922, in San Francisco. He earned his bachelor's degree at UC Berkeley in 1943 and his law degree at Yale in 1947.

Bent Larsen

Six-time Danish chess champion

Bent Larsen, 75, a Danish grandmaster who competed at the highest levels of chess against Soviet Boris Spassky and American Bobby Fischer in the 1960s and '70s, died Thursday after a short illness in Buenos Aires, where he lived, the Danish Chess Union announced. He reportedly had diabetes.

Larsen, a six-time Danish chess champion, was known for his fierce and free-flowing playing style that was best exhibited in tournament competition. He took part in the World Chess Championship in 1965, 1968, 1971 and 1977, according to the Danish Chess Union.

Larsen, who was born in Thisted, Denmark, on March 4, 1935, was well regarded for his daring play, unrelentingly optimistic attitude and fluency in multiple languages, Times chess writer Jack Peters wrote in 2001.

"He resurrected discarded openings, won an amazingly high percentage of games as Black and together with U.S. champion Bobby Fischer, demonstrated that a creative individual could outshine the best products of the Soviet school of chess," Peters added.

Carlton Coleman

Singer on 1959 hit 'Mashed Potatoes'

Carlton "King" Coleman, 78, a pioneer in American rhythm and blues who was known for providing the lead vocals on the 1959 hit "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes," died of heart failure Saturday at a Miami hospice, his son said.

"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" was recorded with James Brown's band. According to a 2003 Miami New Times article, Brown had initially planned to do the vocals himself, but a dispute with his record label made that impossible.

To avoid any lawsuits from Brown's label, a Miami producer had Coleman sing on the mostly instrumental track, while the group officially credited with the song was "Nat Kendrick and the Swans," named for Brown's drummer.

Besides working with Brown, Coleman also released numerous singles of his own during his singing career, including "Mashed Potato Man" and "The Boo Boo Song."