He was born in Palo Alto to a family with roots in show business. As a child he started backyard plays, and in high school he wrote and starred in a production that featured a 20-foot rocket ship to the moon, which rose into the air amid flash powder effects as the whole Palo Alto High School football team manned ropes backstage.
While studying architecture at UCLA he accepted a job at 20th Century Fox studios creating miniatures for the 1937 Oscar-winning film "In Old Chicago." He was able to wed his sweetheart Kim, a marriage that lasted nearly 75 years.
During World War II he created elaborate camouflage arrays to protect defense plants in the Southland, and later he returned to Palo Alto to spend the rest of the war contributing to the design and construction of ships.
Living in post-war San Francisco, he and Kim formed a musical comedy troupe and, while performing in Portsmouth Square, were discovered by newly created KRON-TV. For seven years he was the official Santa Claus at KRON-TV. He introduced his character, Captain Z-Ro, as a weekly program on KRON, becoming a time traveler, visiting a variety of historical events, educating children and giving his wife the opportunity to play a number of female characters.
Captain Z-Ro performed 150 shows live with only two cameras. The 15-minute show was also broadcast in Los Angeles and in 1954 was picked up for national syndication and expanded to a 30-minute format. Captain Z-Ro was an early adopter of many of the concepts that have become standard in science fiction: time travel, materialization and language translators.
He and his wife moved to Los Angeles to pursue show-business opportunities and raise their children. Working as an architect for Walter Becket, he contributed to the design of Century City and continued his career at Universal Studios as a set designer and art director for numerous film and television projects.
He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Kim; sister, Verona Bloomquist; daughters, Kita Feldman (Seth) and Kristina Hatfield; grandchildren, Tait and Holly Hatfield, Sarah Pyle and Daniel, Rachel Feldman, Becky, Hannah and Zoe Feldman.
Dorothy (Dot) Connelly, 83, died Aug. 8, surrounded by her family. After her second bout with lung cancer, she followed her husband of 52 years, Bob, in death.
She was passionate about her family and her Catholic faith.
She grew up in New York and graduated from the University of New Mexico with three degrees. She followed her love of adventure by joining Pan Am as a stewardess during the 1950s. She lived in post-war London, and traveled all over the world. She had a special love for Hong Kong, Beirut and Austria.
She moved to San Francisco, where she met Bob. They married at Carmel Mission and raised their family in Atherton. They spent time with a circle of friends from their community, Sharon Heights Country Club and the parish of The Church of the Nativity.
She is survived by her children, Sue, Kelly, Rob and Carolyn (Regan); son-in-law, Rob; and grandchildren, Kelly, Kristen, Caitlin, Heather, Joe, Lauren, Erin, Kevin and Brendan Regan.
Any gifts may be given to Nativity School Endowment Fund: www.nativityschool.com.
Nancie Smith died on Aug. 6 at the Los Altos Sub Acute and Rehab Center in Los Altos. She was 79.
Nancie Smith was born in Hardin, Mo., on Dec. 19, 1932. She came to the San Francisco Bay Area as a child and lived here for the rest of her life. Preceded in death by her parents, Nancie is survived by her sisters, Connie Vigil and Corrine Salgado of Stockton, Calif., Mary West of Modesto, Calif., and brothers Simon Basques of Milbrae and Tony Zapata of Quinlan, Texas.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Ralph Basques, and her sister, Triny Seifert of Gilroy, Calif. Nancie is also survived by seven of her 10 children: Ray Basques of Santa Clara, Vera Stange of San Mateo, Steve Ledesma of Jacksonville, Fla., Ophelia Skiver of Los Altos, James Ledesma of Red Bluff, Calif., Gloria Barker of Genesee, Ida., and Sylvia Kappelmann of Menlo Park. She was preceded in death by her sons Robert Paul and Jerome Luis, and her daughter Nancy Rachael.
Nancie is survived by 18 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. She will be remembered by her numerous nieces and nephews and their children as well.
She enjoyed reading, puzzles, was an avid viewer of All My Children, loved Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken, The Grateful Dead and coffee.
She participated in an art class at the Alzheimer's Center in San Jose and enjoyed the craft and music programs there.
She fought Alzheimer's disease first at home with her long-time home-health aide, Marshella Collins, and with her granddaughter Rachel Kappelmann Jonas and her grandson Nolan Skiver, and then the skilled nursing staff at the rehab center.
This story contains 831 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.