Obituaries

Dr. Richard Grossman, burn treatment pioneer was 81

Grossmans-with-sign.jpgWhen Dr. A. Richard Grossman started working at Sherman Oaks Hospital in the late 1960s, according to the LA Times, he persuaded administrators to set aside two beds for burn patients. The unit kept growing and the techniques refined, and the Sherman Oaks Burn Center became widely known as the place you wanted to be if, God forbid, you found yourself with serious burns. In 1995, the facility was re-named the Grossman Burn Center. The main burn center is now located at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center, with branches in several cities. Grossman died Thursday at home in Thousand Oaks, of unknown causes. He was 81.

From the Times obit:

"Dr. G" — as patients and colleagues called him — traced his fierce dedication to burn victims to a 1958 fire that trapped students inside a parochial school in Chicago. He was an emergency room doctor at the city's Cook County Hospital.


"I had to count 98 children, all suffocated or burned to death. The catastrophe indelibly stayed in my mind," Grossman said in a 1992 Times interview.

At the time of the Chicago tragedy, not much could be done for victims of severe burns. As new techniques were developed, Grossman stayed abreast of advances. The work wasn't "pretty," Grossman often said, but it was "addictive."

When he struggled to explain the appeal of the specialty to a Times reporter in 1985, he simply said: "You develop a skill and you want to use it."

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"Grossman approaches his work as his destiny, and the feeling is contagious," the burn center's Dr. Matt Young once said. "The reason we love our work and love Dr. G is because it is rare in life to do something that you feel is your destiny."

One of Grossman's most high profile patents was comedian Richard Pryor, after he ignited his face during a 1980 drug binge at his home in Northridge. The Grossman Burn Foundation helps pay for the care of patients who can't afford it.

Also Saturday: A couple of noteworthy behind-the-scenes Hollywood obituaries deserve mention. The links are to the LA Times stories. Hal Douglas was a voice artist who did voice on so many movies, TV shows, commercials and trailers that he had lost count. He died March 7 at age 89. And Abby Singer was a veteran production manager whose name is the reason that the second-to-last shot of the day on Hollywood sets is referred to as the Abby or the Abby Singer:

The Harlem-born Abner E. Singer was a longtime production manager and assistant director who worked primarily in television from the 1950s through the '90s. He became famous for his efficient habit of preparing a crew for an impending move to the next scene by calling out the second-to-last shot....

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"Working in TV, we made many moves per day — from the back lot to the stage, or from one stage to another," Singer said. "I'd say to the guys, 'One more shot and then we're moving,' so when we moved, they were all prepared. The time saved could add up to a full hour of shooting for the director."

Singer died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 96 and had cancer. The Directors Guild of America in 1985 honored Singer with the Frank Capra Achievement Award.

Photo: Grossman, left, and his son Dr. Peter Grossman.


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