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By United Press International   |   Dec. 17, 2011 at 4:00 AM

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The latest news on today's hottest celebrities ...

JOE SIMON: Joe Simon, co-creator of the superhero Captain America, died in New York after a brief illness, his family said. He was 98.

"Joe Simon and [his collaborator] Jack Kirby were the first superstar creators of comics," Mark Evanier, author of the 2008 Kirby biography "Kirby, King of Comics," told the Los Angeles Times Thursday.

"Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were hailed because of Superman, but Simon and Kirby were hailed because of Simon and Kirby. They didn't just have one or two great ideas. They were the go-to guys for the next thing in comics."

Simon and Kirby, who died in 1994, worked together on the comic books the Newsboy Legion, the Fighting American, Blue Bolt, the Boy Commandos, Sandman and the Challengers of the Unknown, but are most famous for their work on Captain America, the Times said.

"I was 24 when I first started creating Captain America," Simon told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2005. "It's been a guardian angel hanging over me my whole life. Everywhere I went -- in the service or wherever -- I wasn't Joe Simon; I was Captain America. It was like a cloud hanging over me, but a good cloud. I loved it."

The Rochester, N.Y., native also founded and edited the satirical Sick magazine, which was published from 1960 to 1980.

Simon is survived by two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren, the Times said.


ETTA JAMES: Etta James' physician said the U.S. recording star is suffering from incurable leukemia and has asked the singer's fans to pray for her.

Best known for her song "At Last," James, 73, has been battling leukemia -- a bone and marrow cancer -- as well as dementia and kidney failure for several years. She is barely able to communicate now, E! News said.

"I am Southern and Christian and would just ask for the prayers of her fans and friends," Dr. Elaine James said Thursday outside a courtroom where a hearing was being conducted into who should oversee the singer's asset, the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported. "They know she's been sick, but not how sick."

Dr. Elaine James -- no relation to the singer -- has worked as a live-in healthcare provider at Etta James' home since March 2010, the newspaper said.

Etta James' son, Donto James, is in court seeking to have a conservators, rather than the singer's husband, Artis Mills, manage her assets.

Elaine James' salary -- first reported as $20,000 per month and recently bumped up to $30,000 -- was an issue in previous court hearings this year, the Press-Enterprise said.


ALYSON HANNIGAN: Alyson Hannigan's publicist told People.com Friday the U.S. television actress is pregnant with her second child.

The baby's gender and anticipated birth date were not reported.

Hannigan, 37, is best known for her work on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "How I Met Your Mother."

She has been married to actor Alexis Denisof since 2003. They are the parents of a 2 1/2-year-old daughter.


AMY WINEHOUSE: The "VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul" show will feature a special tribute to the late British soul singer Amy Winehouse, the cable network said.

Winehouse died of accidental alcohol poisoning during the summer. She was 27.

"The tribute will reflect Winehouse's contribution to modern, London soul music," VH1 said in a news release Thursday. "Some highlights of the tribute will include Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings performing "You Know I'm No Good," and Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine) and Wanda Jackson will perform her song 'Back to Black.' The Dap-Kings contributed a number of tracks for Winehouse's Grammy Award-winning album 'Back to Black.' In addition, Nas, who collaborated with Winehouse on the first single of her current posthumous album, will introduce the tribute medley."

Previously announced performers are Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius, Travie McCoy, Anita Baker, Mavis Staples and Ledisi.

Previously announced presenters include Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Nas, Common and La La Anthony. In addition, Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vandellas has signed on as a performer, and Archie Panjabi and Sherri Shepherd are set to be presenters, VH1 said.

The show is to premiere Monday night.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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