Sad news: Malachy McCourt, the bon vivant actor brother of “Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt, issued a dire statement yesterday. Frank is “gravely ill,” suffering from meningitis complications after having skin cancer. He is not expected to make it.

Frank McCourt, I was surprised to learn, is 78 years old. The former school teacher has always seemed youthful and vibrant. So this news is heartbreaking, indeed. Frank and his wonderful wife, Ellen, have been pals for a long time, regulars on the New York literary and film circuit. It’s always been a joy to hang out with them.

So please, send an extra prayer to the McCourts. “Ashes” remains one of the great memoirs of all time, and Frank’s other writing, including his books, “Tis,” and “Teacher Man,” leave indelible impressions of a life well lived. We’re thinking of you, Frank!

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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