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!

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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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