DEATHS: Victor Borge, 91

Comedian and pianist Victor Borge died in his sleep from heart failure, Reuters reports. He was 91.

Borge had recently returned to his Greenwich, Conn., home from a concert in Copenhagen when he went to sleep Saturday evening and never woke up. He would have turned 92 on Jan. 3.

Borge made a career of falling off his piano, missing keys with his hands and getting tangled up in his sheet music.

“Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing,” Borge told Reuters after his Copenhagen concert. “That’s why I’ve never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy or a link with people, what better way is there?”

BILLY BARTY, 76: “Little actor” Billy Barty, whose career spanned more than 70 years, died Saturday of heart failure, The Associated Press reports. He was 76.

Before his death, Barty had been hospitalized in Glendale, Calif., for heart problems and a lung infection.

Barty‘s career began at age 3 when he appeared in his first Hollywood feature in 1927. He later went on to perform for radio, TV and Broadway. His film credits include “Day of the Locust” (1975), “Foul Play” (1978), “Under the Rainbow” (1981) and “Willow” (1988).

He also had his own children’s TV show “Billy Barty’s Big Show” and most recently made an appearance on NBC’s “Frasier.”

PAULINE CURLEY, 97: Silent-screen actress Pauline Curley, who appeared in more than 40 films, has died of pneumonia, AP reports. She was 97.

Curley, who died Dec. 16 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., starred opposite Douglas Fairbanks in “Bound in Morocco” (1918). She also appeared in a number of silent Westerns in the 1910s and ’20s. She’s best known for her role as Princess Irena in 1917’s “The Fall of the Romanoffs.”

RUDI GASSNER, 58: Newly appointed CEO of BMG Entertainment Rudi Gassner died Saturday of an apparent heart attack, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 58.

Gassner, who was appointed to the post a month ago, was on vacation at a ski resort in Samerberg, Germany, when he died.

Gassner’s death leaves in question who will run the word’s largest music group, which is home to Arista, RCA and Ariola record labels and artists such as Santana, Christina Aguilera, Puff Daddy, Whitney Houston and the Dave Matthews Band.

Out of respect to Gassner’s family, company execs said that they will hold off on announcing his successor until the new year.