A look back at the esteemed personalities who left us this year, who’d touched us with their innovation, creativity and humanity.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A Methodist, actor William Christopher (October 20, 1932-December 31, 2016) was best known for playing the kindly and gentle Catholic priest Father Francis Mulcahy, maneuvering amid the secular goings-on of his fellow service members near the Korean War front, on the TV series “MASH.” After the show ended in 1983, he appeared in the spinoff series, “After MASH.” He also played Fr. Tobias on “Days of Our Lives” in 2012.
Fellow “MASH” castmember Loretta Swit called Christopher’s Father Mulcahy “the most perfect casting ever known.”
With his wife Barbara, Christopher wrote the 1985 book “Mixed Blessings,” about the joys and challenges of having a child with autism, and was well-known for his work with the autism community.
Debbie Reynolds (April 1, 1932-December 28, 2016) was a show-biz triple threat - an actress, singer and dancer who vaulted into Hollywood fame after being picked by Gene Kelly at age 19 to star in his classic, “Singin’ in the Rain” (pictured). She starred in dozens of films in the 1950s and ‘60s, including “The Tender Trap” and “Tammy and the Bachelor”; had her own sitcom, “The Debbie Reynolds Show”; and became a bright light on the Vegas Strip.
Her personal life also dominated headlines; her highly-publicized breakup in 1958 with husband Eddie Fisher (who left her for her friend Elizabeth Taylor) was the Pitt-Aniston-Jolie scandal of its day. Reynolds eventually forgave Taylor and wrote in her memoir, “In the long run, Elizabeth did me a favor.”
Two later marriages, which both ended in divorce, left Reynolds financially ruined. She was forced to auction off her vast collection of Hollywood memorabilia, which she’d started amassing when the studios began dumping their costume and prop departments. And she continued acting through the 2000s, including a recurring role on “Will and Grace” and the HBO film “Beyond the Candelabra.”
Reynolds’ daughter, actress and writer Carrie Fisher, frequently wrote about their lives (including the semi-autobiographical “Postcards From the Edge”), and acknowledged that her mother taught her how to “sur-thrive.”
The oldest child of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher (“a product of Hollywood inbreeding,” she once wrote), actress Carrie Fisher (October 21, 1956-December 27, 2016) made her film debut as a precocious teen opposite Warren Beatty in 1975’s “Shampoo.” But it was her role two years later in “Star Wars,” as the beautiful but fiery Princess Leia Organa (a rebel who would never bend to Imperial stormtroopers but would to a scruffy-looking scoundrel) that would cement her star status.
No other Hollywood role (including in “The Blues Brothers,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” or “When Harry Met Sally”) would equal the rebel leader, appearing in four of the saga’s episodes, most recently in 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” But Fisher also shone brightly as a memoirist and screenwriter, for the films “Postcards From the Edge” (based on her novel) and the documentary “Wishful Drinking” (which earned her one of two Emmy noms). She became a top script doctor, and recently published her sixth book, “The Princess Diarist,” about her years-long alcoholism and drug abuse, while becoming a forceful speaker to her struggles with mental illness.
Of her Princess Leia character, her low-point was in “Return of the Jedi,” when, as captive of the notorious gangster Jabba the Hutt, Fisher was required to wear a super-revealing gold bikini. “Nearly naked, which is not a style choice for me,” she told NPR earlier this year. “What redeems it is I get to kill him, which was so enjoyable.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Grammy-winning singer George Michael (June 25, 1963-December 25, 2016) rose to fame as part of the duo Wham!, with such hits as “Young Guns,” “Careless Whisper,” “Freedom,” “Make It Big,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Where Did Your Heart Go.” Michael would sell 100 million albums throughout his four-decade career, including his debut solo album, “Faith,” and the singles “I Want Your Sex,” “Jesus to a Child,” and “Fastlove.”
His 1987 duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting,” was one of many noted collaborations, including “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (with Elton John), “Somebody to Love” (with Queen), “As” (with Mary J. Blige), “If I Told You That” (with Whitney Houston), and “This Is Not Real Love” (with Mutya Buena).
A near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 2011 affected Michael with “foreign accent syndrome,” speaking with a West Country accent when he awoke from a coma. “The doctors were worried that I had this condition where some people wake up speaking French or some language they learned at school,” Michael told London’s LBC radio. “There’s nothing wrong with a West Country accent, but it’s a bit weird when you’re from north London.”
Vera Rubin (July 23, 1928-December 25, 2016) developed her interest in astronomy as a young girl; her father helped her build a telescope and took her to meetings of amateur astronomers. She was the only astronomy major to graduate from Vassar College in 1948, only to learn - when she applied to graduate school at Princeton - that women were not allowed in that university’s graduate astronomy program. She would eventually earn her doctorate from Georgetown, on whose faculty she later worked before joining the Carnegie Institution, a nonprofit scientific research center in Washington.
During her career, Rubin examined more than 200 galaxies, and observed that galaxies don’t quite rotate the way they were predicted. That lent support to the theory that some other force - “dark matter” - was at work. It was but one of her breakthrough discoveries.
In her 1997 book, “Bright Galaxies, Dark Matters,” Rubin wrote, “No one promised that we would live in the era that would unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. The edge of the universe is far beyond our grasp. Like Columbus, perhaps like the Vikings, we have peered into a new world and have seen that it is more mysterious and more complex than we had imagined. Still more mysteries of the universe remain hidden. Their discovery awaits the adventurous scientists of the future. I like it this way.”
Zsa Zsa Gabor
A social butterfly before the era of social media, Hungarian-born actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor (February 6, 1917-December 18, 2016) was, with sisters Eva and Magda, one of a trio of Gabors who became stars after emigrating to the United States. Zsa Zsa appeared in such films as “Lili,” “Touch of Evil,” “The Girl in the Kremlin,” “Arrivederci, Baby!” “Queen of Outer Space,” and John Huston’s “Moulin Rouge.”
But she became even better known for glamour than for acting, and was a regular and sparkling presence on TV talk shows, bantering and joking about her lifestyle, including her nine marriages. And her celebrity led to even more film and TV appearances playing herself, including a memorable cameo in the 1991 film “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear,” parodying her real-life slap of a traffic cop.
Sports broadcaster Craig Sager (June 29, 1951-Dec. 15, 2016), famous for his flashy suits and probing questions, covered the Olympics, Major League Baseball playoffs, the NFL and NCAA Tournaments. But he was indelibly connected to the NBA, working basketball games for TNT for nearly a quarter-century,
Sager’s persistence was on display early in his career in 1974, when the then-22-year-old news director at WSPB (an AM radio station in Sarasota, Fla.) risked getting fired for deciding to hop a flight to Atlanta for a game with Hank Aaron a home run away from breaking Babe Ruth’s career record. As the historic homer sailed out of the park, Sager, without thinking, sprinted onto the field and wound up chasing Aaron down the third-base line.
Sager sported suits in every color of the rainbow and beyond, from teal to fuchsia to magenta. He would match plaid blazers with paisley ties or striped shirts - all in bold hues.
In a 2016 interview with HBO’s “Real Sports,” Sager recalled how San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reproached him for trying to stand out. Sager explained to him: “Coach, you don’t understand. If I’m not wearing bright colors and if I don’t feel lively, it’s not me.”
Canadian-born actor Alan Thicke (March 1, 1947-Dec. 13, 2016), who starred as iconic TV dad Dr. Jason Seaver in the series “Growing Pains” (1985-1992), had a prolific career, including a late-night talk show, “Thicke of the Night,” and guest appearances on “How I Met Your Mother” and “Fuller House.” He also produced the 1970s satire “Fernwood Tonight,” and appeared on Broadway in the musical “Chicago.”
In a 2015 interview with Canadian Business, Thicke explained his career - sit-com actor, talk show host, reality TV star, composer, author - had come from being prepared for any contingency, rather than simply waiting for the phone to ring. “I’ve always felt that you need to treat your career like a business -- at any given time, I would always have an idea or two to pitch,” he said.
“I got ‘Growing Pains’ exactly like that. My talk show had just been cancelled, and I went to meet with some executives at ABC to discuss ideas. They were interested, but they had this other show where they were looking for an actor to play the husband and dad. … Maybe you go in to talk about one thing, and you walk out with something else. The secret is being there and being open to opportunity.”
On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn (July 18, 1921-December 8, 2016) became the first American to orbit the Earth. A combat fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn was one of the seven original Mercury astronauts, and the last surviving member of the team that took America’s first steps off of Earth, at a time when the Soviet Union was making momentous advances into space.
Tom Wolfe, author of “The Right Stuff,” said of Glenn’s orbital flight, “He was our protector - he put us back in the game.”
A four-term U.S. Senator from Ohio, Glenn was also a onetime Democratic presidential candidate, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1998, Glenn - then 77 - returned to orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest person ever to fly in space.
“I think people need heroes,” Glenn told CBS News in 2012, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight aboard Friendship 7. “I don’t know whether I am one or not ... but if we can help encourage some of the young people of today in [their] education and technical matters also, it’s well worth the effort.”
Guitarist and singer Greg Lake (November 10, 1947-December 7, 2016) was a co-founder (with guitarist Robert Fripp) of King Crimson, the influential late ‘60s progressive rock band. After one album and one U.S. tour, King Crimson disbanded while appearing at San Francisco’s Filmore West. On the same bill was another British progressive rock band, The Nice, with keyboardist Keith Emerson. That band was also splitting up, and so was born Emerson, Lake and Palmer, one of the genre’s most successful groups.
“It’s very weird, but there you go - strange things happen sometimes.” Lake told Rolling Stone magazine in 2013. “Music and the music business is sort of very fortuitous. It’s very circumstantial.”
With Emerson (who died in March 2016) and drummer Carl Palmer, ELP released six platinum-selling albums characterized by songs of epic length, classical influence and ornate imagery, and toured with elaborate light shows and theatrical staging. With the rise in punk in the mid-to-late ’70s, progressive rock bands suffered a backlash. ELP broke up in 1979, reunited in 1991, disbanded again, and then reunited for a 2010 tour.
Palmer, the group’s sole survivor, said “Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music.”
Pictured: Lake photographed by Jean-Luc Ourlin at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, Feb. 3, 1978.
British actor Peter Vaughan (April 4, 1923-December 6, 2016) was familiar to American TV audiences as Maester Aemon (left), the blind mentor of Jon Snow, in “Game of Thrones.” But his film and TV resume, stretching more than seven decades, was filled with memorable characters of flinty authority and percolating menace.
In addition to classic British TV dramas and comedies such as “Oliver Twist,” “Porridge,” “Our Friends in the North,” and “Great Expectations,” his film roles included Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs,” “11 Harrowhouse,” “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” “The Remains of the Day,” and two Terry Gilliam films: “Brazil,” as the courtly head of Information Retrieval; and “Time Bandits” (right), as the horrifying Ogre, who hopes to impress Mrs. Ogre with his ogreing abilities.
Never one to pine about not being a lead, Vaughan enjoyed being a character actor who was never wanting for work: “They talk about actors resting,” he told the BBC last month. “The only time I have ever rested in my 77 years as an actor has been when I’ve wanted to. Lucky, lucky, lucky.”
For decades William Christenberry (Nov. 5, 1936-Nov. 28, 2016) taught painting and drawing at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. But his work centered on Alabama, where he was born and raised. An artist renowned for photographs of crumbling buildings and rusty cars that captured the decay of the rural South, Christenberry made annual summer visits to rural Hale County in west-central Alabama, to photograph country stores, churches and homes and document the ravages of time.
Christenberry, who trained as a painter, initially took photographs with a cheap Kodak Brownie camera to aid his paintings and sculptures. It was Walker Evans who encouraged him to view the photographs themselves as art. He later took pictures with a large-format camera - images that have been exhibited around the United States and in Europe.
“He viewed his art as a prism for understanding both the beauty and the nightmare of the American South,” William R. Ferris, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, told the Associated Press. “He is among the top, the very top photographers who worked in the South, and in his case it was a lifetime of work.”
Nearly 50 years ago, Jim Delligatti (August 2, 1918-Nov. 28, 2016), who owned a McDonald’s franchise in Uniontown, Pa., dreamed up a new burger: Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun. McDonald’s resisted changing its menu, but Delligatti argued that his customers wanted a bigger burger.
“I made the Big Mac with our regular small bun, but it was just too sloppy to move around,” Delligatti told CBS Station KDKA in 2002. “So I went out and got a double cut bun to make the sandwich the way it is now. That was 1967. In 1968, it went national; everybody had it.”
Though it took a few tries to get a name that stuck - the Big Mac - the burger would become one of the fast-food chain’s most popular items.
Delligatti received no payment for coming up with a multi-billion seller, or his “special sauce” of mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard, vinegar, garlic powder, onion power and paprika. “I got a plaque,” he said.
Pictured: Delligatti at a 90th birthday celebration, with a Big Mac cake.
Actor Fritz Weaver (Jan. 19, 1926-Nov. 26, 2016) was a familiar stage and screen presence for six decades, with appearances in more than 130 films and TV series, from “Playhouse 90,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Fugitive” “Mission: Impossible” and “Law & Order,” to “Fail Safe,” “Marathon Man,” “Black Sunday,” “The Day of the Dolphin” and the miniseries “Holocaust,” for which he earned an Emmy nomination.
Weaver was well-known to sci-fi and horror fans, from two striking “Twilight Zone” episodes (“The Obsolete Man,” an indictment of totalitarianism, and “Third From the Sun,” about a planet threatened by nuclear war), “Night Gallery,” “The X Files,” “Takes From the Darkside,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “The Martian Chronicles,” and the films “Creepshow” and “Demon Seed.”
He won a Tony Award for Best Actor for the 1970 drama “Child’s Play.” Other Broadway productions include “The Power and the Glory,” “The Chalk Garden,” “Baker Street” (as Sherlock Holmes), “The Price” and “The Crucible.” The actor, with a long string of Shakespearean roles under his belt, said in a 2004 interview with Broadway World that Hamlet was the most rewarding, even though - in 1958 - he wasn’t ready for it. “Not too young - I was unprepared for it. I said, ‘I’m not ready, I’m not ready.’ John Houseman kept saying, ‘That’s perfect. That’s so Hamlet-like.’ … They talked me into it. I still wake up early in the morning and think about moments in it, and I think, ‘Now I know how to do that!’”
The prolific character actor Ron Glass (July 10, 1945-November 25, 2016) appeared in dozens of TV shows, films and stage productions in a career that stretched back to the 1960s. He was best known for his gregarious, sometimes sardonic detective Ron Harris in the long-running cop comedy “Barney Miller” (for which he earned an Emmy nomination); and as Shepherd Book, a preacher aboard the spaceship Serenity, in the cult sci-fi series, “Firefly” (pictured).
In a 2007 interview with Judyth Piazza, Glass - a Buddhist - said the most rewarding aspect of his career “is being able to feel like I have been able to touch people, have been able to make people happy, actually, by doing the work that I do. And that’s been the most consistent response that I have had throughout my career in terms of the characters that I’ve played.”
To supporters he was a revolutionary hero; to critics he was a ruthless dictator. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (Aug. 13, 1926-Nov. 25, 2016), the world’s most enduring socialist icon, was the embodiment of the revolution that toppled the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, only to supplant him with another strongarm figure. Establishing a Soviet-style Communist government just 90 miles from America’s shore, Castro introduced free medical care and universal education to Cubans, but he also maintained his power by abolishing multi-party elections, seizing private property, censoring the media, jailing dissidents, and making most emigration illegal. Many families were divided, as Cubans escaped to seek opportunities in the U.S.
Through the years, Castro survived countless assassination attempts as he continued to goad the United States, whose trade embargo choked the island’s economy but failed to end Castro’s rule. Having put the country in the care of his younger brother, Raul, in 2006, Fidel lived long enough to see President Obama call for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.
Castro once told CBS News how he would want to be remembered: “That Castro wanted a more egalitarian society … a society as many other men have dreamed of in the past - Jesus among them.”
After graduating high school in Indiana, Florence Henderson (Feb. 14, 1934-Nov. 24, 2016) moved to New York, where her singing impressed Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who made her the lead in a 1952 road tour of “Oklahoma!” She won raves in a 1954 Broadway revival of the show, and would also star in productions of “Fanny,” “The Sound of Music,” “South Pacific,” “The Girl Who Came to Supper” and “The King and I.”
But her most famous role was as “America’s Mom” - the ever-cheerful Carol Brady, matriarch of a blended family of three boys and three girls, joined by their widowed parents’ second marriages, in “The Brady Bunch.” The show, which ran from 1969-1974 (and then ceaselessly in reruns), spurred TV movie sequels, a variety series, and film spoofs.
“It represents what people always wanted: a loving family,” Henderson said in 1999. “It’s such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there’s always an audience for that.”
Pictured: Florence Henderson on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967.
Singer Sharon Jones (May 4, 1956-November 18, 2016) grew up idolizing the Godfather of Soul and would later be frequently tagged as “the female James Brown.” Though she sang gospel in church and worked as a backup singer, her career did not take off until she was 40, with the release of a single, “Damn It’s Hot.” As she sang on “I’m Still Here,” despite her show-stopping talent, she was continuously turned down by music executives for being “too short, too fat, too black and too old.”
She sparked a soul and funk revival after being named lead singer of The Dap-Kings. Their first album was the 2002 “Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings,” released when Jones was 46.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, she returned to the stage two years later after it went into remission (as documented in the 2015 film “Miss Sharon Jones!”). She hit the road again this summer with the Dap-Kings even while undergoing chemotherapy when the disease returned.
“You got to be brave,” Jones told the Associated Press in July, in-between tour stops. “I want to use the time that I have. I don’t want to spend it all laid up, wishing I had done that gig.”
A former reporter for The New York Times and The Washington Post, Gwen Ifill (September 29, 1955-November 14, 2016) transferred to television, as a correspondent for NBC News and, later, serving as host of “Washington Week” and co-anchor of “NewsHour” on PBS.
She moderated two vice presidential debates, in 2004 and 2008, and authored the book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”
“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” said “NewsHour” executive producer Sara Just. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry … a journalist’s journalist.”
An inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for such classics as “Delta Lady,” the Oklahoma-born Leon Russell (April 2, 1942-November 13, 2016) began as a nightclub piano player at the age of 14, backing touring artists when they came to town. Jerry Lee Lewis was so impressed that he hired Russell and his band for two years of tours.
He relocated to Los Angeles in 1959, where he became known as a top musician (he played keyboard for the studio team known as the Wrecking Crew). Russell played on The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and landmark “Pet Sounds” album, Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
He also produced and played on recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike and Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and many others. And his 1970 debut album, “Leon Russell,” featured a pretty hefty backing band: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Merry Claytton and Joe Cocker, among others.
In 1973, when he was the headline act for such artists as Willie Nelson and Elton John, Billboard Magazine listed Russell as the top concert attraction in the world.
In a 1992 interview with The Associated Press, Russell - referred to as “The Master of Time and Space” - said music doesn’t really change much: “It’s cyclical, like fashion. You keep your old clothes and they’ll be in style again sooner or later.”
Robert Vaughn (November 22, 1932-November 11, 2016) won fame starring in the cult 1960s spy series, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” playing urbane secret agent Napoleon Solo opposite David McCallum’s Russian-born Illya Kuryakin. Before “U.N.C.L.E.,” Vaughn had earned an Oscar nomination in 1959 for his supporting role in “The Young Philadelphians,” as a wounded war veteran accused of murder. His other film appearances included “The Magnificent Seven,” ‘’The Bridge at Remagen,” ‘’Julius Caesar,” “The Towering Inferno,” ‘’S.O.B.,” ‘’Superman III.”
An anti-war activist during the Vietnam era, he debated conservative William F. Buckley on the TV show, “Firing Line.” Vaughn’s political bent was evident in his roles: Harry S. Truman in “The Man from Independence,” Woodrow Wilson in “Backstairs at the White House,” Franklin D. Roosevelt in the one-man play, “FDR,” and an Emmy-winning performance as a presidential aide in the TV miniseries, “Washington: Behind Closed Doors.”
In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly Vaughn described the instructions he received on how to play the “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”: “’Whatever you think works for women for you, use that on the screen.’ Well, I’m not sure if I know what works for women. If I did, I’d never be acting - I’d be out working women all the time!”
“Like a bird on a wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.”
Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934-November 7, 2016) once said he got into music because he couldn’t make a living as a poet. The Canadian singer-songwriter rose to prominence during the folk music revival of the 1960s, He seamlessly blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” ‘’Suzanne,” “So Long Marianne” and “Bird on a Wire,” winning him fans around the world and among fellow musicians like Bob Dylan and R.E.M.
“Hallelujah” went from cult hit to modern standard, now an unending staple on movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, reality shows and high school choir concerts.
Like Dylan, Cohen’s voice lacked polish but rang with emotion. He remained wildly popular into his 80s, when his deep baritone plunged to seriously gravelly depths. He toured earlier this year and last month released a new album, “You Want It Darker.” He also published more than a dozen novels and books of poetry.
In 1968 Cohen, both a Jew and a Buddhist, told an interviewer from The New York Times, “I don’t even think of myself as a writer, singer or whatever. The occupation of being a man is so much more.”
After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in chemistry, Janet Reno (July 21, 1938-November 7, 2016) became one of 16 women in Harvard Law School’s Class of 1963. Reno, who stood over 6 feet tall, later said she wanted to become a lawyer “because I didn’t want people to tell me what to do.” A Miami prosecutor who famously told reporters “I don’t do spin,” Reno was the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general.
Known for deliberating slowly and in a typically blunt manner, Reno was one of the Clinton administration’s most recognizable and polarizing figures. She and the Justice Department became the epicenter of several political storms, including the 51-day standoff between ATF agents and followers of the Branch Davidian sect at Waco, Texas (in which four agents and some 80 Branch sect members were killed); and the seizure of five-year-old Elian Gonzalez (the Cuban émigré caught in the middle of a custody battle between family members in the U.S. and Cuba).
Reno continued as attorney general even after she was diagnosed, in 1995, with Parkinson’s. After retiring from politics, Reno joined the board of the New York-based Innocence Project, which works to free prisoners who can be proven innocent through DNA testing.
In a 2001 Associated Press interview she spoke with pride about her years in Washington: “It’s the greatest opportunity a lawyer could have, to use the law to make America a better place, and to give children better opportunities.”
Actress Tammy Grimes (January 30, 1934-October 30, 2016) was the original “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” a role for which she won a Tony Award (though she was not enlisted for the subsequent film version). The critical darling starred in more than a dozen Broadway productions, such as “California Suite,” “High Spirits,” “Tartuffe,” “42nd Street,” and “Orpheus Descending,” as well as a short-lived 1960s TV sitcom. Her film credits included “Play It As It Lays,” “The Runner Stumbles,” “Slaves of New York,” “Somebody Killed Her Husband” and “High Art.”
In 1970 Grimes won a second Tony for a revival of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” (she frequently played Brits, leading many to believe the Massachusetts native was British herself). With the first of her three husbands, Christopher Plummer, she had a daughter, Tony-winning actress Amanda Plummer.
“I never looked like an ingénue,” Grimes told The New York Times Magazine in 1960, and that was fine with her: “I don’t want to be ‘America’s Sweetheart;’ I’d rather be something they don’t quite understand.”
Born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, Bobby Vee (April 30, 1943-October 24, 2016) acquired his stage name from a young Minnesota musician, Bob Dylan, who suggested shortening his surname to Vee. He was only 15 when he took the stage in Moorhead, Minn., after the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson on their way to a concert at the Moorhead National Guard Armory. The call went out for local acts to replace Holly, and Vee and his two-week-old band volunteered.
Within months the young singer and his newly-named group The Shadows recorded “Suzie Baby.” Vee went on to record 38 Top 100 hits from 1959 to 1970, hitting the top of the charts in 1961 with the Carole King-Gerry Goffin song “Take Good Care of My Baby,” and reaching No. 2 with the follow-up, “Run to Him.” Other hits included “Rubber Ball,” ‘’The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” ‘’Devil or Angel,” ‘’Come Back When You Grow Up,” ‘’Please Don’t Ask About Barbara” and “Punish Her.”
Vee kept recording into the 2000s, and maintained a steady touring schedule until his last show in 2011, when he began suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s. His album “The Adobe Sessions” was released in 2014. In his memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One,” Dylan recalled that Vee “had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell.”
As a student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Tom Hayden (December 11, 1939-October 23, 2016) took up political causes, wrote fiery editorials for the campus paper, and contemplated a career in journalism. But upon graduation, he turned down a newspaper job. As he wrote in his memoir, “I didn’t want to report on the world; I wanted to change it.”
Hayden was involved in the formation of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), then dedicated to desegregating the South. Firmly committed to the anti-war movement, Hayden participated in sit-ins at Columbia University, and in 1965 made his first visit to North Vietnam with an unauthorized delegation. In 1967, he returned to Hanoi and was asked by North Vietnamese leaders to bring three prisoners of war back to the U.S.
In 1968, he helped organize anti-war demonstrations during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that turned violent and resulted in the notorious Chicago 7 trial. Hayden and three others were found guilty of crossing state lines to incite riot, but the convictions were later overturned.
Married for 17 years to actress Jane Fonda, Hayden won election to the California Assembly and Senate, and was a progressive force on such issues as the environment, education and animal welfare. “Rarely, if ever, in American history has a generation begun with higher ideals and experienced greater trauma than those who lived fully the short time from 1960 to 1968,” he once wrote.
Junko Tabei (September 22, 1939-October 20, 2016) gained worldwide fame in 1975 from becoming the first woman to climb Mount Everest. In 1992, she became the first woman to complete the “Seven Summits” - reaching the highest peaks on the seven continents.
Tabei would scale mountains in more than 60 countries, and continued climbing even after being diagnosed with cancer four years ago.
But she was modest about being the first female climber to reach the top of the world. “I was the 36th person to climb Everest,” she told Sports Illustrated in 1996.
Italian playwright Dario Fo (March 24, 1926-October 13, 2016), best known for “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” was author of more than 70 plays whose energetic mocking of Italian political life, social mores and religion won him praise, scorn, and the Nobel Prize.
A staunch leftist, Fo’s works - which dealt with subjects like the Vietnam War, the Chinese revolution and student revolts in the West - were taken out of “bourgeois” theaters and into streets, piazzas, occupied factories and circus-style tents.
His plays, which combined raunchy humor and scathing satire, and his political activities saw him censored on Italian television and banned from the United States, and his flamboyant artistic antics resulted in repeated arrests. Prosecutors tried but failed to convict him of offending institutions, like the national police force.
The 1997 Nobel Prize for literature citation described Fo as a writer “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”
As a 12-year-old boy, Donn Fendler (August 29, 1926-October 10, 2016) got lost while hiking Maine’s tallest mountain in 1939. He made his way down the mountain and through the woods to the east branch of the Penobscot River, where he was found more than 30 miles from where he started. Bruised and cut, starved and shoeless, he’d survived for nine days alone by eating berries. He had lost 15 pounds.
Fendler said he used techniques learned as a Boy Scout to survive on Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
He later received a medal from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House, was honored with a parade and featured in Life magazine. Fendler collaborated with Joseph B. Egan on a book, “Lost on a Mountain in Maine,” which was required reading for many fourth-graders in Maine.
He enjoyed visiting schools and never seemed to tire of recounting the tale to children. “I tell every one of them they have something inside them they don’t know they have,” Fendler told the Associated Press in 2011. “When it comes up to a bad situation, they’re going to find out how tough a person they are in the heart and the mind -- it’s called the will to live.”
In spite of censorship from the repressive Soviet-dominated government under which he worked throughout most of his career, Poland’s leading filmmaker Andrzej Wajda (March 6, 1926-October 9, 2016) created critical works of astonishing power, including “Kanal,” “Ashes and Diamonds,” “The Promised Land,” “The Maids of Wilko,” “Man of Marble,” “Danton” and “Katyn.” “Man of Iron” (1981), banned by Poland’s government (then under martial law), won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, and was one of four Wajda movies to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film. [Wajda received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2000.]
“I never thought I would live to see the moment when Poland would be a free country,” Wajda said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. “I thought I would die in that system. It was so surprising and so extraordinary that I lived to see freedom.”
Conductor Neville Marriner (April 15, 1924-October 2, 2016) was a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra when, in 1959, he joined with several other musicians to form a chamber group, which was initially intended to perform without a leader.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields built its reputation with stylish performances of baroque and classical repertoire: Bach, Handel, Mozart and Haydn. From its beginnings, with 18 players, it grew to a full-size orchestra with an affiliated chorus, and became one of the world’s most-recorded classical music groups, with more than 500 recordings to its credit.
Marriner gravitated into conducting, and led the group in performing the soundtrack to Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning 1984 film “Amadeus,” composed mainly of Mozart pieces. It became one of the best-selling classical recordings of all time.
Sirdeaner Walker became an outspoken advocate for anti-bullying laws after her 11-year-old son, Carl Walker-Hoover, hanged himself at his Springfield, Mass., home in 2009. Walker said he had been tormented by his classmates.
In 2010, then-Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that required all school districts in the state to develop programs to reduce bullying. The law also made cyberbullying a crime. Lawmakers said Walker-Hoover’s death, and the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince (who killed herself after allegedly being bullied at her high school), provided the impetus for passage of the law.
In addition to her work on the state law, Walker - who helped launch the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation - testified before Congress in support of national anti-bullying legislation, and participated in a White House conference on bullying, at which President Barack Obama praised Walker for her advocacy.
The British-born musician and songwriter Rod Temperton (October 9, 1949-Sept./Oct. 2016) once told BBC Radio he had been lulled to sleep as a baby by the sound of music on a transistor radio placed in his crib.
Temperton started his career in the disco band Heatwave, for which he played keyboards and wrote two major hits, “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever.” He also collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker and Quincy Jones.
He had a singular knack for pop-funk, as in the Michael Jackson classics “Thriller,” ‘’Rock With You,” ‘’Off the Wall” and ‘’Rock with You.” Numerous other artists would have hits with his work, including George Benson with “Give Me the Night” and Donna Summer with “Love Is in Control (finger on the Trigger).” Temperton also received an Oscar nomination as a co-writer of “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” from the soundtrack of “The Color Purple,” and contributed several songs to the Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines comedy, “Running Scared.”
In 2006 Temperton explained to the Yorkshire Post the gift that made him a hit machine: “You have to please yourself first. Once you feel the hairs stand up on the back of your hand, you can go for the world. Writing a song is the biggest moment of all. Yesterday it didn’t exist. Today it does.”
In 1945 Oscar Brand (February 7, 1920-September 30, 2016) walked into the studios of WNYC Radio in New York City offering to host a program of folk music. “Folksong Festival,” a casual mix of song, conversation and humor, has been broadcast ever since, and while Brand accepted no payment for the show, it did earn him a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-airing radio show with the same host.
He became part of the American folk music revival, collaborating with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White, Burl Ives and Pete Seeger, and inviting such artists as Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell to his studio. As a supporter of free speech, Brand continued to invite politically-active artists during the anti-Communist fervor of the 1940s and ‘50s, including those who were blacklisted. Brand also composed music for the theater and television, and wrote pop songs for Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and others.
In 2005 Brand was honored with a George Foster Peabody Award for decades “in service to the music and messages of folk performers and fans around the world.”
A look back at the esteemed personalities who left us this year, who’d touched us with their innovation, creativity and humanity.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The life story of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres (August 2, 1923-September 28, 2016) mirrored that of the Jewish state. Born in Belarus, his family emigrated to what was then the Palestinian Mandate when he was 11 years old. It was a job as secretary on a kibbutz dairy farm that led him into politics. He served a record 48 years in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), was a minister in 12 cabinets, and was prime minister twice.
Though he was father of Israel’s nuclear program and was responsible for building up the nation’s military, he also worked toward peace - from the historic treaty signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, to a peace treaty with Jordan, to the Oslo Accord (for which Peres, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize).
In what perhaps summed up his life best, Peres once said, “The duty of leaders is to pursue freedom ceaselessly ... even in the face of hostility ... in the face of doubt and disappointment.
“Just imagine what could be.”
Herschell Gordon Lewis
The exploitation films of Herschell Gordon Lewis (June 15, 1926-September 26, 2016), filled to the brim with blood, violence and nudity, were never confused with art, but they proved to be successful drive-in fare. Known as the “godfather of gore,” Lewis pioneered the “splatter film” genre with such titles as “Blood Feast” (1963) and “Two Thousand Maniacs!” (1964), a riff on “Brigadoon” in which some Yankees find themselves guests of honor in a Southern town’s “blood centennial” - revenge for the Civil War. “Something Weird,” “Color Me Blood Red,” “She-Devils on Wheels,” and “The Wizard of Gore” followed.
Lewis later moved back into his first career, advertising, and became a prolific author of books on marketing.
In a 2002 interview with the AV Club, Lewis said “Two Thousand Maniacs!” caught censors unawares: “They had no regulations against gore, because no one else had done gore. It would be like having regulations against outer-space driving.”
One of the greatest golfers of all time, Arnold Palmer (Sept. 10, 1929-Sept. 25, 2016) was a four-time Masters champion who was known simply as “The King.”
Palmer is credited with making the game popular in the 1960s, and built a fan base known as Arnie’s Army. “I like to think and truly believe that golfers promote some sort of human values that symbolize so many Americans,” he once said.
Over the course of his distinguished career, Palmer would go on to win 62 PGA titles, and was the first man to reach a million dollars in earnings on the PGA tour. He was also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal.
Jack Nicklaus -- a friend and rival on the links -- said in a statement, “Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend.”
The journey made by José Fernández (July 31, 1992-September 25, 2016) to becoming one of baseball’s premier talents wasn’t a typical one. He defected from Cuba at 15, and broke into the majors, with the Miami Marlins, when he was just 20. He won Rookie of the Year in 2013, with a 12-6 record and a 2.19 ERA.
It took Fernandez and his family four tries to escape Cuba. CBS Sports radio host Amy Lawrence said of his experience, “He was arrested. He was thrown in jail. He was shot at. [Still], after staring death in the face, baseball was a game to him. And he played it like a big kid.”
Pittsburgh native Bill Nunn (October 20, 1953-September 24, 2016) taught acting after his graduation from Morehouse College in 1976, but earned his first on-screen credit in Spike Lee’s 1988 “School Daze,” which was followed one year later by “Do the Right Thing,” and his most iconic role: Radio Raheem, a boombox-toting Bed-Stuy resident who brandishes the words “Love” and “Hate” on his fists. His death at the hands of the police sparks a riot.
Nunn worked with Lee again in the films “Mo’ Better Blues” and “He Got Game,” and also appeared as newspaper editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films.
In 2008 he founded the Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project, promoting theatre arts to Pittsburgh-area public school students, and offering scholarships. It presents Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Monologue Competition for high school students.
Lee honored the 6’3” actor on his Facebook page, calling Nunn “My dear friend, my dear Morehouse brother. … Long live Bill Nunn. Radio Raheem is now resting in power. Radio Raheem will always be fighting da powers dat be.”
Born Stanley Dural Jr., accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco (November 14, 1947-September 24, 2016) rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his namesake band Buckwheat Zydeco.
After earning a Grammy nomination for his 1987 album “On a Night Like This,” he went on tour with Eric Clapton, and recorded with such artists as Ry Cooper, Paul Simon, Dwight Yoakam and Willie Nelson.
Zydeco played at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and at the 1996 Olympics closing ceremony in Atlanta.
“He had this charisma,” his longtime manager Ted Fox said. “He had this incredible charisma both onstage and personally. He was a real genuine person. To the end of his days with all the stuff that he’d done, all the awards, he was still the same Stanley Dural Jr. who was picking cotton when he was 5-years-old.”
Director Curtis Hanson (March 24, 1945-September 20, 2016) shared an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his cool 1997 policer “L.A. Confidential,” about crooked cops and con men in 1950s Hollywood. But there were noir aspects present in his other works, including the delightful “Wonder Boys” (in which college professor Michael Douglas contemplates stealing a gifted young writer’s work) and “8 Mile,” for which Hanson chose to shoot among the actual burned-out homes and vacant storefronts of star Eminem’s native Detroit.
In 2002 Hanson explained the challenge of working with the rapper - who had never acted before - in real-life locations: “When you adopt a characterization, that’s artificial,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “You hide behind that. What I needed in this story was the appearance of a complete lack of artifice. I needed the appearance of one more or less exposing himself emotionally.”
Hanson’s other films include “The Bedroom Window,” “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” “The River Wild” and “Too Big to Fail.” He also co-wrote Samuel Fuller’s “White Dog.”
Pictured: Curtis Hanson, right, with Eminem during filming of “8 Mile.”
Actress Charmian Carr (December 27, 1942-September 17, 2016) was best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter (pictured, far left) in the Oscar-winning film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” As Liesl, she sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
After appearing in “Evening Primrose” with Anthony Perkins, she traded acting for interior design, but returned to her von Trapp Family experiences in two books she wrote: “Forever Liesl” and “Letters to Liesl.” Carr also appeared frequently at fan events commemorating the classic musical, including sing-a-long performances at the Hollywood Bowl.
“I tell people that they should consider sing-a-long ‘Sound of Music’ like going to a therapist,” she told The Associated Press in 2005. “They can skip their appointment with the shrink that week.”
Canadian novelist W.P. Kinsella (May 25, 1935-September 16, 2016) blended magical realism and baseball in his 1982 novel “Shoeless Joe,” in which a farmer hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfields. When he does, Shoeless Joe Jackson and other baseball players of yesteryear come to play. It became the basis for the 1989 Oscar-nominated movie, “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta.
“I wrote it 30 years ago, and the fact that people are still discovering it makes me proud,” Kinsella later said.
Much of his work touched on baseball (his father had played in the minor leagues). Kinsella published almost 30 books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and won the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honors.
“He was a dedicated story-teller, performer, curmudgeon, an irascible and difficult man,” his literary agent Carolyn Swayze said in a statement. “His fiction has made people laugh, cry, and think for decades and will do so for decades to come.”
In more than 30 plays, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee (March 12, 1928-September 16, 2016) challenged theatrical convention with a sense of linguistic delight, using withering barbs and wordplay to hint at deeper meanings. The blistering humor and dark themes of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (a Tony-winning play and, later, an award-winning film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) and in other masterworks such as “A Delicate Balance” and “Three Tall Women,” forced audiences to question their assumptions about society - and about theater itself.
As one character asks in Albee’s 1996 “The Play About the Baby.” “If you have no wounds, how can you know you’re alive?”
In 2013 Albee told CBS News’ Tracy Smith he wore the discomfort some people felt towards his dramatic work as a badge of honor. “I think if you don’t offend some people, you’re probably failing in some way,” he laughed. But he also did not like describing his work, or boiling it down into bite-sized nuggets. “Any play that can be described in one sentence should be one sentence long,” he surmised.
In a note he wrote several years ago to be issued at the time of his death, Albee declared: “To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love.”
In 1979 Jack Hofsiss (September 28, 1950-September 13, 2016) (pictured, left, with Richard Rodgers and Hal Prince) became the youngest man, at that time, to win the Tony Award for best direction, in his very first outing on Broadway, “The Elephant Man.” Hofsiss also directed a TV version of “Elephant Man,” a TV movie of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” starring Jessica Lange, and the Jill Clayburgh film “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can.”
His career was interrupted on July 20, 1985, when he dived into the shallow end of a Fire Island swimming pool and broke his neck. He ended up in hospitals for nearly eight months.
“You spend a lot of time figuring out how you might get rid of yourself. Suicide becomes a very strong possibility. A release,” he told The Associated Press in 1986. “I never got to the methodology, though. I only got as far as the fantasy.”
Hofsiss would keep working despite the accident, which left him without the use of his arms and legs. He returned to directing “All the Way Home” at the Berkshire Theater Festival (the job offer, Hofsiss said, “was an inspiration to get better”), and then back to Broadway, directing Estelle Parsons and Mercedes Ruehl in “The Shadow Box” in 1994, and the off-Broadway plays “Surviving Grace,” “James Joyce’s The Dead,” and “Confessions of a Mormon Boy.”
Greta Zimmer Friedman
The daughter of Austrian parents who both perished in the Holocaust, Greta Zimmer Friedman (1924-September 8, 2016) was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform when, on Aug. 14, 1945 - the day Japan surrendered to the United States - she was one of countless throngs who spilled onto New York City streets from restaurants, bars and movie theaters, celebrating the news.
That’s when George Mendonsa - a sailor happy that he wouldn’t be going back into combat - spotted Friedman, spun her around and planted a kiss. The two had never met. (In fact, Mendonsa was on a date with an actual nurse, whom he would later marry.) But a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt - called “V-J Day in Times Square,” but known to most simply as “The Kiss” - became seared in the public consciousness after being published in Life Magazine. Another picture of the same scene (left), taken by U.S. Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen, also helped memorialize the moment as a perfect encapsulation of war’s end.
In 2012, Friedman reunited with Mendonsa in Times Square where they told CBS News’ Michelle Miller about their brief encounter. “I did not see him approaching and before I know it I was in this vice grip,” Friedman recalled.
And how long did they kiss? “Not long,” Mendonsa said. But the photographs made it immortal.
Short, mustachioed Jon Polito (Dec. 29, 1950-Sept. 1, 2016) had loved movies and television since childhood and was inspired by the over-the-top acting he first spotted in old horror films and melodramas. With no pretentions to being a leading man, he became one of the busiest character actors of the past three decades, and was a favorite of the Coen Brothers. Polito appeared as a rival mob boss in “Miller’s Crossing,” as a movie executive’s sad-sack underling in “Barton Fink,” a private eye in “The Big Lebowski,” and a dry cleaning entrepreneur in “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (pictured).
Polito also starred as a Baltimore detective in the HBO series “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” and had roles in “The Gangster Chronicles,” “Crime Story,” “Seinfeld,” “Raising the Bar,” “Modern Family,” and the films “The Crow,” “The Freshman,” “Stuart Little,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “American Gangster” and “Big Eyes.”
In 2011 he talked glowingly to CBS Affiliate KCBS of having worked with such greats as Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, James Gandolfini and Albert Finney. “I’ve never had another job - first the theater and then television and film!” he smiled.
Musician-songwriter Fred Hellerman (May 13, 1927-Sept. 1, 2016) was a founding member of the influential folk music quartet the Weavers, formed in the late 1940s along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Ronnie Gilbert. They helped to popularize folk music in the U.S. with recordings including “Goodnight Irene” and “On Top of Old Smoky.”
The group disbanded after they were blacklisted by anti-Communists in the early 1950s, but performed again into the 1960s, and then at a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall in 1980 (pictured, with Hellerman at right).
Hellerman also produced Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 record, “Alice’s Restaurant,” and worked with several artists over his career as a composer, arranger and songwriter.
Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933-August 28, 2016), the star of such classics as “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and a slew of Mel Brooks comedies, died at age 83 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Conn.
The frizzy-haired actor, who was nominated twice for an Oscar, was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.”
But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in “Blazing Saddles,” and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (pictured).
Juan Gabriel (Jan. 7, 1950-Aug. 28, 2016), a superstar Mexican songwriter and singer, whose real name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was an icon in the Latin music world.
His ballads about love and heartbreak and bouncy mariachi tunes became hymns throughout Latin America and Spain and with Spanish speakers in the United States.
He brought many adoring fans to tears as they sang along when he crooned such hits as “Hasta Que Te Conoci” (“Until I Met You”) and “Amor Eterno” (“Eternal Love”). His song “Querida” (“Dear”) topped Mexico’s charts for a whole year.
A six-time Grammy nominee, Gabriel was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and received countless industry awards, including ASCAP Songwriter of the Year in 1995, Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year 2009, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that same year.
Roger Tsien (February 1, 1952-August 24, 2016), a professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry at University of California, San Diego, shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry for helping develop fluorescent markers that could tag cancer cells or track the advance of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
He helped turn green fluorescent protein from a jellyfish into a research tool - markers that, under ultraviolet light, glow in a wide variety of colors. Researchers use the markers to track cellular processes in everything from brain cells to bacteria.
“I’ve always been attracted to colors,” Tsien told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2008. “Color helps make the work more interesting and endurable. It helps when things aren’t going well. If I had been born colorblind, I probably never would have gone into this.”
Hailed by Quincy Jones as “one of the greatest musicians of our time,” Belgian-born jazz harmonicist Toots Thielemans (April 29, 1922-Aug. 22, 2016) had his international breakthrough in 1950 when he joined Benny Goodman on a European concert tour. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1952, as part of Charlie Parker’s All Stars.
He demonstrated that the chromatic harmonica could serve up bebop; played with artists as varied as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Billy Joel; and contributed haunting, memorable harmonica solos on film and TV scores, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “Cinderella Liberty,” ‘’The Getaway,” “The Sugarland Express,” and the children’s TV series “Sesame Street.”
But Thielemans told the Washington Post in 2015 that he had to overcome some doubt in the beginning; when he first picked up the harmonica he was told, “’Throw that toy away,’ get a real instrument!”
After studying psychology and law, the Canadian-born Arthur Hiller (Nov. 22, 1923-Aug. 17, 2016), whose parents ran a Yiddish school and theater, went into communications, applying for a job as director at Canada’s CBC network. He migrated to live TV dramas in New York, and directed episodes of the series “Route 66,” “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke” and “Naked City.” After such notable features as “The Americanization of Emily,” “Tobruk” and “The Out of Towners,” Hiller earned an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for the Ryan O’Neal-Ali MacGraw weepie “Love Story,” one of the most successful films of the 1970s. Hiller’s other credits include the classic comedy “The In-Laws,” “Plaza Suite,” “The Hospital,” “Silver Streak” and “The Lonely Guy.” He served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America, and was presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2002 (pictured).
Hiller once explained his choice of scripts, saying, “I prefer them with good moral values, which comes from my parents and my upbringing. ... Even in my smaller, lesser films, at least there’s an affirmation of the human spirit.”
Issue one! Conservative political commentator John McLaughlin (March 29, 1927-Aug. 16, 2016) trained for the priesthood at a Jesuit seminary in Massachusetts, and worked as an editor at a Jesuit weekly, before running unsuccessfully in 1970 as an anti-war candidate against an incumbent U.S. Senator. He opened a consulting firm, gave up the priesthood to marry, and hosted a talk radio program in Washington before launching his namesake show for 34 years. The raucous “The McLaughlin Group,” featuring journalists instead of politicians, inspired legions of imitators of no-holds-barred talking-heads discussions about inside-the-Beltway issues.
Bobby Hutcherson (Jan. 17, 1941-Aug. 15, 2016) was one of the most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets. Best known for his post-bop recordings for Blue Note Records in the 1960s and ‘70s, he recorded more than 40 albums, and played (as both bandleader and sideman) with a litany of jazz greats, among them: Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon.
Noted for an eclectic approach that was at once colorful, powerful and also cool and melodic, Hutcherson came of age musically as jazz was moving into a cerebral, more avant-garde era that matched his playing.
Listen to “Tranquillity” [sic] from Hutcherson’s 1965 album, “Components” (featuring Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers.
“Bobby Hutcherson’s sound and innovative style on the vibraphone helped revitalize the instrument in the 1960s, adding an adventurous new voice to the free jazz and post-bop eras,” the National Endowment for the Arts said Tuesday.
He had what The New York Times called “the face that could launch a thousand shticks.” Character actor Fyvush Finkel (Oct. 9, 1922-Aug. 14, 2016) began his career in New York’s Yiddish theater at age nine, as a boy soprano. He would go on to star in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway and in a national tour. But when “Fiddler” ended, Finkel auditioned for 12 shows, and didn’t get any of them. It was then, he told “Sunday Morning” in 2014, that he decided to go back to school.
“My family laughed: ‘You’re going to school, a man of 52?’ I said, ‘Yes. I wanna know what’s wrong.’”
He learned how to perform for the camera, and in his 50s reinvented himself as a movie actor, with roles in “Q&A,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “For Love or Money,” “Nixon,” and the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man.” On TV, his role as attorney Douglas Wambaugh in “Picket Fences” earned him an Emmy Award.
The diminutive Kenny Baker (August 24, 1934-August 13, 2016) was working as a cabaret performer (partnered with another little person, Jack Purvis, as The Mini Tones) when the call to appear as a robot in “Star Wars” came up; he was practically the only adult actor small enough to fit inside the costume.
Baker performed as R2-D2 in the first six “Star Wars” movies, and would later star - his face visible this time - as one of a band of time-traveling little people, robbing victims across the centuries, in Terry Gilliam’s 1981 fantasy, “Time Bandits.”
Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain (July 3, 1930-August 6, 2016), a fixture of his hometown of New Orleans, was well known to television viewers of Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson, playing his mix of swing and Dixieland.
He began playing professionally in his teens on Bourbon Street, whose strip clubs, music joints and bars he called his “conservatory.” (He would open his first club there in 1960.) Fountain performed everywhere (touring nationally with the Dukes of Dixieland and with Al Hirt), but he was an especially familiar figure at Mardi Gras parades. In a tradition-drenched city, his annual trek through the French Quarter with his “Half-Fast Walking Club” was a raucous New Orleans ritual, one he rarely missed even when he was in failing health.
Fountain lost many possessions, and his home, in Hurricane Katrina. “But I have two of my best clarinets so I’m OK. I can still toot,” he told the Associated Press.
Character actor David Huddleston (Sept.17, 1930-August 2, 2016) was at his most charmingly blustery in the title role in the Coen Brothers’ comic mystery, “The Big Lebowski,” opposite Jeff Bridges’ The Dude.
An aircraft engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force, Huddleston studied acting in New York before embarking on national tours with such shows as “The Music Man,” ‘’Mame” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Over more than five decades he appeared in scores of TV and film roles, including jolly St. Nick in “Santa Claus: The Movie,” and the mayor in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.”
In a 2014 interview Huddleston told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he’d originally turned down the role in “Blazing Saddles” because he only had a few lines. Brooks then called the actor directly, invited him to lunch and went over the script, stealing lines from other characters. (“That’s a good line, you want that one?”) During filming, actor John Hillerman unknowingly turned to Huddleston and remarked,”You know, when I first read this script, I had a much bigger part!” To which Huddleston kept mum.
A daughter of vaudeville stars, Gloria DeHaven (July 23, 1925-July 30,2016) carved out her own successful career as the bright-eyed, vivacious star of Hollywood musicals and comedies of the 1940s and ‘50s, including “Summer Holiday” (with Mickey Rooney, pictured), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (with Van Johnson and June Allyson), and “Three Little Words” (with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton), in which she played her own mother.
A pinup favorite of GIs during World War II, DeHaven toured with big bands led by Bing Crosby’s brother Bob and others, when she was spotted by an MGM talent scout. She was frequently the second lead in lightweight fare like ‘’Summer Stock” and ‘’The Yellow Cab Man.”
DeHaven also appeared on Broadway, and on television (including the soap operas “Ryan’s Hope” and “As the World Turns”), and became a regular on Bob Hope’s overseas tours to entertain U.S. troops.
In 2005, after her grandson was diagnosed with autism, Suzanne Wright (Dec. 16, 1946-July 29, 2016) and her husband, former NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright, co-founded the advocacy group Autism Speaks, one of the leading voices for people with the developmental disorder. Wright helped spearhead the organization’s decade-long public service ad campaign about detecting early signs of the disorder; persuaded the United Nations to designate April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day; and focused a spotlight on the needs of people with autism and their families.
In a joint statement, Autism Speaks’ Chairman of the Board Brian Kelly and President/CEO Angela Geiger wrote, “Suzanne sparked a global conversation with one question: How can we help people with autism live their best possible lives? Persuading the world to see the potential in each child and adult on the vast autism spectrum is her greatest legacy.”
As a struggling young artist in New York, Jack Davis (Dec. 2, 1924-July 27, 2016) was “about ready to give up, go home to Georgia and be either a forest ranger or a farmer,” he recalled in an interview a few years ago. But in 1950, he sold artwork to EC Comics, publisher of “Tales from the Crypt.” Its editors later launched the incomparable Mad Magazine, to which Davis contributed illustrations for six decades.
His caricatures were also featured on “real” magazines, like Time, and on movie posters, including “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (bottom) and Woody Allen’s “Bananas.”
Calling him his hero, filmmaker and cartoonist Terry Gilliam described Davis’ work for Mad as “exquisite, outrageous, brilliant. His pen danced like an acrobatic prima donna on expensive drugs.”
Sam Wheeler (c, 1944-July 25, 2016), an engineer from Arcadia, California, was known as an innovator and pioneer in the sport of high-performance motorcycle racing. He spent more than two decades building, fine-tuning and racing a motorcycle on which he reached speeds exceeding 300 mph, and one time held the land speed record.
“He’s was pretty much one of the legends of our sport,” said fellow racer Pat McDowell. “He did it with his brain, not his wallet.”
He had been working on the motorcycle in recent years with a goal of surpassing 400 mph, McDowell said: “Everyone was rooting for him, even competitors.”
The gifts of singer Marni Nixon (1929-July 24, 2016) were featured in such classic movie musicals as ‘’The King and I,” “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.” But viewers would be forgiven for mistaking her contributions for that of Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood or Audrey Hepburn - actresses whose singing voices were dubbed by Nixon. She even hit high notes for Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
Her role was contractually kept secret. In 2008 Nixon told Charles Osgood of CBS’ “Sunday Morning”
that she was threatened that I wouldn’t work again if anybody knew, but other people said it for me, so I was lucky.”
It was Kerr who revealed Nixon had dubbed her singing, in an interview with columnist Earl Wilson. “I said to her, ‘Look, people aren’t supposed to know that I did your dubbing,’” Nixon recalled. “And she said, ‘Well, I don’t have to know that that’s in your contract.’ She was that gracious.”
“In the neighborhood where we grew up in, the Bronx, you only had a few choices. You were either an athlete or a gangster, or you were funny,” said writer-director-actor Garry Marshall (Nov. 13, 1934-July 19, 2016). A gagwriter for Jack Paar and Joey Bishop, Marshall began writing for sitcoms like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Lucy Show” in the 1960s. He turned Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” into a long-running TV hit, and created such popular shows as “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” (which starred his sister, Penny Marshall), and “Mork & Mindy.” He also directed a string of rom-coms (“Pretty Woman,” “The Princess Diaries”) and sentimental tearjerkers (“Beaches”).
Richard Gere, who starred opposite Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” said of his director, “He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief.”
Pictured: Marshall with Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts filming “Valentine’s Day.”
One of the greatest players in NBA history, Nate Thurmond (July 25, 1941-July 16, 2016) was a seven-time All-Star. Over his 14-year professional career -- with the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers -- Thurmond was praised for both his defensive and offensive abilities, and was the first NBA player to record a quadruple-double (22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocked shots) in a game.
In 2013 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar named Thurmond the greatest defender he ever faced. “When I score on Nate, I know I’ve done something,” he said. “He sweats, and he wants you to sweat, too.”
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (June 22, 1940-July 4, 2016) continued to work and acquire international acclaim despite the actions of the government in Tehran, which tried to stifle filmmakers and artists who created challenging works. His 1997 film “Taste of Cherry,” which told the story of an Iranian man looking for someone to bury him after he killed himself, was banned in Iran, but won top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Kiarostami also wrote and directed “Certified Copy,” a mesmerizing 2010 film starring Juliette Binoche.
For that film and others, Kiarostami had to work outside of Iran because of the difficulties in making movies there. “For a long time, the Iranian government has put a spoke in the wheel of independent filmmakers,” he said at a 2010 news conference.
Director Martin Scorsese said some people referred to Kiarostami’s pictures as minimalist, but he thought it was the opposite; every scene in “Taste of Cherry” and “Where Is the Friend’s House,” Scorsese said, overflows with beauty and surprise.
Actress Noel Neill (Nov. 25, 1920-July 3, 2016) was best known as Lois Lane, the intrepid Daily Planet reporter who could never quite figure out that her colleague Clark Kent and the Man of Steel were one and the same, in the 1950s TV series, “Adventures of Superman.”
Neill first played Lane in a 1948 “Superman” movie serial starring Kirk Alyn, and its follow-up, “Superman and the Mole Men.” When Phyllis Coates left the TV series after one season, Neill stepped back into the role of the nosy reporter who always got into fixes, only to be rescued by Superman himself.
The series ended with the suicide of star George Reeves, and with it, Neill’s acting career ended as well, becoming (she told The New York Times in 2006) “a beach bum.”
But she returned to the “Superman” franchise in 1978, with a cameo appearance in the big-budget blockbuster playing - who else? - Lois Lane’s mother.
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel (Sept. 30, 1928-July 2, 2016) was just 15 years old when he and his family were seized by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. “Never shall I forget that first night,” he later wrote, “the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night.”
Both his parents and a sister died in the camps, but Wiesel was among the prisoners freed by Allied forces in April 1945 - and with his rescue came a moral burden, as he described years later in a CBS interview: “In the beginning the question was, ‘Why did I survive? Why?’ Every survivor had that question. Every survivor is haunted by that question to this day.”
For Wiesel the answer was to devote his life to fighting intolerance, while insuring that no one forgot the crimes of the Holocaust. He wrote dozens of books, founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, and championed the cause of Israel.
“A messenger to mankind,” his 1986 Nobel citation read in part. “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity.”
As a brash young filmmaker in the 1970s who co-wrote the Dirty Harry film “Magnum Force,” Michael Cimino (Feb. 3, 1939-July 2, 2016) made a name for himself with his 1974 debut, “Thunderbolt & Lightfoot,” starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. He followed that with “The Deer Hunter” (1978), a searing portrait of the haunting effects of the Vietnam War on the men and women of a Pennsylvania steel town. The film, which starred Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken).
Cimino followed his golden-boy success with the big-budget western, “Heaven’s Gate.” Tales of the director’s profligacy seemed to forebode a failure, but no one was prepared for the monumental critical drubbing the four-hour epic received. “Heaven’s Gate” became synonymous with box office disaster, and its failure brought about the collapse of its studio, United Artists. Still, the movie has earned a critical reappraisal in recent years, and Cimino went on to film “Year of the Dragon.”
“I never second-guess myself,” he told Vanity Fair in 2010. “You can’t look back. I don’t believe in defeat. Everybody has bumps, but as Count Basie said, ‘It’s not how you handle the hills, it’s how you handle the valleys.’”
Legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt (June 14, 1952-June 28, 2016) was the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history. In her 38-year career at the University of Tennessee, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and prominence on a campus steeped in the traditions of the football-rich South until she retired in 2012.
She announced in 2011 at age 59 that she’d been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. She coached one more season before stepping down. At her retirement, Summitt’s eight national titles ranked behind the 10 won by former UCLA men’s coach John Wooden. UConn coach Geno Auriemma passed Summitt after she retired.
Football player Peyton Manning said of Summit, “She could have coached any team, any sport, men’s or women’s. It wouldn’t have mattered because Pat could flat-out coach.”
Author and futurist Alvin Toffler (October 4, 1928-June 27, 2016) was a guru of the post-industrial age whose books anticipated the disruptions and transformations brought about by the rise of digital technology.
“Future Shock,” a term he first used in a 1965 magazine article, was how Toffler defined the growing feeling of anxiety brought on by the sense that life was changing at a bewildering and ever-accelerating pace. His subsequent 1970 book of that name (which would sell six million copies) combined an understanding tone and page-turning urgency as he diagnosed contemporary trends and headlines, from war protests to the rising divorce rate, as symptoms of a historical cycle overturning every facet of life.
“We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots - religion, nation, community, family, or profession - are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust,” he wrote.
A Harvard University dropout, Boston-born Bill Cunningham (March 13, 1929-June 25, 2016) moved to New York City where he worked as a hat maker and in advertising. A stint in the Army took him to France, where he grew inspired by the local fashions. Cunningham began writing fashion pieces, segueing into photography, and would become world-famous for his candid pictures of people on the streets of the city - images which graced the pages of The New York Times for about four decades.
He always tried to be as discreet as possible, Cunningham said in a 2002 Times interview, because “you get more natural pictures that way.”
Part of the New Journalism literary wave of the 1960s and ‘70s, Michael Herr (April 13, 1940-June 23, 2016) was best known for his nonfiction novel “Dispatches,” which exposed the ravages of the Vietnam War.
The 1977 book was a memoir of Herr’s stint as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine.
Herr later contributed to the screenplay of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” and co-authored the script of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” sharing an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sonny Mehta, chairman of Knopf, said the strength of Herr’s wartime storytelling has endured through the decades. “’Dispatches’ is one of the seminal works of the 20th century,” Mehta said in a statement, “and the most brilliant treatment of war and men I have ever read.”
Praised by Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Ricky Skaggs and countless other artists, bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley (Feb. 25, 1927-June 23, 2016) helped expand and popularize the “old time” music of Appalachia. Born and raised in Big Spraddle, Va., a land of coal mines and deep forests, he and his brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946, and toured the country playing folk and bluegrass festivals. After Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph drew even deeper from his Appalachian roots.
At age 73, he was introduced to a new generation of fans in 2000 due to his chilling a cappella dirge “O Death” from the hit soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Stanley won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2002, beating out Tim McGraw, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Lyle Lovett.
The following year he and Jim Lauderdale would win a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines.” “I call him the king of mountain soul,” Lauderdale said. “He had that magical quality about him, that when you heard him, there’s something about it that really touches you deeply. And he could make you want to cry, laugh or dance.”
Actor Anton Yelchin (March 11, 1989-June 19, 2016) came to the United States at six months old; his parents, ice dancers, were political refugees from the Soviet Union. He began acting as a child, appearing in such shows as “ER,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
“(My father) still wanted me to apply to college and stuff, and I did,” he told the Associated Press in 2011. “But this is what I wanted.”
While he had built a body of work in small, independent films such as “Rudderless,” “Like Crazy,” “Only Lovers Left Alive” and “Experimenter,” Yelchin’s most recognizable film role was as Pavel Chekov in the recent movie reboots of “Star Trek.”
Gabe Klinger, who directed Yelchin in the upcoming film “Porto,” called the actor “a ferocious movie buff who put us all to shame.”
Klinger spoke of how Yelchin got to work with one of his acting heroes, Willem Dafoe, on the film “Odd Thomas.” “He used to refer to Willem as an artist, not an actor,” he said. “That’s the kind of actor [Anton] aspired to be, where people didn’t regard him as an actor, they regarded him as an artist.”
Revered as “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe (March 31, 1928-June 10, 2016) was a seven-time MVP and Hall of Famer whose dominance in the game over a nearly-four-decade-long career began with his 1946 debut with the Detroit Red Wings. Howe, along with teammates Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay, made up “The Production Line,” one of hockey’s most dominant trios.
In addition to holding the NHL record for regular season games played (1,767), most consecutive NHL 20-goal seasons (22), most All-Star Game appearances (23), and the oldest player in the NHL (at age 52), Howe scored 1,071 goals (regular and post-season), a total topped only by Wayne Gretzky (with 1,072).
Coach Scotty Bowman, hailing Howe’s talents in both offense and defense, once remarked, “If you could make a mold for a hockey player, it would be him.”
Pictured: Gordie Howe (#9) of the Detroit Red Wings gets the puck away from New York’s Howie Glover in Detroit, Nov. 7, 1963.
After early appearances in the films “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “Nunzio,” actress Theresa Saldana (August 20, 1954-June 6, 2016) came to attention in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” playing the wife of Joe Pesci. She later starred in the series “The Commish.”
In 1982, Saldana was repeatedly stabbed by an obsessed stalker in front of her West Hollywood apartment; a water deliveryman stopped the attack and held the assailant for police. After enduring a prolonged hospitalization for her physical and mental scars, Saldana went on to found a support and lobbying group, Victims for Victims. She also wrote a memoir, and played herself in a 1984 TV movie, “Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story.”
In a 1992 interview with the Associated Press, Saldana said her recovery was long in coming but complete. “It’s been a decade, and it’s over now, finally,” she said.
Pictured: Saldana in a demonstration line for Victims for Victims outside a Santa Monica courthouse in 1983.
For much of his long career, British playwright Peter Shaffer (May 15, 1926-June 6, 2016) achieved the often-elusive goal of combining commercial and critical success, writing literate, cleverly-crafted plays that became box-office hits in London and New York.
Among his most famous were “Equus,” about a troubled stable boy who inexplicably blinds horses, and “Amadeus,” about the rivalry between Mozart and the less-talented composer Salieri. “Amadeus,” which starred Ian McKellen in its Broadway run, won five Tony Awards, and was adapted into a 1984 film by Milos Forman that won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Schaffer picked up the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Some of his other theatre hits included “Five Finger Exercise,” “The Private Ear and The Public Eye,” “The Royal Hunt of the Sun,” and “Lettice and Lovage.”
In a 2006 Guardian interview, Shaffer described his approach to drama: “I suppose part of me is always looking for a pre-selected meeting of opposites even if they’re not always antithetical. You can have a conflict between two different kinds of right.”
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016) said he learned to fight as a child after someone stole his bicycle. He captured the world’s attention as an 18-year-old with a gold-medal boxing victory at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. And in 1964, at the age of 22, he defeated Sonny Liston to become the world heavyweight champion - the youngest ever.
Never humble, always bold in style and substance, Ali had an unorthodox style and sharp tongue that moved as fast as his dancing feet. “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see,” he famously said.
Ali was forced out of the ring in the late 1960s when, citing his conscientious objector status, he refused to be drafted into fighting the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court overturned his draft evasion conviction, and he won back his title from George Foreman in 1974, in a highly-publicized bout in Zaire known as “The Rumble in the Jungle.” He would also win the crown a third time after defeating Leon Spinks in 1978.
After retiring from the ring with a pro record of 56 wins and five defeats, Ali had to face perhaps the biggest fight of his life when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The most graceful of boxers slowly lost control of his body. It became hard to walk and even harder to speak. Yet his stature in the pantheon of sports heroes remained undimmed, and in 1999 Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Century.
Born in Manchester, England, but raised in Shanghai, actor Burt Kwouk (July 18, 1930-May 24, 2016) appeared in numerous films, including “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” “Goldfinger,” “You Only Live Twice,” “The Shoes of the Fisherman,” the Bond spoof “Casino Royale,” and “Empire of the Sun.” But never were his talents more joyfully deployed than in the “Pink Panther” comedies, in which he starred in the recurring role of Cato, the valiant manservant of bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers). Cato’s constant attempts to surprise his boss (thus keeping the detective’s martial arts skills at a heightened pitch) never failed to produce slapstick of the highest order.
In 1981 Kwouk conceded to one interviewer that some of his roles were written as racist caricatures: “I look at it this way: if I don’t do it, someone else will. So why don’t I go in, get some money, and try to elevate it a bit, if I can?”
When Japanese families in the U.S. were transported off their lands and into internment camps during World War II (such was the plight facing the farmer pictured in California in 1942), Bob Fletcher (c. 1915-May 23, 2016), a former agriculture inspector in California, resigned from his post to manage fruit farms belonging to the relocated Japanese.
First accepting an offer from a Japanese farmer in return for the farm’s profits, Fletcher managed three farms, totaling 90 acres, living in a farm workers’ bunkhouse, and paying the bills and mortgages. He kept half the profits, and deposited the rest in the bank for the families. This was in spite of personal attacks he received for helping the Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor; he was called a “Jap lover,” and was shot at.
“He saved us,” Doris Taketa, who was 12 when Fletcher continued to run her family’s farm while they were transferred to an internment camp in Arkansas, told The New York Times.
After the war he raised cattle, and served as a volunteer fireman and local fire chief. In 2010 Fletcher downplayed his role in aiding his neighbors during wartime: “I don’t know about courage,” he said, instead characterizing his contribution as “a devil of a lot of work.”
The son of Buddy Rich’s longtime jazz saxophonist Don Menza, drummer Nick Menza (July 23, 1964-May 21, 2016) began his career as a session musician before being recruited by then-Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler to serve as drum tech. After Behler left the band, Menza was invited to join Megadeth in 1989, performing on four studio albums (including the band’s 1990 classic, “Rust in Peace” and 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction”), and providing a memorable stage presence on tour with his Greg Voelker Rack System. He also performed on three of fellow Megadeth member Marty Friedman’s solo albums.
Menza’s tenure with the group ended in 1998, when knee problems and a benign tumor forced him to leave the band’s tour in support of “Cryptic Writings.” He issued a solo album, “Life After Deth,” in 2002. He also performed with Memorain, Orphaned to Hatred, Deltanaut, and OHM.
(Pictured: Megadeth in 1997, from left: Menza, Friedman, David Ellefson and Dave Mustaine.)
The varied resume of Alan Young (November 19, 1919-May 19, 2016), an English-born, Canadian-American actor, included the radio and TV series “The Alan Young Show” (for which he won an Emmy), the films “The Time Machine” and “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes,” and Disney cartoons (as the voice of Scrooge McDuck).
But he is most famous for playing the sidekick to a palomino -- the only person to whom the “talking” horse would speak -- in the long-running ‘60s TV sitcom, “Mr. Ed.” Young supposedly got the role of Wilbur after someone said he “looks like the kind of guy a horse would talk to.”
Guitarist John Berry (1963-May 19, 2016) met fellow musician Michael Diamond at the Walden School in Manhattan, and helped found the punk band Beastie Boys in 1981, along with Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach.
Berry (who also came up with the band’s name) left the group shortly after recording the EP ”Polly Wog Stew” in 1982.
From left: Kate Schellenbach, Adam Yauch, John Berry and Michael Diamond.
Berry “remained friendly” with Yauch and Diamond after leaving the group and continued to pursue his interests in both music and art, performing with such bands as Even Worse, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.
During the Beastie Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2012, Berry was remembered in a letter from Yauch, who paid homage to Berry’s loft at Broadway and 100th Street, “where John’s dad would come busting in during our first practice screaming, ‘Will you turn that f------ s--- off already!’”
Toronto-born newsman Morley Safer (November 8, 1931-May 19, 2016) joined CBS in 1964, taking a job in the London Bureau once held by Edward R. Murrow, and later became the network’s first Saigon bureau chief. His controversial 1965 report on U.S. Marines burning the Vietnamese village of Cam Ne (which prompted calls from the White House to fire Safer) was a turning point in Americans’ attitudes toward the war.
As a “60 Minutes” correspondent for all but two of the newsmagazine’s 48-year history, Safer enjoyed the longest run anyone ever had on primetime network television, with stylish and eloquently-written stories on headline news events, esoteric subjects, celebrities and the arts - more than 900 features in all.
When asked, in a 2000 interview, to describe his legacy, Safer emphasized the power of words in a television report: “It’s not literary, I wouldn’t presume to suggest that. But I think you can elevate it a little bit sometimes with the most important part of the medium, which is what people are saying - whether they’re the people being interviewed or the guy who’s telling the story.”
Grammy-winning musician Emilio Navaira (August 23, 1962-May 16, 2016) was described as the “Garth Brooks of Tejano.” He released nearly a dozen albums in Spanish and English, mostly a mix of traditional Mexican music and accordion-based polka, but also some country. He won a Best Tejano Album Grammy in 2002 for “Acuerdate,” and a Latin Grammy Award for his 2007 album, “De Nuevo.”
In a 1995 interview with The Monitor newspaper, Navaira said music was his life and that he was not going to let anyone get him down.
“Soy Chicano. I’m from San Antonio and always will be,” he said. “We must be proud of where we came from and who we are to make it anywhere.”
Attorney, New York legislator and conspiracy theorist Mark Lane (February 24, 1927-May 11, 2016) was author of the bestselling “Rush to Judgment” (1966), an indictment of the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Lane wrote several books questioning the evidence in the murder of JFK, and co-wrote the screenplay of the feature film, “Executive Action.”
In 1968 Lane was the running mate for Dick Gregory on an independent presidential run. Lane would later co-author, with Gregory, “Code Name: Zorro,” alleging a government conspiracy in the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When he was 13, playing in a 2011 Pop Warner championship football game in Laguna Hills, Calif., Donnovan Hill (c.1998-May 11, 2016) fractured his spine, leaving him with minimal use of his arms and no independent movement below his chest.
He and his mother, Crystal Dixon, claimed in a 2014 lawsuit against the youth league that the teen used a dangerous headfirst tackling technique promoted by his coaches. The suit alleged that Hill was punished when he objected to the technique in practice.
The lawsuit revealed the lack of safety protections for Pop Warner players. Founded in 1929, the league promoted a safety-first philosophy and claimed young people played for coaches trained in proper tackling. But ESPN, the sports network reported that in a deposition, the league’s executive director Jon Butler conceded that the national office does not check whether coaches actually receive such training.
The case set an important legal precedent that will force national organizations to enforce rules all the way down to the community level. “Donnovan’s case will have an impact on young athletes for generations,” family attorney Robert Carey told The Associated Press.
Actor and former Screen Actors Guild president William Schallert (July 6, 1922-May 8, 2016) appeared in hundreds of movies, television series and specials, playing characters and walk-ons. He was a messenger in”Singin’ in the Rain,” a Union soldier in “The Red Badge of Courage,” a Mississippi mayor in “In the Heat of the Night,” a Federation bureaucrat in “Star Trek,” and an ancient spymaster in”Get Smart.”
The lean, friendly face, familiar from decades on television, was best remembered as the harried father (and his identical twin brother) on”The Patty Duke Show.”
In a 2012 interview for the Archive of American Television, Schallert said of his craft, “Just make sure you need to act. It’s not enough to like it; it’s not enough to want it; it’s got to satisfy a real need in you.”
Japanese composer Isao Tomita (April 22, 1932-May 5, 2016) was inspired when Walter Carlos’ breakthrough recording “Switched-on Bach” - classical pieces played on a Moog Synthesizer - was released in 1968. It piqued his interest in both music and electronics. (As a student he’d often purchased electrical equipment salvaged from demolished airplanes and tinkered to create gadgets.)
Tomita’s quadraphonic recording “Snowflakes Are Dancing” (1974) features his arrangements of Claude Debussy’s music not just performed on a Moog, but graced with soundscapes beyond what the original composer may have possibly imagined. It received four Grammy nominations, including Best Classical Album.
Tomita would also perform electronic variations of music by Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Holst, Mussorgsky and John Williams.
In 1977 Tomita told Player Magazine that Japanese companies initially refused to release his records because they didn’t know how to classify electronic music. “I checked to see where ‘Switched-On Bach’ was being put in the stores and found one shop selling it as a sound-effects record,” he said.
Former Black Panther Afeni Shakur (January 10, 1947-May 2, 2016), born Alice Faye Williams, became politically active in the 1960s. During a New York City teachers’ strike, the Panthers took over a school to make a point about continuing to educate children. Pregnant at the time, Afeni was jailed and accused of conspiring to commit murder and arson, and to blow up NYC landmarks, police stations and department stores. All charges were ultimately dismissed, and her son, rap artist Tupac Shakur, was born soon after.
As a single mother Afeni struggled with addiction, but managed to enroll Tupac in arts schools and other programs where he honed the musical and acting skills that would make him a hip-hop icon, and inspired a worldview that later made Tupac stand out among other young rappers, with songs reflecting a rebellious attitude toward racism,poverty, violence and other social problems.
“Arts can save children, no matter what’s going on in their homes,” Afeni told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview.
After Tupac’s death, Afeni focused on keeping her son’s legacy alive, and opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Georgia for at-risk youth.
In 1940, using forged visas, French actress Madeleine Lebeau (June 10, 1923-May 1, 2016) escaped Paris ahead of the Nazis with her then-husband, actor Marcel Dalio. They made their way to Hollywood, where she appeared in a handful of films (billed as Madeleine LeBeau), most notably playing Humphrey Bogart’s cast-aside lover in “Casablanca” (1942). At Rick’s Café Americaine (where Dalio played Emil, the croupier), Lebeau heroically sings “La Marsellaise” louder than competing singers of a German song. (Take that, Nazis!)
She was the last surviving member of the cast of “Casablanca,” one of the most beloved films of all time.
Lebeau also appeared in “Gentleman Jim” (with Errol Flynn), and “Hold Back the Dawn” (starring Olivia de Havilland). She returned to Europe after the war, where she starred as a prostitute who feigns pregnancy to dump jilted Romeos in “Sins of Madeleine,” and appeared as a French actress in Fellini’s “8 ½.”
The Rev. Daniel Berrigan
Roman Catholic priest, pacifist and poet The Rev. Daniel Berrigan (May 9, 1921-April 30, 2016), far right, became a household name in the U.S. in the 1960s for his defiant anti-war protests, which helped shape Americans’ opposition to the Vietnam War.
Berrigan and others referred to as the “Catonsville Nine” were convicted on federal charges after entering a draft board in Catonsville, Md., on May 17, 1968, removing records of young men about to be shipped off to Vietnam, and burning the files in garbage cans.
Berrigan and his younger brother, The Rev. Philip Berrigan, were sent to the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., where he served about two years.
Long after Catonsville, the Berrigan brothers continued to be committed activists. Together, they began the Plowshares Movement, an anti-nuclear weapons campaign in 1980. Both were arrested that year after entering a General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pa., and damaging nuclear warhead nose cones.
In an interview with The Nation magazine in 2008, Berrigan lamented that the activism of the 1960s and early 1970s evaporated with the passage of time. “The short fuse of the American left is typical of the highs and lows of American emotional life,” he said. “It is very rare to sustain a movement in recognizable form without a spiritual base.”
Canadian marketing executive and tireless TV pitchman Philip Kives (February 12, 1929-April 28, 2016) made a fortune from his company K-tel International, which sold Miracle Brush hair and lint removers, Veg-o-matic vegetable slicers, and mood rings through his ubiquitous informercials.
But wait - there’s more! Kives also peddled compilation record albums that sold more than half a billion copies worldwide, from “Hooked on Classics” to “A Musical Journey - Vol. 4: Pan-Flute.”
Tommy Kono (June 27, 1930-April 24, 2016) was a frail, asthmatic 14-year-old when a neighbor first gave him a dumbbell at the Tule Lake internment center for Japanese-Americans, where he lived with his family for most of World War II.
“I didn’t want to be a weightlifter,” he reportedly said in 1960. “I just want to be healthy.”
He went on to become one of the sport’s greatest champions, winning two Olympic gold medals for the United States (in Helsinki in 1952, and Melbourne in 1956). He also won a silver medal at the 1960 games in Rome. At various times Kono held 20 world records, in four different weight classes.
Kono said Arnold Schwarzenegger once cited him as an inspiration. “He told me he was a 13-year-old boy in the audience that day and was so inspired he ran home and started working out,” Kono told the Sacramento Bee in 2005.
Born Paul Williams, jazz and soul singer Billy Paul (December 1, 1934-April 24, 2016), a Philadelphia native, was featured on a handful of singles while still in his teens, and performed with such jazz stars as Charlie Parker and Dinah Washington. Drafted into the military in his early 20s, he formed a band in Germany “so we didn’t have to do any any hard work,” he told bluesandsoul.com in 2015. On the same base in Germany was a somewhat famous name in music: “We tried to get Elvis to join, but he wanted to be a jeep driver ... He wanted to get away from music for a while.”
Paul performed for several decades, even after his announced retirement. But he was best known for his 1972 ballad, “Me and Mrs. Jones.” The lush and sensuous arrangement and the singer’s powerful tenor made the song about an extramarital affair his first and only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The recording also won Paul a Grammy for Best Male Rhythm ‘n Blues Performance.
But radio stations resisted Paul’s more socially-conscious follow-up song, “Am I Black Enough for You,” and The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those who objected to the explicit “Let’s Make a Baby” (1975).
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the flamboyant musician Prince (June 7, 1958-April 21, 2016) burst onto the scene in the 1980s with a unique blend of rock, R&B, funk and soul, adorned with risqué lyrics and costumes, and an overt sexuality. “1999” (1982), and the film and soundtrack of 1984’s “Purple Rain” (pictured), for which he won an Oscar for Best Song Score, established him as a superstar.
In an era of MTV and VH1, Prince’s music helped define the decade with such hits as “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
He was just as successful penning hits for other artists, including the Bangles (“Manic Monday”), Tevin Campbell (“Round and Round”), and Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”).
British director Guy Hamilton (September 16, 1922-April 20, 2016) had turned down the chance to direct “Dr. No,” the first James Bond film, but he accepted the opportunity to helm “Goldfinger,” a blockbuster which solidified the template of the super-spy for movie audiences in all his gadget-infused glory.
“I liked the idea of an intellectual villain,” Hamilton told the website Film Talk in 2003. “A Bond villain has to be [the] intellectual equal and a worthy opponent of Bond.”
Hamilton would direct three more Bond extravaganzas (‘’Diamonds Are Forever,” ‘’Live And Let Die” and “The Man With the Golden Gun”), as well as “Funeral in Berlin,” “Battle of Britain,” “Force 10 From Navarone,” “The Mirror Crack’d,” and “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.”
Roger Moore tweeted he was “incredibly, incredibly saddened to hear the wonderful director Guy Hamilton has gone to the great cutting room in the sky.”
Ad man Les Waas (May 18, 1921-April 19, 2016) was responsible for nearly a thousand jingles during his long career, but he is best known as the creator of one of the most loved (and loathed) tunes of summer: the Mister Softee jingle, heard emanating from hundreds of ice cream trucks for more than half a century, and a lasting part of the collective American childhood.
In 2005 New York City noise rules prohibited the trucks from playing the music if they weren’t moving - a win for the Mister Softee company, as the Bloomberg administration had tried to ban the jingle from the city’s streets entirely. Nostalgists complained, and the twinkling tune played on.
The career of actress Doris Roberts (November 4, 1925-April 17, 2016) spanned six decades, beginning with a role on the TV series “Studio One” in 1952. She appeared in the movies “Barefoot In The Park,” “A Lovely Way to Die,” “Little Murders,” “A New Leaf,” “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” “The Rose,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Grandma’s Boy,” “Aliens in the Attic,” and “Madea’s Witness Protection.”
Roberts was best known as the opinionated and manipulative, yet lovable, mother of Ray on the hit CBS series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” for which she won four Emmy Awards. She also won an Emmy for a guest appearance on “St. Elsewhere.”
“She was funny and tough and loved life, living it to the fullest,” wrote her “Raymond” costar Patricia Heaton.
Tony Award-nominated actress Anne Jackson (September 3, 1925-April 12, 2016) was part of a formidable acting duo with her husband, Eli Wallach (pictured). They appeared on stage in numerous productions, including “This Property is Condemned,” George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” “The Waltz of the Toreadors,” “Luv” (directed by Mike Nichols), “Rhinoceros,” ‘’Twice Around the Park” and “Down the Garden Paths.” They also shared the screen in “The Tiger Makes Out,” and on TV’s “ER.”
Jackson also appeared in “Lovers and Other Strangers,” “Nasty Habits,” and as a psychiatrist in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
Their son, Peter Wallach, told the Associated Press that he grew up in a happy home in which the children never really knew if their parents were arguing or just rehearsing. “Even sometimes when they’d fight, they would kind of step back from the fight and go, ‘Wow, that was a really good Tennessee Williams performance I just gave!’” he said.
Country music singer-songwriter Merle Haggard (April 6, 1937-April 6,2016) said he was “a very happy child until my father passed away” when Merle was nine. Haggard hated school, held odd jobs, and was eventually imprisoned for robbery. After attempting to escape, he was transferred to the notorious San Quentin prison,where he saw Johnny Cash perform. It turned his life around.
Haggard became a bona fide country star by the mid-1960s, pioneering the gritty, twangy “Bakersfield Sound” that was the first country music style to rely heavily on electric instrumentation and a rock-and-roll beat. Part of the outlaw country movement (with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings), Haggard had 41 number-one hits, including “Mama Tried,” “The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde,” “Okie from Muskogee,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
“I don’t have a great education and music was a way out of poverty,” Haggard said in a 2014 interview with The Associated Press. “I knew there was not much for me to look forward to if I didn’t make it in music.”
He was modest about his success as a musical champion for the common man: “I’m a hillybilly that rhymes words,” he once said.
Joseph Medicine Crow
At 102, acclaimed Native American historian Joseph Medicine Crow (October 27, 1913-April 3, 2016) was the last surviving war chief of Montana’s Crow Tribe. He recalled listening as a child to stories about the Battle of Little Bighorn from those who were there, including his grandmother’s brother, White Man Runs Him, a scout for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. The first of his tribe to receive a master’s degree, in anthropology, he served for decades as a Crow historian, cataloging his people’s nomadic history by collecting firsthand accounts of pre-reservation life from fellow tribal members.
“I always told people, when you meet Joe Medicine Crow, you’re shaking hands with the 19th century,” said Herman Viola, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Indians.
During World War II, Medicine Crow earned the title of war chief after performing a series of daring deeds, including stealing horses from an enemy encampment and hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life Medicine Crow ultimately spared. Warfare was our highest art, but Plains Indian warfare was not about killing. It was about intelligence, leadership, and honor,” Medicine Crow wrote in his 2006 book “Counting Coup.”
Latin jazz saxophonist Leandro “Gato” Barbieri (November 28, 1932-April 2, 2016) was a disciple of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane’s style of free jazz, and performed with jazz avant-garde maven Don Cherry. But in a career spanning more than seven decades and dozens of recordings, Barbieri would meld Latin American styles with soul, smooth jazz and pop. He played with Carlos Santana on the 1976”Europa,” and won a Grammy Award for his soulful music for the 1973 Marlon Brando film ”Last Tango in Paris.”
Last year, Barbieri received a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award, for a career that covered “virtually the entire jazz landscape.”
In 2004 the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (October 31, 1950-March 31, 2016) became the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize of architecture.” A mathematics student, she switched her studies to architecture and worked for the groundbreaking Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas before setting up her London-based firm in 1979.
Hadid fused her knowledge of mathematics and embrace of computer technology with soaring imagination and ambition, such as in her modernist, futuristic designs for the swooping aquatic center for the 2012 London Olympics (pictured); the glittering Guangzhou Opera House in China; an innovative BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany; Rome’slight-filled MAXXI museum for contemporary arts and architecture; and the strikingly curved Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Her buildings were always talking points, and sometimes controversial. Like all architects, Hadid sometimes struggled to have her ambitious designs built. She acknowledged that some of her early plans had posed engineering challenges.
“I used to like buildings floating,” Hadid told the BBC last month. “Now I know that they can’t float.”
Diminutive British comic Ronnie Corbett (December 4, 1930-March 31, 2016) was hailed as a huge talent, rising to prominence on the 1960s satirical TV show, “The Frost Report.” One classic sketch - still frequently used to illustrate Britain’s class system - teamed 5-foot 1-inch Corbett, the taller comedian Ronnie Barker, and the towering John Cleese to represent the working, middle and upper classes.
Corbett and Barker’s sketch show,”The Two Ronnies,” which made gleeful use of wordplay, ran for 16 years.
Cleese tweeted, “He had the best timing I’ve ever watched. He was a great, kind mentor and a wonderfully witty companion.”
As an actress, Patty Duke (December 14, 1946-March 29, 2016) made a tremendous splash with her performance, at age 12, as Helen Keller in the 1959 play, “The Miracle Worker.” She would later win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1962 film version. After playing identical cousins in the ‘60s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show,” she graduated to more adult roles in films and television, including “Valley of the Dolls,” “Me, Natalie” (pictured),”Captains and the Kings,” and “The Miracle Worker” playing the role of Anne Sullivan (for which she earned one of her three Emmy Awards). She played the first female president of the United States in the ‘80s sitcom “Hail to the Chief,” while also taking on the role of president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985-1988.
Later in life, Duke opened up about her struggle against bipolar disorder, writing in her memoir, “Call Me Anna,” about her condition and the treatment that helped stabilize her life. The book became a 1990 TV film in which she played herself. As an activist for mental health causes she was “a warrior,” said her son, actor Sean Astin. “You watch this 4-foot-10, tiny imp of a lady who’s more powerful than the greatest military leaders in history.”
Author and outdoorsman Jim Harrison (December 11, 1937-March 26, 2016) wrote with gruff affection for the country’s landscape, rural life, and of the men who lived far from the “urban dream-coasts” of the U.S. A man of extraordinary appetite and a teller of tales, Harrison enjoyed mainstream success in middle age with his historical saga “Legends of the Fall,” published in 1979.
Destitute from the failure of his previous published books (he’d begun writing his first novel while being laid up with an injury), Harrison turned a corner when he came upon the journals of his wife’s great-grandfather, a mining engineer, and was inspired to write the novella which became “Legends of the Fall,” and later an Oscar-nominated movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt. “And now the one-eyed goofy, the black-sheep poet ... has inadvertently struck it rich,” Harrison later wrote of his mid-life success.
Sometimes likened to Ernest Hemingway for the range of his interests, he shirked the suggestion that his outdoor activities were affectations of machismo. “How is it macho that I like to hunt and fish?” he told the Paris Review in 1986. “I’ve been doing it since I was four.”
Actor and satirist Garry Shandling (November 29, 1949-March 24, 2016) was the mastermind between two innovative comedy series: “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” a 1980s Showtime meta-sitcom that broke the fourth wall with its audience; and “The Larry Sanders Show,” a parody of talk shows, which became the first cable show to be nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
His “Larry Sanders” costar Rip Torn said, “He was a comic talent of immense originality who enthusiastically encouraged and responded to the originality of others.”
As a 20-year-old rookie catcher, Joe Garagiola (February 12, 1926-March 23, 2016) helped his hometown St. Louis Cardinals win the 1946 World Series. But he was modest about his accomplishments on the field during his nine-year career: “Not only was I not the best catcher in the major leagues, I wasn’t even the best catcher on my street,” he once remarked.
But it was his 57 years as a sports broadcaster that made his name and face familiar to generations of sports fans. (Pictured: Garagiola with New York Mets catcher Gary Carter in 1986.)
He thrived as a glib baseball commentator and became a fixture on the “Today” show, and kept working well into his 80s, serving as a part-time analyst for Diamondbacks telecasts until he announced his retirement in February 2013. “He had a genuine impact on the craft. He was among the first to bring a humorous, story-telling style to the booth,” NBC announcer Bob Costas said.
Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor Ken Howard (March 28, 1944-March 23, 2016) starred in the acclaimed CBS series “The White Shadow” as the white coach of an urban high school basketball team - a part that drew on the personal history of the 6-foot-6 actor, who played basketball growing up on Long Island in New York and at Amherst College. He also played Thomas Jefferson in the stage and film versions of the musical “1776” (pictured, on Broadway in 1969).
Other credits included the TV series “Adam’s Rib” (starring opposite Blythe Danner), ‘’Boston Legal,” “Cane,” “Crossing Jordan,” ‘’Curb Your Enthusiasm,” ‘’Law & Order: SVU,” “The Manhunter,” ‘’NYPD Blue,” “The Office,” ‘’The Practice,” “30 Rock,” “The West Wing,” and “Grey Gardens” for which he won an Emmy. Other film credits include “Tell Me That You Love Me,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Rambo,” ‘’In Her Shoes,” ‘’Michael Clayton,” and “Joy.”
Elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2009, he was a catalyst for the union’s 2012 merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union. Howard was the first president of SAG-AFTRA and was re-elected to the post last year. Recounting the actor’s influence on him, George Clooney said that “Today his obituary read that he was six foot six, but he was so much taller than that.”
“I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian,
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation.”
Born Malik Isaac Taylor, Phife Dawg (November 20, 1970-March 22, 2016) was a masterful lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. He was part of a number of rap classics with Tribe, including “Scenario,” ‘’Bonita Applebum,” ‘’Can I Kick It?” and “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo.”
The group, which blended genres such as jazz into hip-hop, and recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” said of Phife (sometimes called the “Five Foot Assassin”), “His music and what he’s contributed is seismic and hard to measure. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage.
“We are devastated. This is something we weren’t prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting.”
Actor Larry Drake (February 21, 1950-March 17, 2016) earned back-to-back Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Benny Stulwicz, a mentally-challenged office worker in the series, “L.A. Law.”
In a 1989 interview with The Associated Press, Drake said he portrayed Benny not as a stereotype but as a man with a full range of emotions. “And that seems to surprise people,” he said, “that (such) characters can feel as much as they feel, and note as much as they note.”
Frank Sinatra Jr.
Singer Frank Sinatra Jr. (January 10, 1944-March 16, 2016) followed his famous father into music as a teenager, eventually working for Sinatra Sr. as his musical director and conductor.
In 2015, on what would have been his father’s 100th birthday, he described his father’s voice to “Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca as “truth. ... When Sinatra sang, you believed him.”
He was able to provide a link to his father’s music after the Chairman of the Board’s death, in 1998, performing his songs and arrangements on tours and especially in Las Vegas. “Since my father’s death, a lot of people have made it clear that they’re not ready to give up the music,” Sinatra Jr. said in a 2002 Associated Press interview. “For me, it’s a big, fat gift. I get to sing with a big orchestra and get to sing orchestrations that will never be old.”
The internationally-celebrated jazz vocalist Ernestine Anderson (November 11, 1928-March 10, 2016) earned four Grammy nominations during her six-decade career. After hitting the road at age 18 with R&B singer Johnny Otis and then Lionel Hampton, she performed around the world, recording a hit album, “Hot Cargo,” in Europe in 1958. Time Magazine called her “the best-kept jazz secret in the land.”
Several more albums followed, including the much-praised “Moanin’.” Anderson quit singing for several years but re-emerged in the late ‘70s, producing over a dozen more albums.
Producer Quincy Jones, a childhood friend, once described Anderson’s voice as the sound of “honey at dusk.”
Keith Emerson (November 2, 1944-March 10, 2016), a founder of the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was heralded as one of the most gifted keyboardists of his generation.
Hailing from Yorkshire, England, Emerson was a musical prodigy playing in blues and jazz clubs in London by his late teens. He played in one of the first progressive rock groups, the Nice, before debuting with vocalist/guitarist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.
EL&P recorded six platinum-selling albums with long, ornate pieces full of complicated rhythms, intricate chords and time signature changes. The orchestrations drew on classical and jazz styles and sometimes wedded traditional rock instruments with full orchestras. Palmer said in a statement that Emerson “was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.”
Despite his success, Emerson never considered himself a rock or pop icon. “He hated being called rock star or prog-rock star,” Emerson’s longtime partner, Mari Kawaguchi, told the AP. “He wanted to be known as composer.” Among his works is a classical piano concerto.
Production designer Sir Ken Adam (February 5, 1921-March 10, 2016) told the Los Angeles Times last year that the function of a film designer is “to create something which the audience has never seen.”
That he did repeatedly throughout his career, with stunning effect. His most brilliant achievements were the expressionist War Room from Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” (pictured), and the iconic supervillain lairs of several James Bond films, most memorably “Dr. No,” “Goldfinger,” “You Only Live Twice” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
Adam received five Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars, for the period dramas “Barry Lyndon” and “The Madness of King George.”
Sir George Martin (January 3, 1926-March 8, 2016), often referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” was the band’s urbane producer who quietly guided their swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries.
“They were cheeky and they had this sparkle,” Martin told CBS News about his earliest impressions of the group. “When you’re with them, you feel enriched in their presence. And when they go away, you feel a bit diminished.”
In a tribute, Paul McCartney wrote. “He was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”
McCartney said that one of his favorite memories of Martin was of the changes he suggested on the song “Yesterday.” Martin asked McCartney to try using a string quartet on the record, though the songwriter pushed back. “When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks,” McCartney said.
Former actress and first lady Nancy Reagan (July 6, 1921-March 6, 2016) promoted several causes during and after her years in the White House. Best known for her “Just Say No” campaign to combat drug abuse in the 1980s, she was also a passionate advocate for lifting restrictions on stem cell research, and for promoting better treatment of America’s veterans.
The inventor of email, computer programmer Ray Tomlinson (April 23, 1941-March 5, 2016) developed the protocol of modern electronic communication when he conscripted a nearly-forgotten key on a Model 33 Teletype machine -- the @ symbol, one typically used by accountants -- for use on ARPANET, a precursor of the Internet. The newly-configured “at” symbol became the preposition to designate a location for sending person-to-person emails between different hosts. “I thought about other symbols, but @ didn’t appear in any names, so it worked,” he said in 1998.
Tomlinson probably didn’t realize how innovative his @ idea was. Colleague Jerry Burchfiel told Forbes magazine that when Tomlinson showed him his breakthrough, “He said, ‘Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.’”
Author Pat Conroy (October 26, 1945-March 4, 2016) drew upon his bruising childhood as a “military brat,” and on the vistas of South Carolina, in such acclaimed bestsellers as “The Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides,” “The Water Is Wide,” “Beach Music” and “The Lords of Discipline.”
“The reason I write is to explain my life to myself,” Conroy said in a 1986 interview. “I’ve also discovered that when I do, I’m explaining other people’s lives to them.”
Singer Joey Feek (September 9, 1975-March 4, 2016), who formed the award-winning country duo Joey + Rory with her husband, songwriter Rory Feek, found success following their 2008 appearance on the Country Music Television singing competition “Can You Duet?” Their first album, “The Life of a Song,” which featured a plainspoken style and Joey’s sweet, smoky voice, was a hit. Their blended voices and deep bonds made them beloved by fans of traditional country music. In addition to performing, the two opened a restaurant, Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, inside an old general store in Pottsville, Tennessee, that became a community center.
“We’re experiencing everything together,” Joey told The Associated Press in 2010. “That’s been the highlight of it all.”
Rory Feek documented their life together on his blog, thislifeilive.com. He would later write about his wife’s diagnosis of cervical cancer, in 2014, which continued to spread despite multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Last fall, Rory wrote that they had decided to end treatment.
Even after the diagnosis, the couple continued to record, and an album of hymns topped the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in March. Their song, “If I Needed You,” was nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the Grammy Awards, and they are also nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year at the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards in April.
“Though this is, and has been, a time of many tears of sorrow, it has also been a time of countless tears of joy,” Rory wrote.
Honduran teacher and environmental activist Berta Caceres (c. 1973-March 3, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her role in fighting a hydroelectric dam project from encroaching on land belonging to the indigenous Lenca people, which put Caceres in the cross-hairs of landowners’ groups, the army and police, whom she claimed issued death threats. She requested protection from the government, which was denied, and on March 3 she was shot dead in her home. International rights groups requested that another activist, wounded in the attack, receive protection as the sole witness.
More than 100 environmental activists have been killed in Honduras since 2010, according to the London-based organization Global Witness. The police, meanwhile, claimed Caceres’ death was the result of a random robbery, and then a “crime of passion.”
Past Goldman Prize winners joined in solidarity after Caceres’ murder, calling her “a woman with no fear at all.”
Tony Dyson (c. 1948-March 3, 2016) was managing director of the White Horse Toy Company in Farringdon, England, when he was enlisted in 1976 to construct the lovable android R2-D2 for the first “Star Wars” film.
Based on designs by conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie and FX artist John Stears, R2-D2 was a short, barrel-shaped robot on wheels, a sidekick to the fussy C-3PO. Dyson built several versions of R2, including a motorized, remote-controlled model with an extended third leg, and a two-legged version containing actor Kenny Baker.
Dyson would later contribute to the effects of “Moonraker,” “Superman 2,” “Altered States” and “Dragonslayer,” as well as an Emmy-nominated TV commercial for Sony featuring a dancing robot.
In 2015 he told the Times of Malta, “Be playful. Never stop playing. If you look at life the way it really should be -- enjoyed -- then you become very creative.”
A chance assignment as a military technical advisor for Phil Silvers’ “Sgt. Bilko” led George Kennedy (February 18, 1925-February 28, 2016) - son of an orchestra leader and a vaudeville performer - to turn to acting. His bear-like physique enabled him to take on meaty roles opposite such stars as Cary Grant (“Charade”), Kirk Douglas (“Lonely Are the Brave”), John Wayne (“The Sons of Katie Elder”), Lee Marvin (“The Dirty Dozen”), Joan Crawford (“Strait-Jacket”), and Clint Eastwood (“Thunderbolt & Lightfoot,” “The Eiger Sanction”).
But an affecting humanity was evident in his Oscar-winning turn in “Cool Hand Luke” (1967, pictured), playing the leader of a prison chain gang crew opposite Paul Newman.
Kennedy would portray memorable characters in the “Airport” films, “Earthquake,” “The Gambler,” and the TV series “The Blue Knight” and “Dallas.” Late in his career he turned to comedy, in the “Naked Gun” spoofs. “Movies have been my favorite entertainment,” Kennedy told CBS Affiliate KBOI in 2013. “And for me to have ended up in that business is perhaps the most fortunate thing to ever happen to me.”
Country singer Sonny James (May 1, 1928-February 22, 2016), who recorded romantic ballads and turned pop songs into country hits, was known as the “Southern Gentleman” because of his gentle, respectable demeanor. He was also a songwriter as well as a guitarist and fiddler, who scored his biggest hit, “Young Love,” in 1956. It sold 3 million copies and became a No. 1 hit on the country and pop charts.
A decade later, he started an impressive run on top of the country charts with 16 consecutive No. 1 songs between 1967 and 1971, including ‘’You’re the Only World I Know,” ‘’Take Good Care of Her,” “It’s the Little Things,” “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own,” “Heaven Says Hello,” ‘’Empty Arms,” ‘’Behind the Tear,” ‘’That’s Why I Love You Like I Do,” “Here Comes Honey Again,” and ‘’When the Snow Is on the Roses.”
James was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
Author Harper Lee (April 28, 1926-February 19, 2016) was 34 when her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published. The story of a young girl growing painfully aware of prejudice and injustice in her segregated Alabama town, and of her morally courageous father (an attorney who defends a black man against charges of raping a white woman), would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize, inspire an Academy Award-winning film, and earn her generations of fans.
The very private Lee refused interviews for decades, and only published essays in the years following “Mockingbird”’s great success. Yet in 2015, her novel “Go Set a Watchman” -- written before “Mockingbird” but set 20 years later, featuring older versions of Scout and Atticus Finch -- was published, presenting morally challenging versions of her beloved characters. (Her editor has recommended Lee instead write about Scout’s childhood, and the long-lost “Watchman” manuscript was recently found in a safe-deposit box.) The suggestion that Atticus might express bigoted views upset many, and prompted mixed reviews, but readers did not mind: “Watchman” sold 1.6 million hardcover copies.
Author of a wide range of books, including the bestselling novels “The Name of the Rose” and “Foucalt’s Pendulum,” Umberto Eco (January 5, 1932-February 19, 2016) was fascinated with the obscure and the mundane, and his stories were both engaging narratives and philosophical and intellectual exercises.
In a 2011 interview with the Guardian newspaper, Eco shrugged off critics who found him “too erudite and philosophical, too difficult,” saying he wrote “for masochists.”
“It’s only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things,” Eco said. “People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged.”
During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (March 11, 1936-February 13, 2016) employed his keen intellect with a missionary-like zeal to move the court farther to the right, and to get it to embrace his “originalist” view of constitutional law.
He sided with libertarians in favoring restrictions on police searches and protecting defendants’ rights. But he voted consistently for further restrictions on abortion, permitting executions, limiting lawsuits, and promoting a closer relationship between government and organized religion.
In his support of the Citizens United decision, he called the expenditure of money in campaigns free speech. And he was vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage, calling the 2015 decision ending laws that limited marriage to between a man and a woman a “naked judicial claim to legislative - indeed, super-legislative - power” that threatened democracy itself.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (November 14, 1922-February 16, 2016) (pictured left with Nelson Mandela), the scion of a prominent Egyptian Christian political family, was the first U.N. chief from the African continent. He served one five-year term as head, during which he oversaw several world crises, including the genocide in Rwanda, and the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Boutros-Ghali received blame from some quarters for the failure of the world to prevent genocides in Africa and the Balkans. In a 2005 interview with The Associated Press, Boutros-Ghali called the 1994 massacre in Rwanda -- in which half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days -- “my worst failure at the United Nations.” But he also blamed the United States, Britain, France and Belgium for paralyzing action by setting impossible conditions for intervention.
In his 1999 book, “Unvanquished,” he wrote that he “mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Neither does the United States.”
Denise Matthews, whose stage name was Vanity (January 4, 1959-February 15, 2016), was a protégé of Prince, and a member of the ‘80s female R&B trio Vanity 6. After having a hit with the 1982 release “Nasty Girl,” Vanity left the group to pursue a solo career with Motown Records. She also worked as an actress, appearing in “The Last Dragon,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”
After nearly dying from a crack cocaine overdose in 1994, Vanity became a born-again Christian and gave up her stage persona, penning a 1999 memoir, “Blame It on Vanity.”
A leading ballerina of the 20th century, Violette Verdy (December 1, 1933-February 8, 2016) began her training during the German occupation of northern France. She was a principal dancer for New York City Ballet for 20 years, and served as the artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet (the first woman to hold that position) and Boston Ballet.
Verdy also worked as a teacher, coach and advisor with more than 150 professional companies and schools worldwide, including the School of American Ballet in New York City, the Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
In addition to dancing in the films “Ballerina” and “The Glass Slipper,” Verdy also wrote children’s books, including “Of Swans, Sugarplums and Satin Slippers: Ballet Stories for Children.”
Picture: A portrait of Verdy in George Balanchine’s “Swan Lake.”
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell (September 17, 1930-February 4, 2016), the sixth man to walk on the moon, was famous for attempting an experiment in extra-sensory perception on his way back to Earth. Mitchell later founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973 “to support consciousness research and promote awareness of evolving human consciousness.”
In a statement released by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Mitchell’s daughter, Karlyn, remembered her father as a man of “extraordinary talents and tremendous fortune.”
“He was a hero in the classical sense,” she said. “Though he fulfilled his childhood dreams while still a young man, he managed to sustain an aura of excitement by evolving and reinventing himself. He never tired of encouraging others to strive and explore.”
Maurice White (December 19, 1941-February 3, 2016) was the founder and leader of of the band Earth, Wind and Fire in the late 1960s. The group went on to sell more than 90 million albums worldwide, displaying a flashy and eclectic musical style that incorporated White’s influences from growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and working at the influential Chicago music labels Chess and Okeh.
The band’s many hits included “September,” ‘’Shining Star,” a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Boogie Wonderland.” Earth, Wind & Fire won six Grammys and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame March 6, 2000. (White is pictured singing during the 15th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.)
Comedian Bob Elliott (March 26, 1923-February 2, 2016), pictured left, was, with partner Ray Goulding, the Peabody Award-winning TV and radio comedy team Bob and Ray. They practiced a gentle, quirky brand of comedy relying on a deadpan delivery that relentlessly skewered pomposity and seriousness with their oddball characters.
“I guess it’s the hilarity of pomposity; that hasn’t gone out of fashion,” Elliott once said when asked to explain the enduring nature of their humor.
Following Goulding’s death in 1990, Elliott continued as a solo performer, playing Bob Newhart’s father on the series “Newhart.” He also played the father on “Get a Life,” starring his own son, comic Chris Elliott.
“He was the kindest, most gentle man I knew, and obviously the funniest. He was a true renaissance man,” his son said. “I would be happy if I could be just half the man he was. And since I’m speaking for my siblings, I know my brother -- and all my sisters for that matter -- would be happy if they could be half the man he was, too.”
Director Jacques Rivette (March 1, 1928-January 29, 2016) was a pioneer of the French New Wave. Among his most noteworthy films were “The Nun,” starring Anna Karina; “Celine and Julie Go Boating”; “La Belle Noiseuse” with Emmannuelle Beart; and “Jeanne la Pucelle,” starring Sandrine Bonnaire.
French President Francois Hollande hailed Rivette as “a cineaste of the woman.”
Guitarist-singer-songwriter Paul Kantner (March 17, 1941-January 28, 2016), third from the right, was a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane (pictured here in 1968). The seminal San Francisco band advocated sex, psychedelic drugs, rebellion and a communal lifestyle, operating out of an eccentric, Colonial Revival house near Haight-Ashbury. Its members supported various political and social causes, tossed out LSD at concerts, and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, where they performed such classics as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”
Kantner stayed with the band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hitmakers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship.
The leathery, sunken-eyed face of character actor Abe Vigoda (February 24, 1921-January 26, 2016) made him ideal for playing an over-the-hill detective in the 1970s TV comedy “Barney Miller,” and - on the opposite side of the law - the doomed Mafia soldier Sal Tessio in “The Godfather.”
Reflecting on his delayed success, Vigoda once remarked: “When I was a young man, I was told success had to come in my youth. I found this to be a myth. My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age.”
Anti-war activist Concepcion Picciotto (c. 1935-January 25, 2016) held a 24-hour peace vigil in Lafayette Park in front of the White House for the past 30 years, in what was widely considered to be the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history.
A Spanish immigrant, Picciotto was the primary guardian of the anti-nuclear-proliferation vigil stationed along Pennsylvania Avenue, whose campaign was known as Proposition One. She was quoted in 2013 as saying she protested to “stop the world from being destroyed.”
Daredevil skier Bill Johnson (March 30, 1960-January 21, 2016) craved speed, and won over legions of fans by backing up his braggadocio and becoming the first American to capture the Olympic downhill gold medal, at the 1984 Sarajevo Games - after telling everyone he was going to do so.
He even had a tattoo on his arm which read: “Ski to die.”
“He was an incredible legend in our sport,” said four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn.
Guitarist Glenn Frey (November 6, 1948-January 18, 2016), a founding member of the Eagles, was lead vocalist on the group’s breakthrough hit, “Take It Easy,” as well as on “Heartache Tonight,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Already Gone,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “New Kid in Town.” His solo hits include “The Heat Is On” and “Smuggler’s Blues.”
Dan Haggerty (November 19, 1942-January 15, 2016) worked as an animal trainer before he became an actor. He starred as a frontiersman in the 1974 film, “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” whose huge success spawned a TV series, and paved the way for similarly-themed mountain man adventures, such as Haggerty’s 1976 “The Adventures of Frontier Fremont.”
Two-time Tony-nominated actor Alan Rickman (February 21, 1946-January 14, 2016) starred as memorably delicious villains in such films as “Die Hard,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the emotionally-charged ghost returned to his love in “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” and the Shakespearean actor trapped in a cheesy sci-fi TV show in “Galaxy Quest.” But his most visible role was as Professor Severus Snape in the films of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
Daniel Radcliffe wrote, “Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.
“As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career.”
Singer, songwriter and actor David Bowie (January 8, 1947-January 10, 2016) frequently changed personas and musical styles, from his early rock ballads to the glam-rock of Ziggy Stardust, to the “electric soul” pop artist of “Let’s Dance” and “Young Americans,” and the techno-rock of “Heroes” - steadfastly refusing to be pinned down or pigeonholed. He was, according to VH1’s Bill Flanagan, “the most influential figure to appear in rock music after the 1960s. Without Bowie, there would be no Lady Gaga or Nirvana, no U2 or Madonna.”
Bowie died just two days after the release of his final album, “Blackstar,” which fans and critics recognized as a meditation on death and transcendence.
Character actor Richard Libertini (May 21, 1933-January 7, 2016) (pictured with his “little friend Señor Pepe” in the 1979 comedy, “The In-Laws”) was an alumni of the Second City improvisation troupe who could not help but steal scenes in a number of films, such as Chevy Chase’s “Fletch,” the Steve Martin-Lily Tomlin comedy, “All of Me,” and the parody of daytime television, “Soap.”
Pat Harrington, Jr.
Actor and comedian Pat Harrington, Jr. (August 13, 1929-January 6, 2016) gained attention as a member of Steve Allen’s fabled TV comic troupe in the 1950s, but would become famous decades later as the cocky super Dwayne Schneider, a self-styled (and delusional) ladies’ man, on the sitcom “One Day at a Time.” His performance in the long-running series earned him an Emmy Award in 1984.
French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (March 26, 1925-January 5, 2016) had a reputation as a hardcore modernist steeped in the dissonances of 20th-Century music, forging a career as a leading figure in contemporary classical composition. He proselytized the atonal techniques of Arnold Schoenberg, and produced an album of Frank Zappa compositions. But he also turned in brilliant performances of decidedly Romantic composers, such as Mahler and Wagner.
Writer-composer Elizabeth Swados (February 5, 1951-January 5, 2016) won an Obie Award for her 1978 musical, “Runaways,” developed from her interviews with streetchildren. She also worked with cartoonist Garry Trudeau on two musicals, “Rap Master Ronnie” and “Doonesbury.” In 2014 she co-directed an animated film, “My Depression,” based on her picture-book memoir of mental illness.
Hungarian-born cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (June 16, 1930-January 1, 2016), best known for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (right, for which he won an Academy Award), brought an affinity for natural light to his iconic collaborations with such filmmakers as John Boorman (“Deliverance”), Robert Altman (“McCabe and Mrs.Miller”), and Michael Cimino (“The Deer Hunter,” “Heaven’s Gate”).