Geoffrey Holder, An Incredible Talent

Oct. 5: Geoffrey Holder, 84: Dancer, choreographer, actor.

Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder

I didn’t know Geoffrey Holder existed until I saw Live and Let Die, the first James Bond movie to star Roger Moore as OO7. The next time I saw him, he was doing a 7Up commercial. His deep resonant voice made him unforgettable.

He was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad into a middle class family. He was taught painting and dancing by his older brother, Boscoe Holder (died April 21, 2007) who was also a choreographer and actor.

In 1954 he made his way to New York and made his Broadway debut in the Caribbean-themed musical “House of Flowers” with a cast that included Pearl Bailey and Alvin Ailey.

Herbet Ross did the choreography but the Banda Dance was choreographed by Holder. He met and married a fellow cast member, Carmen DeLavallade, and the two had a son together. In 1975 he won a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for “The Wiz.” He also won the Tony for best costume design.

He was an author and wrote a book on folklore and one on Caribbean cuisine. In the 70s and 80s he put his striking 6’6″ presence and deep bass voice to use selling various items through commercials, including 7Up. Who could forget him as Baron Samedi in the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die, which he also served as Choreographer.

He was the narrator for Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and for the 2008 The Little Wizard: Guardian of the Magic Crystals.

2014 Obits – September thru December

Sept. 2: Steven Sotloff, 31: American journalist (Time), was abducted in Syria in 2013 was beheaded (death reported on this date).

ZeusSept. 3: Zeus, 5: American Great Dane, world’s tallest dog. They say the larger the dog the shorter the life span. Zeus held the Guinness World Record for being the tallest dog, standing 7′ 4″ when he stood on his hind legs. He was just shy of his 6th birthday when he died. The Doorlag family, who owned Zeus, got him when he was just 8 weeks old. He was a certified therapy dog who visited people in a nearby hospital.

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

Sept. 4: Joan Rivers, 81: American Comedienne, actress and television host, died at 1:17pm at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, as announced by her daughter Melissa. She had suffered respiratory and cardiac arrest during surgery on her vocal chords in a doctor’s office on August 28.

Sept. 8: S. Truett Cathy, 93: American restaurateur and business, founder of Chick-fil-A.

Sept 8: Sean O’Haire, 43: American professional wrestler, suicide by strangulation. O’Haire was found dead at his home in South Carolina. Toxicology results are pending.

Sept. 11: Kendall Francois, 43: American serial killer who killed eight prostitutes in Poughkeepsie in the 1990s died in prison, as reported by the New York State corrections department. He died in the medical unit at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, near Buffalo, New York. He apparently died of natural causes. In 2000, it was revealed in court that Francois had AIDS.

Sept. 20: Polly Bergen, 84: American signer and actress, who gained acclaim as a nightclub singer, a cosmetics entrepreneur and a quiz-show panelist, did not start out as an overnight success. She won a best-actress Emmy for her compelling “Playhouse 90” portrayal of Helen Morgan, a troubled torch singer of the 20s and 30s. Over the next six decades, Bergen appeared in memorable movies such as Cape Fear, the TV epic The Winds of War (1983) and its sequel War and Remembrance (1988). She died of natural causes at her home in Southbury, Conn.

Oct. 3: Alan Henning, 47: British humanitarian aid work and ISIS hostage, beheading.

Oct. 4: Paul Revere, 76: American musician from Paul Revere & the Raiders, cancer.

Oct. 5: Misty Upham, 32: Misty was born in Kalispell, Montana in 1982 as a member of the Blackfoot Tribe and was raised in Auburn, Washington. She was regularly featured in both film and television; her first screen role came in 2002’s Chris Eyre film, “Skins.” Her most acclaimed performance came in 2008’s “Frozen River,” for which she received award nominations and wins, including an American Indian Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her filmography is extensive and varied. Her family believes her death was accidental and that she did not commit suicide. It is believed she ran into a wooded area behind her apartment and that she slipped and fell off a steep embankment and did not see the drop off. Her parents told police she had been taking medication for mental health issues.

Oct. 8: Thomas Eric Duncan, 42: Liberian courier, first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US; died from Ebola virus disease.

Oct. 9: Jan Hooks, 57: American comedienne and actress (Saturday Night Live, Designing Women) cancer.

Oct. 9: Trigz (Michael Christopher Pebley), 40: American graffitti and celebrity tattoo artist who inked such stars such as Chris Brown, was fatally shot outside a smoke shop in broad daylight in Hollywood after confronting a stranger for “being rude.” The 40-year old father leaves behind a fiancé and 5 children.

Elizabeth Peña

Elizabeth Peña

Oct. 14: Elizabeth Peña, 55: Peña’s love for the arts ran deep. Her father was a well-known playwright, actor, director and novelist. Born in New Jersey, raised in New York, her parents opened off-Broadway’s “Latin American Theatre Ensemble.” Elizabeth attended NY’s High School for the Performing Arts and found work in repertory theatre and television commercials. Her big break came in Down & Out in Beverly Hills where she co-starred with Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte. She moved to Los Angeles and got the part as Ritchie Valens’ stepsister-in-law in the move La Bamba. She received awards for the film Lone Star and an ALMA Award for Tortilla Soup. More recently, Peña played Sofia Vergara’s mother on Modern Family. According to the death certificate, she died from cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock and other problems due to alcohol. She is survived by her husband of 20 years and two teenage daughters.

Oct. 20: Gary Plauche, 68: in 1984, Plauche killed his son’s karate instructor at the Baton Rouge airport. The man, Jeffrey Doucet, was accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Plauche’s son, Jody. Plauche waited for Doucet to be extradited back to Baton Rouge and was walking through the airport. Plauche waited by some payphones, pulled out a gun and when Doucet walked by he fired a shot at Doucet. Plauche was sentenced to 5 years probation and did not serve time in jail following the shooting. He maintained his actions where those of a father who believe his son had been violated.

Oscar De La Renta

Oscar De La Renta

Oct. 20: Oscar de la Renta, 82: Dominican fashion designer De La Renta was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. He left his home in the Dominican Republic at age 18 to study painting in Madrid. It was there he developed a love of fashion design and began an apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga, who became his mentor. He soon landed a job with Lanvin in Paris and moved to New York City. He won a bevy of fashion awards in his lifetime including two Council of Fashion Designers Designer of the Year Awards, a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award and two COTY Awards. He is survived by his wife, a son, as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren.

Oct. 21: Ben Bradlee, 93: Top Washington Post Editor during Watergate, Harvard graduate, friend of John F. Kennedy, died of natural causes at age 93.

Oct. 21: Patrice Vincent, 53: Canadian warrant office, vehicular attack by a convert to Islam in a hit and run.

Oct. 22: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32: resident of Quebec, convert to Islam, a designated “high-risk traveler” by Canadian officials who was barred from traveling outside the country, opened fire in front of the Canadian War Memorial. He was killed by Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers.

Marcia Strassman

Marcia Strassman

Oct. 24: Marcia Strassman, 66: American actress and singer, who played Gabe Kaplan’s wife, Julie, on the 70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter,” died of breast cancer, which she had been getting treatment for over the last seven years, according to her sister, Julie Strassman, who confirmed her death. Strassman played a nurse on the first season of M*A*S*H before landing her role on “Kotter.” Her big movie role was in the his Disney movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and its sequel, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992). She is survived by her sister, a daughter and a brother.

Oct. 24: Jaylen Ray Fryberg, 15: a homecoming prince and popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School killed a girl and wounded four other people before fatally shooting himself at about 10:30am (PT). All victims were under the age of 18. It has been discovered that the shooter, Jaylen Ray Fryberg used text messages to lure his victims to the cafeteria where he shot them.

Oct. 24: Zoe Galasso, 14: victim of Jaylen Ray Fryberg (above).

Oct. 26: Gavin Smith, 59: A FOX film studio executive’s body, who has been missing since 2012, was found in a shallow grave in Palmdale, Calif. by hikers. Authorities believe they know how and why Smith was killed but would not share that information yet.

Oct. 26: Oscar Taveras, 22: St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and one of the top prospects of the past several seasons was killed in an auto accident in his native country of the Dominican Republic. His girlfriend was also killed in the crash.

Oct. 26: Gia Soriano, 14: victim of Jaylen Ray Fryberg (above), died of injuries, sustained in school shooting.

Oct. 31: Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14: victim of Jaylen Ray Fryberg (above), died from injuries sustained in school shooting on Oct. 26.

Nov. 1: Brittany Maynard, 29: Miss Maynard moved to Oregon when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer so she could take advantage of the state’s physician-assisted suicide law. This decision and the elegant way she described her decision to do so forced her into the spotlight of the right-to-die movement, and rightly so. She was only 29.

Nov. 3: Tom Magliozzi, 77: American automotive expert and radio personality (Car Talk) from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Nov. 5: Richard Schaal, 86: character actor, a Second City pioneer, and a familiar face from roles on movies and television (Mary Tyle Moore, Rhoda) died at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement home, reported his daughter, Wendy Schaal.

Nov. 6: Big Paybacc. 38: American rapper, born Habeeb Ameer Zekajj, was reportedly shot and killed while eating in a local McDonald’s according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department. The suspect just walked into the restaurant and shot Big Paybacc, killing him with just one shot. He leaves behind three children.

Nov. 7: Andrew Fryberg, 15: the fifth teen shot at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, died as a result of his wounds he received when a student open fired in the cafeteria on October 24. Andrew was a cousin of the shooter.

Nov. 10: Ken Takakura, 83: one of Japan’s premier actors, and known in America for The Yakuza (Sydney Pollack 1974) and Black Rain (Ridley Scott 1989) died of malignant lymphoma.

Rap pioneers The Sugar Hill Gang, from left, Guy 'Master Gee' O'Brian, Henry 'Big Bank' Jackson, and Michael 'Wonder Mike' Wright, pose for a portrait in New York City, circa 1980. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Rap pioneers The Sugar Hill Gang, from left, Guy ‘Master Gee’ O’Brian, Henry ‘Big Bank’ Jackson, and Michael ‘Wonder Mike’ Wright, pose for a portrait in New York City, circa 1980. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Nov. 11: Henry Lee Jackson, 58: Known as “Big Bank Hank,” an American rapper in The Sugar Hill Gang, died from kidney complications from cancer. The Sugar Hill Gang were made up of Wonder Mike, Master Gee and Big Bank Hang and were considered founding members in the world of rap. Wonder Mike and Master Gee confirmed the news on their Facebook page with a throwback picture of the three together with the caption “RIP Henry Jackson aka Big Bank Hank.”

Nov. 13: María José Alvarado, 19: Honduran beauty pageant winner, Señorita Honduras (2014) had been due to compete in the Miss World contest in London. She had been missing for nearly a week and was found dead, along with her sister, Sofia Trinidad, 23. Two men have been arrested; one of them confessed to killing and burying the women.

Diem Brown

Diem Brown

Nov. 14: Diem Brown, 32: reality star from MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge lost her battle with cancer and died in New York City. She chronicled her fight in a blog for and became an advocate and inspiration for other facing similar battles. She founded MedGift, a registry for others suffering from any illness. She was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 23 in 2012. The cancer was then found in her stomach and colon in August, and it was discovered had spread to her liver and lymph nodes, bringing her friends and family to her bedside at a New York City hospital as her condition got worse.

Nov. 14: Glen A. Larson, 77: writer and producer of Quincy, ME, Magnum, PI, Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider, Fall Guy, Six Million Dollar Man … in the 1950s he was a clean-cut singer in a pop group called The Four Preps who went on to compose many of the theme songs for his TV shows. His son James revealed he died of esophageal cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Larson also wrote and produced It Takes a Thief for his high school pal Robert Wagner, and McCloud with Dennis Weaver. Need more: Alias Smith & Jones, Switch, B.J. & the Bear. Despite his remarkable career, Larson earned but three Emmy nominations, two for producing McCloud and one (for outstanding Drama) for Quincy. He never won. That’s really a shame, I loved Quincy (my personal favorite; when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was “a coroner”).

Peter Kassig

Peter Kassig

Nov. 16: Peter Kassig, 26: a believer in hopeless causes, a former army ranger who served in Iraq and then returned to the Middle East and founded a humanitarian group, became the fifth totally innocent hostage to be brutally murdered by ISIS (James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning). In a letter from October that was released by his family, Peter wrote “If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need.”

Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols

Nov. 19: Mike Nichols, 83: Oscar winning director (The Graduate 1967) and Oscar nominated for his work on Working Girl, The Remains of the Day, Silkwood and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf died of cardiac arrest. His last film was Charlie Wilson’s War in 2007. He was married to Diane Sawyer, ABC News presenter.

Nov. 27: P.D. James, 94: writer of The Children of Men and Death Comes to Pemberley and more than 20 books, PD James agent confirmed that she died “peacefully at her home in Oxford.” James’ books featured sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, sold millions around the world and were adapted for TV and film.

Nov. 27: Ryan Knight, 28: American reality show personality (The Real World: New Orleans, The Challenge).

Dec. 7: Ken Weatherwax, 59: American actor (The Addams Family) who play Pugsley on the television show died at his home Sunday in California after having a heart attack.

Dec. 8: Earl Hayes, 34: American rapper (“Nolia Clap”) suicide by gunshot. Law enforcement confirmed that Hayes shot and killed Stephanie Moseley first and then killed himself. Sources connected with Hayes and Moseley revealed that the rapper had “accused her of infidelity with a famous singer.”

Dec. 8: Stephanie Moseley, 30: Canadian TV personality (Hit the Floor) and dancer, from Vancouver. Moseley was found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide by her rapper husband Earl Hayes, 34, in the Park La Brea apartments.

Mary Ann Mobley

Mary Ann Mobley

Dec. 9: Mary Ann Mobley, 77: American actress, television personality, Mississippi’s first Miss America (1959) breast cancer.

Dec. 11: Dominic Di-Natale, 43: British Journalist (Fox News Channel). The coroner in Jefferson County, Colo. said the journalist did indeed take his own life. Officials discovered Di-Natale’s body after being alerted by a friend who knew of his state of mind regarding serious health issues.

Dec. 11: Dawn Sears, 53: American country musician who sang with the four-time Grammy-nominated band the Time Jumpers has died after a two-year battle with lung cancer. Sears was a longtime member of Vince Gill’s touring band and an in-demand harmony vocalist.

Dec. 12: Billy Milligan, 59: the first defendant in America to successfully use a multiple personality disorder as a defense for a violent crime, died of cancer. He was arrested for kidnapping, robbing and raping three women in the Ohio State University area in October of 1977 but was found not guilty by reason of insanity because of the multiple-personality disorder. Milligan was diagnosed with 24 personalities.



Dec. 14: Angalifu, 44: one of only six remaining white rhinos, has died of old age at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park. With his death, the subspecies draws closer to extinction. Hopes for offspring rest on a single male living on a reserve in Kenya with two females. The northern white rhino has been brought to extinction by poachers, who kill them for their horns, which is believed to have medicinal value.

Dec. 14: Fred Thurston, 80: Known as “Fuzzy,” Thurston was a key player on Vince Lombardi’s Packers championship teams of the 1960s. When he died after a long illness, he was just 15 days shy of his 81st birthday. He died of cancer and complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to an obituary prepared by his family.

Dec. 19: Deral Teteak, 85: known as “The Little Bull,” #66 died in Naples, Florida. He had just turned 85. Teteak was a native of Oconto, Wis., had played high school football at Oshkosh and college football at the University of Wisconsin. He was picked by the Packers in the ninth-round in 1952 and played for four seasons. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1987.



Dec. 22: Joe Cocker, 70: British rocker with an unforgettable raspy voice who sang Beatles’ cover songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends” and Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful,” died after battling lunch cancer.

The World Lost Two Magnificent Elephants in 2014

Satao's enormous tusks classed him among the largest elephants left alive in the world Photo: RICHARD MOLLER/ TSAVO TRUST) 

Satao’s enormous tusks classed him among the largest elephants left alive in the world Photo: RICHARD MOLLER/ TSAVO TRUST)

May 30: Satao, 45-46: One of Africa’s last ‘great tuskers,’ Satao had tusks weighing over 100 pounds. He was found poisoned to death by poachers in Kenya. For years he adapted his behavior, hiding himself from humans. Likely born in the 60s, Satao succumbed to wounds from poison darts in a remote corner of Tsavo National Park where he had migrated to find fresh water after recent storms. Poachers hacked his face and tusks off. His four legs splayed where he fell with his last breath, left only for the vultures and the scavengers. Conservationists told how he moved from bush to bush, always keeping his ivory hidden among the foliage. Conversationists warn that elephant poaching “is at least 10 times the official figures.”


Annie (taken at PAWS)

Annie (taken at PAWS)

Nov. 18: Annie, 55: Asian Elephant, born in Assam, India in 1960 and taken from her mother at a very young age for use in the zoo industry, Annie was housed at the Milwaukee County Zoo where she was cruelly trained. While held by ropes and chains, handlers “broke” her, mercilessly beating her into submission. There is actual video of this; the zoo recorded it as a training session for other keepers. Under public pressure, the zoo opted to relocate Annie, along with Tammy, another elephant from the Milwaukee County Zoo, to PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society). Annie, because of her mistreatment, endured severe arthritis and foot disease, which worsened over many years. She was humanely euthanized on November 18, while lying on soft soil and surrounded by those who cared for and loved her. At 55, she was among the oldest Asian elephants in North America.

Both of these stories brought tears to my eyes. The picture of Satao, with his hacked off face and tusks was one of the most horrible I’ve seen. When I received the PAWS Newsletter and the information about Annie and read that she had been cruelly trained at the Milwaukee County Zoo, a place I used to support, I was outraged. When I saw the video they had made, I was ashamed that I ever given them a dime. I’m hoping that when others read about Annie, and the horrible life she and Tammy had there, it will keep others from supporting the Milwaukee County Zoo in the future.

The world lost two magnificent elephants in 2014. One to poachers and another to past cruel treatment that happened right here in the United States. For more information on PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) and the good they do, go to


2014 Obits – May through August

May 2: Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., 95:  star of The F.B.I., 77 Sunset Strip and voice of Alfred Pennyworth in the Justice League, Superman and the New Batman Adventures passed away. A statement from his daughter Stephanie and son, Efrem Zimbalist III stated: we are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., today at his Solvang, Calif. ranch. He was 95 years old. A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and visiting with close friends. We will miss him dearly.

May 4: Dick Ayers, 90: one of the giants of the Marvel Age of Comics and who played a part in defining what made Marvel special in its earliest days died from complications from Parkinson’s disease.

May 9: Galindo Mellado Cruz: one of the original members of the Los Zetas drug cartel is believed to have been shot dead by the Mexican army in the city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

May 11: Jeb Stuart Magruder, 79: presidential aide to Richard Nixon who was convicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice and wiretapping during the Watergate scandal and went to prison and later served as a pastor in Lexington, died in Danbury, Conn. due to complications from a stroke.

May 11: Ed Gagliardi, 62: original Foreigner Bassist, died after battling cancer for 8 years.

May 13: Martin Barreras, 49: Army Ranger Sergeant Major (American noncommissioned officer) in charge of the rescue of Jessica Lynch, died from wounds sustained in combat a week after his unit was attacked in Afghanistan. He was recovering at San Antonio Military Medican Center from wounds sustained when enemy forces opened fire on his unit May 6 in Herat province. He is also credited with advising the actors in the 2001 film, “Black Hawk Down.” Barreras is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son.

Malik Bendjelloul

Malik Bendjelloul

May 13: Malik Bendjelloul, 36: the Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary film director of Searching for Sugar Man died from death that is not related to crime (suicide).

May 19: April Jack, 40: athlete, shot, was killed by her actor husband, Michael Jace, 51. He was arrested by Los Angeles police at their home. Two young children were also in the home at the time of the shooting. It was unclear what prompted the shooting, but police said Jace’s wife of nine years had just returned home when the incident occurred.

May 19: Sante Kimes, 79: a notorious grifter, who along with her son, Kenneth Kimes, killed a wealthy widow in NYC, a business man in Los Angeles and perhaps others along the way. Sante died in her prison cell after being found unresponsive at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County. Irene Silverman was 82 when the Kimeses stole her $7 million Manhattan townhouse and other possessions. Her body was never found. When police searched their car and luggage they found guns, plastic handcuffs, syringes, tapes of Silverman’s telephone conversations and a fake deed to her home. Sante was sentenced to 120 years in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2119. Her son Kenneth received 125 years. She was convicted in California of murdering David Kazdin, whose body was found in a trash bin.

Lee Chamberlain

Lee Chamberlain

May 25: Lee Chamberlin, 76: American actress and playwright whose career spanned four decades on the stage, television and films died of cancer (as confirmed by her family). She was an original cast member of “The Electric Company” on PBS from 1971-73 along with Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and others. In 1973 she played Cordelia in the Shakespeare in the Park production of “King Lear” alongside James Earl Jones, Paul Sorvino, Rosalind Cash and Ellen Holly. She co-starred with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier in “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974) and “Let’s Do It Again” (1975). On the small screen she appeared in Lou Grant, The White Shadow, Diff’rent Strokes, The Practice, Moesha, NYPD Blue, Roots: The Next Generations, Touched By an Angel, plus many others. From 1983-95 she was a regular on the ABC soap “All My Children” as Pat Baxter. She is survived by her father, Bernando LaPallo (b. August 17, 1901) a sister Nandra Gant of Lexington, NC, a daughter Erika Chamberlin of Brooklyn, NY (51) and a son Matthew Chamberlin (47) of Chapel Hill, NC. She also had two grandchildren. – BWW News Desk

May 28: Gustavo Lezcano, 59: Cuban-born American musician, Miami Sound Machine member in its formative years and music teacher for 32 years at Gratigny Elementary School in North Miami. Lezcano wrote the title track for Eyes of Innocent, the Sound Machine’s first English-language crossover attempt in 1984. He would remain in the Sound Machine through the group’s breakthrough in 1985, Primitive Love, an album that featured three Billboard Top 10 pop singles — Conga, Bad Boy and Words Get in the Way. He died of heart failure and is survived byseveral children, his mother, his sister and brother.

May 28: Maya Angelou, 86: Award-winning American author, poet, civil rights activist, teacher, artist and a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. Angelou had been battling health problems. Wake Forest University said, “Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world …” Angelou is famous for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

May 30: Butler Blue I, 13: Butler’s original live mascot, who started the university’s now widely popular live mascot program died in Chicago at the age of 13. A native Hoosier, Butler Blue I was born on September 23 at the Kong King Kennel in Lizton.

June 1: Ann B. Davis, 88: American actress, winner of two Emmy Awards, died from a subdural hematoma she suffered from a fall. Known for her portrayal as Alice the housekeeper in “The Brady Bunch” appearing in her light blue maid’s uniform with a white apron, though in real life Alice admits she hated to cook. Even so, Davis penned “Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook” in 1994, featuring recipes from the show and anecdotes from life on the set.

June 4: Chester Nez, 93: Last original WWII Navajo code talker, who developed the code and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001, died of renal failure.

June 5: Don Davis, 75: musician, producer and composer; past away after a brief illness. Davis was session musician at Motown Records in Detroit. He then worked for a Memphis, Tenn.-based Stax Records and started independent Groovesville label and was co-writer and co-producer of “Who’s Making Love,” a 1968 Stax hit for Johnnie Taylor.

Karen DeCrow

Karen DeCrow

June 6: Karen DeCrow, 76: American civil rights activists, lawyer and author, President of the National Organization for Women (1974-1977), died at home after an extended illness according to long-time friend Rowena Malamud, president of the Greater Syracuse chapter of the National Organization for Women. “She was one of my heroes,” Malamud said.

June 11: Ruby Dee, 91: Emmy Award-winning actress, Grammy Award-winner (2007) and civil rights activist, National Medal of Arts laureate (1995). Dee and her late husband, Ossie Davis, were master and mistress of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington and they were friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Dee received the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970 from the New York Urban League. As an actress her film credits included “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950), “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Do the Right Thing” (1989), and “American Gangster” (2007). Her career spans 7-decades. Ossie Davis preceded his wife in death in 2005.

June 13: Chuck Noll, 82: American football player (Cleveland Browns) and Hall of Fame coach (Pittsburgh Steelers) with most coaches Super Bowl wins (IX, X, XIII, XIV), death by natural causes.

Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem

June 15: Casey Kasem, 82: The legendary radio personality who never claimed to love rock ‘n’ roll but who built a long and lucrative career from it, and created and hosted one of ratio’s most popular syndicated pop music shows “America’s Top 40” died in Gig Harbor, Wash. Kasem had Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease of the body’s neurological and muscle cells. In his final months, he was at the center of a family legal battle over the terms of his death, pitting his wife, Jean, against his three adult children from a previous marriage.

June 16: Tony Gwynn, 54: Baseball Hall of Famer, San Diego Padres, salivary gland cancer.

June 19: Gerry Goffin, 75: he met Carole King at Queens College in 1958 and over the next decade they fell in love, married and had two children; divorced and moved their writing sessions into and out of 1650 Broadway, across the street from the Brill Building. He collaborated with Carole King to write some of the biggest hits of the 1960s: Will You Love Me Tomorrow? Up On the Roof, One Fine Day and The Loco-Motion. Together they composed a catalog of pop standards so diverse and irresistible that they were recorded by performers as unalike as the Drifters, Steve Lawrence, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles. They were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2004 the Recording Academy presented them jointly with a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement. Ms. King composed the music; Mr. Goffin wrote the lyrics. Among them some of the most memorable words in the history of popular music. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

June 23: Nancy Garden, 76: American writer (Annie on My Mind) and LGBT activist, author, editor, former theater maven and teacher, died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

June 24: Caleb Bankston, 26: Reality show contestant (Survivor: Blood vs. Water) died when the train he was on derailed. Bankston worked at the Alabama Warrior Railway in Birmingham.

June 24: Eli Wallach, 98: one of the most prominent and prolixfic character actors in film, onstage and on television for more than 60 years, died at his home in Manhattan. A journeyman actor with his own style, Mr. Wallach appeared in scores of roles, often with his wite, Anne Jackson.

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

June 27: Bobby Womack, 70: American Hall of Fame R&B singer and songwriter, legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, and one of my favorite all time artists since I first heard his 1974 “Lookin’ for a Love Again.” He was a soul-music genius and when he sang he could compel you to get on  your feet. As a child, despite being prohibited from touching his father’s guitar, he taught himself to play it. By far, my favorite is … “If you Think You’re Lonely Now.” Womack was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

June 28: Meshach Taylor, 67: star of TVs Designing Women, where he played the lovable assistant Anthony Bouvier. Mr. Taylor had been in hospice care at his family’s home in Altadena, Calif. He was with his wife, children and mother when he died. He had most recently been seen in Criminal Minds.

Louis Zamperini © Universal Pictures

Louis Zamperini © Universal Pictures

July 2: Louis Zamperini, 97: Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Prisoner of War Medal and he was an Olympic distance runner. The movie Unbroken, which is directed by Angelina Jolie, adapted by the Coen brothers and stars Jack O’Connell as Zamperini opens Christmas Day, 2014 tells his life story. Laura Hillenbrand wrote the best-selling book about his experiences. He had a most interesting life. His older brother Pete got him involved in the high school track team to keep him from getting into trouble. To read all about him, go here: (and donate some money to Wikipedia while you’re at it).

July 10: Curt Gentry, 83: a San Francisco author who wrote or co-wrote 13 books including best-sellers “Helter Skelter” about the Charles Manson case and a critical biography of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover died of lung cancer in a San Francisco hospital. His books ranged from a guide to San Francisco to an account of the search for the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine to his Hoover biography were always thoroughly researched and beautifully written. “Helter Skelter” was co-written with Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. The Hoover Biography won a PEN award for the best nonfiction book of 1991.

July 11: Tommy Ramone, 65: ex-drummer and manager of The Ramones, he was co-founder of the seminal punk band The Ramones and the last surviving member of the original group died at his home in Queens, New York. He had been in hospice care following treatment for bile duct cancer.

July 15: Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco, 87: reputed head of the Detroit Mafia for more than 30 years who kept a relatively low profile, more so than mob brother Vito and Anthony Giacalone, died of natural causes, according to mob expert Scott Burnstein of the Oakland Press. Tocco was long suspected of having ties to the 1975 disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

July 16: Cashmere Jackson, 26: American boxer and U.S. Olympic hopeful, Jackson was in the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Impala in a Shell station parking lot at 4:50pm when the car was lightly rear-ended by a Pontiac Grand Am. When Jackson got out of the car, the 23-year-old woman driving the Grand Am headed right at her, police said. Jackson jumped on the hood, and the car continued driving through the lot and pulled out onto East 55th Street. The car veered across the yellow line, threw Jackson off the hood and collided with another Impala. Jackson rolled across 55th Street and was run over by a 62-year-old in a Honda Accord. Paramedics rushed her from the street to the MetroHealth Medical Center, where she eventually died. (

July 16: Johnny Winter, 70: American Hall of Fame blues guitarist, singer, and triple Grammy Award-winning producer (1978-1980) died at age 70 in Zurich amid a European tour.

Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch

July 17: Elaine Stritch, 89: Tony Award winner (Elaine Stritch at Liberty) and Emmy Award winner (Law & Order {1993}), 30 Rock {2007}), died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan. Ms. Stritch’s career began in the 1940s and spanned almost 70 years. She made movies, appeared on stage and on television; well into her 80s.

July 17: Notable people killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: Liam Davison, 56 Australian author; Pim de Kuijer, 32, Dutch lobbyist and politician; Joep Lange, 59, Dutch physician, President of the International AIDS Society (2002-2004); Shuba Jay, 38, Malaysian television and theatre actress; Willem Witteveen, 62, Dutch politician and legal scholar, member of the Senate (1999-2007, since 2013).

James Garner

James Garner

July 19: James Garner, 86: actor in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” and returned to TV to win an Emmy as Jim Rockford in the “Rockford Files” and was nominated for an Oscar in the movie “Murphy’s Romance” died at his home in Los Angeles from unknown causes at this time (7/23/14). He underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008 but had recovered.

July 19: Skye McCole Bartusiak, 21: portrayed the young daughter of Mel Gibson in the 2000 film “The Patriot” died in her Houston home. The cause of her death is unknown but she reportedly died in her sleep. In addition to appearing in The Patriot, she also appeared in “The Cider House Rules” in 1999 and “Don’t Say a Word” opposite Michael Douglas. She had several TV roles, “24,” “Lost” and “House M.D.”

Babar and Haris Suleman

Babar and Haris Suleman

July 23: Haris Suleman, 17: American pilot, plane crash, an adventurer, from Indiana who was on an-around-the-world flight with his father, Babar Suleman, 58. They were out to break a record while raising money to help build schools in Babar Suleman’s native Pakistan. He and his son decided to make the adventure a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, which has built 1,000 schools in Pakistan.

July 24: Walt Martin, 69: American sound mixer, on over a dozen movies for Clint Eastwood including Flags of Our Fathers, Mystic River, Jersey Boys and earned his Oscar nod for best achievement in sound mixing for the 2006 war drama “Flags of Our Fathers.” Martin died of vasculitis after being hospitalized with chest pains. In addition to working with Eastwood, which began in 1999, he also worked with John Huston in 1987 on his final film. He recently did sound mixing on Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy.

July 24: Patrick Sawyer, 40: Liberian-born American lawyer, ebola virus disease. Mr. Sawyer was on his way to Minnesota to celebrate his daughter’s birthday but had one stop to make; a conference in Lagos, Nigeria. When he landed in Lagos he collapsed getting off the plane. He had been infected with Ebola in Liberia, where he worked as a top government official. Mr. Sawyer was isolated at a local Nigerian hospital on July 20 but died five days later on July 24.

Kristina Fetters

Kristina Fetters

July 27: Kristina Fetters, 34: American convicted murderer, youngest woman to receive a life sentence in the U.S., died from breast cancer. Fetters was sentenced to life in prison without parole at age 15 for beating her 73-year-old great-aunt with an iron skillet and stabbed her to death with kitchen knives in 1994 in Polk County, Iowa. The Iowa Parole Board granted her a compassionate release given the severity of her prognosis in December of 2013.

August 2: Eroni Kumana, 93: The Soloman Island fisherman who rescued John F. Kennedy after his PT-109 sank when a Japanese destroyer sank the patrol boat is dead at age 93, reported his family.

James Brady

James Brady

August 4: James Brady, 73: American government official, former White House Press Secretary under Reagan (1981-1989) and gun control advocate died at the age of 73. The US police will move ahead to investigate Mr. Brady’s death as a homicide believing that he died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack conducted by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981. Brady suffered brain damage and partial paralysis. Hinckley has been confined to a psychiatric hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

August 6: Li Hu, 40: Chinese HIV activist, who just recently turned 40, died of complications from AIDS. Mr. Li’s death shook people with HIV and their advocates in China, who say they have lost a powerful supporter in a country where people and public institutions commonly ignore the issue or discriminate outright against people with the disease. In China, people who are known to have HIV are denied surgery in hospitals and are turned down for jobs. They may even be refused flights on airlines. Li Hu is survived by three siblings, his parents and his partner.

August 6: Ken Lucas, 73: Gulf Coast professional wrestler known for his famous finishing move “The Sleeper Hold,” died in Pensacola. During his decades-long career, Lucas had wrestled great wrestlers Rick Flair, Jerry Lawler and Harley Race.

August 11: Robin Williams, 63: Award-winning American comedian and actor was found dead by his personal assistant around 11:45am. He had hung himself from a door frame by using a belt. He was declared dead shortly after 12pm PST. Though there were superficial cuts to his left wrist and a pocket knife was found nearby with dried blood on it, his death was ruled asphyxiation by hanging. Mr. Williams had been treated for depression. There was no comment on whether a suicide note was found.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

August 12: Lauren Bacall, 89: Award-winning American Actress died of a stroke in New York according to Robbert de Klerk, co-manager of the Humphrey Bogart Estate. She married Humphrey Bogart in 1945, had two children and went on to make more films together including The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). Bogart died in 1957. She was also married to Jason Robards, which produced a child, actor Sam Robards.

August 14: Stephen Lee, 58: American character actor who worked more than three decades in the business died from a heart attack. His resume includes films such as Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera, The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey and television work dating back to Hart to Hart and recently with NCIS, Bones and Ghost Whisperer.

August 15: Jay Adams, 53: American legendary skateboarder, who was one of the edgy “Z-Boys” of the widely heralded 2001 documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys and portrayed in the 2005 film Lords of Dogtown died while on an extended surf vacation in Mexico. The cause of death is believe to be a heart attack. The trip came on the wake of more than two decades of troubles for Adams who  had recently served time in prison on drug and assault convictions.

August 18: Don Pardo, 96: American radio and TV announcer. He was the magisterial announcer on Saturday Night Live for nearly 40 years. In 2010, the booming baritone became the first announcer to be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in recognition of a lifetime of broadcasting that included work on game shows and included the original versions of The Price is Right and Jeopardy. As an NBC staff announced on Nov. 22, 1963, he was among the first to tell the nation about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Pardo died in his sleep at his home in Tucson, Ariz.

August 19: James Foley, 40: American photojournalist for the US-based news service GlobalPost who was kidnapped while reporting from Syria during Thanksgiving in 2012 was executed by an ISIS militant (death was reported on this date).

August 21: Robert Hansen, 75: American convicted serial killer who killed 17 to 21 women died in the Alaska Regional Hospital. His conviction was for more than a dozen women in Alaska in the 70s and 80s. Hansen operated a bakery in Anchorage and became known as the “Butcher Baker” after his conviction in February 1984 on numerous charges ranging from assault to kidnapping. A judge sentenced him to 461 years in  prison in addition to a life sentence. A film starring John Cusack as Hansen and Nicolas Cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the case entitled The Frozen Ground, released in 2013 was based on Hansen and his crimes.

August 24: Richard Attenborough, 90: English award-winning actor, producer and director (Gandhi, The Great Escape, Jurassic Park).

James Rebhorn – His Life, According to Jim

Jim Rebhorn was inspired by his final theater performance, enough so to write his own obituary.

James Rebhorn

James Rebhorn

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.

He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.

He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.

His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.

His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.

Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.

Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.

2014 Obits – January through April

Jan. 1: Juanita Moore, 99: Ms. Moore entered films in the early 50s, a time when few black people were given an opportunity to act in major studio films. She received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Imitation of Life (1959), an updating of a controversial Fannie Hurst novel about racism. She also appeared in black-oriented films of the 60s and 70s: Uptight (1968), Thomasine & Bushrod (1974) and Abby (1974), including Disney’s The Kid (2000). She appeared in more than 30 films.

Jan. 3: James Avery, 68: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air father died of complications from open hear surgery in Glendale, Calif.

American popular musicians the Everly Brothers, Phil (left) and Don, perform on Ed Sullivan's CBS variety show 'Toast of the Town,' New York, October 29, 1961. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

American popular musicians the Everly Brothers, Phil (left) and Don, perform on Ed Sullivan’s CBS variety show ‘Toast of the Town,’ New York, October 29, 1961. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Jan. 3: Phil Everly, 74: half of the Everly Brothers, passed away in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank of complications from lung-disease. His brother Don said, “I loved my brother very much. I always thought I’d be the one to go first.”

Jan. 5: Carmen Zapata, 86: Carmen stands as one of the most respected Hispanic-American actresses with a career which spans more than six decades. She wore many hats over those years as a teacher, producer, translator, lecturer and narrator. She appeared in Santa Barbara (TV), Sister Act, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Point of No Return and has an extensive list of other movies and TV appearances. She died in Van Nuys, Calif.

Jan. 16: Dave Madden, 82: who played the Patridge Family’s aggravated band manager on the 70s TV show died after a long illness.

Jan. 16: Russell Johnson, 89: best known as the “Professor” on Gilligan’s Island. Johnson’s death was confirmed by his wife, Constance. “He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21am.” He leaves behind his wife and a daughter.

Jan. 17: Roy Garber, 49: suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to a Texas hospital where he died. Roy was a main cast member of A&E’s Shipping Wars, Season 1 through 5. Family said he had suffered from a heart condition for some time. He owned and operated Arbie’s Team Transport out of New Hampshire with his son Travis.

Jan. 27: Pete Seeger, 94: American folk singer and activist, who has been credited with creating the modern American folk music movement and co-wrote songs like “If I Had a Hammer” died of natural causes at a New York hospital. He was well known for his liberal politics and he protested US wars from Vietnam to Iraq, participated in civil rights movements, supported organized labor and helped found an environmental group that played a key role in cleaning up the polluted Hudson River. He was sentenced to prison in 1961 for refusing to testify to Congress about his time in the Communist Party.

Publicity photo of Anna Gordy Gaye. Enterprises/ Handout via Reuters

Publicity photo of Anna Gordy Gaye. Enterprises/ Handout via Reuters

Jan. 31: Anna Gordy Gaye, 92: American songwriter (“Baby, I’m For Real”), co-founder of Anna Records, sister of Barry Gordy and former wife of Marvin Gaye. Anna and Marvin married in 1964 and she was an influence (good and bad) on his career. She was 17 years his senior. His hit song “Pride & Joy” was inspired by his courtship of Anna in the early 60s. They had one child together (Marvin Gaye III (adopted), but it was later revealed that the mother of this child was actually Denise Gordy (fathered by Marvin). Anna and Marvin eventually divorced in 1977. While they were separated, Marvin wrote “Anna’s Song” which was released in 1978. The divorce between Anna and Marvin led to the album “Here, My Dear” which was released on December 15, 1978. The album was notable for its subject matter being dedicated to the fallout of Gaye’s marriage to Anna. Initially a commercial failure when it was released, it was later hailed by music critics as one Marvin’s best produced albums in the years following his death. “It’s taken me a while,” Anna Gordy admitted in later years, “but I’ve come to appreciate every form of Marvin’s music.”

Feb. 1: Maximillian Schell, 83: Austrian actor who won an Academy Award for his role as a German defense attorney in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg died at a clinic in Innsbruck.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Feb. 2: Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46: found dead in his New York apartment with a syringe in his arm. His death was ruled accidental, the official cause listed as an acute drug intoxication, a mix of uppers and downers including heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. Diaries found in his apartment contained entries about personal demons, drug deals and his attempts to stay clean. Hoffman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the 2005 film Capote.

Feb. 3: Joan Mondale, 83: wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, played many roles in her lifetime: wife, mother, the nation’s second lady, and Joan of Art. She died surrounded by her husband, sons and family members at Mount Olivet Careview Home in Minneapolis where she had been receiving hospice care.

Feb. 11: Shirley Temple Black, 85: Iconic child actress,

Feb. 12: Sid Caesar, 91: Pioneer of American comedy, writer, actor, all-around showman.

Ralph Waite

Ralph Waite

Feb. 13: Ralph Waite, 85: beloved to TV viewers as the ultimate “father figure,” he was known as John Walton on The Waltons, Gibbs’ dad on NCIS and Seeley Booth’s grandfather on Bones. He also has a long list of other acting accomplishments from daytime soaps to 2012 movies. Michael Learned, who played Waite’s wife on The Waltons said, “he was my spiritual husband and we loved each other for over forty years. He died a working actor at the top of his game. He was a loving mentor to many and a role model to an entire generation. I’m devastated.”

Feb. 14: John Henson, 48: Muppets Puppeteer and son of creator Jim Henson died of a sudden heart attack. He was a puppeteer and performer for the Muppets, playing ogre Sweetums from the late 1980s until 2005, including the Muppets movies. He was also a company shareholder and board member. He is survived by his two daughters and his wife.

Feb. 14: Edward Walsh, 71: former Washington Post political reporter who covered the Carter White House and served as Jerusalem bureau chief in the 80s died at his home in Portland, Oregon. He died from lung cancer, which was confirmed by his wife.

Feb. 15: Pastor Jamie Coots, 41: a third-generation snake-handling Pentecostal preacher died after being bitten by one of his serpents. He was known for handling poisonous rattlesnakes and was featured on the Nat Geo reality series “Snake Salvation.” But on a Saturday night he was bitten on his right hand and died in his home after refusing medical treatment. Coots was a pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky. He had revealed that he had been bitten nine times in 22 years. Each time, he believed, he had recovered through faith healing.

Feb. 18: Nelson Frazier Jr., 43: WWE’s Mabel, Viscera and Big Daddy V died after an apparent heart attack as reported by WWE. Frazier joined WWE as Mabel, one-half of the “Men on a Mission” tag team, before morphing into Viscera, a member of the Undertaker’s “Ministry of Darkness,” in 1999. He later changed his name to Big Daddy V.

Feb. 18: Maria Agatha Franziska Gobertina von Trapp, 99: whose family inspired the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music.” She was the last survivor of the von Trapp brothers and sisters. She died in her sleep at her home in Vermont, Marianne Dorfer, a family friend who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel, confirmed.

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones

Feb. 20: Sarah Elizabeth Jones, 27: Sarah began her film career as an intern on the set of Army Wives. She climbed the ranks of the film industry, feeding a passion for the art of Cinematography. She was a loyal and respected member of the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600). She was on the set of a biopic of Gregg Allman called “Midnight Rider” in Georgia when she was fatally hit by a freight train. A petition to have her death included in the Academy Awards “In Memoriam” segment was successful. It also sparked a discussion about safety issues that crew members face on the job. Seven other crew members were injured.

Feb. 22: Charlotte Dawson, 47: Australian Top Model judge, TV star and former model was found dead of an apparent suicide. Twitter bullying drove her to try and take her own life once before. She was an anti-bullying activist and was targeted by cyber-trolls for personal attacks online. In 2012 she was admitted to a Sydney hospital for a suicide attempt following an ongoing tirade of abuse on Twitter.

Feb. 23: Samuel Sheinbein, 34: an American-Israeli who was serving time in a central Israel prison for the grisly murder in 1997 of a Washington suburban teenager was killed in a shootout with Israeli security forces after he shot and wounded several prison guards. Sheinbein escaped to Israel on Sept. 21, 1997, days after the body of 19 year old Alfredo Tello was discovered burned and dismembered in the garage of an empty house near the Sheinbein home in Silver Spring, Md. Sheinbein was 17 at the time, reached Israel, a country he had not previously visited, with the help of his father. Since his father held Israeli citizenship, and by virtue of being Jewish, he was automatically entitled to full citizenship rights. Under an Israeli law in effect at the time, no Israeli citizen could be extradited on murder charges if the potential sentence was more severe than that which could be imposed in Israel. Despite pressure from the US and the misgivings of many Israelis, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that he should not be extradited. Sheinbein was sentenced to 24 hours in prison in October 1999. Israel has since changed their extradition law. It is not clear how he got a weapon in prison.

Feb. 24: Harold Ramis, 69: Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Stripes, Analyze That, Ramis was the actor-director-writer who is best remembered for those movies. He succumbed to complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that causes swelling of the blood vessels and plagued him for the last few years. He was 69.

Feb. 25: Jim Lange, 81: original host of TV’s The Dating Game died at his home of an apparent heart attack in Mill Valley, Calif. The Dating Game was the hit TV show that distilled the Swinging 60s into a blend of on-screen matchmaking, jovial innuendo and Mod aesthetics.

Frank Reed

Frank Reed

Feb. 26: Frank Reed (Chi-Lites), 59 and Chico Leverett (Satintones), 79: Leverett died from complications from a stroke. At this time (April, 2013) no cause of death for Frank Reed. Though I am grooving to “Have you Seen Her” by the Chi-Lites as I write this.

Feb. 27: Michael Taylor, 47: executed by the state of Missouri using compounded pentobarbital, an unofficial version of the drug they received from “an unnamed source.” Taylor raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1989. Fifteen year-old Ann Harrison was in her driveway holding her school books, flute and purse when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their stolen car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed her as she pleaded for her life. Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.

Feb. 28: James Tague, 77: a material witness whose testimony contributed to the “magic bullet theory” of the Warren Commission” in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy died following a brief illness. Tague was standing in Dealey Plaza in Dallas when the shots were fired on November 22, 1963. A bullet meant for Kennedy struck a curb where Teague was standing sending debris flying into his face.

March 3: Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, 88: Asian-American, the first U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from WWII to the Vietnam War. He was a trailblazer. During the Korean War, he became commander of a machine gun platoon, to the shock of his men who had never before seen a person of Chinese ancestry. Some even dared to question his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Korea. In a November 1950 clash, Lee and his men were outnumbered in a surprise attack by Chinese forces. His actions there and in another clash would earn him a bevy of military honors, including the second highest military decoration, the Navy Cross.

March 5: Scott Kalvert, 49: Deuces Wild, The Basketball Diaries plus he directed several well-known music videos; was found in his home. At the time of this writing, his death was being investigated as a suicide.

March 6: David Richard Koff, 74: film-maker, campaigner, took his own life on March 6. Struggled with depression in recent years. Survived by Msindo, Kimera, Clea, Crescent and his brother, Robert. If you don’t know who this man is, google him and be astounded.

March 7: Sheila MacRae, 92: a veteran stage, film and TV performer, best known for playing Alice Kramden in “The Honeymooners” died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, MacRae’s granddaughter, Alison Mullavey stated. She suffered from dementia, but was otherwise in good health. A singer, danceer and actress, MacRae was married to “Oklahoma!” and “Carousel” star Gordon MacRae for 26 years.

Hal Douglas

Hal Douglas

March 7: Hal Douglas, 89: whose dramatic voice ranged from Olympian-thunderous to comic-goofy suited him for voice over work for hundreds of movie trailers such as Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Coneheads, Meet the Parents and Lethal Weapon, died from complications of pancreatic cancer. For over a generation in the voice-over industry he was one of the top two or three go-to talents of voice over work because of the flexibility of his voice which made him a “one name” phenomenon in Hollywood … “Hal.”

March 15: David Brenner, 78: died in New York City with his children at his bedside after losing his battle with cancer. He was considered the “father of observational humor.”

L'Wren Scott with Mick Jagger

L’Wren Scott with Mick Jagger

March 17: L’Wren Scott (Luann Barnbrough), 49: designer and girlfriend of Mick Jagger took her own life in her New York city apartment leaving her friends and acquaintances “completely shocked and devastated.” She was raised by adoptive parents in Utah and began her career as a model in Paris, then moved to Los Angeles to become a fashion stylist. She had been dating Mick Jagger since 2001. She founded her own fashion label in 2006.

March 21: James Rebhorn, 65: fought a 20-year battle with melanoma and took time out to write his own obituary, titled “His Life, According to Jim.” (Posted separately.) Rebhorn was an incredible character actor and never wanted for work. He played the killer in one of my favorite Law & Order episodes (Vengeance 1992) and made appearances in 6 more episodes as various other characters. His resume is incredibly impressive. His television work lists 67 titles. His film work 59 titles. He most recently played Carrie Mathison’s father in the Showtime drama Homeland.

March 30: Kate O’Mara, 74: star of Dynasty (played Joan Collins’ sister) and starred in the BBC’s Doctor Who, her agent announced she died in a Sussex nursing home after a short illness.

March 31: Edmond Harjo, 96: one of the last American Seminole Code Talkers of World War II, recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (2013). He used his native language to outmaneuver the enemy during World Wars. Harjo traveled to Washington, DC in November of 2012 to take part in a ceremony to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. The ceremony honored 33 tribes. At this ceremony, House Speaker John Boehner told the story how Harjo, a member of the Army’s 195th Field Artillery Battalion, was walking through an orchard in southern France in 1944 and heard one of his fellow soldiers singing under a tree in the Creek dialect. A captain later heard the two soldiers talking, Boehner said, and immediately put them to work on opposite ends of a radio. Harjo and his brothers were at Normandy. They were on Iwo Jima. They used the simplest weapon, their unique language, to thwart the fiercest enemy free people had ever known.

March 31: Frankie Knuckles, 59: American disc jockey and record producer. AKA the “Godfather of House,” the influential DJ who helped popularize the “House” music genre throughout the US and abroad died from complications with diabetes.

April 6: Mickey Rooney, 93: Emmy Award winning actor, who was one of MGM’s giant box office attractions in the late 30s and early 40s died at his home in North Hollywood. He had a prolific career on stage and screen that spanned eight decades, he was nominated for four Academy Awards and received two special Oscars, the Juvenile Award in 1939 (shared with Deanna Durbin) and one in 1983 for his body of work.

Peaches Geldof (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Getty)

Peaches Geldof (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Getty)

April 7: Peaches Geldof, 25: daughter of Band Aid founder and musician Bob Geldof, a media and fashion personality in her own right, died in Kent, England at her home. She had two sons, both under 2 years old.

April 8: James Hellwig, 54: The Ultimate Warrior, one of U.S. professional wrestling’s most celebrated athletes, died just days after he was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Hall of Fame.

April 20: Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, 76: a cause celebrity in the 1970s whose plight was dramatized in a song by Bob Dylan and again in a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington, died in Toronto after a battle with prostate cancer. He was once a professional boxer who served nearly 20 years in prison in New Jersey after being wrongly convicted of a 1966 triple murder. He became an international figure after he was released as an advocate for others jailed for crimes they did not commit.

April 24: Sister Ping, 65: Cheng Chui Ping smuggled thousands of people from China to the US, creating a lucrative business and a robust network that brought immigrants through treacherous routes. Cheng died of cancer in a Texas federal prison where she had been sentenced to 35 years, the maximum she could receive. Authorities referred to her as the mother of all snakeheads, a term used to describe those involved with human smuggling. Cheng arranged for as many as 3,000 people – most of whom were from China’s Fujian province – to make their way illegally to the U.S. Her business collected more than $40 million over two decades and she charged as much as $35,000 per person. She also helped finance the now-infamous Golden Venture, a vessel carrying nearly 300 starving immigrants that ran aground in Queens, NY leaving 10 of the passengers dead.

Bob Hoskins

Bob Hoskins

April 28: Bob Hoskins, 71: the British Actor who was best known for roles in The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit died of pneumonia, surrounded by his family. He retired from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In 2012 he played Muir in Snow White and the Huntsman. I’ll always remember him from a movie in was in with Denzel Washington entitled Heart Condition, though I enjoyed every movie he appeared in.

April 29: Clayton Lockett, 38: American convicted murderer, died from a heart attack after a botched lethal injection.

The Best & Worst of 2014! People Mags December 22 Issue

People Magazines Best & Worst of 2014 Dec. 22 Cover

People Magazines Best & Worst of 2014 Dec. 22 Cover

When this issue hits our mailbox at work, I always make sure to read it cover-to-cover. Most of the other People Magazines that arrive in the mail I just page through, but the Best & Worst is always interesting and since I don’t pay for the subscription, that’s even better.

This year-end issue they usually forecast who will be HOT in the coming year and they didn’t disappoint … They mention Kathy Griffith taking over for the late Joan Rivers on Fashion Police. I never watched that show, so I could give a rat’s ass who takes over. Up and comers versus backstabbers is the daughters of Melanie Griffin and Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson, who we’ll be seeing in the adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. That girl has strong acting genes on both sides of the bloodline.

Katy Perry will be headlining the half time show at the Super Bowl in 2015 (Feb. 1), which is just a week before the Grammys (Feb. 8). I wonder if Taylor Swift feels snubbed.

On page 50 they list the Top 10 “Your Faves” Pop Culture’s Most Wanted, Streamed, Watched and Read of 2014. Under Prime-Time Cable, #8 was… yep, you guessed it … Longmire. The show A&E dumped and the show Netflix has now picked up and put into filming for Season 4. That was the only A&E show listed. The Walking Dead was #1 (of course) followed by Game of Thrones (HBO); American Horror Story (FX); Sons of Anarchy (FX); Rizzoli & Isles (TNT); Major Crimes (TNT); The Last Ship (TNT); Longmire (A&E); True Blood (HBO); The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo).

Movies, Most Streamed Songs on Spotify, Kindle Bestsellers, Increase in Twitter Followers, and some other social media garbage is also listed.

I also use this issue to see if I missed anyone in my 2014 list of obituaries. People, of course lists the really big celebrities who died, but they also included some of the lesser known celebrities.

I’ll be putting up my list starting on Friday, December 19.