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 imdb.com 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.

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