We Lost Two more magnificient Elephants in 2015

Wanda the Asian Elephant


February 12, 2015: Wanda, 57: one of the oldest Asian elephants in North America, Wanda was humanely euthanized at PAWS’ ARK 2000 captive wildlife sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. following a long history of arthritis and foot disease, the leading cause for the euthanization of captive elephants. Wanda was born in the wild but was captured at a young age to be put on display in the United States. During her lifetime she was moved from one place to another, including Disneyland, a circus, zoos in Texas and then Detroit. In 2005 the Detroit Zoo (a leader in animal welfare as well as providing sanctuary for animals in need of rescue) decided to end its elephant program and opted to relocate Wanda and fellow Asian elephant Winky to PAWS’ ARK 2000. (Winky passed away in 2008.) Another Asian elephant, Gypsy, arrived at the Sanctuary, and it was discovered that they had been in a circus together more than 20 years earlier. They instantly remembered one another and could always be found close together. Even in death, their friendship endured. After Wanda passed away, Gypsy approached her friend, stayed by her side for a period of time, gently touched her body and “spoke” to her in soft rumbles before slowly walking away.


Iringa at PAWS

July 22, 2015: Iringa, 46: North America’s oldest African Elephant, who was living at the PAWS sanctuary, was euthanized following a long history of degenerative joint and foot disease. Her favorite time of day was her therapy pool sessions, where she would float, taking the weight off her feet and joints. Her caregivers would feed her special treats. After the session she would immediately go and cover herself in mud, like an elephant would do naturally in the wild. Iringa was born in Mozambique, Africa in 1969 and was captured before she was two years old and sent to the Toronto Zoo in 1974. She was one of seven elephants shipped to the zoo from Mozambique that year; Iringa was the longest-lived elephant from that group. Together with two other elephants named Toka and Thika, who were born at the zoo, Iringa arrived at PAWS in October of 2013 after the Toronto City Council voted to relocate the elephants following the Zoo’s decision to end its elephant program. Toka is 45 and still lives at PAWS.

2015 Obits – Those we lost in 2015 – April thru June

April 1: Robert Walker, 54: Canadian-born American animator and director (Aladdin, Brother Bear, Mulan, The Lion King), was known as a “down-to-earth, quiet, thoughtful guy who cared about the people around him.” He translated his love and passion for drawing into a career as a Walt Disney layout artist and director — a career that culminated with a 2003 Academy Award nomination for the animated feature Brother Bear, a film that earned more than $250 million worldwide. Bob died from a heart attack at age 54, he had recently retired from the film industry.


Cynthia Lennon © Alastair Grant.

April 1: Cynthia Lennon, 75:  Cynthia was John Lennon’s first wife and mother of Julian Lennon. Lennon’s former Beatles bandmate, Paul McCartney released a special message in honor of Cynthia, writing, “The news of Cynthia’s passing is very sad. She was a lovely lady who I’ve known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all; but I will always have great memories of our times together.” Cynthia lost her battle with cancer.

April 2: Linsey Berardi, 22: Bad Girls Club star (Oxygen), Linsey “Jade” Berardi, who was known as “Brooklyn Brat” on the show, reportedly got kicked off the show after getting in a fight with a cameraman. At this time, her cause of death is unknown.

April 2: Tom Towles, 65: a character actor, who was a regular in Rob Zombie films died from a stroke at a hospital in Pinellas, Florida.

April 3: Bob Burns, 64: former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer died in a single-vehicle wreck along Tower Ridge Road in Cartersville (Bartow County) Georgia. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was the only occupant in the vehicle.

NFL Historical Imagery

Terdell Middleton: ©1980 AP Photo/NFL Photos


April 3: Terdell Middleton, 59: American football player (Green Bay Packers) was a running back and attended the University of Memphis during the fall of 1973. He was a third round pick in the 1977 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and was traded to Green Bay in the preseason. He went to the Pro Bowl after the 1978 season, when he ran for 1,116 yards, sixth best in the NFL. He was five days short of his 60th birthday when he died.

April 5: Frederic Brandt, 65: Brandt was likely the inspiration for Martin Short’s character on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a parody that reportedly DEVASTATED the celebrity doctor. He was found dead in his Miami home on Sunday morning after hanging himself, a spokesperson for the Miami Police Department confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Some of Brandt’s patients included Madonna and Stephanie Seymour.

April 6: Alton “Ben” Powers, 64: Good Times actor, (Keith Anderson) passed away, cause of death unknown.

April 7: Jose Capellan, 34: former major league pitcher, was found dead from an apparent heart attack at his home in Philadelphia. He apparently was taking Ambien, a drug used for sleep disorders.

April 8: Geoffrey Lewis, 79: had roles in Clint Eastwood movies (High Plains Drifter, Thunderball & Lightfoot, Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can, Bronco Billy, Pink Cadillac, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), plus other films (The Devil’s Rejects, Heaven’s Gate, Dillinger, TV Movie Salem’s Lot, Smile), and numerous television shows (Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, Lou Grant, Little House on the Prairie, Falcon Crest, Murder She Wrote). Geoffrey was the father of actress Juliette Lewis and he is survived by his wife Paula Hochhalter and nine other children including Lightfield and Matthew, both actors and Dierdre, an actress.

April 9: Alex Soto, 49: A popular Puerto Rican comedian and drag queen, Alex had been recovering from the amputation of his left foot when he suffered a heart attack. He died in Boston. He had previously battled diabetes.

April 10: Eduardo Gauggel Medina, 48 and Eduardo Gaugel Rivas, 70: both Honduran lawyers and politician, the elder Eduardo was also a member of the Supreme Court (1994-1998), the father and son were murdered in Honduras as they were entering Gauggel Rivas’ house in San Pedro Sula by gunman wielding high powered weapons. The son and father died at the scene suffering multiple gunshot wounds. One of the perpetrators was injured in the exchange and authorities arrested him at a clinic in Villa Nueva, 25 kilometers from where the original attack happened.

April 10: Lauren Hill, 19: American college basketball player, pediatric cancer advocate, died of Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). People diagnosed with this type of caner are given two years maximum to live. Lauren’s motto was “never give up.”

April 12: Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad al-Rubaish, 35: Muslim cleric, said to be the religious leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen who had a $5m bounty on his head, has been killed by a US drone strike. It is unclear who launched the air strike. He was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2006, after which he joined al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Marion Warner

Marion C. Warner (courtesy of Havlicek family)

April 12: Marion C. Stroud Havlicek Warner, 92: passed peacefully on April 12, 2015 at the age of 92 of complications from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Marion is survived by her children: Scott R Stroud (deceased), Jeffrey Stroud, Mary-Jo and Annabelle Havlicek. She was preceded in death by her brother Robert Muehlbach and sister Margaret Muehlbach Bauer; and her husbands, James Stroud, Joseph F. Havlicek and Charles W. Warner. She was the loving grandmother to Nick Stroud; Lauren and Jenene Ebstein; Teresa, Scott Robert, James and Holly Stroud; the generous great grandmother to ten and the caring great-great grandmother to three. She was a secretary of the Year recipient and many times Toastmaster’s Speaker Award winner. Marion lived in Stevens Point for almost two decades and worked at Robert’s Irrigation, Joern’s Furniture Company, Inc. and Washington Elementary School. She moved to Milwaukee in the mid-70’s. Marion loved crossword puzzles, murder mysteries, shopping, jewelry, shoes and tiramisu. She was my mother.


April 14: Percy Sledge, 73: best known for his hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” died at his Baton Rouge, Louisiana home after a long battle with cancer. His career spanned 50 years.

Homaro Cantu

Homaro Cantu

April 14: Homaro Cantu, 38: American chef, suicide by hanging, was found on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He was found in the brewery he was planning to open in the summer in Old Irving Park. Cantu was a culinary innovator on many levels.



April 14: Kevin Rosier, 53: American super heavyweight kickboxing champion and mixed martial artist (UFC), was one of the first men to ever step into the UFC Octagon. Rosier, who took part in the UFC 1 tournament in 1993 was ill for quite some time, suffered an apparent fatal heart attack.

April 15: Joseph A Bennett, 44: British actor (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Bill) and husband to Julie Graham, was found hanging in Richmond Park, SW London. Bennett met Graham when they were in a play together and they married in secret.

April 16: Johnny Kemp, 55: born August 2, 1959, Kemp started singing in Bahamian nightclubs at age 13. He moved to New York in 1979 with the band “Kinky Fox.” He is well known for his hit “Just Got Paid.” He died after falling and hitting his head on a rock on the beach in Jamaica. Reportedly he was to join the Tom Joyner Morning Cruise. He is survived by his wife Deidre and their two sons. Enjoy the video, it will have you out of your seats … (below)

April 18: Joseph Lechleider, 82: was father of the DSL Internet Technology.

April 19: Freddie Gray, 25: police suspect in Baltimore. Six police officers were suspended after Freddie Gray died from a severed spinal cord after being chased and arrested.

Betty Willis

Betty Willis

April 19: Betty Willis, 91: the American graphic designer who created the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign along Interstate 15 that has served as a gateway to the city since 1959 died of natural causes at the home of her daughter in Las Vegas. She was born in Overton, Nevada and when she was about 2-weeks old, her father moved the family to Las Vegas. She also designed the sign for the fabled Moulin Rouge Hotel. Though the building was destroyed in a series of fires, the sign was saved and moved to the Neon Museum in 2009. In addition to her daughter, Willis is survived by two grandchildren and a great grandchild.


April 21: Cindy Yang, 24: model, and entertainer Cindy Yang (Peng Hsin-yi) committed suicide in her Taichung residence by reportedly inhaling helium, leaving behind a suicide note, blaming coworkers and bullying on the Internet. Fans of “Cindy Yang” and of the TV show “University” pointed to a Facebook page also saying that bullying led her to take her own life. Police said that Peng’s suicide note mentioned Internet “haters” and colleagues as being the reason for her suicide.

April 23: Richard Corliss, 71: longtime film critic for Time magazine, and autor of three books, including Talking Pictures. He died under hospice care in New York City after suffering a stroke.

April 23: Paul Ryan, 69: Actor, TV Host and correspondent (Entertainment Tonight) died from leukemia at Providence Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank. He acted, he interviewed celebrities, he was a TV hosting coach, speaker and even hosted Celebrity Master Class for the SAG Foundation.


Sawyer Sweeten

April 23: Sawyer Sweeten, 19: the actor from Everybody Loves Raymond died from a suspected suicide (gunshot). He was 19 (photo is from 2010). He was only weeks from his 20th birthday. He was visiting his family in Texas where it is believed to have shot himself on their front porch.


April 24: Sabeen Mahmud, 39: Pakistani human rights activist, was shot dead in Karachi via a drive-by shooting after hosting a talk on allegations of torte in the province of Balochistan. She was driving home with her mother, who was also attacked. Ms. Mehmud was a director of the charity The Second Floor, also known as T2F.

April 25: notable deaths consequent to the 2015 Nepal earthquake: Dan Fredinburg, 33, American executive, head of privacy at Google; Mattias Kuhle, 67, German geographer.


Jayne Meadows-Allen

April 26: Jayne Meadows-Allen, 95: legendary actress, award winner on stage and screen, born to missionary parents in China, died peacefully of natural causes in her Encino, Calif. home. Meadows-Allen was in the entertainment industry for more than six decades, from Broadway roles to TV roles. She was also a panelist on the CBS hit program, I’ve Got a Secret. During her run on the show, Jayne was the highest rated actress on CBS, second only to Lucille Ball. Winner of countless awards, Int’l Platform Association Award, Susan B. Anthony Award and many more. Jayne’s husband of 46 years, Steve Allen, the first host of The Tonight Show, passed away in 2000. Their son, Bill Allen states that she was immediately charmed by him when they met, even saying to her sister, Audrey Meadows, “If that man isn’t married soon he will be … and to me.”


April 27: Verne Gagne, 89: professional wrestler, trainer and promoter (AWA); wrestling legend and Wrestling Observer first year Hall of Famer had suffered from dementia for many years, which included a 2009 incident where he threw down a fellow nursing home resident. Gagne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or possibly chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by a lifetime of head injuries) and had been living in the “memory-loss” section at a Bloomington, Minn. health care facility. He continued to make public appearances in his last years, aided by his son Greg. He was 89 when he died.

April 27: Andrew Lesnie, 59: Australian cinematographer (The Lord of the Rings, I Am Legend, The Water Diviner), Oscar winner (2002), died from a heart attack.


Nigel Terry

April 30: Nigel Terry, 69: an English actor who starred as King Arthur in John Boorman’s 1981 medieval drama Excalibur died of emphysema. (Blogger’s Note: When I first saw Boorman’s “Excalibur” I watched it at least once a week for almost a year, I was that hypnotized by Nigel Terry’s performance.) Terry also played in Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter. In 1986 he played a bisexual voluptuary with a goatee and a gleaming eye in Caravaggio opposite Sean Bean and Tilda Swinton. He also worked in theatre (the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company), often working with director Max Stafford-Clark and playwright Howard Barker. In his last major film, Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy (2004) an epic starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, he had the pleasure of playing a Trojan high priest and advisor to O’Toole’s King Priam. In 1993 in moved from London back to Cornwall partly to be near his parents in their later years, but also to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs and sea.


April 30: Ben E King, 76: soul and R&B singer, best known for his iconic 1961 single “Stand by Me,” died from coronary heart disease. Though he gained some fame with The Drifters, it was the classic Stand By Me that cemented his fame.

May 1: Dave Goldberg, 47: Silicon Valley entrepreneur, SurveyMonkey chief executive and husband of Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg was found lying next to a gym treadmill at a holiday resort in Mexico. Goldberg died of severe head trauma. He had vital signs when he was discovered, but later died at a hospital.

May 1: Grace Lee Whitney, 85: born in Detroit, Mich., she is best known for her Star Trek character, Yeoman Janice Rand of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Whitney passed away peacefully in her Coarsegold home.

Michael Blake

Michael Blake accepts his Oscar in 1991 as Doris Leader Charge translates his speech into the Sioux language.

May 2: Michael Blake, 69: author and Oscar-winning screenwriter of Dances With Wolves (he adapted the screenplay from his own novel), died peacefully after a lengthy illness in Tucson, Ariz. His novel sold more than 3.5 million copies and was translated into 15 languages. The 1990 film won seven Oscars. He is survived by his wife Marrianne and his three children.

May 2: Philip S. Goodman, 89: director, screenwriter and producer, who wrote for film and TV, died at his home in New York City. He wrote episodes for TV shows such as Profiles in Courage, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Johnny Staccato. He directed the 1963 feature We Shall Return. He also wrote and directed television documentaries and industrial films for many years. In 1970 he wrote three episodes of National Educational Television’s “Our Vanishing Wilderness,” one of the first series on TV to focus on environmental issues. He also directed TV commercials for Coca-Cola, RCA, Revlon and Rheingold beer, among others. He is survived by his daughter Jody (a lawyer); a son Nicholas (a film producer); and two grandchildren.

May 4: William Bast, 84: wrote extensively for both film and TV and was also known for his two James Dean bios, died of complications from Alzheimer’s.

© ellen-albertini-dow

Ellen Albertini Dow Credit: Erik Pedersen

May 4: Ellen Albertini Dow, 101: whose memorable take on “Rapper’s Delight” stole the show in the 1998 Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer – and whose screen career started in her 70s. She died at the age of 101 from pneumonia.


May 4: Joshua Ozersky, 47: the prominent American food writer and a Portland resident, died of drowning after suffering a seizure in his Chicago hotel, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. He was in Chicago to attend the James Beard Foundation Awards.

May 5: Gerard “Jock” Davison, 47: a former Belfast IRA commander and the most senior pro-peace process republican killed since the 1997 IRA ceasefire was shot dead, once in the back of the head in front of children going to a local primary school in the Markets area of south Belfast at 9am.

May 6: Guy Carawan, 87: a folk singer and political activist, introduced the song “We Shall Overcome” to the US civil rights movement.

May 7: Gilbert Lewis, 79: a character actor who played the kindly King of Cartoons on the first season of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, died at  home peacefully in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

May 8: Joanne Copeland, 83: the second wife of Johnny Carson and a confidante of Truman Capote, died at her longtime home in Los Angeles. She had been in declining health and was in hospice care. She married Johnny Carson in 1963 and divorced him in 1972 when she became a confidante to Truman Capote. Capote even kept a writing room at her house, where he died in 1984. Joanne Carson had a second marriage later in life to Richard Rever that also ended in divorce.

elizabeth wilson

Elizabeth Wilson in “The Graduate”

May 9: Elizabeth Wilson, 94: a character actress of stage, screen and TV, Wilson has over 70 appearances to her credit. Special acknowledgment of her work in The Graduate, 9 to 5, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, The Addams Family and an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She was a Tony Award Winner.

May 11: Isobel Varley, 77: the world’s most tattooed female pensioner has died following a battle with Alzehimer’s disease. She was covered 93% with designs. Despite receiving her first tattoo in her late 40s, she went on to claim Guinness World Record for “most tattooed senior citizen (female)” and appeared in magazines, newspapers and advertisements across the globe.

May 12: Tony Ayala, Jr., 52: San Antonio boxer died from cardiac arrest. SAFD was dispatched to his home where they found him unresponsive. During his career he was 22-0 with 19 knockouts before he was convicted of rape and served 16 years in prison. He returned to prison in 2004 for parole violation and served another 10 years. He was the son of legendary trainer Tony Ayala, Sr., who died last year. His brothers, Mike, Sammy and Paulie all box on the amateur and pro levels.

May 12: John Colenback, 79: he played Dr. Dan Stewart on the defunct CBS soap opera As The World Turns and appeared in the original Broadway production of A Man for All Seasons. He died of complications from COPD according to his nephew. Other survivors include his brother and nieces and nephews.

May 12: Rachel Jacobs, 39: an American entrepreneur, who was thought to be missing after the 2015 Philadelphia Amtrak derailment was discovered dead from her injuries. She was CEO of ApprenNet and also co-founder of the non-profit Detroit-Nation. Her mother is former Michigan State Senator Gilda Z. Jacobs. Rachel leaves behind a husband and 2-year-old son.

MacDonald Serial Killer

William MacDonald

May 12: William MacDonald, 90: Australian serial killer known as “The Mutilator,” MacDonald was New South Wales oldest and longest-serving prisoner. He was jailed for life in 1963 for murdering four men in Sydney and 1 in Brisbane. He gained notoriety for slicing off his victims’ genitals.

May 12: Saulat Mirza: Pakistani convicted murderer and political activist was executed by hanging at Machh jail for the murder of former KESC managing director Shahid Hamid, his driver and guard in 1997.

May 13: Gill Dennis, 74: co-writer of the screenplay for Walk The Line and the man who also penned Return to Oz (1985) and did the teleplay for the 1996 TNT Western Riders of the Purple Sage died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Portland, Ore. according to his wife, Kristen.

May 14: B.B. King, 89: King of the Blues, blues legend who was the idol of generations of musicians and fans alike died at his home in Las Vegas. His attorney, Arthur Williams, Jr. said that King told him he wanted his funeral to be held in a church in Indianola, Mississippi, near the site where he worked picking cotton as a boy. King’s eldest surviving daughter, Shirley King of Oak Park, Illi. said she was upset that she didn’t have a chance to see her father before he died. King was a 15-time Grammy winner and continued to perform well into his 80s. His health had been declining during the past year and he had collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October; King blamed it on dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home. During his career spanning nearly 70 years he was a mentor to scores of guitarists including Eric Capton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards. King recorded more than 50 records and toured the world, performing 250 or more concerts a year. Singer Smokey Robinson praised the music legend. “The world has physically lost not only one of the greatest musical people ever but one of the greatest people ever. Enjoy your eternity,” Robinson said.

May 15: Corey Hill, 36: former UFC fighter died at a hospital in Tampa, Fla. He apparently suffered a collapsed lung and a heart attack. He is survived by his wife Lauran and three children.

May 15: Valentina Maureira, 14: Chilean euthanasia advocate with cystic fibrosis whose heartbreaking request on YouTube to be allowed to end her own life was refused by the president of Chile died of her illness. Millions of people watched her YouTube video but her public plea was rejected by the Chilean government. Her brother also died of cystic fibrosis at age six.

Washington Redskins 2014 Football Headshots

Adrian Robinson

May 16: Adrian Robinson, 25: American football player, former NFL linebacker from Temple University who played 6 games with the Denver Broncos in 2013, died in Philadelphia. The death was ruled a suicide by hanging. He later played for the Chargers and Redskins. In April he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

May 16: Abu Sayyaf: Tunisian senior ISIS commander, head of oil operations, killed during a daring U.S. Special Operations raid in eastern Syria. He was killed in a heavy firefight after he resisted capture in the raid at al-Omar.

May 17: Chinx Drugz, 31: American rapper, murdered in a drive by shooting, a member of French Montana’s Coke Boys. It happened in Queens, NY.

May 17: Michael Kandel, 47: American hip-hop musician (aka Tranquility Bass) who recorded ambient and trip hop music. A cause of death is not known.

Screening of the TNT Original Movie "Hope"

Mary Ellen Trainor Credit: Erik Pedersen

May 20: Mary Ellen Trainor Zemeckis, 62: who appeared in every Lethal Weapon film, played the mother in Goonies, played Elaine in Romancing the Stone and was in many other films died from pancreatic cancer at her home in Montecito, Calif. She moved to Los Angeles in 1980, where she married director Robert Zemeckis and discovered her calling as an actress. She and Zemeckis divorced in 2000; she is survived by her son Alex; her mother, Jane; and siblings Ned, Jack, Barbara and Carolyn.

May 22: Marques Haynes, 89: American Hall of Fame, Harlem Globetrotter Great was known for his remarkable ability to dribble the ball and keep it away from defenders. According to the 1988 Harlem Globetrotter film Harlem Globetrotters: Six Decades of Magic, Haynes could dribble the ball as many as six times a second. He died in Plano, Texas of natural causes.

May 23: John Carter, 87: a diverse actor who had roles on stage and screen died from pneumonia. After graduating college in Missouri he moved to New York to pursue his dream of becoming an actor and married Barbara Williams (also an actor). After they divorced he moved to Los Angeles and became very busy in the world of television and film. He became a Theater West member and met his future wife, Kendall Fewel, a match made in heaven. His roles in television included Winds of War, Roots, Dallas, and Law & Order. Film work included Hoax, Badlands and Joe Kidd.


Anne Meara

May 23: Anne Meara, 85: comedian and actress, one half of Stiller & Meara and mother of Ben Stiller, she was married to Jerry Stiller for 61 years and worked together almost as long. In addition to her son, she is also survived by her daughter, Amy Stiller and grandchildren.

May 24: Marcus Belgrave, 78: a famous jazz trumpeter who shared the stage and studio with Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Dizzy Gillespie and Aretha Franklin died of heart failure.

May 24: Michael Ryan, 66: an inmate on death row for the 1985 cult killings of two people including a 5-year-old boy died in custody at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in southeast Nebraska. Ryan was convicted for the torture and killing of 26-year old James Thimm at a farm near Rulo (Nebraska) where Ryan led a cult, and in the beating death of Luke Stice, the 5-year-old son of a cult member.

May 26: Paula Cooper, 45: convicted murderer and once the youngest death row inmate in U.S. was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in northwest Indianapolis. She had been released from prison two years ago after the Indiana Supreme Court set aside her death sentence and gave her a 60-year prison term instead.

May 27: Cotton Coulson, 63: filmmaker and photographer for National Geographic died in Norway after losing consciousness on a scuba dive off the coast of Norway. The dive was part of a 17-day National Geographic expedition. “Most of us divide time between family and career,” said Ford Cochran, director of programming for National Geographic Expeditions. “They found a way to mingle those things, doing the things they loved.”

May 27: Michael King, 67: television distributor who with his brother transformed a modest company they inherited from their father, into a syndicator of television megahits like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, died from a lingering infection.

May 27: William Newman, 80: was a character actor that provided him with countless roles in TV and film. He made his film debut in Brubaker and followed this up with The Postman Always Rings Twice. He also appeared in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet and George A. Romero’s Monkey Shines. During the 90s he appeared in Leprechaun, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Stand, The Craft, Touch and two films with Skeet Ulrich. He was also a familiar face on TV. Newman died after a prolonged struggle against the vascular affliction, Multi-infarct Dementia. He died at Hayes Manor Senior Residence in Philadelphia.

May 28: Reynaldo Rey, 75: longtime actor with TV and movie credits died from complications of a stroke he suffered late last year. Rey also had a career as a stand-up comedian and had served as a co-host on BET’s stand-up show Comic View. He had recorded 3 comedy albums and 3 videos.


Betsy Palmer who is best known for playing Mrs Voorhees in Friday the 13th

May 29: Betsy Palmer, 88: a veteran character actress who achieved lasting fame as the murderous camp cook in the horror film Friday the 13th died of natural causes at a hospice care center in Connecticut. In addition to films, Palmer had appeared on Broadway and in TV shows for decades before she played Mrs. Voorhees in Friday the 13th. She would say in later years that she only took the role because she wanted the money to buy a new car. Palmer is survived by her daughter, Melissa Merendino.

May 30: Jim Bailey, 77: a self-proclaimed “character actor” who did impersonations of female celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Peggy Lee died from a heart attack due to complications from pneumonia.

May 30: Beau Biden, 46: Attorney General of Delaware and son of US Vice President Joe Biden, died after a battle with brain cancer.

May 30: Julie Harris, 94: British costume designer, who designed the clothes worn by The Beatles in the films A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and James Bond in the film Live and Let Die. Harris died in Westminster Hospital in London from a chest infection, according to her close friend, Jo Botting. Ms. Botting stated, “In a career that embraced more than 80 films and television productions … Julie worked with some of the greatest international stars.” She won an Oscar for costume design in the 1965 movie Darling. Ms. Harris never married or had children. She is survived by her god-daughter, Serena Dilnot.

June 1: Katherine Chappell, 29: American tourist, was a visual effects editor at  production company Scanline and helped create effects for the hit series Game of Thrones. She was attacked and killed by a lioness in South Africa. Apparently the animal approached the passenger side of the car and bit her through the window. Witnesses told park officials that the windows were down. There were numerous signs warning visitors to keep windows up.

June 2: Anthony Riley, 28: a vivacious street performer and a frontrunner on the 2015 season of The Voice who inspired one of the fastest four-chair turnaround in the series’ history apparently took his life. He mysteriously and abruptly left The Voice before the Knockout Rounds with no explanation other than “personal reasons.” It was later revealed that he’d dropped out in January to enter a two-week rehab program for substance abuse.

June 4: Hermann Zapf, 96: German typeface designer (Optima, Palatino, Zapfino).

©Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent Bugliosi © Getty Images

June 6: Vincent Bugliosi, 80: Attorney and author of Helter Skelter, was the man who prosecuted Charles Manson and the members of his “family” for seven murders. The book about the Manson case became one of the best-selling true crime books of all time. Bugliosi died after a years-long battle with cancer, his son, Vincent Bugliosi, Jr. revealed to Retuers.


Sir Christopher Lee

June 7: Sir Christopher Lee, 93: British actor (Dracula, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars), voice artist and singer. He died at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after suffering heart and respiratory problems. His career spanned more than half a century. He defined the macabre for a generation of horror film enthusiasts and played the sinister vampire Dracula no fewer than nine times in productions from 1958 through 1973. He was 6’4″ tall so he was an ideal candidate to play the bloodsucking Count. After playing Dracula for 20 years he tired of the role and moved to the United States where he enjoyed a lucrative career in both films and TV mini-series. He made some comedies in the mid-80s and into the 90s and was Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III and Saruman in Lord of the Rings. He is survived by his Danish wife, Birgit and their daughter Christina.

June 7: Sean Pappas, 49: South African golfer, born on Feb. 19, 1966, died of a heart attack. He is survived by his wife Sue, their 7-year old daughter and a 20-year old son from a previous marriage.

June 7: Cole Tucker (born Rick Karp), 61: Gay porn star died of AIDS-related illness.

June 9: Pumpkinhead (born Robert Alan Diaz), 39: American rapper from New York’s rap scene, died in a New Jersey hospital while waiting to undergo a gall stone surgery. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

June 12: Rick Ducommun, 62: Canadian actor (The ‘Burbs, Scary Movie, Groundhog Day, Die Hard), complications from diabetes.

June 14: John Carroll, 73: newspaper editor (The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun), who reinvigorated the LA Times and restored the reputation and credibility of the paper in the early 2000s, even as he fought bitterly with the paper’s cost-conscious corporate parent, died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare neurological disorder. He is survived by three siblings, two daughters and three stepchildren.

Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr

June 15: Blaze Starr, 83: Burlesque dancer and the performer who brought a playful version of stripping that combined the flair of an entertainer with the attitude of a satirist died at a hospital in Williamson, West Virginia. As a successful businesswoman she owned the 2 O’Clock Club on East Baltimore Street and appeared in an advertising campaign for Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. She was born Fannie Belle Fleming and in the late-1950s had an affair with Louisiana Gov. Earl Long which turned into the 1989 movie Blaze starring Lolita Davidovich and Paul Newman. Ms. Starr had a cameo in the movie. Ms. Starr is survived by her sister, a brother and four other sisters.

June 17: Nelson Doubleday, Jr., 81: American publisher (Doubleday) and Major League Baseball team owner (New York Mets).

June 18: Ralph J. Roberts, 95: American businessman, founder of Comcast.

June 18: Jack Rollins, 100: American film producer (Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Irrational Man).

June 18: Jim Vandiver, 75: American racing driver.

June 18: Danny Villanueva, 77: American football player (LA Rams, Dallas Cowboys) and broadcasting executive, co-founder of Univision. Died from complications from a stroke.

June 19: Earl Norem, 91: American comic book artist (Silver Surfer, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe).

June 20: JoAnn Dean Killingsworth, 91: American actress and dancer, first person to play Snow White at Disneyland. Died from cancer.

June 21: Cora Combs, 92: American professional wrestler.

June 21: Juan José Estrada, 51: was a Mexican boxer in the Super Bantamweight division. He was a onetime WBC International and the WBA Super Bantamweight Champion. He was stabbed to death in what is believed to be a family dispute.

June 21: Darryl Hamilton, 50: American baseball player (Milwaukee Brewers). The bodies of Hamilton and Monica Jordan, 44, were found inside the house in Pearland (Houston). The woman (Jordan) who police believe shot and killed Hamilton and then herself pled guilty to arson in 2008 in a case where she believed her husband at the time was cheating on her. In the Hamilton shooting, police where sent to the home on a 911 call about a disturbance. When they arrived they found his body near the front entrance. Her body was found in another part of the house. The home was apparently owned by Jordan. Investigators said it appeared Hamilton has been shot more than once; Jordan died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The couples 13-month old boy was found unharmed in the home.

June 22: James Horner, 61: American composer (Titanic, Field of Dreams, Braveheart, Apollo 13), Oscar winner (1998), died while piloting a single-engine S312 Tucano turboprop plane when it crashed into a remote area about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara.

June 22: Buddy Landel, 53: American professional wrestler (SMW, USWA, WCW). An east Tennessee wrestling legend, “Nature Boy” Landel died in Virginia. He was a Knoxville, Tenn. native.


Dick Van Patten © Everett Collection

June 23: Dick Van Patten, 86: American actor (Eight Is Enough, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Love Boat), died due to complications from diabetes at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He is survived by his wife Patricia Van Patten to whom he was married for more than 60 years, and three sons.


Deer Island Jane Doe

June 25: Deer Island Jane Doe, 3-5: American unidentified decedent. The Facebook post has generated over 24 million views but the cause of death remains undetermined and her identity is still unknown. The girl was discovered June 25 in a trash bag by a woman walking a dog. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children used autopsy photos to create a computer-generated image of the girl, believed to be about 4 years old and white or Hispanic.

June 25: Patrick Macnee, 93: English-American actor (The Avengers, This Is Spinal Tap, A View to a Kill). Patrick Macnee played John Steed in the 1960s TV series The Avengers. It might not have made it to a second season if not for Macnee who breathed life into John Steed. It turned out that The Avengers was one of the first British programs to do well in America. The Avengers ran for 9 seasons plus a lame sequel in the mid-70s. He went on to do more TV and movies and publish a candid autobiography in 1988, Blind in One Ear. He was married three times, twice divorced. His last predeceased him. He is survived by his children. Blogger’s comment: Though I try to keep my comments to a minimum, The Avengers was one of the shows I watched religiously when I was growing up.

June 26: Damion Cook, 36: American football player (Detroit Lions), a former NFL lineman who played seven seasons died after suffering a heart attack. He was a Nashville native.

June 26: Richard Matt, 49: convicted murderer and prison escapee; one of two who engineered an elaborate escape from New York’s largest prison, was shot and killed by a federal agent ending a 3-week manhunt that spread over the state’s northern terrain.

June 26: Michelle Watt, 38: British TV presenter (60 Minute Makeover) suicide.

June 28: Raymond Kassow, 70: convicted murderer, bank robber, and the last of 3 convicts in the 1969 Ohio murders has died in custody. On Sept. 24, 1969 Lillian Dewald was working as a teller at Cabinet Supreme Savings and Loan Association in Delhi Township, Ohio. John L. Leigh, Raymond Kassow and Watterson Johnson came in to rob the place. Three customers (Helen Huebner and sisters Luella and Henrietta Stitzel) walked in moments later. The men forced all four women into the vault and shot them until they ran out of bullets. The men escaped with $275. Helen Huebner’s husband Joe, who had been waiting outside for her, discovered the homicides. John L. Leigh died in prison in 2000. Watterson Johnson died in prison in 2014.

Glenn FordJune 29: Glenn Ford, 65: Ford was exonerated last year after spending nearly 30 years of his life on death row for a crime he did not commit. The Innocence Project of New Orleans announced he died of lung cancer, surrounded by friends and family. In 1984 he was convicted and sentenced to die for the Nov. 5 death of a Shreveport jeweler.

June 29: Jackson Vroman, 34: a former Iowa State basketball player and resident of Los Angeles county was found dead in the pool of his home.

2015 Obits – Those we lost in 2015 – January thru March

Jan. 1: Mario Cuomo, 82: former governor of New York. He had been recently hospitalized to treat a  heart condition. His family reported that he passed away at home, from “natural causes due to heart failure.” Cuomo was governor for three terms (1983-1995). He will be remembered as the “last liberal giant of New York politics.” He was married to his wife, Matilda, for more than six decades. They had five children, including the current New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who was sworn in for his second term; Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s “New Day” and daughter Maria Cuomo who is married to designer Kenneth Cole.

Jan. 1: Donna Douglas, 82: died in Baton Rouge, La. said her niece, Charlene Smith. Douglas was known for playing Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Jan. 3: Muath al-Kasasbeh, 26: Jordanian fighter pilot and ISIS hostage, burned alive by the cowards who held him.

Jan. 4: Stuart Scott, 49: longtime SportsCenter anchor and ESPN personality known for his enthusiasm and ubiquity died after a long fight with cancer.

Al Bendich

Al Bendich

Jan. 5: Al Bendich, 85: the lawyer who successfully defended the right of free speech in two landmark midcentury obscenity cases involving Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” and Lenny Bruce’s nightclub act died of a heart attack in Oakland, Calif., according to his wife, Pamela Bendich. He was the last living member of the defense team in the “Howl” case and was the sole defense lawyer in the first of Bruce’s obscenity trials in San Francisco in 1962. Of the four trials Bruce would go through, the San Francisco case was the only one to end in an acquittal.

Jan. 7: Tim Roberts, 38: independent wrestler, known as The Zombie, who appeared on the first episode of WWE’s ECW on Syfy in 2006 died of circumstances unknown at this time.

Jan. 7: Rod Taylor, 84: the suave Australian native who came to Hollywood and starred in such films as The Birds and The Time Machine, died four days shy of turning 85. Taylor’s big breakthrough came with his starring turn in The Time Machine, director George Pal’s 1960 adaptation of the H.G. Wells 1895 sci-fi classic. He also played the heroic Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds, coming to the aid of Tippi Hedren, and starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in another 1963 release, The V.I.P.s.

Jan. 7: Notable French people killed in the Charlie Hebdo shooting: Cabu, 76, cartoonist; Elsa Cayat, 54, psychoanalyst and columnist; Charb, 47, caricaturist and journalist; Philippe Honoré, 73, cartoonist; Bernard Maris, 68, economist and journalist; Tignous, 57, cartoonist; Georges Wolinski, 80, cartoonist.

Andraé Crouch

Andraé Crouch

Jan. 8: Andraé Crouch, 72: Grammy-winning gospel singer died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications after suffering a heart attack. His twin sister, Sandra Crouch said in a statement, “Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.” In addition to singing and composing, Crouch also produced and arranged for artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John and Diana Ross.

Jan. 9: Samuel Goldwyn Jr., 88: son of a fiercely independent-minded Hollywood mogul and producer of many independent films in his own right including Mystic Pizza and studio hits such as Master and Commander, died of congestive heart failure as reported by his son, John Goldwyn. In addition to his extensive film work he produced the Academy Awards ceremony twice in the late 80s, winning an Emmy in 1988 for his effort. He was married three times; to writer Peggy Elliott, with whom he had two children, and to actress Jennifer Howard, with whom he had four. He is survived by his current wife Patricia Strawn and four sons: producer John, actor Tony, Francis and Peter (senior VP of Samuel Goldwyn Films); and two daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth; and nine grandchildren.

Jan. 10: Taylor Negron, 58: actor and comedian known for The Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Easy Money, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Jan. 11: Darrell Hugh Winfield, 85: one of the last of the original Marlboro Men who was discovered by The Leo Burnett ad Agency in 1968 while working on the Quarter Circle 5 Ranch in western Wyoming. He leaves behind a wife, son, 5 daughters and several grandchildren.

Anita Eckberg

Anita Eckberg

Jan. 11: Anita Eckberg, 83: Swedish-born actress and sex symbol of the 1950s and 60s who was immortalized bathing in the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita.

Jan. 13: Andrew Brannan: a decorated Army officer who suffered from PTSD as a result of serving in the Vietnam War. In 1994 the Department of Veterans Affairs declared Brannan 100% disabled while he experienced depression and bipolar disorder. The Supreme Court refused to intervene at the last moment and Brannan was executed for the murder of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller at the age of 66 in Jackson, Georgia. (Another legitimate argument to do away with the death penalty.)

Jan. 14: Darren Shahlavi, 42: a talent martial artist who appeared in Mortal Kombat: Legacy (series) and Arrow, died in his sleep. The cause of death is unknown. Shahlavi had recently finished shooting Pound of Flesh with Jean-Claude Van Damme and is also known for his work in Ip Man 2 (2010), Watchmen (2009), 300 (2006) and Alone in the Dark (2005).

Jan. 17: George Gregory Plitt, Jr., 37: fitness model and reality TV star was struck and killed by a Metrolink train just slightly north of the station in Burbank in the afternoon. Plitt was actually walking on the tracks in an area where pedestrians are not allowed to cross. A native of Baltimore, Plitt was a cast member on Work Out and Work Out in The Zone on Bravo, and appeared on other TV shows and in some commercials.

Jan 19: Paul Campbell, 49: Campbell had small roles in major Hollywood movies and was childhood friends with Boston native Mark Wahlberg, who scored him the part of a toothless crack addict in 2010’s The Fighter. But early on January 19 he was fatally shot by police who had responded to a fatal stabbing, according to authorities. Campbell was agitated and armed with at least one knife when police came to the Weymouth home he shared with his mother, who was dead of multiple stab wounds. The two officers who responded to the 911 call that came from the home made simultaneous decisions to shoot Campbell and both shots struck and killed him. Patricia Campbell, Paul’s mother, 72, was found fatally stabbed at the front of the house.

Jan. 23: Ernie Banks, 83: Banks was a former Chicago Cubs baseball player. He was known as “Mr. Cub,” one of baseball’s optimistic ambassadors and the Cubs’ first African-American player who hit 512 home runs, had 1,636 RBIs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Banks was playing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League when the Cubs discovered him in 1953. They purchased his contract for $10,000. He made his major league debut at shortstop on Sept. 17, 1953 and three days later hit his first home run. A statue of Banks’ likeness was unveiled outside of Wrigley field in 2008.

Jan. 27: Warren Hill, 54: the state of Georgia finally achieved its goal: it exected an intellectually disabled prisoner in an apparent flagrant violation of the US Constitution. The court turned down a plea from seven doctors who all agreed Hill was mentally impaired. The execution was in violation of ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Hill had the cognitive ability of a young boy. He was pronounced dead at 7:55pm on Tuesday, Jan. 27, having been administered a lethal injection. Hill had a lifelong recognized condition of intellectual disability, with his first recording of an abnormal low IQ at the age 7. All of the medical experts who interviewed him (including 3 appointed by the state) concluded that he was mentally impaired by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Georgia however required Hill to prove he was disabled “beyond a reasonable doubt” – a standard no other state in the union requires; which experts say is almost impossible to match. Hill was on death row for murdering a fellow prison inmate. He was originally sentenced to life for murdering his girlfriend, Myra Wright in 1985. (Yet another reason to not have a death penalty.)

Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough

Jan. 29: Colleen McCullough, 77: (© Danielle Smith): internationally famous Australian author of the worldwide bestseller, The Thorn Birds, a romantic Australian saga published in 1977, which became a popular mini-series (starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward). The paperback rights for The Thorn Birds, McCullought’s second novel, were sold at auction for a then record $1.9 million (US dollars). McCullough worked as a neuroscientist in the US before turning to writing full-time. She wrote 25 other novels, including a deeply researched series set in Ancient Rome. She died after suffering a series of small strokes.

Jan. 29: Rod McKuen, 81: the husky-voiced “King of Kitsch” whose music and verse recordings won him an Oscar nomination also made him one of the best selling poets in history.

Jan. 30: Geraldine McEwan, 82: a BAFTA-winning actress who was known for many roles including Miss Marple, the famous Agatha Christie detective in 12 TV episodes. She died of a severe stroke.

Jan. 31: Kenji Goto, 47: Japanese freelance journalist, whose work focused on refugees, children and other victims of war was apparently killed by the cowards known as ISIS. This group of terrorists who hide their faces under hoods and execute totally innocent victims continue to wage a war against major powers unheeded.

Feb. 4: Donald Newbury, 52: a three-time felon with a violent history, a convicted robber, already serving a 99-year prison term, then he joined six of his fellow convicts in the biggest prison break in the history of Texas in 2000. During the prison break, Newbury shot and killed a suburban Dallas police officer while robbing a sporting-goods store. He was pronounced dead at 6:25pm, almost 30 minutes after the procedure began. (Another reason to abolish the death penalty.)

Feb. 5: Sajida al-Rishawi, Ziad Karbouli: Sajida al-Rishawi was a suicide bomber whose release was requested by ISIS. Ziad Karbouli was a former top aide to the deceased leader of al Aaeda in Iraq. Al-Rishawi was executed for her role in a 2005 suicide bombing at a wedding reception in Jordan that killed dozens (unfortunately it didn’t kill her). Karbouli was sentenced to die in 2007 after he was convicted of terrorism that killed one person, plots of other attacks and the possession of explosives.

Kayla Mueller (© Mueller Family)

Kayla Mueller (© Mueller Family)

Feb. 6: Kayla Mueller, 26: ISIS first claimed she was killed by Jordanian bombings. ISIS cowards are responsible for yet another truly innocent victim murdered in a senseless act. Kayla was a compassionate young woman who represented everything good about the human spirit. She wanted to do nothing but good works in her lifetime: working at an HIV/AIDS clinic; working in Palestine and Turkey.

Feb. 7: Dean Smith, 83: North Carolina basketball coach who won two national championships died peacefully at his home. He had been retired since 1997.

Feb. 8: Pola Miller, 86: was an award-winning filmmaker and documentarian who served on the boards of Women in Film and the American Film Institute Associates. Miller was born Pola Chasman in 1928 in New York City. Both her parents taught English at the University of Maine — her father as a professor — and they later ran a school for continuing education in New York.

Feb. 9: Steve Sabol, 98: was the founder of NFL Films and made pro football look like “a Hollywood movie.” Sabol founded NFL Films in 1962 after filming his son Steve Sabol’s high school football games. In August 2011, Ed Sabol was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio — one of the few people to be inducted who never played or coached — and introduced by his son. During his tenure, which spanned 1964 through 1995, NFL Films won 52 Emmy Awards. He died at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Feb. 11: Jerry Tarkanian (Tark the Shark), 84: Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels to a national title passed away after a short hospitalization from breathing difficulties and an infection. During his career he guided three schools to the NCAA Tournament and posted a 729-201 career record in 31 years at the Division I level.

Bob Simon

Bob Simon

Feb. 11: Bob Simon, 73: 60 Minutes correspondent, who covered riots, Academy Award-nominated movies, wars and was even held captive for more than a month in Iraq, died after being in a car crash in Manhattan. Simon and the car’s driver were taken to a hospital, where Simon was pronounced dead.

Feb. 12: Wanda, 57: one of the oldest Asian elephants in North America, Wanda was humanely euthanized at PAWS’ ARK 2000 captive wildlife sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. following a long history of arthritis and foot disease, the leading cause for the euthanization of captive elephants. Wanda was born in the wild but was captured at a young age to be put on display in the United States. During her lifetime she was moved from one place to another, including Disneyland, a circus, zoos in Texas and then Detroit. In 2005 the Detroit Zoo (a leader in animal welfare as well as providing sanctuary for animals in need of rescue) decided to end its elephant program and opted to relocate Wanda and fellow Asian elephant Winky to PAWS’ ARK 2000. (Winky passed away in 2008.) Another Asian elephant, Gypsy, arrived at the Sanctuary, and it was discovered that they had been in a circus together more than 20 years earlier. They instantly remembered one another and could always be found close together. Even in death, their friendship endured. After Wanda passed away, Gypsy approached her friend, stayed by her side for a period of time, gently touched her body and “spoke” to her in soft rumbles before slowly walking away.

Gary Owens © 2003 WireImage

Gary Owens © 2003 WireImage

Feb. 12: Gary Owens, 20: voice actor, television announcer; if you watched Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in (1968-73) then you know the voice of Gary Owens. He was also the voice of Space Ghost, Garfield and Friends, The Fantastic Four, Eek the Cat and Bobby’s World. He had a mellifluous baritone voice with impeccable nuanced timing, and was equally adept at comedy or deadpan delivery.

Maria Movita Castaneda

Maria Movita Castaneda

Feb. 12: Movita Castaneda, 98: was the second of Marlon Brando’s three wives and appeared in such films as Mutiny on the Bounty opposite Clark Gable and Fort Apache with John Wayne. Castaneda played Tehani, a beautiful Tahitian who marries one of the insurgent sailors, in the 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. The film was remade in 1962 with Brando, then Castaneda’s husband, playing the Gable role of Fletcher Christian. She in a Los Angeles rehabilitation center after suffering a neck injury and was believed to be 98. imdb.com reports that she was 100 when she died.

Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan in OctopussyFeb. 14: Louis Jourdan, 93: best known for Gigi and the James Bond movie Octopussy, Jourdan offered a certain charm that worked well in heroic roles and sinister ones. In Gigi, Jourdan starred with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier. The film won 9 Oscars; though Jourdan was not among those honored. In the 80s he raised his profile with big screen appearance in Wes Craven’s campy monster movie Swamp Thing and the film Octopussy. All told, he starred in more than 50 movies and 37 television episodes; spanning 70 or more years. In that time he was nominated for one Golden Globe award, won a Second Place Laurel Award and has two Stars on the Walk of Fame. His wife, Berthe, to whom he was married for more than six decades, died last year. His son, Louis Henry died of a drug overdose in 1981. In 2010 he was award the Legion d’Honneur in Los Angeles. Friends including Sidney Poitier and Kirk Douglas were there to congratulate him.

Feb. 16: Lesley Gore, 68: singer-songwriter, with hits “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me,” died of lung cancer according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sassoon. Brooklyn-born and New Jersey-raised, Gore was discovered by Quincy Jones when she was a teenager and was signed by Mercury Records. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with an English/American Literature Degree. In addition to her recordings, she played Catwoman’s sidekick in the cult TV comedy Batman. In the 90s, Gore co-wrote “My Secret Love” for Allison Anders’ film Grace of My Heart, released in 1996. Several years later she appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

Feb. 16: Lorena Rojas, 44: was a popular Mexican soap opera and movie actress. The actress battled cancer since 2008 and died in Miami surrounded by loved ones.

Feb. 17: June Fairchild, 68: was widely recognized as the Ajax Lady in Cheech and Chong’s 1978 comedy Up in Smoke. The actress, who is given credit for coming up with the unusual name for the band Three Dog Night, battled drug and alcohol addictions as her acting career fell apart. She died in a Los Angeles convalescent home from liver cancer.

Feb. 19: Harris Wittels, 30: executive producer of Parks & Recreation was found dead of a possible drug overdose. He had battled drug addiction in the past.

Feb. 21: Robert O. Marshall, 75: American convicted murderer, died in prison just weeks before his parole hearing. No foul play was suspected according to the Department of Corrections. “Blind Faith” killer Marshall was convicted of arranging the 1984 murder of his wife, Maria, in order to collect on a life insurance policy.

Ben Woolf

Ben Woolf

Feb. 23: Ben Woolf, 34: a preschool teacher by day, who played Meep in American Horror Story: Freak Show, died in an Los Angeles hospital from a head injury he suffered after being hit by a passing car. He apparently was clipped in the head by the side view mirror of an SUV as he was crossing a street in Hollywood. The driver was not arrested or ticketed because Woolf was jaywalking.

Feb. 24: Beatrice Small, 77: one of the original “Avon Ladies” and the author of more than 50 romances including many that hold the honored position of “the first I ever read” died at the age of 77. Small’s books, especially in the erotic romance circles pushes the envelope, redrew the boundaries and explored the limits – over 30 years ago.

Feb. 25: Ariel Camacho, 22: a popular singer and songwriter, who was signed to DEL Records was killed in his native city of Sinaloa in a car crash. Born Jose Ariel Camacho Barraza gained a following through his live shows and videos on YouTube, had been on tour promoting a deluxe version of his album “El Karma” when he was killed in the car accident on a highway outside the city of Sinaloa.

Leonard Nimoy Credit: Starz Encore Group

Leonard Nimoy Credit: Starz Encore Group

Feb. 27: Leonard Nimoy, 83: Susan Bay Nimoy confirmed the death of her husband, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Leonard Nimoy announced last year that he had COPD, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had give up three decades earlier. He had many artistic pursuits: poetry, photography and music in addition to acting; but it was as Mr. Spock, that Mr. Nimoy had become the world’s folk hero. “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

March 1: Minnie Minosos, 92: first black player in Major League baseball in Chicago, came from the Cuban Negro league. He was an American League All-Star for seven seasons and a Gold Glove winner for three season when he was in his 30s. Miñoso was one of the most popular and dynamic players in Chicago White Sox franchise history. He left the major leagues following the 1964 season but went on playing and managing in Mexico through 1973. He rejoined the White Sox as a coach and made brief but highly publicized player appearances in 1976 and 1980. Miñoso attended a friend’s birthday party on February 28, 2015 and was found dead in the driver’s seat of a car near a gas station in Chicago at 1am on March 1. An autopsy revealed he died from a torn pulmonary artery resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

March 1: Daniel von Bargen, 64: Cincinnati native, who had roles on Seinfeld, Malcom in the Middle, and in movies Broken Arrow, Super Troopers and O Brother, Where Art Thou died after a long illness due to complications from diabetes. In February, 2012 he suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound because he didn’t want to have surgery to have toes removed due to diabetic complications.

Dirk Shafer. (PRNewsFoto/Dirk Shafer)

Dirk Shafer. (PRNewsFoto/Dirk Shafer)

March 5: Dirk Shafer, 52: filmmaker, Playgirl centerfold, fitness trainer and male model who came out as gay, and who made the 1995 mockumentary “Man Of The Year” about his experiences was found dead in his car in West Hollywood. Shafer became an icon in the mid-90s when the 1992 Playgirl Man of the Year announced  he was gay to the magazine’s straight female audience. He decided to document the pressure he was under from all sides to pose as straight and to be honest in Man of the Year. As well as directing and starring in the film, he mostly wrote the “fictionalized” account. In 2001 he made Circuit, a film about the gay party scene. It was co-written with Gregory Hinton, which won best film at the 2001 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.

izolaincustodyMarch 7: Izola Curry, 98: the American assailant who attempted to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. with a steel letter opener into his chest at a 1958 book-signing, a full decade before James Earl Ray assassinated him, died at a New York nursing home.

March 8: Sam Simon, 59: a co-creator of The Simpsons and nine-time Emmy winner, who wrote episodes of Taxi, Cheers and It’s Gary Shandling’s Show died of colorectal cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed in late 2012.

March 8: Lew Soloff, 71: American jazz trumpeter, who had a long and successful career and was an integral part of Blood, Sweat and Tears when they were at their peak, died after suffering a major heart attack. (I’m going to listen to BS&T now and enjoy their music.)

Windell D. Middlebrooks

Windell D. Middlebrooks

March 9: Windell Middlebrooks, 36: who co-starred on Body of Proof and was known as a diligent delivery guy in a series of ads for Miller High Life beer died at his home in the San Fernando Valley. An autopsy revealed that he suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism. He was a native of Fort Worth, Texas.

March 9: Juanita Nelson, 91: she worked for peace, civil rights and local farming. She created the idea for the Greenfield Free Harvest Supper which drew hundreds each year to eat together in Court Square, downtown Mass. She was 91.

March 9: Sam Simon, 59: the nine-time Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and producer who helped develop The Simpsons, made millions after leaving the show in 1993 and then donated his riches to charity.

March 10: Richard Glatzer, 63: American director, writer and producer (Still Alice, America’s Next Top Model) died just three weeks after Julianne Moore won a best actress Oscar for her role in Still Alice. Glatzer endured three years of ALS and died from it.

March 11: Jimmy Greenspoon, 67: American keyboard player and composer (Three Dog Night) died from melanoma. Greenspoon joined the band in 1968 and had been with them until last October (2015) when he took medical leave to pursue treatment for his cancer. Three Dog Night is known for its 60s & 70s hits: Joy to the World, Mama Told Me (Not to Come) and Black & White. Greenspoon also performed with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and the Beach Boys.

March 11: Gerald Hurst, 77: American chemist and fire investigator died of complications from a prior liver transplant. Dr. Hurst was instrumental in driving the state of Texas to reform its outdated arson investigation practices which cost an innocent man (in prison) his life who was on death row and was executed (Cameron Todd Willingham, April 2004). He did manage to assist in stopping another man’s execution, that of Ernest Willis, who was also on death row after being wrongfully convicted of setting fire to a house that killed two women. Hurst was able to prove that the same faulty arson science that had been used to convict Willingham had also been used to wrongfully convict Willis. Willis was released and exonerated in 2004 at the age of 59. Willis said of Dr. Hurst’s passing, “I will forever be incredibly grateful to Dr. Hurst. That man helped save my life.” Another good argument to banish the death penalty — AB

March 12: Ray Arnett, 97: nicknamed “King of the Gypsies” early in his career for being the hardest-working choir boy in the now cult classic “Forgotten Musicals,” Arnett became Liberace’s stage director in the late 1950s, when the future Mr. Showmanship embraced a full showy stage persona. In HBO’s critically acclaimed Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, Arnett was portrayed by Tom Papa.

Suzette Jordan

Suzette Jordan

March 13: Suzette Jordan, 40: Ms. Jordan, an Indian woman, waived her right to anonymity after being gang-raped in order to encourage other rape survivors to speak out, has died. She had been suffering from a deadly form of meningitis. The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, had called Ms. Jordan a liar after she was attacked in February of 2012. She was working as a counsellor at a helpline for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Ms. Jordan was a single mother of two girls. She was gang-raped on Park Street, one of Kolkata’s busiest streets, after she left a night club. She reported the crime to the police and the media. India’s laws prohibit the disclosure of the identity of a rape victim and those guilty of doing so can be sent to prison for up to 2 years and be fined. Ms. Jordan refused to hide and in June of 2013 she revealed her own identity on the BBC stating “I am tired of hiding my real identity. I am tired of this society’s rules and regulations. I am tired of being made to feel ashamed. I am tired of feeling scared because I have been raped. Enough is enough. My name is Suzette Jordan and I don’t want to be known any longer as the victim of Calcutta’s Park Street rape.” Three of the five men Ms. Jordan accused of raping her were arrested and are on trial. They deny the charges. Police are still looking for the main suspect.

Helen Banks

Helen Banks

March 14: Helen Banks, 87: Founder of Second Chance for Greyhounds, spent much of her childhood rescuing strays. As an attractive woman in New York City, she became a professional model, but gave it all up to marry a man who raised horses in Connecticut. When she learned what happened to aging horses, she persuaded a local slaughterhouse owner to let her know when a horse was headed for slaughter before its time so she could rescue it. When her marriage ended 25 years later, Banks relocated to Bonita Springs, Florida. Hearing dogs barking in the distance one day, she investigated and found greyhound handlers walking dogs. She was hired as a “lead out” at the Naples/Fort Meyers Greyhound Track. One day when she was visiting a vet’s office … she “walked into this room that I thought was the ladies’ room and there was a stack of 12 dead greyhounds.” That summer, in anticipation of the upcoming racing season, she enlarged her home to accommodate rescue dogs and persuaded the track to allow her to set-up a table so she could identify and recruit suitable adopters for the dogs. Banks personally underwrote all the expenses. She worked other jobs at the track, cleaned homes and even worked at a local spa to cover veterinary fees, food, leashes, collars and other expenses. She incorporated Second Chance for Greyhounds in 1986.

March 15: Mike Porcaro, 59: long time Toto bassist succumbed to Lou Gehring’s Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

March 15: Cristie Schoen Codd/JT Codd: Cristie was a Food Network star who competed on Season 8. Christie and her husband were brutally murdered by their neighbor Robert Jason Owens, who admitted to the crime after human remains were found in his woodstove. He claimed to have hit JT with his truck, but no details were released on how he killed Cristie, who was five months pregnant at the time of her death.

March 16: Braydon Smith, 23: died two days after finishing a 10-round featherweight bout in Brisbane, Australia. He was in the final year of a law degree and had been in an induced coma since collapsing 90 minutes after a WBC Asian Boxing Council continental title bout. He had lost the fight in a unanimous points decision.

March 20: Cincinnati Red (Gregory Daves), 40: the southern California independent wrestler died of a heart attack.

March 20: Robert Kastenmeier, 91: American politician, member of the US House of Representatives (1959-1991) from Wisconsin, died of heart failure.

March 20: A.J. Pero, 55: American drummer (Twisted Sister, Adrenalie Mob), heart attack.

Gary DahlMarch 23: Gary Dahl, 78: American entrepreneur, inventor of the Pet Rock, COPD.

March 23: Lil’ Chris, 24: British singer-songwriter, actor, TV personality, who rose to fame after appearing in “Rock School” in 2006 was found dead in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Police were not treating the death as suspicious.

March 24: notable German people killed in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525: Oleg Bryjak, 54, Kazakh-born opera singer; Maria Radner, 33, opera singer.

J. Karen Thomas

J. Karen Thomas

March 26: J. Karen Thomas, 50: American actress, a beloved and vital member of Nashville’s theater, film, television and music communities, died from Multiple Myeloma. Thomas was a professional SAG actress, singer-songwriter and voice-over artist best known to television viewers for her role as Audrey Carlisle, the wife of mayor Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom) in the first season of ABC’s Nashville. She was also on Drop Dead Diva, Army Wives, Criminal Minds and Ellen. She leaves behind her longtime partner of almost 20 years, Colette Divine.



March 27: Sarbi, 12: Australian war hero, who was awarded the War Dog Operational Medal and the RSPCA’s Purple Cross, and who went missing in Afghanistan for over a year, died after a short battle with brain cancer. Sarbi, a Labrador-Newfoundland cross was a bomb-sniffing dog and only the second animal to win the Purple Cross for wartime service.

March 28: Victor Sánchez, 20: Venezuelan baseball player and Seattle Mariners prospect died from a head injury he received when he was hit by a boat off of a beach in Carupano, Venezuela in February. In had been in intensive care for a fractured skull and a hematoma, which caused a stroke and then a coma.

March 31: Billy Butler, 69: known to many as the younger brother of the legendary “Ice Man” Jerry Butler, and to soul fans as a talented singer and guitarist, died at age 69. Though sometimes in the shadow of his iconic older brother, Billy had a successful career both as a solo artist and group member. He formed the group The Enchanters in 1963 while still in high school. He immediately began working with some of the most important producers in the burgeoning Chicago soul scene, including Carl Davis and Curtis Mayfield. His sessions with Davis led to his biggest hit and career highpoint, the 1965 top 10 R&B hit “I Can’t Work No Longer.”  (from soultracks.com)

March 31: Andrew Getty, 47: the grandson of J. Paul Getty died from massive blood loss from his intestines, based on a preliminary conclusion of the L.A. County Coroner. An ulcer is suspected. Andrew had been complaining of serious stomach pain for several days before he died.

March 31: Riccardo Ingram, 48: American baseball player and minor league instructor for the Minnesota Twins passed away after a second fight with brain cancer.