2017 Obits – July thru Sept

July 1: Stevie Ryan, 33: Los Angeles County coroner has determined that Stevie Ryan, the YouTube star and TV host was a suicide by hanging. Ryan, who made her name on a YouTube series called “Little Loca” before appearing in the VH1 series Stevie TV and hosting an E! channel was found at home, dead. She recently hosted a podcast about depression and about the recent death of her grandfather.

July 6: Robert Grodt, 28: American volunteer medic at the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, where he met Kaylee Dedrick, who had just been pepper-sprayed in the face, died on the outskirts of Raqqa, Syria. He pulled her out of the crowd to treat her, then he married her. They had a daughter together. Robert then volunteered to fight in the Syrian war and joined the Kurdish militia. It was while in was in Syria that he was killed.

July 6: Melvyn “Deacon” Jones, 73: American blues musician, switched from trumpet to organ and from there embarked on a career playing the blues on a Hammond B3. A Richmond native, died in Hollywood, Calif. He was a composer and arranger and a mentor, a genius and a legend. He was the brother of jazz drummer Harold Jones, who backs singer Tony Bennett and was among the musicians forming the rock ’n roll band Baby Huey and the Babysitters. He also toured and recorded with Curtis Mayfield, Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn and others.

July 6: William Morva, 35: American convicted murdered was executed by lethal injection for the murder of Derrick McFarland and Montgomery County sheriff’s Deputy Eric Sutphin during an escape from custody in 2006.

July 13: John Bernecker, 33: American stunt performer (Logan, The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead), fell more than 20 feet from a balcony onto a concrete floor, suffering a serious head injury that required him to be transported to a nearby hospital by helicopter. AMC announced that they had temporarily shut down production of The Walking Dead’s eighth season in the wake of the tragedy. Later that evening, AMC announced that his family had decided to remove him from life support following organ donation.

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Nelsan Ellis

July 8: Nelsan Ellis, 39: American actor (True Blood, Get on Up, Elementary). He played a short-order cook at Merlotte’s on True Blood. In the books, he was killed off, but because Ellis made him such as enjoyable character, he survived on the series. His manager told The Hollywood Reporter that he died from complications with heart failure.

July 13: Olive Yang, 91: Burmese opium warlady, also known as Yang Jinxiu, the de facto ruler of Kokang in the 1950s, died at the age for 91 in Shan State’s Muse Township. She once had her own army of nearly 1,000 men and was an influential figure in the opium trade of the Golden Triangle region.

July 15: Justine Damond, 40: Australian woman shot by Mohamed Noor, Minneapolis police officer, after she placed a 911 call to report the assault of a woman in an alley behind her home. Officer Noor had been with MPD for 21 months and in that time had acquired three formal complaints against him. Two, as of Sept. 2017, were pending resolution.

July 15: Martin Landau, 89: an American actor who starred in both television (Mission: Impossible) and movies (Ed Wood, Crimes and Misdemeanors) and won an Oscar in 1995 (Ed Wood) died from an abdominal hemorrhage. He had been married to is co-star from Mission: Impossible, Barbara Bain from 1957 until their divorce in 1993. Survivors include his daughters Susie (a writer-producer) and Juliet (an actress-dancer) from his marriage to Bain; plus sons-in-law Roy and Deverill; sister Elinor; granddaughter Aria; and godson Dylan.

July 16: Jerry Bird, 83: American basketball player (Kentucky Wildcats, New York Knicks). Died from natural causes.

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George Romero

July 16: George A. Romero, 77: American-Canadian film director, screenwriter, creator of Night of the Living Dead, and father of the modern movie zombie. His “Living Dead” franchise went on to create the horror genre we all know and many of us love today, seen in movies like The Purge and TV shows like The Walking Dead. He died in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a family statement to the Los Angeles Times. His wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero and daughter, Tina Romero, were at his side.

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Chester Bennington

July 20: Chester Bennington, 41: American singer and songwriter (Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise, Stone Temple Pilots) frontman for Linkin Park, Bennington committed suicide by hanging at his Palos Verdes residence which was later confirmed by the LA County coroner. He struggled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life and spoke openly about this, as well as being molested by an older man when he was a child. He was married and is survived by six children.

July 20: Kenneth Jay Lane, 85: American costume jewelry designer, whose exquisite gems were worn by formers first ladies and royalty past away in his sleep at age 85. A documentary about Lane’s illustrious 50-year career has been in the works which will feature some of his closest friends including Barbara Bush, Joan Collins, Diane Von Furstenberg and Anne and Kirk Douglas. In the film, Joan Collins recalls a time when she was stopped at customs with her Lane jewels and even the customs officials couldn’t stop complimenting her about them. Even at age 85, Lane had no plans for slowing down. In addition to the documentary, he had been focusing on his e-comm site.

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Pudsey

July 20: Pudsey, 11: Britain’s Got Talent champion dog, Pudsey, was put down after a short bout with leukemia.

July 21: John Heard, 71: American actor, best known for his role in the Home Alone films, Heard was found dead in his hotel room in Palo Alto, Calif. He had been staying at the hotel after minor back surgery for a week. It was later determined that he died from cardiac arrest.

July 23: Robert Gardiner, 70: English writer and RMS Titanic conspiracy theorist who wrote several books including Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank?

July 25: Barbara Sinatra, 90: American fashion model, showgirl and philanthropist, who rose to social prominence as “Lady Blue Eyes” and went on to develop a legacy of her own, died at her Rancho Mirage home at age 90. She was married to Frank Sinatra for almost 22 years, longer than any of his previous three marriages. She used his fund-raising clout to build the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center to help abused children at Eisenhower Medical Center. “She died comfortably surrounded by family and friends at her home,” said Children’s Center Director John Thoresen.

July 26: June Foray, 99: American voice actress (The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, Looney Tunes, Cinderella) cardiac arrest.

July 26: Ronald Phillips, 43: whose execution was postponed six times, was finally carried out in Ohio via lethal injection. Ohio had been taking a three-year break, but resumed execution just in time to execute Phillips, who was convicted of raping and beating to death his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. There were no reports of complications during his execution.

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Cena

July 27: Cena N641: American labrador retriever, therapy and bomb detection dog served in the Marines until his retirement in 2014, received a hero’s send-off that was organized by his first wartime partner, Jeff DeYoung. Hundreds turned out to salute and say a tear-filled final goodbye to a cancer-stricken Cena, who served three tours in Afghanistan with the US Marines. After his retirement, he became a service dog for Lance Cpl Jeff DeYoung. Cena had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. DeYoung had organized the celebration for Cena, he said he wanted to take his dog on one last ride in a topless Jeep before Cena was put down.

July 27 : Cheri Maples, 64: American police office and peace activist, died after suffering life-threatening injuries in a bicycle crash.

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Sam Shepard

July 27: Sam Shepard, 73: American playwright and actor, Pulitzer Prize winner (1979) and one of the most important and influential writers of our generation, died at his home in Kentucky from complication of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He wrote more than 55 plays, acted in more than 50 films and had more than a dozen roles on television. He was an author of prose works and a memoir. He had a long relationship with actress Jessica Lange, which cast an unwanted spotlight on his private life, which he described as “terrible and impossible.” AB: two of my personal Sam Shepard favorites – The Pelican Brief and Thunderheart.

July 27: Marty Sklar, 83: legendary Disney Imagineer passed away in his Hollywood Hills home at the age of 83. During his illustrious career spanning 54 years, Marty worked closely with Walt Disney and was instrumental in creating, enhancing and expanding Disney’s creative vision. Named a “Disney Legend” in 2001, he is best remembered by fans around the world for his work bringing Disney’s theme parks to life.

July 28: Charlie Gard, 11 months: British infant, subject of life support and parental rights case, MDDS.

Aug. 3: Robert Hardy, 91: The Harry Potter actor, was known for playing the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge in four of the films. He also starred in the TV series, All Creatures Great and Small. He died at Denville Hall, a retirement home for actor in the outskirts of London.

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Chantek

Aug. 7: Chantek, 39: American hybrid orangutan, who was one of the first apes to learn to sign language, died in Atlanta. He was being treated for progressive heart disease.

Aug. 8: Eugene Burger, 78: A Chicago magician, who knew magic is life, and who once entertained at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, died in his hometown of Chicago at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

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Glen Campbell

Aug. 8: Glen Campbell, 81: died in Nashville after a year-long struggle with Alzheimer’s. He sang (Rhinestone Cowboy and By the Time I Get to Phoenix) and acted (True Grit). In 1967 he made history by winning 4 Grammys in the country and pop categories and then took home the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award in 1968. He is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell and had 8 children.

Aug. 14: Joi Harris, 40: American motorcycle racer and stuntwoman, was killed on the set of Deadpool 2. She had lost control of her motorcycle while performing a stunt for the superhero movie, crashing through a window near Vancouver’s Jack Poole Plaza. She billed herself as the first licensed African-American woman in US history to actively compete in sanctioned motorcycle road racing events. Working on Deadpool 2 was her first time filming a stunt for a movie, though she had reportedly completed the stunt successfully four times prior to the crash.

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Kasatka

Aug. 15: Kasatka, 41: American orca, who was born in the wild, was euthanized at SeaWorld after a long battle with a lung infection. It was the same disease that killed Tilikum, the orca featured in the 2013 documentary Blackfish, who died last year. Orcas can live 50-80 year in the wild, according to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Kasatka had numerous descendants born at SeaWorld. She was the mother of four, a grandmother of six, and a great-grandmother of two, according to a statement from the park.

Aug. 16: Wayne Lotter, 51: South African elephant conservationist and anti-poaching activist, murdered in Tanzania. Police there have launched an investigation into the murder of Wayne Lotter. He had received numerous death threats in connection with his work. As a member of PAMS, the foundation has protected 32,000 elephants and confiscated more than 1,150 firearms. It also funds and supports Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU), the body behind the arrest of “Queen of Ivory” Yang Feng Glan, and several other high profile ivory poachers and traders.

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Sonny Landham

Aug. 17: Sonny Landham, 76: an American actor who starred in Predator and 48 Hrs. died from congestive heart failure in Lexington, Ky. He was part Seminole and part Cherokee and was best known for portraying the tracker Billy Sole in the movie Predator in 1987 (AB: my favorite Sonny Landham role). In the early 70s, he appeared in several X-rated films, but after appearing in The Warriors, he got roles in tough guy films including Action Jackson and Lock Up. In 2003 he left Hollywood and went, unsuccessfully, into politics. He is survived by a son and daughter.

Aug. 19: Dick Gregory, 84: American comedian and civil rights activist. He broke ground at the Playboy Club in Chicago and on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show, then became a potent activist for civil rights. His son Christian announced his father’s death via a statement in Washington, DC that his father died of heart failure. He was hospitalized several days earlier.

Aug. 20: Jerry Lewis, 91: died at his Las Vegas home after suffering from ill health for many years. He was an actor, singer and director and was well known for his philanthropic work, raising more than $2.6 billion for muscular dystrophy research with his annual Labor Day telethon. He died from cardiomyopathy. He was married to Patti Palmer from 1944-1982. They had five sons and adopted another child. His youngest, Joseph, became a drug addict and committed suicide in 2009 at age 45. He married his second wife, SanDee Pitnick in 1983. They adopted a daughter, Danielle.

Aug. 24: Jay Thomas, 69: American actor (Cheers (Eddie LeBed), Murphy Brown (Jerry Gold)) and radio talk show host. He also worked on Ray Donovan. But according to his agent, his wife and his sons were the true passion of his life. He lost his battle with cancer.

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Tobe Hooper

Aug. 26: Tobe Hooper, 74: American film director, best known for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) which became one of the most influential horror films because of its realistic approach and deranged vision. He also directed the 1982 Poltergeist film written and produced by Steven Spielberg, a film which also became a classic of the genre. These are but two of Hooper’s films. His 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel Salem’s Lot is considered by many to be one of the best in televisual horror. It combined the intrigue of a nighttime soap opera with the gothic atmosphere of a classic horror film. He is survived by a son.

Aug. 28: Melissa Bell, 53: English singer (Soul II Soul) and mother of Alexandra Burke (X Factor winner).

Aug. 31: Richard Anderson, 91: known for his role on The Six Million Dollar Man and the spinoff, The Bionic Woman, Anderson died at his home in Beverly Hills.

Sept. 3: Walter Becker, 67: American Half of Fame musician (Steely Dan), songwriter and producer. Grammy winner (2001).

Sept. 4: Earl Lindo, 65: Jamaican reggae musician (Bob Marley and the Wailers).

Sept. 6: Kate Millett, 82: American feminist writer (Sexual Politics), cardiac arrest.

Sept. 8: Troy Gentry: The Montgomery Gentry singer tragically died while taking a helicopter tour of Medford, New Jersey, where he and Montgomery were set to perform that evening. The helicopter pilot died immediately. In 2004, Gentry purchased a black bear named “Cubby” from a facility called the Minnesota Wildlife Connection and then shot the bear from inside an electrified enclosure, a practice commonly known as “canned hunting.” On Nov. 7, 2006, he pleaded guilty to a charge of falsely tagging a bear that was killed in a fenced enclosure. He agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, give up hunting, fishing and trapping in Minnesota for five years and forfeit Cubby’s taxidermied remains and the bow he used to shoot Cubby. He also posted a statement on the duo’s website on Nov. 9, 2010, apologizing for his actions as well as the unethical manner in which he killed Cubby. Kharma’s a bitch.

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Blake Heron

Sept. 8: Blake Heron, 35: who gained fame as a teen actor during the 1990s, died at his home in La Crescenta, Calif. He was discovered by a friend who told authorities that he had been sick with the flu for the last few days. Heron had made his film debut in the 1995 Disney movie Tom and Huck and in the TV series Reality Check. In 1996 he starred in the Warner Bros. family drama Shiloh, portraying an adolescent who rescues an abused hunting dog in a small town.

Sept. 10: Xavier Atencio, 98: American animator, lyricist and Imagineer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion).

Sept. 10: Len Wein, 69: American comic book writer and editor (Swamp Thing, Watchmen), co-creator of Wolverine.

Sept. 11: Michelle Rounds, 46: Rosie O’Donnell’s ex-wife was found in her home, dead of an apparent suicide.

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Basi

Sept. 13: Basi, 37: Chinese panda, world’s oldest living, cirrhosis and renal failure.

Sept. 13: Gary Otte, 45: American murderer and robber. Executed in Ohio. Convicted of killing two in back-to-back robberies.

Sept. 13: Frank Vincent, 80: Was Hollywood’s go-to guys for mobster dramas. He starred in three of Martin Scorsese’s classics: Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. He also gave Tony Soprano fits as crime boss Phil Leotardo in the final two seasons of The Sopranos. He was an incredible jazz drummer and had impeccable comic timing, honed from being on the road with Joe Pesci. His family issued an official statement confirming his death at the age of 80.

Sept. 14: George England, 91: American film producer and director (The Ugly American, Zachariah), fall.

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Harry Dean Stanton

Sept. 15: Harry Dean Stanton, 91: died of natural causes. His career spanned more than six decades. He was most recently seen in the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks. He also had memorial roles in films including Alien, Repo Man and Pretty in Pink. He was the character actor who had an exceptional career. He was an elegant musical performer with an angelic tenor voice and played rhythm guitar and harmonica in a Tex-Mex band that did weekly gigs at the Mint in LA. He said he never wanted to be a leading man, “too much work.” Except for a brief marriage, Stanton was a bachelor, who in the Partly Fiction documentary spoke about the lost love of his life, actress Rebecca De Mornay.

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Penny Chenery

Sept. 16: Penny Chenery, 95: Owner of the Triple Crown Winner Secretariat. She died in Boulder, Colo.

Sept. 16: Ted Christopher, 69: American race car driver (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) died when his Mooney M20C aircraft crashed in Guilford, Conn. enroute to the Miller Lite 200 at Riverbed Raceway in Riverhead, New York.

Sept. 16: Steve Baker, 79: American illusionist, known as Mr. Escape, died at his home in Illinois. His wife, Julia, who served as his faithful assistant throughout his career, was by his side.

Sept. 17: Bonnie Angelo, 93: American political journalist (Time), who wrote about mothers of U.S. presidents, complications from dementia.

Sept. 17: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, 72: American professional wrestler, legendary manager and commentator (WWF, AWA, WCW) died from organ failure. He is survived by his wife Cynthia Jean and their daughter Jessica and grandson Austin.

Sept. 18: Chuck Low, 89: died at a nursing home in New Jersey. He served four years as an army major and was part of the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 30 years as well as the U.S. National Guard from 1957 to 1965. He starred along side his close friend Robert De Niro in Goodfellas, The King of Comedy and The Mission.

Sept. 19: Johnny Sandlin, 72: American record producer (The Allman Brothers Band), cancer.

Sept. 24: Barbara Blaine, 61: American Founder of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), heart disease.

Sept. 24: Orville Lynn Majors, 56: American serial killer, who was serving 360 years at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City died from cardiac issues due to natural causes. Majors was a nurse suspected of killing dozens of patients at the former Vermillion County Hospital in Clinton by injecting them with potassium chloride. He was convicted in six deaths in 1999.

Sept. 25: Joe Bailon, 94: American car customizer, creator of the candy apple red car color.

Sept. 25: Tim Quill, 54: American actor (Hamburger Hill, Argo, JAG).

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Hugh Hefner

Sept. 27: Hugh Hefner, 91: His son Cooper Hefner said in a statement, “He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.” According to his death certificate, he died from cardia arrest, though he was also suffering from other illnesses, including blood and E. coli infections. He was buried in a crypt next to iconic actor Marilyn Monroe, who appeared on the cover of the first issue of Playboy in December, 1953. He bought the burial site for $75,000 in 1992. 

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