2013 Obits – July

Eileen Brennan in the 1971 film "The Last Picture Show." Columbia Pictures, via Photofest

Eileen Brennan in the 1971 film “The Last Picture Show.” Columbia Pictures, via Photofest

July 28: Eileen Brennan, 80 – with her smoky voice, she worked film and stage and was in show business for more than 20 years before gaining her widest attention as a gleefully tough army captain in the film and television versions of Private Benjamin.

July 24: Virginia Johnson Master, 88 – she was a famed researched and helped debunk sexual myths but before she became famous as a pioneering sex researcher, she was a twice-divorced mother of two who came to St. Louis in 1957 looking for secretarial work. It was there she met William Masters, a prominent OB-GYN physician at Washington University School of Medicine. He asked whether helping with sex research would bother her. “But why does anyone need help?” she answered. “Ginie” Johnson went from secretary to assistant to full research partner with Masters. According to her biographer, Masters told Johnson that her job would require having sex with him. They married in 1971 and went on to open the Masters & Johnson Institute in St. Louis and opened the world’s eyes to sexuality.

July 22: Dennis Farina, 69 – Veteran character actor and star of Saving Private Ryan, Manhunter, Unsolved Mysteries, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Midnight Run, Dennis Farina was best known for playing his fair share of weathered tough guys. A former Chicago police officer, he became Detective Joe Fontana in NBC’s long-running drama series Law & Order. Relegated to supporting roles, he experienced a late career breakthrough in 2011 with the release of Joe Maggio’s solemn character study “The Last Rites of Joe May.” This writer’s favorite — “Manhunter” opposite William Petersen, a Michael Mann directed movie based on the Thomas Harris novel “Red Dragon.” Brian Cox played Hannibal Lecktor and Dennis Farina was Jack Crawford. Petersen played Will Graham. This was in 1986. Edward Norton reprised the role in 2002. He was in high school when this movie was made. Part of it was filmed in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.

July 21: Willie Reed, 76 – American key witness to the killing of Emmett Till in 1955. Willie Reed was just 18 years old when he stood up as a witness in the murder trial of two Mississippi men charged with lynching and killing Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who had reportedly flirted with a 21-year-old white woman when he stopped to buy candy at a local grocery store.

July 19: Helen Thomas, 92 – pioneering front-row White House journalist died after a long illness. Ms. Thomas covered 10 presidents over nearly half a century and was a legend in the industry.

July 17: Vaughn Ross, 41 – convicted murderer, was executed by the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit and pronounced dead at 6:38pm. He was convicted of a double murder 12 years ago in Lubbock. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to halt the execution. He had been on death row for more than a decade.

July 16: Talia Castellano, 13 – CoverGirl star passed away from neuroblastoma, which she fought for over 6 years. She was also diagnosed with pre-leukemia. The charismatic teen got her first taste of fame after inspiring hundreds of thousands of people with her makeup tutorials on YouTube. In fact, over 15 million views on her candid clips alone. Ellen DeGeneres, who is a representative of CoverGirl surprised her with her own advertisement from the brand.

Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith

July 14: Cory Monteith, 31 – 6′ 3″ Cory Monteith, Canadian actor, drummer, musician, gained worldwide attention when “Glee” made its debut on the Fox network in 2009. Cory played Finn Hudson from Ohio. He was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday around noon after he missed his scheduled checkout time. His death was caused by “a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol,” the British Columbia Coroners Service said.

July 14: Dennis Burkley, 67, the character actor known for his work on TV’s “King of the Hill,” voiced Principal Moss, played Redd Foxx’s junkyard partner, a biker in “Mask” and Sonny Crockett (no, not that Sonny Crockett) died in his sleep at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He had been battling health problems for some time, said his son Shawn.



July 8: Chase, 13 – Trenton Thunder passed along news that Chase, their 13-year-old team bat dog, passed away on Monday, July 8. Chase made his debut with the Thunder in 2002 and went on to entertain millions of fans at Arm & Hammer Park. He was also a fixture in the local community, visiting schools and special events throughout the region. Chase was seen worldwide on CNN and Japanese television, nationally on ESPN, FOX and the YES Network as well as numerous local television stations.

July 7: Michael Mastromarino, 49 – a former dental surgeon who was charged with running a $4.6 million enterprise that plundered tissue and bone from corpses and sold them for transplants and research. He was still serving a prison term. The cause of death was complications of metastatic liver cancer.

2013 Obit – June

June 30: Jim Kelly, 67 – the afro, street swagger and memorable one-liners of martial arts movies in the 70s in the prominent role alongside Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon died in San Diego from cancer.

June 26: Kimberly McCarthy, 52 – was the 500th death inmate to be executed by the state of Texas. She was put to death using lethal injection for the 1997 murder of her 71-year old neighbor.

June 26: Marc Rich, 78 – Commodities trader and Glencore founder who received a pardon from former President Bill Clinton on his final day in office, died in Lucerne, Switzerland from a stroke. In 1983 he was indicted on 65 criminal counts that included tax fraud and trading with Iran when it was holding American hostages.

June 26: Justin Miller, 35 – a pitcher for four teams during a major league career that spanned seven seasons was found dead but the cause of death has not been released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

June 23: Bobby Blue Bland, 83 – a distinguished singer who blended Southern blues and soul in songs died due to complications from an ongoing illness at his Memphis, Tenn. home, surrounded by relatives. He was known as the “Sinatra of the blues” and was heavily influenced by Nat King Cole. He was a contemporary of B.B. King and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

June 23: Richard Matheson, 87 – Known as R.C., Richard Matheson’s novels, short stories, screenplays and teleplays drew the blueprints for dozens of science fiction and horror movies and television shows. He died at his home in Calabasas, CA. He had a prolific imagination for the “what if?” story and got his ideas from actual events and other stories. He wrote the short story “Due” after being tailgated by a truck drive; the story became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s first feature film.

Actor James Gandolfini at the Regency Hotel in New York, Oct. 18, 2010.  (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Actor James Gandolfini at the Regency Hotel in New York, Oct. 18, 2010. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

June 19: James Gandolfini, 51 – died of cardiac arrest while on vacation in Rome, leaving behind his wife Deborah and two children. An Italian-American raised in New Jersey, he was successful in television, movies and theatre.

June 19: Slim Whitman, 90 – died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center, Miami, Florida. He was the country singer, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy “Mars Attacks!.”

June 18: Michael Hastings, 33 – One of the great reporters of his generation, Michael Hastings died in an early morning car accident in Los Angeles. Hastings was a BuzzFeed writer at the time. He wrote for Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times (Andi Leadership Institute – I Lost My Love in Baghdad, The Operators, Panic 2012)

June 12: Jason Leffler, 37 – died after an accident in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.

June 8: Arturo Vega, 65 – the artist behind The Ramones’ iconic logo. A native of Mexico, Vega served as the band’s artistic director for 22 years, opened his home to Joey and Dee Dee during their formative years and later served as the band’s archivist.

Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez

June 7: Richard Ramirez, 53 – known as the “Night Stalker,” Ramirez claimed to be inspired by Satan when he killed 14 people and terrorized California during 1985.

June 6: Esther Williams, swimming champion-turned-movie star.

Jiah Khan

Jiah Khan

June 4: Jiah Khan, 25 – Bollywood actor hung herself in her home, allegedly ruled as suicide. Sources close to the actor said she had been depressed for some time due to personal issues.

June 3: David “Deacon” Jones, 74 – Hall of Fame defensive end, the original “sack master” and credited with terming the word sack for how he knocked down quarterbacks. The Washington Redskins said that Jones died of natural causes at his home in Southern California.

June 3: Frank R. Lautenberg, 89 – died in Manhattan due to complications of viral pneumonia. In 2010 he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was a New Jersey Senator in his 5th Term who fought the alcohol and tobacco industries and promoted Amtrak.