2013 Obits – December

Dec. 24: Jacob Wernitznig, 28 – brother of Jennifer Sebena, took his own life on the one year anniversary of his sister’s death. Jennifer Sebena was fatally shot by her husband, Benjamin Sebena, while she was patrolling in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin on Dec. 24, 2012. Jacob was Jennifer’s only sibling. Just hours before his death he posted a photo of himself with his sister as children near a Christmas tree. He is survived by his mother.

Dec. 23: Gordon Hinkley, 88 – known as the “Granddaddy of Milwaukee radio” with a show called “Ask Your Neighbor” that ran on WTMJ-AM (620) for more than 30 years, died at the Village at Manor Park in West Allis.

Dec. 23: Jeffrey Pollack, 54 – he directed Booty Call, Above the Rim, Lost & Found and served as a producer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Pollack was found on the Greenbelt in Hermosa Beach, CA early morning by an unidentified woman who was jogging. He was dressed in jogging clothes and carrying an iPod. It’s believed he died of natural causes.

Dec. 23: Ricky Lawson, 59 – studio drummer, a collaborator with musicians including Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Al Jarreau, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones and many others died in a suburban Los Angeles hospital following a brain aneurism. He was a Detroit native.

Dec. 23: Mikhail Kalashnikov, 94 – inventor of the iconic AK-47 (aka choppa, chopper, AK, stick) assault rifle had been suffering from heart and intestinal problems and in mid-November was admitted into intensive care in Izhevsk in central Russia (where the plant that produces AK-47s is located). The official cause of death will be known following an autopsy.

Dec. 21: Bernard McGinn, 50s – Irish republican IRA member, convicted of conspiracy to murder and firearms possession, a notorious terrorist was found dead in a house in the Irish Republic.

Lord Infamous

Lord Infamous

Dec. 20: Ricky Dunigan, aka Lord Infamous, 40 – passed away during a visit to his mother’s house in Memphis from a heart attack. He was an original Three 6 Mafia Founding Member, recording albums such as “Mystic Stylez” and “When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1.” In 2006, DJ Paul, along with Juicy J (Jordan Houston) won an Oscar for best original song for the Hustle & Flow soundtrack title “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

Dec. 19: Ned Vizzini, 32 – a successful young adult author who had found a place in Hollywood committed suicide. He is survived by his wife Sabra and their son.

Dec. 17: Bernard L. Shaw, 68 – a former San Francisco police officer who became the bodyguard and husband of Patty Hearst, died at his home in Garrison, NY after a long illness. The direct cause was not specified.

Dec. 14: Peter O’Toole, 81 – died after a long illness. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003, having initially turned it down.

Dec. 13: Daniel Escobar, 49 – best known for his role on Lizzie McGuire died of complications from diabetes at a hospital in Los Angeles.

Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin

Dec. 12: Tom Laughlin, 82 – star of the Billy Jack films and husband to actress Delores Taylor since 1954 died in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Dec. 9: Shane Del Rosario, 30 – Promising UFC combat sports heavyweight died after suffering cardiac arrest two weeks earlier in Newport Beach, California.

Dec. 5. Nelson Mandela, 95 – South Africa’s greatest son and one of the most beloved leaders of the 20th century died of a lung infection.

December 3: Ronald Hunter, 70, American actor (Along Came Polly, Law & Order, The Big Bang Theory) died from heart and kidney failure complications at Woodland Medical Center in Los Angeles.

December 2: Billy Beckwith, 38 – HGTV “Curb Appeal” host and Bay Area contractor was killed in a motorcycle crash in San Francisco’s Haight district.

Dec. 1: Walter Ellis, 53 – died at a Sioux Falls hospital, apparently of natural causes, after serving less than 3 years of a life sentence for strangling seven women. Ellis was arrested in 2009 and sentenced in February 2011 to 7 consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole for the killings of 7 Milwaukee women from 1986 to 2007 who ranged in age from 16-41. Ellis was being housed in South Dakota under an interstate agreement.


2013 Obits – August

Blue II

Blue II

August 31: Blue II, 8 – the English bulldog mascot for Butler’s men’s basketball championship games in 2010 and 2011 died from complications from congestive heart failure. Blue appeared on the floor of every Butler’s men’s basketball home game, select away games and at the 2010 and 2011 Final Four games. He’s been succeeded by Blue III, also known as Trip.

August 24: Julie Harris, 87 – unprepossessing anti-diva who, in the guises of Joan of Arc, Mary Todd Lincoln, Emily Dickinson and other characters both fictional and real, became the most decorated performer in the history of Broadway, died of congestive heart failure at her home in Chatham, Mass.

August 23: Stephen Crohn, 66 – known as “The man who can’t catch AIDS, was a man notable for a genetic mutation, causing him to be immune to the HIV virus. Crohn has the “delta 32” mutation on the CCR5 receptor. His sister, Amy Crohn Santagata confirmed his suicide. “My brother saw all his friends around hiim dying, but he didn’t die, she told The New York Times. “He went through a tremendous amount of survivor guilt about that and said to himself, ‘There’s got to be a reason.'”

Sid Bernstein with Paul McCartney

Sid Bernstein with Paul McCartney

August 21: Sid Bernstein, 95 – a soft-spoken impresario whose long career included bring the Beatles to Carnegie Hall in 1964 and Shea Stadium in 1965 died in Manhattan.

August 20: Elmore Leonard, 87 – a prolific crime novelist died at his home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. His louche characters, deadpan dialogue and immaculate prose style in novels like “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz” established him as a modern master of American genre writing.

August 20: Charles Pollock, 83 – an industrial designer whose vision of a simple line in space led him to develop sleek, functional chairs that became a hallmark of executive suites in the latter 20th century died in a fire in South Jamaica, Queens.

Lee Thompson Young

Lee Thompson Young

August 19: Lee Thompson Young, 29 – a child star from the Disney Channel and a gifted actor who played Barry Frost on “Rizzoli & Isles” since its debut season in 2010. The cause was suicide.

August 15: Lisa Robin Kelly, 43 – best known for her recurring role on the hit sitcom “That ’70s Show,” died in Los Angeles at a drug rehab center, but the cause had not yet been determined. Her roommate and former boyfriend, John Michas, had taken her there on Monday, August 12.

August 14: Gia Allemand, 29 – Former ‘Bachelor’ contestant who hailed from Queens, NY was found unconscious by her boyfriend, Ryan Anderson, and was rushed to the hospital. She was later taken off life support due to a “critical loss of brain and organ function.”

Eydie Gorme

Eydie Gorme

August 10: Eydie Gorme, 84 – the Voice of Sophisticated Pop, the lively singer with a remarkable range who performed for decades with her husband, Steve Lawrence, died in Las Vegas.

August 7: Margaret Pellegrini, 89 – one of the last three surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” died in Phoenix. She had never entirely recovered from a stroke she had several months prior. At 15 she stood 3’4″ and became one of MGM’s 124 Munchkins. She attended the ceremony when the Munchkins collectively received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

August 5: George Duke, 67 – jazz pianist, keyboardist, who crossed genre boundaries died from heat complications after being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Dixie Evens

Dixie Evens

August 3: Dixie Evens, 86 – who brought ‘Monroe’ to Burlesque Houses and was a popular stage performed, died in Las Vegas. Her death was announced on the web site “the Burlesque Hall of Fame”, of which she was a former curator and director. Ms. Evans was a marquee name in the 50s, mentioned in the same breathe as Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr. She was featured in newspaper articles and television programs about burlesque and appeared in the 2010 documentary “Behind the Burly Q.”

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.

2013 Obits – April

April 28: Kenny Kerr, 60 – the best performing drag queen ever to grace a stage in Las Vegas or anywhere else.

April 26: George Jones, 81 – country music legend, with a graceful, evocative voice which gave a depth to some of the greatest songs in country music including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Grand Tour” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” died at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN. He had been hospitalized since April 18 with a fever and irregular blood pressure.

April 22: Richie Havens, 72 – folk and Woodstock legend, was a protest music hero and the man who opened the 1969 Woodstock festival died from a sudden heart attack at his home in New Jersey.

April 20: Joan Bridge Baez, 100 – Big Joan, as the mother dubbed herself after her namesake daughter became world-famous. In life Joan Bridge was best known as the mother of Joan Baez, (she gained the surname Baez after marrying renowned Mexican-born American physicist Albert Vinicio Baez) who along with her husband, instilled into their daughters a sense of justice, racial equality and social conscience.

Allan Arbus

Allan Arbus

April 19: Allan Arbus, 95 – Psychiatrist with Zingers on M*A*S*H died at his home in Los Angeles. His daughter Amy confirmed his death. In addition to playing on M*A*S*H, Mr. Arbus appeared in films like Coffy and Crossroads and was a TV regular during the 70s and 80s, appearing on Taxi, Starsky & Hutch, Matlock and other shows. But his best-known role was Major Freedman, the liberal psychiatrist who appeared in a dozen episodes of M*A*S*H. He treated wounds of the psyche much as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce treated surgery patients: with a nerve-ending string of zingers.

April 18: Patrick Kennedy, 59 – Milwaukee police detective who got serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to talk about his crimes died after suffering an apparent heart attack. Chris James Thompson, the director of an independent documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer Files said about Kennedy, “It’s the defining moment in his career and his life, in a sense. That’s the career moment for him. At the same time, it’s this horribly dark moment for the city.”

April 16: Pat Summerall, 82 – legendary sports broadcaster died in his hospital room where he was recovering from surgery after a broken hip. He had a liver transplant in 2004.

April 14: Michael France, 51 – Screenwriter behind several Marvel superhero adaptations died from complications from diabetes, according to his sister.

April 11: Dempsey Morgan, 91 – American fighter pilot, member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

TWILIGHT ZONE.  Jonathan Winters in "A Game of Pool".  Image dated July 28, 1961, origanal airdate October 13, 1961.  Season 3, episode 5.   Copyright ©1961 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: CBS Photo Archive.  File t22619_63.

TWILIGHT ZONE. Jonathan Winters in “A Game of Pool”. Image dated July 28, 1961, origanal airdate October 13, 1961. Season 3, episode 5. Copyright ©1961 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: CBS Photo Archive. File t22619_63.

April 11: Jonathan Winters, 87 – American comedian, actor and artist, died of natural causes in Montecito, Calif., surrounded by friends and family. Winters’ career began when he won a talent contest which led to radio shows and appearances at comedy clubs. He was one of Jack Paar’s favorite guests and a Johnny Carson regular. He co-starred with Robin Williams as Mearth, Mork and Mindy’s son, who was hatched from an egg and aged backwards.

April 8 – Actress Annette Funicello, 70 – longtime Disney and “Beach Party” star died in Bakersfield, Calif. according to the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases Inc. and the Official Disney Fan Club. She passed away from complications of multiple sclerosis.

April 8 – Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 87 –  Britain’s only female prime minister died following a stroke. Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was known as the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness. She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002.

April 7 – Lilly Pulitzer, 81 – Trendsetting fashion designer, known since 1959, particularly in preppy enclaves as the designer Lilly Pulitzer, died at her Palm Beach residence. She was surrounded by family and loved ones.

April 5 – Matthew Warren, 27 – Son of Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, a megachurch in Southern California, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. In a note from his father sent to CNN, it stated in part that he struggled with mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts.

April 4 – Roger Ebert, 70 – died after battle with cancer. “No good film is too long,” he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. “No bad movie is short enough.” Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic is dead at age 70.

April 2 – Jane Nebel Henson – partner to Jim Henson and mother to Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John and Heather, died in her Connecticut home after a long battle with cancer. She met Jim in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland and soon after became an integral creative and business partner with him to form the Muppets. They were married in 1959. Their son Brian is currently chairman and Lisa is CEO of The Jim Henson Co., which continues to generate Muppets films.

April 1 – Shain Gandee, 21 – Reality television star of MTV’s “Buckwild,” plus two others were discovered inside a Ford Bronco in Sissonville, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Gandee’s vehicle was found next to a ridge-top trail which was passable by four-wheel drive vehicles but the Bronco was in a mud pit next to the trail and was partially submerged in deep mud. Mud covered the lower part of the passenger side door of the vehicle and the muffler of the vehicle was completely below the surface of the mud. It is believed that the three died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

William H. Ginsburg

William H. Ginsburg

April 1: William H. Ginsburg, 70 – The lawyer who represented Monica Lewinsky during the 1998 scandal that engulfed the Clinton presidency died of cancer on Monday, April 1 at his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif.