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  • Originally published on
  • Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019
In this Oct. 23, 2009, file photo, Peter Fonda, poses atop a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Glendale, Calif. Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right both writing and starring in counterculture classics like "Easy Rider," has died. His family says in a statement that Fonda died Aug. 16, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
Final Farewell: Recalling Entertainers And Artists Who Passed Away In 2019

Notables in the arts and entertainment passed away in 2019. The death of Toni Morrison in August left a chasm in the publishing world, where she was a "literary mother" to countless writers. She helped elevate multiculturalism to the world stage and unearthed the lives of the unknown and unwanted. She became the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize for "Beloved" and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

In April, Hollywood lost director John Singleton, whose 1991 film "Boyz N the Hood" was praised as a realistic and compassionate take on race, class, peer pressure and family. He became the first black director to receive an Oscar nomination and the youngest at 24.

Hollywood also mourned the passing of Agnes Varda, the French New Wave filmmaker.

Doris Day, a top box-office draw and recording artist who died in May, stood for the 1950s ideal of innocence and G-rated love, a parallel world to her contemporary Marilyn Monroe. She received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.

The year also saw the untimely deaths of two young rappers, leaving a feeling of accomplishments unfulfilled. Grammy-nominated Nipsey Hussle was killed in a shooting in Los Angeles in March. Juice WRLD, who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut, died in December after being treated for opioid use during a police search.

Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2019 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):

JANUARY
Bob Einstein, 76. The veteran comedy writer and performer known for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and his spoof daredevil character Super Dave Osborne. Jan. 2.

Daryl Dragon, 76. The cap-wearing "Captain" of Captain & Tennille who teamed with then-wife Toni Tennille on such easy listening hits as "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Muskrat Love." Jan. 2.

Carol Channing, 97. The ebullient musical comedy star who delighted American audiences in almost 5,000 performances as the scheming Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway and beyond. Jan. 15.

Antonio Mendez, 78. A former CIA technical operations officer who helped rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film "Argo." Jan. 19.

Russell Baker, 93. The genial but sharp-witted writer who won Pulitzer Prizes for his humorous columns in The New York Times and a moving autobiography of his impoverished Baltimore childhood. He later hosted television's "Masterpiece Theatre" on PBS. Jan 21. Complications after a fall.

Michel Legrand, 86. An Oscar-winning composer and pianist whose hits included the score for the '60s romance "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century. Jan. 26.

James Ingram, 66. The Grammy-winning singer who launched multiple hits on the R&B and pop charts and earned two Oscar nominations for his songwriting. Jan. 29.

Donald S. Smith, 94. He produced the controversial anti-abortion film "The Silent Scream" and, with help from Ronald Reagan's White House, distributed copies to every member of Congress and the Supreme Court. Jan. 30.

Harold Bradley, 93. A Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist who played on hundreds of hit country records and along with his brother, famed producer Owen Bradley, helped craft "The Nashville Sound." Jan. 31.

FEBRUARY
Kristoff St. John, 52. An actor best known for playing Neil Winters on the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless." Feb. 4. Heart disease.

Albert Finney, 82. The British actor was the Academy Award-nominated star of films from "Tom Jones" to "Skyfall." Feb. 8.

Jan-Michael Vincent, 73. The "Airwolf" television star whose sleek good looks belied a troubled personal life. Feb. 10.

Betty Ballantine, 99. She was half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback and vastly expand the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as "The Hobbit" and "Fahrenheit 451." Feb. 12.

Andrea Levy, 62. A prize-winning novelist who chronicled the hopes and horrors experienced by the post-World War II generation of Jamaican immigrants in Britain. Feb. 14.

Karl Lagerfeld, 85. Chanel's iconic couturier whose accomplished designs and trademark white ponytail, high starched collars and dark enigmatic glasses dominated high fashion for the past 50 years. Feb. 19.

David Horowitz, 81. His "Fight Back!" syndicated program made him perhaps the best-known consumer reporter in the U.S. Feb. 21.

Peter Tork, 77. A talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist whose musical skills were often overshadowed by his role as the goofy, lovable bass guitarist in the made-for-television rock band The Monkees. Feb. 21.

Stanley Donen, 94. A giant of the Hollywood musical who, through such classics as "Singin' in the Rain" and "Funny Face," helped provide some of the most joyous sounds and images in movie history. Feb. 21.

Jackie Shane, 78. A black transgender soul singer who became a pioneering musician in Toronto where she packed nightclubs in the 1960s. Feb. 21.

Katherine Helmond, 89. An Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress who played two very different matriarchs on the ABC sitcoms "Who's the Boss?" and "Soap." Feb. 23.

Charles McCarry, 88. An admired and prescient spy novelist who foresaw passenger jets as terrorist weapons in "The Better Angels" and devised a compelling theory for JFK's assassination in "The Tears of Autumn." Feb. 26.

Andre Previn, 89. The pianist, composer and conductor whose broad reach took in the worlds of Hollywood, jazz and classical music. Feb. 28.

MARCH
Keith Flint, 49. The fiery frontman of British dance-electronic band The Prodigy. March 4. Found dead by hanging in his home.

Luke Perry, 52. He gained instant heartthrob status as wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills, 90210." March 4. Stroke.

Vera Bila, 64. A Czech singer dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music or the Queen of Romany. March 12. Heart attack.

Dick Dale, 83. His pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like "Miserlou" and "Let's Go Trippin'" earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar. March 16.

Scott Walker, 76. An influential singer, songwriter and producer whose hits with the Walker Brothers in the 1960s included "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." March 22.

Larry Cohen, 77. The maverick B-movie director of cult horror films "It's Alive" and "God Told Me To." March 23.

Agnes Varda, 90. The French New Wave pioneer who for decades beguiled, challenged and charmed moviegoers in films that inspired generations of filmmakers. March 29. Cancer.

Billy Adams, 79. A Rockabilly Hall of Famer who wrote and recorded the rockabilly staple "Rock, Pretty Mama." March 30.

Nipsey Hussle, 33. A Grammy-nominated rapper. March 31. Killed in a shooting.

APRIL
Charles Van Doren, 93. The dashing young academic whose meteoric rise and fall as a corrupt game show contestant in the 1950s inspired the movie "Quiz Show" and served as a cautionary tale about the staged competitions of early television. April 9.

Monkey Punch, 81. A cartoonist best known as the creator of the Japanese megahit comic series Lupin III. April 11.

Georgia Engel, 70. She played the charmingly innocent, small-voiced Georgette on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and amassed a string of other TV and stage credits. April 12.

Bibi Andersson, 83. The Swedish actress who starred in classic films by compatriot Ingmar Bergman, including "The Seventh Seal" and "Persona." April 14.

Lorraine Warren, 92. A world-wide paranormal investigator and author whose decades of ghost-hunting cases with her late husband inspired such frightening films as "The Conjuring" series and "The Amityville Horror." April 18.

Mark Medoff, 79. A provocative playwright whose "Children of a Lesser God" won Tony and Olivier awards and whose screen adaptation of his play earned an Oscar nomination. April 23.

John Singleton, 51. A director who made one of Hollywood's most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated "Boyz N the Hood" and continued over the following decades to probe the lives of black communities in his native Los Angeles and beyond. April 29. Taken off life support after a stroke.

Peter Mayhew, 74. The towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy and two other films. April 30.

MAY
John Lukacs, 95. The Hungarian-born historian and iconoclast who brooded over the future of Western civilization, wrote a best-selling tribute to Winston Churchill, and produced a substantial and often despairing body of writings on the politics and culture of Europe and the United States. May 6.

Peggy Lipton, 72. A star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show "The Mod Squad" and the 1990s show "Twin Peaks." May 11. Cancer.

Doris Day, 97. The sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant made her one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood. May 13.

Tim Conway, 85. The impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred in "McHale's Navy" and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for "Spongebob Squarepants." May 14.

Binyavanga Wainaina, 48. One of Africa's best-known authors and gay rights activists. May 21. Illness.

Judith Kerr, 95. A refugee from Nazi Germany who wrote and illustrated the best-selling "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" and other beloved children's books. May 22.

Leon Redbone, 69. The blues and jazz artist whose growly voice, Panama hat and cultivated air of mystery made him seem like a character out of the ragtime era or the Depression-era Mississippi Delta. May 30.

Frank Lucas, 88. The former Harlem drug kingpin whose life and lore inspired the 2007 film "American Gangster." May 30.

JUNE
Dr. John, 77. The New Orleans singer and piano player who blended black and white musical styles with a hoodoo-infused stage persona and gravelly bayou drawl. June 6.

Sylvia Miles, 94. An actress and Manhattan socialite whose brief, scene-stealing appearances in the films "Midnight Cowboy" and "Farewell, My Lovely" earned her two Academy Award nominations. June 12.

Lew Klein, 91. A broadcast pioneer who helped create "American Bandstand" and launched the careers of Dick Clark and Bob Saget. June 12.

Charles Reich, 91. The author and Ivy League academic whose "The Greening of America" blessed the counterculture of the 1960s and became a million-selling manifesto for a new and euphoric way of life. June 15.

Gloria Vanderbilt, 95. The intrepid heiress, artist and romantic who began her extraordinary life as the "poor little rich girl" of the Great Depression, survived family tragedy and multiple marriages and reigned during the 1970s and '80s as a designer jeans pioneer. June 17.

Jim Taricani, 69. An award-winning TV reporter who exposed corruption and served a federal sentence for refusing to disclose a source. June 21. Kidney failure.

Judith Krantz, 91. A writer whose million-selling novels such as "Scruples" and "Princess Daisy" engrossed readers worldwide with their steamy tales of the rich and beautiful. June 22.

Dave Bartholomew, 100. A giant of New Orleans music and a rock n' roll pioneer who, with Fats Domino, co-wrote and produced such classics as "Ain't That a Shame," "I'm Walkin'" and "Let the Four Winds Blow." June 23.

Beth Chapman, 51. The wife and co-star of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" reality TV star Duane "Dog" Chapman. June 26.

JULY
Joao Gilberto, 88. A Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter considered one of the fathers of the bossa nova genre that gained global popularity in the 1960s and became an iconic sound of the South American nation. July 6.

Cameron Boyce, 20. An actor best known for his role as the teenage son of Cruella de Vil in the Disney Channel franchise "Descendants." July 6. Seizure.

Martin Charnin, 84. He made his Broadway debut playing a Jet in the original "West Side Story" and went on to become a Broadway director and a lyricist who won a Tony Award for the score of the eternal hit "Annie." July 6.

Rip Torn, 88. The free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theater and movies, such as "Men in Black," and win an Emmy in his 60s for "The Larry Sanders Show." July 9.

Johnny Kitagawa, 87. Better known as Johnny-san, he was a kingpin of Japan's entertainment industry for more than half a century who produced famous boy bands including Arashi, Tokio and SMAP. July 9.

Jerry Lawson, 75. For four decades, he was the lead singer of the eclectic cult favorite a cappella group the Persuasions. July 10.

Johnny Clegg, 66. A South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers imposed under the country's apartheid system decades ago and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela. July 16.

Rutger Hauer, 75. A Dutch film actor who specialized in menacing roles, including a memorable turn as a murderous android in "Blade Runner" opposite Harrison Ford. July 19.

Art Neville, 81. A member of one of New Orleans' storied musical families, the Neville Brothers, and a founding member of the groundbreaking funk band The Meters. July 22.

Harold Prince, 91. A Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theater with such groundbreaking shows as "The Phantom of the Opera," "Cabaret," "Company" and "Sweeney Todd" and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards. July 31.

AUGUST
D.A. Pennebaker, 94. The Oscar-winning documentary maker whose historic contributions to American culture and politics included immortalizing a young Bob Dylan in "Don't Look Back" and capturing the spin behind Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign in "The War Room." Aug. 1.

Henri Belolo, 82. He co-founded the Village People and co-wrote their classic hits "YMCA," "Macho Man" and "In the Navy." Aug. 3.

Toni Morrison, 88. A pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in "Beloved," "Song of Solomon" and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race. Aug. 5.

Peter Fonda, 79. The actor was the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counterculture classic "Easy Rider." Aug. 16.

Richard Williams, 86. A Canadian-British animator whose work on the bouncing cartoon bunny in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" helped blur the boundaries between the animated world and our own. Aug. 16. Cancer.

Valerie Harper, 80. She scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the brash, self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s. Aug. 30.

SEPTEMBER
Jimmy Johnson, 76. A founder of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and guitarist with the famed studio musicians "The Swampers." Sept. 5.

Robert Frank, 94. A giant of 20th-century photography whose seminal book "The Americans" captured singular, candid moments of the 1950s and helped free picture-taking from the boundaries of clean lighting and linear composition. Sept. 9.

Eddie Money, 70. The rock star known for such hits as "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight." Sept. 13. Esophageal cancer.

Phyllis Newman, 86. A Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to host "The Tonight Show" before turning her attention to fight for women's health. Sept. 15.

Ric Ocasek, 75. The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery and lanky, sunglassed look defined a rock era with chart-topping hits like "Just What I Needed." Sept. 15.

Cokie Roberts, 75. The daughter of politicians and a pioneering journalist who chronicled Washington from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump for NPR and ABC News. Sept. 17. Complications from breast cancer.

José José, 71. The Mexican crooner was an elegant dresser who moved audiences to tears with melancholic love ballads and was known as the "Prince of Song." Sept. 28.

Jessye Norman, 74. The renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor. Sept. 30.

OCTOBER
Karel Gott, 80. A Czech pop singer who became a star behind the Iron Curtain. Oct. 1.

Diahann Carroll, 84. The Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as "Julia." Oct. 4. Cancer.

Ginger Baker, 80. The volatile and propulsive drummer for Cream and other bands who wielded blues power and jazz finesse and helped shatter boundaries of time, tempo and style in popular music. Oct. 6.

Rip Taylor, 88. The madcap, mustached comedian with a fondness for confetti-throwing who became a television game show mainstay in the 1970s. Oct. 6.

Robert Forster, 78. The handsome and omnipresent character actor who got a career resurgence and Oscar nomination for playing bail bondsman Max Cherry in "Jackie Brown." Oct. 11. Brain cancer.

Scotty Bowers, 96. A self-described Hollywood "fixer" whose memoir offered sensational accounts of the sex lives of such celebrities as Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Oct. 13.

Harold Bloom, 89. The eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal "The Anxiety of Influence" and melancholy regard for literature's old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends. Oct. 14.

Alicia Alonso, 98. The revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of artistic loyalty to Cuba's socialist system. Oct. 17.

Bill Macy, 97. The character actor whose hangdog expression was a perfect match for his role as the long-suffering foil to Bea Arthur's unyielding feminist on the daring 1970s sitcom "Maude." Oct. 17.

John Witherspoon, 77. An actor-comedian who memorably played Ice Cube's father in the "Friday" films. Oct. 29.

NOVEMBER
Walter Mercado, 88. A television astrologer whose glamorous persona made him a star in Latin media and a cherished icon for gay people in most of the Spanish-speaking world. Nov. 2. Kidney failure.

Gert Boyle, 95. The colorful chairwoman of Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Co. who starred in ads proclaiming her "One Tough Mother." Nov. 3.

Ernest J. Gaines, 86. A novelist whose poor childhood on a small Louisiana plantation germinated stories of black struggles that grew into universal tales of grace and beauty. Nov. 5.

Walter J. Minton, 96. A publishing scion and risk taker with a self-described "nasty streak" who as head of G.P. Putnam's Sons released works by Norman Mailer and Terry Southern, among others, and signed up Vladimir Nabokov's scandalous "Lolita." Nov. 19.

Gahan Wilson, 89. His humorous and often macabre cartoons were a mainstay in magazines including Playboy, the New Yorker and National Lampoon. Nov. 21.

John Simon, 94. A theater and film critic known for his lacerating reviews and often withering assessment of performers' physical appearance. Nov. 24.

Irving Burgie, 95. A composer who helped popularize Caribbean music and co-wrote the enduring Harry Belafonte hit "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)." Nov. 29.

DECEMBER
Juice WRLD, 21. A rapper who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut and rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit "Lucid Dreams." Dec. 8. Died after being treated for opioid use during a police search.

René Auberjonois, 79. A prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows "Benson" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and his part in the 1970 film "M.A.S.H." playing Father Mulcahy. Dec. 8.

Caroll Spinney, 85. He gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on "Sesame Street." Dec. 8.

Marie Fredriksson, 61. The female half of the Swedish pop duo Roxette that achieve international success in the late 1980s and 1990s. Dec. 9.

Danny Aiello, 86. The blue-collar character actor whose long career playing tough guys included roles in "Fort Apache, the Bronx," "Moonstruck" and "Once Upon a Time in America" and his Oscar-nominated performance as a pizza man in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing." Dec. 12.

 

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