Johnson later called the assassination "one of the most devastating moments in my life."
Born Rafer Lewis Johnson on Aug. 18, 1934, in Hillsboro, Texas, he moved to California in 1945 with his family, including his brother Jim, a future NFL Hall of Fame inductee.
After winning the national decathlon championship in 1956, Johnson was the favorite for the Olympics in Melbourne, but pulled a stomach muscle and strained a knee while training. He was forced to withdraw from the long jump, for which he had also qualified, but tried to gut out the decathlon.
Johnson's teammate Milt Campbell, a virtual unknown, gave the performance of his life, finishing with 7,937 points to win gold, 350 ahead of Johnson.
It was the last time Johnson would ever come in second.
In this July 20, 2015, file photo, Olympic gold medalist and philanthropist Rafer Johnson lifts his arm to mimic the lighting of the Olympic torch as he recalls the first Special Olympics World Games he attended, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy's assassin in 1968, died Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. He was 86. He died at his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, according to family friend Michael Roth. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
In this Sept. 7, 1960, file photo, Rafer Johnson of Kingsburg, Calif., is flanked by runners-up, Chuan-Kwang Yang, left, of Taiwan, and Vasily Kuznetsov of Russia, as they join in three-way handshake after receiving medals for the decathlon event of the Olympics in Rome, Italy. (AP Photo)
In this Sept. 5, 1960, file photo, Rafer Johnson of the United States competes in the shot put event of the Olympic decathlon competition in Rome, Italy. Rafer heaved the shot 51 feet 10 3/4 inches to score 976 points and lead the field in this event. (AP Photo)
Wilma Rudolph, called "the black gazelle," winner of three gold medals in the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games, and Rafer Johnson, American decathlon gold medal winner in the same games, meet on the set of the film "The Games" at Rome's Olympic Stadium, Italy, on March 24, 1969, as Rudolph paid Johnson a visit in Rome. Johnson played a prominent part in "The Games." (AP Photo/Jim Pringle)
Debi Anderson, LA2015 Board Member and Special Olympics athlete, left, jokes with Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, as he recalls the first Special Olympics World Games he attended, the first one ever held, at Chicago's Soldier Field in July 1968, during a news conference in Los Angeles Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
In this Sept. 6, 1960, file photo, the top three finishers in the decathlon of the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics stand on the podium while wearing their medals at Olympic Stadium in Rome. Rafer Johnson, center, won the gold; Taiwan's Yang Chuan, left, the silver; and Russia's Vasili Kuznetsov the bronze. (AP Photo/File)
In this July 28, 1984, file photo, 1960 U.S. gold medal decathlete Rafer Johnson carries the Olympic torch through the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before lighting the Olympic flame and formally launching the 1984 summer games. (AP Photo/Peter Leabo, File)
In this July 28, 1984, file photo, Rafer Johnson, winner of the gold medal for the decathlon in 1960, lights the Olympic torch during opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
In memoriam: Those we've lost in 2020
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87. Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said. Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.
Alex Trebek, who presided over the beloved quiz show “Jeopardy!” for more than 30 years with dapper charm and a touch of schoolmaster strictness, died Nov. 8. He was 80.
Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, pictured, also died in the crash.
John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died July 17. He was 80. Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Chadwick Boseman, who played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown with searing intensity before inspiring audiences worldwide as the regal Black Panther in Marvel's blockbuster movie franchise, died Aug. 28 of cancer. He was 43. Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.
Little Richard, one of the chief architects of rock ‘n’ roll whose piercing wail, pounding piano and towering pompadour irrevocably altered popular music while introducing black R&B to white America, died May 9 after battling bone cancer. He was 87.
Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, died Feb. 24 at age 101. Johnson was one of the “computers” who solved equations by hand during NASA’s early years and those of its precursor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died. He was 90. In a varied career, Connery played James Bond seven times, starting with “Dr. No” in 1962. His portrayal defined the suave secret agent for a generation of fans. He also had major roles in films including “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Highlander” and “The Hunt for Red October.”
Kirk Douglas, the muscular actor with the dimpled chin who starred in "Spartacus," "Lust for Life" and dozens of other films and helped fatally weaken the Hollywood blacklist, died Wednesday, Feb. 5. He was 103.
Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” died June 29. He was 98. Reiner was the father of actor-director Rob Reiner, who tweeted that his “heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.” The younger Reiner starred as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on “All in the Family” and directed “When Harry Met Sally...”
Regis Philbin, the genial host who shared his life with television viewers over morning coffee for decades and helped himself and some fans strike it rich with the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” died July 24 at age 88. Celebrities routinely stopped by Philbin’s eponymous syndicated morning show, but its heart was in the first 15 minutes, when he and co-host Kathie Lee Gifford — on “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” from 1985-2000 — or Kelly Ripa — on “Live! with Regis and Kelly” from 2001 until his 2011 retirement — bantered about the events of the day. Viewers laughed at Philbin’s mock indignation over not getting the best seat at a restaurant the night before, or being henpecked by his partner.
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” and became elevated to the status of rock god, died Oct. 6 due to cancer. He was 65. Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Kelly Preston, who played dramatic and comic foil to actors ranging from Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” to Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins,” died after a battle with breast cancer July 12, husband John Travolta said. She was 57. Preston had a lengthy acting career in movies and television, starring opposite Kevin Costner in the 1999 film “For the Love of the Game.” In 2003, she starred in “What a Girl Wants” and as the mom in the live-action adaptation of “The Cat in the Hat.” The following year she appeared in the music video for Maroon 5′s “She Will Be Loved.”
Jerry Stiller, who launched his career opposite wife Anne Meara in the 1950s and reemerged four decades later as the hysterically high-strung Frank Costanza on the smash television show “Seinfeld,” died May 11 at 92.
Hugh Downs, the genial, versatile broadcaster who became one of television’s most familiar and welcome faces with more than 15,000 hours on news, game and talk shows, died July 1 at age 99. “The Guinness Book of World Records” recognized Downs as having logged more hours in front of the camera than any television personality until Regis Philbin passed him in 2004. He worked on NBC's “Today” and “Tonight” shows, the game show “Concentration,” co-hosted the ABC magazine show “20/20” with Barbara Walters and the PBS series “Over Easy” and “Live From Lincoln Center.”
John Prine, the ingenious singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and scores of other indelible tunes, died April 7 at the age of 73. Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, Prine was a virtuoso of the soul, if not the body. He sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a hard-luck life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.
Charlie Daniels, who went from being an in-demand session musician to a staple of Southern rock with his hit “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died July 6 at age 83. Daniels, a singer, guitarist and fiddler, started out as a session musician, even playing on Bob Dylan's “Nashville Skyline” sessions. Daniels performed at White House, at the Super Bowl, throughout Europe and often for troops in the Middle East.
Kenny Rogers, the smooth, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream” and embraced his persona as “The Gambler” on records and on TV, died Friday, March 20. He was 81.
James Lipton, an actor-turned-drama-school-dean who got hundreds of Hollywood luminaries to open up about their life and art and became an unlikely celebrity himself as the longtime host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” died Monday, March 2. He was 93.
Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball’s artificial turf era, died Oct. 11. He was 77. Morgan was a two-time NL Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. A 5-foot-7 dynamo known for flapping his left elbow at the plate, Little Joe could hit a home run, steal a base and disrupt any game with his daring. Most of all, he completed Cincinnati’s two-time World Series championship team, driving a club featuring the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez to back-to-back titles.
Conchata Ferrell, who became known for her role as Berta the housekeeper on TV’s “Two and a Half Men” after a long career as a character actor on stage and in movies, including “Mystic Pizza” and ”Network," died Oct. 12. She was 77. Ferrell soldiered through more than a decade on “Two and a Half Men,” playing opposite Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer until Sheen was fired from the sitcom for erratic behavior that included publicly insulting producer Chuck Lorre.
Gale Sayers, the dazzling and elusive running back who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite the briefest of careers and whose fame extended far beyond the field for decades thanks to a friendship with a dying Chicago Bears teammate, died Sept. 23. He was 77.
Don Shula, who won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, died May 4 at his home, the team said. He was 90. Shula surpassed George Halas’ league-record 324 victories in 1993. He retired following the 1995 season with 347 wins, 173 losses and six ties, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine," died in Los Angeles from heart complications on March 30, 2020. He was 81.
Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning "Queen of Suspense" whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world's most popular writers, died Friday, Jan. 31. She was 92.
Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, has died. He was 60. Famed for the “Hand of God” goal in which he punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, Maradona captivated fans over a two-decade career with a bewitching style of play that was all his own.
Roberta Wright McCain, the mother of the late Sen. John McCain who used her feisty spirit to help woo voters during his 2008 presidential campaign, died Oct. 12. She was 108.
Hall of Famer
Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Oct. 2. He was 84. One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and ’67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League’s MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.
Diana Rigg, a commanding British actress whose career stretched from iconic 1960s spy series “The Avengers” to fantasy juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” died Sept. 10. She was 82. Rigg starred in “The Avengers” as secret agent Emma Peel alongside Patrick McNee’s bowler-hatted John Steed. The pair were an impeccably dressed duo who fought villains and traded quips in a show whose mix of adventure and humor was enduringly influential. Rigg also starred in 1967 James Bond thriller “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” as the only woman ever to marry, albeit briefly, Agent 007.
Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher who steered a stunning transformation from lovable losers to Miracle Mets in 1969, died Aug. 31. He was 75. Nicknamed Tom Terrific and The Franchise, Seaver was a five-time 20-game winner and the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year. For his career, from 1967-86, he had a 311-205 record with a 2.86 ERA, 3,640 strikeouts and 61 shutouts. He became a constant on magazine covers and a media presence, calling postseason games on NBC and ABC even while still an active player.
John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78. One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984.
President Donald Trump's younger brother,
Robert Trump, a businessman known for an even keel that seemed almost incompatible with the family name, died Aug. 15 after being hospitalized in New York, the president said in a statement. He was 71.
Hall of Famer
Lou Brock, one of baseball’s signature leadoff hitters and base stealers who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win three pennants and two World Series in the 1960s, has died. He was 81. The man nicknamed the Running Redbird and the Base Burglar arrived in St. Louis in June 1964, swapped from the Cubs for pitcher Ernie Broglio in what became one of baseball’s most lopsided trades. Brock stole 938 bases in his career, including 118 in 1974 — both of those were big league records until they were broken by Rickey Henderson.
Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of a major pizza chain who went on to become an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, died July 30 of complications from the coronavirus. He was 74.
Naya Rivera, a singer and actor who played a gay cheerleader on the hit TV musical comedy “Glee,” was found dead July 13 in a Southern California lake. She was 33. Rivera began acting at a young age, but she rose to national attention playing a lesbian teen on “Glee,” which aired from 2009 until 2015 on Fox.
Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from movie stunt rider to an indelible character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included “Cocoon,” “The Natural” and “The Firm,” died Aug. 1. He was 85. The mustached Brimley was a familiar face for a number of roles, often playing characters like his grizzled baseball manager in “The Natural” opposite Robert Redford's bad-luck phenomenon. He also worked with Redford in “Brubaker” and “The Electric Horseman.”
C.T. Vivian, a civil rights veteran who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and later led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died July 17 at age 95. His civil rights work stretched back more than six decades, to his first sit-in demonstrations in the 1940s in Peoria, Ill. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s victory in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland, the doe-eyed actress beloved to millions as the sainted Melanie Wilkes of “Gone With the Wind,” but also a two-time Oscar winner and an off-screen fighter who challenged and unchained Hollywood’s contract system, died July 26 at her home in Paris. She was 104. De Havilland was among the last of the top screen performers from the studio era, and the last surviving lead from “Gone With the Wind,” an irony, she once noted, since the fragile, self-sacrificing Wilkes was the only major character to die in the film.
Annie Glenn, the widow of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and a communication disorders advocate, died May 19 of complications from COVID-19. She was 100. Annie Glenn was thrust into the spotlight in 1962, when her husband became the first American to orbit Earth. She shied away from the media attention because of a severe stutter. Later, she underwent an intensive program at the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College, now Hollins University, in Roanoke, Virginia, that gave her the skills to control her stutter and to speak in public. By the time 77-year-old John Glenn returned to space in 1998 aboard space shuttle Discovery, Annie showed she had become comfortable in her public role when she acknowledged that she had reservations about the retired senator’s second flight.
Bonnie Pointer, who in 1969 convinced three of her church-singing siblings to form the Pointer Sisters, which would become one of the biggest acts of the next two decades, died June 8. Pointer often sang lead and was an essential member of the group through its early hits including “Yes We Can Can” and “Fairytale.” She would leave for a short and modest solo career in 1977 as her sisters went on to have several mega-hits without her. She was 69.
Jim Lehrer, co-host and later host of the nightly PBS "NewsHour" that for decades offered a thoughtful take on current events, died Thursday, Jan. 23. He was 85. Lehrer died “peacefully in his sleep,” according to PBS. He had suffered a heart attack in 1983 and more recently, had undergone heart valve surgery in April 2008.
Fred Willard, the comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Best In Show” and “Anchorman,” died May 14. He was 86. Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small, scene-stealing appearances. As an arrogantly clueless sports announcer on “Best In Show,” his character seemed to clearly know nothing about the dogs he’s supposed to talk about and asks his partner on-air: “How much do you think I can bench?” He also played the character of Frank Dunphy, the goofy father of Phil in the ABC series “Modern Family."
Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy, the duo whose extraordinary magic tricks astonished millions until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers, died May 8. He was 75. Horn died of complications from the coronavirus
Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow, the self-described “shy boy”-turned-actor known to art house audiences through his work with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and later to moviegoers everywhere when he played the priest in the horror classic “The Exorcist,” died Sunday, March 8. He was 90.
Shirley Knight, the Kansas-born actress who was nominated for two Oscars early in her career and went on to play an astonishing variety of roles in movies, TV and the stage, died April 22. She was 83. Knight’s career carried her from Kansas to Hollywood and then to the New York theater and London and back to Hollywood. She was nominated for two Tonys, winning one. In recent years, she had a recurring role as Phyllis Van de Kamp (the mother-in-law of Marcia Cross’ character) in the long-running ABC show “Desperate Housewives,” gaining one of her many Emmy nominations.
Jerry Sloan, the coach who took the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 on his way to a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, died May 22. He was 78. Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team — with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons — finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history.
Larry Kramer, the playwright whose angry voice and pen raised theatergoers’ consciousness about AIDS and roused thousands to militant protests in the early years of the epidemic, died May 27 at age 84. Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart” and founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, lost his lover to acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 1984 and was himself infected with the virus. He also suffered from hepatitis B and received a liver transplant in 2001 because the virus had caused liver failure.
College Football Hall of Famer
Johnny Majors, the coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee, died June 3. He was 85. Majors compiled a 185-137-10 record in 29 seasons as a head coach at Iowa State (1968-72), Pitt (1973-76, 1993-96) and Tennessee (1977-92). That followed a standout playing career at Tennessee during which he finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the 1956 Heisman Trophy balloting.
Joe Diffie, who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like “Home” and “Pickup Man,” died Sunday, March 29 after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 61. Diffie on Friday announced he had contracted the coronavirus, becoming the first country star to go public with such a diagnosis.
Brian Dennehy, the burly actor who started in films as a macho heavy and later in his career won plaudits for his stage work in plays by William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, died April 15. He was 81. Known for his broad frame, booming voice and ability to play good guys and bad guys with equal aplomb, Dennehy won two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, a Laurence Olivier Award and was nominated for six Emmys. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2010.
John Callahan, known for playing Edmund Grey on “All My Children” and also starring on other soaps including “Days of Our Lives,” “Santa Barbara” and “Falcon Crest,” died Saturday, March 28. He was 66.
Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, March 27, 2020, a family statement said. He was 98.
Fred "Curly" Neal
Fred “Curly” Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, died Thursday, March 26. He was 77.
Terrence McNally, one of America’s great playwrights whose prolific career included winning Tony Awards for the plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class" and the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," has died Tuesday, March 24 of complications from the coronavirus. He was 81.
Lyle Waggoner, who used his good looks to comic effect on "The Carol Burnett Show," partnered with a superhero on "Wonder Woman" and was the first centerfold for Playgirl magazine, died Tuesday, March 17. He was 84.
Terry Jones, a founding member of the anarchic Monty Python troupe who was hailed by colleagues as “the complete Renaissance comedian" and “a man of endless enthusiasms,” died Tuesday, Jan. 7, after a battle with dementia. He was 77.
David Stern, the basketball-loving lawyer who took the NBA around the world during 30 years as its longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse, died Jan. 1. Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. He was 77.
Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory when he threw a perfect game in 1956 with the New York Yankees for the only no-hitter in World Series history, died Wednesday, Jan. 1. He was 90.
Nick Gordon, who was found liable in the death of his ex-partner Bobbi Kristina Brown, died Wednesday, Jan. 1. He was 30. Gordon's death comes nearly five years after Brown, the daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub in January 2015. The 22-year-old died after six months in a coma.
John Baldessari, who pioneered a new genre of art in the 1970s and in the process helped elevate Los Angeles' status in the art world from that of back-water berg to a center of the Conceptual movement, died Thursday, Jan. 2. He was 88.
Neil Peart, the renowned drummer and lyricist from the influential Canadian band Rush, died Tuesday, Jan. 7. He was 67. The band confirmed on Twitter that Peart had "lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer." Peart placed fourth on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.
Silvio Horta, who was acclaimed for creating the hit series “Ugly Betty,” died Tuesday, Jan. 7. He was 45. Investigators believe Horta died by suicide at a Miami hotel, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said.
Evidence shows that suicide is not inevitable for anyone, and that lives can be saved with mental health support. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is less than a moment away. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 741741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org for free, confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose blunt and painful confessions of her struggles with addiction and depression in the best-selling “Prozac Nation” made her a voice and a target for an anxious generation, died Tuesday, Jan. 7, at age 52. Wurtzel's husband, Jim Freed, told The Associated Press that she died at a Manhattan hospital after a long battle with cancer.
George Perles, who coached Michigan State to a Rose Bowl victory in 1988 and was a key defensive assistant for the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s, died Tuesday, Jan. 7. He was 85.
Edward "Kookie" Byrnes
Edd Byrnes, who played cool kid Kookie on the hit TV show “77 Sunset Strip,” scored a gold record with a song about his character’s hair-combing obsession and later appeared in the movie “Grease” as TV host Vince Fontaine, died Wednesday, Jan. 8. He was 87.
Buck Henry, “The Graduate” co-writer who as screenwriter, character actor, “Saturday Night Live” host and cherished talk-show and party guest became an all-around cultural superstar of the 1960s and 70s, died Wednesday, Jan. 8. He was 89.
Emmy-winning character actor
John Karlen, known for his roles on the television series “Dark Shadows” and “Cagney & Lacey,” died Wednesday, Jan. 22 of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Burbank, friend and family spokesman Jim Pierson said. He was 86. Karlen is pictured in center.
John Andretti, who carved out his own niche in one of the world's most successful racing families, died Thursday, Jan. 30 after a three-year battle with colon cancer. He was 56. Andretti became the first driver to attempt the Memorial Day double. He won on dirt tracks, street courses and superspeedways. He won an endurance race, competed in dragsters and became an iron man in IndyCar and NASCAR. And he used his platform and passion for racing to help others.
Fred Silverman, the only TV executive who steered programming for each of the Big Three broadcast networks and who brought “All in the Family,” “Roots,” “Hawaii Five-O” and other hit series and miniseries to television during his more than three-decade career, died Jan. 30. He was 82.
Anne Cox Chambers
Anne Cox Chambers, a newspaper heiress, diplomat and philanthropist who was one of the country's richest women, died Jan. 31 at the age of 100. Chambers, a director of Cox Enterprises Inc., promoted Jimmy Carter's political career and served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium during his presidency. Forbes estimated her net worth several years ago at nearly $17 billion. She was well known for her charitable giving.
Andy Gill, who supplied the scratching, seething sound that fueled the highly influential British punk band Gang of Four, died Saturday, Feb. 1. He was 64.
Roger Kahn, the writer who wove memoir and baseball and touched millions of readers through his romantic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in "The Boys of Summer," died Thursday, Feb. 6. He was 92.
Orson Bean, the witty actor and comedian who enlivened the game show "To Tell the Truth" and played a crotchety merchant on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” was hit and killed by a car in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 7. He was 91.
Robert Conrad (right), the rugged, contentious actor who starred in the hugely popular 1960s television series "Hawaiian Eye" and "The Wild, Wild West," died Saturday, Feb. 8. He was 84.
He's pictured here with actor Ross Martin.
The founder of the South African multi-Grammy-Award-winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
Joseph Shabalala, has died Tuesday, Feb. 11. He was 78.
Lynn Cohen, an actress best known for playing the plainspoken housekeeper and nanny Magda in “Sex and the City,” died Friday, Feb. 14. She was 86.
Donald Stratton, one of the remaining USS Arizona crew members who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, died Feb. 15. Stratton was one of the survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aerial attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. More than 1,100 crew members died on the battleship. Following Stratton's death, Lou Conter and Ken Potts remain the last living members of the Arizona's crew. Stratton was 97.
Kellye Nakahara Wallett
Kellye Nakahara Wallett, a film and television actress best known for playing Lt. Nurse Kellye Yamato on “M-A-S-H,” died Sunday, Feb. 16 at age 72.
Zoe Caldwell, a four-time Tony Award winner who brought humanity to larger-than-life characters, whether it be the dotty schoolteacher Miss Jean Brodie, an aging opera star Maria Callas or the betrayed, murderous Medea, died Sunday, Feb. 16. She was 86.
Ja’Net DuBois, who played the vivacious neighbor Willona Woods on “Good Times” and composed and sang the theme song for “The Jeffersons,” died Monday, Feb. 17. She was 74.
Mickey Wright, the golf great with a magnificent swing who won 13 majors among her 82 victories and gave the fledgling LPGA a crucial lift, died Feb. 17. Wright joined the LPGA in 1955 and the Hall of Famer's 82 wins place her second on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth, who won 88. The Associated Press in 1999 named Wright the Female Golfer of the Century and Female Athlete of the Year in 1963 and 1964. She was 85.
Barbara "B." Smith
Barbara “B.” Smith, one of the nation's top black models who went on to open restaurants, launch a successful home products line and write cookbooks, died Feb. 22 at her Long Island home at age 70 after battling early onset Alzheimer's disease. Smith wrote three cookbooks, founded three successful restaurants and launched a nationally syndicated television show and a magazine. Her successful home products line was the first from a black woman to be sold at a nationwide retailer when it debuted in 2001 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader who was the autocratic face of stability in the Middle East for nearly 30 years before being forced from power in an Arab Spring uprising, died Feb. 25, state-run TV announced. He was 91. Mubarak was a stalwart U.S. ally, a bulwark against Islamic militancy and guardian of Egypt's peace with Israel. But to the hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, Mubarak was a latter-day pharaoh and a symbol of autocratic misrule.
Clive Cussler, the million-selling adventure writer and real-life thrill-seeker who wove personal details and spectacular fantasies into his page-turning novels about underwater explorer Dirk Pitt, died Feb. 24. Cussler dispatched Pitt and pal Al Giordino on exotic missions highlighted by shipwrecks, treachery, espionage and beautiful women, in popular works including "Cyclops,'' “Night Probe!” and his commercial breakthrough, "Raise the Titanic!" He was 88.
Jack Welch, who transformed General Electric Co. into a highly profitable multinational conglomerate and parlayed his legendary business acumen into a retirement career as a corporate leadership guru, died March 1. He was 84. Welch became one of the nation's most well-known and highly regarded corporate leaders during his two decades as GE's chairman and chief executive, from 1981 to 2001. He personified the so-called “cult of the CEO” during the late-1990s boom, when GE's soaring stock price made it the most valuable company in the world.
Ernesto Cardenal, the renowned poet and Roman Catholic cleric who became a symbol of revolutionary verse in Nicaragua and around Latin America, and whose suspension from the priesthood by St. John Paul II lasted over three decades, died Sunday, March 1. He was 95.
Bobbie Battista, who was among the original anchors for CNN Headline News and hosted CNN’s “TalkBack Live,” died March 3. She was 67. During her 1981-2001 career with the cable news company, Battista anchored coverage of major events including the Challenger space shuttle explosion, the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and the Gulf War.
Wendell Goler, a longtime White House correspondent for Fox News Channel who reported on government since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, died March 5 at age 70. Goler was a Fox News original, joining the network at its inception in 1996 and working his way up to senior White House foreign affairs correspondent. He retired in 2014. He worked for The Associated Press and Washington-area television stations before joining Fox.
McCoy Tyner, the groundbreaking and influential jazz pianist and the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet, died Friday, March 6. He was 81.
French-American filmmaker and actress
Tonie Marshall, the only female director to ever win a Cesar award — France's equivalent of the Oscars — died Thursday, March 12. She was 68.
Stuart Whitman, a prolific lead and character actor who appeared in hundreds of film and television productions and received an Oscar nomination as a pedophile in the 1961 drama “The Mark,” died Monday, March 16. He was 92.
Manu Dibango, who fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music, died March 24 with the coronavirus, according to his music publisher. He was 86. The Cameroon-born saxophonist, who gained international fame with his 1972 song “Soul Makossa,” died in a hospital in the Paris region, Thierry Durepaire said. Dibango was hospitalized with an illness “linked to COVID-19,” his official Facebook page said last week.
Floyd Cardoz, who competed on “Top Chef,” won “Top Chef Masters” and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York, died Wednesday, March 25 of complications from the coronavirus, his company said in a statement. He was 59.
Jimmy Wynn, the diminutive Houston slugger whose monster shots in the 1960s and '70s earned him the popular nickname “The Toy Cannon," died Thursday, March 26. He was 78. Just 5-foot-9, Wynn was packed with power. He hit more than 30 homers twice with Houston, including a career-high 37 in 1967 at the pitcher-friendly Astrodome.
Former U.S. Sen.
Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma family doctor who earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick as he railed against federal earmarks and subsidies for the rich, died March 28. He was 72. Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit and what he said was excessive government spending endorsed by politicians from both political parties.
Popular Japanese comedian
Ken Shimura, who drew inspiration from the American comedic icon Jerry Lewis, has died Sunday, March 29 from the coronavirus, becoming Japan's first known celebrity victim of the disease. He was 70.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an award-winning conductor and one of the world’s most popular contemporary classical music composers whose works have featured in Hollywood films like “The Shining” and “Shutter Island,” died Sunday, March 29. He was 86.
Tomie dePaola, the prolific children's author and illustrator who delighted generations with tales of Strega Nona, the kindly and helpful old witch in Italy, died Monday, March 30 at age 85. He worked on over 270 books in more than half a century of publishing, and nearly 25 million copies have been sold worldwide and his books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
John "Bucky" Pizzarelli
John “Bucky” Pizzarelli, who was inducted to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, died April 1 at the age of 94 from the coronavirus. Pizzarelli was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and had a career that spanned eight decades. He showed off his musical chops for former presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and played alongside musical icons like Frank Sinatra.
Ellis Marsalis Jr.
Ellis Marsalis Jr., the jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan, died late Wednesday, April 1 after battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus, leaving six sons and a deep legacy. He was 85.
Emmy and Grammy-winning musician and songwriter
Adam Schlesinger, known for his work with his band Fountains of Wayne and on the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” died Wednesday April 1 after contracting the coronavirus. He was 52. Schlesinger was nominated for 10 Emmys for writing comical songs across several television shows, winning three.
Patricia Bosworth, an actress who once starred alongside Audrey Hepburn and later wrote biographies on several stars including Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, died April 2 due to the coronavirus. She was 86. Bosworth played a nun opposite of Hepburn in the 1959 classic “The Nun’s Story.” Along with penning bios for Brando and Clift, she also wrote biographies on actress Jane Fonda and famed photographer Diane Arbus, who photographed Bosworth in a Greyhound bus advertisement.
Bobby Mitchell, the speedy Hall of Famer who became the Washington Redskins' first black player, died April 5. He was 84. Mitchell split his career with the Cleveland Browns and Redskins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Honor Blackman, the potent British actress who took James Bond's breath away as Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger" and who starred as the leather-clad, judo-flipping Cathy Gale in “The Avengers,” died in early April. She was 94. Here she is with Sean Connery in 1964.
Earl Graves Sr.
Earl Graves Sr., who championed black businesses as the founder of the first African American-owned magazine focusing on black entrepreneurs, died April 6. He was 85. Graves launched his magazine, Black Enterprise, in 1970. He later said his aim was to educate, inspire and uplift his readers.
Al Kaline, who spent his entire 22-season Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Tigers and was known affectionately as “Mr. Tiger,” died April 6. He was 85. Kaline was the youngest player to win the American League batting title in 1955 at age 20 with a .340 batting average. The right fielder was a 15-time All-Star, won 10 Gold Gloves and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1980 in his first year of eligibility. The beloved No. 6 later sat behind a microphone as a Tigers broadcaster from 1976 to 2001 and was also a special assistant to the general manager.
Linda Tripp, whose secretly recorded conversations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton, died April 8 at age 70.
Stirling Moss, a daring, speed-loving Englishman regarded as the greatest Formula One driver never to win the world championship, died April 12. He was 90. A national treasure affectionately known as "Mr. Motor Racing," the balding Moss had a taste for adventure that saw him push cars to their limits across many racing categories and competitions. He was fearless, fiercely competitive and often reckless.
Jim Frey, who managed the Kansas City Royals to the 1980 AL pennant and the Chicago Cubs within one win of the 1984 World Series, died April 12. He was 88.
Hank Steinbrenner, the oldest son of George Steinbrenner and one of the four siblings who own the controlling shares of the New York Yankees, died April 14 at age 63.
Willie Davis, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman who helped the Green Bay Packers win each of the first two Super Bowls, died April 15. He was 85. A 15th-round draft pick from Grambling, Davis began his NFL career by playing both offense and defense for the Cleveland Browns in 1958 and ’59. He had his greatest success after getting traded to the Packers. He remained with the Packers until finishing his NFL career in 1969 as a five-time All-Pro. Although tackles and sacks weren’t measured at the time Davis played, his 22 career fumble recoveries showcased his dominance and big-play ability.
Jane Hull, Arizona's first woman elected governor and part of the “Fab Five” celebrated as the nation's first all-female elected state executive branch leadership group, died April 16. She was 84.
Paul O’Neill, a former Treasury secretary who broke with George W. Bush over tax policy and then produced a book critical of the administration, died April 18 at age 84. A former head of aluminum giant Alcoa, O’Neill served as Treasury secretary from 2001 to late 2002. He was forced to resign after he objected to a second round of tax cuts because of their impact on deficits.
Mike Curtis, a hard-hitting, no-nonsense linebacker who helped the Colts win a Super Bowl during a 14-year NFL career spent predominantly in Baltimore, died April 20 at age 77. Curtis earned the nickname “Mad Dog" because of his fierce play in the middle of a strong Baltimore defense.
Harold Reid (pictured at far left), who sang bass for the Grammy-winning country group the Statler Brothers, died April 24 after a long battle with kidney failure. He was 80. The Statler Brothers frequently sang backup for country icon Johnny Cash. Some of their biggest hits included 1965's “Flowers on the Wall” and 1970′s “Bed of Rose’s.” Harold Reid was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He was also a comedian.
Steve Dalkowski, a hard-throwing, wild left-hander whose minor league career inspired the creation of Nuke LaLoosh in the movie “Bull Durham," died April 26. He was 80. Dalkowski never reached the major leagues but was said to have thrown well over 100 mph. Long before velocity was tracked with precision, he spawned legends that estimated he approached 110 mph or 115 mph -- some said even 125 mph.
Irrfan Khan, a veteran character actor in Bollywood movies and one of India's best-known exports to Hollywood, died April 29. He was 54. Khan played the police inspector in “Slumdog Millionaire” and the park executive Masrani in “Jurassic World.” He also appeared in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the adventure fantasy “Life of Pi.”
Mari Winsor, a celebrity trainer for Hollywood’s elite who became known as a Pilates guru, died April 28. She was 70. Winsor had been living with the progressive neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, since 2013. The petite and energetic Winsor was a featured dancer in music videos including Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and films such as “Roadhouse” and “Moonwalker.” She released multiple fitness DVDs and ran several Pilates studios in the Los Angeles area catering to the biggest stars. A small sample of her starry client list included Madonna, Steven Spielberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Stone and Miley Cyrus.
Top Indian actor
Rishi Kapoor, a scion of a famous Bollywood family, died April 30. He was 67 and had leukemia. He received the National Film Award for his debut role as a child artist in his father’s 1970 film “Mera Naam Joker” ("My Name is Joker"). He acted in more than 90 films. Kapoor’s popular hits included “Bobby"; “Laila Majnu,” a story of legendary Indian lovers; “Karz” (“Debt"); “Chandni” (“Moonlight”); “Kabhi Kabhie” (“Sometimes”); “Saagar” (“Sea”). In 1999, he directed “Aa Ab Laut Chalein” (“Let’s Go Back”).
Tony Allen, the driver of the Afrobeat sound, died April 30 in Paris at age 79. In an influential career that spanned decades and continents, Allen started drumming in Nigeria's Lagos in the 1960s and formed a partnership with Fela Kuti, composer, singer, bandleader and saxophonist. They are credited with launching the catchy Afrobeat dance music featuring prominent guitars, complex brass harmonies and poly-rhythmic drumming.
Gil Schwartz, the longtime CBS communications executive who wrote humorous novels and columns under the pen name Stanley Bing, died May 2. He was 68. Schwartz had a distinguished nearly 40-year career in corporate America with CBS, Viacom and Westinghouse Broadcasting. He retired in 2018 from his post as senior executive vice president and chief communications officer of CBS Corporation.
Andre Harrell, the Uptown Records founder who shaped the sound of hip-hop and R&B in the late ’80s and ’90s with acts such as Mary J. Blige and Heavy D and also launched the career of mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, died May 7. He was 59.
Betty Wright, the Grammy-winning soul singer and songwriter whose influential 1970s hits included “Clean Up Woman" and “Where is the Love,” died May 10 at age 66. Wright had her breakthrough with 1971's “Clean Up Woman,” which combined elements of funk, soul and R&B.
Aimee Stephens, a Detroit-area woman who was fired by a funeral home after she no longer wanted to be recognized as a man, died May 12, before the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on whether federal civil rights law protects transgender people.
Simon & Schuster CEO
Carolyn Reidy, who presided over her company with steady force and a passion for books during a time of frequent and traumatic change, died May 12 at age 71.
Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS's “The NFL Today” and served as the first lady of Kentucky, died May 14. She was 70.
Ken Osmond, who on TV’s “Leave It to Beaver,” played two-faced teenage scoundrel Eddie Haskell, a role so memorable it left him typecast and led to a second career as a police officer, died Monday. He was 76.
Eddie Sutton, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who led three teams to the Final Four and was the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament, died May 23. He was 84. Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on April 3, Sutton was 806-328 in 37 seasons as a Division I head coach — not counting vacated victories or forfeited games -- and made it to 25 NCAA Tournaments.
Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects, died May 31 at his home in New York. He was 84. Along with late wife Jeanne-Claude, the artists' careers were defined by their ambitious art projects that quickly disappeared soon after they were erectedthat andoften involved wrapping large structures in fabric. In 2005, he installed more than 7,500 saffron-colored vinyl gates in New York's Central Park. He wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric with an aluminum sheen in 1995. Their $26 million Umbrellas project erected1,340 blue umbrellas installed in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Southern California in 1991. They also wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris, the Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland and a Roman wall in Italy.
College Football Hall of Famer
Pat Dye, who took over a downtrodden Auburn football program in 1981 and turned it into a Southeastern Conference power, died June 1. He was 80. When Dye came to Auburn, he inherited a program that was deeply divided after only three winning seasons in the previous six years. In 12 years, he had a 99-39-4 record, Auburn won or shared four conference titles and the Tigers were ranked in The Associated Press' Top 10 five times.
Wes Unseld, the workmanlike Hall of Fame center who led Washington to its only NBA championship and was chosen one of the 50 greatest players in league history, died June 2 after a series of health issues, most recently pneumonia. He was 74.
Sushant Singh Rajput
Popular Bollywood actor
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his Mumbai residence June 14, police and Indian media reports said. Rajput, who started as a TV actor, made his Bollywood debut in 2013 with director Abhishek Kapoor in “Kai Po Che," based on the book by Chetan Bhagat. He was 34.
Dame Vera Lynn, the endearingly popular “Forces’ Sweetheart” who serenaded British troops abroad during World War II, died June 18 at 103. During the war and long after, Lynn got crowds singing, smiling and crying with sentimental favorites such as “We’ll Meet Again,” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.”
Jean Kennedy Smith
Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving sibling of President John F. Kennedy and a former ambassador to Ireland, died June 18, her daughter confirmed to The New York Times. She was 92. Smith was the eighth of nine children born to Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy, and she tragically outlived several of them by decades.
Joel Schumacher, the eclectic and brazen filmmaker who dressed New York department store windows before shepherding the Brat Pack to the big screen in “St. Elmo's Fire” and steering the Batman franchise into its most baroque territory in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin,” died June 22 in New York after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80.
Blaine Kern Sr.
Blaine Kern Sr., a float builder who was often credited with helping expand New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration into a giant event known worldwide, died June 25. He was 93.
Milton Glaser, the groundbreaking graphic designer who adorned Bob Dylan’s silhouette with psychedelic hair and summed up the feelings for his native New York with “I (HEART) NY,” died June 26, his 91st birthday. In posters, logos, advertisements and book covers, Glaser’s ideas captured the spirit of the 1960s with a few simple colors and shapes. He was the designer on the team that founded New York magazine with Clay Felker in the late ’60s.
Former Washington Redskins assistant coach
Joe Bugel, regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in NFL history, died June 28. He was 80. Bugel was the architect of “The Hogs,” the dominant offensive lines that helped lead the team to three Super Bowls under Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.
Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI who earned renown in his own right as a director of an acclaimed German boys’ choir, died July 1. He was 96.
Nick Cordero, a Tony Award-nominated actor who specialized in playing tough guys on Broadway in such shows as “Waitress,” “A Bronx Tale” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” died July 5 in Los Angeles after suffering severe medical complications after contracting the coronavirus. He was 41.
Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian composer who created the coyote-howl theme for the iconic Spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and often haunting soundtracks for such classic Hollywood gangster movies as “The Untouchables” and the epic “Once Upon A Time In America,” died July 6. He was 91.
Mary Kay Letourneau
Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who married her former sixth-grade student after she was convicted of raping him in a case that drew international headlines, died July 6. She was 58.
Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died July 13 at age 59.
Grant Imahara, the longtime host of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” died from a brain aneurysm July 13 at age 49. Along with his “MythBusters” fame, Imahara was known for starring on Netflix’s “White Rabbit Project.” He became popular in Hollywood for his talents in electronics and recently showcased his creation of a fully animatronic Baby Yoda.
Phyllis Somerville, an actor with a lengthy career of roles in film, television and Broadway productions, died July 16. She was 76. On television, Somerville appeared in “The Big C,” “NYPD Blue” and was in films like “Arthur” and was among “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” cast members nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Annie Ross, a popular jazz singer in the 1950s before crossing over into a successful film career, died July 21. She was 89. Ross rose to fame as the lead vocalist of one of jazz’s most well-respected groups, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. The trio became known for the 1952 hit “Twisted,” a tune by saxophonist Wardell Gray and written by Ross.
Charles Evers, who led an eclectic life as a civil rights leader, onetime purveyor of illegal liquor in Chicago, history-making Black mayor in deeply segregated Mississippi and contrarian with connections to prominent national Democrats and Republicans, died July 22. He was 97.
John McNamara, who managed the Boston Red Sox to within one strike of a World Series victory in 1986 before an unprecedented collapse on the field extended the team's championship drought into the new millennium, died July 28. He was 88.
Alan Parker, a successful and sometimes surprising filmmaker whose diverse output includes “Bugsy Malone,” “Midnight Express,” and “Evita,” died July 31 at 76, his family said. A Briton who became a Hollywood heavyweight, Parker also directed “Fame,” “The Commitments and “Mississippi Burning.” Together his movies won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards.
John Hume, the visionary politician who won a Nobel Peace Prize for fashioning the agreement that ended violence in his native Northern Ireland, died Aug. 3 at 83. The Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, Hume was seen as the principal architect of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace agreement. He shared the prize later that year with the Protestant leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, for their efforts to end the sectarian violence that plagued the region for three decades and left more than 3,500 people dead.
Pete Hamill, the self-taught, street-wise newspaper columnist whose love affair with New York inspired a colorful and uniquely influential journalistic career and produced several books of fiction and nonfiction, died Aug. 5. He was 85.
Brent Scowcroft, who played a prominent role in American foreign policy as national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and was a Republican voice against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, died Aug. 6. He was 95.
Ben Cross, an actor who starred in the Academy Award-winning film “Chariots of Fire” and “Star Trek,” died Aug. 18. He was 72. Cross was a veteran actor who broke through with the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire,” which won the Oscar for best picture. He had the leading role as Olympic runner Harold Abrahams in the true story about two British athletes at the 1924 Games.
Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle, a leading performer of American roots music known for his introspective and haunting style, has died at 38.
Gail Sheehy, the journalist, commentator and pop sociologist whose best-selling “Passages” helped millions navigate their lives from early adulthood to middle age and beyond, died Aug. 24. She was 83. “Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life” was published in 1976 and immediately caught on with a generation torn by the cultural revolution of the time, sorting through mid-life struggles, marital problems, changing gender roles and questions about identity.
Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse and led the program to its lone national title in 1997, died Aug. 27. He was 85. Olson spent 24 seasons at Arizona, revitalizing a fan base in the desert while transforming a program that had been to the NCAA Tournament just three times in 79 years before he was hired in 1983.
Cliff Robinson, an early star in UConn’s rise to power and longtime top sixth man in the NBA, died Aug. 29. He was 53. Nicknamed Uncle Cliffy, Robinson played 18 seasons in the NBA and helped the Portland Trail Blazers reach two NBA Finals.
Julia Reed, who wrote about food and culture in the South and promoted her native Mississippi Delta, died Aug. 28. She was 59. Reed was a contributing editor to Garden & Gun magazine, which chronicles life and culture in the South, and had written numerous books about the region, including one about drinking and dining in New Orleans.
Gene Budig, the self-effacing educator and baseball fan from small-town Nebraska who became the head of three major universities and the last president of the American League, died Sept. 8. He was 81
Toots Hibbert, one of reggae's founders and most beloved stars who gave the music its name and later helped make it an international movement through such classics as “Pressure Drop,” “Monkey Man” and "Funky Kingston," died Sept. 11. He was 77.
Jack 'Murf the Surf' Murphy
Jack “Murf the Surf” Murphy, who was behind one of the biggest jewel heists in U.S. history, gained membership in a surfing hall of fame and served time for murder, has died in Florida. He was 83. Murphy is best known for a daring heist in 1964 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he and other thieves used a bathroom window they had unlocked earlier to steal the famed Star of India sapphire — bigger than a golf ball — along with other precious gems.
Bill Gates Sr.
William H. Gates II, a lawyer and philanthropist best known as the father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has died at 94.
Winston Groom, the writer whose novel “Forrest Gump” was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop cultural phenomenon, has died at age 77.
Sir Harold Evans
Sir Harold Evans, the charismatic publisher, author and muckraker who brought investigative moxie to the British press, newsmaking dash to the American book business through best-sellers like “Primary Colors” and synergetic buzz to all as author-publisher Tina Brown’s husband, died Sept. 23. He was 92.
Jay Johnstone, who won World Series championships as a versatile outfielder with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers while being baseball’s merry prankster, died Sept. 26 of complications from COVID-19. He was 74. Besides the Yankees and Dodgers, Johnstone played for the California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Chicago Cubs during a 20-year major league career that began in 1966 and ended in 1985. He had a career batting average of .267, with 102 home runs and 531 RBIs.
Helen Reddy, who shot to stardom in the 1970s with her rousing feminist anthem “I Am Woman” and recorded a string of other hits, died Sept. 29. She was 78. Reddy’s 1971 version of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” launched a decade-long string of Top 40 hits, three of which reached No. 1.
Mac Davis, who launched his career crafting the Elvis hits “A Little Less Conversation” and “In the Ghetto,” and whose own hits include “Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me,” died Sept. 29. He was 78. Davis had a long and varied career in music for decades as a writer, singer, actor and TV host and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. He was named 1974’s entertainer of the year by the Academy of Country Music and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Whitey Ford, the street-smart New Yorker who had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century and helped the Yankees become baseball’s perennial champions in the 1950s and ’60s, died Oct. 8. He was 91.
Fred Dean, the fearsome pass rusher who was a key part of the launch of the San Francisco 49ers' dynasty, died Oct. 14 due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 68. Dean was an undersized pass rusher who began his career as a second-round pick with the San Diego Chargers in 1975 and ended it in the Hall of Fame after being named an All-Pro twice and making four Pro Bowls.
Rhonda Fleming, the fiery redhead who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan and other film stars of the 1940s and 1950s, died Oct. 14. She was 97.
Minnesota sports columnist and radio personality
Sid Hartman, an old-school home team booster who once ran the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers and achieved nearly as much celebrity as some of the athletes he covered, died Oct. 18. He was 100.
Jerry Jeff Walker
Jerry Jeff Walker, a Texas country singer and songwriter who wrote the pop song “Mr. Bojangles,” died Oct. 23 at age 78. Walker emerged from New York’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1960s and he was a founding member of the band Circus Maximus. He moved to Texas in the 1970s and in 1972 scored a hit with his version of the Guy Clark song “L.A. Freeway.”
Jimmy Orr, a sure-handed wide receiver who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Colts after starring at the University of Georgia, died Oct. 27. He was 85. Over 13 NFL seasons, Orr caught 400 passes for 7,914 yards and 66 touchdowns over 149 games. He averaged a whopping 19.8 yards per catch and three times led the league in yards per catch.
Billy Joe Shaver
Outlaw country singer songwriter
Billy Joe Shaver, who wrote songs like “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” and “Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” died Oct. 28. He was 81. Born in Corsicana, Texas, Shaver was among the original group of outlaw country artists in the early '70s, penning songs for Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall and Willie Nelson.
Paul Hornung, the dazzling “Golden Boy” of the Green Bay Packers whose singular ability to generate points as a runner, receiver, quarterback and kicker helped turn the team into an NFL dynasty, died Nov. 13. He was 84.
Lindy McDaniel (pictured at right), an All-Star reliever who appeared in nearly 1,000 major league games over 21 seasons, died Nov. 14. He was 84. Steady as a long man and closer, McDaniel pitched in 987 big league games, trailing only Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm when he retired in 1975.
David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City’s first African-American mayor, but was doomed to a single term by a soaring murder rate, stubborn unemployment and his mishandling of a riot in Brooklyn, died Nov. 23. He was 93.
Dave Prowse, the British weightlifter-turned-actor who was the body, though not the voice, of arch-villain Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died Nov. 29. He was 85.
Eddie Benton-Banai, who helped found the American Indian Movement partly in response to alleged police brutality against Indigenous people, died Dec. 1. He was 89.
Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died Dec. 2. He was 86. Johnson was among the world’s greatest athletes from 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960, winning a national decathlon championship in 1956 and a silver medal at the Melbourne Olympics that same year. His Olympic career included carrying the U.S. flag at the 1960 Games and lighting the torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to open the 1984 Games. On June 5, 1968, Johnson was working on Kennedy's presidential campaign when the Democratic candidate was shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Johnson joined former NFL star Rosey Grier and journalist George Plimpton in apprehending Sirhan Sirhan moments after he shot Kennedy, who died the next day.
Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Dec. 3 at age 94.