Rapper Coolio Dies

Grammy Award winning rapper and actor Coolio died suddenly September 28, 2022 at the Los Angeles home of a friend at the age of 59.  An official cause of death is not known at this time.

While he is best known for the hit songs “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage”; Coolio has appeared in over 100 films and television productions.

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr on August, 1, 1963 in Monessen, Pennsylvania, Artis moved to the California community of Compton to attend college.  Prior to becoming an entertainer he was a volunteer fireman and worked in airport security.

His stage name Coolio stemmed from a joke by friends who compared him to Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.

He made his musical debut in 1994 with the debut album “It Takes a Thief” and the top five single “Fantastic Voyage”.

In 1995 he had his first number one single “Gangsta’s Paradise”.  He has gone on to sell over 17 million albums around the world and perform on stages across the planet.



Diagnosed with asthma, Collio was a spokesman for the Asthma and Allergies Foundation.

Coolio’s music can be heard on nearly 100 different productions including “Poetic Justice”, “Clueless”, “Dangerous Minds”, “Space Jam”, the “Beavis and Butt-Head” television series, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde”, and numerous music reality programs.

When it comes to acting, Coolio appeared in various music videos beginning in 1991, but his acting debut came in an episode of “Martin” in 1995.  From there he appeared in some 100 productions and music videos including “All That”, “Space: Above and Beyond”, “Dangerous Minds”, “The Nanny”, “Charmed”, “Star-ving”, “Futurama”, and “Black Jesus”.   

He is scheduled to appear in the production “Bobcat Moretti” which has completed filming.  “It Wants Blood 2” is currently in production and “Vegas High” was in pre-production at the time of his death.


Along with his Grammy Award, Coolio has earned four gold records, two platinum records, and two multi-platinum records, an American Music Award, three MTV and three Video Music Awards, two Kids Choice Awards, a World Music Award, two Billboard Music Awards, two ASCAP Awards, and four American Online Awards.

When not making music or acting on the screen, Coolio can often be found in the kitchen recreating his mother’s old recipes.

Married and divorced, Coolio is survived by his children.

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Actor Henry Silva Dies

Actor Henry Silva died September 14, 2022 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California just one day before his 96th birthday.  Son Scott Silva said that his father died of natural causes.

Silva began his acting career while still in his teens on the stage at the Actor’s Studio. By the time he had retired from acting in 2001, Silva had appeared in over 100 productions beginning in 1950 when television was still a new medium.

One of his early roles was in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” film starring Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin; some 50 years later Silva appeared in the remake with George Clooney.  Silva was the last surviving member of the 1950 “Ocean’s Eleven”.  He and Angie Dickinson were the only two actors to appear in both versions of the film.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 15, 1926.  He left school at the age of 13 and began taking drama classes while supporting himself as a dishwasher.  After being one of just five people selected out of 2,500 applicants, his first production at the Actor’s Studio was in “A Hatful of Rain”.  He also acted in the Broadway production of the play; as well as, in Camino Real”.

After “an offer he couldn’t refuse” Silva spent some time acting in Europe before returning to the United States and Hollywood.

After making his screen debut in 1950 in the television series “Armstrong Circle Theatre”, Silva went on to appear in nearly 150 film and television productions including “A Hatful of Rain”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Cinderella”, “The Untouchables”, “The Manchuria Candidate”, “The Outer Limits”, “Wagon Train”, “Mission Impossible”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”, “Cannonball Run II”, “Code of Silence”,  “Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold”, “Above the Law”, and his final role in 2001 in the remake of “Ocean’s Eleven”.

Married and divorced three times, Silva is survived by children Scott, Henry, and Michael.

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Dies

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II recently concluded a celebration marking 70 years on the throne as the Queen of the British Empire.  On September 8, 2022 Her Majesty died at the age of 96 in Balmoral Castle in Scotland surrounded by her family. 

More than just the monarch, the Queen was also the head of the Church of England.

With her death, the British Empire end its second Elizabethan era.  Her 70 year rule is the longest ever by a British monarch.  She ranks second behind France’s Louis XIV as ruling a country the longest.  Louis XIV became the King of France when he was only four years old.

As the official period of mourning begins, sporting events were cancelled and brought politics to a halt after the announcement of her death.

Her oldest son His Royal Highness Prince Charles will succeed her and will be known as His Majesty King Charles III and becomes the oldest person to become monarch of the British Empire at 73.  While she cannot be officially known as a Queen, King Charles’ wife Camilla can be known as the Queen consort; something Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth had expressed a desire as such.

No matter what the occasion or what protocol demanded, King Charles would always address the Queen as “mummy”.

During her reign, beginning with Winston Churchill a total of 15 different Prime Ministers have led the United Kingdom; the newest of which Liz Truss spoke on the Queen saying she was, “the rock on which modern Britain was built.  We are now a modern, thriving, dynamic nation.  Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.

She added, “she was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure.  God save the king.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “this is our country’s saddest day.”  For many British citizens, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is the only monarch they have ever known.

When she became Queen on February 6, 1952, at the age of 26, after the death of her father King George, the United Kingdom was still recovering from the Second World War.   Things like mobile phones, the internet, and space travel were still a part of the fertile imaginations of science fiction writers and filmmakers.

Even before she took the crown she promised British citizens that how ever long her life would be, it would be dedicated to the service of her country.

She was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21, 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York.  Originally not destined to be Queen, the abdication of her Uncle Edward so that he could marry the twice divorced American Wallis Simpson; leaving her father George to become King George VI.

The first glimpse of how the future Queen would one day rule the realm, a 14 year old Elizabeth made her first public appearance via a radio broadcast  during World War II saying, we children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage.  We are trying to do all we can to help out gallant soldiers, sailors and airmen. And we are trying, too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.”  And help she did as a Second Subaltern where she learned to drive and service heavy vehicles.

And on May 8, 1945; she and sister Princess Margaret danced in the streets of London in celebration unnoticed.

She married Royal Naval officer Phillip Mountbatten on November 20 of 1947 and for a time was a Navy wife and mother.  But while on a trip to Kenya, her father King George VI died at the age of 56, leaving a young Elizabeth to follow in his footsteps at the age of 26.

During her time as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher was known as the “Iron Lady” but, seeing the Royal family through a variety of trials, tribulations, scandals, and tragedy; Queen Elizabeth’s stoicism was truly that of an “Iron Lady”.

While the world seldom saw any emotional or lighter side to the Queen, she showed that she did know how to have a little fun when she appeared to parachute into the stadium as a part of the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics and most recently having a spot of tea with Paddington Bear where she revealed she kept some marmalade sandwiches in her ever present purse.

Predeceased. By her husband of over 70 years, Prince Philip, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is survived by her children – King Charles, Princess Ann, Prince Edward, and Prince Andrew; eight grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren.

Jazzman Joey DeFrancesco Dies

Jazz musician and Hammond B-3 organ player Joey DeFrancesco died suddenly on August 25 at the age of 51.  No official cause of death was given but he was scheduled to perform on stage at the Lewiston Jazz Festival in the western New York community on Saturday, August 27.

He was just 17 years old when he released his debut album and has recorded over two dozen albums since.  But even at that young age, his technical prowess on the organ was clear.  While best known for his organ playing DeFrancesco also plays the tenor saxophone and trumpet; as well as, sings.  In 2013 he was inducted into the Hammond Hall of Fame.

Over the years he has shared the studio and stage with numerous artists including Miles Davis – whom he played while still a teen – Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, James Moody, John Scofield, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Cobb, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, David Sanborn, Christian McBride, Illinois Jacquet, George Coleman, Houston Person, and Pharoah Sanders.

Joseph DeFrancesco was destined to play music.  He was born on April 10, 1971 in Springfield, Pennsylvania; the son and grandson of musicians.  His brother is also a musician.  By age four he had traded in his Schroeder piano for his father”s organ and by age 10 he had made his professional debut.

DeFrancesco is survived by his wife and manager Gloria, father John, and daughter Ashely Blue.



Joey DeFrancesco discography:
“All of Me”
“Where Were You”
“Part III”
“Reboppin’”
“Live at the Five Spot”
“All About My Girl”
“Relentless”
“It’s About Time”
“The Street of Dreams”
“All in the Family”
“All or Nothing at All”
“The Champ”
“Goodfellas”
“Incredible!”
“The Champ: Round 2”
“Hip Cake Walk”
“Singin’ and Swingin’”
“The Philadelphia Connection: A Tribute to Don Patterson”
“No Greater Thrill”
“Falling in Love Again”
“New Generation: Paesonos on the New B3”
“Plays Sinatra His Way”
“Legacy”
“One Take, Vol 1”
“Organic Vibes”
“Diggin’ In”
“live: The Authorized Bootleg”
“Baddest B-3 Burner in the Business”
“Joey D!”
“Estate”
“Finger Poppin: Celebrating the Music of Horace Silver”
“Snapshot”
“Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson”
“One Take, Vol. 4”
“40”
“Wonderful! Wonderful!”
“One for Rudy”
“Enjoy the View”
“Trip Mode”
“Steppin’ Up”
“Project Freedom”
“You’re Driving Me Crazy”
“In the Key of the Universe”
“More Music”
“Home for the Holidays”
“Walt Sopicki Trios: B3x3”
“Back to the Bridge”

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Olivia Newton-John Dies

After battling cancer for many years ward winning performer Olivia Newton-John died August 8, 2022 at her Southern California ranch at the age of 73.

After a diagnosis of breast cancer in 1992, she became a big advocate for cancer research; even forming her own foundation to aid in finding a cure.  After beating the disease, it returned in 2017.

Although she has appeared in a number of music videos, Newton-John broke onto the scene and became a household name in 1978 when at the age of 29 she took on the role of Sandy playing opposite heart-throb John Travolta in the high school themed musical “Grease”.  One of tHe highest grossing musicals of all time, the soundtrack went on to be certified eight times platinum for selling eight million copies.

Her music albums topped charts all over the world and topped 100 million in sales.  She has won four Grammy’s.  Both of her “Greatest Hits” albums; along with the albums “Physical” and the soundtrack for “Xanadu” have all been certified double platinum in an age when only actual physical sales were counted.

Along with her Grammy Awards, she is an Officer of the Order Australia and was Knighted in 2020 – women are called Dame.  She was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2002 ARIA Awards (Australian Grammy’s).

While she is best known for her appearance in “Grease”, Olivia Newton-John appeared in dozens of productions including “Xanadu”, “Two of a Kind”, “A Christmas Romance”, “Snowy River: The McGregor Saga”, “Murphy Brown”, “ Sordid Lives: The Series”, and numerous music videos.  Her music appears in over 150 productions.

She was born on September 26, 1948 in Cambridge, England; the youngest of three children to a former MI5 agent and college professor.  The family moved to Melbourne, Australia when young Olivia was just six years old.  Olivia was just 14 when she formed her first group with some school mates call Sol Four. Local television appearances followed including a talent contest in which she won a trip to England.  It was while she was in England that Newton-John recorded her first single – “’Til You Say You’ll Be Mine”.  She released her debut album “If Not For You” in 1971.

She is survived by her second husband John Easterling, daughter Chloe Rose, siblings Sarah and Toby, and many nieces and nephews.

feature photo credit: Olivia Newton-John at Viña 2017 (1).png

Voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully Dies

For over 60 years his was the voice Dodgers’ fans heard on television and radio broadcasts.  On August 2, 2022 Vin Scully died in his Los Angeles home at the age of 94.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Keyshawn summed up Scully when he said, “he was the best there ever was.  Just such a special man. I’m grateful and thankful I got to know him as well as I did.”

Scully began his legendary Hall of Fame career when the team was still in New York as the Brooklyn Dodgers. At 67 years in front of the microphone, he holds the record for the longest career with a single team in any professional sport.  And no matter where he was broadcasting a game, it always began with, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”

And while it common today for a broadcast to have two, three, and even four people who seem to spend as much time discussing opinions and personal matters as much as the game itself; Vin Scully worked alone and was always ready with a story about the players and their accomplishments, even as his career began to wind down well into his eighties.

MLB. Commissioner Bob Manfred spoke on Scully saying, “today, we mourn the loss of a legend in our game. Vin was an extraordinary man whose gift for broadcasting brought joy to generations of Dodger fans. In addition, his voice played a memorable role in some of the greatest moments in the history of our sport. I am proud that Vin was synonymous with Baseball because he embodied the very best of our National Pastime. As great as he was as a broadcaster, he was equally great as a person.

Dodgers manager Dave Robert’s added, “there’s not a better storyteller and I think everyone considers him family.  He was in our living rooms for many generations. He lived a fantastic life, a legacy that will live on forever.”

He was born  in ent Edward Scully on November 29, 1927 in the Bronx, New York.   After the death of his father when young Vincent was just seven years old, the family moved to the burrough of Brooklyn.  While he grew up playing stickball, it was the family radio and the college football and Dodger baseball broadcasts that captured his attention and had him dreaming of calling games.

That dream became a reality while Scully was at Fordham University where he would call the football, basketball, and baseball games from the university’s radio station.

His first professional broadcasting job came when he was just 22 in a job with the local CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.  that led to a job broadcasting the games for the Brooklyn Dodgers with Red Barber and Connie Desmond.  At 25, Vin Scully became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game – a mark that has never been broken.

When the Dodgers moved west in 1958, Scully came right along with them.  During his storied career Scully has seen and broadcast some history making moments including four perfect games, 21 no hitters, six Dodger championships, Don Drysdale’s scoreless streak of 58 2/3 in game and again when Orel Hershiser broke it 20 years later, and Hank Aaron’s record setting home run.  Calling the game, Scully said, “a Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.  What a marvelous moment for baseball.”

While working at NBC, Scully called football games and PGA tournaments.  He has also called a total of 25 World Series games and 12 MLB All Star games.

In broadcasting dead air is a major taboo, but Scully would often describe a big play as quickly as he could so the fans listening could get a feel for what was happening at the stadium.  When Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game in 1965, Scully was silent for 38 seconds and it happened again when Kirk Gibson hit a game winning pinch hit home run in game one of the 1988 World Series.

A private man who usually disappeared during the off season, Scully lent his talents, usually as an announcer, in a handful of film and television productions including an episode of “Mister Ed”, “The Fugitive”, as the narrator on “Occasional Wife”, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”,”Highway to Heaven”,and “The X-Files”.

There are thousands of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame including one for Vin Scully, but the Baseball Hall of Fame member also has the Dodgers Stadium press box named for him; as well as, the road leading up to Dodgers Stadium.  And President Barack Obama presented Scully with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  His other Honours include, the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award from the National Radio Hall of Fame, a four-time winner of the National Sportscaster of the Year honour, and is an inductee of the American Sportscasters Association and the Sports Broadcasting Halls of Fame.

Predeceased by his first wife Joan, his second wife Sandra, and a son Michael; Vin Scully is survived by his children Catherine, Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin.

feature photo credit: Vin Scully.jpg

Speedway Motorsports Owner Bruton Smith Dies

He was as much a part of NASCAR as founder Bill France Sr.  On June 22, 2022 Speedway Motorsports founder Bruton Smith died at the age of 95.

At the age of 88, it was revealed that Smith had been dealing with a bout of non-Hodgkin‘s lymphoma.  Later that year it was announced that he had beaten the disease and was cancer free.

Smith’s Speedway Motorsports owned eleven of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit featuring 15 races – four of which help to comprise the 10 playoff races for the Cup Series championship.  Along with Nashville Superspeedway – where the drivers will be racing this weekend – Smith owns Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dover Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

In 2016, Smith was among the class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The youngest of nine children, Ollen Bruton Smith was born on a farm in Oakboro, North Carolina on March 2,1927.  A depression era baby, Smith noted they had food, a place to live, and clothes on their back but he wanted much more than to just a simple farmer.  He traded the tractor in for a racing car once he reached his teens.

In the 50’s, he turned his hand to promoting instead of driving.  In 1954 he brought the first national modified championship race to Charlotte Speedway.

It all began in 1959 when Smith and Curtis Turner began construction on a mile and a half track in Charlotte.  Charlotte Motor Speedway began the journey to vein one of the Crown Jewels of racing when Smith took sole ownership in 1975 and began a series of massive upgrades that included lights, more seating, a Speedway Club for dining, and condominiums that overlook the action on the track.  While Daytona had been running a night race for years as a part of the 24 hour endurance race, CMS became the first track of its size to hold a race at night.  

CMS hosts the longest race on the NASCAR circuit at 600 miles.  The winner of the race wins a trophy that carries Bruton Smith’s name.

While giant video screens are the norm, including several of Smith’s tracks; it was CMS who got the first one with a 16,000-square-foot HDTV.  When it was built in 2011, it was the largest HDTV in the world.

Charlotte Motor Speedway has been host to 34 of the 38 All Star Races.

Smith has since made similar upgrades at his other tracks including even bigger video screens for fans to watch the action on the track.  Even some of the drivers can get a glimpse of the action as the drive around the track.

Automotive dealerships go hand in hand with auto racing.  Along with all of his tracks and Speedway Motorsports, Bruton Smith founded Sonic Automotive – an auto dealership with more than 100 dealerships in 13 states.

Today it is an integral part of NASCAR and activities at the tracks; in 1982, Smith formed Speedway Children’s Charities to aid charities around the country.  To date they have contributed over $60 million.

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’24’ President Logan; Gregory Itzin Dies

Actor Gregory Itzin died July 8 as a result of complications from surgery at the age of 74.

In 2015 Itzin suffered a “major heart attack” but later returned to perform on stage and screen.

While he may be best known for his role as President Charles Logan on the television series “24”, he often played authority figures from politicians to military leaders.

He only appeared in two productions on. Broadway – “Enron” and “The Kentucky Cycle” but also performed in other productions including the one man show “Shipwrecked”.

He was born on April 20, 1948 in Washington, D.C. but was raised in Burlington, Wisconsin where his father became the mayor.  While best known for his screen roles, Itzin had a love of the stage where his performances earned him theatrical nominations.  He also lent his voice to radio plays.

Itzin made his screen debut in 1979 in an uncredited role in the very episode of “White House Tour Guide”.  His first credited role came that very same year in the Mini Series “Backstairs at the White House”.  From there he went on to appear in nearly 200 productions including a religious zealot in “Airplane”, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “The Ides of March”, and “Lincoln”.

On the small screen Itzin’s appearances include an episode of the original “MacGyver”, the Principal in an episode of “21 Jump Street”, “The Nut House”, “Matlock”, “Quantum Leap”, “Something Wilder”, “Murder One”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Strip Mall”, “The Practice”, “24”, “Covert Affairs”, “NCIS”, and “Star Trek: Enterprise”.

Itzen is survived by his wife of 43 years Judie, children Wilke and Julia, grandson Wylder, sister Pamela, nieces and nephews.

feature photo credit: Gregory-itzin.jpg

Lt Uhura – Nichelle Nichols Dies

For millions of “Star Trek” fans she was Uhura the Communications officer on the USS Enterprise.  Known as Nichelle Nichols, the lady who was an actress and activist died July 30, 2022 in Silver City, New Mexico at the age of 89. 

In announcing her death as a result of natural causes, her son Kyle Johnson said, “her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,”

When Gene Roddenberry first envisioned “Star Trek” he saw it with a diverse group of characters.  A cast that not only broke a number of barriers; but also, ruffled a number of Hollywood executive feathers.  In 1966, character roles were very much a stereotype that did not include people of color in major or non traditional roles or women in positions of power.

Nichols helped to break all of that.  Roddenberry lost the battle of a female in command but he won the battle to keep the two most iconic characters in the franchise – the alien unemotional science officer and the female communications officer of African descent.

And in Plato’s Stepchildren” in what would be the final season of the original “Star Trek” series Nichols as Uhura and William Shatner as Captain James Kirk performed what is believed to be the first interracial kiss on television.

After the first season, she was going to leave the show but a meeting with Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King not only changed Nichols mind; but also, helped to shape the future of “Star Trek”.  Nichols said that King told her, “You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed the minds of people.”

Kate Mulgrew, who became the first female captain in the franchise on  “Star Trek: Voyager” spoke on Nichols via Twitter saying, “Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again.”

After leaving the Enterprise, Nichols joined what fans hope to be a predecessor of Starfleet Command – NASA – what’re worked as a recruiter to help diversify that crew as well.

One of 10 children, she was born Grace Dell Nichole’s on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois.  But she hated being called Gracie and as a teen she chose the name Nichelle.

While best known as an actress, Nichols got her professional start as a singer and dancer – skills she displayed on a few episodes of “Star Trek”.  Before moving to Hollywood, she spent time in New York working with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

While best known for her work on the “Star Trek” franchise, Nichols has appeared in nearly 70 different productions beginning in 1959 in an uncredited role as a dancer in “Porgy and Bess”. 

Her other roles include “The Lieutenant”, “Tarzan”, “The D.A.”, “Antony and Cleopatra”, “Inside Space”, ”Gargoyles”, “Futurama”, “The Simpsons”, “Heroes”, ad the daytime drama “The young and the Restless”.

She was a regular at “Star Trek” conventions up until 2018 and a diagnosis of dementia.

With the death of Nicholas, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and William Shatner are the only remaining members of the original “Star Trek” series.  DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, and Leonard animosity have all passed on.

Married and divorced twice, Nichols is survived by her only son Kyle.

feature photo credit: Nichelle Nichols, NASA Recruiter – GPN-2004-00017.jpg

Wally, from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ Dies

After an original false report, actor Tony Dow died July 27, 2022 at the age of 77. While no official cause was given, Dow was under hospice care and was being treated for cancer.

 

While he appeared in a number productions, Dow was best known as big brother Wally on the television sitcom “Leave it to Beaver”.

 

TV brother Jerry Mathers – Beaver – spoke on Dow saying, “Tony was not only my brother on TV, but in many ways in life as well. He leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled.    

Tony was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, and it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with him for 65 years.”

 

With the death of Dow, Mathers and Rusty Stevens – Larry Mondello – are the only original cast members still alive.

 

He made his acting debut on “Leave it to Beaver” in 1957 at the age of 12.  He went on to appear in over three dozen productions including an episode of the daytime drama “General Hospital”, “My Three Sons”, “Mr. Novak”,”Never too Young”, “Lassie”, “Adam-12”, “Mod Squad”, “Emergency”, “Knight Rider”, “The New Leave it to Beaver”, and his final appearance in “Suspense”.

 

Dow made his directorial debut in 1988 on the rebooted “Leave it to Beaver” series where he directed five episodes.  From there he went on to direct in over a dozen productions including “Harry and the Henderson”, “Coach”, “Babylon 5”, and and episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.

 

He was born Tony Lee Dow on April 13, 1945 in Hollywood.  A native of Hollywood, Dow followed in the family business.  His mother was a stuntwoman who served at the double for silent film star Clara Bow.  During the 1960’s Dow spent three years as a member of the U.S. National Guard.

 

Long before it was deemed an acceptable practice, Dow spoke openly of his clinical depression and even made a number “self help” videos.

 

In recent years Dow had turned his hand to another artistic form – sculpting.  In 2008 one of his bronze sculptures was on display at The Louie in Paris as a part of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

 

Dow is survived by his wife of over 40 years Lauren, brother Dion, son Christopher and daughter-in-law Melissa.

feature photo credit: Tony Dow 1958.jpg

‘24’ President, Gregory Itzin Dies

Actor Gregory Itzin died July 8 as a result of complications from surgery at the age of 74.

 

In 2015 Itzin suffered a “major heart attack” but later returned to perform on stage and screen.

 

While he may be best known for his role as President Charles Logan on the television series “24”, he often played authority figures from politicians to military leaders.

 

He only appeared in two productions on. Broadway – “Enron” and “The Kentucky Cycle” but also performed in other productions including the one man show “Shipwrecked”.

He was born on April 20, 1948 in Washington, D.C. but was raised in Burlington, Wisconsin where his father became the mayor.  While best known for his screen roles, Itzin had a love of the stage where his performances earned him theatrical nominations.  He also lent his voice to radio plays.

Itzin made his screen debut in 1979 in an uncredited role in the very episode of “White House Tour Guide”.  His first credited role came that very same year in the Mini Series “Backstairs at the White House”.  From there he went on to appear in nearly 200 productions including a religious zealot in “Airplane”, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “The Ides of March”, and “Lincoln”.

On the small screen Itzin’s appearances include an episode of the original “MacGyver”, the Principal in an episode of “21 Jump Street”, “The Nut House”, “Matlock”, “Quantum Leap”, “Something Wilder”, “Murder One”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Strip Mall”, “The Practice”, “24”, “Covert Affairs”, “NCIS”, and “Star Trek: Enterprise”.

Itzen is survived by his wife of 43 years Judie, children Wilke and Julia, grandson Wylder, sister Pamela, nieces and nephews.

 

Featur photo credit, Wikipedia Commons

Speedway Motorsports’ Bruton Smith Dies

He was as much a part of NASCAR as founder Bill France Sr.  On June 22, 2022 Speedway Motorsports founder Bruton Smith died at the age of 95.

At the age of 88, it was revealed that Smith had been dealing with a bout of non-Hodgkin‘s lymphoma.  Later that year it was announced that he had beaten the disease and was cancer free.

Smith’s Speedway Motorsports owned eleven of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit featuring 15 races – four of which help to comprise the 10 playoff races for the Cup Series championship.  Along with Nashville Superspeedway – where the drivers will be racing this weekend – Smith owns Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dover Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

In 2016, Smith was among the class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The youngest of nine children, Ollen Bruton Smith was born on a farm in Oakboro, North Carolina on March 2,1927.  A depression era baby, Smith noted they had food, a place to live, and clothes on their back but he wanted much more than to just a simple farmer.  He traded the tractor in for a racing car once he reached his teens.

In the 50’s, he turned his hand to promoting instead of driving.  In 1954 he brought the first national modified championship race to Charlotte Speedway.

It all began in 1959 when Smith and Curtis Turner began construction on a mile and a half track in Charlotte.  Charlotte Motor Speedway began the journey to vein one of the Crown Jewels of racing when Smith took sole ownership in 1975 and began a series of massive upgrades that included lights, more seating, a Speedway Club for dining, and condominiums that overlook the action on the track.  While Daytona had been running a night race for years as a part of the 24 hour endurance race, CMS became the first track of its size to hold a race at night.  

CMS hosts the longest race on the NASCAR circuit at 600 miles.  The winner of the race wins a trophy that carries Bruton Smith’s name.

While giant video screens are the norm, including several of Smith’s tracks; it was CMS who got the first one with a 16,000-square-foot HDTV.  When it was built in 2011, it was the largest HDTV in the world.

Charlotte Motor Speedway has been host to 34 of the 38 All Star Races.

Smith has since made similar upgrades at his other tracks including even bigger video screens for fans to watch the action on the track.  Even some of the drivers can get a glimpse of the action as the drive around the track.

Automotive dealerships go hand in hand with auto racing.  Along with all of his tracks and Speedway Motorsports, Bruton Smith founded Sonic Automotive – an auto dealership with more than 100 dealerships in 13 states.

Today it is an integral part of NASCAR and activities at the tracks; in 1982, Smith formed Speedway Children’s Charities to aid charities around the country.  To date they have contributed over $60 million.

Smith’s son Marcus is continuing the family legacy as the current president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports.

Smith is survived by sons Marcus, Scott, and David.

feature photo credit: 2018 Drive for the Cure 200 from turn 1.jpeg

Ray Liotta Dies

Stage and film actor Ray Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic at the age of 67 on May 26, 2022. He was working on a film at the time of his death.

Raymond was born on December 18, 1954 in Newark, New Jersey and was adopted from an orphanage when he was six months old by Mary and Alfred Liotta. While he played sports in high school, it was a decision made on a lark that would define his future – a drama teacher asked him to perform in a play.

After graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama, Ray moved to New York City where his first gig was not on the stage but behind a bar. He made his acting debut in 1980 in the made for TV movie “Hardhat and Legs” before spending 36 episodes on the daytime drama “Another World”.

It was thE film “Something Wild” that put Liotta on the Hollywood map and earned him over 100 roles throughout his career that included Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams”. His other roles include an episode of “St. Elsewhere”, “Article 99”, “Unlawful Entry”, “No Escape”, “Muppets from Space”, “Hannibal”, “Blow”, “Smith”, “Bee Movie”, the principal in “Hannah Montana”, “Muppets Most Wanted”, an episode of “The Simpson”, “Shades of Blue”, “Marriage Story”, and perhaps his biggest role in “Goodfellas”.

His lone Broadway role came in 2004 with “Match” playing opposite Frank Langella.

Married and divorced, Liotta is survived by his fiancée Jacy Nittolo and daughter Karsyn.

feature photo credit: [[File:Ray Liotta Cannes 2012.jpg|Ray_Liotta_Cannes_2012]]

Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher Dies

The synth pop group Depeche Mode has lost one of its founding members; keyboard player Andy Fletcher died May 26, 2022 at the age of 60. The band reports that Fletcher died of natural causes in his United Kingdom home.

In revealing the news, the band posted on social media saying, “we are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher,” the band’s posts said.  Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint.”

Fletcher formed Depeche Mode in 1980 along with Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, and Dave Gahan in his hometown of Basildon, England.

Fletch, as he was known, kept a low profile saying,  “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.”

Fletcher is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; inducted in 2020 along with his band mates form Depeche Mode.

Martin Gore, and Dave Gahan are the only original members of the band who are still alive.

He was born Andrew John Fletcher on July 8, 1961 in Basildon, England.

Along with his two surviving band mates, Fletcher is survived by his wife Gráinne and two children Meghan and Joseph

‘Chariots of Fire’ Composer Vangelis Dies

Film composer Vangelis died May 17, 2022 in a French hospital at the age of 79.  The official cause of death was not revealed.

While he has composed music for dozens of productions, he is best known for the award winning soundtrack “Chariots of Fire”.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called it “sad news for the entire world.”

“Chariots of Fire” may have put Vangelis on the map, but his professional music career began nearly two decades earlier with a Greek pop band.

Vangelis was fascinated by space and space exploration and wrote music that reflected that love including for NASA and the European Space Agency.  He loved the stars but never sought stardom of his own; however, there is a micro planet rotating in space somewhere between Mars and Jupiter that bears his name – Vangelis 6354.

He as born Evangelos Odysseus Papthanassiou on March 29, 1943 in Volos, Greece where he began playing the piano when he was just four years old.  Vangelis once noted that while they teach composition and orchestration in music schools; the one thing they don’t teach is creation.

A 20 year old Vangelis joined up with some mates to create the band Forminx but after the band broke up, he turned his hand to composing soundtracks for Greek films.  Next came the Aphrodite’s Child.  After the breakup of Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis again turned to being a solo artist.  He even joined up with Jon Anderson of Yes for some hit songs.  Then came “Chariots of Fire” in 1981 and launched Vangelis into the stardom he never sought.

He was known for recording his music in a single take; saying “when I compose, I perform the music at the same time, so everything is live, nothing is pre-programmed.”

Calling him a genius, Decca Records spoke on Vangelis saying, “Vangelis created music of extraordinary originality and power, and provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives.  Decca had the pleasure of partnering with Vangelis and his team for his past three albums and we will miss him enormously. His music will live on forever.”

A true artist, Vangelis painted every day and composed music every day.

Vangelis’ music has been heard on some 200 productions including “Death of a Princess”, “Cosmos” with Carl Sagan, “Missing”, “WKRP in Cincinnati”, “Blade Runner”, “Donna Summer: A Hot Summer Night”, “Magnum, P.I.” with Tom Selleck, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Single White Female”, “The Simpsons”, “Married…with Children”, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, “Jon Anderson: Tour of the Universe”, “Fringe”, “Stranger Things”, and numerous television episodes that featured a clip from “Chariots of Fire”.

His compositions include the 2002 FIFA World Cup Anthem, “Chariots of Fire”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, “Jacques Cousteau: Rediscover the World II”, “Dancing for Oliver”, “Sermon”, and “Beyond the Sermon”.

No list of survivors was given.

feature photo credit: VangelisElGrecopremiere (cropped).jpg

Actress Jassaro Jinaro Dies

Brazilian born actress Jossara Jinaro died April 27, 2022 as a result of cancer at the age of 48.  Her husband Matt Bogado said that she was surrounded by family at the time of her death.  He added, “Jossara was an amazing wife, mother, artist, and friend. She had the most beautiful, kind soul and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Even in her last moments, she was still fighting.”

She made her television debut in 1998 in “Reyes y Rey”.  From there she went on to appear in over 50 productions including “Tales from the East Side”, “Viva Vegas!”, “Judging Amy” where she played Courtney Messina – the daughter of Cheech Marin’s character, “American Family”, an episode of “ER”, “Without a Trace”, an episode of the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless”, “The Closer”, the daytime drama “Passions”, “Doctor Who: Alternate Empire”, “East Los High”, “I Am the (…)”, and her final role in “Nancy Hernandez & the Black Widows”.  “She will appear in “10 Tricks” as will which is currently in post-production.

Jinaro also lent her voice to over two dozen productions including “Happy Feet”, “From Mexico with Love”, “Little Fockers”, “A Gifted Man”, “Luck”, “Coco”, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, “The Romanoffs”, “Runaways”, and “Better Things”.  “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is currently in post-production.

She was born May 25, 1973 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but was raised in Columbia after her mother married a diplomat.  While she loved to watch movies as a small child, it was the dance floor that first sparked her interest.  She began taking dance lessons when she was just five years old.  Her first stage performance came when she was eight years old.

Guerrillas kidnapped her step-father in Columbia and once he was released, the family left Columbia in search of a safer home and settled in the United States.

Now fluent in English, Jassaro left home at 16 to pursue her dream of being an entertainer.  Her first job was playing Janet Jackson at the Old Indiana Fun Park earned her a spot in a BFA musical theatre program where she graduated at the top of her class.

She returned to Columbia in 2009 to appear in the Novela “La Bella Ceci y El Imprudente”.

A multi-talented individual, Jassaro also plays the guitar and clarinet.

Jinaro is survived by her husband Matt and children Liam and Emrys.

Naomi Judd Dies

Just over two weeks ago making an appearance at the annual Country Music Television Awards, Naomi and Wynona Judd announced a Judds farewell tour set to begin this fall.  On April 30, the family has announced that matriarch Naomi has died at the age of 76 near Nashville, Tennessee.  In a release issued by daughters Wynona and Ashely, mental illness was listed as the cause of death.

While no further details on the death were given, Judd was open about her struggles with severe depression and anxiety.

Naomi formed the Country music duo The Judds with daughter Wynona – daughter Ashely is an actress – in the eighties.  Over the next 10 years the duo had 20 top 10 hits –14 of which reached number one, five Grammy Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, nine Country Music Association Awards, and sold over 20 million albums.  In 1994 The Judds, Travis Tritt, Clint Black, and Tanya Tucker performed the halftime show for the Super Bowl.  The Judds had just been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame last week.

A diagnosis of Hepatitis C – unknowingly contracted while she was working as a nurse – for Naomi brought a halt to the recording and live performances on a regular basis; however, there were a number of one off appearances over the years.  Having recently come back together after over 20 years, The Judds gave a moving performance during the concert filled CMT Awards only a few weeks ago.  What started out as a celebration of music has turned into the duo’s final performance.

She was born Diana Ellen Judd on January 11, 1946 in Ashland, Kentucky.  She was the single mother of two and a nurse when Naomi and daughter Wynona formed the hit making Country duo The Judds.

While best known for her singing with daughter Wynona, Naomi also dabbled in acting like daughter Ashley.  Naomi made her acting debut in 1979 as a girl on the bus in “More American Graffiti”.  She also made appearances in “Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr Story”, “Rio Diablo”, “Sisters”, an episode of “The Client”, an episode of “3rd Rock form the Sun”, the voice of an understanding angel in the “Littlest Angel’s Easter”, “Family Tree”, “A Holiday Romance”, “Touched by an Angel”, “Someone Like You”, “Maybe It’s Me”, “Frasier”, “Higglytown Heroes”, “The Killing Game”, “Nearlyweds”, “Window Wonderland”, “An Evergreen Christmas”, and her final television appearance in 2021 as Catherine Landry in “V.C. Andrews’ Landry Family”.

Naomi is survived by her second husband Larry – the two had been married for 32 years, daughters Wynona and Ashley, and grandchildren Grace and Elijah.

feature photo credit: Naomi Judd AHA.jpg

Tony Winner Robert Morse Dies

Tony Award winning actor Robert Morse died April 20, 2022 in his Los Angeles home after a brief illness at the age of 90.

Morse loved acting and considered himself a down to earth guy who loved going to Costco.

Making his Broadway debut in 1955, Morse appeared in eight productions beginning with “The Matchmaker”.  He also appeared in “Say, Darling”, “Take Me Along”, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, “Sugar”, “So Long, 174th Street”, “Tru”, and “The Front Page”.

In Hollywood, Morse appeared in 75 film and television productions including the film productions of “The Matchmaker” and “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” after appearing the productions on Broadway.  His other appearances include “Naked City”, “That’s Life”, “Alias, Smith, and Jones”, “Love, American Style”, as Harry the Bookie in two episodes of the daytime drama “All My Children”, as Dewey Hogg in an episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard”, several characters in “Pound Puppies”, “ProStars”, Grandpa in “Here Come the Munsters”, “City of Angles”, Bertram Cooper in “Mad Men”, “American Crime Story”, and his final role in “Teen Titan Go!”.

He was born Robert Xavier Morse on May 18, 1931 in Newton, Massachusetts.  He caught the acting bug while still in high school.  He followed his older brother Richard to New York, making his stage debut in 1949 with “On the Town”.

Morse is survived by his second wife Elizabeth and five children – Charlie, Robin, Andrea, Hilary, and Allyn.

feature photo credit: Internet Broadway Database head shot

Original Charlie Brown Actor Dies

When the Peanuts gang premiered on television in the 1960’s, they used real children to portray the characters.

The boy who voiced Charlie Brown, Peter Robbins, died this January as a result of suicide at the age of 65. Nor further details of the death were given.

Robbins had his issues with mental illness and had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. His illness even resulted in a jail sentence for stalking.

Robbins’ agent Dylan Novack reported that Robbins was “ in a bad head space” and had checked himself into a mental hospital shortly after Christmas, but checked himself out on January 18 and was found dead in the days following.

He was born Louis G. Nanasi on August 10, 1956 in Los Angeles, the son of Hungarian immigrants. He began acting when he was just seven years old and became the first person to put a voice to the dour balk headed Charlie Brown for the first four years of the “Peanuts” cartoon series; but was replaced once his voice began to change.

Robbins appeared in a little over two dozen productions including seven Charlie Brown productions, his 1963 debut in “A Ticklish Affair”, “Rawhide”, “The Munsters”, “The F.B.I.”, “F Troop”, “Good Times”, “Get Smart”, “Blondie”, and “My Three Sons”.

He retired from acting in 1972, while still in his teens. He worked as a disc jockey for a time, graduated from the University of California in San Diego with degrees in psychology and communications, and worked in real estate.

Robbins named his own dog Snoopy.

No list of survivors was given.

Feature photo credit: Peter Robbins Blondie 1968 (cropped).JPG

Singer Meat Loaf Dies

Rocker Meat Loaf died January 20, 2022 at the age of 74. While an official cause of death was not released, Meat Loaf has had a number of health issues in recent years. There have also been some reports that he may have died as a result of the Covid virus.

The award winning rocker only won one Grammy Award, but it was the one time he was nominated for the award. His album “Bat Out of Hell” has sold over 50 million copies around the world – 14 of them in the United States. The RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – has certified the album with a Diamond Award for selling at least 10 million copies in the U.S. Oddly enough when the album first came out and Meat Loaf began to tour in support of the album, he had to open for Cheap Trick.

His most successful album, it also went on to become a Broadway show.

The followup album “Bat Out of Hell II: Back in Hell” went on to sell 15 million copies around the world with five million of those in the U.S. The RIAA certified the album five times platinum.



He was born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947 in Dallas, Texas to a police officer alcoholic father and a school teacher mother. The couple divorced and was raised by his mother until her death when he was still a teen. He began performing while still in high school where he cited Mick Jagger and Ethel Merman as his favourites. It is at this time that a young Marvin took the name Meat Loaf. After college at what is now North Texas University, he headed for Los Angeles where he formed his first band while splitting time between music and the stage.

He also spent a little time on the Broadway stage appearing in “Hair”, “The Rocky Horror Show” where he originated the role of Eddie, and “Rockabye Hamlet”.

He is credited with appearing in over 100 productions as an actor including numerous music videos, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “The Equalizer”, “Wayne’s World”,

“Tales from the Crypt”, “Nash Bridges”, “South Park”, “Fight Club”, “The Outer Limits”, “House”, “Monk”, “Glee”, “Elementary”, and “Ghost Wars”.


His music has appeared in over 60 productions including “Saturday Night Live”, “Dead Ringer”, “Miami Vice”, “Leap of Faith”, “King of the Hill’, “That ’70’s Show”, “Cold Case”, numerous competition reality shows, and concerts.

Predeceased by songwriting partner Jim Steinmen, Meat Loaf is survived by his wife Deborah and children Pearl and Amanda.

Meat Loaf discography:
“Live at Father’s Place”
“Dead Ringer”
“Bat Out of Hell”
“Midnight at the Lost and Found”
“Bad Attitude”
“Blind Before I Stop”
“Live at Wembley”
“Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell”
“Welcome to the Neighborhood”
“Live”
“Live Around the World”
“Couldn’t Have Said it Better”
“Bat Out of Hell: Live with the Melbourne Symphony”
“Bat Out of Hell: III The Monster is Loose”
“3 Bats Live”
“Hang Cool Teddy Bear”
Hell in a Handbasket”
“Braver Than We Are”

feature photo credit: Meatloaf Q&A at Galaxycon Raleigh 2019 15.jpg

Singer Ronnie Spector Dies

Sixties pop star Ronnie Spector died January 12, 2022 as a result of cancer at the age of 78.  She was surrounded by her family at the time of her death.

The family issued a statement saying, “Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude.”

A member of The Ronettes, Spector provided the vocals for the girl group’s  hit songs including “Be My Baby”, “Baby I Love You”, “I Can Hear the Music”, and “Walking in the Rain”.  With the help of songwriter and producer Phil Spector, Known for their short skirts, beehive hair dos, and liberal use of eye makeup The Ronettes became one of the biggest names in the sixties.  They toured England with The Rolling Stones.

The Ronettes were Ronnie, sister Estelle, and cousin Nedra.

Born Veronica Bennett on August 10, 1943 in the Spanish Harlem area of New York City, Ronnie and her bandmates grew up in Washington Heights where they began performing in clubs as Ronnie and the Relatives.  They signed their first record deal with Phil Spector in 1963 and began singing backup for other groups before making it big on their own.  They released their debut album in 1964.  Though eligible in 1989, it wasn’t until 2007 that The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The Ronettes are also members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.



The lime light was short lived when the group broke up in 1967.

In 1968, Phil Spector made Ronnie his second wife but were divorced six years later.  The couple had three children together.  According to Ronnie, Phil kept her locked up inside their Hollywood mansion.

Ronnie Spector may have had a short musical career with The Ronettes, but her influence was felt for generations to come.  Amy Winehouse cited her as an idol, Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” in her honour, and The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson became obsessed with “Be My Baby”.

After divorcing Phil Spector, Ronnie returned to music as a  solo artist and performed with Eddie Money, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and Patti Smith.  She recorded her last album in 2016.

Ronnie is survived by her husband Jonathan Greenfield and children.

The family noted that Ronnie has requested in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund.

Ronnie Spector discography:
“The Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica”
“The Ronettes featuring Veronica”
“The Ronettes Greatest His – Volume 1”
“The Ronettes Greatest His – Volume 2”
“Unfinished Business”
“The Best of The Ronettes”
“She Talks to Rainbows”
“”Something’s Gonna Happen”
“The Last of the Rock Stars”
“Ronnie Spector’s Bust Christmas Ever!”
“Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes”
“The Very Best of Ronnie Spector”
“English Heart”

Recordings with Other Artists:
“A Christmas Gift for You”
“Murray The “K” at the Brooklyn Fox”
“Memories of The Cow Palace”
“Rainbow Bridge”
“Muscle of Love”
“I Don’t Wanna Go Home”
“Just One of the Guys”
“Can’t Hold Back”
“Dirty Dancing”
“Get Down Tonight: The Best of T.K. Records”
“Street Carols”
“Back to Mono”
“Blue Coral Reef”
“Tycoon”
“Canary Island”
“A Very Special Christmas 2”
“Brace Yourself”
“Adios Amigo”
“Atomic Swing”
“The Wizard of Oz in Concert Dreams Come True”
“It Takes II”
“Shakin’ with The Money”
“Project 1950”
“Pretty in Black”
“Avonmore”

feature photo credit: Ronnie Spector.jpg

Comedic Actor Bob Saget Dies

Actor Bob Saget died January 9, 2022 at the age of 65.  He was found in a Ritz Carlton hotel in Orlando.  The Orange County Sheriff’s department did not give a cause of death but did not suspect an foul play or drug use.

Saget was on a comedy tour at the time of his death.

Most recently Saget was best known for fans of the singing show “The Maked Singer” where he played the squiggly monster.  Prior to that he was the single father of three on “Full House” and later appeared in the sequel “Fuller House”.



photo credit: Bob Saget’s Facebook page

While best known for acting  on the screen, Saget appeared in two Broadway productions – the musical comedy “The Drowsy Chaperone” and the comedic play “Hand to God”

Appearing in over 60 productions, Saget made his film debut in 1980 as a therapy patient in the short “Devces”.  His first television appearance came the following year as Bob the Comic in the sitcom “Bosom Buddies”.  His other roles include “The Greatest American Hero”, “New Love, American Style”, “Quantum Leap”, “The Jeff Foxworthy Show”, “Raising Dad”, the voice of a Zoo Animval in “Madagascar”, “Law & Order”, “Surviving Suburbia”, “Entourage”, the narrator in “How I Met Your Mother”, and his final role last year in “Killing Daniel”.

As himself, Saget appeared in nearly 200 productions including talk shows, comedy shows, award shows, telethons, entertainment specials, late night talk shows, as host on “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, documentaries, game shows, and his own comedy special.


Robert Lane Saget was born on May 17, 1956 in Philadelphia where he later attended Temple University.  The family moved to Lexington, Virginia when Bob was just two years old.  He began acting in college where he won a Student Academy Award in 1977.

Predeceased by his sister Gay, Saget is survived by his second wife Kelly and children – Aubrey, Lara, and Jennifer.

Feature photo credit: Bob Saget, Behind The Velvet Rope TV 0.34.jpg

Lyricist Marilyn Bergman Dies

The year is only a week old and it is already proving to be a rough one for the entertainment world.

Lyricist Marilyn Bergman died January 8, 2022 in her Los Angeles home as a result of non-Covid related respiratory failure at the age of 93. Her husband of over 60 years was at her side at the time of her death.

Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980, the Bergman’s have hundreds of songwriting credits to their name. Over the years the Bergman’s have collaborated with numerous entertainers and songwriters including Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman, and Michel Legrand. Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Dean Martin, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Stephen Bishop, Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson are among the hundreds of artists who have performed their songs. Streisand recorded some 60 of the Bergman’s songs throughout her career.

Songs composed by Marilyn Bergman and her husband Alan could be heard on the radio, Broadway, in films, and as themes for television series. Bergman has penned lyrics for “In the Heat of the Night” – film and television series, “The Happy Ending”, “Bracken’s World”, “Funny Face”, “The Sandy Duncan Show”, “Harry and Walter Go to New York”, “The Nancy Walker Show”, “Sybil”, “Maude”, “Co-ed Fever”, “Good Time”, “Yentl”, “Alice”,”The Powers that Be”, “Brooklyn Bridge”, and “If You’re not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast”.

On Broadway, Marilyn Bergman is responsible for the lyrics from “Something More”, “Ballroom”, “Andre’ DeShields’ Haarlem Nocturne”, “Into the Woods”, “Street Corner Symphony”, and “Come Fly Away”.

They won their first of Academy Awards for the song “The Way We Were” from the movie by the same name. Marily and Alan Bergman have won a total of three Academy Awards, two Grammys, four Emmy Awards, and is the recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Johnny Mercer Award. Marilyn was also a bit of a trailblazer – she was the first female elected to ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) where she later served as a chair and was the first female to chair the National Recorded Sound Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

She was born Marilyn Katz to Jewish parents in Brooklyn on November 10, 1929. She studied psychology and English at New York University. Alan was born four years earlier in the same hospital and raised in the same neighbourhood, but it would be many years later before to two would meet when they worked for the same composer. They moved to Los Angeles in 1950 and were married in 1958.

Marilyn is survived by husband Alan and daughter Julie.

Some of the hundreds of lyrics penned by Marilyn Bergman include:
“Yellow Bird”
“Nice ‘n’ Easy”
“Any Wednesday”
“The Windmills of Your Mind”
Pieces of Dreams”
“Sugar in the Rain”
“What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”
“The Summer Knows” – theme from “Summer of ’42”
“Marmalade, Molasses and Honey”
“The Way We Were”
“Hello and Goodbye”
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”
“The Last Time I Felt Like This”
“It Might be You”
“How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”
“Never Say Never Again”
the music from “Yentl” including “Papa Can You Hear Me” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel”

feature photo credit: [[File:Alan and Marilyn Bergman.jpg|Alan_and_Marilyn_Bergman]]


Acting Pioneer Sidney Portier Dies

Some call him “Sir”; others call him “Mr. Tibbs”, but he is best known as pioneering actor Sidney Portier. 

Just over a month until his 95th birthday, Portier died January 7, 2022 in his Los Angeles home.

Winning an Academy Award in 1964 for his role in “Lilies of the Field”, Portier became the first man of colour to win the award in the leading role category.  He also crossed the colour line to become a box office draw.

Noting that he was the lone guy in town, Portier once said, “I made films when the only other Black on the lot was the shoeshine boy.”

Along with his 1964 Oscar, Portier has received the  Presidential Medal of Freedom  from President Barack Obama, an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement award, a Grammy Award in the Spoken Word category for his book “Measure of a Man”, an honourary Knight Commander of the British Empire, the Chaplin Lifetime Achievement Award, and a second Academy Award – a special award in 2002.

Refusing to take on roles like cowards, Portier said that he would not play any role that did not put a positive light on his father – a Bahamian tomato farmer. 

But it was not always smooth sailing; he had to face racism from one side – even being followed around by the KKK and chants of compromise (an Uncle Tom and a “million-dollar shoeshine boy) by his own community.  In his memoir “The Measure of a Man”, he wrote, “all those who see unworthiness when they look at me and are given thereby to denying me value — to you I say, ‘I’m not talking about being as good as you. I hereby declare myself better than you.”

His memoir wasn’t the only place, Portier was quit with a sharp tongue.  Frequently asked about race and racism, snapped at a journalist during a press conference in 1967 saying, “I am an artist, man, American, contemporary. I am an awful lot of things, so I wish you would pay me the respect due.”

Not a political activist, Portier was not adverse to standing up for his own civil rights or participating in the March on Washington in 1963.  During the “red scare” during the ‘50’s he refused to sign a loyalty card.

When roles became more political, Portier turned to directing and producing.  Portier directed the films “Ghost Dad”, “Fast Forward”, “Hanky Panky”, “Stir Crazy, “A Piece of the Action”, “Uptown Saturday Night”, “A Warm December”, and “Buck and the Preacher”.   As a producer he was a part of “Free of Eden”, “Summer Knowledge”, “Buck and the Preacher”, and “Brother John”.

He was born two month premature on February 20, 1927 in Miami, Florida while on a trip selling tomatoes.  He was raised in the Bahamas on Cat Island.  He returned to Miami at age 15.  Overwhelmed by a New York winter after a move to Harlem, he joined the U.S. Army at age 16 – he lied about his age, swearing that he was 18 – where he put to work in a mental hospital.  Oddly enough, it was faking a mental illness that got him out of the Army and back to Harlem where he found a job with the American Negro Theater…as a janitor in exchange for acting lessons.  When a young Harry Belafonte could not appear for a role, Portier stood in.

After some understudy and smaller roles, he made his screen debut in 1947 in an uncredited role in “Sepia Cinderella”.  He went on to appear in a little over 50 roles including “No Way Out”, “The Defiant Ones”, the 1959 edition of “Porgy and Bess”, “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Lilies in the Field”, “A Patch of Blue”, “To Sir, with Love”, “In the Heat of the Night”, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, “They Call Me Mr. Tibbs”, “Uptown Saturday Night”, “Separate but Equal”, “Sneakers”, “The Jackal”, and his final role in 2001 as Henry Cobb in the made for TV movie “The Las Birckmaker in America”.

Predeceased by daughter Gina Portier-Gouraige, Portier is survived by his second wife of over 40 year Joanna, five daughters – Judith, Pamela, Sherri, Anika, and Sydney -, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

feature photo credit: Photograph Sidney Portier speaking at St. Sabina (14563113787).jpg

Celtics Legend Sam Jones Dies

Former Boston Celtic and Basketball Hall of Famer Sam Jones died December 30, 2021 in Florida after being hospitalized for what is being termed “failing health”.  He was 88.

Known as “Mr. Clutch”, Jones helped the Celtics to a dynasty.  Jones was on 10 NBA title winning teams.

In a statement released by the Celtics, they called Jones, “one of the most talented, versatile, and clutch shooters for the most successful and dominant teams in NBA history.”  Adding, “his “His scoring ability was so prolific, and his form so pure, that he earned the simple nickname, ‘The Shooter’.”

The Celtics retired Jones’ number 24 jersey in 1969…while he was still an active player.  Jones averaged 17.7 points per game over his 12 year career; and come post season time, that number went up to 18.9.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke on Jones saying, Jones was, “one of the most prolific champions in all of professional sports.”  Adding, “his selfless style, clutch performances and signature bank shot were hallmarks of an incredible career.  Sam was a beloved teammate and respected competitor who played the game with dignity and class.

In 1964, amidst Jim Crowe lases and racial strife, Jones joined Bill Russell, Tom “Satch” Sanders, K.C. Jones, and Willie Naulls as the first starting lineup featuring all men of colour; despite an unwritten law requiring at least one white player in the lineup.

At the time of his retirement in 1969, Jones had led the Celtics in scoring five times, was a five time All Star, held eleven Celtic records, and was the only player in the franchise to score over 50 points in a single game.  In 1984 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  During his 12 year career, Jones had 15,411 points and an 80 percent success from the free throw line.

He was born Wilmington, North Carolina where he attended the HBCU North Carolina Central.  He was drafted number eight in the first round of the 1957 NBA draft.  Prior to becoming a professional basketball player, Jones spent two years in the United States Army. 

No information about survivors was given.

feature photo credit: [[File:Sam Jones, Boston Celtics, 1969.jpg|Sam_Jones,_Boston_Celtics,_1969]]

NFL Coach Dan Reeves Dies

Former NFL player and head coach Dan Reeves died January 1, 2022 as a result of complications form dementia in his Atlanta home at the age of 77.  A statement issued by the Falcons noted that Reeves died, “peacefully and surrounded by his loving family,” at the time of his death.  He was only three weeks away from turning 78.

Reeves coached for the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and the New York Giants where he has a winning record of 190 games.  Counting regular season and playoff games, Reeves has a record of 201 wins, 174 loses, and two ties.  Despite his winning record, Reeves has yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Prior to trolling the sidelines, Reeves played for the Dallas Cowboys as a running back when then Cowboys head coach Tom Landry made Reeves a player/coach; launching a coaching career that would span over two decades.

Reeves was 37 when he took over the head coaching duties for the Denver Broncos.  One of the biggest moves Reeves made after coming to Denver was to trade for quarterback John Elway.  The Broncos made it to the Super Bowl three times in a four year period but unfortunately were beaten soundly in all three games.  He also led the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl, losing to the Broncos.  He joins Marv Levy and Bud Grant, Reeves is known as a coach who went zero and four in Super Bowl games. 

Over the course of his career in the NFL as a player and coach, Reeves was a part of nine Super Bowl games; he won two – one as a player and one as an assistant coach.

He also earned a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Dallas Cowboys.  He is the only person in the NFL to have gone to the Super Bowl as a player and as a coach.

He is a two time AP NFL Coach of the Year and is a part of the Ring of Fame in Denver.

Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway spoke on his former coach saying, “the football world lost a heckuva coach and man.  I owe a lot to him — he was instrumental in my career and growth as a quarterback. We were able to win a lot of football games together.”

Elway added, “when you look at all Dan did in this league with all the success, all the Super Bowls and all the wins, I don’t think there is any question he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

He was born Daniel Edward Reeves on January 19, 1944 in Rome, Georgia but grew up in the town of Americus.  He played quarterback for three years at South Carolina.  A two sport player, Reeves was also a part of the Gamecock baseball team.  Undrafted, Reeves signed with the Cowboys who made him a running/half back.  When a knee injury limited his playing time, Coach Landry added him to the coaching staff.

Reeves is survived by his former high school sweetheart and wife of over 55 years Pam; children Dana, Lee, and Laura; grandchildren; and great grandchildren.

feature photo credit: [[File:Dan Reeves.JPG|Dan_Reeves]]

Acting Legend Betty White Dies

Ringing in the New Year is often signified with the depiction of an old man – Father Time – for the old year and a baby for the new year.

On this final day of 2021, Father Time struck one more time with the death of acting icon Betty White.  She was just two weeks shy of celebrating her 100th birthday.  Longtime friend and agent Jeff Witjas confirmed the death; saying, “I truly never thought she was going to pass away.  She meant the world to me as a friend. She was the most positive person I’ve ever known.”  Witjas said that White died peacefully in her sleep at home.

White began her television career almost as the medium itself was born.  In over 60 years of entertaining, she appeared in nearly 500 different productions; either as herself or as an actress.  She even lent her singing voice to some dozen productions.

It all began with appearances on daytime TV as a talk show personality.  Over the next several decades she would appear in numerous programs and series.  While known by different generations in different shows, one of those was “The Golden Girls” which featured a group of senior acting veterans.  White was the last surviving member of that cast.

In 2010 Mars featured White as a lackluster football player who came to life after eating a Snickers bar during the Super Bowl.  The appearance propelled her into even bigger stardom.  The ad also sparked a Facebook campaign that resulted in White hosting “Saturday Night Live” and earned her another Emmy Award.

A one off appearance in the sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” had White stealing the show and earned her a regular spot on the show.

Her appearance as Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was also originally scheduled as a one off appearance; one she turned into a four year role.  She was also the last surviving cast member of the show.

Considered a national treasure, television marked milestones in White’s life with grand specials.  Producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein created “Betty White: 100 Years Young – A Birthday Celebration” to mark her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022.  The due have said that the one day theatrical showing will go on as planned.  Producers said that they hope the film provides a way for celebration of her life.

White made her television acting debut in 1945 in the short “Time to Kill”.  From there she went on to appear 120 more productions including “Life with Elizabeth”, “Date with the Angels”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “The Betty White Show”, “Mama’s Family”, “The Golden Girls”, “The Golden Palace”, “Maybe This Time”, “Ladies Man”, “Boston Legal”, the daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “Pound Puppies”, and “Hot in Cleveland”.

Her guest appearances include “Petticoat Junction”, “Fame”, “St. Elsewhere”, five episodes of “The Love Boat”, “Matlock”, “Empty Nest”, six episodes of “Bob”, five episodes of “The Lionhearts”, “The Wild Thornberry’s”, four episodes of “That ‘70s Show”, “The Practice”, “The Simpsons”, and “Bones”.

She even lent her voice to the film “Toy Story 4” as Bitey White.

As herself, White made over 350 appearances in numerous game shows, specials, documentaries, late night talk shows, award shows, talk and variety shows, and her own show “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers”.

Her accomplishment include an AP Entertainer of the Year, seven Emmy Awards, a Women’s International Center Living Legacy Award, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Born Betty Marion White on January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois.  An only child born to a salesman and homemaker, the family moved to California when Betty was very small.  Weekly trips into the Sierra Nevada mountains spawned a lifelong love of animals.  When not acting, she spent many hours as an activist and fundraiser for animal causes.

She caught the acting bug in high school where she appeared in numerous school productions.  Before entering television, White had some small parts in radio and in the local theatre.

Married three times and divorced twice, White is predeceased by husband Allen Ludden.  While the couple had no children of their own, she became a part of step children David, Martha, and Sarah’s lives.

feature photo credit: Betty White 1989 Emmy Awards.jpg

Broadcast Icon John Madden Dies

NFL Hall of Fame member and broadcasting icon John Madden died just two days after celebrating his 62nd wedding anniversary on December 28, 2021 unexpectedly at the age of 85.  No official cause of death was given.

A Super Bowl winning coach, Madden was best known for his ability to explain the game during his broadcasts so that anyone could understand what was happening.  He made the telestrator famous and added his own expressions like BOOM and DOINK to play calls.

Known almost as much for his broadcasting was the annual Thanksgiving Day games and the Tur-duck-in – a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey.

He wasn’t adverse to lending his face or voice to commercials selling numerous items from beer to restaurants.

Electronic Arts had created a new video football game and asked Madden if he would help.  He said yes, and after over 100 million copies sold, he is also known as the video football guy.  He even lent his voice to an episode of “The Simpsons”.

Claustrophobic and afraid of heights, Madden refused to fly and had a custom made bus known as the Madden Cruiser that he used to travel the country.

Coaching the Oakland Raiders, Madden had a 10 season record of 103 wins with 32 losses and seven ties.  His .759 winning percentage has never been topped in the NFL with coaches of at least 100 wins. 

A knee injury prevented Madden from ever playing a down in the NFL but he brought his skills and knowledge to the sidelines where he excelled.  Madden retired from coaching after only 10 years at the age of 42.  It was then that he entered the broadcast booth where he earned 16 Emmy Awards.  He also earned the NSAA National Sportscaster of the Year award and the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.  Covering eleven Super Bowl games, at one time, Madden worked for all four of the major broadcast networks working with a number of partners including Pat Summerall and Al Michaels

Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels once spoke on Madden saying, “no one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John.”

Calling himself a coach first, Madden viewed his broadcast work as an extension of that coaching.

Madden also authored a number of books including “Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!)”, “One Knee Equals Two Feet: (And Everything Else You Need to Know About Football)”, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All”, “The First Book of Football”, and “All Madden: Hey, I’m Talking Pro Football”.

John Earl Madden was born on April 10, 1936 in Daly City, California.  He played on both sides of the ball at California Polytechnic State University and earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the school.  Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, a knee injury ended his pro football career even before it started.  He began his coaching career at Hancock Junior College before becoming the defensive coordinator at San Diego State.  And then Raiders owner Al Davis called and Madden began working for the Raiders as the linebackers coach in 1967 and became the head coach just one year later at the age of 32.

Madden is survived by his wife of over 60 years Virginia, and sons Joseph and Michael.

feature photo credit: John Madden in 2007.jpg

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Dies

Archbishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu died December 26, 2021 in the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, South Africa at the age of 90.  No official cause of death was given.

Called the nation’s moral conscience, Tutu championed LGBT rights, racial justice, human rights, and was a fierce opponent of apartheid – an oppression by white minority on the Black majority.  He was the first Black bishop on Johannesburg and later became the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.

Speaking at an LGBTQ rally in 2013 he said, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say, ‘Sorry, I would much rather go to the other place.’”  He called his native land of South Africa, “a rainbow nation”.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on Tutu saying, “from the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”

Friend, the Dalai Lama spoke on Tutu saying he was, “entirely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian.”

He was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 1997 but did not hide the situation, instead spoke on the matter encouraging men to get tested early.  The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Trust said, “he turned his own misfortune into a teaching opportunity to raise awareness and reduce the suffering of others.  He wanted the world to know that he had prostate cancer, and that the sooner it is detected, the better the chance of managing it.”

He once said, “when they heard upstairs in Heaven that there was the prospect of me coming soon, they said ‘no, no, no. Keep him down there. We can’t cope with him.”

He was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

He was born Desmond Mpilo Tutu on October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa.  He loved to read, especially comics.  After contracting tuberculosis as a teen, he wanted to become a doctor and find a cure.

He married his wife Leah in 1955.  The couple had four children.  A teacher, he entered the seminary – St. Peter’s Theological College – in 1958 and ordained three years later.

He has written several books over the years including a children’s book and co-authored one with the Dalai Lama.

He is survived by his wife of over 65 years Leah and their children.

feature photo credit: [[File:TutuCOP17.JPG|TutuCOP17]]

Bluegrass Legend J.D. Crowe Dies

Before there was Bela Fleck…there was J.D. Crowe!

Bluegrass banjo virtuoso J.D. Crowe died December 24, 2021 in his Lexington, Kentucky home at the age of 84.  No official cause of death was released.  Crowe had been recovering at a rehab facility following a hospital stay last month.

the Grammy Award winning musician has been a part of Bluegrass and Country music for over 50 years including the Sunny Mountain Boys, the Kentucky Mountain Boys – later New South, and playing with Mac Wiseman.  Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, and Keith Whitley were all a part of New South at one time.

Along with his Grammy Award, Crowe is a member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.  He also earned a Bluegrass Star Award.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py9ZPX-8CUE

When it came to the banjo, Crowe was considered an innovator, legend, and an influence on generations of players.

James Dee Crowe got his first taste of Bluegrass when he saw Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs at the age of 12.  He began his musical career in the ‘50’s.

He is survived by his wife Sheryl, children David and Stacey, and granddaughter Kylee.

J.D. Crowe discography:
“Bluegrass Holiday”
“The Model Church”
“Ramblin’ Boy”
“Bluegrass Evolution”
“J.D. Crowe & the New South”
“You Can Share My Blanket”
“My Home Ain’t in the Hall of Fame”
“Blackjack”
“Somewhere Between”
“Live in Japan”
“Bluegrass Album Vol. 4”
“Straight Ahead”
“Come on Down to My World”
“Old Friends Get Together”

feature photo credit: J.D. Crowe (3232521845).jpg

Earnhardt Matriarch Martha Dies

The Earnhardt family matriarch Martha died on December 25, 2021 in Kannapolis, North Carolina at the age of 91. 

The grandmother of NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martha was married to Ralph.  The couple had five children.  She was known as Mamaw to her grandchildren.

Ralph started the Earnhardt racing empire with son Dale following in his father’s footsteps.  Dale would go on to be one of just three drivers to earn seven NASCAR Cup Series championships.  Dale was killed in a last lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001; hitting the wall while trying to protect drivers Michael Waltrip and son Dale Jr.

In an official statement, NASCAR’s Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy said, “on behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, we extend our condolences to the family and friends of Martha Earnhardt.  Martha was not only the matriarch of a legendary NASCAR family, but a beloved and respected figure within our industry and throughout the fanbase. We will dearly miss her grace, compassion and welcoming demeanor. To her grandchildren, she was ‘Mamaw.’ To millions of NASCAR fans, she was a treasure.”

While the matriarch of the racing legacy, Martha tried racing only once – in a “powder puff derby” – where she crashed.  She noted that she just wasn’t meant to be a race car driver.  She was a server and worked as a clerk in a children’s store.

On February 15, 1998, Dale Sr finally won the Daytona 500 after 20 tries and when Dale finally made it to victory lane…he called his mother to tell her he had finally won.  She had been nervously watching the race.

Originally Mamaw wasn’t sure Dale Jr was ready for the jump to the Xfinity Series, but later admitted that he proved her wrong and she became one of his biggest advocates.

Martha was known for inviting Dale Sr fans into her modest home where she would tell them stories for as long as they would listen.  She refused to move to a larger home despite the urging of son Dale on numerous occasions.

Predeceased by her husband Ralph; and sons Dale, Randy, and Danny; Martha is survived by children Kaye and Cathy and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

feature photo credit: Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Facebook page

Actress Sally Ann Howes Dies

Broadway and film actress Sally Ann Howes died December 19, 2021 in her sleep at her Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home at the age of 91.

Best known for her roles at Truly Scrumptious in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and her Broadway debut as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”; Howes began her theatrical career when she was only 12 years old in the British production “Thursday’s Child”.

While she appeared in only 40 film and television productions, Howes had a total of over 140 appearances on stage and screen.  She made her debut in a Saturday matinee, she went on to replace Julie Andrews in “My Fair Lady”. 

After portraying Eliza Doolittle, she went on to appear on the Broadway stage in “Kwamina”, “Brigadoon” – which earned her a Tony Award nomination, “What Makes Sammy Run?”, and “James Joyce’s The Dead”.  She also appeared in the touring productions of “My Fair Lady” and “The Dead”.

Other stage roles include “The King and I”, “The Sound of Music”, “Blossom Time”, “The Great Waltz”, “The Merry Widow”, and “A Little Night Music”.

Her film and television appearances include “Pink String and Sealing Wax”, “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nicklelby”, “Anna Karenina”, “The History of Mr. Polly”, the 1950 movie “Cinderella”, “Paint Your Wagon”, “The Gift of the Magi”, “Jane Eyre”, the 1966 TV movie “Brigadoon”, an episode of “Mission: Impossible”, the 1972 TV movie “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D.”, and her final role in the mini series “Secrets”.

She was born in London on July 20, 1930 to a theatrical family.  Best known for her acting, she was also a talented singer and made her West End debut in 1950 in “The Boyfriend”.  She also appeared in “Caprice” and the West End production of “Paint Your Wagon” with her father which helped to launch her acting career in the United States.

Howes never had any children of her own but adopted his two children when she married Richard Adler in 1958.  The couple divorced in 1966.

Predeceased by her fourth husband Doug and son Christopher, she is survived by son Andrew.

Feature photo credit: Sally Ann Howes 1965.JPG

Racing Pioneer Bob Keselowski Dies

Keselowski patriarch and racing pioneer Bob Keselowski died December 22, 2021 as a result of cancer at the age of 70.

He was a champion in the ARCA Menards Series and one of the pioneers to help launch the Camping World Truck Series.

Bob is the father of third generation driver Brad who currently is a part owner and driver for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.  Son Brian is a former ARCA racer who has turned to working as a crew chief and spotter.

John Keselowski began the racing legacy in the fifties racing motorcycles.  After starting a race car team, sons Bob and Ron raced the family cars before taking over the family business.

A 24 time winner and 26 time pole sitter in what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series, Bob won the championship in 1989.  From 1987 to 1993, he finished the season as one of the top three drivers in the standings.

When NASCAR launched the Camping World Truck Series in 1995, Bob Keselowski was among the first drivers to join the series; winning only once in the number 29 in his own K Automotive team.

Health issues with a bad back and hip, Bob retired from full time driving in 1999.  Continuing to run his own team, Bob had Dennis Setzer and Terry Cook; as well as, son Brad doing the driving.  Financial issues caused him to close down the team in 2006.

After stepping away from ownership duties, Bob continued to support sons Brad and Brian with their racing efforts.

Not ready to completely give up on driving, Bob pursued the record books with land-speed driving in a special Dodge Charger.  In 2018, at 67 years old, he set a record of 271.8mph in a stock car at Bonneville Salt Flats and at 69 he was clocked at over 260mph at Loring Air Force Base in Maine.

Bob Keselowski is survived by his sons Brad and Brian and grandchildren.

feature photo credit (cropped): Bob Keselowski.jpg

Il Divo’s Carlos Dies

Il Divo’s Spanish born singer Carlos Marin dies at the age of 53.  Band mates David, Sebastien, and Urs took to social media to announce the death of their friend and fellow performer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fN49TItkdQ

Marin was on tour with Il Divo when the group announced a cancellation of shows due to illness.  On Thursday, December 16, Marin was admitted to the hospital in Manchester.  He was later placed into a medically induced coma.  While no official cause of death has been listed, Covid is suspected.

Il Divo band mates spoke on Carlos saying, “there will never be another voice or spirit like Carlos”.  He was the baritone voice in the group.

Seventeen years ago, music mogul Simon Cowell formed the pop-opera group featuring four international guys who perform classics, standards, and pop tunes in a variety of languages.

Born October 13, 1968 in Rüsselsheim, Germany; Marin’s family relocated to Spain when Carlos was 12 years old.  Long before joining Il Divo, an eight year old Carlos released his first album –  “The Little Caruso”.  He released his second album – “Mijn Lieve Mama” – at age 10.  He increased his musical studies to include the piano.  At 19 he became a popular TV star in Spain as a singer; including winning some television talent shows. He has also shared the stage with his wife.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPCe8t1Yaws

Prior to joining Il Divo, Marin appeared in a number of operas and musical theatre producitons.

Marin is survived by his entertainer wife Geraldine, also known as Innocence on stage.

feature photo credit: [[File:Carlosm.JPG|Carlosm]]

Mexican Ranchero Icon Vicente Fernandez Dies

Three time Grammy Award winning Latin entertainer Vicente Fernandez died December 12, 2021 at the age of 81. While an official cause of death was not given, Fernandez had been hospitalized since a fall at his Guadalajara ranch last August.

He had also been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barre syndrome; and while he had been making some progress, his health had been failing in recent days.

An icon of Mexican ranchera music, he wore the embroidered costumes of the charro when he performed all while being accompanied by a full mariachi band. His baritone voice became the heartbeat of Mexican life itself. His music was multi-generational.

In 1991 the Houston Chronicle deemed Vicente Fernandez “the Frank Sinatra of Ranchera”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfm2zSgQ8cQ

Born on February 17, 1940 in Huentitán El Alto, Mexico; the son of ranchers, a young Vicente moved to Tijuana with his family where he worked numerous odd jobs before beginning his singing career in his teens at local bars and restaurants. But his musical journey began much earlier when he got a guitar at age eight and wasted not time learning how to play it.

After moving to Guadalajara and Mexico City, he began recording his music with his first hit in 1969 with the love song “Tu Camino y El Mío”. Fernandez spent the next five plus decades entertaining fans with his music.

Along with with three Grammy Awards, Fernandez has eight Latin Grammy Awards, recorded some 100 albums, earned Los Nestra Premero Awards, is a member of the Billboard Hall of Fame, appeared in dozens of films, and has bee named the Latiin Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences Person of the Year in 2002.

He is survived by his wife of over 50 years Maria; children – Vicente, Gerardo, Alejandro, and Alejandra -; and grandchildren.

feature photo credit: Vicente Fernández – Pepsi Center – 06.11.11.jpg

‘Vampire Chronicles’ author Anne Rice Dies

Gothic fiction writer Anne Rice died December 11, 2021 as the result of complications from a stroke in her native New Orleans at the age of 80.  Son Christopher, who has followed in his mother’s author footsteps, was at her bedside at the time of her death.

For generations horror fans saw the vampire as a blood sucking monster who ran…or flew….around sucking the blood out of everyone they met.  Rice changed all that, giving them “human” qualities with real lives. 

In books like “The Witching Hour” she made female character – witches – as strong powerful women who defied the belief of women being the weaker sex.

Editor Victoria Wilson called Rice a writer, “decades ahead of her time.”

Over the course of her career, Rice penned over 30 works – 13 as a part of the “Vampire Chronicles” – and sold over 150 million copies around the world.

Her breakout book was “Interview with a Vampire” – a book written while she was grieving the death of her daughter who died at the age of five after a battle with Leukemia.  The book went on to become a hit movie and will spawn a television series next year.

One of those many books was a memoir titled “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession” in which she noted, “I wrote novels about people who are shut out life for various reasons.  This became a great theme of my novels — how one suffers as an outcast, how one is shut out of various levels of meaning and, ultimately, out of human life itself.”

Her final work “Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris” – penned with son Christopher – will be released in February.

Named after her father, Howard Allen Frances O’Brien was born on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans to an Irish Catholic family.  While a postal worker, her father also wrote fiction.  She took the name Anne when she entered first grade.  Her mother, Katherine, died when Anne was 15.

In 2010 Rice announced that she would no longer be a Christian saying, “I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.”  She added, “I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind.”

Predeceased by writer husband Stan Rice and daughter Michelle, she is survived by her son Christopher.

feature photo credit: [[File:Anne Rice.jpg|Anne_Rice]]

Indy Racer Al Unser Dies

Like the names Petty and Earnhardt in NASCAR, the names Foyt, Andretti, and Unser are as much a part of Indy Racing as the cars themselves.

Unser family patriarch Al Unser Sr. died December 9, 2021 after a 17 year battle with cancer in his Chama, New Mexico home at the age of 82.  His wife Susan was at his side at the time of his death.

Unser is one of only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times; along with AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, and Helio Castroneves.  The Unsers are the only racing family to have two brothers and a son win the famed race.  His final win at age 47 made Unser the oldest driver to win the Indy 500.  He also holds the record for leading the most laps in the 500 with 644.  The Unser family has a total of 73 Indy 500 race starts; second only to the Andretti’s with 76.

Along with his Indy 500 wins, Unser was crowned the Indy car champion three times including beating out son Al Jr for the title in 1985.  He ran five races in NASCAR including the 1968 Daytona 500 and took home the win three IROC – International Race of Champions – races.  IROC pitted 12 drivers from different race disciplines and put them in identical cars for a racing series.  He is also a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway International Motorsports Halls of Fame.

Albert Unser Sr was born on May 29, 1939 into a family of racers in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The youngest of four racers, Al, his brothers, father, and two uncles all raced.  The Unser family began their racing legacy in 1926.

Older brother Jerry was the first Unser to qualify for an Indianapolis 500 but unfortunately died the following year in a practice crash.  The family houses their race win and championship trophies at the family museum in Albuquerque.

Predeceased by brother Bobby and nephew Bobby Jr and daughters Mary and Deborah, Al is survived by his wife of over 40 years Susan and son Al Jr.

feature photo credit: [[File:Al Unser, Sr. Lola T500 at Goodwood 2014 001.jpg|Al_Unser,_Sr._Lola_T500_at_Goodwood_2014_001]]

The Monkees Michael Nesmith Dies

Singer and songwriter for The Monkees Michael Nesmith died December 10, 2021 in his Carmel Valley, California home as the result of natural causes less than three weeks before his 79th birthday.

He had had a quadruple bypass in 2018.

While best known for his wool hat, Nesmith was also an actor, director, author, and entrepreneur.

Nesmith joined Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones as a made for TV band “The Monkees”.  The television sit com turned the lads into an overnight success.  Originally, the stars of the show were not the musicians that fans heard on the music; but all that changed when Nesmith revealed the fact to the media.

The music became a major bone of contention between the band and Don Kirshner.  A songwriter, Nesmith wanted to use some of his music on the show; Kirshner said no.  But after Linda Rondstadt had a hit with the Nesmith song “Different Drum” Nesmith gained some credibility.  After a threat from all four members of the band to walk out unless they could gain control of the music…and a show of violence from Nesmith – putting his hand through a wall and telling Kirshner it could have been his face – the band took over control of the music beginning with their album “Headquarters”.

After the show was cancelled, Michael, Peter, Davy, and Micky toured playing their own instruments and original music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvqeSJlgaNk

After the breakup of The Monkees, Nesmith went on to tour and record with his band The National Band and record over a dozen albums of his own.

Fellow Monkee Micky Dolenz is the only surviving member of the group.  He and Nesmith had recently completed a tour together.  Dolenz said,  “I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick.  I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick.”

After the breakup of The Monkees in 1970, Nesmith branched out beyond the music to become writer, producer, director, author, head of his own company, and an actor.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fp9XdisMJU

Along with the 57 episodes of “The Monkees”, Nesmith appeared in over a dozen productions including the music video for “The Beatles: A Day in the Life”,  “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, “Saturday Night Live”, an undredited appearance as the Rabbi in “Repo Man”, and a 2014 episode of “Portlandia”.

He was born Robert Michael Nesmith on December 30, 1942 in Houston, Texas.  He was an only child.  A secretary and a painter, his mother is the inventor of the ever popular typewriter correction tool Liquid Paper.  He spent 14 months in the United States Air Force.

Predeceased by bandmates Peter Tork and Davy Jones, Nesmith was married and divorced three times.   He is survived by his children Christian, Jason, Jessica, and Jonathan.

feature photo credit: [[File:Monkees 05 (46759965214).jpg|Monkees_05_(46759965214)]]

Broadway Icon Stephen Sondheim Dies

Eight time Tony Award winning songwriter Stephen Sondheim died November 26, 2021 in his Roxbury, Connecticut home at the age of 91.

With a musical career that spans over 50 years Sondheim has inspired generations of songwriters and creators.

Considered an icon, Sondheim’s view of songwriting was that each song was a short story with every line like a paragraph.

Along with his eight Tony Awards, Sondheim has earned a special Tony for Lifetime Achievement, is a member of the Stongwriters Hall of Fame, seven Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for “Sunday in the Park with George”, an Academy Award, five Olivier Awards, 15 Drama Desk Awards, a American National Medal of the Arts,  and a Presidential Medal of Honour.  Sondheim is also a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honours; as well as, a theatre bearing his name.

He wrote the lyrics for two of the biggest hits on Broadway – “West Side Story” and “Gypsy”; it wasn’t until 1962 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” that he wrote both lyrics and music.  Over the years his collaborators have included Leonard Bernstein, Prince, and James Lapine.

Sondheim made his Broadway debut in 1956 with “Girls of Summer”.  The production featured the Sondheim song by the same name.  His first Broadway production where he composed all of the lyrics was in 1957 with “West Side Story”.  Since that time, Stephen Sondheim has seen dozens of productions and revivals of his creations.

A revival of his musical “Passions” is set to open on Broadway December 9, 2021. 

Sondheim made an appearance on “The Simpsons” and appeared in an episode of “Great Performances”.

Sondheim’s music has appeared in over 350 film and television productions, many of which were based on his Broadway musical.  Other credits include numerous music and competition shows, “Bewitched”, “That Girl”, “Here’s Lucy”, “Maude”, “All in the Family”, “The Muppet Show”, “Saturday Night Live”, “Dick Tracy”, “The Wonder Years”, “The Birdcage”, “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, “Six by Sondheim”, “Lady Bird”, “The Tonight Show”, “The Simpsons”, numerous Frank Sinatra specials, and a plethora of special and award shows.

He was born Stephen Joshua Sondheim on March 22, 1930 in New York City, the only son of a dress manufacturer.  At age 10 his parents divorced and he moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania where he met Oscar Hammerstein who went on to mentor the young Sondheim.  Attending Williams College, he majored in music.  He began his musical and writing career creating scripts for television,

Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway Credits:
“Gypsy”
“Invitation to a March”
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” “Anyone Can Whistle”
“Do I Hear a Waltz?”
“Company”
“Follies”
“Twigs”
“A Little Night Music”
“Candide”
“Pacific Overtures”
“Sweeney Todd”
“The Madwoman of Central Park West”
Merrily We Roll Along”
“Sunday in the Park with George”
“Into the Woods”
“Passion”
“Getting Away with Murder”
“Putting it Together”
“Matters of the Heart”
“Assassins”
“The Frogs”

Special Broadway Events:
“Side by Side by Sondheim”
“Barbara Cook: A Concert for the Theatre”
“Jerome Robbins’ Broadway”
“Mostly Sondheim”
“Celebrating Sondheim”
“Elaine Stritch at Liberty”
Barbara Cook’s Broadway”
“Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life”
“Sondheim on Sondheim”
“Prince on Broadway”
“Sondheim: A Musical Tribute”
“Jule’s Friends at the Palace”
“Short Talks on the Universe”
“Children and Art”

feature photo credit: [[File:Stephen Sondheim – smoking.JPG|Stephen_Sondheim_-_smoking]]

Native American Artist Joanne Shenandoah Dies

Award winning Native American artist Joanne Shenandoah died November 22, 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona as a result of complications from abdominal bleeding. She was 64.  She was surrounded by family at the time of her death.

A matriarch of the Native American musical community, she was a member of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida Nation – one of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

One of the most celebrated artists in the Native American music community, Shenandoah is a 14 time Native American Music Award winner – the most of any artist – and has earned a NAMA Lifetime Achievement Award.  She has also been inducted into the Syracuse Area Hall of Fame and was presented with an Honourary Doctorate of Music degree from Syracuse University.

She released her debut album in 1989 and has released over a dozen albums since that debut including her final album “Oh Shenandoah” earlier this year.  She was one of the contributors to the Grammy Award winning album “Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth”.

Along with appearing as an actress in the mini series “First Nations” and “The Last Winter”; Shenandoah’s music appeared in the video game “The Indian in the Cupboard”, “A Warrior in Two Worlds”, the documentaries “In the Shadow of the Crow: Legacies of the Narragansetts” and “Our Land, Our Life”, “American Outrage”, “Year of the Rat”, “Spirit Game” Pride of a Nation”, and “The Medicine Game”

Shenandoah performed solo and in a trio with her sister Diane and daughter Leah.  Performing on stages all over the world, she has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Woodstock 94, and in Rome for the canonization of the first Native American Roman Catholic saint Kateri Tekakwitha.  She has performed before U.S. presidents, the Dali Lama, and Nelson Mandela.

She was born on June 23, 1957 in Syracuse, New York the daughter of the Onondaga chief and an Oneida clan mother.  She grew up on the Oneida reservation near Syracuse.  The daughter of a Jazz guitarist, a young Joanne got an early start on her musical training but it would be many years later before she chose to make music her full time job.  Prior to making music full time, she was a computer systems architectural engineer.

Shenandoah is survived by her husband Doug, daughter Leah, grandson Kieren, sisters Diane and Vicky, and nieces and nephews.


Joanne Shenandoah discography:

“Joanne Shenandoah”
“Loving Ways”
“Once in a Red Moon”
“Life Blood”
“Matriarch: Iroquois Women’s Songs”
“All Spirits Sing”
“Orenda”
“Peacemaker’s Journey”
“Warrior in Two Worlds”
“Eagle Cries”
“Covenant”
“Skywoman”
“Nature Dance”
“Lifegivers”
“Bitter Tears: Sacred Ground”

feature photo credit: NAMA1.jpg



Actor Art LaFleur Dies

Veteran Character actor Art LaFLeur died November 17, 2021 in Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.  He was 78.

While appearing in nearly 170 film and television productions, he is perhaps best known for his roles in two baseball films – as Babe Ruth in “The Sandlot” and as Chicago White Sox 1919 player Chick Gandil.

LaFleur made his screen debut in 1978 as Ivan in the TV Movie “Rescure from Gilligan’s Island”.  Not only was the film the start of a long career, it was where he met his future wife Shelley.

His other roles include the mini series “From Here to Eternity”, “The Man with One Red Shoe”, “Hill Street Blues”, “WIseguy”, “Mr. Baseball”, “Johnny Bago”, “Matlock”, “Hyperion Bay”, “JAG”, “The Practice”, and his final role in 2017 as Dad in the TV Movie “Dive”.

He was born in Gary, Indiana on September 9, 1943.  But it was not until LaFleur reached adulthood that he gave up a sales career in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to began his acting career.

La Fleur is survived by his wife of over 40 years Shelley, children Molly and Joe, and daughter in law Glenda.

Rapper Young Dolph Dies

American Rap artist Young Dolph died November 17 as a result of a gun shot wound in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 36.

The artist, born Adolph Robert Thornton Jr, was patronizing a local bakery – Makeda’s Cookies – for cookies when he was shot.  There are no further details on the incident at this time.  Law enforcement authorities are investigating.

Cousin Mareno Myers reports that the rapper was in town to visit an ailing aunt and to pass out turkeys for Thanksgiving.

This was not the first time that the rapper has been involved in a shooting; he survived a shooting in Los Angeles in 2017 and his vehicle was hit 100 times in Charlotte.

Young Dolph was an independent artist who owned his own record label – Paper Route Empire – where he retained all control over his music.  He has worked with Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., and Key Glock.

His mixtape and album releases include: “King of Memphis”, “Rich Crack Baby”, “Gelato”, “Bulletproof”, “Thinking Out Loud”, “Role Model”, “Dum and Dummer”, “Rich Slave”, “Dum and Dummer 2”, and “Paper Route illuminati”.

Thornton was born on August 11, 1985 in Chicago but lived in Memphis from the time he was two years old.

Young Dolph is survived by his two children.

feature photo credit: [[File:YoungDolph (cropped).jpg|YoungDolph_(cropped)]]

Long Time Actor Dean Stockwell Dies

Prolific veteran actor Dean Stockwell died November 7, 2021 at the age of 85.  The family listed natural causes as the cause of death.

Stockwell began his acting career on the Broadway stage when he was just seven years old in “The Innocent Voyage”.  He returned many years later to appear in “Compulsion”.

Back in his native Los Angeles, he appeared in over 200 productions.  But it wasn’t until he became a part of the science fiction series “Quantum Leap” as Al the holographic companion that Stockwell became a household name.

While the Academy and Emmy Awards eluded him, Stockwell earned a Best Actor award twice at the Cannes Film Festival for his roles in “Compulsion” and “Long Day’s Journey into Night”.  He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Juvenile and a second one for his role in “Quantum Leap”.

Among his more than 200 roles include a 1945 appearance in “Anchors Aweigh”, “Gentleman’s Agreement”, “The Boy with Green Hair”, the film version of “Compulsion”, “Sons and Lovers”, “Wagon Train”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Long Day’s Journey into Night”, “Dr. Kildare”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Paris, Texas”, the 1984 “Dune”, “Beverly Hills Cop II”, “Married to the Mob”, 97 episodes of “Quantum Leap”, “Snowy River: The McGregor Saga”, “Air Force One”, “Buffalo Soldiers”, “First Monday”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, “Stargate SG-1”, “JAG”, the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica”, and “NCIS: New Orleans”.

He was born Richard Dean Stockwell on March 5, 1936 in North Hollywood into an acting family.  His father voiced Prince Charming.  His older brother Guy was also an actor, Dean never really wanted to be an actor and actually quit acting at age 16.  “I never really wanted to be an actor.  I found acting very difficult from the beginning. I worked long hours, six days a week. It wasn’t fun.”  Stockwell tried quitting a number of times but always returned noting that he wasn’t trained for anything else.  When not acting, Stockwell enjoyed photography and sculpting.

He retired from acting in 2015 after a stroke.

Predeceased by his brother Guy, he is survived by his second wife of 40 years Joy and children – Austin and Sophie.

feature photo credit: [[File:Dean Stockwell 03 (7086425411).jpg|Dean_Stockwell_03_(7086425411)]]

Part Time Racer Delma Cowart Dies

He never won a race, but that didn’t stop independent driver Delma Cowart from having fun.

Cowart died November 10, 2021 at the age of 80.  His daughter reported the death but gave no cause of death.

Speaking on his career, Cowart once told the Associated Press, “I never won a race, but I never lost a party.”  A swimming pool contractor by trade, for Cowart racing was a hobby.

In his 17 year career Cowart only ran 21 races while either withdrew or failed to qualify for 61.  Often driving the number zero car, Cowart’s best finish was 17th in the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1982.  Cowart was a part of four Daytona 500 races.

He retired from racing in 1998 telling the AP, “I’m a dinosaur.  There ain’t no room for guys like me no more. To me, racing was a hobby. You gotta be professional now.”

Cowart was born July 6, 1941 in Savannah, Georgia.

feature photo credit: NASCAR

Actor Peter Scolari Dies

Character actor Peter Scolari died October 22, 2021 in New York City as a result of cancer at the age of 66.


Scolari made his screen debut in 1978 and appeared both on Broadway and in over 100 film and television productions, but it wasn’t until his 1980 appearance opposite Tom Hanks in the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” – where the duo appeared in drag – that he became a well known figure.

Scolari also appeared on the screen with Bob Newhart and went on to be friends for over 40 years. Newhart, who is 92, spoke on Scolari’s passing saying, “in life, he was a fantastic person, and it was a joy to work together. He will be sorely missed and his passing at 66 is much too early. Newhart added, “the contributions of on-screen couple Scolari and Julia Duffy in ‘Newhart’ were an “essential part” of the show’s success.” The role earned Scolari three Emmy nominations.

He finally earned his Emmy Award in 2016 for his role as Ted Horvat – a character who came out as gay – in “Girls”.

He made is Broadway debut in 2003 as Wilbur Turnglad in “Hairspray”. Scolari has also appeared in “Wicked”, “Sly Fox”, “Magic/Bird”, “Lucky Guy”, and “Bronx Bombers” where he played Yogi Berra. His other stage roles include the role of Vince Fontaine in the national tour of “Grease”, “Old Man Joseph and His Family”, “The Exonerated”, “In the Wings”, “Whit’es Lies”, “It Must Be Him”, “Dear Elizabeth”, and “The True”.

Scolari’s other film and television roles include “Happy Days”, “Hotel”, “The Love Boat”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Diagnosis Murder: The House on Sycamore Street”, “Empty Nest”, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, “Dave’s World”, “That Thing You Do”, “The Nanny”, “From the Earth to the Moon”, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Series’, “Touched by an Angel”, “Reba”, “E.R.”, “The West Wing”, “American Dad!”, “Gotham”, “Blue Bloods”, and his final role as Bishop Thomas Marx in “Evil”.

He was born on September 12, 1955 in New Rochelle, New York.

Scolari is survived by his fourth wife and fellow actor Tracy and children – Nicholas, Josheph, Keaton, and Cali.

feature photo credit: Peter Scolari in White’s Lies cast.jpg

The Chieftains Founder Paddy Moloney Dies

Irish musician and founder of the Irish group The Chieftains Paddy Moloney died October 11, 2021 in Dublin, Ireland at the age of 83. No official cause of death was released.

Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962 and over the course of his 50 plus years with the band, Moloney has worked with The Muppets, The Rolling Stones, Emmylou Harris, The Pogues, Roger Daltrey, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Jackson Browne, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and was the first western band to give a performance in China. The band was on tour in 2020 when the Covid pandemic forced the band to cancel their tour.

Originally not designed to be a permanent fixture or long standing band; The Chieftains went on to win six Grammy Awards. The Chieftains have opened the world of Irish traditional and folk music to millions of people.

Moloney also did a great deal of solo work; often lending his musical skills to the recordings of other artists.

A self-taught musician, Moloney began his musical journey when he was just six years old after his mother gave him a tin whistle (also known as a penny whistle). And at age eight he picked up the uilleann pipes (the Irish cousin to the Highland bag pipes).

He was born Patrick Moloney on August 1, 1938 in the Dublin suburb of Donnycarney to a musical family. His grandfather was a flute player and he had an uncle who was a member of the Ballyfin Pipe Band.

Prior to forming The Chieftains, Moloney played with numerous other musicians and bands including Seán Potts, Michael Tubridy, Martin Fay, and Seán Ó Ríada.

While working at Claddagh Records Moloney produced or co-produced a total of 45 albums of folk, traditional, and classical music; as well as some poetry and spoken word albums.

While at Claddagh, he worked with many artists including Paddy Taylor, Máire Ní Donnachadha, Seán Mac Donncha, Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford, Sarah and Rita Keane, and Tommy Potts. And writers Seámus Heaney, John Montague, and Thomas Kinsella.

A truly multi talented individual, Moloney composed several works for soundtracks including “Circasia”, “Lovespell”, the mini series “The Year of the French”, “Ballad of the Irish Horse”, “Three Wishes for Jamie”, the made for TV movie “Treasure Island”, “Two if by Sea”, “Alannah Myles: You Love Who You Love”, “Under the Sea”, the documentary “The Irish in America: Long Journey Home”, “Tristan and Isolde”, “Agnes Browne”, and “Cooder and Los Tigres del Norte”.

His music has appeared in “Barry Lyndon”, “The Grey Fox”, “Only the Lonely”, “The Ren & Stimpy Show”, “Babe: Pig in the City”, “Gangs of New York”, “The Flynns’ Journey to Ireland”, “I’m Dying Up Here”, and “Capitalism: A Love Story”.

Moloney is survived by his wife Rita and children – Aonghus, Pádraig, and Aedin.

 

 

feature photo credit: Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains (214371161).jpg

First Elimination…and Covid Case on DWTS

On week two of “Dancing with the Stars” the first couple will be eliminated.

But that isn’t the only bad news for one cast member of the show, On Sunday, just one day before the show was due to air, professional dancer Cheryl Burke announced that she has tested positive for the Covid-10 virus despite being vaccinated. Burke will have to quarantine for the next 10 days.

In determining which couple will go home, the scores from this week and last week will be added to the fan votes.

After the opening number was cut short to allow host Tyra Banks her signature cat walk entrance, Banks announced that Cody Rigsby is not in the Ballroom but he is not out of the competition just yet.

Matt and Lindsay get the night of dancing open with a Samba. Matt’s girlfriend Rachael makes a visit to the rehearsal hall. Matt takes his shirt off and throws it at Bruno during the dance. Len said that Matt would have been better served working on his hips instead of throwing the shirt. Derek noted that Matt needs to work on his bounce and his feet. Bruno told Matt to get those hips moving. Carrie Ann noted that there was a lift and Lindsay needs to keep her feet on the ground. Matt and Lindsay scored 22 points for their dance.

Olivia and Val performed a Viennese Waltz. Derek noted that there was a purity in Olivia’s performance. Bruno called it incredibly done for a beginner. Carrie Ann noted that there was a trust and vulnerability to the dance. Len thought the rotation was nice and a nice mix of steps. Olivia and Val scored 27 points for their dance.

Kenya and Brandon Cha Cha to “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer that ended with a stage filled with baloons. Bruno said that Kenya is irresistable. Carrie Ann called Kenya amazing. Len said that Kenya has plenty of gear in the rear and was working her hips. Derek called Kenya amazing; adding that there were moments of greatness in the dance. Kenya and Brandon scored 24 points for their dance.

The Miz and Witney Tango to the music of Poison. Carrie Ann said that was what she wanted to see; adding that it was amazing. Len said the dance had plenty of attack but no finesse. Derek said that The Miz was so locked in with awesome control. Bruno said that the dance was channeled. 26 points including a five from Len.

Real life couple and partners Brian Austin Green and Sharna Rumba to the music of James Arthur wile surrounded by a Van Gogh styled virtual immersion. Len noted that there was some romance about the dance but was mostly just posing. Derek said that it was a dance just for them. Bruno noted that it was an honest dance but felt more like a contemporary dance not a Rumba. Carrie Ann noted that the chemistry is great but needed more moves. Brian and Sharna scored 23 points for their dance.

Christine and Pasha Salsa to the music of Luis Fonsi. Christine admits to being a DWTS super fan who used to wit outside for tickets to the show. Derek said that Christine knows how to use her body. Bruno told Christine to watch the dismount. Carrie Ann said that Christine’s passion is amazing. Len noted that he doesn’t think they will be going home this week. Christine and Pasha scored 24 points for their dance.

Jimmie and Emma Rumba to one of his own songs. Jimmie brought the house to their feet. Bruno said it was a great song; adding he did a good job using his arms. Carrie Ann said she felt it; adding that he had so much respect for the art form. Len noted that the foot work was a bit hit and miss but the upper body work was great. Derek said that Jimmie’s upper body was great. Tyra said that she was feeling it. Jimmie and Emma scored 27 points for their dance.

Amanda and Alan Foxtrot to “It Had to Be You”. It was her and Nick’s wedding dance…and the song he sang in the Broadway show where they met. Carrie Ann called Amanda a star; adding it was like watching a Broadway performance. Len loved the song; adding that he liked it so much he didn’t want it to end. Derek called Amanda’s legs stunning; adding that it was so enjoyable to watch. Bruno called the performance radiant; adding if you got it, flaunt it. Amanda and Alan scored 32 points for their dance. It is the highest score this season so far.

JoJo and Jenna Cha Cha to “Rain on Me”. Len called it his favourite Latin dance of the season. Derek loved the performance and energy; but needs to contain it a bit. Bruno said that the dance was crisp it was crackling. Carrie Ann said that it was like watching a dance off; adding that the duo is fantastic together. JoJo and Jenna scored 31 points for their dance.

Iman and Daniela Rumba to one of his and his wife’s favourite songs. Derek said that Iman just looked like he enjoyed it; adding he did a great job. Bruno appreciated the work Iman put into the dance. Carrie Ann noted that there was more content and connected with the music. A smiling Len liked the dance; adding that it was a great improvement on last week. Iman and Daniela scored 25 points for their dance.

Coming back from the commercial break…and a costume change…

Martin and Britt Cha Cha to “Twist and Shout”; a song Martin danced to at his wedding. Bruno said definitely more content. Carrie Ann is happy for Martin; saying that he let loose and was having fun. Len said that Britt has done a sterling job working with Martin. Derek loved the opening move; adding that it was a lot of fun. Martin and Britt scored 15 points for their dance.

Host Tyra Banks announces that next week is Britney Spears week; the dancers will be performing to her music.

Melora and Artem Rumba to “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen. Celine Dion performed the song…along with several other artists, but it was composed and originally performed by Eric Carmen. Carrie Ann called the performance dramatic; adding that she loved it. Len said that overall it was easy like Sunday morning but she needed more hip action; adding that he wanted more Rumba steps. Derek said that Melora’s movements are beautiful. Bruno said that the dance was much more centered. Melora and Artem scored 27 points for their dance.

Cheryl Burke is quarantining at home and partner cody Rigsby is not in the Ballroom after being exposed to Cheryl and the virus. Dancing a Salsa, Cody and Cheryl’s rehearsal dance airs. They are not in costume but rehearsal clothes. Cody and Cheryl are brought in virtually to hear the remarks. Len wishes Cheryl a speedy recover; adding that the dance had a lot of Salsa content. Derek noted that it was very good for a rehearsal; adding that he could imagine the dance in the Ballroom. Saying they missed them, Bruno noted that the talent was clear. Carrie Ann noted that the dance had lots of content but was not fantastic. Cody and Cheryl scored 24 points for their rehearsal video.

Melanie C and Gleb Foxtrot to The Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun”. Melanie grew up in Liverpool. Derek called Melanie a gorgeous dancer; adding that it was clean and elegant. Bruno said that Melanie did a great job. Carrie Ann said that she loved seeing that side of Melanie. Len used a few Beatles song titles to describe the dance. Sir Ringo Starr sent Melanie a message of peace and love. Melanie and Gleb scored 30 points for their dance.

Closing out the night of dancing, Suni and Sasha Cha Cha. Bruno said that the dance was precise and clean; adding that when she smiles she shines. He tells Suni to become a character. Carrie Ann noted that she could see Suni gaining confidence as the dance went on. Len said that the dance was well done. Derek called Suni sassy in the dance. Suni and Sash scored 28 for their dance.

Weeks two scores:
Martin and Britt – 15
Matt and Lindsay – 22
Brian and Sharna – 23
Kenya and Brandon – 24
Christine and Pasha – 24
Cody and Cheryl – 24
Iman and Daniela – 25
The Miz and Witney – 26
Olivia and Val – 27
Jimmie and Emma – 27
Melora and Artem – 27
Suni and Sasha – 28
Melanie C and Gleb – 30
JoJo and Jenna – 31
Amanda and Alan – 32


Season 30 Premiere scores:
Martin and Britt – 13
Iman and Daniela – 21
Jimmie and Emma – 22
The Miz and Witney – 24
Cody and Cheryl – 24
Matt and Lindsay – 24
Brian and Sharna – 24
Olivia and Val – 25
Christine and Pasha – 25
Melora and Artem – 26
Kenya and Brandon – 26
Melanie C and Gleb – 27
Suni and Sasha – 28
Amanda and Alan – 28
JoJo and Jenna – 29

Total scores:
Martin and Britt – 15 + 13 = 28
Matt and Lindsay – 22 + 24 = 46
Iman and Daniela – 25 + 21 = 46
Brian and Sharna – 23 + 24 = 47
Cody and Cheryl – 24 + 24 = 48
Christine and Pasha – 24 + 25 = 49
Jimmie and Emma – 27 + 21 = 49
Kenya and Brandon – 24 + 26 = 50
The Miz and Witney – 26 + 24 = 50
Olivia and Val – 27 + 25 = 52
Melora and Artem – 27 + 26 = 53
Suni and Sasha – 28 + 28 = 56
Melanie C and Gleb – 30 + 27 = 57
JoJo and Jenna – 31 + 29 = 60
Amanda and Alan – 32 + 28 = 60

After all of the votes were tabulated and the scores combined…
Iman and Daniela are safe
Amanda and Alan are safe
Suni and Sasha are safe
Cody and Cheryl are safe
Matt and Lindsay are safe
JoJo and Jenna are safe
Melora and Artem are safe
Jimmie and Emma are safe
Melanie C and Gleb are safe
Olivia and Val are safe
The Miz and Witney are safe
Brian and Sharna are safe
Kenya and Brandon are safe

Martin and Britt and Christine and Pasha are in the bottom two.

Derek votes to save Christine and Pasha
Bruno votes to save Christine and Pasha
Carrie Ann votes to save Christine and Pasha
Len said that he would have voted with his fellow judges.

Martin and Britt are the first couple to go home.

French Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo Dies

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo died September 6, 2021 in Paris, France at the age of 88. An offical cause of death was not released.

A longtime actor, Belmondo is best known for his role in “Breathless”. In a career spanning over 50 years, he has appeared in nearly 100 productions where he was sometimes known for performing his own stunts. Over the course of that career, Belmondo has worked with numerous directors including Francois Truffaut, Claude Lelouch, and Jean-Luc Godard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqOJaGM-wQg

Belmonde made his screen debut in 1956 with the short “Moliere”. He went on to appear in 90 more productions including “The Three Musketeers” as D’Artagnan, “Breathless”, “Seven Day…Seven Nights”, “That Man from Rio”, “Weekend at Dunkirk”, “Casino Royale”, “Le guignolo”, the title role in “Cyrano de Bergerac”, “Les Miserables”, and his final role in 2008 in “A Man and His Dog”.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on Belmondo calling him “a national treasure”; adding that he was a “sublime hero” and a “familiar figure”.

He was born on April 9, 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the son of a sculpture and a painter. Before turning to acting, Belmondo played football and was a boxer. He left school at 16 and began studying at the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique where one of his professors told him that he would never make it as an actor due to his looks.

Prior to making his screen debut in 1960, he performed on the stage.

Predeceased by his daughter Patricia, Belmondo is survived by his children Florence, Paul, and Stella; and grandchildren.

feature photo credit: Jean-Paul Belmondo Cannes 2011.jpg, [[File:Jean-Paul Belmondo Cannes 2011.jpg|Jean-Paul_Belmondo_Cannes_2011]]

Actor Michael K. Williams Dies

Actor Michael K. Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on September 6, 2021. The cause of death is currently being investigated.

While Williams appeared in over 100 different film nad television productions, he is best known for portraying Omar Little on the television series “The Wire”.

He got his start not as an actor, but as a professional dancer where he worked with Madonna and George Michael.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkhm5GDHfis

He earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal Chalky White on “Boardwalk Empire”.

While he has appeared in a number of music videos as a backup dancer, Williams made his acting debut in 1996 in “Bullet”. From there he went on to appear in over 100 productions including “The Sopranos”, “Third Watch”, “Lackawanna Blues”, “Boston Legal”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “The Wire”, “Incredible Hulk”, “CSI: NY”, “Law & Order”, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, “12 Years a Slave”, “RoboCop”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Bessie”, the “Ghostbusters” remake, “The Night Of”, “When They See Us”, “Lovecraft Country”, and his final role in “F is for Family”.

Williams also had a number of productions in various stages of completion at the time of his death including two that were completed but not yet aired.

When not on camera, Williams is an activist for the young and those who have served time in prison. An Ambassador of Smart Justice with the ACLU, he has worked to build community centers and safe places for children; as well as, helping people released from prison re-adjust to society outside of jail.


He was born Michael Kenneth Williams on November 22, 1966 in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Williams has three children, Elijah, Karim, and Chanel.

feature photo credit: Michael K. Williams Harvard University.jpg, [[File:Michael K. Williams Harvard University.jpg|Michael_K._Williams_Harvard_University]]


Actor Ed Asner Dies

Prolific actor Ed Asner died August 29, 2021 at the age of 91. While an official cause of death was not given, family members said that Asner died “peacefully”.

The award winning actor has appeared in over 400 film nad television productions including three that have been completed but not aired, five in post production, one being filmed and eleven either in pre-production or just announced.

Asner once said, “I never get enough work. It’s the history of my career. There just isn’t anything to turn down, let me put it that way.”

While appearing in numerous productions, it was his appearance as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” that put Asner in the spotlight. He went on to spend five season as “Lou Grant” in his own television show.

Asner has won three Emmy Awards for his role on “The Mary Tyler Moore” show, two more for his role on “Lou Grant”, and Emmys for his roles in the miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Roots”. He is also a former President of the Screen Actors Guild.

Yitzhak Edward Asner was born on November 15, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri to Orthodox Jewish parents. After high school he studied journalism until a professor told him that there was little money in the profession. Asner chose to change his studies to drama and appeared in the campus production of “Murder in the Cathedral”. In 1951, Asner was draftered into military service where he served in France as a part of the Army Signal Corps.

After leaving the Army, Asner returned to Chicago and acting at the Playwrights Theatre Club and Second City. On Broadway he appeared in the “Threepenny Opera”, “Face of a Hero”, and “Grace”.

Asner moved to Hollywood in the 50’s where he made his television debut in 1957 on “Studio One”.

His other acting credits include “Naked City”, “Route 66”, “The Untouchables”, “The Outer Limits”, “The Rat Patrol”, “Gunsmoke”, as John Wayne’s nemesis Bart Jason in “El Dorado”, “The Fugitive”, “The Wild Wild West”, “Mission Impossible”, “Mod Squad”, both versions of “Hawaii Five-O”, “Highway to Heaven”, “JFK”, “Gargoyles”, “Freakazoid!”, “The Closer”, “The Simpsons”, “King of the Hill”, “ER”, “Elf”, “The Practice”, “CSI:NY”, “UP”, “The Cleveland Show”, “Murdoch Mysteries”, “American Dad”, and his final roles earlier this year in “Grace and Frankie” and “Captain Daddy”.

Asner is survived by his children Matthew, Liza, Kate, and Charles.

feature photo credit: Ed Asner 2015.jpg, [[File:Ed Asner 2015.jpg|Ed_Asner_2015]]

Race Broadcaster Bob Jenkins Dies

Sports broadcaster Bob Jenkins died August 9, 2021 as a result of cancer in Indianapolis, Indiana at the age of 73.

A survivor in 1983 from colon cancer, Jenkins revealed in February that the cancer had returned, this time in his brain; adding that he was undergoing treatment with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The diagnosis of two malignant tumours came after a severe headache in December 2020.

NASCAR spoke on Jenkins saying, “though known for his immense talent as a broadcaster, Bob’s passion for motorsports truly defined what it meant to be a racer. The motorsports industry lost a broadcasting legend.”

An Indiana native, Jenkins played many roles during his years covering the Indy 500 form in the TV and radio booth to turn reporter, analyst, and as the track’s public address announcer.

https://youtu.be/D6z5m_MKj3E

Jenkins is a member of the Indianapolis Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Speaking on Jenkins, Indy Racing legend Mario Andretti said, “he was one of us in every way.”

A long time race fan, prior to being a part of the broadcast crew for the Indianapolis 500, Jenkins was present for many of the races…rarely missing since a race since 1960.

He was best known for his broadcasts of the Indianapolis 500 races; as well as, NASCAR events for ABC and ESPN. He also worked for the Versus Network (now NBCSports) prior to his retirement in 2012.

Like some of the NASCAR drivers, Jenkins lent his talents to the NASCAR-centric films “Days of Thunder” as the Daytona track announcer and as himself in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. He also appeared in the film “Kart Racer”.

He was born September 4, 1947 in the rural Indiana town of Richmond.

Jenkins is predeceased by his wife Pam who also died as a result of brain cancer in 2012. Noting that he has a small family, he is survived by his niece and nephew.

feature photo credit: Youtube

Actor Saginaw Grant Dies

Native American actor Saginaw Grant died in Hollywood his sleep as a result of natural causes on July 28, 2021; just one week after his 85th birthday.

While Grant is best known as an actor, he was the hereditary chief for the Sac and Fox Nation. He made his home in Hollywood where he worked, but never left his Oklahoma or Native roots.

When not on the set, Grant could often be found participating in PowWow events. He also spoke at events on the life and culture of Native Americans.

After getting his acting start in a car commercial, Grant appeared in over 50 productions including his 1988 debut in “War Party”, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, “Harts of the West”, “Nash Bridges”, “Baywatch”, “Grey Owl”, “Legend of the Phantom Rider”, “My Name is Earl”, “Saving Grace”, “American Horror Story”, the 2013 “Lone Ranger” movie, “Breaking Bad”, “Shameless”, “Wind Walkers”, “Baskets” “Veep”, and “Valley of the Gods”.

He was born Morgan Saginaw Grant on July 20, 1936 in Pawnee, Oklahoma but was raised in Cushing, Oklahoma on a farm with his brothers and sister. He was the grandson of a medicine man – a a role he often played. A young Saginaw learned a great deal about his people form both of his grandfathers.

A Korean War veteran, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.


Grant is survived by his adopted daughter, actress Mariana Tosca.

feature photo credit: Saginaw Grant 2015.jpg, [[File:Saginaw Grant 2015.jpg|Saginaw_Grant_2015]]

Drummer Joey Jordison Dies

Grammy award winning metal drummer and founder of the band Slipknot, Joey Jordison died July 26 in his sleep at the age of 46. Family members did not disclose the cause or place of Jordison’s death.

The oldest of three children, the Des Moines, Iowa native began his musical journey when he was eight years old.


Formed in 1995, Slipknot became as well known for their live shows, masks, and costumes as much as they were for their music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B07cF9ECUv8

The band’s founder and a major songwriter, Jordison left the band in 2013. Jordison noted that leaving the band was due to the neurological disorder transverse myelitis; which left him unable to play. Transverse myelitis is an inflammation of the spinal cord that affects how nerve messages are sent and received.

He is also a member of the band Murderdoolls where he plays guitar, bass, and drums.

He was born Nathan Jonas Jordison on April 26, 1975 in Des Moines, Iowa.

feature photo credit: [[File:JoeyJordison.jpg|JoeyJordison]], JoeyJordison.jpg

ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill Dies

For over 50 years the long bearded trio known as ZZ Top performed together presenting their unique form of southern rock. It is rare for a band to include the same members with no changes or loses for that long of a time.

On July 28, 2021, ZZ Top lost their bass player Dusty Hill died in his sleep at his Houston, Texas home. Hill was 72.

Currently on tour with ZZ Top, Hill recently missed a show due to what band members called “a hip issue”.

Hill, Billy Gibbons, and Frank Beard formed ZZ Top in 1969. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rockers went on to earn five multi-platinum albums, one of which has earned diamond status for selling at least 10 million copies in the United States.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRHBLwpASw

He was born Joe Michael Hill on May 19, 1949 in Dallas, Texas.

Known for his bass playing, Hill began his musical journey on a cello. He also plays the keyboards and saxophone.

Before becoming a part of ZZ Top, Hill; along with brother Rocky, played in a number of bands including the Warlocks, Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues.

Hill is survived by his wife Charleen.

feature photo credit: [[File:Dusty Hill ZZ Top BBK Live 2008 III.jpg|Dusty_Hill_ZZ_Top_BBK_Live_2008_III]]

Comedian Jackie Mason Dies

Stand up comedian and actor Jackie Mason died July 24, 2021 at the age of 93 in Manhattan. While an official cause of death was not revealed, Mason had been hospitalized for the past two weeks.

In a style that has been described as “amused outrage” Mason often spoke about being Jewish, his inadequacies, and people in general. He was once quoted as saying, “I was so self-conscious, every time football players went into a huddle; I thought they were talking about me.”

Mason got his comedic start as a “social director” at a Catskills club; but that only lasted one season before he began taking the stage as one of the stand up comics.

Prior to making his mark in the world of comics, Mason was a rabbi.

Mason made his television debut in 1961 on the Steve Allen show. His other screen appearances include “The Jerk”, a rabbit in an episode of “Flying High”, “History of the World: Part 1”, “Caddyshack II”, 12 episodes of “Chicken Soup”, “30 Rock”, and eleven episodes of “The Simpsons”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V4zYe23QLg

While he only made 20 film and television acting appearances, Mason appeared over 100 times as himself including repeated appearances on “The Steve Allen Plymouth Show”, “The Tonight Show” and numerous other talk shows, “The Hollywood Palace”, “The Hollywood Squares”, “What’s My Line?”, nearly two dozen appearances of “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “The Dean Martin Show”, award shows, his own television specials, and various other variety series. Reportedly, Mason was banned from appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” for two years after giving series host Ed Sullivan an obscene when told to wrap up his routine.

Mason made a number of appearances on the Broadway stage with his one man shows, one of which “The World According to Me!” earned him a Tony Award.


The son of a rabbi, he was born Jacob Moshe Maza on June 9, 1928 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He, along with his three brothers, became rabbis themselves.

Mason is survived by his wife Jyll and daughter Sheba.

feature photo credit: [[File:JackieMasonOct06.jpg|JackieMasonOct06]]

Racer James Ingram Dies

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver James Ingram died June 25, 2021 in Ashville, North Carolina at the age of 84.  No details of the death were given, but the Hall of Fame noted that Ingram had been hospitalized in May.

The five time NASCAR champion, including three in a row, won over 300 total races during his racing career; earning him the title of Iron Man.  Ingram raced primarily in what is now the Xfinity Series.  When he won what was then the inaugural Busch Series title in 1982, Ingram had 24 top 10 finishes in 29 starts.  He earned his fifth title in 1985.

Ingram also ran Late Model cars where he also won the championship twice.

NASCAR Chariman and CEO Jim France spoke on Ingram via a statement saying, “there is no better way to describe Jack Ingram than ‘Iron Man’.  Jack was a fixture at short tracks across the Southeast most days of the week, racing anywhere and everywhere. He dominated the Late Model Sportsman division like few others.  He set the bar for excellence in the Xfinity Series as its Most Popular Driver in 1982 and champion in 1985. Jack was an ‘old school racer’ and his work on his own car helped propel him to Victory Lane hundreds of times.”

Ingram set the record for wins in the Xfintiy Series at 31; a record that was broken by Mark Martin with 49 in 1997 and has since been broken by current driver Kyle Busch who holds the record at 100 Xfinity Series wins.  Ingram’s Busch/Xfinity Series record also includes 122 top five and 164 top 10 finishes.

Ingram was known for much more than his race wins and finishes; he was the car owner, crew chief, and whatever else needed to be done.

He earned his first and his last Busch/Xfinity Series win at Hickory Speedway.

Along with the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Ingram is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

James Ingram retired from racing in 1991 with a total of 317 NASCAR sanctioned race wins.  He made 19 starts in what is now the Cup Series where his best finish was a runner up to Richard Petty.

Trained to be a plumber and pipe fitter, Ingram saw his first race when he was 14 – a late model race.  He noted that it “was the most fascinating thing I’d ever seen.”

No list of survivors was given.

feature photo credit: [[File:Jack Ingram NASCAR Driver (cropped).jpg|Jack_Ingram_NASCAR_Driver_(cropped)]]

Actor Ned Beatty Dies

Veteran character actor Ned Beatty died June 13, 2021 in his Los Angeles home less than one month before his 84th birthday. Manager Deborah Miller stated that Beatty was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his death.

Beatty made his screen debut in 1972 at Bobby Trippe in the film “Deliverance” and made his face was very recognizable in the screen. Beatty went on to appear in over 160 productions including “The Waltons”, “Whit Lightning”, “Gunsmoke”, “M*A*S*H”, “All the President’s Men”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Network”, “Silver Streak”, “The Rockford Files”, “The Streets of San Francisco”, “Our Town”, “Excorcist II: The Heretic”, “Gray Lady Down”, “Superman” and “Superman II”, “Szysnyk”, “The Incredible Shrinking Woman”, “Splender in the Grass”, “Stroker Ace”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Highway to Heaven”, “The Big Easy”, “The Boys”, “Roseanne”, “Homicide: Life on the Street”, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, “Shooter”, and “Toy Story 3”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdTdQ6jIfB8

In all that time, he earned only one Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in “Network”. He fared somewhat better on Broadway, garnering a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.

He was born Ned Thomas Beatty on July July 6, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky but was raised in Lexington and attended the theater. It was after appearing in a play while in high school that Beatty decided to make acting a career. He spent 10 summers on the stage in Abingdon, VA and eight years with the Arena Stage Company in Washington, D.C. before becoming a stage actor.

Beatty is survived by his fourth wife Sandra and eight children.

feature photo credit: Ned Beatty (2081521273).jpg

Rapper DMX Has Died

Iconic Rap artist DMX died April 9, 2021 in White Plains, New York as a result of a massive heart attack at the age of 50. His was surrounded by family at the time of his death.

DMX was known for his gruff voice and thoughtful messages in his lyrics. Speaking on DMX, his label Def Jam Recordings said, “his message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity.” Adding that the artists was, “nothing less than a giant”.

But the rapper also had his share of difficulties in dealing with addiction and legal matters.

He burst onto the music scene in 1998 with his chart topping debut album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”. The album went on to be certified four times platinum for selling four million copies. It was the first of five albums to be certied platinum and multi-platinum.

He was named The Favourite Rap or Hip-Hop artist in the 2000 American Music Awards.

As a part of the Ruff Ryders, DMX helped to launch the musical careers of Eve and Swizz Beatz and helped to relaunch The Lox’s career.

More than just a rapper, DMX made his way to the big screen where he appeared in over three dozen productions including “South Park”, “Romeo Must Die”, “Exit Wounds”, “Cradle 2 the Grave”, “Third Watch”, “Last Hour”, “Fresh Off the Boat”, “The After Party”, “Beyond the Law”, “Chronicle of a Serial Killer”, and numerous music videos.

“Fast Vengeance” was in post production and “Doggmen” was being filmed at the time of his death.

His music has appeared in over 70 productions including “South Park”, “Light it Up”, “Any Given Sunday”, “Romeo Must Die”, “Gone in 60 Seconds”, “Exit Wounds”, “The Fast and the Furious”, “Without a Trace”, “Half Past Dead”, “Cold Case”, “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Deadpool”, the 2016 “Ghostbusters”, “American Dad!”, “Godfather of Harlem”, and “Hamilton”.

He was born Earl Simmons on December 18, 1970 in Mount Vernon, New York. He spent some time in children’s homes as a child; which is where he got his stage name DMX – from the name on a drum machine.

DMX’s survivors include his mother and children.

DMX discography:
“It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”
“Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”
“…And Then There was X”
“The Great Depression”
“Grand Champ”
“Year of the Dog…Again”
“Live”
“Undisputed”
“Redemption of the Beast”
“Dog Eats Rabbit”


feature photo credit: PATV Channel 18 Iowa CityFlickr: DMX in Iowa City

Singer BJ Thomas Dies

Grammy Award winning entertainer BJ Thomas died May 29 in his Arlington, Texas home as a result of lung cancer at the age of 78.

Thomas burst on to the music scene in 1969 when he was tapped to perform “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” for the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.  Thomas earned as Academy Award for the Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hziG9Nr6KHU

He went on to earn five Grammy Awards and release a number of other pop, country, and gospel hits including “Hooked on a Feeling”, ″(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”, and “I Just Can’t Help Believing”.  His gospel album “Home Where I Belong” wen t on to become the first such album to be certified platinum for selling one million copies.

Thomas also has two Dove Awards – Gospel Music Awards – to his credit.  He has sold over 70 million albums around the world.  He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry when he was 30 years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkQoPfmUbY8

During his career, Thomas has performed with Dionne Warwick, Richard Marx, Vince Gill, Sara Niemietz, Keb Mo, Lyle Lovett, and Isaac Slade of The Fray.

Along with “Sundance”, Thomas’ music can be heard on dozens of productions including “Growing Pains”, “Bobby’s World”, “Forrest Gump”, “Chicago Hope”, “The In-Laws”, “Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle”, “Spider-Man 2”, “Cold Case”, “Mike & Mike”, “Family Guy”, and “Mrs. America”.

Billy Joe Thomas was born August 7, 1942 in Hugo Oklahoma but was raised in Houston, Texas where he loved to play baseball as a child.  He took the nickname BJ after several of his baseball mates had the same name.  He began singing in church as a teen-ager and went on to become a part of the locka rock band the Triumphs.  Saying that he “was raised in a fairly dysfunctional situation”, Thomas dealt with addiction issues for many years until his wife helped him to get clean in 1975.

Thomas is survived by his wife of over 50 years Gloria, daughters – Paige, Nora, and Erin – and four grandchildren.

BJ Thomas discography:
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
“Tomorrow Never Comes”
“On My Way”
“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
“Young and in Love”
“Everybody’s Out of Town”
“Most of All”
“BJ Thomas Country”
“Billy Joe Thomas”
“Rock’n ‘Roll Lullaby”
“Songs “
“Longhorn & London Bridges”
“Help Me Make it (To My Rockin’ Chair)”
“Reunion”
“B.J. Thomas”
“Home Where I Belong”
“Everybody Loves  a Rain Song”
“Happy Man”
“You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Game Me a Prayer)”
“In Concert”
“Amazing Grace”
“Some Love Songs Never Die”
“Miracle”
“Peace in the Valley”
“Love Shines”
“New Looks”
“The Great American Dream”
“Shining”
“You Gave Me Love”
“Throwin’ Rocks at the Moon”
“All is Calm, All is Bright”
“Night Life”
Hey Won’t You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
“Midnight Minute”
“As We Know Him”
“Jesus Hearted People”
“Back Against the Wall”
“Rock and Roll Lullaby”
“Still Standing Here”
“Precious Memories”
“Scenes of Christmas”
“B.J. Thomas Sings Hank Williams and Other Favorites”
“I Believe”
“Christmas is Coming Home”
“Sounds of Christmas”
“You Call that a Mountain”
“Greatest & Latest”
“Holiday Treasures
Series: Country Christmas”
“That Christmas Feeling”
“We Praise: Glorify Thy Name”
“Home for Christmas”
“Love to Burn”
“Christmas Live”
“The Living Room Sessions”
“Recollections”
“Lovin’ You”

feature photo credit: B J Thomas Dec 2012.jpg, [[File:B J Thomas Dec 2012.jpg|B_J_Thomas_Dec_2012]]

‘The Rifleman’ Star Johnny Crawford Dies

Child acting star Johnny Crawford died April 29, 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 virus and pneumonia at the age of 75. His website reports that his wife was by his side at the time of his death. Crawford’s website also had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and had been living in a memory care facility before getting sick.

While he is best known for the role of Mark McCain – the son of Lucas McCain – “The Rifleman” -, Crawford was a multi-talented individual who also had his own big band.


Crawford began his television career as one of the original members of “The Mickey Mouse Club”. From there he went on to appear in 168 episodes of “The Rifleman”.

He earned his first Emmy Award nomination when he was just 13 years old.

After an uncredited role in his debut television appearance in “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”; Crawford appeared in dozens of productions including “The Lone Ranger”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, the “Zane Grey Theatre”, “Wagon Train”, “Tales of Wells Fargo”, “The Rifleman”, “Mr. Ed”, “Rawhide”, Luke MacDonald in “El Dorado”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “The Big Valley”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “Murder, She Wrote”, and his final appearance in “The Marshall”.

Crawford showed off his musical ability with performances on “The Rifleman”, “Hollywood a Go Go”, “The Thirteenth Floor”, “Welcome to Collinwood”, and “Hellboy”.

Growing up in a musical family, it is no surprise that Crawford turned to making music on his own. In 1962 his song “Cindy’s Birthday” charted in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; the first of eight Hot 100 hits in his career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT6m6rNANWU

Later he became the lead singer for Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Channeling his love for Big Band Jazz and Swing music, Crawford formed The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra in 1990. A stickler for authenticity, he used the original music charts and even donning a top coat and tails.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0L2501V-Zw

He was born John Ernest Crawford on March 26, 1946 in Los Angeles, California into a musical and theatrical family. His grandparents were violinists in Germany, a Belgium, and the United States; music teachers; piano accompanists; composers, Broadway producers; managed Al Jolson; and played with Irving Berlin.

He spent two years in the United States Army where he was stationed in Queens, New York where he worked on producing training films.

When not on the set filming or in the recording studio; Crawford could frequently be found at the rodeo competing in steer wrestling, calf roping, bronc riding, bull riding, and trick roping.

Crawford is survived by his wife of 25 years Charlotte


Johnny Crawford Discography:
“The Captivating Johnny Crawford”
“A Young Man’s Fancy”
“Rumors”
“Songs from ‘The Restless Ones’”
“Treasure”
“For Always”

feature photo credit: Johnny Crawford’s Facebook page

Bay City Roller Les McKeown Dies

The seventies pop boy band Bay City Rollers has lost another member with the death of Les McKeown. His family announced that McKeown died April 20, 2021. A cause of death was not revealed that the singer died at home at the age of 65.

The Bay City Rollers were formed in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 60’s. McKeown joined the band in 1973 at age 18, taking over for original lead singer Gordon “Nobby” Clark.

Over their short career, The Rollers had a huge global teen following and sold over 100 million albums around the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGD27WgtKhI

MdKeown’s father was a tailor and made the band’s tartan costumes.

Some members of the British media referred to the Bay City Rollers as the “biggest group since the Beatles”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57g5Z_3kXOE

Like many bands, after breaking up in 1978 The Rollers reunited in 2015 for a short tour that played to sold out houses including women who were fans as teens and brought their young daughters.

After leaving The Rollers in 1978, McKeown released nine solo albums in the following years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hLvnjnWBlA

Leslie Richard McKeown was born November 12, 1955 in Edinburgh to Irish parents.

He is pre-deceased by Bay City Rollers founding member Alan Longmuir who died at age 70 in 2018.

is survived by his wife Peko Keiko and son Jubei.

feature photo credit: [[File:Oldienacht-Bay City Rollers-9581.jpg|Oldienacht-Bay_City_Rollers-9581]]

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Dies

For over 70 nears he stood by her side as a consort, confidant, and companion; His Royal Highness Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh died April 9, 2021 at Windsor Castle just two months before his 100th birthday.  Buckingham Palace reports that the Prince died peacefully.  His Royal Highness had recently spent time in the hospital.

With a marriage to Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for 74 years, the couple hold the record for the longest marriage in British history.

Up until his retirement from public life a few years ago, Prince Philip made thousands of appearances fulfilling various engagements for the British Empire that included heading charities, founding programs to benefit the Commonwealth’s children, and had a hand in raising his four children.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II once referred to the Prince as “her rock”.  As for Prince Philip, he saw his job as to “never let her down”.

In British tradition, Prince Philip served in the military during World War II before marrying into British royalty.  His only “job” was that of consort to Her Majesty the Queen; walking three paces behind her in public appearances.  The Prince once noted, “constitutionally, I don’t exist”.

Along with his title of Prince and Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Philip holds the Order of Merit, is a Knight of the Thistle, had a license to fly fixed wing, helicopter, and private planes, was the first person to hold the position of President of the World Wildlife Fund – a position he held for 20 years -, is the Earl of Merioneth, the Baron Greenwich, is a Knight of the Garter, is a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, and is a Companion of the Order of Australia.  He also holds the titles of Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, and is a Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

The Prince was known for speaking his mind; at times seemingly brash, insensitive, and controversial.

He was born Philippos Andreou of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Glücksburg Prince of Greece and Denmark on the dining room table of the family home in Corfu, Greece.  He was the fifth child, and only son, born to Prince Andrew and Princess Alice of Battenberg.  His father was the younger brother of the King of Greece.  His grandfather came from Denmark in the 1860’s to become the King of Greece.  His great-great-grandmother was Queen Victoria; as is Her Majesty Queen Elilzabeth.  His family moved to France when young Philip was only 18 months old after his father was put on trial after a military defeat.

After his British education, Philip attended Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth before joining the Royal Navy where he served on battleships in the Mediterranean; as well as, the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  He was present when Japan surrendered in 1945.

In July 1947, Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of then Princess Elizabeth; the couple were married on November 20 of that year.

A young mother of two, Princess Elizabeth became Queen of Britain in 1952 after the death of her father King George VI.  And Prince Philip had to give up his career in the Royal Navy to begin his lifetime engagement as the consort to the Queen.  During the coronation he pledged to be “her liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship”.

With Covid lockdown rules firmly in the foreground, plans for Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements will not include a lying in state, but will take place at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel and is expected to include a “significant” military presence.  Large crowds will not be allowed to gather for the funeral events but will be able to view them via television.  Once the health crisis is over, a public memorial service may be possible.

Now living in the United States, grandson Harry may have to quarantine prior to attending the funeral.

Prince Philip is survived by his wife of 73 years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, children – Princess Anne and Princes Charles, Andrew, and Edward; eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grand children.

feature photo credit: [[File:Prince Phillip of Edinburgh.jpg|Prince_Phillip_of_Edinburgh]]

Actor Kevin Dobson Has Died

Actor Kevin Dobson died September 6, 2020 in a French Camp, California hospital as a result of complications from a autoimmune disorder at the age of 77.

Like many actors, he got his start in a daytime drama in 1968 when he played Governor Harrison Brooks in “One Life to Live”.

After making his television debut on “One Life to Live”, Dobson appeared in dozens of productions including “Mod Squad”, “Emergency”, “Ironside”, “Cannon”, “Midway”, an episode of “Captain Kangaroo”, 117 episodes of “Kojak”, nearly 300 episodes of “Knots Landing” and its subsequent reunions, “Touched by an Angel”, Detective Leo McCarthy on “F/X: The Series”, an episode of “Nash Bridges”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “Days of Our Lives”, “CSI: Crim Scene Investigation”, “Hawaii Five-O”, and “House of Lies”. He is listed as one of the cast members for “12 to Midnight” which will premiere later this year.

He was born Kevin Patrick Dobson on March 18, 1943, one of seven children, in New York City. An Irish American, He grew up in the Jackson Heights area of Queens. Before becoming an actor, Dobson worked for the Long Island Railroad, as a waiter, and was an MP in the Army.

Dobson is survived by his wife of over 50 years Susan, children – Mariah, Patrick, and Sean -, siblings – Dennis Brian, Mary Alice, and Jane, and five grandchildren.

feature photo credit: [[File:Kevin Dobson 1975.JPG|Kevin_Dobson_1975]]

Bunny Wailer Has Died

Bunny Wailer – the founding member of The Wailers – has died at the age of 73. Wailer died March 21, 2021 in a Kingston, Jamaica hospital. While an official cause of death was not given, Wailer had been in and out of the hospital dealing with issues as a result of his second stroke last year.

In a career that spanned seven decades, the Raggae star originally formed The Wailers with Bob Marley, and Peter Tosh in 1963.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness spoke on Wailer via Twitter saying, “this is a great loss for Jamaica and for Reggae, undoubtedly Bunny Wailer will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica’s culture”.

He was born Neville O’Reiley Livingston on April 10, 1947 in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. Bunny and Bob Marley knew each other since they were both small boys. It was while being mentored by the “godfather of raggae” Joe Higgs, that the boys met Peter Tosh. The trio formed what would become The Wailers and ventured to Kingston where they recruited Junior Braithwaite, Beerley Kelso, and Cherry Smith for the band. Their first taste of success was with the song “Simmer Down”. The Marley penned song was a number one it in Jamaica.

A number of personnel changes and various obligations from original members sidelined the band for a time but the original trio got back together and resumed making music where by 1973, they were the biggest band in Jamaica.

Along with making hit song, The Wailers made the Rastafarian culture cool.

When he wasn’t traveling the world sharing the love of Raggae, Wailer enjoyed his Jamaican mountain home, farming, and writing music.

Bunny Wailer was the last surviving original member of The Wailers. No list of survivors was released.

Bunny Wailer discography:
“Blackheart Man”
“Protest”
“Roots Radics Rockers Reggae”
“Sings the Wailers”
“Struggle”
“Rock’n’Groove”
“Hoo, Line & Sinker”
“Live”
“Marketplace”
Rootsman Skanking”
“Rule Dance Hall”
“Liberation”
“Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley”
“Gumption”
“Dance Massive”
“Just Be Nice”
“Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary”
“Communication”

feature photo credit: Dubdem Sound System :: Jamaican Tour 2009

Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Dies

Author Beverly Cleary died March 25, 2021 in Carmel Valley, California at the age of 104.  No further details of her death were given.

Clearly is best known for her children’s books that reflected her own life as a child growing up in Oregon.

A former librarian, Cleary was in her 30’s when she penned her first book “Henry Huggins”.  Other Cleary characters include Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby, and Ramona.  She began writing children’s books after repeatedly hearing children come into the library asking for books about children like themselves.

Over the course of her career, Clearly has earned a National Book Award, the John Newbery Medal, a Library of Congress Living Legend, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and is a National Medal of Arts recipient.

Besides having her book translated into over a dozen languages, Cleary has seen her books inspire television programs in Japan Denmark, Sweden, Canada.

Noting that she didn’t like to type, Cleary once said in an interview that she would spend more time thinking about her typing than what she wanted to say; as a result, she chose to write her books out in long hand.

Beverly Atlee Bunn was an only child born on April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon, but lived on a farm in Yamhill until she was six years old.  Her family then moved to Portland.  While in first grade, young Beverly had the chicken pox, smallpox, and tonsillitis.  All that missed time from school resulted in her having issue with reading.

By the time she was in sixth or seventh grade, Beverly had decided that she wanted to write children’s stories.

After graduating from junior college in Ontario, California; she attended the University of California at Berkeley.  It was there that she met Clarence Cleary, the man that would become her husband.  She later attended the University of Washington and began her career as a librarian in Yakima.  During World War II, she served at post librarian at the Oakland Army Hospital.

Cleary is predeceased by her husband.

feature photo credit: By Unknown author – Photo of Beverly Cleary, State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38507324

Award Winner Douglas Turner Ward Dies

Tony Award winning director, writer, and actor Douglas Turner Ward died February 20, 2021 in New York City at the age of the 90. An official cause of death was not given.

Ward; along with Robert Hooks and Gerald Krone, founded the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967.  The St. Mark’s Playhouse went on to become home base for the Company.  The trio were awarded a Special Tony Award for creation of the Theatre Company.

Ward has been a part of “The Iceman Cometh”, “The River Niger”, “The First Breeze of Summer”, “A Soldier’s Play”, “A Raisin in the Sun”, and “Home”.

Along with his Tony Award, Tony Award, and three time Drama Desk Award winner;  Ward is a member of the “Theater Hall of Fame”.

On the screen Ward is credited with acting roles in “East Side/West Side”, “Man and Boy”, “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, “The Crosby Show”, “The Women of Brewster Place”, “Law & Order”, “New York News”, “Cosby”, “For Love of Olivia” and “Black Eros”.

He was born Roosevelt Ward Jr on May 5, 1030 in Burnside, Louisiana but grew up in New Orleans.  His name change to Douglas Turner Ward is a tribute to abolitionist Frederick Douglas and slave revolter Nat Turner.

Ward is survived by his wife of over 50 years Diana, children Elizabeth and Douglas, and three grand children.

feature photo credit: By Running Wild Films – The Lion at Rest: Conversations with Douglas Turner Ward at 00:48, cropped, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66007321

Salsa Pioneer Johnny Pacheco Dies

Salsa pioneer and icon Johnny Pacheco died February 15, 2021 in Teaneck, New Jersey at the age of 85. His wife had reported via Facebook that Pacheco had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Co-founder of Fania Records, he backed fellow Latin music artists Ruben Blades, Willie Coln, and Celia Cruz. He was also a bandmate with Eddie Palmieri.

He received the Music Excellence Award in f2005 from the Latin Recording Academy and was presented with the Silver Pen Award by ASCAP in 2004.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXN-_asIaYs

His music has been herd on the documentary “Salsa”, “A Woman’s Revenge”, “Fires Within”, “The Mambo Kings”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Born Romantic”, “El cantante”, the video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories”, the documentary “Soul Power”, an episode of “Dancing with the Stars”, two episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance”, and “Like a Boss. Pacheco also appeared in an uncredited role as the Conductor of the Carorrojeno Orchestra in “Badge 373”.

Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping was born March 25, 1935 in the Dominican Republic to a musical family. While Juan was still a child, his family immigrated to New York City. It is there that he taught himself to play the accordion, violin, saxophone, and clarinet. He picked up percussion while at the Julliard School of Music.

Still in his teens, Pacheco formed The Chuchulecos Boys.

He joined forces with attorney Jerry Masucci in 1963 to create Fania Records where he was the music director, composer, arranger, and producer. The label often known as the “Latin Motown” last for some 20 years.

He is survived by his wife Maria Elena “Cuqui” and four children – Norma, Joanne, Elis, and Phillip.


Johnny Pacheco discography:
“Caramelos”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”
“Que Suene la Flauta”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”, Vol. 3: Que Suene la Flauta”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”, Vol. 4: Suav’ito”
“Chen Chere, El Suavesito, Recuerdo de Arcano”

“Las Charangas”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga, Vol. 5: Spotlight on Pacheco”
“Guachinango”
Mi Nuevo Tumbao….Canonazo”
“Pacheco at the N.Y. World’s Fair”
“Que Suene La Flauta, Vol. 3”
“Hit Flute and Latin Jam”
“Te Invita a Bailar”
“By Popular Demand: Por Demanda Popular”
“Viva Africa”
“Para Gozar Belen”
“Esencia del Guaguanco”
“Pacheco Presenta a Monguito”
“La Perfecta Combinacion”
“Los Compadres”
“Canonazo”
“Mango, Pina y Maranon”
“Volando Bajito”
“Tres de Cafe y Dos de Azucar”
“Viralo Al Reves”
“Celia & Johnny”
“El Maestro”
“Tremendo Cache”
“Recordando el Ayer”
“Esa Prieta”
“Llego Melon”
“The Artist”
“Los Dos Mosqueteros”
“Eternos”
“Los Distinguidos”
“Los Amigos”
“Los Dinamicos”
“Champ”
“Le Crema”
“Las Tres Flautas: Javier y Su Charanga”
“Sabrosura”
“La Crema”
“El Zorro de Plata y el Flaco de Oro”
“De Pelicula” (Musica Latina)
“Fajardo y Pacheco”
“De Nuevo Los Compadres”
“Jicamo”
“Salsobita”
“Celebracion”
“Sima!”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga, Vol. 2”
“Suav’ito”
“Latin Piper”
“Once Upon a Time”
“Sabor Tipico”
“Flying High”
“Johnny Pacheco”
“Early Rhythms”
“Entre Amigos”
“Los Dos Mosqueteros”
“Descargando con los Tres Grandes”
“Fania Classics: Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco”
“Los Amigos”

feature photo credit: By Hykso623 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65813269

Music Artist Ari Gold Dies

Pioneering out artist Ari Gold died in New York City just days after his 47th birthday.

Gold was “discovered” when he was only five years old singing at his brother’s Bar Mitzvah. Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of television commercials as a child and later launched a singing career.

In 2019 Gold was diagnosed cancer-free after months of treatment and hospital visits.

When the LGBTQ+ based network LOGO featured a music video show, Gold’s music was among the rotation of videos. His video for “Wave of You” was reportedly the first video to air on the network.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksXyvhIJQmQ

Gold’s television appearances include documentaries, “NewNowNext Music”, “Sheftik Presents Invocation: The Journey Continues”, the George Michael tribute viedo of “Too Funky”, “Vega411”, the child voice in “The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus”, Ba Nee in “Jem”, the Trash Popstar in “Latin Boys Go to Hell”, “The Olive Tree”, Tyrone Cohen in “Starrbooty”, and “Mila Jam: bruised”.

His music has appeared on “Latin Boys Go to Hell”, “Circuit”, “Shortbus”, “Courgar Town”, “Bear City”, and “Eating Out: The Open Weekend”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7PDM1YY5gw

Over the course of his career Gold was knighted by a drag queen of the Imperial Court of NY, was crowned a Living Legend by the Glam Awards, named a Visionary Award winner by the LGBT Academy of Recording Artists, is an Independent Music Award winner, and is a USA Songwriting Competition Grand Prize winner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LytmO1fbxPs

He has collaborated with the original Queen of Drag RuPaul, Boy George of Culture Club, “The Voice” alum Sasha Allen, Desmond Child, Sarah Dash of Labelle, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, and sax man Dave Koz.

He has opened shows for Martha Wash and Chaka Khan.

Tommy Page and Kevin Aviance have recorded songs written by Gold.

He has had hits with the songs “Wave of You”, “Love Will Take Over”, and “Where the Music Takes You”.

Along with numerous appearances in his native New York City, Gold has graced stages all over the world.

Ever the entertainer, Gold launched the podcast “A Kiki from the Cancer Ward” which included conversations with Laverne Cox and RuPaul.

He is survived by family members.

Ari Gold discography:
“Ari Gold”
“Space Under the Sun”
The Remixes”
“Transport Systems”
“Play My F**kin Music”
“Between the Spirit & the Flesh”

feature photo credit: By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2998525

Chick Corea Dies

Grammy Award winning Jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea died February 9, 2021 as a result of cancer at the age of 79.

Working until the end, Corea had commissions for a trombone concerto for the New York Philharmonic and a percussion concerto for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Over the course of his 50 plus year career, Corea worked with Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Bela Fleck, Sarah Vaughan, Miroslav Vitous, Roy Haynes, Cab Calloway, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnSC0tRmya4

His accomplishments include 23 Grammys as a solo artist  and has wins with the Chick Corea Akoustic Band, Return to Forever, the Chick Corea Trio, and Chick Corea and the Spanish Heart Band.  He was also named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master, had four Latin Grammy Awards, is a member of the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Hall of Fame and a frequent winner of Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year award.

Prior to his death Corea posted a message on his Facebook page saying, “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”

Along with his solo work, Corea formed the groups Circle, and Return to Forever; as well as, an acoustic band.  More than just a Jazz artist, he performed Classical, Latin, and standards.

His music has appeared in the film and television productions “Too Hot to Handle”, “Spede Show”, “The Road to Freedom: L. Ron Hubbard and Friends”, “Cat Chaser”, “You Don’t Look 40, Charlie Brown”,  “Empire”, “The Mortician”, “The Grammy Awards”, “The Mark of Beauty”, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”, and “The Two Popes”.

He was born Armando Anthony Corea on June 12, 1941 in Chelsea, Massachusetts where he began piano lessons at the very young age of four.  At one time he attended Columbia University and the Julliard School of Music.

Corea is survived by his wife Gayle and song Thaddeus.

Chick Corea discography:
“Bliss!”
“La Fiesta”
“Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”
“Tones for Joan’s Bones”
“Is”
“Jazz for a Sunday Afternoon”
“Sundance”
“Circulus”
“A.R.C.”
“Paris-Concert”
“Song of Singing”
“Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1”
“Early Circle”
“Crystal Silence”
“Light as a Feather”
“Piano Improvisations, Vol. 2”
“Return to Forever”
“Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy”
“Live in New York City” 1974
“Where Have I Known You Before”
“No Mystery”
“The Leprechaun”
“My Spanish Heart”
“The Sun”
“Secret Agent”
“An Evening with Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock”
“Delphi I: Solo Piano Improvisations”
“An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea: In Concert”
“Friends”
“Live: Complete Concert”
“The Mad Hatter”
“Duet: Chick Corea & Gary Burton”
“In Concert: Zurich, October 28, 1979”
“Tap Step”
“Trio Music”
“Three Quartets”
“Live in Montreux”
“Again and Again”
“The Meeting”
“The Griffith Park Colleciton”
“Lyric Suite for Sextet”
“The Griffith Park Colleciton 2: In Concert”
“Touchstone”
“Chick Corea: Children’s Songs”
“On Two Pianos”
“Voices”
“Voyage”
“Trio Music: Live in Europe”
“Septet”
“The Elekrtic Band”
“Light Years”
“Eye of the Beholder”
“Chick Corea Akoustic Band”
“Play”
“Inside Out”
“Acoustic Band Live”
“Beneath the Mask”
“Alive”
“Masters of Piano”
“Expressions”
“Paint the World”
“Time Warp”
“Live from the Country Club”
“Live from Elario’s”
“The Mozart Sessions”
“Remembering Bud Powell”
“Circle 1: Live in Germany”
“Native Sense: The New Duets”
“Like Minds”
“A Week at the Blue Note”
“Change”
“Corea Concerto: Spain for Sextet & Orchestra / Piano Concerto No. 1”
“Live from Blue Note Tokyo”
“Solo Piano: Standards”
“Solo Piano: Originals”
“Past, Present, & Futures”
“Rendezvous in New York”
“To the Stars”
“The Ultimate Adventure”
“The Enchantment”
“Chillin’ in Chelan”
“From Miles”
“Duet: Chick & Hiromi”
“The New Crystal Silence”
“Five Peace Band: Live”
“Forever”
“Orvieto”
“Further Explorations”
“The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra”
“Hot House”
“The Vigi”
“Trilogy”
“Solo Piano: Portraits”
“Two”
“Chick & Makoto: Duets”
“The Musician”
“Groove Dreams”
“Chinese Butterfly”
“Trilogy 2”
“Live”
“Antidote”
“Plays”

Feature photo credit: By Tsaorin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71196737

Supreme Mary Wilson Dies

One of the original members of The Supremes – Mary Wilson – died February 8 in her Nevada home as a result of hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure due to artery blockage – at the age of 76.

Just a few days before her death, Wilson had released a video speaking on her future plans which included new music and a 60th Supremes anniversary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfXGTkx7xaU

One of the founding members of the 60’s girl groups, The Supremes helped to define “the Motown sound”.  By the end of the 60’s the Supremes was Motown’s most successful artist with 12 number one hit songs. 

The group broke up in 1977 with Wilson as the only original member remaining.

Motown founder Berry Gordy called Wilson and the Supremes, were the “sweethearts of Motown”.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

After the breakup of the Supremes, Wilson went on to launch a solo singing career, become a best selling author, and compete on the competition reality show “Dancing with the Stars”.

In 2001 Wilson was a cast member of the touring troupe for the Broadway musical “Leader of the Pack”.  Her other acting credits include an uncredited appearance in an episode of the “Tarzan” television series, the singer of the “National Anthemn” in “Tiger Town”, “Jackie’s Back!”, and “Golden Shoes”.

As herself, Wilson made over 100 appearances both as a part of the Supremes and solo including documentaries, music shows, game shows, talk shows, and award shows.  She was even a guest judge on an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.

She was born on March 6, 1944 in Greenville, Mississippi and lived in St. Louis and Chicago before the family settled in Detroit where she met future fellow Supreme member Florence Ballard while in middle school.  Other school friends include members of The Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Predeceased by her son Rafael, Wilson is survived by children Turkessa and Pedro.

feature photo credit: By Jay Godwin – https://www.flickr.com/photos/lbjlibrarynow/49173908547/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84639814

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez Dies

Baseball journalist and correspondent Pedro Gomez died suddenly February 7 in his Phoenix, Arizona home at the age of 58.  An official cause of death has not been released.

Gomez had been a part of 25 World Series and 22 All Star Games during his career.  The son of Cuban parents, Gomez had the ability to speak to the Latin players in their native Spanish and translate their answers into English.

While working for ESPN, he was a part of the programs “Sports Center”, “Baseball Tonight”, and their Wednesday night Major League Baseball coverage.

Prior to coming to ESPN, Gomez worked for the Arizona Republic, the Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, The Miami Herald, San Diego Union and The Miami News.  A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Gomez had voting rights to induct nominees into the MLB Hall of Fame.

Gomez was born in Miami the son of Cuban refugees – his parents fled the island nation in 1962.  He majored in journalism at the University of Miami.  He made his first visit to Cuba in 1999 while covering an exhibition game the Baltimore Orioles and the Cuban National team.

Predeceased by his father and brother, Pedro Gomez is survived by his wife Sandra and children – Rio, Dante, and Sierra.

feature photo credit: By eric molina – https://www.flickr.com/photos/iamagenious/3069158487/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99674157

Award Winning Actor Christopher Plummer Dies

Award winning veteran actor Christopher Plummer died February 5, 2021 in his Connecticut home at the age of 91.  His wife Elaine was at his side at the time of his death.

Plummer’s 50 plus year career includes appearances in over 200 productions and numerous awards including earning an Academy Award at the age of 82; making him the oldest actor to ever receive the award.

Despite his hundreds of appearances on and off the screen. He will forever be best known for his role as Captain von Trapp in the 1965 film production of “The Sound of Music”.  He starred opposite Julie Andrews in the film.

Feeling the character of von Trapp was one dimensional, Plummer said, “It was almost impossible. It was just agony to try to make that guy not a cardboard figure.”

In his mid 80’s, with just six weeks before “All the Money in the World” was set to open in theatres, Plummer was chosen to replace Kevin Spacey in the role of L. Paul Getty.  Plummer noted that he had to learn his lines very quickly.

“Star Trek” fans know Plummer as the Klingon Chang in “Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country”.

Plummer once noted that he enjoyed playing evil characters because, “the devil is more interesting than God”.

An acting workaholic Plummer noted, “too many people in the world are unhappy with their lot. And then they retire and they become vegetables. I think retirement in any profession is death, so I’m determined to keep crackin’”.  In fact, he was in the process of filming “Heroes of the Golden Masks” as the voice of Rizzo.

He made his acting debut on the screen as Othello in 1953 on the television series “Encounter”.  His other notable roles include “The Sound of Music”, “Return of the Pink Panther”, Herod Antipas in “Jesus of Nazareth”, “Somewhere in Time”, Archbiship Vittorio Contini-Verchese in “The Thorn Birds”, “Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country”, Alexander Addington in the television series “Counterstrike”, numerous appearances in the “Madeline” franchise, “On Golden Pond”, “Nicholas Nickleby”, as John Adams Gates in “National Treasure”, “Beginners”, “Barrymore”, and “Knives Out”.

As himself, Plummer first appeared on television in an episode of “The Ed Sullivan Show”.  His other apearances include awards shows, documentaries, talk shows, and television specials.

Along with his over 200 film and television roles, Plummer appeared both on the Broadway and Shakespearian stage.  At one time or another in his career he has played Hamlet, Iago, Othello, Prospero, Henry V, and King Lear.

Plummer made his Broadway debut in 1954 as George Phillips in “The Starcross Story”.  From there, he went on to appear in “Home is the Hero”, “The Dark is Light Enough”, “The Lark”, “Night of the Auk”, “J.B.”, “Arturo Ui”, “The Royal Hunt of the Sun”, “Cyrano”, The Good Doctor”, “Othello”, “Macbeth”, “No Man’s Land”, “Barrymore”, “King Lear”, and “Inherit the Wind”.

Missing the distinction as an EGOT winner with a Grammy nomination; Plummer has won Academy, Emmy, and Tony Awards.  He has also been awarded the BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG Awards, Companion of the Order of Canada and is a member of the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame.

Born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Ontario; Plummer is the great-grandson of former Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott.  His parents divorced shortly after young Arthur was born and he grew up in Quebec.  He began his acting career on the stage in the 1940’s while still in his teens.  Trained as a classical pianist, he chose acting instead.

Plummer is survived by his third wife Elaine and daughter Amanda.

feature photo credit: By gdcgraphics, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5199198

Animals Guitarist Hilton Valentine Dies

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of The Animals – Hilton Valentine – died January 29 in Wallingford, Connecticut at the age of 77.  No official cause of death was listed.

A guitarist in the band, he is credited with creating one of the most famous riffs in the British Invasion with the opening to “House of the Rising Sun”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fy7opKu46c

Valentine was 13 before he started playing the guitar.  Before forming The Animals, he was a part of the band The Heppers which later became The Wildcats.  In 1963, he founded The Animals with Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price, and John Steel.

The band topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1964 with “House of the Rising Sun”.  He remained a part of The Animals for four years before embarking on a solo career before making a return to the band.  Most recently, Valentine has been a part of the band Skiffledog.

He was born Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine on May 21, 1943 in North Shields, England.

Along with his various musical appearances on television, he appeared as an actor on “Bikini World”, “Ready, Steady, Go”, “The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood”, and the video for “House of the Rising Sun”.

Valentine is survived by his wife Germaine.

feature photo credit: By Richard William Laws – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69265068

NHL Hall of Famer George Armstrong Dies

Former Toronto Maple Leafs player and Hockey Hall of Fame member George Armstrong died January 24, 2021 as a result of heart complications at the age of 90.

Armstrong helped the Leafs wins four Stanley Cup championships in the 1960’s.

The right winger spent 21 seasons in Toronto – 12 seasons as the team captain -, scored 296 goals, had 417 assists, and holds the record for most games played as a Maple Leaf.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.

During the Toronto Maple Leafs centennial celebration, he was listed as 12th on the all time best 100 Maple Leafs’ players.

The Maple Leafs spoke on Armstrong saying that he, “is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization.”

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said, “a proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf, but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn’t even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row.”

One of the first members of the First Nations to play in the NHL, Armstrong was known as “Chief” (Shoot the Puck) to his team mates in an homage to his Native heritage.  He became the first Native player to score a goal in the NHL.

His jersey number was retired in 2016 and is one of the few Maple Leaf players to be honoured by a banner at the arena.

After retiring from the game in 1971 due to a knee injury at the age of 40, Armstrong spent a few years coaching before becoming a scout in Quebec.  He would later return to Toronto where he worked as an assistant general manager and was the interim coach to finish out the 1988/89 season after the Leafs fired head coach John Brophy.  The next season he returned to scouting, but this time for his beloved Maple Leafs.

The son of an Irish father and an Iroquois mother, he was born on July 6, 1930 in Skead, Ontario.

No list of survivors was given.

feature photo credit: By Unknown author – eBay front of photo back of photo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30922860

Acting Legend Cicely Tyson Dies

Icon of stage and screen, actress Cicely Tyson died January 28, 2021 at the age of 96.  Announcing the death, the family gave no further details.

Born in Harlem, she became a pioneer in Hollywood and on the stage; choosing to take roles that had some meaning and not just anything that came along for the money.

Once noting that age was just a number, Tyson continued to work even appearing in an episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” last year.

She began her career not on the stage, but on the runway as a model.

Tyson made her Broadway debut in 1959 as the understudy in “Jolly’s Progress”.  From there she went on to appear in “The Cool World”, “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright”, “A Hand is on the Gate”, “Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights”, “Trumpets of the Lord”, “The Corn is Green”, “The Trip to Bountiful”, and “The Gin Games”.

She made her acting debut in 1951 as Tony in the television series “Frontiers of Faith”.  From there she went on to appear in nearly 100 film and television productions including “East Side/West Side”, an episode of the daytime drama “Guiding Light”, “Medical Center”, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Sounder”, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman”, the first episode of “Roots” as Binta – the mother of Kunta, as Coretta Scott King in “King”, “A Woman Called Moses”, “The Women of Brewster Place”, “Fried Green Tomatoes”, “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”, “Sweet Justice”, “Touched by an Angel”, “The Rosa Parks Story”, Aunt Rose in “Madea’s Family Reunion”, “The Help”, “The Trip to Bountiful”, “House of Cards”, and “How to Get Away with Murder”.

As herself, Tyson as appeared on game shows, talk shows, variety shows, award shows, documentaries, and was a judge on an episode of “Star Search”.

While an Academy Award win eluded her, she was presented with an honourary Oscar in 2018.  Tyson’s awards include two Emmy Awards to her credit; along with, a Tony Award for her role in “The Trip to Bountiful” at the age of 88 – making her the oldest actors to win the award -, a Drama Desk Award, a Vernon Rice Award for her performance in the Off Broadway production “Moon on a Rainbow”, and has been inducted into the Theater and Black Filmmakers Halls of Fame.  In 2016, President Barack Obama presented Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

When she won the Emmy Award for her role in the “Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman”, she became the first woman of colour to win the award for a leading role.

A first generation American, she was born December 19, 1924 in Harlem, New York to Caribbean Island parents.  The youngest of three, Cicely was only nine years old when she worked her first job of selling shopping bags on the streets of Harlem.  Before beginning her acting career, she worked as a secretary.

She is a co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Married and divorced to jazz legend Miles Davis, the couple had no children.  No list of survivors was released.

feature photo credit: By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19229092

Award Winning Actor Cloris Leechman Dies

Award winning actress Cloris Leachman died January 26, 2021 in her Encinitas, California home at the age of 94.  The cause of death is being listed as natural causes.

The Emmy and Oscar award winning actress had a career that spanned over 70 years beginning in 1947 in an uncredited role as a patron in a dance club.  Over the course of that career, she made over 400 appearances both as herself and as a credited actor.

More than just a screen actor, Leechman also appeared on the Broadway stage and performed on national touring productions including “Show Boat” and “Grandma Moses”.

Her Broadway credits are “Masquerade”, “A Touch of the Poet”, “King of Hearts”, “Sunday Breakfast”, “Dear Barbarians”, “Lo and Behold!”, “A Story for a Sunday Evening”, “As You Like It’, “South Pacific”, “Sundown Beach”, “John Loves Mary”, and “Happy Birthday”.

Along with her Theater World Award, Leechman has won a total of eight Emmy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, and an Academy Award as a best supporting actress in “The Last Picture Show”.

Her 2008 appearance on the competition reality series “Dancing with the Stars” which made her the oldest cast member ever to appear on the show.

With hundreds of productions to her credit, Leechman has been on numerous variety shows, documentaries, talk shows, award shows, and game shows.  She has even been a guest judge on an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and was a guest on “The Muppet Show”.

After making her screen debut in an uncredited role in 1947, Leechman made her credited screen debut the following year in the “Ford Theatre Hour”.  Her nearly 300 film and television roles include “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Climax!”, “Lassie”, “Gunsmoke”, “Dr. Kildare”, “Young Frankenstein”, 48 episodes of her own show “Phyllis”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “High Anxiety”, “History of the World: Part 1”, “The Love Boat”, “The Facts of Life”, “The Ellen Show”, “The Twilight Zone” – original and remake, “Malcolm in the Middle”, “Raising Hope”, “Mad About You”, and the voice of Gran in “The Croods: A New Age”.  The production “High Holiday” has been completed; while “Not to Forget” is currently in post-production.

She was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa where the family lived in a house with no running water.  She began taking piano lessons when she was only five years old and used a cardboard drawing of the keys as her practice instrument.  She first came to the attention of television fans in 1946 as Miss Chicago in the “Miss America” pageant.

After the “Miss America” pageant, she went to New York City and began her acting career on both the screen and stage.

Predeceased by her son Bryan, she is survived by her children Dinah, Adam, George, and Morgan.

feature photo credit: By Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6993667

‘Babylon 5’s’ Mira Furlan – Delenn – Dies

Yugoslavian born actress Mira Furlan died January 20, 2021 as a result of complications from the West Nile virus in Los Angeles at the age of 65.

Best known for her role as Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the television series “Babylon 5”; Furlan has appeared in dozens of film and television productions; as well as, on the stage.

Delenn photo credit: Babylon 5 Facebook page

After the outbreak of war in what was then Yugoslavia – now Croatia and Bosnia – Furlan and her husband emigrated to the United States.

Before coming to the U.S., Furlan was a star in her own right, starring in dozens of productions and earning a number of film awards.

Furlan made her television debut while still in her native Yugoslavia in 1976 in the TV movie “Knez”. Since that time she has appeared in over 90 productions. Before coming to the United States her roles included “Rano sazrijevanje Marka Kovaca”, “Cyclops”, “In the Jaws of Life”, “When Father was Away on Business”, “The Beauty of Vice”, “Putovanje u Vucjak”, “Drugarica ministarka”, and “Smogovci”.

Since coming to the U.S. Furlan’s performances include “My Antonia”, the voice of Silver Stable in “Spider-Man: The Animated Series”, 111 episodes of the “Babylon 5” television series; as well as the franchise films; “Sheena”, “Night Stalker”, “NCIS”, “The Abandoned”, “Law & Order: LA”, “Just Add Magic”, “Lost”, and “Space Command”.

Also appearing on the stage, she was a member of the Croatian National Theater; performing at theaters all over the country.

Her theatrical appearances include “Medea”, “Cranes”, “Antigone”, “Baal”, “Don Juan in Hell”, “Yerma”, “L’illusion Comique”, “A Month in the Country”, “Helen”, “Dybbuk”, “The Devil’s Disciple”, “Three Sisters”, “’Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, “Hamlet” “Scapin”, “The Misanthrope”, Mother Courage”, and “Alpha – Beta”.

Best known for her acting prowess, Furlan has also appeared on three albums; as well as, being a published author.

Mira Furlan’s accolades and achievements include a Dramalogue Award, awarded the Best Film Actress of the Year in Yugoslavia, Golden (Zlatna) Arena Awards (Yugoslavian Oscars”), Theatre Critics Awards, Univers Readers Choice Awards for her role as Delenn in “Babylon 5”, and a Nis Film Festival Award winner.

She was born September 7, 1955 in Zagreb, (Croatia) Yugoslavia to a Croatian Jewish mother and a Slovene-Croat father.

Furlan is survived by her husband Goran and son Marko.

Feature photo credit: By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26365678

Delenn photo credit: Babylon 5 Facebook pag

Broadcasting Icon Larry King Dies

Award winning talk show legend Larry King died January 23, 2021 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 87.  While an official cause of death was not released, King had been hospitalized with the Covid-19 virus that required the application of additional oxygen.

King began his talk show career with a syndicated radio program and later moved from radio to TV via the CNN network.  King interviewed thousands of people during his career including world leaders, celebrities, and the great and the good.  In 1995, King was a part of the peach summit between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Jordan’s King Hussein, and the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

An “everyman” host, King had an easy going style when it came to conducting an interview.  He retired in 2010 saying that it was time to hang up the suspenders after 25 years and some 50,000 interviews.

While he retired from his nightly television program, King was a workaholic who was back to work after a few months off.

His accolades include two Peabody Awards, CableACE Awards, and induction into the Radio and Broadcasting Halls of Fame.

Along with his thousands of appearances on his television series, King has appeared in hundreds of television productions including talk shows, game shows, documentaries, award shows, and telethons,

He is also listed as appearing on the daytime drama “The Edge of Night”, “Arli$$”, “Sesame Street”, “Take Two with Phineas and Ferb”, “Miami Undercover”, “Ghostbusters”, “Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!”, “Crazy People”, “The Exorcist III”, “The Simpsons”, “Coach”, “Murder One”, “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Murphy Brown”, “Spin City”, “Contact”, “The Jackal”, “Fraiser”, “Primary Colors”, “Enemy of the State”, “The Practice”, “Arthur”, “Shrek 2”, “Fat Actress”, “Law & Order: Trial by Jury”, “Boston Legal”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Shrek the Third”, “The Closer”, “Bee Movie”, “Ugly Betty”, “30 Rock”, “Shrek Forever After”, and “American Crime Story”.

Lawrence Harvey Zieger was born November 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, the son of Eastern European Jewish parents.  He began his broadcasting career in 1957 at an AM radio station in Miami.  It was the station manager who gave King his new last name; claiming that Zeiger was “too Jewish”.  A year later he began his slow climb from a tiny local station to the national icon the world became to know.

With fame and fortune also came financial difficulties which nearly ruined King.

A three pack a day smoking habit caused King to have a heart attack and led to quintuple bypass surgery.  In subsequent years, King would suffer additional heart attacks, diabetes, and lung cancer; however, he continued to work well into his eighties.

Married eight times, divorced seven times with one annulment; King had five children.  Predeceased by children Andy and Chaia, he is survived by Chance, Cannon, and Larry Jr.

feature photo credit: By Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley. – http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=15661, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2322571

Baseball Legend Hank Aaron Dies

This past year has been very tough on the world of baseball.  On January 22, 2021 Baseball Hall of Famer “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron died in his sleep at his home less than a month before his 87th birthday.

While best known for his breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record on the way to 755 homers; Aaron had a career average of .300, a speed demon running the bases, and was as graceful as a dancer in the outfield.  He also racked up 2,297 RBI’s, 1,477 extra base hits, 6,856 total bases – the most in MLB history – and was an MLB All Star 21 of his 23 years as a player.

He earned the National League batting title twice in his career and was a three time Gold Gloves winner.  He was named the National League MVP in 1957 and was a member of the Milwaukee Braves World Series winning team.

During his career Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs… a record that was thought would never be broken.  But on April 8, 1974; Aaron broke the record with home run number 715 in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He added nearly 40 more homers before retiring from the game.

Long time Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully summed up the historic moment with the words, “what a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.  A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjqYThEVoSQ

He spent 23 years as a player; mostly for the Milwaukee and later Atlanta Braves.

Though he shined on the field of play; Aaron, an Alabama native, lived through Jim Crow laws, segregation, and racism…even as he homered his way to the Hall of Fame.

When Aaron was elected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1982 – his first year of eligibility – Aaron lacked just nine votes from receiving a unanimous vote.

Former President Barack Obama spoke on Aaron saying, “he never missed an opportunity to lead.”  Adding that Aaron was an, “unassuming man who set a towering example.”

President Jimmy Carter, who often attended Braves games with wife Rosalynn, also spoke on Aaron saying, “a breaker of records and racial barriers, his remarkable legacy will continue to inspire countless athletes and admirers for generations to come.”

Aaron championed for causes on the field and off.  Just a little over two weeks before his death, Aaron was very visible when getting his Covid-19 vaccine saying, “I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this.  It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”

After retiring as a player, Aaron spent 13 years in the front office for the Atlanta Braves; as well as a number of entrepreneurial endeavours.

Along with all of his baseball records, President George W. Bush presented Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.

He was born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama.  He was “discovered” by the Braves while trying out for the Negro League team the Indianapolis Clowns.

Predeceased by younger brother Tommy, Aaron is survived by his second wife of over 40 years Billye; children Ceci, Gail, Hank Jr., Lary and Dorinda.

feature photo credit: By Chris Evans from same, United States – Hank Aaron 2Uploaded by Dudek1337, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31036607

Hall of Fame Pitcher Don Sutton Dies

Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Don Sutton died January 19, 2021 at his Rancho Mirage, California home as a result of cancer at the age of 75.

The four time All Star was one of just a handful of pitchers to surpass the lofty number of 300 wins.  With a career record of 324 wins and 256 loses and an ERA of 3.26 Sutton played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, and the California Angels.  Fifty-eight of those wins were via the shut out. 

Ranking number three in the number of career starts at 756 (5,282 1/3 innings), Sutton never missed a start in the rotation.  He follows only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan have made more starts than Sutton.

He was born Donald Howard Sutton on April 2, 1945 in Clio, Alabama to sharecroppers and raised in North Florida’s panhandle.  While he showed an aptitude for baseball at a young age, Sutton was a three sport star in high school.

Signed by the Dodgers while still in Junior College in 1963, Sutton made his “Big League” debut in April 1966 and earned his first win in his next start, four days later.  He became the fourth starter in a rotation that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen.

He went on to be a part of seven League championship teams; four with the Dodgers and a World Series team.   Sutton’s number 20 Dodger uniform number has been retired.

After his long career on the field, Sutton worked as a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves; joining Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren, Ernie Johnson Sr, and Ernie Johnson Jr before retiring at the end of the 2018 season.

Along with his baseball career, first as a player and later as a broadcaster, Sutton tried his hand at acting in an episode of “Fantasy Island” and some game show appearances.

Sutton is survived by his second wife Mary and children – Daron, Staci, and Jacquie.

feature photo credit: By Adam Fagen – Don Sutton, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16312815

Phil Spector Dies

Grammy Award winning Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame music producer Phil Spector died January 16, 2021 in a California state prison hospital at the age of 81.  According to prison officials, the death is listed as natural causes.

Credited with changing the way music fans listened to rock and roll, Spector was convicted of murder in 2009 for the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Channeling his inner Richard Wagner, Spector created the “Wall of Sound” into pop and rock music where songs featured vocal harmonies and orchestral arrangements that included overdubbing and sound effects.

Former Beatle and songwriter John Lennon referred to Spector as “the greatest record producer ever”.

Over the course of his career Spector has worked with numerous artists including The Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison, Darlene Love, Tommy Tedesco, Leon Russell, Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell, Sonny Bono, Cher, Leonard Cohen, The Ramones, and Ronnie Spector.

He is listed as a co-writer on the hit song “Spanish Harlem” and lent his guitar skills to The Drifters for their smash hit “On Broadway”.

Despite his years of success, Spector’s name appears on only one gold album – his own “Back to Mono”.

Spector’s music appears in over 200 film and television productions including “American Dad”, “The Simpsons”, talk and late night shows, “GLOW”, “Pose”, “Screen Queens”, variety shows, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, competition reality shows, “Glee”, “Pretty Little Liars”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Gilmore Girls”, “My Cousin Vinny”, “Cheers”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Top Gun”, “The Partridge Family”, and “I’ve Got a Secret”.  Spector also has two acting credits in “Easy Rider” and an episode of “I Dream of Jeannie”.

Harvey Phillip Spector was born December 26, 1939 in New York City to an iron worker and seamstress.  While still fairly young, Spector’s father committed suicide.  A short time later, his mother moved the family across country to Los Angeles where Spector formed a band whith some mates.  The band, who called themselves the Teddy Bears, saw their first success with the original song “To Know Him is to Love Him”.  After high school Spector returned to New York City where he became a part of the music scene.

Predeceased by his father and young son Phillip Jr; Spector is survived by his children – Gary, Louis, Donte, and Nicole.  He was married and divorced four times.

Phil Spector discography:
“A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector”
“Phil Spector Wall of Sound, Vol. 5: Rare Masters Vol. 1’
“Wallpaper of Sound: The Songs of Phil Spector and the Brill Building”
“Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Retrotspective”

feature photo credit: By Kingkongphoto & http://www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA – Phil Spector, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74876017
 

Siegfried of Siegfried and Roy Dies

Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher died January 13, 2021 in his Las Vegas home as a result of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81.

Fischbacher was half of the illusion duo Siegfried and Roy.  Partner Roy died last year at the age of 75 as a result of complications form the Covid-19 virus.

Siegfried and Roy spent years entertaining audiences on the Las Vegas strip with their illusions.  The act was in danger in 2003 after Roy was attacked by white tigers used in the act.  Siegfried and Roy were known for using exotic animals in their acts.

The duo officially retired in 2010.

The duo first teamed in while still in Germany in 1957 on a cruise ship with Roy as Siegfried’s assistant.  They gave their first performance in Las Vegas in 1967.

Besides making magic, Siegfried was one of the executive producers for 13 episodes of the television series “Father of the Pride”.  He is also credited as an actor in “Showboy”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Vegas Vacation”, and “Lookin’ to Get Out”.

He was born in Rosenheim, Germany on June 13, 1939 where he began learning magic tricks while he was still a small child.


feature photo credit: By Carolhi at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Quadell using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98862051

GH’s Sean Donely – John Reilly – Dies

Veteran actor John Reilly died January 9, 2021 at the age of 84.

His daughter Caitlin announced Reilly’s death via social media but gave no details about the cause of death.

Reilly appeared in over 80 film and television productions but was best known to daytime drama fans for his role as WSB agent Sean Donely on the daytime drama “General Hospital” – a role he held for eleven years and 76 episodes.

He made is television debut in 1956 in an episode of the daytime drama “As the World Turns”.  He went on to appear in a wide variety of programs including “Gunsmoke”, “Kojak”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, the original “Hawaii Five-O”, “How the West Was Won”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “The Love Boat”, Roy Ralston on six episodes of “Dallas”, “Newhart”, “Dynasty”, “Paper Dolls”, 20 episodes of “Iron Man”, Bill Taylor in eight episodes of “Beverly Hills 90210”,  “Mortal Kombat: Conquest”, Del Douglas in 22 episodes of “Sunset Beach”, Mike Armstrong in nine episodes of “Arli$$”, and Alistair Crane in 107 episodes of “Passions”.

He was born John Henry Matthew Reilly on November 11, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois.

Reilly is survived by his second wife Liz and three daughters.

feature photo credit: “General Hospital” Facebook page

Dodger Legend Tommy Lasorda Dies

Baseball legend Tommy Lasorda died January 7, 2021 in Fullerton, California as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest at the age of 93.

The long time Los Angeles Dodger’s manager was on hand when the Dodgers took home the World Series trophy after beating the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field in Texas in 2020, after a 32 year dry spell.

The man who once said he “bleeds Dodger blue”, had hoped to live to see 100, but heart issues cut that dream short.  It was those same heart issues that forced Lasorda to retire from coaching in 1996.

At the time of his death, Lasorda was the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  That distinction now goes to 89 year old Willie Mays.

The 2021 baseball season is still a couple of months away, but that did not stop the Dodgers and fans from honouring Lasorda.  The flags were lowered to half mast, his number two jersey hung in the dugout and the number two was painted on the field.  Fans stopped by the stadium to leave flowers, candles, and Dodger memorabilia.

He began his career with the Dodgers while they were still in Brooklyn as a pitcher.  He later turned to coaching and then spent 21 years as the team’s manager where he led the team to two World Series championships.  After he retired in 1996, Lasorda became a baseball ambassador and a special advisor to Dodgers owner Mark Walter.  At the time of his death, Lasorda had spent a total of 71 years with the Dodgers.

During his 21 year career as the manager for the Dodgers, Lasorda racked up two World Series championships, four National League titles, eight division titles, was the manager in four All-Star games,  and a record of 1,599 wins and 1,439 loses.

His accolades include induction into 17 Halls of Fame including the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a gold medal for the baseball Team USA at the Sydney Olympics, the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, has an asteroid name after him, and has eight honourary doctoral degrees.

While best known as the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lasorda made numerous appearances on television including sporting events, variety shows, talk shows, “Hee Haw”, “A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration!: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera”, “Who’s the Boss”, documentaries, the jerry Lewis Telethon, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, “Rome is Burning”, the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless”, news shows, “Fantasy Island”, “Hart to Hart”, “Police Squad!”, “CHiPs”, “Simon & Simon”, and the voice of Lucky Lasorda in “Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco”.

He was born Thomas Charles Lasorda on September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pennsylvania the son of Italian Immigrants.  His baseball career began in 1945 as a Philadelphia Phillies but missed the next two seasons while serving in the military.  After his service, he returned to the Phillies before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers.  After losing his spot in the rotation to a young Sandy Koufax, Lasorda played for the Kansas City Athletics, the New York Yankees, and the AAA Denver Bears before making a return to the Dodgers.  Before becoming the Dodgers’ manager, he was a scout and a third base coach for the team.

Predeceased by his son Tom Jr, Lasorda is survived by his wife of 70 years Jo, daughter Laura, and granddaughter Emily.

feature photo credit: By Djh57 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10613940

French Composer and Pianist Claude Bolling Dies

Grammy nominated Classical and Jazz artist Claude Bolling died December 29, 2020 in Garches, France at the age of 90.  An official cause of death was not released.

A professional musician since he was a teen, Bolling has worked with numerous artists including Lionel Hampton, Yo-Yo Ma, Brigitte Bardot, Juliette Greco, Hubert Laws, Angel Romero, Jean Pierre Rampal, Roy Eldridge, and Kenny Clarke.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CjczBrfDUM

His album “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano” with Jean Pierre Rampal went gold and spent over 500 weeks on the Billboard music charts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-_QOlCJUek

Bolling showed a little humour with his composition “Toot Suite for Trumpet and Jazz Piano”.

Over the course of his career, Bolling has composed music for over 100 film and television productions including “Lucky Luke”, “The Pleasure of Love”, “The Tiger Brigades”, “The Awakening”, “California Suite”, “Take Me to the Ritz”, “The Passengers”, “The Day and the Hour”, and “The Navigator”.

His music also appears on over two dozen soundtracks including “The Joker”, “The Holiday”, “The Thorn and the Rose”, “Holy Year”, “The Probability Factor”, and “Blood on the Streets”.

He is even credited with being an actor in “Chance or Coincidence”, “Ca va plaire”, “The Tiger Brigades”, “The Woman in Blue”, “The Day the Clown Cried”, and “Night Heat”

He was born Claude Jean Harry Bolling on April 10, 1930 in Cannes, France.

Predeceased by his wife of nearly 60 years, Irene, Bolling is survived by his sons David and Alexandre.

Claude Bolling discography:
“Claude Bolling Play Duke Ellington”
“Les Succes de Django Reinhardt”
“French Jazz”
“Nuances”
“Rollling with Bolling”
“Sensas!”
“Bolling’s Band’s Blowing”
“Cat Anderson, Claude Bolling and Company”
“Original Ragtime”
“Original Bolling Boogie”
“Original Boogie Woogie”
“Ragtime, Boogie Woogie & Jazz Classics”
“Swing Session: Claude Bolling and the Show Biz Band”
“Bolling: Concerto for Classic Guitar & Jazz Piano Trio”
“Claude Bolling: Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio”
“Claude Bolling: Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio”
“L’Etrange Monsieur Duvallier”
“Borsalino/Borsalino and Co.”
“The Awaking” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”
“Bolling: Picnic Suite”
“Bolling: Toot Suite for Trumpet & Jazz Piano”
“Only Have Eyes for You”
“Claude Bolling Big Band”
“Jazz a La Franciaise”
“Louisiane” (Bande Originale du Film)
“Bolling: Suite No. 2 for Flute & Jazz Piano Trio”
“Jazz Brunch”
“California Suite”
“Bolling: Sonatas for Two Pianists”
“Claude Bolling: Suite for Chamber Orchestra & Jazz Piano Trio”
“Netchaiev Est de Retour”
“Flute Suites”
“Bolling Plays Ellington, Vol. 1”
“Bolling Plays Ellington, Vol. 2”
“First Class”
“With the Help of My Friends”
“Cross Over U.S.A.”
“Concerto Pour Violon”
“Guitar Concerto”
“L’Anee Sainte”
“Le Magnifique”
“Black, Brown & Beige”
“The Victory Concert”
“Flute/Jazz Piano Suite”
“Claude Bolling”
“Cinemadreams”
“A Tribute to Duke Ellington”
“A Tone Parallel to Harlem”
“Inspirations”
“Paris Swing”
“Jazz in Paris: Claude Bolling Plays the Original Piano Greats”
“A Tribute to My Favourites”
“Claude Bolling: Sonae pour deux pianistes”
“Live at the Meridien Paris”
“A Tribute to the Piano Greats”
“Crooner’s Dream”
“All Time Favourites”
“A Drum is a Woman”
“Plays Brassens, Bechet, Vian, Becaud”
“Claude Bolling: American Movies”
“L’Ordinateur des Pompes Funebres” (Original Soundtrack”
“Vivre La Nuit”
“Lucky Luke” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”
“Les Passagers”
“Jazz”
“L’Homme en Colere/Un Papillon Sure l’Epaule”
“La Gitane: Le Leopard”
“Cinema Piano Solo: 21 Classiques de Claude Bolling”
“Big Band Panorama”

feature photo credit: Claue Bolling’s Music Facebook pag

McGuire Sister Phyllis Dies

Phyllis McGuire – the last surviving member of the girl group The McGuire Sisters – died December 29, 2020 in her Las Vegas home at the age of 89.  No official cause of death was given.

Phyllis was the youngest of the three singing sisters; along with Dorothy and Christine.  She was also the lead singer in the group.

Popular before the creation of the Grammy Awards, The McGuire Sisters earned six gold records and were best known for the hits “Sugartime” and “Sincerely”.  Their other accomplishments include command performances before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and five U.S. Presidents; as well as, induction into the National Broadcasting and Vocal Group Halls of Fame.

The girls got their start singing in church as small children and later performed at weddings.

Rising to fame during World War II, the trio performed together for many years before breaking up; but returned on a number of occasions to perform as a trio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRvEHn6fKWE

Phyllis and her sisters made their television debut in 1952 on “The Kate Smith Hour”.  Their other television appearances include “Arthur Godfrey and His Friends”, “The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom”, “The Steve Allen Plymouth Show”, “The Phil Silvers Show”, “What’s My Line?”, “The Hollywood Palace”, and “The New Hollywood Squares”.

As herself, Phyllis McGuire appeared on “The Jack Benny Hour”, “Password”, “Perry Cuomo’s Kraft Music Hall”, “The Mike Douglas Show”, “The Kraft Music Hall”, “The Joey Bishop Show”, “Della”, “The Bob Braun Show”, “The Dean Martin Show”, “The Merv Griffin Show”, “Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson”, “Vicki!”, and documentaries.  She is also credited as being an actress in “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “Come Blow Your Horn”, “The Red Skelton Hour”, and “The White River Kid”.

She was born Phyllis Jean McGuire on February 14, 1931 in Middletown, Ohio.

Predeceased by sisters Dorothy and Christine, she was married briefly in the 50’s.  The couple had no children.

The McGuire Sisters/Phyllis McGuire discography:
“By Request”
“S’Wonderful”
“He”
“Sincerely”
“Children’s Holiday”
“Teenage Party”
“When the Lights are Low”
“Musical Magic”
“Greetings from the McGuire Sisters”
“Sugartime”
“In Harmony with Him
“His and Hers”
“Just for Old Times Sake”
“Subways are for Sleeping”
“Songs Everybody Knows”
“Showcase”
“The McGuire Sisters Today”

feature photo credit: By CBS Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31687216

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Dawn Wells Dies

Actress Dawn Wells, best known for playing Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”, died December 30 in Los Angeles as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 82.

With the death of Wells, Tina Louise – movie star Ginger – is the last surviving member of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast.

Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, Wells was the representative for Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant.

She also appeared on the theatrical stage including a Broadway appearance in the original production of “They’re Playing Our Song”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64mAgL8G4-E

While best known for her role as Mary Ann, Wells appeared in dozens of other film and television productions including her 1961 debut as Gloria in an episode of “The Roaring 20’s”, several westerns, “77 Sunset Strip”, “Hawaiian Eye”, 98 episodes of “Gilligan’s Island”, “Gilligan’s Planet” and its subsequent films, “The Love Boat”, “Fantasy Island”, “ALF”, “Baywatch”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and her final role in 2019 in the short “The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants” as the voice of Gumbalina Toothington.

As herself, Wells appeared in the 1959 Miss America Pageant, talk shows, game shows, award shows, documentaries, and “RuPaul’s Drag U”.

Dawn Elberta Wells was born on October 18, 1938 in Reno, Nevada the daughter of a real estate developer.  She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater.

Never one to sit around when she was not acting, she has created an acting boot camp and a Film Institute; as well as, a clothing line for people with disabilities and a line of skin care products.  Giving back to the acting community, Wells served as an artist in residence at a number of universities where she passed along her knowledge to the next generation of actors.

Married and divorced with no children, Wells is survived by her stepsister Weslee.

feature photo credit: By CBS Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31047742

Dancer/Choreographer Shabba-Doo Dies

Dance pioneer and choreographer Aldolfo Quinones died December 30, 2020  at the age of 65. An official cause of death or location was not given, but he remarked on a lingering cold on his Twitter account just one day before his death.  He shared on his Facebook page that he had tested negative for the Covid-19 virus.

He also went by the name of Shabba-Doo.

Quinones and Toni Basil were a part of the 70’s dance group The Lockers and was a member of the the “Soul Train” gang.

He is best known for his appearance in the films “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErUrHUCKp8g

As a choreographer, he has worked with numerous artists including Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, and Madonna.

Quinones was presented with a Distinguished Choreography Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Aldolfo Quinones was born on May 11, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois.  This is where he got his start… dancing at parties for his mom.

Married and divorced twice; no list of survivors was given. Reportedly he had two children.

He also appeared in the TV movie “Option Zero”, the short “The Hotel”, “Rave, Dancing to a Different Beat”, “The Sitter”, “Deadly Dancer”, “Lambada”, “Married…with Children”, “Tango & Cash”, “Kids Incorporated”, “Miami Vice”, Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You”, “Xanadu”, “Jukebox”, and “What’s Happening!”  As himself, Shabba-Doo appeared in documentaries, talk shows, videos, and music shows.

feature photo credit: Alfondo Quinones’ Facebook page

Hall of Fame Guitarist Tony Rice Dies

Grammy Award winning Bluegrass picker Tony Rice died December 25 at his Reidsville, North Carolina home at the age of 69.  No further details about the cause of death were given.

Health problems over the past several years kept Rice from performing.  His final live appearance was in 2013 when he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Fellow Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs called Rice “the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JFgC3Ub10E

Along with his solo career, Rice performed with the David Grisman Quintet, (Ricky) Skaggs and Rice, The Tony Rice Unit, New South, and his Me and My Guitar.  He has played with many musicians including Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck, and Dolly Parton.

Along with his Grammy Award and induction into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Rice has been named the Guitarist of the Year by the IBMA.

Rice cites guitar player Clarence White as an influence; he later bought White’s Martin D-28 guitar.

Anthony David Rice was born on June 8, 1951 in Danville, Virginia into a musical family – his father was a Bluegrass musician.  Tony and his brothers were raised in California where his father played with a number of bands.

Tony Rice is survived by his wife Pam.

Tony Rice discography:
“California Autumn”
“Tony Rice”
“Acoustics”
“Manzanita”
“Guitar”
“Mar West”
“Skaggs & Rice”
“Bluegrass Album”
“Still Inside”
“Backwaters”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol 2.”
“Church Street Blues”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3: California Connection”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 4”
“Cold on the Shoulder”
“Me & My Guitar”
“Blake and Rice”
“Native American”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 5: Sweet Sunny South”
“Norman Blake & Tony Rice 2”
“Plays and Sings Bluegrass”
“Crossings”
“River Suite for Two Guitars”
“Unit of Measure”
“Runnin’ Wild”
“Vassar Clements/Tony Rice & The Low Country All-Star Band”
“Quartet”
“Hartford Rice and Clements”

feature photo credit: By Jordan Klein from San Francisco, United States – IMG_1837, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4175429

Mexican Crooner Armando Manzanero Dies

Mexican musician Armando Manzanero died December 28 in a Mexico City hospital just three weeks after his 85th birthday.  Reports are that Manzanero died either as a result of the Covid-19 virus or complications from a kidney issue.

He balladeer had been hospitalized for the virus and at one time was placed on a ventilator.

His song “Somos Novios” was translated into English back in the 70’s and became the Grammy nominated hit “It’s Impossible” for American crooner Perry Como.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG0h9eZZK6E

While not a household name in the United States, Manzanero was a prolific songwriter that has had his songs recorded by numerous artists and has seen his music appear on nearly 100 film and television productions including “Even the Wind is Afraid”, “The Shadow of the Bat”, “The Perry Como Christmas Show”, “The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special”, “Chances Are”, “The Sopranos”, “Mission Impossible III”, the mini series “Sharp Objects”, and “House of Flowers”.

Born Armando Manzanero Canché on December 7, 1935 in Merida, Yucatan; he was very proud of his Mayan heritage, saying, “I am a Mayan Indian.”

Manzanero is survived by a number of ex-wives, seven children, and 16 grandchildren.

Armando Mazanero discography:
“Mientras Existas Tu”
“Canto Solo Para Enamorados”
“Carinosamente Manzanero”
“Las Cancoines Que Quise Escribir”
“Amor en Piano”
“El Piano”
“Manzanero: Su Voz Su Piano Y Sus Mejores Interpret”
“Memorandum”
“Nada Personal” (Original TV Soundtrack)
“Intimos”
“Manzanero Y la Libertad”
“Verdad de la Bohemia”
“Bohemia”
“Somos Novios”
“Duetos Armando Manzanero”
“Duetos 2”
“Mis Canciones Favoritas”
“20 Exitos”
“El Gran Romantico”
“Amor Mio”
“Duetos lo Mejor de Armando Manzanero”
“Duetos”
“Master Class”
“A Mi Amor Con Mi Amo”
“De la A a la Z”
“Manzanero Big Band Jazz de Mexico”
“Armondos”
“Ni Antes Ni Despues”
Canciones Que Enamoran”
“Armando Un Pancho”
“La Magia de tu Amor: Fernando de la Mora Interpreta a Armando Manzanero”
“Para Mi Si Siempre A”
“Dos Voces”

feature photo credit: By Angel Abril Ruiz from Cehegín, España – Armando Manzanero V, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87627187

HOF Pitcher Phil Niekro Dies

Knuckleball pitcher and Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro died in his sleep December 26, 2020 in his Atlanta suburb home of Flowery Branch as a result of cancer at the age of 81.

Known to the baseball world as Knucksie, Niekro threw the ball that baffled everyone on the field…including himself.  Once he let the ball go, no one knew where it would land.

This has been a tough year for Baseball Hall of Fame players, Niekro is the seventh Hall of Famer to die this year; following Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver.

A young man’s sport, Phil Niekro outlasted many of his fellow team mates and pitchers; pitching well into his 40’s.  Finally retiring at 48 as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Niekro after winning a total of 318 games over 24 years and making a trip to the annual All Star game five times.  Niekro also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Toronto Blue Jays – all American League teams who uses a designated hitter for the pitcher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDOQLL9uBo0

While pitchers are best known for throwing the ball, Niekro earned five Gold Gloves during his career and hit seven home runs and had 109 RBI’s.

Niekro notched win number 300 in 1985 while pitching for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays with an 8-0 shutout.

He made his Major League debut in 1964 with the then Milwaukee Braves – they moved to Atlanta in 1966.  Niekro became a starter for the Braves in 1967 and finished the season with a National League leading ERA of 1.87 and a record of eleven wins and nine losses.

Along with brother Joe, the Niekro’s hold the record for the most wins by siblings in the Major Leagues with a total of 539 wins.

His other accomplishments include 245 complete games, the Lou Gehrig Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, and the Brian Picolo Award.

Philip Henry Niekro was born on April 1, 1939 in Blaine, Ohio to a coal miner pitcher father.  Learning the knuckleball form his father, young Phil never learned to throw any other pitch.

Predeceased by his brother Joe, Niekro is survived by his wife Nancy; children Philip, John, and Michael; and grandchildren Chase and Emma.

feature photo credit: By Unknown author – New York Yankees via tradingcarddb.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75158182

Rocker Leslie West Dies

Rock guitarist Leslie West died December 23, 2020 in Palm Coast, Florida as a result of cardiac arrest at the age of 75.  A diabetic, West has been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years including a live saving leg amputation in 2011.

West was the guitar player and vocalist for the band Mountain and is best known for the song “Mississippi Queen”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEnF6EB-yMs

West’s journey to rock stardom began with The Vagrants – a band with his brother Larry.  After making his debut as a solo artist, West formed the rock band Mountain with Felix Pappalardi.

West was also a part of West, Bruce, and Laing with Jack Bruce and Corky Laing.

Along with his solo and band work, West has lent his guitar skills in recording sessions for Sam Kinison, Billy Joel, Bobby Keyes, Felix Cavaliere, Dion DiMucci, Joe Lynn Turner, Joe Bonamassa, and Bo Diddley.

As a part of Mountain, West was one of the bands who performed at Woodstock in 1969; performing an eleven song set.

Their song “Long Red” has found its way into the world of Hip-Hop music after being sampled by a number of artists including Jay-Z, Nas, and Kanye West.

Along with frequent visits to the “Howard Stern Show” – twice as the musical director -, West has had his music appear on nearly three dozen productions including “Spenser Confidential, “Mike & Mike”, “The Blacklist”, “The Americans”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, “The Expendables”, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, “Pineapple Express”, “My Name is Earl”, “The Dukes of Hazzard” film, the 2005 edition of “The Longest Yard”, “The Simpsons”, and “Vanishing Point”. 

He is also credited with acting credits in “The Money Pit” and “Family Honor”.

He was born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945 in New York City

His accomplishments include being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

West is survived by his wife Jenni.

Leslie West discography:
“Mountain”
“The Great Fatsby”
“The Leslie West Band”
“Theme”
“Alligator”
“Live”
“Dodgin’ the Dirt”
“As Phat as it Gets”
“Blues to Die For”
“Guitarded”
“Got Blooze”
“Blue Me”
“Unusual Suspects”
“Still Climbing”
“Soundcheck”

feature photo credit: By Leslie_west.jpg: Wilson Bilkovichderivative work: Nymf (talk) – Leslie_west.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9699842

B’way Actress Rebecca Luker Dies

Broadway actress and soprano Rebecca Luker died December 23, 2020 as a result of complications from ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in New York City at the age of 59.

After making her Broadway debut as the Princess in Phantom of the Opera, Luker went on to play the role of Christine Daae opposite Phantom Michael Crawford.  She also appeared in the Broadway productions “The Secret Garden”, “Show Boat”, “The Sound of Music”, “The Music Man”, the revival of “Nine”, “Mary Poppins”, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”, and “Fun Home”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1bO91S3fl4

She made her screen debut in 1997 singing in the chorus for the video “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas”.  Her acting debut came in 200 in the TV Movie “Cupid & Cate”.  She also appeared in “Spectropia”, “The Good Wife”, “Submissions Only”, “Not Fade Away”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “The Rewrite”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, one episode with her husband, “Elementary”, as Rose LaSalle in “NCIS: New Orleans”, and “Bull”.  As herself, Luker appeared in music shows, award shows, and documentaries.

Rebecca Joan Luker was born on April 17, 1961 in Birmingham, Alabama and later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Montevallo University.

She is survived by her second husband and fellow actor Danny Burstein and step-sons Alex and Zach.


Rebecca Luker discography:
“Anything Goes: Rebecca Luker Sings Cole Porter”
“Leaving Home”
“Café del Mar: The Best of Aria
“Kitty’s Kisses”
“Greenwich Time”
“I Got Love (Songs of Jerome Kern)”
“Are You Here”
“Tom Herman: Music for Voice”

feature photo credit: By Rubenstein – tn-500_img_9684Uploaded by Tabercil, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7349990

Country Singer K.T. Oslin Dies

Three time Grammy Award winning Country music artist, composer, and actress K. T. Oslin died December 21 outside of Nashville at the age of 78.  While an official cause of death was not released, Oslin had been living in an assisted living facility due to Parkinson’s Disease.  Reports are that Oslin also tested positive for the Covid-19 virus last week.

Oslin was in her 40’s when she finally launched her successful music career with songs penned from the view of a strong woman.

Oslin saw two of her albums reach platinum status for selling at least one million albums in the United States.  She has also been named a Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, four Academy of Country Music Awards, and has been inducted into the Texas and Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3HfTpaSFuc

She was born Kay Toinette Oslin on May 15, 1941 in Crossett, Arkansas but was raised n Mobile and Houston.

Before moving to Nashville where she launched her Country music career, Oslin performed on the New York stage where her performances include appearances in “Promises Promises”, “Darling of the Day”, and “Hello, Dolly!”.  She also worked as a studio musician and jingle singer.

Oslin has had her songs recorded by a number of artists including Gail Davis, Dottie West, Judy Rodman, the Judds,  Sissy Spacek, Anne Murray, Dorothy Moore, and Dusty Springfield.

As an actress Oslin appeared in an episode of “Evening Shade”, “This Thing Called Love”, “Poisoned by Love: The Kern Country Murders”, “The Carol Burnett Show”, and  “Paradise”.

No list of survivors was given.

K. T. Oslin discography:
“80’s Ladies”
“This Woman”
“Love in a Small Town”
“K.T. Oslin”
“My Roots are Showing”
“Live Close By, Visit Often”
“Simply Red River”

feature photo credit: K.T. Oslin’s Face Book page

NFL HOFer Kevin Greene Dies

NFL Hall of Fame football player Kevin Greene died suddenly on December 21 at the age of 58.  An official cause of death has not been given.

After spending 15 seasons in the National Football League as a pass rusher, Greene was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.  During that career, Greene racked up 160 quarterback sacks – which ranks him third on the list behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White.  Greene racked up double digit sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons. 

Other accomplishments include five Pro Bowl appearances, was selected to the All-Pro team twice, and was named to the NFL Hall of Fame All 1990’s Team.

After walking on at Auburn, he was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 1985, Greene also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers.  It would be his fourth season before Greene was named as a starter; where he went on to rack up 16.5 sacks – a feat he repeated in the next season.

Greene also joined the ranks of professional wrestlers with World Championship Wrestling.  Once his playing days were over, Green became a linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers and was a coach for the New York Jets.

Greene is survived by his wife Tara and children.

feature photo credit:

NFL Hall of Fame football player Kevin Greene died suddenly on December 21 at the age of 58.  An official cause of death has not been given.

After spending 15 seasons in the National Football League as a pass rusher, Greene was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.  During that career, Greene racked up 160 quarterback sacks – which ranks him third on the list behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White.  Greene racked up double digit sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons. 

Other accomplishments include five Pro Bowl appearances, was selected to the All-Pro team twice, and was named to the NFL Hall of Fame All 1990’s Team.

After walking on at Auburn, he was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 1985, Greene also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers.  It would be his fourth season before Greene was named as a starter; where he went on to rack up 16.5 sacks – a feat he repeated in the next season.

Greene also joined the ranks of professional wrestlers with World Championship Wrestling.  Once his playing days were over, Green became a linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers and was a coach for the New York Jets.

Greene is survived by his wife Tara and children.

feature photo credit: By Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq – http://www.kirkuk.afcent.af.mil/photos/index.asp?page=20, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852843

Boba Fett Actor Jeremy Bulloch Dies

British actor Jeremy Bulloch died December 17, 2020 in London as a result of complications from Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 75.

Bulloch is best known to “Star Wars” fans as the bounty hunter Boba Fett who after many attempts to collect a debt form Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) chose to freeze Solo in carbonite and display him on the wall.  Bulloch played the bounty hunter in short appearances in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”.  The four lines spoken by Boba Fett were delivered by another actor – Jason Wingreen.

While wearing a hemet as Boba Fett, Bulloch’s face was hidden; which allowed him to portray other characters in the “Star Wars” franchise; he was Lieutenant Sheckil in “The Empire Strikes Back” and Captain Jeremoch Colton in “Revenge of the Sith”.

Bulloch became a regular at “Star Wars” conventions.

One of six children, Jeremy Bulloch was born on February 16, 1945 in Leicestershire, England where he began acting in school when he was just five years old.  At eleven he attended the Corona Academy Drama School and made his professional acting career at age 12 in a television commercial.  Bulloch earned his “big break” at age 17 in the musical “Summer Holiday”.

Bulloch went on to appear in over 100 film and television productions including “Doctor Who” and three James Bond films – “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy”, and “The Spy Who Loved Me”.  Other roles during his 50plus year career include “Counter-Attack!”, “The Chequered Flag”, “Compact”, over 200 episodes of “The Newcomers” as Philip Cooper, “Agony”, an uncredited role as a news reporter in “The Final Conflict”, Edward of Wickham in “Robin Hood”, “Sloggers”, and “Starhyke”.

He is survived by his wife Maureen, three sons, and eleven grandchildren.

feature photo credit: By Corey Bond from United States – Jeremy Bulloch and Ryan Cropped prior to upload., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2559139

Actress Carol Sutton Dies

Actress Carol Sutton died December 10, 2020 in her native Louisiana as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 76.

Appearing in over 100 film and television productions, Sutton is best recognized for her roles in “Steel Magnolias”, “Treme”, and “Queen Sugar”.

When not appearing on the screen, Sutton could frequently be seen on the stage in her home of New Orleans.  After making her stage debut in the 1960’s; her roles have included “The Last Madam”, “Native Tongues”, and “A Raisin in the Sun”.

Sutton made her television debut in 1974 as Vivian in the TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”.  Over the course of her career, she would go on to appear in over 100 productions including “Gimme a Break!”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “In the Heat of the Night’, “Steel Magnolias”, “The Pelican Brief”, “Monster’s Ball”, “Ray”, “Treme”, “The Help”, “21 Jump Street”, “American Horror Story”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, “Scream Queens”, the 2016 mini series “Roots”, “Camera Osbcura”, “Queen Sugar”, and “Lovecraft Country”.  “In the Bag” has been completed and awaiting release; while “Freedom’s Path” is currently in post-production.

Carol Dickerson was born on June 29, 1933 in New Orleans.  She married and divorced Archie Sutton.

Sutton is survived by her children – Archie and Aunya; siblings Oris and Adrienne; and five grandchildren.



feature photo credit: KTNV Channel 13 Action News Facebook page

 

Spy Novelist John le Carre Dies

British spy novelist John le Carre died on the evening of December 12, 2020 in Cornwall, England as a result of a non Covid illness at the age of 89.  His family stated that le Carre had pneumonia.

Like many authors who write in a series, le Carre had a recurring main character – spymaster George Smiley, an iconic character and a decent man.

He was born David John Moore Cornwell on October 19, 1931 in Poole, England; the son of a con man who associated with gangsters and spent time in jail.  Young David’s mother left the family when he was only five years old. During his military service, he interrogated Eastern Blco defectors.

He once described his upbringing as, of clandestine survival.  The whole world was enemy territory.”

Le Carre used his tumultuous upbringing as inspiration when it came time to create his George Smiley adventures.

Prior to becoming an author of spy novels, Le Carre attended Oxford, taught at Eton, and was a part of Britain’s foreign service.  He began his writing career while still working for the Foreign Service; which resulted in him choosing a pen name.  He chose le Carre – square in French – because he liked the mysterious sound of it.

His first novel came in 1961 with “Call for the Dead” and was followed by “A Murder of Quality” and “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”.  It was at this point that le Carre left the foreign service and turned full time to writing.

Other le Carre books include “The Russia House”, “A Perfect Spy”, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Honourable Schoolboy”, Smiley’s People”, “The Tailor of Panama”, “The Constant Gardener”, “A Most Wanted Man”, “Our Kind of Traitor”, “The Pigeon Tunnel”, “A Delicate Truth”, and “Agent Running in the Field”.

Le Carre saw a number of his novels turned into films and television mini series including “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, “The Little Drummer Girl”, “Our Kind of Traitor”, “The Night Manager”, “A Most Wanted Man”, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Constant Gardener”, “The Tailor of Panama”, “A Murder of Quality”, “The Russia House”, “A Perfect Spy”, “Smiley’s People”, “The Looking Glass War”, “The Deadly Affair”, and “Our Kind of Traitor”.

He even made a few uncredited cameo appearances in a few them as a waiter in “The Little Drummer Girl”, a museum guard in “Our Kind of Traitor”, a diner in “The Night Manager”, a Christmas party guest in “Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy”, and a Commander in the 1984 version of “The Little Drummer Girl”.

While he accepted the Goethe Medal from Germany; it is reported that he turned down an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Le Carre is survived by his second wife of nearly 50 years Jane and four sons – Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon.

feature photo credit: By German Embassy London – John le Carré giving his thrilling keynote speech, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60053480

Country Singer Charley Pride Dies

Country music pioneer and icon Charley Pride died December 12, 2020 in Dallas, Texas as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 86.

Long before there was Cowboy Troy, Darius Rucker, and Willie Jones; there was Charley Pride who crossed Country music’s colour line with “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” in 1971.  The three time Grammy Award winner later became the first Country music artist of colour – what Pride referred to as a “permanent tan” – to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Along with his Grammys and Hall of Fame induction, Pride has earned Country Music Association – CMA – Awards, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, a Living Legend Award from the Nashville Network/Music City News, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the Arts from the Mississippi Governor’s Awards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rouSFhnQapE

Pride went on to see eleven of his albums certified gold by the RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – for selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. and has sold over 25 million albums around the world.

Pride’s music has appeared on nearly two dozen film and television productions including “Supernatural”, “The Marty Stuart Show”, “The Wendell Baker Story”, “Designing Women”, and “Tome Sawyer”.  As himself, he has appeared on documentaries, award shows, talk shows, variety shows, “Hee Haw”, game shows, and special productions.

Pride has also appeared as an actor in half a dozen productions including “The All American Cowboy”, ”Nashville 99”, “Love is…Barbara Eden”, and “From Nashville with Music”.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture features a pair of boots and a guitar that belonged to Pride among its collection of artifacts.

Born March 18, 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi; Pride was one of eleven children born to a sharecropper. 

Before turning to a musical career, Pride played outfield and pitched in the Negro Leagues with the Memphis Red Sox and in Montana as a part of the Pioneer League until an arm injury ended his career.  A part owner in the Texas Rangers, Pride was as much a part of the team as the front office and the coaches; he would join the team each year for spring training where he would work out with the players…and give them a concert in the Club House.

Pride is survived by his wife of 64 years Rozene; children Kraig, Dion, and Angela/ and grandchildren.


Charley Pride discography:
“Country Charley Pride”
“The Country Way”
“The Pride of Country Music”
“Make Mne Country”
“Songs of Pride…Charley, That Is”
“In Person”
“The Sensational Charley Pride”
“Charley Pride’s 10th Album”
“Christmas in My Home Town”
“Just Plain Charley”
“Sings Heart Songs”
“I’m Just Me”
“From Me to You”
“Did You Think to Pray”
“A Sunshine Day with Charley Pride”
“Amazing Love”
“Songs of Love by Charley Pride”
“Sweet Country”
“Country Feelin’”
“Pride of America”
“Charley”
“The Happiness of Having You”
“Sunday Morning with Charley Pride”
“She’s Just an Old Love Turned Memory”
“Burgers and Fries”
“Someone Loves You Honey”
“You’re MyJamaica”
“There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me”
“Roll on Mississippi”
“Charley Pride Live”
“Charley Sings Everybody’s Choice”
“Country Classics”
“Night Games”
Power of Love”
“Collector’s Series”
“Best There Is”
“Back to the Country”
“After All This Time”
“I’m Gonna Love Her on the Radio”
“Moody Woman”
“Country is My Soul”
“My 6 Latest & 6 Greatest”
“Classics with Pride”
“Branson City Limits”
“A Tribute to Jim Reeves”
“Comfort of Her Wings”
“Happy Christmas”
“Country Music Superstars: Charley Pride and Conway Twitty”
“Choices”
“Music in My Heart”

feature photo credit:By Republic Country Club – IMG_5600, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78411683

‘Right Stuff’ Pilot Chuck Yeager Dies

Former World War II Air Force pilot, General, and test pilot Charles “Chuck” Yeager died December 7 at the age of 97.

Yeager is best known for his breaking the sound barrier by flying faster than the speed of sound (approx. 760 mph – depending on atmospheric conditions) at the age of 24 (1947) flying Bell X-1 rocket plane.  He flew for over 60 years including flying an F-15 at Mach one at the age of 79.

At the age of 87, he commemorated the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier by riding second seat in an F-15 Eagle as it broke the barrier 30,000 feet above the sesert.

He named his planes “Glamorous Glennis” after his first wife who died in 1990.

It was Yeager who inspired the book and film “The Right Stuff”.

He was born Charles Elwood Yeager on February 13, 1923 in the tiny West Virginia town of Myra, but grew up in Hamlin.

Enlisting in the Army Air Corps right out of high school in 1941 prevented Yeager from becoming an astronaut since he did not have a college education…something he later regretted.  Before taking to the skies, Yeager started his career as an airplane mechanic.

Despite having an issue with air sickness, Yeager flew 64 missions during World War II, shooting down 13 German planes including five on a single mission.  He himself was also shot down over France but later escaped with help from the French.

After returning to the United States after the war, he became a test pilot.

When war broke out once again in Vietnam, Yeager was again flying sorties over the skies of South Vietnam.

Also an Air Force Squadron commander, Yeager once said, “it might sound funny, but I’ve never owned an airplane in my life. If you’re willing to bleed, Uncle Sam will give you all the planes you want.”  He noted that over the course of his career he has flown over 1