The Deaths You Missed This Year
Patti Page, 85
An American pop singer and sometime actress (Elmer Gantry), Page was the most popular female vocalist of the 50s, selling more than 100 million records. She had what is considered the first cross-over hit with her pop version of the country song “The Tennessee Waltz,” which sold 10 million copies in 1950.
Ada Louise Huxtable, 91
She pioneered the craft of architecture criticism and championed the cause of preservation, at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and in a series of groundbreaking books (Kicked a Building Lately?). She received the first Pulitzer prize awarded for criticism.
Evan S. Connell, 88
A consummate stylist, he was an adept novelist (Mr. Bridge, Mrs. Bridge) and an equally graceful historian whose account of the battle of the Little Bighorn, Son of the Morning Star, remains the definitive account of Custer’s debacle.
Nagisa Oshima, 80
A stylistically nimble and prodigious post-war Japanese film and TV director/writer, Oshima was equally at home creating the sexually frank—and boundary breaking—In the Realm of the Senses and the prison camp cult classic Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
Gussie Moran, 89
A California girl who grew up playing tennis at Charlie Chaplin’s house, Moran never rose above a 4th place ranking, but she scandalized Wimbledon in 1950 when she wore an outfit that showed her knickers. She enjoyed a second career as a sports announcer.
Robert F. Chew, 52
Revered in his native Baltimore as an actor and a teacher—at the Arena Players’ youth theater—Chew was best known for his indelible performance as the criminal mastermind Proposition Joe on HBO’s The Wire.
Patty Andrews, 94
She was the lead singer and soloist—and last surviving member—of the Andrews Sisters, World War II’s hottest girl group, whose hits (“Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) made three-part harmony a global commodity.
Relentless golf ball chaser, fierce armadillo hunter, and the nation’s First Dog (2001-2009) under his owners, George and Laura Bush, he succumbed to lymphoma.
Ed Koch, 88
Decorated for his World War II service, the Bronx-born lawyer served four terms as a U.S. congressman and three terms as mayor of New York City, during which he helped haul the city out of its “Drop Dead” era. He enjoyed subsequent careers as radio talk show host, movie critic, and TV judge.
Lavone “Pepper” Paire-Davis, 88
A utility infielder (catcher, third base, short stop) with a career 400 RBIs, she played 10 seasons for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League player and was the model for Geena Davis’s character in A League of Their Own.
Guy F. Tozzoli, 90
As director of the World Trade Department for the New York Port Authority, he was a driving force behind the construction of the World Trade Center, including the instrumental decision to hire Minoru Yamasaki as the designer of the twin towers.
Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II, 80
The jazz trumpeter more prosaically known as Donald Byrd emerged in the 50s as part of hard bop, which drew on rhythm and blues and gospel. A restless innovator and lifelong teacher, he later incorporated funk and hip hop into his music, which was sampled more than 200 times by such artists as Public Enemy and Ludacris.
Essie Mae Washington-Williams, 87
The daughter of arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond and Carrie Butler, a 16-year-old African American domestic in Thurmond’s parents’ house, Washington-Williams earned a master’s degree (Thurmond paid for her college education, but their contact was infrequent) and taught school in Los Angeles for 30 years. She revealed her patrimony after Thurmond died; his family later acknowledged the relationship.
Sara Braverman, 95
Born in Romania, she grew up in Palestine and was deeply involved in the Palestine-liberation movement and the establishment of Israel. In World War II, she was part of a famed but ill-fated parachute mission to rescue Jews from the Nazis in Hungary, and later she co-founded the Women’s Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Zhuang Zedong, 72
Ping-pong diplomacy began with the exchange of a scarf and a t-shirt between Zhuang Zedong and Glenn Cowan at the world table tennis championship in Japan in 1971. That spontaneous first thaw in U.S.-China relations culminated in Richard Nixon’s trip to China a year later. Reduced to sweeping streets after Mao died, Zhuang was later allowed to teach ping pong to children.
Christopher Dorner, 33
Fired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008, Dorner embarked on a killing spree in Los Angeles in February that left four dead, including three police officers. Cornered near Big Bear Lake, he took his own life after a shootout with law officers.
Ronald Dworkin, 81
A widely respected—and often vilified—philosopher of the law, a decorated teacher, and a prodigious author, he argued that morality is the touchstone for any meaningful discussion of the Constitution.
Mindy McCready, 37
A troubled country singer who broke through with the hit "Guys Do It All the Time," McCready was unfortunately better known for her personal struggles with addiction and mental illness, and she appeared on the reality show Celebrity Rehab. In January, McCready’s boyfriend and father to her 10-month-old son died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A month later, McCready took her own life.
Donald Richie, 88
Fiction writer, composer, and experimental filmmaker, he was best known as the American émigré to postwar Japan who authoritatively and enthusiastically first introduced generations of Western audiences to the glories of Japanese cinema.
Cleotha Staples, 78
The Staples Singers were born when Roebuck “Pops” Staples taught Cleotha and his four other children gospel songs to entertain them at night. In 1948, the family band, less one daughter, went professional, beginning a successful and acclaimed career in gospel music. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1999.
Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89
A German soldier interned by the British near the end of World War II, he would eight years later become the youngest conductor ever to appear at the Bayreuth festival, and thereafter conducted practically every major orchestra in the world. He was also a gifted pianist, and on a winter night when a snow storm delayed the arrival of the Philadephia Orchestra, he subbed for the whole orchestra.
Paul McIlhenny, 68
McIlhennys have been making Tabasco sauce on Avery Island in southern Louisiana since Reconstruction, and Paul McIlhenny plied the family trade for 40 years, during which he helped capitalize on the culinary world’s increasing interest in all things hot. McIlhenny, also an ardent environmentalist, delighted in allowing visitors to his factory to taste test the scalding product, after which he would induct them into the Not So Ancient Order of the Not So Silver Spoon.
C. Everett Koop, 96
The only U.S. surgeon general to ever become a household name, he served during the Reagan administration. His office’s pronouncements on tobacco, abortion, and AIDS angered both the left and right. The former pediatrician was also instrumental in protecting the rights of children born with birth defects and the handicapped.
Stephane Hessel, 95
The German-born French author and diplomat’s parents were the models for characters in Jules and Jim. A member of the Resistance in World War II, he survived internment in Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora, and Bergen-Belsen. The bestselling author (Time for Outrage sold more than 3.5 million copies) was a lifelong proponent of human rights whose works inspired, among others, Occupy Wall Street.
Van Cliburn, 78, pianist, winner of Tchaikovsky prize
It may be odd to say of a pianist who, among other things, performed for every president from Truman to Obama, that he peaked early, but winning the first annual Tchaikovsky prize in Moscow at the height of the Cold War—and when the winner was a mere 23—is a pinnacle few could ever top. Time magazine’s cover story called him “Horowitz, Liberace, and Presley all rolled into one.”
Bruce Reynolds, 81
Already a successful career criminal when he masterminded the Great Train Robbery in England in 1963 (he called it his “Sistine Chapel”), Reynolds spent five years on the run before he was caught. He served 15 years for the crime, which netted a staggering 41 million pounds in today’s money.
Bonnie Franklin, 69
A stage actress and cabaret performer, Franklin was best known as Ann Romano, the divorced mother of two girls on the long-running 70s comedy/drama One Day at a Time, a show that demonstrated that comedy and current events could coexist and inform each other.
Lilian Cahn, 89
With her husband, she formed the Coach Leatherware Company in 1961 and designed the company’s first line of “tote” handbags, which were made out of the same leather used for baseball gloves. The Cahns later sold the company and retired to upstate New York, where they produced another bestselling line—of artisanal goat cheeses.
Veer Bhadra Mishra, 75
For his role in cleaning up the Ganges River, the former professor of hydraulic engineering (as well as the mahant [high priest] of the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple) was honored by the United Nations and called a “Hero of the Planet” by Time in 1999.
Harry Reems, 65
Born Herbert Streicher, he was listed by the producer as “Harry Reems” in the credits of Deep Throat, which, along with The Devil in Miss Jones, were the most famous titles in the porn star’s career, which included hundreds of X-rated movies.
Risë Stevens, 99
The only mezzo-soprano given top billing by the Metropolitan Opera, where she was a star for more than two decades, she was also an accomplished Broadway and pop singer and made forays into film, appearing briefly with Big Crosby, for example, in Going My Way. In 1945, Lloyd’s of London insured her voice for $1 million.
Anthony Lewis, 85
A New York Times reporter and columnist credited with almost singlehandedly creating the field of legal journalism, Lewis won two Pulitzer prizes for reporting and in 1964 during the New York newspaper strike wrote Gideon’s Trumpet, about the Supreme Court decision ordering states to pay for the defense of indigents charged with serious crimes.
Patricia McCormick, 83
She saw her first bullfight at seven while on a family vacation in Mexico, and fell in love with the sport. Debuting in 1951, she dominated Latin American bullrings for more than a decade, but despite the admiration of her colleagues, she remained classified as a novillera, a beginner, bullfighting’s glass ceiling being ruled by a macho ethos.
Pavel P183, 29
Like Keith Haring, he took his art to the streets, and like Banksy, the Russian known only as Pavel P183 did his work anonymously. One of his most famous works was a huge chocolate bar painted on a concrete slab—candy that could not be bought or sold. A self described anarchist, he inveighed against what he saw as the “constant run for money” in Moscow.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 85
Born in Germany, she grew up in England, then lived in India for two decades and the United States for four. Long associated with the Merchant-Ivory films, for which she wrote numerous screenplays, she is the only author to win both the Booker Award for fiction (Heat and Dust) and a screenwriting Oscar (twice, for A Room With a View and Howard’s End).
Roger Ebert, 70
He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer prize (1975), and the only Pulitzer prize-winner to ever make movies with soft-porn king Russ Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). He was also the public—or at least televised—face, along with cohorts Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper, of American film criticism for decades. “Two thumbs up” could make a movie a hit. He fought cancer for more than a decade, and in 2005 became the only film critic to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Les Blank, 77
Whether he turned his camera on Lightning Hopkins, garlic, or gap-toothed women, Les Blank was capable of documentary films that made you at home in subcultures (he would never have called them that, which is one reason his films have so much life) ranging from the blues to the anguish of a film crew laboring to make Fitzcarraldo for director Werner Herzog. Education and delight were inseparable for him.
Annette Funicello, 70
She was the brightest of that first generation of young stars who grew up while America watched on TV, first as a little girl in mouse ears on The Mickey Mouse Club, then in a series of “Beach” movies (Beach Blanket Bingo) that only her genuinely affable, disingenuous personality kept from tipping over into total vapidity.
McCandlish Philips, 85
He kept a Bible on his desk in the city room of The New York Times, and wrote like an angel. He eventually left newspapers for evangelical work, but his reporting is unforgettable. Of a St. Patrick’s Day parade, he wrote, “The sun was high to their backs and the wind was fast in their faces and 100,000 sons and daughters of Ireland, and those who would hold with them, matched strides with their shadows for 52 blocks. It seemed they marched from Midtown to exhaustion.”
Paolo Soleri, 93
Like so many visionaries, the innovative Italian-American architect found his inspiration in the desert. In Soleri’s case, it was about 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona, where in 1970, he broke ground on Arcosanti, a utopian prototype city designed to house 5,000 people. So far about 6,000 people, including many of Soleri’s students, have worked on the still-unfinished project, but over the years his goals of balancing design and ecological imperatives have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.
Hilary Koprowski, 96
The Polish-born American virologist and immunologist spent the years prior to World War II fleeing from Poland to Italy, then to Spain, South America, and ultimately New York, where he perfected the first orally administered live polio vaccine.
Maria Tallchief, 88
The Oklahoma Native American was one of George Balanchine’s first stars at the New York City Ballet (and his wife for a time). She was also the first Native American prima ballerina … anywhere. She and Balanchine parted ways in the early 50s, and he would have other muses, but Tallchief was the template for them all.
George Beverly Shea, 104
If you ever attended one of Rev. Billy Graham’s evangelical services, you heard George Beverly Shea sing. No one knows how many people pledged their lives to Christ at those rallies because of Graham and how many were drawn down front by the Canadian born American gospel singer, and only a fool would bet one way or the other.
Pat Summerall, 82
He spent 10 years playing in the NFL, primarily as a placekicker, and thereafter enjoyed a long career as a sportscaster on national TV. His most famous moment as a player came in a 1958 game when his New York Giants were tied with the Cleveland Browns with the clock running out. Summerall came in and kicked a 49-yard field goal to win the game … in the midst of a driving snow storm.
Al Neuharth, 89
When he founded USA Today, he was vilified by other journalists for creating McNews, neat little nuggets of news that pretended to be journalism. History may not have completely vindicated Neuharth, but time has shown that the forces decimating print journalism were much bigger than every airport commuter’s favorite newspaper.
Howard Phillips, 72
A former Nixon administration executive, he resigned from the government and from the Republican Party to pursue a more conservative agenda. He helped found the U.S. Taxpayers Party, later the Constitution Party, and was a three-time candidate for president.
Shakuntala Devi, 83
Her nickname was the “human computer.” She once correctly multiplied two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds, a feat that landed her in The Guinness Book of World Records. The Indian arithmetic prodigy was also a novelist and wrote several books of nonfiction, including what is considered a pioneering and sympathetic study of homosexuality in India.
Richie Havens, 72
Who opened Woodstock, and thus became the epigraph to the ultimate document of the 1960s? It was Richie Havens, the hard-strumming, long-bearded folk singer whose intense performance of "Freedom" set the tone for the legendary music festival. He released more than 25 albums and performed at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.
Paulo Vanzolini, 89
A noted zoologist (as director of Sao Paolo’s de Zoologia, he amassed one of the world’s largest reptile collections), he was even more famous, at least in his native Brazil, as a samba composer whose works included “Ronda,” “Volta por Cima,” and “Boca da Noite.”
Chris Kelly, 34
Rapper Chris Kelly was one half of the ’90s kid rap duo Kris Kross. Kelly was known as Mac Daddy, and his debut album, Totally Krossed Out, went multiplatinum in 1992, with the megahit “Jump.”
Ray Harryhausen, 92
Long before CGI was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, Ray Harryhausen was making armies of skeletons swordfight and breathing new life into dinosaurs, all through the laborious—but in his hands artful—process of stop-motion animation (Jason and the Argonauts). Saturday movie matinees were always fun, but Harryhausen made them fantastic.
Malcolm Shabazz, 28
The short and troubled life of Malcolm X’s grandson ended in Mexico City where he was beaten to death, apparently over a $1,500 bar tab. Raised by his mother, his grandmother, and various other relatives, Shabazz was in and out of psychological and reformatory institutions as a youth. The crescendo of his troubles came when at the ago of 12 he set his grandmother’s apartment on fire—Malcolm X’s widow died of her injuries in the fire. Shabazz spent his adolescence and young adulthood in and out of trouble, struggling, without much success, to get his life on track.
Joe Farman, 82
What NASA satellites could not detect, the ancient equipment of the British Antarctic Survey’s Joe Farman did in 1985: there was a hole in the ozone layer. When Farman (with Jonathan Shanklin and Brian Gardiner) published their findings that chloroflourocarbons were eating away at the ozone, an uproar ensued, quieted only when NASA backtracked, scientists rallied around Farman, and governments signed on to the Montreal protocol reining in the use of CFCs.
Joyce Brothers, 85
She found fame in the early 50s as the first woman to win it all on The $64,000 Question, a TV quiz show where her area of expertise was boxing. By the end of the decade and for most of the rest of her life, she was a fixture on TV, where she was always Dr. Joyce Brothers (she had a Phd., not an M.D.), America’s sweetheart/shrink.
Billie Sol Estes, 88
If mixing mortgages, cotton allotments, anhydrous ammonia tanks, and eminent domain in the same sentence confuses you, you are on the way to understanding how Billie Sol Estes, a Texas wheeler dealer with a crooked streak, bilked banks and the government out of millions in the 60s. In the end, not even his friendship with Lyndon Johnson could keep him out of prison. Perhaps that’s why toward the end of his life he accused Johnson of involvement in the Kennedy assassination.
Ray Manzarek, 74
Without Manzarek, The Doors would have just been another guitar-driven rock band. Manzarek's keyboard lent the group a jingle-jangle psychedelic sound, as if listeners were taken to another plane of experience by his organ riffs on "Light My Fire" and "Break on Through."
Jean Bach, 94
A lifelong jazz fan, she was fascinated by an Art Kane photograph taken in Harlem in 1958 that showed 57 jazz greats gathered in front of a brownstone stoop. When she discovered that the bassist Milt Hinton had filmed some of the proceedings that day, she went to work compiling more interviews and footage and cobbling it all into a documentary about how the shoot happened. The result was A Great Day in Harlem, one of the finest films ever made about jazz.
Andrew Greeley, 85
A real-life Father Brown? Not quite, but close. This Roman Catholic priest didn’t solve crimes, he made them up, in a series of bestselling novels that gave Father Greeley quite the second career, or maybe it was his third, since by the time he began writing fiction, he had been a prolific sociologist with 70 scholarly books to his credit. He also taught and wrote a newspaper column, estimating once that he averaged 5,000 words a day.
Tim Samaras, 55
He was an autodidactical scientist (he talked his way into a job at the University of Colorado Research Center right out of high school). But tornados were his passion since a childhood encounter with The Wizard of Oz, and a tornado—one of the largest ever recorded—killed him while he tracked its progress and gathered data near El Reno, Oklahoma.
Jean Stapleton, 90
First you remember that glass-shattering voice summoning Ahhhhhcheee, her husband on All in the Family. The voice belonged to Edith Bunker, so subtle and detailed a creation that you forgot for seasons at a time that she was a character, not a person. And credit for that goes to the sublime Jean Stapleton, the actress who brought Edith Bunker so vividly to life for so long.
Will D. Campbell, 88
He decided early that faith in God and faith in organized religion were two different and maybe even antithetical things, especially in the South, where he gave up his pastorate and joined the sit-ins and freedom marches of the Civil Rights movement—the only white man Martin Luther King invited to the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Deacon Jones, 74
David D. Jones was an exemplary defensive end in the NFL. The Los Angeles Times called him “the most valuable Ram of all time.” Redskins coach George Allen called hi “the greatest defensive end of modern football.” But time will remember him most vividly for coining the term “sack,” as in “sacking the quarterback,” which he did a lot.
Frank Lautenberg, 89
A U.S. senator twice (1982-2001 and then 2003-2013), the New Jersey native was known as the last of the New Deal liberals. He fought for more for Amtrak, for environmental regulation, and for more oversight and, though a millionaire himself many times over, for tighter restraint on Wall Street.
Esther Williams, 91
From 1945-49 a Williams film was one of the top 20 box office grossers each year—clearly, swimming sells. Had not World War II prevented her from taking part in the Olympics, she might have followed a conventional sports career. Instead, she got into show business and swam her way to stardom.
Johnny Smith, 90
One of the greatest jazz guitar players ever, Smith will forever be best known as the man who wrote “Walk, Don’t Run,” the Ventures’s hit instrumental. He should also be remembered as the man who walked away from club life after his wife died, moved to Colorado, bought a music store, and raised his daughter in peace.
Slim Whitman, 90
He had at least three careers: first as a country singer-songwriter (“Indian Love Call”) in the early 50s, then a second run when he became a star abroad, especially in the England, in the 60s, and finally through TV-marketed albums in the late 70s. His three-octave falsetto was also used to good advantage in Mars Attacks!
Bobby “Blue” Bland, 83
He started out in the 50s as a blatant B.B. King imitator, but over the years he pushed his music further in the direction of soul and even a little funk, but always as elegant as the tux he wore onstage. White bands copied him. Jay Z sampled him. Nobody did it better.
Bert Stern, 83
A gifted professional portrait photographer who memorably photographed Marilyn Monroe for three days just weeks before she died, Stern will be remembered longest for Jazz on a Summer’s Day, the joyous documentary he co-directed at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958—Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, Anita O’Day, and the angels sing.
Charles Foley, 82
He invented an automatic latch for his grandfather’s cattle pen while still in grade school, then went on to invent such marvels as toy handcuffs, an automatic cocktail shaker, Un-Du (an adhesive remover) and most memorably, Patent No. 3,454,279, more popularly known as Twister, a game where only the double-jointed and the shameless have any advantage.
Douglas Engelbart, 88
Though something of an outsider in the computer world of the 50s and 60s, Englebart was one of that community’s most seminal thinkers, foreseeing that interactivity was key to the digital future. And he is surely the only person on this list whose invention you’re holding in your hand while you read this: the computer mouse.
Douglas Dayton, 88
Daytons have been in the department store business since the 19th century, but it was not until the early 60s, when Douglas Dayton was put in charge of the family’s new discount line that real change occurred: he oversaw a small chain of stores offering well-designed, durable products at discount store prices—the result: Target.
Rosalind Hudson, 86
She worked on breaking the Enigma ciphers with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, arranged flowers for the Savoy (they gave her a suite for her honeymoon in gratitude), played the piano to concert standard, and was famous for her superb architectural models (she built a model of Highgrove House as a wedding present for Charles and Diana; when the Prince later added a porch to the real thing, he requested that she do likewise on her model).
Edmund Morgan, 97
Diminutive, almost elfin in appearance, he bestrode his field like a colossus. No one—certainly not Benjamin Franklin, if he had the chance to read what Morgan wrote about him—could ask for a more generous, perceptive biographer.
Masao Yoshida, 58
Plant manager of the Fukushima nuclear plant during the tsunami meltdown in 2011, Yoshida defied orders from superiors to stop using sea water to cool the reactor. His decision was later hailed for preventing a much more serious disaster.
Amar Bose, 83
The smartest thing he ever did was not to invent the 901 speakers with their innovative indrect sound, or the noise-cancelling headphones or that famous curved radio. No, the smartest thing the founder of the Bose Corp. ever did was not to sell stock in his company. “I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by M.B.A.’s,” he told Popular Science in 2004. “But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.”
Cory Monteith, 31
Cory Monteith, who played high-school quarterback and glee-club star Finn Hudson on the hit show Glee, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room from a drug overdose. Monteith was born in Calgary, Canada, to parents who split when he was 7, and Monteith had a troubled childhood, dropping out of school at 16 to use drugs and drink. Glee's tribute to Monteith was one of its saddest and best episodes.
T-Model Ford, 93
He took up the guitar after his fifth wife left him (she gave him the guitar as a good-bye present). He didn’t start recording until he was around 70 or more (he didn’t know just how old he was). But when James Lewis Carter Ford began to sing and play the blues as it is played in the Mississippi Delta and hill country, people would dance til they dropped. It wasn’t pretty, it was beautiful.
Helen Thomas, 92
She covered 11 presidents, served as UPI’s first female White House correspondent, covered 11 presidents and gave them all the same grilling. A few years ago, Fidel Castro was asked what the difference was between democracy in the U.S. and in Cuba. “I don’t have to answer questions from Helen Thomas,” he replied.
Dennis Farina, 69
You might not know his name, but you know him, and you've seen him everywhere on film and TV, often as a jaded cop or a deliciously sleazy mobster in Midnight Run, Get Shorty, Crime Story, and Law & Order. He was even a host on Unsolved Mysteries. He began as a Chicago police officer but ended up one of the most memorable character actors of his time.
Virginia E. Johnson, 88
She began as William Masters assistant in his human sexuality research in the 50s, became his working partner and later his wife (and still later his ex-wife), all the while co-authoring the most comprehensive studies of sexual behavior ever undertaken, the bestselling Human Sexual Response, and its follow-up, Human Sexual Inadequacy.
Walter de Maria, 77
A musician (he played drums for a precursor of Velvet Underground) and conceptual artist whose desire that audiences or observers interact with his art led him to create happenings in the 70s and later installations, such as the sublime Lightning Field in New Mexico (the title is fanciful but true: it’s actually 400 metal poles arranged in a grid designed to attract lightning strikes … which sometimes does happen).
J.J. Cale, 74
No one has ever pared a song down to its essentials better than this laconic Oklahoma composer and performer. A Cale song had everything it needed and not a note more. Others had hits with songs such “After Midnight” and “They Call Me the Breeze,” but the definitive versions were Cale’s alone.
Harry F. Byrd Jr., 98
Succeeding his father as a U.S. senator from Virginia, he was the last member of the Byrd political dynasty, which traced its beginning to the beginning of the country, but which will be most vividly remembered for its support of what became known as Massive Resistance to integration in Virginia in the 60s.
John Graves, 92
In 1957, John Graves took a three-week canoe trip down the Brazos River, which he feared was about to be altered for the worst by damming. He describes that trip in Goodbye to a River, one of the most beautiful books about a place you’ll ever read, even if you’ve never been to Texas. Graves wrote gracefully about everything from guns to dogs to environmentalism, and he always kept his eyes open.
Dixie Evans, 86
Nicknamed “The Godmother of Burlesque,” the Southern California native was famous in the 50s and early 60s for an act that leaned heavily on her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe (“Hotter Than Any Hydrogen Bomb!” the posters claimed). Later she started what became the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, where she hosted the Miss Exotic World competition for burlesque performers.
Ruth Asawa, 87
She graduated from high school in the California internment camp where she and her Japanese-American family were held during World War II. At Black Mountain College, Josef Albers encouraged her to use commonplace materials for her sculpture. The results were the almost cloudlike crocheted wire sculptures for which she became best known.
George Duke, 67
When he was five, his mother took him to see Duke Ellington. “I want to be him,” said the boy, who would grow up to play keyboards with everyone from Frank Zappa to Miles Davis and influence several generations of jazz, funk and hip hop musicians.
Karen Black, 74
The Oscar-nominated actress broke through with her role as an LSD-taking prostitute in Easy Rider, then expanded her hold on 70s zeitgeist films opposite Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces and Drive, He Said, and also in Portnoy's Complaint, The Great Gatsby, and Robert Altman's Nashville.
Jack Clement, 82
Starting out as a sound engineer and producer for Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Clement’s native Memphis, where he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis, Phillips went on to become one of Nashville’s most colorful and versatile figures—performing, writing songs (“Ballad of a Teen Age Queen”), and producing (“Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”).
Born Barbarella Catton in Quebec and nicknamed Haji by an uncle, she was discovered by soft-core porn maestro Russ Meyer while stripping in southern California. She starred in numerous Meyer movies, most notably in the cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Bert Lance, 82
Named by his friend Jimmy Carter to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, Lance resigned after seven months amid charges that he’d traded on his friendship with the president for personal gain. The Georgia businessman was later exonerated. A colorful talker, he is credited with coining the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Albert Murray, 97
Duke Ellington called him “the unsquarest man I know.” An essayist (Stomping the Blues), novelist (Train Whistle Guitar), and memoirist (South to a Very Old Place), Murray decried black separatism and argued that America could only flourish as a fully integrated society.
Jose Sarria, 90
The LGBT rights activist and drag queen was dubbed the “Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement” after he became the first openly gay man to run for office in 1961, seeking a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He lost, placing ninth in a field of 30 candidates, but he considered it a victory: “From that day on,” he said, “there’s never been a politician in San Francisco, not even a dogcatcher, that did not go and talk to the gay community.”
Marian McPartland, 95
Along with Mary Lou Williams, pioneering pianist McPartland proved to the jazz world that women could swing just as hard as men. But she will also be remembered for her long-running NPR show, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, on which she graciously interviewed—and held her own jamming with—practically every jazz great on the planet.
Julie Harris, 87
Harris was the closest thing we had to a great stage actress in the mold of the British dames who dominated English theater. Harris won a record five Tony Awards from 1952 (I Am a Camera, as Sally Bowles, later adapted into Cabaret) to 1977 (The Belle of Amherst), and was nominated for an Oscar for reprising her Broadway role as teenage girl Frankie in the film version of Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding.
Gus the polar bear, 27
He was called “the neurotic polar bear” for his relentless, OCD-like swimming at New York’s Central Park Zoo, but Gus was really just an average New Yorker—an out-of-towner who came to the city and hung on as hard as he could as long as he could, and won a million hearts along the way.
Sir David Frost, 74
You know him for his 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon, in which he cajoled and cornered him into something like admission and contrition, and was dramatized in the 2008 movie Frost/Nixon. He might have been considered a lightweight, but even if he didn't ask the tough questions, everybody watched him.
Ken Wallis, 97
A British bomber pilot who flew 28 missions over Germany during World War II, Wallace made his reputation after the war building—and setting records with—small, helicopter-like autogyros. One was used to search for the Loch Ness Monster. Wallis flew another one, called “Little Nellie,” as Sean Connery’s stunt pilot in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
Rochus Misch, 96
Not once before his death at 96 did Hitler’s bodyguard express any regret or doubts about the man he served. The last survivor of the Berlin bunker where Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves, Misch consistently denied knowledge of the millions of deaths caused by the Nazis. According to a London Sunday Express reporter, he was “the most unrepentant and unapologetic Hitler supporter you could ever have the misfortune to meet.”
Marshall Berman, 72
Philosopher Marshall Berman was as much an admirer of diversity and modernism as he was of Karl Marx. His one true love, however, was New York City, where he was born and died and passed up opportunities to study and work at Ivy League universities to live.
Ray Dolby, 80
We have Ray Dolby to thank for the way we listen to music and watch movies. The audio engineer, whose name is now synonymous with “surround sound,” invented a “noise reduction” system in the 60s that eliminated the hissing sound behind most audio recordings at the time. In 1977 his genius was introduced to moviegoers when Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars premiered using surround sound. “You could divide film sound in half,” said Oscar-winning sound editor Walter Murch. “There is BD, Before Dolby, and AD, After Dolby.”
Ken Norton, 70
Ten years after he first learned to box while serving in the Marine Corps, Hall of Famer Ken Norton beat Muhammed Ali in what would become the first of a series of showdowns between the two fighters. In addition to breaking boxing records, Norton was an actor. starring in about 20 films including the 1975 movie Mandingo.
Luciano Vincenzoni, 87
Italian screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni is probably best known for co-writing the spaghetti Westerns For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, with Sergio Leone. But as a prolific and skilled script doctor, Vincenzoni’s words are heard in about 70 movies.
Marcella Hazen, 89
Macella Hazen taught Americans to cook Italian food right, first with the cooking classes she taught in her free time when she moved the U.S. from Italy, and later with her best selling cook books. Hazen, who held doctorates in natural science and biology, was discovered somewhat accidentally when New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne heard rave reviews about her classes. Her first book, Classic Italian Cooking, is still in print 35 years after it was first published.
Vo Nguyen Giap, 102
He did direct the Vietnamese defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, but contrary to popular assumptions, he was not the architect of the Tet Offensive in 1968 or the fall of Saigon, by which time the North Vietnamese had relegated him to near obscurity (at one point he was named director of family planning). His life in a united Vietnam was one of internal exile. But he never stopped speaking his mind, and to the people he always remained an incorruptible hero.
Bill Eppridge, 75
Being in the right place at the right time is not enough to produce a great photograph, unless you are already a skillful photographer. So it was that Eppridge photographed Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot in a hotel kitchen by Sirhan Sirhan. The result was one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.
Ruth R. Benerito, 97
A modest scientist who always disavowed the idea that she invented permanent press cotton—she called herself a contributor to the breakthrough—Benerito nevertheless took the idea of wash and wear to near perfection, earning herself a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, not to mention the gratitude of millions who never had to pick up a steam iron again.
Stanley Kauffmann, 97
To the "film generation" (a term coined by Kauffmann) who grew up on Godard, Antonioni, and Kurosawa, Kauffmann was their guru, guiding young cinephiles through the great flowering of international cinema during his astonishing 55 years as the film critic of The New Republic.
Oscar Hijuelos, 62
He received glowing reviews for his 1989 novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, and became the first Hispanic author to win a Pulitzer prize. But what almost no one noticed at the time was that the American-born Hijuelos had kicked the door open for ethnic and émigré fiction like no one before or since. In doing so, he almost singlehandedly inaugurated the dominant trend in fiction over the last 20 years.
Maxine Powell, 98
If you thought those 60s Motown groups just figured out on their own how to dress, how to move, and how to meet the press and the public with poise and grace, then you never knew Maxine Powell, who ran what amounted to a finishing school that embued both male and female artists with grace, poise, and style (Marvin Gaye liked to sing with his eyes shut; Powell put a stop to that). “I teach class,” she liked to say, “and class will turn the heads of kings and queens.”
Robert B. Rheault, 87
During his second tour in Vietnam, the charismatic head of the Green Berets became embroiled in a trial resulting from the murder of a suspected Vietnamese double agent. Charges against Rheault, often cited as the model for Col. Kutrz inApocalypse Now, were eventually dropped, once it became clear that a court martial would embroil the military, the CIA, and possibly the White House.
Tom Foley, 84
Speaker of the House from 1989 to 1995, the Washington-state congressman was a strong proponent of the bipartisan compromise so lacking in national politics today. Though he represented a district that was by no means a lock for re-election, he never hesitated to vote his conscience, even when it might cost him his seat. After voting for the assault weapons ban in 1994, Foley did indeed lose the next election, ending 30 years of service in Congress.
Hakimullah Mehsud, 34
Before he was killed by a drone strike, Mehsud (born Zulfiqar Mehsud) had proven himself one of the most vicious and determined leaders of the Taliban in Pakistan, where he was known as the principal instructor of teenage suicide bombers. As charming as he was ruthless and fueled by sectarian hate, Mehsud preyed on military forces and civilians alike.
Sylvia Browne, 77
She claimed to be able to reach into the past and see into the future, but no matter how much skeptics like James Randi called this self-described psychic a fake, she made millions on a string of bestsellers and racked up further coin ($700 for 30 minutes on the phone) answering questions from curious callers.
Chico Hamilton, 92
As the drummer for Gerry Mulligan’s seminal west coast quartet in the early 50s, Hamilton’s subtle, almost melodic style helped make cool jazz hot. Later he would branch out into composing (he wrote the score for Roman Polanksi’s Repulsion) and teaching, but he also excelled as a bandleader with a phenomenal ear for new talent, nurturing and igniting the careers of Ron Carter, Eric Dolphy, and Larry Coryell
Jane Kean, 90
Poor Trixie Norton, the wife of Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, was played by Joyce Randolph in the original show. But the sitcom actually only lasted one season, and when the skit was revived in The Jackie Gleason Show in the 60s, Trixie was played by Jane Kean—and she's the long-suffering Trixie we know.
He was part Chihuahua, part Chinese Crested, and completely ugly. Or so said the Sonoma County Fair jury that crowned him The World’s Ugliest Dog in 2007. Hairless but for a Mohawk-like patch on his head, the New Jersey native was nicknamed Yoda and E.T. by some of his thousands of fans. His owner even wrote a book, Everyone Loves Elwood, to promote tolerance and lack of prejudice.
Peter Kaplan, 59
He edited or ran other publications and produced Charlie Rose’s show for a spell, but it was as the editor of The New York Observer that Kaplan will be remembered. During his 15-year tenure as editor of the pink-colored newspaper (accent on paper), he nurtured many an editor and author, e.g., Candace Bushnell, but more than that he nurtured a dream of a New York that was somehow gritty and glamorous, savvy but ideal, and at the center of that dream was old-fashioned, beautifully written journalism.
Paul Walker, 40
If you had to name Universal's biggest-ever franchise, would you come up with The Fast and the Furious? Paul Walker was the face of all but one of those movies. But more than that, he was also a lovely humanitarian.
Eleanor Parker, 91
The three-time Best Actress Oscar nominee was best known for her role in 1965’s The Sound of Music, in which she played Baroness Schrader. She was known for her versatility, and was nominated for her performances in Caged, Detective Story, and Interrupted Melody. She won an Emmy in 1963 for an episode of The Eleventh Hour.
Jim Hall, 83
He got his start with the drummer Chico Hamilton’s cool jazz group on the west coast in the 50s, but no style could contain this fluent guitar stylist for long. He was versatile enough to hold his own with Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, or Bill Evans, and no matter who he played with, it was likely Hall’s subtle, melodic lines that stuck in your head long after the concert ended.
Tom Laughlin, 82
Laughlin is best known for starring in the Billy Jack films, about a half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam vet, that began with 1967's The Born Losers and ended four movies later, helping to bring discrimination against Native Americans to the spotlight. He changed the way movies were marketed into the model we have today, with TV trailers and nationwide opening day releases, which he pioneered for The Trial of Billy Jack. He even ran for president in 1992, 2004, and 2008.
Joan Fontaine, 96
It could have been a Hitchcock thriller. Joan Fontaine had a longstanding feud with her sister Olivia de Havilland, and the sibling rivalry was the stuff of Hollywood legend, which climaxed in both actresses being nominated for Oscars in 1942—and ended with Fontaine taking home the statue for Suspicion.
Ray Price, 87
To save a sagging career in the 60s, he ditched his Texas swing and country shuffle sound in favor of the smooth countrypolitan sound then popular in Nashville. But the songs that made him a star in the first place (“Heartaches by the Number”) never fell completely out of his repertoire, and as younger listeners discovered him through support from such friends as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, he reverted more and more to his classic sound and proved that his gorgeous baritone hadn’t lost a thing, right to the end.
Ronnie Biggs, 84
Though he was, by his own account, a minor participant in England’s Great Train Robbery of 1963, Biggs gripped the public’s imagination (if not its undiluted sympathy—the train engineer he assaulted during the robbery died of his injuries six years later) when he broke out of jail in 1965 and managed to remain at large for a quarter century, mostly in Brazil, where he supported himself as a carpenter, sold t-shirts with his face on them and even sang with the Sx Pistols at one point. In 2001, he gave himself up and went back to prison. He was released in 2009, a sick but unrepentant old man.
Al Goldstein, 77
The anti-Hugh Hefner, he founded the extremely un-airbrushed Screw magazine in 1968, and for three decades reaped huge financial rewards (including six houses and a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce) by publishing the rawest images imaginable. In his heyday, he successfully fought off obscenity charges and militant feminists, only to be done in by Internet porn. He wound up broke and homeless in his last years and died in a Brooklyn nursing home.
Mikhail Kalashnikov, 94
The Russian gunsmith who invented the AK-47 could hardly have envisioned that the cheap, light and—most important--reliable weapon he created in the 40s for the Red Army would become a totemic object for everyone from gangsters to terrorists. But as Ordell Robie says in Jackie Brown, “When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitute!”