Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Celebrity Deaths 2024 Part One

As it is every year, Death just can't seem to take a holiday— not even with the pandemic over. Or is there a brand new one starting? I honestly can't keep track of it anymore.

Once again Death proved that neither fame nor fortune makes one immune to its icy touch, as so far there've been hundreds of celebrities and public figures who met their makers in 2024. Here's a partial list of the most notable ones who died in the first half of the year.

Note that there were many more high profile celebrity deaths this year than the ones I've listed here. I'm only including the ones I recognize or who had an impact on my life.

David Soul
Died January 4, 2024 at age 80.
Actor best known for playing Hutch in 1970s cop show Starsky & Hutch. He also had a (VERY) short-lived musical career with his hit song Don't Give Up On Us.

Glynis Johns
Died January 4, 2024 at age 100 (!).
Johns was a prolific British actress, best known for playing Mrs. Banks in the original Mary Poppins. She also played Diane Chambers' mom in an episode of 1980s sitcom Cheers.

Peter Crombie
Died January 10, 2024 at age 71.
Although Crombie had many other credits, he'll forever be known as Crazy Joe Davola on Seinfeld.

Joyce Randolph
Died January 13, 2024 at age 99 (!).
Randolph was best known for playing Ed Norton's wife Trixie on The Honeymooners, and was the last surviving member of the cast.

I gotta confess I'm astonished that she was still alive! I assumed she— like all the rest of the cast— died decades ago.

Norm Snead
Died January 14, 2024 at age 84.
Former NFL player for the Eagles, Vikings and Giants— and one of the few football players I've heard of. Plus I just like saying "Norm SNEAD."

David Emge
Died January 20, 2024 at age 77.
Actor best known for playing "Flyboy" in the original Dawn Of The Dead. As a bonus, he was born in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana!

Gary Graham
Died January 22, 2024 at age 73.
Actor best known for co-starring in the 1980s sci-fi series Alien Nation. He also guest starred as Vulcan ambassador Sovol on Enterprise. He appeared in numerous films as well, including Hardcore, The Hollywood Knights, All The Right Moves, The Last Warrior and Robot Jox.

Charles Osgood
Died January 23, 2024 at age 91.
Long-time CBS news anchorman.

Melanie (aka Melanie Anne Safka)
Died January 23, 2024 at age 76.
American singer-songwriter, whose claim to fame was her 1971 hit song Brand New Key.

Chita Rivera
Died January 30, 2024 at age 91.
Tony Award-winning actress, singer and dancer. She appeared in numerous movies and guest starred on tons of TV shows over the decades. Her real love was musical theater though, as she starred in such hits as West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago.

Carl Weathers
Died February 1, 2024 at age 76.
Former football player for the Oakland Raiders turned prolific actor. 

Wow, this one hurts. I've been watching Weathers for most of my life, and always enjoyed his easy going screen presence. 

Weathers guest starred in numerous TV shows in the early 1970s, but it was his role as Apollo Creed in the Rocky films that made him a star. He then became an action hero, starring in such films as Predator and Action Jackson, among others.

Weathers then proved he had a knack for comedy, in such films as Happy Gilmore and The Sasquatch Gang, and Arrested Development on TV.

His most recent work was as Greef Karga on The Mandalorian.

He also dabbled in directing, helming episodes of various TV series.

Weathers was a talented actor who had plenty of charisma and screen presence, which always made me think he should have been a much bigger star than he was. I don't know if his race that held him back (I hope not), or just plain bad management. Whatever the reason, he should have been a Stallone or Schwarzenegger-level superstar.

Toby Keith
Died February 5, 2024 at age 62.
Country singer, whose hits included Should've Been A Cowboy, How Do You Like Me Now? and Red Solo Cup.

Mojo Nixon
Died February 7, 2024 at age 66.
Singer best known for his novelty song, Elvis Is Everywhere. Nixon described his music as "psychobiilly," whatever that means. He occasionally dabbled in acting as well.

Welcome W. Wilson Sr.
Died February 16, 2024 at age 95.
I have no idea who this guy was or why he was famous, and included him solely because his first name was apparently "Welcome."

Paul D'Amato
Died February 19, 2024 at age 75.
Actor who starred in iconic 1970s hits such as Slap Shot and The Deer Hunter.

According to comic artist John Byrne, he used D'Amato as a model for Wolverine of the X-Men. I have no real reason to doubt him, but I'm honestly not seeing much of a resemblance there.

Brian Stableford
Died February 24, 2024 at age 74.
Prolific British sci-fi author.

Ramona Fradon
Died February 24, 2024 at age 97.
Fradon was one of the few female comic book artists in the field, and co-created the DC character Metamorpho. She's probably best known for her stint drawing Aquaman.

Richard Lewis
Died February 27, 2024 at age 76.
Neurotic stand up comedian and actor. 

Another one that hurts. Lewis was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show and Late Night. He starred in Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men In Tights, and costarred with Jamie Lee Curtis in the TV series Anything But Love

In recent years Lewis was best known as a semi regular on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Chance Browne
Died March 1, 2024 at age 75.
Browne was the son of Dik Browne, creator of the Hi & Lois comic strip. When the elder Browne died in 1989, Chance took over the strip and has been writing & drawing it ever since. 

No word on what'll happen to the strip at this time.

Died March 6, 2024 at age 7.
South African pig, who gained fame by creating paintings by using her snout.

Steve Lawrence
Died March 7, 2024 at age 88.
Perennial crooner, comedian and actor. He performed with his wife Eydie Gorme for decades in Vegas.

Eric Carmen
Died March 11, 2024 at age 74.
Lead vocalist of The Raspberries, who went on to a successful solo career with soft rock hits such as Hungry Eyes and All By Myself.

Paul Alexander
Died March 11, 2024 at age 78.
Alexander developed polio at age 6, which paralyzed from the neck down. As a result he spent the rest of his life in an iron lung. Despite this massive limitation, he became an attorney, writer and artist.

M. Emmet Walsh
Died March 19, 2024 at age 88.
Prolific character actor, who appeared in over two hundred films, including Blade Runner, Blood Simple and Fletch.

I have to confess I thought he died years ago.

Vernor Vinge
Died March 20, 2024 at age 79.
Hugo Award-winning sci-fi author.

Ron Harper
Died March 21, 2024 at age 91.
Actor best known for his roles in the Planet Of The Apes TV series, as well as Season 3 of Land Of The Lost.

Yvonne Shima
Died March 22, 2024 at age 89.
Canadian-born Asian actress who appeared in such films as The World Of Suzie Wong, Dr. No and The Cool Mikado.

Louis Gossett Jr.
Died March 29, 2024 at age 87.
Actor who starred in such films as An Officer And A Gentleman (for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Enemy Mine and Iron Eagle. He also starred in the 1970s TV miniseries Roots.

Barbara Baldavin
Died March 31, 2024 at age 85.
TV actress, whose credits included playing crewman Angela Martine in three episodes of the original Star Trek.

Barbara Rush
Died March 31, 2024 at age 97.
Actress who starred in It Came From Outer Space, as well as soaps Peyton Place and All My Children on TV.

Lou Conter
Died April 1, 2024 at age 102 (!).
American naval commander, and last survivor of the USS Arizona.

Joe Flaherty
Died April 1, 2024 at age 82.
Talented comedian and character actor.

Another one that hurts!

Flaherty was best known as a member of SCTV and was a regular on Freaks And Geeks. He also starred in such films as Happy Gilmore and Back To The Future Part 2

Ed Piskor
Died April 1, 2024 at age 41.
Comic book artist and co-host of Cartoonist Kayfabe on YouTube.

Piskor's tragic end is a textbook illustration of the dangers of social media and the whole MeToo movement. 

From what I understand, a couple years ago a female fan began an online correspondence with Piskor. When he found out she was underaged, he quite rightly distanced himself from her. Unfortunately it was too late, and the SJWs got wind of the non-incident and canceled him HARD. 

Within the space of a few days, a Pittsburgh museum canceled a planned exhibition of his work, while various other projects in the works evaporated. Feeling his life was over and he had no other alternatives, Piskor killed himself.

Worst of all, there was no evidence that any of the "grooming" accusations against him were true, which made the whole thing all the more heartbreaking.

OJ Simpson
Died April 10, 2024 at age 76.
Heisman Trophy Winner and Hall Of Fame football player for the Buffalo Bills. He later dabbled in acting, appearing in The Towering Inferno and The Naked Gun films.

Of course Simpson was best known as the murderer of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman— a crime for which he was inexplicably acquitted.

Mom always said if you can't say something nice about a cold-blooded murderer, then don't say anything at all, so . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Eric Sievers
Died April 10, 2024 at age 66.
For comparison, Sievers played football for the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and LA Rams, and managed to live out his life without viscously murdering his ex-wife and her friend.

Trina Robbins
Died April 10, 2024 at age 85.
Trailblazing comic book writer and artist, and one of the first women in the industry to make a name for herself. She started out in underground comics with It Ain't Me, Babe Comix, and eventually worked on Wonder Woman for DC.

Pooch Tavares
Died April 15, 2024 at age 81.
I have no idea who he was— I just like saying "Pooch Tavares."

Whitey Herzog
Died April 15, 2024 at age 92.
Hall Of Fame baseball player (for the Washington Senators), executive for the New York Mets and manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Also one of the few baseball personalities I've heard of.

Spencer Milligan
Died April 18, 2024 at age 86. For some reason, his death wasn't reported until July 27th.
Actor whose biggest claim to fame was starring as Rick Marshall in The Land Of The Lost.

Ouch, yet another one that really hurts. 

I was a MAJOR fan of Land Of The Lost back in the day, and watched it religiously every Saturday morning. It had a huge effect on me, and I still think about certain episodes to this day.

Milligan took the show seriously, and played his role absolutely straight— which definitely helped sell the often outlandish plots. He gave his character a calm and reassuring tone, making him the perfect TV dad.

Unfortunately Milligan only starred in two of the show's three seasons. At the end of Season 2, Milligan approached Sid & Marty Krofft— the creators of the show— and demanded the cast get a pay raise and a cut of the series' lucrative merch. Sadly, the Krofft's refused, so Milligan quit the show in protest.

He was replaced by Ron Harper, who oddly enough died a few weeks earlier on March 21st.

Dickey Betts
Died April 18, 2024 at age 80.
Guitarist and songwriter for The Allman Brothers Band.

Terry Carter
Died April 23, 2024 at age 95 (!).
Actor best known for his role of Col. Tigh on the original BattleStar Galactica.

Duane Eddy
Died April 30, 2024 at age 86.
Hall Of Fame guitarist best known for his recording of the theme from Peter Gunn (which was written by Henry Mancini).

Bernard Hill
Died May 5, 2024 at age 79.
English actor with a long and illustrious career, best known for playing Captain Smith in James Cameron's Titanic, and King Theoden in The Lord Of The Rings films.

Another one that makes me very sad. I have to confess I'd never seen or heard of Hill till Titanic, and thought he brought a sense of realism to Captain Smith. 

But he really shone in Lord Of The Rings, as he absolutely owned the role of King Theoden. He took the character from fragile dotard to vulnerable leader to confident military commander in just a handful of scenes.

Best of all, Hill gave the character a palpable sense of royalty, making him seem like an actual king.

James Gregory
Died May 9, 2024 at age 78.
Stand up comic who mostly appeared on radio talk shows.

Roger Corman
Died May 9, 2024 at age 98 (!).
Producer, director and occasional actor.

Wow, another one that hurts. I was honestly starting to think Corman would live forever. Corman was the King Of The B-Movies, producing nearly five hundred low budget films over his decades-long career. When drive-in theaters became popular in the 1950s, Corman saw a need for content and began producing movies specifically for those venues.

He was notorious for shooting films in just a few days, as well as saving money by reusing props, sets and even special effects in multiple movies.

Corman also had a keen eye for talent, and gave many a major Hollywood actor and director their first big break. Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Jonathan Demme and James Cameron all owe their success to Corman.

Susan Backlinie
Died May 11, 2024 at age 77.
Actress best known for playing Crissie, the shark's first victim in Jaws.

David Sanborn
Died May 12, 2024 at age 78.
Popular Grammy-winning saxophonist.

Don Perlin
Died May 14, 2024 at age 94.
Comic book artist who worked on Marvel's Werewolf By Night and Ghost Rider, and who co-created Moon Knight.

Dabney Coleman
Died May 16, 2024 at age 92.
Popular actor best known for 9 To 5, Tootsie and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Coleman made an entire career out of playing smarmy politicians and unscrupulous bosses.

Ivan Boesky

Died May 20, 2024 at age 87.
American stock trader, known for his role in a famous insider trading scandal in the 1980s. Boesky pled guilty, was fined a record $100 million and served three years in prison. He later became a government informant.

Morgan Spurlock
Died May 23, 2024 at age 53.
Filmmaker who directed the documentary Supersize Me, in which he ate nothing but McDonald's food for thirty days.

In recent years it's been revealed that the negative health effects he experienced from the documentary were less likely to have been caused by fast food, and more a result of the alcoholism he suffered at the time.

Died May 24, 2024 at age 18.
Shiba Inu who was the subject of the popular "Doge" internet meme.

Doug Ingle
Died May 24, 2024 at age 78.
Member of Iron Butterfly, and best known for writing their hit In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Richard Sherman
Died May 25, 2024 at age 95. 
Along with his brother Robert, Sherman wrote numerous catchy songs for Disney and other kids' films, including Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Albert S. Ruddy
Died May 25, 2024 at age 94.
Long-time Hollywood producer.

Ruddy produced The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby, as well as Hogan's Heroes on TV. Talk about an uneven career!

Bill Walton
Died May 27, 2024 at age 71. 
Hall Of Fame NBA player for the Portland Trailblazers and Boston Celtics, as well as an ESPN sportscaster.

Jeannette Charles
Died June 2, 2024 at age 96.
British actress and Queen Elizabeth lookalike, who often played the monarch in movies (such as The Naked Gun).

William Russell
Died June 3, 2024 at age 99 (!).
Actor best known for playing Ian Chesterton, one of the First Doctor's original companions in Seasons 1 and 2 of Doctor Who

Parnelli Jones
Died June 4, 2024 at age 90.
Race car driver and Indy 500 winner.

Jerry West
Died June 12, 2024 at age 86.
Hall Of Fame basketball player for the LA Lakers, as well as the model for the NBA logo.

Willie Mays
Died June 18, 2024 at age 93.
Arguably one of the most famous baseball players of all time. 

Mays played for the New York/San Francisco Giants, and was a Hall Of Famer and World Series champ.

Donald Sutherland
Died June 20, 2024 at age 88.
Famed actor who starred in such high profile films as M*A*S*H, Ordinary People, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) and The Hunger Games series. 

He was also the father of actor Kiefer Sutherland. And he was Canadian, which I didn't know until just now.

Peter Gillis
Died June 20, 2024 at age 71.
Prolific comic book writer, who penned titles such as Captain America and Doctor Strange, among many others. He also wrote Shatter, the first comic to feature digital artwork, and co-created Strikeforce: Morituri.

Bill Cobbs
Died June 25, 2024 at age 90.
Character actor who starred in numerous films, such as The Bodyguard, The Hudsucker Proxy, Air Bud and many more.

Martin Mull
Died June 27, 2024 at age 80.
Comedian, actor, musician and artist.

Still another one that hurts! I've been watching Mull on TV since I was a teen.

Mull appeared in countless TV shows, including Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Fernwood 2Nite, Roseanne and many, many more. He also starred in the cult favorite film Clue.

As mentioned above, he was also an accomplished musician and artist.

Whew! That's it for the first half of 2024. Let's hope the second half is relatively quiet!
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