Died Today in History ›
Published: 11 months ago
Don Cornelius taught America how to dance every week on the nationally syndicated hit "Soul Train." The former Marine from Chicago's South Side held a series of day jobs before he took a chance on a broadcasting course, despite having just $400 to his name and a family to support. He was a natural, however, thanks to his suave demeanor and unforgettable voice, and he put his abilities to use in 1967 as host of "A Black's View of the News" before launching "Soul Train" three years later, bringing many African-American artists to wider audiences and influencing popular culture for decades. We remember Cornelius' life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Monty Oum, U.S. web animator and writer who created the animated series "RWBY," dies at 33.
It was only his second Hollywood role, as defense attorney Hans Rolfe in Stanley Kramer's classic "Judgment at Nuremberg," that earned him wide international acclaim, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Schell's impassioned but unsuccessful defense of four Nazi judges on trial for sentencing innocent victims to death won him the 1961 Academy Award for best actor. Schell had first played Rolfe in a 1959 episode of the television program "Playhouse 90." Read more
2013: Ed Koch, U.S. congressman and the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, dies at 88.
The larger-than-life Koch, who breezed through the streets of New York flashing his signature thumbs-up sign, won a national reputation with his feisty style, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. "How'm I doing?" was his trademark question to constituents, although the answer mattered little to Koch. The mayor always thought he was doing wonderfully. Read more
2012: Don Cornelius, U.S. television personality known best as the creator and host of "Soul Train," dies by suicide at 75.
The "hippest trip in America" was made all the hipper by Cornelius' ear for great music – and his smooth, deep voice. When he introduced new songs and show segments such as the Soul Train Line, you couldn't help but listen. And though he played down his ability, Cornelius could dance, too – fans went wild the one and only time he joined the line. Read more
2012: Angelo Dundee, U.S. boxing trainer and cornerman who worked with Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, dies at 90.
The genial Dundee was known best for being in Ali's corner for almost his entire career, but those in boxing also knew him as an ambassador for boxing and a figure of integrity in a sport that often lacked it, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2006: Dick Bass, U.S. NFL running back for the Los Angeles Rams who was a three-time All-Pro player, dies at 68.
2005: John Vernon, Canadian actor remembered best for his role as Dean Vernon Wormer in the movie "Animal House," dies at 72.
2004: May O'Donnell, influential U.S. modern dancer and choreographer, dies at 97.
2003: Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon are killed when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrates as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.
1999: Paul Mellon, U.S. philanthropist and thoroughbred racehorse owner, dies at 91.
1994: Olan Soule, U.S. actor who provided the animation voice of Batman from 1968 to 1984, including the "Super Friends" series, dies at 84.
1991: Jimmy MacDonald, English cartoon voice actor who was the voice of Mickey Mouse from 1947 to 1977, dies at 84.
1988: Heather O'Rourke, U.S. child actress known for her role in the movie "Poltergeist," dies of a misdiagnosed intestinal ailment at 12.
1986: Dick James, English owner of the publishing company that published the Beatles' music, dies at 65.
1981: Wanda Hendrix, U.S. actress who was most popular in the 1940s and '50s, dies at 52.
1980: Jack Bailey, U.S. actor and TV game show host who was the host of "Queen for a Day," dies at 72.
1981: Donald W. Douglas, U.S. aviation pioneer, dies at 88.
1966: Hedda Hopper, one of the most popular gossip columnists in the U.S. with her column in the Los Angeles Times, dies at 80.
1966: Buster Keaton, prolific U.S. comedic actor and director whose film "The General" is considered one of the great movies of all time, dies at 70.
1944: Piet Mondrian, influential Dutch abstract painter, dies at 71.
1851: Mary Shelley, English novelist who wrote Frankenstein, dies at 53.