Died Today in History ›
Published: 10 months ago
Anna Nicole Smith burst into American popular culture from the pages of Playboy magazine with dreams of being the next Marilyn Monroe. Those dreams came true with Smith's death by a drug overdose in 2007. Before her death, her face and voice were a fixture on television, thanks to her reality show and her work as a spokeswoman for the Trimspa weight-loss program and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Unlike her idol's, Smith's acting career never took off, but her wild, over-the-top personality and truly bizarre life story ensure that her name will not soon be forgotten. We remember Smith's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2016: Violette Verdy, French ballerina who was a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, dies at 82.
2010: John Murtha, U.S. politician who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1974 to 2010, dies at 77.
Murtha was an officer in the Marine Reserves when he was elected in 1974. Ethical questions often shadowed his congressional service, but he was known best for being among Congress' most-hawkish Democrats, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He wielded considerable clout for two decades as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending. Read more
2007: Anna Nicole Smith, U.S. Playboy playmate, actress, and TV personality, dies of a drug overdose at 39.
Smith had been a tabloid staple even before she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1993, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Readers were fascinated by her bombshell good looks, her marriage to an octogenarian billionaire and subsequent court fight over his estate, her weight fluctuations, and, in 2006, the sudden death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith. A former topless dancer, she made her name squeezing into Guess jeans. She resembled the late actress Marilyn Monroe, a similarity played up in her Guess magazine ads, billboards, and department store displays. Read more
2006: Elton Dean, English musician who played saxophone in the band Soft Machine, dies at 60.
2005: Keith Knudsen, U.S. drummer, vocalist, and songwriter for the rock band the Doobie Brothers, dies at 56.
Knudsen began drumming in eighth grade and joined the Doobie Brothers in 1974. "After a week's rehearsal, I went on the road with the band," Knudsen said in his biography on the band's website. The Doobies were known for incorporating gospel and jazz stylings into popular hit songs. They also were well-regarded for their live performances. Their other hits included "China Grove" and "Jesus Is Just Alright." Read more
2005: Jimmy Smith, U.S. jazz musician who helped popularize the Hammond B-3 electric organ, dies at 79.
2004: Julius Schwartz, longtime U.S. editor of DC Comics, dies at 88.
2000: Derrick Thomas, U.S. NFL linebacker who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, dies of injuries sustained in a car accident at 33.
2000: Bob Collins, U.S. radio broadcaster who was the morning personality for WGN radio in Chicago, dies in a private-plane collision at 57.
2000: Sid Abel, Canadian Hall of Fame NHL player who spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, dies at 81.
1999: Iris Murdoch, British novelist and philosopher who was married to literary critic John Bayley, dies at 79.
1996: Mercer Kennedy Ellington, U.S. jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and the son of Duke Ellington, dies at 76.
1994: Raymond Scott, U.S. composer, bandleader, and pianist whose compositions were adapted for the Bugs Bunny cartoons, dies at 85.
1993: Eliot Janeway, widely quoted U.S. economist and journalist who wrote articles for Newsweek and The New York Times, dies at 80.
1992: Stanley Dunham, grandfather of Barack Obama who would become the 44th president of the United States, dies at 73.
1990: Del Shannon, U.S. rock vocalist known best for his No. 1 hit "Runaway" in 1961, dies by suicide at 55.
1985: William Lyons, English automobile manufacturer who founded the auto company that would become Jaguar, dies at 83.
1985: Marvin Miller, U.S. actor known best for his role as Michael Anthony on the TV series "The Millionaire," dies at 71.
1959: William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, U.S. director of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, dies at 76.
1956: Connie Mack, U.S. baseball player and manager who holds the Major League Baseball record for most career wins, dies at 93.
1725: Peter the Great, czar of Russia from 1682 to 1725, dies at 52.
1587: Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots who was arrested for attempting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, is executed at 44.