Died August 17

Pearl Bailey, the Tony and Emmy award-winning actress and singer, starred in projects as diverse as "St. Louis Blues" on Broadway and Duncan Hines commercials on television. Her long and varied career took her from vaudeville to Broadway and Hollywood, where she starred in such films as "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Landlord." She had her own variety show for a season and joined the cast of "As the World Turns" in 1982. Bailey released dozens of albums and soundtracks, including her hit rendition of "Takes Two To Tango." Beyond acting and singing, Bailey was an author of several books and served as a special ambassador to the United Nations for Presidents Nixon and Ford. She was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan. We remember Bailey's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including Hollywood sex symbol Mae West.

2016: Arthur Hiller, Canadian director whose movies included "Love Story" and "Silver Streak," dies at 92.

2015: Yvonne Craig, U.S. actress known best for her role as Batgirl on the 1960s TV series "Batman," dies at 78.


She was known best as Batgirl (and her alter ego, librarian Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's daughter) in the 1967-68 season of ABC's "Batman." Another memorable TV role, from an episode of the original "Star Trek" series: the green Orion Slave Girl who wanted to kill Captain Kirk. Read more

 

 

 

2012: Joey Kovar, U.S. model and reality TV star who was a cast member of "The Real World: Hollywood," dies of opiate intoxication at 29.

1995: Howard Koch, U.S. screenwriter who wrote the famous radio drama "War of the Worlds" and won an Oscar for co-writing "Casablanca," dies at 94.

1995: David Warrilow, English-born U.S. actor who was in the movies "Barton Fink" and "Radio Days," dies of AIDS at 60.

1994: Jack Sharkey, U.S. boxer who was the heavyweight champion of the world from 1932 until 1933 after defeating Max Schmeling, dies of respiratory arrest at 91.

1992: Tommy Nutter, Welsh-born tailor who worked with many celebrity clients in the 1960s, including Mick Jagger and Elton John, and dressed three of the four Beatles for the cover of the "Abbey Road" album (George Harrison decided to wear jeans), dies at 49.

1990: Pearl Bailey, U.S. actress and singer who starred in the movies "Porgy and Bess" and "St. Louis Blues," dies at 72.

Bailey was so much more than an actress and singer. She was an author of six books and an adoptive mother of two children. She was a college graduate, receiving her bachelor's degree in theology from Georgetown at age 67. She served as special ambassador to the United Nations, and was America's Ambassador of Love (as appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1970). She was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, a New York City Bronze Medallion honoree, and a Daytime Emmy winner. She was an icon. And last but certainly not least, she was funny. Read more

 

 

1990: Roderick Cook, English actor who was in "The Great Waldo Pepper" and made appearances on the television series "Newhart" and "MacGyver," dies at 58.

1988: Victoria Shaw, Australian-born U.S. actress who had roles in the movie "Westworld" and on television shows including "Ironside" and "Charlie's Angels,"

\dies at 53.

1983: Ira Gershwin, U.S. lyricist who collaborated with his brother, composer George Gershwin, to create memorable songs such as "I Got Rhythm" and "Embraceable You," dies at 86.

Ira Gershwin (Image via Wikimedia Commons)While it's true that George composed an amazing array of music for orchestra, piano and Broadway before his untimely death at 38, it's no less true that Ira was an unmatchable lyricist, both while working with his brother and on his own after George's death. When the Gershwins worked together, the music they created was award-winning and memorable: "Someone To Watch Over Me," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," the opera "Porgy and Bess" (including songs like "Summertime," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," "It Ain't Necessarily So"), and many more. Read more

 

 

 

1982: Barney Phillips, U.S. actor who had many recurring roles on popular television series including one season on "Dragnet" as police Sgt. Ed Jacobs, dies at 68.

1979: Vivian Vance, U.S. actress known for her role as Ethel Mertz on "I Love Lucy," dies at 70.

Though their regular collaboration ended when "The Lucy Show" went off the air, Vance continued to pop up from time to time when Lucille Ball would do a TV special or reunion show. And the friendship remained – as did the respect. Several years after her friend and co-star's death, Ball remarked, "I find that now I usually spend my time looking at Viv. Viv was sensational. And back then, there were things I had to do — I was in the projection room for some reason, and I just couldn't concentrate on it. But now I can. And I enjoy every move that Viv made. She was something." Read more

 

 

1976: William Redfield, U.S. actor who played mental patient Dale Harding in the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" but may be known best for playing the younger brother of Felix Unger on the TV sitcom "The Odd Couple," dies of complications from leukemia at 49.

1974: Edgar Dearing, U.S. actor who starred in comedy shorts for Hal Roach including several Laurel and Hardy serials, dies at 81.

1973: Paul Williams, U.S. vocalist who was a founding member and original lead vocalist of the Temptations, dies by suicide at 34.

1954: Billy Murray, U.S. singer who was very popular in the early 1900s and had over 150 chart hits, dies at 77.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including Hollywood sex symbol Mae West.