Died December 15
By: Legacy Staff
10 months ago
Actress Joan Fontaine appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, receiving many accolades for her work, but two stand out as unique. Fontaine is the only actor to have won an Academy Award for an Alfred Hitchcock film, 1941's "Suspicion." Additionally, she and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, are the only siblings who both won Academy Award statues for acting in leading roles. Fontaine's other notable credits include movies "Rebecca" and "The Constant Nymph," for which she was nominated for an Oscar, as well as a role on the TV soap opera "Ryan's Hope." We remember Fontaine's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Fontaine's pale, soft features and frightened stare made her ideal for melodrama, and she was a major star for much of the 1940s, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. For Hitchcock, she was a prototype of the uneasy blondes played by Kim Novak in "Vertigo" and Tippi Hedren in "The Birds" and "Marnie." The director would later say he was most impressed by Fontaine's restraint. She would credit George Cukor, who directed her in "The Women," for urging her to "think and feel and the rest will take care of itself." Read more
2010: Blake Edwards, U.S. film director whose directing credits include "Operation Petticoat" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's," dies of pneumonia at 88.
Adapted from a 1958 "Playhouse 90" episode written by J.P. Miller, Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses" was one of the first films to give serious treatment to alcoholism rather than play drunks for cheap laughs. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick give gut-wrenching performances as a downward-spiraling couple who succumb to their addictions at the expense of everything else in their lives. Both Lemmon and Remick were nominated for Academy awards for their work, and, ironically, both would later seek treatment for alcoholism, as would Edwards. Read more
2010: Bob Feller, U.S. Major League Baseball pitcher, dies at 92.
"Nobody lives forever and I've had a blessed life," Feller said in September 2010, as quoted in his obituary by The Associated Press. "I'd like to stay on this side of the grass for as long as I can, though. I'd really like to see the Indians win a World Series." Feller, in fact, was part of the rotation the last time the Indians won it all — in 1948. Read more
2009: Oral Roberts, U.S. television evangelist and Christian author, dies at 91.
Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts — he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country's most famous ministers. Read more
2007: Julia Carson, U.S. congresswoman from Indiana and the second African-American woman elected to Congress from that state, dies at 69 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996. She championed children's issues, women's rights, and efforts to reduce homelessness and was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Carson was born to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper. She graduated in 1955 from the same segregated high school as basketball star Oscar Robertson. Read more
2007: John Berg, U.S. actor whose television credits include "Law & Order," "The Practice," and "Boston Legal," dies at 58 of carbon monoxide poisoning in a suicide.
2005: William Proxmire, U.S. Democratic politician and a former U.S. senator representing Wisconsin, dies at 90 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Long before the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law was a twinkle in the eye of lawmakers, and at a time when millions were spent campaigning for Senate seats, Proxmire made a point of accepting no contributions. In 1982, he registered only $145.10 in campaign costs, yet gleaned 64 percent of the vote, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2004: Pauline Gore, U.S. lawyer from Tennessee, the wife of former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Sr. and the mother of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, dies at 92.
2003: Keith Magnuson, NHL player from Canada, dies at 56 in an automobile accident.
1968: Jess Willard, world heavyweight boxing champion from Kansas who was known as the Pottawatomie Giant, dies at 86.
1966: Walt Disney, U.S. animator and business mogul from Chicago who co-founded Walt Disney Productions, dies of lung cancer at 65.
In the early days of Disney, nobody was doing what Disney did –– and Walt received the accolades to prove it. To this day, he holds the record for most Academy Award honors, with an amazing 26 Oscars. Many of them are competitive awards for Disney films. But four of Disney's Oscars were honorary awards – ones that truly show how Walt and his brother, Roy Disney, and the company they began have affected the world of animation. Read more
1962: Charles Laughton, English actor whose films include "Mutiny on the Bounty," "Jamaica Inn," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," dies of kidney cancer at 63.
1951: Eric Drummond, British diplomat and the first secretary-general of the League of Nations, dies at 75.
1944: Glenn Miller, U.S. big-bandleader and swing-era jazz composer, dies at 40 after his plane disappears in bad weather en route to a performance to entertain U.S. troops in World War II France.
The unique sound of Miller's orchestra owed to his vision of a clarinet in the lead, backed by several saxophones playing in harmony. Add trombones (Miller's instrument), trumpets, and a whole lot more – and you've got that great big-band sound. Read more
1943: Thomas W. "Fats" Waller, jazz pianist whose compositions include "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose," dies of pneumonia at 39.
1934: Maggie Lena Walker, African-American teacher, businesswoman, and the first female bank president to charter a U.S. bank, dies at 70.
1890: Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota chief who resisted U.S. government policies, is shot to death by police at about 59.
1673: Margaret Cavendish, English writer and the duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, dies at about 50.