Getty Images / Photo by Dozier Mobley

Died February 18

NASCAR fans loved and hated Dale Earnhardt, but no one could ignore his skill as a racer. Earnhardt built up an impressive resume of championships, winning 76 races, including the Daytona 500 in 1998. Three years later, he would lose his life in the last lap of that same race. During his life, he was known for an aggressive driving style and unfiltered honesty in dealings with the media that earned him equal parts admiration and enmity from his fans and colleagues. But through it all, he was unabashed about being true to himself. We remember Earnhardt'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 filmmaker John Hughes.

2017: Norma McCovey, the plaintiff known under the legal pseudonym Jane Roe in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the U.S., dies at 69.

2017: Clyde Stubblefield, the funk drummer for James Brown and one of the most sampled drummers of all time, dies at 73.

2015: Jerome Kersey, U.S. NBA forward who was known for his time playing for the Portland Trailblazers, dies at 52.

2014: Maria Franziska von Trapp, Austrian-American singer who was the last surviving member of the siblings portrayed in the movie "The Sound of Music," dies at 99.

Maria von Trapp (Associated Press)Von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with sister Rosmarie at the lodge. She wrote in a biography posted on the Trapp Family's website that she was born in the Austrian Alps after her family fled fighting from World War II. "Growing up we were surrounded by music. Father played the violin, accordion and mandolin. Mother played piano and violin," she wrote. "I have fond memories of our grandmother playing the piano for us after meals." Read more


2014: Mavis Gallant, Canadian writer known for her short stories, dies at 91.

2013: Jerry Buss, U.S. businessman who owned the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers during their heyday in the 1980s, dies at 80.

2013: Damon Harris, U.S. soul singer who was a member of the Temptations from 1971 until 1975, dies at 62.

OtisHarris performed with the celebrated Motown act the Temptations from 1971 to 1975 and sang on hits including "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)." Joining the Temptations was "the realization of a dream" for Harris, according to Chuck Woodson, a spokesman for the Harris family at the time. Read more



2013: Kevin Ayers, English rock musician who was a founding member of the pioneering band Soft Machine, dies at 68.

Kevin Ayers (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)Soft Machine and Pink Floyd both enjoyed wide followings for their imaginative and experimental take on psychedelia. They were also known for their free-form, jazz-influenced live improvisations. Ayers also had a lengthy solo career, and made many collaborative records, working with Syd Barrett, Brian Eno, Nico, and others. He released "The Unfairground" in 2007, ending a lengthy hiatus with the critically acclaimed album. Read more


2008: Alain Robbe-Grillet, French writer and filmmaker known for 1961 art film "Last Year at Marienbad," dies at 85.

2006: Richard Bright, U.S. actor who played Al Neri in the "Godfather" films, dies at 68.

2001: Eddie Mathews, U.S. Hall of Fame baseball player who ranks second all-time among third basemen in home runs and RBIs, dies at 69.

2001: Dale Earnhardt, U.S. NASCAR driver who won 76 races in his career, including a Daytona 500, and who was one of the most popular drivers on the tour, dies during a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 at 49.

EarnhDale Earnhardt (Wikimedia Commons)ardt’s villainous image was enhanced by a sponsorship switch in 1988 that saw him driving a GM Goodwrench car painted black. New nicknames were coined – The Man in Black, Darth Vader. ABC’s "World News Tonight" aired an unflattering piece on him, and he spent much of his career as the most-booed driver in NASCAR. But for every hater, there was another race fan who appreciated Earnhardt’s intense competitiveness and his no-nonsense approach with the media. In an age of carefully crafted sound bites, he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Read more


1999: Noam Pitlik, U.S. actor and director who appeared in guest roles on TV series such as "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Get Smart," dies at 66.

1998: Harry Caray, U.S. sportscaster who was extremely popular as the play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Cubs on WGN radio, dies at 83.

Caray spent 16 years giving voice to the hopes and dreams of Chicago Cubs fans. Those dreams were dashed more often than not, but the unmistakable exuberance and energy of Caray's color commentary made it a lot easier for fans to take. Caray spent decades calling games, turning each inning into an exciting chance for glory and getting generations hooked on the beauty of America's pastime. Read more



1995: Bob Stinson, U.S. musician who was a founding member and lead guitarist of the rock band the Replacements, dies at 35.

1995: Denny Cordel, English rock music producer who produced albums for bands such as the Moody Blues and Joe Cocker, dies at 51.

1982: Tina Carver, U.S. actress popular in the 1950s, dies at 59.

1980: Gale Robbins, U.S. actress who appeared in the movie "Calamity Jane," dies at 58.

1978: Maggie McNamara, U.S. actress who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the movie "The Moon Is Blue," dies of an overdose at 48.

1977: Ralph Graves, U.S. actor who appeared in 93 movies between 1918 and 1949, dies at 77.

1977: Andy Devine, U.S. actor who was known as a comic cowboy sidekick and appeared in movies such as "Stagecoach," dies at 71.

1967: J. Robert Oppenheimer, U.S. physicist who helped create the atomic bomb as a member of the Manhattan Project, dies at 62.

1963: Monte Blue, U.S. actor in silent films who transitioned to a character actor in the talkies era and appeared as a guest on numerous TV shows, dies at 76.

1933: James "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, U.S. heavyweight boxing champion from 1892 to 1897, dies at 66.

1910: Lucy Stanton, U.S. abolitionist and first African-American woman to complete a four-year course of study at a college or university, dies at 78.

1836: Cornplanter, Seneca war chief and diplomat who fought in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, dies at 90+ years.

1564: Michelangelo, Italian Renaissance artist best known for his Sistine Chapel painting and sculpture of David, dies at 88.

1546: Martin Luther, German theologian who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation, dies at 62.

1455: Fra Angelico, early Italian Renaissance painter known for his frescoes, dies at about 59.

1294: Kublai Khan, Mongolian leader who conquered China and was the grandson of Genghis Khan, dies at 78.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including filmmaker John Hughes.