Died June 16

Brian Piccolo was well on his way to an illustrious career in the NFL. The Wake Forest University standout wasn't drafted, but he tried out for the Chicago Bears as a free agent and made the team. By his fourth season, he was making a name for himself as a fullback, as well as becoming good friends with the team's star, Gale Sayers. It was a shock to friends and fans alike when Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after at just 26. Sayer's autobiography, "Brian's Song," told the story of their friendship and was turned into a legendary 1971 TV movie that still brings tears to the eyes of those who watched it all those years ago. We remember Piccolo'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 influential rapper Tupac Shakur.

2017: Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of West Germany from 1982 until 1990 and Germany after unification from 1990 until 1998, dies at 87.

2016: Jo Cox, British Labour Party member of Parliament, is murdered at 41.

2014: Tony Gwynn, U.S. professional baseball player with the San Diego Padres who was a 15-time All-Star, dies of salivary gland cancer at 54.

Tony Gwynn (Associated Press, Kent Horner)In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn played his whole career with the Padres, choosing to stay rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination made him one of the game's greatest contact hitters. He had 3,141 hits, a career .338 average, and won eight NL batting titles. He excelled at hitting singles the other way, through the "5.5 hole" between third base and shortstop. Read more

 

 

 

2012: Susan Tyrrell, U.S. actress who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1973 for her role in "Fat City," dies of a blood disorder at 67.

Susan Tyrrell (Associated Press Photo)Tyrrell received a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as barfly Oma in John Huston's 1972 boxing movie, "Fat City." She appeared in more than 75 movies and television shows. Read more

 

 

 

 

1996: Mel Allen, U.S. sportscaster known best as the New York Yankees play-by-play announcer mostly during the 1940s, '50s, and part of the '60s, dies of heart failure at 83.

1995: Jack Wagner, U.S. actor who was the official park announcer for Disneyland for many years and was known as the Voice of Disneyland, dies at 69.

1994: Kristen Pfaff, U.S. musician who was the bassist in Courtney Love's alternative rock band Hole for their major-label debut album, "Live Through This," dies of a drug overdose at 27.

1991: Vicki Brown, English singer who was a popular backup singer for many well-known artists including Elton John and George Harrison, dies of breast cancer at 50.

1982: James Honeyman-Scott, English musician who was a founding member and lead guitarist for the Pretenders, dies of drug-related heart failure at 25.

1979: Nicholas Ray, U.S. director known best for his movies "Johnny Guitar" and "Rebel Without a Cause," dies of lung cancer at 67.

Ray's greatest commercial success came with 1955's "Rebel Without a Cause," which, among other things, is remembered for its excellent use of color. His vivid palette is displayed best in what was arguably his strangest film, the bizarre "Johnny Guitar." The Western was shot in Trucolor, a cheap, short-lived two-color process used in many Roy Rogers films. Read more

 

 

 

1973: Louise Latimer, U.S. actress who starred opposite John Wayne in "California Straight Ahead!", dies of liver failure at 60.

1970: Brian Piccolo, U.S. NFL running back for the Chicago Bears whose story battling cancer and friendship with Bears great Gale Sayers were portrayed in the movie "Brian's Song," dies of cancer at 26.

1967: Reginald Denny, English actor whose movie appearances included "Anna Karenina" and "Rebecca," dies at 75 following a stroke.

1959: George Reeves, U.S. actor well-known for starring in "The Adventures of Superman," dies by suicide at 45.

1940: Dubose Heyward, U.S. author known best for his novel "Porgy," which inspired the opera "Porgy and Bess," dies of a heart attack at 54.

1939: Chick Webb, U.S. jazz drummer who led a popular swing band, dies of tuberculosis at 34.

1925: Emmett Hardy, U.S. jazz cornet player who was considered one of the best New Orleans musicians of his era and was a member of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, dies of tuberculosis at 22.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including influential rapper Tupac Shakur.