Died May 17
By: Legacy Staff
4 months ago
Donna Summer was known as the Queen of Disco, selling upward of 100 million albums during her career, including hits like "Love To Love You Baby" and "Hot Stuff." She started out as the lead singer of a blues rock band in New York, and moved to Munich to star in "Hair." Her unlikely path to disco stardom took her through the productions of several musicals in Germany and work as a studio musician before coming back to America and becoming a fixture at Studio 54 as one of the icons of the new disco scene. We remember Summer's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Ken Venturi, U.S. professional golfer who won the U.S. Open in 1964 and was a broadcaster on golfing events for 35 years on CBS, dies at 82.
A prominent amateur who grew up in San Francisco, he captured his only major in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional, the last year the final round was 36 holes. In oppressive heat, Venturi showed signs of dehydration, and a doctor recommended he stop playing because it could be fatal. Venturi pressed on to the finish, closed with a 70 and was heard to say, "My God, I've won the U.S. Open." Read more
2013: Alan O'Day, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his 1977 No. 1 hit song, "Undercover Angel," dies at 72.
2012: Donna Summer, U.S. singer who reached stardom during the disco era and whose many hit songs included "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff," dies at 63.
The Queen of Disco was incredibly prolific, with 19 albums and dozens of singles over the course of her decadeslong recording career. It's hard to pick a favorite, but we can narrow it down to her all-time top hits – the ones that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Summer had hit after hit on the dance charts, but these select few were so great that they also electrified listeners who were not on the dance floor. Read more
2012: Ron Shock, U.S. comedian who appeared on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" and formed the Texas Outlaw Comics, dies at 69.
2011: Harmon Killebrew, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman, third baseman, and left fielder who was an 11-time All-Star and hit 573 home runs during his career, dies at 74.
The 11-time All-Star was the American League's MVP in 1969 after hitting 49 home runs with 140 RBIs and 145 walks, all team records that stand to this day. "I found out early in life that I could hit a baseball farther than most players," Killebrew said, "and that's what I tried to do." Read more
2005: Frank Gorshin, U.S. actor, comedian, and impressionist known best for his role as The Riddler on the "Batman" television series, dies at 72.
Despite dozens of television and movie credits, Gorshin will be remembered forever for his role as The Riddler, Adam West's villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on "Batman" from 1966-69. "It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in a 2002 interview with The Associated Press. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down." Read more
2004: Tony Randall, U.S. actor well-known for his role as Felix Unger on the TV series "The Odd Couple," dies at 84.
Randall was one of the entertainment world's favorite stars. Beyond his star turns on TV, the silver screen, and Broadway, he was a frequent guest on other people's shows. He appeared on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" a record-setting 105 times, and he was David Letterman's talk-show guest 70 times. He often graced game shows like "Password," "The Hollywood Squares," and "What's My Line?" He was even honored with an animated cameo on "The Simpsons" – as one of only two people who have finished a steakhouse's 16-pound gut buster, "Sir Loinalot." Read more
2002: Sharon Sheeley, U.S. songwriter who wrote the song "Poor Little Fool," which became a hit song for Ricky Nelson, and who was the girlfriend of singer Eddie Cochran and was riding in a car with him in England when he died in a car accident, dies at 62.
1999: Bruce Fairbairn, Canadian record producer who produced albums by Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, KISS, and Van Halen, dies at 49.
1996: Johnny "Guitar" Watson, U.S. soul and funk musician who had a string of hit songs on the Billboard rhythm and blues charts in the 1970s, dies at 61.
1996: Kevin Gilbert, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning Sheryl Crow hit song "All I Wanna Do," dies at 29.
1996: Scott Brayton, U.S. IndyCar racer who competed in 14 Indianapolis 500 races, dies at 37 during a practice run at the Indy 500.
1992: Lawrence Welk, U.S. musician and bandleader who hosted the popular television program "The Lawrence Welk Show" from 1955 until 1982, dies at 89.
1985: Abe Burrows, award-winning U.S. humorist, author, and director who co-wrote the book for the play "Guys and Dolls," dies at 74.
1943: Montagu Love, English actor who appeared in movies along with Rudolph Valentino and John and Lionel Barrymore, dies at 66.
1886: John Deere, U.S. blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Co., one of the largest agricultural and construction equipment builders, dies at 82.
1829: John Jay, U.S. politician who was the first chief justice of the United States and then the governor of New York, dies at 83.