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Died October 21

Jack Kerouac was one of the most famous of the Beat Generation writers, the underground darlings of the 1950s who scoffed at conformity and convention. Kerouac is known best for his legendary road trip novel, "On the Road," but his other celebrated works include "Big Sur" and "The Dharma Bums." His hallmark was his spontaneous, quickly written prose – "On the Road," for example, was written in a furious three-week burst of energy, typed on a continuous scroll of paper so Kerouac didn't need to take the time to change sheets in his typewriter. His work has inspired writers and counterculturists from the 1950s to today. We remember Kerouac'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 actress Carrie Fisher.

2015: Marty IngelsU.S. actor and comedian who voiced many cartoon characters, dies at 79. 

2014: Ben Bradlee, U.S. journalist and author who was the longtime executive editor of The Washington Post and played a key role in the coverage of the Watergate scandal, dies at 93.

As managing editor first and later as executive editor, the raspy-voiced Bradlee engineered the transformation of the Post from a sleepy hometown paper into a great national one. He brought in a cast of talented journalists and set editorial standards that brought the paper new respect. Bradlee got an early break as a journalist thanks to his friendship with one president, John F. Kennedy, and became famous for his role in toppling another, Richard Nixon, helping guide Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's coverage of the Watergate scandal.

2012: George McGovern, U.S. senator who ran for president in 1972, dies at 90.

George McGovern (Associated Press)"We are blessed to know that our father lived a long, successful, and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions, and fighting for peace. He continued giving speeches, writing, and advising all the way up to and past his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this summer," the family said in a statement. Read more

 

 

 

 

2006: Sandy West, U.S. drummer and an original member of the teenage female rock band the Runaways, dies of cancer at 47.

West was only 16 when she started the Runaways in 1975 with Joan Jett, a singer and guitarist. Along with band members Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, they had such hits as "Cherry Bomb" and "Born To Be Bad." Read more

 

 

 

 

2003: Fred Berry, U.S. actor who played Rerun on the 1970s television sitcom "What's Happening!!," dies at 52.

Some actors chafe against being typecast in their best-known role. Others embrace it. Fred Berry was decidedly in the latter category – his portrayals of Rerun continued long after the three-year run of "What's Happening!!" Read more

 

 

 

2003: Elliot Smith, U.S. singer-songwriter whose music was featured on the soundtrack of the movie "Good Will Hunting," dies at 34.

A surprise nomination for his work in the indie film "Good Will Hunting," the comparatively unheralded performer took the stage clad in a frumpy-looking white dinner jacket, hair greasy, acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder. Looking nervous and uncomfortable, he delivered a spare, heartfelt rendition of "Miss Misery" that's now regarded as one of the Academy Awards' finest musical moments. Read more

 

 

 

1995: Linda Goodman, U.S. astrologer, poet, and author of "Linda Goodman's Sun Signs," dies at 70.

1995: Maxene Andrews, U.S. singer and member of the Andrews Sisters whose hit songs included "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," dies at 79.

1995: Shannon Hoon, U.S. lead singer of the 1990s band Blind Melon, dies of a cocaine overdose at 28.

1992: Jim Garrison, U.S. lawyer who investigated President John F. Kennedy's assassination, dies at 70.

1984: Francois Truffaut, French film icon whose works include "Fahrenheit 451" and "The 400 Blows," dies of brain cancer at 52.

His unhappy upbringing would later inform much of his work, most notably his breakout film "The 400 Blows" and later "The Wild Child." Movie theaters provided a form of refuge, and after dropping out of school at age 14, he set a goal for himself of seeing three movies a day and reading three books a week. The cinemas of Paris became his classrooms, exposing him to the works of John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock. Read more

 

 

 

1970: John T. Scopes, U.S. educator tried for teaching evolution in Tennessee schools in what became known as the Scopes Trial, dies at 70.

1969: Jack Kerouac, U.S. Beat Generation novelist and poet who wrote the classic novel "On the Road," dies at 47.

While Kerouac's frenzied, stream-of-consciousness writing has inspired generations, others have been less impressed. Truman Capote dismissed Kerouac with the sniff, "That's not writing, that's typing." Read more

 

 

 

 

1965: Bill Black, U.S. bassist who played in Elvis Presley's early trio, dies at 39.

1938: Dorothy Hale, U.S. socialite and aspiring actress, dies by suicide at 33.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including actress Carrie Fisher.