Died September 17

Red Skelton was one of the top entertainers of the 20th century, a comic with a career that spanned 70 years. He got his start in vaudeville, where he honed his sketch comedy skills with routines like the now-famous "Doughnut Dunkers." He brought those skills to television, where he delighted fans of "The Red Skelton Show" with a host of hilarious characters including Freddie the Freeloader, Clem Kadiddlehopper, and The Mean Widdle Kid, whose catchphrase "I dood it!" became Skelton's unforgettable trademark. In between, Skelton starred in movies and on radio, wrote short stories and music, and painted highly sought-after artwork featuring clowns that are rumored to have earned him even more money than his TV work. We remember Skelton'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 actor John Ritter.

2015: Milo Hamilton, U.S. Hall of Fame Major League Baseball broadcaster who called Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run, dies at 88.

2014: George Hamilton IV, U.S. country music singer and guitarist whose hits included 1963's "Abilene," dies of a heart attack at 77.

George Hamilton IV (AP photo)Hamilton had been an Opry member since 1960, when he made the switch from pop music to country. He said the decision came after catching a performance of the Opry at Ryman Auditorium. Hamilton worked with producer Chet Atkins on a number of hits and scored his first country No. 1 with "Abilene" in 1963. Read more

 

 

 

2013: Marvin Rainwater, U.S. rockabilly and country music singer-songwriter who sold over 1 million copies of his hit song "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird," dies of heart failure at 88.

2012: Tedi Thurman, U.S. model and actress known best as "Miss Monitor," doing weather reports for the popular radio show "Monitor," who was also the weather girl for a year on "The Tonight Show With Jack Paar," dies at 99.

2000: Paula Yates, English television host known best as the host of the popular British music program "The Tube," who was married to Bob Geldof and was the mother of Peaches Geldof, dies of a drug overdose at 41.

1997: Red Skelton, U.S. entertainer known for hosting his popular television variety program, "The Red Skelton Show," which aired from 1951 until 1970, dies at 84.

Image via Library of CongressThe legendary comedian delighted audiences with his clowning, molding himself into character after character, and creating lots of laughs along the way. So great was his skill at inhabiting a role – and making it funny – that he earned high praise from one of the previous generation's top comics, Groucho Marx: "With one prop, a soft battered hat, he successfully converted himself into an idiot boy, a peevish old lady, a teetering-tottering drunk, an overstuffed clubwoman, a tramp, and any other character that seemed to suit his fancy. No grotesque makeup, no funny clothes, just Red." Read more

 

1996: Spiro Agnew, U.S. politician who was the 39th vice president of the United States from 1969 until 1973 until he resigned after being charged with tax fraud and bribery, dies at 77.

1995: Grady Sutton, U.S. character actor who appeared with W.C. Fields in "The Bank Dick," dies at 89.

1994: Vitas Gerulaitis, U.S. professional tennis player who won the 1977 Australian Open and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, then became a popular tennis announcer, dies of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning at 40.

1993: Christian Nyby, U.S. director mostly known for his work on television series such as "Gunsmoke" and "Kojak," who also directed "The Thing From Another World," which is considered one of the great science fiction movies from the 1950s, dies at 80.

1985: Laura Ashley, Welsh fashion designer who created the popular fashion company known for romantic English designs, dies of a brain injury following a fall at 60.

1984: Richard Basehart, U.S. actor known best as the star of the 1960s science fiction television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," dies after a series of strokes at 70.

1973: Hugo Winterhalter, U.S. arranger and composer who was a sideman and arranger for Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey and arranged songs for Perry Como and Dinah Shore, dies of cancer at 64.

1972: Akim Tamiroff, Georgian actor who appeared in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Ocean's 11," dies at 72.

1951: Jimmy Yancey, U.S. pianist who was a pioneer of boogie-woogie and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, dies at 57.

1899: Charles Pillsbury, U.S. businessman who was a co-founder of the Pillsbury Co., dies at 58.

1858: Dred Scott, U.S. enslaved man who sued for his and his family's freedom, which the U.S. Supreme Court denied, increasing tensions leading up to the Civil War, dies of tuberculosis at 59.

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