Betty Furness, 1992 (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Betty Furness got her start in film in the 1930s, but she found fame as a spokeswoman for Westinghouse products. She parlayed her popularity into a regular spot as a panelist on What's My Line? and her own brief "Adventures In Mystery" program in 1951. A daytime television series, Meet Betty Furness, followed in 1953. In the 1960s she took on the role of consumer advocate, first for President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration and later for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in New York. She ended her career at The Today Show on NBC, filling in at the anchor desk and filing reports until she was let go in 1992. We remember Betty Furness' remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Milo O'Shea, U.S. actor who had important supporting roles in The Verdict with Paul Newman and the cult movie Barbarella, dies at 86.
2013: Jane Henson, U.S. puppeteer who was the wife of Muppets creator Jim Henson and who was a Muppet performer during the early years of The Muppets, dies at 78.
She met Jim Henson in a University of Maryland puppetry class in the mid-1950s, and they became creative and business partners in the development of the Muppets. The Hensons married in 1959 and had five children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John and Heather. The pair separated in 1986, and Jim Henson died in 1990. Read more
2013: Chuck Fairbanks, U.S. NFL and college football head coach known mostly for his time as head coach of the University of Oklahoma and for the New England Patriots, dies at 79.
Fairbanks was 52-15-1 in six years with the Sooners, including an Orange Bowl victory his first season and consecutive Sugar Bowls wins in 1971-72 before taking over the Patriots. He won 46 games for New England, a franchise record at the time. Read more
2010: Chris Kanyon, U.S. professional wrestler who performed in World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation bouts and used the ring name Mortis, commits suicide at 40.
2010: Mike Cuellar, Cuban Major League Baseball pitcher who was a four time All-Star and won two World Series, dies at 72.
2009: Bud Shank, U.S. jazz saxophonist and flutist who performed with Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton and is known for playing the flute solo in the Mamas and the Papas song "California Dreamin,'" dies at 82.
2007: Paul Reed, U.S. actor known best for his role as Capt. Block on the TV sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?, dies at 97.
2006: Bernard Seigal, U.S. musician and music critic who was a founding member of the roots punk rock band the Beat Farmers, dies at 48.
2003: Edwin Starr, U.S. soul music singer who was most famous for his hit song "War," dies at 61.
Any list of Vietnam War protest songs must include the classic "War." In 1970 the track soared to No. 1 on the strength of Starr's powerful vocals and the song's no-nonsense message: "War – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing." It summed up the sentiments of a generation weary of a war that seemed as if it would never end. And it made Starr's career – the song was the highlight of his 45 years of music-making. Read more
2001: Jennifer Syme, U.S. actress who had a minor role in Lost Highway and was the girlfriend of actor Keanu Reeves, dies in an auto accident at 28.
1998: Rob Pilatus, U.S. singer and dancer who was one half of the pop duo Milli Vanilli who had hit songs including "Girl You Know It's True," dies at 33.
1995: Harvey Penick, U.S. professional golf coach who coached many Hall of Fame players including Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, dies at 90.
1994: Betty Furness, U.S. actress who appeared in such movies as Swing Time and who later became a reporter for NBC's Today Show, dies at 78.
1987: Bernard "Buddy" Rich, U.S. jazz drummer and bandleader who was known as "the world's greatest drummer" for his virtuoso technique, power, groove and speed, dies at 69.
Rich was a jazz drummer, one of the best ever: when he performed, he was billed as the "World's Greatest Drummer" and it was no joke. He began playing publicly when he was just 18 months old – an age when most of us are focused on figuring out how to walk straight. But he didn't peak as a child star. Read more
1972: Gil Hodges, U.S. MLB first baseman and manager who played most of his career with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers who was an eight time all-star and won three World Series titles, dies at 47.
1872: Samuel Morse, U.S. painter and inventor who was a co-developer of Morse code, dies at 80.