George Jones, 1990. (Beth Gwinn/Redferns)
Singer-songwriter George Jones, also known as "The Possum," was a distinctive and popular voice in country music. Charting more than 150 hits in his career, some as a solo artist and others as duets, he helped to shape the sound of country in the 1960s. His tumultuous life offstage, punctuated by divorces and a long-running struggle with alcohol abuse, also helped shape public perceptions of country music's more rebellious image. Despite his personal demons and self-destructive tendencies, Jones managed a successful career spanning nearly 60 years, and his hits remain fixtures within the greatest hits of country music. We remember George Jones' life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: George Jones, U.S. musician who was a country music legend who had many hit records, including "White Lightning," dies at 81.
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" is Jones' best-known song, but when the singer was first approached with it, he didn't like it. He thought the sad lament was too morbid, and he had a hard time getting the recording right. In fact, it took him 18 months to finally complete the recording and agree to release it as a single. The result proved remarkable, and survey after survey names it the greatest country song of all time. Read more
2013: Mary Thom, U.S. writer and editor who was one of the founders of Ms. magazine, dies at 68.
Thom was one of Ms. magazine's founding members and served as an editor there for about 20 years, leaving in 1992. She also was an author who wrote a book about the history of Ms. and was a co-author, with Suzanne Braun Levine, of an oral history of actress and former U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug. Read more
2013: Jacqueline Brookes, U.S. actress who appeared on Broadway and in movies and television series including Star Trek: The Next Generation, dies at 82.
2012: Margie Stewart, U.S. model who was the official U.S. Army poster girl during World War II, dies at 92.
2011: Phoebe Snow, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist who was known for her hit song "Poetry Man," dies at 60.
Snow took her stage name from a character in a railroad advertising campaign. In her teen years, she played acoustic guitar and sang in clubs around Greenwich Village, and by the time she was 22, her debut album had hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It included the cool, groovy single “Poetry Man.” Read more
2007: Jack Valenti, U.S. politician who was the longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America, dies at 85.
Valenti was not a film star or movie mogul. Yet at any Hollywood soiree, he turned heads like the biggest A-lister and commanded attention like a top studio honcho. Read more
2005: Maria Schell, Austrian actress who appeared in Cimarron and Superman: The Movie with Christopher Reeve and was the older sister of actor Maximilian Schell, dies at 79.
2005: Mason Adams, U.S. character actor who was known for his role as Charlie Hume on the TV series Lou Grant, dies at 86.
His distinctive, often fatherly voice was first heard in 1940s and 1950s radio serials, including Batman and Pepper Young's Family. But he did not achieve fame until being cast as Charlie Hume in Lou Grant, a spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that ran from 1977 to 1982. Adams earned three Emmy nominations for his work on the series. Read more
2004: Hubert Selby Jr., U.S. author known for his novels Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream, dies at 75.
2003: Peter Stone, U.S. screenwriter who was well-known for writing Charade starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and also wrote The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, dies at 73.
1996: Stirling Silliphant, U.S. screenwriter who was known for his movies In the Heat of the Night and The Towering Inferno, dies at 78.
1991: Emily McLaughlin, U.S. actress who was well-known for her role as Jessie Brewer on the TV soap opera General Hospital, dies at 60.
1991: A.B. Guthrie Jr., U.S. screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for the movie Shane, dies at 90.
1989: Lucille Ball, U.S. actress and comedienne who was well-known for her classic sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy, dies at 77.
There was a time when everyone loved Lucy. Lucille Ball, who starred as a dizzy housewife with dreams of stardom in the groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy, was the "queen of comedy … noted for impeccable timing, deft pantomime and an endearing talent for making the outrageous believable," noted her obituary in The New York Times. A legend in her lifetime, she remains one today, 25 years after her death April 26, 1989. Read more
1986: Bessie Love, U.S. actress who had the most success during the silent-film era and early talkies and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Broadway Melody, dies at 87.
1986: Broderick Crawford, U.S. actor who was known for his starring role in the TV series Highway Patrol, dies at 74.
1984: Count Basie, U.S. jazz pianist and band leader who launched the careers of many, including Lester Young and Freddie Green, and whose signature song was "One O'Clock Jump," dies at 79.
Basie knew what his band's formula for greatness was. "I think the band can really swing when it swings easy, when it can just play along like you are cutting butter," Basie wrote in his autobiography. And, man, could Count Basie swing… Read more
1984: May McAvoy, U.S. actress who worked mainly during the silent-film era and who starred in the movie The Jazz Singer, dies at 84.
1983: Vaughn Taylor, U.S. actor who appeared in many movies and TV series including Jailhouse Rock, Psycho and Get Smart, dies at 73.
1981: Herb Voland, U.S. actor who appeared in numerous TV series in the 1960s and '70s, including Bewitched and M*A*S*H, dies at 62.
1981: Jim Davis, U.S. actor who was best known for his role as Jock Ewing in the primetime soap Dallas, dies at 71.
1973: Irene Ryan, U.S. actress who was well-known for her role as Granny in the hit TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, dies at 70.
1970: Gypsy Rose Lee, U.S. burlesque dancer who was famous for her striptease act and who was also an actress, author and playwright, dies at 59.
Many were at a loss to explain why she, of all the pretty girls losing clothing onstage, became such an attraction. As a 1942 Life magazine article in noted, "She shows less than Margie Hart, is less suggestive than Ann Corio, less 'hot' than Georgia Sothern. She scorns the use of either bumps or grinds, fundamental gyrations of a burlesque routine… her routine for years has been a slow strip which she accompanies with a smart patter song." Her smart patter may have been just as big an asset as her slow reveal – in those days, women made up nearly half of the typical striptease audience – and she became famous for her sophisticated onstage wit and casual banter. Read more
1961: Gail Russell, U.S. actress who appeared in two movies with her friend John Wayne, including Angel and the Badman, dies at 36.
1956: Edward Arnold, U.S. actor who was in more than 150 movies, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, dies at 66.
1936: Tammany Young, U.S. actor who appeared in many films with his friend W.C. Fields, dies at 49.