Sarah Vaughan (Gems/Redferns)
Jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan won her way to fame through a talent show at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y. She landed a spot opening for Ella Fitzgerald in 1943 and quickly rose to fame, thanks to her singular, unforgettable voice. She has been called one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century and the greatest voice in the history of jazz. Her career spanned five decades and included dozens of albums and hit singles. In 1989 the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her the NEA Jazz Masters Award, its highest honor for the art form. We remember Sarah Vaughan's life today and the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Dorothy Taubman, U.S. music teacher who created the popular "Taubman" approach to playing the piano and founded the Taubman Institute of Piano, dies at 94.
2013: Jean Sincere, U.S. actress who appeared in the movies Roxanne and The Incredibles and had a recurring role as the librarian on the TV series Glee, dies at 93.
2013: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, U.S. author and screenwriter who won two Academy Awards for best adapted screenplay for Howards End and A Room With a View, dies at 85.
Jhabvala was a longtime member of Merchant Ivory Productions, writing 22 films over four decades. She won two Academy Awards for her adaptations of the E.M. Forster novels Howards End and A Room With a View. She also was nominated for adapting 1993's The Remains of the Day. All three films were also best-picture contenders. Read more
2012: Chief Jay Strongbow, U.S. professional wrestler who is a member of the World Wrestling Federation's Hall of Fame, dies at 83.
2007: Eddie Robinson, U.S. college football coach at Grambling State University who had more than 400 wins in his career, dies at 88.
From a young age, Robinson dreamed of being a college football coach, but segregation laws barred him from the majority of coaching opportunities, which were at whites-only universities. That left the programs at traditionally African-American schools, where vacancies were few and far between. Unable to find a coaching job, Robinson, who had just graduated with a bachelor's degree from Leland College, went to work for 25 cents an hour at a feed mill in Baton Rouge, La., and waited for his shot. He didn't have to wait long. Read more
2003: Michael Kelly, U.S. journalist who worked with the New York Times and Washington Post and was editor for The New Republic, dies while covering the Iraq War at 46.
1996: Ron Brown, U.S. politician who was the first African-American to hold the position of U.S. secretary of commerce, whose tenure was during the first term of President Bill Clinton, dies at 54.
1993: Pinky Lee, U.S. comic and host of the popular children's television program The Pinky Lee Show in the 1950s, dies at 85.
Lee took the concept of high energy to a whole new level. Indeed, once when he collapsed onstage while fighting off an infection, both the audience and the show’s producers – knowing about his wacky antics – assumed it was an ad-libbed pratfall. There was quite a long pause before anyone realized something was actually wrong. Read more
1991: Graham Greene, English author known for his novels including The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, dies at 86.
1990: Sarah Vaughan, U.S. jazz singer who was known as "The Divine One" and is considered one of the greatest-ever jazz vocalists, dies at 66.
One of the great legends of vocal jazz, Sarah Vaughan, was born 90 years ago today. Nicknamed "Sassy" for her personality and "The Divine One" for her voice, she had a singing style like none other: rich and full, ranging from soprano to baritone, soaring from lush lows to delicate highs. Her voice inspired critics and fellow musicians to speak in superlatives: Read more
1988: Milton Caniff, U.S. cartoonist well-known for his comic strips Terry and The Pirates and Steve Canyon, dies at 81.
1987: Tom Sestak, U.S. defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills who led them to two American Football League championships and who was voted to the AFL All-Time team, dies at 51.
1982: Warren Oates, U.S. actor known best for his roles in The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Stripes, the latter as Sgt. Hulka, dies at 53.
1971: Manfred Bennington Lee, U.S. author who was the co-creator and co-writer of the popular Ellery Queen detective novels, dies at 66.
1950: Kurt Weill, German composer, known for his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, who wrote mostly for the stage and penned U.S. singer Bobby Darin's No. 1 hit, "Mack the Knife," dies at 50.
1897: Johannes Brahms, German composer who was very popular and influential and is considered one of the "Three B's" along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, dies at 63.
1882: Jesse James, legendary outlaw of the Wild West who was killed by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang, in order to collect reward money, dies at 34.