Phil Ochs, circa 1960 (Associated Press)
Phil Ochs was a prolific singer-songwriter in the 1960s and 1970s and an icon within the 1960s counterculture movement. His music, inspired by current events and influenced by the likes of Elvis and Pete Seeger, became a mainstay among anti-war protests and other causes on the political left. His music helped to inspire protests and resistance to the war in Vietnam, which ended April 30, 1975. Less than one year later, mental illness and drug addiction overcame Ochs, and he hanged himself, bringing a promising career to a tragic end. We remember Phil Ochs' life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2012: Barry Cahill, U.S. actor who was best known for his role as Sam Powers on The Young and The Restless, dies at 90.
2012: Mark Lenzi, U.S. diver who won an Olympic gold medal in diving at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, dies at 43.
Lenzi was wrestling in high school when he was suddenly captivated by Greg Louganis' remarkable Olympics performance in 1984. Lenzi quickly changed sports and dove right into his new passion. In 1989, he swept the Big Ten titles in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform competitions, then went on to win the first of his back-to-back 1-meter national championships in '89. He was selected the NCAA's diver of the year in 1989 and 1990. Read more
2011: Sidney Lumet, U.S. director, producer and screenwriter whose movies include Dog Day Afternoon and Network, dies at 86.
A Philadelphia native, Lumet moved to New York City as a child, and it became the location of choice for more than 30 of his films. Although he freely admitted to a lifelong love affair with the city, he often showed its grittier side. Such dramas as Prince of the City, 'Q&A, 'Night Falls on Manhattan and Serpico looked at the hard lives and corruptibility of New York police officers. Dog Day Afternoon told the true-life story of two social misfits who set in motion a chain of disastrous events when they tried to rob a New York City bank on an oppressively hot summer afternoon. Read more
2010: Meinhardt Raabe, U.S. actor who portrayed a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz then became a spokesperson for Oscar Mayer products, dies at 94.
Raabe was a veteran "midget" performer, as little people were then known, when the film was made. He was the official who pronounces the Wicked Witch "really most sincerely dead." In a 1988 Associated Press interview, he said he had no idea the movie would become a classic, because at the time of its release, it was overshadowed by Gone With the Wind. Read more
2009: Nick Adenhart, U.S. MLB pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels whose brief career was cut short when he was killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, dies at 22.
Adenhart, of Silver Springs, Md., was the Angels' No. 3 starter. He threw six scoreless innings Wednesday night in his fourth major-league start and first of the season. Oakland won the game 6-4. Read more
2003: Jerry Bittle, U.S. cartoonist who created the newspaper comic strip Geech, dies at 53.
2002: Pat Flaherty, U.S. professional race car driver who won the 1956 Indianapolis 500, dies at 76.
2001: Willie Stargell, U.S. Hall of Fame baseball player who played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a seven-time all-star and won two World Series championships, dies at 61.
1997: Helene Hanff, U.S. author who is best known for her book 84, Charing Cross Road, dies at 80.
1997: Mae Boren Axton, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote the song "Heartbreak Hotel" and is the mother of country music star Hoyt Axton, dies at 82.
1996: Richard Condon, U.S. author who is best known for his books The Manchurian Candidate and Prizzi's Honor, dies at 81.
1991: Forrest Towns, U.S. athlete who won a gold medal in the hurdles at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, dies at 77.
1988: Dave Prater, U.S. soul singer who was one half of the popular duo Sam & Dave who had hit songs with "Hold On, I'm Coming" and "Soul Man," dies in an auto accident at 50.
1988: Brook Benton, U.S. rhythm-and-blues singer who had a hit song with " Rainy Night in Georgia," dies at 56.
1976: Phil Ochs, U.S. folk music singer who was known for his protest songs in the 1960s and '70s, commits suicide at 35.
Ochs inspired and motivated a restless generation with his folk music. While others labeled him a protest singer, he preferred to call himself a “singing journalist” who wrote “topical songs” (based on stories he read in Newsweek) – not protest songs. Yet songs like “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” and “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” touched the hearts and minds of young people who were weary of the Vietnam War and eager for the U.S. to embrace civil rights. Read more
1963: Eddie Edwards, U.S. jazz trombonist who is best known for being a member of the pioneering Original Dixieland Jazz Band, dies at 71.
1959: Frank Lloyd Wright, U.S. architect who is considered one of the greatest architects in history, dies at 91.
New York's Guggenheim Museum, Wright’s most famous large-scale building, was completed six months after his death. The Guggenheim’s spiral-ribbon shape makes a sharp contrast to the boxy Manhattan buildings that surround it. Wright was delighted with this and said his design would make the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art “look like a Protestant barn.” Read more