Darren McGavin, 1985 (Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
Darren McGavin was so natural on screen, it is easy to forget he studied the craft at the Actors Studio under Sanford Meisner himself. McGavin appeared in dozens of films and in classic stage productions like The King and I, but he is perhaps best remembered today for playing two very different fathers in A Christmas Story and Billy Madison. In every role he brought an air of realism and relatability, whether he was fawning over an ugly lamp in A Christmas Story or chasing ghosts as Kolchak: The Night Stalker. We remember his remarkable life today and the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: C. Everett Koop, U.S. pediatric surgeon and surgeon general of the U.S. from 1982 to 1989, dies at 96.
Koop wielded the previously low-profile post of surgeon general as a bully pulpit for 7 years during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. An evangelical Christian, he shocked his conservative supporters when he endorsed condoms and sex education to stop the spread of AIDS. He carried out a crusade to end smoking in the United States - his goal had been to do so by the year 2000. A former pipe smoker, he said cigarettes were as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Read more
2013: Dan Toler, U.S. guitarist who was once a member of the Allman Brothers Band, dies at 64.
2012: Red Holloway, U.S. jazz tenor saxophonist who played with Etta James and Chuck Berry among others, dies at 84.
During a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Holloway's versatility and driving swing style kept him much in demand. He performed with legends such as Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin. Read more
2008: Static Major, U.S. rapper and producer who worked with artists including Aaliyah and Ginuwine, dies at 33.
2006: Darren McGavin, U.S. actor who appeared in many movies and TV series and who is remembered for his role as the father in the cult classic A Christmas Story, dies at 83.
He starred in five series, including cult favorite Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Riverboat, and became a prolific actor in television movies. Among his memorable portrayals was Gen. George Patton in the 1979 TV biography Ike. Despite his busy TV career, McGavin was awarded only one Emmy: in 1990 for an appearance as Candice Bergen's opinionated father in an episode of Murphy Brown. Read more
2005: Edward Patten, U.S. rhythm-and-blues singer who was a member of Gladys Knight and the Pips, dies at 65.
2005: Peter Benenson, English founder of the human rights organization Amnesty International, dies at 83.
Benenson, who was educated in some of Britain's top schools, began his own human rights campaigns as a boy in support of Spanish civil war orphans and Jews fleeing Hitler's Germany. In 1961, at 40, he set up Amnesty after reading an article about the arrest and imprisonment of two students in a cafe in Lisbon, Portugal, who had drunk a toast to liberty. Read more
1997: Cal Abrams, U.S. outfielder who played the majority of his career for the Brooklyn Dodgers, dies at 72.
1994: Jersey Joe Walcott, U.S. World Heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1952, dies at 80.
1993: Toy Caldwell, U.S. guitarist who was a founding member of the Southern rock group the Marshall Tucker Band, dies at 45.
1987: James Coco, U.S. character actor who appeared in numerous movie and TV roles, dies at 56.
1983: Tennessee Williams, U.S. playwright who penned many classics including A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, dies at 71.
When he died in 1983 at 71, Williams was the most widely acclaimed American dramatist of his day, winning the Tony Award, two Pulitzer Prizes, four New York Drama Circle Awards and even a Presidential Medal of Freedom. His plays had been adapted into blockbuster films helmed by directors like Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet and Joseph Mankiewicz, starring the likes of Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Wyman, Katharine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Karl Malden and Marlon Brando. Read more
1975: Elijah Muhammad, U.S. leader of the Nation of Islam, dies at 77.
1964: Johnny Burke, U.S. songwriter who won an Academy Award for "Swinging on a Star," dies at 55.
1957: Bugs Moran, U.S. gangster who was powerful in Chicago during the Prohibition era, dies at 65.
1934: John J. McGraw, U.S. Hall of Fame baseball player and manager, dies at 60.