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Died January 24

Published: 1/24/2015
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Pernell Roberts (NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Pernell Roberts was a television staple for decades, starring as Adam Cartwright in Bonanza in the 1950s and '60s and as Dr. John McIntyre in Trapper John, M.D., in the 1970s and '80s. He also guest-starred in dozens of programs, from The Big Valley to Hawaii Five-O to Night Gallery. Off screen, Roberts was a civil rights activist who took part in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and lobbied NBC to stop hiring white actors to portray minority characters. We remember Roberts' life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history.

2012: James Farentino, U.S. actor who appeared in more than 100 film and television roles including The Final Countdown and Dynasty, dies of heart failure at 73.

James Farentino (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)Farentino starred alongside Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen in the 1980 science fiction film The Final Countdown. The movie featured a modern aircraft carrier that travels back in time to Pearl Harbor hours before the Japanese attack. Farentino also starred opposite Patty Duke in 1969's Me, Natalie. In 1967, he won a "most promising newcomer" Golden Globe for his performance in the comedy The Pad and How to Use It. Read more

 

2010: Pernell Roberts, U.S. actor known for his role as Adam Cartwright in Bonanza and as Trapper John, M.D., dies of pancreatic cancer at 81.

Although he rocketed to fame in 1959 as Adam Cartwright, eldest son of a Nevada ranching family led by Lorne Greene's patriarchal Ben Cartwright, Roberts chafed at the limitations he felt his Bonanza character was given. "They told me the four characters (Greene, himself and Dan Blocker and Michael Landon as his brothers) would be carefully defined and the scripts carefully prepared," he complained to The Associated Press in 1964. "None of it ever happened." It particularly distressed him that his character, a man in his 30s, had to defer continually to the wishes of his widowed father. Read more

2009: Kay Yow, women's basketball head coach at North Carolina State University from 1975 to 2009, dies of breast cancer at 66.

2006: Chris Penn, U.S. actor who appeared in such movies as Footloose and Reservoir Dogs and was the brother of actor Sean Penn, dies of heart failure at 40.

Chris Penn's credits included Mulholland Falls, Rumble Fish, All the Right Moves, Footloose and Rush Hour. He also played Nice Guy Eddie Cabot in the 1992 Quentin Tarantino crime drama, Reservoir Dogs. Read more

 

 

2006: Fayard Nicholas, U.S. tap dancer who formed the dance duo the Nicholas Brothers with his brother Harold, dies of pneumonia and other complications of an earlier stroke at 91.

Their trademark no-hands splits – in which they not only went down but sprang back up again without using their hands for balance – left film audiences wide-eyed. The legendary choreographer George Balanchine called it ballet despite their lack of formal training. "My brother and I used our whole bodies, our hands, our personalities and everything," Nicholas once said in an interview. "We tried to make it classic. We called our type of dancing classical tap, and we just hoped the audience liked it." Read more

 

2004: Leônidas da Silva, Brazilian soccer player considered one of the most important soccer players of the first half of the 20th century, dies at 90.

1998: Jay Monahan, U.S. lawyer, legal analyst for NBC and husband of Katie Couric, dies of cancer at 42.

1993: Thurgood Marshall, U.S. judge who was the first African-American Supreme Court justice, dies of heart failure at 84.

After graduating high school near the top of his class, Marshall went to Lincoln University with plans to become a dentist. He was suspended twice for hazing and pranking other students. Students attending the university at the same time as Marshall included such future luminaries as Langston Hughes, Cab Calloway and the future president of Ghana. (As far as we know, none of them fell victim to Marshall's antics, though Hughes later would describe young Marshall as "rough and ready, loud and wrong.") Read more

1992: Tina Chow, U.S. model, jewelry designer and fashion icon, dies of complications of AIDS at 41.

1990: Madge Bellamy, U.S. actress who was a popular leading lady in the 1920s and 1930s, dies at 90.

1986: Flo Hyman, U.S. volleyball player and silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics, dies of Marfan syndrome during a volleyball match at 31.

1986: Gordon MacRae, U.S. singer and actor who had roles in the movie musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel, dies of pneumonia and oral cancer at 64.

1983: George Cukor, U.S. film director whose movies include Dinner at Eight and My Fair Lady, dies of a heart attack at 83.

1975: Larry Fine, U.S. actor who was a member of the comedy act The Three Stooges, dies of a stroke at 72.

1972: Jerome Cowan, U.S. actor who played Mr. Dithers in the Blondie series, dies at 74.

1971: Bill W. (Bill Wilson), U.S. co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, dies of emphysema complicated by pneumonia at 75.

1965: Winston Churchill, English politician who was the prime minister of Britain from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, dies of a stroke at 90.

A.D. 41: Caligula, Roman emperor from A.D. 37 to A.D. 41, is assassinated at 28 by knife-wielding members of the Praetorian Guard.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history.

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