Claudette Colbert, circa 1950 (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Claudette Colbert took home an Oscar for her work on It Happened One Night and built a reputation as Hollywood's go-to leading lady for screwball comedies. Her range extended beyond the comedic, with roles in dozens of films across many genres, including period pieces like 1934's Cleopatra, Private Worlds and Since You Went Away. She was a prolific stage and television actor as well, earning a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for The Two Mrs. Grenvilles in 1987 and a Tony nomination in 1959 for The Marriage-Go-Round. She was able to command high salaries in the 1930s and 1940s, affording her the opportunity to largely retire from Hollywood in the 1950s, dividing her time between luxury homes in France, Barbados, Manhattan and Los Angeles. We remember Claudette Colbert's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Ossie Schectman, U.S. professional basketball player credited with scoring the first basket in what eventually would become the NBA, dies at 94.
Schectman scored the opening basket of a game in what was then known as the Basketball Association of America Nov. 1, 1946, for the Knicks against the Toronto Huskies, a layup after cutting down the center of the lane. The Knicks wound up winning that game at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens 68-66, and Schectman went on to average 8.1 points that season, his only one with the franchise. The significance of scoring the first points in league history was lost on Schectman and others for decades, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2013: Harry Byrd Jr., U.S. politician who represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 1965 until 1983, dies at 98.
He made a career of preaching the value of fiscal restraint, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He claimed Congress could balance the budget if it could just hold annual spending increases to the 3 percent to 5 percent range and even criticized President Reagan’s military buildup as "giving the Pentagon the impression it has a blank check." When he retired in 1982, Byrd said he was leaving public service with his convictions and integrity intact, but with regret that "Congress refuses to obey its own law which mandates a balanced budget." Read more
2012: Bill Doss, U.S. musician known as a member of the indie band the Olivia Tremor Control, dies at 43.
2007: Bill Walsh, U.S. NFL Hall of Fame head coach of the San Francisco 49ers who led the team to three Super Bowl victories, dies of leukemia at 75.
2007: Ingmar Bergman, Swedish director and screenwriter considered one of the most influential filmmakers in history, whose movies include The Seventh Seal and Through a Glass Darkly, dies at 89.
Through more than 50 films, Bergman's vision encompassed all the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom of unending winter nights, the gentle merriment of glowing summer evenings and the bleak magnificence of the island where he spent his last years. Bergman, who approached difficult subjects such as plague and madness with inventive technique and carefully honed writing, became one of the towering figures of serious filmmaking, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2007: Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian director and screenwriter whose movies were critically acclaimed and included Blowup and The Passenger starring Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, dies at 94.
2003: Sam Phillips, U.S. record label owner and producer who created Sun Records and Studios in Memphis in the 1950s and discovered early rock 'n' roll legends including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, dies of respiratory failure at 80.
Phillips was just 26 in 1950 when he opened his first recording studio in Memphis – the musical city that had fascinated him since he first visited as a teen. Just a year after the Memphis Recording Studio opened, it would make history. Phillips recorded "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, widely considered to be the first rock 'n' roll song. The group's singer-songwriter was a 19-year-old named Ike Turner. Read more
1998: Buffalo Bob Smith, U.S. disc jockey, singer and musician known best for hosting the popular children's program the Howdy Doody Show, dies of cancer at 80.
Smith initially juggled morning radio appearances with producing and hosting the televised Howdy Doody, appearing with such unforgettable characters as Clarabell the Clown (played first by Bob Keeshan aka Captain Kangaroo, and later by Lew Anderson) and Mayor of Doodyville Phineas T. Bluster, not to mention the Peanut Gallery, the live audience of children (boys in jackets and ties!) singing "It's Howdy Doody Time!" Read more
1996: Claudette Colbert, U.S. actress who was a star in the 1930s and ’40s and was known for screwball comedies, winning an Oscar for her performance in It Happened One Night, dies at 92.
1992: Joe Shuster, Canadian comic book artist known best for creating Superman with writer Jerry Siegel, dies of congestive heart failure and high blood pressure at 78.
1992: Brenda Marshall, U.S. actress who starred in the movie The Sea Hawk opposite Errol Flynn and was married to actor William Holden, dies of throat cancer at 76.
1989: Lane Frost, U.S. professional bull rider who became a world champion in 1987 and was critically injured while riding a bull during competition, whose life story was told in the movie 8 Seconds, dies at 25.
1983: Lynn Fontanne, English actress who was a star on the Broadway stage who often appeared with her husband Alfred Lunt, dies of pneumonia at 95.
1983: Howard Dietz, U.S. songwriter and librettist who wrote the songs "Alone Together" and "That's Entertainment," dies of Parkinson's disease at 86.
1980: Charles McGraw, U.S. actor known best for the film noir genre, who had roles in Spartacus and starred in the television series Adventures of the Falcon, dies at 66 after slipping and falling through a glass shower door in his home.
1962: Myron McCormick, U.S. actor known for his role as Charlie, the partner of Paul Newman's character, in the movie The Hustler, dies of cancer at 54.
1918: Joyce Kilmer, U.S. writer and poet most well-known for his poem "Trees," dies in battle during World War I at 31.