Katharine Hepburn, 1940 (Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Katharine Hepburn's 66-year career as an actress had its share of ups and downs. The four-time Oscar-winner starred in some of Hollywood's most beloved films, like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The African Queen and On Golden Pond. She also starred in a series of poorly-received box office flops that led to her being labeled "box office poison" in the industry. Despite her roller coaster career, Hepburn kept an even keel amidst the chaos of Hollywood. She valued her privacy, but she was also highly outspoken in her personal life. We remember Katharine Hepburn's remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
2013: Paul Smith, U.S. jazz pianist known for performing with many great artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, dies of heart failure at 91.
2013: Victor Lundin, U.S. character actor who appeared on many television shows, including Get Smart and Batman, dies after a long illness at 83.
2013: Jim Kelly, U.S. martial artist and actor known best for playing Williams in the classic Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon and who also was a World Middleweight karate champion, dies of cancer at 67.
Sporting an Afro hairstyle and sideburns, Kelly made a splash with his one-liners and fight scenes in the 1973 martial arts classic. His later films included Three the Hard Way, Black Belt Jones and Black Samurai. "It was one of the best experiences in my life," he told Salon.com of working on Enter the Dragon. Read more
2008: Don S. Davis, U.S. actor known best for his regular role as General George S. Hammond in the television series Stargate SG-1, dies of a heart attack at 65.
2007: Joel Siegel, U.S. film critic who was the critic on Good Morning America for over 25 years, dies of colon cancer complications at 63.
Siegel was known for his sense of humor, movie acumen and sharp judgment, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He never let an actor off the hook if the performance was lackluster. ''The appeal of Matthew McConaughey has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor,'' Siegel opined in his review of We Are Marshall, a 2006 film. ''His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University's football team after a devastating plane crash.'' Read more
2003: Katharine Hepburn, U.S. actress considered one of the greatest of all time, who won a record four Academy Awards for best actress, dies at 96.
Like many icons of her era, Hepburn's legendary status isn't a testament to her acting range – she invariably spoke in a lock-jaw accent, never put on flab for a role. Her box office appeal was spotty (she had plenty of flops) and she once characterized acting as an idiot's profession. Nevertheless, over six decades she crafted an unconventional, multifaceted persona, one Hollywood never quite knew how to deal with yet ultimately embraced. Read more
2002: Rosemary Clooney, U.S. cabaret singer and actress who starred with Bing Crosby in the movie White Christmas, dies months after being diagnosed with lung cancer at 74.
Clooney had a great relationship with her famous nephew, George Clooney, with whom she once appeared on a memorable two-episode arc of ER. She won an Emmy for her performance, and younger viewers were introduced to their heartthrob's very talented aunt. Read more
1999: Allan Carr, U.S. producer and manager known for producing the movie Grease, who was also the manager for many celebrities including Olivia Newton-John and Tony Curtis, dies of liver cancer at 62.
1997: William Hickey, U.S. actor best known for his Oscar-nominated role as Don Corrado Prizzi in the film Prizzi's Honor, dies of emphysema and bronchitis at 69.
1995: Lana Turner, U.S. actress who became a movie star in the 1940s and '50s and starred in The Postman Always Rings Twice, dies at 74.
Much like that notorious romantic Elizabeth Taylor, Turner was married eight times, to seven different men. None of the marriages lasted longer than four years, and only one resulted in a child: daughter Cheryl, from Turner's second marriage. Cheryl's father, Joseph Stephen Crane, was the man Turner divorced and later remarried. Of her unusual personal life she once quipped, "My goal was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out to be the other way around." Read more
1990: Irving Wallace, U.S. author and screenwriter whose popular novels included The Chapman Report and The Word, dies at 74.
1982: Henry King, U.S. movie director whose films include Twelve O'Clock High and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, dies at 96.
1979: Lowell George, U.S. musician who was the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for the group Little Feat and produced the album Shakedown Street for the Grateful Dead, dies of heart failure at 34.
From 1969 until his death in 1979, George led Little Feat as they pushed the limits of what could be considered rock ’n’ roll. Through six studio albums – a seventh was completed after his death – and countless live shows, George and Little Feat had a lasting influence on the genre that far outstrips their record sales. Read more
1978: Bob Crane, U.S. actor known best for his starring role in the sitcom Hogan's Heroes, is found dead in a hotel room at 49.
Have you ever wondered why Hogan's Heroes never joined the ranks of classic television shows adapted into movies? Ever thought that if 21 Jump Street, The A Team and Starsky and Hutch made the cut, surely moviegoers would love to see Hogan and his men on the big screen, too? You're not alone – it seems the show’s creators had longed for a movie version, too. Read more
1975: Tim Buckley, U.S. musician and singer whose albums were critically acclaimed and who was the father of musician Jeff Buckley, dies of a heroin overdose at 28.
1969: Shorty Long, U.S. singer with the Motown label whose biggest hit was "Here Comes the Judge" in 1968, which reached the Billboard Top 10, dies in a drowning accident at 29.
1967: Jayne Mansfield, U.S. actress who was a Hollywood sex symbol, whose movies included Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, dies at 34.
She studied at UCLA and got her first job working at a movie theater as a candy girl. Soon she was landing modeling jobs. One of her first was for General Electric and featured her and a number of other young women in bathing suits. She was cut out of the final ad because G.E. felt she looked, according to photographer Gene Lester, "too sexy for 1954 viewers." Read more
1964: Eric Dolphy, U.S. jazz saxophonist known for playing with John Coltrane, dies at 36.
1933: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, U.S. actor and comedian who was one of the biggest silent film stars during the 1910s, dies at 46.