Judy Holliday, circa 1950 (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Judy Holliday won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for playing a ditzy blonde in Born Yesterday, but in reality the young actress had an IQ of 172, placing her squarely in the genius range of human brainpower. She worked in film and on Broadway, often starring as an empty-headed ingénue. In 1952, her career was partially derailed by allegations of ties to the Communist Party that led to her being blacklisted from working in television for 10 years. We remember Judy Holliday's remarkable life today and the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
2012: Bob Welch, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 until 1974 and then embarked on a solo career, dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 66.
Welch was a guitarist and vocalist for Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974. He formed the British rock group Paris in 1976, and had hits including "Sentimental Lady" in 1977 and "Ebony Eyes" in 1978. Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham did backup vocals on "Sentimental Lady." Read more
2009: Kenny Rankin, U.S. singer-songwriter who enjoyed success as a jazz and soft-rock singer, dies of lung cancer at 69.
Rankin wrote and recorded the pop standard "Peaceful" and also wrote "In The Name of Love," which was recorded by Peggy Lee, and "Haven't We Met," performed by Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. His own "The Kenny Rankin Album" was recorded live in 1976 with a 60-piece orchestra. Read more
2009: Hugh Hopper, English bassist and co-founder of the influential psychedelic rock band Soft Machine, dies of leukemia at 64.
2008: Jim McKay, U.S. sportscaster known best for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports and for his reporting on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics, dies of natural causes at 86.
McKay was host of ABC's Wide World of Sports for decades. The influential weekend series introduced viewers to all manners of strange, compelling and far-flung sporting events. But he was suddenly placed in the role of a newscaster in 1972 when Israeli athletes were kidnapped in Munich. As viewers followed the gripping story, McKay told how the hostages were killed in a commando raid. Read more
2003: Trevor Goddard, English actor known best for his recurring role on the television series JAG, dies of an accidental drug overdose at 40.
1993: Drazen Petrovic, Croatian-born Hall of Fame guard who was a star on the Croatian national team and later played in the NBA for the New Jersey Nets, averaging more than 22 points a game in his final season, dies in an auto accident at 28.
1992: Bill France Sr., U.S. race car driver who co-founded the NASCAR stock car racing circuit, dies of Alzheimer’s disease at 82.
1990: Barbara Baxley, U.S. actress of stage, screen and television, dies at 67.
1988: Vernon Washington, U.S. actor who had a recurring role as Leroy on the sitcom The Jeffersons, dies at 60.
1980: Henry Miller, U.S. author whose novels include Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, dies of circulatory ailments at 88.
1973: Lane Bradford, U.S. actor who guest-starred in many television Western series, including The Lone Ranger, Wagon Train and 14 appearances on Bonanza, dies at 50.
1968: Dan Duryea, U.S. actor known for playing villains and starring in the title role of the TV series China Smith, dies of cancer at 61.
1967: Dorothy Parker, U.S. poet, writer and critic who was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, dies of a heart attack at 73.
Parker gained a reputation as a ruthless literary critic when she wrote reviews for The New Yorker under the byline "Constant Reader." Among her notable reviews was her unforgettable response to A.A. Milne's childhood classic House at Pooh Corner: "Tonstant Weader fwowed up." Read more
1965: Judy Holliday, U.S. actress who won an Academy Award for her role in Born Yesterday, dies of breast cancer at 43.
Holliday’s first exposure to showbiz came when she was an assistant switchboard operator at the Mercury Theatre, home of John Houseman and the mercurial young Orson Welles. Beginning in 1938, she would enjoy a career that saw its share of ups and downs before her premature death in 1965. Despite her limited filmography, she’ll always be remembered for what she brought to the screen. Read more
1963: ZaSu Pitts, U.S. actress who starred in movies and with Gale Storm on the sitcom The Gale Storm Show, dies of cancer at 69.
1940: James Hall, U.S. actor who co-starred in the Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels, dies of cirrhosis of the liver at 39.
1937: Jean Harlow, U.S. actress and sex symbol of the 1930s who starred in Red Dust with Clark Gable and Dinner at Eight, dies of kidney disease at 26.
Her death at such a young age shocked Hollywood and the moviegoing public. Because of her reputation, rumors swirled – she’d died of a botched abortion, a venereal disease, alcoholism, or, most ridiculously of all, poisoning from toxins in her hair dye. Her death helped make her final film a hit, as audiences flocked to Saratoga to get one last glimpse of the platinum blonde who’d won their hearts. Read more