Minnie Pearl, 1990 (The Associated Press)
Minnie Pearl was priceless, unlike her signature hat and its $1.98 price tag. For decades she lit up the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw with her jokes and stories, often using herself as the punch line. Her comedy inspired successive generations of "country" comics to follow in her folksy footsteps. Offstage, as Sarah Cannon, she was an outspoken advocate for cancer research, having survived breast cancer thanks to aggressive treatments and surgeries. The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation continues working in her memory to help those facing the disease. We remember Minnie Pearl's life today as well as other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Fran Warren, U.S. singer who performed with many big bands including Billy Eckstine's, dies at 87.
Warren's career spanned more than 50 years with hits that included the Tony Martin duet, "I Said My Pajamas (and Put on My Prayers)," the Lisa Kirk duet "Dearie" and "It's Anybody's Heart." Her film roles included Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd. She frequently appeared and performed on the talk shows of Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Steve Allen. Read more
2012: Don Mincher, U.S. Major League Baseball first baseman who was a two-time All-Star, dies at 73.
2011: Johnny Preston, U.S. rockabilly singer who had a No. 1 hit song in 1960 with "Running Bear," which was written by his friend The Big Bopper, dies at 71.
2010: Lolly Vegas, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist who formed the band Redbone with his brother Pat Vegas and had a hit song in 1974 with "Come and Get Your Love," dies at 71.
2010: Joanne Simpson, U.S. meteorologist who was the first woman ever to receive a doctorate in meteorology, dies at 86.
2010: Nan Martin, U.S. actress who appeared in the movies Dr. Detroit and Shallow Hal, dies at 82.
2009: Horton Foote, U.S. Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the screenplays for Tender Mercies and To Kill a Mockingbird, dies at 92.
Foote left the cotton fields of his native Wharton, Texas, as a teenager, dreaming of becoming an actor. But realizing his gifts as a storyteller, he embarked on a writing career that spanned more than half a century and earned him two Academy Awards (To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies) and a 1995 Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man From Atlanta. Read more
2009: John Cephas, U.S. blues guitarist who was part of the acoustic blues duo Cephas & Wiggins, dies at 78.
2008: Leonard Rosenman, U.S. film, television and concert composer who wrote the score for the movie Rebel Without a Cause, dies at 83.
2007: Thomas Eagleton, U.S. politician who was the U.S. senator from Missouri from 1968 to 1987, dies at 77.
Eagleton was George McGovern's vice presidential nominee in 1972, but he dropped out after it was revealed that he had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment and had twice undergone electroshock therapy for depression. McGovern chose Sargent Shriver to replace Eagleton and lost to Richard Nixon in the general election. Read more
2001: Harold Stassen, U.S. politician who was the governor of Minnesota and who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for U.S. president 13 times, dies at 93.
2001: Jim Rhodes, U.S. politician who was the governor of Ohio for 16 years and sent in National Guard troops to Kent State University during an anti-war protest that resulted in the deaths of four students, dies at 91.
2001: Fred Lasswell, U.S. cartoonist who was known for his work on Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, dies at 84.
2001: Glenn Hughes, U.S. singer who dressed as the "biker" character in the disco group the Village People, dies at 50.
1999: Del Close, U.S. actor, writer and teacher who was an important figure in the improv scene in Chicago and who taught some of the great comics of the 20th century including John Belushi, John Candy and Chris Farley, dies at 64.
1999: Harry Blackmun, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who served from 1970 until 1994, dies at 90.
1996: Minnie Pearl, U.S. country comedienne who appeared on the TV variety show Hee Haw for more than 20 years, dies at 83.
As Minnie Pearl, Cannon sang a gleeful "How-DEEEEE!" to her fans and talked about the folks back home in "Grinder's Switch" (which was based on her true hometown of Centerville, Tenn.). She poked fun at herself and her family in her strong country accent, often sounding as if she'd temporarily lost the script. As Cannon – dropping the character for interviews – the accent remained, but the self-deprecation and hesitant delivery went right out the window. Read more
1994: John Candy, Canadian actor who was one of the most popular comic actors of his time and who appeared in the films Stripes, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, dies of a heart attack at 43.
When John Candy died 20 years ago today, he left a giant hole in the world of comedy. In addition to his grieving family, Candy was mourned by a huge community of friends who fell in love with Candy during his all-too-brief career making people laugh. In movies like Stripes, Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, he delighted legions of fans, but he also won over his co-stars and co-workers, turning colleagues into lifelong friends. Read more
1992: Arthur Babbitt, U.S. animator who worked for Disney for many years and who created the well-known Disney character Goofy, dies at 84.
1990: Hank Gathers, U.S. college basketball player who led the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season, dies during a game of a heart condition at 23.
1986: Howard Greenfield, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote the hit songs, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and "Love Will Keep Us Together," dies at 49.
1986: Richard Manuel, Canadian rock vocalist and pianist known best for being one of the members of the Band, commits suicide at 42.
1945: Lucille La Verne, U.S. actress who was the voice of the wicked queen in Disney's Snow White, dies at 72.