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Died May 1

Published: 5/1/2014
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Helen Wagner, 2006 (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Soap opera legend Helen Wagner kicked off her 13-week contract for As the World Turns with her now-famous "good morning, dear." That contract was extended past its original 13 weeks, as Wagner went on to play Nancy Hughes for 54 years. Though she never won an Emmy for her work, she did receive a special lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2004. Before joining the world of daytime drama, she had roles in the Broadway shows Sunny River, Oklahoma! and The Bad Seed. We remember the remarkable life of Helen Wagner today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.


2013: Chris Kelly, U.S. rapper who was half of the rap duo Kris Kross, who had a hit song in 1992 with "Jump," dies at 34.

Content Image Rapper Chris Kelly, aka the Mac Daddy, died one year ago today. He was just 13 when he and his friend Chris Smith rose to stardom as the rap duo Kris Kross. Aspiring producer Jermaine Dupri discovered the pair rapping together at an Atlanta mall and immediately recognized their potential as hip-hop stars. Read more


2012: Charles Pitts, U.S. guitarist who worked with the Isley Brothers and played the guitar on the Isaac Hayes hit song "Shaft," dies at 65.

2010: Helen Wagner, U.S. actor who was well-known for her role as Nancy Hughes McClosky on As the World Turns, dies at 91.

Helen Wagner as Nancy Hughes in 1956 and 2009 (Photos via Wikimedia Commons/CBS and Associated Press)Playing Nancy Hughes McClosky, who brought good old-fashioned values to the fictional town of Oakdale, Ill., Wagner set a record of her own. With her amazing 54 years in the same role, she holds the record as the longest-serving actor in an American soap opera. In fact, no American television actor has played a single character longer than Wagner did. Read more

2009: Danny Gans, U.S. impressionist who was a headliner for many years on the Las Vegas strip, dies at 52.

Danny Gans (AP Photo)Gans' dexterity switching through the voices of John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, Wayne Newton, Woody Allen, Robin Leach, Bill Cosby and others in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" impressed AP Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara, who characterized Gans' humor as "the cozy comedy of ... nudge-nudge, wink-wink reaction." Read more



2008: Deborah Jeane Palfrey, U.S. woman dubbed "The D.C. Madam," who was convicted of running an escort service that may have catered to some high-level politicians, commits suicide at 52.

2006: Big Hawk, U.S. rapper who was a founder of the rap group the Screwed Up Click, dies at 36.

2003: Miss Elizabeth, U.S. professional wrestling manager who was well-known for being the manager of  "Macho Man" Randy Savage, dies at 42.

Elizabeth Hulette, aka Miss Elizabeth, entered the world of professional wrestling as the manager of then-husband Randy "Macho Man" Savage. They entered the World Wrestling Federation together in 1985, and their careers took off immediately. They divorced, and eventually Hulette moved to World Championship Wrestling based in Atlanta. Read more



2000: Steve Reeves, U.S. bodybuilder and actor who won Mr. Universe and then was known for his starring role in the Hercules movies, dies at 74.

1998: Eldridge Cleaver, U.S. activist who was an early leader of the Black Panthers and author of the book Soul on Ice, dies at 62.

1996: Luana Patten, U.S. actress who appeared in Song of the South as a child and then in movies and television shows as an adult, including Perry Mason, dies at 57.

1994: Aryton Senna, Brazilian race car driver who won three Formula One world championships, dies during a race at 34.

1992: Sharon Redd, U.S. singer known best as one of Bette Midler's backup singers, who were called the Harlettes, dies at 46.

1991: Richard Thorpe, U.S. movie director who directed more than 100 films, including Ivanhoe with Elizabeth Taylor, dies at 95.

1990: Sunset Carson, U.S. actor who was a star in western films in the 1940s, dies at 69.

1989: Douglass Watson, U.S. actor who appeared in Julius Caesar and played Mac Corey in Another World, dies at 68.

1989: Sally Kirkland, U.S. magazine editor who was well-known as the fashion editor for Vogue, dies at 77.

1982: Gene Sheldon, U.S. actor known best for his role as Bernardo on the TV series Zorro, dies at 74.

1971: Glenda Farrell, U.S. actress who starred opposite Cary Grant in Gambling Ship and had her own film series as Torchy Blane, Girl Reporter, dies at 66.

1965: Spike Jones, U.S. musician and bandleader who was known for his satirical arrangements of popular songs, dies at 53.

Spike Jones (Wikimedia Commons/Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library

Jones made a career of covering hit singles and injecting into his versions a wild suite of silliness: raucous tempos, winking arrangements and, most importantly, sound effects like gargles and car horns and breaking glass. No chart-topper was safe from his treatment, and it even became a badge of honor to have your song sent up by the City Slickers. Read more


1957: Grant Mitchell, U.S. actor who appeared in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Man Who Came to Dinner, dies at 82.

1954: Tom Tyler, U.S. actor known best for the starring role in the movie serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel, dies at 50.

1937: Snitz Edwards, U.S. character actor who appeared in many movies, including three Buster Keaton films, dies at 69.

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