Gil Scott-Heron, 2010. (Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
Gil Scott-Heron was a pioneer in spoken word music in the 1970s, rising to prominence with his landmark compilation album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. His work helped lay the artistic foundations for hip-hop, bringing together the best of jazz, funk and poetry into a new and exciting musical genre. Through dozens of studio and live albums, his politically and socially charged lyrics elevated his work and solidified his legacy as one of the most vital and important musical artists of the 20th century. We remember Gil Scott-Heron's remarkable life today and the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2012: Johnny Tapia, U.S. five-time world boxing champion in the Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions, dies at 45.
Tapia won five championships in three weight classes, winning the World Boxing Association Bantamweight title, the International Boxing Federation and WBO Junior Bantamweight titles and the IBF Featherweight belt. He was regarded as the consummate underdog by his fans. The more trouble he found outside the ring — including several stints in jail — the more they rallied around him. Read more
2011: Gil Scott-Heron, U.S. soul and jazz poet who was known for his work as a spoken-word performer, dies at 62.
Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which critiqued mass media, for the album 125th and Lenox in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was I'm New Here, which he began recording in 2007; it was released in 2010. Read more
2011: Jeff Conaway, U.S. actor known best for his roles in the movie Grease and the TV series Taxi, dies at 60.
His acting career began at age 10 and spanned 40 years, but Jeff Conaway was known best for his role as John Travolta’s sidekick Kenickie in the hit 1978 movie Grease. Read more
2007: Gretchen Wyler, U.S. actress who appeared in many television series including The Phil Silvers Show, Charlie's Angels and Dallas, dies at 75.
Wyler's theatrical career spanned 50 years, including parts on Broadway in the original Guys and Dolls, Silk Stockings, Damn Yankees, Bye Bye Birdie and Sly Fox with George C. Scott. She was a regular on the short-lived 1970s CBS television series On Our Own, spent a season on Dallas, and made guest appearances on a number of shows including Friends, Judging Amy and Providence. Read more
2006: Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, U.S. NFL running back who rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his career, dies of cancer at 39.
2006: Paul Gleason, U.S. actor known for his role as Clarence Beeks in Trading Places and as the teacher in charge of detention in the movie The Breakfast Club, dies at 67.
During his career, Gleason appeared in more than 60 movies that included Die Hard, Johnny Be Good and National Lampoon's Van Wilder. Most recently Gleason made a handful of TV appearances in such hit shows as Friends and Seinfeld. Gleason's passions went beyond acting. He had recently published a book of poetry. Read more
2006: Alex Toth, U.S. cartoonist whose work was featured on Super Friends and Space Ghost, dies at 77.
2001: Ramon Bieri, U.S. actor who appeared in numerous TV shows including Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Hogan's Heroes, dies at 71.
2000: Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Canadian NHL Hall of Fame right-winger who played for the Montreal Canadiens and was the first player to score 50 goals in one season and the first to score 500 career goals, dies at 78.
1994: Red Rodney, U.S. jazz trumpeter who played with such greats as Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Charlie Parker, dies at 66.
1988: Florida Friebus, U.S. actress known best for playing Winnie Gillis, the mother of Dobie on the hit sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, dies at 78.
1985: Kay Campbell, U.S. actress known best for playing Kate Martin on the soap opera All My Children, dies at 80.
1976: Ruth McDevitt, U.S. actress who was a familiar face on television in the 1960s and ’70s, appearing on The Andy Griffith Show and All in the Family, dies at 80.
1969: Jeffrey Hunter, U.S. actor known best for playing John Wayne's sidekick in The Searchers and who played Capt. Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise in the original pilot episode of Star Trek, dies at 42.
1960: Edward Brophy, U.S. character actor who had supporting roles in the movies The Champ and The Thin Man, dies at 65.
1953: Jesse Burkett, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame left fielder who still holds the career record for most inside-the-park home runs, dies at 84.
1949: Robert Ripley, U.S. cartoonist who created the Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper series, which featured odd facts from across the globe, dies at 58.
Believe it or not, world famous traveler and collector of oddities Robert Ripley has been dead 65 years. Ripley first made a name for himself as the creator of the popular Believe It or Not! comic strip, which challenged millions of daily readers in the first half of the 20th century to question their view of what was real. Read more