Johnny Paycheck, 1981 (Associated Press)
Country star and Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck found steady work performing his anti-work anthem, "Take This Job and Shove It." The ode to quitting proved a huge hit for him in 1977, leading to tours and fame for Paycheck as part of the Outlaw Movement in 1970s country music. Paycheck was true to his image as an outlaw, battling drug addiction and serving time in the 1990s for firing a pistol at a man's head during a bar fight. We remember Johnny Paycheck's life today and the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
2012: Steve Kordek, U.S. pinball machine designer who is considered the "father of the modern pinball machine" and whose innovations include the dual flippers and multiball play, dies at 100.
2011: Ollie Matson, U.S. Hall of Fame running back who also won two sprinting medals at the Olympics, dies at 80.
As a senior at the University of San Francisco, Matson led the nation in rushing yardage and touchdowns while leading the Dons to an undefeated season. He was the No. 1 pick of the Chicago Cardinals and third overall in the 1952 NFL draft, and went on to share Rookie of the Year honors with Hugh McElhenny of the 49ers. Matson played with the Cardinals from 1952-58 before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams for nine players. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1957. Read more
2009: Kelly Groucutt, English bass guitarist for the band Electric Light Orchestra, dies at 63.
2007: Janet Blair, U.S. actress who appeared in many movie and television roles and who starred in The Smith Family TV series with Henry Fonda, dies at 85.
Blair languished in second-rate pictures until Rosalind Russell recommended her for the title role in the comedy "My Sister Eileen." She won praise from critics, and her roles quickly improved. She appeared opposite George Raft in the gangster movie "Broadway," and she costarred with Cary Grant and a dancing caterpillar in the 1944 comedy-fantasy "Once Upon a Time." She was the love interest in "The Fabulous Dorseys," starring bandleaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and appeared opposite Red Skelton in the 1946 sleeper hit "The Fuller Brush Man." Read more
2007: Celia Franca, founder of the National Ballet of Canada, dies at 85.
She performed with several ballet companies and created the first two ballets ever commissioned by the BBC ("Eve of St. Agnes" and "Dance of Salome") before moving to Canada in 1951 on the insistence of a group of ballet enthusiasts who wanted her to found a classical ballet company. Working as a file clerk at Eaton's in Toronto, Franca was able to come up with the funding and a group of dancers to form the National Ballet of Canada. Their first performance took place Nov. 12, 1951, at Toronto's Eaton's Auditorium. Read more
2003: Johnny Paycheck, U.S. country music singer-songwriter who had a hit with the song "Take This Job and Shove It," dies at 64.
Paycheck had a long string of country hits, but none inspired fans quite like his 1977 ode to voluntary unemployment, "Take This Job and Shove It." The song rocketed to No. 1 and became a long-lasting rallying cry for anyone feeling overworked and undervalued. Read more
2001: Stanley Kramer, U.S. film director who was known for making "message movies" such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, dies at 87.
Some of the most important movies of the 20th century owe their creation to one committed filmmaker – Kramer. The producer and director devoted much of his career to making "issue films" that inspired us, educated us and made us think about the hot-button issues of the midcentury. Through his films, Kramer helped shape our nation's conversations. Read more
1998: Grandpa Jones, U.S. country music singer and banjo player who was a regular on the country music-oriented variety TV show Hee Haw, dies at 84.
1997: Leo Rosten, U.S. screenwriter and humorist whose movies include The Velvet Touch, dies at 88.
1996: Charles O. Finley, U.S. former owner of baseball's Oakland Athletics franchise that won the World Series in 1972, '73 and '74, dies at 77.
1995: Calder Willingham, U.S. novelist and screenwriter who co-wrote the classic movie The Graduate, dies at 72.
1991: Peggy Mondo, U.S. actress who had a regular role in the TV series To Rome With Love, dies at 63.
1984: Ina Ray Hutton, U.S. jazz musician who formed an all-female big band, dies at 67.
1983: Alice White, U.S. actress who was popular in the 1920s and '30s, dies at 78.
1980: Bon Scott, Australian lead vocalist for the band AC/DC from 1974 until his death, dies of alcohol poisoning at 33.
Scott was responsible for one of rock 'n' roll’s greatest bagpipe solos. Yes, that’s really him piping in “It’s a Long Way to the Top.” Although he was a member of his father’s Fremantle Scots Pipe Band as a kid, he didn’t learn the bagpipes there – he was one of their drummers. He learned to play just for the 1975 song. Read more
1972: Tedd Pierce, U.S. animator and cartoon writer who wrote many of the Bugs Bunny episodes, dies at 65.
1968: Ralph Dunn, U.S. actor who appeared in multiple Three Stooges episodes, dies at 67.