Harry Nilsson, 1972 (Associated Press)
Harry Nilsson's voice was unmistakable, with a clarity and range rarely found in pop music. He scored major hits and won awards with the unforgettable songs "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Without You," and also wrote hits like "One" for Three Dog Night. He did it all without any major touring or public events, but still managed to build up a devoted fan base that included the likes of the Beatles. Nilsson died of heart failure in 1994, shortly after completing vocal work on what would have been his final album. An anthology CD and boxed set were released posthumously, but fans still hold out hope that his last work will someday see the light of day. We remember his life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
2008: Brad Renfro, U.S. actor who starred in The Client and Sleepers, dies of a heroin overdose at 25.
Renfro's film career began when he was 12, acting opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in The Client. His other credits included Sleepers, Deuces Wild, Apt Pupil and The Jacket. Renfro also completed a role in The Informers, a 2008 film adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel that stars Winona Ryder, Brandon Routh and Billy Bob Thornton. Read more
2005: Ruth Warrick, U.S. actress best known for her role as Phoebe Tyler on All My Children, dies at 88.
In All My Children, which debuted in 1970, Warrick played Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, the grande dame of the fictitious affluent town of Pine Valley. She portrayed the meddlesome and over-the-top personality so believably that her fans often had trouble distinguishing between the stylish actress and her fictitious, equally sophisticated character. Read more
2005: Elizabeth Janeway, U.S. author and critic who wrote Daisy Kenyon, dies at 91.
2003: Doris Fisher, U.S. singer who performed with big bands and was known as "Queen of the Jukebox," dies at 87.
2001: Ted Mann, U.S. businessman who owned Mann's Chinese Theater, dies at 84.
2000: Fran Ryan, U.S. character actress whose films include Big Wednesday, Take This Job and Shove It and The Long Riders, dies at 83.
1998: Junior Wells, U.S. Chicago blues harmonica player who recorded with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy and Van Morrison among other notable musicians, dies at 63.
1996: Minnesota Fats aka Rudolf Wanderone Jr,, pool hustler who was one of the most popular billiards players in the U.S,. dies at 82.
1994: Harry Nilsson, U.S. rock singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the 1970s, dies of a heart attack at 52.
Nilsson was much more than a novelty artist. His contemporaries certainly knew it – both John Lennon and Paul McCartney once declared him their favorite musician, and he received Grammy Awards not for "Coconut" but for two other, more serious songs he recorded. One was Fred Neil’s "Everybody's Talkin'" from the 1969 Oscar-winning film Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Read more
1993: Sammy Cahn, prolific U.S. songwriter who penned such iconic songs as "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!," dies at 79.
Cahn wrote so many hits for Ol' Blue Eyes that he was, essentially, Frank Sinatra's unofficial official songwriter. "Love and Marriage"? Cahn wrote that one. "Come Fly With Me" was Cahn’s too. "The Tender Trap," "Time After Time," "Five Minutes More" – all are Sammy Cahn classics. Read more
1993: Henry Iba, U.S. Hall of Fame college basketball coach who won two national championships, dies at 88.
1992: Dee Murray, English bassist best known as a member of Elton John's band, dies of a stroke at 45.
1987: Ray Bolger, U.S. actor best known as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, dies at 83.
1987: Dolores Hawkins, U.S. singer who sang with Gene Krupa and other popular musicians, dies at 58.
1983: Meyer Lansky, U.S. reputed mobster, dies at 80.
1982: Red Smith, U.S. journalist who was the first sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize, dies at 76.
1968: Bill Masterson, Canadian professional hockey player and the first National Hockey League player fatally injured during a game, which led to players eventually wearing helmets, dies at 29.
1964: Weldon John "Jack" Teagarden, U.S. legendary jazz trombonist, dies at 58.
1876: Eliza Johnson, U.S. first lady who was the wife of President Andrew Johnson, dies at 65.