Ava Gardner, 1950. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
The camera loved Ava Gardner. When she had her first screen test, she had no idea how to act and her southern drawl made her incomprehensible to the director, but once the film was developed it became clear that a star was born. Gardner rose to fame in 1946's The Killers, and was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Mogambo. Along the way she enchanted men such as Howard Hughes, Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra, who remained her lifelong friend following a six-year marriage. We remember her remarkable life today, and the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
2009: Kim Manners, U.S. television producer and director whose shows include The X-Files and Supernatural, dies from cancer at 58.
2008: Christopher Allport, U.S. actor who appeared mostly in TV roles on such shows as The X-Files and Mad Men, dies at 60.
2005: Ray Peterson, U.S. pop singer best known for his hit song "Tell Laura I Love Her," dies at 65.
2005: William Augustus Bootle, judge who was known for helping to oversee desegregation in the southern U.S., dies at 102.
During the 1960s, Bootle made a string of historic civil rights decisions, from desegregating Georgia's college system to integrating buses and school systems to ensuring blacks' place on voter rolls. On Jan. 6, 1961, he ordered students Hamilton Holmes Jr. and Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) admitted to the University of Georgia, the nation's oldest state-chartered university. He signed the University of Georgia order following a weeklong trial that pitted the two students against the school's top ranks. "Judge Bootle has always been a hero for me, and heroes don't come every day," said Hunter-Gault, now bureau chief for CNN in Johannesburg, South Africa. Read more
2004: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch athlete who won four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics and who was a mother of two children during a time when this was uncommon in the sports world, dies at 85.
1999: Robert Shaw, U.S. conductor who won 14 Grammy Awards, dies at 82.
1999: Ted Mallie, U.S. radio and television announcer who was the announcer for the radio show The Shadow, dies at 74.
1999: Sarah "Sadie" Delany, African-American teacher and civil rights pioneer who became the subject of the popular oral history book, Having Our Say, dies at 109.
1997: Jeane Dixon, U.S. psychic who was one of the best known psychics and astrologers of the 20th century, dies at 93.
Like most people who make their livings from pursuits like astrology and psychic prediction, Dixon was controversial. She was loved and defended by those who embrace New Age philosophy, follow horoscopes, and believe in the ability to predict the future – among them Nancy Reagan and Richard Nixon. Those who consider all things New Age to be so much woo-woo hooey considered her to be just another crackpot. Read more
1990: Ava Gardner, U.S. actress who was a Hollywood star and appeared in movies such as The Barefoot Contessa and On the Beach, dies of pneumonia at 67.
1988: Colleen Moore, U.S. actress who was considered one of the most fashionable stars of the silent film era, dies at 88.
1981: Adele Marie Astaire, actress and dancer who formed a successful stage duo with her younger brother Fred Astaire, dies at 84.
1976: Chris Kenner, U.S. rhythm-and-blues singer who enjoyed a huge hit with the song "I Like it Like That", dies at 46.
1975: Vivien Kellems, U.S. industrialist, inventor and political candidate who was known for her battles with the federal government over income tax law, dies at 78.
1970: Eunice Hunton Carter, the first African-American district attorney in New York City, who helped prosecute Lucky Luciano, dies at 70.
1969: Irene Castle, U.S. dancer who formed a very popular dancing duo with her husband Vernon and is credited with improving the popularity of modern dancing, dies at 75.
1960: Diana Barrymore, U.S. actress who was the daughter of actor John Barrymore, dies from an alcohol and drug overdose at 38.
1947: Al Capone, U.S. gangster who ran the Chicago Outfit, dies from cardiac arrest at 48.
Walking through any cemetery gives you a chance to peer into the lives of the past, but Mount Carmel offers even more insight than most. More than just reading names, dates, and a few carefully-chosen words, we can see the very images of the deceased. Not so in Capone's case. You might think the man who ruled a criminal empire would have the most ostentatious grave of them all – with the biggest ceramic photo of them all. Instead, the grave is small, flush to the ground, and hidden behind a bush. If you don't know where to look, you're going to wander around for quite a while trying to find it (as we did). Read more
1908: Ouida, nee Maria Louise Rame, English author who wrote many books under her pseudonym, dies at 69.