2011 saw many notable losses in the television world. From newsmen to cowboys, reality to ridiculous, we're missing the stars of the small screen who died this year.
For 34 years, Andy Rooney was a Sunday-night institution as he shared commentaries about the absurdities of life on 60 Minutes. On occasion, Rooney’s outspokenness got him into trouble. But generations of fans eagerly awaited the Emmy winner’s weekly diatribe, whether on air travel, Mrs. Smith’s pies, or the clothes in his closet. Rooney finally retired, reluctantly, at the age of 92. He died just one month later. Another well-known newsman who died in 2011 was Mark Haines, who had anchored the news in Philadelphia, New York and Providence before becoming host of CNBC's Squawk Box and Squawk on the Street.
We lost many fine television actors in 2011, both veterans and promising newcomers. James Arness played the beloved Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for a record-setting 20 years. You might say acting was in his blood – Arness’ younger brother was fellow TV actor Peter Graves who died in 2010. Also mourned by fans were Andy Whitfield, who played the title character in Starz' Spartacus: Blood and Sand and John Dye, Touched by an Angel's Angel of Death, Andrew.
If you love comedy, 2011 was especially painful for you – several greats passed away this year. Fans of M*A*S*H and Dragnet were devastated at the loss of Harry Morgan – he touched our hearts and made us laugh as Colonel Potter and Detective Gannon. Others from the world of TV comedy who will be missed include: Sherwood Schwartz, creator of classics Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch; David Nelson of pioneering sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; Clarice Taylor, who played Bill Cosby's mother on The Cosby Show as well as a beloved grandma on Sesame Street; Alan Sues of wacky sketch show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In; Ryan Dunn of Jackass; Jimmy Kimmel's Uncle Frank Potenza, who appeared often on Kimmel's late show; and stand-up comic Patrice O'Neal, whose HBO and Comedy Central specials were viewer faves.
Much like comedy, reality television can provide a blissful escape, and fans mourned the deaths of reality TV favorites in 2011. Justin Tennison helped us forget our problems as we watched him navigate treacherous northern waters on Deadliest Catch. And baker Sal Picinich made our mouths water on Cake Boss.
You could say that a few of our favorites defy categorization… or you could say we've saved the best for last. We loved pro wrestling superstar Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and so did the rest of the world – his was Legacy.com’s most-signed Guest Book of 2011. Another much-loved favorite was Jeanne Bice, the QVC staple whose Quacker Factory line of clothing brought fans in thousands to sign her Guest Book. We also remember the sweet tunes sung by Norma Zimmer, the "Champagne Lady" on The Lawrence Welk Show, and the inspiration of fitness guru Jack LaLanne.
Stay tuned to The Obit Report. In the coming days, we'll remember musicians, athletes, Hollywood luminaries, and amazing lives of the not-so-famous.
Written by Linnea Crowther