Singer-songwriter Scott McKenzie captured the gentle, hopeful air of the 1960s youth culture with his hit song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” in 1967. We remember McKenzie’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Singer-songwriter Scott McKenzie captured the gentle, hopeful air of the 1960s youth culture with his hit song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” in 1967. Previously, McKenzie performed with the Journeymen, recording three folk albums with future members of the Mamas and the Papas before disbanding. Behind the scenes, he wrote Anne Murray’s hit “Hey! What About Me” and co-wrote “Kokomo” for the Beach Boys, both of which became international hits. Despite his success as a writer, none of McKenzie’s own recordings ever rivaled the success of his earlier ode to free love in San Francisco. Later in his career, he toured briefly with a new lineup of the Mamas and the Papas. We remember McKenzie’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Bud Yorkin, U.S. television producer who produced hit sitcoms including “All in the Family,” dies at 89.
2014: Don Pardo, U.S. radio and TV announcer known best as the longtime announcer for “Saturday Night Live,” dies at 96.
The prolific announcer was the voice of “Saturday Night Live” for its first 39 years (minus the forgettable 1981-1982 season). His golden tones welcomed viewers to the iconic sketch comedy program as well as to game shows such as “The Price Is Right” and “Jeopardy!” At one point in his long career, Pardo also performed announcing duties for the “NBC Nightly News.” Read more
2014: Jim Jeffords, U.S. politician who represented Vermont in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2007, dies of Alzheimer’s disease at 80.
Jeffords served more than 30 years in Washington. He won election to the House in 1974 as a Republican. The post-Watergate year was a strong one for Democrats nationally, but Jeffords was running as Vermont was just beginning its shift from a century of solid Republicanism to its current status as among the most liberal states. The Rutland native, a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School, already had won statewide office as attorney general and was from a well-known Vermont Republican family. His father, Olin Jeffords, had been chief justice of the state Supreme Court. Read more
2012: Scott McKenzie, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his 1967 hit song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” dies at 73.
“San Francisco” was written by John Phillips, the leader of the 1960s group the Mamas and the Papas. But McKenzie sang it, and it has stood as an anthem for the 1960s counterculture movement, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. McKenzie also co-wrote “Kokomo,” a No. 1 hit for the Beach Boys in 1988, and toured with a new version of the Mamas and the Papas in the 1990s. Read more
2012: George Bowers, U.S. movie director and editor who directed the movies “Private Resort” with Johnny Depp and “My Tutor,” dies of complications related to heart surgery at 68.
2009: Robert Novak, U.S. journalist, author, and conservative political commentator known for his appearances on CNN’s “Crossfire,” dies of a malignant brain tumor at 78.
While he became known as a staunch conservative for his role on “Crossfire” and other CNN political shows like “The Capital Gang,” he differed with conservatives on many issues, expressing doubts about invading Afghanistan and frequently criticizing the war in Iraq. Novak wrote in his book about often giving politicians the choice of being a source or a target, a strategy that often produced scoops for his column. With a lengthy list of highly placed sources, a high public profile, and a relentless approach to reporting his column, Novak produced many scoops. Read more
2004: Elmer Bernstein, U.S. composer known for his many film scores, including “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape,” and “Ghostbusters,” dies at 82.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” presented Bernstein quite a challenge. For six weeks, he could find no way to approach the story, which concerned racism and the Depression in a small Southern town. “Then I realized that the film was about these issues but seen through the eyes of children,” he once recalled. “The simple score was played by a small ensemble, at times employing single piano notes, much like a child picking out a tune.” Read more
2003: Tony Jackson, English bassist and singer who was a member of the 1960s band the Searchers, dies at 65.
2002: Dean Riesner, U.S. film and television writer who wrote for the TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and co-wrote the movies “Dirty Harry” and “Play Misty for Me,” dies at 83.
1992: John Sturges, U.S. movie director whose films included “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape,” dies at 82.
1991: David Gale, English character actor known best for his starring role in the cult film “Re-Animator,” dies at 54.
1990: B.F. Skinner, U.S. psychologist and behaviorist known for his theories on positive and negative reinforcement, dies at 86.
1981: Anita Loos, U.S. author and screenwriter known best for her novel “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the screenplays for the two movie versions, which she co-wrote, dies at 92.
Legend had it that Loos became a professional scenarist (as screenwriters were then called) at age 12. It wasn’t true, but that didn’t stop Loos from repeating it – she knew the value of a good story. Part of the reason the story was accepted was that Loos had been part of the cinematic landscape for as long as there was one. Read more
1970: Soledad Miranda, Spanish actress who starred in a 1970 movie version of “Count Dracula” opposite Christopher Lee, dies in an auto accident at 27.
1969: Mildred Davis, U.S. actress who starred with Harold Lloyd in 15 of his classic silent comedies and later became his wife, dies at 68.
1952: Ralph Byrd, U.S. actor known best for playing Dick Tracy in movies, serials, and television series featuring the detective, dies of a heart attack at 43.
1949: Paul Mares, U.S. jazz cornet and trumpet player known best as the leader of the pioneering jazz band the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, dies at 49.
1942: Rafaela Ottiano, Italian-born U.S. character actress who appeared in many movies in the 1930s, including “Riffraff” with Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy, dies at 54.
1940: Walter Chrysler, U.S. auto industry executive who founded the Chrysler Corp., dies at 65.
1919: Joseph E. Seagram, Canadian businessman and philanthropist who founded the Seagram Distillers Corp., dies at 78.