Louis Prima is known for his timeless songs and larger than life personality. We remember Prima’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
Louis Prima is known for his timeless songs and larger than life personality. He moved from New Orleans jazz to big band, swing, pop, and rock. His hits included renditions of “Jump, Jive an’ Wail,” “When You’re Smiling,” “That Old Black Magic,” and his classic “Just a Gigolo.” He performed for decades with a rotating lineup of backing bands and musicians, including his ex-wife, turning up everywhere from Las Vegas lounges to presidential inaugurations and even appearing as King Louie in Disney’s “The Jungle Book.” In his spare time, Prima enjoyed riding horses; he even owned seven racehorses. We remember Prima’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2020: Gail Sheehy, author known for her best-selling book “Passages” and as a writer for New York Magazine, dies at 83.
2018: Robin Leach, journalist who became famous as host of the syndicated TV series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” dies at 76.
2017: Jay Thomas, the character actor who played Carla’s husband on “Cheers,” dies at 69.
The generation that was introduced to Attenborough as an avuncular veteran actor in the 1990s — when he played the failed theme park developer in “Jurassic Park” and Kriss Kringle in a remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” — may not have appreciated his dramatic range, according to his obituary in USA Today. A small, energetic man with a round face that remained boyish even in old age, he was perfectly cast at the start of his career as the young sailor or airman of British movies during and after World War II. In his 1942 film debut as a terrified warship’s crewman in “In Which We Serve,” a 19-year-old Attenborough made a small part into one of the most memorable roles in the movie, according to the obituary. Read more
2013: Julie Harris, U.S. actress who won a Grammy, five Tony, and three Emmy awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “The Member of the Wedding,” dies of congestive heart failure at 87.
Harris won a record five Tonys for best actress in a play, displaying a virtuosity that enabled her to portray an astonishing gallery of women during a theater career that spanned almost 60 years and included such plays as “The Member of the Wedding” (1950), “The Lark” (1955), “Forty Carats” (1968), and “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” (1972), according to her obituary by The Associated Press. She was honored again with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award in 2002. Only Angela Lansbury has neared her record, winning four Tonys in the best actress-musical category and one for best supporting actress in a play. Read more
2013: Muriel Siebert, U.S. stockbroker who was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, dies of cancer complications at 84.
To celebrate 30 years as member of the exchange, Siebert was invited to ring the closing bell on the NYSE, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. The ceremony was held Jan. 5, 1998. The next year, while president of the New York Women’s Agenda — a coalition of over 100 women’s organizations — Siebert developed a personal finance program to improve the financial literacy of young people. The program became part of the New York City high schools economics curriculum for seniors. Siebert worked to expand the program nationally. Read more
2012: Claire Malis, U.S. actress whose many appearances included a recurring role as the mother of the character Jo on the sitcom “The Facts of Life,” dies of congestive heart failure and pneumonia at 69.
2012: Steve Franken, U.S. actor who starred as Chatsworth Osborne Jr. on the sitcom “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and appeared on many other TV series during his career, dies of cancer at 80.
The 80-year-old appeared in dozens of roles, ranging from guest appearances on the TV series “Bewitched” and “Seinfeld” to film roles in “Nurse Betty” and 2009’s “Angels and Demons.” He was also a stage actor. Read more
2007: Aaron Russo, movie producer, director, and political activist who produced the movies “Trading Places” and “Wise Guys” and co-directed “Rude Awakening” starring Eric Roberts, dies of bladder cancer at 64.
2005: Hal Kalin, U.S. singer with the Kalin Twins duo who had a hit song in 1958 with “When,” dies at 71.
Brothers Hal and Herbie hit the charts big in 1958 with their rendition of “When,” which reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Top 100, before going on to … not much of anything. Their second single, “Forget Me Not,” reached No. 12, but fans apparently did forget them, and subsequent releases never came close to matching that success. The twins went back to their normal lives, performing a few more times in the 1970s and one final time in 1989 at Wembley Stadium for Cliff Richard. Read more
2004: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Swiss-born U.S. psychiatrist who created the theory of the five stages of grief, dies after a series of infections at 78.
Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist, developed the model after years of working with terminally ill people. The stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross said the order of the stages may differ by individual, and not every person may experience every stage. Most people, however, will experience two or more stages, she said, according to her obituary by The New York Times. Read more
2001: Jane Greer, U.S. actress known for starring as femme fatale Kathie Moffat in the film noir “Out of the Past,” dies of cancer complications at 76.
1998: E. G. Marshall, U.S. actor who starred in the TV series “The Defenders” and played conscientious Juror No. 4 in the movie “12 Angry Men,” dies at 84.
1995: Alfred Eisenstaedt, German photographer who was a staff photographer for Life magazine and whose many magazine covers included the famous photo of an American sailor kissing a nurse in a dancelike dip during the V-J Day celebrations in New York City, dies at 96.
1995: Gary Crosby, U.S. singer, actor, and one of Bing Crosby‘s sons, who sang on two recorded songs with his father and had a recurring role on the police drama “Adam-12,” dies at 62.
1988: Leonard Frey, U.S. actor who starred as Motel the tailor in the movie version of “Fiddler on the Roof” and appeared on such television shows as “Barney Miller,” dies of an AIDS-related illness at 49.
Rustin intended to travel to India to meet with Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 to learn about nonviolent resistance. But before he could make his trip, Gandhi was assassinated. Rustin still made the journey and met with leaders of the Gandhian movement, bringing back the techniques he’d learned and applying them to his activist philosophies. He even passed them directly to King, teaching him what he’d learned from Gandhi’s followers and convincing King to abandon any appearance of violence, including armed protection for himself and his family. Read more
1978: Louis Prima, U.S. singer, actor, and trumpeter known for his song medley of “Just a Gigolo” and “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” dies at 67.
Cue the 1950s: Big bands are out, and finger-snappin’ cool is in. Prima found his way to Las Vegas, where gigs at the Sahara and the Desert Inn kept his career swinging. A Vegas nightclub performer does best if he’s not just musically talented, but charismatic as well – and Prima had charisma in spades. And he was just plain funny, too. Read more
1967: Amanda Randolph, U.S. actress, singer, and musician who was the first African-American performer to star in a regularly scheduled network television show, appearing on “The Laytons,” dies following a stroke at 70.
1956: Mitchell Lewis, U.S. actor who played the captain of the Winkie Guards in “The Wizard of Oz” whose character announced the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, dies at 76.