She was born Norma Jeane Mortenson but is known better to the world as Marilyn Monroe, an icon of beauty, glamor, talent, and tragedy. We remember Monroe’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
She was born Norma Jeane Mortenson but is known better to the world as Marilyn Monroe, an icon of beauty, glamor, talent, and tragedy. She studied at the Actors Studio, won a Golden Globe for “Some Like It Hot” and starred in classics like “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “The Seven Year Itch,” and “The Misfits” before her tragic death at 36. Her personal life was troubled, with divorces, substance abuse, and a reputation for being professionally difficult and unreliable. But decades after her death she still captivates audiences, inspiring movies, books, and other works that explore her enduring legacy. We remember Monroe’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2019: Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author of best-selling novels including “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon,” and “The Bluest Eye,” dies at 88.
2014: Marilyn Burns, U.S. actress known best for roles in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Eaten Alive,” dies of a heart attack at 65.
Burns’ career included roles in several horror films spanning 40 years, including last year’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” In the 1974 film, her character was the only one to escape the rampage of the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. Read more
2013: George Duke, U.S. keyboardist who played in multiple genres of music including jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues, who released his own albums and was a member of Frank Zappa‘s backing band, the Mothers of Invention, dies of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at 67.
During his 40-year-plus career, Duke appeared on a number of Frank Zappa’s albums and played in the Don Ellis Orchestra and Cannonball Adderley’s band, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He played keyboard on Michael Jackson‘s multiplatinum 1979 album, “Off the Wall,” and was a producer for Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, and Natalie Cole. Read more
2009: Budd Schulberg, Academy Award-winning U.S. screenwriter, novelist, and sports writer known best for writing the screenplays for the movies “On the Waterfront” and “A Face in the Crowd,” dies at 95.
“On the Waterfront,” directed by Elia Kazan and filmed in Hoboken, New Jersey, was released in 1954 to great acclaim and won eight Academy awards, according to Schulberg’s obituary by The Associated Press. It included one of cinema’s most famous lines, uttered by Brando as the failed boxer Terry Malloy: “I coulda been a contender.” Schulberg never again approached the success of “On the Waterfront,” but he continued to write books, teleplays, and screenplays – including the Kazan-directed “A Face in the Crowd” – and scores of articles. Spike Lee was an admirer, dedicating the entertainment satire “Bamboozled” to Schulberg and working with him on a film about boxer Joe Louis. Read more
2006: Susan Butcher, U.S. dog musher who won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race four times, dies of leukemia at 51.
Butcher dominated the 1,100-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome in the late 1980s, bringing increased national attention to the grueling competition. She won the 1986 race to become the second female champion, added victories in 1987, ’88, and ’90, and finished in the top four through 1993. “What she did is brought this race to an audience that had never been aware of it before simply because of her personality,” Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George said, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2002: Matt Robinson, U.S. actor and television writer who was the first actor to play the character of Gordon on the children’s show “Sesame Street” and was a writer for “The Waltons,” “Captain Kangaroo,” and “The Cosby Show,” dies at 65.
2002: Chick Hearn, U.S. sportscaster known as the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1965 until 2002, dies of injuries sustained in a fall at 85.
2002: Josh Ryan Evans, U.S. actor known for playing Timmy on the soap opera “Passions,” who also appeared on “Ally McBeal,” dies of complications related to a heart defect at 20.
2000: Sir Alec Guinness, English actor whose movie appearances included “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, dies at 86.
The award-winning actor even portrayed Adolf Hitler in “Hitler: The Last Ten Days” before becoming the first actor to ever portray a Jedi knight. Despite his misgivings about “Star Wars,” Guinness joined the production, taking home a sizable paycheck and 2 percent of the profits. That deal changed his life, as the film went on to become an enormous blockbuster, generating ticket sales that allowed Guinness to live comfortably and only pursue projects he felt passionate about. Read more
1992: Jeff Porcaro, U.S. drummer, songwriter, and producer known best as the drummer for the band Toto, who also was a highly sought-after session drummer, dies at 38.
Porcaro’s remarkable career as a session drummer would prove sufficient to secure his legacy as a pop and rock legend, but he will be remembered best for the band he started in 1977: Toto. Together with his younger brother and a talented team of session artists, Porcaro and Toto scored a string of hits in the late 1970s and ’80s, including “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” and their signature classic, “Africa.” Read more
1991: Paul Brown, U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach of the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals who led the Browns to seven league championships, four in the All-America Football Conference and three in the NFL, dies at 82.
1988: Ralph Meeker, U.S. actor known best for starring in the film noir classic “Kiss Me Deadly,” dies at 67.
1984: Richard Burton, Welsh actor who starred in “Becket” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but may be remembered more for his marriages to Elizabeth Taylor, dies of bleeding on the brain at 58.
1983: Judy Canova, U.S. actress, singer, and radio personality who hosted her own network radio show and appeared in many movies and TV shows, dies of cancer at 69.
1978: Queenie Smith, U.S. character actress who appeared on numerous television series including a recurring role as Mrs. Whipple on “Little House on the Prairie,” dies of cancer at 79.
1968: Luther Perkins, U.S. guitarist who was a member of the Tennessee Three, the backing band for Johnny Cash, dies at 40.
1964: Art Ross, Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman and coach who coached the NHL’s Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 1939, dies at 78.
1962: Marilyn Monroe, U.S. actress who was a major sex symbol during her career and starred in the popular movies “Some Like It Hot,” “How To Marry a Millionaire,” and “Bus Stop,” dies at 36.
Is Monroe still hot because today’s teens are devouring movies that were made more than half a century ago? Or is it more because of the wealth of stunning photographs of Monroe that still circulate on social media and in the news? Even in an era when paparazzi didn’t follow stars around to document their every move, Monroe was endlessly photographed … and publicly she was almost always charming and photogenic. These images of a bygone era’s glamour still prove irresistible today – both to those who were alive for Monroe’s stardom and for younger people who yearn for a time when satin and diamonds were de rigueur. Read more
1959: Edgar Guest, U.S. poet who was popular during the first half of the 20th century and was known as the People’s Poet, dies at 77.
1955: Carmen Miranda, Portuguese singer, dancer, and actress who was popular from the 1930s until the ’50s and starred in the movie “Copacabana” with Groucho Marx, dies of a heart attack at 40.