Died August 9

by Legacy Staff

Bernie Mac made us laugh, whether he was performing stand-up comedy, starring in his own sitcom, or making memorable appearances in movies. We remember Mac’s life and the lives of other celebrities who died this day, August 9, in history.

2015: Frank Gifford, U.S. NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver who later became a sports broadcaster on “Monday Night Football,” dies at 84.

“Frank Gifford was an icon of the game, both as a Hall of Fame player for the Giants and Hall of Fame broadcaster for CBS and ABC,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Frank’s talent and charisma on the field and on the air were important elements in the growth and popularity of the modern NFL.” Read more


Mel Stuart (Associated Press Photo)

2012: Mel Stuart, U.S. movie director known best for directing the original “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” dies at 83.

Stuart’s dozens of documentary films include three editions of “The Making of the President” and, for the Public Broadcasting Service’s “American Masters,” portraits of the artist Man Ray and the director Billy Wilder. Stuart’s groundbreaking film “Wattstax” focused on the 1972 music festival and Los Angeles’ largely black Watts community in the wake of the 1965 riots. In 2005, PBS aired “The Hobart Shakespeareans,” Stuart’s profile of a teacher in inner-city Los Angeles whose fifth-grade class each year performed a play by William Shakespeare. Read more

2012: Al Freeman Jr., U.S. actor who starred in the movie “Malcolm X” and also appeared on “The Cosby Show” and “One Life To Live,” dies at 78.

He appeared in more than a dozen films and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Malcolm X in the 1979 miniseries “Roots: The Next Generations.” But it was a different character that cemented Freeman’s reputation, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. After auditioning three times for director Spike Lee, Freeman won the part of Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader who had a contentious relationship with Malcolm X, played in the film by Denzel Washington. Freeman prepared for the role by listening to Muhammad’s speeches and raising the pitch of his deep baritone voice. Read more

2012: Carl Davis, U.S. record producer who was known for the “Chicago Sound,” who produced hit records for Jackie Wilson and the Chi-Lites, dies at 77.

2010: Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, U.S. blues bassist and singer who was a member of Muddy Waters‘ band and also worked with Howlin’ Wolf and Cassandra Wilson, dies at 84.

Ted Stevens (AP Photo)

2010: Ted Stevens, U.S. politician who served as a U.S. senator for Alaska from 1968 until 2009, dies in a plane crash at 86.

Stevens, a moderate Republican, was appointed in December 1968 and became the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. (The late Strom Thurmond was in the Senate longer than Stevens, but he spent a decade there as a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party.) The wiry octogenarian was a legend in his home state, where he was known as “Uncle Ted,” noted his obituary by The Associated Press. Though he was built like a birch sapling, he liked to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk – an analogy that seemed appropriate for his outsized place in Alaska history. Read more

2008: Bernie Mac, U.S. actor and comedian who was the star of “The Bernie Mac Show” and was also known for his role as Frank Catton in the remake of “Oceans Eleven,” dies at 50.

Born in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side (a neighborhood Chaka Khan, Derrick Rose, and Jennifer Hudson have also called home), Mac held jobs at General Motors and Wonder Bread before tiring of the daily grind and beginning to pursue a career in comedy. His first big break came at an open mike night at Chicago’s Cotton Club. Within a few years he had won a citywide comedy talent search and was on his way to nationwide fame via HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.” 

He broke through to stardom with roles in movies including “Friday,” “Soul Men,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” In 2001, his sitcom debuted, “The Bernie Mac Show,” which lasted five seasons and won a Peabody Award as well as an Emmy. Mac himself won the NAACP Image Award for outstanding actor in a comedy series four years in a row. Read more

2005: Matthew McGrory, U.S. actor known for his great height at 7-feet-6-inches tall, who appeared in the movie “Big Fish” and on the television show “Malcolm in the Middle,” dies of natural causes at 32.

2004: David Raksin, U.S. composer who was renowned for his work in film and television with over 100 movie scores and 300 TV scores on his resume and was called the Grandfather of Film Music, dies at 92.

2004: Tony Mottola, U.S. guitarist who performed with Frank Sinatra for many years and was also a member of “The Tonight Show” orchestra, dies of a stroke and double pneumonia at 86.

Gregory Hines (Wikimedia Commons)

2003: Gregory Hines, U.S. actor, dancer, singer, and choreographer known for his tap dancing skill, who starred in the movie “Running Scared,” dies of cancer at 57.

Hines danced from his earliest days, beginning to tap at 3 and performing professionally by the time he was 5. His idols, Sammy Davis Jr., Howard Sims, and the Nicholas Brothers, instilled in him a love for invention and a respect for the roots of tap, a combination that led Hines to become one of the greatest tap dancers in the medium’s history. He danced on Broadway and on the silver screen, teaching young dancers and creating National Tap Dance Day (celebrated each year May 25). His love for dance showed when he abandoned himself to music and let his body take the reins. Read more

1995: Jerry Garcia, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter known as the leader of the Grateful Dead, dies of a heart attack at 53.

Garcia was beloved by countless fans, “a benevolent Buddha” who played the guitar “not with his hands, but his heart,” as People wrote. Legacy.com remembers the music legend who once compared his band’s fans to a certain candy. “Our audience is like people who like licorice,” he famously said. “Not everybody likes licorice but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” Read more

1990: Dorothy Appleby, U.S. actress known best for her supporting roles in the “Three Stooges” serials, dies at 84.

1980: Jacqueline Cochran, U.S. pilot who was an aviation pioneer considered one of the most gifted racing pilots of her time and the first female to go supersonic and break the sound barrier, dies at 74.

1980: Elliott Nugent, U.S. actor and director who directed Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard in “The Cat and the Canary,” dies at 84.

1975: Dimitri Shostakovich, Russian composer and pianist who was a prominent figure of 20th-century music, dies of lung cancer at 68.

1969: Sharon Tate, U.S. actress who starred in the cult classic “Valley of the Dolls” and was married to film director Roman Polanski, is killed along with four others at her home by the Manson family at 26.

1962: Hermann Hesse, German poet and author known for his novel “Siddhartha,” dies at 85.

1949: Harry Davenport, U.S. actor known best for playing Dr. Meade in “Gone With the Wind,” dies at 83.

Discover notable people born this day August 9 in history including superstar Whitney Houston.

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