Desi Arnaz played many roles during his life: actor, musician, father, husband, producer, and co-creator of television reruns through his groundbreaking comedy, “I Love Lucy.” We remember Arnaz’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Desi Arnaz played many roles during his life: actor, musician, father, husband, producer, and co-creator of television reruns through his groundbreaking comedy, “I Love Lucy.” Together with his real-life wife, Lucille Ball, Arnaz helped to revolutionize television production and created one of the medium’s most beloved comedies. We remember Arnaz’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Will McMillan, U.S. actor who appeared in many movies and on TV shows including “The Enforcer,” dies at 71.
2014: Bobby Keys, U.S. saxophonist who performed with the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, dies at 70.
Keys, a lifelong rock ‘n’ roller who toured with Buddy Holly, played on recordings by John Lennon and laid down one of the all-time blowout solos on the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.” Read more
2014: Jean Beliveau, Canadian NHL legend for the Montreal Canadiens who won 17 Stanley Cup championships, dies at 83.
A supremely skilled center who spent 18 full seasons and parts of two others with Montreal, Beliveau was also a popular ambassador for the sport. He scored 507 goals, won 10 Stanley Cups, and was captain for 10 seasons before his retirement in 1971. He then moved seamlessly into an executive position with the club. Read more
2013: Christopher Evan Welch, U.S. actor who had a regular role on the series “Rubicon” and appeared on “Law & Order: SVU,” dies at 48.
The Dallas-born actor won an Obie Award in 2000 for his performance in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the New York Theatre Workshop, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. On television, Welch had roles on “The Sopranos” and “The Good Wife,” in addition to the conspiracy-themed drama “Rubicon.” In 2012, he played a clerk in the House of Representatives in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Read more
2009: Eric Woolfson, Scottish songwriter, pianist, and producer who was a co-creator of the Alan Parsons Project, dies at 64.
Together with Alan Parsons he founded the group, whose music was popular in the U.S. and Germany. After the group disbanded in the 1990s, Woolfson continued to work as a music producer and composer of musicals, including “Edgar Allan Poe” in Berlin, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2008: Odetta, U.S. singer – born Odetta Holmes – who was called the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement, dies at 77.
Odetta may not be as much a household name as Bob Dylan – but it was she who inspired him to pick up an acoustic guitar and sing folk music. She might not have the folk music fame of Joan Baez, but Baez called her a goddess. Carly Simon may have been the bigger star, but she said she went weak in the knees when she had a chance to meet Odetta. Read more
2006: Mariska Veres, Dutch singer known best as the lead singer for the rock group Shocking Blue who had a hit song, “Venus,” in 1970, dies at 59.
1997: Michael Hedges, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist, dies at 43 after his car accidentally plunges off a cliff.
1995: Roxie Roker, U.S. actress who played Helen Willis on the TV sitcom “The Jeffersons,” dies of breast cancer at 66.
1990: Robert Cummings, U.S. film and TV actor whose motion pictures include “Three Smart Girls Grow Up” and “The Bride Wore Boots,” dies at 80.
1990: Aaron Copland, U.S. composer whose works include “Third Symphony” and “Fanfare for the Common Man,” dies at 90.
Copland spent much of the 1950s and ’60s traveling in Europe and exposing himself to avant-garde composers. Though he himself had more conservative musical tendencies, he also appreciated the work of John Cage, declaring, “I’ve spent most of my life trying to get the right note in the right place. Just throwing it open to chance seems to go against my natural instincts.” Read more
1986: Desi Arnaz, Cuban-born U.S. bandleader and actor who played Ricky Ricardo on the TV comedy “I Love Lucy,” dies of lung cancer at 69.
When “I Love Lucy” premiered in 1951, the American public wasn’t accustomed to seeing much diversity on TV – and certainly not in the form of an interracial or interethnic relationship. Executives wished Lucille Ball would choose a different TV husband – one who looked a bit more like her. But Ball and Arnaz were determined to star in the show together (it was a great way for the busy showbiz couple to get to spend more time together), and they embarked on a vaudeville tour prior to the show’s launch to get the public used to seeing the redheaded woman with the Latino man. It worked, and “Lucy and Ricky” became TV’s first interethnic couple. Read more
1982: Marty Feldman, English comedy writer and actor whose films include “Young Frankenstein,” “Silent Movie,” and “Yellowbeard,” dies of a heart attack at 48.
1982: David Blue, U.S. singer-songwriter and actor whose films include “The American Friend” and Neil Young’s “Human Highway,” dies of a heart attack at 41 while jogging in Greenwich Village.
1972: Jose Limon, Mexican-born U.S. dancer and choreographer whose work includes “The Moor’s Pavane,” dies at 64.
1963: Sabu Dastagir, Indian-born actor whose films include “The Drum” and “Jungle Book,” dies of a heart attack at 39.
1957: Harrison Ford, U.S. silent-screen actor, unrelated to the Harrison Ford of “Star Wars” fame, dies at 73.
The first Ford was a silent-film actor who began his movie career in 1915 and (much like “The Artist’s” George Valentin) only appeared in one “talkie” – 1932’s “Love in High Gear,” his final movie. He also starred on Broadway and toured with the USO during World War II. And though he may not be the Harrison Ford we know best, he’s still honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And by the way, there’s no known relation between the two Harrison Fords – other than good looks and acting talent. Read more
1936: John Ringling, U.S. traveling circus owner and one of seven brothers who merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus, dies at 70.