We remember Whitney Houston and other notable people who died this day in history.
Whitney Houston spent her childhood singing in church and nightclubs with her mother. By 14 she was working as a backup singer, performing on two hit singles before she could even legally drive. She would go on to sell millions of her own records as one of the most beloved solo artists of all time, and she toured the world many times over. She also conquered the big screen, starring in blockbusters such as The Bodyguard and Waiting To Exhale and producing hits like The Princess Diaries. We remember Houston’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2018: Vic Damone, popular crooner who earned praise from Frank Sinatra, dies at 89.
2016: Kevin Randleman, U.S. ultimate fighter who was a former UFC heavyweight champion, dies at 44.
2015: Bob Simon, U.S. television journalist for CBS News who was a regular correspondent on CBS’ 60 Minutes, dies in an auto accident at 73.
Simon was among a handful of elite journalists, a “reporter’s reporter,” according to his executive producer, whose assignments took him from the Vietnam War to the Oscar-nominated movie Selma. He spent years doing foreign reporting for CBS News, particularly from the Middle East, where he was held captive for more than a month in Iraq two decades ago. Read more
2015: Jerry Tarkanian, U.S. college basketball coach known as Tark the Shark who led the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to the NCAA national championship in 1990, dies at 84.
Tarkanian put the run in the Runnin’ Rebels, taking them to four Final Fours and winning a national championship in 1990 with one of the most dominant college teams ever. His teams were as flamboyant as the city, with light shows and fireworks for pregame introductions and celebrities jockeying for position on the so-called Gucci Row courtside. Read more
2013: Rick Huxley, English bassist who was a member of the British Invasion group the Dave Clark Five, dies at 72.
Huxley played on the band’s signature hits from the era when they rivaled the Beatles in popularity. Their best-known songs included “Bits and Pieces” and “Glad All Over.” They enjoyed a large following in the U.S. after appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Read more
2012: Whitney Houston, U.S. superstar singer and actress, dies in an accidental drowning at 48.
The era of the pop music diva all but began when Houston boldly belted out her first songs, and generations of her followers have aspired to be the next Whitney. Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga … each of them owes her spot on pop music’s map to the trail Houston first blazed. Today’s music simply wouldn’t sound as it does had Houston not burst onto the scene in 1985 as the original pop diva. Read more
2011: Chuck Tanner, U.S. baseball manager who managed the Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series championship in 1979, dies at 82.
Tanner managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Pirates and Atlanta Braves during his 17-year career, winning 1,352 games. His crowning achievement came in 1979, when his “We Are Family” Pirates rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Baltimore Orioles for the World Series championship. Read more
2010: Alexander McQueen, English fashion designer who was the youngest ever to win the award for British Designer of the Year, commits suicide at 40.
His runway shows – more often like performance pieces because they were so dramatic, and sometimes, bizarre – were always a highlight during the Paris ready-to-wear fashion week. One of his previous collections included a show built around the concept of cycling, with models donning extravagance headwear made out of trash. His last collection, shown in October 2009 in Paris, featured extravagant and highly structured cocktail dresses. Read more
2009: Estelle Bennett, U.S. singer who was a member of the Ronettes who had the hit song “Be My Baby,” dies at 67.
The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007; its website hails the group as “the premier act of the girl group era,” noted her obituary by The Associated Press. Among their admirers were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; their exotic hairstyles and makeup were imitated by Amy Winehouse. The Ronettes — sisters Veronica “Ronnie” and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley — signed with Spector’s Philles Records in 1963. Read more
2008: Tom Lantos, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California from 1981 until his death, dies at 80.
Lantos, who referred to himself as “an American by choice,” was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping twice from a forced labor camp and came under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews. Lantos’ mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust, noted his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2006: Peter Benchley, U.S. author well-known for his book Jaws, dies at 65.
Benchley had read about a fisherman who caught a great white shark weighing more than 2 tons off the coast of Long Island. The story began to coalesce with an idea that had been in his head for a while – about a shark that wouldn’t stop attacking people. When Benchley met with an editor from Doubleday, he shared some nonfiction ideas, and the editor wasn’t impressed. But when Benchley floated his shark story, the editor knew he had struck gold. Benchley wrote a page of what would become his first novel right there in the Doubleday offices, and he was immediately presented with an advance check. Read more
2000: Roger Vadim, French director of the film Barbarella, dies at 72.
1997: Don Porter, U.S. actor known for portraying Gidget’s father on the TV series Gidget, dies at 84.
1994: William Conrad, U.S. actor known for playing the lead role on the TV series Cannon, dies of at 73.
1994: Sorrell Booke, U.S. actor known for playing Boss Hogg on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, dies at 64.
Virtually any TV viewer alive in the 1970s or ’80s remembers Booke as the greedy, corrupt and still somehow lovable Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard. Booke died 21 years ago today, leaving behind a life story with more surprises than Hazzard County has car ramps. Read more
1993: George A. Stephen, U.S. inventor who created the Weber kettle grill, dies at 71.
1985: Henry Hathaway, U.S. director known for directing Westerns and whose movies included True Grit, dies of a heart attack at 86.
1976: Lee J. Cobb, U.S. actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in On the Waterfront, dies at 64.
1974: Anna Q. Nilsson, Swedish film actress who was a star during Hollywood’s silent era, dies at 85.
1963: Sylvia Plath, U.S. author and poet who achieved acclaim for her poetry and wrote the novel The Bell Jar, commits suicide at 30.
1945: Al Dubin, U.S. songwriter who wrote many popular songs including “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” dies at 53.
1650: Rene Descartes, French philosopher known for his statement, “I think, therefore I am,” dies at 53.