The Swedish-born Anita Ekberg was a popular sex symbol of the 1950s and ’60s. The love life of the voluptuous actress was a staple of the era’s gossip magazines. Her movie appearances included Rome, with Audrey Hepburn, and a starring role in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” The film, which features a scene of her cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain alongside Marcello Mastroianni, has been called “one of cinema’s most iconic scenes.” We remember Ekberg’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2016: Monte Irvin, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer who played outfield for the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs, dies at 96.
2016: David Margulies, U.S. actor who appeared in the movie “Ghostbusters” and on TV’s “The Sopranos,” dies at 78.
2015: Anita Ekberg, Swedish-Italian actress and model who starred in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” dies at 83.
Her curvaceous body and glamorous social life made her a favorite of the tabloid press in the 1950s and ’60s. She married twice but never had children – a fact she came to regret later in her life. Some gossip magazines called her the Iceberg in a nod to her Scandinavian background. But even as she became one of Sweden’s most famous exports, Ekberg maintained a problematic relation with her native country. She never starred in a Swedish film and was often at odds with Swedish journalists, who criticized her for leaving the country and ridiculed her for adopting an American accent. Read more
2014: Ariel Sharon, Israeli politician who served as prime minister of Israel from 2001 to 2006, dies at 85.
His death was greeted with the same strong feelings he evoked in life. Israelis called him a war hero. His enemies called him a war criminal, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. U.S. President Barack Obama remembered Sharon as “a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel.” Former President George W. Bush, who was in the White House during Sharon’s tenure, called him a “warrior for the ages and a partner in seeking security for the Holy Land and a better, peaceful Middle East.” Read more
2013: Aaron H. Swartz, U.S. computer programmer and internet activist who was involved in the development of the RSS feed, Creative Commons, and the user-driven news website Reddit, dies by suicide at 26 by hanging himself.
Swartz was a prodigy who as a young teenager helped create RSS, a family of web-feed formats used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio, and video for users, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He later co-founded Reddit, which ended up being sold to Conde Nast Publications, as well as the political action group Demand Progress, which campaigns against internet censorship. Read more
2010: Joe Rollino, U.S. strongman performer, weightlifter, and boxer who once raised 635 pounds with a finger, dies at 104 of multiple fractures after being hit by a minivan while crossing a street.
2010: Miep Gies, Dutch humanitarian who helped hide Anne Frank and her family during World War II, dies at 100.
After Frank’s diary was published, Gies tirelessly promoted causes of tolerance. She brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved — as if, she said, she had tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland. “This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work,” she wrote in an email to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday, according to her AP obituary. Read more
2008: Sir Edmund Hillary, lanky New Zealand mountaineer who in 1953 was the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, dies of a heart attack at 88.
2008: Carl Karcher, U.S. founder of the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain, dies at 90.
Karcher was working as a bread-truck driver in South Los Angeles when he noticed the large number of hot dog stands in the neighborhood and saw a business opportunity. He borrowed $311 on the 1941 Plymouth Super Deluxe he owned with his new bride, Margaret, added the rest in cash and bought his first pushcart hot dog stand. One cart soon became four, and by the end of World War II Karcher had opened his first restaurant, Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue, in Anaheim, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2005: James Griffin, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter for the band Bread who helped write the Oscar-winning song “For All We Know,” dies of cancer complications at 61.
In the 1970s, for every swaggering rock band churning out loud and dirty hits, there was a soft-rock band keeping the decade mellow. One of the greatest of them all was Bread. They exemplified ’70s adult contemporary, hitting the No. 1 spot on the Easy Listening chart over and over. Led by vocalists Jimmy Griffin and David Gates, Bread recorded delicate, folky love songs that resonated with listeners. Read more
2005: Spencer Dryden, U.S. drummer for the band Jefferson Airplane, dies of cancer at 66.
Dryden was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the Jefferson Airplane during the band’s glory years: from the breakthrough 1967 “Surrealistic Pillow” album through historic rock festivals such as Woodstock and Altamont, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2003: Mickey Finn, English drummer for the glam rock band T. Rex, dies of alcohol-related liver problems at 55.
2003: Richard W. Simmons, U.S. actor who starred in the title role of the TV series “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” dies at 89.
2000: Bob Lemon, U.S. Hall of Fame MLB pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, dies at 79.
1997: Sheldon Leonard, television producer and director who produced classic shows including “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “I Spy,” dies at 89.
1994: Roger “Ram” Ramirez, Puerto Rican jazz pianist and composer known best for the song “Lover Man,” dies of kidney failure at 80.
1994: John Bradley, U.S. Navy corpsman who helped raise the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, dies of a stroke at 70.
1988: Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, highly decorated World War II pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, dies at 75.
1981: Beulah Bondi, U.S. actress who appeared in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and won an Emmy for an appearance on “The Waltons,” dies at 91.
1979: Jack Soo, Japanese-American actor known best for his role as Nick Yemana on the sitcom “Barney Miller,” dies of cancer at 61.
As Yemana, Soo brought relaxed and off-kilter charm to the fictional 12th Precinct for five seasons. Yemana embodied the calm, skewed comical sense that would later make stars of such comics as Mitch Hedburg and Steven Wright, making absurd observations about the world with the deadpan grace of Joey Bishop and Jack Benny. In real life, Soo was an outspoken critic of Asian-American stereotypes in film and television and refused to play roles he saw as demeaning. Read more
1928: Thomas Hardy, English novelist who wrote “Far From the Madding Crowd,” dies at 87.
1843: Francis Scott Key, U.S. composer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” dies at 63.