Singer and actress Peggy Lee is remembered best for her cover version of Little Willie John’s song “Fever.” We remember Lee’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Singer and actress Peggy Lee is best remembered for her cover version of Little Willie John’s song “Fever.” She won three Grammy awards including one for lifetime achievement. She was also quite the actress, picking up an Academy Award nomination for her role as an alcoholic blues singer in “Pete Kelly’s Blues.” We remember Lee’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2020: Terry Jones, founding member of the Monty Python comedy team, who brought absurd humor to the world with their “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” TV sketch show and several movies, dies at 77.
2020: Morgan Wooten, high school basketball coaching legend who coached DeMatha High School in Maryland from 1956 until 2002, dies at 88.
2016: Bill Johnson, U.S. downhill skier who was the first American male to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing, dies at 55.
Johnson made history in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Downhill skiing events had long been all but guaranteed to Olympians from France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland – countries that actually had alps. But when the brash Westerner showed up, a native of California who learned to ski growing up in Boise, Idaho – he predicted he’d beat them all. Read more
2013: Robert Michael Winner, English film director whose movies include “Death Wish,” dies at 77.
Winner’s more than 30 movies included three “Death Wish” films starring the late Charles Bronson. Many of his features sit at the schlockier end of the spectrum, but he also worked with Hollywood icons including Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, and Faye Dunaway. Winner never took criticism of his films too seriously. “If you want art, don’t mess about with movies,” he once said. “Buy a Picasso.” Read more
2011: Dennis Oppenheim, U.S. artist who was a pioneer of conceptual art, dies of liver cancer at 72.
2002: Peggy Lee, one of the most influential popular singers of all time in the U.S., whose signature hit is “Fever,” dies of a heart attack at 81.
Lee only performed with Benny Goodman and his band for two years, leaving when she married his guitarist (Goodman didn’t like his musicians to fraternize with the “girl singers”), but the short partnership helped launch her to stardom. It brought us a few fantastic hits, too – including the song that made Peggy Lee famous, “Why Don’t You Do Right.” Read more
1999: Susan Strasberg, U.S. actress who had a starring role in “Picnic” and was the daughter of acting coach Lee Strasberg, dies of breast cancer at 60.
1999: Charles Brown, U.S. blues singer and pianist who had several hit songs including “Merry Christmas Baby,” dies of congestive heart failure at 76.
1998: Jack Lord, U.S. actor well-known for his role as Steve McGarrett on the TV series “Hawaii Five-O,” dies of congestive heart failure at 77.
As an actor, he worked on Broadway, in movies, and on TV – and a few years before “Hawaii Five-O,” he was offered a chance to play Captain Kirk in the first “Star Trek” series. When Lord requested a bit too much compensation (50 percent ownership of the show), the role went to William Shatner instead. That might be just as well, because Shatner was an iconic Kirk, and it left Lord available to take his biggest and most recognizable role – “Hawaii Five-O’s” Detective Steve McGarrett. The leader of a team of officers who brought down criminals, secret agents, and crime rings, McGarrett also was the character who brought us the show’s famous catchphrase – “Book ’em, Danno!” Read more
1997: Colonel Tom Parker, U.S. manager of Elvis Presley, dies of complications from a stroke at 87.
1997: Irwin Levine, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” dies of complications of kidney failure at 58.
1991: Frank Mitchell, U.S. actor and comedian who appeared in more than 70 films, dies at 85.
1989: Carl Furillo, U.S. outfielder who played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers and was a two-time All-Star, dies at 66.
1989: Billy Tipton, U.S. jazz bandleader who was born a woman but lived his life as a man, a fact that remained undiscovered until his death, dies at 74.
1985: James Beard, U.S. chef, food writer and the namesake of the James Beard Foundation Awards, dies of heart failure at 81.
1984: Jackie Wilson, U.S. rhythm and blues singer who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of the all-time great singers, dies of a heart attack at 49.
Question: How do you choose just one song with which to remember Wilson? Answer: You don’t. It’s impossible. After all, the man known as Mr. Excitement had more than 50 hit singles and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. With a career like that, it’s hard to even narrow it to a few songs in tribute. Read more
1968: Will Lang Jr., U.S. journalist who was the bureau head for Life magazine, dies at 53.
1967: Ann Sheridan, U.S. actress who enjoyed a long career and who starred in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” dies of cancer of the esophagus and liver at 51.
1959: Cecil B. DeMille, U.S. movie director who had a distinguished career with movies including “Cleopatra” and “The Ten Commandments,” dies of a heart ailment at 77.
Alfred Hitchcock will always be the Master of Suspense and John Ford the Poet Laureate of the American West. DeMille is remembered for something much simpler: putting bloody great things (ornate sets, crowds of extras, natural disasters, special effects, Charlton Heston’s chest, Claudette Colbert) in front of the camera and letting the audience know they’re getting their money’s worth. Read more
1959: Carl Switzer, U.S. child actor who played Alfalfa in the “Our Gang” series, dies of a gunshot wound at 31.
1955: Archie Hahn, U.S. athlete who was one of the great sprinters of the early 20th century, winning four Olympic gold medals, dies at 74.
1950: George Orwell, English author whose influential works include “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” dies of tuberculosis at 46.
1924: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Russian revolutionary leader, dies of a massive stroke at 53.