Sonny Bono shot to stardom as the shorter half of the Sonny and Cher music and comedy team. We remember Bono’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Sonny Bono shot to stardom as the shorter half of the Sonny and Cher music and comedy team. He became a household name thanks to the couple’s popular variety show and their catchy pop songs. Also known as a prolific actor, Bono eventually turned to a life of public service as mayor of Palm Springs, California, and represented the state’s 44th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s. His political career was cut short when he died in 1998 of injuries sustained while skiing. After his death, the U.S. Senate passed the “Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” in his memory, finishing work he had championed in the House. We remember Bono’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2018: John Young, astronaut who walked on the moon and commanded the first space shuttle flight, dies at 87.
2018: Thomas Bopp, astronomer who co-discovered the Hale-Bopp comet, dies at 68.
2015: Pierre Boulez, French composer and conductor who was a major figure in classical music, dies at 90.
2012: Don Carter, U.S. professional bowler who was bowler of the year six times, dies of pneumonia complications at 85.
Carter, known as Mr. Bowling, was the game’s original superstar. He became his sport’s most recognizable name at a time when bowling alleys were thriving across the country and the sport was starting to assert itself as a TV fixture. Carter was a leading force in the formation of the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958 and became a charter member of the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975. Read more
2010: Murray Saltzman, U.S. rabbi and civil rights leader who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at many civil rights demonstrations, dies of pancreatic cancer at 80.
2009: Ned Tanen, U.S. movie executive whose projects included “American Graffiti” and “Animal House,” dies of natural causes at 77.
2005: Danny Sugerman, U.S. music manager and author who managed the Doors, dies of lung cancer at 50.
2004: Tug McGraw, U.S. Major League Baseball player who was a left-handed relief pitcher for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, and the father of country music star Tim McGraw, dies of brain cancer at 59.
In late 2013, a team of wounded military veterans reached the South Pole after four weeks of challenges that included temperatures as low as minus 45, winds of 50 mph, and shifting ice shelves. At the end of the journey, they posed with their sleds, which were emblazoned with baseball star Tug McGraw’s catchphrase, “Ya gotta believe!” Tug McGraw Foundation CEO Jennifer Brusstar teared up when the photo came through on her mobile phone. Ten years after McGraw’s death, he was still making a difference in the world. Read more
2004: Charles Dumas, U.S. Olympic athlete who won a gold medal in the high jump in the 1956 Olympics, dies of cancer at 66.
2003: Jean Kerr, U.S. author known best for “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” dies of pneumonia at 80.
2001: Nancy Parsons, U.S. actress known best for her role as Beulah Ballbricker in the “Porky’s” movies, dies of diabetes at 58.
1998: Ken Forssi, U.S. musician who was a member of the rock band Love, dies of a brain tumor at 54.
1998: Sonny Bono, U.S. singer and actor who achieved major commercial success as part of the husband-and-wife singing duo Sonny and Cher and later became a congressman representing a district in California, dies at 62 after crashing into a tree while skiing.
As Sonny and Cher’s popularity began to wane in the face of psychedelia, Bono took the act to Vegas and began to reimagine them as a comedy duo. He wrote both Cher’s barbs and his own genial replies, hoping his humor could help put their music back in the public eye. The Vegas act stalled for a while, but eventually the right people noticed it and brought the pair to TV. “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” proved an immediate hit and stayed wildly popular … until their marriage exploded. Read more
1994: Tip O’Neill, U.S. politician who was the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987, dies at 82.
1991: John Eckhardt, U.S. freak show performer and actor who was billed as the Amazing Half Boy, dies at 79.
1990: Arthur Kennedy, U.S. stage and film actor who co-starred in “The Man from Laramie,” dies at 75.
1988: “Pistol Pete” Maravich, U.S. college and professional basketball player who became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history while playing for LSU, and also played in the NBA and is a member of the Hall of Fame, dies of a heart attack at 40.
1982: Harvey Lembeck, U.S. actor known for “The Phil Silvers Show” and as biker Eric Von Zipper in the “Beach Party” movies, dies of a heart attack at 58.
1982: Hans Conried, U.S. actor who was the voice of Snidely Whiplash on “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” dies at 64.
1979: Charles Mingus, U.S., highly influential jazz bassist, composer, and orchestra leader, dies at 56.
Mingus died in 1979 after a long bout with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He left behind a discography filled with inspiring (albeit sometimes freaky) compositions, ramrod bass solos, anger, joy, madness, humor, and a whole bunch of young acolytes; Avishai Cohen, Carlos Henriquez, Dwayne Burno, Ugonna Okegwo, and Eric Revis are among this generation’s bassists who have clearly transcribed a Mingus solo or two. Read more
1963: Rogers Hornsby, U.S. Hall of Fame Major League Baseball player who had an amazing career batting average of .358 over 23 seasons, dies of a heart ailment at 66.
1922: Ernest H. Shackleton, British explorer well-known for his expeditions to the Antarctic, dies of a heart attack while on an expedition at 47.