Peter Cook, the British comedian and satirist, helped establish anti-establishment comedy in the U.K., an irony he most likely enjoyed. We remember Cook’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Peter Cook, the British comedian and satirist, helped establish anti-establishment comedy in the U.K., an irony he most likely enjoyed. At his Soho cabaret, The Establishment, Cook welcomed jazz musicians, comics, and all sorts of performers who questioned the status quo of Britain in the 1960s. As a young man, he appeared frequently on radio, television, and in newspapers, but in his later years, he became less and less visible, performing rarely and writing less. His career seemed to be on an upswing in the late 1980s, but heavy drinking, fueled by grief over his mother’s death, led to his untimely death at 57. He remains a revered figure among British comedians, and apparently among astronomers, as a minor planet in the asteroid belt was named in his honor in 1999. We remember Cook’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2016: Angus Scrimm, U.S. actor best known for playing the Tall Man in the “Phantasm” horror movies, dies at 89.
2015: Bud Paxson, U.S. co-founder of the Home Shopping Network, dies at 79.
2014: Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones, U.S. poet known for poems including “The Music: Reflection on Jazz and Blues,” dies at 79.
Perhaps no writer of the 1960s and ’70s was more radical or polarizing than the former LeRoi Jones, and no one did more to extend the political debates of the civil rights era to the world of the arts, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He inspired at least one generation of poets, playwrights, and musicians, and his immersion in spoken word traditions and raw street language anticipated rap, hip-hop, and slam poetry. The FBI feared him to the point of flattery, identifying Baraka as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the Pan-African movement in the United States.” Read more
2013: James M. Buchanan, U.S. economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1986, dies at 93.
He remains in my memories as a thinker who cherished curiosity and the passion of sharing thoughts and discussing ideas for the sheer joy of intellectual engagement. Personally, he is a strong reason for me to remain content about being an old-fashion scholar. Two traits of his, rare in the world, are what I shall remember him for: an admirable clarity of mind until the very last days and a never-ending thirst for the pleasure of thinking. Read more
2012: Bridie Gallagher, Irish singer affectionately known as the Girl From Donegal who was widely regarded as Ireland’s first international pop star, dies at 87.
2008: Johnny Grant, U.S. radio personality who served as the honorary mayor of Hollywood and hosted the unveiling of new stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, dies of apparent natural causes at 84.
Grant’s mission in life was bringing the Hollywood story to everyone. He hosted red carpet Oscar arrivals and Walk of Fame festivities, appeared in bit parts in movies, and produced Hollywood’s annual Christmas Parade, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “I feel I have been the luckiest guy in the world,” he often said. “It’s been a pretty good ride.” Read more
2003: Will McDonough, U.S. sports journalist for The Boston Globe who specialized in football, dies of a heart attack at 67.
1998: Walter Diemer, U.S. accountant for the Fleer Corp. who invented Dubble Bubble bubble gum, dies of heart failure the day after his 94th birthday.
1996: Fearless Mary Nadia Wadia, Australian actress and stuntwoman who is most remembered as the masked, cloaked adventurer in the Indian film “Hunterwali,” dies the day after her 88th birthday.
1995: Peter Cook, English comedian and actor who had a successful comedy duo with Dudley Moore, dies of a gastrointestinal bleed at 57.
1994: Silas Hogan, U.S. blues singer and guitarist, dies at 82.
1992: Steve Brodie, U.S. actor who appeared in two Elvis Presley films, “Blue Hawaii” and “Roustabout,” dies of cancer at 72.
1989: Bill Terry, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the New York Giants who had a career .341 batting average, dies at 90.
1987: Arthur Lake, U.S. actor known best for playing Dagwood in the “Blondie” movies and television series, dies of a heart attack at 81.
1979: Sara Carter, U.S. country music singer who was a member of the Carter Family, dies of a heart condition at 80.
1972: Ted Shawn, U.S. dancer who was a pioneer of modern dance, dies at 80.
1971: Elmer Flick, U.S. Hall of Fame outfielder who led the American League in stolen bases in 1904 and 1906, dies two days shy of his 95th birthday.
1961: Emily Greene Balch, U.S. writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, dies the day after her 94th birthday.
1946: Countee Cullen, U.S. African-American poet who was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, dies of high blood pressure at 42.
1936: John Gilbert, U.S. film actor who was a major star during the silent era, dies of a heart attack at 38.
1848: Caroline Herschel, German astronomer who was the first woman to be paid for her contributions to science, dies at 97.