Eileen Brennan won over audiences as Doreen Lewis in “Private Benjamin.” We remember Brennan’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Eileen Brennan won over audiences as Doreen Lewis in “Private Benjamin.” She picked up an Oscar nomination for the part, then won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing her again in the television adaptation, which is a rare, if not unique, achievement for an actor. She was the prim and proper Mrs. Peacock in the cult film hit “Clue,” and she turned in great performances in classic films like “The Sting” and “The Last Picture Show.” On Broadway, she played Irene Malloy in the original production of “Hello, Dolly!” We remember Brennan’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2014: James Shigeta, U.S. actor known for roles in “Flower Drum Song” and “Die Hard,” dies at 85.
Shigeta made a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s first prominent Asian-American leading men. After studying drama at New York University and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, Shigeta found fame in America through such films as “Midway,” “Flower Drum Song,” the first “Die Hard,” and “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.” Shigeta’s distinctive voice also brought him great success in Japan, despite his inability to speak the language when he first arrived, earning the actor-crooner the nickname the Sinatra of Japan. Read more
2014: Margo Adler, U.S. journalist and author who was a correspondent for National Public Radio, dies of endometrial cancer at 68.
Adler reported the news many of us would otherwise miss. The veteran NPR journalist’s main beat was New York City, but her reports covered all corners of American life in her decades on the air. She also was an accomplished author, writing on neo-paganism, of which she was a proud practitioner and advocate, as well as our culture’s obsession with vampires. Read more
2013: George Scott, U.S. Major League Baseball first baseman who was a three-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove winner, dies at 69.
2013: Eileen Brennan, U.S. actress who starred in the movie and television series “Private Benjamin” and also guest-starred on “Taxi” and “thirtysomething,” dies of bladder cancer at 80.
It was a series of sharp-tongued roles that won Brennan fans on TV and in movies, including gruff Army Captain Doreen Lewis in 1980’s “Private Benjamin,” aloof Mrs. Peacock in 1985’s “Clue,” and mean orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in 1988’s “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.” “I love meanies, and this goes back to Captain Lewis in ‘Private Benjamin,'” Brennan said in a 1988 interview with The Associated Press. Read more
2009: Reverend Ike, U.S. minister who was featured nationally on radio and television, dies at 74.
Reverend Ike preached the power of what he called “positive self-image psychology” to his 5,000 parishioners at the United Church Science of Living Institute. The church was housed in a former movie theater in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood. In the 1970s, Reverend Ike was one of the first evangelists to reach an audience of millions through television. “This is the do-it-yourself church,” he proclaimed, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “The only savior in this philosophy is God in you.” Read more
1989: Jeff Richards, U.S. actor who starred on the television Western series “Jefferson Drum” and in the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” dies at 64.
1985: Grant Williams, U.S. actor who starred in the cult classic movie “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and on the television series “Hawaiian Eye,” dies at 53.
1972: Helen Traubel, U.S. opera and concert singer who sang for the Metropolitan Opera and appeared on television and in movies, dies of a heart attack at 73.
1969: Frank Loesser, U.S. songwriter who wrote the lyrics and music for the Broadway hits “Guys and Dolls” and “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” dies of lung cancer at 59.
1934: Marie Dressler, Canadian-born U.S. film actress who was a star during the silent era and played the title role in the first full-length screen comedy, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” opposite Charlie Chaplin, dies of cancer at 65.
1750: Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer of the Baroque period who was considered one of the greatest composers in history, dies at 65.
1741: Antonio Vivaldi, Italian composer who was considered one of the great composers of the Baroque period along with Johann Sebastian Bach and is known for “The Four Seasons,” a series of violin concertos, dies at 63.
1655: Cyrano de Bergerac, French playwright whose works are classics of early science fiction and whose life was fictionalized in the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand in 1897 about Cyrano’s love for a woman named Roxanne, which has been adapted for film many times, dies at 36.