We remember Canadian wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and other famous people who died this day, July 31, in history.
2020: Alan Parker, British film director known for movies including “Midnight Express,” “Mississippi Burning,” and “Bugsy Malone,” dies at 76.
2019: Hal Prince, legendary producer and director who won a record-breaking 21 Tony Awards, dies at 91.
2017: Jeanne Moreau, acclaimed French actress who starred in director Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim,” dies at 89.
2015: Roddy Piper, Canadian professional wrestler known for his rivalry with Hulk Hogan, dies at 61.
2013: Michael Ansara, U.S. actor known best for starring on the television series “Broken Arrow” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” dies after a long illness at 91.
Ansara appeared on dozens of TV shows, including “Broken Arrow,” “Law of the Plainsman,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Hawaii 5-0,” and “Murder, She Wrote,” according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His film credits include “Julius Caesar,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and “The Comancheros” with John Wayne. Read more
2013: Alvis Wayne, U.S. rockabilly singer who developed a cult following in the U.K., dies at 75.
2012: Gore Vidal, U.S. writer who penned the novel “Myra Breckinridge,” co-wrote the screenplay for the movie “Ben-Hur,” and was known for his political commentary, dies at 86.
Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities — fixtures on talk shows and in gossip columns, personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn’t read their books knew who they were. His works included hundreds of essays; the best-selling novels “Lincoln” and “Myra Breckenridge;” the groundbreaking “The City and the Pillar,” among the first novels about openly gay characters; and the Tony-nominated play “The Best Man,” revived on Broadway in 2012, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2009: Harry Alan Towers, English movie producer and writer who was known for his many B-movies, including “The Brides of Fu Manchu” and “Venus in Furs,” dies at 88.
2004: Virginia Grey, U.S. actress who appeared in many movies and guest-starred on many television shows, including “Another Thin Man” and “Ironside,” dies at 87.
1988: Trinidad Silva, U.S. comedian and character actor who had a recurring role on the television drama “Hill Street Blues” and appeared in the movie “Colors,” dies in an auto accident at 38.
1987: Joseph E. Levine, U.S. movie producer whose films include “The Graduate,” “A Bridge Too Far,” and “The Lion in Winter,” dies after a short illness at 81.
1986: Teddy Wilson, U.S. jazz pianist who played with Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, and with Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Trio, becoming one of the first African-American musicians to perform in a prominent racially integrated group, dies at 73.
1980: Bobby Van, U.S. singer and actor who starred in the movies “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis” and hosted the game show “Make Me Laugh,” dies of cancer at 51.
1968: Gertrude Short, U.S. film actress during the silent era who appeared in more than 100 movies, starring with Lionel Barrymore and John Gilbert in “The Show,” dies at 66.
1966: Bud Powell, U.S. jazz pianist who was a leader in the development of bebop along with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, dies at 41.
1965: James Rennie, Canadian film actor who was a leading man in the silent era and then a character actor in the talkies, and was married at one time to actress Dorothy Gish, dies at 75.
1964: Jim Reeves, U.S. country music singer-songwriter known as Gentleman Jim who had many hit songs with the Nashville sound, dies at 40 in the crash of a plane he was flying.
Gentleman Jim became an international celebrity creating the music that would come to rule Nashville. As the Nashville sound evolved, the humming background singers evident in “Four Walls” were joined by lush string sections that smoothed out the music – and brought it even further from its country roots. The full Nashville sound helped propel Reeves’s “Twelve Songs of Christmas” album to classic status. Read more
1886: Franz Liszt, Hungarian composer and pianist who was highly influential and considered one of the great pianists of all time, dies at 74.
1875: Andrew Johnson, U.S. politician who was the 17th president of the United States, serving from 1865 until 1869, dies at 66.