Louis Armstrong was one of the most popular and influential entertainers of the 20th century. We remember Armstrong’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2020: Charlie Daniels, legendary country rocker known for the hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” dies at 83.
2019: Joao Gilberto, Brazilian guitarist and singer who was a pioneer of bossa nova music, dies at 88.
2015: Jerry Weintraub, U.S. talent agent, concert promoter, and movie producer who won three Emmy awards, dies at 77.
Weintraub worked with the most famous of stars—Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, George Clooney, Brad Pitt—and was a close friend of former president George H.W. Bush. He relished his insider status, just as they savored the stories that eagerly poured out of him. Read more
2010: Harvey Fuqua, U.S. singer-songwriter, producer, and record label executive who was a founding member of the vocal group the Moonglows and later became a top executive at Motown Records, dies of a heart attack at 80.
The Louisville, Kentucky, native founded the rhythm and blues, doo-wop group the Moonglows, which signed with disc jockey Alan Freed. The group’s first single was the 1954 hit “Sincerely.” Fuqua added Marvin Gaye and others in 1958 to a reconstituted group Fuqua called Harvey and the Moonglows. It had the 1958 hit with “Ten Commandments of Love.” Read more
2006: Kasey Rogers, U.S. actress known best for playing Louise Tate on “Bewitched,” who also had a starring role in “Strangers on a Train,” dies following a stroke at 80.
2005: Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter), U.S. author and screenwriter known best for his popular detective novels based on the “87th Precinct,” who also wrote the screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock classic “The Birds,” dies of cancer of the larynx at 78.
2004: Jimmie F. Skaggs, U.S. actor who appeared in many movies and on television shows, including “Catch Me If You Can” and “Monk,” dies of lung cancer at 59.
2004: Syreeta Wright, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for her work with her ex-husband, Stevie Wonder, but who also had a top-10 hit song, “With You I’m Born Again,” with Billy Preston in 1980, dies of congestive heart failure at 57.
2003: Buddy Ebsen, U.S. actor known for his starring roles on TV’s “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Barnaby Jones,” dies of pneumonia at 95.
Ebsen’s greatest successes were on television, and he starred or co-starred on hit TV shows in the 1950s (as Davy Crockett’s sidekick Georgie, alongside Fess Parker), 1960s (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) and 1970s (as private detective Barnaby Jones). But he began his performing career as a dancer, one-half of a brother-sister act, and though he’s remembered best for nonmusical roles, he was always a hoofer at heart. Read more
2002: John Frankenheimer, U.S. director whose highly regarded movies included “Birdman of Alcatraz,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and “Grand Prix,” dies of a stroke following spinal surgery at 72.
2000: Wladyslaw Szpilman, Polish classical pianist and composer whose story of survival in the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust was told in the book and movie “The Pianist,” dies at 88.
Though Rogers was born in Cincinnati, he discovered the Wild West when he moved to California in his teens. He also discovered his calling there, while working as a fruit picker during the Great Depression and living in a campsite along with other temporary workers. Times were hard and the work was cruel, but Rogers discovered that everyone’s spirits were raised when he played his guitar and sang in the evening as everyone sat around the campfire. He was inspired by the response and decided to pursue his fortune in music. Read more
1980: Gail Patrick, U.S. actress in the 1930s and ’40s who appeared in “My Man Godfrey” and “My Favorite Wife,” dies of leukemia at 69.
1979: Van McCoy, U.S. musician, songwriter, and record producer who had a hit song in 1975 with “The Hustle” and produced songs for such artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, dies of a heart attack at 39.
While the name Van McCoy might not spark immediate recognition, people of a certain age do know the song and dance that made him famous: “The Hustle.” Released in 1975 on the album “Disco Baby,” the single went on to sell 10 million copies, making it the biggest dance hit of the 1970s, according to The Washington Post. Read more
1973: Patrick McVey, U.S. actor who starred in three television series in the 1950s, “Big Town,” “Boots and Saddles,” and “Manhunt,” dies at 63.
1973: Joe E. Brown, U.S. comedian and actor who was one of the most popular comedians in the 1930s and ’40s, dies at 81.
1972: Brandon deWilde, U.S. actor who had a starring role as a child in the Western classic “Shane” and starred on his own TV sitcom, “Jamie,” dies in a car accident at 30.
1971: Louis Armstrong, raspy-voiced U.S. jazz trumpeter and singer who was one of the most popular jazz performers of all time and was well-known for his hit song “What a Wonderful World,” dies of a heart attack at 69.
Known as Satchmo, he was famed for his trumpet playing, his gravelly voice and fantastic scat singing, and his seemingly ever-present big smile. His hit songs included “Stardust,” “Ain’t Misbehaving,” and “Hello, Dolly!” His rendition of “What a Wonderful World” is a timeless classic. Armstrong was one of the first Black performers to be widely accepted by White audiences, and he used his prominent position to speak out against segregation in the 1950s. Read more
1962: William Faulkner, Nobel Prize-winning U.S. author considered one of the most important writers in American literature, whose novels included “The Sound and the Fury,” dies at 64.
1961: Scott LaFaro, U.S. jazz double bassist known best for his work with the influential Bill Evans Trio, dies in a car accident at 25.