When Isabel Sanford took home an Emmy for her portrayal of Louise “Weezy” Jefferson on “The Jeffersons,”she became the first Black woman to win the Primetime Emmy for lead actress. We remember Sanford today and other notable people who died this day, July 9, in history.
2019: Rip Torn, Emmy-winning actor best known for his roles as Artie on television’s “The Larry Sanders Show” and as Chief Zed in the first two “Men in Black” movies, dies at 88.
2019: Ross Perot, self-made billionaire businessman who made headlines as he ran for president as an independent in 1992 and 1996, dies at 89.
2015: Christian Audigier, French fashion designer known for his Ed Hardy clothing line, dies at 57.
The typical Ford woman was tall, thin, often blond, with wide-set eyes and a long neck. Eileen Ford was known to tell hopefuls shorter than 5 foot 7 to give up their dreams. The Ford look changed remarkably little over the years, and set a standard for the industry. Today, height and a willowy build remain paramount, though Ford was disdainful of the “waif” look—typified by British model Kate Moss—that swept the industry in the early 1990s. Read more
2011: Würzel, English musician who was the guitarist in the heavy metal band Motorhead, dies at 61.
His crisp, stage-trained voice and no-nonsense appearance made him a natural for playing authority figures, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He was a judge in “God Is My Partner,” a prosecutor in “Call Northside 777,” a priest in “Date With an Angel” and a member of Clark Gable’s newspaper editorial board in “Teacher’s Pet.” Read more
2006: Milan Williams, U.S. keyboard player who was a founding member of the popular soul-funk band the Commodores, dies of cancer at 58.
Sanford began her career in nightclubs and amateur nights at the famed Apollo Theater in New York City, secretly performing against the wishes of her mother. After graduating high school, Sanford pursued her career onstage in New York, eventually relocating to Los Angeles, where actress Tallulah Bankhead personally invited her to join a touring stage show.
In 1967 she played a small but powerful role in the award-winning drama “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Co-starring with Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, Sanford played a maid—a role that, in another movie, might feel like a disappointing example of typecasting. But in this civil rights-era examination of prejudice and interracial relationships, Sanford’s Tillie became much more than the stereotypical Black maid of yore. She was a crucial piece of the movie’s puzzle, examining the relationship from a very different viewpoint from that of her employers.
Sanford’s portrayal got her noticed by Norman Lear who later cast her as Louise Jefferson in his new sitcom “All in the Family” and then in spinoff series “The Jeffersons.” Sanford would go on to win an Emmy for her performance, becoming the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy for lead actress. Read more
2002: Rod Steiger, U.S. actor whose movie appearances included “On the Waterfront,” “Doctor Zhivago,” and “In the Heat of the Night,” dies of pneumonia and tumor surgery complications at 77.
Steiger had performing in his blood. His mother had been part of a traveling song-and-dance vaudeville team before dropping out of showbiz after leaving Steiger’s father—the second half of the duo and a figure Steiger would never meet. With his mother increasingly suffering from alcoholism, Steiger ran away at 16 to join the Marines. After the war, he returned to the East Coast and began studying under the famous Stella Adler. Steiger starred in a handful of stage productions and then moved onto live TV dramas, where he landed his breakout role. Read more
1996: Melvin Belli, U.S. lawyer whose many celebrity clients included Lana Turner and the Rolling Stones, dies of pancreatic cancer at 88.
1992: Eric Sevareid, U.S. journalist known as a reporter and commentator for CBS News, dies of stomach cancer at 79.
1977: Alice Paul, U.S. women’s rights activist who helped lead a successful campaign for women’s suffrage that resulted in the passing of the 19th Amendment, dies at 92.
1974: Earl Warren, U.S. politician and jurist who was the chief justice of the United States from 1953 until 1969, dies at 83.
1951: Harry Heilmann, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder and first baseman who was one of the best hitters in baseball history, winning four American League batting titles and finishing with a career batting average of .342, dies of cancer at 56.
1932: King Gillette, U.S. businessman who was the founder of the Gillette Razor Co., dies at 77.
1850: Zachary Taylor, U.S. 12th president of the United States from 1849 until his death of a stomach ailment while in office, dies at 65.