John Wayne, better known as the Duke, was a top box-office draw for 30 years. We remember Wayne’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
John Wayne, better known as the Duke, was a top box-office draw for 30 years. Wayne was an American legend known for his tough, rugged persona. He appeared in 83 Western movies during his film career. He became an instant star from his leading role in John Ford’s “Stagecoach” in 1939, and he won an Oscar for his role in the movie “True Grit” in 1969. We remember Wayne’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Ornette Coleman, U.S. jazz saxophonist who was one of the innovators of the free-jazz movement, dies at 85.
Coleman is regarded as one of the greatest innovators in jazz history along with Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. In the late 1950s, he originated free jazz, challenging the bebop establishment by abandoning the conventional song form and liberating musicians to freely improvise off of the melody rather than the underlying chord changes. Read more
2015: Dusty Rhodes, U.S. professional wrestler better known as the American Dream, dies at 69.
2015: Jim Ed Brown, U.S. country music singer who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was known for his group the Browns, dies at 81.
Dee’s long career earned her an Emmy, a Grammy, two Screen Actors Guild awards, the NAACP Image Award, Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Art, and the National Civil Rights Museum’s award for lifetime achievement. She got an Oscar nomination at age 83 for best supporting actress for her role in the 2007 film “American Gangster.” The Rev. Al Sharpton called her “a phenomenally rare artist and a jewel to our nation and community,” and director Spike Lee took to Instagram to say he was “crushed” to learn of her death. He said it was one of his “great blessings in life to work with two of the finest artists and activists – Ruby and Ossie.” Read more
2013: Miller Barber, U.S. professional golfer who won 11 titles on the PGA Tour and 24 titles on the Senior PGA Tour, dies of lymphoma at 82.
Known for his unusual swing that featured a flying right elbow, the two-time Ryder Cup player had his best chance to win a major championship in the 1969 U.S. Open at the Champions Club outside Houston. But after taking a three-stroke lead into the final round, he closed with a 78 to finish three shots behind winner Orville Moody. Read more
2012: Teofilo Stevenson, Cuban heavyweight boxer who won three Olympic gold medals, dies of a heart attack at 60.
As his accomplishments grew, boxing fans began salivating over the prospect of a “fight of the century” pitting him against Muhammad Ali. But Cuba insisted that he not lose his amateur status, so the bout never took place. Read more
2012: Ann Rutherford, Canadian-born U.S. actress known best for playing Carreen O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” and for her role as Polly Benedict, the girlfriend of Mickey Rooney in the “Andy Hardy” movies, dies of heart failure at 94.
The “Andy Hardy” series, a hugely popular string of comical, sentimental films, featured Rooney as a spirited teen. Rutherford first appeared in the second film of the series, “You’re Only Young Once,” and went on for 11 more. She played Polly Benedict, the ever-faithful girlfriend Rooney always returned to after a more glamorous girl caught his eye. (Among the other girls: Judy Garland and Lana Turner.) It was said Rutherford won the part of Carreen, the youngest of the three O’Hara sisters in “Gone With the Wind,” because Garland was filming “The Wizard of Oz.” Read more
2007: Mala Powers, U.S. actress who played Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac and appeared in more than 100 television series, including “Bonanza” and “Perry Mason,” dies of leukemia complications at 75.
Based in Washington and focusing on politics, Brinkley was known for his gentlemanly manner, wry wit, and, as an incident with President Bill Clinton illustrated, occasional suffer-no-fools bluntness. Playing against such refinement were a boyish appearance and a jerky style of delivery that suggested a mild case of hiccups. “If I was to start today I probably couldn’t get a job,” Brinkley once said, “because I don’t look like what people think an anchorperson should look like.” Read more
1999: DeForest Kelley, U.S. actor well-known for his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the sci-fi television series “Star Trek,” who also appeared in episodes of “The Donna Reed Show” and “Route 66,” dies of stomach cancer at 79.
Before Kelley died June 11, 1999, at 79, the actor known best for his portrayal of Dr. Leonard McCoy on the TV series “Star Trek” told an interviewer he hoped his character’s catchphrase – “He’s dead, Jim” – did not appear on his headstone. Read more
1996: Brigitte Helm, German actress who starred in the silent-film sci-fi classic “Metropolis,” dies at 90.
1994: Herbert Anderson, U.S. character actor known best for playing Henry Mitchell, the father in the sitcom “Dennis the Menace,” who also had guest roles on various other shows including “My Three Sons,” “Bewitched,” and “Petticoat Junction,” dies at 77.
1993: Ray Sharkey, U.S. actor known best for his role in the movie “The Idolmaker” and his regular role on the TV series “Wiseguy,” dies of AIDS complications at 40.
1988: Nathan Cook, U.S. actor known best for playing Milton Reese, one of the high school basketball players on the TV series “The White Shadow,” dies after having an allergic reaction to penicillin at 38.
1985: Karen Ann Quinlan, U.S. woman who fell into a coma and sparked a landmark case regarding her parents’ legal battle for the right to remove her from life support, dies at 31.
Quinlan’s mother, Julia Quinlan, said an important part of her daughter’s legacy is lesser known. The Quinlan family started a hospice bearing their daughter’s name in 1980. It is still operational and is expanding, with the Karen Ann Quinlan Home for Hospice in New Jersey. Read more
1982: Al Rinker, U.S. singer who formed the group the Rhythm Boys with Bing Crosby before Crosby left to embark on a successful solo career, dies at 74.
1979: John Wayne, U.S. actor, director, and producer who was among the top box-office draws for three decades and whose movies include “The Searchers,” “Rio Bravo,” and “True Grit,” dies of stomach cancer at 72.
Wayne needs no introduction. Even more than 30 years after his death, he remains one of the all-time most popular actors, and many of his countless films are beloved classics. We know him as a man’s man who took no guff. And he was at his best playing archetypal tough guys – most notably, gunslingers, and war heroes. Read more
1966: Wallace Ford, English-born U.S. actor who appeared in 13 John Ford movies, dies at 68.
1936: Robert E. Howard, U.S. author who created “Conan the Barbarian,” who appeared in numerous stories in the pulp magazine “Weird Tales,” dies by suicide at 30.