Jimmy Dean may be the only person in the Country Music Hall of Fame who also appeared in a James Bond film and made a fortune selling sausage. We remember Dean’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Jimmy Dean may be the only person in the Country Music Hall of Fame who also appeared in a James Bond film and made a fortune selling sausage. Dean began his musical career in the early 1950s, performing pop and country music and scoring several hits. His natural charm and charisma led to television appearances, including his own afternoon show on CBS as well as guest-hosting “The Tonight Show.” In the 1960s he hosted “The Jimmy Dean Show” in prime time on ABC while still working as a recording artist. In 1969, he and his brother founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage Co., which flourished thanks in part to Dean’s role as it’s TV pitchman. His acting career included “Diamonds Are Forever” and myriad television appearances through the late 1980s. We remember Dean’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2014: Chuck Noll, U.S. professional football player and coach who was the longtime head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, dies at 82.
Noll’s 16-8 record in postseason play remains one of the best in league history. He retired in 1991 with a 209-156-1 record in 23 seasons, after inheriting a team that had never won a postseason game. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Noll worked so well with Steelers President Rooney that the team never felt the need to have a general manager. When he retired, and was replaced by Bill Cowher, only four other coaches or managers in modern U.S. pro sports history had run their teams longer than Noll had. Read more
2013: Sam Most, U.S. jazz flutist considered one of the all-time best, who played with Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Rich, dies of cancer at 82.
2012: Erica Kennedy, U.S. author and fashion journalist who blogged for Huffington Post, whose book “Bling” was a New York Times best-seller, dies at 42.
Throughout her career, Kennedy worked as a fashion publicist, journalist, blogger, brand consultant, and social media connector. She also wrote two novels, “Bling” and “Feminista.” Read more
2010: Jimmy Dean, U.S. country music singer and actor who had a hit song with “Big Bad John” and helped move country music into the mainstream with his television series “The Jimmy Dean Show,” and went on to found the Jimmy Dean Sausage Co., dies at 81.
Those who grew up in the 1980s are more likely to associate Dean with processed meat than country music. But before he became the sausage king of the South, the high school dropout from Plainview, Texas, had already enjoyed an enviable career in entertainment, recording numerous hit songs, launching the careers of Roy Clark and Patsy Cline, acting as a host on “The Tonight Show,” appearing on variety and game shows, acting on Fantasy Island, and even playing a friend of James Bond in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” Read more
He was an election-night fixture, with his whiteboard and scribbled figures, and was moderator for numerous political debates, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He wrote two best-selling books, including the much-loved “Big Russ and Me” about his relationship with his father. He was NBC’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief. Read more
2005: Lane Smith, U.S. actor known best for playing Perry White on “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” dies at 69.
Smith, who also played Richard Nixon in the TV movie “The Final Days” and Daily Planet editor Perry White in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” died at his home in Los Angeles, according to his wife, Debbie Benedict Smith. Born in Memphis, Smith appeared in numerous films and TV shows. He appeared in the 2000 movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” starring Will Smith and Matt Damon. Read more
2005: Jonathan Adams, English actor remembered best for his role as Dr. Everett Von Scott in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” dies of a stroke at 74.
2004: Ralph Wiley, U.S. sports journalist who wrote for Sports Illustrated and ESPN and served as a TV commentator for the latter, dies of a heart attack at 52.
2004: Dick Durrance, U.S. ski racer who was one of the first great American alpine skiers who raced in Europe and won 17 national titles, dies of natural causes at 89.
1993: Deke Slayton, U.S. astronaut who was one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts and flew into space at age 51, the oldest to do so, dies of complications from a brain tumor at 69.
1989: Fran Allison, U.S. radio and TV comedian well-known for her starring role in the children’s series “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie,” dies of a blood-related medical condition at 81.
Today, the pop-culture landscape is rich with children’s television that secretly (or not so secretly) entertains adults while still delighting children. Shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Adventure Time,” and “Sesame Street” manage to thread that needle thanks in large part to the example set by Fran Allison on the seminal show “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.” Read more
1987: Geraldine Page, U.S. actress who starred in “Sweet Bird of Youth” opposite Paul Newman and won an Oscar for her role in “The Trip to Bountiful,” dies of a heart attack at 62.
1986: Benny Goodman, U.S. jazz musician, clarinetist, and bandleader who was known as the King of Swing and whose band was one of the most popular during the big band era, dies of a heart attack at 77.
Goodman was a huge influence on the jazz world in many ways. He ushered in the swing era, bringing jazz from shadowy clubs into the nation’s spotlight and bringing fame to the musicians, like Gene Krupa, who played with him. He was an early integrator of jazz, inviting black musicians like Lionel Hampton to play with him regardless of the fact that segregated society still frowned upon such pairings. And he launched the musical careers of many who would go on to become legends themselves. Read more
1979: Darla Hood, U.S. child actress and singer who was well-known for starring as Darla in the “Our Gang” series and enjoyed a career as an adult doing voice-overs and commercials, dies of heart failure at 47.
1977: Matthew Garber, English child actor known best for his role as Michael Banks in the movie “Mary Poppins,” dies of pancreatitis at 21.
1972: Clyde McPhatter, U.S. rhythm and blues vocalist who formed the hit vocal group the Drifters and then went on to a solo career that included the hit song “A Lover’s Question,” dies at 39.
1946: Edward Bowes, U.S. radio personality who was the host of the popular talent show “Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour,” dies the day before his 72nd birthday.