George Carlin was a giant of comedy, widely considered among the very best stand-up comedians of all time. We remember Carlin’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
George Carlin was a giant of comedy, widely considered among the very best stand-up comedians of all time. He was seen frequently on “The Tonight Show” and on HBO specials, and he hosted the first episode of “Saturday Night Live.” His “seven dirty words” routine provided a template for a generation of profane comics, but Carlin could play it clean, too, as when he starred in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and narrated the children’s show “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.” In 2008, just after his death, he became the first posthumous honoree of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. We remember Carlin’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2018: Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer for the metal band Pantera, dies at 54.
2015: James Horner, U.S. composer known for his film scores for many movies including “Titanic,” dies at 61.
2015: Buddy Landel, U.S. professional wrestler known as Nature Boy, dies at 53.
2014: Steve Rossi, U.S. comedian known best as one-half of the comedy duo Allen & Rossi along with Marty Allen, dies at 82.
The duo appeared regularly on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” and “The Merv Griffin Show.” They also toured comedy clubs nationwide and headlined shows at major Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s until they split up in 1968, the Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported. They also famously appeared on Ed Sullivan‘s show multiple times with the Beatles. “Everyone remembers those shows with the Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” Marty Allen told the Sun. “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.” Read more
2013: Gary David Goldberg, U.S. television producer and writer known for creating the hit sitcom “Family Ties,” dies of brain cancer three days before his 69th birthday.
Goldberg’s films included “Dad” (1989), starring Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, as well as “Bye Bye Love” (1995) and “Must Love Dogs” (2005), which he wrote as well as directed. His own dog, Ubu, contributed the name of his production company and was widely known from the on-screen credit where viewers heard the command, “Sit, Ubu, sit,” then a bark, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2008: Dody Goodman, U.S. character actress known for her role as the mother on the television show “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” dies at 93.
Goodman, with her pixyish appearance and Southern-tinged, quavery voice, had an eclectic show-business career, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. She moved easily from stage to television to movies, where she appeared in such popular films as “Grease” and “Grease 2,” playing Blanche, the principal’s assistant, and in “Splash.” It was on “The Tonight Show” when Jack Paar was the late night TV program’s second host in the late 1950s that Goodman first received national attention, the obituary said. Her quirky, off-kilter remarks inevitably got laughs and endeared audiences. Read more
2008: George Carlin, U.S. comedian, actor, and writer who won five Grammy awards for his comedy albums and starred in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” dies of heart failure at 71.
His 1972 “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television” got Carlin arrested, prompted a U.S. Supreme Court censorship case, and endeared Carlin to a baby boomer audience that was ready to push the boundaries of good taste in the name of free speech. Profanity made Carlin famous, but as his earliest fans grew up and got serious, he used a new tactic to attract new generations: good, clean fun. Read more
2007: Nancy Benoit, U.S. professional wrestling manager who at one time managed top wrestlers such as Ric Flair and Randy Savage, dies in a double murder-suicide at 43.
2002: Eppie Lederer, U.S. advice columnist known by her pen name Ann Landers, whose readership numbered 90 million, dies months after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma at 83.
“Ask Ann Landers” was popular under Ruth Crowley’s care, but it became a sensation in the hands of Lederer. The advice veteran (she and her twin sister, Pauline “Dear Abby” Phillips, wrote a similar column for their college paper, and Pauline’s daughter Jeanne carries on the family tradition as the current Dear Abby) helped the lovelorn, the upset, and the confused, expanding the column’s syndication from just a few newspapers to hundreds. Read more
1997: Don Henderson, English actor known for playing General Tagge in the first “Star Wars” movie, dies at 65.
1993: Pat Nixon, first lady of the United States from 1969 until 1974, who was the wife of President Richard Nixon, dies at 81.
1992: Chuck Mitchell, U.S. actor known best for his role as Porky in the cult classic movie “Porky’s,” dies of cirrhosis of the liver at 64.
1990: Kripp Johnson, U.S. singer who was an original member of the doo-wop group the Del-Vikings, who had a hit song in 1957 with “Come Go With Me,” dies at 54.
1988: Dennis Day, U.S. singer and actor known best as a regular cast member on the long-running “Jack Benny Program” on radio and television, dies of Lou Gehrig‘s disease at 72.
Though Fred and Ginger danced beautifully together, Astaire was initially reluctant to be her regular partner. Having grown up dancing, he knew what it was like to be one-half of a dance team – he and his sister Adele danced together for more than 20 years on stages from London to Broadway. When that partnership ended upon Adele’s marriage, Astaire didn’t want to be tied to one partner again. Eventually he relented, and Astaire and Rogers became staples of the silver screen. Read more
1984: Joseph Losey, U.S. director known best for his films “M” and “The Damned,” dies at 75 after a brief illness.
1981: Lola Lane, U.S. singer and actress who performed in a singing group with her sisters called the Lane Sisters and then acted in movies such as “Four Daughters” and “Gangs of Chicago,” dies of arterial disease at 75.
1979: Emory Parnell, U.S. character actor known best for his recurring role as Hank Hawkins on “The Life of Riley,” dies of a heart attack at 86.
Though she appeared in more than 40 films, won Golden Globe awards, received Oscar and Emmy nominations, won a special Tony Award, and two Grammys during her lifetime, Garland is still remembered best as the simple Kansas farm girl swept away to the magical, frightening land of Oz. Read more
Selznick (who’d added the “O.” to his name on a whim) was behind Gene Kelly‘s first Hollywood contract, as well as that of Fred Astaire. He gave Katharine Hepburn and Joan Fontaine their breakout roles, brought Ingrid Bergman and Louis Jourdan from Europe, and cast Vivien Leigh in what would be not only his biggest picture, but also one of the most popular of all time, 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.” Read more
1928: George Siegmann, U.S. film actor who was successful in the silent era, appearing in more than 100 films, including “Birth of a Nation,” dies at 46.