Dana Reeve built a name for herself as an actress, singer and briefly as a writer, in addition to her more highly visible role as an advocate for people with disabilities. We remember Reeve’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Dana Reeve built a name for herself as an actress, singer and briefly as a writer, in addition to her more highly visible role as an advocate for people with disabilities. Along with her husband, Christopher, Reeve championed efforts to improve the physical and mental well-being of people living with spinal injuries and other crippling disabilities. After her husband’s death, she continued to lead their foundation and carry on the mission in his memory. Her own life also was cut short in 2006 by lung cancer, despite never having smoked. We remember Reeve’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2017: Robert Osborne, the former actor who was known best as the longtime host of Turner Classic Movies, dies at 84.
2016: Nancy Reagan, U.S. actress and former first lady of the United States, dies at 94.
As the nation’s first lady, she brought glamour to the White House that echoed that of the Kennedy administration, becoming known for her personal style and meticulous decoration and renovation of the White House. Also of key importance to her eight years as the first lady was her “Just Say No” campaign against recreational drugs. Read more
In an earlier version, Audrey Meadows starred with Jackie Gleason as lovebirds and sparring partners Ralph and Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners. MacRae replaced Meadows as Alice in a later version from 1966-70 on The Jackie Gleason Show. MacRae was the last survivor from the ’60s edition of the Gleason show. Jane Kean, who played Trixie Norton, died in 2013. Read more
2013: Alvin Lee, English rocker known best as the lead singer of the band Ten Years After, dies at 68.
The Nottingham, England-born Lee founded the band Ten Years After in 1967. The group first toured the U.S. in 1967, but its popularity exploded following Lee’s rousing performance of the song “I’m Going Home” at Woodstock in 1969. Lee’s epic and electrifying solos on his Gibson guitar for the 11-minute performance were immortalized in the documentary film about the legendary festival. Read more
2013: Stompin’ Tom Connors, Canadian country musician and one of Canada’s best-known country stars, dies at 77.
Dubbed Stompin’ Tom for his habit of pounding the floor with his left foot during performances, Connors garnered a devoted following through straight-ahead country-folk tunes that drew inspiration from his extensive travels around Canada, dating back to his itinerant teenage years when he roamed the country working one job or another. The country that Connors celebrated in song was strangely ignored by other Canadian songwriters, he often said. “I don’t know why I seem to be the only one, or almost the only one, writing about this country,” Connors said in 2008. “This country is the most underwritten country in the world as far as songs are concerned. We starve. The people in this country are starving for songs about their homeland.” Read more
2012: Donald Payne, U.S. politician and congressman for New Jersey from 1989 until 2012, dies at 77.
Payne had been chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a congressional delegate to the United Nations. He also served on the Newark City Council from 1982 until 1988 and taught in Newark for 15 years. He also served as president of the Y. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University in 1957. He was remembered by his congressional colleagues for his work on human rights and on behalf of poor people. Read more
2010: Mark Linkous, U.S. musician who was the creative force behind the band Sparklehorse, commits suicide at 47.
Linkous was a popular collaborator and respected artist who was a festival favorite. His highly anticipated album with Danger Mouse, Dark Night of the Soul, had been held up by legal issues but eventually was cleared for release. Filmmaker David Lynch recently released a companion book of photographs. The artist’s earlier albums included Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Good Morning Spider and It’s a Wonderful Life, which featured contributions from Tom Waits and P.J. Harvey. Read more
2007: Ernest Gallo, U.S. founder of one of the most successful wineries with his brother, Julio, dies at 97.
Gallo and his late brother and business partner, Julio, grew up working in the vineyard owned by their immigrant father who came to America from Italy’s famed winemaking region of Piedmont, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. They founded the E. & J. Gallo Winery in 1933 at the end of Prohibition, when they were still mourning the murder-suicide deaths of their parents. Ernest and Julio rented a ramshackle building, and everybody in the family pitched in to make ordinary wine for 50 cents a gallon – half the going price. The Gallos made $30,000 the first year. Read more
Reeve won worldwide admiration for her support of her husband, the onetime Hollywood “Superman”-turned-activist for spinal cord research after a horse-riding accident in 1996. She served as chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Foundation and founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. Read more
2006: Kirby Puckett, U.S. center fielder for the Minnesota Twins who had a career batting average over .300 and who is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, dies of a cerebral bleed at 45.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened by the sudden passing of Kirby Puckett,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. “He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the term. He played his entire career with the Twins and was an icon in Minnesota. But he was revered throughout the country and will be remembered wherever the game is played. Kirby was taken from us much too soon – and too quickly.” Read more
2006: King Floyd, U.S. soul singer-songwriter who had a hit record in 1970 with “Groove Me,” dies at 61.
2006: Anne Braden, U.S. civil rights activist who worked for racial equality throughout her lifetime and was one of the most outspoken white anti-racism activists, dies at 81.
2005: Teresa Wright, U.S. actress who won an Academy Award for her role in Mrs. Miniver, dies at 86.
Wright’s career skyrocketed after her first film, The Little Foxes, which brought her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress of 1941. The following year she was honored with two nominations: lead actress as the wife of Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees and supporting actress as Greer Garson’s daughter in the wartime saga Mrs. Miniver. She also starred in three other classics: Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt in 1943; Marlon Brando‘s first film, The Men, in 1950; and the multiple Oscar winner The Best Years of Our Lives in 1946. Read more
2004: Frances Dee, U.S. actress who starred in the film An American Tragedy and was married to fellow actor Joel McCrea for 57 years, dies at 94.
2001: Kim Walker, U.S. actress who played Heather Chandler in the film Heathers, dies of cancer at 32.
1992: Elvia Allman, U.S. character actress whose best-known roles were as the busybody Elverna Bradshaw on The Beverly Hillbillies and as the voice of Walt Disney’s Clarabelle Cow, dies at 87.
1986: Georgia O’Keeffe, U.S. artist known as the Mother of American Modernism, dies at 98.
1982: Ayn Rand, Russian author and philosopher who wrote the popular novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, dies at 77.
Rand changed her name (Alisa Rosenbaum) and home. The novelist and philosopher had a flair for the dramatic: She wore a black cape fastened with a dollar-sign brooch. When fans didn’t agree completely with her, Rand developed her own group – a legion of fervent acolytes who claimed as their most basic and fundamental premise that Atlas Shrugged was the greatest book or idea ever conceived. To this day, many conservatives and libertarians cite her as an influence, including Rush Limbaugh, Leonard Peikoff, Dick Armey, Bob Barr and Dana Rohrabacher. Read more
1979: Charles Wagenheim, U.S. actor known for his recurring role as the rancher Halligan on the TV Western series Gunsmoke, dies at 82.
1976: “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom, U.S. boxer and actor who was the light heavyweight boxing champion from 1932 to 1934 and who appeared in the movie Each Dawn I Die, dies at 68.
1970: William Hopper, U.S. actor remembered best for his role as Detective Paul Drake on the TV series Perry Mason, dies at 55.
1965: Margaret Dumont, U.S. actress who appeared in many Marx Brothers movies including Animal Crackers and Duck Soup, dies at 82.
1933: Anton J. Cermak, U.S. politician who served as mayor of Chicago, is assassinated while in office at 59.
1932: John Philip Sousa, U.S. composer known for his military marches including “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” dies at 77.
1888: Louisa May Alcott, U.S. author well-known for her novel Little Women, dies at 55.
1836: Jim Bowie, U.S. pioneer and soldier, dies at the Battle of the Alamo at 40.
1836: Davy Crockett, U.S. pioneer and folk hero, dies at the Battle of the Alamo at 49.