Died May 22

by Legacy Staff

Langston Hughes was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and one of the first innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry. We remember Hughes and other notable people who died this day, May 22, in history.

2020: Jerry Sloan, Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach known for his tough defense, dies at 78.

2019: Judith Kerr, acclaimed children’s book author known for “The Tiger Who Came to Tea,” dies at 95.


2017: Nikki Haydenformer MotoGP champion motorcycle racer, dies at 35.

2015: Marques Haynes, U.S. basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters known for his amazing dribbling skills, dies at 89.

Janet Carroll (Photo by Mike Guastella/WireImage)

2012: Janet Carroll, U.S. actress known for playing Tom Cruise’s mom in “Risky Business” and Al Bundy’s boss on “Married … With Children,” dies at 71.

Carroll worked steadily since that breakthrough role with Cruise in 1983. Her film credits include “Family Business” with Sean Connery and Matthew Broderick, and “Memories of Me” with Billy Crystal. On television, she appeared on such shows as “Murphy Brown,” “Melrose Place,” and “Married… With Children.” Read more

2005: Thurl Ravenscroft, U.S. voice actor and singer known as the voice of Tony the Tiger and singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the classic cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, dies at 91. dies at 91.

Ravenscroft played the role of Tony the Tiger for more than 50 years. “I can’t even imagine an advertising campaign these days that could last that long. The character wasn’t all that special, it was the voice,” said Brian Jacob, who created and manages the site AllThingsThurl.com. “At one point, Leo Burnett—head of the ad agency—said that Frosted Flakes had become the best-selling cereal in the world and it was all Thurl’s fault.” Read more

2004: Richard Biggs, U.S. actor who played Dr. Marcus Hunter for five years on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” dies at 44.

1998: John Derek, U.S. actor and director who appeared in “All the King’s Men” and directed his fourth wife, Bo Derek, in multiple movies, dies of heart disease at 71.

1990: Rocky Graziano, U.S. boxer who was the middleweight champion of the world and became an actor after boxing, including a regular role on the TV series “Miami Undercover,” dies at 71.

1986: Martin Gabel, U.S. actor whose movie appearances included Alfred Hitchcock‘s “Marnie” and Billy Wilder‘s “The Front Page,” dies of a heart attack at 73.

1984: John Marley, U.S. character actor known for his role as Phil Cavalleri in “Love Story” and as film producer Jack Woltz in “The Godfather,” dies at 76.

1975: Lefty Grove, U.S. Hall of Fame Major League Baseball pitcher who won 300 games in his career and had the lowest American League ERA a record nine times, dies at 75.

1975: Torben Meyer, Danish character actor whose TV appearances included “I Love Lucy” and “I Dream of Jeannie” and who played Werner Lampe in “Judgment at Nuremberg,” dies at 90.

1972: Margaret Rutherford, English actress who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1963 for her role in “The VIPs,” dies at 80.

1972: Cecil Day-Lewis, Irish poet who was the poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death, and was the father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, dies at 68.

1967: Langston Hughes, U.S. poet, novelist, playwright, and columnist known as one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, dies at 65.

Hughes was one of the first innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. He was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. The Renaissance was a rebirth of African-American arts and culture. Hughes’ life and work were enormously influential during that Renaissance, alongside those of his contemporaries such as Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman. Read more

1961: Joan Davis, U.S. actress known best for starring on the 1950s sitcom “I Married Joan” opposite Jim Backus, dies of a heart attack at 53.

1885: Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, and dramatist well-known for his works “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” dies at 83.

1802: Martha Washington, the inaugural first lady of the U.S. as the wife of President George Washington, dies at 70.

Discover notable people born this day May 22 in history including LGBTQ civil rights icon Harvey Milk.

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