Della Reese was beloved for her role as the wise angel Tess on the TV series “Touched by an Angel.”
Della Reese was beloved for her role as the wise angel Tess on the TV series “Touched by an Angel.” The multi-talented Reese started out as a popular gospel singer. We remember her life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2017: Della Reese, actress and singer known for her role on “Touched by an Angel,” dies at 86.
2017: Mel Tillis, country music legend who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, dies at 85.
2015: Mal Whitfield, U.S. track star who won five Olympic medals and was also a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, dies at 91.
2014: Mike Nichols, U.S. film director, actor, and comedian who won an Academy Award for directing “The Graduate,” dies at 83.
Nichols was a Tony Award-winning Broadway director when he was tapped to direct a film adaptation of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” His next film, “The Graduate,” earned him an Academy Award for best director and remains one of the most iconic films of all time. He would win again 21 years later for “Working Girl” and, over the years, would direct a diverse group of films including “Catch-22,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “Silkwood,” “Heartburn,” “Postcards From the Edge,” “The Birdcage,” “Primary Colors” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Read more
2013: Marc Breaux, U.S. choreographer known best for his work on musical films in the 1960s and ’70s including “Mary Poppins,” dies at 79.
2010: Pat Burns, Canadian NHL coach who led the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens to NHL championships, dies at 68.
Burns led New Jersey to its third Stanley Cup championship when the Devils beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games. Burns also coached Boston, Toronto, and Montreal, twice leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals. He also led the Canadiens to the NHL championship in his first season with Montreal. Read more
2007: Kevin DuBrow, U.S. singer and the frontman for the heavy metal band Quiet Riot, dies of an accidental cocaine overdose at 52.
DuBrow’s powerful, gravelly voice powered Quiet Riot to international fame with their 1983 cover of “Cum on Feel the Noize.” The song was the first single on the band’s U.S. debut album, “Metal Health,” which was the first by a metal band to reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Read more
2004: Terry Melcher, U.S. musician, record producer, and the only son of singer Doris Day known for his work with the Beach Boys, dies of melanoma at 62.
1998: Alan J. Pakula, U.S. movie director whose films included “All the President’s Men” and “Sophie’s Choice,” dies at 70.
1995: Martha Hill, influential U.S. modern dance instructor and the first director of dance at the Juilliard School, dies at 94.
1994: Dedrick Gobert, U.S. actor who appeared in “Boyz ‘n the Hood,” is shot to death at 22.
1992: Bobby Russell, U.S. singer-songwriter whose credits include the songs “Honey” and “Little Green Apples,” dies of coronary artery disease at 52.
1992: Diane Varsi, U.S. actress who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in “Peyton Place” and starred in the cult classic “Wild in the Streets,” dies of respiratory problems at 54.
Varsi was unprepared for the sudden attention, didn’t like the endless rounds of interviews and parties Hollywood demanded of its starlets. She resented being told what to wear, how to comport herself. Her reticence to engage with the star-making machinery earned her a reputation for being uncooperative and introverted, and the media soon began comparing her to James Dean. A Pittsburgh Press reporter was shocked to find her interview subject clad in jeans and without makeup (“not even lipstick,” the writer clarifies), and called her, “a perfect ragamuffin, the antithesis of such studio glamour girls as Jayne Mansfield and Joan Collins.” Read more
1988: Christina Onassis, American-born heiress to the fortune of Greek-Argentine shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, dies of a heart attack at 37.
Her devoted father called her “chryso mou,” or “my golden one.” And from the outside, Onassis seemed to have a golden life. Her father was shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, whose fortune reached the billions and whose yacht bore his daughter’s name. Her dolls wore Dior dresses. She grew up in homes in Paris, Antibes, and Skorpios, her father’s private Greek island. Yet while Onassis was one of the world’s richest women, she also may have been among the most unhappy. Read more
1985: Stepin Fetchit (born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry), the first African-American actor to become a millionaire, dies at 83.
1983: Tom Evans, England bassist in the power pop group Badfinger, dies at 36.
1971: Bill Stern, U.S. sportscaster who announced America’s first baseball game television broadcast, dies at 64.
1963: Carmen Amaya, Spanish flamenco dancer and singer dubbed the Greatest Spanish Gypsy of Her Generation, dies at 45.
1924: Thomas H. Ince, U.S. silent-film producer, director, and screenwriter also known as the Father of the Western, dies at 42 under mysterious circumstances while on the yacht of William Randolph Hearst.