Larry Hagman was a TV superstar, with prominent roles on two favorite shows of yesteryear. We remember Hagman’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Larry Hagman was a TV superstar, with prominent roles on two favorite shows of yesteryear. From 1965 to 1970, he was Major Tony Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie,” making audiences laugh as he navigated life with a genie for a girlfriend. In 1978, Hagman played the iconic role of J.R. Ewing on “Dallas,” a scheming oil baron who is one of the most popular TV villains of all time. Audiences were hooked on the 1980 “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger, and Hagman was nominated for an Emmy Award that year as well as the next. He played J.R. until the show’s cancellation in 1991 and then reprised the role in a 2012 reboot. He also appeared in movies including “Superman” and “Primary Colors.” We remember Hagman’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2016: Ralph Branca, U.S. three-time All-Star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who gave up a home run known as the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, dies at 90.
2016: Andrew Sachs, British actor known best for playing Spanish waiter Manuel on “Fawlty Towers,” dies at 86.
2014: Marion Barry, U.S. politician who was the longtime mayor of the District of Columbia, dies at 78.
Barry outshined every politician in the 40-year history of District of Columbia self-rule. But for many, his legacy was not defined by the accomplishments and failures of his four terms as mayor and long service on the D.C. Council. Instead, Barry will be remembered for a single night in a downtown Washington hotel room and the grainy video that showed him lighting a crack pipe in the company of a much-younger woman. When FBI agents burst in, he referred to her with an expletive. She “set me up,” Barry said. Read more
2013: Jay Leggett, U.S. actor and comedian who was a cast member on the television show “In Living Color,” dies at 50.
Leggett was a respected fixture in Chicago’s improvisational comedy community before moving to Los Angeles to join the cast of “In Living Color” for the show’s final season. He also was a successful screenwriter and filmmaker, as well as an avid hunter. Read more
2012: Larry Hagman, U.S. actor from Texas whose television roles included the loopy astronaut Major Tony Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie” and the villainous Texas oil man John Ross Ewing on the nighttime soap opera “Dallas,” dies of complications of cancer at 81.
J.R. Ewing was a business cheat, faithless husband, and bottomless well of corruption. Yet with his sparkling grin, Hagman masterfully created the charmingly loathsome oil baron – and coaxed forth a Texas-size gusher of ratings – on television’s long-running and hugely successful nighttime soap, “Dallas,” according to Hagman’s obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2011: Jim Rathmann, U.S. professional race car driver who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1960, dies after having a stroke at 83.
Rathmann, second in the Indy 500 in 1952, ’57, and ’59, was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007. He also won the 500-mile Race of Two Worlds in 1958 in Monza, Italy. From 1949 to 1963, Rathmann made 42 IndyCar starts, drove in three NASCAR races, and started twice in the Race of Two Worlds, winning seven times. Read more
2010: Ingrid Pitt, Polish actress and author known best for horror films including “Countess Dracula,” dies of heart failure at 73.
Her movie career was jump-started by her role in the 1968 action-adventure movie, “Where Eagles Dare.” The World War II drama would eventually lead to her being taken on by Britain’s Hammer Films – home to Christopher Lee‘s “Dracula.” She would play alongside the horror legend in 1971’s “The House That Dripped Blood” and 1973’s “The Wicker Man.” Read more
2006: Willie Pep, aka Guglielmo Papaleo, diminutive-but-speedy U.S. professional boxer from Connecticut who recorded 229 wins and 11 losses during his storied career, dies at 84.
2006: Anita O’Day, U.S. singer known as the Jezebel of Jazz, dies at 87.
Leaving home at just age 14 to find fame, Chicago native O’Day started her career touring the country as a dance marathon contestant. Within a few years, she turned to singing and eventually landed a gig at popular Chicago club The Off-Beat. It was there that she was discovered by legendary drummer Gene Krupa. He liked what he heard, but his band already had a singer. He promised to get in touch with O’Day if he was ever in need of a new vocalist. She didn’t have to wait long – a couple of years later, Krupa was back. Read more
1995: Louis Malle, Academy Award-winning French film director whose credits include “Pretty Baby” and “The Lovers” and who was married to actress Candice Bergen, dies of lymphoma at 63.
Walker was one of Motown’s greatest sax players. He formed his first band by the time he was 14 and kept playing music all his life, finding new audiences as the years went by. Walker’s first and greatest success was with his band Junior Walker and the All Stars. They had a string of rhythm and blues chart-toppers, starting with 1965’s “Shotgun.” Read more
1994: Tommy Boyce, U.S. songwriter from Virginia and one-half of the singing and songwriting duo Boyce and Hart that penned “Last Train to Clarksville” and other hits for the Monkees, dies by suicide at 55.
1992: Roy Acuff, U.S. country singer from Tennessee whose albums include “Favorite Hymns,” “Old Time Barn Dance,” and “Songs of the Smoky Mountains,” dies of congestive heart failure at 85.
As the frontman of the Smoky Mountain Boys, Acuff faced an uphill battle toward acceptance of country music. When, five years after his entry unto the ranks of the Opry, Acuff invited the governor of his home state of Tennessee to an Opry gala, he was rudely rebuffed. Gov. Prentice Cooper called Acuff’s music disgraceful and blamed him for making Tennessee the “hillbilly capital of the United States” – harsh criticism for a man who was a veritable country music star and one who was about to crack the top 20 of the U.S. singles chart, too. Read more
1991: Klaus Kinski, German actor whose films include “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” and “Nosferatu, the Vampyre,” dies of natural causes as a result of a heart problem at 65.
1990: Roald Dahl, British short story author from Wales whose works include “My Uncle Oswald” and “James and the Giant Peach,” dies at 74 following hospitalization for an infection.
During World War II, Dahl served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force and survived enough combat missions to earn the status of flying ace. In 1940, he was forced to crash land in a Libyan desert, where he broke his nose, fractured his skull, and was left temporarily blind. The incident would form the basis for his first published work, a short story originally titled “A Piece of Cake” and published in the Saturday Evening Post. Read more
1982: The Rev. Grady Nutt, U.S. humorist, Southern Baptist pastor, and a cast member of the comedy variety show “Hee Haw,” dies in a charter plane crash at 48.
1979: Merle Oberon, British India-born actress whose films include “Wuthering Heights,” “The Dark Angel,” and “Hotel,” dies after having a stroke at 68.
1979: Judee Sill, U.S. musician and songwriter from California whose recordings include the albums “Heart Food” and “Dreams Come True,” dies at 35.
1974: Cornelius Ryan, Irish war reporter and author of “The Last Battle” and “A Bridge Too Far,” dies of cancer at 54.
1973: Sessue Hayakawa, Japan-born U.S. actor whose credits include the films “Tokyo Joe,” “The Geisha Boy,” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” dies at 83.
1973: Paul Newlan, U.S. character actor from New York who played Captain Grey on NBC television’s “M Squad,” dies at 70.
1973: Constance Talmadge, U.S. film star during the silent period whose credits include “The Primitive Lover” and “Mama’s Affair,” dies at 75.
1972: Marie Wilson, U.S. actress known best for her starring role on the radio and TV series “My Friend Irma,” dies of cancer at 56.
1948: Lewis R. “Hack” Wilson, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and power hitter for the Chicago Cubs, New York Giants, and two other teams, dies of internal bleeding at 48.