Cleavon Little’s performance in “Blazing Saddles” secured his place in the history of comedy and helped to make the film a masterpiece. We remember Little’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Cleavon Little’s performance in “Blazing Saddles” secured his place in the history of comedy and helped to make the film a masterpiece. His performance as Sheriff Bart remains the most beloved of his career. Unfortunately, that career was cut short by colorectal cancer; Little died when he was just 53, leaving behind a brief but powerful body of work. We remember his life today as well as the lives and legacies of other notable personalities who died this day in history.
2017: Paul Weitz, NASA astronaut who commanded the first flight of the space shuttle Challenger, dies at 85.
2012: Russell Means, Oglala Sioux Native American activist, dies of esophageal cancer at 72.
The American Indian Movement, or AIM, was founded in the late 1960s to protest the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans and demand the government honor its treaties with Indian tribes. Means told The Associated Press in 2011 that before AIM, there had been no advocate on a national or international scale for American Indians, and that they were ashamed of their heritage. Read more
2012: Carolyn Conwell, U.S. actress known best for playing Mary Williams on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless,” dies at 82.
2009: Don Lane, U.S.-born Australian television personality and singer, dies at 75.
He was handed a full-time gig in 1975, and “The Don Lane Show” became a ratings winner, a mixture of cabaret acts, interviews, comedy skits, and a song from the tall host to close each show, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Lane stood out as an American appearing on Australian television, which at the time was dominated by British-centric programming. His self-effacing humor and his show’s ability to draw A-list celebrities when they visited, endeared him to Australian audiences. Read more
The comic’s pie-throwing shtick became his trademark, and celebrities lined up to take one on the chin alongside Sales, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. During the early 1960s, stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and Shirley MacLaine received their just desserts side-by-side with the comedian on his television show. “I’ll probably be remembered for the pies, and that’s all right,” Sales said in a 1985 interview. Read more
2006: Arthur Hill, Canadian actor who starred on the television series “Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law,” dies at 84.
Hill, who hadn’t worked in the motion picture or television business since 1990, was a well-known face on TV, appearing on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Defenders,” “Ben Casey,” “The Untouchables,” “The Nurses,” “The FBI,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Fugitive,” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” He was the star of “Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law” from 1971 to 1974, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1992: Cleavon Little, U.S. actor who played Sheriff Bart in the comedy film “Blazing Saddles,” dies of colorectal cancer at 53.
1992: Red Barber, U.S. sports announcer known for his radio play by play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, dies at 84.
1989: Ewan MacColl, English folk singer who wrote the song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” dies at 74.
1969: Tommy Edwards, U.S rhythm and blues singer known best for his No. 1 hit song in 1958, “It’s All in the Game,” dies at 47.
1934: Pretty Boy Floyd, notorious U.S. bank robber, dies at 30 after being shot by FBI agents.
1917: Bob Fitzsimmons, English boxer who became the heavyweight champion of the world by defeating Gentleman Jim Corbett in 1897, dies at 54.