Rosa Parks embodied the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. throughout the 1960s, and her name remains an inspiration for those in pursuit of social justice. We remember Parks’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Rosa Parks embodied the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. throughout the 1960s, and her name remains an inspiration for those in pursuit of social justice. But she was more than an icon or a legend, and her journey from high school dropout to civil rights crusader is a fascinating account. We celebrate Parks’ life as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2018: Tony Joe White, “swamp rock” legend who wrote the classic songs “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” dies at 75.
2016: Bobby Vee, U.S. 1960s pop singer whose hit songs included “Take Good Care of My Baby,” dies at 73.
2015: Maureen O’Hara, U.S. Irish-born actress who starred in many classic movies including “Miracle on 34th Street,” dies at 95.
In 1946, O’Hara became a U.S. citizen, and the following year, she starred in the film with which many identify her most closely, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Playing the mother of Natalie Wood’s character, O’Hara grew close to the young actress. O’Hara made five movies with frequent co-star John Wayne: “Rio Grande,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Wings of Eagles,” “Big Jake,” and “McLintock!” She called “The Quiet Man” her favorite of all the films she made: “It is the one I am most proud of, and I tend to be very protective of it. I loved Mary Kate Danaher. I loved the hell and fire in her.” Read more
2014: Marcia Strassman, U.S. actress who played Julie in “Welcome Back, Kotter” and was also well-known for her roles in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and TV’s “M*A*S*H,” dies of breast cancer at 66.
2012: Margaret Osborne duPont, U.S. tennis player who attained the top world ranking, dies at 94.
In a 2012 story from the El Paso (Texas) Times, duPont spoke about her love of the game. “It was always just tennis, tennis, tennis, tennis,” she said. “I’m not sure why I loved the game so much. But I did. I just did. And I always have.” Read more
2012: Bill Dees, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote the song “Oh, Pretty Woman” with Roy Orbison, dies at 73.
2011: John McCarthy, U.S. computer scientist who coined the phrase “artificial intelligence,” dies at 84.
In 1958, McCarthy invented the programming language Lisp, which paved the way for voice recognition technology, including Siri, the personal assistant application on the iPhone, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. McCarthy also developed the concept of computer time-sharing, which allowed multiple users to interact with a single computer. That lay the foundation for cloud computing today. Read more
2010: Joseph Stein, U.S. playwright who wrote the book for the musical play “Fiddler on the Roof,” dies at 98.
Stein, who won a Tony Award for his work on “Fiddler,” also supplied the book, or story, for nearly a dozen other musicals, including “Zorba,” “Mr. Wonderful,” and “Plain and Fancy.” He also wrote for radio and for television during its early golden age, working for such performers as Henry Morgan, Sid Caesar, and Phil Silvers, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. But “Fiddler,” based on Sholom Aleichem’s “Tevye and His Daughters,” proved to be his biggest hit. Featuring a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins, the show opened on Broadway in September 1964 and ran for more than 3,200 performances. Read more
2005: Rosa Parks, U.S. civil rights activist called the First Lady of Civil Rights by U.S. Congress, dies at 92.
In the years since that 1955 act of defiance, Rosa Parks touched the lives of countless citizens and fellow supporters of civil rights. Some of us were inspired from afar, while others proudly met Parks and worked alongside her in the struggle for equal rights. For many, it was an experience so unforgettable that it even made its way into their obituaries. Read more
1997: Don Messick, U.S. voice actor and the voice of Bamm-Bamm Rubble on “The Flintstones,” dies of a stroke at 62.
For his portrayal of Brazilian environmental activist Chico Mendes in “The Burning Season,” Julia posthumously won the Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards. In the two decades since his death, Julia continues to be remembered and honored for his humanitarian work with The Hunger Project and numerous other organizations, as well as for his fine acting. Read more
1992: Laurie Colwin, prolific U.S. author whose works include the novel “Happy All the Time,” dies of a heart attack at 48.
The original show conceived by Roddenberry – just three seasons long and not extremely popular when it aired in the late 1960s – has expanded over the years, spawning five additional TV series (including the animated series of the mid-’70s) and 11 movies (with more on the way). But more than that, “Star Trek” has come to epitomize sci-fi culture. The show generated a rabid fan base long before geekdom and sci-fi conventions were cool. And the franchise helped bring tales of space exploration out of entertainment’s fringes and into the mainstream. Read more
1984: Edith Massey, U.S. actress and singer who appeared in “Polyester” and “Pink Flamingos,” dies of cancer and complications of diabetes at 66.
1972: Jackie Robinson, U.S. baseball player and the first black player in the major leagues, dies of a heart attack at 53.
On June 4, 1972 – just a few months before Robinson’s death at age 53 – the Dodgers retired his number, 42. Twenty-five years later, Robinson was greatly honored by Major League Baseball when No. 42 was universally retired across all teams. It was the first time any major sports league had honored a player this way. The retirement continues, with one exception. Each year on April 15 – the anniversary of Robinson’s major league debut – MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, in which all players on all teams wear the number 42. It’s a charming tribute to the man who helped change forever the face of professional baseball. Read more
1972: Claire Windsor, U.S. film actress who was a leading lady during the silent period, dies at 80.