James Dean became a legend of the silver screen on the strength of just three movies: “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” and “Giant.” We remember Dean’s life as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
James Dean became a legend of the silver screen on the strength of just three movies: “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” and “Giant.” Before “East of Eden” catapulted him to stardom, he had a few uncredited movie roles, a stage credit here and there, a handful of guest spots on television shows. Then came his amazing string of feature films, only one of which would be released during his lifetime. Just months after the release of “East of Eden,” Dean died at 24 in a car crash, robbing his fans of future performances and cementing his role in Hollywood lore as a tragic hero. After his death, all three of Dean’s roles earned him posthumous award nominations, and “East of Eden” won him a Golden Globe. We remember Dean’s life as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2017: Monty Hall, smooth talking host of the popular game show “Let’s make a deal,” dies at 96.
2014: Jerrie Mock, U.S. aviator who was the first woman to make a solo flight around the world, dies at 88.
She was inspired as a child by Amelia Earhart. But while she considered Earhart her hero, Mock said she didn’t dwell on the aviation pioneer’s fate as she made her own journey 27 years after Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared in the South Pacific while Earhart was trying to become the first female aviator around the globe. Mock played down her trip as a fun adventure. She flew her single-engine Cessna 180 “Spirit of Columbus” 23,000 miles in 29-plus days before landing in Ohio’s capital city April 17, 1964. On her trip, she made stops in places such as the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo, and Kolkata. Read more
2013: Ramblin’ Tommy Scott, U.S. country and rockabilly musician who performed on radio, television, and in the movies, dies at 96.
2012: Turhan Bey, Austrian actor who appeared in the movies “Arabian Nights” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” dies at 90.
His popular name was Turkish Delight — a reference to his suave good looks that made him an ideal partner to exotics like Maria Montez in escapist Technicolor adventure fantasies set in faraway places, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He starred or had major roles alongside the big stars of the era in films such as “A Night in Paradise,” “Out of the Blue,” and “The Amazing Mr. X” until the popularity of the genre faded in the 1950s. Read more
2010: Stephen J. Cannell, U.S. television producer, writer, and novelist who created many television shows, including “The A-team,” “21 Jump Street,” and “The Greatest American Hero,” dies at 69.
His range was greater than for which he was given credit, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “Tenspeed and Brown Shoe” was a clever detective drama starring Ben Vereen and a then-unknown Jeff Goldblum in 1980. “Profit” was a shocking saga of a psycho businessman that was unforgettable to the few viewers who saw it: Fox pulled the plug after just four episodes in 1996. With “Wiseguy” (1987-90), Cannell chilled viewers with a film-noir descent into the underworld that predated “The Sopranos” by more than a decade. “The Rockford Files,” of course, became an Emmy-winning TV classic following the misadventures of its hapless ex-con private eye played by James Garner. Read more
2003: Robert Kardashian, U.S. lawyer who gained fame as the defense attorney for O.J. Simpson during his murder trial and was the father of Kim, Rob, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, dies at 59.
When Kardashian died, he was known best for his role as a defense attorney in one of the most hotly debated criminal trials in U.S. history. Now, more than a decade after his death, he is more widely known than ever thanks to his posthumous role as patriarch of one of television’s most famous families. Since the 2007 debut of the reality TV series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” America has kept up with Robert Kardashian’s four children, following them through the ups and downs of newfound fame.
2003: Ronnie Dawson, U.S. rockabilly singer, guitarist, and drummer nicknamed the Blond Bomber who had international success and was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, dies at 64.
1998: Dan Quisenberry, U.S. Major League Baseball relief pitcher who was a member of the Kansas City Royals and led the American League in saves a record five times, dies of cancer at 45.
1994: Lina Basquette, U.S. actress who was a film star during the silent era and was married at one time to Sam Warner of Warner Brothers and later became a well-known dog breeder, dies at 87.
1985: Simone Signoret, French actress who was one of France’s greatest movie stars and was the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in “Room at the Top,” dies at 64.
1985: Charles Richter, U.S. seismologist and physicist who is most famous for creating the Richter scale for measuring earthquake strength, dies at 85.
1978: Edgar Bergen, U.S. actor and comedian known best for his ventriloquism with the characters Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, dies at 75.
Bergen and McCarthy were on air the night of Oct. 30, 1938, when Orson Welles broadcast his famous “War of the Worlds” and had a confused public believing the planet was under attack by Martians. At the time, many believed that only the fact so many people were listening to Bergen and McCarthy’s show instead of Welles’ kept the country from descending into chaos. On the other hand, many listening to Bergen switched to Welles during the musical interlude, thus missing the all-important disclaimer that the Martian invasion report was a work of fiction. Read more
Paul and Ford were married in 1949. Not long after, they appeared together on “The Les Paul Show” radio broadcast. At the time, Paul and Ford were experimenting with multitrack recording, which allowed Ford to harmonize with her own voice, a completely new idea at the time. Placing the microphone much closer to the singer’s mouth (the studio standard in the 1940s had been 6 inches at a minimum) allowed for warmer, more relaxed, less brassy vocals. Read more
1955: James Dean, U.S. actor who is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment despite having starred in only three films, “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden,” and “Giant,” dies in an auto accident at 24.
Dean has been name-checked in dozens of pop and rock songs, including a few that are all about him: “James Dean” by the Eagles, “Come Back Jimmy Dean” by Bette Midler, and “Jim Dean of Indiana” by Phil Ochs, to name a few. And his name comes up in even more. In Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Dean is sandwiched between Einstein and “Brooklyn’s got a winning team.” In “Rather Die Young,” Beyonce tells her dangerous crush, “You’re my James Dean.” Lady Gaga’s “Speechless” refers to an ex’s “James Dean glossy eyes.” John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” has young Jack scratching his head and doing “his best James Dean” to impress Diane with his cool. Read more