Joan Rivers was one of the most celebrated comedians of all time, one who paved the way for generations of female comedians to follow with her hilarious stand-up and biting commentary. We remember Rivers’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Joan Rivers was one of the most celebrated comedians of all time, one who paved the way for generations of female comedians to follow with her hilarious stand-up and biting commentary. She was a staple of “The Tonight Show,” a frequent guest and Johnny Carson’s regular guest host for years. She wrote books and screenplays, recorded comedy albums, and performed at Carnegie Hall and at the 1984 Republican National Convention. Along with her daughter, Melissa, she became a fixture of the red carpet, where they interviewed celebrities arriving at awards shows. We remember Rivers’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2018: Bill Dailey, comic character actor known for his roles on “I Dream of Jeannie” and the “The Bob Newhart Show,” dies at 91.
2015: Jean Darling, U.S. child actress who appeared in the “Our Gang” movie shorts, dies at 93.
2014: Joan Rivers, U.S. comedian and television talk show host, dies at 81.
Rivers — who made “Can we talk?” a trademark of her routines — never mellowed during her half-century-long career. She had insults ready for all races, genders, and creeds. She moved from longtime targets such as the weight problems of Elizabeth Taylor, of whom she said “her favorite food is seconds,” to newer foes such as Miley Cyrus, and continued to appear on stage and on TV into her 80s. Read more
2012: Leila Danette, U.S. actress who played Helen on the sitcom “You Take the Kids,” dies at 103.
2011: Lee Roy Selmon, U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end who was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, dies of a stroke at 56.
Selmon followed his Hall of Fame college career with an equally impressive run in the NFL, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1976 draft — the first ever selection by expansion Tampa Bay — and suffered through a winless inaugural season before achieving success. In 1979, he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award when he helped Tampa Bay make it to the NFC championship game. The Buccaneers also won the NFC Central title two years later. Read more
2006: Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife expert and television personality well-known as “The Crocodile Hunter,” dies at 44 of wounds sustained from a stingray while filming a documentary.
Irwin grew up around crocs in his family’s Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park. At 6, he had a 12-foot python as a pet, and by 9 he was handling – and wrestling – crocodiles. Is it any surprise, then, that on his honeymoon, he and his new bride, Terri Raines Irwin, skipped the romantic week in Paris or Hawaii in favor of trapping crocodiles? Much of Irwin’s life was spent with the reptiles that so fascinated him – and his delight with crocodiles was contagious. Read more
1995: William Kunstler, U.S. lawyer and activist known for representing the American Indian Movement as well as unpopular clients including the Chicago Seven and the Weather Underground organization, dies of heart failure at 76.
1995: John Megna, U.S. actor who as a child played Charles Harris in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and appeared in “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble,” dies of AIDS at 42.
1993: Herve Villechaize, French actor known for his role as Tattoo on the television series “Fantasy Island,” dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 50.
Villechaize played other roles, but as Tattoo on “Fantasy Island,” he made his mark. Indeed, for many viewers, Villechaize was “Fantasy Island,” more so than his top-billed co-star, Ricardo Montalban. Read more
1991: Dottie West, U.S. country music singer who had many hit songs, including “Here Comes My Baby Back Again,” as well as a string of hits with Kenny Rogers, dies of injuries sustained in an auto accident at 58.
1991: Tom Tryon, U.S. actor and writer known best for starring in “The Cardinal” and playing the title role on the TV series “Texas John Slaughter,” dies of stomach cancer at 65.
1991: Charlie Barnet, U.S. jazz saxophonist, composer, and bandleader who was one of the first to integrate his band and whose popular swing band included Lena Horne and Roy Eldridge, dies at 77.
1990: Irene Dunne, U.S. actress who was nominated for five Academy awards and was described as the best actress to never win an Oscar, dies at 91.
1986: Hank Greenberg, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the Detroit Tigers who was a five-time All-Star, hit over 300 home runs, and was the first Jewish sports superstar, dies at 75.
1985: George O’Brien, U.S. actor who was a film star during the silent era and became a popular performer in Westerns when talking pictures arrived, dies at 86.
1985: Isabel Jeans, English actress known for her portrayal of Aunt Alicia in the movie musical “Gigi,” dies at 93.
1975: Walter Tetley, U.S. voice actor known best for providing the voice of Sherman in the “Mr. Peabody” TV cartoons, dies at 60.
1965: Albert Schweitzer, German physician, philosopher, and theologian who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, dies at 90 of circulatory trouble brought on by his advanced age.
1960: Alfred E. Green, U.S. director whose movies included “The Jolson Story” and “Copacabana,” dies at 71.