A year comes to an end and in 2010 that end came to several celebrities.
This year we lost so many of the people I watched growing up as a child in the 60’s and 70’s. For years I would watch Tom Bosley as he play Howard Cummingham, the father on TV’s Happy Days. “Mister C” would always have the right words to tell Richie or Fonzie what to do in that weeks subject. If Cummingham was the best father on TV then the best mother would be June Cleaver. On Leave It To Beaver I would watch as Beaver’s mom ( played by the late Barbara Billingsley) would tell his father, “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver.” Billingley also had a role in the movie Airplane with Peter Graves and Leslie Nielsen, who we lost this year. Graves will be remember for the Mission Impossible TV show. Nielsen started out in westerns but found his genre with comedy spoofs. One western star we did have to watch was Daniel Boone. The lead was played by Fess Parker who influenced a nation of boys into wearing coonskin caps.
On the big screen we lost Tony Curtis, one of the last of early the Hollywood icon. Best known for his role in ‘Some Like it Hot,’ he appeared in more than 100 films and was nominated for an Oscar for ‘The Defiant Ones.’ Dennis Hopper’s career spanned more than 50 years. He received two Oscar nominations — for writing Easy Rider & the 1986 drama Hoosiers. He was great as the villain in Speed. Other Oscar nominees we lost include Jill Clayburgh , Lynn Redgrave, and Patricia Neal.
Several people who gave us music left us. Lena Horne is credited with opening the door for black entertainers in Hollywood. I loved hearing her sing Stormy Weather. Also Malcolm McLaren helped lead the way for establishing punk rock music as a music genre.
I would also like to remember two voice actors that have touch everyone’s life. Anyone who has seen the classic 1964 Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer know Rudolph’s voice. It was played by Billie Mae Richards. Another Christmas memory will be “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Christopher Shea played the voice of Linus in those classic Peanuts specials.
It’s always a shock every year as I make this list of who has checked out and taken their Final Taxi to their last resting place. Here is a list of some of those who have become Final Taxi riders in 2010:
DEATHS IN JANUARY
Casey Johnson, 30, socialite who was heiress to the Johnson and Johnson company, was found dead in her Los Angeles home on Jan 4
Art Clokey, an animator who created the pop culture animated Gumby. He was 88.
Eric Rohmer, 89, prolific French filmmaker and founding father of the French New Wave movement
Miep Gies helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during the Second World War and saved Anne’s diary after the family was arrested. She was 100.
Teddy Pendergrass, 59, famous R&B singer
Carl Smith, 82, country music and television star of the 1950s and 1960s
Glen W. Bell, founder of Taco Bell food. He was 86.
Erich Segal, 72, an author best known for the romantic tragedy Love Story made into a 1970 movie of the same name
Jean Simmons, 80, actress whose ethereal screen presence and starring roles with Hollywood’s top actors made her widely admired. I loved her is so many roles that there are too many to name. I knew of her in the TV series Dark Shadows and found her again in 2004 when Simmons voiced the lead-role of Sophie in the English dub of Howl’s Moving Castle.
Robert. B. Parker, 77, the crime writer who created the private eye Spenser that became a TV show.
Earl Wild, classical pianist and jazz performer and who wrote music for television programs.
Pernell Roberts Jr. 81, an actor who portrayed the eldest son on Bonanza and a retired army doctor in “Trapper John, MD”
J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye He was 91.
DEATHS IN FEBRUARY
John McCallum, creator of the Australian children’s program Skippy the Bush
Charlie Wilson, 76, the charismatic Democrat from Texas who was instrumental in funding the Afghanistan resistance fighting Soviet occupation after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. He was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the film Charlie Wilson’s WarDick Francis, best selling crime writer. He was 89.
Alexander Haig, 85, American Republican. He was chief of staff to Richard Nixon and helped plan his resignation. He also served in Ronald Reagan’s cabinet.
Therese Rochette, the 55-year-old mother of Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette, died in hospital shortly after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter compete. She had a heart attack. Rochette skated despite the tragedy and won a bronze medal.
Michael Blosil, the 18-year-old son of American celebrity Marie Osmond, jumped from his Los Angeles area apartment, killing himself. He suffered from depression.
DEATHS IN MARCH
Corey Haim, 38, 1980s child actor who starred in films like Lucas and License To Drive. His best-known role was alongside Corey Feldman in The Lost Boys.
Merlin Olsen, 69, Hall of Fame football player who made a successful transition to television as a commentator on NFL broadcasts and acting on Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy.
Peter Graves, 83, movie and television actor best known for Mission Impossible and hosting the program Biography. I will always remember him in the film Airplane.
Johnny Maestro , 70, who performed the 1958 doo-wop hit “16 Candles” with the Crests and enjoyed a decades-long career with the Brooklyn Bridge
Fess Parker, 85, actor best known for playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the 1950s and 1960s.
Robert Culp, an American actor best known for playing a secret agent in the 1960s era program I Spy and later in the TV show Greatest American Hero. He was 79.
DEATHS IN APRIL
John Forsythe, 92, an actor who was the voice of Charlie on the Charlie’s Angels program and also starred in the show Dynasty.
Corin Redgrave, a brother to Vanessa and Lynn. He worked both in movies and theatre and was a Marxist political activist who attempted to get Prime Minister Tony Blair impeached over his role in the Iraq War. He was 70.
Eddie Carroll, 76, the voice of the Disney cartoon Jiminy Cricket for nearly 40 years not only in TV & movies but in the Kingdom Hearts games. During the 1970s, he co-wrote scripts for Hanna-Barbera and other cartoon studios.
One death that got me this year was that of Malcolm McLaren. He was the creator and manager of the British punk band the Sex Pistols, a leading influence in the punk music genre. Mclaren also managed the New York Dolls and Adam and the Ants. He was 64.
Dixie Carter, 70, an actress best know for playing Julia Sugarbaker in the 1980s television comedy Designing Women, died in Houston of endometrial cancer. She was 70.
Daryl Gates was the former chief of police in Los Angeles who he was forced to retire after the Rodney King riots in 1992.
Allison Tross, 92, was a WW II hero. She was a linguist and German translator with the Royal Naval Service . She helped break the German cipher code “Enigma” during the Second World War.
Meinhardt Raabe, 94, played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz
MC Guru (Keith Elam), 43, was a New York City-based rapper credited with fusing jazz into rap and hip hop.
Lynn Redgrave, 67, actress and playwright who was nominated for Oscars and Tonys, died of breast cancer just months after her brother.
Lena Horne, 92, was a legendary black singer/actress who tried to break the Hollywood color barrier as a star in the 1940s and 1950s.She continued to perform on television, Broadway and nightclubs for decades.
John Shepherd-Barron, credited with making the first automated cash dispenser, first used at Barclay’s Bank in London in 1967.
Jose Lima, 37, was a thirteen-year pitcher in the major leagues for a variety of teams.
Frank Frazetta, 82, illustrator of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers
Dorothy Kamenshek, 84, was a standout player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a Sports Illustrated top 100 female athlete of the 20th century and was the inspiration for the main character in the 1992 A League of their Own played by Genna Davis.
Art Linkletter. ,97, famous as an television host and interviewer in the 1950s and 1960s
Gary Coleman,42, former child actor from the sitcom Different – “What your talkin’ about Willis?”
Dennis Hopper,74, was a film actor best known now for intense performances in such movies as Rebel Without A Cause Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet and Hoosiers. He emerged from years of supporting roles to direct and act in the iconic biker movie Easy
Chris Haney, 59, one of the creators of the 1980s board game Trivial Pursuit.
Ali-Ollie Woodson, 58, led the Motown quintet the Temptations in the 1980s and ’90s
Rue McClanahan, 76, actress best known for playing Blanche Devereaux in the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls. She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1987
Marvin Isley,59, one of the lineup in the successful R&B group the Isley Brothers. He was with them from the doo-wop era of the 1950s through to the 1980s singing Lonely Teardrops, Shout and Its Your Thing.
Stuart Cable, 40, drummer for the British group the Stereophonics
Marina Semyonova, 102, the first great ballerina of the Soviet era, danced and taught for the Bolshoi Ballet from 1930 until her retirement about six years ago.
Jimmy Dean, 81, country singer, television host and sausage entrepreneur. He was known for his 1961 country crossover hit Big Bad John and for his role in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever.”
Peter Quaife, 66, was original bassist for the British Invasion era rock band The Kinks. Played on this hits “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.”
Robert Byrd, 92, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress. He sat one term in the House, then 51 years in the Senate.
Garry Shider, 56, longtime musical director of Parliament-Funkadelic
Ilene Woods, 81, the voice of Cinderella in the iconic 1950 Disney animated film.
Bob Probert, 45, retired NHL enforcer for the Detroit Red Wings
Jim Bohlen, 84, one of the founders of Greenpeace in the early 1970s
Harvey Pekar, 70, American comic book author best known for the autobiographical series American Splendor. He was play on film by actor Paul Giamatti.
George Steinbrenner, 80, was the owner of the New York Yankees since 1973. Often lampooned on the TV series Senfield.
James Gammon, 70, an character actor who tended to play grizzled father figures in westerns and would be more known for his role as the coach in the Major League movies.
Stephen Schneider, 65, scientist who was a pioneer in climate change research, Schneider was part of the group that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
Alex Green,68, legendary film stuntman who did everything from western movies to the Beachcombers on television
Ben Keith, 73, musician who was a longtime collaborator with Neil Young.
Mitch Miller, 99, record producer, Miller created the Sing Along with Mitch albums of standard songs to appeal to older listeners who did not like the new genre of rock and roll music taking over in the late 1950s. The concept was adapted to television with great success a few years later.
Walter Hawkins, 61, famed gospel singer, composer and arranger
Tuli Kupferberg , 86, founding member of the 1960s underground rock group the Fugs
Patricia Neal, 84, actress who won an Academy Award for her role in Hud in 1963. Other films include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, All Quiet on the Western Front, & The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Abbey Lincoln, 80, well-known jazz singer, songwriter, actress and civil rights activist whose career spanned the 1950s to 2000s.
Dr. Frank Ryan, 50, plastic surgeon to Hollywood celebrities.
Bobby Thomson, 86, New York Giants baseball player, he hit “the shot heard round the world” to win the 1951 National League pennant.
Laurent Fignon, 50, popular French cyclist and two-time winner of the Tour de France
David L. Wolper, 82, Hollywood impresario whose landmark 1987 television miniseries Roots engrossed the U.S. with its saga of an American family descended from an African slave
Edwin Newman , 91, NBC News correspondent for more than three decades
Billie Mae Richards, 88, character actress who was the voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the classic 1964 television special.
Harold Gould, 86, character actor whose career spanned nearly 50 years. Gould appeared in popular sitcoms such as Rhoda and The Golden Girls, and movies such as The Sting.
Jackie Burroughs,71. actress best known for playing Aunt Hetty on the Road to Avonlea TV series for six years.
Kevin McCarthy, 96, actor in the science-fiction movie classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers,
Eddie Fisher,82, singer whose crooner style made him popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, he is probably better known now for leaving wife Debbie Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Gloria Stuart, 100, actress from the 1930s and 1940s, she was best known for playing Ros in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic at the age of 87.
Tony Curtis, 85, an actor best known for his matinee idol good looks and for hit films such as Some like it Hot and Spartacus, he’s also remembered by film buffs for his searing portrayal of a hustling publicist in The Sweet Smell of Success.
Joan Sutherland, 83, Australian opera singer, described by Pavaroti as “the voice of the century”
Barbara Billingsley, 94, iconic actress best known for playing June Cleaver, the idealized postwar stay-at-home mom on the television program Leave it to Beaver from 1957-1963. Also played in the movie Airplane.
Tom Bosley,83, stage and television actor best known for playing all-American dad Howard Cunningham on the television show Happy Days. He also played the lead in the TV series Father Dowling Mysteries.
Albertina Walker , 81, Grammy-winning singer from Chicago known as the “Queen of Gospel,”
Alexander Anderson Jr., 90, TV cartoon artist who created Rocky the flying squirrel, Bullwinkle the moose and Dudley Do-Right the Canadian mountie
Bob Guccione, 79, publisher who founded Penthouse magazine and made his fortune in the adult entertainment industry before the rise of Internet pornography.
James MacArthur,72, actor who was the original Danno from the television program Hawaii Five-O. He played that character for 11 seasons .
George “Sparky” Anderson, 76, legendary baseball coach won World Series titles in both leagues with Cincinnati and Detroit
Jill Clayburgh, 66, actress best known for her Oscar-nominated role in An Unmarried Woman. I loved her in the movie Silver Streak.
Dylan Arminda Burson, 20, daughter of the writer of this blog. I miss her so much
Dino De Laurentiis, 92, Italian film producer responsible for over 500 movies in Italy and the United States, his hits include the first remake of King Kong and the Federico Fellini film La Strada. I first became aware of him in when he made the Conan movies.
Laurie “Bambi” Bembenk, 52, former Playboy Club bunny and Milwaukee police officer who was jailed for killing her husband’s ex-wife in the early 1980s, she became even more infamous when she escaped from a Wisconsin prison and hid in Ontario for three months.
Leslie Nielsen, 84, comedic actor best known now for such film farces as Airplane and the Naked Gun series. Started out in westerns but found more success in comedy. My first film I remember him in was Forbidden Planet.
Don Meredith , 72, star of football (SMU and Dallas Cowboys), TV ( Monday Night Football) and commercials
James Moody , 85, jazz saxophonist who recorded more than 50 solo albums as well as songs with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie , Quincy Jones, Lionel Hampton and B.B. King
Blake Edwards, 88, director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignancy and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 10 and the Pink Panther comedies with Peter Sellers
Steve Landesberg, 74, actor and comedian best known for his role as Det. Arthur Dietrich on the 1970s and ’80s sitcom Barney Miller
Teena Marie, 54, R&B singer known as “Ivory Queen of Soul,” Dec. 26.
Bernie Wilson, baritone vocalist in the classic lineup of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
Elizabeth Edwards, 61, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards
Dorothy Jones, 76, was a member of the band ‘The Cookies’ who had a hit with the song Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby & Chains
Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller, 92, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians nicknamed “Rapid Robert
Christopher Shea, 52, who was the original voice of Linus in the original Peanuts TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and four subsequent specials
Billy Taylor, 89, US jazz musician and composer, considered one of the foremost ambassadors ofAmerican jazz music.His most famous song, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, became the unofficial anthem of the US civil rights movement.
Agathe von Trapp, 97, a member of the musical family whose escape from Nazi-occupied Austria was the basis for “The Sound of Music.” Von Trapp was the oldest daughter of Austrian naval Capt. Georg Ritter von Trapp. His seven children by his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, were the basis for the singing family in the 1959 play and 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture. Agathe, a guitarist, was represented in the film by 16-going-on-17 Liesl, played by Charmian Carr.
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