Actress, Carol Channing died at the age of 97 on January 15th. Notable for starring in Broadway and film musicals, her characters typically radiate a fervent expressiveness and an easily identifiable voice, whether singing or for comedic effect. She began as a Broadway musical actress, starring in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949, and Hello, Dolly! in 1964, when she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She revived both roles several times throughout her career, most recently playing Dolly in 1995. Channing was nominated for her first Tony Award in 1956 for The Vamp followed by a nomination in 1961 for Show Girl. She received her fourth Tony Award nomination for the musical Lorelei in 1974. As a film actress, she won the Golden Globe Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). A documentary on her life came out in 2012, and her last major appearance was for her 95th birthday in 2016.
Actor Robert Forster died on October 11th of brain cancer at the age of 78. He was known for his roles as John Cassellis in Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool (1969), Lebanese terrorist Abdul Rafai in The Delta Force (1986), and Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also had prominent roles in television series such as Banyon (1971–1973), Heroes (2007–2008), and Twin Peaks (2017). He won the Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television for his performance in the Breaking Bad episode "Granite State" (2013), reprising his role in the series' sequel film El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which premiered the day of his death.
Singer, Christina McGuire died on December 28, 2018 but it was not reported until January 4th. She was 92 and died of a stroke. With her sisters, Phyllis and Dorothy (1928-2012), Christina was part of the popular singing group the McGuire Sisters. The sisters formed their group in 1952 and stayed together until 1968. Among their most popular songs are "Sincerely" and "Sugartime", both number-one hits. They made a comeback in the 1980s and performed sporadically until 2004.
Big band leader Bob Wilber died on August 4th at the age of 91. Although his scope covers a wide range of jazz, Wilber was a dedicated advocate of classic styles, working throughout his career to present traditional jazz pieces in a contemporary manner. He played with many distinguished jazz leaders in the 1950s and 1960s, including Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, Sidney Bechet, Jack Teagarden and Eddie Condon. His final two albums were released in 2010 and 2011.
Actress and singer Kaye Ballard died on January 21st at the age of 93 from heart failure and kidney cancer. She established herself as a performer in the 1940s with Spike Jones Orchestra. In 1957, she and Alice Ghostley played the two wicked stepsisters in the live telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, starring Julie Andrews in the title role. From 1967 to 1969, she co-starred as Kaye Buell, a woman whose son marries her next door neighbor's daughter, in the NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law, with Eve Arden playing her neighbor. She also appeared as a regular on The Doris Day Show as restaurant owner Angie Pallucci from 1970 to 1972. She continued to perform until a few weeks before her death. A documentary on her life was released in January of 2019.
Actor Albert Finney died on February 7th at the age of 82. He worked in the theatre before attaining prominence on screen in the early 1960s, debuting with The Entertainer (1960), directed by Tony Richardson, who had previously directed him in the theatre. He maintained a successful career in theatre, film and television.He is known for his roles in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (also 1960), Tom Jones (1963), Two for the Road (1967), Scrooge (1970), Annie (1982), The Dresser (1983), Miller's Crossing (1990), A Man of No Importance (1994), Erin Brockovich (2000), Big Fish (2003), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and the James Bond film Skyfall (2012).
Pianist Andre Previn died on February 28th at the age of 89. His career was three-pronged. Starting by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Previn was involved in the music for over 50 films over his entire career. He won four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings (and one more for his Lifetime Achievement). In jazz, Previn was a pianist-interpreter and arranger of songs from the Great American Songbook, was piano-accompanist to singers of jazz standards, and was trio pianist. He also was married to actress Mia Farrow from 1970 to 1979.
Singer Jim Pike died on June 9th at the age of 82 of Parkinson's Disease.. He was the co-founder of the singing group The Lettermen. Pike and Bob Engemann, a college buddy from Brigham Young University, formed The Lettermen in Los Angeles in 1961 with fellow singer Tony Butala. The groups had numerous hits throughout the 1960s. The Lettermen, with Butala as the only remaining founding member, continues to tour. Engemann died in 2013.
Actor Peter Fonda died on August 16th of lung cancer. He was the son of Henry Fonda, younger brother of Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget Fonda. He was a part of the counterculture of the 1960s. Fonda was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Easy Rider (1969), and the Academy Award for Best Actor for Ulee's Gold (1997). His final portrayal will be in the Vietnam War movie The Last Full Measure.
Actress Julie Adams died at the age of 92 on February 3rd. She starred in a number of films in the 1950s, including Bend of the River and Creature from the Black Lagoon. She was also known for her roles as Paula Denning on Capitol and as Eve Simpson on Murder, She Wrote on television.
Comedian Tim Conway died on May 14th at the age of 85. He was an American actor, comedian, writer, and director. He portrayed the inept Ensign Parker in the World War II situation comedy McHale's Navy from 1962 to 1966, was a regular cast member on the variety and sketch comedy program The Carol Burnett Show, and he co-starred with Don Knotts in several films in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was particularly admired for his ability to depart from scripts with spontaneously improvised character details and dialogue, and he won six Primetime Emmy Awards during his career, four of which were awarded for The Carol Burnett Show, including one for writing.
Actress and singer Diahann Carroll died of cancer on October 3rd at the age of 83. She rose to stardom in performances in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts, including Carmen Jones in 1954 and Porgy and Bess in 1959. In 1962, Carroll won a Tony Award for best actress, a first for a black woman, for her role in the Broadway musical No Strings. Her 1968 debut in Julia, the first series on American television to star a black woman in a nonstereotypical role, was a milestone both in her career and the medium. In the 1980s she played the role of a mixed-race diva in the primetime soap opera Dynasty. She retired in 2014.
Film historian Ron Hutchinson died of colon cancer at the age of 68 on February 2nd. Ron who led a campaign to restore scores of largely forgotten short sound films from the 1920s and ’30s that featured comedians, vaudevillians, opera singers and musical acts.
Actress Valerie Harper died at the age of 80 on August 30th. She began her career as a dancer on Broadway, making her debut in the musical Take Me Along in 1959. Harper is best remembered for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77) and its spin-off Rhoda (1974–78). For her work on Mary Tyler Moore, she thrice received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and later received the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Rhoda.
Actress and model Carol Lynley died of a heart attack at the age of 77 on September 3rd. Lynley is perhaps best known for her film roles in Return to Peyton Place, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Bunny Lake Is Missing, The Pleasure Seekers, The Cardinal, and The Poseidon Adventure, in which she performed the Oscar-winning song "The Morning After" (although her singing voice was dubbed by studio singer Renee Armand. She made her last movie in 2006.
Actor and television host Bob Dorian died on June 15th at the age of 85. He was most widely known for being the host of classic movies on AMC from 1984 to 2001. He also appeared in such movies as He is an actor, known for The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams (2005), and Evil Dead (2013),
Actress Katherine Helmond died at the age of 90 on February 23rd. She was an actress for over five decades of television. She was known for her starring role as ditzy matriarch Jessica Tate on the sitcom Soap (1977–1981) and her co-starring role as feisty mother Mona Robinson on Who's the Boss? (1984–1992). She also played Doris Sherman on Coach and Lois Whelan (the mother of Debra Barone) on Everybody Loves Raymond. She also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows.
Singer Leon Redbone died on May 30th at the age of 69 of dementia. Recognized by his Panama hat, dark sunglasses, and black tie, Redbone was born in Cyprus of Armenian ancestry and first appeared on stage in Toronto, Canada, in the early 1970s. He also appeared on film and television in acting and voice-over roles. Redbone favored material from the Tin Pan Alley era, circa 1890 to 1910. He sang the theme to the 1980s television series Mr. Belvedere and released eighteen albums. He also appeared in the 2003 movie Elf as a Leon The Snowman. Ill health forced him to retire in 2015.
Singer and actress Doris Day died at the age of 97 of pneumonia on May 13th. After she began her career as a big band singer in 1939, her popularity increased with her first hit recording "Sentimental Journey" (1945). After leaving Les Brown & His Band of Renown to embark on a solo career, she recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, which made her one of the most popular and acclaimed singers of the 20th century. Day's film career began during the latter part of the Classical Hollywood Film era with the 1948 film Romance on the High Seas, and its success sparked her twenty-year career as a motion picture actress. She starred in a series of successful films, including musicals, comedies, and dramas. She played the title role in Calamity Jane (1953), and starred in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) with James Stewart. After her final film in 1968, she went on to star in the CBS sitcom The Doris Day Show (1968–1973).
Actress Fay McKenzie died at the age of 101 on April 16th.She starred in silent films as a child, and then sound films as an adult, but perhaps she is best known for her leading roles opposite Gene Autry in the early 1940s in five horse opera features.She also appeared on Broadway, radio and television, having appeared on screen at 10 months old in 1918. She was still appearing on screen at the time of her death, with her latest project opposite her son Tom Waldman Jr. in the comedy Kill a Better Mousetrap, based on a play by Scott K. Ratner, filmed in the summer of 2018 and not yet released at the time of her death.
Actor Danny Aiello died on December 12th at the age of 86. He was a versatile character actor who appeared in numerous motion pictures, including The Godfather Part II (1974), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Moonstruck (1987), Harlem Nights (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), Ruby (1992), and Lucky Number Slevin (2006). He had a pivotal role in the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing (1989) as Salvatore "Sal" Frangione, earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He played Don Domenico Clericuzio in the miniseries The Last Don (1997). He retired from acting in 2017.
Songwriter Jerry Herman, died at the age of 88 on December 26th. Jerry was an American composer and lyricist, known for his work in Broadway musical theater. He composed the scores for the hit Broadway musicals Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles. He was nominated for the Tony Award five times, and won twice, for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles. In 2009, Herman received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. He was a recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.
So much talent lost, but so much memories left behind...