Another year is finished and another listing of the people we have lost in the past year. Even though each death brings us sadness, let us remember the great memories and talent of these stars that will live forever...
Composer STEPHEN SONDHEIM, died at the age of 91 on November 26th. Sondheim was praised for having "reinvented the American musical" with shows that tackled "unexpected themes that range far beyond the [genre's] traditional subjects" with "music and lyrics of unprecedented complexity and sophistication". Sondheim started his theatre career by writing the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959) before becoming a composer and lyricist. Sondheim's best-known works include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987). He wrote five songs for 1990's Dick Tracy, including "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", sung in the film by Madonna, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Film adaptations of Sondheim's work include West Side Story (1961), Gypsy (1962), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Into the Woods (2014), and West Side Story (2021). Sondheim remained active up to the day he died.
Actor CHARLIE ROBINSON, died on July 11th at the age of 75.He is best known for his role on the NBC sitcom Night Court as Macintosh "Mac" Robinson (Seasons 2–9), the clerk of the court and a Vietnam War veteran. Although his most frequent on-screen billing was Charlie Robinson, Night Court had credited him as Charles Robinson throughout his 1984–1992 stint as Mac. His final role was on the television series Love In The Time Of Corona in 2020.
Actress CICELY TYSON, died on January 28th at the age of 96. Having appeared in minor film and television roles early in her career, Tyson garnered widespread attention and critical acclaim for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder (1972); she was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her work in the film. Tyson's portrayal of the title role in the 1974 television film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, based on the book by Ernest J. Gaines, won her further praise; among other accolades, the role won her two Emmy Awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Actor GALVIN MCLEOD, died on May 29th at the age of 90. MacLeod's career began in films in 1957. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Tuesday Weld in 1960's High Time. MacLeod's career began in films in 1957. In 1965, he starred in The Sword of Ali Baba. He went on to appear in A Man Called Gannon (1968), in The Thousand Plane Raid (1969), and in Kelly's Heroes (1970). MacLeod also achieved continuing television success co-starring alongside Ernest Borgnine on McHale's Navy (1962–1964) as Joseph "Happy" Haines, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977) as Murray Slaughter, and most famously as the Captain on The Love Boat (1977-1986). Galvin retired from acting in 2009.
Actor, GEORGE SEGAL
, died at the age of 87 on March 23rd during heart surgery. He became popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing both dramatic and comedic roles. Some of his most acclaimed roles are in films such as Ship of Fools (1965), King Rat (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), Where's Poppa? (1970), The Hot Rock (1972), Blume in Love (1973), A Touch of Class (1973), California Split (1974), For the Boys (1991), and Flirting with Disaster (1996). On television, he is best known for his roles as Jack Gallo on Just Shoot Me! (1997–2003) and as Albert "Pops" Solomon on The Goldbergs (2013–2021).
Comedian NORM MACDONALD, died of cancer on September 14th. He was 61. Norm was a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, and actor known for his deadpan style.Early in his career, he wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and made guest appearances on shows such as The Drew Carey Show and News Radio. Macdonald was then a cast member on Saturday Night Live (SNL) for five years from 1993 to 1998, including anchoring the Weekend Update segment for three seasons. He also he performed impressions of Larry King, Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Quentin Tarantino, Charles Kuralt, and Bob Dole to name a few. After leaving SNL, he starred in the 1998 film Dirty Work and in his own sitcom, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001. In 2013, Macdonald started a video podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, on which he interviewed comedians and other celebrities. In 2018, he released Norm Macdonald Has a Show, a Netflix talk show with a similar premise to his podcast. He last appeared on five episodes of a talk show called Quarantined in 2020.
Singer, JIMMIE RODGERS, died on January 18th at the age of 87. He was an American singer. Rodgers had a run of hits and mainstream popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. His string of crossover singles ranked highly on the Billboard Pop Singles, Hot Country and Western Sides, and Hot Rhythm and Blues Sides charts; in the 1960s, Rodgers had more modest successes with adult contemporary music. Rodgers big hit was "Honeycomb" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" in 1957. He continued to perform until about early 2020. He performed often in Branson, Missouri, where I got to see him perform in 2000.
Actor HAL HOLBROOK, died at the age of 95 on January 23rd. He first received critical acclaim in 1954 for a one-man stage show he developed, Mark Twain Tonight! while studying at Denison University, performing as Mark Twain. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1966 for his portrayal of Twain. He would continue to perform his signature role for over 60 years, only retiring the show in 2017 due to his failing health. He later gained international fame for his performance as Deep Throat in the 1976 film All the President's Men. He played Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 miniseries Lincoln and 1985 miniseries North and South. He also appeared in such films as Julia (1977), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), Wall Street (1987), The Firm (1993), Hercules (1997), and Men of Honor (2000).
Former child star JANE WITHERS died at the age of 95. She became one of the most popular child stars in Hollywood in the 1930s and early 1940s, with her films ranking in the top ten list for box-office gross in 1937 and 1938. In 1932, she and her mother moved to Hollywood, where she appeared as an extra in many films until landing her breakthrough role as the spoiled, obnoxious Joy Smythe opposite Shirley Temple's angelic orphan Shirley Blake in the 1934 film Bright Eyes. She made 38 films before retiring at age 21 in 1947. She returned to film and television as a character actor in the 1950s. From 1963 to 1974, she portrayed the character Josephine the Plumber in a series of television commercials for Comet cleanser. In the 1990s and early 2000s, she did voice work for Disney animated films.
Actress CLORIS LEACHMAN, died at the age of 94 on January 27th. She won many accolades, including eight Primetime Emmy Awards from 22 nominations, making her the most nominated. In film, she appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971) as the jaded wife of a closeted schoolteacher in the 1950s; she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance, and the film is widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time. Additionally, she was part of Mel Brooks's ensemble cast, appearing in roles such as Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein (1974) and Madame Defarge in History of the World, Part I (1981). Leachman won additional Emmys for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She continued to work until 2021, until she died after suffering a stroke. She has two movies that will be released after her death.
Big band leader ELLIOT LAWRENCE, died on July 2nd at the age of 96. Elliot led an impressive big band in the 1940s and ‘50s, won a Tony
Award in 1962 for his conducting of the Broadway show “How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying,” and from 1967 to 2013 was Music Director and
Conductor for the Tony Awards telecast itself (as was stated in The New York
Times, that’s “an astounding 46-year run in a fickle business”). He was one of the last remaining big band leaders.
Comedian JACKIE MASON
, died at the age of 93 on July 24th. His 1986 one-man show The World According to Me! won a Special Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Ace Award, an Emmy Award, and earned a Grammy nomination. Later, his 1988 special Jackie Mason on Broadway won another Emmy Award (for outstanding writing) and another Ace Award, and his 1991 voice-over of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons episode "Like Father, Like Clown" won Mason a third Emmy Award. He wrote and performed six one-man shows on Broadway. Known for his delivery and voice, as well as his use of innuendo and pun, Mason's often culturally grounded humor was described as irreverent and sometimes politically incorrect.
Actress OLYMPIA DUKAKIS
, died on May 1st at the age of 89. Best known as a screen actress, she started her career in theater. Not long after her arrival in New York City, she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1963 for her off-Broadway performance in Bertolt Brecht's Man Equals Man. She later moved to film acting and won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, among other accolades, for her performance in Moonstruck
(1987). She received another Golden Globe nomination for Sinatra
(1992) and Emmy Award nominations for Lucky Day (1991), More Tales of the City (1998) and Joan of Arc (1999). She worked until the end of her life.
Singer JILL COREY, died on April 3rd at the age of 85. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was a popular singer in the 1950s with hits such as Love Me To Pieces in 1957. She dated Frank Sinatra briefly as well as starred in a forgotten movie Senior Prom in 1958. She retired to marry a Pittsburgh Pirates player, but later resumed her career after her husband passed away.
Actor CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, died on February 5th at the age of 91. Born in Toronto, Plummer became a leading actor on Broadway and in Hollywood. Plummer remains widely known for his portrayal of Captain Von Trapp due to the box office success and continued popularity of the Robert Wise directed musical epic The Sound of Music (1965). He won the Oscar for Best Supporting actor in 2012 for Beginners (2011), becoming the old actor nominated in that category. In recent years he was cast in the popular movie Knives Out (2019). n 2021, Plummer was set to play the lead for a film adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, to be filmed in the summer, in Newfoundland, under director Des McAnuff. He died before filming commenced.
Actress MARKIE POST
, died of cancer on August 7th at the age of 70.She was known for her roles as bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in The Fall Guy on ABC from 1982 to 1985, as public defender Christine Sullivan on the NBC sitcom Night Court from 1984 to 1992, and as Georgie Anne Lahti Hartman on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire from 1992 to 1995. She made her last appearance on film and television in 2019.
Former child actor TOMMY KIRK
, died on September 28th at the age of 79. Kirk was best known for his performances in films made by Walt Disney Studios such as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent-Minded Professor
, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones
, as well as the beach-party films of the mid-1960s.
Actor NORMAN LLOYD
, died at the age of 106 on May 11th. He worked in every major facet of the industry including theatre, radio, television, and film, with a career that started in 1923. His last film, Trainwreck
, was released in 2015, after Lloyd had attained 100 years of age. As an actor, he appeared in over 60 films and television shows, with his roles including Bodalink in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight
(1952), Mr. Nolan in Dead Poets Society
(1989), and Mr. Letterblair in The Age of Innocence
(1993). In the 1980s, Lloyd gained a new generation of fans for playing Dr. Daniel Auschlander, one of the starring roles on the medical drama St. Elsewhere on television from 1982 to 1986.
Actress ARLENE DAHL, died at the age of 96 on November 29th. Dahl was one of the last stars of classic Hollywood. Never a huge film star but known for her beauty, she starred in several MGM movies of the 1940s and 1950s such as Three Little Words (1950) with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. She made her last movie in 1991, but remained a socialite and beauty mogul.
Actress JANE POWELL, died at the age of 92 on September 16th. As a teenager, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she signed a film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Powell's vocal, dancing, and acting talents were utilized for lead roles in a variety of musicals for the studio. She made her feature debut as a performer in Song of the Open Road (1944), followed by a lead in Arthur Lubin's Delightfully Dangerous (1945). Powell gained further widespread recognition for her lead roles in the musicals A Date with Judy (1948), Royal Wedding (1951), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Hit the Deck (1955). In later years Jane appeared on many television shows, often in dramatic roles. In 2009, Jane retired from acting , and after her fifth husband, former child star Dickie Moore, died in 2015, Jane became mostly a recluse.
Singer MARY WILSON, died at the age of 76 on February 8th. She gained worldwide recognition as a founding member of The Supremes, the most successful Motown act of the 1960s and the best-charting female group in U.S. chart history, as well as one of the best-selling girl groups of all-time. The trio reached number one on Billboard's Hot 100 with 12 of their singles, ten of which feature Wilson on backing vocals.
Musician MICHAEL NESMITH, died on December 10th at the age of 78. He was best known as a member of the pop rock band the Monkees and co-star of the TV series The Monkees (1966–1968). Nesmith's songwriting credits include "Different Drum" (sung by Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poneys). After the break-up of the Monkees, Nesmith continued his successful songwriting and performing career, first with the seminal country rock group the First National Band, with whom he had a top-40 hit, "Joanne", and then as a solo artist.
Actor ED ASNER, died on August 29th at the age of 91. He is known for playing Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same character in both a comedy and a drama. He is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, having won seven times. He played John Wayne's adversary Bart Jason in the 1966 Western El Dorado. Asner played Santa Claus in several films, including in 2003's Elf. In 2009, he voiced Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's animated film Up. He continued to be active and work until his death.
Actress BETTY WHITE, died at the age of 99 on December 31st. She was 17 days away from celebrating her 100th birthday. Betty was an icon on television for decades, and she got her biggest acclaim on the television shows "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" from 1973 to 1978, "Golden Girls" from 1985 to 1992, and "Hot In Cleveland" from 2010 to 2015. She worked tirelessly for animal rights, and she remained active until right before the covid pandemic.
These stars and icons are gone, but they are truly never forgotten...