Kyle Jean-Baptiste died in an accident on Friday at the age of 21. Mr. Jean-Baptiste joined the company of Les Miserables this summer after his college graduation, and became the first African-American man to play Jean Valjean on Broadway on June 23, while understudying the role. He recently announced on Facebook that he would be joining the Broadway cast of The Color Purple alongside Jennifer Hudson. His last performance as Valjean was on Thursday night. [more inside]
James Henry "Red" Duke passed away today at the age of 86. With his Texas accent and folksy expressions, Dr. Duke was most famous for his 15 year running TV series Health Reports which covered topics like hyperthyroidism, kidney stones, and even stress management. [more inside]
Merl Reagle, the imaginative and irrepressibly amusing verbal virtuoso who created the crossword puzzles published each week in The Washington Post Magazine and in many newspapers, died Aug. 22 in a hospital in Tampa. He was 65. (Washington Post obituary) [more inside]
Seminal post-modern choreographer Sally Gross has died at 81: "Because that's what we exist on, is the breath. It's the inhale and the exhale that guarantees us that we're living. And it's only because we're alive that we can even take on the idea of performing." [more inside]
Marlene Sanders’ Feminist Legacy [Slate obit] - "She wrote of her accomplishments: 'As I look back on my career, the women's movement provided an exceptional point when time, place and position all came together to give me the power and focus to contribute to the country’s awareness of the status of women.'" [more inside]
Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo and former president and star programmer at HAL Laboratories (he was one of their first programmers), main coder of Earthbound, programmer of NES/Famicom Balloon Fight, coder on some early games in the Kirby series and many other games besides, and the author of the Iwata Asks columns on Nintendo's website, has died at 55 of a bile duct growth. Kotaku article. The Verge.
Roger Rees has passed away at the age of 71. Mr. Rees, who most recently starred in The Visit on Broadway with Chita Rivera, won the Olivier and Tony Awards for Nicholas Nickleby. Among his many memorable roles on television, Rees created the roles of Robin Colcord on Cheers and Lord John Marbury on The West Wing. He is survived by his husband, and partner of more than 30 years, Rick Elice. [more inside]
If you've ever visited a Disney theme park, you likely saw the work of Blaine Gibson. Gibson died earlier this month at the age of 97. [more inside]
Burt's Bees (SLYT) Ingram Berg Shavitz, known as Burt Shavitz, was an American beekeeper and businessman notable for founding the Burt's Bees personal care products company with businesswoman Roxanne Quimby. Burt's likeness is featured on the Burt's Bees products. [more inside]
Academy Award-winning composer James Horner died in a plane crash Monday. He was known for the scores to Titanic (the soundtrack for which sold 27 million copies), Braveheart, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind among many others. [more inside]
RIP Sir Christopher Lee, actor most famous for playing Dracula in numerous horror films but also notable roles as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies [more inside]
Former NY Post editor and film critic Vincent Musetto has met his own deadline. Vincent, aged 74, was generally acknowledged as the author of the famous tag HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR. You can watch an interview with him here.
Joseph R. Biden, known as Beau, died today, at the age of 46. Mr. Biden had previously served as Attorney General of Delaware, and had reportedly been battling brain cancer for several years.
Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark died on May 25, 2015 at the age of 75. Perhaps her most famous project is the documentation of the lives of homeless people in Seattle in the early 1980s, specifically Erin "Tiny" Blackwell, a 13-year-old sex worker. This Life Magazine editorial was then turned into a documentary film called Streetwise in 1984. Mary and her husband, Mark Bell, have more recently followed up with Tiny 30 years later for a successful Kickstarter campaign for a book and film to be released this later this year.
"The life-changing message of 'On Writing Well' is: simplify your language and thereby find your humanity." William Zinsser, journalist and nonfiction writer, passed away earlier this month. His book, "On Writing Well," is one of the definitive works on the craft of writing. [more inside]
Errol Brown, lead singer for the popular British band of the '70s and '80s Hot Chocolate (previously), has died of liver cancer at the age of 71. Brown's soulful voice gave the band a string of hit singles that ran from 1970 to 1984, one of which, "You Sexy Thing", was remixed and re-released twice, making the UK top 10 in the '70s, '80s and '90s. [more inside]
Ben E. King has died at 76. He was the original singer of "Stand by Me" (later covered by John Lennon, Otis Redding, Bono/Springsteen, and many others), which he cowrote with the famous songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller. [more inside]
Actress and game show panelist Jayne Meadows has passed away at the age of 95. Meadows, whose career spanned over six decades, came from a showbiz family - her husband, Steve Allen, was an early television star and the first host of The Tonight Show, while her sister, Audrey, earned stardom for her role as Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners. [more inside]
Lois Lilienstein, of Sharon, Lois & Bram fame, died at age 78. She was probably best known in Canada for The Elephant Show.
Stan Freberg has passed away at the age of 88. Equally famed as a voice and a satirist (and Weird Al Yankovic's idol), he had hit records making fun of pop music ("The Banana Boat Song", "The Great Pretender", Lawrence Welk, among others) with his biggest hit a re-located parody of "Dragnet", and his most memorable the 1958 attack on Christmas commercialization: "Green Christmas". He got even deeper with his deconstruction of American history, and was punished for his irreverence by becoming much in demand to make television commercials. But even earlier, he did cartoon voices, being one of the few to work (uncredited) alongside Mel Blanc at Warner Bros., and was the voice of Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent on the local-puppet-show-turned-network cartoon "Time for Beany". And more... previously here.
John Renbourn, the highly influential English guitar player, and one of the co-founders of Pentangle, has died. There's a nice appreciation from The Guardian here. Farewell, Mr. Renbourn.
Roy Doty, awesome illustrator, particularly known for drawing the popular, 50-year-running Wordless Workshop instructional comic strip for Popular Science, Family Handyman and syndication, the puzzle page for Make, and also the covers and illustrations for popular Judy Blume books Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge and Otherwise Known As Shelia The Great, among many other things, has died at 92. This episode of the Danny Dee Show (YouTube 27m) shows off his drawing and narration skills. Here's some illustrations from his website. Here's a sample panel of Wordless Workshop. [more inside]
Terry Pratchett, best known for the Discworld series consisting of about 40 books, died today after a long, well publicized battle with Alzheimer's in which he's also been outspoken on right to die issues.
Sam Simon, writer, producer, philanthropist and co-creator of The Simpsons has passed away of colorectal cancer at the age of 59. Previously.
Anthony Mason, iconic Knicks player, dead at 48. Daily Beast: Soul of the 90's. Where are they now in Sports? video interview.
Poet, author, director, actor, cultural icon... Leonard Nimoy has passed away at age 83 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Rest well, Spock, you will be missed.
Today we bid a sad farewell to the last of the old-school Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen: Mr. Robert Belfour was a purveyor or that gritty, driving, riff-based, often one-chord Hill Country style pioneered by people like Mississippi Fred McDowell, and in more recent years popularized by artists like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill. Let's take a listen, then, as we pay our respects to the "Wolfman", to some of his rocking, soulful blues. Here's Black Mattie, I Got My Eyes On You, Hill Stomp, Go Ahead On, My Baby's Gone, Done Got Old and You Got Me Crying. And here's an hour-long recording from February 2013, via NPR: Robert Belfour: Live In Concert.
Long time Parks and Recreation writer and recurring character, inventor of the Humblebrag, curator of the goofiest segment on Comedy Bang Bang, and very sexy drummer for the joke band Don't Stop Or We'll Die, Mr. Harris Wittels passed away today suddenly. He will be missed. (Many links extraordinarily NSFW) [more inside]
Lesley Gore, who sang "It's My Party" (live performance) and "You Don't Own Me," which Wikipedia calls a "proto-feminist" song (live performance + more), died of lung cancer at age 68 today in New York City. [more inside]
Robert Kinoshita, the production designer and art director who created Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot and Lost In Space's B-9 Environmental Control Robot [previously], has passed away at the age of 100.
The same day that his son, Andrew, was inaugurated as the second term governor of New York, Mario Cuomo died yesterday at the age of 82. [more inside]
Deceased is Christine Cavanaugh at age 52. She was an accomplished voice performer, familiar for roles such as Marty (full episode ~22m) from The Critic, Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, and Babe the pig.
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, best known as crime writer P.D. James, died today at the age of 94.
Marion Barry, former 4-term mayor of Washington DC, has died at the age of 78.
Prolific television producer Glen A. Larson has died. Mainstream audiences might remember him as the creator of Alias Smith and Jones, his first hit series; and of such shows as Quincy M.E., Magnum, P.I., and The Fall Guy. But to science-fiction fans, he will always be remembered as the man behind TV's first million-dollar-per-episode series, Battlestar Galactica, and as a Consulting Producer on Syfy's highly regarded remake of the series. He also brought us Knight Rider; The Six Million Dollar Man, which may soon be getting a reimagining of its own; and Buck Rogers in the 25ᵗʰ Century, along with a handful of less successful, but still fondly remembered, sci-fi TV adventures. [more inside]
Alexander Grothendieck, who brought much of contemporary mathematics into being with the force of his uncompromising vision, is dead at 86, some twenty-five years after leaving academic mathematics and retreating into a spiritual seclusion in the countryside. "As if summoned from the void," a two-part account of Grothendieck's life, from the Notices of the American Math Society: part I, part II. [more inside]
The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014) is an article about a 24-year old Chinese assembly line worker and poet who committed suicide last month. He worked for the electronics manufacturer which makes products for a range of companies, including Sony, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo. The post includes Chinese originals and English translations of Xu Lizhi's poems. His death and poetry have garnered much attention, such as these blogposts from The Wall Street Journal and The London Review of Books.
Big Bank Hank, one-third of the Sugarhill Gang, the unlikely ambassadors who took hip-hop out of Bronx parks and onto the pop charts, died on Tuesday in Englewood, N.J. He was 58. [more inside]
Tom Menino, Boston's 53rd and longest-serving mayor, dies at 71. He had recently published his memoirs, but announced last week that he was suspending both his book tour and his cancer treatments. "Because of his leadership," current Mayor Marty Walsh said in a released statement, "Boston is a better place today." That is an understatement -- some polls showed that more than fifty percent of Bostonians had met him at one time or another; Tom Menino was the People's Mayor. [more inside]
Marcia Strassman most famous as Mrs. Kotter, but also known for roles on M*A*S*H, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and her brief foray into music recording has died of breast cancer at 66. [more inside]
Jack Bruce, best known as bass player and vocalist for 60s supergroup Cream has died of liver disease at the age of 71. [more inside]
Zilpha Keatley Snyder, author of 43 books for children and young adults, died from complications of a stroke on October 7, 2014.She won three Newberry Honor Awards
The great Geoffrey Holder died on Sunday at the age of 84 Mr. Holder was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on August 1st, 1930 and danced with his brother Boscoe’s dance troupe as a child. He arrived in New York in 1952 at the invitation of the legendary choreographer, Agnes de Mille and, to pay his fare, he sold 20 of his paintings. [more inside]
NOLA bounce artist and rapper Nicky Da B is dead. Nicki was best known for his colorful, aggressively infectious music and videos, including Hot Potato Style (previously), Express Yourself with Diplo (previously), and his collaboration with photographer Clayton Cubitt Go Loko (NSFW, strobe and flashes warning)