Extraordinary lives: Billy Graham, George and Barbara Bush, Aretha Franklin, John McCain, Eugene Peterson, and more
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95, Feb. 12 | Comedian and half of the famed Allen & Rossi comedy team that appeared regularly on TV talk shows in the 1950s and ’60s.
65, Oct. 15 | Co-founder of Microsoft (with Bill Gates) who later became a philanthropist and owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Forbes estimated his net worth at $20.3 billion at the time of his death.
74, Feb. 16 | Original member of the 1960s girl group the Crystals, singing backup on such hits as “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” and “Then He Kissed Me” and lead vocals on “There’s No Other Like My Baby.”
65, April 16 | Known as Judge Harry Stone in the 1980s sitcom Night Court and for portraying Dave Barry in the 1990s sitcom Dave’s World. He was nominated for three Emmy Awards.
80, Aug. 18 |Seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, he won the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for making human rights a high UN priority.
85, Jan. 4 | Acclaimed Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor whose stories were largely inspired by his childhood experiences during World War II.
89, March 20 |Portrayed Bozo the Clown on television between 1959 and 1970 and became a UNICEF ambassador and a member of the National Television Academy’s Gold Circle.
76, Sept. 27 | Singer-guitarist and co-founder of the rock band Jefferson Airplane and a member of its successor group Jefferson Starship.
88, March 3 | While a medical student in 1954, he became the first person to break the four-minute barrier in the mile run, clocking in at 3:59.4 during a track meet on a windy May 6 day at Oxford University. “Those last few seconds seemed never ending,” the English runner later wrote.
86, May 26 | Navy test pilot and astronaut who was one of only 12 men to walk on the moon. Bean later became an accomplished artist.
85, Dec. 1 | Actor who starred in F Troop, Mayberry R.F.D., and Mama’s Family. He also appeared in comedy films Herbie Rides Again and The Cat from Outer Space and made frequent guest appearances on TV shows, including The Carol Burnett Show, The Golden Girls, Love Boat, and CHiPs.
74, April 1 | Award-winning producer of the hit TV shows Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, L.A. Law, and Doogie Howser, M.D., he became known for pushing for lower TV standards in regard to language and nudity with NYPD Blue. He began his TV career as a story editor for such shows as Columbo.
91, Jan. 20 | Prominent French chef known as the “pope of French cuisine.” He created a network of nouvelle cuisine restaurants around the world, led by his famous L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges outside Lyon, France.
61, June 8 | Celebrity chef and best-selling author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Bourdain was reportedly struggling with depression before he committed suicide in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France.
75, March 25 | Schoolgirl who with her father Oliver Brown took the Topeka, Kan., Board of Education to court and won in a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case that rejected racial segregation in American schools.
92, April 17 | First lady during her husband George H.W. Bush’s presidency (1989-1993) and strong supporter of her son George W. Bush during his presidency (2001-2009), she devoted her public energies to promoting literacy and cancer research.
George H.W. Bush
94, Nov. 30 | World War II fighter pilot, congressman, ambassador, CIA director, vice president of the United States (1981-1989), and 41st president of the United States (1989-1993), he presided over the end of the Cold War and the successful expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. He had less success on domestic issues, suffering politically for breaking his famous “Read my lips, no new taxes” campaign pledge and losing the 1992 presidential election to Bill Clinton.
99, July 9 | British statesman who resigned as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s foreign secretary after he failed to foresee Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. He had previously served as defense secretary under Prime Minister Edward Heath, and he later served as head of NATO as the Cold War ended.
John Allen Chau
26, c. Nov. 17 | American missionary killed by tribesmen as he tried to take the gospel to the remote and isolated North Sentinel Island off the coast of India.
61, June 4 | NFL wide receiver who took part in one of the league’s most iconic plays, leaping high to make “The Catch” that sealed a 28-27 victory for the San Francisco 49ers over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game on Jan. 10, 1982.
85, Nov. 15 | Country music star best known for co-hosting the TV show Hee Haw, Clark was the winner of one Grammy Award and seven CMA awards and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. His country hits included “The Tips of My Fingers” and “Yesterday When I Was Young.”
83, Jan. 20 | TV meteorologist and co-founder of the Weather Channel who became a skeptic of theories of catastrophic man-made climate change. He was the original meteorologist for ABC’s Good Morning America.
91, Sept. 4 | Actor known for playing Maj. Roger Healey on I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960s and neighbor Howard Borden on The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s.
89, Feb. 12 | Romantic crooner known for a string of hit songs beginning in the 1950s that included “Again,” “You’re Breaking My Heart,” “My Heart Cries for You,” and “On the Street Where You Live.” Frank Sinatra once said Damone had “the best pipes in the business.”
92, Sept. 6 | Billionaire co-founder of direct-selling giant Amway, philanthropist, and owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, DeVos was the father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and a prominent supporter of Republican causes.
90, c. June 29 | Artist who co-created the Spider-Man and Doctor Strange characters with Stan Lee while working for Marvel Comics in the ’60s.
104, Feb. 13 | The second-oldest survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who went to work with the Navigators after his career in the Navy.
74, Feb. 1 | Soul and R&B singer who took over for David Ruffin as the lead singer of the Temptations in 1968. His hits with the Temptations included Grammy winners “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”
R. Lee Ermey
74, April 15 | Vietnam-era Marine Corps drill instructor who later became famous as an actor when he portrayed Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket. He also served as a technical adviser and portrayed a helicopter pilot in Apocalypse Now and as a voice-over actor giving voice to the leader of a unit of plastic soldiers in Toy Story.
97, Feb. 22 | A child performer in vaudeville and a teenage actress in Hollywood films, she found her greatest success as an adult in Broadway musicals and on television. She won three Emmy Awards for her comedy work with Sid Caesar during the 1950s.
84, May 5 | Professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University who discovered how bacteria build and spread antibiotic resistance.
86, April 13 | Acclaimed Czech-American director who won Academy Awards for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984).
Naomi Parker Fraley
96, Jan. 20 | Historians believe a photograph of the wartime worker at California’s Alameda Naval Air Station became the inspiration for the Rosie the Riveter character in the famous “We Can Do It!” poster during World War II.
76, Aug. 16 | “Queen of Soul” whose string of hit songs in the 1960s and ’70s included “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” and “A Natural Woman.”
57, July 21 | Los Angeles writer who became the first restaurant critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He wrote for L.A. Weekly and later in the Los Angeles Times and Gourmet.
87, Nov. 16 | Oscar-winning screenwriter whose credits included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men. He also turned his novel The Princess Bride into a screenplay.
Richard N. Goodwin
86, May 20 | Speechwriter and adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, he had previously been a Senate staffer whose investigation into the television quiz show scandals of the 1950s became the basis for the 1994 movie Quiz Show.
99, Feb. 21 | The 20th century’s most prominent Christian evangelist-preacher who shared the gospel with hundreds of millions through personal appearances and television and radio programs. Graham first became famous as an evangelist in 1949 when a tent revival in Los Angeles continued for seven weeks and gained overflow crowds and national media attention. For decades afterward Graham evangelized to the masses at large “crusades” all over the world and in private to world leaders, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
71, June 19 | American golfer whose 19 PGA Tour wins included the 1977 U.S. Open and the 1985 PGA Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
81, April 14 | Hall of Fame NBA player who became the all-time leader for the Philadelphia 76ers in points, field goals, field goals attempted, and games and minutes played. He averaged between 18 and 24 points per game in every season between 1961 and 1971 while playing first for the Syracuse Nationals and then the 76ers.
78, April 7 | German winner of the Nobel Prize in physics who discoveredhow to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, which helped usher in the era of smartphones and iPads.
86, Jan. 14 | Car designer, builder, and driver, he won 51 races worldwide, including four Formula One world championship grand prix events, seven Indy car races, and five top-tier NASCAR races.
76, March 14 | Renowned English physicist, black hole theorist, and atheist who suffered for more than five decades from the debilitating effects of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
74, Jan. 15 | Grammy Award winner and one of the founders of modern gospel music who achieved crossover success with “Oh Happy Day.”
Anna Mae Hays
97, Jan. 7 | Front-line Army nurse who served in three wars: World War II, Korea, Vietnam. She became the first U.S. female brigadier general.
James F. Holland
92, March 22 | Cancer researcher and a pioneer in the use of chemotherapy, he received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for his work in establishing Acute Leukemia Group B, an international research consortium.
H. Wayne Huizenga
80, March 22 | The only U.S. businessman to found three Fortune 500 companies, he created AutoNation, Waste Management, and Blockbuster. In the early 1990s, Huizenga also owned the Miami Dolphins, the Florida Marlins, and the Florida Panthers.
89, June 27 | Father of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson and patriarch of the Jackson 5, he began managing his children’s singing careers in the 1960s and built the family name into a musical brand.
89, Jan. 12 | Sports commentator known as the “voice of college football” who for five decades brought his folksy demeanor to broadcasts, making phrases such as “Whoa, Nellie!” and “Big Uglies” part of the football universe. He was credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl “The Granddaddy of Them All” and Michigan’s stadium “The Big House.”
76, Feb. 7 | Rock drummer and actor who played Pete on the 1990s TV series Home Improvement. As a drummer he played with Bob Dylan, Johnny Rivers, Trini Lopez, and the First Edition with Kenny Rogers.
71, Sept. 18 | Medical researcher who developed a procedure to help pregnant women with diabetes deliver healthy babies.
83, Nov. 12 | Composer of modern church music staples, including “Pass It On” and “Oh How He Loves You and Me,” Kaiser wrote more than 300 copyrighted songs and arranged and produced numerous albums. He worked for years for Word Inc., a Christian music company in Waco, Texas, where he also directed the Baylor Religious Hour Choir from 1965 to 1970 and helped found DaySpring Baptist Church.
91, Jan. 27 | Founded IKEA in his native Sweden when he was 17 years old in 1943, and led the company as it grew into a furniture retailing giant.
94, Oct. 23 | Veteran character actor who appeared in more than 200 movies, most notably as TV news producer Mac Churchill in China Syndrome and as a real estate developer in Poltergeist.
84, April 17 | Public radio mainstay who wrote and read the news on NPR’s Morning Edition and took up comedy on Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!
63, April 2 | Conductor, composer, and author who advocated Christian outreach in the world of classical arts and co-founded the Christian Performing Artists’ Fellowship (CPAF). He served as artistic director of CPAF’s MasterWorks Festival.
69, May 13 | Canadian actress who rose to stardom playing Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in a series of four Superman movies. She was briefly homeless in the 1990s as she struggled with mental illness.
68, June 21 | Psychiatrist who became a speechwriter for 1980 Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale and then a writer and editor for the liberal New Republic. He moved to the right politically during the 1980s and became a prominent conservative columnist and commentator, supporting an aggressive foreign policy abroad and free-market policies at home. Krauthammer was a quadriplegic ever since suffering a spinal cord injury from a diving accident at age 22.
86, Nov. 7 | French composer who won an Academy Award for the theme song to the 1970 movie Love Story. Lai also wrote the theme song for Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman), which won the 1966 Academy Award for best foreign language film.
78, Jan. 8 | Singer-songwriter whose hit R&B singles included “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” and “Now Run and Tell That.” In 1986 she founded the National Association for the Preservation of the Blues.
96, Aug. 6 | Republican governor of Nevada (1967-1971) and U.S. senator (1974-1987). He led the unsuccessful effort against President Jimmy Carter’s Panama Canal treaty but later found success in advancing his friend President Ronald Reagan’s agenda on Capitol Hill and in helping convince Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos to step down in 1986.
94, March 22 | Entrepreneur who opened a store called Children’s Bargain Town in Washington, D.C., in 1948, and ran the company as it expanded into the retailing giant Toys R Us until he left the company in 1994. His death came days after Toys R Us announced it would end U.S. operations.
76, Aug. 24 | Entertainment reporter who began his career at the New York Daily News and People before moving to television where he helped start Entertainment Tonight. He became a household name as the creator and voice of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which from 1984 to 1995 chronicled the extravagant lifestyles of celebrities and business moguls.
95, Nov. 12 | Running Marvel Comics, he helped create such characters as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, and the X-Men and unify them into a single fictional universe
101, May 19 | Scholar whose study of the Middle East shaped U.S. foreign policy toward the region. He taught at Princeton and Cornell Universities and met with world leaders such as King Hussein of Jordan and Pope John Paul II.
93, Nov. 13 | Actress who played the snobbish, gossiping Harriet Oleson on TV’s Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1983.
77, Feb. 4 | British-born actor who portrayed Martin Crane, Frasier Crane’s cantankerous police officer father on TV’s Frasier. He also had roles in the movies Moonstruck, In the Line of Fire, and Say Anything, and he was active in theater in his adopted hometown of Chicago.
81, April 2 | Second wife of Nelson Mandela, she was imprisoned for 17 months, tortured, and confined in solitary during the 1960s. She emerged as a leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement but also faced accusations that she led a violent vigilante group. When Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and elected president, he separated from her.
98, May 24 | The last-surviving actor to appear in The Wizard of Oz, the 4-foot-3-inch Maren had portrayed one of the Munchkins of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 classic. He had nearly 100 other film and TV credits and starred in several commercials, portraying the Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese for McDonald’s and Buster Brown and Little Oscar for Oscar Mayer.
81, Aug. 25 | Naval aviator who was a POW in Vietnam from 1967 to 1973, he represented Arizona in the U.S. House from 1983 to 1987 and the U.S. Senate from 1987 until his death. He ran for president twice, gaining the GOP nomination for president in 2008 before losing to Barack Obama in the general election. In the Senate he was known as a “maverick” who often went against his party on such issues as campaign-finance reform, took strong stands against big-spending bills, and favored an aggressive foreign policy.
83, April 8 | Active in children’s television in the 1960s before becoming a voice actor who provided the voices of Mayor Grafton on The Garfield Show, Ducksworth in DuckTales: Remastered, and Heff Heffalump in Disney’s The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and recorded the famous line “I’m cuckoo for Coco Puffs!” for the cereal’s commercial.
80, Oct. 31 | Hall of Fame first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. In a career spanning from 1959 to 1980, he was an All-Star six times and had 521 career home runs, 1,555 RBIs, and a career batting average of .270.
78, Aug. 7 | Hockey star in the 1960s and ’70s for the Chicago Blackhawks, he remains the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season games played (1,396), points (1,467), and assists (926). He was the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in 1967 and 1968.
86, March 23 | Governor (1991-1999) and U.S. senator (2000-2005) from Georgia, Miller was a conservative Democrat who opposed his party’s shift to the left and endorsed Republican President George W. Bush for reelection in 2004.
Thomas S. Monson
90, Jan. 2 | A Mormon leader for more than 50 years, he became president of the Mormon religion in 2008. Under Monson, the religion’s membership grew to nearly 16 million, with many members coming from outside of the United States.
46, Jan. 15 | Lead singer for the Irish band the Cranberries whose hit singles included “Dreams” and “Linger.” She was a Roman Catholic who said abortion “belittles women” and “just crushes [a woman’s] self-esteem smaller and smaller and smaller.”
85, Oct. 22 | Pastor and author of The Message, a best-selling contemporary paraphrase of the Bible. He served as pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bel Air, Md., for 29 years and was the author of 35 books.
92, Aug. 5 | Tony- and Emmy-nominated actress best known as wise and funny house mother Mrs. Garrett in the 1970s and ’80s TV shows Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.
82, Sept. 6 | Hollywood’s top-grossing star every year from 1978 to 1982, Reynolds’ credits include Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, and TV’s Evening Shade. But he also had his share of flops and embarrassments, including a handful of box-office bombs, a nearly nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan, and a public and spiteful divorce from his second wife, Loni Anderson.
99, Jan. 5 | Co-founded the international children’s ministry Awana in 1950 while working as youth director at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago and wrote most of Awana’s early curriculum and training materials. He stepped down as Awana’s president in 1999.
71, March 29 | Teacher and journalist turned best-selling author of 18 novels, including The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife.
91, Aug. 26 | Playwright whose comedies dominated Broadway for decades. For seven months in 1967, he had four productions running at the same time on Broadway: Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, and The Star-Spangled Girl. The Odd Couple became a successful TV show and movie, and adaptations of many of his other plays made it to the big screen.
James W. Sire
84, Feb. 6 | Chief editor at InterVarsity Press who published works by Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, C. Stephen Evans, and Rebecca Manley Pippert. Sire was also an author who wrote The Universe Next Door and most recently Apologetics Beyond Reason and Echoes of a Voice.
Jens Christian Skou
99, May 28 | Danish scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research into cell membranes. Skou was chair of the Institute of Physiology at Aarhus, Denmark.
55, June 5 | Fashion designer and businesswoman, she built a global brand of popular purses and colorful apparel. She died of suicide by hanging, and her husband Andy said she had been battling anxiety and depression for many years before her death.
80, April 10 | Longtime member of the soul, gospel, and R&B group the Staples Singers with her family, she helped the group score hits such as “Let’s Do It Again,” and “I’ll Take You There.” Staples and her family were members of the Gospel Hall of Fame, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2005.
73, March 29 | Baseball star who became the only player in major league history to have at least 500 hits for four teams. Off the diamond, he founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which has provided more than $140 million to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.
58, Dec. 1 | Naval aviator and vice admiral who commanded the U.S. 5th Fleet, he was found dead from an apparent suicide in his residence in Bahrain.
David Ogden Stiers
75, March 3 | Broadway and TV actor best known for portraying Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III on TV’s M*A*S*H (1977-1983). He also voiced several Disney characters, most notably Cogsworth in 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. A talented musician, Stiers was a resident conductor for the Newport Symphony in Oregon and a guest conductor for orchestras around the country.
John E. Sulston
75, March 6 | British scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on the genetic regulation of organ development.
83, Oct. 13 | Hall of Fame fullback for the Green Bay Packers during the Vince Lombardi era, he was the MVP of the NFL in 1962 when he rushed for 1,474 yards and 19 touchdowns in only 14 regular season games. When he left the Packers, he was the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.
74, Jan. 10 | Child TV star of the 1950s and one of Disney’s original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club.
92, Nov. 8 | Football player who became the first African-American to start for the Penn State Nittany Lions, playing tailback and linebacker from 1945 to 1948, and the first African-American to be drafted and play in the NFL. He played for the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Cardinals before becoming a teacher in Detroit.
49, April 21 | Actor who stood 2 feet 8 inches tall and portrayed Mini-Me in two of the Austin Powers comedy films.
94, Jan. 18 | Navy admiral and, under President Jimmy Carter, director of the Central Intelligence Agency who stirred controversy by downsizing covert operations and eliminating jobs at CIA headquarters.
Jerry Van Dyke
86, Jan. 5 | Actor and comedian who starred as the dim-witted sidekick to Craig T. Nelson in television’s Coach. The brother of Dick Van Dyke, he guest-starred on numerous TV series—including The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason, and The Dick Van Dyke Show—before his role on Coach from 1989 to 1997 cemented his viability as an entertainer outside his brother’s shadow.
94, Jan. 27 | World War II veteran and comic-strip artist who satirized Army life for 70 years with the comic strip Beetle Bailey. He was also involved with other successful comic strips, including Hi and Lois and Sam and Silo.
Wyatt Tee Walker
89, Jan. 23 | Civil rights leader and early executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he helped Martin Luther King Jr. put together the famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” from scraps of paper on which King had written the essay.
Jo Jo White
71, Jan. 16 | Hall of Fame basketball player and seven-time NBA All-Star. He was the MVP of the 1976 NBA Finals after scoring 33 points in the Boston Celtics’ triple-overtime win over the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 17.2 points per game over his 13 years in the NBA.
88, May 14 | Reporter, author, and satirist who was famous for his pioneering “New Journalism” and such acclaimed novels as The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full. Wolfe began his journalism career as a reporter at The Springfield (Mass.) Union in 1957 and later worked for The Washington Post, the New York Herald-Tribune, and Esquire.
87, Jan. 5 | Navy officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and astronaut who took six trips into space, became the ninth person to walk on the moon, and commanded the first space shuttle mission in 1981.
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