John Davis, one of the true singers behind notorious R&B act Milli Vanilli, has died of
coronavirus at age 66, according to his family.
Davis' daughter, Jasmin Davis, confirmed the performer's death to CNN Thursday.
She revealed the news initially in a post shared on his Facebook page this week.
"Unfortunately my dad passed away this evening through the coronavirus," she wrote on Monday.
"He made a lot of people happy with his laughter and smile, his happy spirit, love and especially through his music. He gave so much to the world! Please give him the last round of applause."
John Davis was one of the true singers behind notorious musical act Milli Vanilli.
Milli Vanilli was a German-French act fronted by Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan. The group fell apart after it emerged that the men had not sung on their records.
The real singing was done by vocalists behind the scenes, including Davis.
The musical duo won the 1989 Grammy for best new artist but lost the award after the truth emerged.
Davis continued with his musical career after the scandal, this time as a lead performer. He sang with stars such as Luther Vandross and performed at concerts around the world. Davis also composed film music.
The musician, who was born in South Carolina, later moved to Germany, where he made occasional television appearances.
Photos: Notable Deaths in 2021
Prince Philip, the irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life, died April 9, 2021, at age 99. His life spanned nearly a century of European history, starting with his birth into the Greek royal family and ending as Britain’s longest serving consort during a turbulent reign in which the thousand-year-old monarchy was forced to reinvent itself for the 21st century.
DMX, the raspy-voiced hip-hop artist who produced the songs “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here)" and who rapped with a trademark delivery that was often paired with growls, barks and “What!” as an ad-lib, died April 9, 2021. He was 50. The rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, had struggled with drug addiction since his teenage years. DMX made a splash in rap music in 1998 with his first studio album, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. He released seven albums, earned three Grammy nominations and was named favorite rap/hip-hop artist at the 2000 American Music Awards.
Olympia Dukakis, the veteran stage and screen actor whose flair for maternal roles helped her win an Oscar as Cher’s mother in the romantic comedy “Moonstruck,” died May 1, 2021. She was 89. Her Oscar victory kept the motherly film roles coming. She was Kirstie Alley’s mom in “Look Who’s Talking” and its sequel “Look Who’s Talking Too,” the sardonic widow in “Steel Magnolias” and the overbearing wife of Jack Lemmon (and mother of Ted Danson) in “Dad.”
Former Vice President
Walter F. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost one of the most lopsided presidential elections after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died April 19, 2021. He was 93. Mondale followed the trail blazed by his political mentor, Hubert H. Humphrey, from Minnesota politics to the U.S. Senate and the vice presidency, serving under Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. Mondale's own try for the White House, in 1984, came at the zenith of Ronald Reagan’s popularity. His selection of Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate made him the first major-party presidential nominee to put a woman on the ticket. On Election Day, he carried only his home state and the District of Columbia.
Christopher Plummer, the dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history, died Feb. 5, 2021. He was 91. Over more than 50 years in the industry, Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009′s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind.” But it was opposite Julie Andrews as von Trapp that made him a star.
Apollo 11 astronaut
Michael Collins, who piloted the ship from which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left to make their historic first steps on the moon in 1969, died April 28, 2021, of cancer. He was 90. Collins was part of the three-man Apollo 11 crew that effectively ended the space race between the United States and Russia and fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s.
Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. “Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home-run king.
Cloris Leachman, a character actor whose depth of talent brought her an Oscar for the “The Last Picture Show” and Emmys for her comedic work in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and other TV series, has died. She was 94. Millions of viewers knew the actor as the self-absorbed neighbor Phyllis in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She also appeared as the mother of Timmy on the “Lassie” series. She played a frontier prostitute in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a crime spree family member in “Crazy Mama,” and the infamous Frau Bucher in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.”
Jessica Walter, whose roles as a scheming matriarch in TV’s “Arrested Development” and a stalker in “Play Misty for Me” were in line with a career that drew on her astringent screen presence more than her good looks, died March 24, 2021. She was 80.
Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Jan. 23, 2021. He was 87. A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honors, including two Peabody awards. With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity he brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show.
Helen McCrory, who starred in the television show “Peaky Blinders” and the “Harry Potter” movies, has died. She was 52 and had been suffering from cancer. McCrory was one of Britain’s most respected actors, making her mark by playing a succession of formidable and sometimes fearsome women. She played the matriarch of a crime family on ”Peaky Blinders” and the scheming Voldemort ally Narcissa Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies.
Cicely Tyson, the pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” won a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” died Jan. 28, 2021, at 96. Besides her Oscar nomination, she won two Emmys for playing the 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” A new generation of moviegoers saw her in the 2011 hit “The Help.”
Beverly Cleary, the celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins, died March 25, 2021. She was 104. Cleary published her first book, "Henry Huggins," in 1950, and more than 40 other books in years following, according to HarperCollins. Cleary's books have sold more than 85 million copies and were translated into 29 different languages. Her protagonists were pests, goody-goodies, bullies and daydreamers, sometimes all at once. She mined memories of her youth and the struggles of kids she knew to capture children's views of the adult world, where fathers sometimes lost their jobs and mothers sometimes parented alone. - CNN, AP
Bernie Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme, died in a federal prison April 14, 2021. He was 82. Madoff admitted swindling thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over decades.
Tommy Lasorda, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved during his 71 years with the franchise, died Jan. 7, 2021. He was 93. Lasorda worked as a player, scout, manager and front office executive with the Dodgers dating to their roots in Brooklyn. He compiled a 1,599-1,439 record, won World Series titles in 1981 and ’88, four National League pennants and eight division titles while serving as Dodgers manager from 1977-96. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1997 as a manager. He guided the U.S. to a baseball gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media icon who for decades used his perch as the king of talk-radio to shape the politics of both the Republican Party and nation, died Feb. 17, 2021, after a battle with cancer. He was 70. A pioneer of AM talk-radio, Limbaugh for 32 years hosted "The Rush Limbaugh Show," a nationally syndicated program with millions of loyal listeners that transfigured him into a partisan force and polarizing figure in American politics. In many ways, his radio show was like the big bang of the conservative media universe. "The Rush Limbaugh Show" helped popularize the political talk-radio format and usher in a generation of conservative infotainment. - CNN
Tanya Roberts, who captivated James Bond in “A View to a Kill” and appeared in the sitcom “That ’70s Show,” died Jan. 4, 2021. She was 65. Roberts played geologist Stacey Sutton opposite Roger Moore in 1985′s “A View to a Kill." She also appeared in such fantasy adventure films as “The Beastmaster” and “Hearts and Armour.” She replaced Shelley Hack in “Charlie’s Angels,” and also played comic book heroine Sheena — a female version of the Tarzan story — in a 1984 film. A new generation of fans saw her on “That ’70s Show” from 1998 and 2004, playing Midge, mother to Laura Prepon’s character Donna.
Shock G, who blended whimsical wordplay with reverence for '70s funk as leader of the off-kilter Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground, died April 22, 2021. He was 57. The group found fame with the Billboard Top 10 hit “Humpty Dance” in 1990, as Shock G, born Greg Jacobs, donned a Groucho Marx-style fake nose and glasses to become one of his many alter egos, Humpty Hump.
Anne Douglas, the widow of Kirk Douglas and stepmother of Michael Douglas, died April 29, 2021. She was 102. The Douglas Foundation, which Anne and her husband co-founded, has donated millions to a wide range of institutions, from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
Elgin Baylor, the Lakers’ 11-time NBA All-Star who soared through the 1960s with a high-scoring style of basketball that became the model for the modern player, died March 22, 2021. He was 86. With a silky-smooth jumper and fluid athleticism, Baylor played a major role in revolutionizing basketball from a ground-bound sport into an aerial show. He spent parts of 14 seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles during his Hall of Fame career, teaming with Jerry West throughout the ’60s in one of the most potent tandems in basketball history.
"Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, the middleweight boxing great whose title reign and career ended with a split-decision loss to “Sugar” Ray Leonard in 1987, died March 13, 2021. He was 66. Hagler was 62-3-2 with 52 knockouts from 1973 to 1987. He was the undisputed middleweight champion from 1980 until his loss to Leonard at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 6, 1987. The fierce left-hander had two of his biggest victories at Caesars Palace, unanimously outpointing Roberto Duran in 1983 and knocking out Thomas Hearns in the third round in 1985.
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, died Feb. 8, 2021. She was 76. Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes. Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown in 1977.
Leon Spinks, who won Olympic gold and then shocked the boxing world by beating Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in only his eighth pro fight, died Feb. 5, 2021. He was 67. A lovable heavyweight with a drinking problem, Spinks beat Ali by decision in a 15-round fight in 1978 to win the title. He was unranked at the time, and picked as an opponent because Ali was looking for an easy fight.
Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, died March 1, 2021. After stints as field secretary for the Georgia NAACP and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, he became head of the National Urban League, becoming the face of Black America’s modern struggle for jobs and justice for more than a decade. He was nearly killed by a racist’s bullet in 1980 before transitioning to business and politics. His friendship with Bill Clinton took them both to the White House.
G. Gordon Liddy
G. Gordon Liddy, a mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison, died March 30, 2021, at age 90. Liddy, a former FBI agent and Army veteran, was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping for his role in the Watergate burglary, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He spent four years and four months in prison, including more than 100 days in solitary confinement.
Larry Flynt, who turned his raunchy Hustler magazine into an empire while fighting numerous First Amendment court battles and flaying politicians with stunts such as a Donald Trump assassination Christmas card, died Feb. 10, 2021. He was 78. Flynt was shot in a 1978 assassination attempt and left paralyzed from the waist down but refused to slow down, building a flamboyant reputation along with a fortune estimated at $100 million.
George Segal, the banjo player turned actor who was nominated for an Oscar for 1966's “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and worked into his late 80s on the ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs,” died March 23, 2021, at age 87. Segal was always best known as a comic actor, becoming one of the screen's biggest stars in the 1970s when lighthearted adult comedies thrived. But his most famous role was in a harrowing drama, “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", based on Edward Albee's acclaimed play. To younger audiences, he was better known for playing magazine publisher Jack Gallo on the long-running NBC series “Just Shoot Me" from 1997 to 2003, and as grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon on the “The Goldbergs” since 2013.
Hal Holbrook, the award-winning character actor who toured the world for more than 50 years as Mark Twain in a one-man show and uttered the immortal advice “Follow the money” in the classic political thriller “All the President’s Men,” died Jan. 23, 2021. He was 95.
Dustin Diamond, who played the role of Screech on the popular 1990s high school comedy "Saved by the Bell," died Feb. 1, 2021, after a recent cancer diagnosis. He was 44.
George P. Shultz
Former Secretary of State
George P. Shultz, a titan of American academia, business and diplomacy who spent most of the 1980s trying to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and forging a course for peace in the Middle East, died Feb. 6, 2021. He was 100. Shultz was labor secretary, treasury secretary and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard M. Nixon before spending more than six years as President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state.
John Chaney, one of the nation’s leading Black coaches and a commanding figure during a Hall of Fame basketball career at Temple, died Jan. 29, 2021. He was 89. Chaney led Temple to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances over 24 seasons, including five NCAA regional finals. Chaney had 741 wins as a college coach. He was twice named national coach of the year and his teams at Temple won six Atlantic 10 conference titles.
Sheldon Adelson, who rose from a modest start as the son of an immigrant taxi driver to become a billionaire Republican powerbroker with a casino empire and influence on international politics, died Jan. 11, 2021. He was 87. In business, Adelson transformed a landmark Las Vegas casino that was once a hangout of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack into a towering Italian-inspired complex. In politics, Adelson was a record-breaking campaign donor who had the ear of domestic and international leaders, including President Donald Trump.
Bunny Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving founding member of the legendary group The Wailers, died March 2, 2021, in his native Jamaica. He was 73. Wailer, a baritone singer whose birth name is Neville Livingston, formed The Wailers in 1963 with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh when they lived in a slum in the capital of Kingston. They catapulted to international fame with the album, “Catch a Fire" and also helped popularize Rastafarian culture among better-off Jamaicans starting in the 1970s.
Carla Wallenda, a member of “The Flying Wallendas” high-wire act and the last surviving child of the famed troupe's founder, died March 6, at the age of 85. She was the daughter of Karl Wallenda, who had founded the troupe in Germany before moving to the United States in 1928 to great acclaim. She was the aunt of aerialist Nik Wallenda.
Roger Mudd, the longtime political correspondent and anchor for NBC and CBS who once stumped Sen. Edward Kennedy by simply asking why he wanted to be president, died March 9, 2021. He was 93. During more than 30 years on network television, starting with CBS in 1961, Mudd covered Congress, elections and political conventions and was a frequent anchor and contributor to various specials.
Joanne Rogers, an an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, the beloved children's TV host Mister Rogers, died Jan. 14, 2021. She was 92. Joanne and Fred Rogers were married for more than 50 years, spanning the launch and end of the low-key, low-tech “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which presented Fred Rogers as one adult in a busy world who always had time to listen to children. His pull as America’s favorite neighbor never seemed to wane before his death in 2003.
Capt. Tom Moore, the World War II veteran who walked into the hearts of a nation in lockdown as he shuffled up and down his garden to raise money for health care workers, died Feb. 2, 2021, after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 100.
Siegfried Fischbacher, the surviving member of the magic duo Siegfried & Roy who entertained millions with illusions using rare animals, died Jan. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. He was 81. The duo astonished millions with their extraordinary magic tricks until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers. For years, Siegfried & Roy was an institution in Las Vegas, where Fischbacher and Horn's magic and artistry consistently attracted sellout crowds. The pair performed six shows a week, 44 weeks per year.
James Levine, who ruled over the Metropolitan Opera for more than four decades before being eased aside when his health declined and then was fired for sexual improprieties, died March 9, 2021. He was 77. Levine made his Met debut in 1971 and became one of the signature artists in the company’s century-plus history, conducting 2,552 performances and ruling over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until forced out by general manager Peter Gelb in 2016 due to Parkinson’s disease.
Phil Spector, the eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his “Wall of Sound” method and who later was convicted of murder, died Jan. 16, 2021. He was 81. Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his castle-like mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. After a trial in 2009, he was sentenced to 19 years to life. Decades before, Spector had been hailed as a visionary for channeling Wagnerian ambition into the three-minute song, creating the “Wall of Sound” that merged spirited vocal harmonies with lavish orchestral arrangements to produce such pop monuments as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby” and “He’s a Rebel.”
Dianne Durham, the first Black woman to win a USA Gymnastics national championship, died Feb. 4, 2021. She was 52. Durham was a pioneer in American gymnastics. Her victory in the all-around at the 1983 national championships as a teenager was the first by a Black woman in the organization's history.
Chick Corea, a towering jazz pianist with a staggering 23 Grammy Awards who pushed the boundaries of the genre and worked alongside Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, died Feb. 9, 2021. He was 79. A prolific artist with dozens of albums, Corea in 1968 replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’ group, playing on the landmark albums “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew.”
Marty Schottenheimer, who won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his “Martyball” brand of smash-mouth football but regularly fell short in the playoffs, died Feb. 8, 2021. He was 77. Schottenheimer was the eighth-winningest coach in NFL history. He went 200-126-1 in 21 seasons with Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego.
Nancy Bush Ellis
Nancy Bush Ellis, a longtime Democrat who helped her Republican brother and nephew get elected president, died Jan. 10, 2021, of complications of the coronavirus. She was 94. She supported and campaigned not only for her brother George H.W. Bush, and her nephew George W. Bush, but for other family members running for public office, including nephew Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
Paul Westphal, a Hall of Fame player who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and later coached in the league and in college, died Jan. 2, 2021. He was 70. A five-time All-Star guard, Westphal played in the NBA from 1972-84. After winning a championship with the Celtics, he made the finals in 1976 with Phoenix, where he was a key part of one of the most riveting games in league history. After his playing career ended, Westphal moved into coaching. He led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993, and also was head coach of Seattle and Sacramento.
Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who was a stalwart of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation spanning an era from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela, died Jan. 19, 2021. He was 75. A four-time All-Star, Sutton had a career record of 324-256 and an ERA of 3.26 while pitching for the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, California Angels and the Dodgers again in 1988, his final season. The durable Sutton never missed a turn in the rotation in 756 big league starts. Only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan made more starts than Sutton, who never landed on the injured list in his 23-year career.
Gerry Marsden, lead singer of the 1960s British group Gerry and the Pacemakers that had such hits as “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and the song that became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” died Jan. 3, 2021. He was 78.
Gregory Sierra, best known for his roles in "Sanford and Son" and "Barney Miller," died on Jan. 4, 2021, from cancer. He was 83. Sierra's most prominent roles were in sitcoms from the 1970s. In NBC's "Sanford and Son," he was a series regular as the Sanfords' neighbor Julio Fuentes. Later, he portrayed Miguel "Chano" Amanguale, a detective on ABC's "Barney Miller." Sierra also had supporting or guest roles in "All in the Family," "Hill Street Blues," "Miami Vice," and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
Hall of Fame songwriter
Jim Weatherly, who wrote “Midnight Train to Georgia" and other hits for Gladys Knight, Glen Campbell and Ray Price, died Feb. 3, 2021. He was 77. Weatherly, who was also a star quarterback for Ole Miss in the 1960s, wrote a number of hits for Gladys Knight & The Pips, including “(You’re the) Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me,” “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” and “Where Peaceful Waters Flow."
Pedro Gomez (left in photo), a longtime baseball correspondent for ESPN who covered more than 25 World Series, died Feb. 7, 2021. He was 58. Gomez joined ESPN as a Phoenix-based reporter in 2003 after being a sports columnist and national baseball writer at The Arizona Republic since 1997. He was best known at the network for his coverage of Barry Bonds and his pursuit of the home-run record during the steroid controversy.
Floyd Little, the versatile running back who starred at Syracuse and for the Denver Broncos, died Jan. 1, 2021, after a long bout with cancer. He was 78. Little was a three-time All-American at Syracuse, where he wore No. 44 like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis before him. From 1964-66, he ran for 2,704 yards and 46 touchdowns. Little was the sixth overall pick in the 1967 AFL-NFL draft. He played nine seasons in Denver, where he earned the nickname “The Franchise” because his signing was credited with keeping the team from relocating.
Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, died March 17, 2021. He was 80.
Sarah Obama, the matriarch of former U.S. President Barack Obama's Kenyan family has died. She was at least 99 years old. Mama Sarah, as the step-grandmother of the former U.S. president was fondly called, promoted education for girls and orphans in her rural Kogelo village.
Johnny Pacheco, who was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer of music stars such as Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz, died Feb. 15, 2021. He was 85.
Prince Markie Dee
Prince Markie Dee, a member of the Fat Boys hip-hop trio who later formed his own band and became a well-known radio host, died Feb. 18, 2021. He was 52. Born Mark Morales in Brooklyn, Prince Markie Dee was a prolific songwriter and founding member of the Fat Boys, a group known for beatboxing that released several popular albums in the 1980s such as the platinum record “Crushin'.”
Arturo Di Modica
Arturo Di Modica, the artist who sculpted Charging Bull, the bronze statue in New York which became an iconic symbol of Wall Street, died Feb. 19, 2021, in his hometown in Sicily at age 80. The sculptor lived in New York for more than 40 years in New York. He arrived in 1973 and opened an art studio in the city's SoHo neighborhood. With the help of a truck and crane, Di Modica installed the bronze bull sculpture in New York’s financial district without permission on the night of Dec. 16, 1989.
Neil Sheehan, a reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times and who chronicled the deception at the heart of the Vietnam War in his epic book about the conflict, died Jan. 7, 2021. He was 84. His account of the Vietnam War, “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam,” took him 15 years to write. The 1988 book won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
Yaphet Kotto, the commanding actor who brought tough magnetism and stately gravitas to films including the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and “Alien," died March 15, 2021. He was 81. Standing 6-foot-3-inches, Yaphet Frederick Kotto was a regular and compelling presence across films, television and Broadway beginning with the films “Nothing But a Man” (1964) and “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968). He made his stage debut in a Boston production of “Othello.” In 1969, he replaced James Earl Jones in the Pulitzer-winning “The Great White Hope” on Broadway. His big-screen breakthrough came as Lieutenant Pope in 1972's “Across 110th Street."
Bobby Brown, an infielder who played on five World Series champions with the New York Yankees and later became a cardiologist and president of the American League, died March 25, 2021. He was 96. Brown played with the Yankees from 1947-54, with Yogi Berra his roommate. He spent eight seasons in the majors and played in a career-high 113 games in 1948, batting .300 with three home runs, 48 RBIs. Overall, he batted .279 with 22 home runs and 237 RBIs. He was president of the American League from 1984-94. Commissioner Rob Manfred called him a “proud Yankee” and “quiet star.”
Larry McMurtry, the prolific and popular author who took readers back to the old American West in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lonesome Dove” and returned them to modern-day landscapes in works such as his emotional tale of a mother-daughter relationship in “Terms of Endearment,” died March 25, 2021. He was 84.
Howard Schnellenberger, who revived football at the University of Miami and Louisville and started the program at Florida Atlantic during a coaching career that spanned a half century, died March 27, 2021. He was 87. Schnellenberger had a career record below .500, but when it came to building, he was a winner. His legacy includes campus stadiums at Louisville and Florida Atlantic.
Anne Beatts, a groundbreaking comedy writer with a taste for sweetness and the macabre who was on the original staff of “Saturday Night Live” and later created the cult sitcom “Square Pegs,” died April 7, 2021. She was 74. Starting in 1975 and running for five seasons, Beatts was among a team of gifted writers that included Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Suzanne Miller and such cast members as Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase who helped make “Saturday Night Live” a cultural phenomenon.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, the fiercely liberal longtime Florida congressman who was dogged throughout his tenure by an impeachment that ended his fast-rising judicial career, died April 6, 2021. He was 84. Hastings was known as an advocate for minorities, a defender of Israel and a voice for gays, immigrants, women and the elderly. He held senior posts on the House Rules Committee and the Helsinki Commission, which works with other countries on a variety of multinational issues.
Lee Hart, the wife of former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado, died April 9, 2021. She was 85. Hart campaigned for her husband during his runs for the Senate and the White House.
Black Rob, known for his hit “Whoa!” and key contributions to Diddy's dominant Bad Boy Records in the 1990s and early 2000s, died April 17, 2021. He was 52. His debut album “Life Story,” released in 2000, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard charts and went platinum, led by the infectious single “Whoa!”
Alma Wahlberg, the mother of entertainers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and a regular on their reality series “Wahlburgers,” has died. She was 78. The Boston-born mother of nine became a household name thanks to her appearances on the A&E series “Wahlburgers,” about the family’s burgeoning burger chain.
Les McKeown, the former lead singer of the 1970s Scottish pop sensation Bay City Rollers, died April 20, 2021, at age 65. Formed at the end of the 1960s, the Bay City Rollers enjoyed huge success in Britain and abroad with their tartan outfits and pop tunes like “Bye Bye Baby," “Shang-a-Lang" and “Give a Little Love.” They had a fanatical teen following and sold more than 100 million records. Some in the British media called them the “biggest group since the Beatles”.
Tempest Storm, the legendary burlesque star who blazed a trail for strip-tease artists for more than a half-century, died April 20, 2021. She was 93. Storm would become an internationally famous figure, selling out clubs across the country. She was featured in many feature films by pioneers Russ Meyer and Irving Klaw, including a co-starring role with Bettie Page in Klaw’s 1955 film “Teaserama.”
Idriss Deby Itno
Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled Chad for more than 30 years and became an important ally to Western nations in the fight against Islamic extremism in Africa, was killed April 19, 2021, while battling against rebels in the north. He was 68.
Jim Steinman, the Grammy-winning composer who wrote Meat Loaf's best-selling “Bat Out Of Hell" debut album as well as hits for Celine Dion, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler, died April 19, 2021. He was 73. Steinman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012 and won album of the year at the 1997 Grammy Awards for producing songs on Celine Dion's “Falling Into You," which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month and featured the Steinman-penned power ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now."
Twenty-time Grammy winner
Al Schmitt, whose extraordinary career as a recording engineer and producer included albums by Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and many other of the top performers of the past 60 years, died April 26, 2021, at age 91.
Tawny Kitaen, who appeared in "Bachelor Party" and provocative 1980s rock videos, died May 7, 2021. She was 59. In 1984, she co-starred in an early Tom Hanks comedy, "Bachelor Party." She then appeared in music videos for heavy metal bands Ratt and Whitesnake, including in "Back for More" and "Is This Love." - CNN
Lloyd Price, an early rock ’n roll star and enduring maverick whose hits included such up-tempo favorites as “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality” and the semi-forbidden “Stagger Lee,” died May 3, 2021. He was 88. Price, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, was among the last survivors of a post-World War II scene in New Orleans that anticipated the shifts in popular music and culture leading to the rise of rock in the mid-1950s.
Jonathan Bush, the younger brother of the late President George H.W. Bush and uncle of former President George W. Bush, died May 5, 2021. He was 89. Bush, who worked in finance, was the last surviving of the family's five siblings.
Pervis Staples (pictured far left), whose tenor voice complimented his father’s and sisters’ in the legendary gospel group The Staple Singers, died May 6, 2021. He was 85. Staples sang gospel songs with his father, the guitar-playing Roebuck "Pops” Staples, and sisters Mavis, Yvonne and Cleotha in Chicago churches before gaining a national following when they began recording songs such as “So Soon,” “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and “Uncloudy Day” for Vee Jay records in the 1950s.
Norman Lloyd, whose role as kindly Dr. Daniel Auschlander on TV’s “St. Elsewhere” was a single chapter in a distinguished stage and screen career that put him in the company of Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and other greats, died May 11, 2021. He was 106.
Colt Brennan, a star quarterback at the University of Hawaii who finished third in the 2007 Heisman Trophy balloting, died May 11, 2021. He was 37. Brennan transferred to Hawaii after stints at Colorado and Saddleback College in California. A certain pro prospect after a record-breaking junior season, he bypassed the NFL draft in order to play his senior year for Hawaii coach June Jones. Brennan led the Warriors to its finest season ever, going 12-0 in the regular season.
Damon Weaver, the student reporter who gained national acclaim when he interviewed President Barack Obama at the White House in 2009 died May 1, 2021. He was 23. Weaver was 11 when he interviewed Obama for 10 minutes in the Diplomatic Room on Aug. 13, 2009, asking questions that focused primarily on education. He covered school lunches, bullying, conflict resolution and how to succeed.
Charles Grodin, the droll, offbeat actor and writer who scored as a caddish newlywed in “The Heartbreak Kid” and later had roles ranging from Robert De Niro’s counterpart in the comic thriller “Midnight Run” to the bedeviled father in the “Beethoven” comedies, died May 18, 2021. He was 86. Known for his dead-pan style and everyday looks, Grodin also appeared in “Dave,” “The Woman in Red,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Heaven Can Wait.” On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the long-running 1970s comedy “Same Time, Next Year,” and he found many other outlets for his talents.
Samuel E. Wright
Samuel E. Wright, the actor who voiced Sebastian the crab in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" and sang the film's Oscar-winning song "Under the Sea," has died at age 74. Wright's role as a Jamaican crab and adviser to King Triton in the much-loved 1989 Disney film marked the high point of his lengthy career in cinema, television and theater. - CNN
John Warner, a Republican U.S. senator who led Virginia's congressional delegation for 30 years and whose marriage to actress Elizabeth Taylor brought a dash of glamour to Virginia politics, died May 25, 2021. He was 94. Warner served in the Senate from 1979 to 2009, including three stints as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, a key post for a state whose economy is heavily dependent on federal spending.
Eric Carle, the beloved children’s author and illustrator whose classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other works gave millions of kids some of their earliest and most cherished literary memories, died May 23, 2021, at age 91. Through books like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” “Do You Want to Be My Friend?” and “From Head to Toe,” Carle introduced universal themes in simple words and bright colors.
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