Celebrity Deaths of 2019
Well, as the year comes to a close, it has been my assignment at 990WBOB for almost 8 years to bring you the list of notable passing’s in 2019.
It always amazes me how many names I forgot. There are the ones who go suddenly, the ones who were pretty up there in years and then of course the ones I thought were already deceased.
As I do every year, I won’t mention everyone, so if there was someone you thought was special that you don’t see here it was by no means a slight on their significance.
As the year began we lost Broadway star and the face of Hello Dolly! Carol Channing (97!). One her peers (and much less known) was Kaye Ballard (93) so obviously they lived full length lives. But then there were some that were a little on the “too soon” side: Super Dave and Larry David costar Bob Einstein and The Captain (with Tennille) Daryl Dragon were both only 76. Yankees ace pitcher Mel Stottllemyer was 77.Top Chef fav Fatima Ali was the shocker who died at only 29 years of age.
André Previn the famed concert pianist, conductor and composer was 89. The Monkees Peter Tork (77) joined Davey Jones leaving only two surviving members. Perennial presidential candidate and conspiratorial nutwing Lyndon LaRouche passed at 96 and Nixon’s brother Edward was 88. Another pitching great, Don Newcombe (92) went to the cornfield so to speak. Also in baseball, the first black MLB manager Frank Robinson (92) left us in February. Jackie Kennedy’s sister Lee Radziwill (85) and Albert Finney (82) “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” round out the highlights.
The Madness month had about 40 notable passings this year. Among them was one of the greatest drummers in the world, Hal Blaine (90) who played on every song in the top ten in the 60’s. Another musical great; surf guitar wonder Dick Dale (81) also passed. 60’s heartthrob Jan Michael Vincent was 73 and his 80’s counterpart Luke Perry 52 succumbed to a massive stroke. WWE great King Kong Bundy (63) and the always sexy at any age Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s The Boss) was 89.
Boy N the Hood creator John Singleton (51) was a shock. Georgia Engels of Mary Tyler Moore Show fame was only 70. But the creator of Swiss Miss Cocoa Charles Sanna lived to be 101 years old.
Another month filled with celebrities passing (over 40). The highlights are pretty astounding actually. I mean Doris Day (97) was one of those I already thought had died but poor Red Sox great Billy Bukner (69), Chewbaca (Actor Peter Mayhew 74), Leon Redbone (69), Peggy Lipton (72) from Mod Squad fame and also Quincy Jones’s ex wife as well as Tim Conway (85) and Claus Von Bulow (92) made for a sad month.
Must have been the right time; Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) died at 77. Gloria Vanderbilt (95), Warhol “Superstar” Sylvia Miles (94), and southern Hip-Hop artist Bushwick Bill (52) all left us.
All-Pro linebacker Nick Buoniconti, after years of raising awareness and money for spinal injury victims died at 78. Cool actor Rutger Hauer (75) from Bladerunner fame, the fabulous Art Neville (81), RI native and Voyage To the Bottom of The Sea star David Hedison (92), Four class boxing champ Pernell Whitaker (55), Rip Torn (88) IBM and presidential candidate Ross Perot (89), Laugh In’s Arte Johnson (90), automobile giant Lee Iaccoca (94) Disney child star Cameron Boyce (only 20) and Ball Four author and pitching great Jim Bouton (80) made July literally a killer month.
Mary Tyler Moore’s Valerie Harper (80) finally succumbed from a long time illness. The Easy Rider and Kill Bill star Peter Fonda (79) and one of the great figures in American literature; the incomparable Toni Morrison (88) made Summer’s close more sad.
Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter (78) went home to Jerry. Superb television journalist Cokie Roberts (75). Someone who helped musicians from this area (including me) and mastermind of The Cars Ric Ocasek (75) was gone. Former NYC cop turned Rockstar Eddie Money (70) passed as did indie songwriter savant Daniel Johnston (58).
Great American comedian and character actor John Witherspoon (77) is gone now. Robert Evans (89) was a young actor who became one of the biggest Hollywood movie producers. NFL great Willie Brown (78). One of my favorite writers and journalists Nick Tosches (69) passed away. Maude’s patient and loving husband actor Bill Macy 97 years young. The Honorable Elijah Cummings (68) left way too soon for this nation. Character actor Robert Forster (78), Flamboyant comedian and confetti thrower Rip Taylor (88), my 13 year old crush Diahann Carroll (84), indie musician and leader of The Muffs Kim Shattuck (56) died way too young after battling cancer and overrated drummer and big time asshole Ginger Baker (80) finally left us in peace.
You’ve seen his work even if you don’t know the name, cartoonist/satirist Gahan Wilson (89). Really cool character actor Michael J. Pollard (80) also left us in November
So far, for me anyway, the most notable passing has been actress Shelley Morrison (83) from Will & Grace fame, but I will also always remember her as Sister Sisto in The Flying Nun. As always this story goes to press before the end of the year truly comes, so as I say every year, there hopefully will not be more to come.