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The Gone But Not Forgotten Famous Celebrity Death Thread

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  • S Landreth

    Diana Ross & the Supremes: 10 of the best:

    Diana Ross & The Supremes - Someday We'll Be Together

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  • S Landreth
    Mary Wilson, Co-Founder of the Supremes, Dies at 76

    Vocalist Mary Wilson, who co-founded the Supremes as a 15-year-old in a Detroit housing project and stayed with the fabled, hitmaking Motown Records trio until its dissolution in 1977, died on Monday night at her home in Las Vegas. She was 76.

    Wilson’s longtime publicist, Jay Schwartz, reported that she died suddenly. The circumstances of her death were not immediately revealed. Funeral services will be private because of COVID, he said, but there will be a public memorial later this year.

    “I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supreme,” said Berry Gordy in a statement Monday night. “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others. … I was always proud of Mary. She was quite a star in her own right and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”

    Just two days prior to her death, Wilson put up a video on her YouTube channel announcing that she was working with Universal Music on releasing solo material, including the unreleased album “Red Hot” she recorded in the 1970s with producer Gus Dudgeon. “Hopefully some of that will be out on my birthday, March 6,” she said in the video. She also promised upcoming interviews she had done about the Supremes’ experiences with segregation that she said were forthcoming in honor of Black History Month.

    Wilson had been highly visible in 2019, when she appeared on the 28th season of “Dancing With the Stars” and released “Supreme Glamour,” her fourth book.

    Wilson had been preparing to spend some of the year joining in celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Supremes, still the most iconic female singing trio of all time.

    Those immediately weighing in at the late hour to pay homage to Wilson ranged from Questlove to KISS’s Paul Stanley. “OMG! Mary Wilson of the Supremes has died suddenly,” tweeted Stanley. “I was just on a Zoom call with her Wednesday for about an hour & never could have imagined this. So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary.”

    With lead vocalist Diana Ross and founding member Florence Ballard (and with Ballard’s replacement Cindy Birdsong), Wilson appeared on all 12 of the Supremes’ No. 1 pop hits from 1964-69; during that period, the act – the biggest of Motown’s vocal groups thanks to their silken sound – charted a total of 16 top-10 pop singles and 19 top-10 R&B 45s (six of them chart-toppers).

    If Ross became renowned as the group’s international superstar and Ballard, who died prematurely at the age of 32 in 1976, came to be memorialized as its tragic figure, Wilson was its steady, omnipresent and outspoken driving force — though many view her as little more than a supplier of the backup hooks that supported Ross’ lead work.

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  • S Landreth
    Hall of Famer Henry "Hank" Aaron dies at 86

    Hall of Famer and one-time home run king Atlanta Braves legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away this morning at the age of 86. He leaves behind an indelible legacy on and off the baseball diamond.

    Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934, the son of Herbert and Estella Aaron. He played in sandlots and started his pro career in the Negro Leagues in 1951. He made his way through the minor leagues until age 20. Aaron then made his Major League Debut and started his 23-year-career with the then-Milwaukee Braves.

    He recorded his first of 755 home runs on April 23, 1954 in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. His first season saw him finish fourth in the rookie of the year voting as he hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBIs. It was just the start of what became one of the most legendary careers in baseball history.

    By the time he was in just his fourth season, he hit 44 home runs, drove in 132 RBIs and won the National League MVP award. The 1957 season started a lengthy run that saw Aaron hit at least 25 home runs in every season until 1973. During this time, Aaron and the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta where Aaron became a living legend on the field.

    It was the 1974 season that saw Aaron smash his way into the national consciousness. On April 8, 1974 Hammerin’ Hank, as he was known, crushed a 1-0 pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing over the left field wall at Fulton County Stadium and broke Babe Ruth’s long-time home run record of 714 home runs in a career.

    Aaron would play a few more seasons before calling it a career on October 3, 1976. He immediately transitioned into a role with the Braves as director of player development, a position he held until 1989. He then became a senior vice president for the Braves, a title he held for decades.

    Aaron remains baseball’s runs batted in leader with 2,297 and total base leader with 6,856. Hammerin’ Hank finished his career with 755 home runs, an all-time record that stood for decades until Barry Bonds passed him and finished with 762 home runs. His #44 jersey was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.

    On August 1, 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking the home run record, Major League Baseball established the Hank Aaron Award that is given to the best overall hitter in each league. He later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and was inducted as a Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society in 2010. In 2016, Aaron was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan's highest honors for his work with the World Children's Baseball Fair.

    But Aaron was more than just a baseball player. He fought through horrendous racism in the deep south throughout his career and even received death threats while he was making his historic pursuit of Ruth’s record. All the while, he remained humble and continued to power through every hurdle that was in front of him.

    In his bio from the Hall of Fame, a quote from the greatest boxer ever, Muhammad Ali accompanies it that reads Hank Aaron was, “The only man I idolize more than myself.” A fitting tribute to towering man who left his mark on the baseball field, society, and the fabric of America.:

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  • S Landreth
    Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Dies at 82/Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' has died of complications from COVID-19 at 82

    Dawn Wells, who found fame as pigtailed castaway Mary Ann Summers on the 1960s hit sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died Wednesday morning in Woodland Hills, Calif., of complications from COVID-19, publicist Harlan Boll has announced. The actress was 82 years old.

    “America's favorite castaway, Dawn Wells, passed peacefully this morning, in no pain, as a result of complications due to COVID, at the age of 82,” Boll said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. The statement, which lists her time of death as 7:30 a.m., also notes that “there is so much more to Dawn Wells than Mary Ann.”

    Born in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 18, 1938, Wells competed in beauty pageants as a young woman, going on to be named Miss Nevada in 1959 and representing her home state in the 1960 Miss America pageant. That same year, she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in theater arts and design.

    Hollywood soon beckoned, leading to a string of appearances in shows including The Roaring 20s (which marked her acting debut), 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Bonanza, The Joey Bishop Show and The Cheyenne Show. She also had minor roles in the films Palm Springs Weekend and The New Interns.

    But it was Gilligan’s Island, which hit TV screens in 1964, that cemented her TV star status. Her character Mary Ann, the Kansas farm girl who found herself shipwrecked with six other passengers of the ill-fated SS Minnow, remains a pop-culture icon and Halloween costume favorite more than 50 years after the show ended in 1967. (With Wells’s death, Tina Louise, who played movie star Ginger, becomes the show’s last surviving cast member.)

    Wells — who auctioned off her character’s famous denim shorts and gingham blouse in 2005 for more than $20,000 — would reprise the girl next door role in multiple reunion specials as well as in shows like Baywatch and ALF. In 1993, she published Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook and released What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life in 2014 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the sitcom’s debut.

    Wells continued to act post-Gilligan’s, with film credits including The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Return to Boggy Creek and Super Sucker. She starred in dozens of musical theater productions, including her own one-woman show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 1985. She also had guest spots on TV shows such as Growing Pains, Roseanne and, more recently, The Bold and the Beautiful, and appeared as herself on Girlfriends and RuPaul’s Drag U. Her last acting credit is a guest voice role, in 2019, in The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, and had recently announced on Facebook that her 1997 fishing series, Dawn Wells: Reel Adventures, would soon be made available on Amazon Prime.

    Wells also made headlines off-screen in recent years. In 2008, her mug shot went viral following a marijuana-related arrest. A decade later, in 2018, it emerged that she was struggling to pay for her health-care bills after taking a fall and requiring rehabilitation. A GoFundMe page started by a friend drummed up nearly $200,000 in donations, prompting the actress to thank fans for their “kindness and affection.”

    “I don’t know how this happened. I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money,” Wells, who was married to Larry Rosen from 1962 to 1967 and had no children, told Fox News at the time.

    Wells’s Facebook features a recorded video message of her sending Christmas greetings fans posted just days ago.

    “I know I will have a new appreciation in a simple gathering of college friends at a coffee shop a few months from now,” she wrote in a comment underneath her video. “Please find joy amidst the pandemic and be cognizant of our overwhelmed first responders. Let’s not let our actions make a bigger burden for them. I am thankful and in awe of the dedication of our health care professionals.”

    Wells is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells. According to Boll, no memorial services are scheduled at this time and in lieu of flowers, donations are requested to The Elephant Sanctuary, The Shambala Preserve and the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum.:

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  • S Landreth
    Pierre Cardin: French Fashion Designer Dies At 98

    French designer Pierre Cardin, who extended his brand far beyond the fashion world, has died at age 98. The son of Italian immigrants worked with luminaries such as Jean Cocteau and Christian Dior before launching his own fashion house, drawing on his love for futuristic design.

    Cardin's family announced his death to Agence France-Presse Tuesday. The French Académie des Beaux-Arts also issued several statements mourning his passing.

    "Immense sadness," the academy's secretary general Cyril Barthalois said via Twitter, adding, "Equally great joy of having known him" through the academy.:

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  • S Landreth
    Leslie West, Mountain Guitarist Who Belted Out ‘Mississippi Queen,’ Dead at 75

    Leslie West, the towering guitarist who created the hard-rock milestone “Mississippi Queen” with his band Mountain, died Wednesday morning. West’s brother, Larry West Weinstein, confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone. He was 75. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. On Monday, West was rushed to a hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida, where he never regained consciousness.

    Released in 1970 on Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, “Mississippi Queen” was two and a half minutes of boisterous bliss built around West’s burly yowl and guitar blasts and drummer Corky Laing’s completely unironic cowbell. One of those never-say-die songs of the classic-rock era, “Mississippi Queen” has been featured in countless soundtracks, TV shows (The Americans, The Simpsons), and in Guitar Hero III. In an interview with Guitar Player earlier this year, West said the song “has just everything you need to make it a winner. You’ve got the cowbell, the riff is pretty damn good, and it sounds incredible. It feels like it wants to jump out of your car radio. To me, it sounds like a big, thick milkshake. It’s rich and chocolatey. Who doesn’t love that?”

    A contemporary of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix, West was respected for his versatile playing (from fingerpicking to metallic power chords) and was revered by a new generation of guitar players who followed. In 2011, Eddie Van Halen told Rolling Stone that West and Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore were among his biggest influences: “Leslie West has this incredible tone in Mountain,” Van Halen said.

    Born Leslie Weinstein on October 22nd, 1945, West grew up in the New York area — Manhattan, Long Island, and Forest Hills, Queens — and was a founding member of the Vagrants, a blue-eyed soul garage band of the mid-Sixties. The group (which also included his brother Larry on bass) scored two minor hits — “I Can’t Make a Friend” and a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” (released just ahead of Aretha Franklin’s titanic version) — before West left the band. A turning point, he once said, was seeing Cream at the Village Theatre (later the Fillmore East) in 1967. “My brother said to me, ‘Let’s take some acid before we go,’ ” West told Blues Rock Review in 2015. “So we took LSD and all of a sudden the curtain opens up and I hear them playing ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ and I see Eric Clapton and his buckskin jacket. I said, ‘Oh, my God, we really suck.’ After that, I started really practicing and practicing.”

    With the help of Cream producer and bass player Felix Pappalardi, who met West when he was producing the Vagrants, West made a solo album, Mountain. Mountain also became the name of the band the two men formed — “because I was so fat!” West later joked.

    West was known for electric-shock white blues riffing, but could also play more fluid melodic lines (as heard in Mountain’s “Nantucket Sleighride” and his solo in their “Theme for an Imaginary Western”). “The thing that most impressed me when I started was how, with Clapton, you could identity his sound like a signature,” West told the L.A. Times in 1990. “I wanted to have a sound you could identify like that. I was never a speed player. I tried to capitalize on my vibrato. I hope I’m regarded as a melodic guitar player, not someone up there going ‘weinie, weinie,’ all night long.”

    When Cream disbanded in 1968, a new generation of even more muscular guitar-based bands were ready to pick up where they left off. Mountain loomed particularly large, and not merely due to West’s bulky size and head of frizzy hair. Reviewing an early Mountain show, one critic described him as a “300-pounder dressed in blue velvet, suede, and snakeskin.”

    The original incarnation of Mountain scored a high-profile appearance at the Woodstock festival — on the second day, between Canned Heat and the Grateful Dead. “I think I had the most amplifiers of anybody there,” West told Rolling Stone in 1989. “It was paralyzing because that stage, that setting, was some kind of natural amphitheater. The sound was so loud and shocking that I got scared. But once I started playing, I just kept going because I was afraid to stop.” West also contributed some unreleased parts to the Who’s Who’s Next.

    Although Mountain garnered a large following, the group broke up in 1972. Taking his Cream roots to a new level, West formed a Cream-style power trio with Mountain drummer Corky Laing and Cream’s Jack Bruce. The group released three albums and sold out New York’s Carnegie Hall, but in 1974, West reformed Mountain for two more records.

    The following year, West formally went on his own with his album The Great Fatsby, a musically varied album that showcased softer sides of his style and also, in its title, poked fun at his weight issues. The album featured “High Roller,” co-written by West with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; Jagger also played guitar on the track. The album failed to elevate West into a star solo act, and over the next few decades, he would alternate between solo albums and touring and recording with different versions of Mountain.

    West’s health had been an issue for many years. In the mid-Seventies, he moved to Milwaukee to kick a heroin habit. In a 1990 interview, he said it had been 10 years since he had “stopped fooling with narcotics.” In the mid-Eighties, he was diagnosed with diabetes — his lower right leg was amputated due to complications from the disease — and promptly lost 85 pounds, dropping to 200. But his weight fluctuated over the years.

    In the years that followed, West continued working: He was a regular on Howard Stern’s radio show, recorded solo records, and took a few stabs at acting, including in 1986’s The Money Pit. Mountain continued on and off with different lineups, and the band released an album of Bob Dylan covers, Masters of War, in 2007; Ozzy Osbourne sang lead on the title remake. Attesting to West’s stature, his 2011 album, The Unusual Suspects, included contributions from Slash, Billy Gibbons, and Zakk Wylde, and West’s last album, Soundcheck, featured Peter Frampton.

    Other than “Mississippi Queen,” “Long Red,” a slice of psychedelic blues from Mountain, remains one of West’s lasting legacies. A drum beat from a live recording of the song, played by N.D. Smart, has been sampled by numerous rap acts, including De La Soul, the Game, ASAP Rocky, and, most notably, Kanye West in “The Glory” and Jay-Z in “99 Problems.” ”There was something about that song that appealed to rappers,” the guitarist told Blues Blast magazine in 2015. “I’ve got six different platinum albums on my wall from all these different guys sampling my stuff. When I wrote that song in 1969, there was no hip-hop. It just so happens that song has a hip-hop beat.” West’s legacy extends well beyond hip-hop, though; numerous bands have covered his material, most recently Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin remaking “Mississippi Queen” earlier this month for their “Hanukkah Sessions.”

    West, who had moved to Florida last month, is survived by his wife, Jenni Maurer; the couple married onstage at a Woodstock 40th anniversary concert in 2009. Of his own mixture of blues and metal, West told The Morning Call in 2000, “It’s like being a chef. You might use the same ingredients as everyone else, but it’s how you put them together. You end up with your own style.”:

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  • S Landreth
    Pilot Chuck Yeager Dies At 97, Had 'The Right Stuff' And Then Some

    One of the world's most famous aviators has died: Chuck Yeager — best known as the first to break the sound barrier — died at the age of 97.

    A message posted to his Twitter account says, "Fr @VictoriaYeage11 It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America's greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever."

    Yeager started from humble beginnings in Myra, W.Va., and many people didn't really learn about him until decades after he broke the sound barrier — all because of a book and popular 1983 movie called The Right Stuff.

    He accomplished the feat in a Bell X-1, a wild, high-flying rocket-propelled orange airplane that he nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis," after his first wife who died in 1990. It was a dangerous quest — one that had killed other pilots in other planes. And the X-1 buffeted like a bucking horse as it approached the speed of sound — Mach 1 — about 700 miles per hour at altitude.

    But Yeager was more than a pilot: In several test flights before breaking the sound barrier, he studied his machine, analyzing the way it handled as it went faster and faster. He even lobbied to change one of the plane's control surfaces so that it could safely exceed Mach 1.

    As popularized in The Right Stuff, Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. But there were no news broadcasts that day, no newspaper headlines. The aviation feat was kept secret for months. In 2011, Yeager told NPR it never much mattered to him. "I was at the right place at the right time. And duty enters into it. It's not, you know, you don't do it for the — to get your damn picture on the front page of the newspaper. You do it because it's duty. It's your job."

    Yeager never sought the spotlight, and was always a bit gruff. After his famous flight in the X-1, he continued testing newer, faster and more dangerous aircraft. The X-1A came along six years later and it flew at twice the speed of sound. On December 12, 1953, Chuck Yeager set two more altitude and speed records in the X-1A: 74,700 feet and Mach 2.44.

    It's what happened moments later that cemented his legacy as a top test pilot. The X-1A began spinning viciously and spiraling to earth, dropping 50,000 feet in about a minute. His flight helmet even cracked the canopy, and a scratchy archive recording from the day preserves Yeager's voice as he wrestles back control of the aircraft: "Oh! Huh! I'm down to 25,000," he says calmly — if a little breathlessly. "Over Tehachapi. I don't know if I can get back to base or not."

    Yeager would get back to base. And in this 1985 NPR interview, he said it was really no big deal: "Well, sure, because I'd spun airplanes all my life and that's exactly what I did. I recovered the X-1A from inverted spin into a normal spin, popped it out of that and came on back and landed. That's what you're taught to do."

    It's more than that, though. Yeager was a rare aviator, someone who understood planes in ways that other pilots just don't. He ended up flying more than 360 different types of aircraft, and retired from the Air Force as a brigadier general. Bob van der Linden of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington says Yeager stood out. "He could give extremely detailed reports that the engineers found extremely useful. It's not just flying the airplane, it's interpreting how the airplane is flying and understanding that. And he understood that, just because he understood machines so well. And was just such a superb pilot."

    Yeager grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, an average student who never attended college. After high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he didn't have the education credentials for flight training. But once the U.S. entered World War II a few months later, he got his chance.

    Van der Linden says Yeager became a fighter ace, shooting down five enemy aircraft in a single mission and four others on a different day. Then he faced another challenge during a dogfight over France. "He got himself shot down and he escaped," van der Linden says. "And very few people do that, and he managed not only to escape. He got back to England and normally they would ship people home after that. And he persuaded the authorities to let him fly again and he did which was highly unusual." In addition to his flying skills, Yeager also had "better than perfect" vision: 20-10. He reportedly could see enemy fighters from 50 miles away and end up fighting in four wars.

    Today, the plane Yeager first broke the sound barrier in, the X-1, hangs inside the Air and Space museum. Museum-goer Norm Healey was visiting from Canada and reading about Yeager's accomplishments. "I loved airplanes as a kid. And Chuck Yeager was always sort of the cowboy of the airplane world. At least that was my perspective when I was young. As I've grown older and now have kids and a family and a wife, I appreciate it much more now, his courage."

    Yeager never considered himself to be courageous or a hero. He said he was just doing his job. A job that required more than skill. "All through my career, I credit luck a lot with survival because of the kind of work we were doing."

    Chuck Yeager spent the last years of his life doing what he truly loved: flying airplanes, speaking to aviation groups and fishing for golden trout in California's Sierra Nevada mountains.

    "Gen. Yeager's pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America's abilities in the sky and set our nation's dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement late Monday. "Chuck's bravery and accomplishments are a testament to the enduring strength that made him a true American original, and NASA's Aeronautics work owes much to his brilliant contributions to aerospace science.":

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  • S Landreth

    Alex Trebek -- the revered and beloved "Jeopardy!" host since 1984, whose calm but witty presence was must-see television for millions of Americans -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

    A "Jeopardy!" spokesperson tells TMZ, "Jeopardy is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends."

    The TV icon had been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since announcing the news back in March 2019. He immediately started chemo after the diagnosis but made no plans to retire and continued hosting his game show ... as impressively as ever.

    Trebek powered through for a full year -- despite what he called "massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it was really worth fighting on" -- because he said he realized giving up on life would be a betrayal to his wife, God and other cancer patients.

    He pointed out the odds of surviving a second year with pancreatic cancer were just 7 percent, but he hoped he'd be able to celebrate that milestone too. Sadly, he took a turn for the worse.

    Alex continued to host "Jeopardy!" ... recently beginning his 37th season, and earlier this year, he shot the epic 'Greatest of All Time' tournament on prime-time television.

    "Jeopardy!" says Alex hosted episodes will air through December 25th. His last day taping in the studio was October 29.

    The shows executive producer, Mike Richards, says, "Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host "Jeopardy!" was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen."

    After his initial diagnosis, there were several ups and downs for Alex. In May 2019, he announced his tumors had shrunk more than 50 percent, obviously a great sign of progress, but his numbers declined and he began another round of chemotherapy a few months later. Still, he maintained a positive outlook ... and did a lot of good throughout his ordeal.

    His soothing and reassuring voice was on display when he announced having cancer. Trebek -- who was signed to host the show through 2022 -- joked, "Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host 'Jeopardy!' for three more years!"

    His commitment to the game show was a two-way street. When Alex took a brief medical leave in 2018 to have surgery for blood clots on his brain after a nasty fall, "Jeopardy!" never aired episodes with a guest host. He also suffered mild heart attacks in 2007 and 2012.

    Alex started his career on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961 announcing the news, and quickly gained fame after hosting the high school quiz show, "Reach for the Top."

    He introduced himself to U.S. audiences in 1973 when he hosted a new NBC show called "The Wizard of Odds." That would lead to work on a variety of game shows ... including "High Rollers" with his trademark curly hair and classic 'stache and a brief fill-in stint for Chuck Woolery on "Wheel of Fortune."

    Then, when the "Jeopardy!" gig -- a revival of the old show -- came up, Alex got the call.

    The show gained immense popularity with Alex at the helm ... dominating the evening game show biz along with 'Wheel.'

    Alex -- winner of 6 Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host -- set a Guinness World record in June 2014 for most episodes (6,829) of a game show hosted. Despite his unprecedented and hugely successful run, Alex never viewed himself as a celeb or the "star" of the show. He said as much to Harvey Levin for an episode on "Objectified."

    Alex also told Levin he was seriously considering retirement before signing a contract extension. He seemed serious at the time ... naming 2 potential replacements: L.A. Kings announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.

    Important to note ... "Jeopardy!" producers say they are not announcing a new host right now.

    Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Ontario, Canada. He majored in philosophy at the University of Ottawa but he had serious ambitions about a career on TV. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998, but not before running the Olympic Torch in 1996 as it made its way to Atlanta.:

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  • S Landreth
    Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65

    Eddie Van Halen, whose innovative and explosive guitar playing kept the hard rock band that bore his family name cemented to the top of the album charts for two decades, died on Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.

    Van Halen’s son Wolf announced the news. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss,” Wolf Van Halen tweeted.

    Born in the Netherlands and raised in Pasadena, Calif., he founded Van Halen with his older brother, drummer Alex; the siblings were joined by vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in the first recording lineup of the group, which exploded after star-making gigs at such West Hollywood clubs as Gazzarri’s and the Starwood.

    It was instantly apparent from “Eruption,” the solo showcase on Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut album for Warner Bros., that Eddie Van Halen was an instrumentalist to be reckoned with. In a mere one minute and 42 seconds, the axe man detonated a dazzling display of fretboard tapping, ringing harmonics, lightning-fast licks and smeared, dive-bombing effects.

    Writing about that recording in Rolling Stone’s 2015 poll of the 100 greatest guitarists — in which Van Halen placed eighth, between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry — Mike McCready of Pearl Jam wrote, “It sounded like it came from another planet…[I]t was glorious, like hearing Mozart for the first time.”

    Acting as the band’s musical director and co-authoring the band’s tough-riffing songs, which straddled the boundary between hard rock and heavy metal, Eddie Van Halen found immediate success, and formulated a style that would be emulated by hordes of long-haired rockers.

    The group’s first LP “Van Halen,” though it climbed no higher than No. 19 in the U.S., would ultimately be certified for sales of 10 million copies. Its next five multi- platinum albums all reached the top 10; “1984,” released in its titular year, contained the band’s first and only No. 1 single, the synthesizer-driven “Jump,” and sifted another 10 million units.

    Ongoing conflict between the guitarist and the antic front man Roth — who reportedly took exception to Van Halen’s extracurricular work, which included jaw-dropping lead guitar chores on Michael Jackson’s ubiquitous 1983 single “Beat It” — led the singer to split with the act after its elaborate and wildly successful 1984 tour.

    Such a defection would likely have split a less popular band, but Van Halenfound even greater sales after ex-Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar replaced Roth. Between 1986 and 1995, the group released four consecutive No. 1 albums.

    However, Hagar ankled Van Halen after a tiff about the group’s planned greatest hits package. Eddie Van Halen brokered a truce with former singer Roth long enough to complete a pair of new tracks with the vocalist for the 1996 collection, but after another wrangle, a planned reunion with the singer broke down, and Gary Cherone, vocalist for the Boston pop-metal unit Extreme, signed on for a single album, “Van Halen III” (1998), which tallied comparatively meager sales.

    Eddie Van Halen was dogged by personal and health issues that would intermittently interfere with his work in music over the course of the next decade. A chronic joint problem, exacerbated by his reckless onstage style, forced him to undergo hip replacement surgery in 1999. The onset of cancer — likely the result of heavy smoking — led to the surgical removal of part of his tongue in 2000.

    The recording of three songs with Hagar for the two-disc compilation “The Best of Both Worlds” led to a lucrative 2004 reunion tour with Van Halen’s second lead singer. However, the alliance proved to be temporary, and it marked the end of both Hagar’s and bassist Anthony’s association with the group (though they would serve as representatives at the band’s 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, which the Van Halens and Roth declined to attend).

    After years of false starts, Van Halen reconvened in 2007 with Roth as the front man and Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s 16-year-old son, replacing Anthony on bass. Though a tour grossed more than $90 million, it was plagued by rumors of inter-band strife.

    Eddie Van Halen’s escalating drug abuse and alcoholism hastened his 2007 divorce from TV actress Valerie Bertinelli, his wife of 16 years, after a protracted separation. He entered rehab in 2007, and was reportedly sober from 2008.

    “I was an alcoholic, and I needed alcohol to function,” he said in a 2015 interview with Chuck Klosterman. “I didn’t drink to party. Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”

    A second tour fronted by Roth was launched on a more even keel in 2012, supporting an all-new album on Interscope, “A Different Kind of Truth,” which vaulted to No. 2. However, Eddie’s surgery for diverticulitis forced postponement of shows in Japan, which were among the first international dates since 1984.

    Though whispers of further shows would swirl thereafter, Roth opined that “I think Van Halen’s finished” in a September 2019 radio interview in Detroit, just weeks before news of Eddie Van Halen’s treatment for throat cancer surfaced in the press.

    Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born Jan. 26, 1955, in Amsterdam. His father played the clarinet, saxophone, and piano, and both he and his brother Alex were schooled on the latter instrument from the age of six. They continued their studies after the family moved to Pasadena in 1962.

    Though Eddie — who never mastered sight reading — would perform at classical piano recitals, he sought something contemporary and took up the drums, while Alex began playing guitar. The two teenage musicians would ultimately switch off their instruments; Eddie claimed Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, the respective guitar stars of Cream and Led Zeppelin, as his principal inspirations.

    After high school years spent in local party bands, the brothers founded a new quartet — which they unwittingly named Genesis, ignorant of the English group’s existence — in 1972 with singer Roth, whose PA system they were renting for gigs, and bassist Mark Stone, who was replaced by Michael Anthony.

    An attention-grabbing date at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip by the rechristened Van Halen led to a demo session with Gene Simmons of KISS, who in the end opted out on working further with the band. However, as bassist Anthony recalled at the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the act was signed after Warner Bros. chief executive Mo Ostin and producer Ted Templeman caught the band at a 1977 show at the Starwood.

    Produced by Templeman, the band enjoyed a hit run of six albums with Roth as front man. Both “Van Halen II” (1979) and “Women and Children First” (1980) reached No. 6 nationally, while “Fair Warning” (1981) and “Diver Down” (1982) hit No. 5 and No. 3 respectively.

    In the wake of the extroverted Roth’s exit and Hagar’s arrival, some anticipated a downturn in Van Halen’s popularity, but the new vocalist’s flair for power balladry and Eddie Van Halen’s still-puissant guitar attack thrust four albums to the sales pinnacle: “5150” (1986), “OU812” (1988), “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (1991) and “Balance” (1995).

    However, the band never found similar chemistry with Cherone, and Van Halen only witnessed renewed life when it regrouped with Hagar and Roth in the new millennium.

    Eddie Van Halen is survived by his second wife, the band’s former publicist Janie Liszewski, whom he married in 2009, and his son.:

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  • S Landreth
    Acting legend Diana Rigg who starred in The Avengers, was a Bond girl (who actually got to marry 007) and appeared in Game of Thrones dies peacefully at home aged 82

    James Bond actress and Game of Thrones star Dame Diana Rigg has died today at the age of 82 following a short battle with cancer.

    The British actress made her name in the cult 1961 TV series The Avengers, before going on to star as the cutthroat matriarch Lady Olenna Tyrell in HBO's Game of Thrones.

    More recently, Rigg appeared as Queen Victoria's Mistress of the Robes - The Duchess of Buccleuch - in ITV's Victoria alongside Jenna Coleman and as the eccentric Mrs Pumphrey in the adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small - which aired last night on Channel 5. :

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  • S Landreth
    Kool & the Gang Co-Founder Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell Dead at 68

    Singer-saxophonist co-wrote the band’s biggest hits, including “Ladies’ Night,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Celebration”

    Ronald “Khalis” Bell, the singer, songwriter and saxophonist whose group Kool & the Gang became one of the most celebrated and musically eclectic funk bands in the 1970s and beyond, died Wednesday at his U.S. Virgin Islands home at the age of 68, a rep confirmed to Rolling Stone. A cause of death was not disclosed.

    Over the course of 23 albums, starting with 1969’s Kool and the Gang through the 2013 Christmas album Kool for the Holidays, the band morphed from upstart jazz unit to chart-topping funk-soul ensemble to smooth pop group with the addition of vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor in 1979. Bell, who adapted the name Khalis Bayyan later in life, co-wrote many of the group’s perpetual life-event earworms – including “Ladies’ Night,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Celebration” – that have become embedded into the national consciousness.

    In 1964, Bell and his teenage brother Robert “Kool” Bell, unable to afford drums, would collect old paint cans in their Youngstown, Ohio neighborhood and use them as makeshift percussion instruments. It was a crude way to learn music — the brothers would figure out different tones depending on how much paint was in each can — but it launched a musical career that lasted more than 50 years.

    After moving to Jersey City, New Jersey, the duo set up shop in front of the subway in New York’s Greenwich Village, adding cheap drums to their paint-can ensemble. “We’d make about five dollars in three weeks,” Ronald Bell told Rolling Stone in 2015.

    The Bell brothers went on to form the Jazziacs with high school friends Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith, eventually transforming into Kool & the Flames, the Jazz Birds and, finally, Kool & the Gang. As the Jazz Birds, they won the Apollo Theater’s famed Amateur Night while still gigging local clubs in high school.

    The group released their eponymous debut in 1970, which laid the groundwork for their groundbreaking fusion of jazz and funk. “You had a hard time trying to get us to play R&B,” Ronald told Rolling Stone. “We were diehard jazz musicians. We’re not stooping to that. We didn’t really try to do that until now.

    “We used to play a lot of percussion in the streets in the Sixties, go to the park and start beating on drums and stuff in the street … We were very street percussive [on that album], so we blended that element with listening to jazz,” he added. “You could hear the jazz element. You could hear the Motown element.”

    In 1972, the group released their first self-produced album Music Is the Message — Bell called it their “maiden voyage” album — featuring the wah wah-driven hard funk of “Love the Life You Live.” “We were experimenting with synthesizers,” Bell told Rolling Stone, citing James Brown, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock as major influences. “You had groups like Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. You had that synergy going in the air. We were listening to that and trying to find our own way.”

    The group hit their breakthrough, though, with 1973’s aptly titled fourth studio album Wild and Peaceful, a mix of raucous, brassy funk and mellifluous soul. The album would spawn three Top 10 hits — “Funky Stuff,” “Hollywood Swinging” and “Jungle Boogie” (the latter recorded in one take) — all co-written by Bell and establish the group as both a preeminent pop chart force and funk powerhouse alongside Earth, Wind and Fire, the Isley Brothers and Sly & the Family Stone.

    The band dominated much of the 1970s with funk-pop classics Light of the Worlds (1974), Spirit of the Boogie (1975) and Open Sesame (1976). With 1979’s Ladies’ Night, the group added vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor and incorporated a smoother pop sound with hits like “Too Hot” and the title track.

    As many of their funk contemporaries found difficulty adjusting from the Seventies funk peak to the 1980s, Bell’s songs for Kool & the Gang would go on to become some of the band’s biggest hits. 1980’s Celebrate! featured the band’s standout “Celebration,” which remains a perennial wedding staple 40 years later.

    “I was reading Scripture where the creator’s gonna create and made an announcement that he’s gonna create this human thing to angels, and the angels were celebrating him for doing so, and that’s also where the idea came from,” Bell told Rolling Stone of the song’s inspiration. “Three Dog Night had songs about ‘Celebrate’ but there was never a song about a cel-e-bra-tion. Everyone around the world, come on, there’s a celebration every second of our lives. Somewhere, someone is always celebrating something.”

    The hits, all co-written by Bell, continued: 1981’s “Get Down On It” emphasized the group’s stronghold on horn-driven funk, 1983’s “Joanna” channeled the group’s love of doo-wop into a romantic ode to the titular character, and 1984’s Emergency became the group’s biggest-selling album on the back of hits “Fresh,” “Misled” and “Cherish.”

    The group found a new generation of fans starting in the late 1980s as sample fodder for countless hip-hop producers. “After Public Enemy, I was all in [with hip-hop],” Bell told Rolling Stone in 2015. “The music was all new to me. I sat and listened to Fear of a Black Planet and was thrilled. I thought that was amazing. You can practically hear [drummer] George [Brown] playing that break beat. You can hear our music in the background. You know it was compound and compact, but you can hear Kool & the Gang music in all that hip-hop.”

    Bell spent most of the 1990s and 2000s touring as a legacy group with the band, entertaining multiple generations with their string of hits. The group has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, with 31 of their albums going either gold or platinum. Shortly before his death, Bell was working on a solo album titled Kool Baby Brotha Band alongside a series of animated shorts called “Kool TV.”

    Bell remained humble as he looked back on his legacy, insisting that his indispensable contributions were part of a greater whole. “A lot of the songs, I may have spearheaded ’em,” Bell told The New Yorker in 2018. “But it’s really, with a ‘K,’ the [collective] genius of a band called Kool & the Gang.”:

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  • S Landreth
    Kevin Dobson, 'Kojak' and 'Knots Landing' star, dies at 77

    The actor had earned five Soap Opera Digest awards over his more than 50 years in show business.

    Kevin Dobson, an actor best known for his starring roles on the CBS shows "Kojak" and "Knots Landing," died Sunday. He was 77.

    The United Veterans Council of San Joaquin County announced Dobson's death on Monday afternoon. He served as a former chairman of the organization.

    A former Army soldier and Long Island Rail Road conductor, Dobson began his acting career in the late 1960s, first appearing on shows like "One Life to Live," "The Doctors," "The Mod Squad," "Emergency!" and "Cannon." His first major role came on "Kojak," where he played detective Bobby Crocker, opposite star Telly Savalas' lead role as lieutenant Theo Kojak. The show aired for five season on CBS from 1973 to 1978, and Dobson reunited with the cast for the 1990 TV movie "Kojak: It's Always Something."

    Dobson joined the cast of the primetime soap opera "Knots Landing" during its fourth season in 1982. He played Marion Patrick "Mack" MacKenzie, the love interest and eventual husband of star Michele Lee's character Karen MacKenzie. He was a main cast member of the series until its cancellation in 1993 after 14 seasons. He and the cast reunited for a miniseries called "Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-De-Sac" in 1997. For his role, he earned five Soap Opera Digest Awards throughout his career.

    He appeared on several other soap operas, like "The Bold and the Beautiful" as Judge Devin Owens in 2006-2007 and "Days of Our Lives" as Mickey Horton in 2008. His other credits included "House of Lies," "Hawaii Five-0" and "Anger Management."

    Dobson is survived by his wife, Susan, and their three children.: -

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  • S Landreth
    Lou Brock, St. Louis Cardinals legend and Baseball Hall of Famer, dies at 81

    Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, a six-time MLB All Star and St. Louis Cardinals legend, died Sunday. He was 81.

    "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my condolences to the family and friends of Hall of Famer Lou Brock, as well as the loyal fans of the St. Louis Cardinals," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

    "Lou was among the game's most exciting players, becoming the 14th player in history to reach 3,000 hits and holding Baseball's all-time record for stolen bases in a season and career for many years. He was known for his dominant performances in his three career World Series. Lou was an outstanding representative of our National Pastime and he will be deeply missed."

    Brock played a total of 19 MLB seasons, including 16 seasons with the Cardinals. During his time in St. Louis, Brock finished in the top-25 of voting for the National League MVP for six straight seasons. He was the runner-up for the NL MVP Award in 1974.

    Brock started his career with the Chicago Cubs before the club traded him to the Cardinals in the middle of the 1964 season. A two-time World Series champion with St. Louis, Brock hit .300 with five RBI to help the Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in seven games in the 1964 World Series.

    "Lou Brock was one of the most revered members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization and one of the very best to ever wear the Birds on the Bat," Cardinals owner William O. DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.:

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  • S Landreth
    Seaver, greatest Met of all time, dies at 75

    Tom Seaver, whose long, back-bending, knee-scraping strides toward the plate and aura of confidence and determination made him one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball, the greatest Met of all time and earned him the names "Tom Terrific" and "The Franchise," has died. He was 75.

    “We are heartbroken to share that our beloved husband and father has passed away,” said his wife Nancy Seaver and daughters Sarah and Anne. “We send our love out to his fans, as we mourn his loss with you.”

    • 'A light we all looked to': In memory of Tom

    Seaver pitched in the Major Leagues for 20 seasons, winning 311 games and recording a 2.86 ERA. A 12-time All-Star (10 times from 1967-77), he struck out 3,640 batters, which currently ranks sixth all-time but was third, behind only Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton, at the time of his retirement in 1986. Seaver led the National League in strikeouts five times from 1970-76, and he and Christy Mathewson are the only pitchers to record 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts and an ERA below 3.00. Seaver's 16 Opening Day starts is a Major League record.:

    The Baseball Hall of Fame remembers Tom Seaver.

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  • S Landreth
    I should have posted this the morning I received a note from whatshername thanking me for insisting she start getting colonoscopy tests. The note was sent with a link (Not the one below.) to Chadwick Boseman’s death.
    • Chadwick Boseman died on Aug. 28.

    Twitter's most liked tweet of all time now belongs to Chadwick Boseman:

    Boseman's account shared a black and white image of him with a statement confirming he had lost a four-year battle with colon cancer on Friday. He was 43 years old.

    The message went viral and now stands alone at the top of Twitter's metrics board with more than 5.7 million likes. As of this post, the count is 7.6 mill :

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