Friday, December 22, 2017

Those Who Died in 2017 (Part One)

Each year, we pause and remember those who died during the previous 12 months. For the next two weeks, we’ll take a look back at those who left a lasting imprint on our world.


Reporter Clare Hollingworth
Clare Hollingworth
Clare Hollingworth was born on October 10, 1911 in Knighton, England. She became a journalist in 1939 and was the first war correspondent to report the outbreak of World War II, landing “the scoop of the century.” Hollingworth’s knowledge of the war earned her the designation of "the undisputed doyenne of war correspondents" from the New York Times.

Hollingworth began reporting for The Guardian in 1950, and as a British reporter covered wars in China, Algeria, Vietnam, and Iran. Hollingworth was also the last reporter the Shah of Iran requested be allowed to interview him.

Clare Hollingworth
During her life, Hollingworth was awarded Woman Journalist of the Year in 1962, the James Cameron Award for Journalism in 1994, and in 1999, Hollingworth received a lifetime achievement award from the UK TV program “What the Papers Say.” She was also made an officer in the Order of the British Empire for services rendered in journalism.

Hollingworth died January 10, 2017 after being discovered unresponsive in her apartment. She was 105 years old.

Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards
Mary Tyler Moore
Who could turn the world on with her smile … Mary Tyler Moore, who died in January. Moore was best known for her two television roles, playing the perky Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966, and as Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1971 to 1977.

In both roles, Mary pushed the gender boundaries. As Laura Petrie, she was a modern wife and mom. But it was the role of Mary Richards, a single career woman working as a news producer for WJM that made her an inspiration to girls and young women everywhere. (She was one of the reasons I pursued a career in broadcasting and  journalism.) At a time when women were just beginning to break into male-dominated jobs, it was a breath of fresh air to see her portray a smart, witty woman, sans husband and children, who worked and held her own in the then male-dominated work world. And Mary Richards didn’t have to act tough to pull it off. She remained quintessentially Mary Tyler Moore.

Mary Tyler Moore
Mary also appeared in several films including Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967, Change of Habit with Elvis Presley in 1969, and Ordinary People in 1980 for which she was nominated for an Oscar and an Academy Award for Best Actress. Moore went on to star in several plays in the 1980s and wrote two books, both memoirs, describing her life, losing her only son, her battle with alcoholism, and living with Type 1 diabetes.

Mary Tyler Moore died on January 25, 2017 from cardiac arrest complicated by pneumonia. She was 80 years old. She was buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Connecticut.


Al Jarreau in the 70s
Al Jarreau
Jazz singer Al Jarreau announced his retirement two days before he died in February.  Born Alwin Lopez Jarreau, Al would make jazz music his life. Starting with nightclubs and working up to appearances on the late night shows, Jarreau gained fame when he sang on Saturday Night Live during its first season in 1976.

He soon released his first album, We Got By in 1978, and won his first Grammy Award for best Jazz Vocal Performance for his album, Look to the Rainbow.  We’re in This Love Together put him on top of the Pop charts in 1981 where he remained with After All in 1984, and scored another spot with the theme from the television show, Moonlighting.

Al Jarreau
Jarreau continued touring during the 1990s but stepped back from making records. He released a handful of albums during the 2000s, preferring to take to the stage and perform his music live. In fact, Jarreau had to cancel his remaining 2017 tour dates after he was hospitalized for exhaustion on February 8, 2017. Four days later, on February 12, Al Jarreau died of respiratory failure at the age of 76. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Bill Paxton
A Young Bill Paxton
He was that character actor who could portray “every man” but is best known for his leading roles. William “Bill” Paxton starred in The Terminator, Aliens, True Lies, Twister, Titanic and Nightcrawler, just a few of his recognized film hits. He also starred in the drama series Big Love (2006-2011) earning three Golden Globe Awards. His final film, The Circle was released in April 2017.

Paxton knew he wanted to be an entertainer at an early age. He formed a band called Martini Ranch in the 1980s, releasing one album and a music video. By the Nineties, he was appearing in box-office hits like Tombstone, True Lies and Apollo 13.

Bill Paxton
But Paxton was also a force behind the screen. In 1997, he produced the film Traveller, and directed Frailty in 2001, and The Greatest Game Ever Played in 2005. Then came the HBO series  Big Love in 2006 and Paxton made the character of Bill Henrickson believable. After the show ended in 2011, Paxton went on to co-star with Kevin Costner in the History Channel miniseries Hatfield and McCoys for which he was nominated for an Emmy. In 2014, he returned to television to play John Garrett in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and again in 2017 in Training Day.

Bill Paxton died on February 25, 2017 from a fatal stroke following heart surgery. He was 61 years old.  He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.


Chuck Berry in the 50s
Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson Berry was an American music innovator; a man Rock and Roll greats owe a huge debt to. Thanks to Chuck Berry’s stunning grasp of rhythm and blues, he changed the sounds of the Fifties, and influenced decades of musicians to come. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Aerosmith are just a few groups that have thanked him for his influence.

Berry began his musical career patterning himself after Nat King Cole but soon realized that he had more to offer than imitations. Self-taught on the guitar, Berry started playing clubs with the Sir John Trio in St. Louis. While visiting Blues clubs in Chicago, he asked Muddy Waters for advice on how to make it in the business. Waters connected him to Chess Records, and Berry soon signed a record deal. With his one-of-a-kind guitar riffs, and his signature “duck walk” across the stage, Berry became a popular performer.

Chuck Berry
Some of his best loved songs include “Maybellene,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” By the 1970s, Berry had faded from the record music scene, but he went on to perform live at concerts through the coming decades and had a standing weekly  gig to play at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and pub located in St. Louis. Last year, he announced that he would release an album in 2017. Berry was one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Chuck Berry died on March 18, 2017 of cardiac arrest at his home in Missouri. Berry was 90 years old. He was buried with his Gibson guitar in his hometown of St. Louis.

David Rockefeller in the 60s
David Rockefeller
The world’s oldest billionaire died in March. Standard oil founder, John D. Rockefeller’s youngest and last surviving grandchild, David Rockefeller, spent his entire life in the corporate world. Rockefeller served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Chase Manhattan Bank from 1957 to 1981. He was known and well regarded by presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens around the world.

Brothers John D. and William made the family fortune in the petroleum industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The founders, sons and grandsons branched out into the real estate market with the development of Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Empire State Building, Lincoln Center, the World Trade Center, and One Chase Manhattan Plaza. The family was very involved in conservation helping to create more than 20 national parks, and providing funds for the historical restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. The Rockefellers are considered to have been the most powerful family in American history.

David Rockefeller
Rockefeller was also a well known philanthropist, donating to causes that supported social change worldwide along with donations to the arts, and for medical research. His memoirs were published in 2002, something no other member of the family had ever done. His personal wealth was estimated at more than $3 billion at the time of his death.

David Rockefeller died at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York of congestive heart failure on March 20, 2017. He was 101. Rockefeller was buried in the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow New York.


Don Rickles in the 1960s
Don Rickles
America’s favorite insult stand-up comic died in March. Don Rickles was known for his pointed barbs lobbed at anyone famous. Rickles started his comedic career working bars and clubs in New York and Los Angles. He developed his style as a way to discourage hecklers but audiences loved it. Frank Sinatra saw Rickles' act in Florida and enjoyed it so much, they kept in touch and later became good friends.

During the 1960s, Rickles took roles on sit coms and dramatic shows. He also appeared in the infamous Annette Funicello Beach Party films, which brought his name into the mainstream. By the end of the Sixties, he was appearing on Johnny Carson and The Dean Martin Show. In 1968, he released his first comedic album, “Hello Dummy.”

Rickles stared with Clint Eastwood, Carol O’Conner, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heroes, a comedy war movie in 1970. By 1972, he had his own show, which lasted 13 episodes.

Comedian Don Rickles
From the 1980’s through 2015, Rickles appeared in movies, voiced characters in animated films, and kept his stand up routine going on the road. He performed for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and compared show notes with his best friend, comedian Bob Newhart. When asked in 2015 if he had considered retiring, Rickles replied that he still enjoyed doing the show, so he had no plans to quit.

Don Rickles died of kidney failure at his home in Beverly Hills on April 6, 2017. He was 90 years old. Rickles was buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in L.A.

J. Geils in the 80s
J. Geils
John Warren Geils Jr. was the guitarist and leader of the J. Geils Band during the 1980s. He began his musical career by forming a group called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels in the Sixties. The group moved to Boston and changed its name to  the J. Geils Band. Between 1970 and 1985, the band released eleven albums, two were successes – Love Stinks in 1980, and Freeze Frame with the Number One hit, “Centerfold” in 1985. The band broke up that same year. Geils went on to race cars, and opened KTR Motorsports, a vintage sports car restoration company in Massachusetts.

J. Geils
The J. Geils Band reunited in 1995, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013 to perform reunion concerts. Geils released his first solo album, Jay Geils Plays Jazz in 2005. His final album release was in 2009 with Toe Tappin’ Jazz.
Geils was found unresponsive at his home in Groton, Massachusetts on April 11, 2017. He died of natural causes at the age of 71.


Roger Moore
Roger Moore as 007
Sir Roger George Moore was best known for playing the role of James Bond from 1973 to 1985. Moore took over the Bond role from Sean Connery in 1972 and made made it his own. Born in Stockwell, England, Moore began his career making television appearances and working as a model. He signed a contract with Warner Brothers Studio in 1959 and continued to take bit parts until he landed the lead role of Silky Harris on The Alaskans (1959-1960.) His next regular part was as Beau Maverick playing the English cousin to James Garner’s Brett Maverick in the Maverick western series. In 1962, he was cast as Simon Templar in The Saint and stayed with the show until 1969 - one of the longest running series of its kind on British TV. By now, Moore was known worldwide and the time seemed right to try films. 

Roger Moore
In August 1972, Moore was offered the role of  James Bond. From 1973 to 1985, he portrayed 007 in Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill. Moore reigned as Bond for 12 years - the longest any actor held the part. He then took several years away from acting before returning to play numerous parts on British television shows, and continuing with his voice-over work.
Roger Moore died in Switzerland of cancer on May 23, 2017. He was 89 years old. Moore was buried at Cimetiere de Monaco.

Dictator Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega
Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega died in May. Noriega was at one time one of Central America’s most notorious dictators and drug leaders leading a regime marked with brutality and repression. Noriega ruled Panama during most of the 1980s before the CIA invaded the country and overthrew his regime. He was the first head of state to be convicted in a U.S. court, but during the trial it was discovered that he had been on the CIA’s pay role as a spy. The CIA never commented on Noriega’s status with them.

Noriega's Mug Shot
Noriega was sentenced in 1992 to 30 years in prison but it was later reduced to 17 years, and he was given prisoner of war status. When his sentence was completed in the US, he appealed his extradition to France on a money laundering charge. He was convicted in absentia to serve ten years in a French prison. In April, 2010 he was extradited to France and his sentence reduced to seven years. Once in France, Panama requested his extradition to face charges of human rights violations he had ordered when he was dictator. Noriega arrived in Panama in December 2011.

In February 2012, Noriega was taken to a hospital in Panama City with a brain hemorrhage. One month later he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. On January 23, 2017, he was released from prison and placed under house arrest to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. On March 7, Noriega incurred a brain hemorrhage during the surgery. He was placed in a medically induced coma and died on May 29, 2017 at the age of 83. He was cremated and his ashes given to his wife.
Adam West

Adam West as Batman
Adam West, long known for his portrayal of Batman in the 1960s, died in June. West began his career in westerns and cop shows during the ‘50s. He appeared in Maverick, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, and Perry Mason, among others. He also had a regular role on The Detectives from 1959-1962.

Then came the role of his lifetime, playing Batman, part of the campy Dynamic Duo, which spent each episode fighting to keep Gotham City free from villains. Cesar Romero played the Joker, Burgess Meredith was the Penguin, and Burt Ward played sidekick Robin to West’s Batman. The show became an immediate hit and aired for three seasons before production costs ended it.

Adam West
West went in search of more serious fodder but discovered that he had been typecast at Batman - no one could imagine him without the cape. West didn’t expect fame as a pop culture icon but discovered that he was in demand for live appearances as the caped crusader.

For the next forty+ years, West was active, mainly as a voice artist working on dozens of animated series, video games, and, yes, occasionally voicing Batman for cartoons. He also kept busy with small parts on numerous television shows and films. In 1994, Back to the Batcave was published. In it, West offered a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the television show along with a complete episode guide.

Adam West died June 9, 2017 after a short battle with leukemia in Los Angeles . He was 88 years old.

Helmut Kohl in 1969
Helmut Kohl
Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl died in June. Kohl served from 1982 – 1998 as Germany’s chancellor – the country’s longest serving leader since 1945. Kohl first became the leader of Western Germany in 1982. His goal was to unify the western part of the country with Communist East Germany. That process began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kohl surprised the world one week later when he gave a speech offering a 10-point plan to reunify the two countries into one Germany. By October 1990, Kohl was chancellor of a unified Germany. After he left office in 1998, Kohl kept abreast of what was happening, supporting European unity for the new century.

Helmut Kohl
Kohl was hospitalized in 2008 for a serous head injury, which left him barely able to speak and bound to a wheelchair. Helmut Kohl died June 16, 2017 in deteriorating health in his hometown of Ludwigshafen. He was 87. He was buried in the Cathedral Chapter Cemetery in Speyer.

Next week, we will continue our look back at Those Who Died in 2017.

~ Joy

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