Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith
Dead At 39
Anna Nicole Smith
has died in
"At 2:49 this afternoon we
were advised by hospital
personnel that Anna Nicole
Smith died," Seminole, Fla.,
police Chief Charlie Tiger told
reporters. "Our thoughts and
prayers go out to the family."
Her 5-month-old daughter,
Dannielynn Hope, was not with
them, sources say, but is
being cared for in the
Bahamas by the mother of
Shane Gibson, a high-ranking
Bahamian official who is a
close friend of Smith's.
Stern, with whom she
exchanged vows in a
commitment ceremony on
Sept. 28, "is just devastated,"
Rale says. "He can't speak."
Before learning of Smith's
death, Rale told PEOPLE,
"She hasn't been well the past
few days, she's had cold and
According to Access
Hollywood, she was rushed to
Memorial Regional Hospital
shortly after 2 p.m. ET on
Barbara McNair Dead At 72
her career as a
into acting, she
"They Call Me
Mister Tibbs" and other movies and
also hosted her own TV variety
Barbara McNair (March 4, 1934 -
February 4, 2007) died from throat
Los Angeles, CA August 12,
2007 - Merv Griffin, the
parlayed his "Jeopardy"
and "Wheel of Fortune"
game shows into a
empire, has died. He
Griffin died of
according to a
statement from his family that was released by Marcia
Newberger, spokeswoman for The Griffin Group/Merv Griffin
From his beginning as a $100-a-week San Francisco radio
singer, Griffin moved on as vocalist for Freddy Martin's band,
sometime film actor in films and TV game and talk show host.
His "The Merv Griffin Show" lasted more than 20 years, and
Griffin's said his capacity to listen contributed to his success.
"If the host is sitting there thinking about his next joke, he
isn't listening," Griffin reasoned in a recent interview.
But his biggest break financially came from inventing and
producing "Jeopardy" in the 1960s and "Wheel of Fortune" in
the 1970s. After they had become the hottest game shows in
television, Griffin sold the rights to Coca-Cola for $250 million
in 1986, retaining a share of the profits.
After they became the hottest game shows in television,
Griffin sold the rights to them to the Columbia Pictures
Television Unit for $250 million, retaining a share of the profits.
He started spreading the sale money around in treasury
bonds, stocks and other investments.
He made Forbes' list of richest Americans several times and
started putting money in treasury bonds, stocks and other
investments. But he went into real estate and other ventures
because "I was never so bored in my life."
"I said, `I'm not going to sit around and clip coupons for the
rest of my life,' " he recalled in 1989. "That's when Barron
Hilton said, `Merv, do you want to buy the Beverly Hilton?' I
couldn't believe it."
Griffin bought the slightly passe hotel for $100.2 million and
completely refurbished it for $25 million. Then he made a
move for control of Resorts International, which operated
hotels and casinos from Atlantic City to the Caribbean.
That touched off a feud with real estate tycoon Donald Trump.
Griffin eventually acquired Resorts for $240 million, netting a
reported paper profit of $100 million.
"I love the gamesmanship," he told Life magazine in 1988.
"This may sound strange, but it parallels the game shows I've
been involved in."
It was in 1948 that Martin hired Griffin to join his band at Los
Angeles' Coconut Grove at $150 a week. With Griffin doing
the singing, the band had a smash hit with "I've Got a Lovely
Bunch of Cocoanuts," a 1949 novelty song sung in a cockney
The band was playing in Las Vegas when Doris Day and her
producer husband, Marty Melcher, were in the audience. They
recommended him to Warner Bros., which offered a contract.
After a bit in "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," starring Day
and Gordon MacRae, he had a bigger role with Kathryn
Grayson in "So This Is Love." A few more trivial roles followed,
then he asked out of his contract.
In 1954, Griffin went to New York where he appeared in a
summer replacement musical show on CBS-TV, a revival of
"Finian's Rainbow," and a music show on CBS radio. He
followed with a few game show hosting jobs on TV, notably
"Play Your Hunch," which premiered in 1958 and ran through
the early 1960s. His glibness led to stints as substitute for
Jack Paar on "Tonight."
When Paar retired in 1962, Griffin was considered a prime
candidate to replace him. Johnny Carson was chosen
instead. NBC gave Griffin a daytime version of "Tonight," but
he was canceled for being "too sophisticated" for the
In 1965, the Westinghouse Broadcasting introduced "The
Merv Griffin Show" in syndicated TV. At last Griffin had found
the forum for his talents. He never underestimated the
intelligence of his audience, offering such figures as
philosopher Bertrand Russell, Pablo Casals and Will and Ariel
Durant as well as movie stars and entertainers.
With Carson ruling the late-night roost on NBC in the late
1960s, the two other networks challenged him with competing
shows, Griffin on CBS, Joey Bishop (later Dick Cavett) on
ABC. Nothing stopped Carson, and Griffin returned to
Meanwhile, Griffin sought new enterprises for his production
company. A lifelong crossword puzzle fan, he devised a game
show "Word for Word," in 1963. It faded after one season,
then his wife, Julann, suggested another show.
"Julann's idea was a twist on the usual question-answer
format of the quiz shows of the Fifties," he wrote in his
autobiography "Merv." "Her idea was to give the contestants
the answer, and they had to come up with the appropriate
"Jeopardy," begun in 1964, became a huge moneymaker for
Griffin, as did a more conventional game show, "Wheel of
Fortune," starting in 1975.
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was born in San Mateo, south of
San Francisco on July 6, 1925, the son of a stockbroker. His
aunt, Claudia Robinson, taught him to play piano at age 4,
and soon the boy was staging shows on the back porch of the
"Every Saturday I had a show, recruiting all the kids in the
block as either stagehands, actors and audience, or
sometimes all three," he wrote in his 1980 autobiography. "I
was the producer, always the producer."
After studying at San Mateo Junior College and the University
of San Francisco, Griffin quit school to apply for a job as
pianist at radio station KFRC in San Francisco. The station
needed a vocalist instead. He auditioned and was hired.
Griffin was billed as "the young romantic voice of radio." He
attracted the interest of RKO studio boss William Dozier, who
was visiting San Francisco with his wife, Joan Fontaine.
"As soon as I walked in their hotel room, I could see their
faces fall," the singer recalled. He weighed 235 pounds.
Shortly afterward, singer Joan Edwards told him: "Your voice
is terrific, but the blubber has got to go." Griffin slimmed
down, and he would spend the rest of his life adding and
taking off weight.
Griffin and Julann Elizabeth Wright were married in 1958, and
a son, Anthony, was born the following year. The couple
divorced in 1973 because of "irreconcilable differences."
"It was a pivotal time in my career, one of uncertainty and
constant doubt," he wrote in the autobiography. "So much
attention was being focused on me that my marriage felt the
strain." He never remarried.
On December 31, 2006, Afro American Syndicate
announced that the 3-Disc DVD set " Merv Griffin The Merv
Griffin Show: 40 Of The Most Interesting People Of All Time"
topped the Internet World Wide Web "100 GIFTS TO GIVE
For The 2006 Holidays". The DVD set sold over one million
units in record breaking hours, and continues to win friends
with its warm flavorings from a wonderfully remarkable and
funny, funny man who loved the whole world and wanted
everybody everywhere to laugh out loud each day.
Jon Lucien Dead At 65
NEW YORK Aug 20,
2007 - Jon Lucien
died on the
morning of August
18, 2007 of
complications. Jon was one of the
most remarkable musicans,
songwriters and song interpreters
that graced our lives. Rest in
Pease, JON LUCIEN - Jan 8, 1942
to August 18, 2007
Max Roach Dead At 83
NEW YORK Aug 18, 2007 - A public
viewing will be held at Riverside
Church for jazz great Max Roach,
who died from complications of
dementia/Alzheimers Disease at
12:45 a.m. Thursday in New York
at the age of 83. His daughters
Maxine and Dara were at his
bedside, according to family
spokesperson, Terrie M.
Roachs public viewing will be held
on Friday, August 24 at Riverside
Church, 490 Riverside Drive in
Manhattan, from 9:00 a.m. to
10:30 a.m. with a public funeral
service from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00
p.m. The legendary drummer will
subsequently be buried in a
private ceremony at Woodlawn
Cemetery in the Bronx.
Born on January 10, 1924 in
Newland, North Carolina, Roach
is survived by his five children:
Daryl Keith Roach, Maxine
Roach, Raoul Roach, Ayo Roach
and Dara Roach.
The family issued the following
statement: We are deeply
saddened by our beloved fathers
passing. We wish to convey our
sincere thanks and appreciation
for all the blessings and
condolences we have received at
this time. As his family we are
fortunate to have been a part of
his life and we will continue to
share his legacy as a musician,
educator and social activist with
In lieu of flowers, the family requests
that donations be sent to the
Alzheimer's Association, 225 N.
Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL
60601-7633, www.alz.org or Veritas
Therapeutic Community, Inc. (which
provides substance abuse services),
912 Amsterdam Avenue, New York,
NY 10025, 212-865-9182, ext. 205,
Roach was a Veritas Foundation
trustee and founder.
Dead at 69
NEW YORK Aug 20, 2007 -
Evelyn Blakey passed away
last week and confirmed
with Takashi Buhaina
Blakey, who is Art's son and
Evelyn's half brother.
Evelyn is the first child of
the late, great Jazz
drummer, Art Blakey. Born
in Pittsburgh, she moved to
Harlem in 1948 when she
was 10 years old to grow up
amongst all the music and
musical giants living and
playing in post WW2 NYC .
Evelyn Blakely, jazz singer
and daughter of the late Art
Blakely passed away on
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007.
Her wake will be Tuesday,
August 21st from 6 pm to 8
pm at the Gilmore Lane
Funeral Home, 33 Remsen
Avenue between Utica and
East New York (718 771
Home going service will be
Wednesday, August 22nd at
10 am at
St. Anthony’s Baptist
Church, 425 Utica Avenue,
corner of Empire Blvd.
718 574 5098
NEW YORK Aug 21, 2007 -
Leona Helmsley, the
hotelier who went to
prison as a tax cheat
and was reviled as the
"queen of mean," died
Monday at age 87.
Pavarotti Dead At 71
MILAN, Italy Sept 6, 2007 - The
tenor, Luciano Pavarotti died
early today at the age of 71
after a yearlong battle with
pancreatic cancer. The tenor
collaborated with classical
singers and pop icons alike to
bring opera to the masses,
rescuing the art from
highbrow obscurity in the
Hundreds of people gathered
Thursday night in Modena’s
main piazza to pay final
respects. The crowd
applauded in a sign of respect
as pallbearers carried the
casket into Modena’s
cathedral, where a funeral is
scheduled for Saturday.
Alice Ghostley, Comic
TV and Stage Actress,
Is Dead At 81
Studio City, CA Sept 22,
2007 - Alice Ghostley,
a Tony Award-winning
actress who became
known to television
viewers for her roles as
sidekicks Esmeralda on
“Bewitched” and Bernice on
“Designing Women,” died
yesterday at her home in
Studio City, CA, after a long
battle with colon cancer and a
series of strokes, longtime
friend Jim Pinkston said.
Her age was given as 81.
Jane Wyman the Oscar-
winning Actress Who
Was Ronald Reagan’s
First Wife Dead at 90
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA Sept 10,
2007 - Jane Wyman born
January 5, 1917, died Monday,
September 10, 2007. A
brilliant Academy Award- and
Golden Globe-winning and
actress, she became known to
new generations in the 1980s,
not only for her leading role as
the malevolent matriarch
Angela Gioberti Channing on
the hit prime-time soap opera
Falcon Crest, but because of
her prior marriage to Ronald
Reagan, a former actor who
became President of the
United States.Wyman was
bron Sarah Jane Mayfield in
St. Joseph, MO, and died in
Palm Springs, CA.
Ike Turner - Songwriting
Legend/Wifebeater, Dead at 76
Dec 12, 2007 - Ike
Turner, whose role as
one of rock’s critical
by his ogre-like image as the
man who brutally abused
former wife and icon Tina
Turner, died today (Dec. 12) at
his home in suburban San
Diego. He was 76.
Daredevil Evel Knievel,
Dead at 69
Nov 30, 2007 - Evel
live sharks and
Idaho’s Snake River Canyon made
him an international icon in the
1970s, died Friday. He was 69.
Knievel’s death was confirmed by
his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel.
He had been in failing health for
years, suffering from diabetes and
pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable
condition that scarred his lungs
Charmin Guy - R.I.P. Mr. Whipple Dead at 91
Los Angeles Nov 19, 2007 - Mr. George Whipple is
a fictional supermarket manager featured in
television commercials and print advertisements
that ran in the United States and Canada from
1964 to 1985 for Charmin toilet paper. In unvarying
repetition, Whipple scolds customers who
squeeze the Charmin while hypocritically
entertaining such actions himself.
The long-time Charmin bath tissue pitchman Dick Wilson
known to millions as Mr. Whipple died Monday, Nov 19, 2007
of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in
Woodland Hills, CA. He was 91.
Jazz Piano Legend Oscar Peterson Dead at 82
CANADIAN PRESS Dec 24, 2007 -
Oscar Peterson, who sat atop the
world of jazz piano for decades with
his driving two-handed swing,
technical wizardry and rapid-fire
solos, died on Sunday of kidney
failure, CBC Television said. He
was 82.One of jazz’s most
recorded musicians, both as leader
and accompanist, Peterson rose
from working-class beginnings in Montreal — where his father
let him pursue music only if he promised to be “the best” — to
become a major influence on generations of top-flight
The keyboard titan, who recorded almost 200 albums, played
alongside the greats of the jazz world: Louis Armstrong, Count
Basie, Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge, Duke Ellington, Nat King
Cole, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald.
In the early days of the New York Blue Note Club, owner
Danny Bensusan was determined to book Oscar Peterson at
the club. “I always tried to develop a relationship with Oscar.
He wanted to play the club but he had many commitments in
the area. One day, (bassist) Ray Brown came to me and said
‘Danny, I’ll get you Oscar Peterson, and I’ll get him with the
original trio.’ They came, and from that first performance,
Oscar never missed a gig.”
Dead At Age 70
Jan20, 2008 -
and theater star
best known for her role as Bob
Newhart's sardonic wife on
television's long-running "The
Bob Newhart Show," has died,
said her attorney Robert
Finkelstein. She was 70.
Pleshette, who underwent
chemotherapy for lung cancer
in 2006, died of respiratory
failure Saturday evening at her
Los Angeles home, said
Finkelstein, who is also a
"The Bob Newhart Show," a hit
throughout its six-year run,
starred comedian Newhart as a
surrounded by eccentric
patients. Pleshette provided the
voice of reason.
Luther's Mother Mary Ida Vandross Is Dead At 82
April 9, 2008 - Mary Ida Vandross, mother of the late
superstar Luther Vandross, passed away
Wednesday April 9 after being in a coma for more
than a month.
Mary Vandross, 82, was the last surving family
member in the immediate Vandross family having
lost her husband, all four of her children and only
grandson to either strokes or diabetes.
Mary Ida Vandross was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, as
the second child of three. She attended high school in Cheraw
but spent most of her young life in Marion, South Carolina.
While in high school, she spent her summers in Brooklyn,
New York with her aunt. At the age of 17, she married her best
friend and childhood sweetheart, Luther Vandross. In 1946
Mary Ida and Luther moved to New York City. Two of their
children were born in New York, one of whom was the famous
singer Luther Ronzoni Vandross. The elder Vandross was also
a singer and two of the other children were musically inclined.
Mrs. Vandross was always a woman who had great faith in
God and did not hesitate to share her faith with others. She
attended New York Theological Seminary and in 1986 became
an Evangelist. She traveled extensively sharing God's Word
overseas to Paris, London, South Africa, China, Mexico, Egypt
and Israel. Two of the most significant experiences she likes
to share are the fact that she was baptized in the Jordan River
and she was able to visit the Upper Room where Jesus and
the Disciples had the Last Supper.
Since the death of her husband and all four of her children and
only grandson (all died as a result of stroke or diabetes), she
traveled all over sharing her message of love, prevailing faith
and the power to end stroke and shape your family tree of
health. Mrs. Vandross' philosophy was to always keep a
positive attitude and give God all glory and praise through the
good times and the bad times.
Hotel Queen Leona
Helmsley Dead At 87
Helmsley died of heart failure at her
summer home in Greenwich, Conn.,
said her publicist, Howard
Helmsley was remembered Monday
by other leaders in the industry,
including real estate tycoon Donald
Trump, whose rivalry with Leona and
her husband Harry was
"Leona Helmsley was definitely one
of a kind," Trump said. "Harry loved
being with her and the excitement
she brought and that is all that
Steven Spinola, president of the
Real Estate Board of New York,
noted that Helmsley was a player
long before women were
well-represented in the industry -
when "this was an old boys' club."
Already experienced in real estate
before her marriage, Helmsley
helped her husband run a $5 billion
empire that included managing the
Empire State Building. She became
a household name in 1989 when
she was tried for tax evasion. The
sensational trial included testimony
from disgruntled employees who
said she terrorized both the menial
and the executive help at her homes
That image of Helmsley as the
"queen of mean" was sealed when a
former housekeeper testified that
she heard Helmsley say: "We don't
pay taxes. Only the little people pay
She denied having said it, but the
words followed her for the rest of her
Helmsley clearly enjoyed the luxury
of their private fortune, flying the
globe in the couple's 100-seat jet
with a bedroom suite. The couple's
residences included a nine-room
penthouse with a swimming pool
overlooking Central Park atop their
own Park Lane Hotel; an $8 million
estate in Connecticut; a condo in
Palm Beach; and a mountaintop
hideaway near Phoenix.
Their money supported charities,
including New York-Presbyterian
Hospital and its affiliated Weill
Cornell Medical College, which
received tens of millions of dollars,
including a $25 million gift in 2006 to
improve its treatment of digestive
Yet Helmsley nickel-and-dimed
merchants on her personal
purchases, stiffed contractors who
worked on her Connecticut home
and terrorized both menial and
executive help at her homes and
hotels, detractors say.
When her husband died in 1997 at
age 87, Helmsley said in a
statement: "My fairy tale is over. I
lived a magical life with Harry."
Yves Saint Laurent Dead at 71
June 2, 2008 -
Yves Saint Laurent,
who reworked the
rules of fashion by
putting women into
that came to define
how modern women
dressed, died Sunday evening, a
longtime friend and associate said.
He was 71.
Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's
business partner for four decades,
said he had died at his Paris home
following a long illness.
A towering figure of 20th century
fashion, Saint Laurent was widely
considered the last of a generation
that included Christian Dior and
Coco Chanel and made Paris the
fashion capital of the world, with the
Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, as its
His "smoking," or tuxedo jacket, of
1966 remade the tux as a high
fashion statement for both sexes. It
remained the designer's trademark
item and was updated yearly until he
In 1999, Saint Laurent sold the rights
of his label to Gucci Group NV,
ceding control of his Rive Gauche
collection, fragrances, cosmetics
and accessories for US$70 million
cash and royalties.
Industry insiders cited friction
between Saint Laurent and Gucci's
creative director, Tom Ford, as a
likely factor in the fashion guru's
decision to retire three years later.
Ford stepped down in 2003.
When he bowed out of fashion in
2002, Saint Laurent spoke of his
battles with depression, drugs and
loneliness, though he gave no
indication that those problems were
directly tied to his decision to stop
"I've known fear and terrible solitude,"
he said. "Tranquilizers and drugs,
those phony friends. The prison of
depression and hospitals. I've
emerged from all this, dazzled but
Bo Diddley Dead at 79
June 2, 2008 - Bo
such as "Who
Do You Love?"
Diddley," melded rhythm and
blues and rock 'n' roll through a
distinctive thumping beat, has
died. He was 79.
Rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley
influenced generations of
Diddley died Monday,
surrounded by family and loved
ones at his home in Archer,
Florida, a family spokeswoman
said. The cause was heart
failure, his family said.
The world-renowned guitarist's
signature beat -- usually played
on an equally distinctive
rectangular-bodied guitar -- laid
the foundation for rock 'n' roll,
and became so identified with
him that it became known as
the "Bo Diddley" beat. It was
unlike anything else heard in
He continued to tour well into
2007, but suffered a stroke last
May and a heart attack in
Estelle Getty Best Known as Sophia on
"The Golden Girls," Dead at the age of 84
Hollywood July 22, 2008 - Estelle Getty, the
diminutive actress who spent 40 years
struggling for success before landing a role of
a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic
octogenarian Sophia on TV's "The Golden
Girls," has died. She was 84.
Getty, who suffered from advanced dementia, died at about
5:30 a.m. Tuesday at her Hollywood Boulevard home, said her
son, Carl Gettleman of Santa Monica.
"She was loved throughout the world in six continents, and if
they loved sitcoms in Antarctica she would have been loved on
seven continents," her son said. "She was one of the most
talented comedic actresses who ever lived." Our
mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic
duos ever, and I will miss her," Bea Arthur said in a statement.
When she auditioned, Getty was appearing on stage in
Hollywood as the carping Jewish mother in Harvey Fierstein's
play "Torch Song Trilogy." In her early 60s, she flunked her
"Golden Girls" test twice because it was believed she didn't
look old enough to play 80.
Born Estelle Scher to Polish immigrants in New York, Getty
fell in love with theater when she saw a vaudeville show at age
4. She married New York businessman Arthur Gettleman (the
source of her stage name) in 1947, and they had two sons,
Carl and Barry. The marriage prevailed despite her long
absences on the road and in "The Golden Girls." Getty was
evasive about her height, acknowledging only that she was
"under 5 feet and under 100 pounds."
In addition to her son Carl, Getty is survived by son Barry
Gettleman, of Miami; a brother, David Scher of London; and a
sister, Rosilyn Howard of Las Vegas.
Bernie Mac Dead at 50
August 9, 2008 -
Bernie Mac passed
away this morning
from complicat- ions
pneumonia in a Chicago area
hospital," his publicist, Danica
Smith, said in a statement
from Los Angeles. The
comedian suffered from
sarcoidosis, an inflammatory
lung disease that produces
tiny lumps of cells in the
body's organs, but had said
the condition went into
remission in 2005.
He recently was hospitalized and
treated for pneumonia, which his
publicist said was not related to the
Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey
McCullough on Oct. 5, 1957, in
Chicago. He grew up on the city's
South Side in the Woodlawn, and
later, Englewood neighborhoods. He
lived with his mother and
grandparents. His grandfather was
the deacon of a Baptist church.
Mac's mother died of cancer when
he was 16
Isaac Hayes Dead at 65
August 10, 2008 - Soul singer and arranger Isaac
Hayes, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar
for the theme from the 1971 action film "Shaft,"
has died, sheriff's officials in Memphis,
Tennessee, said today. Relatives found Hayes
unconscious in his home next to a still-running
treadmill. Paramedics attempted to revive him
and took him to a hospital, where he was
pronounced dead. A memorial service will be held on Monday
(August 18, 2008) at Hope Presbyterian Church, 8500 Walnut
Grove, Cordova, Tennessee from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to
celebrate the life of the pioneering soul icon. Condolences
may be sent to the family at email@example.com
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to
the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, made out to Soulsville,
926 E. McLemore Avenue, Memphis, TN 38106. Please
specify "In memory of Isaac Hayes."
Jerry Wexler Dead at 91
and Jerry Wexler
August 15, 2008 - Legendary record producer Jerry Wexler,
who helped shape R&B music with influential recordings of
Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and other greats has died,
said his son, Paul. He was 91. Paul Wexler said his father
died at a hospice in Sarasota, Fla., about 3:45 a.m. Friday
of congenital heart disease. Wexler earned his reputation
as a music industry giant while a partner at Atlantic Records with
another legendary music figure, the late Ahmet Ertegun. In 1967,
Wexler and Ertegun sold Atlantic to Warner Bros. for $17.5 million.
Paul Wexler said a private service will take place in the coming weeks
in Sarasota, and his tombstone will read: "He changed the world."