Each year, during the Yizkor Service on Yippur, I present a list of notable deaths from the previous here. Here is this year’s edition. What do you think? Did I leave out someone whom you would have included? Let me know.
1) Marcel Marceau (mime) — Died September 22, 2007. Born March 22, 1923. French mime, had the only spoken line in Silent Movie, member of the French Resistance, helped hide Jewish children from the Nazis and later served as a translator for US troops.
2) Joey Bishop (comedian) — Died October 17, 2007. Born February 3, 1918. Last surviving Rat Packer, had a late night talk show for two years that succumbed to The Tonight Show.
3) Robert Goulet (singer/actor) — Pulmonary fibrosis (died awaiting a lung transplant). Died October 30, 2007. Born November 26, 1933. His magnificent voice led to being cast as Lancelot in the original Broadway Camelot; married to Carol Lawrence during the ’60s and ’70s, did some funny commercials for Emerald Nuts in the months before he died.
4) Paul Tibbets (pilot) — Died November 1, 2007. Born February 23, 1915. Served as a pilot throughout World War II, best-known for piloting the Enola Gay which dropped the first A-bomb on Hiroshima.
5) Norman Mailer (writer) — Kidney failure. Died November 10, 2007. Born January 31, 1923. Controversial, pugnacious writer, acclaimed for his first novel The Naked and the Dead, he was considered counter-cultural in the ’50s and helped found The Village Voice.
6) Ira Levin (writer) — Heart attack. Died November 13, 2007. Born August 27, 1929. Wrote Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives. and Deathtrap.
7) Dick Wilson (actor) — Died November 18, 2007. Born July 30, 1916. Lots of bit parts on TV, most-seen as Mr. Whipple in the Charmin commercials.
8) Evel Knievel (Daredevil) — Diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis. Died November 30, 2007. Born October 17, 1938. Famous for spectacular motorcycle stunts in the ’70s.
9) Ike Turner (singer/songwriter) — Cocaine overdose. Died December 12, 2007. Born November 5, 1931. Wasted a potentially great career, Proud Mary.
10) Benazir Bhutto (politician) — Assassination. Died December 27, 2007. Born June 21, 1953. Western-educated, former prime minister of Pakistan forced out on corruption charges.
11) Sir Edmund Hillary (mountain climber) — Heart attack. Died January 11, 2008. Born July 20, 1919. In the ’50s, first white man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
12) Johnny Podres – baseball pitcher.Died: January 13, 2008 (Queensbury, New York). Winning pitcher of Game 7 and Series MVP as the Brooklyn Dodgers won their one and only World Series Championship in 1955 (against the Yankees).
13) Richard Knerr – toy inventor and entrepreneur; Died: January 14, 2008 (Arcadia, California) – Best Known as: co-creator of the Hoola Hoop, the Superball, and the Frisbee.
14) Bobby Fischer (chess genius) — Died January 17, 2008. Born March 9, 1943. Reclusive chess champion, famously beat Boris Spasky during the ’70s and emmigrated to Iceland.
15) Suzanne Pleshette (actress) — . Lung cancer. Died January 19, 2008. Born January 31, 1937. Lots of Disney and made-for-TV movies, memorable as Emily on The Bob Newhart Show.
16) Heath Ledger (actor) — . Died January 22, 2008. Born April 4, 1979. Astonishing in Brokeback Mountain, died before The Dark Knight was released and while The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was being filmed.
17) Tom Lantos – congressman; Died: February 11, 2008 (Bethesda, Maryland). Best Known as: the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress; Tom Lantos was a long time democratic representative of California, who was the only Holocaust survivor to ever serve in Congress. He represented a district that included his hometown of San Mateo and the southwest region of San Fransisco.
18) William F. Buckley, Jr. (writer) — Emphysema. Died February 27, 2008. Born November 24, 1925. Conservative commentator and publisher of the National Review, wrote God and Man at Yale just after his college graduation.
19) Howard Metzenbaum (US Senator) Died March 12 at age 90. Influential US Senator from Ohio 1974-1995.
20) Sir Arthur C. Clarke (author) — Respiratory problems. Died March 19, 2008. Born December 16, 1917. Not only did he write science fiction (2001, Childhood’s End), he developed the concept of the geosynchronous communications satellite.
21) Charlton Heston (Actor/NRA activist) — Alzheimer’s. Died April 5, 2008. Born October 4, 1923. Ben Hur, Planet of the Apes, Touch of Evil, president of the NRA for several years.
22) Albert Hofmann – Swiss chemist. Died: April 29, 2008. Best Known as: Swiss Chemist who created LSD in 1938.
23) Sydney Pollack (director/actor) — Cancer. Died May 26, 2008. Born July 1, 1934. Out of Africa, Tootsie and many more.
24) Harvey Korman (comedian) — Died May 29, 2008. Born February 15, 1927. The Carol Burnett Show, Blazing Saddles.
25) Yves Saint-Laurent (designer) — Died June 1, 2008. Born August 1, 1936. Worked for Dior and popularized suits for women and haute couture.
26) Bo Diddley (guitarist) — Heart failure. Died June 2, 2008. Born December 30, 1928. “I Am a Man”, professional musician for over 50 years.
27) Jim McKay (sportscaster) — Died June 7, 2008. Born September 24, 1921. “Spanned the globe…” — Wide World of Sports.
28) Tim Russert (political analyst) — Heart attack. Died June 13, 2008. Born May 7, 1950. Hosted Meet the Press for many years.
29) Cyd Charisse (actress) — Heart attack. Died June 17, 2008. Born March 8, 1921. Dancer in many movies, including Singing in the Rain.
30) George Carlin (comedian) — Heart attack. Died June 22, 2008. Born May 12, 1937.
31) Jesse Helms U.S. Senator Born: 18 October 1921 Died: 4 July 2008 Birthplace: Monroe, North Carolina Best known as: Conservative senator from North Carolina, 1973-2003
32) Dr. Michael DeBakey (heart surgeon) — Died July 11, 2008. Born September 7, 1908. Pioneering surgeon who helped to develop MASH units while in the Army in WWII, various kinds of heart surgeries and multi-organ transplants.
33) Prof. Randy Pausch (professor) – July 25, 2008. Author/deliverer of “The Last Lecture.”
34) Bruce Adler – the son of two Yiddish theater stars (Bruce Adler & Henrietta Jacobson) he was a two-time Tony-nominated actor who transitioned from the Yiddish theater to the Broadway stage, died Friday, July 25, in Davie, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale.
35) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (writer) — Died August 3, 2008. Born December 11, 1918. Wrote the controversial One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, won the Nobel Prize, expelled from the Soviet Union and lived in Vermont from the mid-70s until he returned to Russia in the ’90s.
36) Isaac Hayes (actor, songwriter) — Stroke. Died August 10, 2008. Born August 20, 1942. Wrote the theme for Shaft, “reborn” as Chef on South Park.
37) Paul Newman (actor, race-car driver, philanthropist) Died September 26