Deaths You Might Have Missed This Year

Patti Page, 85

An American pop singer and sometime actress (Elmer Gantry), Page was the most popular female vocalist of the 50s, selling more than 100 million records. She had what is considered the first cross-over hit with her pop version of the country song “The Tennessee Waltz,” which sold 10 million copies in 1950.

Ada Louise Huxtable, 91

She pioneered the craft of architecture criticism and championed the cause of preservation, at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and in a series of groundbreaking books (Kicked a Building Lately?). She received the first Pulitzer prize awarded for criticism.

Evan S. Connell, 88

A consummate stylist, he was an adept novelist (Mr. Bridge, Mrs. Bridge) and an equally graceful historian whose account of the battle of the Little Bighorn, Son of the Morning Star, remains the definitive account of Custer’s debacle.

Nagisa Oshima, 80

A stylistically nimble and prodigious post-war Japanese film and TV director/writer, Oshima was equally at home creating the sexually frank—and boundary breaking—In the Realm of the Senses and the prison camp cult classic Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

Gussie Moran, 89

A California girl who grew up playing tennis at Charlie Chaplin’s house, Moran never rose above a 4th place ranking, but she scandalized Wimbledon in 1950 when she wore an outfit that showed her knickers. She enjoyed a second career as a sports announcer.

Robert F. Chew, 52

Revered in his native Baltimore as an actor and a teacher—at the Arena Players’ youth theater—Chew was best known for his indelible performance as the criminal mastermind Proposition Joe on HBO’s The Wire.

Patty Andrews, 94

She was the lead singer and soloist—and last surviving member—of the Andrews Sisters, World War II’s hottest girl group, whose hits (“Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) made three-part harmony a global commodity.

Barney, 12

Relentless golf ball chaser, fierce armadillo hunter, and the nation’s First Dog (2001-2009) under his owners, George and Laura Bush, he succumbed to lymphoma.

Ed Koch, 88

Decorated for his World War II service, the Bronx-born lawyer served four terms as a U.S. congressman and three terms as mayor of New York City, during which he helped haul the city out of its “Drop Dead” era. He enjoyed subsequent careers as radio talk show host, movie critic, and TV judge.

Lavone “Pepper” Paire-Davis, 88

A utility infielder (catcher, third base, short stop) with a career 400 RBIs, she played 10 seasons for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League player and was the model for Geena Davis’s character in A League of Their Own.

Guy F. Tozzoli, 90

As director of the World Trade Department for the New York Port Authority, he was a driving force behind the construction of the World Trade Center, including the instrumental decision to hire Minoru Yamasaki as the designer of the twin towers.

Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II, 80

The jazz trumpeter more prosaically known as Donald Byrd emerged in the 50s as part of hard bop, which drew on rhythm and blues and gospel. A restless innovator and lifelong teacher, he later incorporated funk and hip hop into his music, which was sampled more than 200 times by such artists as Public Enemy and Ludacris.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, 87

The daughter of arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond and Carrie Butler, a 16-year-old African American domestic in Thurmond’s parents’ house, Washington-Williams earned a master’s degree (Thurmond paid for her college education, but their contact was infrequent) and taught school in Los Angeles for 30 years. She revealed her patrimony after Thurmond died; his family later acknowledged the relationship.

Sara Braverman, 95

Born in Romania, she grew up in Palestine and was deeply involved in the Palestine-liberation movement and the establishment of Israel. In World War II, she was part of a famed but ill-fated parachute mission to rescue Jews from the Nazis in Hungary, and later she co-founded the Women’s Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Zhuang Zedong, 72

Ping-pong diplomacy began with the exchange of a scarf and a t-shirt between Zhuang Zedong and Glenn Cowan at the world table tennis championship in Japan in 1971. That spontaneous first thaw in U.S.-China relations culminated in Richard Nixon’s trip to China a year later. Reduced to sweeping streets after Mao died, Zhuang allowed to tech ping pong to children.

Christopher Dorner, 33

Fired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008, Dorner embarked on a killing spree in Los Angeles in February that left four dead, including three police officers. Cornered near Big Bear Lake, he took his own life after a shootout with law officers.

Ronald Dworkin, 81

A widely respected—and often vilified—philosopher of the law, a decorated teacher, and a prodigious author, he argued that morality is the touchstone for any meaningful discussion of the Constitution.

Mindy McCready, 37

A troubled country singer who broke through with the hit “Guys Do It All the Time” McCready was unfortunately known for her personal struggles with addiction and mental illness and she appeared on the reality show Celebrity Rehab. In January, McCready’s boyfriend and father to her 10-month-old son died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A month later, McCready took her own life.

Donald Richie, 88

Fiction writer, composer, and experimental filmmaker, he was best known as the American émigré to postwar Japan who authoritatively and enthusiastically first introduced generations of Western audiences to the glories of Japanese cinema.

Cleotha Staples, 78

The Staples Singers were born when Roebuck “Pops” Staples taught Cleotha and his four other children gospel songs to entertain them at night. In 1948, the family band, less one daughter, went professional, beginning a successful and acclaimed career in gospel music. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1999.

Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89

A German soldier interned by the British near the end of World War II, he would eight years later become the youngest conductor ever to appear at the Bayreuth festival, and thereafter conducted practically every major orchestra in the world. He was also a gifted pianist, and on a winter night when a snow storm delayed the arrival of the Philadephia Orchestra, he subbed for the whole orchestra.

Paul McIlhenny, 68

McIlhennys have been making Tabasco sauce on Avery Island in southern Louisiana since Reconstruction, and Paul McIlhenny plied the family trade for 40 years, during which he helped capitalize on the culinary world’s increasing interest in all things hot. McIlhenny, also an ardent environmentalist, delighted in allowing visitors to his factory to taste test the scalding product, after which he would induct them into the Not So Ancient Order of the Not So Silver Spoon.

C. Everett Koop, 96

The only U.S. surgeon general to ever become a household name, he served during the Reagan administration. His office’s pronouncements on tobacco, abortion, and AIDS angered both the left and right. The former pediatrician was also instrumental in protecting the rights of children born with birth defects and the handicapped.

Stephane Hessel, 95

The German-born French author and diplomat’s parents were the models for characters in Jules and Jim. A member of the Resistance in World War II, he survived internment in Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora, and Bergen-Belsen. The bestselling author (Time for Outrage sold more than 3.5 million copies) was a lifelong proponent of human rights whose works inspired, among others, Occupy Wall Street.

Van Cliburn, 78, pianist, winner of Tchaikovsky prize

It may be odd to say of a pianist who, among other things, performed for every president from Truman to Obama, that he peaked early, but winning the first annual Tchaikovsky prize in Moscow at the height of the Cold War—and when the winner was a mere 23—is a pinnacle few could ever top. Time magazine’s cover story called him “Horowitz, Liberace, and Presley all rolled into one.”

Bruce Reynolds, 81

Already a successful career criminal when he masterminded the Great Train Robbery in England in 1963 (he called it his “Sistine Chapel”), Reynolds spent five years on the run before he was caught. He served 15 years for the crime, which netted a staggering 41 million pounds in today’s money.

Bonnie Franklin, 69

A stage actress and cabaret performer, Franklin was best known as Ann Romano, the divorced mother of two girls on the long-running 70s comedy/drama One Day at a Time, a show that demonstrated that comedy and current events could coexist and inform each other.

Lilian Cahn, 89

With her husband, she formed the Coach Leatherware Company in 1961 and designed the company’s first line of “tote” handbags, which were made out of the same leather used for baseball gloves. The Cahns later sold the company and retired to upstate New York, where they produced another bestselling line—of artisanal goat cheeses.

Veer Bhadra Mishra, 75

For his role in cleaning up the Ganges River, the former professor of hydraulic engineering (as well as the mahant [high priest] of the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple) was honored by the United Nations and called a “Hero of the Planet” by Time in 1999.

Patricia McCormick, 83

She saw her first bullfight at seven while on a family vacation in Mexico, and fell in love with the sport. Debuting in 1951, she dominated Latin American bullrings for more than a decade, but despite the admiration of her colleagues, she remained classified as a novillera, a beginner, bullfighting’s glass ceiling being ruled by a macho ethos.

Pavel P183, 29

Like Keith Haring, he took his art to the streets, and like Banksy, the Russian known only as Pavel P183 did his work anonymously. One of his most famous works was a huge chocolate bar painted on a concrete slab—candy that could not be bought or sold. A self described anarchist, he inveighed against what he saw as the “constant run for money” in Moscow.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 85

Born in Germany, she grew up in England, then lived in India for two decades and the United States for four. Long associated with the Merchant-Ivory films, for which she wrote numerous screenplays, she is the only author to win both the Booker Award for fiction (Heat and Dust) and a screenwriting Oscar (twice, for A Room With a View and Howard’s End).

Les Blank, 77

Whether he turned his camera on Lightning Hopkins, garlic, or gap-toothed women, Les Blank was capable of documentary films that made you at home in subcultures (he would never have called them that, which is one reason his films have so much life) ranging from the blues to the anguish of a film crew laboring to make Fitzcarraldo for director Werner Herzog. Education and delight were inseparable for him.

Annette Funicello, 70

She was the brightest of that first generation of young stars who grew up while America watched on TV, first as a little girl in mouse ears on The Mickey Mouse Club, then in a series of “Beach” movies (Beach Blanket Bingo) that only her genuinely affable, disingenuous personality kept from tipping over into total vapidity.

McCandlish Philips, 85

He kept a Bible on his desk in the city room of The New York Times, and wrote like an angel. He eventually left newspapers for evangelical work, but his reporting is unforgettable. Of a St. Patrick’s Day parade, he wrote, “The sun was high to their backs and the wind was fast in their faces and 100,000 sons and daughters of Ireland, and those who would hold with them, matched strides with their shadows for 52 blocks. It seemed they marched from Midtown to exhaustion.”

Paolo Soleri, 93

Like so many visionaries, the innovative Italian-American architect found his inspiration in the desert. In Soleri’s case, it was about 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona, where in 1970, he broke ground on Arcosanti, a utopian prototype city designed to house 5,000 people. So far about 6,000 people, including many of Soleri’s students, have worked on the still-unfinished project, but over the years his goals of balancing design and ecological imperatives have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.

Hilary Koprowski, 96

The Polish-born American virologist and immunologist spent the years prior to World War II fleeing from Poland to Italy, then to Spain, South America, and ultimately New York, where he perfected the first orally administered live polio vaccine.

Maria Tallchief, 88

The Oklahoma Native American was one of George Balanchine’s first stars at the New York City Ballet (and his wife for a time). She was also the first Native American prima ballerina … anywhere. She and Balanchine parted ways in the early 50s, and he would have other muses, but Tallchief was the template for them all.

George Beverly Shea, 104

If you ever attended one of Rev. Billy Graham’s evangelical services, you heard George Beverly Shea sing. No one knows how many people pledged their lives to Christ at those rallies because of Graham and how many were drawn down front by the Canadian born American gospel singer, and only a fool would bet one way or the other.

Pat Summerall, 82

He spent 10 years playing in the NFL, primarily as a placekicker, and thereafter enjoyed a long career as a sportscaster on national TV. His most famous moment as a player came in a 1958 game when his New York Giants were tied with the Cleveland Browns with the clock running out. Summerall came in and kicked a 49-yard field goal to win the game … in the midst of a driving snow storm.

Al Neuharth, 89

When he founded USA Today, he was vilified by other journalists for creating McNews, neat little nuggets of news that pretended to be journalism. History may not have completely vindicated Neuharth, but time has shown that the forces decimating print journalism were much bigger than every airport commuter’s favorite newspaper.

Howard Phillips, 72

A former Nixon administration executive, he resigned from the government and from the Republican Party to pursue a more conservative agenda. He helped found the U.S. Taxpayers Party, later the Constitution Party, and was a three-time candidate for president.

Shakuntala Devi, 83

Her nickname was the “human computer.” She once correctly multiplied two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds, a feat that landed her in The Guinness Book of World Records. The Indian arithmetic prodigy was also a novelist and wrote several books of nonfiction, including what is considered a pioneering and sympathetic study of homosexuality in India

Richie Havens, 72

Who opened Woodstock, and thus became the epigraph to the ultimate document of the 1960s? It was Richie Havens, the hard-strumming, long-bearded folk singer whose intense performance of “Freedom” set the tone for the legendary music festival. He released more than 25 albums and performed at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

Ray Harryhausen, 92

Long before CGI was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, Ray Harryhausen was making armies of skeletons swordfight and breathing new life into dinosaurs, all through the laborious—but in his hands artful—process of stop-motion animation (Jason and the Argonauts). Saturday movie matinees were always fun, but Harryhausen made them fantastic.

Billie Sol Estes, 88

If mixing mortgages, cotton allotments, anhydrous ammonia tanks, and eminent domain in the same sentence confuses you, you are on the way to understanding how Billie Sol Estes, a Texas wheeler dealer with a crooked streak, bilked banks and the government out of millions in the 60s. In the end, not even his friendship with Lyndon Johnson could keep him out of prison. Perhaps that’s why toward the end of his life he accused Johnson of involvement in the Kennedy assassination.

Andrew Greeley, 85

A real-life Father Brown? Not quite, but close. This Roman Catholic priest didn’t solve crimes, he made them up, in a series of bestselling novels that gave Father Greeley quite the second career, or maybe it was his third, since by the time he began writing fiction, he had been a prolific sociologist with 70 scholarly books to his credit. He also taught and wrote a newspaper column, estimating once that he averaged 5,000 words a day.

Tim Samaras, 55

He was an autodidactical scientist (he talked his way into a job at the University of Colorado Research Center right out of high school). But tornados were his passion since a childhood encounter with The Wizard of Oz, and a tornado—one of the largest ever recorded—killed him while he tracked its progress and gathered data near El Reno, Oklahoma.

Johnny Smith, 90

One of the greatest jazz guitar players ever, Smith will forever be best known as the man who wrote “Walk, Don’t Run,” the Ventures’s hit instrumental. He should also be remembered as the man who walked away from club life after his wife died, moved to Colorado, bought a music store, and raised his daughter in peace.

Charles Foley, 82

He invented an automatic latch for his grandfather’s cattle pen while still in grade school, then went on to invent such marvels as toy handcuffs, an automatic cocktail shaker, Un-Du (an adhesive remover) and most memorably, Patent No. 3,454,279, more popularly known as Twister, a game where only the double-jointed and the shameless have any advantage.

Douglas Engelbart, 88

Though something of an outsider in the computer world of the 50s and 60s, Englebart was one of that community’s most seminal thinkers, foreseeing that interactivity was key to the digital future. And he is surely the only person on this list whose invention you’re holding in your hand while you read this: the computer mouse.

Rosalind Hudson, 86

She worked on breaking the Enigma ciphers with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, arranged flowers for the Savoy (they gave her a suite for her honeymoon in gratitude), played the piano to concert standard, and was famous for her superb architectural models (she built a model of Highgrove House as a wedding present for Charles and Diana; when the Prince later added a porch to the real thing, he requested that she do likewise on her model).

Masao Yoshida, 58

Plant manager of the Fukushima nuclear plant during the tsunami meltdown in 2011, Yoshida defied orders from superiors to stop using sea water to cool the reactor. His decision was later hailed for preventing a much more serious disaster.

Amar Bose, 83

The smartest thing he ever did was not to invent the 901 speakers with their innovative indrect sound, or the noise-cancelling headphones or that famous curved radio. No, the smartest thing the founder of the Bose Corp. ever did was not to sell stock in his company. “I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by M.B.A.’s,” he told Popular Science in 2004. “But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.”

Albert Murray, 97

Duke Ellington called him “the unsquarest man I know.” An essayist (Stomping the Blues), novelist (Train Whistle Guitar), and memoirist (South to a Very Old Place), Murray decried black separatism and argued that America could only flourish as a fully integrated society.

Ruth R. Benerito, 97

A modest scientist who always disavowed the idea that she invented permanent press cotton—she called herself a contributor to the breakthrough—Benerito nevertheless took the idea of wash and wear to near perfection, earning herself a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, not to mention the gratitude of millions who never had to pick up a steam iron again.

Tom Laughlin, 82

Laughlin is best known for starring in the Billy Jack films, about a half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam vet, that began with 1967’s The Born Losers and ended four movies later, helping to bring discrimination against Native Americans to the spotlight. He changed the way movies were marketed into the model we have today, with TV trailers and nationwide opening day releases, which he pioneered for The Trial of Billy Jack. He even ran for president in 1992, 2004, and 2008.

Jane Kean, 90

Poor Trixie Norton, the wife of Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, was played by Joyce Randolph in the original show. But the sitcom actually only lasted one season, and when the skit was revived in The Jackie Gleason Show in the 60s, Trixie was played by Jane Kean—and she’s the long-suffering Trixie we know.

Gus the polar bear, 27

He was called “the neurotic polar bear” for his relentless, OCD-like swimming at New York’s Central Park Zoo, but Gus was really just an average New Yorker—an out-of-towner who came to the city and hung on as hard as he could as long as he could, and won a million hearts along the way.

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