Pernell Roberts (b. 1928) (actor)
Although an accomplished stage actor, Roberts is best known to television audiences for his role as Adam Cartwright on Bonanza (1959-65), and as the title character in the series Trapper John, M.D. (1979-86) — a spinoff of the movie MASH — for which Roberts received an Emmy nomination.
Zelda Rubinstein (b. 1933) (actress)
She acted in many films and TV shows from the ’80s through the 2000s, but Rubenstein will be forever remembered as quirky medium Tangina in Poltergeist (1982) and its 1986 and ’88 sequels. Her unique voice was heard as narrator on another spooky series, Scariest Places on Earth, which ran from 2000-06.
Corey Haim (b. 1971) (actor)
’80s icon Haim became an actor early, breaking into the business at age 12 in a Canadian TV series called The Edison Twins. His first feature film was Firstborn, alongside Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr., but he really hit the big time with his touching, terrific title role in Lucas in the 1986 high-school drama. His popularity as a teen obsession was solidified with his next film, the popular 1987 vampire thriller The Lost Boys, which also first teamed him with actor Corey Feldman. “The Two Coreys” would go on to costar in other popular ’80s titles, including License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989). Personal problems limited Haim’s roles in the ’90s and early 2000s to mainly direct-to-video titles, but he began a comeback of sorts by reteaming with Feldman on the A&E reality series The Two Coreys in 2007. Haim had a few projects in the works, including a film he was going to direct, at the time of his passing. His final completed film, Decisions, is currently scheduled for a 2011 release.
Peter Graves (b. 1926) (actor)
He had a film career that ranged from classics such as 1953’s Stalag 17 to B-movie sci-fi flicks like Beginning of the End (1957) and It Conquered the World (1956), to a hilarious turn as a weird pilot in 1980’s Airplane! However, Graves made a bigger mark in television with his Emmy-nominated starring role as Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible from 1967-73. Also on television, Graves was an early, longtime host of A&E’s Biography series, from 1994-2006.
Fess Parker (b. 1924) (actor)
Parker is fondly remembered for playing two American icons on television. He helped coonskin caps become a craze when he starred in the title role of Davy Crockett in the five-part Disney serialized drama from 1954-55 (he also sang the catchy title song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”). Parker then went on to play Daniel Boone in the series of that name from 1964-70, directing and producing a few episodes. On the big screen, Parker gave memorable performances as a man who sees the giant ants in the sci-fi classic Them! (1954), and as the father in Disney’s 1957 tearjerker Old Yeller.
Robert Culp (b. 1930) (actor)
Culp first gained attention in the 1957-59 Western TV series Trackdown, but became well known for his role costarring with Bill Cosby on the hit TV series I Spy (1965-68). Culp earned an Emmy nomination for writing and three Emmy nominations for acting on I Spy. He would go on to have a costarring role in The Greatest American Hero (1981-83), reunite with Bill Cosby on an episode of The Cosby Show and play a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond. Culp’s film credits include Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Hannie Caulder (1971) and The Pelican Brief (1993).
David Mills (b. 1961) (writer/producer)
Mills was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist before moving into television in 1993 with a script he wrote for Homicide: Life on the Street. He went on to write for and coproduce some episodes of NYPD Blue from 1995-97, during which time he received three Emmy nominations. From 1997-99, he wrote for and coproduced episodes of ER, earning an Emmy nomination. Mills wrote for HBO’s highly acclaimed, but seemingly little-watched (especially by the Emmy committee), series The Wire. He worked with HBO again in 2000 for the miniseries The Corner, which garnered Mills two shared Emmys. Just this year he was with HBO again to launch the wonderful series Treme, which he co-executive produced and wrote for.
John Forsythe (b. 1918) (actor)
The suave actor is remembered best for starring in three popular, long-running series in the 1950s through the ’80s. He was the title character in Bachelor Father from 1957-62; the voice of “Charlie” on Charlie’s Angels from 1976-81; and, probably most notably, was oil tycoon Blake Carrington on the prime-time soap Dynasty (1981-89), a role that garnered him three Emmy nominations. His notable film work includes roles in the Hitchcock films The Trouble With Harry (1955) and Topaz (1969); as a sleazy judge in the 1979 Al Pacino film …And Justice for All; as the ghost of a media mogul, alongside Bill Murray, in the 1988 comedy Scrooged; and reprising his role as Charlie in the big-screen adaptations of Charlie’s Angels in 2000 and 2003.
Dixie Carter (b. 1939) (actress)
Carter acted primarily onstage until the 1970s, when she appeared on the daytime soaps One Life to Live and The Edge of Night. These led to other television roles, notably on Diff’rent Strokes in 1984-85 as Maggie McKinney, who marries Mr. Drummond, and eventually to her most famous role as Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women from 1986-93. In 2007, she was nominated for an Emmy for her guest role as Gloria Hodge on Desperate Housewives.
Lynn Redgrave (b. 1943) (actress)
The British actress came from a well-known acting family — including father Michael Redgrave, sister Vanessa Redgrave and nieces Joely Richardson and Natasha Richardson. In her own career, she was nominated twice for an Oscar — Best Actress for 1966’s Georgy Girl, and Best Supporting Actress for Gods and Monsters (1998). Her other notable films include Tom Jones (1963), Girl With Green Eyes (1964), The Happy Hooker (1975), The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) and her final role, voice work in 2009’s My Dog Tulip. On television, she received an Emmy nomination starring in House Calls from 1979-81, and for a while was a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers in a series of commercials. She was appointed OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2002.
Lena Horne (b. 1917) (singer)
Singer, actress, civil rights activist and dancer Horne was a nightclub performer before going to Hollywood, appearing in small film roles. Her political views led to her being blacklisted and unable to find work in Hollywood. She returned to work in nightclubs in the 1950s, and made numerous performances on TV variety shows through the 1960s and ’70s. She played the role of Glinda in the 1978 film The Wiz, and had TV guest appearances on shows like The Muppet Show, Sanford and Son and The Cosby Show. A generation of children may remember Horne for singing “Bein’ Green” with Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street.
Ronnie James Dio (b. 1942) (singer/songwriter)
Known for his powerful voice and his “devil horns” hand gesture, heavy metal icon Dio began his music career in 1957. He replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1979, then formed the band Dio in 1982. The title track to the Dio album Holy Diver was Dio’s signature song and remains one of heavy metal’s great anthems. His 1985 Hear ‘n Aid project raised money for African famine relief. Aside from TV music video and documentary airplay, Dio had a cameo appearance in the film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006).
Art Linkletter (b. 1912) (radio/TV host)
Linkletter was host of two of the longest-running TV/radio shows: House Party (1945-69) and People Are Funny (1942-1960). The genial, genuinely curious Linkletter was at his best interviewing children on House Party and he compiled quotes from kids into the book Kids Say the Darndest Things! Linkletter became a crusader against drug use in the late 1960s, and spent much of his later years in philanthropic and humanitarian causes.
Gary Coleman (b. 1968) (actor)
After appearances on The Jeffersons and Good Times, Coleman burst into stardom in the late 1970s and early 1980s as Arnold Jackson on the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, with his catchphrase “What’chu talkin’ about, Willis?” Coleman parlayed his cuteness into numerous talk show and other TV show appearances. Considered one of the most promising child actors, Coleman struggled as an adult. He fell into financial troubles in the late 1980s, and sued his adoptive parents and business manager for squandering his money. In 1999, he filed for bankruptcy and was working as a security guard. After that, his screen work was largely limited to self-effacing cameos (such as on The Simpsons). In 2003, he ran for governor in California’s recall election as a joke.
Dennis Hopper (b. 1936) (actor/filmmaker)
With a screen career dating back to the mid 1950s, Hopper found fame as director and costar of the counterculture classic motorcycle movie Easy Rider in 1969, earning a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. Known for playing unconventional, excitable and unhinged characters, Hopper had memorable roles in such classic films as Apocalypse Now (1979), Rumble Fish (1983), Blue Velvet (1986), Hoosiers (1986), True Romance (1993) and Speed (1994). One of the most prolific actors of the last 50 years, Hopper rarely turned down work. His last major starring role was in the Starz original drama series Crash (2008-09).
Rue McClanahan (b. 1934) (actress)
McClanahan was known for playing sultry Southern belle Blanche Devereaux on the TV sitcom The Golden Girls from 1985-1992, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987. Her acting career began on the stage in the late 1950s, before a role on the TV soap opera Another World in 1970 and an appearance on All in the Family led to regular roles on the sitcoms Maude and Mama’s Family through the 1970s and ’80s. McClanahan was also known for being a strong advocate for animal welfare causes.
Patricia Neal (b. 1926) (actress)
The stage and screen star is known for her Best Actress Oscar-winning role in Hud (1963), her performance in 1968’s The Subject Was Roses (1968, Best Actress Oscar nominee), and roles in the memorable films The Fountainhead (1949), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Ghost Story (1981). She was married to famed author Roald Dahl for 30 years.
David L. Wolper (b. 1928) (producer)
Prolific producer Wolper was involved behind the scenes with a wide range of features, including television and feature-film documentaries such as The Race for Space (1959, Oscar nominee), Four Days in November (1964), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1968), This Is Elvis (1981) and Imagine: John Lennon (1988), as well as dramatic films (1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and 1997’s L.A. Confidential). But he is probably best remembered for his epic television miniseries, including Roots (1977, Emmy winner); Roots: The Next Generations (1979, Emmy winner); The Thorn Birds (1983, Emmy nominee); North and South/North and South Book II (1985/86); and Queen (1993, Emmy nominee).
Kevin McCarthy (b. 1914) (actor)
Who can forget Kevin McCarthy’s panic-stricken character in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) running down the highway, warning everyone he can find, “They’re here already!”? He will always be best remembered for that role, but the actor also had a powerful, Oscar-nominated supporting role as Biff Loman in the 1951 adaptation of Death of a Salesman. Body Snatchers was one of his few starring roles, but he was a very successful character actor on TV and in movies. Director Joe Dante, in particular, liked casting McCarthy in his films, including Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), his episode of 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie, Innerspace (1987) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). Recognizing his everlasting tie to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, producers of the 1978 remake gave McCarthy a cameo role in it.
Harold Gould (b. 1923) (actor)
Prolific actor Gould literally appeared in hundreds of television episodes and stage performances, and dozens of feature films. From TV he is probably most remembered for playing Rhoda’s father on Rhoda (1974-78), for which he received an Emmy nomination, and as Rose’s boyfriend on The Golden Girls (1985-92). He almost became known for a truly classic role — he originally played Howard Cunningham in the episode of Love, American Style that went on to become the series Happy Days, but Gould declined to reprise the role, which went to Tom Bosley.
Billie Mae Richards (b. 1921) (actress)
Primarily a voice actress, Richards is best known as the voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the classic 1964 TV special (where she was billed as “Billy Richards”), along with its follow-up specials Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) and Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979).
Eddie Fisher (b. 1928) (singer)
The legendary singer was hugely successful, selling millions of records in the 1950s. He also starred in his own TV shows — Coke Time With Eddie Fisher (1953-57, Golden Globe winner) and The Eddie Fisher Show (1957-59, Emmy nominee). Fisher may be equally as famous for his marriages and his family as he is for his work. He was in marriages with actresses Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens, and two of his children — Carrie Fisher and Joely Fisher — are noted actresses themselves.
Gloria Stuart (b. 1910) (actress)
Stuart, who had just turned 100 before her passing, has a body of movie and television work that spans across 70 years. She had roles in early horror classics such as The Old Dark House (1932) and 1933’s The Invisible Man, and appeared in dozens of other films over the decades. But her triumph came at the age of 87, when she received her first Oscar nomination (and numerous other award nominations and wins) for her supporting role as the older Rose in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.
Arthur Penn (b. 1922) (director/producer)
Penn was one of the most critically acclaimed directors of the New Hollywood of the 1960s and ’70s. He began his directing career in television, and received an Emmy nomination for his direction of The Miracle Worker on Playhouse 90 in 1957. He also directed The Miracle Worker for the stage in 1959, and again as an acclaimed feature film starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft in 1962, receiving an Oscar nomination. But his fame really began with his direction of the influential 1967 drama Bonnie and Clyde, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He received another Oscar nomination a few years later for Alice’s Restaurant (1969). His other notable films have included Little Big Man (1970), Night Moves (1975) and The Missouri Breaks (1976). Returning to his television roots, he served as an executive producer on Law & Order during the 2000-01 season, and was among the show’s group of producers who shared an Emmy nomination.
Greg Giraldo (b. 1965) (comedian)
Standup comic Giraldo actually started out as a lawyer before moving into the world of comedy. In addition to performing live, he appeared several times on late-night staples like Late Night With Conan O’Brien and Late Show With David Letterman, as well as on many Comedy Central roasts. He was a judge on the most recent season of Last Comic Standing.
Tony Curtis (b. 1925) (actor)
One of the most famous movie stars of all time, Curtis proved his acting range in a variety of film genres, from the comedy of Some Like It Hot (1959), to drama (an Oscar-nominated role in 1958’s The Defiant Ones) to a chilling performance as a serial killer in The Boston Strangler (1968). His other notable films include Houdini (1953), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Operation Petticoat (1959), Spartacus (1960), The Great Impostor (1961) and The Great Race (1965). Curtis was married to actress Janet Leigh for 11 years, and with her had two daughters, actresses Kelly and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Stephen J. Cannell (b. 1941) (producer/writer)
Cannell created or co-created some of the most memorable TV shows of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, including The Rockford Files (1974-80, Emmy winner); Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976-78); The Greatest American Hero (1981-83, Emmy nominee); The A-Team (1983-86); Wiseguy (1987-90, Emmy nominee); 21 Jump Street (1987-91); Silk Stalkings (1991-99); and The Commish (1991-96). Additionally, the prolific Cannell wrote scripts for and produced other shows, along with popping up as an actor on several occasions on TV and in films. His productions always ended with the famous shot of him at a typewriter, frantically pounding at the keys before tearing the sheet of paper out and throwing it into a pile, ready to start another page.
Simon MacCorkindale (b. 1952) (actor)
The handsome Brit got his break as a young man starring alongside several acting legends in 1978’s Death on the Nile. In 1983, he starred in a couple of cult productions — the movie Jaws 3-D, and the short-lived sci-fi series Manimal. The following year, he became a regular on the hit prime-time soap Falcon Crest, playing Greg Reardon for two seasons (and directing one episode).
Barbara Billingsley (b. 1915) (actress)
Billingsley appeared in many (often small and uncredited) movie roles throughout the 1940s and ’50s, and guest-starred on several programs in the Golden Age of Television before beginning her immortal role as quintessential mom June Cleaver in the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957-63). She reprised this role in a follow-up series, The New Leave It to Beaver, from 1983-89. She also memorably subverted this squeaky-clean June Cleaver image she had in the minds of many fans with a hilarious appearance as a passenger who “speaks jive” in 1980’s Airplane!
Tom Bosley (b. 1927) (actor)
One of TV’s most beloved father figures, Bosley played “Mr. C” — Howard Cunningham — on Happy Days during its entire 1974-84 run (receiving one Emmy nod for the role). He’s also noted for playing a TV father of a different sort — Catholic priest Father Frank Dowling in Father Dowling Mysteries, which ran from 1987-91. He made numerous guest appearances (both in person and as a voice actor) on television throughout the years, and continued to make films until this year. His final voice role was in Santa Buddies (airing this month on ABC Family), and his final onscreen role was in this past spring’s Jennifer Lopez comedy The Back-Up Plan.
Jill Clayburgh (b. 1944) (actress)
Clayburgh appeared in many Broadway productions before becoming familiar to film audiences in the 1970s with roles in movies such as Silver Streak (1976), Semi-Tough (1977), An Unmarried Woman (1978, Best Actress Oscar nominee), and Starting Over (1979, Best Actress Oscar nominee). Over the next few decades she appeared in several other films, and in TV series such as Ally McBeal, Nip/Tuck (2005 Emmy nominee) and in Dirty Sexy Money (2007-09). Her final film role was in the recently released Love and Other Drugs, which was dedicated to her.
Dino De Laurentiis (b. 1919) (producer)
The prolific De Laurentiis produced nearly 150 films during his long career. Among his early works were the acclaimed Fellini classics La Strada (1954, shared Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) and Nights of Cabiria (1956). Over the next several decades, De Laurentiis would be behind the scenes on a wide range of notable — and infamous — film titles, including Barbarella (1968), Serpico (1973), Death Wish (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975), King Kong (1976), Flash Gordon (1980), Ragtime (1981), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Dead Zone (1983), Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Manhunter (1986), Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002).
James MacArthur (b. 1937) (actor)
Having worked a great deal on stage, in films (notably 1960’s Swiss Family Robinson) and in television, MacArthur is best known for his role in the original Hawaii Five-0 series, in which he played second-in-command Danny “Danno” Williams from 1968-79.
Irvin Kershner (b. 1923) (director)
Kershner is best known for directing Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980), considered by many fans to be the best installment of that fantasy film series. His other films of note include Up the Sandbox (1972), The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976), the 1977 TV movie Raid on Entebbe (Emmy nominee), Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) and 1983’s Never Say Never Again, which had Sean Connery returning as James Bond.
Leslie Nielsen (b. 1926) (actor)
Although best known in the past 30 years for his brilliantly deadpan roles in classic comedies such as Airplane! (1980), the Police Squad! series (1982, Emmy nominee) and in The Naked Gun trilogy (1988, 1991, 1994), Nielsen spent the first half of his career acting in serious films such as Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), along with being a romantic lead in the comedy Tammy and the Bachelor (1957). But he artfully played against that dramatic type starting in Airplane! and never looked back, spending the last half of his career playing mainly comedies and spoofs of this nature.