Archive for the ‘Celebrity Deaths’ Category
Cal Worthington, whose crazy showmanship style made him one of the nation’s best-known auto dealers, has died at 92.
For decades, Worthington was one of a handful of cars dealers around the country who dominated TV advertising on nights and weekends, standing out with their crazy antics. He died at his Big W Ranch near Sacramento, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Worthington was among the last who came up with ways of attracting attention beyond showing pictures of cars with prices (although the tradition continues in Los Angeles, where Worthington made his name, with dealers’ Spanish-language TV ads).
Towering more than 6-feet, 4-inches in his trademark cowboy hat, Worthington promised to “stand on my head to make you a deal,” a claim he would back up by demonstrating on a car hood. He was always showed off “my dog Spot.” Spot was a tiger, lion, gorilla, hippo (which he rode on the back of) or any other animal other than a dog. Even his voice was instantly recognizable because of his Oklahoma twang. Banjo music with his “Go see Cal! Go see Cal!” refrain always played in the background.
Worthington was among the last of the TV pitchmen from the 1950s to the 1980s. In Los Angeles, they included Earl “Madman” Muntz (“We buy ‘em retail and sell ‘em wholesale. It’s more fun that way”) and Ralph Williams (who sold cars at “One-five-800 Ventura Boulvard — in the heart of Encino.”)
Worthington outlived the others and became a local celebrity. And if you’re a local celebrity in L.A., the city’s entertainment industry usually takes notice and you can become a national celebrity. Worthington made appearances on NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Along with his fame, his dealership network grew as well and he expanded to several cities.
At California State University, Long Beach, a few blocks from where Worthington had his Ford dealership, Worthington drew some of the biggest crowds as a speaker with his motivational messages. (We were there covering them as a college student reporter.) He talked about growing up poor in Oklahoma, flying B-17 bombers in the Army Air Corps and finding that he wasn’t particular talented at anything — except selling cars. Every person is better at one thing than everyone else in the world, Worthington would say, but few of us ever discover that one thing.
He considered himself lucky to have found that one thing.
News Source: USA Today
Former world heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison, who was diagnosed with the HIV virus that causes AIDS in 1996, has died, the Tulsa World reported on Monday. He was 44. Tony Holden, Morrison’s former promoter, told the newspaper that the fighter…
Former Disney star Lee Thompson Young, who played Boston police detective Barry Frost on the TNT drama “Rizzoli & Isles,” was found dead Monday morning. Young’s manager has confirmed that the actor died of a self inflicted gunshot wound.
“It is with great sadness that I announce that Lee Thompson Young tragically took his own life this morning,” said longtime manager Jonathan Baruch. “Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed. We ask that you please respect the privacy of his family and friends at this difficult time.”
According to a Los Angeles Police spokeswoman, officers arrived at Young’s apartment after 8 a.m. Monday morning and found him dead.
Young, a South Carolina native, developed an affinity for acting at age 10 and two years later had secured representation. He rose to fame in 1998 when he starred in the Disney Channel show “The Famous Jett Jackson.” On the program, which ran for three years, the actor played a teenage celebrity trying to live a normal life as a high school student.
The actor went on to attend USC and graduated magna cum laude in 2005.
Following graduation, he booked guest-starring roles on various television programs. His next big break came in 2010, when he was cast on TNT’s popular police drama “Rizzoli & Isles.”
“Rizzoli & Isles” Executive Producer Janet Tamaro said the cast and crew were “devastated by the news.”
“We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, gentle, good-hearted, intelligent man,” Tamaro said. “He was truly a member of our family. Lee will be cherished and remembered by all who knew and loved him, both on- and offscreen, for his positive energy, infectious smile and soulful grace. We send our deepest condolences and thoughts to his family, to his friends and, most especially, to his beloved mother.”
The Disney Channel released a statement saying, “Nothing any of us can say will adequately express our sadness over Lee’s untimely passing — our thoughts are with his loved ones and the many fans of his work.”
Production has been shut down for “Rizzoli & Isles” following the news of Young’s death. No word on when filming will begin again.
The Chicago Tribune Contributed To This Report
It has been sixteen years after Princess Diana’s tragic death on that terrible August 31st night, new evidence is being investigated by Scotland Yard. Thanks for checking us out. Please take a look at the rest of our videos and articles. To stay in…
Actress Lisa Robin Kelly, one of the stars of TV’s “That ’70s Show,” has died, according to her agent, Craig Wyckoff. The 43-year-old actress passed away in her sleep Wednesday night at a rehab facility in California, according to TMZ.
The gossip site also reported that Lisa’s boyfriend brought her to rehab on Monday and on Wednesday she went into cardiac arrest and could not be saved. When emergency responders arrived at the rehab facility, they found needle marks on both of Lisa’s arms.
“Lisa had voluntarily checked herself into a treatment facility early this week where she was battling the addiction problems that have plagued her these past few years. I spoke to her on Monday and she was hopeful and confident, looking forward to putting this part of her life behind her. (Wednesday) night she lost the battle. Cause of death has not been issued yet and no death certificate has been issued either,” Wyckoff said.
Kelly had been troubled for the past couple of years — she was arrested at least 4 times in the past 3 years for DUI, spousal abuse and assault.
Kelly played Laurie Forman, on “That ’70s Show,” which ran from 1998 to 2006.
A teary-eyed Lea Michele, star of the US television show “Glee,” has dedicated her first Teen Choice award to late co-star and boyfriend Cory Monteith. The event Sunday marked Michele’s first public appearance since Monteith died of a heroin and alcohol…
Sean Sasser from MTV’s “Real World: San Francisco,” has died, he was 44. The one-time reality star suffered from a rare form of lung cancer, according to UPI.
“We will miss u so much,” Judd Winick, one of Sasser’s “Real World” costars, tweeted earlier this week.
Sasser gained prominence when he joined boyfriend Pedro Zamora in a commitment ceremony telecast on Nov. 3, 1994. Held at the “Real World” house, the event included the pair exchanging vows and wedding rings.
Zamora, who suffered from AIDS, died eight days after the episode was broadcast.
Sasser, who was HIV-positive, reportedly died of mesothelioma, a lung disease. Since his “Real World” days, he had worked as a pastry chef and remarried.
AP Contributed to this report.
(NJ.Com) Karen Black, the Oscar-nominated star of groundbreaking films of the ’60s and ’70s like “Easy Rider,” “Five Easy Pieces” and “Nashville,” died today, her husband Stephen Eckleberry confirmed on Facebook. Black succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle. She was 74.
“It is with great sadness that I have to report that my wife and best friend, Karen Black has just passed away, only a few minutes ago,” the message said. “Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me.”
Black’s husband posted an update on her official blog Wednesday.
“One doctor told me that he thought that Karen had only 24 hours to live when she arrive at St. Johns June 3rd, and yet here she is alive two months later,” Eckleberry wrote.
Black made her film debut in 1966 with Francis Ford Coppola’s early film “You’re a Big Boy Now.” She shot to fame three years later through her appearance in “Easy Rider” as a woman who joins bikers, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on a drug trip in a New Orleans cemetery.
Black earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in “Five Easy Pieces” playing a country-singing waitress alongside Jack Nicholson. This helped her land many high-profile roles in the 1970s. Black appeared in “The Great Gatsby” alongside Robert Redford, Robert Altman’s “Nashville” and “Family Plot,” the last of Alfred Hitchcock’s films.
Her work in the 80s, 90s and 2000s consisted mostly of low-budget independent and horror films, including Rob Zombie’s directorial debut “House of 1000 Corpses.”
Her husband credited the couple’s fans for helping sustain them both.
“Karen and I have received hundreds of messages from you. Your prayers and well wishes help sustain us,” he said on her blog. “We remain eternally grateful for all the love you continue to share.”
Black is survived by her son, Hunter Carson whom she appeared with in the 1986 film “Invaders From Mars” and adopted daughter Celine Eckleberry.
News Source: AP
Jazz musician George Duke died Monday in Los Angeles, he was 67.
A pioneer in the funk and R&B, Duke had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to his label Concord Music Group, which confirmed his death.
“The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father’s friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming,” said his son, Rashid Duke, in a statement. “Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support.”
Born in San Rafael, Calif., Duke aspired to a music career from an early age, after his mother took him to a Duke Ellington concert.
“I remember seeing this guy in a white suit, playing this big thing, which I later found out was a piano,” Duke told USA TODAY in 1997. “He had all these guys around him, and he was waving his hands conducting, and he spoke very intelligently and seemed to be having a good time. And his name was Duke, and my last name was Duke. I told my mom, ‘I want to be him.’ That moment in time set the stage for me.”
Over the course of his four-decade-plus career, the Grammy Award-winning keyboardist put out more than 40 albums and collaborated with artists such as Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jill Scott and Michael Jackson. His music was also sampled by Kanye West, Daft Punk and Common.
“It’s a wonderful thing that has happened under the banner of jazz,” Duke told USA TODAY of his career longevity. “In R&B and rock, when you are over a certain age, they say goodbye to you. But in jazz, you just kind of level off and continue to gain respect, so long as you keep your integrity.”
Duke’s final album, DreamWeaver, was released July 16 and made its debut at No. 1 on Billboard‘s contemporary jazz chart. It was his first new music since the death of his wife, Corine, last year.
News Source: USA Today
Eileen Brennan, who went from musical comedy on Broadway to wringing laughs out of memorable characters in such films as “Private Benjamin” and “Clue,” has died. She was 80.
Brennan’s managers, Jessica Moresco and Al Onorato, said she died Sunday at home in Burbank after a battle with bladder cancer.
“Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen,” her family said in a statement. “She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten.”
Brennan got her first big role on the New York stage in “Little Mary Sunshine,” a musical comedy that won her the 1960 Obie award for best actress. Along with her “excellent singing voice,” her performance was “radiant and comic,” said a New York Times review.
But it was a series of sharp-tongued roles that won her fans on television and in movies, including gruff Army Capt. Doreen Lewis in 1980′s “Private Benjamin,” aloof Mrs. Peacock in 1985′s “Clue” and mean orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in 1988′s “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.”
“I love meanies, and this goes back to Capt. Lewis in `Private Benjamin,”‘ Brennan said a 1988 interview with The Associated Press. “You know why? Because they have no sense of humor. People who are mean or unkind or rigid — think about it — cannot laugh at themselves. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we’re going to be mean.”
“Private Benjamin” brought her a supporting actress nomination for an Oscar. She also won an Emmy for repeating her “Private Benjamin” role in the television version and was nominated six other times for guest roles on such shows as “Newhart,” “thirtysomething,” “Taxi” and “Will & Grace.”
“Our world has lost a rare human,” said “Private Benjamin” star Goldie Hawn in a statement. “Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel. I will miss my old friend.”
Brennan’s “Private Benjamin” role led to an enduring friendship with Hawn. A couple of years after they filmed the movie, Brennan and Hawn had dinner one night in 1982 in Venice, Calif. As they left the restaurant, Brennan was struck by a car. Her legs were smashed, bones on the left side of her face were broken, her left eye socket was shattered. Brennan said she fought her injuries with rage.
“I was no saint,” she said in an interview with Ladies Home Journal. “I was angry, and anger is a powerful emotion. It increased my determination not to go under, to get well.”
Brennan became dependent on painkillers, and two years after the accident she entered the Betty Ford Center to cure her addiction.
“We get addicted to dull the pain of life,” she told the magazine. “But once we accept that life is tough and painful, we can move on and grow and evolve.”
A decade after the accident, she said she was glad she was struck by the car.
“You learn from powerful things,” she said in 1992. “Initially, there’s enormous anger, but your priorities get shifted around.”
Brennan was a member of the original company of “Hello, Dolly” on Broadway. From the New York stage, she moved to the screen in “Divorce American Style” and “The Last Picture Show,” a pair of appearances on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” and TV guest shots on everything from “All in the Family” and “McMillan & Wife” to “Kojak,” “The Love Boat,” “Murder She Wrote” and “Mad About You.”
Brennan was born Verla Eileen Regina Brennan in Los Angeles. She was educated in convent schools and studied at Georgetown University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
She is survived by her two sons, Sam and Patrick Brennan.
Former Ecuadorean international and Mexican league soccer star Christian “Chucho” Benitez died Monday morning in Qatar after going into cardiorespiratory arrest, he was 27.
Benitez had recently signed with Qatari club Al Jaish. He died in a hospital after being admitted with a severe stomach pain. According to the player’s father-in-law, the stomach pains were the result of complications relating to appendicitis. The disease then became peritonitis before leading to respiratory arrest.
Benítez was the third-leading scorer in the history of the Ecuadorean national team with 24 goals in 58 caps.
“The Ecuadoran Football Federation extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family – parents, wife, children – and friends of our striker Christian Benítez,” the EFF said in a statement. “May he rest in peace.”
A tweet from Club America read: “You left as a champion, you will always be in our hearts. Rest in Peace Christian Benítez” while Birmingham said it would mark Benitez’s death before its game Saturday against Watford.
Born in Quito, Benitez was the son of former Ecuadorean international Ermen Benitez.
Associated Press Contributed to this report.
(CNN) — David “Kidd” Kraddick, whose morning radio show aired in nearly 100 cities, has died. He was 53.
He died Saturday in New Orleans at a golf tournament to raise money for his Kidd’s Kids Charity, his management company said.
What killed Kraddick was not immediately known.
“At the appropriate time, we will release more information about the cause of death,” said Ladd Biro with Champion Management.
“He died doing what he loved, and his final day was spent selflessly focused on those special children that meant the world to him.”
Kraddick is the face behind the nationally successful “Kidd Kraddick In The Morning” show.
He has been named America’s Best Radio Personality’; Radio and Records Major Market Personality of the Year; and he won the prestigious Marconi Award for Radio Personality of the Year.
Kruddick said his career as a disc jockey began in high school.
“We sponsored a big dance for the seniors but didn’t have enough money to hire a DJ. So I snuck out my dad’s stereo and did it myself,” he said.
The name “Kidd” wouldn’t come for several years though.
He began his career in Miami. And as is common with radio personalities, he bounced around.
Stints in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Tampa followed.
It was in Tampa that a program director gave him the name “Kidd.” It stuck.
His career really took off after he moved to Dallas when his morning drive time show went into syndication.
Last week, Kraddick did a humorous segment on what he’d say to his co-hosts in his “final moments on Earth.”
“When I die, you have permission to take a bunch of creepy pictures of my body,” Kraddick said. “I want to thank all of you guys for being at my deathbed today. I’m going to miss you so much.”
Saturday’s golf tournament was for his non-profit Kidd’s Kids Charity, which raises money annually to send children with chronic and terminal illnesses — and their families — to spend five days at Walt Disney World.
“RIP Kidd Kraddick. You were an amazing man and a friend. You are already missed,” tweeted entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
CNN.com readers also shared their memories.
“Such a great guy. I’ve listened to the show for years,” commented Johnny MacNary. “He was always raising money for Kidd’s Kids and giving things away. He really had a heart of gold. Mornings in Texas will never be the same. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues tonight. He really made the world a better place.”
Musician and songwriter J.J. Cale passed away on Friday in La Jolla, Calif. He was 74.
Mr. Cale suffered a heart attack and died at Scripps Memorial Hospital around 8 p.m. on Friday evening, a statement posted on his web site said.
He is best known as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” songs made famous when they were recorded by his collaborator, Eric Clapton.
Popular “Law & Order” star Dennis Farina, has died, his publicist announced.
Farina died Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist, Lori De Waal. He was 69.
For three decades, Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm and, when called for, toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, steel-gray hair, ivory smile and ample mustache.
Farina appeared in films including “Get Shorty,” ”Saving Private Ryan,” ”Midnight Run” and “Out Of Sight.”
Among his many TV portrayals was Detective Joe Fontana on “Law & Order” during the 2004-06 seasons. He eventually left the show to pursue other projects. He also starred in the 1980s cult favorite “Crime Story” and was a regular in the 2011-12 HBO drama “Luck.”
He recently completed shooting a comedy, “Lucky Stiff.”
A veteran of the Chicago theater, Farina appeared in Joseph Mantegna’s “Bleacher Bums” and “Streamers,” directed by Terry Kinney, among other productions.
Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago, he was a city detective before he found his way into the acting profession as he neared his forties.
His first film was the 1981 action drama “Thief,” directed by Michael Mann, whom he had met through a mutual friend while still working for the Chicago Police Department.
“I remember going to the set that day and being intrigued by the whole thing,” Farina recalled in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. “I liked it. And everybody was extremely nice to me. If the people were rude and didn’t treat me right, things could have gone the other way.”
Farina is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and his longtime partner, Marianne Cahill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.