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Famous Deaths of 2013, Part One

January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013

Published January 1, 2014, by Mary McShane

At the end of each year, I like to go through the news reports to refresh my memory about which celebrities passed away during the year. In no particular order, these are some of my favorites. This is not a complete list. You will recall other names as well.

This is part one of two, because by the time I got done compiling part one, it got very long. lol

I hope you'll enjoy reading about these famous people and leave your thoughts about them in the comments. Thanks.

Actress Bonnie Franklin, One Day at a Time

Bonnie Franklin, 1944-2013

Bonnie Franklin, 1944-2013

Actress Bonnie Franklin 1944-2013

Bonnie Gail Franklin, best known for her role as Ann Romano on the television comedy "One Day at a Time," was born January 4, 1944 in Santa Monica, California. In 1950 at age 9, she tap danced on stage with Donald O'Connor on the Colgate Comedy Hour and he became her acting mentor. She appeared in several films and stage productions until she was 13, when her father, an investment banker, moved the family to Beverly Hills, California. Bonnie graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1961, attended Smith College but graduated from UCLA with a BA in English.

She appeared in episode television programs like Mr. Novak (1963), Gidget (1965), Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1965) as well as many stage performances from 1965 until she was cast in her own series "One Day at a Time" in 1975.

After the show was canceled in its ninth season, she continued to work in theater and devoted herself to humanitarian activities like research and benefits for AIDS care and supporting Democratic candidates for President.

She married twice but had no natural children. Her first marriage to writer Ronald Sossi ended after three years in 1970. Her second marriage in August 1980 to TV and film producer Marvin Minoff lasted 29 years until his death in 2009. She had two stepchildren, Julie Minoff and Jed Minoff.

Bonnie Franklin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2012. She died six months later on March 1, 2013 at her home in Los Angeles, CA at the age of 69. Two brothers, two sisters, two stepchildren and two grandchildren survived her. A little over a year later, her mother, Claire Franklin, died at age 102 on June 7, 2014.

Jane Henson, Muppeteer

Jane Henson with husband Jim on their first show, Sam and Friends, circa 1960.

Jane Henson with husband Jim on their first show, Sam and Friends, circa 1960.

Jane Henson, 1934-2013

Jane Henson, 1934-2013

Jane Henson, wife of Jim Henson

Jane Henson was born Jane Ann Nebel on June 16, 1934. She met her future husband, Muppeteer Jim Henson while attending the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. While they dated, they worked side by side creating Muppets for live television starting in the 1950s. When Jim took a year off in 1958 to travel to Europe, Jane continued running the show.

When he returned, they began dating again. They were married in 1959 and had five children. Jane quit working as a Muppeteer in the early 1960s to take care of her family. She was replaced by Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz. Jane continued studying Fine Arts at Catholic University in Washington, DC. When they moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, Jane worked as an assistant art teacher at the Mead School for Human Development.

The couple legally separated in 1986 but remained friends, coworkers, and partners until his death. Jim Henson died in New York City on May 16,1990 of bacterial pneumonia. Jane continued Jim's legacy by participating in a number of ventures and foundations, and giving grants and scholarships to up-and-coming puppeteers.

In 1992, Jane founded and funded The Jim Henson Legacy. She had a good eye for spotting people who would make good Muppeteers; they had to pass muster with her to be hired.

The same weekend Jim Henson died, he was reportedly going to sell his company to Disney for $150 million. Jim and his Muppeteers were supposed to be granted an entire studio on Disney-MGM studio lot. However, Henson canceled the sale because Disney wanted sole ownership of Sesame Street characters which he would not allow and with good reason.

The Sesame Street program has aired continuously on PBS (public television) since 1968. Disney was very insistent that it be included in the $150M sale but it was Henson's fear that Disney would cancel the program which would be a disservice to public television after half a century.

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To protect Sesame Street for future generations, the rights to the program was given in increments to The Sesame Workshop, a non-profit foundation formerly known as The Children's Television Workshop. By 2004, the Sesame Street program and characters were fully owned by The Sesame Workshop. Because the Sesame Street characters and its place on PBS were protected, only then did Jane Henson allow the sale to Disney.

Jane Henson died of cancer on April 2, 2013 at her home in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was survived by her five children.

Patty Andrews of The Andrews Sisters

Patty Andrews, center, was the last surviving sister of the Andrews Sister singing trio

Patty Andrews, center, was the last surviving sister of the Andrews Sister singing trio

Patty Andrews with bandleader Les Brown, right and actor/musician Bobby Troup,best known for TV show "Emergency!"

Patty Andrews with bandleader Les Brown, right and actor/musician Bobby Troup,best known for TV show "Emergency!"

Patty Andrews, 1918-2013

Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the singing trio The Andrews Sisters, was born Patricia Marie Andrews on February 16, 1918 in Mound, Minnesota. Her sisters Maxene Angelyn (January 3, 1916 - October 21, 1995) and Lavern Sophia (July 6, 1911 - May 8, 1967) made up the rest of the trio. The order of their births happens to also be the order of their deaths. None of the sisters had natural children; all their children were adopted. Her oldest sister Lavern started them off in kiddie musicals on radio when their father's business failed during the Depression, Maxene appeared at age four on her first radio broadcast and at age six was entertaining at public events.

After a performance at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, they were offered a job with Larry Rich's traveling music revue. Their father was not happy; he wanted his daughters to become secretaries. In New York City, when Patty was about ten years old, they signed on to travel in vaudeville with Ted Mack (from Ted Mack's Amateur Hour fame).

In 1937, Dave Kapp, a recording executive, started them on their singing career. They had a long list of hit records, including "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and "Rum and Coca-Cola."

In 1940, they were signed by Universal Studios to make 16 movies over a seven year period. They took a few months off each year from 1940 to 1945 to travel with the USO because they were very active in the war effort. In 1945,they had the honor of announcing to the troops that the war was over.

In 1953, the group split with Lavern going to school in New York City to study dramatics. However, she ended up getting married and dedicating her time to being a housewife. Patty continued in show business as a single singer.

In 1956, the trio came together again to appear at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. They appeared on several TV programs and signed a new contract with Capitol Records. During their career, the Andrews Sisters had 19 gold records which sold over 100 million copies. The trio officially broke up after the death of Laverne in 1967. Maxene began a solo career in 1979 and worked until October 8, 1995. She died less than two weeks later.

Patty Andrews continued as a solo artist. She married twice, once to Martin Melcher (who left her in 1950 to marry actress Doris Day). Her second marriage was to Marvin Weschler, the pianist for the Andrews Sisters trio. Their marriage lasted 58 years until his death in 2010.

Patty Andrews, the last surviving sister of The Andrews Sisters, died January 30, 2013 of natural causes at her home in Northridge, California at the age of 94.

Mindy McCready

Mindy McCready, an American country music singer

Mindy McCready, an American country music singer

Mindy McCready, pictured with music producer boyfriend David Wilson, who had committed suicide one month before Mindy McCready.

Mindy McCready, pictured with music producer boyfriend David Wilson, who had committed suicide one month before Mindy McCready.

Mindy McCready, 1975-2013

Mindy McCready was an American country music star, born Malinda Gayle McCready on November 30, 1975 in Fort Myers, Florida. She began singing in church at the age of 3, moved to Nashville at the age of 18 and was signed to a music contract by BNA Records. Her first album in 1996 sold over 2 million copies. By all accounts, it seemed she was on her way up the country music charts.

However, in 1997 her album "If I Don't Stay The Night" only sold 825,000 copies. A year later, in 1998, her album "I'm Not So Tough" sold only 144,000 copies, causing her record label to fire her.

She was next signed by Capital Records and released an album in 2002. The sales were pretty bad and soon Capital Records dropped her as well.

In February 2004, McCready was arrested for possession of Oxycontin in Brentwood, Tennessee. In May 2005, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated coupled with driving with a suspended license.

In July 2005, she was charged with identity theft. In May 2005, detailed newspaper accounts of her boyfriend of two years, singer Billy McKnight, told of beating and choking her. Photos of her face and battered body appeared on many tabloid television shows. She claimed the relationship was over. In July 2005, she was found unconscious from a drug and alcohol overdose suicide attempt and was hospitalized. The couple got back together and Mindy became pregnant. In September 2005, she again attempted suicide with antidepressants. Despite all the drugs, she gave birth in March 2006 to a son, Zander Ryan McCready.

Early in 2008, she released a single "I'm Still Here," and on her website she announced she was working on a new album and a reality series. Also in 2008, she appeared on several tabloid television programs talking about her long time affair (since age 15) with baseball player Roger Clemens. He never confirmed nor denied an affair. In December 2008, in Nashville, Mindy again attempted suicide with drugs and by slashing her wrists.

In 2009, she appeared on the series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew which exposed the extent of her addiction to drugs and alcohol. In March 2010, a sex tape scandal surfaced and was put up for sale to the public. McCready again attempted suicide on May 25, 2010 by a drug overdose when she was visiting family in Fort Myers, Florida.

On April 9, 2012, Mindy gave birth to a son, Zayne Wilson, who was fathered by music producer boyfriend, David Wilson. Mindy McCready's oldest son, Zander Ryan McCready, fathered by singer Billy McKnight, along with the new baby Zayne, were both placed in foster care after McCready's repeated arrests for drug and alcohol.

Boyfriend David Wilson committed suicide on January 13, 2013 on the front porch of the home he shared with Mindy McCready in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Mindy McCready committed suicide by gunshot on February 17, 2013 on the same front porch after killing David Wilson's dog. Her children were still in foster care.

Mindy McCready was 37 years old. She is buried in Alva, Florida near her hometown of Fort Myers, FL.

Abigal Van Buren (Dear Abby)

Dear Abby at her desk

Dear Abby at her desk

Abigail Van Buren in later years

Abigail Van Buren in later years

Abigail Van Buren, 1918-2013

Abigail Van Buren, known all over the world as advice columnist "Dear Abby" was born Pauline Friedman on July 4, 1918 in Sioux City, Iowa. Her twin Esther Pauline Friedman, was older by 17 minutes and also had an advice column, writing as "Ann Landers" beginning in October 1955. Both sisters became well known for their advice but each had decidedly different styles. Dear Abby's responses were short and pithy; Ann Landers gave detailed and down to earth advice.

Growing up, Abigail and Esther did everything together, even getting married in a double wedding just before their 21st birthday. Abigail (nicknamed Popo) married Morton Phillips, a businessman. They had a son, Edward, and a daughter, Etta Jeanne.

Jeanne Phillips helped her mother write her column when she became ill with Alzheimer's Disease and ultimately she took over authorship of the Dear Abby column. Abigail chose her name for the column by selecting Abigail from the Bible and Van Buren for the American President.

Esther's column "Ann Landers" was an existing column which she took over in 1955. Esther (nicknamed Eppie) married Jules Lederer, future founder of Budget Rent-a-Car Company and had a daughter named Margo, who writes her own advice column "Dear Margo." Eppie and Jules divorced in 1975.

There was a radio version of "Dear Abby" from 1963 until 1975. Abigail Van Buren wrote several best sellers about her life and advice over the years.

Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer (Ann Landers) died June 22, 2002 from multiple myleoma. She was 81 years old.

Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips (Dear Abby) died in Minneapolis, Minnesota from complications of Alzheimer's Disease on January 16, 2013. She was 94 years old. She was survived by her husband Morton Phillips and her daughter Etta Jeanne, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her son Edward Jay Phillips died in 2001.

Actor Conrad Bain

Conrad Bain, with Gary Coleman in Diff'rent Strokes

Conrad Bain, with Gary Coleman in Diff'rent Strokes

Conrad Bain, 1923-2013

Conrad Bain, 1923-2013

Conrad Bain, 1923-2013

Conrad Bain became best known at age 55 for his success portraying Philip Drummond on the television series Diff'rent Strokes, with Gary Coleman (1968-2010), Dana Plato (1964-1999) and Todd Bridges.

Conrad was born February 4, 1923, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He had an identical twin brother, Bonar Bain, who died in 2005.

Conrad trained to be an actor at Alberta's Banff School of Fine Arts where he met his artist wife, Monica Marjorie Sloan. They married in 1945 and had three children. He graduated in 1948 and went on to do stage performances, honing his craft.

In 1966, Conrad had a recurring role on the TV series "Dark Shadows," as an innkeeper and in 1970 on the TV soap opera, "The Edge of Night."

In 1970, Norman Lear "discovered" him when he was 49 years old and cast him in the role of Dr. Arthur Harmon on the series "Maude" which was a spin-off of "All in the Family." In 1978, he was offered his own series "Diff'rent Strokes" which ran until 1986.

After a short-lived 1987 series "Mr. President" created by Johnny Carson, he returned to the stage for several stints, the last in 1992. He had minor roles in several movies, but his last appearance was on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" as Phillip Drummond in 1996. He tried his hand at screenwriting, then retired to Brentwood, California at age 73. In 2008, he moved to a Livermore, CA with his wife and she died one year later.

Conrad Bain died January 14, 2013 in Livermore, CA, just short of his 90th birthday of natural causes.

Actor Tony Musante

Tony Musante, as David Toma

Tony Musante, as David Toma

Tony Musante, in a 2013 photo

Tony Musante, in a 2013 photo

Tony Musante, 1936-2013

Tony Musante was born on June 30, 1936 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

He was probably best known to baby boomers for playing a detective in the TV series "Toma," a biographical series about a Newark NJ detective named David Toma. The 1973 television series only ran one season. The character of Toma was repackaged as "Baretta" starring Robert Blake. ABC bought it and the series ran from 1975 to 1978.

Before becoming an actor in off-Broadway stage performances in 1960, Tony Musante worked as a school teacher. In 1962, he married Jane Sparkes. They had no children.

Newer fans will know Tony Musante as Nino Chibette from the HBO show "Oz". In 1967 Tony was cast as Joe Ferrone in "The Incident," a movie starring Martin Sheen and he won Best Actor in 1968 at the Mar del Plata Film Festival. He was also in the 1976 theater production of "27 Wagons Full of Cotton" with Meryl Streep. In 1975 he received an Emmy nomination for his role on the series Medical Story.

Tony Musante died at age 77 on November 26, 2013 from complications after having heart surgery at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital. He was survived by his wife Jane Sparkes Musante.

Actor Don Mitchell

Don Mitchell in 1973

Don Mitchell in 1973

Don Mitchell, as Mark Sanger, seen here with the cast of Ironside.

Don Mitchell, as Mark Sanger, seen here with the cast of Ironside.

Don Mitchell, 1943-2013

Don Mitchell is best known as Mark Sanger, aide, bodyguard and companion to Raymond Burr's Robert Ironside, the 1967 series which was resurrected again in 1993.

Don was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1943 in Houston, Texas. He left home to attend UCLA, taking Fine Arts courses. Don was discovered there by a producer, Collier Young. Before working on the Ironside series, he appeared on "I Dream of Jeannie" for the 1965-66 season in the recurring role of "Sergeant."

His acting mentor was the late Raymond Burr, star of the series Perry Mason and Ironside. After Ironside, Don Mitchell appeared in a film Short Walk To Daylight in 1972, in "Scream, Blacula, Scream" in 1973, and in Return of Ironside in 1993. He had small parts on series television, which included Matlock and MacMillan and Wife. He played the part of Ed Lawrence on the soap opera Capitol.

He was married in 1969 to Emilie Blake Walker, had one child and divorced in 1970. In 1972 he married actress Judy Pace and they had two children. They divorced in 1986. He never remarried.

His daughter, Julia Pace Mitchell appears on the soap opera The Young and Restless. She presented Don Mitchell with his first grandson on May 22, 2013. Barbara Anderson who played Eve Whitfield, is the only member of the original cast still living. She retired in 1993. Elizabeth Bauer, who played Fran Belding, died in 2017. Don Galloway, who played Ed Brown, died in 2009. Raymond Burr died in 1993.

Don Mitchell died of natural causes at his home in Encino, CA on December 8, 2013.

Actor Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin in the character Billy Jack, circa 1970.

Tom Laughlin in the character Billy Jack, circa 1970.