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
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, 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.
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.
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, 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, 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.
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 was 37 years old. She is buried in Alva, Florida near her hometown of Fort Myers, FL.
Abigal Van Buren (Dear Abby)
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, 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, 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, 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 played Billy Jack, 1931-2013
Tom Laughlin was an actor best known for writing, producing, directing and starring in the Billy Jack movies.
Tom was born August 10, 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He married Delores Taylor in 1954 and they had three children. Delores, an actress, was very active in co-writing and co-producing the Billy Jack movies. His first acting jobs were small parts in movies such as “Tea and Sympathy,” "Gidget" and “South Pacific.” His first starring role in a feature movie was in 1957 "The Delinquents," directed by Robert Altman.
Tom Laughlin's first directing job was “The Proper Time” in 1957 which lead to writing, directing and starring in “The Young Sinner” in 1960.
He left movies for a short time in the early 1960s to start a Montessori pre-school in Santa Monica, California. It became the model and the largest school of its kind in the United States.
But Tom never lost the urge to write and keep making movies. He created the Billy Jack character for the 1967 film "The Born Losers," a motorcycle gang movie which Tom wrote and directed using the name T. C. Frank, a name he used often as well as the name Frank Laughlin, his son's name. For years, Tom always said he would try to make a fifth Billy Jack movie until his health started to fail him.
Tom Laughlin suffered from tongue cancer and he had a series of strokes.
To protect the character ownership, he created a corporation called Billy Jack Rights LLC, which was overseen by his three children. The first Billy Jack movie cost $800,000 to make in 1969, but two years later Warner Brothers still would not release the movie which means no one made any money on it.
Tom Laughlin tried and failed to get financial backing for the first movie, and no support from the Hollywood big-wigs or from theater chains.
In 1971, out of desperation, he rented a number of movie houses all over the United States to run Billy Jack. He kept 100 percent of the box-office money. To keep the cashiers honest, he hired Mormons to work the ticket booths, because he said "they could be trusted with the money." The first week of theater sales took in over $32 million nationwide.
He then sued Warner Brothers so he could keep the rights to his movie. His advertising campaign on television was also a first, because he opened his movie nationwide, which was not normally done. Common practice was to release a movie in various sections of the country, before going nationwide.
Tom Laughlin also ran for President of the United States in 1992, 2004 and 2008. His biography states he tried out for the NFL team Chicago Cardinals and that he was a running back on the University of Minnesota football team.
Laughlin was the author of several books on psychology and did extensive research on Jungian psychological and alternative cancer treatments.
Tom Laughlin died of pneumonia at home in Thousand Oaks, California on December 12, 2013 at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife of over 60 years, Delores, and their three children Frank Laughlin, Teresa Laughlin Kelly and Christina Laughlin.
Jeffrey Pollack, Producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Jeffrey Pollack, 1959-2013
Jeffrey Ian Pollack, born in 1959, was a writer, producer and director. He helped to create the television series Fresh Prince of Bel Air in 1990 and wrote many episodes.
His other credits include consultant on the Tyra Banks Show, and writer, director and producer of 1993 movie Above The Rim, Booty Call in 1997, and Lost & Found in 1999.
Jeffrey Ian Pollack died on December 23, 2013 at age 54 while exercising outdoors. His body was found by a jogger. His death is attributed to natural causes.
Actress Jane Kean, The Honeymooners
Jane Kean, 1923-2013
Jane Kean was best known as Trixie, wife of Ed Norton, on the 1970s revival of the TV series The Honeymooners. She played Trixie for five years, and left the show to work in Las Vegas. She eventually built a whole new career doing voice-over work. The part of Trixie was originally played by Joyce Randolph. Jane had been friends with Jackie Gleason since they had worked together in vaudeville.
Jane was born April 10, 1923 in Hartford, Connecticut. Her mother pushed her and her sister into show business. Her sister was older by eight years and when she became a success, Jane was nudged to follow her into films.
Jane made her film debut in 1941 and made several films before concentrating on live stage performances. In 1945, she and her sister Betty Kean became a singing and dancing nightclub act while working in Broadway musicals, playing vaudeville acts, appearing in the 1940s and 1950s on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, and in 1956 at the London Palladium. In Jane's senior years, she performed in dinner theaters, on college campuses and on cruise ships.
She married Richard Linkroum in 1962 but they divorced in 1969. She then married her manager, Joe Hecht in 1970 and remained married until his death in 2006. She never had any children.
In September 2012, at the age of 89, Jane appeared in her one woman show "An Evening with Jane Kean" at the Colony Theater in Burbank, CA. She also wrote a memoir "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Honeymooners...I Had A Life."
She died November 26, 2013 at Providence Medical Center in Burbank, CA where she had been hospitalized after a fall. The cause of death was a hemorrhagic stroke.
Actress Eleanor Parker
Eleanor Parker, 1922-2013
Eleanor Jean Parker was born June 26, 1922 in Cedarville, Ohio. She graduated from high school at age 18 and was discovered by a Warner Brother's talent agent who was sitting in the audience at the Pasadena Playhouse. With only one semester under her belt, she was signed to a contract at Warner Brothers in 1941. She played many B-list movies until 1946 when she played the character that had made Bette Davis a star, Mildred Rogers in "Of Human Bondage," but the movie flopped. In 1950 she played an inmate in "Caged," a prison movie that was considered brutal and violent in the 1950s, garnering a best actress award at the Venice Film Festival.
She was nominated for the Academy Award, but did not win. Although she was nominated for the Academy Award several times, she attributes never winning the award to the fact that she was primarily a character actress.
Eleanor Parker was married four times, divorced three times and had four children. Her last husband, Raymond Hirsch, died in 2001. She retired quietly to Palm Springs, California in 2003.
Eleanor died from complications of pneumonia on December 9, 2013 at age 91 at a medical facility near her home in Palm Springs, CA.
Actress Joan Fontaine
Joan Fontaine, 1917-2013
Joan was born in Japan on October 22, 1917 as Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland. Her parents divorced in February 1925. Although Joan was born to British parents, due to her poor health as a child, after her parents separated, her mother moved her and her sister Olivia to Saratoga, California. Her mother remarried there in 1925 to George Fontaine.
Joan's mother, Lillian, always wanted to be an actress, but didn't get acting roles until 1945 after both her daughters were already well established as actresses. While Olivia pursued an acting career on stage, Joan went to live with her father in Japan, attending school and graduating from Japan's American School in 1935.
Moving back to California after seeing her sister Olivia's success on stage, Joan didn't want to use the same last name. Some accounts say her mother forbade it. Using the name Joan Burfield, she did a screen test in 1935 and won the leading role in MGM's "No More Ladies." However, after it was released, Joan sat idle, waiting for more roles for well over a year. Ever watchful of her sister having good success in movies, Joan changed her last name to her stepfather's name, Fontaine. In 1937, she was hired to play Trudy Olson in "You Can't Beat Love" and her movie career finally took off.
Interesting Facts: Joan Fontaine was a balloonist, an expert horse rider, prize winning tuna fisher-woman, golfer, a Cordon-Bleu chef, a licensed pilot, and a licensed interior decorator. While the average IQ is 100, Joan scored 160 on an IQ test at the age of three. Joan and Olivia had many falling outs over movie roles, various acting awards, and dislike of husbands. Joan stopped speaking to her sister in 1975 when she was not "invited" to her mother's funeral. Olivia says Joan just didn't show up.
She was nominated for an Academy Award three times. In 1940, she was nominated for "Rebecca," which won for Best Picture but Best Actress went to Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, in 1941 for "Suspicion" which she won Best Actress. She is known as the only actress ever to win an Oscar for an Alfred Hitchcock film. In 1941, Joan defeated her older sister Olivia for the Academy Award, which added fuel to their already very fiery relationship. In 1943, Joan was nominated for "The Constant Nymph" but lost out to Jennifer Jones for The Song of Bernadette.
In her 1978 autobiography "No Bed of Roses", Joan Fontaine talks about the feud with her sister.
Joan also appeared on Broadway and TV, and was nominated for an Emmy for her guest role on the soap opera Ryan's Hope.
Joan married and divorced four times. She gave birth to one daughter, Deborah, and adopted a daughter from Peru named Marita. She and Marita have been estranged since Marita was sixteen years old. Joan had promised Marita's parents she would give her a good life when she adopted her at age four, and that when Marita turned 16, she would send her back to Peru for a visit. Marita refused to go back and ran away from home. Joan never patched it up with her, saying that she was not welcomed in her life until she went back to visit her parents. She never did. Both daughters kept in touch with their Aunt Olivia. When Joan learned about it, she never spoke to either daughter again until the day she died.
The de Havilland-Fontaine sisters have a well known rivalry in Hollywood circles, which continued until Joan's death. She died of natural causes on December 15, 2013, at age 96 at her home in Carmel, California.
Musician Ray Price
Ray Price, born January 12, 1926 in Perryville, Texas, was a baritone who became one of the best known singers in country music. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
He began performing in the 1940s on radio stations in the late 1940s and moved to Nashville after signing with Columbia Records. His hits include "Talk to You Heart," "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes," and "Heartaches by the Number."
In the 1960s, his song "Make the World Go Away," went to number two on the charts. He released his most recent album, Last of the Breed, in 2007. He won a Grammy for his record "Lost Highway" with Willie Nelson in 2008. Ray Price had been working on a new album, Love Songs In Nashville, which is expected to be released in 2014.
After six months of chemotherapy, he confirmed to a San Antonio newspaper in November 2012 that he was battling pancreatic cancer. Surgical removal of his pancreas was offered as a cure treatment, but it meant a long recovery in a nursing rehabilitation center, which he didn't care for.
By February 2013, it looked like he was in remission, but he was hospitalzied in May 2013 with severe dehydration. After a hospitalization in December 2013 for what looked to be the final stages of pancreatic cancer, he opted to go home to Mt. Pleasant, Texas to continue home hospice care.
He died on December 16, 2013. His son, Cliff Price, survives him.
He was born Jonathan Harshman Winters III on November 11, 1925 in Bellbrook, Ohio and is best known as a comedian, although he was also an actor and artist. He hails Native American ancestry and was an accomplished painter. His family owned Winters National Bank in Dayton Ohio which failed in the Depression. His father and grandfather lost everything. His parents divorced in 1932 and his mother moved them to Springfield, Ohio to live with her mother.
There he found a kindred spirit in his grandmother's comedic talent. By studying her, he quickly learned timing and comedy from her. He spent many hours alone in his room, talking to himself, making up characters and creating sound effects, a talent that attracted Robin Williams to become a comedian.
He quit high school in his senior year to join the US Marines serving two years in the Pacific. He studied cartooning at Dayton Art Institute, where he met his future wife, Eileen Schauder. They married in September 1948.
The story goes that Jonathan lost a wristwatch and they were too poor to replace it with a new one. So he entered a talent contest where first prize was a wristwatch. His performance landed him a job as a disc jockey where he was supposed to announce songs, but his ad libs and antics stole the show. After a salary dispute revolving around a $5 raise, "Johnny Winters" left the show in 1953 and moved to New York, leaving his wife behind in Ohio. He promised her that if he wasn't a success within a year, he would return to Dayton.
Staying with friends in Greenwich Village, he got an agent and worked at stand-up routines. In 1954 appeared on "A Chance of a Lifetime" program on the DuMont TV network. The program chose a winner by way of an applause meter and the winner won $1000, a gig in a popular nightclub and the chance to return the following week to compete again. He was off and running for the next fifty years.
Jonathan Winters created the character Maud Fricket after an aunt, and many of his characters were fashioned in some way from someone he met over the years. He suffered from bipolar disorder but it never deterred him from his many activities, which include abstract painting, authoring six books, appearing in many television programs and over forty films.
Eileen, his wife of over sixty years, died after a 20 year battle with breast cancer in January 2009. They had two children, Jay and Lucinda. Jonathan Winters died at the age of 87 of natural causes at his home in Montecito, CA on April 13, 2013.
Perhaps the most famous of Walt Disney's Mouseketeers, Annette Joann Funicello was born in Utica, New York on October 22, 1942. Walt Disney spotted her at a ballet recital performing in Swan Lake at the age of 12, in 1955. She was cast in a number of Disney programs in addition to The Mickey Mouse Club.
When she sang "How Will I Know My Love" on the Annette program, Walt Disney issued it as a single, and it became a hit. He didn't want to give her a recording contract but he did and she made many recordings through 1950s and 1960s. Paul Anka's "Puppy Love" is said to be inspired by Annette when he confessed to having a crush on her in 1960. Disney being very overprotective chased away many a suitor.
After leaving Disney, she ultimately became a teen idol. She signed with American International Pictures for a series of "Beach Party" movies starring with Frankie Avalon which are still popular. In 1979, she became the spokesperson for Skippy Peanut Butter.
In 1994, she dictated her autobiography to Patricia Romanowski entitled "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story," which was made into a feature length made for TV movie. Annette, already wheelchair bound with Multiple Sclerosis, appeared in a scene at the end of the 1995 movie. At around the same time, she developed a line of teddy bears called Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company, the last bear issued in 2004.
In her private life, her best friend was Shelley Fabares and kept in touch with many of her Mouseketeer friends over the years. She developed Multiple Sclerosis in 1987 but didn't announce it until 1992. She had brain surgery to help control the tremors from MS in 1999. She eventually ended up completely dependant for all her personal care.
She married twice, first to talent agent Jack Gilardi from 1965 to 1983. They have three children together. In May 1986, she married horse trainer and actor Glen Holt, who survives her. One report says she had been in a coma for a few years and the family discontinued life support.
Annette Funicello died at age 70, from complications of Multiple Sclerosis, on April 8, 2013 at Mercy Southwest Hospital near her home in Bakersfield, CA surrounded by her family.
Actor Michael Ansara, ex-husband of Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie)
Cory Monteith, 5/11/1982 - 7/13/2013. Canadian actor best known as Finn on the TV show Glee. Cause of Death: Heroin and Alcohol Overdose
Karen Black, 7/1/1939 - 8/8/2013. American actress played in Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and The Great Gatsby. Cause of Death: Ampullary Cancer
Actor Allan Arbus, M*A*S*H
George Jones, Country Music Icon. 9/12/1931 - 4/26/2013. Cause of Death: Respiratory Failure
Jeanne Cooper, 10/25/1928 - 5/8/2013. American Actress