January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013
Published January 1, 2014, by Mary McShane
Because Part One became very long and I wanted to include more famous people, this is Part Two of Famous Deaths of 2013. This is not a complete list, just some people I wanted to mention. I hope you enjoy reading about their lives and leave a comment about any of them or those who you also want to remember.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a South African who perhaps made the single most important impact on South African history over the course of the 20th century, was born July 18, 1918. The native language Xhosa, which uses the Latin alphabet, is the most widely used language in South Africa (next to Zulu) and those who speak it are referred to as an Xhosa. Mandela, an Xhosa, was born into the Thembu royal family, and grew up with two sisters and illiterate parents. His last name of Mandela came from one of Nelson's (king) great-grandfather's sons, also named Mandela. He became Nelson's grandfather by order of the king, but because his grandfather's birth was by a wife from a cadet clan, this made him and all of his line ineligible to inherit the throne. However, Mandela and his line were still considered advisers to the king.
When Nelson was born, his mother was the third wife of Gadla, a tribal chief in the Thembu royal family and also a polygamist. Gadla followed the Qamata faith and Nelson's mother was a devout Christian. She saw to it that Nelson was educated in Methodist schools at age seven and baptized in the faith. At that time, his name was changed by a teacher from Rolihlahlahe to Nelson. Nelson's father, Gadla, died in 1930. His mother then gave Nelson's guardianship to a Thembu royal family chief who raised him as a Christian with his own royal children. Nelson did not see his mother again until 1947 and again in 1955. After that, she visited him in prison in 1968 and died shortly after. He received a very good education, became politically active in South African affairs, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943.
In 1944, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), helping to form the ANC Youth League. The ANC adopted a policy called Programme of Action. In 1952 he was chosen as National Volunteer-in-Chief of a Defiance Campaign. The civil disobedience campaign was a joint programme of unjust laws between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. They arrested Nelson and 19 other activists charging them under the Suppression of Communist Act, sentencing them to nine months hard labor. It was suspended for two years.
Also in 1944, Nelson married Evelyn Mase and had two sons and two daughters, one of whom died in infancy. They separated in 1955, divorced in 1958. He studied law for a short time in 1952, but dropped out of the University of Witwatersrand. In 1952 he established South Africa's first black law firm with Oliver Tambo.
In 1955, Nelson was arrested for Treason. A state of emergency was called in March 1960 and the accused were detained until it was over. His 1956 trial ended with all 28 accused being sentenced to six months hard labor, but the sentence was suspended for two years to be tried again in 1958. During his 1958 trial, he married Winnie Madikizela, a social worker and had two daughters. They divorced in 1996. Upon acquittal of treason, after trying to organize a national strike, a state of security was imposed where no one was permitted to leave the country. June 1962, Mandela went underground to receive military training and to drum up support. When he returned, he was arrested at a police roadblock, charged with leaving the country illegally and inciting a strike. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to five years in Pretoria Local Prison. He was transferred to Robbens Island for two weeks and upon his return, a police raid discovered an ANC hideout in Rivonia. Mandela along with ten others went on trial in October 1962 for sabotage which held a death penalty sentence. However in 1964, after being found guilty, they all received a life imprisonment sentence. One white prisoner was sent to Pretoria Local Prison, and the blacks were sent to Robben Island Prison.
During his prison time, his mother died in 1968 and a son died in 1969, he was not permitted to attend their funerals. He had prostate surgery in 1985. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1988. He continued his support of talks between apartheid government and the ANC. He began studying law again in 1964 shortly after he became inmate number 46664 at Robben Island Prison, near Cape Town South Africa. He finished his degree shortly before his release from prison February 11, 1990. He entered talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected president of the ANC. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994 he voted for the first time in an election that he won to be the first black democratically elected President of South Africa, serving from 1994 to 1998. He married his wife Graca in 1998, on his 80th birthday. When his Presidency was over, he continued his support of democracy, equality and education.
Despite provocations, racism and injustices against him, this great man and his accomplishments in this life are truly an inspiration. His autobiography, published in 1995 is entitled Long Walk To Freedom. He died at his home in Johannesburg at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013.
Janet Dailey, Romance Author
Janet Dailey died December 14, 2013 at age 69 in Branson, Missouri.
Eileen Brennan was born Verla Eileen Regina Brennen on September 3, 1932 in Los Angeles, CA. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a silent movie actress.
She is best known for her role as drill captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin in which she co-starred with Goldie Hawn in 1980. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The movie was adapted as a television series from 1981 to 1983. Eileen received six Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe nomination for her role for which she won one Emmy and the Golden Globe.
Eileen Brennan got her start in 1959 in the title role of the musical play Little Mary Sunshine, which won her an Obie Award. Her film debut was in 1967 for Divorce American Style. In 1968, she was signed as a regular on Rowan and Martin Laugh-In but she gave up on the new show and left after two months. The show became a huge success but she had her eye on movies. Her face became recognizable but not her name. She appeared in The Last Picture Show in 1971 with Cybill Shepherd and in The Sting with Paul Newman in 1973.
After discussing the television series being adapted from the movie Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn over dinner, upon leaving the restaurant, she was in a terrible accident. She was hit by a car and had to take three years off of work to recover and thus became addicted to painkillers. She returned to work in 1985 and made many sitcom appearances. She did voice-over work for cartoon animations as well. Her filmography begins in 1967 and continues consistently until 2009.
In December 1969 she married David Lampson and had two sons, Patrick and Sam.
Eileen Brennan died from bladder cancer on July 28, 2013 at home in Burbank, CA at the age of 80.
Lee Thompson Young
Lee Thompson Young
Lee Thompson Young was last known for his role of Detective Barry Frost on the series Rizzoli & Isles with Angie Harmon. Lee was born February 1, 1984 in Columbia, South Carolina. He knew from the age of ten that he wanted to be an actor. During spring break in 1996, he went to New York City and got an agent. He moved to NYC in June 1996. He sat idle until 1998 when he got the leading role in The Famous Jett Jackson and even wrote an episode that aired in 2000. The show ran for 65 episodes on the Disney Channel. During hiatus in 1999, he made the movie Johnny Tsunami, starring in the lead role.
When the Jett Jackson show was not renewed, he went on to work in series television: The Guardian (2002), Friday Night Lights (2004), South Beach (2006), Smallville (2007), Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008 series), Scrubs (2009), Flash Forward (2009-2010), and CSI: NY (2012). In 2010 he appeared in a last role as Det. Barry Frost on Rizzoli & Isles.
Lee Thompson Young appeared in several feature length movies: Jett Jackson: The Movie in 2001, Friday Night Lights in 2004, Akeelah and the Bee in 2006, The Hills Have Eyes in 2007, Mano in 2008, Bastard in 2010 and Just An American in 2012.
Religion was always stressed to him from an early age and he was enrolled in the Union Theological Seminary in NYC, but left to attend Professional Performing Arts High School. He later attended USC School of Cinematic Arts on a full scholarship graduating with honors. He studied martial arts. He followed the religion of the Noruba tribe of Nigeria and southern Benin and visited there a few months before his death. Many religious objects and an altar were found in his residence.
Lee Thompson Young, under a doctor's care and taking prescribed medication for depression, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right temple in his Hollywood apartment on August 19, 2013. He was 29 years old. He did not leave behind a suicide note.
Patti Page was an American pop singer, born as Clara Ann Fowler on November 8, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma. She is one of 11 children born into a poor family. At age 18, she was a featured singer on a Tulsa Oklahoma radio station that was sponsored by Page Milk Company. From then on Fowler became known as Patti Page.
In 1947, she sang with a small group under orchestra leader Benny Goodman who helped her get her first recording contract with Mercury Records. In 1948, "Confess" became a Top 15 hit on Billboard Magazine. Her albums produced good record sales and in 1950, her version of The Tennessee Waltz became her second Number One and biggest selling record. 1952 brought I Went To Your Wedding and in 1953 her single How Much Is That Doggie In The Window became her fourth Number One hit, selling over a million copies and staying on the hit list for over five months. It was followed by Allegheny Moon, Left Right Out of Your Heart and Old Cape Cod. She was popular all through the 1960s.
In 1964, her single Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (from the Bette Davis movie) became her last top 10 hit with recordings of Little Green Apples and Gentle On My Mind. She left Mercury and signed with Columbia Records and stayed until 1970, then she went back to Mercury Records where she enjoyed a few successes only to leave them again in 1973 for Columbia Records. She then took a 5 year break until 1980 and recorded No Aces and My Man Friday (her last single) for Plantation Records.
In 1986, she staged a show for Las Vegas. In 1990, she founded her own record label C.A.F. Records, which produced a children's album in 2003. In 1998 she recorded her first live album, Live at Carnegie Hall in NYC which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal in 1999, her first. In 2005, she appeared in Branson, Missouri for a run of engagements which began on September 12, 2005.
Patti Page toured until September 2012 when she announced her retirement for health reasons. Patti married three times, divorced twice and adopted a son and a daughter with her second husband, Charles O'Curran, who was also previously a second husband to Betty Hutton. Her marriage to her third husband in 1990 lasted until 2009 with his death.
Patti Page died on New Year's Day, January 1, 2013 at Seacrest Village Retirement Center in Encinatas, CA at the age of 85 from lung and heart disease.
Paul William Walker was born in Glendale, CA on September 12, 1973. He was the son of a fashion model and a two time Golden Gloves fighter, was part Irish and part German. He was the oldest of five children and raised in the Church of Latter Day Saints in the San Fernando Valley, CA.
After appearing in Pampers diaper commercials as a toddler, he started modeling at age two. In 1985, he garnered roles in television shows such as Highway to Heaven, Touched By An Angel, Who's The Boss? and Charles In Charge.
Paul's big screen film career began in 1986 with a silly horror spoof movie called Monster In The Closet. He graduated high school in 1991 and attended several colleges to major in marine biology. Each time acting called him back, he dropped out of courses. After working two years on the soap opera The Young & Restless in the character Brandon Collins, he enrolled in Santa Barbara City College to try once again for his degree in marine biology.
In 1998 he was cast in a flop film Meet The Deedles which was shortly followed by Pleasantville, with Reese Witherspoon. The film was a hit and brought him more roles: in Varsity Blues in 1999, She's All That in 1999 and The Skulls in 2000.
In 1999, he and his then girlfriend Rebecca McBrain had a baby girl named Meadow Rain. She lived in Hawaii with her mother until 2011 when she started visiting Walker at his home in California.
After appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine in March 2000, he started to attract attention for his innocent smile and good looks. In 2001, he was cast in the first of what would become a franchise, The Fast and The Furious which shot him to stardom.
In 2006, he joined the board of directors at The Billfish Foundation. In 2007 he bought a high end performance speed shop in Valencia CA which fed his enthusiasm for car racing. His financial advisor Roger Rodas was CEO. Also in 2007 Walker created a humanitarian foundation called Reach Out Worldwide, offering aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Later in June 2010, he starred in a National Geographic series Shark Men, where he got to spend 11 days as a crew member to catch and tag great white sharks off the coast of Mexico.
Besides driving all kinds of cars, he enjoyed martial arts, surfing, being with his daughter and his dogs. In late 2007, he began a relationship with 16 year old Jasmine Pilchard Gosnell, whom he planned to marry.
Paul Walker died on November 30, 2013 at the age of 40 in a car crash on a notoriously dangerous curve of highway in Valencia, Santa Clarita CA. His financial advisor Roger Rodas owned the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT which was reportedly speeding at over 90 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone. Later investigation determined that Rodas was driving the car and Walker was a passenger. Both were declared dead at the scene. Walker's ashes were buried in a non-denominational ceremony in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in CA.
Fast and Furious 7 was not completed at the time of his death. His brother Cody Walker was asked to stand in so they could finish the film.
Peter Seamus O'Toole was born in Connemara, County Galway in Ireland on August 2, 1932, the son of a Scottish nurse and a racehorse bookie. He was raised Catholic and left school at age 17 to work for the Yorkshire Evening Post as a trainee in photography and journalism.
That was cut short when was drafted into the Royal Navy as a signaller and radioman. When his two years of service were over, he entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts on a scholarship from 1952 to 1954. He excelled in the works of Shakespeare at Bristol Old Vic and English Stage Company and made his TV debut in 1954.
His movie break came in 1959 in a small role in The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England. It wasn't until 1962 that he was offered the role he will always be remembered for, Lawrence of Arabia and he skyrocketed to stardom. His nomination for Best Actor was one of eight nominations for the Academy Award. He never won. In 2003, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award, which he wrote of his intent to turn down with the idea that he still had time to earn the award on his own merit. The Academy said he was getting it whether he came to pick it up or not, so he accepted it in person. (photo at right). In July 2012, he announced his retirement from the acting profession.
He married Sian Phillips (actress in Dune and I, Claudius) in 1959 and had two children, Pat O'Toole, and Kate O'Toole, both are actresses. They divorced in August 1979. O'Toole remained friends with her until his death. After they divorced, 5 months later on Christmas Eve she married Robin Sachs who was 18 years younger than she who acted in Jurassic Park and Oceans 11. Sachs also died this year on February 1, 2013 of heart failure. Sian Phillips lost two ex-spouses within 7 months.
He married writer Karen Brown in 1983 and had one child, Lorcan Patrick O'Toole in March 1983. They divorced shortly after.
In 1976, he had surgery to remove his pancreas and part of his stomach in a misdiagnosed illness (alcoholism) which made him insulin dependent for the rest of his life. Although nominated for many awards, the bulk of his acting is in stage performances. He kept a home in England and a home in Ireland.
Peter O'Toole died at the age of 81 on December 14, 2013 after a long illness at Wellington Hospital in London, England. He was cremated and his remains were returned to Ireland. He is survived by his three children.
Joe Conley (The Waltons)
Joseph H. Conley Jr. was born March 3, 1928 in Buffalo, New York. When he returned from Korea, he went into real estate.
In 1959 he married Jacqueline Stakes and they had two children. They divorced in 1966.
In 1969, Joe married Louise Teecher and they had two children. He remained married to her until his death.
He published an autobiography in 2009 "Ike Godsey of Walton's Mountain."
Although he had many acting roles from 1955 until 2001, his wealth and fortune came from real estate.
Joe Conley died at age 85 on July 7, 2013 at a nursing care facility in Newbury Park, CA from complications of dementia. He is survived by his wife Louise Teecher, three daughters and one son.
Esther Jane Williams, born August 8, 1921 was a teenage competitive swimmer who won 3 US National medals. The 1940 US Olympics were cancelled due to World War II so a position became available in Billy Rose's Aquacade, a music, swimming and dancing show which was fresh from the 1939 New York World's Fair. While in San Francisco, Esther swam with Olympic Gold Medal Winner and later actor Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan) for nearly five months. She was nicknamed America's Mermaid. It was while working in the Aquacade that MGM talent scouts saw her and she was cast in small roles beside Mickey Rooney and Van Johnson.
She made aquamusicals, a mixture of synchronized swimming to music from the 1940s until leaving MGM in 1956. She appeared in several unsuccessful films at Universal and several television guest roles, then retired in the 1960s. She founded her own company, Esther Williams Pools and marketed swimwear. In 1999, she wrote her autobiography "The Million Dollar Mermaid." She came out of retirement briefly in 1994 for the series of "That's Entertainment" films where her swimming was featured. She made several appearances over the next few years: in 2007 to interview with Diane Sawyer discussing a recent stroke, in 2008 for the funeral of Cyd Charisse and in 2010 at the First Turner Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood.
Esther Williams married four times, her most famous to Fernando Lamas which ended in his death in 1982. She had three children by her second husband, Ben Gage. She married her fourth husband, Edward Bell in 1996, who survives her.
Esther Williams died in her sleep at the age of 91 on June 6, 2013 at her home in Beverly Hills, CA.
Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker)
Jean Stapleton was born Jeanne Murray on January 19, 1923 in New York City. She took her mother's maiden name of Stapleton because she thought it sounded more distinguished than her father's name of Murray. Her father was a billboard advertisement salesman and her mother was an opera singer,.She worked as a secretary-typist in the 1940s for the British War Ministry Office while appearing in small stage productions. Jean got her big New York stage break in 1948 in The Corn Is Green and went on to perform in musicals like "Damn Yankees," (1958), "The Bells Are Ringing," (1960), and "Funny Girl," (1964).
In 1971, Norman Lear adapted a British sit-com "Till Death Do Us Part" to become "All In The Family" starring Carroll O'Connor. It was a show that would make Edith Bunker become a household name and would skyrocket Jean Stapleton to instant fame. She once said that people started to treat her like Edith Bunker, the dingbat wife and in interviews she let viewers know that it took a very smart person to make someone look and sound like Edith Bunker.
Her highly nasal voice "Awwww, Archie" could be heard coming from every home's television beginning in 1971 until she helped orchestrate her character's death from a stroke in the 1979-1980 season. (see video above). Jean Stapleton wanted to move on from All In The Family. The show evolved into "Archie Bunker's Place," and had two spin off series - Maude and The Jeffersons.
All In The Family was a groundbreaking series that left no facet of society untouched in the weekly topics it chose to tackle. Everything from sexuality to bigotry to breast cancer, this program sorely tested the censors of the 1970s in what was acceptable television. Consequently this show set the pace for all that came after it.
After winning three Emmys and two Golden Globes for her portrayal of Edith, Jean Stapleton pursued the role of Eleanor Roosevelt and developed a one woman stage show in 1982. Jean Stapleton continued acting in television, movies, and on stage until 2008 when she retired in Manhattan, New York..
As much as it has been said to be true, she is not related to Maureen Stapleton, an actress by the same last name who died at age 80, in 2006 from alcoholism and COPD .
Jean Stapleton married actor William Putch in 1957. He died in 1983. Jean died from natural causes at the age of 90 on May 31, 2013 at her home in New York City. She is survived by two children, John Putch (actor and director) and Pamela Putch (actress and producer). She is buried next to her husband in a cemetery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Archie and Edith took turns singing the lines from the song "Those Were The Days." Here's the first four lines:
Boy, the way Glenn Miller played,
Songs that made the hit parade,
Guys like us, we had it made,
Those were the days.
Dale Robertson was one of the best well known faces of the 1950s and 1960s television westerns. He was born Dayle Lymoine Robertson on July 14, 1923 in Harrah, Oklahoma. At the age of 17, he was boxing in prize fights to make extra money and was approached by a Hollywood producer who offered him the lead in a movie called Golden Boy. He turned it down not only because he was training polo ponies but because he said he was too young to leave his family. The role went to William Holden in 1939.
After serving in the US Army during World War II where he was seriously injured but continued to serve, he had a photo of himself taken at a professional photography shop to send to his mother. The photographer hung it in his window which attracted movie scouts. The handsome young man was on his way to star in westerns, at the time America's favorite type of show.
Dale was typecast for sure but still managed to make each role unique. He was told to avoid acting classes by Will Rogers Jr, saying it would ruin his persona. He followed the advice and continued to work well into the 1990s on series television.
From 1952 through the 1960s, along with actor Ronald Regan, he hosted the western series Death Valley Days which started on radio which was sponsored by 20 Mule Team Borax, a product indigenous to Death Valley. He had small parts in western movies, including one as Jesse James in "Fighting Man of the Plains" during the 1940s, until he entered series television in the 1950s.
In 1957, he portrayed Agent Jim Hardie on Tales of Wells Fargo until 1962 helping to stave off troublemakers in the town riding his horse Jubilee. In 1966, he played Ben Calhoun in the western series Iron Horse who wins a railroad in a card game and has to fight off Indians. The series ran nearly two years for 47 episodes. He appeared in the night soap Dynasty in 1981 but left the series by mutual consent because he refused to comply with the sexual innuendo in the script. He went on to act in episodes of Dallas, Love Boat and Murder She Wrote.
In 1993, Dale's final role was in two episodes as Zeke in Harts Of The West with father and son team Lloyd and Beau Bridges. He retired to his ranch in Yukon Oklahoma to raise horses. The last fifteen years of his life were in ill health partially due to injuries he sustained while in the Army in WWII. He married four times, had one daughter with his first wife. He married his fourth wife Susan in 1980.
Dale Robertson died at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA on February 27, 2013 from lung cancer and pneumonia at the age of 89. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer just one week before he died while being treated for pneumonia. It had spread from his lungs to the brain, bones, liver and lymph nodes.