Lee Cowan remembers and celebrates some of the amazing people who have made their mark and made the most of their time with us:
His class, his style and his grace made(“Lillies of the Field”, “To Sir With Love”), exceptional among actors but also a model of social consciousness. Every role he played pushed the boundaries of what society allowed at the time. When the script for “In the Heat of the Night” called for his character Virgil Tibbs to be hit by a white man, Poitier told the studio, “If he hits me, I’ll hit him back.”
In a 1975 interview, he explained, “Black people have been going to the movies since its inception. They rarely saw each other, and when they did, they usually left the theater not particularly proud or with much sense of personal dignity.”
He broke so many barriers, including being the first black actor to win an Oscar in a leading role. Accepting his Oscar, he said, “It’s been a long journey to this moment.”
Sidney Poitier was 94.
We’ve lost another champion: the big one. The Boston Celtic might be best known for his skills on the basketball court, but he was also a passionate advocate for equality and inclusion.
When President Barack Obama presented Russell with a Medal of Freedom in 2011, he said: “He marched with King; he stood by Ali.
Russell left us at 88.
Another sports legend we lost was so good he was only known by one name:. He helped change the sport of soccer (or football) by playing it better than anyone. He was 82.
Announcer for the Dodgers for nearly 70 yearswas the poet of baseball. One of his most famous calls came in 1974 when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record: “What a wonderful moment for the country and the world! Record by a baseball idol of all time!”
With that one phone call, Scully summed up a nation’s simmering racial tensions. The game won’t be the same without him.
experienced so much – she died at the age of 113. The daughter of a sharecropper, she lived long enough to dance with the Obamas in the White House.
Those who have experienced injustice at home have helped their country fight it abroad. “We were just as interested in supporting this effort as everyone else was at the time,”one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, said in 2016. He died quietly at the age of 102.
In contrast,‘s death was announced to the world. She was the longest reigning monarch in British history – 70 years on the throne. Her sense of duty prevailed.
In this country we have lost a queen of our own: the country music queen. Her hearty farming roots resonated – a true miner’s daughter who wrote from the heart.
was certainly himself also; Marvin Lee Aday had a sound all his own. His album “Bat Out of Hell” showed that rock music can also be operatic. Meat Loaf left us at 74.
Johanna Simon was real opera, but she was also the sister of pop star Carly Simon. The two, along with their other sister, Lucyall became singer-songwriters.
“Well, I was very sophisticated,” Joanna said in 1975, “and Lucy was kind of an angel, she was very sweet and overly good; and Carly was the character!”
Tragically for the Simon family, the day after Joanna’s death, her sister Lucy also died, leaving their early trio as just one person.
was also a member of a trio as lead singer of The Ronettes. The “Be My Baby” singer has died at the age of 78.
Her song helped define the ’60s, a decade of music that culminated in Woodstock, the festival the concert promoter helped create Michael Lang.
Those three days in the summer of 1969 summed up the hopes and fears of an entire generation. “M*A*S*H” capitalized on some of those frustrations, only instead of being set in Vietnam, it was set during the Korean War. We lost Burt Metcalfe, who produced the very final episode of “M*A*S*H,” which to this day holds the record for the most watched finale on television.
In 1983 Metcalfe said: “A lot of people write and say, ‘I never know from week to week whether you make me laugh or you make me cry.’ Because that’s what life is about. Life is laughter and sadness. So why can’t you do both?”
“Hogan’s Heroes” found humor in perhaps the most unlikely place of all: a POW camp in WWII Germany.played the funny Frenchman Corporal LeBeau, but had a very serious side as a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust. Decades after the series ended, Clary revealed that he himself had survived 31 months in concentration camps. “There are some people in this world right now who are in denial about what happened,” he said in 1983, “and we cannot let them tell those lies. It’s very important to teach these little kids that it happened. Do not forget that.”
Unfortunately, the number of those who have experienced these horrors is dwindling. Take Hannah Pick, who was one of Anne Frank’s best friends. She was 93 years old.the camps survived together, and they died together in September, just days apart.
It is impossible to understand the risks faced by those who opposed the Nazi regime, but Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” gave us some insight.was the real secretary who typed in the names on this list, mostly Polish-Jewish refugees. She was 107 years old.
Two of our beloved TV shows suffered losses., who played Jerry Seinfeld’s mother, left us last year. And we lost too , who played George Costanza’s mother. They were both 93.
“Cheers” has also lost a family member:who played Rebecca Howe for so many years. She also played Mollie opposite John Travolta in Look Who’s Talking..”
Travolta called their relationship special, just like the one he had with another co-star he lost.. Her film Grease became one of the highest-grossing motion picture musicals of all time, and in the 1970s and 80s Newton-John became a legend himself.
She battled cancer very bravely and publicly in her final years, showing us all a dignified and thoughtful ending. She told Sunday Morning in 2019, “After a while I left, you know what? I don’t know what time it is but I have to enjoy my life so I’ll eat a biscuit if I want And if I feel like it I’ll have a cup of tea. And if I drink a little wine, then I do that. Because the joy of life and everyday life must be part of this healing process.”
Country star Wynonna Judd is healing after losing her mother. She took her own life just a day before she and her daughter were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In September, Wynonna told Sunday Morning that she could still feel her mother nudge her: “And sometimes I’m like, ‘I really miss you; why aren’t you here so we can argue?’”
Cher also lost her mother. George HoltLike her daughter, she was a singer, model and actress herself.
Grief is perhaps the greatest honor we can give – remembering the happiest moments, not the sad ones.
There was no “yesterday” for the players in the fashion industry., Vogue’s pioneering editor, always hopeful of the future; and who, with style and attitude, helped shape our view of the punk movement, a world that decisively breaks with the old traditions.
There was no subculture to Leave It to Beaver, but fans who loved the sitcom are mourning the loss, who played Wally Cleaver. He was America’s big brother who ran Beaver when Ward, their father, wasn’t around to do it himself.
Speaking of dads, how could we forget that Jim Redmond, who stormed onto the circuit after his son Derek pulled a hamstring at the 1992 Olympics. They finished the 400 meters arm in arm.
Whenthe legendary drummer for the band Foo Fighters, died this year aged just 50, it was his son Shane who played drums in his father’s place.
was perhaps best known as the TV dad. But live stage comedy really was his passion.
Saget was one of the nicest guys in the business and had a wit that could get pretty sharp. During a 2008 Comedy Central Roast, Saget remarked on the comedian“Gilbert, you’re serious about confinement from someone who just got pepper sprayed!”
To which Gottfried replied, “I googled Bob Saget and it came back: ‘Why?'”
Gottfried’s voice found its way into so many characters that we remember. Iago the Parrot from Aladdin was annoying yet oddly endearing – perfect for Gottfried’s talents.
The same was true forthe voice of the sea witch Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
Our children know itas a singing teapot from “Beauty and the Beast”. For adults, however, she was Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. But it was on Broadway, where she won six Tony Awards, that her talent really came to the fore. Angela Lansbury was 96.
took his Broadway star and turned him…