Gary Coleman, the pint-sized child star of the smash 1970s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," who spent the rest of his life struggling on Hollywood's D-list, died Friday, May 28, after suffering a brain hemorrhage at his Utah home. He was 42.
Best remembered for "Diff'rent Strokes" character Arnold Jackson and his "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" catchphrase, Coleman, pictured here in 2003, chafed at his permanent association with the show, but also tried to capitalize on it through reality shows and other TV appearances.
His adult life was marked with legal, financial and health troubles, suicide attempts and even a 2003 run for California governor.
J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose "The Catcher in the Rye" shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, died Wednesday, Jan. 27. He was 91.
Salinger, who lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in a small, remote house in Cornish, N.H., died of natural causes.
"Catcher," with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. Salinger was writing for adults, but teenagers from all over identified with the novel's themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy, not to mention the luck of having the last word.
Eddie Fisher, center, whose huge fame as a pop singer was overshadowed by scandals ending his marriages to Debbie Reynolds, right, and Elizabeth Taylor, left, died Wednesday, Sept. 22, of complications from hip surgery. He was 82.
Fisher's clear dramatic singing voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s. He sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including "Thinking of You," "Any Time," "Oh, My Pa-pa," "I'm Yours," "Wish You Were Here," "Lady of Spain" and "Count Your Blessings."
His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Reynolds, but they divorced after three years and Fisher married Taylor in 1959. That marriage lasted only five years as Taylor fell for "Cleopatra" co-star Richard Burton and divorced Fisher in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.
Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "10" and the "Pink Panther" farces, died Wednesday, Dec. 15, of complications from pleumonia. He was 88.
"He was the most unique man I have ever known-and he was my mate," said Julie Andrews, his wife of 42 years, pictured with him in 2004. "He will be missed beyond words, and will forever be in my heart."
A third-generation filmmaker, Edwards was praised for evoking classic performances from Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Lee Remick and Andrews.
Patricia Neal, the willowy, husky-voiced actress who won an Academy Award for 1963's "Hud" and then survived several strokes to continue acting, died on Sunday, Aug. 8, at 84. Neal, pictured here around 1940, had lung cancer and died at her home in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.
Less than two years after her Oscar win, she suffered a series of strokes in 1965 at age 39. Her struggle to regain walking and talking is regarded as epic in the annals of stroke rehabilitation. She returned to the screen to earn another Oscar nomination and three Emmy nominations.
Dennis Hopper, the high-flying Hollywood wild man whose memorable and erratic career included an early turn in "Rebel Without a Cause," an improbable smash with "Easy Rider," and a classic character role in "Blue Velvet," died Saturday, May 29, of prostate cancer. He was 74.
The talented but sometimes uncontrollable actor-director had parts in such favorites as "Apocalypse Now" and "Hoosiers." He was a two-time Academy Award nominee.
Hopper, pictured in Paris in 2008, married five times and led a dramatic life right to the end. Just months before his death, he filed to end his 14-year marriage to Victoria Hopper.
Art Linkletter, who as the gently mischievous host of TV's "People Are Funny" and "House Party" in the 1950s and '60s, delighted viewers with his ability to get kids — and grownups — to say the darndest things on national television, died Wednesday, May 26, at his Los Angeles home. He was 97.
Linkletter, pictured here in the 1960s, was known on TV for his funny interviews with children and ordinary folks. He also collected their comments in a number of best-selling books.
"Because of Art Linkletter, adults found themselves enjoying children," said Bill Cosby, whose style of interviewing kids on his own show in the late '90s was often compared to Linkletter's.
Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress known for her plaintive, signature song "Stormy Weather" and for her triumph over the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, died Sunday, May 9, in New York. She was 92.
Horne, pictured here in 1981, was one of the first black performers hired in the 1940s to sing with a major white band, to play the Copacabana nightclub in New York, and when she signed with MGM, she was among a handful of black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.
Actor Corey Haim, a 1980s teen heartthrob whose career was blighted by drug abuse, died on Wednesday, March 10, of pneumonia complications. He was 38.
The Toronto-born actor got his start in television commercials at 10. His career peaked with his roles in the 1986 movie "Lucas" and "The Lost Boys" in 1987, in which he battled vampires.
In 2007, he told ABC’s "Nightline" that drugs hurt his career. "I wasn’t functional enough to work for anybody, even myself. I wasn’t working," he said.
In recent years, he appeared in the A&E reality TV show "The Two Coreys" with his friend Corey Feldman.
Rue McClanahan, the Emmy-winning actress who brought the sexually liberated Southern belle Blanche Devereaux to life on the hit TV series "The Golden Girls," died Thursday, June 3, in New York of a brain hemorrhage. She was 76.
McClanahan had an active career in off-Broadway and regional stages in the 1960s before she was tapped for TV in the 1970s for the key best-friend character on the hit series "Maude," starring Beatrice Arthur.
But her most loved role came in 1985 when she co-starred with Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty in "The Golden Girls," a runaway hit that broke the sitcom mold by focusing on the foibles of four aging — and frequently eccentric — women living together in Miami.
Gloria Stuart, the 1930s Hollywood beauty who gave up acting for 30 years and later became the oldest Academy Award acting nominee as the spunky survivor in "Titanic," died on Sunday, Sept. 26, of respiratory failure. She was 100.
In her youth, Stuart, pictured circa 1934, was a blond beauty who starred in B pictures as well as some higher-profile ones such as "The Invisible Man" and two Shirley Temple movies, "Poor Little Rich Girl" and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." But by the mid-1940s she had retired.
She resumed acting in the 1970s, doing occasional television and film work.
But Stuart's later career would have remained largely a footnote if James Cameron had not chosen her for his 1997 epic about the doomed luxury liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. Stuart co-starred as Rose Calvert, the 101-year-old survivor, played by Kate Winslet as a young woman.
Pernell Roberts, the ruggedly handsome actor who shocked Hollywood by leaving TV’s "Bonanza" at the height of its popularity, then found fame again years later on "Trapper John, M.D.," died Sunday, Jan. 24, in Malibu, Calif., of cancer. He was 81.
Although he rocketed to fame in 1959 as Adam Cartwright, eldest son of a Nevada ranching family led by Lorne Greene’s patriarchal Ben Cartwright, Roberts chafed at the limitations he felt his "Bonanza" character was given.
When he left the show the general feeling in Hollywood was that he had foolishly doomed his career and turned his back on a fortune in "Bonanza" earnings.
R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, who was one of the most electric and successful figures in music until a car crash 28 years ago left him in a wheelchair, died on Wednesday, Jan. 13, of colon cancer. He was 59.
Before the crash, Pendergrass established a new era of R&B with an explosive, raw voice that symbolized masculinity, passion and the joys and sorrow of romance in songs such as "Close the Door," "It Don’t Hurt Now," "Love T.K.O." and other hits that have since become classics.
The singer suffered a spinal cord injury in the 1982 car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down -- still able to sing but without his signature power.
Leslie Nielsen, who traded in his dramatic persona for inspired bumbling as a hapless doctor in "Airplane!" and the accident-prone detective Frank Drebin in "The Naked Gun" comedies, died Sunday, Nov. 28, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.
The Canadian-born actor died from complications from pneumonia.
Nielsen, pictured in 1970, came to Hollywood in the mid-1950s after performing in 150 live television dramas in New York. With a craggily handsome face, blond hair and 6-foot-2 height, he seemed ideal for a movie leading man.
He became known as a serious actor, although behind the camera he was a prankster. That was an aspect of his personality never exploited, however, until "Airplane!" was released in 1980 and became a huge hit.
John Forsythe, the handsome, smooth-voiced actor who made his fortune as the scheming oil tycoon in TV's "Dynasty" and the voice of the leader of "Charlie's Angels," died Thursday, April 1, of complications from pneumonia after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 92.
"He was one of the last of the true gentlemen of the acting profession," said Joan Collins, left, with Forsythe and co-star Linda Evans in 1986. "I enjoyed our nine years of feuding, fussing and fighting as the Carringtons."
Don Van Vliet, better known as pioneering blues and rock musician Captain Beefheart, died Friday, Dec. 17, from complications of multiple sclerosis at age 69.
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band rose to prominence during the 1960s with an experimental brand of rock music that was inspired by the blues and featured offbeat rhythms and lyrics.
Their best known album is 1969's "TroutMask Replica," and while it was not a commercial hit, it won critical acclaim and is still considered among the most prominent art-rock albums ever made.
Steve Landesberg, been best known for his role as the intellectual and sometimes annoying Detective Sgt. Arthur Dietrich on the long-running 1970s cop comedy "Barney Miller," died Monday, Dec. 20. He was 65.
Younger audiences knew the veteran character actor, too — for a slew of recent parts such as the doctor on the 2008 hit movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
Landesberg appeared in dozens of TV shows, his curly haired, bespectacled face easily recognizable. Recent credits included "Everybody Hates Chris," "Just Jordan," "That 70s Show" and "American Dad."
Australian-born opera singer Joan Sutherland, known to her Italian fans as "La Stupenda," died Sunday, Oct. 10, at her home near Geneva, Switzerland. She was 83.
Sutherland was acclaimed from her native Australia to North America and Europe for the wide range of roles she took on during a career that spanned four decades.
The singer, pictured in 1961, made her stage debut in 1951 and went on to perform at many of the world's great opera houses during an illustrious 40-year career.
Robert Culp, the actor who teamed with Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking TV series "I Spy" and was Bob in the critically acclaimed sex comedy "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," died Wednesday, March 24, after collapsing outside his Hollywood home. He was 79.
"I Spy," which aired from 1965 to 1968, was a television milestone in more ways than one. Its combination of humor and adventure broke new ground, and it was the first integrated television show to feature a black actor in a starring role.
Culp, pictured in 2002, also had starring roles in such films as "The Castaway Cowboy," "Golden Girl," "Turk 182!" and "Big Bad Mama II."
Dixie Carter, whose Southern charm and natural beauty won her a host of television roles, including her most famous as wisecracking Julia Sugarbaker on "Designing Women," died Saturday, April 10. She was 70.
Pictured in 2008 with husband Hal Holbrook, Carter was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for her seven-episode guest stint on the ABC hit "Desperate Housewives." Her other credits include roles on the series "Family Law" and "Diff'rent Strokes."
Actor Fess Parker, who became every baby boomer’s idol in the 1950s and launched a craze for coonskin caps as television’s Davy Crockett, died Thursday, March 18, of natural causes. He was 85.
Parker, who was also TV’s Daniel Boone and later a major California winemaker and developer, died at his Santa Ynez Valley home.
The first installment of "Davy Crockett," with Buddy Ebsen as Crockett's sidekick, debuted in December 1954 as part of the "Disneyland" TV show.
The 6-foot, 6-inch Parker was quickly embraced by youngsters as the man in a coonskin cap who stood for the spirit of the American frontier. Boomers, gripped by the Crockett craze, scooped up Davy lunch boxes, toy Old Betsy rifles, buckskin shirts and trademark fur caps. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" ("Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee...") was a No. 1 hit for singer Bill Hayes.
Lynn Redgrave, an introspective and independent player in her family's acting dynasty who became a 1960s sensation as the unconventional title character of "Georgy Girl" and later dramatized her troubled past in such one-woman stage performances as "Shakespeare for My Father" and "Nightingale," died Sunday, May 2, of breast cancer. She was 67.
The youngest child of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, Lynn Redgrave, pictured in 2003, never quite managed the acclaim -- or notoriety --of elder sibling Vanessa Redgrave, but received Oscar nominations for "Georgy Girl" and "Gods and Monsters," and Tony nominations for "Mrs. Warren's Profession," "Shakespeare for My Father" and "The Constant Wife." In recent years, she also made appearances on TV in "Ugly Betty," "Law & Order" and "Desperate Housewives."
Corin Redgrave, a member of a British acting dynasty that includes his sisters Vanessa and Lynn, died in London on Tuesday, April 6, at the age of 70.
He was less famous than his sisters, but still had success on stage and screen, appearing in dozens of television shows and movies, including "A Man for All Seasons," and "Oh! What A Lovely War" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" — in which he played Hamish, the hapless groom of wedding No. 3.
Known also for his radical political stands, Redgrave was a Marxist who protested against the Iraq War, campaigned for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and spoke out in defense of political dissidents.
Barbara Billingsley, who gained supermom status for her gentle portrayal of June Cleaver, the warm, supportive mother of a pair of precocious boys in "Leave It to Beaver," died Saturday, Oct. 16. She was 94.
When the show debuted in 1957, Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver, was 9, and Tony Dow, who portrayed Wally, was 12. Billingsley's character, the perfect stay-at-home 1950s mom, was always there to gently but firmly nurture both through the ups and downs of childhood.
Billingsley's beauty and figure won her numerous roles in movies from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, but she failed to obtain star status until "Leave it to Beaver," a show that she almost passed on.
Teena Marie, the "Ivory Queen of Soul" who developed a lasting legacy with her silky soul pipes and with hits like "Lovergirl," "Square Biz," and "Fire and Desire" with mentor Rick James, died Sunday, Dec. 26. She was 54.
Marie certainly wasn't the first white act to sing soul music, but she was arguably among the most gifted and respected, and was thoroughly embraced by the black audience.
She made her debut on the legendary Motown label back in 1979, becoming one of the very few white acts to break the race barrier of the groundbreaking black-owned record label that had been a haven for black artists like Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye.
Marie's voice was the main draw of her music: Pitch-perfect, piercing in its clarity and wrought with emotion, whether it was drawing from the highs of romance or the mournful moments of a love lost.
Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of the Sex Pistols and one of the seminal figures of the punk rock era, died Thursday, April 8, of cancer. He was 64.
McLaren is best known for his work with the Pistols, whose violence, swearing and anti-establishment antics shocked Britain and revolutionized the world music scene. The band's chaotic career owed much to their manager's talent for self-promotion.
"Without Malcolm McLaren there would not have been any British punk," said music journalist Jon Savage.
British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, whose creations adorned such celebrities as Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and was known for his flamboyant and sometimes outrageous styles, died Thursday, Feb. 11, of suicide. He was 40.
Known for his dramatic statement pieces and impeccable tailoring, McQueen, pictured in 2002 with model Kate Moss, received recognition from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, when she made him a Commander of the British Empire for his fashion leadership.
Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour called McQueen "one of the greatest talents of his generation."
Tom Bosley, whose long acting career was highlighted by his hugely popular role as the understanding father on television's nostalgic, top-rated 1970s comedy series "Happy Days," died Tuesday, Oct. 19, of heart failure. He was 83.
Bosley, pictured in 1990, was ranked No. 9 on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in 2004. The show debuted in 1974 and ran for 11 seasons.
After "Happy Days" ended, Bosley went on to a recurring role in "Murder, She Wrote" as Sheriff Amos Tupper. He also was the crime-solving priest in television's "The Father Dowling Mysteries," which ran from 1989 to 1991.
Although "Happy Days" brought him his widest fame, Bosley had made his mark on Broadway 15 years before when he turned in a Tony Award-winning performance in the title role in "Fiorello!"
Jimmy Dean, a country music legend for his smash hit about a workingman hero, "Big Bad John," and an entrepreneur known for his sausage brand, died Sunday, June 13, in Henrico County, Va. He was 81.
Dean's successful entertainment career in the 1950s and '60s included the nationally televised "The Jimmy Dean Show," pictured here in 1964.
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his hometown. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.
Soul singer Solomon Burke, who wrote "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" and recorded the hit "Cry To Me" used in the movie "Dirty Dancing," died Sunday, Oct. 10, in Amsterdam. He was 70.
A Grammy winner and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Burke was said to have been named the "king of rock and soul" by a Baltimore disc jockey in 1964 and he adopted the title as his own, even sitting in a large throne.
A Philadelphia native highly acclaimed by music critics, fellow musicians and many loyal fans, Burke never reached the same level of fame as soul performers like James Brown or Marvin Gaye. However, legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler once called Burke "the best soul singer of all time."
Tony Curtis, the Bronx tailor's son who became a 1950s movie heartthrob and then a respected actor with such films as "Sweet Smell of Success," "The Defiant Ones" and "Some Like It Hot," died Wednesday, Sept. 29, in Las Vegas of cardiac arrest. He was 85.
After a series of frivolous movies that exploited his handsome physique and appealing personality, Curtis moved to more substantial roles, starting in 1957 in the harrowing show business tale "Sweet Smell of Success."
Asked in a 2008 interview with Matt Lauer on TODAY if his good looks were a blessing or a curse, Curtis drew laughs by saying "I never found them a curse. No, I loved it." 1965
Ronnie James Dio, whose soaring vocals, poetic lyrics and mythic tales of a never-ending struggle between good and evil broke new ground in heavy metal, died Sunday, May 16, of stomach cancer. He was 67.
Dio rose to fame in 1975 as the first lead singer of Rainbow, the heavy metal band put together by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had just quit Deep Purple.
Dio then replaced legendary vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1980 with the critically acclaimed album "Heaven And Hell," considered by many critics to be one of the finest heavy metal albums of all time.
Veteran character actor Harold Gould, who played Valerie Harper's father on television's "Rhoda" and the con man Kid Twist in the 1973 movie "The Sting," died Saturday, Sept. 11, of prostate cancer. He was 86.
Gould, pictured in 1986, had a prolific career both on the big and small screens. He appeared in such films as "Harper," "Love and Death," "Freaky Friday" and "Patch Adams."
On television, he played Betty White's boyfriend on "The Golden Girls" and also made guest appearances on "Soap," "Perry Mason" and most recently "Nip/Tuck."
"Falcon Crest" actor and longtime British star Simon MacCorkindale died Thursday, Oct. 14, after a long struggle with cancer. He was 58.
MacCorkindale, who played British lawyer Greg Reardon in the '80s soap — which also starred Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas and Mel Ferrer — appeared in "Death on the Nile" and spent six years on the British medical drama "Casualty."
Mitch Miller, the goateed orchestra leader who asked Americans to "Sing Along With Mitch" on television and records and produced hits for Tony Bennett, Patti Page and other performers, died Saturday, July 31, in New York. He was 99.
Miller was a key record executive at Columbia Records in the pre-rock 'n' roll era, making hits with singers Bennett, Page, Rosemary Clooney and Johnny Mathis. As a producer and arranger, Miller had misses, too, famously striking out on projects with Frank Sinatra and a young Aretha Franklin and in general scorning the rise of rock.
The years of Miller's biggest successes were also the early years of rock 'n' roll, and many fans saw his old-fashioned arrangements of standards and folk favorites as an antidote to the noisy stuff the teens adored.
Director Arthur Penn, a myth-maker and myth-breaker who in such classics as "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Little Big Man" re-fashioned movie and American history and sealed a generation's affinity for outsiders, died Tuesday, Sept. 28. He was 88.
After first making his name on Broadway as director of the Tony Award-winning plays "The Miracle Worker" and "All the Way Home," Penn rose as a film director in the 1960s, his work inspired by the decade's political and social upheaval, and Americans' interest in their past and present.
"Bonnie and Clyde," with its mix of humor and mayhem, encouraged moviegoers to sympathize with the lawbreaking couple from the 1930s, while "Little Big Man" told the tale of the conquest of the West with the Indians as the good guys.
Peter Graves, the tall, stalwart actor likely best known for his portrayal of Jim Phelps, leader of a gang of special agents who battled evil conspirators in the long-running television series "Mission: Impossible," died of a heart attack on Sunday, March 14. He was 83.
Although Graves never achieved the stardom his older brother, James Arness, enjoyed as Marshall Matt Dillon on TV's "Gunsmoke," he had a number of memorable roles in both films and television.
He masterfully lampooned his straight-arrow image when he portrayed bumbling airline pilot Clarence Oveur in the 1980 disaster movie spoof "Airplane!"
Jean Simmons, the lovely, ethereal film star who played Ophelia to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, sang with Marlon Brando in "Guys and Dolls," and costarred with Gregory Peck, Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas, died Friday, Jan. 22, of lung cancer. She was 80.
The London-born actress secured her breakthrough role of Estella, companion to the reclusive Miss Havisham in 1946's "Great Expectations." That was followed by the exotic "Black Narcissus," and then Olivier's Oscar-winning "Hamlet" in 1948, for which Simmons was nominated as best supporting actress. She would be nominated for another Oscar, for best actress for 1969's "The Happy Ending," before moving largely to television roles in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
Simmons won an Emmy Award for her role in the 1980s miniseries "The Thorn Birds."
Grammy-winning singer Albertina Walker, who was known as the "Queen of Gospel," died Friday, Oct. 8, of respiratory failure. She was 81.
Close friend and WVON radio host Pam Morris says Walker was "a living legend" who was responsible for launching more than a dozen careers of gospel artists.
Walker formed her own gospel group, the Caravans, as a young woman and was a protege of gospel star Mahalia Jackson.