Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Necrology - The Best of the Rest (Celebrities and other Notable Characters) PART 2 of 3

Johnny Maestro
Born: May 7, 1939 (Brooklyn, NY)
Died: Mar. 24, 2010
Age: 70

He was the lead singer of the music groups The Crests and Brooklyn Bridge. Born, John Mastrangelo, and raised on Manhattan's lower east side on Mulberry Street, he helped form The Crests in 1956, which became one of the most successful integrated doo-wop groups of all-time. After signing with the Coed Record label, they scored their most memorable hit with "16 Candles", which reached number 2 on the pop charts in December 1958. During the early 1960s he left The Crests to pursue a solo career, also becoming a member of the group The Del-Satins. In 1967, Maestro formed the pop group Brooklyn Bridge, and under the Buddah Record label, scored a gold record with the hit "Worst That Could Happen", peaking at number 3 on the pop charts in January 1969. Maestro remained an active performer as a member of Brooklyn Bridge into the 2000s. He died of Cancer at the age of 70.

Billie Richards
Born: Nov. 21, 1921 (Toronto, Canada)
Died: Sep. 10, 2010 (Burlington, Canada)
Age: 88

Known primarily for voice characterizations, she shall be remembered as the title lead in the 1964 television special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". She had roles in several radio series where her ability to sound like a young boy proved valuable (she was even sometimes billed as "Billy Richards"), the most noted being the Kid in "Jake and the Kid" which was broadcast thru the 1950s. Later she was to be Tenderheart Bear in the early Care Bears films, and to have parts in "The Smokey Bear Show", "The King Kong Show", "Spider Man", and other series. Richards was seen on camera a few times, her credits including "Pennies from Heaven" (1981) and 1998's "Bram Stoker's Shadow Builder". She was to reprise Rudolph twice, in "Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976) and the 1979 "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July". In later years, Richards retired to Totonto. She died of a stroke. Of her signature role, she said: "What better legacy can you leave than a show that everybody loves?"

James Gammon
Born: Apr. 20, 1940 (Newman, IL)
Died: Jul. 16, 2010 (Cosa Mesa, CA)
Age: 70

A well known character performer, best recognized for his rugged features and gravelly voice. He is best remembered for his role as Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown in the motion pictures "Major League" (1989), "Major League II" (1994), and for his recurring role in the television series "Nash Bridges" from 1996 to 2001. Gammon began his television career in the early 1960s, appearing in the western classics "Gunsmoke", "Bonanza", "The Wild Wild West", and "The Virginian", and made his film debut in "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). He died of Cancer at the age of 70.

Gloria Winters
Born: Nov. 28, 1931 (Los Angeles, CA)
Died: Aug. 14, 2010 (San Diego, CA)
Age: 78

She shall be remembered as Penny King from the 1950s television series "Sky King". Thru the 1950s, she was seen on a number of small screen shows, among them "The Lone Ranger", "The Gene Autry Show" (on which she got a chance to sing), "The Jack Benny Show", "Richard Diamond Private Detective". Winters received a 2002 Golden Boot Award as a "Sweetheart of the West"; she died of pneumonia complicated by Alzheimer's Disease.

Lorene Yarnell
Born: Mar. 21, 1944 (Inglewood, CA)
Died: Jul. 29, 2010 (Sandefjord,Vestfold County, Norway)
Age: 66

She was half of the comic team of Shields and Yarnell, who won popularity on US television during the 1970s. Shields and Yarnell continued their professional partnership until 2009. She was married to her fourth husband, Bjorn Jansson, and was living in Norway. Her sudden death was due to a brain anuerysm.

Carl Smith
Born: Mar. 15, 1927 (Maynardville, TN)
Died: Jan. 16, 2010 (Franklin, TN)
Age: 82

Country Musician Carl Smith was raised listening to music of the Grand Ole Opry, influenced by Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe. While a teenager, he gained recognition as a guitarist, bass player and singer at WROL Radio in Knoxville before graduation from high school. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

Dorothy Janis
Born: Feb. 19, 1910 (Dallas, TX)
Died: Mar. 10, 2010 (Paradise VAlley, AZ)
Age: 100

Typecast in "exotic beauty" parts, she had a brief career in the late 1920s, and was one of the last performers to have had a starring turn in silent films. Born Dorothy Penelope Jones, she was discovered by Hollywood talent scouts while still in high school and signed by MGM to a five-year contract. She made her screen debut in "Kit Carson" (1928), and after two more westerns, "The Overland Express" and "Fleetwing", had her best remembered role as Ramon Novarro's leading lady in the smash hit "The Pagan" (1929). Dorothy's only "talkie" was the 1930 "Lummox", in which she took the part of "Chita". She did make one more movie with sound; "White Captive" was filmed in Southeast Asia late in 1930, but was never released, probably due to the print being damaged. At her death, a couple of controversies remained; stories from her acting days that she was really a Cherokee Indian may, or may not, have been true. Further, while most sources credit her 1910 birth year, some say that she was actually born in 1912, the earlier date allegedly invented to hide her underage status.

Dorothy Provine
Born: Jan. 20, 1935 (Lawrence County, SD)
Died: Apr. 25, 2010 (Bremerton, WA)
Age: 75

After co-hosting a TV quiz show in Seattle, she launched her Hollywood career during the late-1950s, appearing in guest roles on many popular programs including "Lawman", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Wagon Train". During that period, she made her big screen debut in the B-movie "The Bonnie Parker Story" (1958), and appeared in the film "The 30-Foot Bride of Candy Rock" (1959), most noted for being Lou Costello's last movie. She will perhaps be best remembered by movie audiences for her part as Milton Berle's wife in the star-studded 1963 picture "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". She died from complications of emphysema.

Jefferson Thomas
Born: Sep. 1, 1942 (Little Rock, AK)
Died: Sep. 5, 2010 (Columbus, OH)
Age: 68

One of the "Little Rock Nine", a group of African-American students who in 1957 were chosen to integrate the all-White Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thomas was a 15 year-old sophomore when he volunteered to participate. When Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent Thomas and his eight fellow students from entering the school, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne Division to ensure their enrollment. Despite this the youths endured bullying and threats on campus, and Thomas was one of only three of the group to graduate there, in 1960. President Bill Clinton presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Thomas and the other members of the "Little Rock Nine".

James Mitchell
Born: Feb. 29, 1920 (Sacramento, CA)
Death: Jan. 22, 2010
Age: 89

Although he is best-known to television audiences as Palmer Cortlandt on the soap opera All My Children (1979–2009), theatre and dance historians remember him as one of Agnes de Mille's leading dancers. Mitchell's skill at combining dance and acting was considered something of a novelty; in 1959, the critic Olga Maynard singled him out as "an important example of the new dancer-actor-singer in American ballet", pointing to his interpretive abilities and "masculine" technique.

Ron Banks
Born: May 10, 1951 (Redford, Michigan)
Died: Mar. 4, 2010 (Detroit, Michigan)
Age: 58

He was a founding member of the Detroit-based music group The Dramatics. With several appearances on the music program "Soul Train", their popularity was assured throughout the 1970s. In 1983 Banks left the group to pursue a solo career, but would later reunite with them continuing to record and perform as a member until his death from a heart attack.

Cammie King
Born: Aug. 5, 1934 (Los Angeles, CA)
Died: Sep. 1, 2010 (Fort Bragg, CA)
Age: 76

She played Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind". Born Eleanore Camarack King, she was raised in Los Angeles and was cast as Bonnie Blue for her resemblence to her on-screen parents. She later remembered developing a father figure attachment to Clark Gable. In later years she was to appear frequently at autograph and movie nostalgia shows, and was to say of her brief film career: "I peaked in show business at age five". She died of lung cancer.

Helen Wagner
Born: Sep. 3, 1918 (Lubbock, TX)
Died: May 1, 2010
Age: 91

She will be remembered as 'Nancy Hughes' from the long-running CBS daytime soap "As The World Turns". Last seen on "As The World Turns" on April 5, 2010, she is in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for the longest-playing of a single role. Start of role: April 2, 1956, she had that role for 54 years.

Frances Reid
Born: Dec. 9, 1914 (Wichita Falls, TX)
Died: Feb. 3, 2010 (Los Angeles, CA)
Age: 95

She is fondly remembered for her role of Alice Horton in the daytime TV serial "The Days of Our Lives", from the show's debut in 1965 until 2007. She earned two Daytime Emmy Award nomination, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. She was married to stage and TV actor Philip Bourneuf.

Meinhardt Raabe
Born: Sep. 2, 1915
Died: Apr. 9, 2010
Age: 94

One of the last surviving Munchkin-actors in The Wizard of Oz, he was also the last surviving cast member with any dialogue in the film. At 4'7", he played the coroner in The Wizard of Oz in 1939,

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