Born: September 19, 1928
Died: June 9, 2017
Best Known for: Actor, BATMAN
After putting on the cape and cowl for the first time in 1966, Adam West became Batman, a character he would forever be associated with. He spent the next decade trying to shake the cowl from his head, but he never could. After his death, L.A. lit up city hall with the bat-signal in honour of the man who didn’t embrace his most famous role until later in his career. He found a lot of voice work in his later years with his most popular character being Quahog’s bumbling mayor, Adam West.
Born: December 8, 1947
Died: May 27, 2017
Best Known for: The Allman Brothers Band
I remember the first time I heard “Midnight Rider” vividly. It changed my life… that was pure rock ‘n roll. The music world will definitely miss this man.
Born: July 20, 1964
Died: May 18, 2017
Best Known for: Singer for Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog, a cornerstone of the grunge era.
I’m a member of the generation that was in our early teens when Kurt Cobain died. We’ve seen our musical heroes, in the rock world, pass away before their time once and again. Losing Chris Cornell hit hard because he seemed so together and had been sober, by most accounts, for more than a decade. But no one knows the inside of another’s mind or the weight they carry in their hearts. This one really hurt.
Born: February 22, 1944
Died: April 26, 2017
Best known for: Director, Silence of the Lambs/Philadelphia
The son of Robert and Dorothy Demme, Jonathan started his filmmaking career in the early 1970s and started to gain traction in the 1980s with Melvin and Howard (1980) and Swing Shift (1984). The highlight of his career is 1991’s iconic The Silence of the Lambs, which went on to win the Big Five Academy Awards, including the award for Best Director. He followed up the success in 1994 with the heartbreaking Philadelphia and since sprouted successes such as The Manchurian Candidate (2004) and Rachel Getting Marries (2008).
Demme’s affinity for music was evident in his directing of Talking Heads’ concert film, Stop Making Sense (1984), which won the National Society of Film Critics Award for best documentary, Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006), and Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (2016), Demme’s last film as a director.
Demme died at the age of 73 from complications from cancer. He leaves behind his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children, Ramona, Brooklyn, and Jos.
Born: October 18, 1960
Died: April 22, 2017
Best Known for: Actor, HAPPY DAYS
Her first role was an uncredited Little Girl on Tricycle in 1967 but she landed her signature role at just 14 years old as the third, and youngest child on the TV show Happy Days (1974 – 1984). She grew up on the show and in 1982 was moved to the spin off, Joanie Loves Chachi, but found herself back on Happy Days in 1984 after the 17 episode run of the spin off. After Happy Days ended Erin had difficulty finding roles and moved from Hollywood spending her final years in Indiana.
Born: May 8 1926
Died: April 6 2017
Who: Funny man, stand-up legend
My first memory of Rickles was on a VHS tape that my Dad rented form Blockbuster. It was the best of the comedians of the time – Burns, Hope, Carson and Rickles. I was amazed that Dad allowed me listen to Rickles off-bent, twisted humour. Dad and I ended up seeing him live in 2009 in Windsor. We were going to get front row seats for the show, then we remembered. Rickles would see us. Better sit in the way back. Good thing we did. The bit from the oldtimer was directed to an Indian family sitting the same seats Dad and I were going to grab. Phew.
Born: October 18, 1926
Died: March 8, 2017
Best Known for: The father of rock ‘n’ roll, full stop, and the first person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
My most vivid memory associated with Chuck Berry is seeing my grandmother dance to “Johnny B. Goode” at big family parties. She couldn’t walk well—she had polio as a child and a neurological disorder that further made it difficult for her to get around—but when that song came on the PA, she was out there, big smile on her face, dancing like she was 20 and had all the energy in the world. For that I’m forever grateful.
Born: May 17, 1955
Died: February 25, 2017
Best Known for: Actor, TITANIC
Bill Paxton is best known as the underwater explorer Brock Lovett in Titanic, but his roles were varied to say the least. Since 1985 Bill appeared in at least 1 movie or TV show a year right up to his death. Many remember him as the Punk Leader in Terminator or mean brother Chet Donnelly in Weird Science or Bill Harding in Twister. No two roles were ever alike. Bill was the first choice to play Robert Langdon in 2006’s The Da Vinci Code but turned it down to do Big Love instead. His new show, Training Day had just premiered several months before his death and only ran 13 episodes.
Born: September 22, 1947
Died: February 18, 2017
Best Known for: “Jane Roe” in the US Supreme Court case Roe vs Wade.
To keep politics and controversial issues fully out of the discussion, Norma McCorvey was a woman who led a troubled life and fought demons along the way. She changed her mind about the procedure that put her, after the fact and by her own choice, into a national debate. She was neither a sinner nor a saint but a person who found herself at the center of a firestorm she wasn’t really trying to ignite.
Born: May 21, 1945
Died: February 7, 2017
Best Known for: Battlestar Galactica
Always a fan favorite at Sci-Fi conventions since staring in his most famous 1978 role as Captain Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. Richard Hatch started his acting career in 1970 in Off-Broadway productions, he quickly made the transition to television starting with the usual guest starring roles and made for TV movies. Before starting in his Global Globe nominated signature role in Battlestar Galactica Richard Hatch joined the cast of All in the Family than to replace Michael Douglas on the popular series The Streets of San Francisco. Richard Hatch also portrayed Jan Berry in 1978 starring in the well-received Biopic about the 60’s California surf group Jan and Dean. Following the short-lived Battlestar Galactica, Richard Hatch remained busy until his death, rounding out his acting talents as a writer, producer, and director. In 1999, he combined all his talents in one of the first “Fan Films” the effects-laden demo reel titled Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming. The Second Coming was one of the many efforts to revive the original Battlestar Galactica series until the reboot in 2004.
Mary Tyler Moore
Born: December 29, 1936
Died: January 25, 2017
Best Known for: Writer, producer, actress, advocate, inspiration.
For me, Mary Tyler Moore, as Mary Richards, embodied who I wanted to be when I grew up: She lived in a cool apartment, she had great friends, she was free and she was a working journalist. She taught me nothing was off limits; I didn’t have to compromise to be who I wanted and do what I wanted. That’s a powerful thing for a kid to see.
Born: April 1, 1932
Died: December 28, 2016
Best Known for: Actor, SINGING IN THE RAIN
Debbie Reynolds’ career started with an uncredited role in June’s Bride in 1948 at just 16 years old. Later in her life Debbie’s focus was the creation and operation of her Hollywood museum, 46,000 square feet of costumes, props and equipment. For some time she owned her own casino in Las Vegas until it closed in 1997. Debbie Reynolds passed away the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, proving that a person can in fact ‘loose the will to live’ after the passing of a loved one, as Padme did in Revenge of the Sith.
Born: October 21, 1956
Died: December 27, 2016
Best Known for: Actor, STAR WARS
The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie’s first role was as a Girl Scout in the TV movie, Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children in 1969. In 1975 she appeared as Lorna in Shampoo and then in 1977 Carrie Fisher took on the iconic role of Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars. Even though she took on several roles over the years but she always returned to Princess Leia. What was equally famous as the role was her no holds bar personality, her ability to embrace and laugh at her past and her French bulldog, Gary.
Born: June 25 1963
Died: December 25 2016
Best Known for: Pop star, 80s heartthrob
The passing of George Michael hit me almost as hard as when Michael Jackson died. Almost. They both played a huge part in the early stages of me listening to music. Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five were the family friendly music that was always on. George Michael and WHAM was the cool music that was only played when the parents weren’t home. Remember when George passed, much like Michael, I couldn’t remember a time when they weren’t in my life.
Born: March 1 1947
Died: December 13 2016
Best Known for: Loved TV Dad from Growing Pains
We were proud to say Thicke was Canadian. No truer Canadian. Jesus, the guy died after an afternoon hockey game with his son. How more Canadian is that? Thicke played the Dad that you wanted as your own. Or at least that Dad that you could have a beer with. When Growing Pains ended, TV land lost Jason Seaver and its fans missed his boyish charm. When he passed, the world lost Alan Thicke warming our hearts.
Born: September 21 1934
Died: November 7 2016
Best Known for: Poet of all poets
Leonard Cohen was arguably the best songwriter slash poets of our time. His words hit me personally when I was searching for deeper music. I first learned about Cohen through his poetry. I would later fall deeply for his music. Iconic Canadian, the wordsmith spoke softly, walked with class and carried a big stick.
Born: August 24, 1934
Died: August 13, 2016
Best Known for: Actor, STAR WARS
Standing just a little over 3 feet 6 inches (1.12 metre) Kenny Baker started his acting career in 1960 with an uncredited role in Circus of Horrors. Like Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker took on the role of his life in 1977 as the man inside R2-D2. Kenny’s job was to give life to the small droid by turning his head and rocking back and forth. As the saga unfolded it became clear that it was in fact R2-D2 who was the hero of the story as he is the only character to know the entire story. He spent his later years touring England with his one man show “Kenny Baker” until his death.
Born: January 17, 1942
Died: June 3, 2016
Best Known for: Greatest of all time
Rappers call him the greatest rapper of all time. Wrestlers call him the best mic-talker of all time. Musicians, athletes, politicians were all inspired by the fighter’s tongue. For me, Ali was simply the greatest of all time. Before I got into wrestling or Hip Hop, I knew Ali and would sit in front of the television until he would come on. Ali was pals with my grandfather – and even signed a book for him. He spoke with meaning, direction and flair. This man moved like a butterfly, stung like a bee.
Born: June 7, 1958
Died: April 21, 2016
Best Known for: Pop/rock superstar
I was on a conference call at work when I read the headline that he had died. I lost all my feelings almost instantly. This man meant so much more to me than simply music. He did whatever the hell he wanted to do. If he wanted to wear frills and purple velvet… he did it. He was the definition of power, and it took a long time for me to personally get over this one. 7 was the first song I even learned ALL the words to, as a child. His power and conviction is what this world needed more than ever. This one hurt.
Born: April 6, 1937
Died: April 6, 2016
Best Known for: Singer, COUNTRY MUSIC
Merle Haggard served time in San Quentin from 1958 to 1960 and was in the audience to watch Johnny Cash play the prison in 1959. That experience gave Merle a direction and passion into country music and has 38 number one hits on Billboard magazine’s country singles chart to show for it. In 1994 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, had won 19 ACM awards and his 1970 album “Okie from Muskogee” won him 4 CMA awards, including album of the year and entertainer of the year. Merle and Buck Owens introduced the Bakersfield sound (often heard on the TV show Hee Haw) which still influences country music today.
Born: November 20, 1970
Died: March 22 2016
Who: Rapper, Member of A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest changed my life. It was on the same day I heard De La Soul’s cornerstone album, A Three Feet High and Rising. It’s that album that I credit for falling in love with Hip Hop. A Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm blew my mind. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. While Phife wouldn’t play a prominent role as an emcee till their second album, I was still held back at the five-foot assassins lyrical dominance. I would meet him at a show I helped put together in 2001. I told him he got me into Hip Hop, he replied “We’re the same height!”
Sir George Martin
Born: January 3, 1926
Died: March 8, 2016
Best Known for: Record Producer of The Beatles
Even though he was known for producing comedy records for the likes of Peter Sellers in his early recording career, Sir George Henry Martin became the most popular and successful producer of the 20th Century when he signed and recorded twelve studio albums by The Beatles. Because he added orchestration and psychedelic sounds to many Beatles songs such as ‘Yesterday’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘A Day In The Life’, Martin became known to many as the Fifth Beatle. Throughout his recording career from 1950-2006, Martin produced 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.