2014 Deaths: Gone, but not forgotten

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News
Elaine Stritch, Robin Williams, Bobby Womack, Geoffrey Holder, Mickey Rooney, Casey Kasem, Maya Angelou, William Clay Ford, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and James Garner.

This year started off on a melancholy note for music fans with the death of Phil Everly, who with his older brother Don, formed the Everly Brothers, one of the most influential vocal harmony groups of early rock 'n' roll.

It was also a year in which many great actors and actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age passed, as well as TV pioneer Sid Caesar.

We said goodbye to many Detroit media, music and art legends, including Bill Bonds, whose literate intensity made his WXYZ-TV newscasts dominant for decades; musician/producer/bank executive Don Davis, guitarist Dick Wagner and artist Gilda Snowden.

We lost a number of former Detroit News journalists — Bryan Burwell, Jay Carr, Joy Hakanson Colby, Angelo B. Henderson, Ruth Coughlin, Jane Rayburn and Ricardo Thomas. Their articles and photographs entertained and informed our readers for years.

Many of those who died, including Detroit-born Tony Award winner Elaine Stritch and radio pioneer Casey Kasem, succumbed after many years of life and work. Others, such as former Michiganian Robin Williams and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, were gone before their time.

Here's our look at a partial list of those who died in 2014 (cause of death cited if available)


1: James Avery, 68.TV actor best known for playing the role of Uncle Phil in the hit sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Complications from open heart surgery

1:Juanita Moore, 99. Moore played many roles, but it is her Academy Award nominated-role as a sacrificing, all-forgiving mother who was befriended by Lana Turner in the classic weeper "Imitation of Life," for which she will be best known.

3: Phil Everly. The sweet-voiced tenor in the Kentucky-born Everly Brothers died, age 74 of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With older brother Don, he sang peerless sibling harmonies on such early rock classics as "Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up, Little Susie" and "All I Have to Do is Dream."

7: Run Run Shaw, 107. Pioneering Hong Kong movie producer whose studio popularized the Kung fu genre that influenced Quentin Tarantino and other Hollywood directors.

9: Amiri Baraka, 79. Militant man of letters and tireless agitator whose blues-based, fist-shaking poems, plays and criticism made him a groundbreaking force in American culture.

16: Russell Johnson, 89. The actor who played "The Professor," the fix-it man who kept his fellow castaways on TV's "Gilligan's Island" supplied with gadgets.

17: Suchitra Sen, 82. Legendary Indian actress known for her memorable roles in both Bengali-language and Hindi Bollywood films.

27: PeteSeeger, 94. Banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and star-struck presidents in a career that introduced generations of Americans to their folk music heritage


2: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, 44. He won a best actor Oscar in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote" and created a gallery of other vivid characters, such the Detroit-based Creem magazine rock critic Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous." Apparent heroin overdose.

10:Shirley Temple Black, 85. Dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, and charmed her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers.

12:Sid Caesar, 91. The "King of Comedy" from TV's infancy with "Your Show of Shows." His movie appearances included "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World," "Silent Movie," "History of the World: Part I" and "Grease."

13: Ralph Waite, 85. The actor played the kind, steady patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series "The Waltons."

15: Angelo B. Henderson, 51. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, minister and host of the popular WCHB-AM show "Your Voice with Angelo Henderson," moved to Detroit in 1989 to work for The Detroit News, eventually winning journalism's top prize as a reporter with the Detroit bureau of the Wall Street Journal. Pulmonary embolism.

18: Maria von Trapp, 99. Last surviving member and second-eldest daughter of the musical family whose escape from Nazi-occupied Austria was the basis for the movie "The Sound of Music."

24: Harold Ramis, 69. Actor, writer and director on such pop culture classics as "Ghostbusters," "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day." Complications from an autoimmune disease.

25: Paco de Lucia, 66. The celebrated Mexican guitarist brought traditional flamenco music into a pop context. Heart attack.


6: Sheila MacRae, 92. Veteran stage, film and TV performer best known for playing Alice Kramden in the 1960s re-creation of "The Honeymooners."

9: William Clay Ford, 88, the last surviving grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford, died of pneumonia.

10: Joe McGinniss, 71. Adventurous, newsmaking author and reporter who skewered the marketing of Richard Nixon in "The Selling of the President 1968" and tracked his personal journey from sympathizer to scourge of convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald in "Fatal Vision."

17:L'Wren Scott, 49. Scott left her small-town Utah home as a teenager to become a model in Paris, then a top Hollywood stylist, and finally, a high-end fashion designer. Scott was the longtime girlfriend of Mick Jagger. Suicide.

17: Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, 103. Patron of the arts and political benefactor who funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to former presidential candidate John Edwards, which he used to hide his mistress.


6: Mickey Rooney, 93. Pint-size actor and all-around talent whose more than 80-year career spanned silent comedies, Shakespeare, Judy Garland musicals, Andy Hardy movies, television and the Broadway theater. April 6.

7: Peaches Geldof, 25. Model and media personality, the daughter of Irish singer Bob Geldof and member of a talented, troubled family who grew up in the glare of Britain's tabloid press. Heroin overdose.

19: Kevin Sharp, 43. Country music singer who recorded multiple chart-topping songs and survived cancer. April 19. Complications from stomach surgeries and digestive issues.

20: Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, 76. Boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice.

29: Bob Hoskins, 71. British actor whose varied career ranged from noir drama "Mona Lisa" to animated fantasy "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Pneumonia.


2: Efrem Zimbalist Jr., 95. The actor was in many golden era movies in Hollywood such as "Band of Angels," but his laid-back demeanor served him better on TV, in "77 Sunset Strip" and "The F.B.I." Natural causes.

18: Jerry Vale, 83. Beloved crooner known for his high-tenor voice and romantic songs in the 1950s and early '60s.

18: Gordon Willis, 82. One of Hollywood's most celebrated and influential cinematographers, nicknamed "The Prince of Darkness" for his subtle but indelible touch on such releases as "The Godfather," "Annie Hall" and "All the President's Men."

19: Jay Carr, 77. Prize-winning former theater and movie critic for The Detroit News (1964-1983), While The Detroit News' drama critic, Carr was honored with the prestigious 1971-72 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, bestowed by Cornell, Princeton and Yale universities. Complications from cancer radiation therapy.

20: Ricardo Thomas, 72. The Detroit News photographer was known for the care he took with his subject. Prior to working at The News, Thomas was a White House staff photographer for President Gerald R. Ford, eventually covering the president's funeral in 2006. Cancer.

25: Herb Jeffries, 100. The native Detroiter was the first black singing cowboy in movies. He started his singing career in Chicago, then joined up with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. He is the vocalist on Ellington's 1940 hit "Flamingo," and appeared in his stage musical "Jump for Joy." In the movies, Jeffries was known as the "Bronze Buckaroo."

28:Maya Angelou, 86. Best known for her series of memoirs, especially the volume "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," spun out of her difficult early years and early years as a dancer and single mother. Angelo was a poet, novelist and professor at the University of North Carolina; also a winner of the Presidential Medal of Honor.


1:Ann B. Davis,88. University of Michigan graduate played "Alice," the live-in housekeeper on TV's "The Brady Bunch"; also was a regular on such 1950s programs as "The Bob Cummings Show."

5:Don Davis, 75. The Detroit banking executive, musician, producer and recording studio owner started out in the late 1950s as a musician, playing on sessions for Motown and launching his own label, Groovesville. He produced Johnnie Taylor ("Who's Making Love") and bought Detroit's United Sound Systems. He later became CEO and chairman of First Independent Bank, then the only African-American-owned bank in Michigan.

11:Ruby Dee, 91. Actress and civil rights activist whose memorable roles include 1961 movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun," Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" and most recently "American Gangster," died at 91.

15: Casey Kasem, 82. Kasem, the son of immigrant shopkeepers, started in radio at Wayne State University, landed his first professional job at pop station WJBK-AM, as "Casey at the Mike." Kasem moved around the country at various radio jobs until he gained national fame as the mellow-voiced host of "American Top 40."

27: Bobby Womack, 70. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter/guitarist best known for hits "Across 110th Street," "If You Think You're Lonely Now," "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" and was big influence on the Rolling Stones and the J. Geils Band.

28: Meshach Taylor, 67. He played a lovable ex-convict surrounded by Southern belles on the sitcom "Designing Women" and appeared in numerous other TV and film roles. Colon cancer.

29: Ollie Fretter, 91. In a memorable string of TV commercials for his chain of Metro Detroit appliance stores, Fretter's, he promised "five pounds of coffee if I can't beat your best deal."


2: Joy Hakanson Colby, 88. The former art critic at The Detroit News was a passionate advocate for Michigan artists. She graduated from Wayne State in 1947 and started at the newspaper soon after. Colby, whose signature is affixed to one of the beams at the Scarab Club, along with notables such as Diego Rivera, covered the art scene for The News for some 60 years.

11: Tommy Ramone, 65. The last surviving original member of the pioneering American punk band The Ramones, that helped kick off the punk explosion in the 1970s with their simple, frenetic rock, honed in the clubs of lower Manhattan. Cancer.

11: John Seigenthaler, 86. He edited The Tennessean newspaper, helped shape USA Today and worked for civil rights during the Kennedy administration.

16:Johnny Winter, 70. The Mississippi-born, Texas-bred blues guitarist came to fame in the 1960s when he was signed to Columbia and played an electrifying set on the last day of Woodstock.

17: Elaine Stritch, 89. The Detroit-born daughter of a tire company executive and Catholic schoolgirl became the toast of Broadway in the 1950s. Her gravelly, gin-laced voice and impeccable comic timing made her a Broadway legend. Stritch had moved to Birmingham to be close to family.

19:James Garner, 86. the tall, laconic Oklahoman known for his easy-going charm in TV's "Maverick" in the late '50s/early '60s, and movies such as "The Thrill of it All" with Doris Day; "The Americanization of Emily" and "Grand Prix." More recently, he appeared in "The Notebook" in 2004. Heart attack.

30: Dick Wagner, 71. The rock guitarist/songwriter grew up in Michigan and fronted the Frost before leaving to join several superstar bands co-wrote songs ("Welcome to My Nightmare," "Only Women Bleed," etc.) and played guitar for Alice Cooper and played in Lou Reed's band during the "Berlin" and "Rock 'n' Roll Animal" years. Respiratory failure.


4: James Brady, 73. Affable, witty press secretary who survived a devastating head wound in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, then led a crusade for gun control.

11: Robin Williams, 63. Williams, the son of a Ford Motor Co. executive, lived for a time in Bloomfield Hills and attended Detroit Country Day before his family moved to California. He came to fame in TV's "Mork & Mindy," then made his mark in a slew of movies, including "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Good Morning, Vietnam." Suicide.

12: Lauren Bacall, 89. Her sleek model good looks and sultry voice made a big impression on moviegoers (and Humphrey Bogart) in movies such as "To Have and Have Not," "The Big Sleep" and "Key Largo."

18: Don Pardo, 96. Longtime announcer for "Saturday Night Live"; before that, "The Match Game" and "Jeopardy."

22: Jane Rayburn, 65. Former Detroit News restaurant and features writer known for her hearty laugh, lively prose and big heart.

24: Richard Attenborough, 90. The British actor and director, who appeared in such classics as "The Great Escape," "The Sand Pebbles" and "Doctor Doolittle," and directed "Gandhi."


4: Joan Rivers, 81. Raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities. Sept. 4. Complication during a medical procedure.

9: Gilda Snowden, 60. Detroit artist and professor at the College of Creative Studies. Several of her pieces, including "Monument," are in the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 2009, she was awarded a Kresge Artist Fellowship. Heart failure.

11: Lillian Erdeljan, (her age was not disclosed). Prior to becoming a prominent Bloomfield Hills philanthropist, the native of Belgrade escaped the Communist regime to settle in Canada and then moved to the U.S. in 1990 with her husband Alex Erdeljan. Ovarian cancer.

20: Polly Bergen, 84. Emmy-winning actress and singer who in a long career played the terrorized wife in the original "Cape Fear" and the first woman president in "Kisses for My President."


4: Paul Revere, 76. Founder of the 1960's band Paul Revere & The Raiders, with hits such as "Kicks," "Just Like Me," and "Indian Reservation."

5:Geoffrey Holder, 84. The native Trinidadian, who was discovered by Agnes de Mille, won fame (and multiple Tony Awards) on Broadway as a dancer, choreographer, director and costume designer., of complications from pneumonia.

9: Jan Hooks, 57. Repertory player on "Saturday Night Live" from 1986-1991. She also appeared in recurring roles on "Designing Women" and "30 Rock." Cancer.

13:Tim Hervey, 48. The Detroit musician played guitar for many local bands, including the Bomb Pops and Switchblade Justice.

20: Oscar de la Renta, 82. Worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites, first ladies and Hollywood stars for more than four decades.

21: Ben Bradlee, 93. The famed Washington Post editor, best remembered as the boss who rode herd over Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward while they reported the Watergate series.

24: Marcia Strassman, 66. The actress played Gabe Kaplan's wife, Julie, on the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter."

25: Jack Bruce, 71. The bassist for 1960s supergroup Cream co-wrote and sang the band's "White Room," and co-wrote and traded vocals on "Sunshine of Your Love" with Eric Clapton. Liver disease.


1: Tom Sneddon, 73. Former district attorney who sought twice to try Michael Jackson on child molestation charges. Cancer.

9: Raymond Almiran Montgomery, 78. Author of the popular children's book series "Choose Your Own Adventure."

11: Big Bank Hank, 57. Member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang, responsible for one of the earliest and most popular rap songs of all time, "Rapper's Delight."

17:Jimmy Ruffin, 78. Brother of former Temptations' lead David Ruffin, and singer of what Berry Gordy Jr. says is his favorite Motown song, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."

19: Mike Nichols, 83. The director's work spanned several decades and included "The Graduate" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." He was also the husband of former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.


2: Bobby Keys,70. Saxophonist known to millions for his blasting solo on the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar."

3: Ian McLagan, 69. Keyboard player in the Small Faces, and Rod Stewart & The Faces. Occasional sideman for the Rolling Stones.Stroke.

4: Bryan Burwell, 59. The former Detroit News sports columnist, deemed "one of the most important sports journalists of his generation," was a columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and USA Today, appeared on HBO's "Inside the NFL" and ESPN's "The Sports Reporters." In 2011, Burwell authored the book "Madden: A Biography" on the life of former Raiders coach and football analyst John Madden. Cancer.

5: Jeremy Haberman, 42. The former owner of Ferndale's Magic Bag Theater brought in movies and musical acts Detroiters couldn't see anywhere else, creating a niche for the venue. Lung cancer.

9: Mary Ann Mobley, 75. She was crowned Miss America 1959 and starred in several Elvis Presley movies ("Girl Happy" and "Harum Scarum") and on the TV series "Barnaby Jones." Breast cancer.

12: Norman Bridwell, 86. Illustrator whose story about a girl and her puppy marked the birth of the supersized franchise Clifford the Big Red Dog.

13: Bill Bonds, 82. The legendary Detroit TV news anchor known for taking on newsmakers on the air had such charisma and a powerful, literate presentation that WXYZ Channel 7's newscasts dominated the ratings for decades. Heart attack.

20: Bill Burton, 85. President/COO of Detroit's Radio Advertising Group, known as a tireless cheerleader for the industry, with his aphorisms "An automobile is a radio with four wheels," and "Be fabulous." Complications from a fall at his home.

22:JoeCocker, 70. The gravel-voiced British soul singer is best remembered for his frenetic version of the Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends" at Woodstock and the teary ballad "You Are So Beautiful." Lung cancer.

24:Robert "Showboat" Hall of the Harlem Globetrotters died in Detroit, his hometown. The Miller High School star joined the Globetrotters in 1949, taking over as the team's top showman from Reece "Goose" Tatum in 1955.

25: Ruth Coughlin, 71. The former book editor for The Detroit News died in Little Falls, N.J. Coughlin was the wife of the late William Coughlin, a Detroit attorney and judge, and the sister of actor Michael J. Pollard.

25: Alberta Adams, 97. A tap dancer and singer on Detroit's 1930's scene, Adams became a blues singer when that music surged in popularity after World War II.

29: Patricia Hill Burnett, 94. The Miss America runner-up, pioneering feminist and portraitist to many powerful women, including former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and most recently Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her cheerful boldness opened doors long closed to women.

29: Howard Schultz, 61. Veteran producer of unscripted TV whose credits include the long-running reality program "Extreme Makeover," died unexpectedly while vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

30: Luise Rainer, 104. A star of cinema's golden era who won back-to-back Oscars but then walked away from a glittering Hollywood career. Pneumonia.

31: Edward Herrmann, 71. Emmy Award-winning actor known for playing the patriarch on "The Gilmore Girls" and providing the voice of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Ken Burns' PBS documentary series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History." Born in Washington, D.C., Herrmann grew up in Grosse Pointe. In 1999, he won an Emmy for a guest starring role in "The Practice," playing a law professor. Brain cancer.

Interactive: Notable deaths of 2014

The Associated Press contributed to this report.