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Tag: In Memoriam (40-52 of 88)

Phyllis Diller dies at 95

Comedian, actress, artist, and author Phyllis Diller died Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 95.

“She was a true pioneer,” Diller’s longtime agent Fred Wostbrock told EW. “She was the first lady of stand up comedy. She paved the way for everybody. And she conquered television, movies, Broadway, record albums, nightclubs, books, and radio. She did it all. A true pioneer.”

The housewife-turned-advertising copywriter and mother of  six got her big showbiz break in 1955 at the age of 37 when the owner of San  Francisco’s now-defunct Purple Onion nightclub gave her a substitute stand-up  spot one night. “When I went on, the room went totally quiet and I knew that I  had this magnetic thing that you had to be born with,” Diller told EW in 2005.  “You can’t buy it or even learn it.” Diller’s shtick — often revolving around  her pathetic fictional husband “Fang” and her less-than-gorgeous looks (“I love  to go to the doctor. Where else would a man look at me and say, ‘Take off your  clothes?’”) — quickly made her famous. She became a legend to generations of  female comics (“To a lot of us she was better than Bob Hope,” Roseanne Barr told  EW).

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Tony Scott: 'Numb3rs' star David Krumholtz pens moving tribute to late producer

From 2005 through 2010, for six seasons, actor David Krumholtz and Rob Morrow starred on CBS’ Numb3rs, which followed mathematics genius Charlie Eppes (Krumholtz) and his F.B.I. brother Don (Morrow) as they worked together solving crimes. A solid hit on Friday nights, Numb3rs will likely be best remembered as filmmaker Tony Scott’s first TV series, with his older brother Ridley, through their company Scott Free Productions.

In the wake of Tony Scott’s tragic passing Sunday night due to an apparent suicide, Krumholtz posted a heartfelt remembrance of his former exec producer via Twitter. “He was wild and big and crazy and uncontrollable and he gave it his all, every moment, because he believed in his crew, his cast, and the show,” Krumholtz writes. “It saddens me that something inside him told him to take his incredible life spirit away from us, from the film making community.” Check out the full tribute below:  READ FULL STORY

Ron Palillo of 'Welcome Back, Kotter' dies of heart attack

Ron Palillo, whose nasally delivery made him one of the most memorable Sweathogs on the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, died last night in Palm Beach, Fla., suffering a heart attack in his sleep. He was 63.

Beginning in 1975, Palillo was one of the oddball students who tested Mr. Kotter for four seasons on the popular ABC show that also featured Gabe Kaplan and a young John Travolta. His character Arnold Dingfelder Horshack was always the first to raise his hand in class  — “Ooo-ooo-oooooh!!” — and his wheezing staccato laugh was a punch line in itself.

In the 1980s, Palillo guested on several popular programs, including The A-Team, CHiPs, and Murder, She Wrote, and in 1996, he played himself on several episodes of Ellen. When acting opportunities became few and far between in 2002, he agreed to get in the ring with Dustin Diamond — a man 28 years his junior — for a bout of Celebrity Boxing billed as Horshack vs. Screech. In recent years, he had popped up on several TV Land nostalgia specials, but he’d found greater joy as an educator, teaching drama at the G-STAR School of the Arts for Motion Pictures and Broadcasting, a charter high school in West Palm Beach.

Palillo’s Welcome Back, Kotter co-star John Travolta said in a statement to EW: “Ron was a wonderful person and talent. And helped catapult Welcome Back Kotter to great success.  We will miss him.”

Read more:
Robert Hegyes of ‘Kotter’ dies

Ron Howard remembers Andy Griffith's 'great sense of humor about life'

Playing Andy Griffith’s son, Opie, on The Andy Griffith Show, Ron Howard had a first-hand look into one of the most popular television shows — and characters — of all time. With the news that star Andy Griffith passed away this morning at age 86, Howard got on the phone with EW to share his favorite memories about his TV dad.

On his first meeting with Griffith, Howard said, “I was five years old. And I was preoccupied with the prop that was in my hand, because it was a toy turtle. But I had to pretend it was a real turtle that the audience just wasn’t seeing, and it was dead, so I was supposed to be crying and very emotional, and I remember him looking at that little turtle and talking to me about how it was kind of funny to have to pretend that was dead. So I recall just a very relaxed first impression.”

Howard stressed the positive memories he had of his time on the show and of Griffith’s role in that supportive environment. “He was fantastic,” Howard said. “There was a fantastic equilibrium between his love of laughter and jokes and funny stories and songs and all that, and then he could turn on a dime and be the utmost professional…. If people who met him were to be surprised [to learn something about him] it would be this sort of simple commitment to excellence. This straightforward work ethic that he adhered to in a very unpretentious way with great humility and very few words.” READ FULL STORY

Andy Griffith, America's favorite sheriff, dies at 86

Television icon Andy Griffith, best known as the sage town sheriff in the ’60s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and as a cantankerous defense attorney on 1980s-’90s drama Matlock, died today in Roanoke Island, N.C. He was 86 years old. Friend and former University of North Carolina president Bill Friday confirmed the news to WITN News, an NBC affiliate in Washington, N.C.

Born an only child in Mount Airy, N.C., Griffith spent his boyhood listening to music. He aspired to be an opera singer before turning his attention to acting after college at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He began his career as a comedic monologist with the 1953 release of What It Was, Was Football, a massive hit both on radio and in stores. On Broadway, he earned Tony nominations playing a country bumpkin in the Army-based comedy No Time for Sergeants and a sheriff in the musical Destry Rides Again. Then Hollywood beckoned. In his first film, Elia Kazan’s critically acclaimed A Face in the Crowd, Griffith portrayed another country boy, this time with a manipulative and power-hungry streak. He followed it with a film version of No Time for Sergeants, featuring future Andy Griffith Show costar and lifelong pal Don Knotts. READ FULL STORY

Kathryn Joosten, 'Desperate Housewives' and 'West Wing' star, dies at 72

Kathryn Joosten, the Emmy-winning actress best known as the irascible Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives and President Bartlet’s trusty secretary Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, died Friday, June 1, of lung cancer. She was 72.

Joosten’s memorable roles on the two Emmy-winning dramas — she played the no-nonsense Dolores Landingham on Wing for three seasons and became a series regular on Housewives in 2004 — were particularly significant because of her late entry into Hollywood. The star, who working as a psychiatric nurse in Illinois  and living with her husband and two sons, decided to follow her lifelong dream of acting after her marriage broke up in 1980. She took classes from Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre and landed bit parts in community stage productions, and then Joosten — who moved to Los Angeles in 1995 — slowly began scoring small TV roles on shows like Family Matters, Roseanne  and NYPD Blue. It was The West Wing, though, that solidified her spot as a beloved character actress. While she didn’t have a large role, Joosten was so beloved that when Sorkin killed Mrs. Landingham off in a fatal off-screen collision with a drunk driver, a California state assemblyman delivered a tribute to her character and called her “a great  American.”

While political praise was nice, Joosten’s move to Wisteria Lane finally got her the industry accolades she deserved. Her Mrs. McCluskey got to utter some of the dramedy’s best lines (“We going for drinks or mammograms?” she once said to Nicollette Sheridan’s Edie, after giving her clevage-baring outfit a once-over), and earned Joosten the Outstanding Guest Actress Emmy in 2005 and 2008. The star — a former smoker who first battled lung cancer in  2001 — was preparing for her fifth season of Housewives when she got the news in  August 2009 that her cancer had returned. “I’ve got a little hang up here,” she told People.com. “But we’re going to handle it and move forward.”

Ryan Seacrest on Dick Clark: 'I'll always be indebted to him'

The man who hosts every show in America has paid tribute to the host Americans grew up watching.

Ryan Seacrest has released a statement on the passing of legendary personality Dick Clark, who died today after suffering a heart attack at age 82. Seacrest took over the heavy lifting on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 2006 and the show was renamed in 2009 to reflect Seacrest’s bigger role.

Seacrest’s full statement is below:

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. When I joined his show in 2006, it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year’s Eve for the last 6 years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I’ll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.”

Read more:
Dick Clark dies at 82
Celebrities tweet tributes to the late Dick Clark

Dick Clark dies at 82

Dick Clark, the American Bandstand and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve host known for his perpetual youth, died Wednesday at age 82. Clark suffered a massive heart attack following a procedure  in Los Angeles, EW has confirmed.

The former Philadelphia DJ started out on a local show called Bob Horn’s Bandstand, substituting for the titular host. He took over in 1956, beginning a career path that would make “America’s Oldest Teenager” a legend. In 1957, ABC picked the show up for a national run that kept the growing teen market entranced and cemented Clark’s status as a pop culture touchstone. The show — an intoxicating mix of studio-audience dancing and pop-star appearances — ran daily until 1963; it moved to Hollywood the next year and ran weekly until 1987, then continued in syndication for another two years. The likable host’s appeal even survived links to the “payola” investigations of the late ’50s and early ’60s, as he quietly divested himself of his interests in record distributors to avoid the appearance of impropriety. READ FULL STORY

CBS News to air special program dedicated to Mike Wallace

CBS News announced that it will air a special program next Sunday, April 15 dedicated to 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, who passed away on Saturday, April 7, at the age of 93.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Mike Wallace. His extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence. His loss will be felt by all of us at CBS,” Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corporation, says in the statement.

Read the entire statement from CBS News below: READ FULL STORY

Anderson Cooper and other news personalities react to the death of Mike Wallace

News personalities, including Anderson Cooper and Larry King, politicians, and others expressed their condolences via Twitter and official statements following the death of legendary 60 Minutes interviewer, Mike Wallace, who passed away on Saturday, April 7, at the age of 93.

Ann Curry: Tough questions are being asked in Heaven today. RIP Mike Wallace

Anderson Cooper: Just heard of the death of Mike Wallace. A true original. What an amazing career and remarkable man.

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BET schedules programming remembering Whitney Houston

The Grammys won’t be the only television program remembering Whitney Houston following news of death Saturday. BET announced a revised schedule today that will remember the late legendary singer of such hits as “I Will Always Love You.” Along with offering live coverage in Houston’s hometown of Newark, N.J. throughout the day, BET will twice air an encore of its BET Honors 2010 (1:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.), which recognized Houston’s influence in the music industry. The network will also re-air Houston’s performance at the Celebration of Gospel 2011 (3:30 p.m.).

Read more:
EW Special Coverage: Whitney Houston dies
Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies
Grammys: Jennifer Hudson will pay tribute to Whitney Houston
Celebs react to Whitney Houston death: ‘Please tell me it’s not true’
Photo Gallery: Whitney Houston’s Highs and Lows

David Duchovny on Zalman King: 'He really had the soul of an artist'

When a pre-X-Files David Duchovny was hired by filmmaker Zalman King ( 9 1/2 Weeks, Wild Orchid, Two Moon Junction) for the Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries, he admits he was a bit on the inexperienced side. “As an actor I was terrible. I was green and I didn’t know it, and he didn’t tell me — which is good. I was blissfully ignorant of my own limitations,” laughs Duchovny. “Zalman just filled me with confidence. When he told me I was great, I believed it, and I started to make my way towards getting better as an actor. For a guy on his first or second job, I couldn’t have been luckier to have a man as generous as him.”

King, who died on Feb. 3 at the age of 70, left a lasting impression on Duchovny. “Zalman really had the soul of an artist,” says the Californication star. READ FULL STORY

'Seinfeld' actor Ian Abercrombie dead at 77

Ian Abercrombie, the actor best recognized for playing Elaine Benes’ boss on Seinfeld, has died. He was 77.

Abercrombie, who did voice work on the movie Rango this year, passed away in Hollywood on Thursday. He just finished work on the animated series Green Lantern for the Cartoon Network.

Abercrombie’s career spanned more than 50 years and included roles in flicks like Young Frankenstein and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. TV gigs included playing Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld, as well as parts on Wizards of Waverly Place, Desperate Housewives, Murphy Brown and L.A. Law.

He was born in Essex, England and began his career as a stage actor.

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