Friday, December 30, 2016

Who We Lost in 2016, Part 2

Continuing the list of celebrity/famous peoples' deaths in 2016, in order of date of death.  For the benefit of overseas readers, Australian items are marked with an Australian flag.

The first two following entries should have been included in yesterday's chronology.

Arthur Tunstall:

Date of death: 11.02.2016, aged 93.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Arthur Tunstall was an Australian and international sport administrator, particularly in relation to boxing and the Commonwealth Games. His Sport Australia Hall of Fame citation read that he was a "pioneer voluntary Australian sports administrator and the key person in amateur boxing and the Australian Commonwealth Games movement across the second half of last century." He is today more remembered by the public for his gaffes and controversial comments. At the 1994 Victoria, Canada Commonwealth Games, he threatened to send Cathy Freeman home for carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her 200m victory lap. At the 1994 Games, athletes with a disability participated for the first time but Tunstall stated that they were an embarrassment. In 2009, Tunstall was accused of discrimination and racism against indigenous boxers in the meeting to disband Boxing NSW. George Ptolemy claimed that, when he suggested a young Aboriginal boxer be sent to the Olympics, Tunstall replied: "We need people who know how to use a knife and fork."

Robert Horton:

Date of death: 09.03.2016, aged 91.

Cause of death: Horton died of natural causes on March 9, 2016, at the age of 91, in a rehabilitation clinic in Los Angeles, California. According to his niece, he was injured in a fall in November 2015, and was placed in hospice care.

About: Robert Horton was an American television, stage actor and singer. Between 1957 and 1962 he played the frontier scout Flint McCullough in the NBC Western television series, Wagon Train. He has appeared in numerous television shows and films.

Merle Haggard:

Date of death: 06.04.2016, on the morning of his 79th birthday.

Cause of death: Complications from pneumonia.

About: Haggard was inspired to become a singer by seeing Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin Penitentiary, where Haggard was an inmate “He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.” Haggard went on to become a country performer with 38 Number 1 hits. His songs – written by him and sung by him – reflected the hard lives of poverty, jail, and adversity but also espoused good ol’ values and conservatism.

Doris Roberts:

Date of death: 17.04.2016, aged 90.

Cause of death: Died of a stroke in her sleep.

About: Doris Roberts was an American actress, author, and philanthropist whose career spanned six decades of television. She is best remembered as Raymond Barone's mother, Marie Barone, on the long-running CBS sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005). She appeared as a guest on many talk and variety shows, along with appearing as a panelist on several game shows, and was an advocate of animal rights and animal-rights activism, supporting groups such as the United Activists for Animal Rights.

Dame Leonie Kramer:

Date of death: 20.04.2016, aged 91

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Dame Leonie Judith Kramer was an Australian academic, educator and professor. She is notable as the first female professor of English in Australia, first woman to chair the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the first female chancellor of the University of Sydney. (She resigned when she was about to be voted out. Dame Leonie Kramer upheld conservatism at a time when the university culture was the opposite, making her tenure controversial.)  She was also my tutor in English Lit when I was at uni.


Date of death: 21.04.2016, aged 57

Cause of death: Accidental prescription drug overdose. The drug concerned, Fentanyl, is used as a pain medication but is also often used as a recreational drug.  It is estimated to be between 50 and 100 times as potent as morphine.

About: American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He was a musical innovator who was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant dress and makeup, and wide vocal range. His music integrates a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop. He sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.


Tom Lewis:

Date of death: 25.04.2016, aged 94.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Tom Lewis was Premier of New South Wales from 1975 – 1976. If the year 1975 doesn’t ring a bell, remember that Gough Whitlam and his government were dismissed by the Governor General on 11.11.1975. And Lewis had a hand in it, akin to that old parable of the battle and war being lost because of the want of a horseshoe nail. Early in 1975 Whitlam appointed Lionel Murphy, a NSW Senator, to the High Court. Lewis, who hated the Whitlam Government, broke with convention by refusing to appoint a replacement from the same party as Murphy, Labor, to fill the casual vacancy. Instead he appointed the unaffiliated mayor of Albury, Cleaver Bunton, 72, to fill the casual Senate vacancy. Months later, following Lewis’s precedent, Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen did the same and appointed Whitlam opponent Albert Field to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Queensland Labor Senator Bert Millner. As a consequence of High Court action against his appointment, Field was on holiday when Labor's refused to provide a "pair" to maintain the relative positions of the government and Opposition. This gave the Coalition a Senate majority and allowed Malcolm Fraser to block supply. Funnily enough, Fraser had been against the appointment of Field and felt that the Labor nominee should have been appointed.

Reg Grundy:

Date of death: 06.05.2016, aged 92.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Reg Grundy was an Australian entrepreneur and media mogul, one of the pioneers and most successful of his generation. He was also the creator of many TV hits starting with game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Blankety Blanks and later soap operas Neighbours, Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, and The Young Doctors. His name became so well known to the public that the words “Reg Grundy’s” is rhyming slang for “undies”, meaning “underwear”.

William Schallert:

Date of death: 08.05.2016, aged 93.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: William Schallert was an American character actor who appeared in many, many films and television programs. Older readers will remember him as Patty Duke’s father in The Patty Duke Show.

Muhammad Ali:

Date of death: 03.06.2016, aged 74.

Cause of death: A sufferer of Parkinson’s syndrome, diagnosed in 1984 and believed to be from head trauma from blows to the head, he died of septic shock after being admitted to hospital with a respiratory illness.

About: Ali remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion (1964, 1974 and 1978). Regarded as one of the greatest sports athletes who ever lived, his contribution and legacy extends not only to civil rights but also to literature and even to the origins of rap and hip hop.

Anton Yelchin:

Date of death: 19.06.2016, aged 27.

Cause of death: Crushed by his Jeep Cherokee outside his Los Angeles home.

About: Best known for playing a young Chekov in the reboot “Star Trek” films.

Bud Spencer:

Date of death: 27.06.2016, aged 86.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Carlo Pedersoli, professionally known as Bud Spencer, was an Italian actor, professional swimmer and water polo player. He is known for action-comedy roles with his long-time film partner Terence Hill, the left hand (Trinity) and the right hand (Bambino) of the Devil. The duo "garnered world acclaim and attracted millions to theater seats". Spencer and Hill appeared in, produced and directed over 20 films together. A successful swimmer in his youth, he obtained a degree in law and registered several patents. Spencer also became a certified commercial airline and helicopter pilot, and supported and funded many children's charities, including the Spencer Scholarship Fund. According to his son, the last word spoken by his father was "Grazie".

Elie Wiesel:

Date of death: 02.07.2016, aged 87

Cause of death: Not disclosed although his widow said that he died peacefully after a long illness.

About: Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor who fought for peace, human rights and simple human decency. He was the author of 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against violence, repression, and racism. The Norwegian Nobel Committee described Wiesel as "one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world." Wiesel explained his feelings during his acceptance speech: “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”

Susan Renouf:

Date of death: 15.07.2016, aged 74, dying on her birthday.

Cause of death: Ovarian cancer.

About: Lady Susan Renouf was an Australian socialite. Her title was acquired through her third marriage to New Zealand businessman Sir Frank Renouf. Previous marriages were to politician Andrew Peacock and to British gambling tycoon Robert Sangster.

Vivean Gray:

Date of death: 29.07.2016, aged 92.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Jean Vivra Gray, known professionally as Vivean Gray, was an Australian television and film actress. Born in England, she came to Australia in 1952 to further her acting career. With roles in TV productions such as Prisoner: Cell Block H, Anzacs, Matlock Police; Power Without Glory; Homicide; Division 4; All the Rivers Run and Anzacs, and in films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, it is for her roles as the busybody neighbor Mrs Jessup in The Sullivans and as Mrs Mangel in Neighbours that she is best remembered. Gray played Mrs Mangel from 1986 to 1988 and did it so well that she left the show to escape the abuse of fans unable to separate fact from fiction: “I loved Neighbours and the rest of the cast were marvelous. But because it was so successful I could barely set foot outside my own door without someone screaming abuse at horrid old ‘Mrs Mangel’. People didn’t seem to appreciate it was acting. So I decided to take a break.” Thereafter she lived a quiet life in England.

Forbes Carlile:

Date of death: 02.08.2016, aged 95.

Cause of death: Not disclosed. He died in hospital; after a short illness.

About: Forbes Carlile at the time of his death was Australia’s oldest living Olympian. He represented Australia in modern pentathlon at the 1952 Helsinki Games, coming 25th, but is best-known as a pioneering swimming coach, having first coached Australia at the 1948 Games in London. He also became head Australian coach again at the 1956 Games in Melbourne and Scientific Advisor in the 1960 Games in Rome. At the 1964 Games he was head coach for the Dutch Olympic team. He was head Australian swimming coach at the Swimming World Championships in Belgrade in 1973 which produced nine Australian World Champions. He withdrew as head coach at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. A number of top Australian swimmers emerged under his tutelage, including three-times Olympic champion Shane Gould, Helsinki 100m breaststroke champion John Davies and Tokyo 200m breaststroke gold medallist Ian O'Brien. Carlile remains the only Australian to have coached at an Olympics before later competing in the Games as an athlete.

Midget Farrelly:

Date of death: 06.08.2016, aged 71.

Cause of death: Stomach cancer.

About: Australian Bernard "Midget" Farrelly (the nickname being because of his size) was the first world surfing champion, winning the first official surfing world championship at Sydney's Manly Beach in 1964. He dominated the sport as it gained popularity during that decade. He was also the first Australian to win a major surfing title, the 1962 Makaha International Surfing Championships, the unofficial world surfing championship until the 1964 competition.

Fyvush Finkel:

Date of death: 14.08.2016, aged 93.

Cause of death: Heart problems.

About: Philip "Fyvush" Finkel was an American actor known as a star of Yiddish theatre and for his role as lawyer Douglas Wambaugh on the television series Picket Fences, for which he earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1994. He is also known for his portrayal of Harvey Lipschultz, a crotchety history teacher, on the television series Boston Public.

Kenny Baker:

Date of death: 13.08.2016, aged 81

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Kenny Baker was a small British actor who played the droid R2-D2 in six “Star Wars” films.

Gene Wilder:

Date of death: 29.08.2016, aged 83.

Cause of death: Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.

About: Gene Wilder was an American film and theater comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author. whose four-decade acting career included unforgettable comic roles in “The Producers”, “Blazing Saddles”, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,”” and “See No Evil, Hear No Evil”.

Richard Neville:

Date of death: 04.09.2016, aged 74

Cause of death: Not disclosed. Neville was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in his mid sixties

About: Richard Neville was an Australian writer and social commentator who came to fame as an editor of the counterculture magazine Oz in Australia and the United Kingdom in the 1960s and early 1970s. During the life of Australian Oz, Sharp, Neville, and Walsh were charged twice with printing an obscene publication. The first trial was relatively minor but they pleaded guilty, which resulted in their convictions being recorded. As a result, when they were charged with obscenity a second time, their previous convictions meant that the new charges were considerably more serious. The charges centred on two items in the early issues of Oz — one was Sharp's ribald poem "The Word Flashed Around The Arms", which satirised the contemporary habit of youths gatecrashing parties; the other offending item was the famous photo (used on the cover of Oz #6) which depicted Neville and two friends pretending to urinate into a Tom Bass sculptural fountain, set into the wall of the new P&O office in Sydney, which had recently been opened by the Prime Minister Robert Menzies. I have previously written about that in Bytes, click on the following link:

Sharp, Neville, and Walsh were tried, found guilty, and given prison sentences. Their convictions caused a public outcry and they were subsequently acquitted on appeal.

Hugh O’Brian:

Date of death: 05.09.2016, aged 91.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Hugh O'Brian was an American actor and humanitarian, best known for his starring roles in the ABC western television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955–1961) and the NBC action television series Search (1972–1973). He also had a notable supporting role in John Wayne's last film, The Shootist (1976). He was highly regarded for creating the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Foundation, a non-profit youth leadership development program for high school scholars which has sponsored over 400,000 students since he founded the program in 1958 following an extended visit with Nobel Peace Prize-winning theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer.

Norman May:

Date of death: 11.09.2016, aged 88.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Norman "Nugget" May was an Australian radio and television sports broadcaster famous in Australia for calling "GOLD, GOLD for Australia, GOLD" during the men's 4 × 100 metres medley final in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. The feat was significant because it is the only time that the United States team, who boycotted the Olympics that year, has not won that Olympic event. It was also Australia's first gold medal in eight years, after not winning any at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, while the government wanted the Australian team to follow America's lead in boycotting the Games. May's call of the race was notable for not hiding his support for the Australian team, as opposed to objective commentary that was the norm of the time. In the time since the event, May has become better associated with the win than the four swimmers who competed, with the swimmers themselves describing May as the fifth member of the Quietly Confident Quartet.

Ken Sparkes: 

Date of death: 11.09.2016, aged 76. 

Cause of death: Heart attack. 

About: Ken Sparkes was an Australian radio presenter, television personality (actor, singer, host), disc Jockey and voice-over artist.  He also worked as an investigative journalist, sportscaster/commentator, launched briefly a pop career and co-founded his own record label. He was a presenter of radio programs, including presenting the breakfast program on Adelaide's 5KA. Sparkes had one of the best known media voices in Australia and was known for years as the "voice of Channel 9". His voice was well known as a booth announcer for the Nine Network and Network Ten. He was the host of music variety show's Kommotion on channel 10 in Melbourne and Bandstand on channel 9 in Sydney. 

Edward Albee:

Date of death: 16.09.2016, aged 88. 

Cause of death: Not disclosed. 

About: Albee was an American playwright best known for writing “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Watch the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor film that brought it faithfully to the screen (and wonder why Richard Burton didn’t get an Oscar for best actor for that film). Albee was openly gay and stated that he first knew he was gay at age 12 and a half but insisted that he did not want to be known as a "gay writer", saying in his acceptance speech for the 2011 Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement: "A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay."

Peter Brown: 

Date of death: 21.09.2016, aged 80. 

Cause of death: Complications of Parkinson's disease. 

About: Peter Brown was an American actor best known for his four-year role as young Deputy Johnny McKay opposite John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop in the 1958 to 1962 ABC/Warner Brothers western television series, Lawman and as Texas Ranger Chad Cooper on NBC's Laredo from 1965 to 1967. 

Arnold Palmer: 

Date of death: 25.09.2016, aged 87. 

Cause of death: Cardiovascular disease. 

About: Arnold Palmer, nicknamed The King, was an American professional golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the sport's history. Apart from his numerous wins, he was one of golf's most popular stars, the first superstar of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s. He is credited with helping change the perception of golf as an elite, upper-class pastime to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes. 

Shimon Peres: 

Date of death: 28.09.2016, aged 93. 

Cause of death: Peres died 2 weeks after suffering a massive stroke. 

About: Former Israeli President and Prime Minister, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating with the Palestinians. 


Max Walker: 

Date of death: 28.09.2016, aged 

Cause of death: Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, aged 68. 

About: Max Walker was an Australian sportsman who played both cricket and Australian rules football at high levels. After six years of balancing first-class cricket in summer, professional football in winter and study for a degree in architecture, Walker earned a place in the Australian cricket team in 1973 and represented his country in the sport until injury ended his career in 1981. Following his retirement he worked as an architect and also commenced a career in radio and television media. He wrote 14 books over a period of thirty years and became a successful public speaker. His unorthodox cricket bowling action earned him the nickname "Tangles", and his larrikin character made him a much-loved figure with the Australian public. 

Ross Higgins: 

Date of death: 07.10.2016, aged 86. 

Cause of death: Not disclosed, although he had been hospitalised for some weeks. 

About: Ross Higgins was an Australian vaudevillian, character actor, television host, comedian, singer and voice actor. He was best known for his role as bigoted and cantankerous, but likable Ted Bullpitt in the 1980s television situation comedy series Kingswood Country. He was also a commercial advertiser who provided the voice of animated character "Louie the Fly" in the television ad campaign for Mortein, over a 50 year period (the longest running such ad in Australia). 

Rebecca Wilson: 

Date of death: 07.10.2016, aged 54. 

Cause of death: Wilson died at her family home in Sydney from breast cancer, a condition she had kept quiet. 

About: Rebecca Wilson was an Australian sports journalist, radio and television broadcaster and personality, known for the comic television talk sports show The Fat, in which she appeared regularly with host Tony Squires. She was a panellist on numerous television programs including Beauty and the Beast, Sunrise and The Footy Show. She worked in both the newspaper and television industries for over 20 years and won a Kennedy Award in 2013. 

Bobby Vee: 

Date of death: 24.10.2016, aged 73 

Cause of death: In 2012, Vee announced publicly that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and consequently would withdraw from the music business. For the year prior to his death, he received hospice care in a long-term facility, dying from complications of the disease 

About: Robert Thomas Velline, known professionally as Bobby Vee, was an American pop singer who was a teen idol in the early 1960s. According to Billboard magazine, he had thirty-eight Hot 100 chart hits, ten of which reached the Top 20, and had six gold singles in his career. 

Janet Reno: 

Date of death: 07.11.2016, aged 78. 

Cause of death: Parkinson’s Disease. 

About: The first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General (1993-2001) and the second-longest serving Attorney General in U.S. history. 

Leonard Cohen: 

Date of death: 07.11.2016, aged 82. 

Cause of death: According to his manager, Cohen died in his sleep following a fall. 

About: Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter. His work mostly explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, and did not launch a music career until 1967, at the age of 33. His last album, You Want It Darker, was released three weeks before his death. 

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