Katherine Levingstone contributed to this article.
You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”Manage Alerts
En español | AARP honors the legacies of renowned figures the world has lost in 2014; among them Maya Angelou, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers.
(Feb. 17, 1923 – Dec. 24, 2014)
Innovative and influential jazz clarinet virtuoso, who began his professional career playing in swing big bands before adapting the clarinet for smaller bebop combos.
(May 20, 1944 – Dec. 22, 2014)
British rocker with a raspy voice crooned such covers as the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” and Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and earned a Grammy Award in 1982 for his hit with Jennifer Warnes – “Up Where We Belong.”
Didier Baverel/Getty Images
(Feb. 17, 1937 - Dec. 9, 2014)
The Mississippi beauty was able to kick off a successful acting career on Broadway and in movies (including two with Elvis) after winning her Miss America crown in 1959. She also filmed documentaries in war-torn African countries, while married to the pageant’s longtime emcee Gary Collins.
David Livingston/Getty Images
(Aug. 3, 1920 - Nov. 27, 2014)
She was the doyenne of British crime writers, known for her novels starring the ruminative Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. A natural in the genre, she famously commented, “When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, I immediately wondered: Did he fall — or was he pushed?”
Henning Kaiser/DPA/AP Photo
(Nov. 6, 1931 - Nov. 19, 2014)
Winner of no less than the Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards, Nichols’ famous comedic partnership with Elaine May led to a renowned directing career both in Hollywood (The Graduate) and on Broadway. His wife Diane Sawyer has described him as “a little wild and utterly kind."
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
(Jan 11, 1956 – Nov. 11, 2014)
One-third of the seminal hip-hop trio, the Sugar Hill Gang, Big Bank Hank and his trio mates made music history in 1979 when they recorded and released “Rapper’s Delight” the first official rap song, captured on wax.
Isaac Brekken/WireImage/Getty Images
(June 28, 1937 – Nov. 3, 2014)
Tom (pictured right) was the younger brother to Ray and half of the hilarious duo Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers who hosted the radio show Car Talk, still heard in reruns on NPR stations. Their mutual affection and silly but spot-on car problem diagnoses won them fans of all sorts, even those without a car.
Lane Turner/Boston Globe/Getty Images
(May 14, 1943 – Oct. 25, 2014)
The classically trained, jazz-influenced bassist and composer co-founded the ’60s British rock band, Cream, with guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
(Aug. 26, 1921 – Oct. 21, 2014)
He transformed and elevated The Washington Post while at its helm from 1968 to 1991, when the paper published the Pentagon Papers and broke the Watergate story. President Obama said that for Bradlee, "journalism was more than a profession — it was a public good vital to our democracy."
Michael du Cille/The Washington Post/Getty Images
(July 22, 1932 - Oct. 20, 2014)
The legendary fashion designer known as the "sultan of suave" outfitted everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Oprah Winfrey in his glamorous dresses. Laura Bush said, "We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful."
Michael Stewart/Getty Images
(Sept. 23, 1961 – Oct. 14, 2014)
You may know the Cuban-American actress as Gloria’s mom in ABC's Modern Family, or for her costarring role with Chris Cooper in the 1996 drama Lone Star. She’d just finished filming the first season of Matador on El Rey Network when she passed away.
Matt Carr/Getty Images
(April 23, 1957 - Oct. 9, 2014)
Best known for her hilarious impersonations of Hilary Clinton, Diane Sawyer and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jan Hooks was one of the more versatile sketch comedians on Saturday Night Live during her five-year run between 1986-1991.
(Aug. 1, 1930 - Oct. 5, 2014)
He’s known for his long-running TV ads for "absolutely maaaarvelous" 7Up soda. But the Trinidad-born Holder was also a multitalented artist: a choreographer, dancer, composer, painter and actor, who won two 1975 Tonys for costume design and musical direction for The Wiz.
Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post/Getty Images
(Feb. 1, 1939 – Sept. 12, 2014)
An iconic jazz pianist and composer, Joe Sample is best known as the co-leader of the soul-jazz combo, the Crusaders.
Elma Okic/Associated Press
(Sept. 4, 1918 – Step. 8, 2014)
A phenomenal jazz bandleader, composer, arranger and trumpeter, Gerald Wilson had a multifaceted career that nearly spanned jazz’s entire history – from the 1930s swing era to early-21st century modernity.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images
(June 8, 1933 - Sept. 4, 2014)
She will always be known for her biting wit and skewering of celebrity style. But after a widely respected and storied career, launched decades ago with a 1965 appearance on The Tonight Show, she’s also remembered as an incomparable pioneer for women in comedy.
(Aug. 29, 1923 - Aug. 24, 2014)
The distinguished British actor first hit Hollywood with a role in The Great Escape (1963). He later won accolades as a director — especially for the Oscar-winning 1982 epic Gandhi, though he was most proud of his quiet 1983 film about C.S. Lewis, Shadowlands.
(Sept. 16, 1924 – Aug. 12, 2014)
This Hollywood superstar burst onto the silver screen in 1944 with Humphrey Bogart in film noir classic To Have and Have Not. Possessing a sultry voice and high-fashion model looks, Bacall starred in several other films with Bogart and mapped out an acting career that spanned eight decades.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
(July 21, 1951 – Aug. 11, 2014)
An Oscar-winning actor and comedian renowned for his bristling energy and incredible versatility, he portrayed roles ranging from a space alien (Mork & Mindy) and an U.S. Armed Forces radio DJ (Good Morning Vietnam) to a psychology professor (Good Will Hunting) and the owner of a gay Miami club (The Birdcage).
(Oct. 22, 1941 – Aug. 9, 2014)
In the world of daytime soap operas, this English actor portrayed some of the genre’s best villains such as Carl Hutchins on Another World, Dr. Damon Lazarre on All My Children and Niles Mason on As the World Turns.
(Aug. 29, 1940 – Aug. 4, 2014)
While serving as the White House press secretary and assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he became a symbol for gun control after being shot on March 30, 1981, during an assassination attempt on the president. The incident left Brady wheelchair bound. In 1993, President Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, often referred to as the Brady Law.
(April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014)
Square-jawed and witty, he starred in Maverick, the 1950s tongue-in-cheek Western, and the 1970s series The Rockford Files as a luckless private eye. There’s a 10-foot-tall statue of Garner in his hometown of Norman, Okla., where fans have left flowers since his passing.
(Feb. 2, 1925 - July 17, 2014)
The brassy stage performer became a revered star on Broadway, picking up new fans with TV roles, including her Emmy-winning stint as Jack Donaghy’s difficult mother on 30 Rock. New York Times arts critic Stephen Holden called her a “blazing, cranky, funny stage personality who is, in a word, irreplaceable.”
(March 25, 1922 - July 9, 2014)
The co-founder of Ford Models, Ford helped define 20th century American beauty, molding young talent such as Candice Bergen, Lauren Hutton and Brooke Shields into stars. Beauty, she once said, looked like the Egyptian queen Nefertiti: “slender hands, long neck, long limbs” and “wide-spaced eyes.”
(Feb. 23, 1944 - July 16, 2014)
The legendary blues guitarist and singer produced Grammy-winning albums for Muddy Waters. Not your typical blues musician, an albino with long blond hair, he performed with a wild energy that Rolling Stone once described as a "hyperactive, high-octane intensity.” When he died he was set to release an album, Step Back.
(Aug. 6, 1937 - July 11, 2014)
The iconic bassist and composer helped push the boundaries of modern jazz into free jazz with saxophonist pioneer Ornette Coleman on such seminal Coleman LPs as The Shape of Jazz to Come and Change of the Century. Haden also led the politically minded Liberation Music Orchestra and Quartet West, which focused on jazz standards and film scores.
(Nov. 20, 1923 - July 13, 2014)
The South African writer grappled with the injustices and politics of apartheid, including in novels such as 1981’s July’s People, about a race war in the suburbs where a white family is protected by a black servant. Respected for depicting the moral complexities of her country with uncommon wisdom, Gordimer won a Nobel Prize in 1991.
(Jan. 29, 1952 - July 11, 2014)
The drummer and producer was the last surviving founding member of The Ramones, a band many consider to be the most influential in punk-rock history. In the ’70s he and his bandmates were icons of cool, known for songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop" and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.”
(March 4, 1944 - June 27, 2014)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also reveled in country, doo-wop and especially soul. He’s known for his 1972 song “Across 110th Street” and as the writer of The Rolling Stones’ hit “It’s All Over Now.” Womack performed gospel with his four brothers in the Womack Brothers; they later moved toward soul and became The Valentinos, recording with Sam Cooke.
(Sept. 2, 1928 - June 18, 2014)
Silver was a hugely influential jazz composer and pianist known for crafting ebullient “hard bop” jazz that was at once soulful, sophisticated and singable. His jazz standards include “Song for My Father,” “Nica’s Dream” and “Señor Blues.” He said he wanted his music to be a source of joy and happiness for people.
Gilles Petard/Redferns/Getty Images
(May 9, 1960 - June 16, 2014)
Known as “Mr. Padre,” Gwynn was a force at bat and a 15-time All-Star through a long career with San Diego that ended with his retirement in 2001. He later served as head baseball coach of San Diego State. His recent battle with salivary gland cancer has raised red flags among baseball players about tobacco use.
Andy Hayt/Getty Images
(April 27, 1932 - June 15, 2014)
Host of the radio show American Top 40, Kasem offered his countdown of pop music hits and “long-distance dedications” from 1970 until his retirement in 2004. Cartoon fans remember him as the distinctive voice of slacker-dude Shaggy on Scooby-Doo.
(Oct. 27, 1922 - June 11, 2014)
The actress and her husband, actor Ossie Davis, were also civil rights activists. Friends of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., they both spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. She starred in movies such as A Raisin in the Sun, Do the Right Thing and American Gangster.
(May 5, 1926 - June 1, 2014)
She was the caring and reliable housekeeper on the 1970s sitcom The Brady Brunch, always ready to clean up any kind of spill (and put up with six high-maintenance kids). “Everyone wanted an Alice,” Davis once said of her role. “I wish I had an Alice.”
(April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014)
Angelou used her powerful voice as a poet, activist and author. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, about her troubled youth in segregated Arkansas, is now a literary classic. Michelle Obama called her “one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known.”
(July 8, 1932 - May 18, 2014)
An entertainer in the style and era of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Perry Como, Vale crooned popular romantic ditties in the 1950s and ’60s, including hits "You Don’t Know Me" and "You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart."
(March 6, 1927 - April 17, 2014)
The revered Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner transported readers with his tales of magical realism, most famously in Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. When he died, Colombia’s president declared three days of national mourning.
(Sept. 23, 1920 - April 6, 2014)
Rooney appeared in many films through his long career, including the Andy Hardy series and The Black Stallion. He had his personal troubles (he was married eight times) but was a dedicated actor until the end. He has a role in the next Night at the Museum movie.
(May 22, 1927 - April 5, 2014)
A Zen Buddhist, spy and activist, Matthiessen cofounded The Paris Review and won National Book Awards for The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country. He wrote nonfiction and fiction but described fiction as his passion.
(Aug. 10, 1939 - March 30, 2014)
The British actress played Cassandra “Caress” Morrell — Alexis’ vengeful sister — in the 1980s soap opera Dynasty. Her British TV roles included stints on Triangle, Doctor Who and Howards’ Way; she also spent much of her career onstage.
(Sept. 1, 1948 - March 21, 2014)
He was the respected master of under-the-radar characters in high-profile TV shows and films such as Homeland (he played Carrie’s dad), My Cousin Vinny and Independence Day. He was the prep-school master in the 1992 film Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino.
(Feb. 4, 1936 - March 15, 2014)
Before he was a regular on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show (he appeared more than 150 times), the comedian was an Emmy-winning creator of TV documentaries. Funny to the end, Brenner’s requested epitaph is, “If this is supposed to be a joke — I don’t get it!”
(Dec. 9, 1942 - March 10, 2014)
Drawn to controversy, McGinnis authored, among other books, The Selling of the President 1968 about the Nixon campaign. In 2010 he made waves with The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, which he wrote after living next door to the former Alaska governor.
(Nov. 21, 1944 - Feb. 24, 2014)
Ramis was the writer and/or director of classic comedies such as Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters. He was beloved in Hollywood, described by actor John Cusack as “always the smartest guy in the room” but “also the most decent and the most kind.”
(Sept. 24, 1921 - March 6, 2014)
The London-born actress and singer had stints on I Love Lucy and General Hospital but was most famous as Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners, featured on CBS’s The Jackie Gleason Show in the late ’60s. She later had smaller roles on TV and onstage.
(Sept. 28, 1914 - Feb. 18, 2014)
She was the last surviving member of the seven Von Trapp family singer siblings, who inspired the Broadway musical and film The Sound of Music (her character was called Louisa). She toured with the family choir and worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea.
(June 22, 1928 - Feb. 13, 2014)
For eight years on The Waltons he was John Walton Sr.: the tough, reasonable dad in a family struggling through the Depression and World War II. He starred with Paul Newman in 1967’s Cool Hand Luke and in recent years played Father Matt on Days of Our Lives.
(Sept. 8, 1922 - Feb. 12, 2014)
The 1950s TV sketch comic shined in the live Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour. Though alcoholism long stalled his career, he is considered a true master of his craft: Mel Brooks has described him as “maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade.”
(April 23, 1928 - Feb. 10, 2014)
“As long as our country has Shirley Temple,” President Franklin Roosevelt said, “we will be all right.” The curly-topped cutie starred in films such as Bright Eyes and Little Miss Marker; later roles included White House chief of protocol and delegate to the United Nations.
(Aug. 8, 1930 - Feb. 3, 2014)
Known as “Joan of Art,” she was devoted to the promotion of the fine arts during the vice presidency of her husband, Walter Mondale. She also served as honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities under President Jimmy Carter.
(Dec. 8, 1930 - Feb. 1, 2014)
A director, actor and musician who left his home in Vienna during Hitler’s reign, Schell is remembered for his Oscar-winning role as a defense attorney in Judgment at Nuremburg.
(May 3, 1919 - Jan. 27, 2014)
The folksinger spread messages of peace and hope through each pluck of his five-string banjo or guitar. Songs such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “We Shall Overcome” put to poignant music Americans’ concerns about civil rights and the Vietnam War.
(Dec. 17, 1931 - Jan. 16, 2014)
Madden is most famous for his role as band manager Reuben Kincaid on the 1970s TV show The Partridge Family. He also appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and Happy Days, and played Earl Hicks on Alice.
(Nov. 10, 1924 - Jan. 16, 2014)
Johnson played the always-thinking, handsome professor Roy Hickey on the goofy — and hugely popular — 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Now the only surviving castaways are Ginger (Tina Louise) and Mary Ann (Dawn Wells).
(Feb. 26, 1928 - Jan. 11, 2014)
The former Israeli prime minister was nicknamed “The Bulldozer” by Israelis. He shaped politics within the Middle East, making some controversial decisions, such as giving Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestine. He spent eight years in a coma until his death.
(Jan. 19, 1939 - Jan. 3, 2014)
Half of the iconic folk/bluegrass Everly Brothers duo, the singer and songwriter skyrocketed to fame in the ’50s with the release of “Bye Bye Love.” The group influenced countless artists that followed, including the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Katherine Levingstone contributed to this article.
You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”Manage Alerts
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.
Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows with their AARP membership card.
Members save 25% off regular menu price orders at Papa John's.
Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.