(Nov. 19, 1933 – Jan. 23, 2021) After a 63-year career, which prospered despite his 33-year struggle with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and finally COVID-19, the legendarily folksy journalist died in Los Angeles. In his radio shows, his USA Today column, and his 1985-2010 CNN show Larry King Live, he interviewed celebrities and became one, chatting with presidents from Nixon to Trump and artists from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga. Asked in 2013 for the secret of his indefatigable success, King said, “I’m 80 years old, and I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up.”
PHOTO BY: David Goldman/AP Photo
Hank Aaron, former Major League Baseball home run king, 86
(Feb. 5, 1934 — Jan. 22, 2021) One of eight children and born in an Alabama home without electricity, Aaron learned to play baseball by hitting bottle caps with sticks. With real bats, he earned the moniker Hammerin’ Hank, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. Ruth’s widow said he would have congratulated him, but Aaron was inundated with racist hate letters. “I like to think every one of them added another home run to my total,” he said. “My hope is one day people will judge me by character rather than by the context of my color. You gotta do all you can to try and make things better for other people.” Aaron, now number two on the all-time home run list, is baseball’s career leader in runs batted in.
PHOTO BY: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Siegfried Fischbacher, magician, 81
(June 13, 1939 — Jan. 13, 2021) Master illusionist Fischbacher has died of pancreatic cancer, about eight months after his partner, Roy Horn, passed away from COVID-19 complications. When Siegfried and Roy did a magic show on a cruise ship, which is where they met, Horn said, “Disappearing rabbits is ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?” They got fired for doing so but won fame for their glitzier-than-Liberace, $30 million Las Vegas show featuring lions and tigers, one of which nearly killed Horn onstage in 2003. Said Fischbacher, “We had the most successful show in the history of Las Vegas anyway.”
PHOTO BY: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Tommy Lasorda, Major League Baseball manager, 93
(Sept. 22, 1927 — Jan. 7, 2021) A legendary Major League Baseball manager who won more than 1,500 games, Tommy Lasorda will be forever associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He managed the team from 1976 to 1996, winning two World Series and four National League titles, and building a reputation as an ambassador for the game he loved. Lasorda had a modest career as a pitcher in the 1950s, then worked his way through the Dodgers organization in management positions in the 1960s and 1970s before getting the manager’s job. In a position that often draws dour personalities, Lasorda was the opposite: It was impossible to watch him at work and not feel his joy for the game and his team. That continued even after he retired, with Lasorda a regular presence at Dodgers games and events. “His heart was bigger than his talent, and there were no foul lines for his enthusiasm,” longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said of Lasorda.