Notables who died in 2004 in the arts, pop culture
Marlon Brando screamed “Stella!” and set about bringing a new realism and machismo to the stage and screen. Ray Charles shouted “What’d I say” and began melding categories of music in ways no musician ever thought of.
Brando and Charles were twin revolutionaries in the arts, transforming their private conflicts into work that captured the hearts and minds of millions and – perhaps even more important – schooled innumerable artists who followed.
They are two of the brilliant figures in the arts and popular culture who died in 2004.
Jack Paar’s wit and intelligence made him the talk show host every entertainer who ever sat behind a desk hoped to emulate.
Bob Keeshan, as Captain Kangaroo, taught his millions of little TV viewers about the magic of life.
Christopher Reeve was a respected actor even beyond his Superman roles – but then an accident that left him paralysed pushed him onto an even larger stage, as a passionate advocate for spinal cord research.
Popular culture figures who died in 2004 include Canadian-born Fay Wray, the beauty clutched in King Kong’s hand; Julia Child, who taught public television viewers that there was a culinary world beyond Betty Crocker; Rodney Dangerfield, who summarized the plight of every put-upon comic who ever lived with his “I don’t get no respect”; and author Arthur Hailey, who began his career in Canada and whose novel Airport led to the string of all-star disaster movies in the 1970s.
Here’s a roll call of artists, performers and pop culture figures who died in 2004. (Cause of death of younger notables is given when available.)
John Toland, 91. Won 1971 Pulitzer for non-fiction for The Rising Sun, on the Japanese empire during Second World War.
Spalding Gray, 62. Actor-writer who laid bare his life in acclaimed monologues like Swimming to Cambodia. Apparent suicide.
Alex Barris, 81. Hosted Barris Beat and was Front Page Challenge panellist.
Bob Keeshan, 76. He gently entertained generations of youngsters as TV’s moustached Captain Kangaroo and became an outspoken opponent of violence in children’s television.
Jack Paar, 85. Made The Tonight Show the talk show everybody talked about, setting the stage for Johnny Carson and others to follow.
M.M. Kaye, 95. British author of sumptuous bestseller The Far Pavilions.
Janet Frame, 79. Overcame mental illness to become one of New Zealand’s top authors.
John Randolph, 88. Tony-winning character actor; Roseanne’s father in Roseanne.
Daniel J. Boorstin, 89. Former librarian of Congress; million-selling historian, social critic.
Nat Taylor, 98. Canadian-born film-industry pioneer who invented the modern cineplex.
Robert Pastorelli, 49. Played screwball house painter Eldin on Murphy Brown. Accidental drug overdose.
Genevieve, 83. French-born chanteuse whose mangled English was a running gag on Jack Paar’s The Tonight Show.
Jan Sterling, 82. Cool, conniving movie blond of 1940s and ’50s (The High and the Mighty).
Peter Ustinov, 82. Won two Oscars for an acting career that ranged from the evil emperor Nero in Quo Vadis to Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot.
Alistair Cooke, 95. Urbane host of television’s Masterpiece Theatre; interpreter of U.S. culture for decades on BBC’s Letter From America.
Norman Campbell, 80. Pioneering CBC television producer who co-wrote Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.
Micheline Charest, 51. Co-founder of children’s television producer Cinar Corp. in Montreal. Complications from cosmetic surgery.
Norris McWhirter, 78. Co-founder of Guinness Book of Records.
Estee Lauder, 97. Built multimillion-dollar cosmetics empire.
Hubert Selby Jr., 75. Wrote acclaimed 1964 novel Last Exit to Brooklyn.
Gilbert Lani Kauhi, 66. Jack Lord’s burly sidekick on Hawaii Five-0.
Alan King, 76. Witty comedian known for tirades against everyday suburban life.
Anna Lee, 91. Film, television actress (How Green Was My Valley, General Hospital).
Tony Randall, 84. Comic actor; the fastidious Felix Unger in The Odd Couple and fuss-budget pal in several Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies.
Irene Manning, 81. Classically trained movie musical star (Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Desert Song).
Brian Linehan, 58. Canadian television personality and celebrity interviewer.
Jack McClelland. 81. Promoter of Canadian literature at McClelland and Stewart, one of Canada’s most influential publishing houses.
William Manchester, 82. Historian who brought novelist’s flair to biographies of such giants as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy.
Ronald Reagan, 93. Before entering politics, a popular Hollywood actor (Knute Rockne: All-American, King’s Row). U.S. president from 1981 to ’89.
Barbara Whiting, 73. Actress in the 1940s and ’50s (Junior Miss, TV’s Those Whiting Girls).
Ray Charles, 73. Transcendent talent who erased musical boundaries with hits such as What’d I Say, Georgia on My Mind and I Can’t Stop Loving You.
Frances Hyland, 77. Starred in and directed productions at the Stratford and Shaw festivals.
Betty Oliphant, 85. Renowned ballet tutor and founder of the National Ballet School.
Marlon Brando, 80. Revolutionized American acting with A Streetcar Named Desire; created the iconic character of Vito Corleone in The Godfather.
Isabel Sanford, 86. Weezie on The Jeffersons.
Joe Gold, 82. Founded original Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles in 1965.
Irvin Shortess (Shorty) Yeaworth Jr., 78. Directed 1958 cult movie The Blob.
Jerry Goldsmith, 75. Oscar-, Emmy-winning composer for shows ranging from Star Trek to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Sam Edwards, 89. The town banker in Little House on the Prairie.
Virginia Grey, 87. Actress from 1920s (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) to 1970s (Airport).
Henri Cartier-Bresson, 95. Acclaimed French photographer whose pictures defined the mid-20th century and inspired generations.
Rick James, 56. Funk legend known for 1981 hit Super Freak.
Fay Wray, 96. The damsel held atop the Empire State Building by the ape in King Kong.
Julia Child, 91. She brought the intricacies of French cuisine to North Americans through television and books.
Czeslaw Milosz, 93. Polish poet and Nobel laureate known for his intellectual and emotional works about some of the worst cruelties of the 20th century.
Elmer Bernstein, 82. Oscar-winning composer, scored such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape.
Al Dvorin, 81. Announcer who dispersed Presley fans with the phrase “Elvis has left the building.”
Laura Branigan, 47. Grammy-nominated pop singer known for 1982 platinum hit Gloria. Brain aneurysm.
Bill Glassco, 69. Theatre icon, co-founder of Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.
Walter Stewart, 73. Former managing editor of Maclean’s magazine, author of more than a dozen books.
Johnny Ramone, 55. Co-founded the influential punk band The Ramones. Prostate cancer.
Marvin Mitchelson, 76. Hollywood divorce lawyer; pioneered the “palimony” concept.
Russ Meyer, 82. Producer-director who helped spawn the “skin flick” – and later gained a measure of critical respect – for such films as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Francoise Sagan, 69. French author, became famous in her teens for the best-selling Bonjour Tristesse.
Janet Leigh, 77. Wholesome beauty whose shocking murder in Hitchcock thriller Psycho is a landmark of film.
Rodney Dangerfield, 82. The bug-eyed comic whose self-deprecating “I don’t get no respect” brought him stardom in clubs, television and movies.
Jacques Derrida, 74. World-renowned thinker who founded the school of literary analysis known as deconstructionism.
Christopher Reeve, 52. Superman actor who became America’s most recognizable spokesman for spinal cord research after a paralysing accident.
Peggy Ryan, 80. Teamed with Donald O’Connor in movie musicals such as When Johnny Comes Marching Home.
John Morgan, 74. Played dim-witted Mike from Canmore on The Royal Canadian Air Farce.
Howard Keel, 85. Broad-shouldered baritone in glittery MGM musicals (Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun); later on Dallas.
Iris Chang, 36. Best-selling author (The Rape of Nanking). Suicide.
Cy Coleman, 75. Composer of Broadway musicals (Sweet Charity, City of Angels); pop songs (The Best Is Yet to Come).
Arthur Hailey, 84. Best-selling author of big novels (Airport, Hotel).
John Drew Barrymore, 72. The troubled heir to an acting dynasty.
Pierre Berton, 84. Cultural icon and beloved writer, who had unique gift for bringing Canada’s past to life.
Serge Lavoie, 41. Former principal dancer with National Ballet of Canada and partner with some of world’s greatest ballerinas including Karen Kain.
Dame Alicia Markova, 94. One of the 20th century’s greatest ballerinas, co-founder of English National Ballet.
Jerry Scoggins, 93. He sang The Ballad of Jed Clampett, theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies.
Dimebag Darrell Abbott, 38. Guitarist with heavy-metal band Pantera, more recently Damageplan. Shot to death during a performance.
Agnes Martin, 92. Abstract artist born in Macklin, Sask., whose paintings combined spare simplicity with a subtle reflection of personality.
Renata Tebaldi, 82. Renowned Italian soprano hailed as having “the voice of an angel.”
Cyril Dolman, 91. Canadian country music pioneer, member of the band Slim Wilson and the Prairie Sons.
Susan Sontag, 71. Writer whose fame began with 1964 essay, Notes on Camp.
Jerry Orbach, 69. Longtime actor on Law & Order, also known for work on Broadway.
Artie Shaw, 94. Clarinetist and bandleader whose recording of Begin the Beguine epitomized the Big Band era.
Notables who died in 2004 in the arts, pop culture