He was a true Canadian legend. Rest In Peace, Mr. Plummer.

Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music star and oldest actor to win an Oscar, dead at 91

Christopher Plummer, who was among the greatest Canadian actors ever to grace stage and screen, has died.

Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut — two and a half weeks after suffering a fall — with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.

“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self-deprecating humour and the music of words,” Pitt said in a statement to CBC News. “He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots.

“Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”

In a career that spanned over six decades, Plummer was nominated for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards three times and won once at 82 for Beginners, a film about a widower who begins to live life as a gay man while dying of cancer.

He also captured two Tony Awards among seven nominations, and took home two Emmys. He earned a reputation as one of the great classical actors of modern times — without attending a prestigious theatre school.

He performed on Broadway, London’s West End and at Canada’s Stratford and Shaw festivals. There were few marquee Shakespearean roles he didn’t take on, a list that included Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Iago, Henry V, Antony, Mercutio and Prospero.

“The man is extraordinary, he’s got so many sides to him, he’s quite remarkable. When you share a stage with him it’s magic, it really is,” fellow actor Gordon Pinsent told CBC in 2011 when Plummer received Stratford’s lifetime achievement award.

On screen, Plummer appeared in 1965 as Captain von Trapp, alongside British stage and screen star Julie Andrews, in what was, for several years, the highest grossing film of all time, The Sound of Music, a role he was famously ambivalent about.

“What have I done playing with all these children? Children and dogs steal scenes,” Plummer recounted to CBC in a documentary two years after the release of the movie he often jokingly called The Sound of Mucus, or S and M.

Plummer, however, also said that he had “terrific memories” of making the movie, and forged a lifelong friendship with Andrews; he once said that working with her was like “getting hit over the head with a valentine.”

“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” Andrews said Friday in a statement obtained by Reuters. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humour and fun we shared through the years.”

The movie brought him almost more work than he could handle on the stages of London’s West End and Broadway, as well as in TV movies and miniseries during the 1970s and ’80s.

But he then went on to enjoy a late-life renaissance in film, with lauded performances in The Insider, A Beautiful Mind, Beginners and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In 2019 he starred as a murdered mystery novelist in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit Knives Out — one of his final film roles.

Born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer on Dec. 13, 1929 in Toronto, he was a descendant of John Abbott, Canada’s third prime minister.

Plummer’s parents split up not long after his birth, and he was raised in relative privilege in Montreal by his mother and her extended family. He saw his father on only one other occasion years later.

A love for acting onstage was cemented by playing Mr. Darcy in a Montreal High School production of Pride and Prejudice. He would further develop his stagecraft at the Ottawa Repertory Theatre, and learned how to harness his baritone voice in CBC Radio plays.

Plummer landed in New York in 1953, appearing on Broadway supporting stars like Tyrone Power and Julie Harris, and taking direction from Elia Kazan.

His reputation grew such that he was called back to Canada to portray Henry V in the Stratford Festival’s final year under the big tent in 1956, returning the next year to usher in their new indoor theatre as Hamlet.

Plummer garnered his first Tony nomination for his turn in J.B., a 1958 play written in free verse by American poet/playwright Archibald MacLeish.

He then went on to London, where he would appear alongside the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Holm and a young Judi Dench in Royal Shakespeare Company productions well into the 1960s.

When the curtain fell at show’s end, Plummer often kept company with heavyweight revellers like Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole.

“You’ve given an awful lot of your own personality with just the reward of applause at the end, but it isn’t quite enough to fill the rest of the night,” he told CBC of this need to “anesthetize.”

Plummer’s profile would be raised by The Sound of Music and an internationally televised production of Hamlet, the only modern staging of the play at Elsinore castle in Denmark.

But by the late 1960s his personal life was not in great shape. He’d been through two marriages, and for several years made no effort to contact his only child, Amanda, from his first marriage.

“I was a lousy husband and an even worse father,” he admitted in his 2008 autobiography, In Spite of Myself.

Plummer beamed with pride years later when his daughter earned plaudits for her own acting, but was quick to disavow any credit for her talent.

Plummer cut down on his drinking and a 1970 marriage with Elaine Taylor would take; the couple put down roots in Connecticut for several decades.

He never lived in Canada — the taxes were outrageous, he said — but Plummer, a companion of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award, kept coming back for a variety of roles when the country’s film and television industry began to flourish.

There would be movies for big and small screen Canadian productions, including Murder by Decree, Silent Partner, Riel and Ararat, as well as the TV series Counterstrike, and children’s fare like his Emmy-winning voice work in Madeline.

Plummer thrived on switching from screen work to the theatre, and he scored his first Tony in a musical version of Cyrano in 1974.

“You have to be absolutely ruthless in your confidence about how to deal with the great roles, otherwise they’ll deal with you,” he said of his approach, in an interview with the National Theatre Museum decades later.

After an Emmy win for the 1976 TV series The Money Changers, Plummer found himself in demand more for TV movies and miniseries such as The Thorn Birds than for meaty motion picture roles.

He rejected reports of clashes with Oscar winner Glenda Jackson during their 1988 Macbeth stage run as a ploy to sell tickets, but it was true that he possessed a healthy ego, occasionally earning a reputation for being difficult.

After some early hiccups in its early run, his two-person play Barrymore hit its stride on Broadway in early 1997. Plummer won Tony and Drama Desk awards as actor John Barrymore, reflecting at life’s end.

Plummer started to become more in demand for film roles at the same time. Appearances in Dolores Claiborne and 12 Monkeys were followed by a portrayal of journalist Mike Wallace in the 1999 film The Insider, which won him a National Society of Film Critics Award.

Plummer was nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award for playing Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station in 2010, and would win two years later in the role of Hal Fields, who, after the death of his wife, comes out as a gay man in Beginners.

He stared at the golden statue onstage in Los Angeles and quipped, “You’re only two years older than me, darling, where you have been all my life?”

Plummer was nominated as best supporting actor by the Academy for the third and final time in 2018, for playing billionaire J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, based on the true story of the kidnapping and ransom of Getty’s grandson.

He was cast after actor Kevin Spacey was ousted from the role following a series of sexual misconduct allegations. The movie was mostly finished and had already been garnering Oscar buzz when Plummer, then 87, stepped in. He famously shot all his scenes in nine days.

Plummer told the New York Times in 2014 he found it sad when people waited all their lives to retire and then couldn’t find a purpose once their working life was over.

“We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing,” he said. “We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.”


His death still seems surreal, a day later.

Sean Connery’s wife opens up about late actor’s dementia battle

Sean Connery’s widow, Micheline Roquebrune, has broken her silence following the movie star’s death, opening up about his battle with dementia.

The 90-year-old former James Bond icon’s peaceful death was confirmed by his family on Saturday, and now his artist wife has confirmed reports the Scottish actor was battling the degenerative condition.

“It was no life for him,” she tells the Daily Mail on Sunday. “It took its toll on him. He was not able to express himself latterly… He got his final wish to slip away without any fuss.

“At least he died in his sleep and it was just so peaceful. I was with him all the time and he just slipped away. It was what he wanted.”

Connery passed away at the couple’s home in the Bahamas.

A cause of death has yet to be released.

Pierce Brosnan pays respect to Sean Connery

Pierce Brosnan has added his tribute to movie legend Sir Sean Connery, calling the Scottish star “my greatest James Bond.”

Brosnan, who portrayed 007 in four movies between 1995 and 2002, has joined fellow Bond Daniel Craig among those paying their respects.

Posting a black and white image of Connery on social media, Pierce writes: “Sir Sean Connery, you were my greatest James Bond as a boy, and as a man who became James Bond himself. You cast a long shadow of cinematic splendour that will live on forever.

“You led the way for us all who followed in your iconic foot steps. Each man in his turn looked to you with reverence and admiration as we forged ahead with our own interpretations of the role. You were mighty in every way, as an actor and as a man, and will remain so till the end of time. Your were loved by the world, and will be missed. God bless, rest now, be at peace.”

Current Bond Craig was among the first to offer up his thoughts about the man who originated 007 in the long-running film franchise back in 1962, sharing a statement via the Bond films’ official Twitter page that read: “It is with such sadness that I heard of the passing of one of the true greats of cinema. Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster.”

Representatives for another late James Bond star, Roger Moore, have also released a statement, which reads: “How infinitely sad to hear the news Sir Sean Connery has passed away. He and Roger were friends for many decades and Roger always maintained Sean was the best ever James Bond. RIP.”

Meanwhile, Connery’s granddaughter, Saskia, has also offered up a tribute via social media, calling the acting great her best friend.

“A surreal goodbye to my best friend, mentor and dear grandfather,” she wrote. “Please respect my families privacy while we process this news (sic). Thank you for all the wishes and we will get back to you all soon. Heaven has gained the most legendary angel today.”

Saskia also posted an image of the flag outside her grandfather’s local golf club Lyford Cay Club in Nassau, the Bahamas, at half mast as officials honour their late member: “Half mast and forever missed,” she wrote.

And Sir Sean’s actor grandson Dashiell has posted a photo of the late star with the caption: “Great man.”

In a video message, he added: “Thanks for all the love and support and well wishes. I really do appreciate it. Thank you.”


“A legend on screen, and off. “

Daniel Craig leads tributes to original James Bond, Sean Connery

Daniel Craig is leading tributes to late James Bond star Sean Connery following the Scottish actor’s death at 90.

The current 007 has released a statement, calling Connery “one of the true greats of cinema”.

“Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more,” Craig writes. “He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster.

“He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course.”

Connery was the original star of the James Bond film franchise, playing the superspy in 1962 movie Dr. No. He appeared in seven 007 films.

He passed away in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas.

Hugh Jackman and Salma Hayek have also paid tribute to the late movie legend.

The Australian star tweeted: “I grew up idolizing #Sean Connery. A legend on screen, and off. Rest in Peace.”

Hayek shared a black and white photo of Connery on Instagram and added: “It saddens me that today the legendary Sean Connery passed away. At least he lived to be 90. My heart goes out to his close ones. May he rest in peace.”

And Sam Neill, who starred in The Hunt For Red October alongside Sean, added: “Every day on set with #SeanConnery was an object lesson in how to act on screen. But all that charisma and power – that was utterly unique to Sean. RIP that great man, that great actor.”

Meanwhile, Elton John took to Instagram to share his thoughts and prayers, writing: “A true screen legend” alongside a photo of the rocker and his husband David Furnish hanging out with Connery and his wife Micheline Roquebrune.

There have also been tributes from Elizabeth Hurley, Star Trek’s George Takei, Antonio Banderas, and Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who released a statement that reads: “We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Connery. He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond, whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words – ‘The name’s Bond… James Bond’ – he revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent.

“He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”

Connery was a bodybuilder, model, and milkman before he found fame as an actor, making his movie debut in 1954’s Lilacs in the Spring. He went on to appear in a series of British TV roles and films until his big break in the Disney musical Darby O’ Gill & the Little People in 1959. That led to an appearance in classic war movie The Longest Day and his Bond debut, both in 1962.

Outside his Bond film appearances, Connery also won acclaim for the movies The Hill, The Man Who Would Be King, Murder on the Orient Express, A Bridge Too Far, The First Great Train Robbery, The Hunt For Red October, The Rock, Highlander, and The Untouchables, for which he won an Oscar. He also teamed up with Harrison Ford for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


Tragic, tragic news. Rest In Peace, Sir Sean and Thanks!!

Sean Connery dead at age 90

Sean Connery, the charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as suave, fearless secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an equally successful Oscar-winning career playing a variety of leading and character roles, has died. He was 90.

Bond producers EON Productions confirmed his death, first reported by the BBC.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said they were “devastated by the news.”

“He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words — ‘The name’s Bond … James Bond,”‘ they said in a statement.

The producers said Connery’s “gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent” was largely responsible for the success of the series.

Connery’s son Jason said his father died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas where he lived, having been “unwell for some time.”

“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor,” Jason Connery told the BBC.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “heartbroken” at the news.

“Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” she said.

A commanding screen presence for some 40 years, Connery was in his early 30s and little known when he starred in the first Bond thriller, 1962’s Dr. No, based on the Ian Fleming novel.

Condemned as immoral by the Vatican and the Kremlin but screened at the White House for Bond fan John F. Kennedy, Dr. No was a box-office hit and helped Bond become a franchise that long outlasted its Cold War origins.

For decades, with actors from Connery to Daniel Craig in the leading role, filmgoers have loved the outrageous stunts, vicious villains and likable, roguish hero who enjoyed a life of carousing, fast cars, gadgety weapons, elegant clothes and vodka martinis (always shaken, not stirred).

For many, Connery was the definitive James Bond, his character’s introduction among the most famous in movie history. He is seated at the baccarat table of an upscale casino, seen first from the side and the back. After he wins a couple of hands against a glamorous young woman, she asks for more money to gamble.

“I admire your courage, Miss, uh …” we hear him tell her as the camera shows his hands removing a cigarette from a slender case. She introduces herself as “Trench, Sylvia Trench,” tells him she admires his luck and asks his name. His reply remains a catchphrase decades later. “Bond,” he says, his face finally revealed as he lights a cigarette. “James Bond.”

United Artists couldn’t wait to make more Bond movies, with ever more elaborate stunts and gadgets, along with more exotic locales and more prominent co-stars, among them Lotte Lenya and Jill St. John.

Connery continued as Bond in From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, often performing his own stunts.

Diamonds Are Forever came out in 1971, and by then Connery had grown weary of playing 007 and feared he wasn’t being taken seriously despite his dramatic performances in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie and Sidney Lumet’s The Hill.

“I’d been an actor since I was 25, but the image the press put out was that I just fell into this tuxedo and started mixing vodka martinis,” he once complained.

When he walked away at age 41, Hollywood insiders predicted Connery would soon be washed up. Who would hire a balding, middle-aged actor with a funny accent?

Connery fooled them all, playing a wide range of characters and proving equally adept at comedy, adventure or drama. And age only heightened the appeal of his dark stare and rugged brogue; he set a celebrity record of sorts when at age 59, he was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

He won the affection of fans of the Indiana Jones franchise when he played Indy’s father opposite Harrison Ford in the third picture, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He turned in a poignant portrayal of an aging Robin Hood opposite Audrey Hepburn in Robin and Marian in 1976 and, 15 years later, was King Richard to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

He was the lovable English con man who joined Michael Caine in swindling tribal people everywhere in The Man Who Would Be King and the bold Russian submarine commander in The Hunt for Red October.

He delivered a charming performance as a reclusive writer who mentors a teenage prodigy in 2000’s Finding Forrester.

He won his Oscar for supporting actor in 1987 for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop who joins Elliot Ness’s crime-fighters in The Untouchables.

By then he was at peace with James Bond, and when he arrived onstage at the Oscar ceremony he declared, “The name’s Connery. Sean Connery.”

He kept his promise not to play Bond again until 1983, when he was lured back by an offbeat script about a middle-aged 007. Based on the only Fleming story that hadn’t been nailed down by the film empire Broccoli and Saltzman created, Connery took the role and helped produce the film. The result was Never Say Never Again, a title suggested by his wife, Micheline Roquebrune.

Even as the 007 films made him a millionaire, Connery often tried to separate his own personality from that of Bond. “I’m obviously not Bond,” he once said. “And Bond is obviously not a human being. Fleming invented him after the war, when people were hungry for luxury, gourmet touches, exotic settings. Those were the things the English loved to read about following the privations of the war.”

The “real” Sean Connery had a troubled first marriage and a history of comments justifying domestic violence. In 1962, he married Diane Cilento, an actor best known for her role as Molly in Tom Jones. They had a son, Jason, who also became an actor, but the union proved tempestuous and ended in 1974.

Its impact lasted long after. Cilento would allege that he had physically abused her, and Connery defended his behaviour in interviews. In 1965, he told Playboy magazine that he did not find “anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman — although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man. An openhanded slap is justified — if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning.”

When journalist Barbara Walters brought up those remarks in a 1987 interview, he said his opinion hadn’t changed because “sometimes women just won’t leave things alone.”

Connery was widely criticized but still received numerous honours, including being chosen as commander (the same rank as Bond) of France’s Order of Arts and Literature and a Kennedy Center honoree in 1999 in the United States. The following year, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed him a British knight.

Thomas Sean Connery was born Aug. 25, 1930, in Edinburgh, the first of two sons of a long-distance truck driver and a domestic worker.

He left school at age 13 during the Second World War to help support his family.

“I was a milkman, labourer, steel bender, cement mixer — virtually anything,” he said.

Weary of day labour, he joined the British navy and was medically discharged after three years. The ailment: stomach ulcers.

Back in Edinburgh, he lifted weights to build his body and compete in the Mr. Universe contest. He came in third and briefly considered becoming a professional soccer player but chose acting because he reasoned his career would last longer.

He got his first big break singing and dancing to There is Nothing Like a Dame in South Pacific on the London stage and in a road production before going on to act in repertory, television and B movies.

He went to Hollywood for two early films, Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People and Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure.

When he decided to become an actor, he was told that Thomas Sean Connery wouldn’t fit on a theatre marquee, so he dropped his first name.

Then came the audition that changed his life. American producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had bought the film rights to a string of post-Second World War spy adventure novels by Ian Fleming.

Connery was not their first choice for Dr. No. The producers had looked to Cary Grant but decided they wanted an actor who would commit to a series. The producers also realized they couldn’t afford a big-name star because United Artists had limited their film budget to $1 million a picture, so they started interviewing more obscure British performers.

Among them was the 6-foot-2 Connery. Without a screen test, Broccoli and Saltzman chose the actor, citing his “dark, cruel good looks,” a perfect match for the way Fleming described Bond.

When Connery started earning big money, he established his base at a villa in Marbella on the Spanish coast.

He described it as “my sanitarium, where I recover from the madness of the film world.” It also helped him avoid the overwhelming income tax he would have paid had he remained a resident of Britain.

As his acting roles diminished when he reached his 70s, Connery spent much of his time at his tax-free home at Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. He played golf almost every morning, often with his wife. He announced in 2007 that he had retired when he turned down the chance to appear in another Indiana Jones movie.

“I thought long and hard about it, and if anything could have pulled me out of retirement it would have been an Indiana Jones film,” he said.

“But in the end, retirement is just too damned much fun.”


I miss that man every day!!

City of Toronto marks ‘John Candy Day’ to celebrate late actor’s birthday

Toronto Mayor John Tory has declared this Saturday “John Candy Day” to mark what would’ve been the actor’s 70th birthday.

The mayor made the announcement on social media, saying, “It’s our way of remembering a beloved actor and comedian with roots in Toronto.”

Candy, who was born on Oct. 31, 1950, grew up in East York and attended high school in Scarborough. He began his comedy career as part of Toronto’s Second City sketch troupe.

He rose to fame as part of the cast of the Second City Television series in 1976, forging a unique identity with characters such as TV personality Johnny LaRue and clarinetist Yosh Shmenge of the Shmenge Brothers polka duo.

That opened the doors to Hollywood, where he was cast in many classic comedies, including Splash, Home Alone, Stripes and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

But Candy always maintained his ties to Toronto, taking on a stake in the Toronto Argonauts football team in 1991 as co-owner.

Candy died on March 4, 1994, after suffering a heart attack while shooting the film Wagons East in Durango, Mexico. He was 43.

Tory said the actor’s legacy lives on in many places, among them his family, his performances and his induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame.


I’m Still Numb And Can’t Believe Eddie’s Gone. Rest In Peace, Eddie!!

Eddie Van Halen dead of cancer at 65

Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fuelled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit Beat It and became elevated to the status of rock god, has died. He was 65.

A person close to Van Halen’s family confirmed the rocker died Tuesday due to cancer. The person was not authorized to publicly release details in advance of an official announcement.

His son also confirmed his death and the cause on Twitter.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolfgang Van Halen said in the tweet.

With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fuelled the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record 1984, which contains the classics Jump, Panama and Hot for Teacher.

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

Eddie Van Halen was something of a musical contradiction. He was an autodidact who could play almost any instrument, but he couldn’t read music. He was a classically trained pianist who also created some of the most distinctive guitar riffs in rock history. He was a Dutch immigrant who was considered one of the greatest American guitarists of his generation.

The members of Van Halen — the two Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex; vocalist David Lee Roth; and bassist Michael Anthony — formed in 1974 in Pasadena, Calif.

They were members of rival high school bands and then attended Pasadena City College together. They combined to form the band Mammoth, but then changed to Van Halen after discovering there was another band called Mammoth.

Their 1978 release Van Halen opened with a blistering Runnin’ With the Devil and then Eddie Van Halen showed off his astonishing skills in the next song, Eruption, a furious one-and-a-half minute guitar solo that swoops and soars like a deranged bird. The album also contained a cover of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me and Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam told Rolling Stone magazine that listening to Van Halen’s Eruption was like hearing Mozart for the first time. “He gets sounds that aren’t necessarily guitar sounds — a lot of harmonics, textures that happen just because of how he picks.”

Van Halen released albums on a yearly timetable — Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981) and Diver Down (1982) — until the monumental 1984, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album charts (only behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller).

Rolling Stone ranked 1984 No. 81 on its list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.

“Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar, at a time when it was all getting a bit brooding. He also scared the hell out of a million guitarists around the world, because he was so damn good. And original,” Joe Satriani, a fellow virtuoso, told Billboard in 2015.

Van Halen also played guitar on one of the biggest singles of the 1980s: Jackson’s Beat It. His solo lasted all of 20 seconds and took only a half an hour to record. He did it for free, as a favour to producer Quincy Jones, while the rest of his Van Halen bandmates were out of town.

Van Halen performs Beat It with Michael Jackson at a concert in Irving, Texas, in July 1984. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)
Van Halen received no compensation or credit for the work, even though he rearranged the section he played on.

“It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that,” he told Billboard in 2015. “I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?”‘

Rolling Stone ranked Beat It No. 344 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Jackson’s melding of hard rock and R&B preceded the meeting of Run-DMC and Aerosmith by four years.

But strains between Roth and the band erupted after their 1984 world tour and Roth left.

The group then recruited Sammy Hagar as lead singer — some critics called the new formulation “Van Hagar” — and the band went on to score its first No. 1 album with 5150, More studio albums followed, including OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance. Hit singles included Why Can’t This Be Love and When It’s Love.

Hagar was ousted in 1996 and former Extreme singer Gary Cherone stepped in for the album Van Halen III, a stumble that led to his quick departure. Roth would eventually return in 2007 and team up with the Van Halen brothers, with Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, for a tour and the albums A Different Kind of Truth in 2012 and Tokyo Dome Live in Concert in 2015.

Van Halen’s music has appeared in films as varied as Superbad, Minions and Sing as well as TV shows like Glee and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Video games such as Gran Turismo 4 and Guitar Hero have used his riffs. Their song Jamie’s Cryin was sampled by rapper Tone Loc in his hit Wild Thing.

For much of his career, Eddie Van Halen wrote and experimented with sounds while drunk or high or both. He revealed that he would stay in his hotel room drinking vodka and snorting cocaine while playing into a tape recorder. (Hagar’s 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock portrays Eddie as a violent, booze-addled vampire, living inside a garbage-strewn house.)

“I didn’t drink to party,” Van Halen told Billboard. “Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”

Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam and his family immigrated to California in 1962 when he was seven. His father was a big band clarinetist who rarely found work after coming to the U.S., and their mother was a maid who had dreams of her sons being classical pianists. The Van Halens shared a house with three other families. Eddie and Alex had only each other, a tight relationship that flowed through their music.

“We showed up here with the equivalent of $50 and a piano,” Eddie Van Halen told The Associated Press in 2015. “We came halfway around the world without money, without a set job, no place to live and couldn’t even speak the language.”

He said his earliest memories of music were banging pots and pans together, marching to John Philip Sousa marches. At one point, Eddie got a drum set, which his older brother coveted.

“I never wanted to play guitar,” he confessed at a talk at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2015. But his brother was good at the drums, so Eddie gave into his brother’s wishes: “I said, ‘Go ahead, take my drums. I’ll play your damn guitar.”‘

He was a relentless experimenter who would solder different parts from different guitar-makers, including Gibson and Fender. He created his own graphic design for his guitars by adding tape to the instruments and then spray-painting them. He said his influences were Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Van Halen, sober since 2008, lost one-third of his tongue to a cancer that eventually drifted into his esophagus. In 1999, he had a hip replacement. He was married twice, to actress Valerie Bertinelli from 1981 to 2007 and then stuntwoman-turned-publicist Janie Liszewski, whom he wed in 2009.


All The Best, Alex. Take Care Buddy!!!

Alex Van Halen posts touching tribute to his brother, Eddie

Alex Van Halen, cofounder with Eddie of the band that bears their names, posted a brief but heartfelt tribute to his younger brother on Thursday morning. Eddie, one of the most legendary musicians in rock history, died on Monday at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.

“Hey Ed. Love you. See you on the other side. Your brother, Al,” it says simply — but is accompanied by a touching black and white photo of the pair as young boys.

The brothers formed the band in 1972 in their hometown of Pasadena, California, where their family had settled after the brothers were born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Dutch and Indonesian parents.

After working under a variety of names, the siblings were joined by vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in the first recording lineup of the group, which exploded after star-making gigs at such West Hollywood clubs as Gazzarri’s and the Starwood. They built a reputation on the L.A. circuit and recorded a demo produced by Kiss’ Gene Simmons, who brought Van Halen to Kiss’ manager Bill Aucion, who wasn’t interested.

It was instantly apparent from “Eruption,” the solo showcase on Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut album for Warner Bros., that Eddie Van Halen was an instrumentalist to be reckoned with. In a mere one minute and 42 seconds, the axe man detonated a dazzling display of fretboard tapping, ringing harmonics, lightning-fast licks and smeared, dive-bombing effects.

Writing about that recording in Rolling Stone’s 2015 poll of the 100 greatest guitarists — in which Van Halen placed eighth, between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry — Mike McCready of Pearl Jam wrote, “It sounded like it came from another planet… t was glorious, like hearing Mozart for the first time.”

The group’s first LP, “Van Halen,” though it climbed no higher than No. 19 in the U.S., would ultimately be certified for sales of 10 million copies. Its next five multi- platinum albums all reached the top 10; “1984,” released in its titular year, contained the band’s first and only No. 1 single, the synthesizer-driven “Jump,” and sifted another 10 million units. Roth left the group in 1985 and they achieved even greater chart success with Sammy Hagar, but gradually lost momentum during the 1990s. They reunited with Roth for several tours and one album in the ensuing years — but by then, Van Halen had long since made their mark.


Hearing They Had Become Friends Again Made Me Happy At A Time I Truly Needed Happiness

Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar repaired friendship earlier this year

At the beginning of 2020, Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen said to one another, “Why can’t this be love?”

After Van Halen lost an arduous battle with throat cancer this week, Hagar revealed the two had patched up their rocky relationship earlier this year.

“Eddie and I had been texting, and it’s been a love fest since we started communicating earlier this year,” Hagar said in a note provided to the Howard Stern show. “We both agreed not to tell anyone, because of all the rumours it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t gonna happen. But he also didn’t want anyone to know about his health.”

Hagar went on to add that Van Halen stopped replying about a month ago, and he got no response after trying to reconnect last week.

“He stopped responding to me a month ago, and I figured it wasn’t good,” Hagar continued. “I reached out one more time last week, and when he didn’t respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon.”

Hagar famously replaced Van Halen’s original singer David Lee Roth in 1985 after the latter left the group to pursue a solo career. Along with Eddie on guitar, brother Alex on drums and Michael Anthony on bass, they recorded four platinum records, including 5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance. Hagar left the band in 1996 and was replaced briefly by Gary Cherone. He reunited with the band for a 2004 tour, but their fractious relationship continued offstage leading Hagar to exit the band once again.

Roth returned to the fold in 2007 and they embarked on three world tours over the next eight years, making one record along the way — 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth. Still, Roth and Eddie never enjoyed a particularly close relationship.

“Nope. Not even close. Not even close. This is not a golf club. This is a little closer to The Wild Bunch,” Roth said on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron in 2019.

But during the band’s final stop on its 2015 tour at the Hollywood Bowl, Roth shared a rare moment of warmth towards the guitar great. “The best years of my life; the high points of all my life — onstage with you, homeboy,” he said, in an account reported by Rolling Stone. “I will always do the half-Jesus towards you, Eddie Van Halen.”

Up until this summer, Hagar was still holding out hope for one more tour. “Eddie and I are not done,” he told Rolling Stone. “If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, (a reunion will) happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”


Very sad news. May he Rest In Peace. #RIPRegis

Regis Philbin, Beloved TV Host, Dead at 88

Regis Philbin, the beloved television host whose broadcast reign spanned from morning talk shows to primetime game shows, has died at the age of 88.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” Philbin’s family said in a statement to People.

“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

The ever-enthusiastic Philbin — first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then with Kelly Ripa — spent 23 years as the co-host on the syndicated Live With program, appearing on the daily show from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, Philbin also served as host of the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Regis Philbin, the beloved television host whose broadcast reign spanned from morning talk shows to primetime game shows, has died at the age of 88.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” Philbin’s family said in a statement to People.

“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

The ever-enthusiastic Philbin — first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then with Kelly Ripa — spent 23 years as the co-host on the syndicated Live With program, appearing on the daily show from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, Philbin also served as host of the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A larger-than-life personality, “Reeg” made countless television appearances outside his usual hosting gigs, often starring as himself in memorable guest spots on shows like The Simpsons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock and most recently Fresh Off the Boat.

Following a brief stint as the announcer on The Tonight Show, Philbin first became known to TV viewers as the sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. After spending the Seventies and early Eighties popping up on assorted TV series, talk shows and game shows, Philbin became a fixture of ABC New York’s The Morning Show in 1983. Two years later, Gifford joined the program as his co-host and, in 1988, the show was rebranded as Live With Regis and Kathie Lee for syndicated television.

Gifford’s tenure with the morning show ended in 2000; after a year of rotating guest hosts on Live With Regis, the long-running program permanently brought in Kelly Ripa, who remained co-host of the show following Philbin’s own retirement in 2011. Philbin was also a late-night favorite, winning over David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel (who hosted a Millionaire revival) and more.

In 2008, Philbin received the Emmy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, capping a career filled with wins for Outstanding Talk Show Host, Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Game Show Host. According to Variety, Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on camera on U.S. television with more than 16,700 hours over the course of his career.


This is tragic news. May he Rest In Peace.

Emmy-winning comedic actor Fred Willard dies at 86

Fred Willard, the comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and Anchorman, has died. He was 86.

Willard’s daughter, Hope Mulbarger, said in a statement Saturday that her father died peacefully Friday night. The cause of his death has not been released.

“He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end,” Mulbarger said. “We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”

Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small, scene-stealing appearances.

As an arrogantly clueless sports announcer on Best In Show, his character seemed to clearly know nothing about the dogs he’s supposed to talk about and asks his partner on-air: “How much do you think I can bench?” He also played the character of Frank Dunphy, the goofy father of Phil in the ABC series Modern Family.

Willard was a four-time Emmy nominee for his roles in What’s Hot, What’s Not, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family and The Bold and the Beautiful.

In Pixar’s 2008 hit WALL-E, he played Shelby Forthright, the CEO of a ubiquitous big-box chain called Buy’n’Large.

“How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” said actress Jamie Lee Curtis on Twitter. She was married to Christopher Guest, who directed the mockumentary films Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.

“Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard,” she continued.

Willard’s death comes nearly two years after his wife Mary Willard died at the age of 71. She was a playwright and TV writer, earning four Emmy nominations.

After his wife died, Willard questioned whether he would work again. But the beloved actor was brought on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to mock U.S. President Donald Trump’s “space force.” It was a reprise of his role in the 1978 NBC TV movie Space Force.

“There was no man sweeter or funnier,” Kimmel said on Twitter. “We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”

In 2012, Willard had a brush with the law. The actor was arrested after being suspected of committing a lewd act at a Hollywood adult theatre.

Willard was fired from a narrating job and had to complete a diversion program. He called the arrest “very embarrassing” but insisted he did nothing wrong.

“It’s the last time I’m going to listen to my wife when she says, `Why don’t you go and see a movie?”‘ Willard said during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s NBC show Late Night.

Fallon was sympathetic toward Willard, calling him a “good man” and one of his favourites.

Willard was continually beloved in Hollywood.

“Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with,” Steve Carell said on Twitter. “He was a sweet, wonderful man.”