Richard Pryor - comedian, died 2005

Hollywood Walk of FameEmmy Winner - Lily 1974Grammy Award WinnerGrammy Award WinnerGrammy Award WinnerGrammy Award WinnerGrammy Award Winner 

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Richard Priyor's DeathRichard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was an American comedian, actor, and writer.

Pryor was a storyteller known for unflinching examinations of racism and customs in modern life, and was well-known for his frequent use of colorful language, vulgarities, and racial epithets such as "nigger", "honky," "cracker," and "motherfucker." He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations, although public opinion of his act was often divided. He is commonly regarded as the most important stand up comedian of his time: Jerry Seinfeld called Pryor "The Picasso of our profession"; Whoopi Goldberg cited him as her biggest influence, stating "The major influence was Richard - I want to say those things he's saying." Bob Newhart has called Pryor "the seminal comedian of the last 50 years."

Death of Richard Pryor
Ricahrd Pryor died of cardiac arrest in Encino, California. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 7:58 a.m. PST.
Richard Pryor was 65 years old at the time of his death.He was brought to the hospital after his wife's attempts to resuscitate him failed. His wife Jennifer was quoted as saying, "At the end, there was a smile on his face."

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Richard Pryor's Biography Continues - -

His body of work includes such concert movies and recordings as Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin' (1971), That Nigger's Crazy (1974), ...Is It Something I Said? (1975), Bicentennial Nigger (1976), Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) and Richard Pryor: Here and Now. He also starred in numerous films as an actor, usually in comedies such as Silver Streak, but occasionally in dramatic roles, such as Paul Schrader's film Blue Collar and epic roles like Gus Gorman from Superman III (1983). He also collaborated on many projects with actor Gene Wilder. He won an Emmy Award in 1973, and five Grammy Awards in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, and 1982. In 1974, he also won two American Academy of Humor awards and the Writers Guild of America Award. In 2004, Pryor was voted the greatest stand-up act of all time by Comedy Central.

Early life and career
Born on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel, where his mother, Gertrude L. Thomas, practiced prostitution. His father, LeRoy "Buck" Pryor (a.k.a. Buck Carter) was a former bartender, boxer, and World War II veteran who worked as his wife's pimp. After his mother deserted him when he was 10, he was raised primarily by his grandmother, Marie Carter. As a small child, Pryor was molested by a neighbor and a priest.

He was expelled from school at age 14, and began working various odd jobs. His first professional performance was playing drums at a night club. From 1958 to 1960, Pryor served in the U.S. Army but spent virtually that entire stint in an army prison. According to a 1999 profile about Pryor in The New Yorker, Pryor was incarcerated for an incident that occurred while stationed in Germany. Annoyed that a white soldier was a bit too amused at the racially charged sections of Douglas Sirk's movie Imitation of Life, Pryor and some other black soldiers beat and stabbed the white soldier (not fatally). According to Live on Sunset Boulevard, when he was nineteen he worked at a Mafia owned nightclub as the MC. Upon hearing that they would not pay a stripper, he attempted to hold up the owners with a cap pistol. They apparently thought he was amusing, though Richard Pryor may have made this story up.

In 1963, Pryor moved to New York City and began performing regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen. On one of his first nights he opened for singer and pianist Nina Simone at the Village Gate. Simone recalls Pryor's bout of performance anxiety:

“ He shook like he had malaria, he was so nervous. I couldn't bear to watch him shiver, so I put my arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down. The next night was the same, and the next, and I rocked him each time.”

Inspired by Bill Cosby, Pryor began as a middlebrow comic far less controversial than what was to come. Soon, he began appearing regularly on television variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. His popularity led him to become a rather successful comic in Las Vegas. The first five tracks on the 2005 compilation CD Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974), recorded in 1966 and 1967, capture Pryor in this era.

In September 1967, Pryor had what he called in his autobiography Pryor Convictions an "epiphany" when he walked onto the stage at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas (with Dean Martin in the audience), looked at the sold-out crowd, said over the microphone "What the fuck am I doing here!?", and walked off the stage. Afterward, Pryor began working at least mild profanity into his act, including the word "nigger". His first comedy recording, the eponymous 1968 debut release on the Dove/Reprise label, captures this particular period, tracking the evolution of Pryor's routine. It was around this time that his parents died-his mother in 1967 and his father in 1968. Richard got his familiar nickname at this point of time which is ba-loot.

What he thought was his first child was a girl named Renee. Years later however, he found out that this was not his child. In 1960, he married Patricia Price and they had one child together, Richard Jr. (his first child and first son) They divorced in 1961. In 1967, his second child and first daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was born to his girlfriend Maxine Anderson. Later that year, he married Shelly Bonus. In 1969, his third child and second daughter Rain Pryor was born. Pryor and Bonus divorced later that year.

Mainstream success
In 1969, Pryor moved to Berkeley, California, where he immersed himself in the counterculture and rubbed elbows with the likes of Huey P. Newton and Ishmael Reed. He signed with the comedy-centric independent record label Laff Records in 1970 and recorded his second album in 1971, Craps (After Hours). In 1972, the relatively unknown comedian appeared in his first film, a documentary entitled Wattstax, where he riffed on the tragic-comic absurdities of race relations in Watts and the nation. Not long afterward, Pryor sought a deal with a larger label, and after some time, signed with Stax Records. His third, breakthrough album, That Nigger's Crazy, was released in 1974 and, Laff, who claimed ownership of Pryor's recording rights, almost succeeded in getting an injunction to prevent the album from being sold. Negotiations led to Pryor's release from his Laff contract. In return for this concession, Laff was enabled to release previously unissued material, recorded between 1968 and 1973, at will.

During the legal battle, Stax briefly closed its doors. It was at this time that Pryor returned to Reprise/Warner Bros. Records, which re-released That Nigger's Crazy immediately after ...Is It Something I Said?, his first album with his new label. With every successful album Pryor recorded for Warner Bros. (or later, his concert films and his 1980 freebasing accident), Laff would quickly publish an album of older material to capitalize on Pryor's growing fame — a practice the label would continue until 1983.

In the 1970s, he wrote for such television shows as Sanford and Son, The Flip Wilson Show and a Lily Tomlin special, for which he shared an Emmy Award. Pryor also made an attempt to break into mainstream television during this period. In 1974, he was arrested for income tax evasion and served 10 days in jail. He was a guest host on the first season of Saturday Night Live,Richard took long time girlfriend -actress talk show host Kathrine McKee with him to New York,(sister of Lonette McKee) she made a brief guest appearance with Richard on SNL, and his "racist word association" skit with Chevy Chase is frequently cited by TV critics as one of the funniest and most daring skits in SNL history (this sketch was replayed on the Season 31 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin, which first aired on the day Pryor died). The Richard Pryor Show premiered on NBC in 1977 but after only four shows, the series was cancelled. Television was not ready for the show's controversial subject matter, and Pryor was not ready to alter the content of his material to meet the demands of network censors. During the short-lived series, he portrayed the first African-American President of the United States and in another skit, used costumes and visual distortion to appear nude.

In 1977, he married actress Deborah McGuire and they divorced in 1978. He soon began dating Jennifer Lee and they married in 1981. They divorced the following year.

Very successful and towards the height of his success, Pryor visited Africa in 1979. Upon returning to the United States, Pryor swore he would never use the word "nigger" in his stand-up comedy routine again. (His favorite epithet, "motherfucker", remains a term of endearment on his official website.)

In 1983, Pryor signed a five-year contract with Columbia Pictures for $40,000,000.[8] Pryor appeared in several popular films, including Lady Sings the Blues; The Mack; Uptown Saturday Night; Silver Streak; Which Way Is Up?; Car Wash; Superman III (which earned Pryor $4,000,000); Brewster's Millions; Stir Crazy; Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling; Moving; and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. He also took part in The Toy, one of Jackie Gleason's last projects. Though he made four films with Gene Wilder, the two comic actors were never as close as many thought according to Wilder's autobiography.

Pryor also co-wrote Blazing Saddles directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder. Pryor was to play the lead role of Bart, but the film's production studio would not insure him, and Mel Brooks chose Cleavon Little instead. Before his infamous 1980 freebasing accident, Pryor was about to start filming Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I, but was replaced at the last minute by Gregory Hines. Pryor was also originally considered for the role of Billy Ray Valentine on Trading Places (1983), before Eddie Murphy ultimately won the part.

Despite a reputation for profanity, Pryor briefly hosted a children's show on CBS in 1984 called Pryor's Place. Like Sesame Street, Pryor's Place featured a cast of puppets, hanging out and having fun in a surprisingly friendly inner city environment along with several children and characters portrayed by Pryor himself. However, Pryor's Place frequently dealt with more sobering issues than Sesame Street. It was cancelled shortly after its debut, despite the efforts of famed puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft and a theme song by Ray Parker Jr. of Ghostbusters fame to ensure its success.

Pryor co-hosted the Academy Awards twice, and was also nominated for an Emmy for a guest role on the television series, Chicago Hope.

The freebasing incident and its aftermath
On June 9, 1980, Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. He ran down Parthenia Street from his Northridge, California home until subdued by police, with burns having covered over 50 percent of his body. Pryor spent six weeks in recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. Pryor made this part of his heralded "final" stand up show Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). After joking that the incident was actually caused when he dunked a cookie into a glass containing two different types of milk, he gave a poignant yet funny account of his accident and recovery, then poked fun at people who told jokes about it by waving a lit match and saying "What's this? It's Richard Pryor running down the street." Interviewed in 2005, his wife Jennifer Lee Pryor said that Pryor poured high-proof rum over his body and torched himself in a drug psychosis.[citation needed]His daughter, Rain Pryor also stated this in an interview in People Magazine.[9] In a TV interview with Barbara Walters during his recovery, Pryor said that he tried to commit suicide. He claimed that his managers and lawyers created the "accident" lie in the belief that it would be less damning than a suicide attempt[citation needed]. Regardless of the incident's origins, Pryor continued his tradition of mining comedy out of the most intensely personal events. One of his jokes about this subject was

“ When you're on fire and running down the street, people will get out of your way. ”

Fellow comedian George Carlin made reference to this incident during his Carnegie Hall performance in 1983:

“ An update on the comedian health sweepstakes. I currently lead Richard Pryor in heart attacks 2 to 1. But Richard still leads me 1 to nothing in burning yourself up. See, it happened like this. First Richard had a heart attack. Then I had a heart attack. Then Richard burned himself up. And I said, 'Fuck that. I'm having another heart attack!' ”

He did not stay away from stand-up comedy very long though — in 1983 he filmed and released a new concert film and accompanying album, Here And Now, which he directed himself. He then wrote and directed a fictionalized account of his life, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. Interestingly, Jo Jo Dancer depicted a suicide attempt by the main character in which he douses himself in rum and ignites himself.

In 1984, his fourth child and second son, Steven, was born to his girlfriend Flynn Belaine. Pryor married Belaine in October 1986. They divorced in July 1987. Before their divorce was final, Belaine conceived Kelsey Pryor. Meanwhile, another of Richard's girlfriends, Geraldine Mason gave birth to Franklin Mason in April 1987 (his fifth child and third son). Six months later (October 1987), Belaine gave birth to Kelsey Pryor (Richard's sixth child and third daughter).

Fight with multiple sclerosis
In 1991, Pryor announced that he had been suffering from multiple sclerosis since 1986. In response to giving up drugs after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he said:

“ God gave me this M.S. shit to save my life. ”

In 1992, he gave some final live performances, excerpts of which appear on the ...And It's Deep Too! box set. He continued to make occasional film appearances, pairing with Gene Wilder one last time in the unsuccessful 1991 comedy, Another You (in which his physical deterioration was noted by many critics). His final film appearance was a small role in the David Lynch film Lost Highway in 1997; by then, Pryor was wheelchair bound. His Final episodic Television appearance was on an episode of The Norm Show (AKA "Norm") in 2000, where he had a small role as one of Norm's clients. Afterwards, he was frequently a featured story on Entertainment Tonight until his death.

Richard Pryor was married seven times to five different women:

Patricia Price (1961 - 1967) (divorced) 1 child Richard Pryor Jr.
Shelly Bonus (1967 - 1969) (divorced) 1 child Rain Pryor
Deborah McGuire (22 September 1977 - 1979) (divorced)
Jennifer Lee (August 1981 - October 1982) (divorced)
Flynn Belaine (October 1986 - July 1987) (divorced) 1 child
Flynn Belaine (1 April 1990 - July 1991) (divorced) 1 child
Jennifer Lee (June 2001 - 10 December 2005) (his death)
Each of his marriages was characterised by accusations of domestic violence and spousal abuse except for his relationship with Belaine (with whom there were no allegations of physical abuse); most of the allegations of abuse were connected to Pryor's drug use. The exception to this rule was Patricia Price who was married to Pryor before his rise to stardom. Deborah McGuire accused him of shooting her car with a .357 Magnum[citation needed] , but later dropped the charges (even though this was mentioned during one of Pryor's standup routines, Live in Concert). Lee accused him of beating and attempting to strangle her during their first marriage[citation needed], and did not share his home after they remarried. During his relationship with actress Pam Grier, Pryor proposed to actress Deborah McGuire (1977).

He had seven children: Renee, Richard Jr, Elizabeth, Rain, Steven, Franklin and Kelsey.

Later life
In 1998, Pryor became the first performer to win the inaugural Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. According to Former Kennedy Center President Lawrence J. Wilker,

“ Richard Pryor was selected as the first recipient of the new Mark Twain Prize because as a stand-up comic, writer, and actor, he struck a chord, and a nerve, with America, forcing it to look at large social questions of race and the more tragicomic aspects of the human condition. Though uncompromising in his wit, Pryor, like Twain, projects a generosity of spirit that unites us. They were both trenchant social critics who spoke the truth, however outrageous. ”

In 2000, Rhino Records remastered all of Pryor's Reprise and Warner Bros. albums for inclusion in the box set ...And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

In 2001, he remarried Jennifer Lee, who also had become his manager.

In 2002, Pryor and his wife/manager Jennifer Lee Pryor, won the legal rights to all of the Laff material; almost 40 hours of reel-to-reel analog tape. After going through the tapes and getting Richard's blessing, Jennifer Lee Pryor gave Rhino Records access to the Laff tapes in 2004. These tapes, including the entire Craps album, form the basis of the double-CD release Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974).

In 2003, a television documentary, Richard Pryor: I Ain't Dead Yet, , came out. It consisted of archival footage of Pryor's performances and testimonials from fellow comedians such as Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes and Denis Leary of the influence Pryor had on comedy.

In 2004, Pryor was voted #1 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. In a 2005 British poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, Pryor was voted the 10th greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

His final performance was at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California.

In his later years, Richard Pryor became a wheelchair user due to multiple sclerosis (M.S., which he said stood for "More Shit"). In late-2004, his sister claimed that Pryor lost his voice. However, on January 9, 2005, Pryor's wife, Jennifer Lee, rebutted this statement in a post on Pryor's official website,[11] citing Richard as saying: "Sick of hearing this shit about me not talking... not true... good days, bad days... but I still am a talkin' motherfucker!"

Pryor was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. The animal rights organization PETA gives out an award in Pryor's name to people who have done outstanding work to alleviate animal suffering. Mr. Pryor was active in animal rights and was deeply concerned about the plight of elephants in circuses and zoos.

On December 10, 2005, Pryor died of cardiac arrest in Encino, California. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 7:58 a.m. PST. He died just 9 days after his 65th birthday. He was brought to the hospital after his wife's attempts to resuscitate him failed. His wife Jennifer was quoted as saying, "At the end, there was a smile on his face."

Richard Pryor (Dove/Reprise, 1968)
Craps (After Hours) (Laff Records, 1971, reissued 1993 by Loose Cannon/Island)
That Nigger's Crazy, (Partee/Stax, 1974, reissued 1975 by Reprise)
...Is It Something I Said?, (Reprise, 1975, reissued 1991 on CD by Warner Archives)
L.A. Jail, (Tiger Lily, 1976)
Bicentennial Nigger, (Reprise, 1976)
Are You Serious???, (Laff, 1977)
Who Me? I'm Not Him, (Laff, 1977)
Black Ben The Blacksmith, (Laff, 1978)
The title track was first issued as "Prison Play" on Richard Pryor, in spite of Warner Bros.' ownership of that particular master recording.
The Wizard Of Comedy, (Laff, 1978)
Wanted: Live in Concert (2-LP set), (Warner Bros. Records, 1978)
Outrageous, (Laff, 1979)
Insane, (Laff, 1980)
Holy Smoke!, (Laff, 1980)
Rev. Du Rite, (Laff, 1981)
Live On The Sunset Strip (Warner Bros. Records, 1982)
Richard Pryor Live! (picture disc), (Phoenix/Audiofidelity, 1982)
Supernigger, (Laff. 1983)
Here And Now, (Warner Bros. Records, 1983)

The Busy Body (1967)
Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales (1968) (unfinished)
Wild in the Streets (1968)
Black Brigade (1970)
The Phynx (1970)
Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin' (filmed in 1971, released in 1985) (documentary)
You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (1971)
Dynamite Chicken (1972)
Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
The Mack (1973)
Wattstax (1973) (documentary)
Hit! (1973)
Some Call It Loving (1973)
Blazing Saddles (1974) (co-writer)
Uptown Saturday Night (1974)
The Lion Roars Again (1975) (short subject)
Adios Amigo (1976)
Car Wash (1976)
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976)
Silver Streak (1976)
Which Way Is Up? (1977)
Greased Lightning (1977)
Blue Collar (1978)
The Wiz (1978)
California Suite (1978)
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979) (documentary)
The Muppet Movie (1979) (cameo)
Wholly Moses (1980)
In God We Tru$t (1980)
Stir Crazy (1980)
Bustin' Loose (1981)
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) (documentary)
Some Kind of Hero (1982)
The Toy (1982)
Superman III (1983)
Richard Pryor: Here and Now (1983) (documentary)
Brewster's Millions (1985)
Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986) (also director and co-writer)
Critical Condition (1987)
Moving (1988)
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)
Harlem Nights (1989)
The Three Muscatels (1991)
Another You (1991)
A Century of Cinema (1994) (documentary)
Mad Dog Time (1996)
Lost Highway (1997)
Bitter Jester (2003) (documentary)
I Ain't Dead Yet, #*%$@!! (2003)
Richard Pryor: The Funniest Man Dead Or Alive (2005, BET Special)


Jean Parker - Actress (30's - 60's) Beth from Little Women

Jean Parker (August 11, 1915 – November 30, 2005) was an American movie actress.

Born as Lois Mae Green in Deer Lodge, Montana, she appeared in 70 movies from 1932 through 1966. She was discovered by Ida Koverman, secretary to MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, after she saw a poster featuring Parker portraying Father Time. She attended Pasadena schools and graduated from John Muir High School. Her original aspirations were in the fine arts and illustration.

Death of Jean Parker
Jean Parker spent her final years in the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where she died of a stroke on November 30, 2005.
Jean parker was 90 years old at the time of his death.

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  • Jean Parker's biography continues on next page

Jean Parker in She Married A Cop (1939)

Jean Parker biography continues 

She had a successful career at MGM, RKO and Columbia including important roles such as the tragic Beth in the original Little Women, among many other film appearances including Frank Capra's Lady for A Day and Gabriel Over the White House; Sequoia; The Ghost Goes West, opposite Robert Donat; and Rasputin and the Empress, with fellow players, the Barrymore siblings (John, Ethel, and Lionel) in the only movie they all made together. In 1939, she starred opposite Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in RKO's The Flying Deuces.

Parker stayed active in film throughout the 1940s, playing opposite Lon Chaney in "Dead Man's Eyes" "Detective Kitty O' Day", and a variety of other films. Parker managed her own airport and flying service with then-husband Doug Dawson in Palm Springs, California until shortly after the start of World War II. During World War II, she toured many of the veteran hospitals throughout the U.S. and performed on radio. In the 1950s, Parker co-starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in Black Tuesday; had a small but effective role in Gunfighter which starred Gregory Peck and appeared with Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury in the western Lawless Street (1955). Her last film appearance was Apache Uprising (1966), directed by A. C. Lyles.

Parker also appeared on Broadway. In 1949 she replaced Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday on Broadway and enjoyed a successful run in this classic. Parker also appeared on Broadway opposite Bert Lahr in the play Burlesque, did summer stock in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was on tour in the play Candlelight and Loco, and performed on stage in other professional productions.

She married Robert Lowery (who played Batman in 1949) in 1950. Two years later she gave birth to a son, Robert Lowery Hanks, an executive with the city of Los Angeles, California. Later in life, she continued a successful stint on the West Coast theatre circuit and worked as an acting coach.

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WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero dies 38

Death of WWF wrestlerEduardo "Eddie" Gory Guerrero Llanes (October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005) was an American professional wrestler born into a Mexican wrestling family. He wrestled in Mexico and Japan and in every major professional wrestling promotion in the United States. He wrestled in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Death of Eddy Guerrero 

On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Eddie was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived on the scene. He was survived by his widow Vickie Guerrero and their two daughters, Shaul and Sherilyn. He also is survived by a daughter, Kaylie, from a previous relationship.

An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure, caused by undiagnosed arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Although Guerrero had not taken alcohol or illicit drugs for nearly four years, his past excesses contributed to his heart failure.

Guerrero's wife Vickie claimed that he had been lethargic and unwell in the week preceding his death, but had attributed it to the stress of continuously traveling and performing. She added that the doctors had told her that Guerrero's blood vessels had shriveled and weakened as a result of an undiagnosed heart disease, and that he had simply dropped into a deep sleep.

On the November 30 edition of WWE Byte This!, Chavo said that Guerrero had been working hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day. There had been no symptoms or cause for concern. Chavo noted that, while many people abuse drugs for over ten years with no ill effects, Guerrero had suffered heart complications that were not detected in time to prevent his death, even though he had ceased his drug abuse some four years earlier.

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings dies 67

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, CM (July 29, 1938 - August 7, 2005) was a Canadian-American journalist and news anchor. He was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. A high-school dropout, he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists.

Death of Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings died of lung cancer.
Peter Jennings was 67 years old at the time of his death.

Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at the age of nine. In 1965, ABC News tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. His inexperience marred his first short stint in the anchor chair, and Jennings became a foreign correspondent in 1968, honing his reporting skills in the Middle East.

He returned as one of World News Tonight's three anchors in 1978, and was promoted to the role of sole anchor in 1983. Jennings formed part of the "Big Three" news anchors who dominated American evening news in the 1980s and 1990s. Having always been fascinated with the United States, Jennings became a naturalized United States citizen in 2003. His death, which closely followed the retirements of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, marked the end of the "Big Three" era.

President Clinton to Peter Jennings "Don't go there Peter!"

Gene Pitney, R&R Legend, "Town Without Pitty" dies 65

Gene Francis Alan Pitney (February 17, 1940 - April 5, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter. He was also an accomplished guitarist, pianist, drummer and skilled sound engineer. In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Death of Gene Pitney
Pitney died on April 5, 2006 at the age of 66. He was found dead by his tour manager in the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff in the middle of a UK tour. His final show at Worthing's Pavilion Theatre was deemed a huge success, with a standing ovation, ending the show with his 1961 hit "Town Without Pity". An autopsy confirmed the singer died of natural causes. Pitney was laid to rest on April 13, 2006 at Somers Center Cemetery in Somers, Connecticut.

Through the mid-1960s, he enjoyed considerable success as a recording artist on both sides of the Atlantic. As a performer, he charted 16 Top 40 hit singles in the U.S., four of which reached the Top Ten. In the UK, the figures were even more impressive: 22 top 40 hits, and 11 Top Tens. As a songwriter, he also penned the big early 1960s hits "He's A Rebel" by The Crystals, and "Hello Mary Lou" by Rick Nelson.

Gene Pitney - Town Without Pitty

Johnny Carson Tonight Show, King of Late Night died 79

Hollywood Walk of FamerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award Winner 

John William "Johnny" Carson (October 23, 1925 – January 23, 2005) was an American actor, comedian and writer best known for his iconic status as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years.


Johnny Carson died of Emphysema.
Johnny Carson was  79 years old at the time of his death

At 6:50 AM PST on January 23, 2005, Carson died at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, of respiratory arrest arising from emphysema. Following Carson's death his body was cremated, and the ashes were given to his wife. In accordance with his family's wishes, no public memorial service was held. There were countless tributes paid to Carson upon his death, including a statement by President George W. Bush, all recognizing the deep and enduring affection held for him.

Tributes published after his death confirmed that he had been a chain-smoker. While The Tonight Show was broadcast live, he would frequently smoke cigarettes on the air; it was reported that Carson had said "these things are killing me" as far back as the 1970s.

Johnny Carson's Last TV appearance (Letterman)

Ronald Reagan

Hollywood Walk of Famer 

Ronald Reagan Books CD 
Buy from Ronald Reagan Books & DVDs

Ronald Reagan PoliticsRonald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Hollywood in the 1930s, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric. Reagan became involved in politics during his work for G.E. and switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California Governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

Reagan died at his home in Bel-Air, California, at 1:00 PM PDT on June 5, 2004. A short time after his death, Nancy Reagan released a statement saying: "My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has passed away after 10 years of Alzheimer's Disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone's prayers." Reagan's body was taken to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California later in the day, where well-wishers paid tribute by laying flowers and American flags in the grass. On June 7, his body was removed and taken to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a brief family funeral service was held. His body lay in repose in the Library lobby until June 9; over 100,000 people viewed the coffin

Johnny Cash - 71

Johnny Cash won about 10 or more grammys (a LOT)

Johnny Cash DeathJohnny Cash (February 26, 1932 - September 12, 2003) was a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Primarily a country music artist, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll (especially early in his career), as well as blues, folk and gospel.

He sold over 90 million albums in his nearly fifty-year career and came to occupy a "commanding position in music history".

Illness & Death of Johnny Cash
In 1997, Cash was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease Shy-Drager syndrome. The diagnosis was later altered to autonomic neuropathy associated with diabetes. This illness forced Cash to curtail his touring. He was hospitalized in 1998 with severe pneumonia, which damaged his lungs.

Johnny Cash died less than four months after his wife June Carter Cash's death in Nashville, Tennessee. He was interred next to his wife in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Johnny Cash was 71 years old at the time of his death.

Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

John Ritter - Jack Tripper, Three's Company

Hollywood Walk of Fame1984 Three's CompanyGolden Globe Winner 

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John RitterJohnathan Southworth "John" Ritter (September 17, 1948 – September 11, 2003) was an Emmy- and Golden Globe award-winning American actor and comedian best known for his role of Jack Tripper in the sitcom Three's Company.

Death of John Ritter
John Ritter aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect.  John Ritter was 54 years old at the time of his death.

On September 11, 2003, Ritter collapsed while rehearsing scenes for an episode of 8 Simple Rules that was to have Henry Winkler as a guest star. He was taken across the street from the studio to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he died hours later, at the age of 54. Ritter died in the same hospital in which he was born. The cause of death was an aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect; Ritter's father died of a heart attack almost thirty years earlier. Years later Ritter's wife testified in court that he had had concerns for his own health because of the cause of his father's death.

Ritter was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Jack Tripper Dancing Scene - After taking 2 tranquilizers

Bob Hope, entertainer (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003)

Hollywood Walk of FameHollywood Walk of FameHollywood Walk of FameHollywood Walk of FameAcademy Award WinnerAcademy Award WinnerAcademy Award WinnerAcademy Award WinnerAcademy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerEmmy Award WinnerGolden Globe Award WinnerGolden Globe Award Winner 

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Bob Hope BiographyBob Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was an English-born American entertainer who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, on radio and television, in movies, and in performing tours for U.S. Military personnel. He was well known for his good natured humor and the longevity of his career.

Bob Hope Cause of Death:
Bob Hope died of Pneumonia. Bob Hope was 100 years old at the time of his death. Bob Hope died at Toluca Lake, California, United States

Birth name: Leslie Townes Hope
Born: Eltham, London, England

Academy Awards
2 Honorary Oscars
2 Special Awards
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Motion picture star at 6541 Hollywood Blvd.
Radio star at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.
TV star at 6758 Hollywood Blvd.
Live theatre special plaque at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

John Phillips - Papa John from The Mamas & The Papas

Mamas & papas John Philips Dead Celebrity
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Mamas & Papas

John Phillips, born John Edmund Andrew Phillips (August 30, 1935 – March 18, 2001), was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas. He is the father of Jeffrey Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips, Chynna Phillips, Tamerlane Phillips, and Bijou Phillips.

Death of John Phillips
John Phillips died on March 18, 2001, aged 65, in Los Angeles of heart failure.
John Phillips was 65 year old at the time of his death.

He is interred in an outdoor crypt at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Cathedral City) near Palm Springs, California, where he had lived with his fourth wife, Farnaz. He left behind five children and a body of highly acclaimed music. He died just days after completing sessions for a new album. Phillips 66 was released posthumously in August of 2001

The Mamas and The Papas - Monday Monday
John Phillips is the one with the guitar

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Early life
Phillips was born in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father was a retired United States Marine Corps officer who won an Oklahoma bar from a fellow Marine in a poker game on the way home from Europe after World War I. His mother was Cherokee Indian and met and married Phillips' father in Oklahoma. According to Phillips' autobiography, Papa John, his father was a heavy drinker who suffered from ill health.

Growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, Phillips was inspired by Marlon Brando and other film stars to be "street tough." He formed a small gang of teenage boys, who also sang doo-wop songs. A poor student but likable kid, he was the star of the basketball team at George Washington High School (Class of 1953), one of the predecessors to today's T. C. Williams High School. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, but left during his first (plebe) year. He also attended Hampden-Sydney College on a partial athletic scholarship, but dropped out and shortly thereafter married his first of four wives.

Susan Adams was the daughter of a wealthy Virginia family. Together they had a son called Jeffrey and a girl they named (Laura) Mackenzie Phillips.

The Mamas & the Papas
Phillips longed to have success in the music industry and traveled to New York to find a record contract in the early sixties. His first band, The Journeymen, was a folk trio. He developed his craft in Greenwich Village, during the American folk music revival, and met his future The Mamas & the Papas bandmates Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot there. Lyrics of their song "Creeque Alley" describe this period.

While touring California with The Journeymen he met his future second wife, the teenage Michelle Gilliam. Their affair finally forced the dissolution of his first marriage. Phillips was married to Michelle Phillips from 1962 to 1970. They had one child together, Chynna Phillips, the founder of the singing group Wilson Phillips.

Phillips was the primary songwriter and musical arranger of The Mamas & the Papas. Early in the band's history, John and Michelle were responsible for writing most of the band's songs. John would often come up with a melody and some lyrics and Michelle would help him complete the lyrical portion of the song. After being signed to Dunhill Records, they had several Billboard Top Ten hits during the group's short lifetime, including "California Dreamin'"; "Monday, Monday"; "I Saw Her Again"; "Creeque Alley"; and "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)". John Phillips also wrote "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," the 1967 Scott McKenzie hit that was to become the Summer of Love "anthem." Phillips also wrote the oft-covered "Me and My Uncle," which was the song performed more times than any other over 30 years of Grateful Dead concerts.

The group's popularity rivaled that of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the late sixties. Although the band lasted only several short years with five studio albums, the music is recognized today as some of the greatest pop of the 20th century.

The Phillipses became Hollywood celebrities, living in the Hollywood Hills and socializing with stars like Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Roman Polanski. The group broke up largely because Cass Elliot wanted to go solo and because of some personal problems between Phillips, Michelle, and Denny Doherty. Michelle had been fired briefly in 1966, for having had affairs with both Denny and Gene Clark, and was replaced for two months by Jill Gibson, their producer Lou Adler's girlfriend. Although Michelle was forgiven and asked to return to the group, the personal problems would continue until the band split up in 1968. Cass Elliot went on to have a successful solo career until her death in 1974.

After: The ups and downs
Phillips released his first solo album Wolfking of L.A. in 1970. The album was not commercially successful, although it did include the minor hit "Mississippi", and Phillips began to withdraw from the limelight as his use of narcotics increased.

Actress Geneviève Waïte became wife number three in 1972. Tamerlane and Bijou Phillips entered the world during this union, which was marked by years of mutual drug abuse, infidelity and failed artistic expression. John produced a Genevieve Waite album, Romance Is On the Rise, that was quickly forgotten. Her acting career fizzled. Phillips persevered by writing music for films and Broadway, creating a musical. It was savagely criticized and closed on Broadway during previews. Phillips moved to London. He began to write new songs in 1973 when Mick Jagger encouraged him to record another solo album. It was to be released on Rolling Stones Records and funded by RSR distributor Atlantic Records. Jagger and Keith Richards would produce and play on the album, as well as former Stone Mick Taylor and future Stone Ronnie Wood. The project was derailed by Phillips' increasing use of cocaine and heroin, substances that he shot into his body, by his own admission, "almost every fifteen minutes for two years". Amazingly, he survived, yet almost everything else in his life, including the new album, was shelved.

In 1975 Phillips, still living in London, was commissioned to create the soundtrack to the Nicolas Roeg film The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie. Phillips asked Mick Taylor to help out and the film was released in 1976. Decades later, in 2001, the tracks of the Half Stoned or The Lost Album album were released as Pay Pack & Follow a few months after Phillips death. The record is an interesting collection of vocal harmony, country and rock. Although the album offers a trip back to the 1970s, the record was not noticed by the press and general music buying audience; moreover, Phillips' untimely death prevented any marketing or tour support.

A drug trafficking conviction in 1981 brought the hot glare of public scrutiny. Phillips and his television star daughter Mackenzie made the rounds in the media, instructing kids and their parents how not to become addicts. This public relations campaign helped reduce his prison time; he bargained down to only a month in jail. Upon release, he re-formed The Mamas & the Papas, with his daughter Mackenzie Phillips, Spanky McFarlane (of the group Spanky and Our Gang) and Denny Doherty. Throughout the rest of his life, Phillips toured with various versions of the group.

In 1986, he published a best-seller, his autobiography, Papa John. He was divorced from Waite in 1985. He co-wrote a song for the Beach Boys, "Kokomo" , which became a number one hit in 1988.

In the 1990s, his years of addiction took hold; he had a liver transplant in 1992. Several months later, Phillips was photographed drinking alcohol in a bar in Palm Springs, California, as published in the National Enquirer newspaper. Phillips was questioned about the photo on the Howard Stern radio show, saying "I was just trying to 'break in' the new liver." The Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame on Jan 12th, 1998.


Morton Downey, Jr - Talk Show Host

Dead Talk Show HostMorton Downey, Jr. (born Sean Morton Downey; December 9, 1932 - March 12, 2001) was a controversial and influential American television talk show host of the 1980s who pioneered the "trash talk show" format.

Death of Morton Downey, Jr
Morton Downey, Jr was died of lung cancer
Morton Downey, Jr was 67 years old at the time of his death.

Lung cancer of Morton Downey, Jr
In 1996, Downey was diagnosed with lung cancer and had one of his lungs removed. He did a complete about-face on tobacco use, going from a one-time member of the National Smokers Alliance to a staunch anti-smoking activist. He continued to speak against smoking until his death from lung cancer in 2001 at age 67. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, he said, "I had spawned a generation of kids to think it was cool to smoke a cigarette. Kids walked up to me until a matter of weeks ago, they'd have a cigarette in their hand and they'd say, 'Hey, Mort,' or, 'Hey, Mouth, autograph my cigarette.' And I'd do it." He also blamed tobacco companies for lying to consumers about cigarettes.

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Morton Downey Jr - Rock / Metal

Author Adrian Havill later said that Downey's cancer and subsequent anti-smoking commercials, like other celebrity causes for certain diseases, served as a publicity tool

In the 1980s, Downey was working as a talk show host at KFBK-AM in Sacramento, California, where he established his abrasive and much imitated right wing, populist style, relentlessly deriding anyone who disagreed with him or had a liberal point of view. Downey's success, coupled with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, laid the groundwork for more aggressive, opinion-based talk radio. His work led to the "trash talk" genre of Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Ricki Lake and many more. His fight with fellow radio talk show host Wally George (with each charging that the other was not conservative) on George's talk show led to police tackling Downey to the ground.

Downey later headed to Secaucus, New Jersey where his highly controversial television program The Morton Downey Jr. Show was taped for two years before it was canceled for low ratings. (His replacement at KFBK was Rush Limbaugh). The program featured screaming matches among Downey, his guests, and his audience members. He would chainsmoke during the show and blow smoke in his guests' faces. Downey's signature phrases pabulum puker (referring to political liberals) and "zip it!" briefly enjoyed some popularity in the contemporary vernacular. He particularly enjoyed making his guests angry with each other. The Washington Post wrote about him, "Suppose a maniac got hold of a talk show. Or need we suppose?" David Letterman said, "I'm always amazed at what people will fall for. We see this every 10 or 12 years, an attempt at this, and I guess from that standpoint I don't quite understand why everybody's falling over backwards over the guy."

The success of the show made Downey a pop culture celebrity, leading to an appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1988 and later roles in movies such as Predator 2 and Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation. He was also cast in several TV roles, often playing tabloid TV hosts or other obnoxious media types.

In 1989, as fascination with Downey's show began to wane, he was involved in an incident in a San Francisco International Airport restroom in which he claimed to have been attacked by neo-Nazis who painted a swastika on his face and attempted to shave his head. Some inconsistencies in Downey's account (e.g., the swastika was painted in reverse, suggesting that Downey had drawn it himself in a mirror), and the failure of the police to find supportive evidence, led many to suspect that the incident was a hoax and a plea for attention. A few months later, the show was canceled.

Downey was sued for allegedly appropriating the words and music to his theme song from two songwriters. He was sued for $40 million after bringing a stripper onto the show and calling her a "slut," a "pig," a "hooker," and a "tramp," saying that she had diseases, and banging his pelvis against hers. At one point, he was arraigned on criminal charges for attacking a gay guest on his show, in a never-aired segment. In another lawsuit, he was accused of slandering a newscaster (a former colleague), and of indecently exposing himself to her and slapping her.

Downey infamously hit Stuttering John with a chair on The Howard Stern Show and punched him.

In interviews, he expressed regret for some of the extreme theatrics of his TV show, saying he had taken things too far. He added that he had been a "bastard." However, he also claimed that his show was of a higher quality and not as "sleazy" as Jerry Springer's.

Attempted comeback
In 1993, Downey attempted a comeback in talk radio on Dallas radio station KGBS, where he would scream insults at his callers. He was also hired as the station's VP of Operations. The following year he had a short-lived television show, Downey, that was similar in theme to his earlier, more popular show. In one episode, Downey claimed to have had a psychic communication with OJ Simpson's murdered ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

Like his father, Downey pursued music as a career, recording in both pop and country styles. One song, "Green Eyed Girl" scraped the bottom reaches of the Billboard Magazine Country chart, peaking at #95 in 1981. After the success of his talk show, Downey returned to the recording studio to cut an album of songs based on his show, Morton Downey Jr. Sings. The album's only single, "Zip It!" (a catch-phrase from the TV show, used to quiet an irate guest), became a surprise hit on some college radio stations. Following his death, news reports and obituaries incorrectly (according to the Orange County Register) credited him as the composer of "Wipe Out." As of 2007, Downey's official website (and others) continue to make this claim.

Personal life
His parents were also in show business; his father Morton Downey was a popular singer, and his mother Barbara Bennett was a singer and dancer. His aunts included Hollywood film stars Constance and Joan Bennett, from whom he was estranged, and his maternal grandfather was the celebrated matinée idol Richard Bennett. Born into a life of luxury, he was raised next door to the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

Downey was married four times and had four children from three of those marriages. With wife Helen he had Melissa, with Joan he had daughters Tracey and Kelli, and with fourth wife and widow Lori he had Seanna. He and Lori met when she appeared as a dancer in a show he attended in Atlantic City.

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Dale Earnhardt - NASCAR Legend - Race car driver

Nasca driver memorabilia Dale Earnhardt Movie
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Dale Earnhardt NASCAR driverRalph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American race car driver, best known for his career driving stock cars in NASCAR's top division. Earnhardt had four children, Kerry, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, Dale Jr., and Taylor Earnhardt. His widow, Teresa Earnhardt (whom he married in 1982) is the owner of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the race team and merchandising corporation Earnhardt founded with her in February of 1980.

Death of Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt was 49 years old at the time of his death.

Earnhardt is known for his success in the Winston Cup Series, now known as the Sprint Cup Series. He won seventy-six races (including his only Daytona 500 victory in 1998), and his seven championships are tied for most all-time with Richard Petty. His highly aggressive driving style made him a fan favorite and earned him the nicknames "Ironhead", "Mr. Restrictor Plate", "The Man in Black" and most famously, "The Intimidator."

Dale Earnhardt Crash, 2001


Les Brown - Big Band Leader who brought Doris Day

Hollywood Walk of Famer 

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Les Brown Band LeaderLes Brown, Sr. (March 14, 1912 – January 4, 2001) and the Band of Renown are a big band that began in the big band era of the late 1930s and now performs under the direction of his son Les Brown, Jr.

Death of Les Brown
Les Brown's cause of death was not specified to public.
Les Brown was 91 years old at the time of his death. Les Brown Sr. is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

"Les Brown and the Band of Renown" brought Doris Day into prominence with their recording of "Sentimental Journey" in 1945. The release of "Sentimental Journey" coincided with the end of WWII in Europe and was the homecoming theme for many veterans. They had nine other number-one hit songs, including "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."

Les Brown with Doris Day - Lost Horizon

Julius J. Epstein - Author of Casablanca

Julius J. Epstein (August 22, 1909 - December 30, 2000) was an American screenwriter, who had a long career, most noted for the adaptation - in partnership with his twin brother, Philip, and others —- of the unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick's that became the screenplay for the film Casablanca (1942), for which its team of writers won an Academy Award. Following his brother's death in 1952, he continued writing, garnering two more Oscar nominations and, in 1998, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association career achievement award. His credits included Four Daughters (1938), The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), The Tender Trap (1955), Light in the Piazza (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), and Reuben, Reuben (1983).

Epstein graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1931 with a BA in Arts and Letters. Both he and his brother wrestled for the varsity squad there.

Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers, had a love-hate relationship with the writing duo of the Epstein brothers. He could not argue with their commercial success, but he deplored their pranks, their work habits and the hours they kept. He consistently butted heads with the two. In 1952, Warner gave the brothers' names to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). They never testified before the committee, but on a HUAC questionnaire, when asked if they ever were members of a "subversive organization," they responded, "Yes. Warner Brothers."

Epstein was the uncle of Leslie Epstein, director of the creative writing program at Boston University and accomplished novelist and the great-uncle of Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein.

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