Playwright Terrence McNally dies of complications from coronavirus

Four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, who was known for plays including "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," has died due to complications from coronavirus, his publicist said Tuesday. He was 81, and a lung cancer survivor who had chronic COPD. Read the rest

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dead at 92

French artist Albert Uderzo, co-creator of legendary comic book characters Asterix and Obelix with writer René Goscinny, died at home ‘from a heart attack unrelated to the coronavirus.’ He was 92 years old.

One of the best-loved characters in French popular culture, with more than 370m albums sold worldwide, 11 films and an Asterix theme park, the small-statured Asterix is a warrior from Roman-occupied ancient Gaul, who together with his best friend Obelix and dog Dogmatix – Idéfix in the French original – takes pleasure in outwitting Roman legionnaires. Fortunately for Asterix, Obelix fell into a cauldron of magic potion as a child, making him invincibly strong.

Photo: Christian Koehn (CC BY 2.5) Read the rest

Kenny Rogers, 1938–2020

Kenny Rogers is dead at 81. The famed country singer was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, developing his signature song The Gambler into an enduring media franchise and even a restaurant chain.

Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world. Chart-topping hits like "The Gambler," "Lady," "Islands In The Stream," "Lucille," "She Believes In Me," and "Through the Years" are just a handful of Kenny Rogers' songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans alike. Rogers, with twenty-four number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time GRAMMY® Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and has been voted the "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.

The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.

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Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, who circled moon, dies at 88

Twenty-four human beings have traveled from Earth to the moon. Fewer than half of them remain.

Astronaut Al Worden, who flew to the moon in 1971 as a member of the Apollo 15 crew, has died. The retired astronaut was 88.

Worden circled the moon alone on that mission, while his two crewmates test-drove the first lunar rover. Read the rest

Max Von Sydow, 1929-2020

Max Von Sydow is dead at 90. The Swedish-born actor appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows, with famed roles playing chess with death in 1957's The Seventh Seal, dressing down demons in 1973's The Exorcist and dressing up as Ming the Merciless in 1980's Flash Gordon.

He was often typecast in Hollywood as the sophisticated villain, which the Associated Press said was down to him being "all and lanky, with sullen blue eyes, a narrow face, pale complexion and a deep and accented speaking voice".

But, he once said in an interview: "What I as an actor look for is a variety of parts. It is very boring to be stuck in more or less one type of character."

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Konami Code creator Kazuhisa Hashimoto has died

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who created the famous ‘Konami Code,’ has died.

He was 79. Read the rest

The silk shirt Charles I of England wore to have his head chopped off

The Museum of London will soon publicly display Charles I's execution vest for the first time. The doomed king wore the silk garment to the chopping block after his defeat in the English Civil War of the 17th century; 30 January is the 371st anniversary of his death at the Banqueting House on Whitehall.

The stains are said to be vomit, not blood. Read the rest

Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, dead at 77

Monty Python star Terry Jones, master of countless characters such as Mr. Creosote and Cardinal Biggles, director of Life of Brian , is dead at 77. The BBC reports he was suffering from dementia.

Life of Brian was viewed as controversial for its comedic depiction of a young Jewish man who is born on the same day as and next door to Jesus Christ, and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah.

"I think we'll get into a lot of trouble," explained Jones at the time. "I think there'll be a lot of hackles raised, but it isn't a spoof on the life of Christ, in fact. It started off as, 'Let's do a life of Christ' and we thought, 'That's a very outrageous thing to do'.

He added: "So in fact, we did the life of someone who was born in the stable next to Christ and who wasn't Christ and didn't have quite such a glamorous life."

Photo: BBC / Monty Python Read the rest

Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020

Christopher Tolkien, custodian and mastermind of his father's literary estate, is dead at 95. Tor.com's Andrew Liptak:

In 2017, Tolkien stepped down as the director of the Tolkien Estate and Tolkien Trust, saying at the time that Beren and Lúthien would likely be his final book. Tolkien was a staunch critic of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of his father’s trilogy, telling Le Monde in 2012 that “They gutted the book, making it an action movie for 15-25 year-olds, and it looks like The Hobbit will be the same.” His death comes at a time when his father’s books are more popular than ever, and as Amazon works to create a massive TV series based on the works that he himself helped bring to the public.

While Tolkien was the author behind the world of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien was the one responsible for ensuring that his father’s stories remained in the public view by continuing to publish develop the backstory of the world that has influenced and inspired fans around the world.

Christopher drew the original map of Middle-Earth, excerpted above, with annotations from J.R.R. He was no mere editor; his Complete History of Middle Earth [Amazon] is a twelve-volume encylopedia-cum-biography that's both penetrating and impenetrable. Read the rest

Gershon Kingsley, 1922-2019

Synth pioneer Gershon Kingsley is dead at 97.

Kingsley was most famous for his 1969 song “Popcorn,” which was one of the first electronic singles to hit the airwaves. The song became a hit for the group Hot Butter in 1972, and Crazy Frog revived it again in 2005. (Aphex Twin and Muse have covered it, too). Kingsley also co-wrote “Baroque Hoedown,” which was used as the theme song to Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade, with fellow synth pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey. His song “Rebirth” has been sampled in multiple hip-hop songs, including Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s “Soul Right.”

Kingsley joins musical partner Jean-Jacques Perrey, who died in 2016.

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Actor Danny Aiello has died at 86

PHOTO COURTESY Universal Pictures: Danny Aiello, second from left, with Spike Lee, John Turturro, and Richard Edson in a scene from “Do the Right Thing” (1989).

Beloved blue collar tough-guy actor Danny Aiello has died. He was 86. Read the rest

RIP René Auberjonois

American actor and singer René Auberjonois, who played early roles in in M*A*S*H and 1979's King Kong and later starred as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's irascible and gelatinous security chief Odo, is dead at 79.

Before his entry into Hollywood, Auberjonois worked in theater, earning a Tony for best lead actor in a musical for his role opposite Katharine Hepburn in “Coco.” He received further Tony nominations for 1973’s “The Good Doctor,” 1984’s “Big River,” and 1989’s “City of Angels.”

Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.

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Clive James, 1939-2019

Clive James, the Australian writer, broadcaster, comedian and poet, is dead at 80.

James was renowned for his pithy turns of phrase. He once likened Arnold Schwarzenegger to "a brown condom full of walnuts" and said motor racing commentator Murray Walker sounded "like a man whose trousers are on fire". ... "Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds," was another of his famous quotes.He also had advice for his future obituarists, telling them "shorter is better, and that a single line is best".

"Any encounter with James, either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording," said Don Paterson, poetry editor at James's publisher Picador.

James was funny and silly enough to be enjoyed by children, but smart and deep enough to grow into--an Umberto Eco of things normal people see and read. Among other things, he was first to introduce the sadistic marvels of Japanese game shows to British television. He was diagnosed as terminally-ill almost a decade ago, and his dry wit became positively arid as he continued to outpace death in his last years. But also light and, when the occasion called for it, joyous. Read the rest

Spirit of The West's John Mann dead at 57 years old

The music of Spirit of The West has been a part of my life since my early teens. The band's lead singer and oft-time song writer, John Mann, was a joyful beast on stage. I saw SOTW live on a number of occasions over the years. They were great, every time. John's energetic rapport with the audience made sure of that. But my favorite time seeing John perform was when he was touring his solo album, Mister Mann. The show was intimate, quiet and lovely. It's a happy memory for me.

John Mann passed away today at the age of 57 due to complications from early onset Alzheimer disease.

From Spirit of the West's homepage:

With deep sadness we announce that John Fraser Mann (OBC) has passed away peacefully in Vancouver, the inevitable result of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease with which he was diagnosed several years ago.

Surrounded by friends and loving family until the end, all were reminded of John’s rich legacy. He was a potent force in music, acting — onstage, in movies and on television, and was world renowned as a songwriter. As well, he was a foresightful activist and charitable figure for several worthwhile organizations. His work will resound long after his untimely passing.

His career spanned nearly 40 years and included multiple film roles, numerous star turns in theatre, and fame as lead singer and spell-binding front-person of Canadian musical group ‘Spirit of the West’.

John was a man of uncommon courage, was a loyal and beloved friend, a gentleman of great social conscience, and a soul brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.

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British broadcaster Peter Sissons dies at 77. Here's his most famous moment.

Peter Sissons, who died today at 77, is well known to British news junkies for his decades anchoring daily bulletins on ITV and the BBC. Though not well-known abroad, he just happens to be the man responsible for one of the BBC's most outrageous NSFW bloopers: a contemptuous hot-mic outburst about a fellow presenter's breasts. Read the rest

What killed Adrian Lamo?

Adrian Lamo is most famous for turning U.S. Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning in to the authorities, but was already well-known among hackers and journalists because of his penetration of The New York Times' source database, subsequent conviction for the hack, and his sparkling personality. He died mysteriously last year in what many assumed was suicide or murder, but NPR's Dina Temple-Raston investigated his last months and found a tragic figure in failing health, evicted by his carers and in chronic pain. He likely died overdosing prescription drugs, kratom and nootropics after suffering a twisted leg.

His doctor was in the process of weaning him off some of the medications, including reducing the three different benzodiazepines he was taking. That is of particular interest because about a month before Lamo died, the FDA came out with a medical alert — a warning against mixing benzos with kratom. The combination had been linked to dozens of deaths.

"A few assessable cases with fatal outcomes raise concern that kratom is being used in combination with other drugs that affect the brain, including ... benzodiazepines," the alert read. Rohrig said Lamo had a handful of what he called designer benzos in his system, some of which weren't available by prescription in the U.S.

"The most common way of getting these particular ones is basically off the Internet," Rohrig told us. "You can order them and have them shipped to whatever address you want." Debbie Scroggin assumed that lots of the pills and supplements coming into the house were in those packages addressed to Adrian Alfonso.

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Facebook employee dead after 'apparent suicide' at headquarters

This post contains information about suicide. If you need help, it’s OK not to be OK, and to need help. Call 1-800-273-8255. Read the rest

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