Remembering 21-year-old rapper Juice WRLD, longtime “Sesame Street” puppeteer Caroll Spinney, barrier-breaking TV actress Diahann Carroll and other notable people we had to say goodbye to in 2019.
Disc jockey Don Imus, whose career was made and then undone by his acid tongue during a decades-long rise to radio stardom and an abrupt public plunge after a nationally broadcast racial slur, died Dec. 27. He was 79.
Danny Aiello (pictured here at Gigino restaurant in Manhattan) died Dec. 12 after a brief illness, according to his publicist. The blue-collar character actor’s long career playing tough guys included roles in “Fort Apache: The Bronx,” “The Godfather, Part II,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and his Oscar-nominated performance as a pizza man in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” He was 86.
Rapper Juice WRLD (legal name Jarad A. Higgins), who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut and rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit “Lucid Dreams,” died Dec. 8 after a “medical emergency” at Chicago’s Midway International Airport. At the time of his death, officials said the rapper had experienced cardiac arrest and was transported from the airport’s private plane hangar to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Juice WRLD was 21.
Caroll Spinney, who gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street,” died Dec. 8 at age 85 at his home in Connecticut, according to the Sesame Workshop, which added in a statement that that the legendary puppeteer lived for some time with dystonia, which causes involuntary muscle contractions.
TV and film actor John Witherspoon (pictured left, with actor/rapper Ice Cube in 2005) died suddenly at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., on Oct. 29, according to a family statement to media outlets. Witherspoon, 77, appeared in all three films in the “Friday” franchise, as well as “The Wayans Bros.” sitcom on The WB.
Actress/singer Diahann Carroll, who broke barriers when she starred on the TV series “Julia” by portraying American television’s first black female leading character in a role other than a servant, died Oct. 4 at her home in West Hollywood, Calif. from breast cancer complications, according to her rep. Carroll was 84.
Long Island-raised rock star Eddie Money died on Sept. 13, after he recently announced he had stage 4 esophageal cancer. The husky-voiced, blue collar performer — who grew up in Plainedge and is a Long Island Music Hall of Famer –was known for such hits as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight.” He was 70.
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, a pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in “Beloved,” ”Song of Solomon” and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race, died Aug. 5, 2019. Morrison, shown in a 1993 photo, was 88.
Harold Prince, the daring producer and director who earned a record 21 Tony Awards and helped shape much of the significant musical theater in the second half of the 20th century, died July 31, 2019. Prince, shown in a 1995 photo, was 91.
Actor Cameron Boyce, known for his roles in the Disney Channel series “Jessie” and franchise “Descendants,” and the Adam Sandler “Grown Ups” movies, died July 6, at his home in Los Angeles. A statement from his family says he passed away in his sleep due to a seizure, which was the result of an ongoing medical condition. He was 20 years old.
Rip Torn, the veteran actor of stage and screen and perhaps best known as Zed in “Men in Black” or Artie in “The Larry Sanders Show” died “peacefully” at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut on July. Torn, shown in this 1995 photo, was 88.
Beth Chapman, the wife and co-star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” reality TV star Duane “Dog” Chapman, died on June 26. A family spokeswoman, Mona Wood-Sword, said in a statement that Chapman died early Wednesday at Queen’s Medical Center after an almost 2-year battle with cancer. She was 51.
Gloria Vanderbilt, the heiress and “poor little rich girl” in a sensational 1930s custody trial who survived a famously disjointed childhood to become an actress, artist, designer and author, has died. She was 95. Her death was announced on June 17, via a CNN report voiced by anchor Anderson Cooper, her son.
Grumpy Cat, whose sour puss became an internet sensation, has died at age 7, according to her owners. Posting on social media May 17, her owners wrote Grumpy experienced complications from a urinary tract infection and died peacefully in the arms of her mother on May 14.
Tim Conway, the stellar second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, died May 14, after a long illness. Conway, seen in a February 1983 photo, was 85, according to his publicist.
Doris Day, the honey-voiced singer and actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and ’60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history, died May 13. Day, seen in a January 1989 photo, was 97.
Peggy Lipton, right, a star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show “The Mod Squad” and the 1990s show “Twin Peaks,” died May 12, of cancer. Lipton, shown in a 1968 photo with “Mod Squad” co-stars Michael Cole, left, and Clarence Williams III, was 72.
Jim Fowler, a naturalist who rose to fame on the long-running television program “Wild Kingdom” and who famously bantered with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” died May 8. Fowler, shown in a July 1998 photo, was 89.
Peter Mayhew, the towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and two other films, died April 30. Mayhew, right, seen in a 1978 photo with “Star Wars” castmates Harrison Ford, left, Anthony Daniels and Carrie Fisher, was 74.
John Singleton, the filmmaker whose groundbreaking 1991 drama “Boyz n the Hood” made him the first black director to receive an Academy Award nomination, died April 29. Singleton, shown in a February 1997 photo, was 51.
Georgia Engel, who played the charmingly innocent, small-voiced Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and amassed a string of other TV and stage credits, died April 12. She was 70.
Seymour Cassel, the live-wire pillar of independent film known for his frequent collaborations with John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson, died April 7, following complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Cassel, shown in a November 2008 photo, was 84.
Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed outside his clothing store in Los Angeles on March 31. Hussle, shown in a February 2019 photo, was 33.
Keith Flint, lead singer of influential British dance-electronic band The Prodigy, was found dead March 4, at his home near London. Flint, seen in a July 2015 photo, was 49.
Luke Perry, who starred on “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Riverdale,” died March 4, after a massive stroke the week before. Perry, seen in an August 2018 photo, was 52.
Chanel’s iconic couturier, Karl Lagerfeld, whose accomplished designs as well as trademark white ponytail, high starched collars and dark enigmatic glasses dominated high fashion for the past 50 years, died Feb. 19. Lagerfeld, seen in a February 2006 photo, was 85.
Kristoff St. John
Actor Kristoff St. John, best known as a longtime cast member of the CBS soap, “The Young and the Restless,” was found dead at his home on Feb. 3. St. John, seen at a February 2013 awards show, was 52.
James Ingram, the Grammy-winning singer who launched multiple hits on the R&B and pop charts and earned two Oscar nominations for his songwriting, died Jan. 29. Ingram, shown in a May 2011 photo, was 66.
Comedian, writer and actor Kevin Barnett died from complications of pancreatitis during a vacation in Mexico on Jan. 22. Barnett, co-creator and writer for the new Fox sitcom “Rel,” who also wrote episodes of “The Carmichael Show” and other series, was 32.
Kaye Ballard, the boisterous comedian and singer who appeared in Broadway musicals and nightclubs from New York to Las Vegas and starred with Eve Arden in the 1960s TV sitcom “The Mothers-In-Law,” died Jan. 21. Ballard, shown in a January 2013 photo, was 93.
Jo Andres, left, a filmmaker and choreographer married to actor Steve Buscemi, died on Jan 6. Andres, best known for her 1996 short film, “Black Kites,” which won several film festival awards, was 64. Andres is seen with Buscemi in a June 2014 photo.