obituaries

Nancy Reagan
During her husband Ronald Reagan’s presidency from 1981 to 1989, former movie star Nancy Reagan was one of the most stylish and influential first ladies ever. But arguably, Mrs. Reagan, who passed away March 6 at age 94 in Los Angeles, made just as big an impact upon America after she and her husband left the White House.
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Natalie Cole, the daughter of legendary pop and jazz crooner Nat King Cole, was such a talented singer in her own right that she could have changed her name and still been a huge star.
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With his imposing stature and deep voice, Fred Thompson, who played district attorney Arthur Branch on the long-running TV series Law & Order, was utterly believable as a tough-but-wise authority figure.
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You might not recognize Cory Wells by name, but you undoubtedly know his voice – in particular, his vocal on Three Dog Night's 1970 chart-topping single "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," in which he artfully feigns panic after wandering into a particularly debauched soiree:
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You may not know sculptor Don Featherstone, but you’ve seen his signature creation grace myriad suburban lawns over the past six decades as an icon of Americans’ affection for tacky.
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R&B singer Ben E. King, who passed away April 30 at age 76 in Hackensack, N.J., had a smooth, unaffected baritone and soulful delivery that earned him a string of top 10 singles between the late 1950s and early 1960s, both as a member of the Drifters and as a solo artist.
Percy Sledge
Back in 1966, a soul singer named Percy Sledge scored a No. 1 hit with his first single, “When a Man Loves a Woman” — a plaintive ballad about obsessive, all-consuming passion and the heartbreak it inevitably inflicts.
Leonard Nimoy
How powerful an impression has Leonard Nimoy’s Star Trek portrayal of Spock left on American culture? Hold up your right hand in the split-fingered Vulcan salute that Nimoy invented for his relentlessly logical, dispassionate half-alien starship officer, and odds are that just about everybody in the room will get the reference.
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The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash , legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes.
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Struggling to break the color barrier in the Professional Golfers Association five decades ago, Charlie Sifford got a tip from Jackie Robinson, who had done the same thing for Major League Baseball. "You can’t be going after these people who call you names with a golf club,” Robinson told him. “If you do that, you’ll ruin it for all of the black players to come.”
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