People are Dying to Get Here!

Cemetery view
Credit: mindgrind /

Just in case you missed the news, a lot of people whose names you might not have known died in the month of April, 2014. Oh, sure, everyone knows Mickey Rooney died, and maybe Peaches Geldof - but how about George Guralnik and ArturoLicata?

Read on for more information...


April 5 - Peter Matthiesen: An author and environmental activist; Matthiesen had a successful career both in fiction , winning a National Book Award for Shadow Country; and non-fiction, including The Snow Leopard and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Matthiesen succumbed to leukemia at 86.

April 4 - Anja Niedringhaus: - The Pulitzer Prize winning German photojournalist was one of several journalists shot by an Afghan policeman believed to be a Taliban sympathizer. Niedringhaus was part of a team covering elections in Afghanistan at the time. She was 45. In memoriam at Time Magazine [1]  

April 10 - Gregory White Smith:  Harvard-educated biographer Gregory White Smith was best known for his biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1990 and, in 2000, was adapted by Ed Harris for the film Pollock. Smith died of a brain tumor at age 62.

April 10 - Sue Townsend:  The English author and humorist was best known for her bestselling series of nine novels featuring the character Adrian Mole. Townsend was also a playwright, sometimes adapting the Mole novels for the stage and for television. She died after several years of ill health at age  68.



Credit: phaewilk /

More than one guitar will go unplayed after April, 2014.

April 3 - Arthur Smith: The country music instrumentalist mastered almost anything with strings, as evidenced by the nickname Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith. His best-known composition, however, was "Dueling Banjos"; featured in the 1972 movie Deliverance. Smith was 93.

April 7 - George Shuffler:  Shuffler, a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, was a long-time member of the Stanley Brothers as well as the Clinch Mountain Boys and the Bailey Brothers. Shuffler was best known for his guitar virtuosity,  especially his early adoption of the style of picking known as "cross-picking." Shuffler died at 88.

April 11 - Jesse Winchester: An American folk musician, Winchester moved to Canada in 1967 at age 23 to avoid the Vietnam-era military draft. Because he could not tour in the USA to support his albums, Winchester became best known as a songwriter, penning tunes recorded by artists such as Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris and Reba McIntire. He died at age 69 of bladder cancer.



Silver Screen

Mickey Rooney, circa 1940
Credit: wikimedia commons

April 6 - Mickey Rooney: The diminutive (5'-2") actor had one of the longest careers in show-business history, debuting in vaudeville as an infant and continuing to act well into his nineties. He appeared in more than 300 films ranging from the silent film era (1927's Orchids and Ermine) to modern screen, including an appearance in Night at the Museum 3 (2013). Rooney also appeared on television and on the BRoadway stage, as well as penning several books and articles over the years. He received a Tony, a Golden Globe and an Oscar, and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rooney died in his sleep at 93.  Boston Globe obituary: [2]

Bob HoskinsCredit: wikimedia commonsApril 29 - Bob Hoskins: The British-born Hoskins entered show business in a classic manner: he accompanied a friend to an audition, was handed his own script, and got the part. No word on whether they stayed friends... Hoskins was often cast as a heavy, including perhaps his best-known role, that of private eye Eddie Valiant starring opposite a cartoon in the 1988 hybrid movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Mona Lisa (1988) and played Smee opposite Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in Hook. Hoskins retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Hoskins was 71. CNN retrospective:  [4]

Pop Culture

Peaches GeldofCredit: wikimedia commonsApril 7 - Peaches Geldof: The daughter of Live Aid producer Bob Geldof and Paula Yates was said by some to be the British version of Paris Hilton, "famous for being famous." Geldof was at times a model, newspaper columnist and television personality. her death at age 25 in Wrotham, Kent, UK, is thought to have been as a result of an overdose.

April 14 - Samuel Jesse Smith: Smith was one of the Navajo soldiers pressed into service by the US Military during WW2 as a "code talker." Smith, his fellow Navajo soldiers and other Native Americans used their native languages to build nearly indecipherable codes for radio broadcasts. Smith died of pneumonia at age 88.

April 24 - Arturo Licata:  Licata, a native of Italy, was born 2 May 1902. At the time of his death, the erstwhile miner was 111 years old, making him the world's oldest man.

April 29 - Al Feldstein: After WW2 Feldstein worked as a comic book artist specializing in horror comics, but a Congressional investigation into perceived harmful effects of comics left him essentially unemployed. When founding editor Haravey Kurtzman left Mad Magazine in 1956, Feldstein took over for almost three decades. Feldstein died in Montana at age 88; no word on whether his last words were "What? Me Worry?: 



Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
Credit: wikimedia commons

April 20 - Rubin "Hurricane" Carter: The middleweight boxing champion, convicted of murder in 1966 in New Jersey, was released in 1985 after a US District Court judge determined that he had been wrongly convicted as a result of prosecutorial misconduct. His plight resulted in a plethora of calls for justice, including the song "Hurricane" on a 1975 Bob Dylan album; and was recounted in the 1999 film Hurricane with Denzel Washington in the title role. Carter relocated to Toronto after his release, which is where he died at age 76 of prostate cancer. Toronto Globe and Mail obit: [3]

April 25 - Michael Heisley:  The American billionaire (HEICO Industries) made the majority of his fortune in the aerospace and defense, but dabbled in sports as well. In 2001 he moved the former Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis (where there had not been a grizzly bear in centuries, if ever). He sold his interest in the team in 2012. Heisley died at age 77 due to complications of a stroke.

April 28 - Jack Ramsay: Ramsay was the Hall of Fame NBA (National Basketball Association) coach who led the Portland Trailblazers to the 1977 NBA title. He later turned to the broadcast booth, serving stints with ESPN TV and Radio as well as the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. Ramsay died at age 89 of cancer.

April 29 - Frank Budd: A track star at Villanova, Budd competed in the 1960 Olympics in the 100-yard dash. For several years in the 1960s, Budd held the world record in the 100-yard dash at 9.2 seconds. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1962 NFL draft and played one season each with the Eagles and the Washington Redskins, amassing 10 catches for 262 yards and one touchdown as a wide receiver. Budd was 74.


April 25 - Gerald Guralnik: The pride of the Brown University Physics Department, Guralnik was co-discoverer of the Higgs Boson with C. R. Hagen and Tom Kibble. Guralnik died at age 77.