Galaxy of stars dimmed greatly in '03

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

They made the stages and screens of the 20th century shine. Their music burned with the heat of love or plumbed the soul of the common man. Their writings took us to faraway worlds, or deep within our hearts.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were country music royalty. Bob Hope made us laugh and warmed the hearts of lonely servicemen. Katharine Hepburn showed us elegance and pride in every role she played. Fred Rogers became a fatherly television friend to generations of youngsters.

Gregory Peck and Art Carney. Nina Simone and Maurice Gibb. Al Hirschfeld, Bill Mauldin, Elia Kazan and George Plimpton. They are some of the figures in the arts and popular culture who died in 2003.

A partial roll call:

Maurice Gibb, 53. With his brothers, he built the Bee Gees into a disco sensation with hits like "Stayin' Alive." Jan. 12.

Richard Crenna, 76. Emmy-winning character actor; the lovesick teen on "Our Miss Brooks," Luke on "The Real McCoys" and Sylvester Stallone's mentor in the "Rambo" films. Jan. 17.

Al Hirschfeld, 99. His caricatures captured performers from Chaplin to Seinfeld and immortalized his daughter, Nina. Jan. 20.

Bill Mauldin, 81. Pulitzer-winning cartoonist who depicted the weariness and frustration of GIs through his dogface characters, Willie and Joe. Jan. 22.

Nell Carter, 54. She played the sassy housekeeper on "Gimme a Break!" and won a Tony in 1978 for "Ain't Misbehavin'." Jan. 23.

Johnny PayCheck, 64. Hell-raising country singer known for his 1977 working man's anthem, "Take This Job and Shove It." Feb. 18.


AP File Photo

Country music legend Johnny Cash is shown with his wife, June Carter Cash, in their Hendersonville, Tenn., home in 1999. The deaths of Johnny and June Carter Cash came within months of each other this year.

Fred Rogers, 74. He invited millions of children to be his neighbor as longtime host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Feb. 27.

Lynne Thigpen, 54. She co-starred in the TV drama "The District"; won a Tony in 1997 for "An American Daughter." March 12.

Michael Jeter, 50. The shrimpy assistant coach on "Evening Shade" and The Other Mr. Noodle on "Sesame Street." March 30.

Nina Simone, 70. Her deep, raspy, forceful voice made her a unique figure in jazz. April 21.

Robert Stack, 84. Actor whose granite-eyed stare spelled trouble for criminals in "The Untouchables" and "Unsolved Mysteries." May 14.

June Carter Cash, 73. Grammy-winning scion of one of country music's pioneering families and wife of Johnny Cash. May 15.

David Brinkley, 82. Revered broadcaster, first gained fame as one-half of NBC's Huntley-Brinkley anchor team. June 11.

Gregory Peck, 87. He embodied citizenship and fatherly compassion in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and played real-life figures from Abraham Lincoln to Josef Mengele. June 12.

Hume Cronyn, 91. Versatile actor; frequently paired with his wife, Jessica Tandy. June 15.

Katharine Hepburn, 96. She brought feminist strength, chiseled beauty and patrician bearing to such films as "The Philadelphia Story" and "The African Queen." June 29.

Buddy Hackett, 78. Round, rubbery-faced nightclub, Broadway, TV and movie funnyman ("The Music Man," "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"). June 30.

Herbie Mann, 73. Jazz flutist who combined a variety of musical styles. July 1.

Barry White, 58. R&B crooner whose lush baritone oozed sex appeal ("Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe"). July 4.

Buddy Ebsen, 95. Dancer turned actor who achieved stardom in the TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones." July 6.

Compay Segundo, 95. Cuban musician who was nearing 90 when he soared to fame with the Buena Vista Social Club. July 13.

Celia Cruz, 77. Singer whose vigor and trademark shout of "Azucar!" ("Sugar!") made her the Queen of Salsa. July 16.

Bob Hope, 100. Master of the one-liner and favorite comedian of servicemen and presidents alike. July 27.

Sam Phillips, 80. Record producer who discovered Elvis Presley and helped usher in the rock 'n' roll revolution. July 30.

Gregory Hines, 57. The greatest tap dancer of his generation; acted in "White Nights" and "The Cotton Club." Aug. 9.

Charles Bronson, 81. Hard-faced action star of the 1970s, notably in the "Death Wish" movies. Aug. 30.

Warren Zevon, 56. Singer-songwriter known for twisted sense of humor ("Werewolves of London," "Life'll Kill Ya"). Sept. 7.

Leni Riefenstahl, 101. Legendary filmmaker reviled for documentaries she made about Hitler's Third Reich ("Triumph of the Will"). Sept. 8.

John Ritter, 54. He ruled TV comedy with "Three's Company" and was back on top 25 years later with "8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter." Sept. 11.

Johnny Cash, 71. A towering musical figure whose rough, unsteady voice championed the downtrodden and reached across generations. Sept. 12.

Gordon Jump, 71. The befuddled station manager on "WKRP in Cincinnati" and the lonely Maytag repairman. Sept. 22.

George Plimpton, 76. Editor, literary patron and "participatory journalist" whose fumbling exploits included quarterbacking for the Detroit Lions. Sept. 25.

Robert Palmer, 54. Grammy-winning British rocker; noted for his music video with the look-alike models, "Addicted to Love." Sept. 26.

Donald O'Connor, 78. He performed the show-stopping "Make 'Em Laugh" number in the classic film "Singin' in the Rain." Sept. 27.

Elia Kazan, 94. Director whose triumphs included "Death of a Salesman" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway and the Oscar-winning "On the Waterfront." Sept. 28.

Jack Elam, 84. Favorite Western villain, known for his crazy grin, wild eyes and remorseless gunslinging. Oct. 20.

Fred Berry, 52. The beret-wearing Rerun on the 1970s sitcom "What's Happening!" Oct. 21.

Rod Roddy, 66. Announcer on "The Price is Right" whose booming voice invited lucky audience members to "Come on down!" Oct. 27.

Bobby Hatfield, 63. His soaring tenor blended with partner Bill Medley's baritone to create the "blue-eyed soul" of the Righteous Brothers. Nov. 5.

Art Carney, 85. He turned "The Honeymooners" sidekick Ed Norton into one of the most memorable characters in TV history; won an Oscar for "Harry and Tonto." Nov. 9.

Kellie Waymire, 36. Prolific TV actress ("Six Feet Under," "Ally McBeal"). Nov. 13.