David Kaiser, 50, a scion of the Rockefeller family who steered one of its philanthropies into a confrontation with the company that provided the family’s prodigious wealth, died Wednesday at a family home on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The cause was glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain. Kaiser — a great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil — was president of the Rockefeller Family Fund and in that capacity took on Exxon Mobil, a successor company to the Rockefeller oil monopoly, by dropping investments in fossil fuels while citing Exxon’s “morally reprehensible conduct” for its efforts to muddy the waters about global warming.
David Lewis, 65, a key member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 1979 team that reached the NFC title game, died Tuesday in Tampa, Florida. The cause was not immediately known, but he had struggled with health issues in recent years, according to the University of Southern California, where he played in college.
He was a second-round pick at outside linebacker by the Buccaneers in 1977 and played for them until 1981, including an appearance in the 1980 Pro Bowl. Lewis was among the defensive stars on the 1979 team that reached the NFC title game, capping the franchise’s “worst to first” transformation. The Bucs won 10 games that year after having won just seven in the franchise’s previous three seasons.
Naya Rivera, 33, best known for playing a sharp-tongued cheerleader and glee club member on Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama “Glee,” was found dead Monday morning after an extensive search at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Her 4-year-old son, Josey, was discovered the Wednesday before sleeping alone on a boat his mother had rented for them that afternoon. It’s believed that she died saving her son.
Rivera earned stardom with her breakthrough role in “Glee” when it made its debut on Fox in 2009. Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, the series transformed its mostly unknown young cast into TV superstars.
Rivera played popular and conniving cheerleader Santana Lopez, who joins the school’s glee club as a spy for cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) but soon finds herself developing an interest in music while dancing and singing around the halls of McKinley High School. Rivera became a series regular in the show’s sophomore season.
Grant Imahara, 49, an electrical engineer who co-hosted the pop science show “MythBusters” on the Discovery Channel and operated robots in the “Star Wars” prequels and other major Hollywood films, died Monday of what was believed to be a brain aneurysm in Los Angeles.
Imahara joined the hit science show “MythBusters” in 2005 as the beloved “geek” of the squad, operating electronics and building robots until he left the program along with co-hosts Kari Byron and Tory Belleci in 2014. The trio later reunited to host Netflix’s investigative series “White Rabbit Project.”
Joanna Cole, 75, author whose “Magic School Bus” books transported millions of young people on extraordinary and educational adventures, died Sunday in Sioux City, Iowa, of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. With the ever maddening but inspired Ms. Frizzle leading her students on journeys that explored everything from the solar system to underwater, “Magic School Bus” books have sold tens of millions of copies and were the basis for a popular animated TV series and a Netflix series.
Kelly Preston, 57, who played dramatic and comic foil to actors ranging from Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” to Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins,” died July 12 after a two-year battle with breast cancer, husband John Travolta said Monday.
Preston had a lengthy acting career in movies and television beginning in the 1980s, including the 1985 teen comedy “Mischief,” 1986’s “Space Camp” and her breakthrough, 1988’s “Twins.” Preston played Marnie, the woman who marries Schwarzenegger’s character. She gave one of her most well-received performances in “Jerry Maguire” as the ex-fiancée of Cruise’s sports agent who dumps him early in the movie. The Daily News called her “icily effective.”
Benjamin Keough, 27, the son of Lisa Marie Presley and grandson of the late Elvis Presley, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound July 12 in Calabasas, California, TMZ reported. Presley had Keough and actress Riley Keough, 31, with her former husband Danny Keough.
Eddie Gale, 78, a spiritually minded jazz trumpeter and educator who performed with avant-garde giants Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra, and who saw the music he made with his own bands as a conduit for communicating the richness of African American life, died July 10 at his home in Northern California. The cause was prostate cancer.
On his recordings as a leader — including two significant albums for the Blue Note label in the late 1960s, “Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music” and “Black Rhythm Happening” — Gale drew on the Black church, his Cub Scout marching band, astrology, street-corner funk and African polyrhythms to concoct a densely layered urban stew. Sometimes the music got loud; sometimes it got deeply, deeply funky. And always it was spiritual.
Louis Colavecchio, 78, a craftsman and former jewelry maker, who thought nothing was more thrilling than creating counterfeit slot machine coins — which were so detailed that even federal officials and casino workers found it challenging to distinguish his fakes from legitimate ones under a microscope — died at his daughter’s home in Cranston, Rhode Island, on July 6, a couple weeks after receiving compassionate leave from prison.
Colavecchio, who was known as “The Coin,” recalled his life as a string of adventures, misadventures and criminal enterprises that drew the attention of law enforcement and the disdain of casinos everywhere in his memoir, “You Thought It Was More: Adventures of the World’s Greatest Counterfeiter.”
Leonardo Villar, 96, whose star turn as Donkey Jack in “The Given Word” (also known in English as “Keeper of Promises”) made him one of Brazil’s most revered actors and helped the film clinch the top prize at Cannes in 1962, died of heart failure July 3 in São Paulo. “The Given Word,” which tells the story of a man carrying a large wooden cross through Brazil’s backlands, became the first, and only, Brazilian film to win the Palme d’Or, making it a classic and Villar a movie star before it even opened in theaters. It was also the first South American film to be nominated for an Oscar — for best foreign-language film.
Blaine Kern, 93, who helped turn Mardi Gras in New Orleans into a huge event known around the world, most notably through the innovative and spectacular parade floats he designed and built, died June 25 at his home in the city. The cause of death was an infection, developed after falling from an exercise bike.
Like Walt Disney, to whom he was often compared, Kern was an artist, a businessman and a showman all in one. He was also a visionary designer: His parade floats had double decks, multipart structures, lights, animation and many other features that later became common in the various parades in the city.