Christopher Plummer, 91, the acclaimed stage and film star, who brought both charm and an air of menace to a vast range of roles from King Lear to a Klingon villain, died Friday at his home in Weston, Conn. The cause was not disclosed.
Since coming of age in his native Canada, Plummer saw his career propelled by his dashing matinee idol looks and his forceful characterizations of Shakespearean and other classical roles. He won two Tonys, two Emmys through his career and a late Oscar when he turned 82, for the mobie “Begginners.”
To his dismay, he was forever linked to the 1965 musical “The Sound of Music,” in which he played Austrian naval officer Georg von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews — a pinnacle of warmhearted family entertainment, that Plummer disparaged it as saccharine claptrap, famously referring to it as “S&M” or “The Sound of Mucus.”
Dianne Durham, 52, the first Black woman to win a USA Gymnastics national championship, died Thursday in Chicago following a short illness, her husband said. Durham was a pioneer in American gymnastics. Her victory in the all-around at the 1983 national championships as a teenager was the first by a Black woman in the organization’s history.
Durham and Mary Lou Retton were the first star American pupils of Bela and Martha Karolyi, who moved from Romania to the United States in the early 1980s. Durham moved to train with the Karolyis in Texas and appeared to be on the fast track to a spot on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, but injuries kept her out.
Capt. Tom Moore, 100, the World War II veteran who walked into the hearts of a nation in lockdown as he shuffled up and down his garden to raise money for health care workers, has died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Captain Tom, as he became known in newspaper headlines and TV interviews, set out to raise 1,000 pounds for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard. But his quest went viral and donations poured in, raising some 33 million pounds ($40 million). But it was his sunny attitude during a dark moment that inspired people to look beyond illness and loss. “Please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day,” Moore said in an interview during his walk, uttering the words that became his trademark.
When Captain Tom finished his 100th lap on April 16, a military honor guard lined the path. The celebration continued on his birthday a few days later, when two World War II-era fighter planes flew overhead in tribute. Moore, a plaid blanket over his shoulders, pumped a fist as they roared past. In July, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Rennie Davis, 80, one of the Chicago Seven activists who was tried for organizing an anti-Vietnam War protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in which thousands clashed with police, died of lymphoma Tuesday at home in Berthoud, Colorado.
Davis was national director of the community organizing program for the anti-war Students for a Democratic Society and was a protest coordinator for the Chicago convention. Davis and four co-defendants — Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and David Dellinger — were convicted of conspiracy to incite a riot during the Chicago Seven trial in 1969 and 1970. A federal appeals court overturned the convictions, citing errors by the judge.
Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed a Netflix movie in 2020 — “The Trial of the Chicago 7” — about the trial.
Hal Holbrook, 95, who carved out a substantial acting career in television and film but who achieved his widest acclaim onstage, embodying Mark Twain in all his craggy splendor and vinegary wit in a one-man show seen around the world, died Jan. 23 at his home in Beverly Hills, California. His death was confirmed by his assistant, Joyce Cohen, on Monday night.
Holbrook had a long and fruitful run as an actor. He was the shadowy patriot Deep Throat in “All the President’s Men” (1976); a grandfatherly character in “Into the Wild” (2007), for which he received an Oscar nomination; and the influential Republican Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (2012).
But above all he was Mark Twain, standing alone onstage in a rumpled white linen suit, spinning an omnisciently pungent, incisive and humane narration of the human comedy.
Jack Palladino, 76, private investigator and lawyer who became one of the country’s most sought-after sleuths, using bare-knuckle tactics to uncover information, discredit trial witnesses and bury scandalous allegations about his high-profile clients — including Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein — died Monday at a hospital in San Francisco. He had been on life support because of a head injury suffered Jan. 28 during an attempted robbery outside his home in San Francisco, where a man jumped out of a car and tried to steal his camera. Images from the camera led to the arrest of two suspects, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dustin Diamond, 44, the actor known for playing the quirky character Screech on NBC’s hit series “Saved By the Bell,” died Monday after being diagnosed with cancer last month.
He appeared for 13 years total on the franchise, which included the original series, “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” followed by “Saved By the Bell: The College Years” and spinoff “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.” Afterward, Diamond made the reality television rounds for ’90s TV stars, including stints on “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Celebrity Boxing 2” and “Celebrity Big Brother.”
Jamie Tarses, 56, who helped bring “Friends” and “Frasier” to NBC and broke the glass ceiling in network TV when she became the top entertainment executive at ABC, died Monday after suffering complications from a cardiac event last fall.
At NBC, she quickly developed strong relationships with actors and writers and was renowned for her ability to find and develop material, which led to her rise at the network. During her tenure at ABC, Tarses’ successes included the hit sitcom “Dharma & Greg,” writer-producer Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” and “The Practice” from David E. Kelley.
Eugenio Rolando Martínez, 98, a Cuban exile and CIA contract agent who was one of five men whose arrest while burglarizing the Watergate complex in Washington ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, died Jan. 30 in Minneola, Florida.
Martínez, who earned his U.S. citizenship after migrating from Cuba, helped coordinate the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. And though he denied it for years, he was still on the CIA’s payroll at the time of his Watergate arrest, a fact revealed in 2016 when the CIA declassified its own 155-page report on the involvement of CIA assets in Watergate.
John Chaney, 89, the famously combative Hall of Fame coach who took Temple University to 17 NCAA basketball tournaments, largely recruiting high school players from poor neighborhoods who were overlooked by the college game’s national powers, died Jan. 29.
He coached at Temple, in Philadelphia, for 24 seasons, winning more than 500 games and six Atlantic 10 tournament championships and taking his teams to the NCAA tournament’s regional finals five times. He was voted the national coach of the year in 1987 and 1988 and elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2001.
Hilton Valentine, 77, the founding guitarist of the English rock ’n’ roll band The Animals who is credited with coming up with one of the most famous opening riffs of the 1960s, died on Jan. 29. Valentine formed The Animals in 1963 alongside singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price and drummer John Steel. The band’s most famous hit came in 1964, their rock-infused take of the folk song “The House of the Rising Sun,” whose opening riff has been a rite of passage for budding guitarists. The band had such resonance in the U.S. that many people were surprised to hear that they came from the industrial heartland of England.