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2017 in memoriam

Some of the entertainers, innovators, news makers and people of note that left us this year
20171206 gord downie
Gord Downie file photo

As the year closes, we at Village Media would like to take pause and remember those the world lost in 2017.

Here are just some of the entertainers, innovators, news makers and people of note that left us this year (in no particular order):

Gord Downie (October 17) - Musician, songwriter, author, activist, and frontman and founding member of The Tragically Hip. The band released 13 studio records and 54 singles that included the hits New Orleans is Sinking, Locked in the Trunk of a Car, Courage, Grace Too, Ahead By a Century, Gift Shop, Poets, Bobcaygeon, Music at Work, and many others. On October 13, 2016, Downie and his brother Mike, along with the Wenjack family, announced the founding of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Downie was twice named the Canadian Press’ Newsmaker of the Year and was the first entertainer to be given the honour – once in 2016 and again posthumously in 2017.

David Cassidy (November 21) - Actor and singer best known as Keith Partridge on the TV series The Partridge Family.

Della Reese (November 19) - Jazz and gospel singer and actor whose hits include And That Reminds Me, Do You Know? and Not One Minute More. In the late 60s she hosted her own talk show, Della. Other acting credits include Harlem Nights, Expecting Mary, The Mod Squad, Sanford and Son, Welcome Back Kotter, Touched By an Angel, and more.

Roger Moore (May 23) - Actor best remembered for portraying James Bond in seven films between 1973 and 1989, and Simon Templer in The Saint. He became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991.

Manuel Noriega (May 29) - Dictator and ruler of Panama from 1983 until 1989 when he was removed from power and arrested during a US invasion.

Jana Novotna (November 19) - Wimbledon tennis champion in 1998 and won 12 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, four mixed doubles titles, and three Olympic medals.

Glen Campbell (August 8) - Legendary country singer, guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor whose career spanned more than 50 years. He was the recipient of 12 Grammy Awards including Best Country Song in 2014, 10 Academy of Country Music Awards including the Career Achievement Award in 2016, and three American Music Awards. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Earl Hyman (November 17) - Actor who’s best remembered as Russell Huxtable on The Cosby Show and the voice of Panthro on The ThunderCats.

Malcolm Young (November 18) - Co-founder, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter for AC/DC. He along with his bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Jonathan Demme (April 26) - Director, producer and screenwriter whose credits include Swimming to Cambodia, Married to the Mob, Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Neil Young: Heart of Gold (documentary) and Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads documentary). He won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1991 for Silence of the Lambs.

Brad Bufanda (November 1) - Actor best remembered as Felix Toombs on Veronica Mars.

Robert Guillaume (October 24) - Actor best known for his portrayal of Benson Dubois on the TV series Soap and its spin-off Benson. Other acting credits include North and South, Lean on Me, The Lion King (voice), Big Fish and more.

Johnny Bower (December 26) - Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender who won four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs. During a ceremony prior to the 2017 Centennial Classic, Bower was named one of the 100 greatest NHL players of all time. His nickname was The China Wall. He has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, is a two-time Vezna Trophy winner and a three-time Calder Cup winner.

Robert Hardy (August 3) - Actor best remembered as Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, in the Harry Potter films.

John Dunsworth (October 16) - Canadian actor best remembered as Jim Lahey on the Trailer Park Boys.

Fats Domino (October 24) - Pianist, singer/songwriter and rock n' roll pioneer whose hits include Ain't That A Shame and Blueberry Hill. He was one of the very first honourees inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he sold more than 65 million records throughout his career. His 1949 release The Fat Man is widely regarded as the first million-selling rock 'n roll record.

Roy Dotrice (October 16) - Actor best remembered as Hallyne in Game of Thrones and Mozart’s father Leopold in Amadeus.

Hugh Hefner (September 27) - Businessman, publisher and founder of Playboy Magazine, which he launched in 1953. An advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, Hefner was a political activist and philanthropist in several other causes and public issues. Hefner supported legalizing same-sex marriage, stating that a fight for gay marriage was "a fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time.”

Chuck Low (September 18) - Actor best remembered as Morris "Morrie" Kessler in Goodfellas. Also appeared in The King of Comedy, The Mission, Sleepers and more.

Chuck Mosley (November 9) - Singer, songwriter and frontman for Faith No More whose hits include We Care A Lot and Epic.

Harry Dean Stanton (September 15) - Actor whose career spanned six decades with appearances in Cool Hand Luke, Gunsmoke, Twin Peaks, Alien, Paris Texas, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, The Green Mile, The Avengers and much much more. He was noted as one of Roger Ebert’s favourite actors.

Frank Vincent (September 13) - Actor best known as mob boss Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos, and for his roles in Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino.

John Heard (July 21) - Actor best remembered as Peter McCallister in the original Home Alone movies and for his role on The Sopranos for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award. He also appeared in C.H.U.D., Cat People, After Hours, Big, The Seventh Sign, Beaches, Law and Order, CSI: Miami, and many others.

Troy Gentry (September 8) - Singer, songwriter and founding member of the country duo Montgomery Gentry.

Walter Becker (September 3) - Co-founder, guitarist, bassist, songwriter of Steely Dan.

Richard Anderson (August 31) - Actor best remembered as Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.

Jay Thomas (August 24) - Comedian and actor who enjoyed recurring roles on Cheers, Murphy Brown and Mork and Mindy.

Jerry Lewis (August 20) - Legendary comedian, actor, singer, producer, director, screenwriter and humanitarian. He’s known for his long-time collaborations with Dean Martin and his slap-stick comedic style. His film credits include That’s My Boy, The Caddy, The Nutty Professor, The Bellboy, The Disorderly Orderly and Cinderfella. Also remembered as a philanthropist who raised more than 2.6 billion for muscular dystrophy research during his annual Labour Day Telethon.

Sam Shepard (July 27) - Director, playwright and actor who received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his stage play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Chuck Yeager in the 1983 historical drama The Right Stuff. He won 10 Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most given to any writer or director. Other film appearances include Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Notebook and many more.

June Foray (July 26) - Voice actor behind Rocky the Flying Squirrel in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Granny and Witch Hazel in Looney Tunes, and Aunt May in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

Barbara Sinatra (July 25) - Vegas showgirl and widow of Frank Sinatra.

Chester Bennington (July 20) - Frontman for Linkin Park. The band has sold 65 million records world-wide.

Stuart McLean (February 15) - Canadian radio broadcaster, humorist, monologist, and author best known as the host of the CBC Radio program The Vinyl Cafe which began in 1994. He is a three-time recipient of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 “for his contributions to Canadian culture as a storyteller and broadcaster, as well as for his many charitable activities.”

Richard Wagamese (March 10) - Canadian author and journalist best known for his 2012 novel Indian Horse, which won the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2013 and was a competing title in the 2013 edition of Canada Reads.

Nelsan Ellis (July) - Actor best known as Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood and Bobby Byrd in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get on Up.

Adam West (June 9) - Actor best remembered as Batman in the 1960s TV series and for his fictional portrayals of himself on Family Guy, The Simpsons, and The Fairly OddParents.

Chris Cornell (May 17) - Musician, songwriter and frontman for Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. He’s known for his nearly four-octave vocal range and is considered one of the pioneers of the 1990s grunge movement. Across his catalogue, Cornell has sold almost 15 million records and has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards, winning twice. He was voted Rock’s Greatest Singer by readers of Guitar World and placed 9th in the list of Best Lead Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Prodigy (June 20) - Rapper and one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep.

Stephen Furst (June 16) - Actor best remembered as Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in Animal House and Dr. Elliot Axelrod on the TV series St. Elsewhere.

Roger Smith (June 4) - Actor best remembered for his roles in the television detective series 77 Sunset Strip and in the comedy series Mister Roberts. Smith went on to manage the career of Ann-Margret, his wife of 50 years.

Peter Sallis (June 2) - British actor best remembered as the voice of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit animated film series.  

Gregg Allman (May 27) - Musician, singer, songwriter and founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. He wrote several of the band's biggest songs, including Whipping Post, Melissa, and Midnight Rider. Allman also had a successful solo career, releasing seven studio albums. He, along with the rest of The Allman Brothers Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Butch Trucks (January 25) - Drummer and founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.

Erin Moran (April 22) - Actor best remembered for portraying Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi.

Judge Joseph Wapner (February 26) - Famous for starring on The People’s Court for 12 seasons from 1981 to 1993.

John Hurt (January 27) - British actor whose numerous film appearances include A Man For All Seasons, Alien, Harry Potter, The Elephant Man, Midnight Express, The Lord of the Rings, Spaceballs, Crime and Punishment, Hellboy, Snowpiercer, and many others. Director David Lynch described him as "simply the greatest actor in the world.”

Clare Hollingsworth (January 10) - Journalist and author. She was first journalist to report the German invasion of Poland, the start of WWII. She was 105 when she died.

William Peter Blatty (January 12) - Writer, screenwriter and filmmaker who penned both the novel and the Academy Award-winning screenplay for The Exorcist.

Charles Manson (November 19) - Notorious cult leader and head of the Manson Family responsible for the gruesome murders of Gary Hinman, actress Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, and others. He was imprisoned 1971.

Mary Tyler Moore (January 25) - Actor best remembered as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role in 1980’s Ordinary People. Moore and her husband Grant Tinker founded MTM Enterprises Inc. in 1969 which produced the TV series Lou Grant, Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues and others.

Barbara Hale (January 26) - Actor best remembered as Della Street on Perry Mason for which she was awarded an Emmy Award.

Tony Rosato (January 10) - Canadian actor and comedian best remembered as a cast member of SCTV. He was one of only three SCTV cast members who would move on to be part of Saturday Night Live.

Chuck Berry (March 18) - Rock and roll pioneer whose career spanned more than 50 years. His numerous hits single include Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Goode, and No Particular Place to Go. Throughout his career, he released 20 studio albums and 45 singles. Time magazine stated, "There was no one like Elvis. But there was 'definitely' no one like Chuck Berry." Rolling Stone magazine called him "the father of rock and roll" who "gave the music its sound and its attitude, even as he battled racism - and his own misdeeds - all the way," reporting that Leonard Cohen said, "All of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry."

Geoff Nicholls (January 28) - British musician and long-time keyboardist for Black Sabbath from 1979-2004.

Richard Hatch (February 7) - Actor best remembered for his portrayal of Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series.

Martin Landau (July 15) - Oscar-winning actor whose career spanned almost 60 years. His numerous television and film credits include Gunsmoke, North By Northwest, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Bonanza, Outer Limits, Mission: Impossible, Columbo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Ed Wood, The Majestic, Rounders, and many more.

Mike Illitch (February 10) - Entrepreneur, founder of Little Caesars Pizza, and owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers.

Neil Fingleton (February 25) - The tallest British-born man (7'7") and actor who appeared in 47 Ronin, Jupiter Ascending, and Game of Thrones.

Bill Paxton (February 25) - Actor with numerous film credits, including The Terminator, Aliens, Predator 2, Weird Science, True Lies, Apollo 13, Twister, Titanic, Frailty, and Mean Dreams.

Robert Osborn (March 6) - Film historian and host of Turner Classic Movies and The Movie Channel.

Joni Sledge (March 10) - Singer and co-founder of the R&B group Sister Sledge whose hits include We Are Family and He’s The Greatest Dancer.  

David Rockefeller (March 20) - Banker and patriarch of the Rockefeller family and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank.

Colin Dexter (March 21) - Author of the Detective Morse crime novels.

Paul O'Neill (April 5) - Music producer, promoter, songwriter and creative force behind the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Don Rickles (May 8) - Comedian, author and actor known as the 'King of the insults’. He received widespread exposure as a popular guest on numerous talk and variety shows, including The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Show with David Letterman, and later voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.

J. Geils (April 11) - Musician and founder of the J. Geils Band. The band released 11 studio albums and 30 singles that included the hits Freeze Frame, Centerfold and Love Stinks.

Charlie Murphy (April 12) - Comedian and actor, brother of Eddie Murphy. He’s best remembered as a regular on Chappelle's Show.

Kathleen Crowley (April 23) - Actor who appeared in numerous TV series, including The Lone Ranger, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, The Donna Reed Show, Perry Mason, Bonanza, and Family Affair.

Roy Barraclough (June 1) - British actor best remembered as Alec Gilroy on Coronation Street from 1986 to 1998.

Jack O'Neill (June 2) - Entrepreneur credited with inventing the wetsuit.

Michael Bond (June 27) - British author of the Paddington Bear series of books.

Pat DiNizio (December 12) - Musician, songwriter and lead singer of The Smithereens.

Fresh Kid Ice (July 13) - Hip hop artist and founding member of 2 Live Crew.

George A. Romero (July 16) - Filmmaker and writer of classic horror films, including Night of the Living Dead, Season of the Witch, Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow, Monkey Shines, and more.

Haruo Nakajima (August 7) - Japanese actor who portrayed Godzilla in 12 consecutive movies between 1954 and 1972.

Tom Petty (October 2) - Legendary singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. His numerous hit singles include American Girl, Don’t Do Me Like That, Refugee, Don’t Come Around Here No More, I Won’t Back Down, Free Falling, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, and many more. As an actor, Petty was a regular on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and also appeared in The Postman, The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Dick Gregory (August 19) - Comedian and civil rights activist who was the first African American standup comedian.

Thomas Meehan (August 21) - Author who wrote the books that would adapted into the stage plays for Annie, The Producers, and Hairspray.

Tobe Hooper (August 26) - Director, screenwriter and producer whose film credits include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and Night Terrors.

Dave Hlubek (September 2) - Guitarist, frontman and founding member of Molly Hatchet.

Len Wein (September 10) - Comic book writer, editor and co-creator of DC Comics' Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics' Wolverine.

Charles Bradley (September 23) - Soul singer whose performances and recording style were consistent with Daptone's revivalist approach, celebrating the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. One review stated he "echoes the evocative delivery of Otis Redding.” Calling himself "the screaming eagle of soul,” Bradley was the subject of the documentary Soul of America which premiered at South by Southwest in 2012.

Elizabeth Dawn (September 25) - Actor best remembered as Vera Duckworth on Coronation Street from 1974 to 2008.

Anne Jeffreys (September 27) - Actor remembered for her portrayal of Amanda Barrington on General Hospital from 1984 to 2004.

Monty Hall (September 30) - Game show host and producer best remembered as the host of Let's Make a Deal.

Scott Putesky (Daisy Berkowitz) (October 22) - Musician and lead guitarist in Marilyn Manson's band.

John Hillerman (November 9) - Actor best remembered as Jonathan Higgins II on Magnum, P.I.

Warren 'Pete' Moore (November 19) - Singer, songwriter and founding member of The Miracles.

Mel Tillis (November 19) - Country musician and CMA entertainer of the year in 1976. Throughout his career, he released 38 studio albums and had hit singles with Heart Over Mind, The Arms of a Fool, I Ain’t Never, I Believe in You, Coca-Cola Cowboy, and many others.

Jim Nabors (November 30) - Singer and actor best remembered as Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC.

Steve Reevis (December 7) - Native American actor who appeared in Geronimo: An American Legend, The Longest Yard, and Fargo (Shep Proudfoot).

Conrad Brooks (December 6) - Actor who appeared in Ed Woods' Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda.

Murray Koffler (November 5) - Canadian entrepreneur, pharmacist, and founder of Shoppers Drug Mart.

Chuck Barris (March 21) - Game show host and creator whose creations include The Gong Show, The Dating Game, and The Newlywed Game. He was also a songwriter, who wrote Palisades Park for Freddy Cannon. Barris wrote an autobiography titled Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was made into the film of the same name directed by George Clooney.  

Rance Howard (November 25) - Actor and father of Ron Howard whose film credits include Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and Ed Wood.