RIP Etta James

c.m: Complications resulting from leukemia, Hepatitis C, and Alzheimer's disease

Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins - January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer whose style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in the mid 1950s after being discovered on a San Francisco street corner by Johnny Otis, she gained fame with hits such as "Dance With Me, Henry", "At Last", "Tell Mama", and "I'd Rather Go Blind." She faced a number of personal problems including heroin addiction and prison time before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album, The Seven Year Itch.

She is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number twenty-two on their list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" and number sixty-two on the list of the "100 Greatest Artists."

Etta James is survived by her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons, Donto and Sametto, who both played in her band.


(Sources: CNN, NPR, Wiki)


RIP Patrice O'Neal

c.m: Stroke

Patrice Lumumba Malcolm O'Neal (December 7, 1969 - November 29, 2011) was an American stand-up comedian, radio personality, and actor. He was known for his cutting, often confrontational crowd work during which he often plays couples against each other.

O'Neal began his comedy career in his native Boston. Primarily a stand-up comic, O'Neal made his Def Comedy Jam debut in 2007. He has had half-hour specials on Showtime, HBO (One Night Stand, Def Comedy Jam), and Comedy Central Presents, and has recorded a CD/DVD entitled Patrice O'Neal - Elephant In The Room. In the late 1990s, O'Neal moved to Los Angeles in order to break into film and television.The late Scary Movie 4 star's most recent TV performance was at the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen that aired in September.

(Sources: Us, Rueters, Wiki)

RIP Ken Russell

c.m. Stroke

Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell (July 3, 1927 – November 27, 2011) was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church. His films often dealt with the lives of famous composers or were based on other works of art which he adapted loosely. Russell began directing for the BBC, where he made creative adaptations of composers' lives which were unusual for the time. He also directed many feature films independently and for studios.

He is best known for his Oscar-winning film Women in Love (1969), The Devils (1971), The Who's Tommy (1975), and the science fiction film Altered States (1980). Classical musicians and conductors held him in high regard for his story-driven biopics of various composers, most famously Elgar, Delius, Liszt, Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

Russell's autobiography, A British Picture, was published in 1989. A new edition came out in 2008, shortly after he had lost his cottage in the New Forest to a fire and had appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. He had lost most of his money over the years but never his sense of humour. When he wanted an email address and was told that it couldn't be plain "Kenrussell", he asked for and got "Thekenrussell".

He was married four times: in 1956 to Shirley Kingdom, with whom he had five children; in 1983 to Vivian Jolly, with whom he had two children; in 1992 to Hetty Baynes, with whom he had one son; and in 2001, to Elise Tribble. Elise followed an appeal on Russell's own website which had engendered a dozen answers: "Unbankable film director Ken Russell seeks soulmate. Must be mad about music, movies and Moet & Chandon champagne."

He is survived by Elise and his children.

(Sources: The Guardian, NY Post, Wiki, Gretchen Friese)


RIP Theodore Forstmann

c.m: Brain cancer

Theodore "Ted" Joseph Forstmann (1940 - November 11, 2011) was one of the founding partners of Forstmann Little, a private equity firm, and chairman and CEO of IMG, a leading global sports and media company. Forstmann was a graduate of Phillips Academy, Yale University and Columbia University Law School. At Yale, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. 

Forstmann, an attorney, founded Forstmann Little in 1978 with his brother Nicholas C. Forstmann, who later died of lung cancer, and William Brian Little. Forstmann Little leveraged buyouts of companies including Yankee Candle, Dr. Pepper and Community Health Systems.

Forstmann was also a philanthropist and co-founder of the Children's Scholarship Fund, and had a key focus on helping disadvantaged children throughout the world. 

Forstmann had a net worth of $1.6 billion as of 2011.

He is survived by his two sons, Siya and Everest, brothers Anthony and John, and sisters Marina Forstmann Day and Elissa Forstmann Moran.

(Sources: NPR, Wiki, People)


RIP Evelyn Lauder

c.m: Nongenetic ovarian cancer

Evelyn Lauder (August 12, 1936 – November 12, 2011) was an American socialite and philanthropist who has been credited as one of the creators and popularizers of the pink ribbon as a symbol for awareness of breast cancer.

Evelyn Hausner was born in Vienna and grew up in New York City. While attending Hunter College from which she graduated in 1958, she met her husband Leonard on a blind date. She also took graduate courses at Northwestern University. The couple were married in July 1959. After the marriage, she left her job as a public school teacher and went to work with her husband at the company founded by her mother-in-law in 1946, which sold six products at the time: a red lipstick, creams, lotions and Youth Dew fragrance in a bath oil.

Lauder was the Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies and a member of the board of overseers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Lauder personally raised much of the $13.6 million that went to create the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which opened in October 1992 and focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer. She helped raise an additional $5 million to create an endowment to be used to fund clinical research there.

Self magazine's first annual issue for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month came after an April 1991 lunch at the 21 Club, at which Lauder discussed ideas for articles about breast cancer with her friend Alexandra Penney, who was then serving as editor of Self.

Together with Penney, Lauder established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and formalized the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer awareness as part of Self magazine's second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue in 1992. Penney's inspiration to improve on the success of the magazine's first annual issue was to create a ribbon that would be placed in Estee Lauder's New York City stores. Lauder made the commitment to have the ribbons placed on the company's cosmetics counters across the United States.

By 1993, Lauder had overseen the creation of a new shade called Pink Ribbon that was part of her personal and corporate effort to raise breast cancer awareness. Her husband paid for the cost of registering The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in all 50 states. By the start of 1995, some $900,000 had been raised for the foundation, including $120,000 from the sale of Pink Ribbon lipstick and blusher and $190,000 from the sale of the Clinique Berry Kiss pink lipstick.

By October 2008, the Estée Lauder Companies estimated that the firm's Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign had raised $35 million towards research and distributed 80 million pink ribbons.

Leonard and Evelyn Lauder's son William is executive chairman of Estee Lauder Cos. Another son, Gary, is managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, a technology investment firm.

(Sources: NY Times, Wiki, Yahoo, NPR)


RIP Bil Keane

c.m: Heart failure

William Aloysius Keane (October 5, 1922 - November 8, 2011), better known as Bil Keane, was an American cartoonist notable for his work on the long-running newspaper comic The Family Circus, which began its run in 1960 and continues in syndication. His comic strip is featured in nearly 1,500 newspapers across the country.

Keane began his illustrating career in high school and continued drawing and creating comics during WWII for magazines like Yank and Stars and Stripes.

Keane married his wife Thelma Carne in 1948 and the couple have five children. She also served as his business and financial manager. Devoted to his wife, Keane based the mommy character in Family Circus after her. Thelma died of Alzheimer's disease in 2008.

When his wife died, Keane called her "the inspiration for all of my success. ...When the cartoon first appeared, she looked so much like Mommy that if she was in the supermarket pushing her cart around, people would come up to her and say, `Aren't you the mommy in `Family Circus?'"

Keane was a four-time recipient of the National Cartoonists Society's Award for Best Syndicated Panel, winning in 1967, 1971, 1973 and 1974. Then in 1982, Keane was named the Society's Cartoonist of the Year and received its top honor, the Reuben Award. He also received the Elzie Segar Award in 1982 for his unique contribution to the cartooning profession. Keane was honored with the Silver T-Square Award from the National Cartoonist Society in 2002 for "outstanding dedication" to the NCS and the cartooning profession.

In 1998, he became the tenth recipient of the Arizona Heritage Award, joining – among others – Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day O'Connor, Mo Udall and Erma Bombeck.

(Sources: Ology, Wiki, Huffington Post)


RIP Leonard Stone

c.m: Cancer

Leonard Stone, a familiar character actor on television and in films who had a memorable turn as an overindulgent father in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” died at his home in San Diego.

In “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” with Gene Wilder in the title role, Mr. Stone played Violet Beauregarde’s father, Sam. Violet chews forbidden gum meant to simulate the flavors of an entire meal, and on reaching dessert — blueberry pie — Violet turns purple and swells like an overripe plum. Mr. Beauregarde shouts “Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!” and falls into paroxysms of concern.

Mr. Stone happily repeated the line when fans asked to hear it.

Leonard Stone was born on Nov. 3, 1923, in Salem, Ore. After serving in the Navy in World War II, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, then moved to Australia, where he joined a traveling production of “South Pacific.”

In addition to his granddaughter, Mr. Stone is survived by his wife, Carole; three daughters, Robin and Debbie Stone and Jan Fryman; a son, Michael Merkow-Stone; and seven more grandchildren.

(Sources: NY Times, TMZ, People)