Football star turned actor Bernie Casey died Tuesday in Los Angeles, following a brief illness, his representative told The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday. He was 78.
Known for roles in Boxcar Bertha, Never Say Never Again, Revenge of the Nerds, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Casey was also a poet, writer, director, and painter whose work appeared in art galleries around the world. Born in 1939 in West Virginia, Casey was raised in Ohio and went to Bowling Green on a football scholarship; later in life, he returned to the school and earned a master's in fine arts. He excelled on the football team, and went on to spend nearly 10 seasons with the NFL, starting with the San Francisco 49ers, then unexpectedly retiring as a member of the L.A. Rams while he was still in his prime. Casey said he retired in order to devote more time to acting, painting, and poetry.
In addition to his film roles, Casey also appeared in several television programs and made-for-TV movies. A champion of the arts, he received an honorary doctorate from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he served as chairman of the board for many years, and fans of his painting included Maya Angelou. In 2003, the famed poet said Casey "has the heart and the art to put his insight on canvas, and I am heartened by his action. For then I can comprehend his vision and some of my own. His art makes my road less rocky, and my path less crooked." Catherine Garcia
Actor Frank Vincent, best known for playing Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos and his roles in Goodfellas and Casino, has died. He was 78.
His Sopranos co-star Vincent Pastore announced his death on Facebook, and TMZ reports he died due to complications from surgery after suffering a heart attack. Vincent launched his acting career in 1976, appearing in The Death Collector. He went on to star as mobster Billy Batts in Goodfellas and Frankie Marino in Casino, and also had roles in Raging Bull, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Wise Guys, Night Falls on Manhattan, and Shark Tale. In 2006, he co-wrote the book A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man, and voiced the character of Salvator Leone in Grand Theft Auto III. Catherine Garcia
Len Wein, the comics writer who co-created such iconic characters as Wolverine and Swamp Thing, has died. He was 69.
His death was confirmed by DC Comics on Sunday. In a statement, Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, called Wein "one of the most welcoming people and legends in comics," and said there's "hardly a facet of DC's world that Len didn't touch." Wein grew up loving comics, and with collaborator and friend Marv Wolfman, sold his first scripts to DC in 1968.
In addition to creating characters, Wein was a prolific editor, working on Watchmen, New Teen Titans, and Saga of the Swamp Thing. "Not every writer can be a good editor," Geoff Johns, president and chief creative officer of DC Entertainment, said in a statement. "But Len deserves equal credit for both talents. He helped to revitalize the entire DC Universe." Actor Hugh Jackman, who has played Wolverine in several blockbuster movies, tweeted Sunday night that he was "blessed to have known Len Wein. I first met him in 2008. I told him from his heart, mind, and hands came the greatest character in comics." Catherine Garcia
Horror icon Tobe Hooper, best known for directing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, died Saturday from natural causes in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 74.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was released in 1974, and instantly became one of the most influential horror films of all time. Hooper also worked in television, directing the 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of the Stephen King thriller Salem's Lot, which was later edited and released as a movie in Europe, and music videos, including Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself." He is survived by one son. Catherine Garcia
Editor's note: This article originally misstated how many sons Hooper had. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.
Comic actor Jay Thomas, who won two Emmys in the early 1990s for his work on Murphy Brown, died Thursday in Santa Barbara, California, following a battle with cancer. He was 69.
His agent Don Buchwald confirmed Thomas' death to the New York Daily News, saying his wife, Sally, and sons Sam, Jake, and J.T. were by his side when he died. "Jay was one of a kind, never at a loss for words, and filled with so much fun and wonderfully whacky thoughts and behavior," Buchwald said.
From 1989 to 1998, Thomas played Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown, and was Rhea Perlman's TV husband on Cheers from 1987 to 1989. He had his own show, Love and War, from 1992 to 1995, recently starred in a recurring role on Ray Donovan, and appeared every Christmas on The Late Show with David Letterman, to share a story about The Lone Ranger's Clayton Moore. Thomas also worked in radio, once having shows in New York and Los Angeles, and most recently, had a daily program on SiriusXM. Catherine Garcia
Comedian Jerry Lewis died Sunday morning, his agent announced this afternoon, at home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 91.
Perhaps best known for his comedy partnership with Dean Martin, Lewis' slapstick career spanned more than half a century and media including film, television, radio, and stage. He starred in movies like 1960's The Bellboy and 1963'sThe Nutty Professor, and also worked as a singer, screenwriter, director, and producer.
Offscreen, Lewis was a prominent supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, headlining its annual fundraising telethon for decades and raising some $2.6 billion for the cause. Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, and six children.
Lewis was widely mourned by Hollywood when news of his death broke; see a few of those tributes below. Bonnie Kristian
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D pic.twitter.com/3Zdq9xhXlE
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
Jerry Lewis passed today,millions around the world loved him,millions of kids he helped w/his telethons. R.I.P. &condolences 2 his family
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) August 20, 2017
Jerry Lewis was a genius comedian, actor, director, inventor, humanitarian and, as a Las Vegan, what I miss most..https://t.co/R0uLkPOwyU
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 20, 2017
Activist and comedian Dick Gregory died Saturday, his family announced, reportedly following a bacterial infection. He was 84.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Gregory became popular with black and white audiences alike in the 1960s even while offering sharp racial commentary and forthright advocacy of equality. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement, joining the 1963 March on Washington and integration protests in the deep South. Gregory reminisced of one such effort in 2003 with characteristic humor:
"We tried to integrate a restaurant, and they said, 'We don't serve colored folk here,' and I said, 'Well, I don't eat colored folk nowhere. Bring me some pork chops.' And then Ku Klux Klan come in, and the woman say, 'We don't have no pork chops,' so I say, 'Well, bring me a whole fried chicken.' And then the Klan walked up to me when they put that whole fried chicken in front of me, and they say, 'Whatever you do to that chicken, boy, we're going to do to you.' So I opened up its legs and kissed it in the rump and tell you all, 'Be my guest.'" [Dick Gregory, via NPR]
Gregory was also outspoken about other political issues, including the Vietnam War, police brutality, sexism, and animal rights, often using hunger strikes as a tool of activism. He is survived by his wife of half a century, Lillian, and 10 children. Bonnie Kristian
Israel Kristal, the oldest man in the world, died Friday, his family reported, after becoming ill the previous day. He was 113, just one month shy of his 114th birthday.
Born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Poland in 1903, Kristal lived through both world wars and survived imprisonment in Nazi Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp, where his first wife was murdered. Two of Kristal's children were also killed during the Nazi occupation of Poland, but in spite of "all that he went through ... he had a lot of optimism," said his daughter, Shula Koperstoch, "and he always saw only light and good in everything."
Kristal was recognized by Guiness World Records as the oldest living man in the world in 2016, when he was 112 years and 179 days old. "He managed to accomplish a lot," said Kristal's grandson, Oren Kristal. "Every year he lived was like a few years for somebody else." Bonnie Kristian