In Memoriam
February 22, 2021

President Biden addressed the nation on Monday evening as the United States' COVID-19 death toll exceeded 500,000.

"We often hear people described as ordinary Americans," Biden said from the White House. "There's no such thing. There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America, immigrated to America, but just like so many of them, took their final breath alone in America. As a nation we can't accept such a cruel fate."

The U.S. has been fighting the coronavirus pandemic "for so long we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow," Biden said. He urged Americans to honor those who have died and the loved ones they left behind, who might be dealing with survivor's remorse, anger, and questions of faith. "To heal, we must remember," he said, and to those who have lost friends and relatives, while it "may seem unbelievable, I promise you the day will come when the memory of the loved ones will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. My prayer for you is that they will come sooner rather than later."

Biden asked all Americans to remain "vigilant" and take action that will save lives like staying socially distanced, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated. "We must end the politics of misinformation that's divided families, communities, and the country," he added. "It has cost too many lives already. It's not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus. It's our fellow Americans, our neighbors, our friends, our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands, wives. We have to fight this together as one people, as a United States of America. That's the only way we're going to beat this virus, I promise you."

The country will know "sunny days again," Biden said. "This nation will know joy again, and as we do we'll remember each person we've lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind. We will get through this, I promise you." After his remarks, Biden went outside the White House, where he was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff for a moment of silence. Catherine Garcia

January 19, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden spent the night before his inauguration honoring the more than 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19.

During a Tuesday ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, Biden said in order for the country to "heal, we must remember. It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation. That's why we're here today."

The memorial's Reflecting Pool was surrounded by 400 lights, representing the victims of the pandemic. Other landmarks across the United States were also lit up to pay tribute to the dead, including the Space Needle in Seattle and Empire State Building in New York City.

Biden was joined by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Harris also spoke, saying that for months, Americans have "grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another." Catherine Garcia

November 8, 2020

Beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died Sunday morning of pancreatic cancer at age 80, eight days after Sean Connery's death at age 90. The two celebrities had little in common except their fame and a fictional antagonist relationship created over nearly a decade of Saturday Night Live skits featuring Darrell Hammond's Connery needling and insulting Will Ferrell's Trebek on Celebrity Jeopardy!

On Sunday, Nexstar Media's Austin Kellerman compiled some moments from one of SNL's great running gags and put them together in roughly thematic order. There are some borderline NSFW jokes, but nothing too risqué for network TV. Trebek told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012 that he loved the skits — and told Ferrell so. "He was quite taken that I had noticed," Trebek said. "Every taping, somebody in the audience says, 'How do you feel about the Will Ferrell impression of you on SNL?' And I say the same thing every time: I love it. I wish he was back on the show so he would do more." Assuming imitation is a great form of flattery, enjoy this homage to two late greats. Peter Weber

August 31, 2020

The post announcing the death and celebrating the life of Chadwick Boseman on Friday night had already broke the record for most liked tweet by Saturday, and on Sunday night, Marvel Studios and ABC released tributes to the 43-year-old actor. Marvel's tribute featured behind-the-scene footage from the filming of Black Panther and praise for Boseman from his co-stars, taped before his death from colon cancer. Boseman had kept his cancer a closely held secret.

ABC aired its remembrance, Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute For A King, after playing Black Panther commercial-free. This time his co-stars and colleagues honored an actor they knew had struggled with cancer while they had worked with him. Forest Whitaker remembered the change Boseman said he felt when he was crowned King T'Challa and the Black Panther.

Robert Downey Jr. called Black Panther the crown jewel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was among those who were in the dark about Boseman's cancer, ABC News notes in its report on Boseman and his influence as a role model, especially for Black children. Watch that, and part of Boseman's Howard University commencement address, below. Peter Weber

May 19, 2020

Fred Willard died Friday at age 86, and Jimmy Kimmel dedicated Monday's show to the actor's life and work, including frequent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "Tonight's show will be a special show," he said. "It will be a sad show, but we will also laugh a lot as we pay tribute to a lovely and genuinely funny man."

Kimmel recalled that he was enthralled as a kid with Willard's parody late-night show Fernwood 2 Night, with Martin Mull. And even when Willard gained renewed fame in the Christopher Guest movies Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, then Anchorman and the sitcoms Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family, "he played basically the same character in everything, he was the same guy, because it always worked," Kimmel said. He explained how Willard became a regular guest on Kimmel Live with his timely reprisal of his "Space Force" character. "After that, we started putting him in everything," he said. "We could not get enough Fred. He never had any time to prepare for these bits."

Kimmel also curated "a remembrance of Fred from those fortunate enough to work alongside him," including Guest, Mull, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Ray Romano, and Norman Lear. He gave the last word to Willard. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 28, 2020

The first time Jimmy Fallon met Kobe Bryant, they were at a house party in Los Angeles, Bryant a 17-year-old Laker and Fallon a 21-year-old up-and-coming comedian, Fallon said at the start of Monday's Tonight Show, 24 hours after news broke that Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven other people died in a helicopter accident.

The two of them went on a memorable beer run, Fallon said, "and when we'd run into each other over the years, we'd laugh about that night that we first met, we'd laugh about all the good things that had happened since, and we'd laugh about how fun it was to raise kids and all the stupid mistakes we made figuring out how to be good dads," he added, choking up. "Kobe had four daughters and I have two daughters, and today he and one of his girls are gone. ... Kobe, when we meet again, we're going on a beer run."

Monday's Jimmy Kimmel Live didn't have an audience, "because going forward with a comedy show didn't feel right," Kimmel said. Bryant's death "was a punch in the gut for many of us," he explained. "I had many conversations with Kobe off of television, and they always involved his daughters — always. Once he retired from basketball, his life revolved around their lives." Kimmel also started crying: "There's no silver lining here. It's all bad. It's all sad. He was a bright light, and that's how I want to remember him." So the rest of the show was clips from Bryant's 15 appearances on Kimmel Live.

Sportscenter's Elle Duncan also teared up when recalling her one meeting with Bryant, in which he gushed about being a father to four girls, more if possible. "The only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most: being a dad," she said. "Being a girl dad."

Conan O'Brien focused on "another aspect of Kobe's talent: He was naturally very funny and charming." That's "the guy that I've been thinking about these past 24 hours," he said, "and it's that memory that I would like to share with you tonight."

The Late Late Show's James Corden was almost at a loss for words: "All I can think of is this: If you can, take a moment — tonight, tomorrow — to call up someone you love and just let them know." Peter Weber

January 26, 2020

The basketball world is reacting to the deaths of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were killed on Sunday morning along with seven others when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. In a statement, Michael Jordan said words "can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball."

Bryant's former teammate Shaquille O'Neal tweeted there were "no words to express the pain I'm going through," calling Gianna his "niece" and Kobe "my brother." Magic Johnson said Bryant was the "greatest Laker of all time," and the fact that he is gone is "hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players." Without Bryant, he added, the game of basketball "will never be the same."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Bryant, "one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game," showed "what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning." Bryant "will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability," Silver continued. "He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna." Catherine Garcia

January 9, 2020

Over a long and storied career in TV and film, Buck Henry co-created the TV show Get Smart with Mel Brooks, wrote the screenplay for The Graduate (1967), played Tina Fey's father on 30 Rock, and hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times in its first five seasons, playing several memorable roles. Henry died Wednesday at age 89. His wife, Irene Ramp, said the cause was a heart attack.

Henry, born Henry Zuckerman in 1930, was the son of a prominent stockbroker and silent film star Ruth Taylor. The Graduate, directed by his childhood friend Mike Nichols, was Henry's first screenwriting job. It got him the first of two Oscar nominations, followed by a directing nod for the 1978 Warren Beatty movie Heaven Can Wait. Henry also wrote scripts for 1968's Candy, Nichols' 1970 adaptation of Catch-22, the hit Barbra Streisand comedy What's Up, Doc? (1972), and 1995's To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman. He won a writing Emmy in 1967 for a double episode of Get Smart.

Nichols wrote himself small roles in many of his movies and often played wry straight men on TV, as in his recurring SNL role alongside John Belushi's Samurai character.

Henry was "the funniest and most serious guy I'd ever met — simultaneously," said Nichols, who died in 2014. "He wasn't a screenwriter when I asked him to write the screenplay" for The Graduate, Nichols told Vanity Fair in 2008. "He had not, to my knowledge, written anything. And I said, 'I think you could do it; I think you should do it.' And he could, and he did." Nichols, who took over the project from screenwriter Calder Willingham, got much of his dialogue from the Charles Webb novella, but he came up with some of the most memorable lines on his own, like the generation-defining advice about "plastics."

"Off camera," The Washington Post reports, "Henry cultivated a reputation as a dry-witted comedian-intellectual." You can watch him talk about writing dark comedy below. Peter Weber

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