This year we mourned the loss of beloved writers, mythic sports heroes, and the passing of a young Kennedy, and his wife.
by Beth Rowen & John Gettings
[ 1999 People in the News | Deaths ]
|Alice Adams was a skilled novelist and short-story writer. Adams, who wrote
perceptively about the lives of women, authored ten novels and
five collections of short stories, and was a frequent contributor to
the New Yorker. Adams died in San Francisco on May 27, 1999.
|Harry Blackmun was a retired Supreme Court justice whose conservative stance shifted
to the left during his 24-year tenure. Appointed to the post in
1970 by Richard Nixon, he later became most famous for
authoring the controversial 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade,
making first-trimester abortion legal in the U.S. He died in Arlington, Va., on March 4, 1999.
|Paul Bowles was a maverick writer and composer who influenced a generation of
Beat writers with his moody, dark stories and novels and his
eccentric lifestyle. He's best known for his 1949 novel, The
Sheltering Sky. His Broadway scores, however, were light and
enchanting. Bowles lived as an expatriate since 1947, avoiding
the spotlight, and opted to live and thrive outside of the
mainstream. A bisexual, Bowles was married to the novelist Jane
Bowles, a lesbian. Bowles died in Tangier, Morocco on Nov. 7, 1999.
|Wilton Norman (Wilt) Chamberlain
|One of the 20th century's most recognized athletes, Wilt Chamberlain is best remembered for
scoring a record 100 points in a game (3/2/62); his battles
with Boston Celtics center Bill Russell entertained a generation of
basketball fans and set the standard for all sports rivalries;
all-time NBA leader in rebounds (23,924) and second in points
(31,419); only player to score
4,000 points in a season (1961-62), averaging 50.4 points a
game; did not foul out of any of his
more than 1,200 games; won NBA titles with Philadelphia in 1967 and Los
Angeles in 1972; elected to Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in
1978; Chamberlain died in Bel Air, Calif. on Oct. 12.
|Graceful king of New
York Yankees baseball for more than 60 years, Joe DiMaggio hit successfully in 56 straight games in 1941, a baseball record most experts think is
unbreakable; roamed center field for
the Bronx Bombers from 1936-51, missing three seasons
to serve in WWII; won three American League MVP
awards; his 369 career strikeouts (in
6,821 at bats) is a stunningly low for someone who hit 361 career home runs; won
A.L. batting titles in 1939 and 1940 and finished his career with
a lifetime .325 average; played in 11 All-Star Games: led the
Yankees to 10 A.L. pennants and nine World Series
championships; after divorcing his
first wife in 1944, began dating actress Marilyn Monroe and
married her in 1954; the relationship sparked a new legion of fans and turned him into a 20th century icon;
elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his second
year of eligibility, 1955. DiMaggio died of lung cancer in Hollywood, Fla. on March 8.
|James Farmer was the last surviving member of the "Big Four" civil rights leaders of
the 1960s, he helped found the Congress of Racial Equality in
1942. His contributions and his courage were honored in 1998
when President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of
Freedom. Farmer died in Fredericksburg, Va. on July 9, 1999.
|Raisa Gorbachev was the First Lady of the Soviet Union during a critical juncture in the
former nation's history. Her assertive personality and influential
role distinguished her from previous First Ladies. Gorbachev died in Münster, Germany on Sept. 21, 1999.
|Hassan II (Moulay Hassan) was an all-powerful monarch who had ruled Morocco for 38 years at
the time of his death. A popular leader, he promoted a free
market and a neutral foreign relations policy. Hassan II died in Rabat, Morocco
on July 23, 1999.
|Hussein I (King of Jordan) was widely admired ruler of Jordan for more than four decades who
made peace in the volatile Middle East a priority, establishing
good relations between Jordan and its neighbors. One of his last
accomplishments was helping to finalize the Wye Peace Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Oct.
1998. Hussein I died on Jan. 31, 1999.
|Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
|Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was a press-shy fashion publicist who was thrown into the media
spotlight when she married John F. Kennedy, Jr., in 1996. She
managed to maintain a certain degree of privacy in spite of her
husband's fame, but their tragic death in a plane crash attracted
enormous worldwide attention. Bessette Kennedy died on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. on July 16, 1999.
|John F. Kennedy, Jr.
|John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. was a charismatic magazine editor and former lawyer who, born just
three weeks after his father's election to the presidency, grew up
in the spotlight and never escaped it. Admired for his enthusiasm,
his charity, and his photogenic good looks, Kennedy was
mourned by thousands worldwide after his tragic death when the
plane he was piloting crashed near Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Kennedy died near Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on July 16, 1999.
|Stanley Kubrick was an influential director whose list of credits includes such disturbing
but popular films as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A
Clockwork Orange (1971), Dr. Strangelove (1964), and The
Shining (1980). Kubrick died in Hertfordshire County, England on March 7, 1999.
|Akio Morita was a Japanese Sony co-founder who was a major influence in the
globalization of business. The imaginative marketing wizard was
responsible for inventing the Walkman and making Sony a top
brand name in America. Morita died on Oct. 3, 1999.
|Iris Murdoch was an important British writer whose 27 novels included The Bell
(1958) and The Sea, the Sea (1978), for which she won the
Booker Prize. In 1987 she was made a Dame of the Order of
the British Empire. Murdoch died in Oxford, England on Feb. 8. 1999.
|Mario Puzo penned The Godfather, a bestseller that would later
be made into one of the most popular movies of all-time. He also
wrote the follow-up novels in the Godfather trilogy and several
other books and screenplays. Puzo denied having any ties to the
Mafia scene about which he so convincingly wrote. Puzo died in Bay Shore, N.Y. on July 2, 1999.
|Pee Wee Reese
|Pee Wee Reese was a Hall of Fame shortstop who was the undisputed leader of the
"Boys of Summer," the Brooklyn Dodgers post-World War II
teams; born Harold Henry Reese; his nickname came from a common type of
marble called a "pee-wee"; became a Dodger
starter in 1941 and helped the team win its first league title in 21
years; eight-time All-Star; won seven
N.L. pennants and fielded the final out in Brooklyn's only World
Series championship in 1955; elected to
National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984; Reese died of lung cancer in Louisville, Ky. on Aug. 14.
|George C. Scott
|George Campbell Scott was a captivating actor whose skill shone through on the big screen, on
stage, and on TV. While he won several awards, including
Obies, Emmys, and Golden Globes, he will long be remembered
for turning down the best-actor Oscar for his 1970 title-role
performance in Patton. Scott died in Westlake Village, Calif. on Sept. 22, 1999.
| Shel Silverstein was a popular writer and illustrator who brought us the humorous
children's poetry collections A Light in the Attic (1981) and
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1981). He also penned the classic
story The Giving Tree (1964), which is celebrating its 35th year
in publication. Silverstein died in Key West, Fla. on May 10, 1999.
| Gene Siskel (Eugene Kal Siskel) was a familiar Chicago Tribune film critic who achieved fame through
his television pairing with rival-turned-pal Roger Ebert. The two
became major film-industry figures as their "thumbs up-thumbs
down" rating system caught on among American movie-goers. Siskel died on Feb. 20, 1999.
| Dusty Springfield (Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien) was a soulful British singer whose hits included '60s songs "Son of a
Preacher Man" and "Wishin' and Hopin'." She was honored by
Queen Elizabeth II in Dec. 1998 and was scheduled to be
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eleven days after
her death. Springfield died on Henley-on-Thames, England on March 2, 1999.
| Mel Tormé was a versatile pop and jazz singer who was fondly referred to as the
"Velvet Fog." His lengthy career spanned 70 years and
produced the classic, "The Christmas Song" (also known as
"Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"). Tormé died in Los Angeles on June 5, 1999.
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