Jean Arthur (b. 1900)
Armed with Hollywood’s most infectious laugh, she moved from silents to talkies and inspired the heroes of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Shane.
Howard Ashman (b. 1950)
He created funny, elegant lyrics for such winners as Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and the animated feature due next year from Disney, Aladdin.
Ralph Bellamy (b. 1904)
Forever FDR, and then some: Besides his classic turns as Franklin Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello and The Winds of War, he gave earnest, understated performances in hundreds of stage, film, and TV roles — including his late-life gigs as a twisted old coot in Trading Places and a kindly father figure in Pretty Woman.
Frank Capra (b. 1897)
The Sicilian immigrant who gave us It’s a Wonderful Life trafficked in flag-waving idealism, but he never hesitated to turn the American dream over and expose its dark underbelly.
Brad Davis (b. 1949)
His résumé included Midnight Express and the TV mini-series Chiefs, and when he died of AIDS, Hollywood was moved to take a hard look at the way the industry treats its own who suffer from the disease.
Miles Davis (b. 1926)
Onstage, the master trumpeter (left) was controlled and collected. But he never stopped shaking up the music world, moving from jazzy bebop to cool to jazz-rock fusion.
Colleen Dewhurst (b. 1924)
She was America’s premier tragic actress, closely identified with Eugene O’Neill’s works, and she showed keen comic timing as the mother of TV’s Murphy Brown.
Tennessee Ernie Ford (b. 1919)
His 1955 recording of ”16 Tons” is one of the top-selling records of all time — bless his pea-pickin’ heart.
Redd Foxx (b. 1922)
His 1950s club act and recordings — hip, urbane, and blue as hell-paved the way for Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. Later, on Sanford and Son and The Royal Family, he became one of TV’s great cranks.
Anton Furst (b. 1944)
The set designer re-created a Vietnamese town for Full Metal Jacket; and the hellish urban vision he gave to Batman earned him an Oscar.
Theodor Geisel (b. 1904)
As Dr. Seuss, he won the hearts of three generations with The Cat in the Hat and nearly 50 other books. In a posthumous tip of the hat to the cat, he was commemorated with a rousing reading of Green Eggs and Ham by Jesse Jackson on Saturday Night Live.
Stan Getz (b. 1927)
No one could get a more exquisite or romantic sound from a tenor saxophone than the man who popularized the bossa nova and taught us all about ”The Girl From Ipanema.”
Bill Graham (b. 1931)
He fled Nazi Germany as a boy and eventually became the most influential music promoter in the world, putting everyone from the Doors to Bruce Springsteen on his marquees.
Martha Graham (b. 1894)
She was to dance what Picasso was to painting, breaking through the constraints of classical ballet to become the mother of modern movement.
Graham Green (b. 1904)
Critic, voice of conscience, tormented Catholic, and a master entertainer whose 24 novels (The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair among them) comprise one of the great bodies of modern literature.
Jerzy Kosinski (b. 1933)
A Holocaust survivor, the novelist described his horrible escape from Poland in The Painted Bird, laughed at his own tortured alienation in Being There, and used his celebrity to fight for human rights.
Michael Landon (b. 1936)
TV’s answer to Frank Capra. The actor (left) embodied wholesomeness for three decades, from Bonanza to Little House on the Prairie to Highway to Heaven.
David Lean (b. 1908)
The English director was famous for the blockbusters (Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago among them) that won 28 Oscars, but equally great are such earlier, smaller masterpieces as Brief Encounter.
Fred MacMurray (b. 1908)
Before starring as the kindly father of TV’s My Three Sons, he finessed his way through screwball comedies of the 1930s, then showed his range as insurance salesman-turned-murderer in Double Indemnity.
Freddie Mercury (b. 1946)
The lead singer of the British group Queen put on some of the rockingest, most flamboyant shows in music.
Yves Montand (b. 1921)
Crooner, husband of Simone Signoret and lover of Marilyn Monroe, the star of Let’s Make Love was our favorite Frenchman.
Joseph Papp (b. 1921)
He founded the New York Shakespeare Festival, hoping eventually to produce all of the bard’s works; in his quest, he nurtured more talent (from George C. Scott to William Hurt) than anyone since the great Hollywood moguls.
Doc Pomus (b. 1925) and Mort Shuman (b. 1936)
Most young rock fans never knew of the songwriting team that helped invent their music with ”Little Sister,” ”Save the Last Dance for Me,” ”Teenager in Love,” and ”This Magic Moment.”
Harry Reasoner (b. 1923)
With his rugged good looks, a taste for good writing, and unflappable Midwestern demeanor, the avuncular anchor made the news as painless as possible for four decades.
Lee Remick (b. 1935)
Before she was Damien’s accident-prone mom in The Omen, she played tragedy like an angel in A Face in the Crowd and Days of Wine and Roses.
Gene Roddenberry (b. 1921)
”Excitement is not made of car chases,” he said, so he created Star Trek. Six feature films, a new TV series, and all those lunch boxes prove he was on to something.
David Ruffin (b. 1941)
He lived a tumultuous life but made sweet sounds crooning ”My Girl” and ”Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” with the Temptations.
Rudolph Serkin (b. 1903)
In concert, the pianist often hailed as the world’s finest musical technician kicked and groaned as if fighting the instrument, but he always claimed victory. His legacy, Vermont’s Marlboro Music Festival, thrives each summer.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (b. 1904)
His stories of shlemiels and saints rooted in Jewish life won him the 1978 Nobel Prize, and they live on-screen in Yentl and Enemies, A Love Story.
Danny Thomas (b. 1912)
As an actor, he starred in TV’s Make Room for Daddy. As a producer, he put his name on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mod Squad. But he was a comedian to the end, coaching Macaulay Culkin in the ”spit take” on Late Night With David Letterman weeks before he died.
Dottie West (b. 1932)
One of country music’s unsung heroines, she put her husky, tender voice on 52 albums, was the first female country singer to win a Grammy, and opened the field for sister singers to come.