Seven famous actors, directors and singers were on the Grim Reaper’s ‘To Do’ list for June 29th.
The legendary actress Katherine Hepburn tops the list, followed by Hollywood’s glamor queen Lana Turner, 1950s sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, the comedic actor and director Carl Reiner, the pop singer Rosemary Clooney, the great Italian actor, director and screenwriter Vittorio Gassman, and notorious silent screen star ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle.
There were other actors on the list, notably Stuart Damon who played Dr. Alan Quartermaine on the soap opera ‘General Hospital’ for 30 years and died in 2021 at 84; but the above-mentioned seven were the most famous.
Four-time Academy Award winner and longtime partner of Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn was known for her outspoken independence, both in life and in her movie roles.
Married briefly with no children, she was described as ‘fiercely private,’ refusing to give interviews and shunning the celebrity lifestyle which she called tedious and superficial. One of the few times she appeared in public, a paparazzi snapped her picture and she grabbed the camera and that was the end of that.
Katherine Hepburn died in 2003 in a small town in Connecticut at the age of 96.
One of the biggest movie stars and highest-paid actresses in the 1940s and ‘50s, Lana Turner made more than $50 million for the MGM studio she was under contract to.
The actress made real-life world headlines at the sensational 1968 trial of her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane who was charged with killing her mother’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato.
The 32-year-old Johnny Stomp, as he was known, was an enforcer for gangster Mickey Cohen and had been in an abusive relationship with Lana Turner for a year when and her daughter stabbed him in the stomach to defend her mother.
A jury ruled the killing was ‘justifiable homicide’ and Cheryl was released into the custody of her grandmother.
Married seven times, Lana Turner died of cancer in 1995 in Beverly Hills at the age of 74.
Fate struck ‘Blonde bombshell’ actress Jayne Mansfield when she was being driven from a supper club performance in Biloxi, Mississippi, to another gig in New Orleans.
She and her attorney boyfriend Sam Brody were in the front seat of a 1966 Buick Electra along with the driver, 20-year-old Ronnie Harrison. Three children from Jayne’s marriage to 1955 Mr. Universe and actor Mickey Hargitay — Miklós (Mickey Jr.) 8, Zoltan, 6, and three-year-old Marie (Mariska), the future ‘Law and Order’ actress — were in the back seat. Jayne and Mickey Hargitay had divorced three years earlier.
The group had left Biloxi after midnight. Around 2:25 a.m. on U.S. Highway 90, the Buick slammed at high speed into the rear of a tractor-trailer driven by a Mr. Rambo, that had slowed down for an insecticide spraying truck. [Crash car in header photo]
Jayne, Sam Brody and the driver were killed instantly. Jayne’s three children asleep in the back seat, including Mariska Hargitay, survived with minor injuries. The death car was saved by a private collector in Florida and became a roadside attraction in the 1970s.
The former Playboy ‘Playmate’ and alleged mistress of JFK and Bobby Kennedy, Jayne Mansfield was buried in Fairview Cemetery, near Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, beside her father Herbert Palmer. Mickey Hargitay was the only one of her three ex-husbands who attended the funeral. He died in Los Angeles in 2006 at the age of 80.
The father of actor/director Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner began in television comedy in the 1950s, writing and acting for shows that a starred Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen. He created, produced and acted in the hugely popular Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 to 1966.
Carl Reiner died in Beverly Hills in 2020 after an evening of watching television with Mel Brooks. He was 98.
Famous in the 1950s for pop songs such as ‘Come On-a My House,’ and ’Mambo Italiano,’ Rosemary Clooney’s career waned due to depression and drug addiction. She regained prominence in 1977 when she appeared with her White Christmas co-star Bing Crosby on a special marking his 50th anniversary in show business.
She was the aunt of actor George Clooney. A heavy smoker most of her life, Rosemary Clooney died in 2002 in Beverly Hills of lung cancer at 74.
Known as Il Mattatore, Vittorio Gassman is considered one of the greatest Italian actors, whose career included directing and screenwriting.
He was awarded a Cannes Film Festival Best Actor award for the starring role in ‘Profumo di donna’ the original 1974 version of the 1992 American remake Scent of a Woman starring Al Pacino.
Vittorio Gassman died of a heart attack in Rome in 2000 at the age of 77.
The most notorious of the Grim Reaper’s snares on June 29 was the scandalous Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, one of the most popular silent stars of the 1910s. He was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning a million dollars a year, equivalent to more than $14.7 million in today’s money.
But his wild lifestyle became his undoing. In three widely publicized trials in the early 1920s he was accused of the rape and manslaughter of model and silent screen actress Virginia Rappe.
Fatty Arbuckle had hosted a party at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel in 1921 at which Virginia Rappe became ill and died four days later. Arbuckle was charged with raping and accidentally killing her. Two of three trials resulted in hung juries but the jury in the third trial acquitted him.
The scandal permanently damaged his career and his legacy as a great comedic actor, but he was on the verge of making a comeback in 1933 after signing a contract with Warner Bros. to star in a feature-length film.
That night in New York City, he celebrated his new contract and the first wedding anniversary with his third wife Addie Oakley, telling friends, “This is the best day of my life.” Later that night ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle had a heart attack and died in his sleep. He was 46.