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Old 09-02-2023, 03:21 PM
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Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson dead at 75

Richardson was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last month in recognition of his work in freeing detained Americans, most recently WNBA player Brittney Griner.

Sept. 2, 2023, 9:36 AM PDT / Updated Sept. 2, 2023, 10:39 AM PDT
By Uwa Ede-Osifo and Associated Press


Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, has died. Richardson was 75.

Mickey Bergman, vice president of the Richardson Center, said in a statement Saturday, “Governor Richardson passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. He lived his entire life in the service of others — including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad," Bergman said.

"There was no person that Governor Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom. The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend.”

Peace Prize last month in recognition of his work in saving detained Americans, most recently WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport when authorities found hash oil in her luggage. Griner was released last December after having been detained for nearly 10 months.

Over the past three decades, Richardson traveled the world negotiating and securing the release of Americans imprisoned overseas in Bangladesh, North Korea, Sudan, Colombia and Iraq. Richardson traveled to danger zones, including the Congo, then called Zaire in 1997, and Afghanistan in 1998 to broker peaceful power transfers and met with infamous dictators Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-il, respectively.

The Richardson Center was created to support the former governor's work facilitating dialogue and global peace, particularly between countries with strained diplomatic relations. He positioned himself and his nonprofit organization as an alternative to traditional diplomatic channels, particularly for countries adverse to established diplomatic powers.

In his 2013 book, “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator,” Richardson advised, “Respect the other side. Try to connect personally. Use sense of humor. Let the other side save face.”

Richardson was born William Blaine Richardson in Pasadena, California. He was raised in Mexico City, living with his Mexican mother. His father was an American banker.

Richardson came to New Mexico in 1978 and chose to run for political office there because of its Hispanic roots. He is credited with transforming New Mexico politics.

During his tenure as governor, he put in place a minimum $50,000 annual salary for the most qualified teachers statewide, an increase in the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.50 an hour, pre-K programs for 4-year-olds, and a $400 million commuter rail system between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Among other accomplishments, on the campaign trail for the 2002 gubernatorial New Mexico race, Richardson set a Guinness World record for most handshakes by a politician in eight hours: 13,392 handshakes.

Richardson ran for president in 2008, later dropping out and endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Obama named Richardson his choice for secretary of commerce, but a grand jury investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme with a political donor who received a lucrative contract led Richardson to bow out of consideration.

State politicians praised Richardson's legacy following news of his death.

Rep. Gabe Vasquez shared a heartfelt message, calling Richardson a “titan in New Mexico and abroad.”

“I mourn the passing of this New Mexico legend, one of the most powerful Hispanics in politics that this nation has seen. Today, we reflect on his decades of service and for always proudly representing New Mexico,” Vazquez continued.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján referred to Richardson as a “giant in public service and government.”

“Here in New Mexico, we will always remember him as our Governor. He never stopped fighting for the state he called home,” Luján wrote.

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Old 09-02-2023, 03:22 PM
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Jimmy Buffett, Singer-Songwriter Who Turned ‘Margaritaville’ Hit into an Empire, Dies at 76
By Chris Morris
Sep 2, 2023 12:23am PT


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Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, whose laid-back, good-humored, often tropically-themed brand of country-laced pop spawned a lucrative one-man business empire, died Friday. He was 76. A cause of death was not immediately released.

Buffett’s death was confirmed through a statement on his official website: “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

Over the course of a 50-year professional career, Buffett collected just one top-10 pop hit: “Margaritaville,” a marimba-laced, tequila-soaked paean to kicking back on the beach in the aftermath of a breakup, which rose to No. 8 on the national charts.

But Buffett’s boozy, punny, often marijuana-scented variety of tropical good-time music struck an abiding chord with an army of enthusiastic fans, who dubbed themselves “parrotheads” in reference to the colorful avian headgear they sported at the musician’s sold-out concerts.

That faithful audience made Buffett a consistent record seller, even absent major radio hits. Active in the studio for five decades, he released four platinum and eight gold studio albums; his 1985 hits compilation “Songs You Know by Heart” was certified for sales of 7 million copies, while the 1992 boxed set “Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads” rang up 4 million units.

From the early ‘90s on, after establishing himself on ABC and MCA Records, Buffett released his music entrepreneurially via his Margaritaville and Mailboat imprints.

Buffett’s highly palatable variety of party-hearty music translated into a host of products, making him one of the most successful and wealthiest performers in the world. In 2016, his personal worth was estimated at $500 million.

Writing about “Margaritaville” on the 40th anniversary of the song’s release in 2017, Forbes stated that it “morphed into a global lifestyle brand that currently has more than $4.8 billion in the development pipeline and sees $1.5 billion in annual system-wide sales. This year, Margaritaville Holdings announced a partnership with Minto Communities to develop Latitude Margaritaville, new active adult communities for those ‘55 and better,’ including the $1 billion Daytona Beach, Florida location and a second in Hilton Head, South Carolina.”

The business magazine noted that the performer’s licensed brands included apparel and footwear, retail stores, restaurants, resort destinations, gaming rooms, restaurants and even a Margaritaville-branded line of beer, LandShark Lager, which was projected to shift an estimated 3.6 million cases during its first year of availability.

Buffett found success as a writer: His novels “Tales from Margaritaville” and “Where is Joe Merchant?” and memoir “A Pirate Looks at Fifty” all reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He was also active in film and TV work, writing soundtracks and appearing as a cameo player, most recently in Harmony Korine’s 2019 comedy “The Beach Bum.”

His lone shot at musical theater, an adaptation of Herman Wouk’s “Don’t Stop the Carnival” written with the novelist, was an out-of-town flop in 1997.

An unflagging stage performer, Buffett toured annually with his Coral Reefer Band and remained a top concert draw late in his career – in 2018, he appeared co-billed on a national tour with the Eagles. Endlessly reprised in concert, his songs like “A Pirate Looks at Forty” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” were perennial sing-along favorites for a legion of parrotheads garbed in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops.

Analyzing the enduring appeal of Buffett’s music, Christopher Ashley, director of the 2017 jukebox musical “Escape to Margaritaville,” said, “There is a celebratory bacchanalian quality but also a real strain of sadness in those songs. I think his songs have a real philosophical commitment to finding joy now, being as now is the only moment… Don’t postpone joy. Embrace it. Grab it. I think that’s profound and a great message to send in a world as joy-challenged as this one.”

James William Buffett was born on Dec. 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Miss. and grew up in Mobile, Ala. He began playing the trombone in grade school. His grandfather was a sailing enthusiast and he took up the sport, which would play a thematic role in his music, as a youth.

He took up the guitar as a student at Auburn University, but ultimately graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. He briefly worked as a Nashville stringer for Billboard magazine.

Buffett began playing professionally in Nashville, and cut his folk-inflected debut “Down to Earth” for Barnaby Records in 1970. He toured with country/folk singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker on a 1971 trek to Key West, Fla, and soon relocated to the Keys, where he developed his easygoing beachside persona.

Signed to ABC/Dunhill, Buffett made his first mark on the country charts; his early sets “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean” (which spawned the early, slightly blue turntable hit “Why Don’t We Get Drunk”) and “Havana Daydreaming” reached No. 43 in 1973 and No. 21 in 1976 on the country album charts, respectively.

His breakthrough came with “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” the million-selling No. 12 pop collection that included his signature “Margaritaville.” The set was succeeded by the platinum “Son of a Son of a Sailor” (No 10, 1978) and the gold “Volcano” (No. 14, 1979). The 1978 live set “You Had to Be There” also went gold.

Through his ‘80s tenure at MCA, Buffett’s albums languished in the middle reaches of the U.S. pop charts, but he remained a top concert attraction. During that decade he began his deep move into personal branding and ancillary marketing, establishing the first Margaritaville retail store in Key West in 1987 and the first Margaritaville Café in 1987.

His fortunes rose in the ‘90s with the founding of his Margaritaville imprint, distributed successively by MCA and Island Records; four of his five studio albums during that decade – “Fruitcakes,” “Barometer Soup,” “Banana Wind” and “Beach House on the Moon” – reached the pop top 10 and went either gold or platinum. A pair of ‘90s concert shots, “Feeding Frenzy” (1990) and “Buffett Live: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays” (1999) were certified gold; the latter album was the first release on a new personal imprint, Mailboat Records.

After the turn of the millennium, marking his first appearances at the apex of the American pop charts, Buffett belatedly launched a pair of studio albums, “License to Chill” (2004) and “Take the Weather With You” (2006) to No. 1 on the pop album charts.

His biggest latter-day singles were collaborations that found success on the country singles charts. A duet with Alan Jackson, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” was No. 1 nationally in 2003, garnering a CMA Award as vocal event of the year. A 2004 version of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’,” cut with Jackson, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, George Strait, rose to No. 8. In 2011, he reached No. 1 again alongside the Zac Brown Band on “Knee Deep.”

Buffett is survived by his second wife Jane, their two daughters, Sarah and Savannah, and son, Cameron.

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Old 09-04-2023, 04:00 PM
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Steve Harwell, Smash Mouth Founding Singer, Dead at 56
"Walkin' on the Sun" and "All Star" vocalist announced his retirement in 2021
By Althea Legaspi
September 4, 2023


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Steve Harwell, who cofounded the band Smash Mouth in 1994, has died at the age of 56, band manager Robert Hayes confirmed. The musician, best known for hits like “All Star” and “I’m a Believer,” died at his home in Boise, ID “surrounded by family and friends.”

Harwell had been in hospice care following medical complications. The cause of death was liver failure, Hayes told Rolling Stone.

Hayes said Harwell “passed peacefully and comfortably.” In a statement to Rolling Stone, he offered a lengthy tribute to the artist, who was a staple of Nineties rock music and saw success with multiple albums and singles, selling more than 10 million albums with his band worldwide.

“Steve has been retired from Smash Mouth for two years now, and the band continues to tour with new vocalist Zach Goode,” Hayes said. “That said, Steve’s legacy will live on through the music. With Steve, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 Million albums worldwide-wide and topped the charts with two #1 hit singles, five Top 40 singles, three Hot 100 singles, four Billboard 200 albums and a Grammy nomination not to mention the hundreds of film and television placements and of course those musical features in Shrek.”

He continued, “Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform. Steve Harwell was a true American original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cajones. Steve lived a 100 percent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.”

While Harwell has not been an official member of Smash Mouth since 2021, he and bassist Paul Delisle are the only two original band members who had remained consistent through the majority of the group’s run.

Harwell began his music career in San Jose, California as a rapper with the group F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech). After the group’s demise, he began working with his friend, drummer Kevin Coleman in 1990. Later, he teamed up with guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul Delisle. The four-piece issued two demos that garnered airplay at a local radio station. They soon performed at a summer festival alongside No Doubt and Beck.

Their debut album, Fush Yu Mang, arrived in 1997 via Interscope and spawned “Walkin’ on the Sun,” a Number One hit on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart that reached Number Two on the Hot 100 chart.

The band’s sophomore set, 1999’s Astro Lounge, incorporated more pop and was more musically diverse than its ska-influenced predecessor. It also spawned “All Star,” their biggest hit of their career. The song appeared in numerous film soundtracks, including the first Shrek movie and helped propel the album to triple-platinum status. Their cover of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” also appeared in 2001’s Shrek.

Harwell spoke of Astro Lounge’s new direction and had a message for the band’s detractors in a 1999 interview with Rolling Stone. “A lot of people said that we weren’t talented enough to do that type of shit. Well, we did it, and I want them to eat their words. We got slagged so much by people who wanted us to fail,” he said. “Even friends want you to fail. They’d get a good laugh if I fell flat on my face. We did this record to let people know, “Hey, don’t fuck with us. We built this team and nobody’s going to take it away from us.”

That same year, the band released a collection of early songs called The East Bay Sessions. Coleman left shortly after, citing back problems. Ex-Tripping Daisy drummer Mitch Marine eventually replaced Coleman on tour and on later albums.

The band dropped two more albums in the early aughts — 2001’s self-titled LP and 2003’s Get the Picture? They issued their fifth album, 2006’s Summer Girl on new label Universal following Harwell’s appearance on reality show The Surreal Life alongside Alexis Arquette, C.C. DeVille, Sherman Hemsley, Maven Huffman, Tawny Kitaen, and Andrea Lowell, with Florence Henderson serving as the house therapist.

Smash Mouth’s most recent full-length album, Magic, was released in 2012, the same year their book Recipes From the Road dropped. The band continued to tour as more members rotated in and out of the group.

While Harwell remained a mainstay, he was prone to onstage outbursts before ultimately leaving the group in 2021. At a Fort Collins, Colorado show in 2015, he reportedly became angry during the encore, yelled profanities, and exited after bread was thrown onstage. He later apologized. (In August 2016, Harwell reportedly collapsed and was taken away by ambulance while the band finished the set without him.)

But it was an incident in Oct. 9, 2021 that led him to retire from music. At the Big Sip festival in Bethel, New York, Harwell was captured on video slurring his words, threatening the audience, and giving the middle finger to fans. A rep for the singer told the New York Post at the time that his Wernicke encephalopathy, a neurological condition, impacted Harwell’s motor functions and memory.

“Steve has been dealing with long-term medical issues over the last eight years and during his last performance at the Big Sip stage, he suffered numerous symptoms directly linked with his current medical situation,” the rep said at the time. “As of today, Steve will be retiring from Smash Mouth to focus on his physical and mental health.”

To mark the 20th anniversary of “All Star” in 2019, Harwell addressed the enduring appeal behind the song for Rolling Stone’s oral history of the track. “All Star” was more than just an inescapable hit that flavored films and your favorite memes, it became part of the fabric of generations of music lovers for nearly a quarter century and continues to resonate.

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Old 09-29-2023, 10:59 AM
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Dianne Feinstein, longest serving woman in the Senate, has died at 90
September 29, 20239:09 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
By Scott Shafer


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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate from California in 1992 in a wave election known as "the Year of the Woman" and went on to champion gun control, died yesterday at her home in Washington, D.C. She was 90 years old.

In a statement released Friday morning, James Sauls, Feinstein's Senate chief of staff, confirmed her death.

"There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother. Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state," Sauls wrote. "She left a legacy that is undeniable and extraordinary. There is much to say about who she was and what she did, but for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor and friend."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to announce plans for Feinstein's replacement, focusing his first response instead on her legacy.

"She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation," Newsom said in a statement. "Every race she won, she made history, but her story wasn't just about being the first woman in a particular political office, it was what she did for California, and for America, with that power once she earned it. That's what she should be remembered for."

Feinstein's rise in politics began on Nov. 27, 1978, when her city was jolted by two political assassinations at City Hall. As president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she announced the news to a shocked press corps.

"As president of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to announce that both Mayor [George] Moscone and Supervisor [Harvey] Milk have been shot and killed," Feinstein said in a firm but clearly stunned voice.

At that moment, Feinstein became interim mayor and went on to win election and later reelection, serving as mayor until 1988.

Leading San Francisco after tragedy

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown — a longtime political ally of hers — said Feinstein's handling of the assassinations crisis cemented her reputation.

"It was a dramatic demonstration of how in the face of total and complete disaster, somebody could stand up to settle the ship," Brown said in 2022.

After the City Hall assassinations, Mayor Feinstein signed a local gun control ordinance, angering a fringe gun rights organization called the White Panthers. Collaborating with groups unhappy with the mayor's pro-growth, pro-business and other moderate policies, the White Panthers managed to collect enough signatures to place a recall of Feinstein on the ballot in 1983. The recall failed, catapulting Feinstein into easy reelection later that year.

As mayor, Feinstein governed from the center — winning support from business groups, law enforcement unions and the city's more conservative voters. Her moderate governing style often angered San Francisco's more liberal activists. In 1982 she vetoed legislation that would have allowed same-sex couples to form domestic partnerships entitling them to city benefits, hospital visitation rights and more. She also refused to sign "comparable worth" legislation guaranteeing women equal pay to men who work similar jobs.

In a 2001 interview with C-SPAN, Feinstein attributed her political philosophy to her upbringing.

"My mother was a Democrat. My father was a Goldwater Republican. So we had a split family," Feinstein said.

Achieving national standing

In 1984, San Francisco hosted the Democratic National Convention. Feinstein landed on the cover of Time magazine and made the short list to be presidential nominee Walter Mondale's running mate.

By then the AIDS epidemic was ravaging her city. The federal government under President Ronald Reagan mostly ignored it. A young physician at San Francisco General Hospital, Paul Volberding, often briefed Mayor Feinstein on what was needed to fight the disease.

"I don't recall any moment in the early epidemic when I was told, 'No, we can't do that because we don't have the resources,' " recalled Volberding, who became one of the pioneers in AIDS treatment.

In fact, in the mid-1980s, San Francisco alone was spending more on AIDS than the entire federal government. "And that really goes to her leadership and a great credit to her," Volberding said.


Election to the Senate

In 1990, after leaving the mayor's office, Feinstein ran for governor. She lost narrowly to Republican Sen. Pete Wilson. But a year later, the political climate changed with the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

When law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual misconduct when they worked together, members of the Judiciary Committee, including Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, questioned Hill's integrity and motivation.

"Are you a scorned woman? Do you have a militant attitude relative to the area of civil rights?" Sen. Heflin drawled.

Feinstein used those widely criticized hearings as a springboard to the U.S. Senate.

"Many people took a look at that all-male Judiciary Committee and frankly felt they badly botched the job," Feinstein said campaigning in 1992. Her platform included writing a woman's right to an abortion into federal law.

"The Congress must pass it and the president must sign it. And if he vetoes it, we must override that veto," she said.

Feinstein won the Senate seat, making history as part of the so-called Year of the Woman.

In Washington, she advocated gun control, overcoming stiff odds to pass a federal ban on assault weapons in 1994. Later that year she almost lost reelection. But she developed a reputation as a workhorse, someone who did her homework, and wasn't afraid to rock the boat.

Report on torture by the CIA


In 2014, over objections from the Obama administration, she took to the Senate floor to release a comprehensive report on torture by the CIA following the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Releasing this report is an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are, in fact, a just and lawful society," Feinstein said.

The 500-page summary report by the Intelligence Committee Feinstein chaired revealed in stark detail CIA mistreatment of prisoners, including things like waterboarding and sleep deprivation.

Tom Blanton, who heads the National Security Archive at George Washington University, says the investigation Feinstein directed made the intelligence community accountable.

"I think the Senate torture report was probably the high point of Sen. Feinstein's entire Senate career," Blanton said.

Reelection at age 85


The election of Donald Trump in 2016 put Feinstein's brand of bipartisanship out of step within her own party. Democrats who hoped Feinstein would step aside for a new generation of candidates were disappointed — even angry — when she sought and won another six-year term in 2018 at the age of 85. Some news reports cited apparent memory lapses.

In the fifth year of her final term in office, a serious bout of shingles forced Feinstein to miss nearly 100 votes while she recovered at home in San Francisco.

When she returned to Washington almost three months later, she appeared even more frail with lingering side effects from shingles that limited her ability to work.

Former aide Jim Lazarus believes her reasons for staying in office, rather than enjoying retirement, were intensely personal.

"I just don't think she could see what else to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. She felt well enough and alert enough and strong enough to serve," Lazarus said.

A role model for women in government

Feinstein's most enduring legacy may be opening more doors for women in politics. She was San Francisco's first female mayor, although she wasn't always as much of a feminist as advocates would have liked.

But Malia Cohen, who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before being elected to the state Board of Equalization, remembers meeting Feinstein at City Hall on a third grade field trip where Feinstein told her class one of them could be mayor one day.

"I believe that I'm standing on her shoulders. And I wouldn't be here without her leadership," Cohen said.

Feinstein's third husband Richard Blum died in 2022. She is survived by her daughter Katherine, a now-retired judge who served on the state superior court in San Francisco.

While some Democrats felt Dianne Feinstein was too moderate and stayed in office too long, she'll also be remembered as a woman who led her city through a moment of extraordinary grief and became an effective champion for important national issues in the U.S. Senate.

Details of her replacement remain unknown

Earlier this month, Gov. Newsom reiterated on NBC his pledge to appoint a Black woman to fill the Senate seat if a vacancy occurred. However, Newsom added that he would not appoint anyone currently running for the seat and would see a placeholder until voters could decide next year. House Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff are declared candidates. Lee is a Black woman but has publicly rejected suggestions she would serve as a placeholder.

-- Kelsey Snell contributed to this story.

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Suzanne Somers, Star of ‘Three’s Company’ and ‘She’s the Sheriff,’ Dies at 76

The actress survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years.

By Christy Piña, Hilary Lewis
October 15, 2023 12:50pm


Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Suzanne Somers, the Emmy nominee and star of hit shows like Three’s Company and Step by Step, died Sunday. She was 76.

Somers died peacefully of breast cancer at her home in Palm Springs, her longtime publicist, R. Couri Hay, announced.

“She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years. Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband, Alan, her son, Bruce, and her immediate family,” the statement read. “Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on Oct. 16th. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and they want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”

The actress also was known for her roles on She’s the Sheriff and Serial Mom.

Born in San Bruno, California, on Oct. 16, 1946, Suzanne Marie Mahoney was the third of four children in an Irish-Ameircan Catholic family. Her father, Frank, was a laborer, and her mother, Marion, a medical secretary. When she was 6, her father became an alcoholic and would often call her names, she said.

Somers began her acting career in the late 1960s and early ’70s when she took on small, uncredited roles in Bullitt, Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting and Fools. Her first credited role was as a “blonde in T-bird” in 1973’s American Graffiti.

She landed work on Starsky and Hutch, where she played three different characters. After a few more years of one-off parts on such TV shows as Lotsa Luck!, The Rockford Files and One Day at a Time, Somers landed her breakthrough role as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.

Three’s Company, which ran on ABC from 1977-84, followed three roommates: two single women (Somers and Joyce DeWitt) and a man (John Ritter), with the women saying Ritter’s Jack Tripper was gay in order to appease their landlord. Hijinks ensued in the sitcom.

In 1980, Somers asked for a raise from $30,000 an episode to $150,000 an episode, equal to what Ritter was making and comparable to the salaries of other male sitcom stars at the time. ABC offered only a $5,000 hike, and Somers missed two episode tapings before the network fired her.

“The night before we went in to renegotiate, I got a call from a friend who had connections high up at ABC, and he said, ‘They’re going to hang a nun in the marketplace, and the nun is Suzanne,’” Somers’ husband and manager, Alan Hamel, recalled to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “The network was willing to do this because earlier that year the women on Laverne & Shirley had gotten what they asked for, and they wanted to put a stop to it. They’d destroy the chemistry on Company to make a point.”

Somers landed her other major role in 1991 as Carol Foster Lambert in Step by Step. She and Patrick starred as a widowed mom and divorced dad who quickly fell in love and got married on vacation. The two then combined their families — Somers’ two daughters and young son and Duffy’s two boys and tomboy girl middle child — under one roof. The ’90s sitcom, which ran for six seasons on ABC as part of the network’s TGIF Friday-night programming and then one season on CBS, centered on the conflicts that arose between the step-siblings and their parents.

In April 2013, Duffy told THR that he would be up for a Step by Step reunion. “The Step by Step cast was so wonderful to be with,” he said. “They were my family, and I think a little two-hour special about where these people are — not a documentary, but actually doing a show — seeing where they all come to over the years [would be great]. It would be so fun to play that goofy Frank Lambert character again, aging another 25 years.”

Somers’ final onscreen acting role came in 2001 in Say It Isn’t So, in which she portrayed Chris Klein’s Mom.

In 2005, she made her Broadway debut in a one-woman show titled The Blonde in the Thunderbird. It detailed her life and career but only ran for a week after poor reviews and disappointing ticket sales.

The actress was also known for her 1990s infomercials for the ThighMaster exercise equipment, which was meant to be placed between one’s knees and squeezed to tone the thighs. In March 2022, Somers spoke about the success of the product on the Hollywood Row podcast. At the time, 15 million ThighMasters had been sold at $19.95 apiece, resulting in Somers making nearly $300 million just from sales.

In 2012, she launched her online talk show, Suzanne Somers Breaking Through, where she reconciled with her Three’s Company co-star DeWitt. The actresses hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in 31 years. Later that year, The Suzanne Show, for which she received an Emmy nom for best host, aired on Lifetime Network, where Somers welcomed guests and covered a range of topics related to health and fitness.

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Burt Young, Who Played Paulie in ‘Rocky’ Films, Dies at 83
Carmel Dagan
Wed, October 18, 2023 at 6:06 PM PDT



Burt Young, who played Paulie in six of the “Rocky” films starring

Sylveser Stallone, drawing an Oscar nomination for supporting actor for his performance in the 1976 original, has died, his daughter Anne Morea Steingieser confirmed to the New York Times. He was 83.

Roger Ebert gave Young his props for his performance in the first “Rocky” film: “And Burt Young as (Adrian’s) brother — defeated and resentful, loyal and bitter, caring about people enough to hurt them just to draw attention to his grief.” The New York Times — in an absolutely scathing, completely dismissive review of the film — nevertheless said: “Burt Young is effective as Rocky’s best friend, a beer-guzzling mug.”

Young’s temperamental, jealous but nonetheless loyal and caring Paulie Pennino was Rocky’s best friend — he would defend the Italian Stallion if someone insulted him. But he was a problematic friend who shouts at Adrian during her pregnancy, resulting in the premature birth of Rocky’s son; draws Balboa into a street fight; and in 1990’s “Rocky V,” is the cause of the Balboas’ bankruptcy.

In 2006’s “Rocky Balboa,” Paulie is back where he started, working at the meat-packing plant, but he’s laid off and loses his skepticism about Rocky’s return to the ring and serves as his cornerman. Young did not appear in 2015’s “Creed,” as Paulie is said to have died in 2012.

The exceptionally prolific Young — who was never much to look at, making him the perfect character actor — had a way of taking a thug or a goon or a mug and giving him more personality, more sympathy, somehow, than the role deserved.

In a negative 2011 review of Robert Aldrich’s 1977 police dramedy “The Choirboys,” a poor adaptation of the Joseph Wambaugh novel, critic Richard Winters wrote: “There are a few bright spots. I really liked the Burt Young character. Many people remember him best from the ‘Rocky’ movies. Here he plays an incredibly grungy, crass police sergeant who exposes a tender side at a completely unexpected moment.”

Young played one of the truckers in Sam Peckinpah’s execrable “Convoy” (1978), starring Kris Kristofferson, and played the chauffeur and bodyguard of the Rodney Dangerfield character in the 1986 comedy “Back to School.”

Another example of the actor managing to score despite a generally mediocre film was Robert Aldrich’s 1981 girls wrestling film “All the Marbles,” starring Peter Falk. Critic Dennis Schwartz wrote in 2011: “Burt Young as the oily wrestling promoter who resents Falk for his independence, has a nice turn in a supporting role.”

In a memorable scene in Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984) that also featured a young Joe Pesci, Young played a hood who eats crudely and tells a very off-color story about how he got clued into a Detroit diamond shipment ripe for heisting. The actor played Bed Bug Eddie, a vindictive mobster whose $150,0000 the two protagonists in 1984’s “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” played by Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke, unwisely steal from a safe.

In another characterful turn, in Uli Edel’s 1990 film “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” he played Big Joe, one of many who’s thrown out of work by the strike at the heart of the movie. He is violent, none too bright and yet somehow a decent man concerned about his family — a classic Burt Young character. Big Joe’s wife tells one day that his daughter, played by Ricki Lake, is eight months pregnant, to which he replies, “She’s just fat.”

In the 1999 romantic comedy “Mickey Blue Eyes,” in which Hugh Grant falls in love with a gal (Jeanne Tripplehorn) from a mobbed-up family,

played her father and Young played the big boss. By this point Young had made as many movies with Caan as he had with Stallone.

In 2006’s “Transamerica,” in which Felicity Huffman delightfully played a very proper pre-op transsexual who’s traveling across the country, Fionnula Flanagan and Young played her crass parents, whom she visits in Phoenix.

In Tom McCarthy’s 2011 film “Win Win,” Paul Giamatti played a fed-up lawyer who double crosses his client (Young), who’s moving into Alzheimer’s but refusing to leave his home, by becoming his legal guardian and moving him into a nursing home.

The actor had a supporting role in Raymond De Felitta’s 2014 crime drama “Rob the Mob,” starring Michael Pitt and Ray Romano.

Young tried series-regular television with the NBC comedy “Roomies” (1987), about a 50-year-old former Marine sergeant who rooms with a young genius, played by Corey Haim, when they both go to college, but the show lasted only eight episodes.

Young appeared in TV movies and guested on “Tales From the Crypt,” “Columbo,” “The Outer Limits,” “Russian Doll” and even “Walker, Texas Ranger.” More fittingly, he appeared in a 2001 episode of “The Sopranos” as the father of Steve Schirripa’s Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri. Tony mentions to Bobby “Bacala” that it was odd that he’d never whacked anyone considering his father, who fronted as a barber, was “the fuckin Terminator in that respect.”

Young’s Bobby Sr., who’s suffering from lung cancer, comes out of retirement after Tony gives him the job of killing Salvatore “Mustang Sally” Intile, but he died after choking on blood, losing control of his car and crashing into a sign post while leaving the scene of his final hit.

More impressive, however, was the actor’s masterful performance in a 1997 episode of “Law & Order” called “Mad Dog.” He played a paroled sex offender who’s presumed to be guilty of newly committed crimes fairly similar to those that got him incarcerated, but he’s put under so much pressure by the police and especially Sam Waterston’s executive D.A. McCoy that, ultimately, he is perhaps forced into reoffending, with disastrous results. (Young also later appeared on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”)

Young was born in Queens, New York, to parents of Italian heritage; in a 1978 article, People magazine said Young was mysterious about many details of his past, including his family’s original last name. He dropped out of school when he was 15 to join the Marines, serving from 1957-59. He was trained by Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

The actor made his uncredited screen debut as a bartender in an episode of “The Doctors” in 1969. The next year he made his big-screen debut (credited as John Harris) in the horror film “Carnival of Blood.” He had a small part as a hood in Ivan Passer’s “Born to Win” (1971), which starred George Segal and Paula Prentiss and featured a young Robert De Niro, and appeared in the crime comedy “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” starring Jerry Orbach, with De Niro again in a supporting role, and the well-regarded crime drama “Across 110th Street” (1972).

Young had a supporting role in Mark Rydell’s “Cinderella Liberty” (1973), starring James Caan and Marsha Mason, as a Navy master-at-arms, but he first really made an impression in Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” as Curly, the fisherman who hired Jack Nicholson’s J.J. Gittes on an earlier case and is willing to help out when Gittes wants Curly to smuggle Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn and her daughter/sister Katherine out of the city and away from John Huston’s Hollis Mulwray — a plan that fails.

In Karel Reisz’s James Toback-scripted “The Gambler” (1974), starring Caan, Young played another hood, but this time he attracted the notice of critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Monthly Film Bulletin, who, in a negative review of the film, declared: “It is worth noting that some of the actors do what they can to enliven the relatively marginal parts of the narrative: Burt Young as Carmine, the loan shark hood, describes a parabola from homely amiability to casual brutality that is truly terrifying.”

In Sam Peckinpah’s contemporary action thriller “The Killer Elite” (1975), Young was again reteamed with Caan, playing the loyal driver Mac for Caan’s agent Mike Locken in a movie full of betrayals. (It was in this role that Young caught the attention of Stallone.)

In Mark Rydell’s period heist film “Harry and Walter Go to New York” (1976), starring Caan and Elliott Gould and clearly inspired by “The Sting,” Young got a chance to be on the other side of the law for a change, playing the warden of the prison in which the grand scheme is hatched.

But that same year he made another film that would be far more important in determining the arc of his acting career: the John G. Avildsen-directed “Rocky,” scripted by Stallone and with Young third billed as Paulie.

Young penned the screenplays to the 1978 CBS TV movie “Daddy, I Don’t Like It Like This” and the 1978 film “Uncle Joe Shannon,” in which he starred as the title character.

He was a painter whose work appeared in galleries in Florida and New Jersey.

Young’s wife Gloria died in 1974. He is survived by a daughter, Anne Morea.

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'Friends' star Matthew Perry dies at age 54
Updated October 29, 20239:40 PM ET
Emma Bowman, photographed for NPR, 27 July 2019, in Washington DC.


Matt Sayles/AP

Actor Matthew Perry, best known for playing Chandler Bing on the hit TV show Friends, has died, the Los Angeles County medical examiner confirmed. He was 54 years old.

Perry was found dead of an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times, celebrity outlet TMZ and other reports. The medical examiner has not yet confirmed the cause of death.

Perry was cast in Friends, the sitcom that shot him to fame, at age 24. He starred as Chandler for the sitcom's entire 10-season run, a sarcastic yet affable commitment-phobe who later found love with the Type-A Monica Geller (Courteney Cox).

"I loved Chandler, I loved the show, and I also knew: Remember this, because it's going to be the best time of your life," Perry said in an ABC News Nightline interview with Diane Sawyer last year.

But behind the scenes, Perry struggled with addiction. He opened up about his decades-long excessive use of alcohol and pills in his memoir published last year, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. In the book, which he dedicated to fellow sufferers of addiction, he detailed his painful struggle with drug use and his related health problems: He said he'd spent half of his life in treatment, detoxed an estimated 65 times and underwent 14 surgeries.

"Whenever I bumped into something that I didn't really want to share, I would think of the people that I would be helping, and it would keep me going," the actor told The New York Times last year.

While on set, Perry tried to hide his addiction problem, which he said went hand-in-hand with the pressure to get laughs.

"I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn't laugh, and that's not healthy for sure," Perry wrote in the memoir. "But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn't laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions. If I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out. I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick."

Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler's mother on Friends, said she was devastated by the death of her "son."

I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my “son”, Matthew Perry. The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock. I’m sending love & condolences to his friends & family, especially his dad, John Bennett Perry, who I worked with on Flamingo Road & Falcon Crest. #RIPMatthew pic.twitter.com/QWMsBVJEAr
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) October 29, 2023

Perry received an Emmy nomination for his Friends role and two more for his dramatic turn as associate White House counsel on The West Wing.

Perry also starred in several films, including Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards, 17 Again and the TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Born in Massachusetts, the actor was raised in various parts of Canada, often traveling between the homes of his split parents in Los Angeles and Montreal. In Canada, he became a nationally ranked junior tennis player.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a childhood friend, thanked Perry for bringing laughter to both the schoolyard when they were young and to millions of people around the world.

Matthew Perry’s passing is shocking and saddening. I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 29, 2023

Later in life, the actor moved on to pickleball, the Times reported, even getting a court built at his new home in the Pacific Palisades.


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Default Pogues founding member Shane MacGowan

Shane MacGowan, the singer-songwriter best known as the frontman of Celtic punk band the Pogues who found success with the 1987 song “Fairytale of New York,” died on Thursday. He was 65.

MacGowan’s wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, announced the news via the musician’s Instagram account on Thursday. MacGowan was diagnosed with encephalitis in 2022, which is inflammation of the brain, and had been hospitalized for it recently.



“I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it,” the post reads. “Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.”

The announcement continues, “I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures. There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world. Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever.”

Blessed with a harsh, untutored, yet inimitably soulful voice, MacGowan forged a blend of traditional Irish folk music and punk rock that was later mimicked outright by bands the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, and left a clear influence on acts such as Gogol Bordello and Mumford and Sons. Yet he was perhaps most gifted as a lyricist, displaying a knack for vivid, heart-breaking narratives and a highly literate sensibility that belied his gutter-poet image, deftly incorporating esoteric references to James Joyce, Brendan Behan and ancient Irish folklore into his songs.
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Joe TheSNaKe.
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