Bernie Mac (October 5, 1957 – August 9, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor and voice artist. Born and raised on Chicago's south side, Mac gained huge popularity as a stand-up comedian. He joined comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D. L. Hughley in The Original Kings of Comedy which toured the US very successfully. Bernie was a comedians comedian and loved by his fellow professionals and the public alike.
After briefly hosting the HBO show Midnight Mac, Mac appeared in several films. His most noted film role was as Frank Catton in the remake Ocean's Eleven and the titular character of Mr. 3000. He was the star of The Bernie Mac Show, which ran from 2001 through 2006, earning him two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Mac's other films included starring roles in Booty Call, Friday, The Players Club, Head of State, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Santa, Guess Who, Pride, Soul Men, Transformers and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm, June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American singer, actress. She attained international stardom that continued throughout a career spanning more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on concert stages. Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star Is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. She remains the youngest recipient (at 39 years of age) of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry. She also won an Grammy, a special Tony award and a Golden Globe.
After appearing in vaudeville with her two older sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and 1939's The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, she was released from the studio and then gained new success through record-breaking concert appearances all over the world, including a return to acting, beginning with critically acclaimed performances.
In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars of classic American cinema. She remains a true Icon and has inspired many singers and actors and has been the subject of many biopics.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born into a musical family on 9 August 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of gospel star Cissy Houston, cousin of singing star Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of soul legend Aretha Franklin.
She began singing in the choir at her church, as a young child and by the age of 15 was singing backing vocals professionally with her mother on Chaka Khan's 1978 hit, 'I'm Every Woman'.
She began working as a featured vocalist for the New York-based funk band Material and it was the quality of her vocal work with them that attracted the attention of the major record labels, including Arista with whom she signed in 1983 and where she stayed for the rest of her career.
Her debut album, 'Whitney Houston', was released in 1985 and became the biggest-selling album by a debut artist. Several hit singles, including 'Saving All My Love For You', 'How Will I Know', 'You Give Good Love', and 'The Greatest Love of All', were released from the album, setting her up for a Beatles-beating seven consecutive US number ones. The album itself sold 3 million copies in its first year in the US and went on to sell 25 million worldwide, winning her the first of her six Grammies.
The 1987 follow-up album, 'Whitney', which included the hits 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' and 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', built on her success but it was the 1992 film The Bodyguard (1992) that sealed her place as one of the best-selling artists of all time. While the movie itself and her performance in it were not highly praised, the soundtrack album and her cover of the Dolly Parton song 'I Will Always Love You' topped the singles and albums charts for months and sold 44 million copies around the world. This was followed up in 1998 with her Album, 'My Love Is Your Love'.
Her 2009 comeback album 'I Look To You' was positively received and sold well. Her final acting performance was in Sparkle (2012) (a remake of the 1976 movie, Sparkle (1976).
Her sad passing was mourned all over the world by her grieving fans as she had touched the hearts of Millions of people with her remarkable voice.
Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti; June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995) was an American singer, actor, comedian, and film producer.
One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed the "King of Cool" for his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assuredness. He and Jerry Lewis were partners in the immensely popular comedy team "Martin and Lewis". He was a member of the "Rat Pack" and a star in concert stage/nightclubs, recordings, motion pictures, and television. He was the host of the television variety program The Dean Martin Show (1965–1974) and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1974–1985).
Martin's relaxed, warbling crooning voice earned him dozens of hit singles including his signature songs "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare", and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?".
Nat “King” Cole (March 17, 1919 - February 15, 1965) conquered the pop charts in the Fifties and early Sixties as a warm-voiced singer of orchestrated ballads like “Mona Lisa” and “Unforgettable”, and breezy, countrified sing-alongs including “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer”. Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1919. His mother was a church choir director, and his father was a Baptist pastor. When he was four years old, Cole and his family moved to Chicago. Around the same time, Cole learned how to play piano. He then began formal piano training when he was in his teens. He was inspired by the piano playing of Earl Hines, and when he was 15, he dropped out of school to become a full-time jazz piano player. In 1937, a club owner in Los Angeles christened him Nat “King” Cole, and that same year he formed the King Cole Trio. The jazz trio toured extensively and signed with Capitol Records in 1943. That same year, the trio hit the charts with the song “That Ain’t Right”. The trio scored another hit the following year with “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, a song based on one of Cole’s father’s sermons. That record sold 500,000 copies. Cole continued to score hits with such songs as 1948’s “Nature Boy” and 1950’s “Mona Lisa”. The following year, Cole hit Number One with the song “Too Young.” That same year he had another hit with “Unforgettable”. In 1956, Cole made television history when he became the first African-American host of a variety television series. The Nat King Cole Show, which remained on the air until December 1957, featured performances by such artists as Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peggy Lee. Over the course of his career, Cole appeared on numerous television shows and in several feature films. In 1958, he played the role of W.C. Handy in the film St. Louis Blues, and in 1965, he appeared alongside Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou. In December 1964, Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer. That same month, he released his last album, L-O-V-E, which reached Number Four on the charts. Nat “King” Cole died on February 15, 1965. He was 45 years old. In 1991, Mosaic Records released an 18-CD box set, The Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio. It included 349 songs. That same year, Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole, scored a hit after she recorded a duet with her father, adding her vocals to his song “Unforgettable”. The father-daughter duet won seven Grammy awards. Nat Cole received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.
Wladziu Valentino Liberace (commonly known as Liberace; May 16, 1919 - February 4, 1987) was an American pianist and entertainer. A child prodigy and the first generation son of working class immigrants, Liberace's career spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with established residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. Liberace embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the sobriquet "Mr. Showmanship". Liberace was recognized during his career with two Emmy Awards, six gold albums and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children of Catherine Helen "Kate" (Harrigan) and Harry Lowe Crosby, a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. Crosby studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in playing the drums and singing with a local band. In the early 1930s Bing's brother Everett sent a record of Bing singing "I Surrender, Dear" to the president of CBS. His live performances from New York were carried over the national radio network for 20 consecutive weeks in 1932. His songs about not needing a bundle of money to make life happy was the right message for the decade of the Great Depression. His relaxed, low-key style carried over into the series of "Road" comedies he made with pal Bob Hope. He won the best actor Oscar for playing an easygoing priest in Going My Way (1944). Playing golf was what he liked to do best. He died at age 74 playing golf at a course outside Madrid, Spain, after completing a tour of England that had included a sold-out engagement at the London Palladium. Bing is the biggest selling artist of all time according to official records.
Charles Hardin Holley (known professionally as Buddy Holly; September 7, 1936 - February 3, 1959) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, and a pioneer of rock and roll. His works influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Elvis Costello. Holly exerted a profound influence on popular music and set the template for the standard rock and roll band: two guitars, bass, and drums. He was one of the first in the genre to write, produce, and perform his own songs. He managed to bridge the racial divide that marked music in America. Holly has been described as â€œthe single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.â€ In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Holly number 13 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer, songwriter, and actress. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.
Virginia Patterson Hensley (September 8, 1932 - March 5, 1963), known professionally as Patsy Cline, was an American country music singer. Part of the early 1960s Nashville sound, Cline successfully "crossed over" to pop music. She died at the age of 30 in a multiple-fatality crash in the private plane of her manager, Randy Hughes. She was one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century. Cline was best known for her emotionally expressive and bold contralto voice as well as her role as a country music industry pioneer. Along with Kitty Wells, she helped pave the way for women as headline performers in the genre. Cline was cited as an inspiration by singers in several genres. Books, movies, documentaries, articles and stage plays document her life and career.
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally by her stage name Tammy Wynette, (May 5, 1942 - April 6, 1998) was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of country music's best-known artists and biggest-selling female singers. She was a country music icon. Wynette was called the "First Lady of Country Music", and her best-known song, "Stand by Your Man", was one of the best-selling hit singles by a woman in the history of country music until the famous song "9 to 5" came out. Many of her hits dealt with classic themes of loneliness, divorce, and the difficulties of man-woman relationships. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wynette charted 23 No. 1 songs. Along with Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, she is credited with having defined the role of women in country music during the 1970s.
Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 - January 19, 2006) was an American R&B, soul, and rock and roll singer and songwriter. A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which hit the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the US Billboard Hot 100. Among his best known hits are "In the Midnight Hour" (which he co-wrote), "Land of 1,000 Dances", "Mustang Sally", and "Funky Broadway". The impact of Pickett's songwriting and recording led to his 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Al Jolson was known in the industry as "The World's Greatest Entertainer", for well over 40 years. After his death his influence continued unabated with such performers as Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jackie Wilson and Jerry Lee Lewis all mentioning him as an inspiration. His talent was quickly recognized by the Shubert Brothers, who signed him to appear in the opening show of their new Winter Garden Theater on Broadway in April of 1912. Thus began what many consider to be the greatest career in the history of Broadway. Jolson soon became "King of the Winter Garden". During that time Jolson received reviews that have yet to be matched. Audiences shouted, pleaded and often would not allow the show to proceed, such was the power of his presence. He was said to have had an "electric' personality, along with the ability to make each member of the audience believe that he was singing only to them. In 1927 Jolson starred in the New York-shot The Jazz Singer (1927) and the rest is film history. The Movie electrified audiences and caused a sensation.
"Jackie" Wilson, Jr. (June 9, 1934 – January 21, 1984) was an American soul singer-songwriter and performer. A tenor with a four octave vocal range, he was nicknamed "Mr. Excitement", and was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was considered a master showman, and one of the most dynamic and influential singers and performers in R&B and rock 'n' roll history. Gaining fame in his early years as a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes, he went solo in 1957 and recorded over 50 hit singles that spanned R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening that included “Lonely Teardrops”, “Reet Petite”, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”, ”I Get the Sweetest Feeling" and “To Be Loved” He also had16 R&B Top 10 hits, including 6 R&B # 1's. On the Billboard Hot 100, he scored 14 Top 20 Pop hits, 6 of which made it into the Pop Top 10. On September 29, 1975 while headlining a Dick Clark Oldies Concert, he collapsed on stage from what was later deemed to be a massive heart attack, and subsequently slipped into a coma. He remained semi-comatose for the 9 years preceding his death in 1984, at the age of 49. Wilson was an inspiration to Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown and Michael Jackson to name a few. He was one of the most influential artists of his generation. A two-time Grammy Hall of Fame Inductee, Wilson was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jackie Wilson #69 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Jon Elroy Sanford (December 9, 1922 - October 11, 1991), known professionally as Redd Foxx, was an American comedian and actor, best remembered for his explicit comedy records and his starring role on the 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son. Foxx gained notoriety with his raunchy nightclub acts during the 1950s and 1960s. Known as the "King of the Party Records", he performed on more than 50 records in his lifetime. He also starred in Sanford, The Redd Foxx Show, and The Royal Family. His film roles included All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) and Harlem Nights (1989). In 2004, Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time ranked Foxx as the 24th best stand-up comedian. Foxx not only influenced many comedians, but was often portrayed in popular culture as well, mainly as a result of his famous catchphrases, body language, and facial expressions exhibited on Sanford and Son.
Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman (January 17, 1949 - May 16, 1984) was a popular and eccentric American entertainer, actor, and performance artist. Andy Kaufman took comedy and performance art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination. Impressed by his abilities, Lorne Michaels asked Kaufman to appear on the inaugural broadcast of Saturday Night Live (October 11, 1975). Probably best known for his work as Latka on the TV sitcom Taxi, Andy also appeared in several TV shows and movies, on Broadway, did a one man show at Carnegie Hall, enjoyed a brief professional wrestling career, and performed in concerts nationwide. R.E.M. wrote the hit 1992 song "Man on the Moon" about Kaufman, and Jim Carrey portrayed Kaufman in the 1999 film of the same name.
Christopher Lee Rios (November 10, 1971 - February 7, 2000), better known by his stage name Big Pun (short for Big Punisher), was an American rapper and actor, and the first Latino rapper to attain Platinum sales status as a solo act. Big Pun emerged from the late 1990's underground hip hop scene in The Bronx, New York. He first appeared on albums from Fat Joe's second album "Jealous One's Envy" in 1995, and The Beatnuts' second album Stone Crazy in 1997, prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist. Pun's lyrics are notable for technical efficiency, having minimal pauses to take a breath, heavy use of alliteration as well as internal and multi-syllabic rhyming schemes. About.com ranked him #25 on its list of the 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987 - 2007), while MTV2 ranked him #11 on its list of the "22 Greatest MCs." In 2012, The Source ranked him #19 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.
Celia Cruz (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003) was a Cuban singer who reigned for decades as "The Queen of Latin Music." The most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, she earned twenty-three gold albums and was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. She was renowned internationally as the "Queen of Salsa" and "La Guarachera de Cuba."