Category Archives: Celebrity Deaths

Jenni Rivera Dies In Plane Crash At Age 43

via MTV: 

Jenni Rivera

Jenni Rivera, the larger-than-life singer affectionately known as “la Diva de la Banda,” died in a plane crash Saturday night in Mexico. She was 43 years old.

Authorities have not officially confirmed her death, but Rivera’s relatives in the U.S. told Telemundo that there were no survivors following the crash of the Learjet 25 that went down in rugged territory of Mexico’s northern Nuevo Leon state.

Rivera was born in the U.S. to a musical family, and established herself as a solo star in Mexico with her first album, Chacalosa (slang for “party girl”), which sold more than 1 million copies. Over the course of her career, she sold an estimated 15 million albums, almost all in regional Mexican musical styles like norteno and grupero, which had traditionally been dominated by male artists.

Much of her music focused on heartbreak, relationships and cheating men … and her personal life often matched her lyrics. She was divorced three times, had five children, and parlayed those dramatics — and her brash, no-nonsense style — into a wildly popular reality show, “I Love Jenni,” broadcast on cable network mun2, and a subsequent spin-off series. She had also reportedly just inked a deal to develop a show called “Jenni” with ABC.

Her 2008 album of the same name became the first #1 on Billboard’s new Latin Albums chart, and she recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Band Album of the Year.

Rivera had performed a concert in Monterrey, Mexico on Saturday night, and was reportedly flying to the city of Toluca when the Learjet she was aboard from radar some 10 minutes after takeoff. Wreckage of the jet was discovered in rough terrain by Mexican authorities, and while the singer’s body had yet to be identified, a California driver’s license with her name and picture on it was found in the crash site debris. Also believed to have died in the crash was Rivera’s publicist, her lawyer and makeup artist, and the flight’s crew.

As news of her death began to spread, Rivera’s friends and fellow stars took to Twitter to remember her. Jennifer Lopez wrote “So sad … Praying for Jenni Rivera’s children and family and the passengers families,” and Paulina Rubio added “My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me.”

Tearful deejays see show axed, say they’re ‘gutted, shattered, heartbroken’ over tragic Kate Middleton prank call that led to apparent suicide of nurse

via NY Daily News: 


Michael Christian and Mel Greig say there was no intended malice with their call to nurse Jacintha Saldanha that ended with her death.

	Mel Greig (right) and her co-host Michael Christian, 25, (left) insist they were devastated by the death of Jacintha Saldanha and wanted to apologize to her family.



Mel Greig (right) and her co-host Michael Christian, 25, (left) insist they were devastated by the death of Jacintha Saldanha and wanted to apologize to her family.

The pair of disgraced deejays vilified for their prank call on a London nurse who later killed herself say they’re “heartbroken” — but stopped short of a full-throated apology.

Southern Cross Austereo, which carries the 2Day FM show in Australia, also announced over the weekend they were cancelling the “Hot 30 Countdown” and issued a company-wide suspension of prank calls, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. 

In their first interviews after their radio stunt caused an international uproar last week, Aussie shock jocks Michael Christian and Mel Greig gave teary-eyed appeals that they never meant to cause harm in a traumatic trick that was merely “designed to be stupid.”



Jacintha Saldanha‘s daughter Lisha (l.), husband Ben Barboza and son Junal arrive at the Houses of Parliament ahead of a meeting with a Parliament official on Dec. 10 in London.



Jacintha Saldanda was duped by an Australian radio show trying to access confidential medical information about Kate Middleton.

A shaken Greig said she immediately wanted to know whether Jacintha Saldanha, who was found dead Friday, was a mother. The 46-year-old nurse was a wife and mom of two teenaged children.

Saldanha’s husband, Ben Barboza, took to his Facebook page over the weekend to express his grief, writing: “I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances, She will be laid to rest in Shirva, India.”

Saldanha reportedly hanged herself in the nurses’ quarters at King Edward VII Hospital in London, where she worked for four years, according to The Sun.

“Very sorry and saddened for the family, and I can’t imagine what they’ve been going through,” Greig said in an interview that aired Monday on the TV program “Today Tonight.”
“I’m gutted, shattered, heartbroken,” Christian said, adding, “We’re still trying to get our heads around everything, trying to make sense with the situation.”

Greig said the stunt, in which the pair called the hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth inquiring about a pregnant Kate Middleton, was “never meant to go that far.”



Mel Greig said they never expected their hoax to have tragic results.

“The accents were terrible. You know, it was designed to be stupid. … We always wanted it to be a joke,” she continued.

But when asked whether they would do the stunt again after knowing the outcome, the pair hesitated.

“If we played any involvement in her death, then we’re very sorry for that and time will only tell,” Greig said.

Saldanha was the one who answered the deceptive duo’s call and then patched them to a colleague who was caring for Kate. The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital on Dec. 3 for acute morning sickness — a debilitating condition that forced her and husband Prince William to reveal she’s pregnant with their first child.



Australian radio DJ Michael Christian says he was devastated over the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, who was duped by the DJs despite their Australian accents.

The deejays initially celebrated their success in getting a hospital employee to confirm Kate’s condition. Backlash, however, grew after some listeners complained about the call’s invasion of privacy.

Kate, 30, was released Thursday, and she and William said in a statement they were “deeply saddened” by Saldanha’s death. An autopsy is scheduled for this week.

Christian and Greig were taken off the air indefinitely before their bosses announced that advertising on the radio station was suspended over the weekend.

Christian told “Today Tonight” that their prank call was never meant to make someone else feel responsible.

“I suppose the joke was always on us, not anyone else,” he said. “It wasn’t about try and fool someone. We just assumed that with the voices that we put on, we were going to get told off and that was the gag.”



DJs Michael Christian, left, and Mel Greig managed to impersonate Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and received confidential information about the Duchess of Cambridge’s medical condition, which was broadcast on-air.

He sidestepped a question about whether they were ever given legal training on how to properly handle their prank calls. The pair said higher-ups ultimately decide whether a bit can be aired.

“We wanted to be hung up on,” Greig said of the royal-related prank.

“There’s no malice in the call,” Christian added. “There’s no digging.”

Greig said they’re not concerned about their careers at the moment, and are ready for any possible inquiry by Scotland Yard. Australian authorities said Sunday that London police have been in touch, but didn’t make any formal requests as part of an investigation.



Kate Middleton left the King Edward VII hospital in London on Thursday after being treated for severe morning sickness.

“We care more about the family,” Greig said, adding that she wanted them to know “we are thinking of you and if we could call you, we would want to reach out to you.”

Saldanha’s family in her native India said they plan to collect her body for burial. The woman’s 14-year-old daughter wrote on Facebook last week, “I miss you. I loveee you.”

Hospital officials said they hadn’t planned on reprimanding Saldanha. Friends told the Daily News she wouldn’t have killed herself unless she was stressed.

“She’s a very strong person. It’s definitely stress from work,” the friend said.



Jacintha Saldanha’s husband, Ben Barboza, and daughter, Lisha, leave the nurses’ quarters of King Edward VII Hospital in London on Dec. 10.



Lawrence Guyot, civil rights leader, dies after decades of activism

via CS Monitor: 

Lawrence Guyot, at age 23, removed his shirt in Jackson, Miss., to show newsmen where he says Greenwood and Winona police beat him with leather slapsticks, in June of 1963. His daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said he died late Thursday or early Friday outside Washington, D.C. at the age of 73.


Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved, has died. He was 73.

Lawrence Guyot, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee member in Mississippi during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s recalls his work in Hattiesburg and the women who assisted in the struggles, in October 2010.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP/FileGuyot had a history of heart problems and suffered from diabetes, and died at home in Mount Rainier, Md., his daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said late Saturday. She said he died sometime Thursday night; other media reported he passed away Friday.

A Mississippi native, Guyot (pronounced GHEE-ott) worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, which brought thousands of young people to the state to register blacks to vote despite a history of violence and intimidation by authorities. He also chaired the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sought to have blacks included among the state’s delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The bid was rejected, but another civil rights activist,Fannie Lou Hamer, addressed the convention during a nationally televised appearance.

Guyot was severely beaten several times, including at the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary known as Parchman Farm. He continued to speak on voting rights until his death, including encouraging people to cast ballots for President Barack Obama.

“He was a civil rights field worker right up to the end,” Guyot-Diangone said.

Guyot participated in the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Summer Project to make sure a new generation could learn about the civil rights movement.

“There is nothing like having risked your life with people over something immensely important to you,” he told The Clarion-Ledger in 2004. “As Churchill said, there’s nothing more exhilarating than to have been shot at — and missed.”

His daughter said she recently saw him on a bus encouraging people to register to vote and asking about their political views. She said he was an early backer of gay marriage, noting that when he married a white woman, interracial marriage was illegal in some states. He met his wife Monica while they both worked for racial equality.

“He followed justice,” his daughter said. “He followed what was consistent with his values, not what was fashionable. He just pushed people along with him.”

Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at theUniversity of Mississippi, called Guyot “a towering figure, a real warrior for freedom and justice.”

“He loved to mentor young people. That’s how I met him,” she said.

When she attended Ole Miss, students reached out to civil rights activists and Guyot responded.

“He was very opinionated,” she said. “But always — he always backed up his opinions with detailed facts. He always pushed you to think more deeply and to be more strategic. It could be long days of debate about the way forward. But once the path was set, there was nobody more committed to the path.”

Glisson said Guyot’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state in the country, and that’s a direct tribute to his work,” she said.

Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. He became active in civil rights while attendingTougaloo College in Mississippi, and graduated in 1963. Guyotreceived a law degree in 1971 fromRutgers University, and then moved to Washington, where he worked to elect fellow Mississippian and civil rights activist Marion Barry as mayor in 1978.

“When he came to Washington, he continued his revolutionary zeal,” Barry told The Washington Post on Friday. “He was always busy working for the people.”

Guyot worked for the District of Columbia government in various capacities and as a neighborhood advisory commissioner.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Post in 2007 that she first met Guyot within days of his beating at a jail in Winona, Miss. “Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it,” she told the newspaper. On Friday, she called Guyot “an unsung hero” of the civil rights movement.

“Very few Mississippians were willing to risk their lives at that time,” she said. “But Guyot did.”

In recent months, his daughter said he was concerned about what he said were Republican efforts to limit access to the polls. As his health was failing, he voted early because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, he told the AFRO newspaper.

Funeral services are pending.

John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74

via NY Times:

He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.

He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.

In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.

In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.)

Both journeys were the subject of fevered coverage by the news media. They inspired two memoirs by Mr. Fairfax, “Britannia: Rowing Alone Across the Atlantic” and, with Ms. Cook, “Oars Across the Pacific,” both published in the early 1970s.

John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74

Mr. Fairfax died on Feb. 8 at his home in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Tiffany. A professional astrologer, she is his only immediate survivor. Ms. Cook, who became an upholsterer and spent the rest of her life quietly on dry land (though she remained a close friend of Mr. Fairfax), lives outside London.

For all its bravura, Mr. Fairfax’s seafaring almost pales beside his earlier ventures. Footloose and handsome, he was a flesh-and-blood character out of Graham Greene, with more than a dash of Hemingway and Ian Fleming shaken in.

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.

Mr. Fairfax was among the last avatars of a centuries-old figure: the lone-wolf explorer, whose exploits are conceived to satisfy few but himself. His was a solitary, contemplative art that has been all but lost amid the contrived derring-do of adventure-based reality television.

The only child of an English father and a Bulgarian mother, John Fairfax was born on May 21, 1937, in Rome, where his mother had family; he scarcely knew his father, who worked in London for the BBC.

Seeking to give her son structure, his mother enrolled him at 6 in the Italian Boy Scouts. It was there, Mr. Fairfax said, that he acquired his love of nature — and his determination to bend it to his will.

On a camping trip when he was 9, John concluded a fight with another boy by filching the scoutmaster’s pistol and shooting up the campsite. No one was injured, but his scouting career was over.

His parents’ marriage dissolved soon afterward, and he moved with his mother to Buenos Aires. A bright, impassioned dreamer, he devoured tales of adventure, including an account of the voyage of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, Norwegians who in 1896 were the first to row across the Atlantic. John vowed that he would one day make the crossing alone.

At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected.

He later studied literature and philosophy at a university in Buenos Aires and at 20, despondent over a failed love affair, resolved to kill himself by letting a jaguar attack him. When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him.

In Panama, he met a pirate, applied for a job as a pirate’s apprentice and was taken on. He spent three years smuggling guns, liquor and cigarettes around the world, becoming captain of one of his boss’s boats, work that gave him superb navigational skills.

When piracy lost its luster, he gave his boss the slip and fetched up in 1960s London, at loose ends. He revived his boyhood dream of crossing the ocean and, since his pirate duties had entailed no rowing, he began to train.

He rowed daily on the Serpentine, the lake in Hyde Park. Barely more than half a mile long, it was about one eight-thousandth the width of the Atlantic, but it would do.

On Jan. 20, 1969, Mr. Fairfax pushed off from the Canary Islands, bound for Florida. His 22-foot craft, the Britannia, was the Rolls-Royce of rowboats: made of mahogany, it had been created for the voyage by the eminent English boat designer Uffa Fox. It was self-righting, self-bailing and partly covered.

Aboard were provisions (Spam, oatmeal, brandy); water; and a temperamental radio. There was no support boat and no chase plane — only Mr. Fairfax and the sea. He caught fish and sometimes boarded passing ships to cadge food, water and showers.

The long, empty days spawned a temporary madness. Desperate for female company, he talked ardently to the planet Venus.

On July 19, 1969 — Day 180 — Mr. Fairfax, tanned, tired and about 20 pounds lighter, made landfall at Hollywood, Fla. “This is bloody stupid,” he said as he came ashore. Two years later, he was at it again.

This time Ms. Cook, a secretary and competitive rower he had met in London, was aboard.Their new boat, the Britannia II, also a Fox design, was about 36 feet long, large enough for two though still little more than a toy on the Pacific.

“He’s always been a gambler,” Ms. Cook, 73, recalled by telephone on Wednesday. “He was going to the casino every night when I met him — it was craps in those days. And at the end of the day, adventures are a kind of gamble, aren’t they?”

Their crossing, from San Francisco to Hayman Island, Australia, took 361 days — from April 26, 1971, to April 22, 1972 — and was an 8,000-mile cornucopia of disaster.

“It was very, very rough, and our rudder got snapped clean off,” Ms. Cook said. “We were frequently swamped, and at night you didn’t know if the boat was the right way up or the wrong way up.”

Mr. Fairfax was bitten on the arm by a shark, and he and Ms. Cook became trapped in a cyclone, lashing themselves to the boat until it subsided. Unreachable by radio for a time, they were presumed lost.

For all that, Ms. Cook said, there were abundant pleasures. “The nights not too hot, sunny days when you could just row,” she recalled. “You just hear the clunking of the rowlocks, and you stop rowing and hear little splashings of the sea.”

Mr. Fairfax was often asked why he chose a rowboat to beard two roiling oceans. “Almost anybody with a little bit of know-how can sail,” he said in a profile on the Web site of the Ocean Rowing Society International, which adjudicates ocean rowing records. “I’m after a battle with nature, primitive and raw.”

Such battles are a young man’s game. With Ms. Cook, Mr. Fairfax went back to the Pacific in the mid-’70s to try to salvage a cache of lead ingots from a downed ship they had spied on their crossing. But the plan proved unworkable, and he never returned to sea.

In recent years, Mr. Fairfax made his living playing baccarat, the card game also favored by James Bond.

Baccarat is equal parts skill and chance. It lets the player wield consummate mastery while consigning him simultaneously to the caprices of fate.

Deborah Raffin Dead: Actress Dies At Age 59

via Huffington Post:

Deborah Raffin Dead

LOS ANGELES — Deborah Raffin, an actress who ran a successful audiobook company with the help of her celebrity friends, has died. She was 59.

Raffin died Wednesday of leukemia at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, her brother, William, told the Los Angeles Times ( ). She was diagnosed with the blood cancer about a year ago.

Raffin, the daughter of 20th Century Fox contract player Trudy Marshall, had roles in movies such as “Forty Carats” and “Once Is Not Enough.” She also starred in television miniseries, most notably playing actress Brooke Hayward in “Haywire” and a businesswoman in “Noble House,” based on the James Clavell saga set in Hong Kong.

She and her then-husband, music producer Michael Viner, launched Dove Books-on-Tape in the mid-1980s, which blossomed into a multimillion-dollar business. The company’s first best-seller was Stephen Hawking’s opus on the cosmos entitled “A Brief History of Time.”

Raffin’s job was getting celebrities to provide voices for some of the books. Among them were the nonfiction bestsellers “Anatomy of an Illness” and “The Healing Heart,” both by Norman Cousins and read by Jason Robards Jr. and William Conrad, respectively.

Raffin also compiled celebrities’ Christmas anecdotes for a 1990 book, “Sharing Christmas,” which raised money for groups serving the homeless. It included stories from Margaret Thatcher, Kermit the Frog and Mother Teresa.

Raffin and Viner sold the company in 1997 and the couple divorced eight years later. Viner died of cancer in 2009.

Raffin is survived by her two siblings, William and Judy Holston; and a daughter, Taylor Rose Viner.

Services are set for Sunday in Culver City.