TIME remembrance

Robin Williams, Comedian and Actor, Dead at 63

Oscar-winning actor had battled depression and addiction issues

The Oscar-winning comedian and actor Robin Williams has died at 63, according to police in Marin County, Calif.

A statement from the assistant chief deputy coroner of Marin County announced on Monday that the Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.”

His publicist confirmed the news.

TIME

Robin Williams’ Life in Pictures

The oscar-winning actor died in what is suspected to be a suicide

Robin Williams, who died Monday at 63, first broke through with Mork and Mindy and later won an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting — but that only scratches the surface of his career. From Mrs. Doubtfire to voicing the Genie in Disney’s animated film Aladdin, check out some of Williams’ most celebrated roles.

TIME obituary

James Brady, Former White House Press Secretary, Dies at 73

Ronald Reagan's press secretary became a gun control advocate after surviving the 1981 assassination attempt on the president

Updated 3:18 p.m. ET

James Brady, a former White House Press Secretary for Ronald Reagan, has died at age 73.

Before becoming an aide to Reagan, Brady worked for the OMB and the Pentagon, as well as Sens. Everett Dirksen and William Roth and Texas governor John Connally. He was named White House press secretary in Jan. 1981, according to a TIME profile, “after a lengthy search turned up no one better or more willing to tackle the job.”

But after an assassination attempt on then-President Reagan in 1981 left him confined to a wheelchair, Brady went on to become a major advocate for gun control. Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act into law in 1993.

White House press secretary Jim Brady lies wounded on sidewalk after a gunman fired several shots at President Ronald Reagan and his party after he delivered a speech at a Washington hotel in Washington on March 30, 1981.
White House press secretary Jim Brady lies wounded on sidewalk after a gunman fired several shots at President Ronald Reagan and his party after he delivered a speech at a Washington hotel in Washington on March 30, 1981.
Betterman/Corbis

Brady was born in Centralia, Ill., on Aug. 29, 1940. He earned a B.S. in Communications and Political Science from the University of Illinois in 1962 before going on to work in Republican politics.

“Jim touched the lives of so many and has been a wonderful husband, father, friend and role model,” reads a statement from Brady’s family. “We are enormously proud of Jim’s remarkable accomplishments — before he was shot on the fateful day in 1981 while serving at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months and years that followed.

Jim Brady’s zest for life was apparent to all who knew him, and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humor, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place.”

[NBC]

TIME Music

Tommy Ramone, Last of the Ramones, Dies

Tommy Ramone of former U.S. punk band 'The Ramones' addresses the media in Berlin
Tommy Ramone addresses the media after a rehearsal of the musical 'Gabba Gabba Hey !' in Berlin, May 3, 2005. Arnd Wiegmann—Reuters

The Ramones forged a harder-edged, faster side to rock and influenced generations of rockers

Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of the groundbreaking punk band the Ramones, died Friday at the age of 65.

Drummer Tommy Ramone co-founded the Ramones along with singer Joey Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone in 1974 in New York. The four members all adopted the same last name with the formation of the band.

Tommy Ramone’s passing was confirmed by Dave Frey, who works for Ramones Productions and Silent Partner Management. There were no additional details about the circumstances of the death of Tommy Ramone, who was born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, reports the Associated Press.

The band’s hit songs like “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” changed the course of rock n’ roll, influencing artists from Nirvana to Green Day and Kurt Cobain. Donning their trademark leather jackets and long black mops of hair, the Ramones set a harder, faster and grungier tone for rockers to emulate.

Some of the Ramones’ best-known songs reflected their tumultuous teen years in Queens: “Beat on the Brat,” ”Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” ”Teenage Lobotomy,” ”Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”

Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose in 2002, while Johnny Ramone and Joey Ramone died of cancer in the mid aughts.

[AP]

TIME obituary

Olympian and World War II Hero Louis Zamperini Dies at 97

Louis Zamperini gestures during a news conference, in Pasadena, Calif. Zamperini, a U.S. Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
Louis Zamperini gestures during a news conference, in Pasadena, Calif. Zamperini, a U.S. Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Nick Ut—AP

After a battle with pneumonia

Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who ran for the U.S. track and field team at the 1936 Olympics and later survived two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday. He was 97 and had been battling pneumonia, his family said.

“He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia,” Zamperini’s family said in a statement. “After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”

At age 19, Zamperini—who was born to Italian immigrant parents and grew up in Torrance, Calif.—qualified to run in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, becoming the youngest-ever American Olympic qualifier for the 5,000 meters category. He placed eighth, having run his last lap in 56 seconds—a feat that caught the attention of Adolf Hitler, who insisted on meeting him. Zamperini then set his sights on the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, but his plans were interrupted by the onset of war. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941.

In 1943, Zamperini survived a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, after which he floated on an open raft for over a month before being imprisoned by Japanese sailors. Zamperini and another survivor spent the following two years in a series of prisoner of war camps, where they were subjected to repeated torture and starvation. Zamperini authored two autobiographies, one in 1956 and another in 2003, both titled Devil at My Heels. His survival story has also been chronicled by Laura Hillenbrand in her 2010 best-selling book Unbroken. A movie with the same title—based on Hillenbrand’s book and directed by Angelina Jolie—is set to be released by Universal Pictures in December.

TIME obituary

Versatile Actor Eli Wallach Dies at 98

Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood
Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2011 Lucas Jackson—Reuters

The New York City native held roles in more than 80 films over the course of his six-decade career

Eli Wallach, the prolific American actor who spent more than half a century working in film, has died at the age of 98.

Wallach began as a stage actor in the early 1950s but soon found his way to Hollywood. Between his first movie role in 1956′s Baby Doll and his last in 2010′s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, he found work in more than 80 films.

He was a “great performer,” Clint Eastwood said when presenting Wallach with an honorary Oscar in 2010, “and a great friend.” In 1966, Eastwood and Wallach co-starred in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, beginning a close friendship.

“As an actor, Wallach is the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote of him.

Wallach’s death on Tuesday was confirmed by his daughter Katherine.

TIME remembrance

Elvis Duran’s Top Casey Kasem Memory

Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem on Nov. 10, 2003, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Chris Polk / FilmMagic / Getty Images

The Morning Show host discusses the influence of Casey Kasem, who died June 15 at 82

I never met Casey Kasem, but my strongest memory of him is from when I started off in radio. I was 14 years old, growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I was hired to “board-op” American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. Growing up listening to AT40 made me want to get into radio — but when I had to produce the sound of his show on the radio station, I got to know him even better.

They would deliver the American Top 40 show to the station on vinyl albums. I would start at the beginning, he would count down and then he would take a commercial break, and I was the one who put the commercials on. When the commercials were over, I would push the button again and he would start back. One time — it would have been 1980 or 1979 — I went to a commercial break and I came back and put the wrong album on and went directly to the Number 1 song. That’s when I realized the power of Casey Kasem. I realized if I made a mistake how many people were affected by it and how many people hated me instantly, because they would all call and complain.

He was so important for people coming up in the ranks of radio, to understand that connection between the person on the microphone at the station and the person listening. The way Casey told stories with his long-distance dedications and the way he described how these artists were doing everything they could to get their songs to go up the chart, it was listening to a friend tell a story every time he opened his microphone. That’s the connection we still try to maintain every day. That’s what keeps radio alive. — as told to Lily Rothman

Elvis Duran is host of the nationally syndicated Elvis Duran and the Morning Show

Read more about Casey Kasem in this week’s issue of TIME

TIME remembrance

Why Casey Kasem Mattered

Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem poses for a publicity still circa 1990 in Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images

During a tumultuous time, Kasem—who died June 15 at 82—made music less divisive

Casey Kasem was one of the most important disc-jockeys in the history of radio. While Alan Freed is often credited with the rowdy rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the mid 1950s and Tom Donahue with the creation of free-form FM radio in the ‘60s, Kasem’s contribution gently defied the increasingly divisive changes in radio that marked the 1970s. From its first broadcast in 1970, his “America’s Top 40” counted down hit songs in a dizzyingly diverse array of styles. What kept it all together was Kasem himself—that distinctive voice and genial, charmingly earnest on-air persona. As Dick Clark did on television, Kasem helped bring an often splintered nation together around pop music.

Grounded in 1950s and ‘60s regional AM radio, Kasem’s style seemed old school the day he emerged on the national scene. But Kasem was more than a DJ: he was a host. Not long after families had gathered around the TV to watch Elvis or the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Kasem brought the variety-show approach back to syndicated radio, broadcasting coast to coast. Unlike variety hosts of radio’s golden age in the 1930s and 40s (such as Bing Crosby), Casey did not have the artists available in the studio to provide a few words and the personal touch. Instead, Kasem cleverly emphasized artists’ personal lives with engaging facts and brief bios, adding tear-jerking dedications from listeners to the mix.

With such a wide stylistic range of songs in the countdown, there were always songs you didn’t like; nevertheless, you continued to listen. Who could tune out? What song would be number one? “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger,” Casey would often tease. You felt like you knew the artists, the other listeners, and the optimistic, well-wishing master of ceremonies. This was more than a radio show: it was a gathering of friends. While Kasem also enjoyed a broad range of success as an announcer and voice actor, it is this work as radio host that has made its mark in history.

John Covach is Director of the University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music.

Read more about Casey Kasem in this week’s issue of TIME

TIME Baseball

Tony Gwynn Was a Joy to Watch at the Plate, and in Life

San Diego Padres' Tony Gwynn removes his batting g
Tony Gwynn in September, 2001. MIKE FIALA—AFP/Getty Images

sportsillustrated

What Tony Gwynn did even better than “carving” base hits through “the 5.5 hole” between third base and shortstop — something he did so often and so well he owned the concept the way Willie Mays did the basket catch and Sandy Koufax the curveball — was to make people smile. Gwynn loved baseball through and through. He could not hide his enthusiasm for feeling the dirt and grass under his feet, which is why after hitting .338 over 20 years of major league baseball and earning $47 million he went to San Diego State to coach college kids on how to play and love this beautiful game.

Quick: name another Hall of Famer in baseball’s era of economic boom who took to coaching college kids. Stuck? Thought so.

Today baseball is a little less beautiful. Tony Gwynn and that sweet smile and infectious, childish giggle of his are gone. Gwynn died at age 54 after a four-year battle against cancer in his salivary gland, a vicious disease that people will connect to his use of smokeless tobacco, the vile habit that is still too common in the game.

Gwynn’s Hall of Fame plaque calls him “an artisan with the bat,” and one of the great pleasures for anybody covering baseball in the 1980s and ’90s was to sit down with the artisan and talk hitting. Gwynn was as prolific a talker as he was a hitter, the observations and theories flying from him like line drives sprayed around the outfield.

SI VAULT: How Tony Gwynn became the best hitter in baseball (09.18.95)

Only once did I see Gwynn’s cherubic face turned sour. It was after Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Batting against New York’s David Wells in a tie game in the fifth inning, Gwynn crushed the first pitch into the upper deck in rightfield at Yankee Stadium. The renowned singles hitter had just made like the Bambino himself. Jaws dropped in the press box. The Padres would lose the game, but the writers made their way to Gwynn afterward to learn more about this uncharacteristic home run. Now, Gwynn was the go-to guy in the San Diego clubhouse whether the Padres won or lost, whether he went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4. He was always available, insightful and courteous. And yet this time, when reporters didn’t hide their astonishment that Gwynn had hit a ball so high and so far, Gwynn barked back a bit. He barely looked up and gave a clipped answer. His pride was hurt.

After the group session broke up, I walked up to Gwynn and complimented him on showing the restraint that he did.

“Have they seen me play before?” he said to me. “It’s not like it’s the first home run I’ve ever hit. I’ve hit a few before and I’ve hit a few longer than that. Give me a break.”

SI VAULT: A tribute to Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer (07.25.07)

Indeed, while the singular skill of shooting line drives through the hole into leftfield defined him, it also overshadowed his athletic excellence. In 1987, Gwynn hit .370 while stealing 56 bases. It remains the only time in the past 92 years anybody hit .370 with at least 50 steals. The only other players to ever do so were George Sisler, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Benny Kauff.

Gwynn played 20 years and never struck out more than 40 times. He had more doubles than strikeouts in his career. In fact, he is one of only five players in the history of the game with more than 500 doubles and fewer than 500 strikeouts, keeping company with Hall of Famers from eras long gone: Paul Waner, Charlie Gehringer, Tris Speaker and Nap Lajoie. He had the bat control of a deadball star in the modern game while still flashing extra-base power.

Gwynn enjoyed a great friendship with Ted Williams and talked hitting with his fellow San Diegan on levels only the virtuosos understand. Williams loved to talk about the barrel of the bat coming up to met the baseball with a slight angle; Gwynn simply dropped the barrel down and through the baseball with a bat so small he used to refer to it as his “peashooter.”

Gwynn was a fervent student of the game. He was one of the first players who dove into the video age. His wife would travel around with a video cassette player — the old Betamax used in those days was as big as a suitcase — and tape his at-bats. Gwynn would watch the tapes after games in his hotel room on the road. Sometimes he would cover the TV set with a sheet of plastic wrap and draw with a wax marker, often to make sure his head didn’t move during his swing or that his body kept its center of balance.

Gwynn seemed to have the mysteries of hitting figured out better than most, like one of those Rubik’s cube masters who can solve the puzzle blindfolded in seconds. And yet he worked and studied at his craft more than most. Baseball never seemed to be work for the man who was called “Mr. Padre.”

All of his amazing numbers, however, don’t tell the true story of Tony Gwynn. He was an ambassador not just for the game of baseball but for mankind. His dignity and modesty were remarkable in any age, but especially this one, in which the individual who shouts the loudest about himself gets the most fame, and we have confused fame with character. Gwynn won the 1995 Branch Rickey Award, the 1998 Lou Gehrig Award and the 1999 Roberto Clemente Award, all honors given to baseball players for their character and humanitarianism, not just their batting skills.

Gwynn will be missed by those who never met him for his extraordinary skills at a very difficult game. He will be missed by those who knew him, whether for a minute or a lifetime, for his smile and his generosity. He is gone much too soon, and deserves every one of the tributes and honors that will mark his passing, none of which would be greater than the next ballplayer who gives up smokeless tobacco.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Television

Somehow Forming a Family: Why We Loved The Brady Bunch‘s Alice

Played by Ann B. Davis, who died over the weekend, Alice represented something that was becoming familiar in people's complicated lives if not on TV: the non-parent parent.

In the famous opening grid of The Brady Bunch‘s title sequence, the character who occupies the center square is not a parent or a child but Alice the housekeeper. (As a kid, I had a heavy diet of Hollywood Squares episodes and Brady Bunch reruns, and therefore forever had Alice and Paul Lynde weirdly conjoined in my mind.) Played by Ann B. Davis, who died after a fall on May 31 at age 88, Alice was the connecting tissue of the group that somehow formed a family.

As a kid watching the Bradys, maybe you identified with Jan or Bobby or another kid, maybe you had affection for Mike and Carol–but Alice was the one you loved. She was an employee, yes, but a friend and a confidante. She was the adult on the show who was most often allowed to be flat-out, broadly funny. Mike had to be patient and befuddled; Carol warm and wise. But Alice got to be smart, self-effacing, flustered, and straight-talking, and Davis played her with a comic arsenal of comic moves and gestures–that peppy voice, those talented eyebrows–and just a touch of relatable melancholy. (Oh, Sam the Butcher!)

The character was also a connection between TV eras. On the one hand, she was a throwback to the early days of TV sitcoms, when housekeeper and maid characters were more commonplace, from Hazel to The Jetsons’ Rosie. (While she had successors, like The Jeffersons‘ Florence, the wisecracking household worker isn’t so common anymore.) But on the other hand, she connected with a change that, in the early ’70s, was emerging in American families, in which figures other than two parents were central in kids’ lives.

Like a lot of childhood TV memories, The Brady Bunch is loved not so much for its artistry as for its emotional connections. The Brady family was big, it was blended, and it felt like there was room for everyone. Putting two families together on TV was unusual at the time, and it spoke to the number of kids who recognized divorce and remarriage from their own lives. Yes, Mike was a widower, and Carol’s status was never clarified–a compromise after Sherwood Schwartz wanted her to be a divorcée–but anyone watching knew what the show was really depicting. It turned something commonly depicted as tragedy into a triumph–a family coming together by choice.

And Alice–an employee, after all–was there by choice more than anyone. Nothing was making her stay, and yet she did. An early episode (see video, above), “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” addressed this directly, as Alice almost left (concocting a story about a “sick aunt”) because she worried the kids didn’t need her anymore. In typical Brady style, this led to hijinks–the whole family undertaking “Operation Alice” to convince her that she was needed–but really the necessity was plain in sight. The Brady house was an operation with a lot of moving parts.

Most of us watching The Bradys didn’t have full-time household help whipping up pork chops and applesauce. But we were, more and more, familiar with the parent-plus model of child-rearing: extended family, or paid caregivers, or family friends who occupied our lives and filled the gaps left by family breakups or busy work schedules.

For some of us, Alice reflected the accessory parents we had in our own lives. For others, she was one of those accessory parents–a familiar presence on the TV in an empty house, dishing out one-liners and companionship. We loved her because she made us laugh, and because she told us something we already knew: that you didn’t have to be blood to be family, you didn’t have to be related to relate. RIP, Ann B. Davis.

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