Every year we toast the New Year with bubbly champagne and sparkling resolutions. However, we should also look back at those we lost. The most famous death for Chicago was Hugh Hefner (91), who created Playboy for every young boy’s desire. Whether you believe he was an advocate for sexual freedom in a puritan-like state, or contributed to the commodification of women via splashy centerfolds that made millions, he was Chicago.
Hefner grew up in Chicago, attended Steinmetz High School and built his Playboy mansion here on the North Side of Chicago. Many would say he revolutionized the sex industry– bringing it class and a magazine that published top literary talents.
The most notorious death was Charles Manson (83) – a murderer who achieved cult status as the anti-hero and symbol of insanity, violence and macabre. He formed a cult of followers who became known as the Manson Family and committed a series of nine murders in 1969. We all knew Manson’s crazy face.
The second most notorious death was Roger Ailes (77) who created Fox News and was an adviser to successive Republican presidents, but was the first to fall before Harvey Weinstein due to a series of sexual assault allegations and a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson that led to his resignation from Fox.
The most famous Hollywood star to pass away was legendary Mary Tyler Moore (80), a remarkable actress (watch Ordinary People) who stared in two famous TV shows – the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show. Her role as a single woman news producer in the Mary Tyler Moore Show was a breakthrough for the women’s movement. Everyone knew her name and admired her roles. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her early thirties and went on to be an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The most famous musicians to die this past year were Tom Petty (66) – the star rock and roll singer in the 1980s whose hits You Got Lucky and Change of Heart are played constantly on the radio – and Chuck Berry (90), considered the father of rock’n’roll, who helped found this new genre in the 1950s by blending upbeat tempos with blues and had such classic hits as Roll Over Beethoven and Johnny B Goode. “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock’n’roll writer who ever lived,” said Bruce Springsteen.
The most notable sports death was baseball star Roy Halladay (40) who died in his small airplane that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. He was an eight-time All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies and Cy-Young winner who was considered one of the best pitchers of his generation and was known for pitching the second ever no-hitter in a postseason game in 2010, and the 20th perfect game in major league history.
The most notable hero deaths would be Edith Windsor (88), Erica Garner (27) and Norma McCorvey (69). Windsor helped to legalize gay marriage when she filed a lawsuit against the government that led to the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996, a law that meant the government did not recognize same-sex marriages. Her victory led to the 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in the US. McCorvey was Jane Roe in Roe Vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which led to the legalization of abortion. Garner led the fight for justice for her father Eric Garner, who was choked to death by NY police and led to massive protests under the banner “I Can’t Breathe.” She died of a heart ailment.
The most famous writer to die in 2017 was crime novelist Sue Grafton (77) who wrote many detective novels.
The most famous journalist to die was Clare Hollingworth (105), a veteran war correspondent known for breaking the news that WWII had started.
The most bizarre death was former NFL star Aaron Hernandez (27) who reportedly committed suicide in his jail cell awaiting further charges in a murder case.
These are some of the famous people we knew who left us. A shout out also to the loved ones we lost – I lost my mother – and those innocents who were gunned down in horrific shooting rampages in Vegas and Texas as well as victims to all the other senseless violence and unfortunate circumstances.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe 2018!