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A look back at the esteemed personalities who left us this year, who'd touched us with their innovation, creativity and humanity. By CBSNews. The Associated Press contributed to this gallery. He was a man of letters, music, theater and film, earning the sobriquet "Godfather of Black Cinema" for helping to usher in a wave of "blaxploitation" movies in the s that influenced generations of filmmakers.

The best-known work of Melvin Van Peebles August 21, September 22, was the movie "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," an indie film that he wrote, produced, directed, starred in and scored. It was a violent tale of a Black street hustler on the run after killing police officers who were beating a Black revolutionary. Despite its low budget and limited distribution it initially received an X ratingthe film became a box office hit, inspiring Hollywood to chase after a lucrative but untapped Black film market.

In Van Peebles complained that subsequent Black films failed to address the political, instead sensationalizing crime: "What Hollywood did — they suppressed the political message, added caricature — and blaxploitation was born.

The colored intelligentsia were not too happy about it. His road to making what became the 1 film in America was circuitous. A graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, he ed the Air Force, then moved to Mexico and worked as a portrait painter, then moved to San Francisco where he wrote short stories and made short films while driving cable cars. The job offers he received in Hollywood didn't rise far above parking attendant, so he moved to Holland, studying astronomy and taking classes at the Dutch National Theatre.

It won a critics' prize at the San Francisco Film Festival. Van Peebles was hired to direct the satire "Watermelon Man," starring Godfrey Cambridge as a White bigot who wakes up one day as a Black man. The money he earned would bankroll "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" which has recently received a 4K restoration for its 50th anniversary. He penned the screenplay for "Panther," adapted from his novel and directed by his son, Mario Van Peebles.

He also recorded several albums.

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His career path took yet another turn in the s, when Van Peebles became a Wall Street options trader and wrote a financial self-help guide titled "Bold Money. In Van Peebles discussed with Filmmaker Magazine how his experience with "Sweetback" challenged the film industry: "I did the one thing a Black guy can't do — succeed without a master.

When I finished the film, I had to hire me a White guy to pretend he was the boss to sell the damn film! You dig it? I've not had a real job offer since I made 'Sweetback's. But it wasn't a surprise, it wasn't a shock. My feelings weren't hurt. This is what you expect. And hallelujah, that made it possible for someone else. A native of Highland Park, N. In he gave advice to actors in an interview with the Daily Actor : "I actually teach an acting workshop, and my general advice is, bring yourself to the role. No two people are doing the same role the same way and there's a reason for that.

You have your reality, your physicality, your hairline, your life experiences, and that is what makes acting interesting. That's what makes people interested in actors, is them bringing what they bring to the role — not to do it like someone else do it. George Holliday June Sept. He stepped outside his San Fernando Valley home to record the beating by several White police officers of a Black man who'd been pulled over on a traffic stop.

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The victim was Rodney King, who was kicked, punched, tasered and bound. Holliday recorded nine minutes of the confrontation he'd missed the initial interaction and turned over his videotape to a local TV station, which later shared it with CNN. The footage became an international sensation, and was a critical piece of evidence in the criminal trial of the officers.

When they were acquitted on charges of assault and excessive use of force in Aprilthe outcry led to rioting in the city, with hundreds of businesses looted and burned. More than 60 people died in the violence, primarily in South Los Angeles. Holliday told Britain's Sun newspaper that he later encountered King at a gas station, failing to recognize him at first since he'd recovered from his beating: "He said, 'You don't know who I am, do you? Holliday, an early example of a so-called "citizen journalist" whose video or photos document important events, attempted to profit from his footage, but saw little after it was widely distributed.

He lost a suit against the station that had shared the video, but did the footage for a music video and also the Spike Lee film "Malcolm X. But the Rodney King tape's role in casting a light on police brutality would be instrumental in inspiring others to use video cameras and later, smartphones to record interactions with police, such as Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin's murder of George Floyd. It also helped further calls for police body cameras to document Hung Luxembourg male seeking 1st black experience actions. On a trip to Los Angeles, she appeared on a network radio talent show, performing an aria from "Carmen.

InPowell explained to the New York Observer why she abandoned her singing career for more dramatic roles: "I can't hit the high notes, and I won't be second-rate. For the Off-Broadway comedy "Avow," Powell played a devout Catholic who was mother to a pregnant, single woman in love with a priest, and a gay son who wants to marry his lover. Burt had the timing of a stand-up. When I was doing my impression, I was like, 'I know why I'm getting laughs: because I'm stealing his great work.

His deadpan style made him a perfect anchorman for "Weekend Update. Simpson, would cost him his job; he was fired mid-season in by NBC Entertainment executive Don Ohlmeyer, who was a friend of Simpson's. Preaching to them is not a gift. There are people who can do that better — preachers. Impresario George Wein Oct. A former jazz club owner and aspiring pianist, who also started the Storyville record label in Boston, Wein began the Newport Jazz Festival in with a stellar lineup which included Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Lester Young and a drenching downpour of rain.

But he was back the following year with Louis Armstrong, and with Duke Ellington and his band in That first gathering was inspired by a socialite's complaint that summers in Newport, R. I knew it had to be something unique, that no jazz fan had ever been exposed to. The success of Newport would inspire other jazz festivals across the U.

During the festival, Bob Dylan turned up with an electric band, and without an acoustic instrument — a landmark music event. InWein sold his company, Festival Productions Inc. This is my life. He was the Humphrey Bogart of France — a magnetic and virile personality whose unconventional movie-star looks nonetheless dominated international screens over the course of five decades. The son of a famed sculptor and a painter, Belmondo in his youth trained as a boxer, but when he switched to acting lessons, one of his teachers mocked the idea that, with his looks, he could ever be a romantic leading man.

After work in regional theaters, he was spotted by Godard, who cast him in a short film, "Charlotte and Her Boyfriend. His films — comedies, dramas and actioners — showcased his athleticism and projected an alienation that benefited his portrayals of rogue lovers, outcasts, criminals and antiheroes.

I hope. His stint as Bozo came after being picked among his station's announcers to attend clown school in California. ing "Today" inScott charmed the audience with his self-deprecating humor and cheerful personality, which extended to congratulating viewers who were celebrating their th birthdays — 40, centenarians, by one count, during his 35 years on the broadcast.

A fan favorite of young and old, Scott was covering the parade at President George H. Bush's inauguration, when he was greeted by first lady Barbara Bush, who ran over to Scott on the sidelines and planted a big kiss on his lips. He helped the Patriots to two more championships, in and After retiring from professional football, Patten returned to Western Carolina University, his alma mater, to the coaching staff.

In a interview with the Western Carolina JournalPatten recounted the rough, early years of his career being cut loose from the Canadian Football League, ignored during the NFL draft, and, after a year in the Arena Football League, being picked up, then dropped by the Giantsand how he finally found his footing with Brady and the Patriots. It was as if all of the hard work, all of the setbacks had made it that much sweeter.

It made it all worth it. Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis July 29, September 2, was renowned for creating rousing music while leading a life of rousing political defiance, which included several years as a member of the Greek parliament. His involvement in left-wing resistance groups led to his arrests by Italian and German occupiers, and persecution after the war by the Greek regime. He was jailed, and as a result of severe beatings and torture, including mock executions, Theodorakis suffered broken limbs, respiratory problems and other injuries that plagued his health for the rest of his life.

Despite the hardships, he graduated from Athens Music School and continued his studies in Paris. A prolific career as a composer included more than 1, songs, as well as symphonies and chamber music, operas, and music for films and ballet. A music series based on poems written by Nazi concentration camp survivor Iakovos Kambanellis, "The Ballad of Mauthausen," described the horrors of camp life and the Holocaust.

But it was the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' "Zorba the Greek," inand Theodorakis' slow-to-frenetic folk music, that made him a household name.

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As Theodorakis' fame grew, political turmoil in Greece led to his compositions being banned by the military dictatorship then in power. Placed in a concentration camp, Theodorakis was ultimately freed following an international outcry, and went into exile in Paris, from which he maintained his activism, his music becoming a soundtrack of resistance. In a interview with the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Theodorakis talked about facing his torturer in prison, who'd asked him if he knew that his life was worth nothing. Theodorakis responded by humming the theme from "Zorba the Greek. If I die, every time this is played you will be haunted by "Zorba.

Otherwise, I would have been done for. For most of the s he was a member of parliament for the Greek Communist Party, but later served in the cabinet of the conservative government. His defenders saw him as a unifier, trying to heal the nation's longstanding political divisions. A high school football player who had studied journalism at the University of Chicago, Asner switched to acting, making his debut as Thomas Becket in a campus production of T.

Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral. His introduction to us, and to prospective employee Mary Richards, was hilariously pithy:. Grant: "You know what?

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You've got spunk. I felt like I could command them to walk off a cliff! Then, when Moore's comedy went off the air, he continued in a spin-off series, "Lou Grant," an hour-long drama in which Grant returned to newspaper work as the city editor of a Los Angeles daily. Asner starred in that series for five years, and between the two shows won five Emmys for playing the same character. CBS insisted that declining ratings were the reason.

In "Sunday Morning" correspondent Rita Braver asked the thenyear-old about his starring role in the Broadway play, "Grace": "I just think a lot of people as successful as you are, they wouldn't put themselves through this, out there every night.

From childhood Charlie Watts June 2, August 24, was passionate about music, particularly jazz. He taught himself the drums, which he played as a side gig to his day job at an advertising agency. After performing with Mick Jagger in Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, he ed the Rolling Stones, inand would be their drummer until his death. Watts was ranked among the greatest of rock drummers, as the Stones rose to international superstardom. Self-effacing, Watts largely avoided the drugs and personal dramas that affected other band members, and was a steadying influence for a group known as much for its longevity as for its musical supremacy.

As a jazz aficionado, Watts recorded several albums, beginning in with "Live at Fulham Town Hall. In Watts told "60 Minutes" correspondent Ed Bradley"I always consider myself a drummer, you know? That's to keep the time and help everyone else do what they're doing. I don't really like solo-type things. I mean, I do sort of solo records, but they're sort of jazz-type things, and I do that because I don't do that with the Rolling Stones.

Singer-songwriter Micki Grant June 30, August 22, earned two of her three Tony Award nominations for the musical "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope," a revue in which rock, jazz, soul, gospel and spoken-word told of the Black urban experience in the early '70s. I wanted to open eyes but not turn eyes away. She also wrote the music for the adaptation of Studs Terkel's "Working. Don Everly February 1, August 21, and his brother, Phil, grew up in a musical family, the sons of Ike and Margaret Everly, who were folk and country music singers.

In the s, Don and his brother would their parents on their family's radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa, singing as The Everly Family.

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In the s, after moving to Nashville, Don and Phil ed with Cadence Records, and began a long streak of hits — poignant pop and country-rock songs with yearning harmonies that spoke to their rural roots. In they broke up, dramatically so, on stage at Knott's Berry Farm in California.

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