Greg Giraldo died on Wednesday after being hospitalized for a prescription drug overdose four days earlier.
The 44-year-old comedian and seventh-season Last Comic Standing judge's death was first announced by Jim Norton, Giraldo's friend and fellow comic.
"Greg Giraldo passed away today," Norton wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. "RIP Buddy."
Giraldo's family was at his side at the time of his passing, according to TMZ.
According to the New York Post, Giraldo was found unconscious in his hotel room in East Brunswick, NJ on Saturday evening following "a wild party."
"It was a like a zoo here," an eyewitness told the Post.
Paramedics were reportedly able to resuscitate Giraldo, who had been staying at the hotel for a four-night appearance at a local comedy club, but he had remained in critical condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
The overdose was not a suicide attempt, according to Giraldo's representative.
"Greg was one of the most talented comedians of our time. He was truly brilliant. His work will surely continue to influence and inspire us. We will miss our friend," Last Comic Standing's producers told Reality TV World in a written statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Prior to becoming a comedian, Giraldo -- who also regularly appeared on Comedy Central's celebrity roasts -- had been an attorney who attended Harvard Law School.
NEW YORK (AP) - George Steinbrenner, whose big wallet and win-at-all-cost attitude whipped the New York Yankees into a billion-dollar sports empire, died Tuesday morning. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4th.
Steinbrenner had a heart attack, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and died at about 6:30 a.m, a person close to the owner told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not disclosed those details.
"George was 'The Boss,' make no mistake," Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said. "He built the Yankees into champions, and that's something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn't? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much."
In 37-plus seasons as owner, Steinbrenner led the Yankees to seven World Series championships, 11 American League pennants and 16 AL East titles.< /P>
"He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. "Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered."
Steinbrenner's death on the day of the All-Star game was the second in three days to rock the Yankees. Bob Sheppard, the team's revered public address announcer from 1951-07, died Sunday at 99.
New York was 11 years removed from its last championship when Steinbrenner headed a group that bought the team from CBS Inc. on Jan. 3, 1973, for about $10 million.
He revolutionized the franchise - and sports - by starting his own television network and ballpark food company. Forbes now values the Yankees at $1.6 billion, trailing only Manchester United ($1.8 billion) and the Dallas Cowboys ($1.65 billion).
"He was an incredible and charitable man," his family said in a statement. "He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again."
He ruled with obsessive dedication to detail, overseeing everything from trades to the airblowers that kept his ballparks spotless. He admittedly was overbearing, screaming at all from commissioners to managers to secretaries.
His reign was interrupted for suspensions, including a 15-month ban in 1974 after his guilty plea to conspiring to make illegal contributions to President Richard Nixon's re-election campaign. He was pardoned 15 years later by President Ronald Reagan.
The son of a shipping magnate, Steinbrenner lived up to his billing as "the Boss," a nickname he earned and clearly enjoyed as he ruled with an iron fist. While he lived in Tampa he was a staple on the front pages of New York newspapers.
"He was truly the most influential and innovative owner in all of sports," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said. "He made the Yankees a source of great pride in being a New Yorker."
Steinbrenner's mansion, on a leafy street in an older neighborhood of south Tampa, was quiet Tuesday. Private security guards milled around on the empty circular driveway inside the gates. A police officer turned away reporters along the narrow street. News vehicles lined the other side of the street.
"The passing of George Steinbrenner marks the end of an era in New York City baseball history," rival Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz said. "George was a larger than life figure and a force in the industry."
Steinbrenner was known for feuds, clashing with Berra and hiring manager Billy Martin five times while repeatedly fighting with him. But as his health declined, Steinbrenner let sons Hal and Hank run more of the family business.
Steinbrenner was in fragile health for years, resulting in fewer public appearances and pronouncements. Yet dressed in his trademark navy blue blazer and white turtleneck, he was the model of success.
"Few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George Steinbrenner," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work made him a quintessential New Yorker."
He appeared at the new Yankee Stadium just four times: the 2009 opener, the first two games of last year's World Series and this year's home opener, when captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi went to his suite and personally delivered his seventh World Series ring.
"He was very emotional," said Hal Steinbrenner, his father's successor as managing general partner.
Till the end, Steinbrenner demanded championships. He barbed Joe Torre during the 2007 AL playoffs, then let the popular manager leave after another loss in the opening round. The team responded last year by winning another title.
Steinbrenner had fainted at a memorial service for NFL great Otto Graham in 2003, appeared weak in 2006 at the groundbreaking for the new stadium and later became ill while watching his granddaughter in a college play. At this past spring training, he used a wheelchair and needed aides to hold him during the national anthem.
In recent times, Steinbrenner let sons Hal and Hank run more of the family business. Still, the former Big Ten football coach took umbrage when others questioned his fitness.
"I am not ill. I work out daily," Steinbrenner said in 2006. "I'd like to see people who are saying that to come down here and do the workout that I do."
When Steinbrenner bought the team, he famously promised a hands-off operation.
"We're not going to pretend we're something we aren't," he said. "I'll stick to building ships."
It hardly turned out that way. Consider his dealings with Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner paid to dig up dirt on the outfielder and derided the future Hall of Famer as "Mr. May" in 1985 after poor performances.
"There is nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner's," one of them, John McMullen, said later.
Still, Steinbrenner could poke fun at himself. He hosted "Saturday Night Live," clowned with Martin in a commercial and chuckled at his impersonation on "Seinfeld." He gave millions to charity, often with one stipulation, that no one know who made the donation.
Steinbrenner spent freely, shelling out huge amounts for Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez, Torre and others in hopes of yet another title. And the team's value increased more than 100-fold from the $8.7 million net price his group paid in 1973.
"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," Steinbrenner was fond of saying. "Breathing first, winning next."
All along, he envisioned himself as a true Yankee Doodle Dandy. It was fitting: George Michael Steinbrenner III was born on the Fourth of July, in 1930.
He joined the likes of Al Davis, Charlie O. Finley, Bill Veeck, George Halas, Jack Kent Cooke and Jerry Jones as the most recognized team owners in history. But Steinbrenner's sporting interests extended beyond baseball.
He was an assistant football coach at Northwestern and Purdue in the 1950s and was part of the group that bought the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League in the 1960s.
He was a vice president of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1989-96 and entered six horses in the Kentucky Derby, failing to win with Steve's Friend (1977), Eternal Prince (1985), Diligence (1996), Concerto (1997), Blue Burner (2002) and the 2005 favorite, Bellamy Road.
To many, though, the Yankees and Steinbrenner were synonymous. His fans applauded his win-at-all-costs style. His detractors blamed him for spiraling salaries and wrecking baseball's competitive balance.
Steinbrenner never managed a game, but he controlled everything else. When he thought the club's parking lot was too crowded, Steinbrenner stood on the pavement - albeit behind a van, out of sight - and had a guard personally check every driver's credential.
Steinbrenner made no apologies for his bombast, even when it cost him. He served two long suspensions: He was banned for 2½ years for paying self-described gambler Howie Spira to dig up negative information on Winfield, and for 15 months following a guilty plea for his conduct during the Watergate era.
"I haven't always done a good job, and I haven't always been successful," Steinbrenner said in 2005. "But I know that I have tried."
Steinbrenner negotiated a landmark $486 million, 12-year cable television contract with the Madison Square Garden Network in 1988 and launched the Yankees' own YES Network for the 2002 season.
The Yankees later became the first team with a $200 million payroll, provoking anger and envy among other owners. After the 1982 season, Baltimore owner Edward Bennett Williams said Steinbrenner hoarded outfielders "like nuclear weapons."
He also changed managers 21 times and got rid of more than a dozen general managers. When a Yankees' public relations man went home to Ohio for the Christmas holiday, then returned in a hurry for a news conference to announce David Cone's re-signing, Steinbrenner fired him.
After Steinbrenner dismissed Berra as manager 16 games into the 1985 season, the Hall of Famer vowed he wouldn't go to back to Yankee Stadium for a game until Steinbrenner apologized.
One night in 1982, reliever Goose Gossage let loose and called Steinbrenner "the fat man." And in 1978, Martin said of Jackson and Steinbrenner: "The two of them deserve each other - one's a born liar, the other's convicted."
There was no denying the results, however.
When Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, they had gone eight seasons without finishing in first place, their longest drought since Babe Ruth & Co. won the team's first pennant in 1921.
"George has been a very charismatic, controversial owner," commissioner Bud Selig said in 2005. "But look, he did what he set out to do - he restored the New York Yankees franchise."
Former AL president Gene Budig sometimes was on the wrong end of Steinbrenner's barbs. After he left office, Budig maintained a friendship with him and even promoted Steinbrenner for the Hall of Fame.
Steinbrenner liked to quote military figures and saw games as an extension of war. No surprise that in the tunnel leading from the Yankees' clubhouse to the field, he had a sign posted with a saying from Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "There is no substitute for victory."
Steinbrenner also had a soft side. He sometimes read about high school athletes who had been injured and sent them money to go to college. He paid for the medical school expenses of Ron Karnaugh after the swimmer's father died during the opening ceremony at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Steinbrenner kept older friends from his football days on the payroll, had a way of rehiring those he had once fired and liked to give second chances to those who had fallen from favor, such as Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
"I'm really 95 percent Mr. Rogers," Steinbrenner said as he approached his 75th birthday, "and only 5 percent Oscar the Grouch."
While Steinbrenner grew up in the Cleveland area as a Yankees fan, his first passion was football. He fondly recalled watching the Browns on cold winter days and many believe the NFL's must-win-today mentality shaped how he approached all sports.
Steinbrenner was raised in a strict, no-nonsense household headed by his father, Henry. The youngest of three children, Steinbrenner attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana. At Williams College, he was a track man and specialized in hurdles.
After that, he enlisted in the Air Force. Steinbrenner always was partial to the military and at Yankee Stadium, men and women in uniform were admitted free of charge.
Following his discharge, he enrolled at Ohio State, pursuing a master's degree in physical education. It was his intention to go into coaching, but after working at a high school in Columbus and at Purdue and Northwestern, he turned to the business world. Steinbrenner married Elizabeth Joan Zieg in 1956 and they had four children.
In 1963, Steinbrenner purchased Kinsman Transit Co., a fleet of lake ore carriers, from his family and built a thriving company. Four years later, Steinbrenner and associates took over American Shipbuilding and revitalized the company.
It was in Cleveland that Steinbrenner met veteran baseball executive Gabe Paul and became involved with the group that bought the Yankees. With 13 partners, Steinbrenner purchased the team from CBS Inc.
"When you're a shipbuilder, nobody pays any attention to you," he said. "But when you own the New York Yankees ... they do, and I love it."
With that, the Bronx Zoo days began. It was while he was under suspension that the Yankees ushered in baseball's new free-agent era by signing Catfish Hunter to a $3.75 million contract. Even though he was officially barred from participating in the daily operation of the team, no one believed Steinbrenner was not involved in that deal.
For the first five years of the free agency, Steinbrenner signed 10 players at an approximate cost of $38 million. Steinbrenner's $18.2 million, 10-year deal with Winfield was the richest free agent contract in history.
During those days, Yankee Stadium underwent a $100 million facelift and reopened in 1976. That year, the Yankees won the AL pennant, but got swept in the World Series by Cincinnati's Big Red Machine. The Yankees surged back to win the World Series in 1977 and 1978 and the AL pennant in 1981.
While the Yankees' roster continually changed, so did the team's front office. However, the one constant for most of Steinbrenner's time was winning. Asked his formula for success, he said: "Work as hard as you ask others to. Strive for what you believe is right, no matter the odds. Learn that mistakes can be the best teacher."
In addition to his sons, Steinbrenner is survived by his wife, Joan, daughters Jennifer and Jessica and 13 grandchildren.
(CNN) -- Manute Bol, one of the tallest players in NBA history, died Saturday at the age of 47, a spokeswoman with the University of Virginia Medical Center confirmed to CNN.
The hospital did not disclose the cause of death.
Bol, who was listed at 7-feet-7 inches tall and 225 pounds, played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat in his 10-year career.
The native of war-torn Sudan was known during and after his career for his charity work for his home country. In 2004 after he was nearly killed in an auto accident, Bol told Sports Illustrated, "God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart, so I would look back."
Bol donated his NBA earnings to charity, according to the article.
Bol, so tall and so lanky, was somewhat the oddity when he came to national attention as a player for the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1984. He was a dominant shot blocker and rebounder at the Division II school, where often the tallest player on the other team would be a foot shorter than him. He played one year at Bridgeport then went pro.
Known as the Dinka Dunker for the Sudanese tribe he was from, Bol was drafted in 1985 by the Bullets and twice led the NBA in blocked shots.
Fans also loved when he would stand behind the 3-point line and push up a long-distance jumper.
He had more blocked shots than points scored in his career, the only NBA player to ever to have that distinction.
He also drew attention after his career ended when he fought a former NFL player, William Perry, in made-for-TV boxing match. Bol won the fight over the man known as the "The Refrigerator" with a third-round decision.
Bol is survived by four children, two sons and two daughters, he had with his ex-wife, Atong.
Former NBA player Gheorghe Muresan, who starred with Billy Crystal in the 1998 movie "My Giant," was also listed at 7-feet-7.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Garry Shider, the longtime musical director of Parliament-Funkadelic whose funky guitar work, songwriting skills and musical arrangements thrilled fans around the globe and earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died. He was 56.
Shider, who died Wednesday at his home in Upper Marlboro, Md., was known to millions of fans as "Starchild" or "Diaperman," the latter because of the loincloth he often wore onstage.
Shider's son, Garrett, said Thursday that his father had been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in late March. He then briefly went out on tour one last time but had to stop because of his failing health.
"He was a beautiful man who had a beautiful heart, who loved his fans just as much as they loved him," Garrett Shider said. "I'm sure if he had the choice, he would have passed on a tour bus, because he loved playing music, playing for the fans."
A New Jersey native, Shider started his mus ical career as a young boy, performing mostly gospel music in churches in a group that included his brother and was overseen by their father. The band also played backup for many prominent gospel artists when they performed concerts in the area, but Shider's musical taste soon grew more diverse.
The teenager first met P-Funk mastermind George Clinton in the late 1960s at a Plainfield barbershop Clinton owned, where future P-Funk members would sing doo-wop for customers and counsel local youths. Then, when he was around 16, Shider and a friend went to Canada, where they formed a funk/rock band called United Soul, or "U.S." Clinton, who was living in Toronto at the time, heard about the band from people in the local music business, and took the band under his wing upon learning that Shider was a member. He helped produce some of their songs and eventually invited Shider to join P-Funk, a combination of two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic.
Shider soon became a mainstay of Clinton's wide-ranging musical family, eventually serving as its musical director and co-writing some of Parliament-Funkadelic's biggest hits. "Thank you, Garry for all you have done. Forever funkin' on!" Clinton noted in a message posted on his website.
Shider first appeared on Funkadelic's 1971 album "Maggot Brain" and Parliament's second album "Up for the Down Stroke," and joined P-Funk for good in 1972. He became one of Clinton's most trusted lieutenants, co-writing and providing vocals on some of the band's biggest hits - including "Atomic Dog," ''Cosmic Slop," ''Can You Get to That" and "One Nation Under the Groove."
He also toured with P-Funk for many years and was still considered an active member of the group.
"My dad left home when he was about 16 years old, and wouldn't come back until he had a hit. He obviously accomplished that goal and did so much more," said Garrett Shider, who recently formed an entertainment company and ho pes to produce a movie on his father's life. "People know about his talent, but I want them to know about the great man he was."
Barbara Thomas, part of a group that is raising money to help Shider's family cover his medical bills, said she was "truly heartbroken" over his death. She said upcoming benefit concerts in New York and New Jersey would go on as planned.
"Over the past forty years, Garry put his stamp and signature of everything he did musically," stated a message posted on the group's website, www.garryshidermedicalfund.com. "His talent was and always will be unmatched."
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Jimmy Dean, a country music legend for his smash hit about a workingman hero, "Big Bad John," and an entrepreneur known for his sausage brand, died on Sunday. He was 81.
His wife, Donna Meade Dean, said her husband died at their Henrico County, Va., home.
She told The Associated Press that he had some health problems but was still functioning well, so his death came as a shock. She said he was eating in front of the television. She left the room for a time and came back and he was unresponsive. She said he was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.
"He was amazing," she said. "He had a lot of talents."
Born in 1928, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. He went on to a successful entertainment career in the 1950s and '60s that included the nationally televised "The Jimmy Dean Show."
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his hometown. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.
Dean lived in semiretirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.
In 2009 a fire gutted their home, but his Grammy for "Big Bad John," a puppet made by Muppets creator Jim Henson, a clock that had belonged to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and other valuables were saved. Lost were a collection of celebrity-autographed books, posters of Dean with Elvis Presley and other prized possessions.
Donna Meade Dean said the couple had just moved back into their reconstructed home.
With his drawled wisecracks and quick wit, Dean charmed many fans. But in both entertainment and business circles, he was also known for his tough hide. He fired bandmate Roy Clark, who went onto "Hee Haw" fame, for showing up late for gigs.
More recently, a sc rap with Sara Lee led to national headlines.
The Chicago-based company let him go as spokesman in 2003, inciting Dean's wrath. He issued a statement titled "Somebody doesn't like Sara Lee," claiming he was dumped because he got old.
"The company told me that they were trying to attract the younger housewife, and they didn't think I was the one to do that," Dean told The Associated Press in January 2004. "I think it's the dumbest thing. But you know, what do I know?"
Sara Lee has said that it chose not to renew Dean's contract because the "brand was going in a new direction" that demanded a shift in marketing.
Dean grew up in a musical household. His mother showed him how to play his first chord on the piano. His father, who left the family, was a songwriter and singer. Dean taught himself to play the accordion and the harmonica.
His start in the music business came as an accordionist at a tavern near Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., wh ere he was stationed in the 1940s. After leaving the Air Force in 1948, he fronted his band, the Texas Wildcats, and drew a strong local following through appearances on Washington-area radio.
By the early 1950s, Dean's band had its first national hit in "Bummin' Around."
"Big Bad John," which is about a coal miner who saves fellow workers when a mine roof collapses, became a big hit in 1961 and won a Grammy. The star wrote it in less than two hours.
His fame led him to a string of television shows, including "The Jimmy Dean Show" on CBS. Dean's last big TV stint was ABC's version of "The Jimmy Dean Show" from 1963 to 1966.
Dean in February was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was to be inducted in October and his wife said she thinks he was looking forward to it.
Dean became a headliner at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl and became the first country star to play on the Las Vegas strip. He was the first guest host on "The Tonight Show," and also was an actor with parts in television and the movies, including the role of James Bond's ally Willard Whyte in the 1971 film "Diamonds Are Forever."
Besides his wife, Dean is survived by three children and two grandchildren, Donna Meade Dean said. Arrangements have not be made, but it will be a private service, she said.
In the late '60s, Dean entered the hog business - something he knew well. His family had butchered hogs, with the young Dean whacking them over the head with the blunt end of an ax. The Dean brothers - Jimmy and Don - ground the meat and their mother seasoned it.
The Jimmy Dean Meat Co. opened with a plant in Plainview. After six months, the company was profitable.
His fortune was estimated at $75 million in the early '90s.
Having watched other stars fritter away their fortunes, Dean said he learned to be careful with his money.
"I've seen so many people in this business that made a fortune," h e told the AP. "They get old and broke and can't make any money. ... I tell you something, ... no one's going to play a benefit for Jimmy Dean."
Dean said then that he was at peace at his estate and that he had picked a spot near the river where he wanted to be buried.
"It's the sweetest piece of property in the world, we think," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It sure is peaceful here."
NEW YORK (AP) - Rue McClanahan, the Emmy-winning actress who brought the sexually liberated Southern belle Blanche Devereaux to life on the hit TV series "The Golden Girls," has died. She was 76.
Her manager Barbara Lawrence said McClanahan died Thursday at 1 a.m. of a stroke.
She had undergone treatment for breast cancer in 1997 and later lectured to cancer support groups on "aging gracefully." In 2009, she had heart bypass surgery.
McClanahan had an active career in off-Broadway and regional stages in the 1960s before she was tapped for TV in the 1970s for the key best-friend character on the hit series "Maude," starring Beatrice Arthur. After that series ended in 1978, McClanahan landed the role as Aunt Fran on "Mama's Family" in 1983.
But her most loved role came in 1985 when she co-starred with Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty in "The Golden Girls," a runaway hit that broke the sitcom mold by focusing on the foibles of four a ging - and frequently eccentric - women living together in Miami.
"Golden Girls" aimed to show "that when people mature, they add layers," she told The New York Times in 1985. "They don't turn into other creatures. The truth is we all still have our child, our adolescent, and your young woman living in us."
Blanche, who called her father "Big Daddy," was a frequent target of roommates Dorothy, Rose and the outspoken Sophia (Getty), who would fire off zingers at Blanche such as, "Your life's an open blouse."
McClanahan snagged an Emmy for her work on the show in 1987. In an Associated Press interview that year, McClanahan said Blanche was unlike any other role she had ever played.
"Probably the closest I've ever done was Blanche DuBois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' at the Pasadena Playhouse," she said. "I think, too, that's where the name came from, although my character is not a drinker and not crazy." Her Blanche Devereaux, she said, "is in love with life and she loves men. I think she has an attitude toward women that's competitive. She is friends with Dorothy and Rose, but if she has enough provocation she becomes competitive with them. I think basically she's insecure. It's the other side of the Don Juan syndrome."
After "The Golden Girls" was canceled in 1992, McClanahan, White and Getty reprised their roles in a short-lived spinoff, "Golden Palace."
McClanahan continued working in television, on stage and in film, appearing in the Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau vehicle "Out to Sea" and as the biology teacher in "Starship Troopers."
She stepped in to portray Madame Morrible, the crafty headmistress, for a time in "Wicked," Broadway's long-running "Wizard of Oz" prequel.
In 2008, McClanahan appeared in the Logo comedy "Sordid Lives: The Series," playing the slightly addled, elderly mother of an institutionalized drag queen.
During production, McClanahan was recovering from 2007 surgery o n her knee. It didn't stop her from filming a sex scene in which the bed broke, forcing her to hang on to a windowsill to avoid tumbling off.
McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Okla., to building contractor William McClanahan and his wife, Dreda Rheua-Nell, a beautician. She graduated with honors from the University of Tulsa with a degree in German and theater arts.
McClanahan's acting career began on the stage. According to a 1985 Los Angeles Times profile, she appeared at the Pasadena (Calif.) Playhouse, studied in New York with Uta Hagen and Harold Clurman, and worked in soaps and on the stage.
She won an Obie - the off-Broadway version of the Tony - in 1970 for "Who's Happy Now," playing the "other woman" in a family drama written by Oliver Hailey. She reprised the role in a 1975 television version; in a review, The New York Times described her character as "an irrepressible belle given to frequent bouts of 'wooziness' and occasional bu rsts of shrewdness."
She had appeared only sporadically on television until producer Norman Lear tapped her for a guest role on "All in the Family" in 1971.
She went from there to a regular role in the "All in the Family" spinoff "Maude," playing Vivian, the neighbor and best friend to Arthur in the starring role.
When Arthur died in April 2009, McClanahan recalled that she had felt constrained by "Golden Girls" during the later years of its run. "Bea liked to be the star of the show. She didn't really like to do that ensemble playing," McClanahan said.
McClanahan was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son, Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D'Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel. She married husband Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.
She called her 2007 memoir "My First Five Husbands ... And the Ones Who Got Away."
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dennis Hopper, the high-flying Hollywood wild man whose memorable and erratic career included an early turn in "Rebel Without a Cause," an improbable smash with "Easy Rider" and a classic character role in "Blue Velvet," has died. He was 74.
Hopper died Saturday at his home in the Los Angeles beach community of Venice, surrounded by family and friends, family friend Alex Hitz said. Hopper's manager announced in October 2009 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The success of "Easy Rider," and the spectacular failure of his next film, "The Last Movie," fit the pattern for the talented but sometimes uncontrollable actor-director, who also had parts in such favorites as "Apocalypse Now" and "Hoosiers." He was a two-time Academy Award nominee, and in March 2010, was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
After a promising start that included roles in two James Dean films, Hopper's acting career had languished as he developed a reputation for throwing tantrums and abusing alcohol and drugs. On the set of "True Grit," Hopper so angered John Wayne that the star reportedly chased Hopper with a loaded gun.
He married five times and led a dramatic life right to the end. In January 2010, Hopper filed to end his 14-year marriage to Victoria Hopper, who stated in court filings that the actor was seeking to cut her out of her inheritance, a claim Hopper denied.
"Much of Hollywood," wrote critic-historian David Thomson, "found Hopper a pain in the neck."
All was forgiven, at least for a moment, when he collaborated with another struggling actor, Peter Fonda, on a script about two pot-smoking, drug-dealing hippies on a motorcycle trip through the Southwest and South to take in the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
On the way, Hopper and Fonda befriend a drunken young lawyer (Jack Nicholson, whom Hopper had resisted casting, in a breakout role), but arouse the enmity of Southern rednecks and are murdered before they can return home.
"'Easy Rider' was never a motorcycle movie to me," Hopper said in 2009. "A lot of it was about politically what was going on in the country."
Fonda produced "Easy Rider" and Hopper directed it for a meager $380,000. It went on to gross $40 million worldwide, a substantial sum for its time. The film caught on despite tension between Hopper and Fonda and between Hopper and the original choice for Nicholson's part, Rip Torn, who quit after a bitter argument with the director.
The film was a hit at Cannes, netted a best-screenplay Oscar nomination for Hopper, Fonda and Terry Southern, and has since been listed on the American Film Institute's ranking of the top 100 American films. The establishment gave official blessing in 1998 when "Easy Rider" was included in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Its success prompted studio heads to schedule a new kind of movie: low cost, with inventive photography and themes about a young, restive baby boom generation. With Hopper hailed as a brilliant filmmaker, Universal Pictures lavished $850,000 on his next project, "The Last Movie."
The title was prescient. Hopper took a large cast and crew to a village in Peru to film the tale of a Peruvian tribe corrupted by a movie company. Trouble on the set developed almost immediately, as Peruvian authorities pestered the company, drug-induced orgies were reported and Hopper seemed out of control.
When he finally completed filming, he retired to his home in Taos, N.M., to piece together the film, a process that took almost a year, in part because he was using psychedelic drugs for editing inspiration.
When it was released, "The Last Movie" was such a crashing failure that it made Hopper unwanted in Hollywood for a decade. At the same time, his drug and alcohol use was increasing to the point where he was said to be consuming as much as a gallon of rum a day.
Shunned by the Hollywood studios, he found work in European films that were rarely seen in the United States. But, again, he made a remarkable comeback, starting with a memorable performance as a drugged-out journalist in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic, "Apocalypse Now," a spectacularly long and troubled film to shoot. Hopper was drugged-out off camera, too, and his rambling chatter was worked into the final cut.
He went on to appear in several films in the early 1980s, including the well regarded "Rumblefish" and "The Osterman Weekend," as well as the campy "My Science Project" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2."
But alcohol and drugs continued to interfere with his work. Treatment at a detox clinic helped him stop drinking but he still used cocaine, and at one point he became so hallucinatory that he was committed to the psychiatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital.
Upon his release, Hopper joined Alcoholics Anonymous, quit drugs and launched yet another comeback. It began in 1986 when he played an alcoholic ex-basketball star in "Hoosiers," which brought him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
His role as a wild druggie in "Blue Velvet," also in 1986, won him more acclaim, and years later the character wound up No. 36 on the AFI's list of top 50 movie villains.
He returned to directing, with "Colors," ''The Hot Spot" and "Chasers."
From that point on, Hopper maintained a frantic work pace, appearing in many forgettable movies and a few memorable ones, including the 1994 hit "Speed," in which he played the maniacal plotter of a freeway disaster. In the 2000s, he was featured in the television series "Crash" and such films as "Elegy" and "Hell Ride."
"Work is fun to me," he told a reporter in 1991. "All those years of being an actor and a director and not being able to get a job — two weeks is too long to not know what my next job will be."
For years he lived in Los Angeles' bohemian beach community of Venice, in a house designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry.
In later years he picked up some income by becoming a pitchman for Ameriprise Financial, aiming ads at baby boomers looking ahead to retirement. His politics, like much of his life, were unpredictable. The old rebel contributed money to the Republican Party in recent years, but also voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008.
Dennis Lee Hopper was born in 1936, in Dodge City, Kan., and spent much of his youth on the nearby farm of his grandparents. He saw his first movie at 5 and became enthralled.
After moving to San Diego with his family, he played Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theater.
Scouted by the studios, Hopper was under contract to Columbia until he insulted the boss, Harry Cohn. From there he went to Warner Bros., where he made "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant" while in his late teens.
Later, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio, where Dean had learned his craft.
Hopper's first wife was Brooke Hayward, the daughter of actress Margaret Sullavan and agent Leland Hayward, and author of the best-selling memoir "Haywire." They had a daughter, Marin, before Hopper's drug-induced violence led to divorce after eight years.
His second marriage, to singer-actress Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, lasted only eight days.
A union with actress Daria Halprin also ended in divorce after they had a daughter, Ruthana. Hopper and his fourth wife, dancer Katherine LaNasa, had a son, Henry, before divorcing.
He married his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, who was 32 years his junior, in 1996, and they had a daughter, Galen Grier.
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Gary Coleman, the child star of the smash 1970s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" whose later career was marred by medical and legal problems, died Friday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 42.
Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Frank said life support was terminated and Coleman died at 12:05 p.m. MDT.
Coleman, with his sparkling eyes and perfect comic timing, became a star after "Diff'rent Strokes" debuted in 1978. He played younger brother Arnold Jackson a pair of African-American siblings adopted by a wealthy white man.
His popularity faded when the show ended after six seasons on NBC and two on ABC.
Coleman suffered continuing ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth and had a host of legal problems in recent years.
Coleman suffered the brain hemorrhage Wednesday at his Santaquin home, 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.
A statement from the family said he was conscious and lucid until midday Thursday, when his condition worsened and he slipped into unconsciousness. Coleman was then placed on life support.
Diff'rent Strokes" debuted on NBC in 1978 drew most of its laughs from the tiny, 10-year-old Coleman.
Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.
Coleman was an immediate star, and his skeptical "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" — usually aimed at his brother, Willis — became a catchphrase.
In a 1979 Los Angeles Times profile, his mother, Edmonia Sue Coleman, said her son had always been a ham as a small child. He acted in some commercials before he was signed by T.A.T., the production company that created "Diff'rent Strokes."
"Gary remembers everything. EVERYTHING," co-producer and director Herb Kenwith told the newspaper. "His power of concentration is unlike any adult's I know."
Asked by Ebony magazine in 1979 how he learned his lines so easily, young Gary replied, "It's easy!"
But the attention his starring role brought him could be a burden as well as a pleasure. Coleman told The Associated Press in 2001 that he would do a TV series again, but "only under the absolute condition that it be an ensemble cast and that everybody gets a chance to shine."
"I certainly am not going to be the only person on the show working," he said. "I've done that. I didn't like it."
The series lasted six seasons on NBC and two on ABC and lives on thanks to DVDs and YouTube. But its equally enduring legacy became the former child stars' troubles in adulthood, including the 1999 suicide of Dana Plato, who played the boys' white, teenage sister.
Todd Bridges, who played Coleman's brother, was tried and acquitted of attempted murder.
Coleman had financial and legal problems in addition to continuing ill health from the kidney disease that required dialysis and at least two transplants. As an adult, his height reached only 4 feet 8 inches.
He continued to get credits for TV guest shots and other small roles over the years. But he told the AP in 2001 that he preferred earning money from celebrity endorsements. "Now that I'm 33, I can call the shots. ... And if anybody has a problem with that, I guess they don't have to work with me."
Coleman was among 135 candidates who ran in California's bizarre 2003 recall election to replace then-Gov. Gray Davis, whom voters ousted in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Coleman, who advocated drastic steps for California's faltering economy such as lowering income taxes and raising sales tax, came in eighth place with 12,488 votes, or 0.2 percent, just behind Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
Running for office gave him a chance to show another side of himself, he told The Associated Press at the time.
"This is really interesting and cool, and I've been enjoying the heck out of it because I get to be intelligent, which is something I don't get to do very often," he said.
Coleman told The New York Times at the time that "I want to escape that legacy of Arnold Jackson. I'm someone more. It would be nice if the world thought of me as something more."
But legal disputes dogged him repeatedly. In 1989, when Coleman was 21, his mother filed a court request trying to gain control of her son's $6 million fortune, saying he was incapable of handling his affairs. He said the move "obviously stems from her frustration at not being able to control my life."
In a 1993 television interview, he said he had twice tried to kill himself by overdosing on pills.
He moved to Utah in fall 2005, and according to a tally in early 2010, officers were called to assist or intervene with Coleman more than 20 times in the following years. They included a call where Coleman said he had taken dozens of Oxycontin pills and "wanted to die." Some of the disputes involved his wife, Shannon Price, whom he met on the set of the 2006 comedy "Church Ball" and married in 2007.
In September 2008, a dustup with a fan at a Utah bowling alley led Coleman to plead no contest to disorderly conduct. The fan also sued him, claiming the actor punched him and ran into him with his truck.
Coleman was born Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., near Chicago. His mother told Ebony his kidney disease was diagnosed when he was 2. He underwent his first transplant at age 5.
He attracted attention when he took part in some local fashion shows and people suggested he should get work performing in commercials, which he then did, she said..
Ronnie James Dio, whose soaring vocals, poetic lyrics and mythic tales of a never-ending struggle between good and evil broke new ground in heavy metal, died Sunday, according to a statement from his wife and manager. He was 67.
Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer shortly after wrapping up a tour in Atlantic City, N.J. with the latest incarnation of Black Sabbath, under the name Heaven And Hell.
"Today my heart is broken," Wendy Dio wrote on the singer's site, adding he died at 7:45 a.m. "Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.
"Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all," Wendy Dio continued. "We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us ... Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
The statement was confirmed by Los Angeles publicist Maureen O'Connor.
Though he had recently undergone his seventh chemotherapy treatment, he was hopeful to perform again. Earlier this month, the band Heaven And Hell canceled its summer tour, but Dio did not view being sidelined as a permanent thing.
"Wendy, my doctors and I have worked so hard to make it happen for all of you, the ones we care so much about, that this setback could be devastating, but we will not let it be," he said in a statement. "With your continued love and support, we ... will carry on and thrive. There will be other tours, more music, more life and much more magic."
Dio rose to fame in 1975 as the first lead singer of Rainbow, the heavy metal band put together by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had just quit Deep Purple.
Dio then replaced legendary vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1980 with the critically acclaimed album "Heaven And Hell," considered by many critics to be one of the finest heavy metal albums of all time. His on-again, off-again tenure with Black Sabbath touched off an intense debate among fans as to which singer was the true essence of the band — a discussion that lasted until his death.
He also enjoyed a successful solo career with his self-titled band, Dio, in between his three stints with Black Sabbath (1980-82; 1992; and 2007-2009, when the band toured as Heaven And Hell, to differentiate it from Osbourne-led versions of Sabbath).
Many of his most memorable songs revolved around the struggle between good and evil, including his signature tune "Heaven And Hell." He also drew heavily on medieval imagery in songs like "Neon Knights," ''Killing The Dragon" and "Stargazer."
"He possessed one of the greatest voices in all of heavy metal, and had a heart to match it," said Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, whose band toured with Dio since 1983, and was to do so again this summer at European rock festivals. "He was the nicest, classiest person you would ever want to meet."
Dio organized an all-star charity collaboration in 1986 called "Hear N' Aid" to raise money for famine relief in Africa, styled on the successful "We Are The World" campaign of a few years earlier.
His solo hits included "Rainbow In The Dark," ''The Last In Line" and "Holy Diver."
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pioneering fantasy artist Frank Frazetta died Monday in a Fort Myers, Fla., hospital, a manager said. He was 82.
Frazetta had been out to dinner with his daughters Sunday but suffered a stroke at his Boca Grande home later that night and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital, manager Rob Pistella said. A hospital spokeswoman confirmed the death, as did his daughter Heidi Frazetta Grabin.
"He's going to be remembered as the most renowned fantasy illustrator of the 20th Century," Pistella said.
Frazetta created covers and illustrations for more than 150 books and comic books, along with album covers, movie posters and original paintings. His illustrations of Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, Vampirella and other characters influenced many later artists.
His children have fought over an estate estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Florida.
His son, Alfonso Frank Frazetta, 52, was charged in December with using a backhoe to break into the artist's museum in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and trying to remove 90 paintings insured for $20 million. The charges were dropped late last month after two days of mediation produced a truce.
"It is resolved, but there's always new issues that can come out," daughter Heidi Frazetta Grabin said.
Frazetta had a history of strokes, but appeared well and was still painting, she and Pistella said.
Grabin and her sister, Holly Frazetta Taylor, dined out with their father Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day, then walked with him on Englewood Beach.
"We had a lovely time, and he just talked about how beautiful the sunset was, and how his next studio was going to have windows around it overlooking the Gulf," Grabin said.
Alfonso Frank Frazetta did not return a message Monday.
A lawsuit he had filed in Florida alleged that his sisters and brother Billy were plotting to wrest control of the family business and fortune from him after their mother died in July 2009.