Deaths Hub




Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray, Who Was First to Marry in Illinois, Dies at 65

Gray

Vernita Gray (left), who married her wife Patricia Ewert last November in Illinois' first legal gay marriage, has died of bone and brain cancer at 65.

Gray was allowed to marry Ewert before marriage equality's then effective date of June 1 after an order from the U.S. District Court in Chicago allowed it, given Gray's terminal illness.

Marriage equality has since been allowed statewide after Attorney General Lisa Madigan published guidance in early March.

The AP reports:

[Family friend Jim] Bennett says Gray advocated for same-sex marriage long before many gay rights activists saw it as a possibility, and she had a knack for working with people across the political spectrum.

Our thoughts go out to Gray's wife, family, and friends.


Gay Former NFL Player Roy Simmons Dies at 57

Roy Simmons, a former offensive lineman for the Giants and the Washington Redskins who came out of the closet after his career had ended, has died at the age of 57, the NYT reports:

SimmonsThe cause was complications related to pneumonia, his brother Gary said. Simmons learned he had H.I.V. in 1997 and had other health problems, his brother said.

The paper adds:

By his own account, Simmons (pictured, during his career) abused his opportunity in the pros, falling quickly into heavy alcohol and drug use. The night before he played with the Redskins in the 1984 Super Bowl, his last game in the N.F.L., he snorted cocaine. In the stands that Sunday, he said, were friends he had invited, including three lovers — two female, one male. Somehow, he continued to keep his complicated sexuality a secret.

Years later, in 1992, appearing on “Donahue,” Phil Donahue’s television talk show, and with a former girlfriend and family members watching, Simmons made a stunning, awkward disclosure: He was gay. At the time, Simmons was the second former N.F.L. player to declare that he was homosexual. Dave Kopay, a running back who played nine seasons, was the first, in 1975.

Read the full report here.


Actor Harold Ramis Has Died at 69

Actor Harold Ramis has died, Chicago's WGN reports:

RamisRamis, a longtime North Shore resident, died early Monday morning after a long illness, according to his wife, Erica Mann Ramis. He was 69.

Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 after he underwent surgery for diverticulitis and suffered complications related to the autoimmune disease. Unable to walk, he spent four months that year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., before continuing work at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

A year and a half later, Ramis had relearned to walk and was making good progress on his recovery when he suffered a relapse of the vasculitis, from which he never fully recovered, Ward said.

Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (which upon its 1978 release launched the film career of John Belushi, a former Second City castmate of Ramis’), “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as “Caddyshack” (1980), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”


Iconic Child Star Shirley Temple Dead at 85

Black

Shirley Temple Black has died at her home in Woodside, California at the age of 85, the L.A. Times reports:

From 1935 through 1938, the curly-haired moppet billed as Shirley Temple was the top box-office draw in the nation. She saved what became 20th Century Fox studios from bankruptcy and made more than 40 movies before she turned 12.

Hollywood recognized the enchanting, dimpled scene-stealer’s importance to the industry with a “special award” – a miniature Oscar – at the Academy Awards for 1934, the year she sang and danced her way into America’s collective heart.

Her most famous moment, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Iconic Child Star Shirley Temple Dead at 85" »


Large Amounts of Drug Paraphernalia Found at Home of Philip Seymour Hoffman Following Actor's Death

Police found 50 bags containing what is suspected of containing heroin, bottles of prescription pills, and more than 20 used syringes in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment following the actor's untimely death at 46, CNN reports:

HoffmanThe Oscar-winning actor was last seen alive at 8 p.m. Saturday, a law enforcement official said.

He was expected to get his children on Sunday, but didn't show up, the official said. Playwright David Katz and another person went to the apartment and found him dead, the official said. A needle was in the actor's left arm, and eight empty glassine-type bags that usually contain heroin were found in the apartment, law enforcement sources told CNN. The bags were stamped with "Ace of Hearts" and "Ace of Spades" -- street names for heroin, the sources said.

Meanwhile, TMZ reports that one of the "operating theories" is related to a particularly deadly strain of the drug:

Authorities have been tracking a strain of heroin that has killed dozens of people on the East Coast -- just last month.  The heroin is laced with fentanyl, an extremely potent drug prescribed for terminal cancer patients.  The strain is 100 times more powerful than morphine ... it sometimes shuts down the respiratory system.

The drug -- sometimes called "Theraflu," "Bud Ice" and "24K" -- has been linked to 5 deaths on Long Island, 22 deaths in Pennsylvania and 19 on Rhode Island -- all in January.

There is also allegedly a videotape of a drug deal.


Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead at 46

Capote

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in New York on Sunday morning, the NYT reports:

Mr. Hoffman, 46, was found in an apartment in the West Village around 11:30 a.m. by a friend who had become concerned at not being able to reach Mr. Hoffman, a law enforcement official said.

Investigators found a syringe in his left forearm, at least two plastic envelopes with what appeared to be heroin nearby, and five empty plastic envelopes in a trash bin, the official said.

“It’s pretty apparent that it was an overdose,” the official said. “The syringe was in his arm.”

Hoffman's family released a statement this afternoon:

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."

Hoffman's critically-acclaimed performances number in the dozens and included star turns in Almost Famous, The Master, Cold Mountain, Empire Falls, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and many others. He won an Oscar for his 2006 role as Truman Capote in Capote.

What a loss.


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