Entries in Dead (33)


"Snakes on a Plane Director" David R. Ellis Dead at 60

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- David R. Ellis, best known for directing the 2006 Samuel L. Jackson film Snakes on a Plane, died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa.  It's unclear what caused his death, according to  Ellis was 60.

The website reports Ellis was preparing to direct a movie titled KITE, a live-action adaptation of a Japanese anime set to star Jackson, at the time of his death.

Jackson tweeted on Monday, "So sad to hear of David R Ellis passing! So talented, so kind, such a Good Friend. He'll be missed. Gone too soon!"

Ellis' other directing credits include Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco, Final Destination 2, Cellular, Asylum, The Final Destination and Shark Night 3D.

He served as an actor, stuntman and second unit director before he became a film director.

Ellis is survived by a wife and three children.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


"Sons of Anarchy" Actor Johnny Lewis Found Dead

Mark Sullivan/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- A young actor best known for a role on the hit motorcycle club series Sons of Anarchy has been found dead outside a Los Angeles home along with an elderly woman.

The L.A. coroner's office has identified the male found by police outside a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood on Wednesday as Jonathan Kendrick Lewis, 28, also known as Johnny Lewis.  Officers responding to a report of a screaming woman came upon Lewis' body outside of the home on the driveway, while the body of the woman who was in her 70s was found inside the residence.

"He appeared to have died from some type of fall, either from the stairway, or from the balcony, or from one of the roofs," LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV.

"The best we're piecing together now is that it appears that some type of altercation occurred inside of the house resulting in the death of the woman.  Then this individual ran outside, had an altercation with a couple of neighbors, ran back into the house and by the time we got here, he had fallen or had somehow died on the driveway," said Smith.

Lewis is considered a suspect in the homicide investigation, KABC reported.  A neighbor and a handyman were badly beaten in a confrontation they had with the suspect.

The cause of death of the woman has not yet been released, but Smith said that she had suffered major trauma.  Smith said that though it is possible that Lewis was renting one of the rooms in the residence, police are still unsure, calling it "very preliminary."

Lewis, who began acting in his teenage years, worked steadily in television in roles on Boston Public, American Dreams and The O.C.  His career picked up steam when he landed the role of Kip 'Half Sack' Epps on two seasons of Sons of Anarchy and appeared alongside Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in The Runaways in 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Legendary Songwriter Hal David Dead at 91

Brian To/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Legendary songwriter Hal David, who with Burt Bacharach wrote some of pop music's most enduring classics, has died, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has confirmed.  He was 91. He passed away at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from complications from a stroke.

With Bacharach, David scored his first success with "The Story of My Life," for country singer Marty Robbins.   They went on to pen hits for Perry Como, Gene Pitney and Bobby Vinton, but when they teamed with a young vocalist named Dionne Warwick in 1962, they created musical magic. Their string of hits for Warwick included  “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk on By,” “A House Is Not a Home,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Message to Michael,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” Alfie” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Other legendary tunes penned by David and Bacharach include the #1 Oscar-winning hit "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," recorded by B.J. Thomas for the movie Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid; "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon, "This Guy's in Love with You" by Herb Alpert, 'What's New Pussycat" by Tom Jones and “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” by The Carpenters.

In May of 2012, President Barack Obama presented the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to David and Bacharach.  David was also Chairman and CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame from 2001 to 2011.  The Hal David Starlight Award, presented each year by the Hall of Fame, has been awarded to such young songwriters as Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Alicia Keys and John Mayer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Veteran TV Director Bill Asher Dead at 90

CBS Photo Archive/Courtesy of Getty Images(PALM DESERT, Calif.) -- Bill Asher, a veteran TV director who directed episodes of I Love Lucy, Bewitched and Gidget, among other shows, died Monday in Palm Desert, Calif., at the age of 90, the Desert Sun reports.  No cause of death was given.

Asher directed more than 100 episodes of I Love Lucy and was once married to the star of Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery.  Asher also directed several “beach Blanket” movies, including Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

He is survived by his wife Meredith and six children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sage Stallone Didn't Have Any Serious Health Problems: Lawyer

Albert L. Ortega/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Sage Stallone's attorney said the 36-year-old son of Sylvester Stallone "never had any serious health problems" or had "a history of drug or alcohol abuse."

"Sage was a really young, very sensitive, and very talented kid," attorney George Braunstein told People magazine. "There has been no indication that there was anything wrong in his life."

Sage Stallone was found dead Friday in his Los Angeles apartment by authorities and a housekeeper.

Authorities said there were no signs of foul play and his cause of death remains undetermined. An autopsy will be conducted in the next several days.

"There had been no personal contact with the deceased in the last few days," Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jim Parker said.

Authorities said there were no signs of forced entry and no suicide note, but there were prescription drugs found.

"There are some prescription bottles, however I'm not going to detail what they are or how many," Winter said.

Although media reports surfaced this weekend claiming that Sage Stallone may have been dead several days before authorities discovered his body, Braunstein told People magazine that he updated his Facebook account about 17 hours before he was found.

Braunstein said Sage Stallone was a creative genius.

"He had a lot of bright things on the horizon. He was talking about pictures he wanted to direct and write and ideas that he wanted to go forward with," Braunstein said.

Sage Stallone played Rocky Balboa's son in "Rocky 5" in 1990 and appeared in the film "Daylight" with his father. He also directed the 2006 short film "Vic."

"He was so private, we don't know a lot of the circumstances, even around his personal life. This was not someone anyone followed. This is someone that sadly a lot of people had forgotten about," said Ian Drew, senior editor with Us Weekly.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sage Stallone Dead: No Signs of Foul Play in Sylvester Stallone's Son's Death 

Albert L. Ortega/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- There were no signs of foul play in connection with the death of Sage Stallone, the 36-year-old son of Sylvester Stallone, authorities said.

Sage Stallone was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment by authorities and a housekeeper Friday after worried loved ones sensed trouble.

His cause of death remains undetermined.

"There had been no personal contact with the deceased in the last few days," said Sgt. Jim Parker with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Authorities said there were no signs of forced entry and no suicide note. But there were prescription drugs found.

"There are some prescription bottles, however I'm not going to detail what they are or how many," said Winter.

"His compassion and thoughts are with Sage's mother, Sasha," Bega said in a statement.

"Sly adored his son, he really adored his son. He was his biggest supporter in terms of his acting in terms of his directing. And Sage was reportedly at a very good time in his life," said Howard Bragman, ABC News consultant.

Sage Stallone's longtime attorney George Braunstein said his client didn't seem depressed and said "everything was up and positive."

Sage Stallone played Rocky Balboa's son in "Rocky 5" in 1990. He also appeared in the film "Daylight" with his father Sylvester Stallone. He also directed the 2006 short film "Vic."

"He was beautiful. He was physically beautiful…emotionally beautiful," said Carol Lynley, who starred in "Vic."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Andy Griffith Dead at Age 86

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Andy Griffith, the beloved actor who entertained television audiences for over half a century, has died, ABC News has confirmed.  He turned 86 on June 1.

According to a statement from Dare County, NC Sheriff J.D. "Doug" Doughtie, "At approximately 7am on July 3, 2012, Andy Griffith passed away at his home on Roanoke Island in Dare County, NC. The family will release further information shortly. There is no further information that can be released by this office at this time."

Griffith's family made the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“Andy Griffith passed away, after an illness, during the early morning on July 3 at his home in Manteo, N.C., with his wife Cindi at his side. He was 86 years old. Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island. His favorite causes were Outer Banks Conservationists and the Griffith Scholarship Fund at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Griffith began his acting career in the 1950s with roles on Broadway and small, but notable parts in film and television.  However, it was a 1960 guest appearance on TV's The Danny Thomas Show that launched Griffith to stardom in the role of small-town North Carolina Sheriff Andy Taylor.  Griffith's turn as the affable, honest lawman of fictitious Mayberry -- said to be modeled after Griffth's own hometown of Mount Airy, NC -- made The Andy Griffith Show a hit.  It remains one of American television's most enduring sitcoms, long after it ended its run in 1968.

Griffith starred in several less-successful series over the next 18 years before finding success with another small-town character: rumpled, guitar-picking country lawyer Ben Matlock in Matlock. The show, set again in the South -- this time in Atlanta -- ran from 1986 to 1995.

Oscar-winning director/producer Ron Howard, who got his start playing Griffith's son Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, tweeted, "His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy." He earlier told, "His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around. ...He felt he was always working in service of an audience he really respected and cared about. He was a great influence on me. His passing is sad. But he lived a great rich life."

Griffith continued acting after Matlock ended, playing largely supporting roles in television and films. His most recent work, according to IMDB, was in 2009 in the independent film Play the Game. He also released numerous comedy and music albums over the years, with most of the latter featuring hymns and Americana music. He won a Grammy for his 1997 album, I Love to Tell the Story -- 25 Timeless Hymns.

In 2005, President George W. Bush presented Griffith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hollywood Reacts to Andy Griffith's Passing 

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Andy Griffith, the beloved actor who entertained television audiences for over half a century, died Tuesday morning, ABC News confirms. Now Hollywood, along with many actors who knew him best, are sharing their condolences.

The Recording Academy declared, "He was an immense talent and a true gift to the entertainment industry and will be greatly missed. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and fans."  Griffith won a Grammy for his gospel album I Love To Tell The Story -- 25 Timeless Hymns.

TV Land, which regularly airs past episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend, Andy Griffith. His contributions to the entertainment industry and his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor will live forever in the minds and hearts of generations of television viewers past, present and yet to come. The entire TV Land staff will miss him and our thoughts go out to his family."

The Andy Griffith Museum, located in his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, released a statement saying, "Andy Griffith means the world to the arts everywhere -- not just here in Mount Airy.  His contribution to us, the Surry Arts Council, and the town of Mount Airy cannot be measured. ...We know that Andy is at peace and that is what is important right now."

Other celebrity reactions via Twitter:

Ron Howard: "Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy"

Octavia Spencer: "RiP Andy Griffith!!! Sadness abounds!!!"

Larry King: "Sad to hear news of Andy Griffith's death. He was a terrific actor, a great comedian, an endearing person. He lived a long & fruitful life...Andy made one of the greatest films ever: 'A Face in the Crowd' & also one of the best comedy albums: 'What it Was, Was Football'"

Denise Richards: "we lost a legend...RIP Andy Griffith"

Alyssa Milano: "Rest in peace, Andy Griffith."

Russell Simmons: "RIP Andy Griffith"

Michael McKean: "More than a face in the crowd: RIP Andy Griffith."

Holly Robinson Peete: "Farewell to a TV ICON"

Eric Lange: "RIP Andy Griffith. My family spent hours and hours around the TV watching The Andy Griffith Show. Some great memories there. Thank you."

Jackée Harry: "RIP Andy Griffith .. A True #NationalTreasure."

Levar Burton: "My favorite Andy Griffith performance... A Face in the Crowd #mindblown Rest in Peace"

Ralph Macchio: "Take a moment and whistle "The Andy Griffith Show" theme today - finger snap optional - RIP Andy Griffith"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, Dead at 63

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Disco and pop music icon Donna Summer has died, ABC News has confirmed.  The singer passed away after a battle with cancer and died in Florida.  She was 63 years old.

A statement from the family of Summer's husband, Bruce Sudano, reads: "Early this morning, surrounded by family, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.  Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time."       

The statement ends with a request to make a donation in Summer's name to the Salvation Army, in lieu of flowers.

[ VIEW SLIDESHOW: Donna Summer Through the Years: 1948-2012 ]

Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, Summer -- a five-time Grammy Award winner known as the Queen of Disco -- revolutionized dance music with her seminal hits "Love to Love You Baby" and "I Feel Love."  Those tracks established her career and were followed by a string of hits, including "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," "MacArthur Park," "Bad Girls" and "Dim All the Lights."

Summer continued her career into the '80s with hits like "She Works Hard for the Money" and "This Time I Know It's for Real." The first woman and the first African-American Artist ever to win a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, for "Hot Stuff," Summer was shortlisted for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but to date has never been inducted.

Summer's chart achievements and awards were numerous.  She was the first artist ever to score three consecutive number-one double albums.  She scored at least one Top 40 hit in every year from 1976 to 1984. Her presence on Billboard's Disco/Club Play chart spanned from 1975, with "Love to Love You Baby," through 2010, with "To Paris with Love."

In addition to her five Grammy Awards, Summer won six American Music Awards and was the first African-American woman to be nominated for an MTV Video Music Award, for "She Works Hard for the Money."  She was honored twice by the Dance Music Hall of Fame; she herself was inducted as a recording artist, and her song "I Feel Love" was also inducted.

According to Billboard, Summer is survived by her husband, three daughters, and four grandchildren.

Nile Rodgers, founder of Chic and one of dance music's architects, tweeted, "For the last half hour or so I've been lying in my bed crying and stunned. Donna Summer RIP."

Summer was most recently seen performing with Seal in David Foster's 2010 PBS special Foster & Friends and on America's Got Talent, performing with former contestant Prince Poppycock.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Where the Wild Things Are" Author Maurice Sendak Dead at 83

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Maurice Sendak, author of the beloved children's book Where the Wild Things Are, has died at age 83.

Sendak died of complications from a stroke, according to Sendak's longtime editor, The New York Times reports.

The Brooklyn-born author had already written some seven children's books when, in 1963, Harper & Row published Where the Wild Things Are.  Sendak both wrote and illustrated the unconventional story about an unruly boy named Max dressed in a wolf suit who, sent to his room by his mother as punishment for misbehaving, travels to a land of monsters and proves himself the wildest thing of all. 

Initially met with very mixed reviews, the story quickly gained in popularity and in 1964 was awarded the Caldecott Medal, the highest U.S. honor for children's literature.

Sendak is credited with injecting children's literature with previously absent depth and psychological meaning, and his art was hailed for both its edginess and whimsy. 

Where the Wild Things Are in particular inspired not only other writers, but also musicians and artists.  An animated adaptation was created in 1973, and it was the subject of a hit film by director Spike Jonze in 2009.

Sendak wrote some 20 books in all and illustrated dozens.  His most recent, the picture book Bumble-Ardy, was published last September. 

In 1996, Congress and then-President Clinton presented Sendak with the National Medal of Arts. 

Sendak lived with his partner, Eugene Glenn, for 50 years until Glenn's death in 2007.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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