Annette Funicello was 70. She was a Mouseketeer at 12, a successful singer and actor as a teen and super popular as Frankie Avalon's co-star in a series of "Beach Party" movies in the mid-1960s.
Everything I know about Annette Funicello I learned from "Back to the Beach", an under-rated flick I thoroughly enjoyed during the summer of '87.
Margaret Thatcher was 87. She was the first woman to become U.K. prime minister and Britain's only prime minister of the 20th century to win three consecutive terms.
Johnny Esaw was 87. He was a pioneer of sports broadcasting in Canada, best known for his involvement with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, CFL games, figure skating, golf, tennis, auto racing and international hockey.
Roger Ebert was 70. He was the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 45 years and for more than three decades the co-host of one of the most powerful programs in television history.
I was always a very big fan. Here's something I wrote about the man when he recorded his final episode of "Ebert and Roeper".
Locals will remember when he was attacked at Slumdog Millionaire during the TIFF in 2008. It didn't stop him from finishing the movie, however, and he'd accurately predict it would win the Oscar on his way out.
I tweeted this, just yesterday:
Here's hoping Roger Ebert continues to write while he battles cancer again. He was always too strong a writer to be a mere "movie reviewer".— Toronto Mike (@torontomike) April 3, 2013
I didn't always agree with Roger Ebert, but I loved hearing and reading his honest and insightful reviews for as long as I can remember. I'm going to miss him.
Peter Kormos was 60. He was the Ontario NDP MPP first elected to the legislature in 1988 who joined the NDP cabinet when the party came to power under Bob Rae in 1990.
Ralph Klein was 70. He was Mayor of Calgary for nine years and then Premier of Alberta for fourteen, presiding over four consecutive majority governments.
Richard Griffiths was 65. He was the versatile British actor who played the boy wizard's unsympathetic Uncle Vernon in the "Harry Potter" movies.
Older folks will know him best as Monty in Withnail & I, Brits will know him as Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky, and I remember him fondly as Dr. Albert S. Meinheimer and Earl Hacker in The Naked Gun 2 1/2.
Stompin' Tom Connors was 77. He was one of Canada's most prolific and well-known country and folk singers best known for "Bud the Spud", "Big Joe Mufferaw", "The Black Donnellys", "The Martin Hartwell Story", "Reesor Crossing Tragedy", "Sudbury Saturday Night" and "The Hockey Song".
I was lucky enough to see Connors perform "The Hockey Song" live when I saw Conan O'Brien back in 2004.
Where players dash with skates aflash the home team trails behind
But they grab the puck and go bursting up and they're down across the line
They storm the crease like bumble bees they travel like a burning flame
We see them slide the puck inside - it's a 1-1 hockey game!
In lieu of flowers, the Connors family has asked that donations be made to your local food bank or homeless shelters, in memory of Stompin’ Tom.
Paul Bearer was 58. He was a professional wrestling manager and former wrestler best known for his time in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF—later WWE).
Although I was no longer following the WWF when Paul Bearer and The Undertaker were huge, I did do a pretty good Paul Bearer impersonation.
Hugo Chávez was 58. He's been President of Venezuela since 1999 and focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution.
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