The People's Lounge remembers the folks that made a difference in
our lives! †
Sir Edmund Hillary
The New Zealand beekeeper became the first person to stand at the
summit of Mount Everest in 1953, declaring to fellow countryman
George Lowe that he and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay had "knocked
the bastard off." He later became a philanthropist noted for his
work in remote Nepalese villages. He was 88.
Knerr was cofounder of Wham-O Inc., which unleashed the Hula Hoop
on the world a half-century ago along with the Frisbee. Knerr
started the company, named for the sound of their first product,
the slingshot, with his boyhood friend, Arthur "Spud" Melin. They
also launched the Superball, Slip 'N Slide, Water Wiggle, and Silly
String. He was 82.
The most powerful American chess player in history, Fischer emerged
only briefly in 1992 from a mysterious seclusion that had lasted
two decades. He defied an American ban on business in Yugoslavia to
play against his old nemesis, Boris Spassky, whom he beat handily.
He was 64.
Ledger, who went from teen idol in his native Australia to one of
the most exciting actors of his generation, was best known for his
Oscar-nominated role as a closeted gay ranch hand in "Brokeback
Mountain." His death, blamed on an accidental overdose, came as a
shock, as his off-screen life wasn't perceived as being as intense
as his on-screen performances. He was 28.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
A guru to the Beatles (left), Maharishi introduced the West to
transcendental meditation. He began teaching meditation in 1955 and
brought the technique to the United States in 1959, the movement
taking off with the Beatles' visit to his ashram in India in 1968.
He was 91.
William F. Buckley Jr.
The author, journalist, and polysyllabic television personality did
more to popularize conservatism in the post-New Deal America than
anyone other than Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan. Pat Buchanan
called him the "spiritual father of the movement," while
left-leaning Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called him "the scourge of
American liberalism." Buckley took the jab as a compliment.
Charlton Heston poses with his Oscar statuette at the 32nd Annual
Academy Awards held at the RKO Pantages Theater in Los Angeles,
California on April 4, 1960. Heston, who won the 1959 best actor
Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses,
Michelangelo, El Cid, and other heroic figures in movie epics of
the '50s and '60s, died Saturday April 5, 2008 according to a
statement from the actor's family. He was 86.
Robinson, a Detroit Pistons scout who discovered Joe Dumars and
Dennis Rodman, broke the racial barrier in the 1970s when he
coached Illinois State, becoming the first black basketball coach
at a Division I school. He was 96.
Hoffman, a talented synthetic chemist, is best known as the Swiss
chemist who discovered LSD, accidentally getting a trace amount of
an experimental compound called lysergic acid diethylamide on his
fingertips and taking the world's first acid trip in 1943. He was
Yves Saint Laurent
Saint Laurent reworked the rules of fashion by putting women into
elegant pantsuits that came to define how modern women dressed. At
left, the designer held hands with model Laetitia Casta (left) and
actress Catherine Deneuve at the end of his retrospective haute
couture fashion show in 2002.
Diddley was a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive
"shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar
effects inspired legions of other musicians. He was 79.
McKay was the host of ABC's influential "Wide World of Sports" for
more than 40 years. The weekend series, which McKay began hosting
in 1961, introduced viewers to all manner of strange, compelling,
and far-flung sports events. However, he may be best remembered for
his coverage of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
After an attempt to retrieve 11 Israeli athletes who had been
kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists ended in tragedy, he broke the
grim news to American audiences with the terse utterance, "They're
all gone." He was 84.
Hayes, the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose
relentless "Theme From Shaft" won Academy and Grammy awards, was
found dead in his home. He was 65.
Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd whose piano and synthesizer
work played a critical part in the pioneering rock band's ethereal
sound, died after a short battle with cancer. He was 65. Wright was
the co-writer of several of the band's signature songs, including
"Time,'' "Us and Them,'' and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond.'' He was
Dunham, 86, was the maternal grandmother of president-elect Barack
Obama. Dunham (pictured, left with her arms around Obama at his
high school graduation in 1979) died following a battle with
cancer, just a day before the election that elected her grandson
the 44th president of the United States.
Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial
photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage
for the 1960s sexual revolution, died at 85. Page, who was also
known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine
photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through
lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks,
garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.
Hubbard was a Grammy Award winning jazz musician whose style
influnced a generation of trumpet players and collaborated with
such greats as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins.
He was 70.