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Richard Harris


1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002 (Aged 72)

Harris was a renowned Irish actor, best remembered for his roles as King Arthur in Camelot, Bull McCabe in The Field, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator, before playing Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, shortly before his death.

Among his other famous films are Mutiny on the Bounty, This Sporting Life, A Man Called Horse, and Unforgiven.

Also an accomplished singer, Harris had a hit single with his 1968 recording of “MacArthur Park”.

Away from the screen, Harris lived a notoriously hard-partying lifestyle, counting Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton among his drinking buddies.

His substance abuse nearly killed him on several occasions, before finally cleaning himself up in the early 1980s.

Harris died from Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 72, his ashes were scattered in the Bahamas, where he had owned a home.

James Coburn


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31 August 1928 – 18 November 2002 (Aged 74)

Coburn was a prolific American actor, who starred in over 70 films, while also making over 100 television appearances during his 45-year career.

In 1999, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Affliction.

Among other films in which he starred are The Magnificent SevenThe Great Escape, CharadeOur Man FlintPat Garrett and Billy the KidCross of Iron, while also providing a voiceover in the Pixar film Monsters, Inc.

Along with fellow actors, such as Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson, Coburn became one of the most popular “tough-guy” actors during the 1960s and ’70s.

Coburn died of a heart attack at the age of 74, while listening to music in his Beverly Hills home.

Sam Snead


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27 May 1912 – 23 May 2002 (Aged 89)

Snead was an American professional golfer who and one of the world’s best players for almost four decades, winning a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors.

During World War II, Snead served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 until he was given a medical discharge for a back injury in September 1944.

“Slammin’ Sammy” as he was known, due to his unique and much-admired swing, had a distinctive folksy image, wearing a straw hat while playing.

In 1974, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Snead died after suffering from a stroke just shy of his 90th birthday.

Billy Wilder


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22 June 1906 – 27 March 2002 (Aged 95)

Wilder was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, whose career spanned more than five decades.

He is widely regarded as one of the most gifted and versatile filmmakers from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Among his most famous films are Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity, Sabrina, and Witness for the Prosecution.

His crowning glory came with his film The Apartment in 1960, which saw Wilder become the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director, and screenwriter for the same film.

In the late 1920s, Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s after moving to Berlin.

However, with the rise of the Nazi Party, he left for Paris, before moving to Hollywood in 1933.

Tragically, Wilder’s mother, grandmother, and stepfather were all killed in the Holocaust.

In 1986, Wilder was recognized with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. He died at the age of 95 from pneumonia, having been suffering from cancer.

John Gotti

(Mob Boss)

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27 October 1940 – 10 June 2002 (Aged 61)

Gotti, also known as the “Teflon Don”, was an Italian-American gangster who became boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City.

After living a life of crime from an early age, Gotti rose to become one of the biggest earners and a protégé of Gambino family underboss Aniello Dellacroce.

In December 1985, Gotti organized the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano and took over the family shortly thereafter, making Gotti the boss of America’s most powerful crime syndicate.

Among the criminal activities that made them hundreds of millions of dollars a year were racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, and illegal gambling.

In 1991, Gotti’s underboss “Sammy the Bull” Gravano agreed to turn state’s evidence and testified for the prosecution against Gotti.

Gotti was convicted of five murders, racketeering, tax evasion, and numerous other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Gotti died of throat cancer at the age of 61.

Milton Berle

(Actor/TV Star)

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12 July 1908 – 27 March 2002 (Aged 93)

Berle was an American comedian, and America’s first big television star with an entertainment career spanning over 80 years, beginning in silent films as a child actor, then onto radio, and television.

Known to millions as “Uncle Miltie” from his time as the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater, which ran from 1948–55, the show made him a household name and even inspired people to purchase their first television.

In 1984, Berle was in the first group of inductees into the Television Hall of Fame, while he also has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for television and radio.

Berle died from colon cancer at the age of 93.

Waylon Jennings


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15 June 1937 – 13 February 2002 (Aged 64)

Jennings was an American country music superstar, best known for popularizing the rock-influenced genre labeled as outlaw country music.

In a prolific music career, he had 11 number one albums and 16 number one singles.

In 1959, after being hired to play bass guitar with Buddy Holly on tour, Jennings gave up his seat on a flight to The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, which subsequently crashed and killed Holly, Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson.

Jennings moved to Nashville in 1965, becoming roommates with Johnny Cash, which marked the start of a lifelong friendship, as well as leading to an amphetamine and cocaine addiction over the following two decades.

In the early 1980s, Jennings ended his cocaine addiction, while also later quitting his 6-pack-a-day cigarette habit. He credited his resolution to quit to his son, Shooter.

In 1985, he formed the Highwaymen with Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. Jennings was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, while also winning 2 Grammy Awards during his career.

Jennings narrated and created the theme song for the television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He died after suffering from complications with diabetes at the age of 64.

Spike Milligan


16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002 (Aged 83)

Milligan was an Indian-born Irish writer and comedian best known for his work on The Goon Show.

During World War II, Milligan served as a lance bombardier in the North African campaign and Italian campaigns.

He was about to be promoted to bombardier when he was wounded in action in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

After hospitalization, Milligan drifted through a number of military jobs in Italy, before becoming a full-time entertainer, playing with a jazz and comedy group in parties for the troops.

Following the war, Milligan continued to write parodies before joining forces with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine, achieving huge success throughout the 1950s on BBC radio with The Goon Show.

In 1984, Milligan received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards. His style of comedy inspired later comedy acts, such as Monty Python and Eddie Izzard.

Milligan died from kidney failure at the age of 83.

Dudley Moore


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19 April 1935 – 27 March 2002 (Aged 66)

Moore was an English comedic actor and musician best known for his roles in Foul Play10, Bedazzled, and Arthur, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Moore had a memorable comedic partnership with fellow British comedian Peter Cook.

Among the films Moore composed the soundtracks for are Bedazzled30 Is a Dangerous Age, CynthiaInadmissible Evidence, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Moore died at the age of 66 as a result of pneumonia, after having been suffering from a terminal degenerative brain disorder.

Stephen E. Ambrose


10 January 1936 – 13 October 2002 (Aged 66)

Ambrose was an American historian and the author of many bestselling books on American history, including Band of Brothers, which was made into a mini-series, and earned him an Emmy as a producer on the show.

Among his many literary works, Ambrose wrote the biographies of U.S. Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon.

Following his distinguished career, Ambrose received numerous awards, including the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

In addition to his work as a writer, Ambrose was a longtime professor of history at the University of New Orleans.

He died from lung cancer at the age of 66.