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Marvin Gaye


2 April 1939 – 1 April 1984 (Aged 44)

Gaye was one of the all-time great American soul singers, a legendary voice of Motown during the 1960s.

Among Gaye’s best-known songs are ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’, ‘Let’s Get It On’, ‘What’s Going on’, ‘Sexual Healing’, and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.

Gaye also had a string of successful duets during his career.

Throughout much of his life, Gaye struggled with substance abuse and depression.

After moving home following a tour in late 1983, Gaye had numerous fights with his father over long-standing issues between the two.

On the day of his death, Gaye had another altercation with his father, Marvin Gaye Sr., who shot and killed his son, in what he claimed was self-defense.

He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Gaye has been posthumously awarded a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richard Burton


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10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984 (Aged 58)

Burton was a Welsh actor who became one of the biggest stars of stage and screen during the course of his career.

He was also famously married five times, twice to Elizabeth Taylor, which ended in divorce both times.

Among his most famous films is Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Where Eagles Dare, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and stage performances of Hamlet and Camelot.

Over the course of his career, Burton was nominated seven times for an Academy Award without ever winning one.

He was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors but struggled with alcoholism, which hindered him from fulfilling his immense potential.

After suffering declining health for his final few years, Burton died from a brain hemorrhage at his home in Switzerland at the age of 58.

He had been living with cirrhosis of the liver and kidney disease.

Truman Capote


By Eric Koch / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

30 September 1924 – 25 August 1984 (Aged 59)

Capote was a renowned American writer, who became one of the biggest writers of the 20th century.

His most successful works are Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, which took him four years to write.

The release of In Cold Blood saw Capote reach the height of his literary powers.

However, the dark nature of the book took a psychological toll on Capote and exacerbated his drug and alcohol problems.

At the age of 59, Capote died as a result of liver disease, having spent a failed stint in rehab in the final year of his life.

Andy Kaufman


17 January 1949 – 16 May 1984 (Aged 35)

Kaufman was an American comedian and performer

He rose to fame through his various roles on Saturday Night Live and the sitcom Taxi.

His fame also grew from appearances on numerous late-night talk shows.

Kaufman died from lung cancer at the young age of 35.

Indira Gandhi

(Indian Prime Minister)

By Warren K. Leffler / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

19 November 1917 – 31 October 1984 (Aged 66)

Gandhi was an Indian politician and is the country’s second-longest-serving Prime Minister, serving for all but three years between 1966 to 1984.

Indira was the daughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, but is not related to Mahatma Gandhi.

During her time in power, Gandhi was responsible for increasing India’s influence in Asia, as well as going to war with Pakistan in 1971.

The War of Independence in East Pakistan resulted in Indian victory & the formation of the new country of Bangladesh.

Gandhi was assassinated just shy of her 67th birthday by two Sikh nationalists.

In a 1999 BBC poll, Gandhi was voted the ‘Woman of the Millennium’.

Jackie Wilson


Brunswick Records / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

9 June 1934 – 21 January 1984 (Aged 49)

Wilson was a hugely influential American soul singer, known for huge hits such as ‘Lonely Teardrops’ and ‘Higher and Higher’, with both songs later being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Wilson collapsed while headlining a concert on September 29, 1975, after suffering a massive heart attack.

For the remainder of his life, Wilson lived in a semi-comatose state, before dying at the age of 49.

Initially, Wilson was buried in an unmarked grave, before a 1987 fundraising campaign by a Detroit radio station saw a headstone erected at his burial site.

Wilson had found himself penniless having been taken advantage of by financial advisors.

In 1987, Wilson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Count Basie


By James Kriegsmann / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

21 August 1904 – 26 April 1984 (Aged 79)

Basie was a legendary jazz pianist, leading the Count Basie Orchestra for almost 50 years, during which time he was responsible for numerous musical innovations and brought many musicians to prominence.

During his career, Basie was the first male African-American to win a Grammy Award, the first of eight in total.

He also recorded with some of the biggest names in music, such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Tony Bennett.

Basie died from pancreatic cancer in April 1984.

In 1985, Basie was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Ansel Adams


By J. Malcolm Greany / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

20 February 1902 – 22 April 1984 (Aged 82)

Adams was an influential American photographer.

He is primarily known for his iconic black and white photographs of Yosemite National Park & the American West.

The photographs were used to promote the conservation of wildlife areas.

In recognition of his work, Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in 1980.

Adams died from heart disease two years later.

Ethel Merman


ABC Television / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

16 January 1908 – 15 February 1984 (Aged 76)

Merman was an American actress and singer, renowned for her powerful voice and her many leading theatrical roles on Broadway.

Among the most famous songs associated with her are, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business‘ and ‘I Got Rhythm’.

In 1984, Merman died from brain cancer at the age of 76.

Michel Foucault


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15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 (Aged 57)

Foucault was a famous French philosopher whose work has influenced academic fields such as sociology, cultural studies, critical and literary theory.

He rejected labeling his work, instead referring to it as a critical history of modernity.

At the age of 57, Foucault died from neurological problems, exacerbated following his contraction of the AIDS virus.