FlickrCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Burgess Meredith


16 November 1907 – 9 September 1997 (Aged 89)

Meredith was an acclaimed American actor, who, among his many roles, is best remembered for playing The Penguin in the Batman TV series and boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill in the Rocky film series.

Outside of his screen performances, Meredith was a gifted and versatile stage actor, ultimately resulting in his induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

Throughout a prolific career, Meredith nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won an Emmy.

He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Meredith died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and cancer at the age of 89.

Gianni Versace

(Fashion Designer)

  Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

2 December 1946 – 15 July 1997 (Aged 50)

Versace was an Italian fashion designer and founder of the Versace international fashion house.

Versace became one of the top fashion designers of the 1980s and ’90s.

In 1978, he launched his first clothing line in Milan, Italy. From there his empire flourished, with it being valued at $807 million at the time of his death.

Versace was shot and killed at the age of 50, as he returned from a morning walk on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion.

He was shot by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, with Versace being his fifth and final victim.

John Denver


Hughes Television Network / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

31 December 1943 – 12 October 1997 (Aged 53)

Denver was a renowned American singer-songwriter, best known for hit songs such as  “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, “Annie’s Song”, “Rocky Mountain High”, and he also for writing “Leaving on a Jet Plane”.

Known for performing with his acoustic guitar, Denver wrote and recorded over 200 of the approximately 300 songs he released.

In total, his record sales are over 33 million worldwide.

Denver was a committed environmentalist and humanitarian.

He co-founded the Windstar Foundation, a non-profit wildlife preservation agency and founded the World Hunger Project.

In 1996, Denver was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. During his life, he was the recipient of numerous accolades for his musical and voluntary endeavors.

Denver was a long-term aviator and died at the age of 53 when the aircraft he was flying crashed into Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California.

LaVern Baker


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

November 11, 1929 – March 10, 1997 (Aged 67)

Baker was an R&B pioneer of the 1950s, who had several hit records with the most famous being “Tweedle Dee”, “Jim Dandy”, and “I Waited Too Long”.

In 1966, Baker traveled to Vietnam for a USO tour to entertain American troops. However, she fell ill with pneumonia and continued performing until her lung collapsed.

She was airlifted to a hospital in Thailand where she spent the next three months. By early 1967, her USO tour had returned to the United States, leaving her alone in Asia.

Baker spent 21 years in the Philippines managing a nightclub, before returning to America in 1988.  

In 1991, she became only the second female solo artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Baker continued to perform, even after having both her legs amputated due to complications with diabetes in 1994. She died of heart disease at the age of 67.

Allen Ginsberg


By Dijk, Hans van / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

3 June 1926 – 5 April 1997 (Aged 70)

Ginsberg was an American writer, widely regarded as one most influential poets of the 20th century. He is considered a leading figure of the Beat Generation.

His best-known work is his poem “Howl”, where he denounces the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States.

Ginsberg was a major figure of the counterculture movement, during which he protested against the Vietnam War, and supported gay rights and anti-war movements.

A life-long smoker, Ginsberg died of liver cancer at the age of 70.

Jeff Buckley


17 November 1966 – 29 May 1997 (Aged 30)

Buckley was an American singer-songwriter who emerged from New York’s music scene and slowly became a star following the release of his first album, Grace, in 1994.

His version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is recognized as one of the greatest of all time.

In the summer of 1997, Buckley was awaiting the arrival of his band from New York, when he drowned in the Mississippi River during an evening swim.

He was swimming fully clothed when he was caught in the wake of a passing boat near Memphis, Tennessee.

It was nearly a week later before his body was found on June 4. The cause of death was an accidental drowning. He was only 30 years old.

Michael Hutchence


Photographer: Andwhatsnext / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

22 January 1960 – 22 November 1997 (Aged 37)

Hutchence was an Australian musician and the lead singer of the band INXS from 1977 until his death. The band achieved success in the 1980s and 1990s.

During his career, he had a number of high profile relationships with stars such as model Helena Christensen and singers Kylie Minogue and Belinda Carlisle.

His final long-term relationship, with British television presenter Paula Yates, began while she was still married to musician Bob Geldof.

Their only daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence was born in July 1996.

In November 1997, Hutchence was found dead in his Sydney hotel room.

His death was reported by the Coroner to be the result of suicide under the influence of alcohol and drugs.