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Leslie Nielsen


11 February 1926 – 28 November 2010 (Aged 84)

Nielsen was a much-loved Canadian actor, best known for his deadpan comedic roles in Airplane!, Naked Gun, and Police Squad.

During World War II, Leslie Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Following his discharge, he worked as a disc jockey and announcer at a local Canadian radio station.

In 1956, Nielsen made his film debut, going on to give noteworthy performances in films such as The Poseidon Adventure. 

However, it was for his deadpan comedy roles during the 1980s that gained him widespread, enduring recognition.

In total, Nielsen appeared in more than 200 film and television productions.

In recognition of his film career, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001.

Known as a practical joker, Nielsen’s favorite way of pranking people was with a hand-controlled fart machine. The epitaph on his gravestone reads “Let ‘er rip”, in reference to his favorite practical joke.

Nielsen was legally deaf and wore hearing aids for most of his life. He died in his sleep from pneumonia at the age of 84.

Tony Curtis


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3 June 1925 – 29 September 2010 (Aged 85)

Curtis was an American film actor, best known for his film roles during the 1950s, such as Some Like It Hot, The Defiant Ones and Spartacus. In total, his career spanned over six decades and more than 100 films.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Curtis enlisted in the United States Navy, joining the Pacific submarine force. On September 2, 1945, Curtis witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay from his ship’s signal bridge.

Of Hungarian Jewish heritage, Curtis helped finance the rebuilding of the “Great Synagogue” in Budapest, Hungary, after it was damaged during World War II. It is the largest synagogue in Europe today.

In 1998, he also founded the Emanuel Foundation for Hungarian Culture, which he dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Hungary.

During his life, Curtis suffered from alcoholism, cocaine addiction and from various lung problems as a result of cigarette smoking, which he had quit in the 1960s.

He died of cardiac arrest at the age of 85.

Curtis is the father of actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis, from his first marriage with actress Janet Leigh.

J.D. Salinger


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1 January 1919 – 27 January 2010 (Aged 91)

Salinger was an influential American author best known for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, which was published in 1951.

During World War II, Salinger was drafted into the army, serving with the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, seeing action in Utah Beach on D-Day, in the Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.

During the campaign in Europe, Salinger arranged and met with Ernest Hemingway, whose writing had influenced him, while Hemingway was working as a war correspondent in Paris.

During his service, Salinger earned the rank of Staff Sergeant, serving in five campaigns. His experiences during the war resulted in him being hospitalized for a few weeks, suffering from a nervous breakdown after Germany had been defeated.

Following the success of his earlier short stories and The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, Salinger led a secluded life for more than a half-century, publishing his final original work in 1965 and giving his last interview in 1980.

Salinger died of natural causes at his home in New Hampshire at the age of 91.

Gary Coleman


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8 February 1968 – 28 May 2010 (Aged 42)

Coleman was an American actor best known for his role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes and his catchphrase “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

After a successful childhood acting career, starring in other films such as The Kid from Left FieldOn the Right Track, and The Gary Coleman Show.

Coleman struggled financially later in life, successfully suing his parents and business adviser for over $1 million in 1989 over misappropriation of his assets, only to declare bankruptcy a decade later.

In the 2003 California recall election, Coleman ran as a candidate for governor, finishing 8th. Coleman died of a subdural hematoma at the age of 42.

Gerry Ryan

(Radio/TV Presenter)

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5 June 1956 – 30 April 2010 (Aged 53)

Ryan was an Irish radio and television presenter, presenting The Gerry Ryan Show on RTÉ 2fm each weekday morning from 1988 until hours before his sudden death.

Ryan also fronted numerous television shows, including Gerry Ryan TonightGerry Ryan’s HitlistRyan Confidential, and Operation Transformation.

In 1994, Ryan famously co-presented the Eurovision Song Contest, with Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, on the night Riverdance was introduced to the world.

In 2008, Ryan presented an edition of The Late Late Show, television’s longest-running chat show, in place of the then regular host Pat Kenny.

Ryan died from cardiac arrhythmia, with cocaine found in his system, at the age of 53.

Howard Zinn


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24 August 1922 – 27 January 2010 (Aged 87)

Zinn was an influential American historian, best known for his book, originally published in 1980, A People’s History of the United States.

During World War II, Zinn joined the U.S. Army Air Force and was assigned as a bombardier in the 490th Bombardment Group, bombing targets in Berlin, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.

Following the war, Zinn went on to chair the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, and was a political science professor at Boston University, for 24 years until he retired in 1988.

Zinn wrote more than twenty books over the course of his life before he died of a heart attack while in a swimming pool in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 87.

Alexander McQueen

(Fashion Designer)

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17 March 1969 – 11 February 2010 (Aged 40)

McQueen was a British fashion designer who founded his own Alexander McQueen label in 1992.

From 1996 to 2001, McQueen worked as chief designer at Givenchy, earning himself four British Designer of the Year awards, in 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2003

Proud of breaking the traditional mold of a successful designer, McQueen was known for not being shy about his lack of traditional good looks or his lower-class background.

McQueen committed suicide by hanging at the age of forty in his home in Mayfair, London, England, one day after his mother’s funeral.

Malcolm McLaren

(Artist/Fashion Designer)

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22 January 1946 – 8 April 2010 (Aged 64)

McLaren was an English performer and fashion designer, who was best known as the manager of the Sex Pistols.

In 1977, the Sex Pistols’ controversial record, “God Save the Queen”, which satirized the Queen’s Jubilee, was a prime example of McLaren’s shock tactics.

McLaren also gained publicity around the record by getting arrested following a promotional boat trip outside the British Houses of Parliament.

Following the demise of the Sex Pistols in 1978, he released several of his own albums.

McLaren also produced the docu-drama Fast Food Nation and the BBC2 radio presentations, Malcolm McLaren’s Musical Map of London and Malcolm McLaren’s Life and Times in L.A.

At the age of 64, McLaren died from cancer in a hospital in Switzerland.