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Eddie Money, Rip Torn and other celebrity deaths

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Although 2019 has not yet officially ended, we can still proceed with our annual inventory of celebrity deaths from this past calendar year.

Several sources listing more than 1,000 so-called celebrities who left us during 2019 were used in compiling this collection that includes some you know, some you think you know and some you may have never heard of previously.

Despite compiling similar lists over the past several years, I am still unable to state unequivocally what qualifies someone as being a celebrity.

While your favorite celebrities might not be among this group, hopefully you will still recognize some of the names.

• Verna Bloom, 80, played Marion, wife of Dean Wormer, in the movie “Animal House.”

• Jim Fowler, 89, starred on “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” and seemed like he was always rescuing co-host Marlon Perkins from a giant snake.

• Jim Leavelle, 99, was the lawman wearing the white hat and suit shown leading Lee Harvey Oswald away in the Dallas jail seconds prior to Oswald being gunned down by Jack Ruby.

• Eddie Money, 70, rock star. The “Two Tickets to Paradise,” singer’s real name was Edward Joseph Mahoney.

• Rip Torn, 88, actor. His actual name was Elmore Rual Torn Jr., so Rip works much better.

• John Witherspoon, 77, was best man in comedian David Letterman’s first wedding and Letterman is now godfather to Witherspoon’s two sons.

• Gloria Vanderbilt, 95, heiress, actress, artist, designer, author.

• Gene Okerlund, 76, “Mean Gene” was a pro wrestling announcer and interviewer.

• Russi Taylor, 75, was the voice of the Mickey Mouse screen character for more than 30 years.

• Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, 85, Heisman Trophy winner in 1955 from Ohio State.

• Peter Tork, 77, guitarist and vocalist for The Monkees.

• Frank Robinson, 83, one of the best baseball players of his era, won MVP honors in both the National League and American League.

• Albert Finney, 82, British actor who starred in “Tom Jones,” “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Annie.”

• Jan-Michael Vincent, 73, actor, on TV’s “Airwolf.”

• Doris Day, 97, actress, singer, animal rights activist, actual name was Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff.

• Bill Macy, 97, onscreen husband of “Maude,” (Bea Arthur).

• Marilyn Smith, 89, LPGA Hall-of-Fame golfer.

• Diahann Carroll, 84, singer, actress.

• Dennis Day, 76, one of the original Mouseketeers on the “Mickey Mouse Club” TV show.

• Karen Pendleton, 73, another Mickey Mouse Club original Mouseketeer.

• Rip Taylor, 88, a rowdy, eccentric comedian whose act included lots of confetti.

• Tyler Skaggs, 27, Los Angeles Angels pitcher.

• Charles Van Doren, 93, named in TV game show (‘Twenty One”) scandal of the 1950s.

• Joe Terry (Terranova), 78, lead singer in the 1950s with “Danny and the Juniors” (“Let’s Go To The Hop”).

• Fay McKenzie, 101, co-starred in five Gene Autry cowboy movies.

• John Havlicek, 79, still on my short list of most enjoyable basketball players to watch.

• Bart Starr, 85, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. His career highlights include winning Super Bowl I.

• Peggy Stewart, 95, starred in more than 30 Western movies during the 1930s and ‘40s.

• Leon Redbone, 69, guitarist, singer, real name was Dickran Gobalian.

• Robert Earle, who hosted the GE College Bowl TV show in the 1960s.

• Robert Evans, 89, producer of “Godfather I” and “Godfather II,” married seven times including to Ali McGraw (“Love Story”) and Phyllis George (Miss America).

• Billy Drago, 75, played spooky-looking gangster Frank Nitti in the 1987 movie “The Untouchables.”

• Lee Iacocca, 94, auto executive with both Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp.

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at