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Friday, April 27, 2018

Remembering Those We’ve Lost

Written by Jon Williams

The past several weeks have seen a number of notable figures pass away. As April draws to a close, we want to pause to remember their lives and careers.

Most prominent, of course, was former First Lady Barbara Bush, who passed on April 17 at age 92. She served as Second Lady in the United States from 1981 through 1989 as her husband George Bush was vice president to Ronald Reagan, and then became first lady from 1989 through 1993 as Mr. Bush served one term as president. Their son George W. Bush also served as president from 2001 through 2009, while another son, Jeb Bush, served as governor of the state of Florida. As part of this lengthy political career, she was a fierce advocate for the ability to read, starting the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and stressing the importance of reading to children as an essential part of their development. Her foundation has raised millions of dollars toward this goal since its inception in 1989, and libraries were particularly near and dear to her heart.

Last weekend the entertainment world lost a very recognizable figure in Verne Troyer, who passed away on April 21. Born with cartilage-hair hypoplasia, Troyer grew to a height of less than three feet. After a number of minor film roles throughout the mid to late 1990s, he finally found fame as the character of Mini-Me in 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, a role he would return to in 2002 with Austin Powers in Goldmember. His stature lent itself to roles in fantasy films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and his most recent role was in the 2015 horror film Gnome Alone.

Also last weekend, on April 20, we lost Avicii, the stage name of Tim Bergling, a Swedish DJ and producer of electronic dance music. He was just 28 years old. Getting into the music scene as a teenager, Avicii released his breakout single “Levels” in 2011, leading up to his debut album True in 2013. He followed that up with Stories in 2015. His single “Sunshine” with David Guetta was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2012, and over the course of his career he also collaborated with such artists as Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, and Madonna, among many others.

Harry Anderson was immediately recognizable from his iconic portrayal of Judge Harry Stone on the sitcom Night Court, which ran for nine seasons from 1984 through 1992. He followed that up with four seasons of Dave’s World, based on the writings of Dave Barry. Prior to both of those shows, he had a recurring role on Cheers, one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, which helped propel him to fame. He also starred as part of the ensemble cast of the 1990 miniseries It, based on the novel by Stephen King, which has seen a resurgence of popularity lately due to the highly successful new big-screen adaptation. He passed away on April 16 at the age of 65.

The day before, on April 15, beloved actor R. Lee Ermey passed away at 74. His voice and bearing led to him being cast often in roles of authority, which followed from his first career as a drill instructor and staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. It’s appropriate, then, that his most famous role was as a drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietman War film Full Metal Jacket. He played the ghost of a drill instructor in The Frighteners, and voiced the leader of the army men in Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy. Over the course of a career that spanned four decades, he also appeared in such films as Seven, Dead Man Walking, Mississippi Burning, and two Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies of the 2000s.

Despite the fact that filmmaker Milos Forman worked primarily in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, he made a number of acclaimed American films. Starting out by acting and then writing and directing Czech films in the 1950s and 1960s, he made a splash not long after beginning to work in the U.S. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which also won Best Picture. He won the award again in 1985 for Amadeus, and was nominated in 1997 for The People vs. Larry Flint. He passed away on April 13 at age 86.

Finally, and most recently, musician Bob Dorough passed away earlier this week, on April 23, at 94. His name may not ring a bell, but chances are decent that you’ve heard some of his work. His most famous creation is the music of Schoolhouse Rock!, a, educational Saturday morning cartoon series that helped a generation of children learn about a wide variety of topics. The show and its music are still beloved by those who grew up with it.

These influential people have created and advocated for a wealth of incredible work that will be enjoyed for years to come, and their losses are keenly felt. Click the links above order titles to share with patrons, or SmartBrowse their names on our website for more.