Notable February deaths

(Clockwise from top left) Jerry Buss, Mindy McCready, Lou Myers & Lavonne "Pepper" Paire Davis (© Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images; Steve Grayson/WireImage; Bill Kostroun/AP)
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In Memoriam

This month, we lost a best-selling author, a special-effects pioneer and the woman who inspired the film “A League of Their Own.” Click through to read about these individuals and others who died in February. See gallery

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Richard Street

Died Feb. 27 (b. 1942)


Richard Street (see photos) was a Motown vocalist and member of The Temptations (listen to their music). He joined the famed group (its members?) in the early 1970s and remained a member for 25 years.



Cause of death

His autobiography

Clips of Street performing

Van Cliburn, circa 1970 (© Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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Van Cliburn

Died Feb. 27 (b. 1934)


Van Cliburn (see photos) was an American classical pianist who won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow when he was just 23 years old. He went on to achieve many other firsts, including recording the first classical album to reach platinum status. President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.  



Cause of death

Find clips of him playing

Dale Robertson in 1964 (© AP)
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Dale Robertson

Died Feb. 26 (b. 1923)


Dale Robertson (see photos) was an actor best known for his roles on the TV series "Tales of Wells Fargo," "The Iron Horse" and others. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in the Hall of Great Western Performers (where's that?), and he received a Golden Boot Award in 1985.  



Circumstances of death

What Hall of Fame is he a part of?

Dan Toler in 1986 (© Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images)
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Dan Toler

Paul McIlhenny (© William Widmer/The New York Times/Redux)
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Paul McIlhenny

Died Feb. 23 (b. 1944)


Paul McIlhenny (see photos) was the chief executive and chairman of McIlhenny Company, the maker of world-famous Tabasco sauce. He was the great-grandson of Edmund McIlhenny, the man who invented the famous hot sauce recipe (when?).



Cause of death

Which famous family can't get enough of the Mcllhenny recipe?  

Diane Lampert and Buster Keaton on the set of "Ten Girls Ago" in 1962 (© Rainbow Music Corp., Curt Gunther/AP)
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Diane Lampert

Died Feb. 22 (b. 1924)


Diane Lampert was a talented songwriter in the 1950s and ‘60s, known for co-writing “Nothin’ Shakin’” by the Beatles (hear them sing it).



Cause of death

She wrote the lyrics for the title song of this 1965 musical starring Patty Duke

Cleo Staples (© Everett Collection)
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Cleotha Staples

Died Feb. 21 (b. 1934)


Cleotha Staples (see photos) was a member of The Staple Singers, a gospel group that also included her father, brother and two sisters. They had a number of hits, including “I’ll Take You There,” which reached No. 1 on the charts (watch them perform it).



Cause of death

What was the group honored with in 1999? | And in 2005?

Lou Myers (© Steve Grayson/WireImage)
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Lou Myers

Died Feb. 19 (b. 1935)


Lou Myers (see photos) was an actor who had success in film and television and on stage. He’s best known for playing Mr. Vernon Gaines in the television series “A Different World” (watch clip).



Cause of death

He won this award for his role in the play “King Hedley II

Donald Richie (© Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Donald Richie

Died Feb. 19 (b. 1924)


Donald Richie (see photos) was a well-known writer on Japanese culture and a critic of Japanese films. The Lima, Ohio, native is considered by many to be instrumental in bringing Japanese cinema to English-speaking countries.



What brought him to Japan initially?

His first published work

Richie was curator of film at this well-known art museum | When?

Jerry Buss (© Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Jerry Buss

Died Feb. 18 (b. 1933)


Jerry Buss (see photos) was the owner of a number of sports franchises and, most notably, the majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. He helped lead the team to an impressive 10 NBA championships during his 34 years in charge.



Cause of death

When did he buy the Lakers? | For how much?

His college degrees were in this scientific field

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Damon Harris

Died Feb. 18 (b. 1950)


Damon Harris (see photos) was a member of the legendary Motown group The Temptations from 1971 until 1975. He was a three-time Grammy winner and contributed to hit songs such as "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" (hear it) and "Take A Look Around" (hear it). 



Cause of death

His other groups

Richard Briers (© J. Quinton/WireImage)
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Richard Briers

Died Feb. 17 (b. 1934)


Englishman Richard Briers (see photos) was a successful television and film actor. He played the lead in the popular sitcom “The Good Life” (watch clips) in the mid-1970s.



Cause of death

He received honors from the queen | And performed in front of her

He had a role in this 2012 British zombie film | Watch trailer

Debbie Ford (© Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
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Debbie Ford

Died Feb. 17 (b. 1955)


Best-selling author Debbie Ford (see photos) published a number of extremely popular self-help books throughout the last decade (what was her first?). She was featured on "Oprah" (watch the clip), "Larry King LIVE!" and "Good Morning America."



Cause of death

Her book about divorce

Her son’s philanthropic efforts

Duke guard Phil Henderson in 1990 (© Ed Reinke/AP)
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Phil Henderson

Died Feb. 17 (b. 1968)


Phil Henderson (see photos) was a top basketball player for Duke University in the late 1980s. The shooting guard helped get the team to the Final Four three times. How many points did he score during his college career?



His Hall of Fame coach

His professional career

What had he been doing in recent years?

Mindy McCready (© Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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Mindy McCready

Died Feb. 17 (b. 1975)


Country music star Mindy McCready (see photos) made five studio albums during her career and had several top-10 hits. She appeared on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2009 and had recently lost her boyfriend, songwriter and producer David Wilson (see photos of them together).



Cause of death

Watch the video for one of her biggest hits

Tony Sheridan (© GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images)
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Tony Sheridan

Died Feb. 16 (b. 1940)


Musician Tony Sheridan (see photos) was a talented singer-songwriter and guitarist who collaborated with The Beatles in the early 1960s (what was the group called then?).   



What was one of his first hits? | Watch him perform it

He was honored for playing for the troops in Vietnam

Pat Derby (© Vince Bucci/Getty Images
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Pat Derby

Died Feb. 15 (b. 1924)


Hollywood animal trainer Pat Derby (see photos) worked with the animal stars of several television shows, including “Flipper” and “Lassie.” She also founded PAWS (what does it stand for?), an animal welfare organization. 



Cause of death

What animal rights campaign was she working on?

Her autobiography


Richard Collins (© Denver Post/Getty Images)
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Richard J. Collins

Died Feb. 14 (b. 1914)


Hollywood screenwriter Richard J. Collins was known for his work on “Bonanza” and “Matlock.” The HUAC weren’t happy with some of his earlier projects and in 1951 he testified about his previous involvement with the Communist Party. He named others, even friends, who were still involved.   



Cause of death

Anti-communist fear in the film industry

Frank Diaolo (Courtesy of Connie Grosch/The Providence Journal)
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Frank DiPaolo

Died Feb. 14 (b. 1906)


Longtime politician Frank DiPaolo was a former doorkeeper for the House of Representatives (for how long?) and a political mentor to Patrick Kennedy during his successful 1994 congressional bid.



How long was he involved in politics?

Whose campaign did he first work on?

Tim Dog (© Getty Images)
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Tim Dog

Died Feb. 14 (b. 1967)


East Coast rapper Tim Dog found fame in 1991 with his debut album “Penicillin on Wax,” featuring a popular diss track aimed at the West Coast hip-hop scene. 



Cause of death

He toured with another rapper from the Bronx | Watch one of their collaborations

Mark Kamins (© Tina Paul /WENN)
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Mark Kamins

Died Feb. 14 (b. 1955)


Mark Kamins (see photos) was a well-known DJ and record producer who also played a role in discovering Madonna. The pair dated briefly and she paid tribute to him following his death (what did she say?).



Cause of death

He also produced Madonna’s first single | Watch video

George 'Shadow' Morton (© Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images)
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Shadow Morton

Died Feb. 14 (b. 1940)


George Francis "Shadow" Morton (see photos) was a songwriter and record producer who worked with a number of acts, including pop group The Shangri-Las and the rock band New York Dolls.



Cause of death

He wrote this big hit for The Shangri-Las | Hear them sing it live

He received this honor in 2006

Petro Vlahos (© Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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Petro Viahos

Died Feb. 10 (b. 1916)


Petro Vlahos (see photos) was a special-effects leader who refined the blue- and green-screen systems for film (when did he develop it?). He later won an Oscar for his work on Disney’s “Mary Poppins” (the penguin dance).



Which film did he first develop the technology for? | Watch clips

The blue-screen and green-screen company he founded with his son

Ralph Braun (Courtesy of Braun Ability,
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Ralph Braun

Died Feb. 8 (b. 1940)


Ralph Braun (see photos) was the award-winning creator of the first motorized mobility scooter and wheelchair-accessible vehicle (when?). Braun used his own diagnosis with muscular dystrophy and need for mobility to help others with disabilities.



How old was he when he created his first motorized scooter?

His autobiography

He started his own company selling wheelchair vehicles and more

Chris Brinker (© Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images)
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Chris Brinker

Died Feb. 8 (b. 1970)


Film producer and director Chris Brinker was known for his work on the 1999 action film “The Boondock Saints” and its 2009 sequel. His directorial debut, starring Matt Dillon and Amy Smart, is due out later this year.       



Cause of death

What award was he to be presented with?

James DePreist (© Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
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James DePreist

Died Feb. 8 (b. 1936)


James DePreist (see photos) was an award-wining conductor who conducted orchestras all over the world. He was known for being one of the first and most well-known African-American conductors. Watch him with the Pasadena Symphony.



Cause of death

His role at the prestigious Juilliard School

Watch an interview he did in 2009

Dr. Nevin S. Scrimshaw (© Cornell Capa/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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Nevin S. Scrimshaw

Died Feb. 8 (b. 1918)


Nevin S. Scrimshaw (see photos) was an award-winning nutritionist and food scientist whose work helped protein-starved children in the developing world (read about his work in Central America). The nutrition expert was also Institute Professor emeritus at MIT.      



Cause of death

He helped eliminate this thyroid condition in children in Central America

What honor was he awarded in 1991?

John Livermore (Courtesy of Elko Daily News,
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John Livermore

Died Feb. 7 (b. 1918)


John Livermore was an exploration geologist who was known for discovering a number of gold deposits in Nevada (including one here). He was instrumental, in particular, in finding “invisible gold.”



Cause of death

What first got him interested in geology?

Where did he go to college?


Ronnie Allen (Courtesy of Steve Booth)
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Ronnie Allen

Died Feb. 6 (b. 1938)


Ronnie Allen (see photos) was a professional pool player who dominated the one-pocket pool game for years. He was an entertaining player who was known for his ability to play one-handed. What shot did he invent?



He was honored for his one-pocket skills in 2004

What was his nickname?

Alden Mason (Courtesy of Foster/White Gallery,
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Alden Mason

Died Feb. 6 (b. 1919)


Alden Mason was a very talented artist known for his paintings. He painted using a number of techniques and materials, including squeeze bottles. How did he become interested in art?



Cause of death

Which Pacific Northwest university did he teach at? | For how long? | His famous student

His mural controversy


Stuart Freeborn (Courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved)
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Stuart Freeborn

Died Feb. 5 (b. 1914)


Stuart Freeborn (see photos) was a makeup artist for many well-known films, including the original “Star Wars” trilogy. He was known in particular for designing Yoda, whom he modeled in part after himself (see a pic of the two together). 



Cause of death

He also worked on this superhero film series

Nominated for an award in 1984 | For work on what film?

Paul Tanner (Courtesy of UCLA Bands)
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Paul Tanner

Died Feb. 5 (b. 1917)


Paul Tanner (see a photo) was a talented trombonist who played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Beach Boys (on what hit song?). He’s also known for helping to develop the Electro-Theremin, or the “Tannerin,” as it is also called.



Cause of death

He was a professor at this California university

Donald Byrd (© Rick Diamond/WireImage)
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Donald Byrd

Died Feb. 4 (b. 1932)


Donald Byrd (see photos) was a talented jazz trumpeter who also had success in the rhythm and blues, soul and funk genres. He was a key influence in Herbie Hancock’s early career (Hancock had this to say about him). 



Listen to him play

Hip-hop artists who have sampled his recordings recently

Cardiss Collins (© Tom Allen/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
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Cardiss Collins

Died Feb. 3 (b. 1931)


Cardiss Collins (see photos) was a member of the House of Representatives for 24 years. She was known for being the first African-American woman from the Midwest in Congress (where was she from?).



Cause of death

What issues were important to her?

The U.S. Postal Service gave her this honor in 1996

Edith Houghton (Courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
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Edith Houghton

Died Feb. 2 (b. 1912)


Edith Houghton (see photos) was a professional baseball player and scout. She’s known for being the first female scout in Major League Baseball (for what team?).



What top team did she play for?

Service in the military

Chris Kyle (© Bill Kostroun/AP)
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Chris Kyle

Died Feb. 2 (b. 1974)


Chris Kyle (see photos) was a U.S. Navy SEAL and sniper. He was known for being the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history (how many confirmed kills?).



Cause of death

What was his nickname?

Thousands attended his memorial service | See photos

Lavonne 'Pepper' Paire Davis (© Bill Kostroun/AP)
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Pepper Paire

Died Feb. 2 (b. 1924)


Pepper Paire (see photos) was a professional baseball catcher who played in the 1940s and ‘50s. She’s known for being the inspiration behind Geena Davis’ character in “A League of Their Own” (watch clips).



Cause of death

Her book

What was her role in “A League of Their Own"?

Tyrice Thompson (© Getty Images)
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Tyrice Thompson

Died Feb. 2 (b. 1985)


Tyrice Thompson (see photos) was a wide receiver for Arizona State University (he was signed by this NFL team in 2008).



Cause of death

Given this honor in 2006

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Guy F. Tozzoli

Died Feb. 2 (b. 1922)


Guy F. Tozzoli (see photos) was an architect and director of the World Trade Department of the Port Authority. He played a major role in the building of the World Trade Center (when was it built?) and worked at the twin towers himself until the terrorist attacks in 2001.



Cause of death

Which university did he attend? | What did he study?

(Clockwise from top left) 2009 BMW 3-Series sedan, Fast Classics Country Fried Steak & Purr-Fection Beamerzzz stuffed animals (© BMW/AP; via,; via,
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