Steve Eighinger

Lost in the swath of the pandemic coverage was the passing of these notable entertainers

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 28, 2020 12:01 am

Much has been lost, or at least greatly overshadowed at times, in the regular news cycle over the past 2 1/2 months. We owe that, of course, to the daily deluge of information tied to the pandemic.

Most every event and individual became a second-class citizen behind anything connected with COVID-19. That was simply the way it was the last half of March, all of April and the first couple of weeks in May.

Only in the past week to 10 days have we legitimately started to emerge from the cloak of the coronavirus. Life is far from normal, but it's a lot closer than it was a month ago.

Personally, I had been so consumed with the 24/7 COVID-19 coverage that I had missed the passings of some of my all-time favorite celebrities and personalities. Unfortunately, I don't think I was the only one to have overlooked some of those accounts.

Since 2010, I've tried to pay tribute once or twice each year to some of the notable entertainers we lose, so here's some belated notice for some of the celebrities whose passings may have fallen through the media cracks in recent weeks and months.

Kenny Rogers: The country music icon died during the early stages of the pandemic of natural causes at age 81. Some will remember that Rogers was a pop star with the First Edition before turning to country.

Robert Conrad: The actor was arguably best known as quick-triggered government agent James T. West in "The Wild Wild West" television show. He also had starring and secondary roles in another half-dozen network offerings. He died of heart failure at age 84.

Kirk Douglas: The legendary star of "Spartacus," who had roles in more than 90 other films, died of natural causes at 103. While in his 90s, Douglas was believed to have been the oldest celebrity blogger in the world.

Ken Osmond: One of the baby boomer generation's all-time favorite TV personalities, Osmond played snarky teenager Eddie Haskell on the "Leave it to Beaver" series. Osmond died at his Los Angeles home earlier this month.

Jerry Stiller: Stiller and Ann Meara formed a husband-and-wife comedy team that rose to prominence on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in the 1960s. Stiller later reinvented his career with curmudgeon-esque roles on "Seinfeld" and "King of Queens." He died of natural causes earlier this month at age 92.

Honor Blackman: All James Bond fans know of Blackman's role in the 1964 secret-agent classic "Goldfinger," but she also co-starred with Patrick Macnee in the 1960s spy show "The Avengers." She was 94 when she died in early April.

Fred Willard: The longtime and likable comedy standout first gained acceptance for his role on the old "Fernwood Tonight" late-night program. He also had recurring roles on such ratings favorites as "Modern Family" and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Willard was 86 at the time of his mid-May death.

Little Richard: The flamboyant rocker rose to fame with such giant hits as "Long Tall Sally" and "Tutti Frutti." He died earlier this month at age 87.

Brian Dennehy: Known recently for his role on the longstanding NBC hit series "Blacklist," Dennehy enjoyed a movie, stage and television career that spanned five decades. He also earned notice for starring opposite Sylvester Stallone in "First Blood" and with Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy." Dennehy was 81.

Tom Lester: He was best known for his portrayal of farmhand Eb Dawson on the 1960s sitcom "Green Acres." Lester died from complications related to Parkinson's disease. He was 81.

Bill Withers: One of the leading singer-songwriters in the 1970s, Withers penned and performed such classic soul hits as "Lean On Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine." He died in late March of heart complications. He was 81.