"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"

"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Cliff Robertson

Oscar-winning actor -- via the New York Times. His astonishing talent was never rewarded as fully as it should have been. He was blackballed for identifying studio bigwig David Begelman as a crook in 1977. Nonetheless, his work memorializes him. He had significant roles in "Picnic" and "The Naked and the Dead"; he played Joe Clay in the original TV broadcast of "Days of Wine and Roses." He was magnificent in "Underworld U.S.A.," "P.T. 109," "The Best Man," "Charly," "Three Days of the Condor," "The Pilot," and, finally, as Uncle Ben in the Raimi "Spiderman" trilogy. (On the corny side, he was "Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers" in an early live-TV sci-fi show, and guest villain "Shame" in the 60's "Batman" TV show.) A talented guy with integrity -- a rare combo.

Michael Hart

Creator of the ebook and founder of Project Gutenberg -- via arstechnica.com. He dreamed of making literature available, freely, electronically, to people around the world. Then he made the dream come true.

Shafique Shikh

Actor -- via zeenews.india.com.

Tom Hibbert

Journalist -- via the Guardian.

Frederick A. Fay

Disability advocate -- via the L.A. Times.

Betty Skelton

Champion and record-setting race driver and aviator -- via flyingmag.com.

George Kuchar

Avant-garde filmmaker -- via mubi.com. With his brother Mike, he created hundreds of wacky, fascinating lo-fi films.

Kante Manfila

Bandleader, guitarist and singer -- via the Independent. Best known as the leader of Les Ambassadeurs.

Martin Sperzel

Singer -- via newsfromme.com. Part of the inimitable Sportsmen Quartet, best known for their long stint on radio's "Jack Benny Show."

McKinley "Bug" Williams

Percussionist -- via accesatlanta.com.

Hilde Heltberg

Singer, guitarist and songwriter -- via okjendis.no.

Shrinivas Khale aka Khale Kaka

Composer -- via the Hindustan Times.

Pearl Thuston Brown

Jazz pianist and singer -- via KCUR.

Paul Pintarich

Journalist, editor, author and literary critic -- via the Oregonian.

Merv Wilkinson

Eco-forester -- via the Victoria Times-Colonist.

Ronald Fernandez

Sociologist who pioneered the study of Puerto Rican history, especially its convoluted relationship with the United States -- via the New York Times.

William Wolff

Physician and co-inventor of the modern colonoscopy -- via the New York Times.

Stan Plesser

Music promoter -- via the Kansas City Star.

Harold Lawrence

Classical music producer -- via the San Jose Mercury News.

Jehangir Sabavala

Artist -- via The Hindu.

Eve Brent aka Eve Brent Ashe aka Jean Leiws aka Jean Ann Ewers

Film, TV and radio actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Jagmohan Mundhra

Film director -- via the Times of India.

Wardell Quezergue Sr. aka The Creole Beethoven

Composer, bandleader, producer and arranger -- via nola.com. He wrote "It Ain't My Fault" and "A Creole Mass"; he did the arrangements for hits such as "Mr. Big Stuff," "Iko Iko," "Big Chief" and "Chapel of Love"; he worked with Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Dr. John and B.B. King, among many others.

Johnny Giosa aka Johnny G

Drummer -- via the L.A. Weekly.

R.B. McDowell

Historian and anecdotalist -- via the Telegraph.

N.F. Simpson aka Norman Frederick Simpson aka Wally Simpson

Playwright, writer for film, TV, radio and print -- via the Telegraph.

Frank Fanovich

Former MLBer -- via rr.com.

Liz Meyer

Bluegrass composer and musician -- via the bluegrassblog.com.

Salvatore Licitra

Tenor -- via the L.A. Times. Very sad -- the remarkable singer died at the age of 43 from injuries in  street accident a few days ago. He rose to fame unexpectedly, most notably as a last-minute replacement for Pavarotti in a production of "Tosca" at the Met in 2002. A great voice, lost too soon.

Alla Bayanova

Singer -- via the Kremlin.

David Pressman

Director and actor -- via the New York Daily News.

Patricia Hardy

Film and TV actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Richard "Cactus" Pryor

Broadcaster and humorist -- via the Austin American-Statesman.

Tony Lopez

Sculptor -- via the Miami Herald.

Kim Tai Chung aka Kim Tai-Jung aka Tong Lun

Taekwondo artist and film actor -- via cityonfire.com.

Bruce Ryan aka Bruce Ryan Hoffman

Disc jockey -- via the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Rod Garrett

Urban planner and landscape designer -- via the New York Times. He created Black Rock City, the temporary development that is created each year for the Burning Man festival.

Roy Ford

History teacher -- via the Guardian.

George Band

Mountaineer -- via the Guardian.