"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"

Jeff Millar

Writer for cartoons, notably "Tank McNamara"; film critic, humorist, and playwright -- via the Houston Chronicle.

Mel Shaw aka Melvin Schwartzman

Design artist for Disney ("Bambi," "The Rescuers," "Fantasia," "The Lion King") who also helped design the definitive Howdy Doody -- via the L.A. Times.

Akin Ogungbe aka Pa Akintola Ogungbe

Actor -- via naijagists.com.

Ken Regan

Photojournalist -- via the New York Times.

Joseph Murray

Nobel Prize-winning surgeon who pioneered organ transplantation -- via Yahoo News.

Martin Richards aka Morton Richard Klein

Tony- and Oscar-winning Broadway producer; the guiding force behind the original production and revival and eventual massive success of Kander and Ebb's "Chicago" -- via the New York Times.

Jakes Gerwel aka Gert Johannes Gerwel

Academic and anti-apartheid activist -- via the Washington Post.

Ken Rowe

Former MLB pitcher and long-time coach -- via Bleacher Report.

Maria Susana Flores Gomez

Beauty queen who died in shoot out with police -- via the Telegraph. This is eerily similar to the plot of a recent popular Mexican film, Gerardo Naranjo's 2011 "Miss Bala."

Simeon ten Holt

Composer -- via Gramophone.

Hal Trosky Jr.

Former MLB pitcher -- via the Chicago Tribune.

Dann Cahn

Film and TV editor -- via the L.A. Times. Best known for his work on "I Love Lucy," the first three-camera, filmed TV sitcom.

Zenaida Silva

Journalist -- via CBS News.

Dinah Sheridan aka Dinah Nadyejda Ginsburg

Actress -- via the Guardian.

Stelios Votsis

Artist -- via the Guardian.

Diana Birkenfield

Emmy-winning TV and radio producer; an integral part of Jim Henson's creative team -- via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Antoinette Olympe Bradna

Dancer and actress -- via the New York Times.

Sammy Ayala

Singer and percussionist -- via latino.foxnews.com.

Robert Blasetti

Office manager, research assistant, gardener, Yankees fan -- via lohud.com. For years, he and his wife volunteered as clowns and balloon handlers in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade; he died in costume during the event this year. The grotesque circumstances of his death brought it to wide notice; however, he was a nice guy who gave back to people. So let's stay focused on that.

Elizabeth Squires

TV and film writer and director -- via Salon.

Jan Trefulka

 Writer, translator, literary critic, publicist, and dissident -- via praguemonitor.com.

Serban Ionescu

Actor -- via foxcrawl.com.

Tom Harvey

Accompanist -- via news.drake.edu.

Michael Dunford

Composer and guitarist for Renaissance -- via Ultimate Classic Rock. In our young teens, this over-the-top symphonic prog-rock was just the ticket! Oh how we loved it . . . and then punk came in. Still, it's a fun listen --

Flora Martirosyan

Singer -- via the Armenian Weekly.

Spain Rodriguez aka Manuel Rodriguez

Underground cartoonist -- via the National Enquirer. Creator of Trashman and "Che: A Graphic Biography."

Boris Strugatsky

Science-fiction writer whose stories skewered contemporary Soviet life -- via the New York Times. His stoy "Roadside Picnic" was later adapted into Andrei Tarkovsky's great 1979 film "Stalker."

Miliki aka Emilio Aragon Bermudez

Clown, accordionist, and singer -- via Broadway World.

Arnaud Maggs

Photographer and artist -- via the CBC.

Freddy Schmidt

Former MLB pitcher -- via mlb.com.

Alcione Araujo

Writer, director, and educator -- via oglobo.com.

Mickey "Guitar" Baker aka MacHouston Baker

Guitarist -- via L'Express. (Here's a more complete writeup from the New York Times.) As half of Mickey and Sylvia, had his biggest hit with the novelty ballad "Love is Strange" in 1956.

However, he was a vital bridge between R & B and rock and roll, playing guitar on these key recordings:

Erazm Ciolek

Photojournalist -- via thenews.pl.

Bryce Bayer

Scientist and inventor; "the father of digital imaging" -- via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fernando Casanova aka Fernando Gutierrez Lopez aka Fred Canow

Actor -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

John Hefin

TV director -- via the Telegraph.

Anne Sullivan

Stage manager -- via Broadway World.

Marvin Miller

Union official -- via the New York Daily News. As leader of the baseball players' union, and destroyer of the infamous reserve clause, either loved or hated depending on one's labor sympathies. A revolutionary figure!

Welton Taylor

Microbiologist -- via the Chicago Tribune.

John Frederick aka John Merrick aka Frederick Stiffler

Actor -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Elizabeth W. Alexander

Film producer -- via Variety.

Austin Peralta

Jazz pianist -- via the L.A. Times.

Gene Bua

Actor and acting teacher -- via the Burbank Leader.

Anne Voss Bark aka Anne Bennett

Actress, hotelier, fly fishing expert, writer, and marriage counselor -- via the Telegraph.

Margaret Yorke aka Margaret Beda Nicholson

Crime novelist -- via the Telegraph.

Vladka Meed aka Feigele Peltel

A member of Warsaw's Jewish underground; later, a key Holocaust educator -- via the New York Times.

Bryce Courtenay

Novelist -- via the New York Times.

Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya

Chess grandmaster -- via the New York Times.

Earl "Speedo" Carroll

Doo-wop vocalist -- via the New York Daily News. Best known as the singer of their biggest hit, "Speedo," Carroll ang with the group off and on for five decades, with some stints as a member of the Coasters as well.

The Cadillacs were the group that really helped doo-wop and R & B crossover to white listeners. They also pioneered the use of flashy matching stage ensembles and choreography.