althaea101: (Default)

I loved his painting and am sad to see him die.....rip.

Popular California artist Thomas Kinkade died of natural causes Friday at his home in Los Gatos, a family spokesman said in a statement.

Kinkade, 54, died suddenly. "We are shocked and saddened by his death," his wife Nanette said in a statement.

Authorities told the San Jose Mercury News that it will take several days to determine an exact cause of death.

Kinkade's sentimental paintings — with their scenes of cottages, country gardens and churches in dewy morning light — were beloved by many in middle-class America but generally dismissed by the art establishment. The paintings typically depict tranquil scenes with lush landscaping and streams running nearby. Many contain images from Bible passages.

Kinkade labeled himself the nation's most collected living artist. His paintings and spin-off products bring in about $100 million a year in sales, and are said to be in 10 million homes in the United States.

He grew up in a trailer in the Northern California city of Placerville, which he often rendered in his art as an idyllic community of friendly citizens. After hitting upon the formula for inspirational landscapes and village scenes, he and his wife put their modest savings into publishing the first reproductions of his paintings in 1984. They sold 1,000 copies for $35 each and never looked back.

Kinkade's Media Arts Group took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, according to the Mercury News. The company has since gone private. The costs of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.

Services were pending.


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Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday. She was 48.


"There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent," Rosen said.Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told reporters outside the Beverly Hilton that Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the hotel. Her body remained there and Beverly Hills detectives were investigating.

Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said the cause of death was unknown.

Rosen said police received a 911 call from hotel security about Houston at 3:43 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer, he said.

What was Whitney Houston's best song?

Houston's end came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to cast a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony.

Her longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday, and a representative of the show said it would proceed.

Producer Jimmy Jam, who had worked with Houston, said he anticipated the evening would become a tribute to her, and he expected there to be one at the Grammys as well.

Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and Davis had told The Associated Press that she would perhaps perform: "It's her favorite night of the year ... (so) who knows by the end of the evening," he said.


Houston had been at rehearsals for the show Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The person said Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

Two days ago, she performed at a pre-Grammy party with singer Kelly Price.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he would call for a national prayer Sunday morning during a service at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

"The morning of the Grammys, the world should pause and pray for the memory of a gifted songbird," Sharpton said in a written statement.

Story: Stars react to Whitney Houston's death

In a statement, Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said Houston "was one of the world's greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades."

"Her powerful voice graced many memorable and award-winning songs," Portnow said. "A light has been dimmed in our music community today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, fans and all who have been touched by her beautiful voice."

At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."


She had the perfect voice and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.


She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."

"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," "You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."


Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the "Soul Train Awards" in 1989.

"Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?" she told Katie Couric in 1996. "You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them."

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

"When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that's their image. It's part of them, it's not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody's angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy."

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with "The Bodyguard." Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy's record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack was named album of the year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Preacher's Wife." Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut "It's Not Right But It's Okay."

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time "The Preacher's Wife" was released, "(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. ... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown's reality show, "Being Bobby Brown," was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared "crack is whack," was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album "I Look To You." The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on "Good Morning America" went awry as Houston's voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.


althaea101: (Default)
There are no words. I enjoyed him as an actor and he will be missed. What in the hell was he thinking? I feel for his daughter and family right now.

Heath Ledger found dead in NYC apartment
Authorities say actor’s death likely suicide or accidental overdose

Jan. 22: Actor Heath Ledger is found dead in a New York City apartment.
NEW YORK - Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday in a Manhattan apartment, naked in bed with sleeping pills nearby, police said. The Australian-born actor was 28.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Ledger had committed suicide. He had an appointment for a massage at the residence in the tony neighborhood of SoHo, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. A housekeeper who went to let him know the massage therapist had arrived and found him unconscious at 3:26 p.m.

According to The New York Times, his body was moved to the floor, and after receiving no response from the actor after shaking him, the masseuse and housekeeper called authorities.

“We are investigating the possibility of an overdose,” Browne said. “There were pills within the vicinity of the bed.”

A source told msnbc.com's Courtney Hazlett that Ledger had been turning down roles lately.

The Times initially reported that Ledger was found in an apartment owned by actress Mary-Kate Olsen, but a spokesperson for the actress, who is at the Sundance Film Festival, later told the Times the apartment was not Olsen's.

Heath Ledger, 1979-2008

The actor, who was Oscar nominated for “Brokeback Mountain,” died at age 28.

A large crowd of paparazzi and gawkers began gathering Tuesday evening outside the building on the upscale block, where several police officers guarded the door. According to The Times, city workers rolled Ledger’s body, encased in a black body bag, out of the building on a stretcher.

An autopsy was planned for Wednesday, medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

While not a marquee movie star, Ledger was a respected, award-winning actor who chose his roles carefully rather than cashing in on his heartthrob looks. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain,” where he met Michelle Williams, who played his wife in the film. The two had a daughter, now 2-year-old Matilda, and lived together in Brooklyn until they split up last year.

It was a shocking and unforeseen conclusion for one of Hollywood’s bright young stars. Though his leading man looks propelled him to early stardom in films like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale,” his career took a notable turn toward dramatic and brooding roles with 2001’s “Monster’s Ball.”

“I had such great hope for him,” said Mel Gibson, who played Ledger’s vengeful father in “The Patriot,” in a statement from the actor’s publicist. “He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Ledger eschewed Hollywood glitz in favor of a bohemian life in Brooklyn, where he was one of the borough’s most famous residents. “Brokeback” would be his breakthrough role, establishing him as one of his generation’s finest talents and an actor willing to take risks.

Ledger began to gravitate more toward independent fare, including Lasse Hallstrom’s “Casanova” and Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm,” both released in 2005. His 2006 film “Candy” now seems destined to have an especially haunting quality: In a particularly realistic performance, Ledger played a poet wrestling with a heroin addiction along with his girlfriend, played by Abbie Cornish.

But Ledger’s most recent choices were arguably the boldest yet: He co-starred in “I’m Not There,” in which he played one of the many incarnations of Bob Dylan — as did Cate Blanchett, whose performance in that film earned an Oscar nomination Tuesday for best supporting actress.

And in what may be his final finished performance, Ledger proved that he wouldn’t be intimidated by taking on a character as iconic as Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Ledger’s version of the Batman villain, glimpsed in early teaser trailers, made it clear that his Joker would be less comical and more depraved and dark.

Curiosity to see Ledger’s final performance will likely further stoke interest in the summer blockbuster. “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan said earlier this month that Ledger’s performance as the Joker would be wildly different than Jack Nicholson’s memorable turn in 1989’s “Batman.”

“It was a very great challenge for Heath,” Nolan said. “He’s extremely original, extremely frightening, tremendously edgy. A very young character, a very anarchic presence that taps into a lot of our basic fears and panic.”

Ledger told The New York Times in a November interview that he “stressed out a little too much” during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker, whom he called a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told the newspaper. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour, the paper said.

Before settling down with Williams, Ledger had relationships with actresses Heather Graham and Naomi Watts. He met Watts while working on “The Lords of Dogtown,” a fictionalized version of a cult classic skateboarding documentary, in 2004.

Ledger was born in 1979 in Perth, in western Australia, to a mining engineer and a French teacher, and got his first acting role playing Peter Pan at age 10 at a local theater company. He began acting in independent films as a 16-year-old in Sydney and played a cyclist hoping to land a spot on an Olympic team in a 1996 television show, “Seat.”

After several independent films, Ledger moved to Los Angeles at age 19 and costarred opposite Julia Stiles in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Offers for other teen flicks soon came his way, but Ledger turned them down, preferring to remain idle than sign on for projects he didn’t like.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” Ledger told the Associated Press in 2001. “It was hard for everyone else around me to understand. Agents were like, ‘You’re crazy,’ my parents were like, ‘Come on, you have to eat.”’
althaea101: (Default)
I did not agree with everything he did but I respected and loved his passion for nature. May you rest in peace.


CAIRNS, Australia (AP) -- Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.
Irwin was at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called "Ocean's Deadliest" when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous bard on their tails, his friend and colleague John Stainton said.
"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton,
who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
Crew members aboard the boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time
later, Stainton said.
Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter." First broadcast in Australia in 1992, the program was
picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting Irwin to international celebrity.
He rode his image into a feature film, 2002's "The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course" and developed the wildlife park that his parents opened, Australia Zoo, into a major tourist attraction.
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet," Stainton told reporters in Cairns. "He died doing what he loved
best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!"'
Prime Minister John Howard, who hand-picked Irwin to attend a gala barbecue to honor President Bush when he visited in 2003, said
he was "shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death."
"It's a huge loss to Australia," Howard told reporters. "He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He
brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people."
Irwin, who made a trademark of hovering dangerously close to untethered crocodiles and leaping on their backs, spoke in rapid-fire bursts with a thick Australian accent and was almost never seen without his uniform of khaki shorts and shirt and heavy boots.
His ebullience was infectious and Australian officials sought him out for photo opportunities and to promote Australia internationally.
Irwin's public image was dented, however, in 2004 when he caused an uproar by holding his infant son in one arm while feeding large
crocodiles inside a zoo pen. Irwin claimed at the time there was no danger to the child, and authorities declined to charge Irwin with
violating safety regulations.
Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a
documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken
against him.
Stingrays have a serrated, toxin-loaded barb, or spine, on the top of their tail. The barb, which can be up to 10 inches long, flexes if a ray is frightened. Stings usually occur to people when they step on or swim too close to a ray and can be excruciatingly painful but are rarely fatal, said University of Queensland marine neuroscientist Shaun Collin.
Collin said he suspected Irwin died because the barb pierced under his ribcage and directly into his heart.
"It was extraordinarily bad luck. It's not easy to get spined by a stingray and to be killed by one is very rare," Collin said.
News of Irwin's death spread quickly, and tributes flowed from all quarters of society.
At Australia Zoo at Beerwah, south Queensland, floral tributes were dropped at the entrance, where a huge fake crocodile gapes.
Drivers honked their horns as they passed.
"Steve, from all God's creatures, thank you. Rest in peace," was written on a card with a bouquet of native flowers.
"We're all very shocked. I don't know what the zoo will do without him. He's done so much for us, the environment and it's a big loss," said Paula Kelly, a local resident and volunteer at the zoo, after dropping off a wreath at the gate.
Stainton said Irwin's American-born wife Terri, from Eugene, Ore., had been informed of his death, and had told their daughter
Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob, who will turn 3 in December.
althaea101: (Default)
Dana Reeve, widow of Christopher Reeve, dies of lung cancer

Dana Reeve, seen at a 2004 event, announced that she had lung cancer in August.

Dana Reeve, who fought for better treatments and possible cures for paralysis through the Christopher Reeve Foundation, named for her late actor-husband, has died. She was 45.

Reeve died Monday of lung cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, said Sean Dougherty, a spokesman for the foundation.

"We are extremely saddened by the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us," Kathy Lewis, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement.

Reeve won worldwide admiration for her support of her husband, the one-time Hollywood "Superman" turned activist for spinal cord research after a horse-riding accident in 1996.

She served as chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Foundation and founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.

Christopher Reeve died in 2004. In August, Dana Reeve announced she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. She said she had never smoked.

She said in November that said she was able to keep her spirits up because she "had a great model. ... I was married to a man who never gave up."

Reeve lived in Westchester County, near New York, with the couple's teenage son, Will. She has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and regional stages and on the TV shows "Law & Order," "Oz," and "All My Children."

"Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength and ceaseless courage that became her hallmark," Lewis said. "Along with her husband, Christopher, she faced adversity with grace and determination, bringing hope to millions around the world."

She is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini; sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman; two stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra; and her son.

I feel so bad right now for children....it is just wrong.

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