Category: Celebrity Deaths

Whitney Houston dead at 48; celebs react on Twitter


Whitney Houston is dead at 48

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Singer Whitney Houston's death Saturday at age 48 had few details immediately available, but celebrities on Twitter were quick to respond.

Russell Simmons said he was "deeply saddened by the death of Whitney Houston...may she rest in peace."

"Just heard the news. so crazy," tweeted Justin Bieber. "One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family I am sadden to hear of the passing of Whitney Houston today..."

PHOTOS: Stars react to Whitney Houston's death

Melanie Amaro, who won the first season of "The X Factor" and recently belted out Aretha Franklin's "Respect" for Pepsi, tweeted, "I love u sooo much Whitney Houston :'( u will always be in my heart and my mind an my soul your music made me the girl I am today :("

"Is the sad news about Whitney Houston true?!?!," singer Michelle Branch asked early on.

Houston died Saturday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton hotel, authorities told L.A. Now. Houston was in the Los Angeles area for a musical tribute to music executive Clive Davis and had performed and spoken to reporters earlier in the week. The investigation into her death was ongoing. 

PHOTOS: Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

"Wow. RIP Whitney Houston. Grew up on her," actress Elizabeth Banks said. "She contributed to the soundtrack of many of my 12-year old sleepover parties."

"So so sad that Whitney Houston died..," Kris Jenner said. "praying for her daughter and her family...tragic..just heartbreaking..amazing talent, amazing voice.."

TV host Nancy O'Dell kept it simple: "I am in shock and so sad...Whitney Houston reported dead."

"RIP Whitney Houston. Sad to see anyone go so early. My thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family," said actress and TV host Olivia Munn.

"Whitney Houston is dead. A beautiful & talented woman RIP Whitney," said author Jackie Collins.

CNN's Roland Martin, recently in the news over a Super Bowl tweet, noted that "Clive Davis has his annual Grammy party tonight. Something tells me it will be turned into a Whitney Houston memorial service."

In fact, Houston was to have attended that party Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, L.A. Now reports.

And one touching non-celebrity tweet, from writer Jordan Bach: "May the wings of angels encircle Whitney Houston. Gratitude for her gifts, sorrow for her agony, and prayers for her release at last."

[UPDATED, 6: 30 p.m. Feb. 11: Fellow diva Mariah Carey expressed her condolences over a series of tweets, saying, "Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston. My heartfelt condolences to Whitney's family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth."

Her husband, Nick Cannon, noted, "'To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord' RIP to Whitney Houston a true queen."

And more celebs weighed in:

Nick Lachey: "How tragic to hear about Whitney Houston's passing. Such a shame. She had one of the most iconic voices of my lifetime. #rip"

Wendy Williams: "My family & I are saddened by the loss of a true icon & legend - Whitney Houston. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the entire Houston family."

Dwyane Wade: "RIP to a legend..Sad day for music lovers...Whitney Houston should be celebrated 4 blessing us with her gifts..#Icon #mother #beautiful"

Tyrese Gibson: "I'm in Houston on the night we lose Whitney Houston .. Tonight's show is dedicated to her legacy"]


Full coverage

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Whitney Houston was to attend Clive Davis' party tonight

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Houston spotted displaying erratic behavior the day before death

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Whitney Houston in 2009. Credit: Getty Images

Nick and Aaron Carter's sister Leslie dies at 25; tour continues

Leslie Carter dead at 25
Former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's sister, Leslie, passed away Tuesday at the age of 25, delivering a shock to the family which includes singing brother Aaron.

"Our family is grieving right now and it’s a private matter. We are deeply saddened for the loss of our beloved sister, daughter and granddaughter, Leslie Carter," the clan said in a statement.

"We request the utmost privacy during this difficult time," they added to Access Hollywood, which broke the story.

Mystery surrounds the cause of death, which went down in upstate New York, as no further information is available on her passing. Leslie had one go at the family business, a single called "Like Wow!' on the 2001 soundtrack to "Shrek."

And speaking of the family business, Nick has no intention of stopping his current tour across the northeast. His next stop is as soon as Thursday at New York's Irving Plaza.

"Performing is cathartic to me and I am dedicating the rest of my tour to my sister, since she loved to watch me perform," his rep told People.


Patrice O'Neal dead at 41; comic had suffered a stroke in October

James Farentino dead at 73; Tina Sinatra woes hurt long TV career

Etta James' funeral: Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder say goodbye

— Matt Donnelly

Photo: Aaron and Leslie Carter pose at a Lupus Foundation fundraiser in August 2006 in Hollywood. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Etta James' funeral: Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder say goodbye




Etta James’ funeral marked a final goodbye for family, fans and famous friends as they gathered Saturday in Los Angeles to bid farewell to the singer.

Christina Aguilera helped give the four-time Grammy winner a fitting sendoff by singing James’ signature song, “At Last,” for the hundreds of mourners at Greater Bethany Community Church in Gardena, Calif. Stevie Wonder joined up with the church choir to pay his respects to James, who passed away Jan. 20 at 73, and Al Sharpton was there to give the eulogy.

The funeral follows a public viewing on Friday where fans gathered at Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary to reminisce about the legendary singer. 

PHOTOS: Etta James' funeral

"Whenever I hear that song, I freeze," Donald Hicks, 67, of Inglewood told the L.A. Times about James' megahit "At Last." "I even pull over when it comes on."

News spread in December that the rhythm and blues singer was suffering from terminal chronic leukemia. The bleak diagnosis followed past health issues like sepsis, kidney failure, gastric bypass surgery, dementia and drug addiction. In addition, her children were involved in court proceedings to take control of James’ estate away from her husband, Artis Mills, but lost.

An inspiration to generations of musicians, she was “equally at home singing unadulterated blues, searing R&B and sophisticated jazz," says Times pop music writer Randy Lewis.


Appreciation: Etta James

Etta James dies at 73; acclaimed blues and R&B singer

Etta James: Beyonce, Roseanne Barr, more celebs note her passing

-- Emily Christianson

Photo: Stevie Wonder sings at Etta James' funeral. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

James Farentino dead at 73; Tina Sinatra woes hurt long TV career

James Farentino

James Farentino, a veteran TV actor whose career was undone a bit at the end by his personal life, is dead at age 73.

Farentino, who was one of Universal Studios' last contract players in the 1960s and notched nearly 100 TV roles, including recurring appearances in series such as "Police Story," "Dynasty" and the original "Melrose Place," was married four times. He played George Clooney's character's estranged father on "ER," and was also known for the fallout from a turbulent relationship with Frank Sinatra's youngest daughter, Tina.

After a five-year, on-and-off relationship with Tina Sinatra, Farentino in 1994 pleaded no contest to stalking her after being charged with 24 misdemeanor counts of stalking, making harassing phone calls and violating a restraining order.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2011

"My behavior was appalling — feeling so hurt and rejected that I was the victim when I really wasn't," he told The Times in a 2003 interview. "So you inflict your pain on someone else to make them identify with you."

Sentenced to 36 months' probation plus psychological and alcohol counseling, Farentino said some in the industry treated him differently after the incident.

Farentino died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness, his family's spokesman told The Times. He is survived by his fourth wife, Stella, whom he married in 1994, and sons David and Saverio. Actress Michelle Lee is David's mother.


James Farentino's 5 most recognizable roles

Etta James: Beyonce, Roseanne Barr and more celebs note her passing

Elizabeth Taylor's legendary jewelry fetches a record $115 million at auction

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: James Farentino at home in 2003, when he was starring in "Boy Gets Girl" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.


Etta James: Beyonce, Roseanne Barr, more celebs note her passing

Etta James died Friday at age 73.

In the wake of Etta James' death Friday at age 73, Beyonce and other celebrities expressed their sympathies over the singer's passing. 

"This is a huge loss," Beyonce, who played James in the movie "Cadillac Records," said in a statement on her website. "Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime."

Beyonce said James' music inspired her to be a stronger artist.

OBITUARY: Etta James dies at 73

"When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed."

James, whose condition was pronounced terminal in December, succumbed to complications of leukemia Friday morning at a hospital in Riverside, according to her son Donto and her personal doctor. Best known for the song "At Last," she had battled serious infections for years and also suffered from dementia.

Beyonce was far from alone in expressing herself.

PHOTOS:  Etta James | 1938-2012

"Some of you young'ns may not be too familiar with Etta James but ... many of you are definitely familiar with her biggest hit song At Last (which Beyoncé performed at the inauguration of President Obama back in 2009)," Pink explained Friday on her website.

"Though she's gone, her classic songs and undeniable influence on the music world will live on," said "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon, recently out of the hospital himself. Wife Mariah Carey added on Twitter, "Rest in peace to one of the world's most influential singers Etta James, you will be missed."

Continue reading »

'Jon Bon Jovi is dead' hoaxer: 'I just kind of took the liberty'

Jon Bon Jovi is not dead, no matter what Jeffrey Goho tweeted.

Jon Bon Jovi was dead, did you hear? If you did, you experienced the hoax that Pennsylvania musician Jeffrey Goho has admitted he started.

Goho told the Asbury Park Press on Tuesday he'd been peeved that Bon Jovi appeared to be spending his time everywhere but behind a microphone. So what better way to encourage a guy to leave the restaurant business and the movie business alone than by tweeting that he's, you know, dead.

"Long story short, I was talking to my band members on their down time, and we got so worked up in the conversation, I just kind of took the liberty and started [the rumor], because I was so irritated," Goho told the Asbury Park Press.

He started the rumor in mid-December on a friend's Twitter account, he said, or on a fake account, depending on whom you believe. And, gosh, who expected all that retweeting (the story of the hoax was popping for days here at latimes.com -- and along the way, one wee blog even picked up The Times' Michael Jackson death story and changed some words around to make it about Bon Jovi, according to our L.A. Now pals).

Bon Jovi himself poked repeated fun at the rumor at a Dec. 19 concert in New Jersey, referring to it several times and pretending to take frantic phone calls from friends who'd heard the news, the Star-Ledger reported. That after posting a "proof of life"-style photo in which he declared, "Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey."

"I never really thought it would get out of Pennsylvania," said Goho, who at age 30 is apparently unclear about how the Internet doesn't pay much attention to state lines. Surprisingly (not), he said he was "slammed" with hate tweets within 24 hours of posting the made-up-news-that-wasn't-news.

But after some reflection, he said, he realized Bon Jovi was, through his non-musical business endeavors,  actually doing good things that provided more venues where guys like him and his Minutia bandmates could play.

"I was quite wrong," Goho said.

We think Bill Cosby would agree wholeheartedly. Not to mention all these people who reportedly died last December.


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Morgan Freeman dead? No, he's not -- and CNN is looking into how they tweeted about it

-- Christie D'Zurilla


Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry fetches record $115 million at auction

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor may be gone, but her jewelry is still turning heads. The actress's personal collection of jewels went up for auction Tuesday night -- and fetched a record $115 million.

A pearl, diamond and ruby necklace known as La Peregrina, a gift to Taylor from Richard Burton in 1969, sold for a record $11.8 million. Christie's, which conducted the auction, had estimated the necklace would sell for $2 million or $3 million. Burton paid $37,000 for it.

A 33.19-carat diamond ring, which was projected to go for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, sold for $8.8 million.

PHOTOS: The collection of Elizabeth Taylor

That sum for a single white diamond could have bought a whole lot of Taylor's White Diamonds.

A diamond bracelet given to Taylor by close friend Michael Jackson sold for $194,500.

Eighty pieces from Taylor's jewelry collection were auctioned Tuesday in New York, with the remaining 189 items to go Wednesday. Christie's has already blown past the $30 million it predicted as the total sale price. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

More from the late actress' estate will go on sale later in the week, including some of her film scripts and costumes. In February, her collection of Impressionist and Modernist art will go on sale in London.

Taylor died in March.

Some objects from Jackson's estate also went up for bidding this week. Sadly, the singer's auction wasn't as classy as Taylor's: We're talking fancy diamonds versus fancy clumps of hair.

Christie's has no plans to auction Taylor's hair.


Michael Jackson's hair auctioned off for $10,871

Elizabeth Taylor private tribute: Close friends, sweet words

Report: Elizabeth Taylor's jewels are expected to be auctioned

-- Patrick Kevin Day 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Elizabeth Taylor in 2005. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Patrice O'Neal: A new album and a marathon of memories [Audio]

Patrice O'Neal, Louis CK and Jim Norton

This post has been corrected, as indicated below. Patrice O'Neal

No one could imitate Patrice O'Neal, Gregg "Opie" Hughes of "The Opie & Anthony Show" said ahead of a marathon satellite-radio weekend memorial for the late stand-up comic. Fortunately for fans, O'Neal himself was set to release new material, the sale of which will benefit the mother, sister, wife and child who survive him.

"Patrice was working on a CD, getting ready to release, everything was complete," the Sirius XM host said Friday. "This is something he wanted out there."

Veteran New York-based comic O'Neal, who suffered a stroke on Oct. 19, died Tuesday. He was 41.

The show was the first to play "Hate People Touching Me," a new O'Neal clip, which will air throughout the weekend as part of a marathon tribute broadcast by Opie, Anthony and Jim Norton, and other comedy folks, as they celebrate O'Neal's life and work on the Opie & Anthony Channel, XM 105/Sirius 206.

The upcoming album "Mr. P," unlike other posthumous releases that might be cobbled together from partially complete work, "is Patrice's CD that he was proud of," Opie said, talking about the album in the wake of the Thursday visit from O'Neal manager Jonathan Brandstein. Recorded in April at the Improv in Washington, D.C., the album has a February release date, according to LaughSpin.

"The family gets the money and trust me, without getting into it," he said, "they need the money." Anyone who wants to help can "simply ... order the CD."

Opie predicted O'Neal would be a "massive star" posthumously, saying it was too bad he didn't get to that next level of fame before he died.

Continue reading »

Patrice O'Neal dead at 41; comic had suffered a stroke in October

Patrice O'Neal is deadComedian Patrice O'Neal died Tuesday morning from complications of a stroke he suffered on Oct. 19. "Many of us have lost a close and loved friend," his rep said in confirming the news. "All of us have lost a true comic genius."

The veteran New York-based stand-up comic was 41.

O'Neal was a familiar face on Comedy Central -- getting a lot of attention during his ribald turn (that means watch out for the cuss words if you click) on "The Roast of Charlie Sheen" in September -- as well as a frequent guest on the "Opie & Anthony" radio show.

The radio show broke the news in late October that O'Neal, a diabetic, had suffered a stroke the previous week.

"One of a kind. In heaven right now, charming half and infuriating half, then reversing," tweeted Colin Quinn, host of Comedy Central's defunct "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn," which had regularly featured O'Neal.

Fellow comic and close friend Jim Norton posted a picture of himself and O'Neal online Tuesday, captioning it, "I couldn't possibly love a friend more than I love you. Goodbye brother."

"Yes it's true that our pal Patrice O'Neal has passed away," Opie and Anthony said via Twitter. "The funniest and best thinker i've ever known PERIOD. #devastated." The show posted a video link on its Facebook page, sending people to what they called O'Neal's "greatest laugh ever."

The 6-foot-5 O'Neal reportedly got his first taste of stand-up at Estelle's in Boston when he was heckling a comic who then invited him to come onstage and see if he could better. "The following week he went on stage at Estelle's and brought down the house," according to his Comedy Central bio.

His final performance was at the Charlie Sheen roast.

"Patrice had that rare 'light' around him and inside of him," the actor said Tuesday via Twitter. "I only knew him for the few days leading up the roast. Yet I will forever be inspired by his nobility, his grace and his epic talent. My tears today are for the tremendous loss to his true friends and loving family."

O'Neal is survived by his wife Vondecarlo, stepdaughter Aymilyon, sister Zinder and mother Georgia, his rep told TMZ.


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-- Christie D'Zurilla

Reuters contributed to this report.

Photo: Comedian Patrice O'Neal arrives at Comedy Central's Roast of Charlie Sheen held at Sony Studios in L.A. on Sept. 10. O'Neal died Tuesday at age 41. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Heavy D dead at 44; 'the only rapper everybody always loved'

Heavy D dead at 44

Hip-hop artist Heavy D died Tuesday after collapsing outside his condo in Beverly Hills, and as the music community and other fans offered condolences, an autopsy was on tap to pin down the 44-year-old's cause of death.

Power producer Russell Simmons on Wednesday remembered his friend, saying in part on the Global Grind, "Rest in peace Heavy, you were the only rapper everybody always loved. You never rapped a mean word about anybody ... you only spread love.  You were truly the overweight lover. You will be greatly, greatly missed."

Heavy D, real name Dwight Arrington Myers, had trouble breathing when he arrived home after a shopping trip, L.A. Now reported. He was conscious when authorities arrived, but died later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Authorities said that he may have died from complications of pneumonia, with a source telling The Times' Andrew Blankstein the rapper had seen a doctor for a cough in recent days.

PHOTOS: Heavy D | 1967-2011

Toxicology test results related to autopsy will likely come in six weeks, coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said. Though no illegal drugs were found at Myers' condo, he had been prescribed medication recently and "We need to see what's in his system," Winter said.

Beverly Hills police said in a statement that "there are no obvious signs of foul play, and at this time his death is believed to be medically related." Heavy D, who was 6-foot-4, weighed more than 300 pounds when he died, TMZ reported.

News reached the Twittersphere via Grand Master Flash, who wrote "I was just told Heavy D passed away." LL Cool J on Wednesday posted a picture of himself, Simmons and Jalil of Whodini with Myers, when they were "still teenagers on the grind." Lenny Kravitz, Timbaland, Rob Thomas, Flo Rida, MC Hammer and Kerry Washington were only a few of the celebs noting Heavy D's passing.

The Ministry also liked this tweet, from writer Jamilah Lemieux: "Few rappers have been so LOVING in their references to women as Heavy D. Maybe even less so today than ever. That made me love him."

Pop & Hiss has a rundown on Heavy's claims to fame, which began in the 1980s when he headed up hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz and later included the song "Now That We Found Love" (hear it below) and, recently, an appearance in the new Brett Ratner film "Tower Heist." He also wrote the theme songs to "MADtv" and "In Living Color," and performed at the Michael Jackson tribute concert in the UK in October.

Heavy D's last message on Twitter? "BE INSPIRED."



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-- Christie D'Zurilla and Matt Donnelly

Photo: Heavy D, real name Dwight Arrington Myers, performs at the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Oct. 1. Credit: David Goldman / Associated Press



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