Seinfeld actor Jerry Stiller, father of actor Ben Stiller, has died at 92, while three legends of R&B died over the weekend: Little Richard, Andre Harrell, and Betty Wright.
Comedian Jerry Stiller, best known for his work on the sitcom Seinfeld, died on Monday at the age of ninety-two. The announcement was made by his son, actor Ben Stiller.
“I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” Ben Stiller wrote in a tweet. “He was a great dad and grandfather and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”
As an actor, Stiller had 115 credits but is best known for his role as Frank Costanza in the TV series Seinfeld, appearing in 26 episodes during the 1990s, being nominated for a prime time Emmy in 1997 and winning an American Comedy Award in 1998.
Jerry Stiller appeared in a score of movies. Two of the most notable films were the original version of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974) where he played the police sidekick to Walter Matthau.
The other was director John Waters’ twisted comedy “Hairspray,” the original 1998 version, in which he played transvestite actor Devine’s husband “Wilbur Turnblad.”
Stiller was also nominated for a Grammy in 2001 in the Best Spoken Word Album category for “Married to laughter: A love story featuring Anne Meara” which was dedicated to his wife.
Three legendary rhythm and blues musical icons died over the weekend, singer/songwriter/musician Little Richard, music executive Andre Harrell and singer Betty Wright.
Little Richard, by his own account and largely agreed-upon by most music aficionados, is credited with creating the genre that would become rock ‘n’ roll. The flamboyant singer probably deserves equal credit for his androgynous and sometimes feminine style of driving that would go on to inspire the glitter and glam rock of the 1970s and the so-called “hair metal” of the 1980s.
Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, in 1932. All of Little Richard’s contemporaries would go on to record covers of his songs including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochran. Little Richard’s influence on the Beatles is undeniable.
Between 1955 in 1958, Little Richard scored 14 top ten hits, 9 in the top five, including three number ones and four at number two.
Roughly a decade later, he returned to the top 12 twice with the two hits “I don’t know what you’ve got but it’s got me – part one” and again with “I don’t know what you’ve got but it’s got me – part two” he had another top 30 hit when “freedom blues” reached number 28 in 1970.
Soulful singer Betty Wright, a Grammy winner, and six-time nominee, was best known for hits “Cleanup Woman” and “Tonight is the Night.” She released her first album at the age of fourteen in 1968.
Many of her hits have been sampled by rap and hip-hop artists that followed, such as Beyoncé, Color Me Bad, and Chance the Rapper. Wright died at her home in Miami due to complications from cancer at the age of 66, according to Billboard.
Music executive and record label founder Andre Harrell is credited with discovering, launching, and mentoring the careers of various artists and entertainers in the field of R&B and hip-hop.
Harrell founded uptown records, hiring Sean Diddy Combs as an intern, and launching the careers of Mary J obliged, Teddy Riley, Jodeci, and Heavy D and The Boyz. A number of R&B, rap and hip-hop artists tweeted their condolences.
Harrell was 59.