Filmmaker Jonathan Demme died April 26 as a result of complications from esophageal cancer. He was 73.
The founder of iconic all-night diner chain Waffle House died on April 26 at the age of 98. Forkner’s death followed quickly on the heels of that of his co-founder, Joe Rogers Sr., who died back in March at 97.
Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi star Erin Moran died April 22 of stage 4 cancer. She was 56. Moran was in her early teens when she was cast on Happy Days as Joanie Cunningham, the younger sister of Ron Howard’s protagonist Richie. She played Joanie in more than 200 episodes over the course of 10 years on the beloved sitcom, as well as in the short-lived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, which ran for two seasons from 1982–83.
Cuba Gooding Sr.
Soul singer Cuba Gooding Sr. was found dead in a car on April 20. He was 72. Gooding was the lead singer of the group Main Ingredient beginning in 1971; the band’s biggest hits, 1972’s “Everybody Plays the Fool” and 1974’s “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely,” both of which were released during his tenure as the lead vocalist. The father of actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Omar Gooding, Gooding Sr. also released two albums as a solo artist.
Character actor Clifton James died April 15 due to complications from diabetes. He was 96. Though he collected dozens of film, TV, and stage credits over the course of his long career, James was best known for his comedic role as a Louisiana Sheriff, J.W. Pepper, in the Roger Moore-starring James Bond films Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Legendary musician Allan Holdsworth died April 15 at the age of 70. The English guitarist and composer released a dozen solo albums in addition to playing with Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, UK, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Bill Bruford, among others. A true guitarist’s guitarist, the innovative jazz-fusion musician was admired by the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Pat Metheny, Tom Morello, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Vernon Reid.
Comedian Charlie Murphy (And Brother of Eddie Murphy) died April 12 after a battle with leukemia. He was 57.
Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus died April 11 at the age of 81.
Guitarist John Warren Geils Jr., known as J. Geils, died of natural causes on April 11 at the age of 71. Geils founded the J. Geils Band in 1970.
David Letterman’s mother and frequent TV guest Dorothy Mengering died April 11 at the age of 95. Mengering, who Late Show viewers knew simply as “Dave’s mom,” contributed to her son’s top 10 lists, reported on the Olympics, and delivered segments from her kitchen at home. In 1996, she published a cookbook, Home Cookin’ with Dave’s Mom, with EW editorial director Jess Cagle.
Legendary comedian Don Rickles died April 6 from kidney failure. He was 90.