Shortly after the ball dropped in Times Square to bring in the New Year, January began taking its toll on American celebrities with Dan Reeves, 77, the first celebrity to die on New Year’s Day.
Reeves, a running back with the Dallas Cowboys from 1965-1972, spent 38 years in the National Football League (NFL) where he coached his teams to compete in the Super Bowl four times without winning.
He participated in nine Super Bowl games as a coach and player, and only three others have surpassed that feat. Born on Jan. 19, 1944, in Atlanta, he attended the University of South Carolina.
As a head coach, he found success and became only the third coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl. His teams won two NFL division titles after he got his start by serving as an assistant coach for the Cowboys in 1972 and 1974-1980.
He served as head coach of the New York Giants from 1993-1996 after his teams had posted a 190-165-2 regular-season record while he served as the head coach of the Broncos from 1981-1992, leading the Broncos to nine playoff berths where his team won 11 of 20 games.
While with the Giants, he suffered a losing record overall, 31-33.
Reeves also held the position of head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from1997-2003, leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1998 after his team posted a 14-2 record and remained undefeated at home, 8-0.
The cause of his death has been determined to be complications from dementia.
Also, Max Julien, an actor and screenwriter who wrote “Cleopatra Jones” in 1973, died at 88 on Jan. 1. He was known for his role as Goldie in “The Mack,” a 1973 film.
He also landed roles in “Getting Straight” and “Def Jam’s To Be a Player” during the 1970s.
Jay Weaver, who was born on July 18, 1979, passed away on Jan. 2. His cause of death has been listed as complications from COVID-19. He gained fame as the bassist for Big Daddy Weaver.
Joan Copeland, who was born on June 1, 1922 in New York, N.Y., died in her sleep at 99 in her Manhattan apartment of what is believed to be natural causes.
Copeland, the one-time sister-in-law of Marilyn Monroe when Monroe was married to Copeland’s older brother, Arthur Miller, gained fame as an actress on Broadway and in film.
After launching her acting career in the mid-1940s, she landed her first film role in “The Goddess” in 1958. From there, she was cast in many films, “The Middle of the Night,”1959; “The Iceman Cometh,” 1960; and “Roseland,” 1977.
Other films in which she performed are “It’s My Turn,” 1980; “A Little Sex,” 1982; “Happy New Year,” 1987; “The Laser Man,” 1988; “Her Alibi,” 1989; “The Peacemaker,” 1997; “Jungle 2 Jungle,” 1997; “The Object of My Affection,” 1998; and “The Adventures of Sebastian Cole,” 1998.
In 2000, she appeared in “The Audrey Hepburn Story,” and she was a frequent performer on the TV series, “Law and Order.” In 2009, she appeared in “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.”
Copeland won a Drama Desk Award in 1981 for “The American Clock,” and her last role was in “Arthur Miller: Writer,” 2017.
Kim Mi-soo, a South Korean actress, was known for her role in the JTBC series, “Snowdrop.” She died on Jan. 5 and had not finished filming Disney’s “Sixth Sense Kiss.” The cause of her death has not been made public.
Represented by Landscape Entertainment at the time of her death, Mi-soo was 29. After graduating from the Korea National University of Arts, she became a model and actress and found success in the film industry.
In 1919, she landed a role in “Kyungmi’s World” and was cast in a supporting role in the South Korean television series, “Snowdrop.”
She appeared in “Hi Bye” and “Memorials” in 2020, and landed a reoccurring role in “The School Nurse Files” in 2020.
Her acting career continued to blossom in 2021 when she was cast in “The Cursed: Dead Man’s Prey” and in Netflix’s “Hellbound.”
Peter Bogdanovich, an American film journalist, film historian, film critic, actor, director and producer, died on Jan. 6. He rose to fame as a director in 1971 after his film, “The Last Picture Show,” was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two.
The film was produced on a budget of $1.3 million and grossed $29 million.
Bogdanovich’s parents immigrated to America to escape the Nazis, and Bogdanovich was born in Kingston, N.Y. on July 30, 1939.
Success followed as he directed two more films that solidified his reputation in Hollywood. “What’s Up, Doc,” a comedy, grossed $28 million for Warner Brothers in 1972, and Bogdanovich continued his streak of successes in 1973 by directing “Paper Moon.”
“Paper Moon” launched the career of Tatum O’Neal who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress on April 2, 1974, when she was 10. She also garnered an award from the Golden Globe for her performance in “Paper Moon,” the New Star of the Year Award.
Bogdanovich performed as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist, on the TV series, “The Sopranos,” that ran from 1999-2007. Bogdanovich was 82 at the time of his death in Los Angeles.
Sidney Poitier, the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Leading Actor, died in Los Angeles at 94 on Jan 7. Poitier, a Bahamian-American actor and director, was born in Miami, Fl. on Feb. 20, 1927.
His Oscar came for “Lilies of the Field,” a 1963 film that followed a series of movies he starred in beginning with “The Defiant Ones,” in 1958, that helped launch his career as a star on the silver screen.
After “The Defiant Ones,” Poitier became a sought after actor, and he built on his early success by starring in “Porgy and Bess,” 1959; “A Raisin in the Sun,” 1961; and “Paris Blues,” 1961.
He firmly established himself as a Hollywood star by following his Oscar performance with starring roles in “A Patch of Blue,” 1965; “To Sir with Love,” 1967; “In the Heat of the Night,” 1967; and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” 1967.
Poitier’s television credits spanned 56 years with his first credit dating back to 1952 when he appeared on the CBS Television Workshop. His final TV appearance was on the Larry King Show in 2008.
Along the way, Poitier found time to direct nine films beginning with “Buck and the Preacher,” 1972. Other films followed: “A Warm December,” 1973; “Uptown Saturday Night,” 1974; “Let’s Do It Again,” 1975; “A Piece of the Action,” 1977; “Stir Crazy,” 1980; “Hanky Panky,” 1982; and “Fast Forward,” 1985.
From 1997 to 2007, Poitier served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan, and President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 2007.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.