The one thing that always chokes me up is during the end of the year when television programs list those who passed away during the year. The academy awards always takes a moment to honor those who died, and although I am grateful that I was somehow touched by their work and their lives, I am always saddened that they are no longer with us.

Last night, while chatting with Jeff Carter, who is visiting his family in Missouri, he told me that one of my favorite actors, John Spencer, who starred in The West Wing, died a week or so ago. I was numbed upon hearing the news and I am sure the telephone conversation waned. John Spencer, along with Kettering natives, Allison Janney and Martin Sheen, gave The West Wing and incredible depth that so few television shows offer. Whenever I read one of Margaret Truman’s mysteries, John Spencer is usually one of the powerful senators or congressman I picture while reading – and of course, Martin Sheen is always in my mind as the president. Spencer was an incredible actor and his fellow actors seemed to adore him.

One we lost early on this year was Johnny Carson. I loved this guy. As a very young boy, I never required much sleep – and still do not – and rather than leave me in my crib or bed, Mother would spend time with me. One of my earliest recollections is watching The Tonight Show with Mother. I can even remember when Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on the show. Johnny, and his many characters he portrayed, was absolutely the best.

Along with Pope John Paul II and Prince Rainier of Monaco, the entertainment field will remember a number of artists who touched our lives…

Vincent Schiavelli, 57, Actor
Jack Anderson, 83, Pulitzer prize winning journalist
Bob Denver, 78, Actor Gilligan’s Island
John Spencer, 58, Actor
Richard Pryor, 65, Comedian
Pat Morita, 73, Actor
James King, 80, Opera Tenor
Chris Whitley, 45, Singer
Harry Thompson, 45, TV Producer
John Fowles, 79, Writer
Sheree North, 72, Actress
Elmer Dresslar, 80, Actor
Ronnie Barker, 76, Comedian
Robert Wise, 91, DirectorSound of Music, West Side Story
Michael Sheard, 65, Actor
Dr Robert Moog, 71, Developed electronic synthesizer
Barbara Bel Geddes, 82, Actress
James Doohan, 85, Actor – Scotty, Star Trek
Gretchen Franklin, 94, Actress
Luther Vandross, 54, Singer
Christopher Fry, 97, Playwright
Richard Whiteley, 61, TV Presenter
Anne Bancroft, 73, Actress
Sir John Mills 23rd April 97 Actor
Hunter S Thompson, 67, Writer
Arthur Miller, 89, Playwright
Johnny Carson, 79, TV Talkshow Host