- Marion Barry was elected four times as Washington’s mayor
- Barry was sentenced to six months in prison after a 1990s drug conviction
- Cornell West: Barry “had his flaws” but was a “great freedom fighter” for the poor
(CNN) — Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry is dead, a Washington hospital spokeswoman said early Sunday. He was 78.
Barry was elected four times as the city’s chief executive and was a council member in the District of Columbia for 15 years. The one-time leader of the city’s old Board of Education, Barry was, at one time, revered nationally as a symbol of African-American political leadership and beloved for his prowess at local politics. But his professional accomplishments were often overshadowed by bad behavior in his personal life that made for startling headlines.
Barry was infamously busted in 1990 on law enforcement surveillance tape smoking crack cocaine in a drug sting involving the FBI and Washington police. That footage was televised. Barry was convicted of possession and served six months in prison.
But he made a tremendous political comeback.
Click through to see people who died in 2014.
Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry has died at the age of 78, a hospital spokeswoman said November 23. Barry was elected four times as the city’s chief executive. He was once revered nationally as a symbol of African-American political leadership. But his professional accomplishments were often overshadowed by drug and personal scandals.
Acclaimed director Mike Nichols died on November 19. Nichols, pictured with his wife, journalist Diane Sawyer, was best known for his films “The Graduate,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Birdcage.” He was 83.
Jimmy Ruffin, silky-voiced singer of the Motown classic “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” died November 19 in Las Vegas. He was 78.
‘Knight Rider,” “Battlestar Gallactica” producer Glen A. Larson passed away on November 14 at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.
MTV reality star Diem Brown died November 14, at age 32 after a long battle with cancer.
Actress Carol Ann Susi, best known for voicing the unseen Mrs. Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory,” died November 11, after a fight with cancer. She was 62.
A member of the Sugarhill Gang, Henry ‘Big Bank Hank’ Jackson, whose pioneering hit “Rapper’s Delight” brought hip-hop to mainstream audiences 35 years ago, died November 11 of complications from cancer.
Tom Magliozzi, left, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show, died November 3. He was 77.
“House of Cards” actress Elizabeth Norment passed away at the age of 61, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed October 28 via Norment’s sister Kate. According to the star’s obituary in The Washington Post, Norment died of cancer on October 13 at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.
Jack Bruce, bassist for the legendary 1960s rock band Cream, died October 25 at age 71.
Ben Bradlee, the zestful, charismatic Washington Post editor who guided the paper through the era of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate and was immortalized on screen in “All the President’s Men,” died on October 21. He was 93.
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died on October 20, close friends of the family and industry colleagues told CNN. He was 82.
“August: Osage County” actress Misty Upham was declared dead by a Washington coroner after her body was found along a river in suburban Seattle on October 16.
Actress Elizabeth Pena died October 14, according to her manager. She was 55.
Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, the keyboardist in Jack White’s backing band, died October 14. The musician also played with bands such as Mars Volta and Free Moral Agents. He was 38.
Mark Bell, who founded the highly influential techno-music duo LFO and later collaborated with Bjork on several iconic albums, died of complications from a surgery, his record label said October 13.
Actress and comedian Jan Hooks died in New York on October 9. Her representative, Lisa Lieberman, confirmed the death to CNN but provided no additional information. According to IMDb.com, Hooks was 57.
Geoffrey Holder, a versatile artist known for his ability as a dancer, actor and a pitchman for 7Up, died from complications due to pneumonia, his family’s attorney said on October 6. Holder was 84.
Paul Revere, leader of the 1960s rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, died October 4 at his home in Idaho, according to the band’s website. He was 76.
Emmy-winning actress Polly Bergen, whose TV and movie career spanned more than six decades, died on September 20, according to her publicist. She was 84, according to IMDb.com.
Singer George Hamilton IV, known as the “International Ambassador of Country Music,” died at a Nashville hospital on September 17 following a heart attack, the Grand Ole Opry said in a press release. He was 77.
Northern Ireland’s former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement on September 12. He was 88.
Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain “Jaws,” died September 10 at a California hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez said. He was 74.
Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy “can we talk” persona catapulted her into a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died September 4. She was 81.
Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the 1980s rock band Survivor, died at the age of 63, it was announced September 2.
Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough died on August 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing his son. Attenborough was 90.
Don Pardo, the man whose voice introduced the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for decades, died at the age of 96, the network announced August 19.
Skateboarding legend Jay Adams died of a heart attack August 14 while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.
Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera “Peyton Place,” died on August 13, his family said. He was 85.
Actress Arlene Martel, whom “Star Trek” fans knew as Spock’s bride-to-be, died in a Los Angeles hospital August 12 after complications from a heart attack, her son said. Martel was 78.
Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died on August 12. She was 89.
Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at his Northern California home on August 11. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.
JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the “Game of Thrones” cast, died August 8, his agent said. He was 86.
Actor Charles Keating, who had been fighting lung cancer for several years, died on August 8, his son Sean Keating said. Charles Keating was known for his role of villain Carl Hutchins on the daytime drama “Another World.” He was 72.
James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died, the White House said on August 4. He was 73. Later in the week, authorities told CNN they are investigating it as a homicide.
Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the last crewman of the U.S. plane that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, died of natural causes on July 28, according to his daughter Vicki Triplett. He was 93.
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career included the movies “Die Hard” and “Flower Drum Song,” died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81.
Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson’s youngest daughter in “The Patriot,” died July 19, at her home in Houston, her mother said Sunday. She was 21. While investigators didn’t immediately determine a cause of death, Bartusiak had been suffering from epileptic seizures, according to her mother.
James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multigenerational success on both the small and big screens, died of natural causes on July 19. He was 86.
Broadway legend Elaine Stritch died July 17. According to her longtime friend Julie Keyes, Stritch died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by her family. She was 89 years old.
Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died July 16 in a Swiss hotel room, his representative said. He was 70.
Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on July 13, according to her family. She was 90.
Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia on July 13, according to his family. He was 84.
Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, died July 11, according to his publicist. He was 76.
Drummer Tommy Ramone, the last living original member of the pioneering punk band The Ramones, died on July 11, according to the band’s Facebook page. He was 65.
Eileen Ford, who founded the Ford Model Agency 70 years ago, died July 9 at the age of 92, the company said.
Richard Percy Jones, the actor who gave Pinocchio his voice in the 1940 Disney movie, died at his California home on July 8. He was 87.
David Legeno, known for playing Fenrir Greyback in the “Harry Potter” movies, was found dead July 6, by hikers in a remote desert location in Death Valley, California. He was 50. “It appears that Legeno died of heat-related issues, but the Inyo County Coroner will determine the final cause of death,” read a press release from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department. “There are no signs of foul play.”
Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” as well as TV soap operas “All My Children” and “Another World,” died July 5 at the age of 89. The New York Times cited cancer as the cause of death.
Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and upcoming film “Unbroken,” died July 2 after a recent battle with pneumonia. The 97-year-old peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, according to a statement.
Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children’s books, died on July 1 following a brief illness, according to the Children’s Book Council.
Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” “An Unmarried Woman” and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” died at the age of 84, his agent said July 1.
Actor Meshach Taylor died June 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, his agent, Dede Binder, said. He was 67. Taylor had fought a terminal illness and faded markedly in recent days, Binder said. His wife, children, grandchildren and mother surrounded him as he passed away.
Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died June 27, according to Womack’s publicist. He was 70.
Character actor Eli Wallach, seen here in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” died on June 24, according to a family member who did not want to be named. Wallach was 98.
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died June 16 at the age of 54, according to a release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, had cancer.
Radio personality Casey Kasem died June 15. He was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll died June 13. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s and heart disease. He was 82.
Ruby Dee, an award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen, died June 12. She was 91.
Former baseball star Bob Welch passed away on June 9 after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 57.
British actor and comedian Rik Mayall, who appeared in the TV series “Blackadder,” died June 9 at the age of 56, his agent said. The cause of death was not immediately reported.
Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, died June 5 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation President said. Nez was 93.
Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the maid on “The Brady Bunch,” died from a subdural hematoma on June 1. She was 88.
Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, died at the age of 86, her literary agent said on May 28. Angelou was also a professor, singer and dancer whose work spanned several generations.
Australian racing legend Jack Brabham died on May 19, according to Brabham’s son David. Brabham, 88, was a three-time Formula One world champion.
Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of “Searching for Sugar Man,” died suddenly on May 13, police said. He was 36.
H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist artist whose works of sexual-industrial imagery and design of the eponymous creature in the “Alien” movies were known around the world, died on May 12. He was 74.
Former professional tennis player Elena Baltacha died at the age of 30 after losing her battle with liver cancer on May 4. Before retiring in November, she had reached a career high of 49th in the world rankings.
Al Feldstein, who guided Mad magazine for almost three decades as its editor, died on April 29, according to a Montana funeral home. He was 88.
Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins, known for roles in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Mona Lisa,” died April 29 at age 71, his publicist said.
Hall of Fame basketball coach John “Dr. Jack” Ramsay, who became a television analyst years after winning a league championship with the Portland Trail Blazers, died on April 28, according to his longtime employer ESPN. Ramsay was 89.
Former Barcelona soccer coach Tito Vilanova, who had been battling cancer, died at the age of 45, the club announced April 25.
Country singer Kevin Sharp died from “complications due to cancer” on April 19, his mother told CNN. He was 43.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in the 1960s, died April 20 at the age of 76, according to Win Wahrer, the director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” passed away on April 17, his family and officials said. He was 87.
Jose Luis “Cheo” Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and a Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash April 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to police. He was 78.
Days after being inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Fame, WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died April 8. Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He was 54.
Comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room on April 5. Pinette died of natural causes stemming from “a medical history he was being treated for,” the medical examiner’s spokesman said. An autopsy will not be done because his personal doctor signed the death certificate.
Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, died April 6 at the age of 93.
DJ Frankie Knuckles, a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer, died March 31 at the age of 59.
Kate O’Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins’ sister on the 1980s show “Dynasty,” died March 30. She was 74.
Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and longtime owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, died at age 95, the team announced March 25.
Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie died March 23 at the age of 50, his manager said. The heavy-metal group formed in 1984, billing itself as “Earth’s only openly extraterrestrial rock band.” Brockie performed in the persona of Oderus Urungus.
James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, died March 21, his representative said. Rebhorn was 65.
L’Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer and girlfriend of musician Mick Jagger, was found dead of an apparent suicide March 17, according to a law enforcement official. She was 49.
Drummer Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band The Stooges, died March 15. He was 64.
Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” died after a battle with cancer, a family spokesman said March 15. He was 78.
Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of “The Honeymooners” on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” died on March 6, according to her family. She was 92.
Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, seen here in 2006, died February 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was 66. De Lucia transformed the folk art of flamenco music into a more vibrant modern sound.
Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, seen here on the far left with fellow “Ghostbusters” Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, died at his Chicago-area home on February 24. He was 69. Other popular Ramis films include “Stripes,” “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”
Maria von Trapp, seen here posing with a photo of her family, was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie “The Sound of Music.” She died February 18 of natural causes at her Vermont home, according to her family. She was 99.
Journalist Garrick Utley died at age 74 following a long battle with cancer, his wife of 40 years said in February. Utley worked for CNN after his 30-year career at NBC News.
Devo guitarist Bob Casale, known by fans as “Bob 2,” died February 17, his brother and band mate announced. Casale was 61.
John Henson, the son of Jim Henson who is perhaps most notable for his portrayal of Sweetums on “The Muppets,” died after a “sudden, massive heart attack,” his family’s company said on February 15.
Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on ‘The Waltons.”
Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” helped define the 1950s “Golden Age of Television,” died on February 12. He was 91.
Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.
Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family’s church.
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.
Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for “Judgment at Nuremberg.”
Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song),” died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.
Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” died on January 16. She was 95.
Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.
Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.
Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” in 1966. Johnson, who played “the professor” Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89.
Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.
Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the “Greensboro Four,” who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University.
Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.
Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey’s poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.
Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.
Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing “the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences,” died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.
Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.
Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film “Gone With the Wind,” died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.
Singer Phil Everly, left — one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers — died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.
Photos: People we lost in 2014
Former DC mayor tells life story
Barry reclaimed his seat in the mayor’s office in 1995.
In 2002, police said they found “apparent” traces of marijuana and cocaine in Barry’s car but didn’t arrest him.
He was re-elected to the City Council in 2004. In 2006, he was suspected in separate incidents of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. He was found not guilty of the DUI charge, and the state said a computer glitch erroneously reported that Barry’s license had been suspended.
In 2009, he was arrested on a charge of stalking, which prosecutors later dropped.
“Who can better help our city recover than someone who himself has gone through recovery?” he once asked confidently.
Former Harvard professor and civil rights leader Cornell West said on CNN on Sunday that Barry “had his flaws” but was a “great freedom fighter” for the poor and disenfranchised.
The Washington Post noted that he “plowed hundreds of millions of tax dollars into job training and employment programs, senior centers and social-welfare endeavors. Rank-and-file workers were hired by the thousands to serve under Mr. Barry’s newly-appointed supervisory corps of African American middle and top level managers.”
He ardently promoted African-American-owned enterprises.
His recently released autobiography, “Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.,” recalls a quote that underscored Barry’s ability to spotlight inequalities in America.
“Why should blacks feel elated about seeing men walk on the moon when millions of poor blacks and whites don’t have enough money to buy food to eat on earth?” he said during President Richard Nixon’s administration.
“In Washington, I have worked hard for the people and I’ve been loved by the people,” Barry said in a July interview on CNN. “I didn’t get elected because of my name. I got elected because I work hard for the people.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were “saddened” to hear of Barry’s death. The President recalled that Barry was born a sharecropper’s son and came of age during the Civil Rights movement.
“As a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Marion helped advance the cause of civil rights for all. During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of home rule,” the statement said.
“Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians, and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion’s family, friends and constituents today.”
People we’ve lost in 2014
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.