Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro, 45, died of pneumonia and liver failure at a hospital in Boston. “Tony C” had both his best and his worst year in 1967 when, at age 22, he became the youngest player to reach 100 career home runs but later in the season was struck on the left side of his face by a pitch. The hit fractured his cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and left him with blurred vision. He made a startling comeback in 1970, when he socked 36 homers and 116 RBI’s. After that season Conigliaro never played as well again and, in 1975, he retired at age 30. A heart attack in 1982 put him in a coma for four months and left permanent brain damage. “If I was to name a perfect player, I’d name him,” says ex-teammate Mike Andrews. “It was a shame how it ended so quickly for him, because he basically just died when that ball hit him in the face and left him with vision problems.”
Johnnie Ray, the emotionally charged ’50s singing idol who was called the Prince of Wails, died of liver failure at age 63 in Los Angeles. Ray filled the post-Frank-pre-Elvis teen-heartthrob gap, winning screams of devotion for the catch in his voice and his onstage histrionics. His best-known record was “Cry,” which became a No. 1 single in 1952. Its flip side, “The Little White Cloud that Cried,” also became a hit. Ray said that “Little White Cloud,” which he wrote, was inspired by his sense of isolation after losing half of his hearing when he fell and landed on his head as a 9-year-old. “I couldn’t communicate with other children my age,” Ray once said. “I used to fantasize a lot about being a star.” Ray’s last hit, “Yes Tonight, Josephine,” came in 1957, but he continued to sing in nightclubs here and abroad until last year.
Malcolm Forbes, the exuberantly extravagant publisher who embodied both the unapologetic spirit and style of capitalism, died at age 70 of a heart attack while sleeping at his home in Far Hills, N.J. Forbes was almost as famous for his penchant for collecting objects (he owned a dozen Imperial Faberge eggs valued at $10 million plus) as he was for publishing the business magazine that bore his name. Though Forbes delighted in printing his annual lists detailing the wealth of his peers, he cagily avoided revealing his own personal worth, which was estimated by others to be as high as $1 billion. His holdings included a palace in Tangier, Morocco (site of his infamous $2 million birthday party last year), the Fiji island of Laucala, 15 hot-air balloons and 80 motorcycles. Forbes, whose wife, Roberta Remsen Laidlaw, divorced him in 1985 after 39 years of marriage and five children, often escorted Elizabeth Taylor in recent years, although both insisted they were just friends. His friends remember Forbes as enjoying his celebrity rather than being swayed by it. “He thought nothing of seating the King of Bulgaria next to a cockney garage mechanic, as he did on one of his ballooning trips, and expecting both of them to enjoy the party,” says Liz Smith, a longtime pal and syndicated gossip columnist.
Robert (Lonesome Dove) Duvall is ready to tango down the wedding aisle with dance teacher Sharon Brophy, though no date has been set. The couple met in New York City four years ago, when Duvall signed up for tango lessons. Duvall, 59, has been married twice before, to designer Barbara Marcus and actress Gail Youngs.
Country singer Reba McEntire, 34, land her manager husband, Narvel Blackstock, 33, had a baby boy, Shelby Stephen Blackstock, in Nashville. This is the first child for the couple, above. Black-stock has three kids from a previous marriage. “It’s the neatest thing that’s ever happened in my life,” says McEntire.
Cornell Gunter, 53, a tenor with the ’50s doo-wop group the Coasters, was shot dead in Las Vegas. Police said Gunter, who still performed with his own version of the Coasters, got into an argument with another man and was shot five times. Gunter joined the band in 1957 just before they became one of the era’s most successful groups. “It’s ironic he died in such a violent way since the Coasters were a comic group,” says Mike Stoller, who with songwriting partner Jerry Lieber wrote such playful Coasters hits as their 1958 classic Yakety Yak and a year later, Charlie Brown. “But then it’s an ugly climate we live in. It’s a horrible tragedy.” Another Coaster, Buster Wilson, was shot and killed in 1980.