4 Other Notable People Who Passed Away on July 4th

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CNN is reporting that North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms passed away at the tender age of 86. And while his legacy is certainly a polarizing one, I was surprised to learn how many other famous people passed away on the 4th. Here's a short list of people who died on that most American of U.S. holidays (other than Jefferson and Adams):

1. Bob Ross

You know him as: PBS instructional painter, creator of happy trees and their little friends.

Surprising facts (other than the one about him dying on the 4th): The ultra-mellow Ross picked up painting when he was in the Air Force. He was also pretty financially savvy- he turned his public broadcasting show into a multi-million dollar cash cow by selling how-to books and branded art supplies.

2. Hannibal Hamlin

You know him as: VP to Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe you don't.

Surprising facts: Despite only lasting one term with Lincoln, and playing a quiet role in the White House, the Republican from Maine did urge the creation of the Emancipation Proclamation. He also supported arming African Americans during the Civil War.

3.  Charles Kuralt

You know him as: American journalist, well known for his "On the Road" segments.
Surprising facts: He was good friends with John Steinbeck, and was heavily inspired by Travels with Charlie. Even stranger: Salon claims that he had a mistress and a second family that he hid in Montana, which would explain all that extra time on the road. Savvy readers can judge for themselves.

4. Barry White

You know him as: Singer, songwriter, general soundtrack for romantic nights/probable inspiration for your younger sibling.
Surprising facts: According to Wikipedia, the Sultan of Soul was jailed at 17 for stealing $30,000 Cadillac tires. Even stranger, he apparently had a life-changing moment in prison when he heard Elvis crooning "It's Now or Never," and decided to go straight. He was also supposedly offered the role of Chef on South Park, but turned it down because of the crass humor.

July 4, 2008 - 7:03am
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