As 2021 wrapped up and 2022 warms up, we’ve already been through a few sad weeks of loss. The entertainment, literature, and music worlds have had to say goodbye to some true talents. And just as we started to digest one icon’s cultural impact, another death announcement was made. Social media posts paying tribute to departed figures are flooding our feeds, but the best way to celebrate departed pop culture legends is on TV and the web, where their legacies live on forever. With “Rest in Stream,” a new feature we hope we don’t have to do too often, we will be remembering those who passed away by highlighting and linking to their work (or surveys of their work) and appearances, all currently available to stream on television or the web. Click bolded and hyper-linked titles to see where you can watch.
Ronnie Spector died Wed., Jan. 12 after a recent battle with cancer. “Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude,” her family’s statement read. It was announced last year that Zendaya is in talks to play the singing great in a film named after her hit Be My Little Baby, but for now, here’s what we recommend watching to celebrate “the bad girl of rock n’ roll” as she was called. Her influential girl group The Ronettes was inducted into the 25th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in 2007 by none other than Keith Richards (you can watch it here). She is also seen in a few documentaries including The Wrecking Crew, about the L.A. based musicians who played on countless ’60s classics and The Agony and the Ecstacy of Phil Spector, about her ex-husband and former musical mentor.
Bob Saget was found dead at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando this past Sunday, Jan. 9, after performing in the area for his latest comedy tour. He’s best known as the lovable dad in Full House of course, but his other credits are numerous. In addition to appearances on the reboot Fuller House, he can be seen as “Squiggly Monster” on The Masked Singer and in Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentines Special. We also love his amiable narration as the dad on How I Met Your Mother. Perhaps his most intriguing role, was as a darker version of himself on Entourage.
Ground-breaking actor Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win the best actor Oscar, died on Fri, Jan. 7, according to the Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he resided. He was 94. The genius thespian enjoyed a 71-year career with countless engrossing and inspiring portrayals. Two highlights that deserve re-viewing right now include his unforgettable roles in A Raisin in the Sun and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but we also love the comedy he directed and co-starred in, Uptown Saturday Night, featuring Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby (obviously no longer a fan of the latter, but the chemistry on screen is worth watching regardless). He got the best actor nod for 1963’s Lilies of the Field, which you can watch for free in full here. And finally, make sure to see In the Heat of the Night, about a black detective who teams up with a racist white sheriff to solve a small Southern town murder. Best known for its quotable characters – especially Poitier’s iconic proclamation “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” – the award-winning movie is sadly still just as relevant today as it was when it came out in 1967.
The creator of Woodstock, Michael Lang, died at a hospital in New York City on Sat., Jan. 8 at the age of 77. Lang was the most recognizable mind behind the 1969 music festival, which inarguably served as an inspirational blueprint for festival planning to this day. He was also involved in follow-up fests Woodstock ’94 and Woodstock ’99. Other than the music artists themselves, Lang is the most prominent figure in Michael Wadleigh’s iconic documentary. He can be seen in a multitude of more recent surveys of the event as well, such as PBS’s excellent Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.
Peter Bogdanovich, best known for his Oscar-nominated The Last Picture Show as well as box-office hits such as the Barbra Streisand comedy What’s Up, Doc? and father/daughter classic Paper Moon, passed away on Mon., Jan. 6 at the age of 82 due to complications of Parkinson’s disease. In addition to those films, he is also known for his involvement with slain Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten and the 1981 film they made together – They All Laughed (watch full film for free here). After a hiatus from the business, he returned with the 1985 drama Mask, starring Cher and Eric Stoltz. He has also done some great docs including life explorations on Tom Petty, John Ford and Buster Keaton. As an actor you can see him in The Sopranos and Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind.
Beloved actress and animal activist Betty White left our earthly realm on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31st just a few days before her 100th birthday, after suffering a stroke days earlier. Tributes are still pouring in for the star, best known for her roles in sitcoms including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls and Hot In Cleveland. Her comic timing never wavered no matter what she was doing right up until her death. A prime example: her pitch-perfect hosting gig on Saturday Night Live back in 2010. She was also a frequent game show guest throughout the years and you can watch her plethora of appearances all day on Jan. 16th when the Buzzr channel pays tribute with 24-hour marathon.
Joan Didion, author and essayist known for insightful cultural critique in books such as The White Album and The Year of Magical Thinking, passed away on Thurs., Dec. 23 at the age of 87. Her publisher, Penguin Random House, reported that it was from complications due to Parkinson’s disease. Film-wise, she wrote some soulful screenplays including the NYC drug fable The Panic In Needle Park, Play it As It Lays (watch full film for free here), Streisand’s take on A Star is Born, True Confessions starring Robert Duvall and Robert DeNiro, and Up Close & Personal starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford. More recently, The Last Thing He Wanted, based on her book of the same name, starring Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck, came out last year. For an overview of the writer’s incredible life, watch Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix now.
L.A. author Eve Babitz died on Fri., Dec. 17, as confirmed by her biographer Lili Anolik. As celebrated by this publication in 2018, Babitz enjoyed a millennial fanbase in recent years and renewed interest in her subculture submerged novels, L.A. Woman, Eve’s Hollywood and Sex and Rage. So much so, it was announced she was working on a TV show based on her writings for Hulu. We scoured the web for documentaries about the influential scribe, but there’s not a lot. There is a great interview with Anolik about her, an extensive presentation by The Philosophical Research Society exploring her work and some fun reviews of her books, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for whatever Hulu was working on for something (hopefully) more profound and personal.
Michael Nesmith of the Monkees died on Fri., Dec. 10 at the age 78, only a month after he and bandmate Micky Dolenz played a farewell tour at the Greek Theater. Of course watching the TV comedy about the Beatles-esque quartet – which ran from 1966 to 1968 – is a great way to remember him. While the show used to be on Tubi, it’s not anymore, so your best bet is YouTube, which has quite a few episodes, including the ones with the biggest music hits. As a writer and producer, he worked on a few things you can screen too, including Timerider The Adventure Of Lyle Swann and Tapeheads starring John Cusack and Tim Robbins.