In the last week, many notable Americans passed away. This will cover a few of these amazing people from various walks of life that helped to shape American culture in some way.


William Carney (1942-2017) was a politician who represented New York's 1st district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Carney served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1961-64. Later in life he entered politics, becoming a member of the Suffolk County legislature from 1976-79. He was then elected to Congress, serving from 1979 until 1987. Carney died on May 23 at age 74 following a 4-year battle with prostate cancer.


Dina Merrill (1923-2017) was an actress, heiress, businesswomen and philanthropist. She was the only child of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the Post Cereal heiress. Merrill performed in over 100 different roles in film and TV series from 1955 until 2009. She is best known for her roles in "Operation Petticoat," "Butterfield 8," and "Caddyshack II." Merrill died on May 22 at age 93 due to complications from dementia with Lewy bodies.

Jared Martin (1941-2017) was a film and television actor who appeared in many shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He is best known for his role as Dusty Farlow on the soap opera "Dallas" from 1979-1991, where he appeared in 34 episodes. His other major roles were as Varian in the short-lived show "The Fantastic Journey" and as Harrison Blackwood in the TV series "War of the Worlds." Martin died on May 24 at age 75 from pancreatic cancer.

Gregg Allman (1947-2017) was a musician, singer and songwriter. He was best known for being a founding member of the Allman Brothers band with his brother Duane. The band's best known songs included "Midnight Rider," "Melissa," Whipping Post," Ramblin' Man," and "I'm No Angel." Allman was regarded as one of the pioneers of Southern Rock and won several Grammys during his career.

In 1995, the Allman Brothers band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Allman died on May 27 at age 69 from complications due to cancer.


Nicky Hayden (1981-2017) was a professional motorcycle racer. In 2002, he won the championship in his first year on the AMA Superbike Championship series. He then moved to the MotoGP World Championship series, where he competed from 2003 until 2016.

His career highlight was being the 2006 MotoGP Champion. He then returned to racing in the Superbike World Championship, winning in Malaysia. On May 17, Hayden was hit by a car when he was out biking in Rimini, Italy. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and broke his femur, pelvis and multiple vertebrae. Hayden died on May 22 at age 35 from his injuries.

Cortez Kennedy (1968-2017) was a defensive tackle who played all 11 seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. In college, he was named an All-American in 1989 and won two National Championships at Miami. In his career he made 8 Pro Bowls, three 1st-team All-Pros and two 2nd-team All-Pros. He won Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and was named to the NFL's All-decade team for the 1990s.

For his career, Kennedy had 568 tackles and 58 sacks. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. Kennedy died on May 23 at age 48. It is currently unknown what caused his death.

Sonny Randle (1936-2017) was a wide receiver who played 10 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals. He made 4 Pro Bowls and one 1st-team All-Pro. For his career, Randle had 365 receptions for 5,996 yards and 65 touchdowns.

Following his playing career he was a head coach at East Carolina (1971-73), Virginia (74-75) and Marshall (1979-83). As a head coach he was 39-69-1 and won two conference titles, both with ECU. After his coaching career, Randle became a color commentator for radio broadcasts of college football.

Randle died on May 23 at age 81.

Jim Bunning (1931-2017) was a professional baseball player and later a politician. He played in the majors for 17 seasons, mostly with the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. In 1958, he pitched a no-hitter and in 1964 pitched a perfect game. He was the seventh player to throw a perfect game and is one of seven players to have thrown both a no-hitter and perfect game. Bunning made the All-Star game 9 times. He retired with a 224-184 record, 3.27 ERA and 2,855 strikeouts, which was the second highest total at the time. In 1996, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1977, Bunning was elected to the city council of Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He followed this by winning a seat in the Kentucky Senate in 1979, being elected as minority leader.

In 1987, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and represented Kentucky's 4th district until 1999. He then was elected to the US Senate, where he represented the state of Kentucky until his retirement in 2011. Bunning died on May 26 at age 85 following a stroke he suffered last October.