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


Michael Johnson (1944-2017) was a country, folk and pop singer, songwriter and guitarist. He had 13 songs on the Hot Country Songs charts and four hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Johnson is best known for hits like “Bluer Than Blue”, “Give Me Wings” and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder.” During his long career, he released 19 albums and 21 singles.

Johnson died on July 25 at age 72.

Leonard Landy (1933-2017) was an actor who played one of the Little Rascals on “Our Gang.” He appeared in 21 shorts of the show from 1938 to 1941. The original show, which ran from 1922 to 1944, had some episodes re-syndicated in the 1950's and enjoyed renewed popularity retitled as “The Little Rascals. In 1980, he acted in an “Our Gang” reunion sponsored by the Sons of the Desert and had made a number of mini-reunion appearances over the years with the L.A. based chapter of the Sons. Landy died on July 26 at age 84.

June Foray (1917-2017) was a voice actress who had 308 credits to her name in a career spanning from 1943 until 2014. She voiced characters like Rocky the Flying Squirrel (“The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”), Lucifer (“Cinderella”), Jokey Smurf (“The Smurfs”), Granny ( “Looney Toones”), Magica De Spell (“Scrooge McDuck”) and much more.

She was also an early member of ASIFA-Hollywood and helped create the Annie Awards and The Oscar for Best Animated Feature. In 2000, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Foray died on July 26 at age 99.

D.L. Menard (1932-2017) was an artist, performer, and songwriter of Cajun music. He is best known for his 1962 single “Back Door”, which is one of the most popular and best-selling Cajun music songs ever.

Over time he has performed in 30 different countries and became a sort of goodwill ambassador for Cajun culture and music. In 1993 he was nominated for an Emmy for his album “Le Trio Cadien.” He would win one in 2010 for his album “Happy Go Lucky.” He has been inducted into the Cajun Music and Louisiana Music Hall of Fames.

Menard died on July 27 at age 85.


John Kundla (1916-2017) was a college and professional basketball coach. He spent one season coaching at St.Thomas before being hired as the head coach of the Minneapolis Lakers. In his first season (1947-48) as coach in the NBL, the team went 43-17 and won the championship. The Lakers then moved to the BAA, going 44-16 and winning the championship.

In 1949 the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA, with the Lakers winning the championship in 1950 and from 1952-54. In his 12 seasons coaching the Lakers (counting the NBL year), Kundla had a 466-319 record and won six championships. He later coached the University of Minnesota basketball for ten seasons (1959-68), going 110-105 in that time.

In 1995, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Kundla died on July 23 at age 101.

Lyle Smith (1916-2017) was the head coach of Boise State's football team from 1947 until 1967 when the team was a junior college program (NJCAA). Smith missed the entire 1951 season due to military duty. In his time as coach, the team went 156-26-6, winning 13 conference titles and 1 national championship. In 1967 the team moved up to NAIA and Smith stepped down as head coach to become the school's first athletic director, a job he held until 1981 when he retired. Smith died on July 25 at age 101.


Flo Steinberg (1939-2017) was a comic book publisher who started her career working for Stan Lee.

In 1963, Lee hired her to be his secretary and assistant, making her one of only two staffers at the fledgling Marvel Comics, along with Lee himself. During her time at Marvel, she saw the company grow and became a much-loved mainstay at the company, earning the nickname 'Fablous Flo.' She left the company in 1968 and in 1975 published a one-shot comic book titled “Big Apple Comix.” Steinberg died on July 23 at age 78.

Mariana Diamond (1926-2017) was a professor emerita of anatomy at the University of California Berkely. She is best known for her published research into the neuroanatomy of the forebrain. During her career, she discovered the impact environment can have on brain health (neuroplasticity), the link between positive thinking and immune health and the differences in the cerebral cortex of male and female rat brains. She won numerous awards over her career and even had an award-winning documentary made about her last year. Diamond died on July 25 at age 90.