HIV turns 30 today! Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 30 million people worldwide have died from HIV/AIDS. This is a tribute to a few familiar faces of folks we loved and continue to miss who lost their life to AIDS. February 7, is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness day.
1. Eazy-E 1963-1995
Eric Wright better known by his stage name Eazy-E and affectionately called ‘The Godfather of Gangsta Rap’ was only 32 years old when he passed away. In a 1995 statement where he announced that he was dying from AIDS, Eazy-E said, “Before Tomika (his wife at the time) I had other women. I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good to me.” (Photo: EURweb)
2. Alvin Ailey 1931-1989
One of America’s greatest dance choreographers, Alvin Ailey, is credited with popularizing modern dance and increasing African-American participation in modern dance concerts. In 1988 he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was 59 years old when he passed away. (Photo: AP)
3. Franklyn Seales 1952-1990
Born in St. Vincent, Seales is best known for his role on the hit comedy series Silver Spoons. On the show, he played Dexter Stuffins, a business manager and family friend. He also appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Taming of the Shrew. The actor died from complications due to AIDS on May 14, 1990 at his family’s home in Brooklyn, New York. He was only 37.
4. Jermaine Stewart 1957-1997
Jermaine Stewart was an American pop singer. The Columbus, Ohio native’s hits’ include “The Word is Out” and “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.” From performing on American Bandstand to becoming a backup singer for Shalamar and The Staple Sisters, his love of music was apparent, leading to a solo recording deal with Arista Records. He died of liver cancer caused by AIDS.
5. Kevin Peter Hall 1955-1991
Actor Kevin Peter Hall known for his roles in Misfits of Science, Prophecy, Without Warning, and Harry and the Hendersons. He was also best known as the title character in the first two films in the Predator franchise. He contracted HIV from a contaminated blood transfusion and passed away at age 35. (Photo: Tumblr)
6. Gia Carangi 1960-1986
One of the hottest supermodels of her time, Gia Carangi appeared on the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She was also the face of Armani, Christian Dior, and Versace. With her success came demons. Carangi became addicted to heroin, contracting AIDS from needle use. She died at the young age of 26.
7. Arthur Ashe 1943-1993
Tennis legend, Arthur Ashe, was a World professional tennis player and tennis’s first black millionaire. He was the recipient of Sportsman of the Year award and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.He contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1983; he was diagnosed in 1988 after he entered New York Hospital for emergency brain surgery. He passed away at age 49. (Photo: AP)
8. Larry Riley 1953-1992
Actor and musician Larry Riley, best known for his role in the film “A Soldiers Story” and his character Frank Williams on “Knots Landing,” died from AIDS related kidney failure. His wife, Nina, said acting kept his spirits high and he asked his doctor NOT ‘How long can I live?’ but ‘How long can I work?’ He passed away at age 39. (Photo: YouTube)
9. Fela Kuti 1938-1997
A pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti was an international superstar whose politically-conscience music drew the world’s attention to the lingering strains of European colonialism while making millions of people dance at the same time. His love of music was rivaled only by his love of women. He married 27 of his dancers. He passed away at age 58. (Photo: AP)
10. Willi Smith 1948-1987
Fashion designer, Willi Smith, known for his “Williwear” clothing line, was one of the industry’s first African-American stars. He pioneered funky “street couture” fashions and had earned international status at a very young age. He passed away at age 39. (Photo: Tumblr)
11. Sharon Redd 1945-1992
Redd was a singer and actress from New York. She starred in an Australian production of the rock musical Hair and sang background vocals for Bette Midler before striking out on her own. She died at age 46 of pneumonia, complicated by AIDS.
12. Pedro Zamora 1972-1994
Pedro became known to the public as a member of The Real World: San Francisco. Becoming the face of HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s, he learned that he was HIV positive as a junior in high school. Soon after, he became an HIV/AIDS activist, educating youth on the importance of safe sex. He died in 1994 at the young age of 22
13. David Hampton 1964-2003
As a teenager, David Hampton, earned notoriety in 1983 by charming his way into New York’s white upper crust, presenting himself as the son of Sidney Poitier and a Harvard University student. The scam inspired John Guare’s acclaimed 1990 play and the subsequent movie, ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ starring Will Smith. Hampton was 39 years old when he passed away. (Photo: Tumblr)
14. Yvonne Vera 1964-2005
Yvonne Vera was an award-winning author from Zimbabwe. Her novels are known for their poetic prose, difficult subject-matter, and their strong women characters, and are firmly rooted in Zimbabwe’s difficult past. She passed away of AIDS-related meningitis. She was 40 years old.
15. Freddie Mercury 1946-1991
The lead singer of the popular rock group Queen was only 45 when he died of AIDS. Known for his four-octave range, Mercury was also a talented song writer. There was speculation that he was HIV-positive, which he admitted publicly before his death.
16. Perry Watkins 1948-1996
U.S. Army Sergeant Perry J. Watkins was an openly gay soldier whose long battle to stay in the military led to a victory in 1990 before the Supreme Court. The ruling allowed him to retire with full honors. He died from complications of AIDS. He was 48 years old. (Photo: Tumblr)
17. Anthony Perkins 1932-1992
Anthony Perkins received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Friendly Persuasion. Perkins was also a theater actor who received many Tony Award nominations. His most notable role, however, was Norman Bates in Psycho. Decades later, Perkins kept a secret–that he had been diagnosed with AIDS. He feared he would not get any acting roles if he went public. Perkins died on September 12, 1992 from pneumonia related to AIDS.
18. Max Robinson 1939-1988
Broadcast journalist and ABC News World News Tonight co-anchor, Max Robinson, was the first African American broadcast network news anchor in the United States. He passed away at age 49. (Photo: Tumblr)
19. Rick Aviles 1952-1995
Actor and comedian Rick Aviles who hosted ‘It’s Showtime at the Apollo’ and played Willie Lopez in the film ‘Ghost’ contracted HIV through heroin abuse and died from complications of AIDS at age 43. (Photo: Tumblr)
20. Robert Reed 1932-1992
He is best known for his role as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. The loving and sensible husband and father of six graced our television screens from 1960-1974. He was diagnosed with HIV, but kept it a secret. Reed died of colon cancer in 1992 at the age of 52, at which point the public learned that he was gay, as well as HIV-positive.