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Richard Matheson, a prolific and influential writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction novels, has died at the age of 87, according to news reports.

Matheson Image

Many of his works have been adapted for TV and cinema, and Stephen King has often cited him as the single biggest influence on his own work.

Like King, Matheson sent shivers down the spines of readers and viewers for decades with stories like The Incredible Shrinking Man and I Am Legend.

He also penned the story and screenplay for one of Steven Spielberg's most effective films, Duel, and 16 installments of TV's The Twilight Zone.

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Bobby "Blue" Bland, an influential soul and blues musician behind many hits from the 1940s and beyond, died Sunday in Memphis at the age of 83.

BBBland

"The Lion of the Blues” or “Sinatra of the Blues” was revered as a pioneer of blues and soul with a career dating back to the early blues and R&B sound.

Bobby "Blue" Bland packed elements of gospel, blues, pop, country, jazz and R&B into emotionally raw performances that became a standard for the genre.

He never quite achieved the crossover and radio success of peers such as Ray Charles and B.B. King, who he even imitated in early recordings.

Nevertheless, he remained a fixture on the R&B charts and tour circuit for decades and is one of the top 25 bestselling R&B artists of modern times.

As a testament to his career, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1997.

Bland died from complications of an ongoing illness. RIP.

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Gary David Goldberg, a television producer best known for creating the sitcom Family Ties, died yesterday of brain cancer. He was 68 years old.

Gary David Goldberg Pic

The Emmy Award winner met his wife in Greenwich Village in 1969. He described the couple many times as a pair of hippies and based the aforementioned Michael J. Fox series around their relationship.

Goldberg broke into show business in the mid-1970s when he wrote scripts for The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant, The Tony Randall Show and The Last Resort.

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Veteran daredevil Jane Wicker was killed along with her pilot as her plane plunged to the ground during an air show performance Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.

The show was suspended following the crash of her Stearman biplane, and expressions of sympathy have poured in to the performer's Facebook page.

It wasn't clear what went so wrong, but the biplane glided through the sky, rolled over, then crashed and exploded into flames, killing Wicker and the pilot.

The video of the crash, below, is not for the faint of heart:

Wicker, whose "wing walking" was an air show staple, said she felt confident of her ability and that lots of practice makes her signature stunt a "managed risk."

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Lil Snupe is dead at the age of 18, according to multiple reports.

The emerging rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who recently signed to Meek Mill's Dream Chasers label, passed away early this morning.

Lil Snupe Photo

Some sources indicate that he was shot and killed, although no official details, including the location, have been released as of this posting.

No homicides with a similarly aged victim occurred in the Baton Rouge area overnight, though it's unclear if he still resides in that city or was there last night.

In any case, Lil Snupe's manager, DJ Smallz and Dream Chasers' Louie V Gutta both tweeted of the rapper's death this morning with heavy hearts.

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James Gandolfini died tragically Wednesday at the age of 51.

Not surprisingly, the star's abrupt passing stunned and saddened Hollywood, with those who worked with Gandolfini reflecting on his acting genius.

James Gandolfini Pic

"James is one of the greatest actors of this or any time," said The Sopranos creator David Chase. "A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."

"I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it. You're like Mozart.'"

"There would be silence at the other end of the phone."

Chase acknowledged, "He wasn't easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain."

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James Gandolfini died earlier today in Italy, according to reports. The Sopranos star is believed to have suffered a heart attack, and was just 51 years old.

James Gandolfini Photo

Deadline was the first source to report Gandolfini's death.

He was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, and was scheduled to appear in an event this weekend with director Gabriele Muccino.

"Everyone is in tears," a N.Y. Daily News source said.

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Vince Flynn, the prolific and best-selling author of many political thriller novels, has died.

He succumbed to prostate cancer after a two-year battle. Flynn was just 47 years old.

V. Flynn

Flynn announced in 2011 that he was fighting Stage 3 metastatic prostate cancer.

A statement from Flynn's publisher, Simon & Schuster, Inc., said he died Wednesday.

Flynn self-published his first book, Term Limits, in 1997, then got a publishing deal.

Term Limits became a New York Times bestseller, as did other works of his, many centering around the character Mitch Rapp, a counterterrorism operative.

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Michael Hastings, an acclaimed young journalist, has died in a car accident. The Vermont native was just 33 years old when he passed away Tuesday.

Michael Hastings Photo

He was widely known for a profile in Rolling Stone magazine, which reported his death, of a general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone," said Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed, for whom he also wrote.

"Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered."

"From wars to politics, he wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are many great stories that will go untold."

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