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national obituaries

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Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras dies in car crash

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Sad news out of professional baseball. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend have died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, his home country. Taveras was 22.

Details are still scarce, but USA Today reports that Dominican officials say Taveras and his girlfriend were involved in a crash while traveling to his hometown near Puerto Plata. A policeman said, "[Rainfall] might have contributed to the accident."

Taveras had been widely touted as one of the top hitting prospects in the Cardinals organization.

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He batted just .239 in his first season in the big leagues but left his mark in the playoffs with a big pinch-hit home run in the National League Championship series in Game 2 against the Giants.

Before his time at the professional level, Taveras had dominated the minor-league ranks with a .320 batting average over six seasons and was expected to have a bright future with the Cardinals.

Baseball America ranked Taveras the third-highest prospect in all of baseball in 2014.

St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. released a statement on Facebook expressing grief for Taveras' passing. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Taveras was a "wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest." 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Ben Bradlee, Washington Post editor during Watergate, dies at 93

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Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, has died. He was 93.

At the helm of the Post from 1968-1991, he led the paper through some of its most defining moments. He oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, earning him a portrayal in the Oscar-winning film “All the President’s Men.” (Video via The Washington PostWarner Bros. / "All The President's Men")

BRADLEE VIA ABC: “These guys were on a roll. They had the town by the throat. Nobody else was touching them.”

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During his tenure, he also fought the Nixon administration over his decision to run a trove of leaked documents on the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers.

In September, his wife, fellow Post reporter Sally Quinn, disclosed Bradlee’s Alzheimer’s had gotten worse and he was in hospice care at their home. 

SALLY QUINN VIA C-SPAN: “I don’t think we’ve ever been as loving with each other as we are now. You know, we spend a lot of time together, and we hold hands, and he knows me.”

For the past 23 years, he’d carried the title “vice president at large” at the Post. He also published a memoir titled “A Good Life.”

This video includes images from Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin / CC BY SA 2.0, Getty Images and Terissa Schor / CC BY NC 2.0.

Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dead at 82

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Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has died at the age of 82.

A family member confirmed the news to ABC Monday evening. The cause of death wasn't immediately made public, though de la Renta was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and had been battling it since.

In an interview at New York City's 92nd Street Y last year, he opened up about his diagnosis. 

"There are two realities about life, one day we're born, and one day we die. The dying aspect we will never accept."

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De la Renta first rose to fame in the fashion world by dressing some of the most famous celebrities of the 1960s, including First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

And he continued to design beautiful gowns for the rich and famous through to present-day. 

Some of his most famous admirers include Cameron Diaz, Oprah Winfrey and Penelope Cruz.

He even designed Amal Clooney's gorgeous wedding dress for her and George's nuptials in Italy.

One of his most famous fans, Gloria Estefan, tweeted a touching tribute to the fashion legend. "RIP iconic designer Oscar De La Renta,who was a big part of 3 of my life's biggest moments.Much love & peace2 his family& all who loved him!"

And many other fashion icons, including Marie Claire Creative Director Nina Garcia, also shared their grief on social media.

Funeral arrangements for de la Renta and other details were still unclear as of Monday night.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy dead at 93

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Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, a Southern icon for the company he created and for the religious principles that kept the chain’s stores closed on Sundays, has died at 93.

According to The Associated Press, Cathy died at home near family members, Chick-fil-A spokesman Mark Baldwin said early Monday. Funeral plans were not finalized, he said.

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Cathy created his marquee sandwich in the early 1960s, testing it on customers at the Dwarf Grill (now called the Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia). He got the idea for the chicken patties after a poultry distributor asked if he could use chicken leftover from meals made for the compact food servings on flights.

He grew the company from one store in 1967 to more than 1,800 locations today and $5 billion in revenue in 2013. The chain surpassed longtime chicken king KFC in U.S. sales in 2012, although KFC is still larger when its foreign stores are factored in.

Cathy slowed down in the past few years. In 2013, his son Dan Cathy assumed the post of chief executive officer and chairman. Truett Cathy became chairman emeritus.

Chick-fil-A caused some controversy in 2012 after Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company backed "the biblical definition of a family," the AP reported. Gay-rights groups held boycotts at Chick-fil-A restaurants.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

'X Factor' star Simone Battle of G.R.L. found dead

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Singer Simone Battle, who rose to fame on "The X Factor," was found dead in her Los Angeles home.

TMZ broke the story and reports that the 25-year-old's death was an apparent suicide. 

CNN reports that Battle was an L.A. native who grew up singing in a church choir and studied music and songwriting at the University of Southern California.

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Battle's music career started to take off after her run on "The X Factor" in 2011. 

She signed on as one-fifth of the pop group G.R.L., which is best known for its collaboration with Pitbull on "Wild Wild Love."

G.R.L. was started by Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin as the next generation of her original group.

The group commemorated Battle on its Twitter account, writing: "Words cannot express the depth of our loss. Simone's incredible talent was only surpassed by the size of her heart."

Former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, who knew Battle from their time on "The X Factor," dedicated her performance to the late singer in South Africa on Saturday night.

Richard Attenborough, actor and Oscar-winning director, dies

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British actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough has died at 90 years old. 

Modern audiences may remember him best as the eccentric billionaire in "Jurassic Park" or Santa in the '90s remake of "Miracle on 34th Street."

But Attenborough began his acting career more than seven decades ago with his first role in "In Which We Serve."

​He went on to play roles in countless other films, as well as forming his own production company and becoming a prominent director.

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Attenborough won an Academy Award for best director for his 1982 film "Ghandi." 

Following the news of his death, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts released a statement saying, "Lord Attenborough occupies a special place in the hearts of so many and will be missed enormously."

Prime Minister David Cameron remembered Attenborough's work on "Brighton Rock" and "Ghandi," and journalist Piers Morgan called him "a true legend of the screen and a delightful man."

Attenborough spent the last few years in a nursing home with his wife.

He's survived by his wife, two children and four grandchildren. 

This video contains images from Getty Images.

Celebrities react to the death of Lauren Bacall

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Hollywood icon Lauren Bacall died Tuesday at age 89. Here's how celebrities paid tribute to the actress on social media.

>> STORY: Actress Lauren Bacall dies at age 89

>> PHOTOS: Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths in 2014

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Why the death of Robin Williams is hitting so hard

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​Sadly, unexpected celebrity deaths are not uncommon. But the news of Robin Williams’ suspected suicide hit particularly hard Monday night. Here’s why.

First, he was a comedian.

UNITED ARTISTS / "THE BIRDCAGE": “Madonna! Madonna! Madonna! But you keep it all inside.” 

​​There’s something truly torturous about knowing a man who comforted us with humor was hurting so much inside. We suddenly feel guilty for laughing; it’s like learning the friend we thought we knew was an entirely different person. We replace comedy with tragedy. (Videos via Buena Vista PicturesTriStar Pictures)

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Second, Williams was a true comedian. True comedians go for more than dumb laughs — he made us smile with movies like “Dead Poets Society,” “Patch Adams” — with that story about his wife farting in “Good Will Hunting.” The truly talented find the funny in real, vulnerable life; he did that by making movies that touched people’s hearts. (Videos via Buena Vista PicturesUniversal Studios,Miramax)

And third, comedy legends last. Williams was a man who multiple generations grew up with — starting with “Mork & Mindy” in the '70s, through “Good Morning Vietnam” in the '80s, through “Aladdin,” “Hook” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” in the ‘90s. Even “Night at the Museum” brought him to kids in the 2000s. For the past 40 years, children have loved Robin Williams. (Videos via ABCTriStar PicturesTwentieth Century Fox)

Within minutes of the news of his death breaking, Williams was dominating all trending topics on Twitter

Many celebrities and fans sent out their condolences and shared memories, but Kevin ​Spacey may have said it best. Robin Williams made the world laugh ... and think.

BUENA VISTA PICTURES / "DEAD POETS SOCIETY": "That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

This video contains images from Getty Images.

Photos: James Garner through the years

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