Joe and Jill Biden's Dog, Champ Dies at 13

Champ, the beloved dog of Joe and Jill Biden has died.

The German Shepherd passed at the White House Saturday ... and Jill says he went peacefully.

The First Lady tweeted, "'RIP to our sweet, good boy, Champ. We will miss you always."

Champ moved to the White House with the Bidens and their other dog, Major, in January when the president took office.

The President and First Lady issued a statement ... "Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepard, Champ, passed away peacefully at home. He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family. Even as Champ's strength waned in his last months, when we came into a room, he would immediately pull himself up, his tail always wagging, and nuzzle us for an ear scratch or a belly rub."

They went on ... "Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us. He loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a comforting presence in meetings, or sunning himself in the White House garden. In his younger days, he was happiest chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory or racing to catch our grandchildren as they ran around our backyard in Delaware."

They ended with this ... "In our most joyful moments and in our most grief-stricken days, he was there with us, sensitive to our every unspoken feeling and emotion. We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always."

Champ and his brother, 3-year-old Major moved into the White House in January but went back to Delaware for additional training because of all the commotion at the White House.

Champ was born in Pennsylvania and the Biden's got him as a puppy. His granddaughters named him.

Champ was 13.

RIP

Daredevil Alex Harvill Fatal Crash During World-Record Attempt ... Coroner's Ruling is in

DEADLY ATTEMPT

5:58 AM PT -- 6/19 -- Grant County Coroner Craig Morrison is making official what was obvious to all who saw Alex's ill-fated jump -- he's ruled the cause of death was blunt force trauma to Alex's torso. The manner of death is ruled accidental.

Daredevil Alex Harvill -- a famous motorcycle stuntman -- died Thursday after crashing during a world-record jump attempt.

He was just 28 years old.

The scene was absolutely horrifying ... Harvill was trying to launch his bike off a ramp 351 feet at the Moses Lake Airshow in Washington -- when he came up short and crash-landed into a dirt mound.

Harvill was thrown over his handlebars, and tumbled dozens of feet before he finally came to a stop.

According to the Grant County Sheriff's Office, Harvill later died from the injuries he suffered during the accident.

The Sheriff's office added Harvill's family has been notified ... and said an autopsy will be conducted on Friday to determine the cause and manner of his death.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Alex’s family, friends and loved ones," the Sheriff's office said.

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The Airshow, meanwhile, had vowed to donate all of the proceeds from Harvill's jump Thursday to help pay his medical bills.

Harvill -- who just welcomed his second baby into the world last month -- was a very experienced stuntman ... he had previously set a world record in 2013 when he jumped from one dirt ramp to another 297 feet away.

RIP

Originally Published -- 6/17 -- 3:00 PM PT

College Baseball's Sang Ho Baek Dead At 20 ... After Complications From Tommy John Surgery

Sang Ho Baek -- a freshman on George Mason's 2021 baseball team -- died Saturday after his Tommy John surgery turned tragic ... his teammate, Scott Morgan, has confirmed.

The pitcher recently underwent the elbow procedure ... and in a statement on a GoFundMe page, Morgan announced Baek ultimately passed away due to complications from it.

He was just 20 years old.

"After battling through injuries throughout the season, Sang required Tommy John surgery," Morgan, a GMU outfielder, wrote in the GoFundMe statement.

"He suddenly passed away due to complications with his surgery. As a team, we are all mourning his passing."

It's been reported Baek suffered a blood clot while trying to recover from the procedure.

Baek played in seven games for the Patriots in '21 ... and his GMU head coach, Bill Brown, said he was "an incredible teammate."

"He will be missed and forever cherished in our hearts," Brown added.

RIP.

'Pee-wee's Playhouse' Star John Paragon Dead at 66

9:58 AM PT -- 6/18 -- The Riverside Sheriff's Dept tells us Paragon died of "Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease with other significant conditions of Chronic Alcohol Abuse."

John Paragon, famous for playing Jambi the Genie on "Pee-wee's Playhouse," has died.

The Riverside County Coroner tells TMZ John died back in April ... but at this point, his cause of death is unclear.

As Jambi the Genie, John's face would appear in a jeweled box whenever Pee-wee Herman wished for something. JP was dressed in blue makeup with a red and gold turban. John also voiced Pterri the Pterodactyl on the show.

In addition to playing 2 characters, John wrote several episodes for 'Playhouse' and worked with Paul Reubens in writing "Pee-wee's Playhouse: Christmas Special" way back in 1988, earning an Emmy Award nomination for Best Writing in a Children's Special.

John also made appearances on "Seinfeld" and acted in movies including "The Frog Prince," "Eating Raoul" and "Echo Park."

'Playhouse' was on CBS Saturday mornings from 1986 to 1991 and John reprised his role as Jambi the Genie in 2010 for the Broadway adaption of 'The Pee-wee Herman Show.'

Most recently, he was working with Walt Disney Imagineering, where he was an idea man for improv performances at the Disney theme parks.

John was 66.

RIP

Originally Published -- 6/17 7:03 PM PT

'Dawson's Creek' Writer Heidi Ferrer Dead by Suicide at 50 ... Battled Long-Haul COVID

Heidi Ferrer -- a Hollywood writer known for her work on the hit WB series "Dawson's Creek" and ABC's "Wasteland" -- has died by suicide following a long battle with COVID-19 ... TMZ has confirmed.

A family member tells us Heidi took her own life after fighting covid for more than a year, she died on May 26.

She contracted the virus when the pandemic was raging in late April 2020, and her symptoms worsened month after month. She was bedridden a couple of months after she first fell ill ... suffering from severe fatigue and neurological tremors.

Heidi wrote a blog post back in September detailing exactly how COVID knocked her down -- she called the recovery process the hardest thing her body's ever had to go through.

She said, "In my darkest moments, I told my husband that if I didn’t get better, I did not want to live like this. I wasn’t suicidal, I just couldn’t see any quality of life long term and there was no end in sight."

Her condition went through a steady decline this year as she battled long-haul COVID symptoms -- and last month, more than a year after contracting the virus, she was bedridden again before her death. Nick called long-haul COVID "a public health crisis that must be addressed quickly."

Heidi made a name for herself as a writer who, without a college degree, sold her first spec, "The C Word," to Oscar-winning producer Arnold Kopelson. She remained a member of the Writer's Guild of America for 24 years.

Heidi's survived by her husband, 13-year-old son, mother and 2 sisters. She was 50.

RIP

Frank Bonner 'WKRP' Star Dead at 79

Frank Bonner, famous for playing Herb Tarlek on the TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati," has died ... TMZ has learned.

Frank died Wednesday as a result of complications from Lewy body dementia ... according to his family. We're told his loved ones are heartbroken, and they were with him when he passed away peacefully.

An actor and director, Frank was best known for his work on 'WKRP' in the late 1970s and early '80s ... playing Herb, the radio station sales manager who could never land the big account.

Frank's character was also known for wearing loud, plaid suits on the show plus white shoes and a matching belt.

He directed a handful of episodes on the OG 'WKRP' and reprised his role as Herb in the 1990s spinoff, "The New WKRP in Cincinnati" ... and also acted and directed in "Saved By The Bell: The New Class."

Frank made headlines in October 1979 when he was hospitalized following a parachute accident. He was injured after falling about 20 feet when his ascendency chute collapsed in a freak wind while he was being towed by a four-wheel drive vehicle over a dry lake bed near Los Angeles.

He was 79.

RIP

Brooklyn Nets Halftime Singer Laughs Off Critics DMX Cover Won't Please Everyone!!!

WHAT AN HONOR
TMZSports.com

No matter what the haters say, the Brooklyn Nets' country singing halftime performer says he had a freakin' blast singing DMX and Notorious B.I.G. on Tuesday ... telling TMZ Sports he's unbothered by people pissed about his nod to the rap legends.

35-year-old singer Sam James went viral on social media after performing at the Nets vs. Bucks game ... with some folks giving their honest (and sometimes brutal) reviews of his setlist involving rap covers.

As it turns out, James says he grew up a HUGE fan of X ... and being able to perform his music in front of the massive crowd was a career moment for him.

"DMX's passing was so unexpected to me, and just to be able to do that last night at Barclays, it was special," James tells us."

He had the same feeling when covering "Juicy" by Biggie ... adding, "To be able to pay tribute last night to some of the greatest Brooklyn artists in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center in front of a crowd like that -- that was unreal."

James somehow had no idea his performance was spreading on the Internet ... but when we recited some of his not-so-nice reviews to him, the dude couldn't have been a better sport.

"I mean, listen, at the end of the day, you can't listen to what other people are saying about music," James said, laughing off the harsh comments. "Music is subjective. Everybody can have their own opinion."

"It's nothing off my back if people aren't into it."

In fact, James says the crowd around him was LOVIN' it ... so, he's more focused on what he experienced than what the trolls are saying.

"I was in the zone ... but everybody that was around me was pretty hyped. So, it felt great!"

James says he knows people are entitled to their opinion ... but he's down to try and change the haters' minds in the future.

"People that are into it, that's awesome. People that aren't, it's cool. Listen, I still got a little time to turn you around."

'Gone Girl' Actor Lisa Banes Dead at 65 After Hit-and-Run Scooter Accident

"Gone Girl" actor Lisa Banes has died after suffering injuries from a hit-and-run accident caused by an electric scooter ... TMZ has confirmed.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Banes died Monday after more than a week in the hospital in critical condition.

As we reported ... Banes was struck while using a crosswalk on the Upper West Side in NYC on June 4, witnesses said Banes had the right of way -- but the scooter driver barreled through a red light, striking her, and kept going. The scooter was described as red and black in color.

Cops have not yet made any arrests and have not released a more detailed description of the driver.

A rep for Banes -- who was best known for her roles in "Gone Girl" and "Cocktail" -- told ET, "We are heartsick over Lisa's tragic and senseless passing. She was a woman of great spirit, kindness and generosity and dedicated to her work, whether on stage or in front of a camera and even more so to her wife, family and friends. We were blessed to have had her in our lives."

Banes was 65.

RIP

Ned Beatty Dead at 83

3:28 PM PT -- Ned's manager tells us ... her client died around 7:30 AM this morning of natural causes, surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Ned Beatty -- a veteran character actor, famous for his work in "Superman," "Network" and several other iconic films -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

A family member tells TMZ ... Ned passed away in his sleep Sunday while surrounded by family at his home. No other details surrounding the exact circumstances of his death were immediately available -- however, we've been told his passing is NOT COVID-related.

The guy has appeared in a variety of different movies and an even bigger variety of roles over his five-decade-plus career ... giving us memorable characters and even better performances. He'll perhaps best be remembered for his standout monologue in 1976's "Network," in which he played a TV/communications chief, who tries convincing the protagonist to stop resisting a major merger deal that will adversely affect the masses.

It's an epic 5 to 6-minute speech he gives to the fictional truthteller, Howard Beale -- one of the only times Beatty appeared on screen in this flick, BTW -- ... and it earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Oscars that year. That's how great it is.

Beatty had scores of other unforgettable movie moments -- notably, as the bumbling sidekick to Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor, Otis, in the 1978 version of "Superman" in which he completely flipped the script from serious to comedic ... which he carried on for the sequel too. In other words, Beatty had incredible range -- and flexed it often in his acting.

Other remarkable film credits include ... "Deliverance," -- infamous for its "Squeal like a pig" rape scene, of which Beatty was the onscreen victim -- "Friendly Fire," "All the President's Men," "Silver Streak," "Back to School," "Nashville," "The Big Easy," "The Toy," "1941," "Captain America," "Rudy," "White Lightning," "Prelude to a Kiss," "Hear My Song," "Restless Natives," "Life," "Shooter," "Charlie Wilson's War" and even a couple voice acting roles in "Rango" as well as "Toy Story 3," in which he played Lotso ... the evil pink bear.

Ned had appeared in several big hit TV shows as well through the years, such as "Law & Order," "Roseanne," "The Boys," "Highway to Heaven," "American Playhouse," "Szysznyk," "The Rockford Files," "M*A*S*H*," "Homicide: Life on the Street," 'CSI,' "Murder, She Wrote" and countless others.

He's survived by his wife, Sandra Johnson, and his eight children and grandchildren. Ned was 83.

RIP

Originally Published -- 2:58 PM PT

Ultramarathon Tragedy Chinese Official Apparently Takes Own Life Amid Probe Into Death Of 21 Runners

An official in China has died -- seemingly taking his own life -- amid an investigation into an ultramarathon tragedy last month that killed 21 elite runners.

The Chinese state-controlled media confirmed Li Zuobi died on Wednesday -- after leaping from his apartment building.

Zuobi was the Jingtai County Communist Party Secretary -- and oversaw a team that was involved with the planning of the 62-mile Yellow River Stone Forest Trail Race which took place on May 22 in the province of Gansu.

As we previously reported, 172 elite athletes participated in the event -- but tragedy struck when a freezing cold storm suddenly moved in just a few miles into the race, punishing the runners with a barrage of hailstones, rain and icy winds.

A 1,200-person search party was launched -- but 21 runners ultimately died due to the severe weather conditions. Several more were hospitalized.

The Chinese government launched a formal investigation into the incident -- and ultimately punished 27 officials for major failures in the race planning.

Among the issues, officials determined the emergency response protocols in place to tackle to serious weather issues were unsatisfactory.

Li was not held personally responsible for the issues -- but his deputy, Zhang Wenling, was fired ... along with other lower-level officials.

MAY 2021
SEARCHING FOR SURVIVORS
AP

As for Li's death, CCTV (the Chinese state-controlled broadcaster) says investigators do NOT believe he was killed ... and have ruled out homicide.

The families of the 21 runners who lost their lives were offered $150k in compensation following the tragedy ... but some have reportedly declined the offer.

One of the runners who perished in the race is 31-year-old Liang Jing -- one of the top ultra-marathon runners in the world. He's survived by his wife and newborn baby.

Paul Mooney Letterman, Haddish, Tucker Playing Huge Roles in Memorial Service

Some comedy giants are pitching in to help memorialize Paul Mooney ... including David Letterman, Tiffany Haddish and Chris Tucker.

The late comedian's memorial service is slated to go down June 23 at the Roosevelt Hotel's ballroom. We're told Tiffany and actress Marla Gibbs have confirmed they'll attend.

As for the former 'Late Night' host, we're told Letterman -- along with the Angela & John Witherspoon Foundation -- are just some of the peeps who have contributed toward the cost of the memorial service.

Actor Tim Reid ... along with comedian J. Anthony Brown and Richard and Tina Lawson have also contributed to cover costs.

Chris Tucker and George Wallace are some of the comedians who can't attend the service, but instead will send a video tribute. We're also told invitations have been extended to Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle.

TMZ broke the story ... a star-studded tribute went down for the late comedian at the famed Hollywood Laugh Factory last month. The City of Oakland also honored him after Paul's sudden passing.

Pat Sajak Pulling for Trebek to Win Emmy ... What's 1 More Loss for Me???

PULLIN' FOR ALEX
TMZ.com

Pat Sajak says he doesn't mind losing another Emmy to the late, great Alex Trebek -- not only because Alex deserves it, but also ... Pat's learned to lower his expectations.

We got the legendary "Wheel of Fortune" host Wednesday in Bev Hills, and asked if he'd be cool with Trebek taking home top honors at this year's upcoming ceremony. Fact is, most see Alex as a shoo-in ... for his talent and for being the sentimental favorite.

Not too surprisingly, Pat told us he was more than fine with that ... because, honestly, what else is the guy gonna say? But, he took it a step further and echoed what Wayne Brady recently told us ... explaining he was actually rooting for AT, like most everyone else in the biz.

6/6/21
HE WAS THE BEST
TMZ.com

Now, when we pointed out the obvious -- namely, that Pat has lost to Alex in the game show host category for many years now -- he jokingly acknowledged it too ... comparing himself to soap opera star Susan Lucci, who was passed over for a Daytime Emmy a whopping 19 times before winning.

Like we said, PS seemed to mostly be kidding here, but he did promise to give us a HUGE scoop ... about his retirement!!!

Chill, it isn't happening anytime soon, but watch what he told us about where you'll hear about it first. Pat Sajak wouldn't lie to us, would he???

Jim Fassel Ex-NY Giants Coach Dead At 71 ... Michael Strahan Mourns

Jim Fassel -- the former NFL head coach who led the NY Giants to Super Bowl XXXV -- has died ... and his ex-star player, Michael Strahan, is heartbroken.

Fassel passed away Monday in Las Vegas after suffering a heart attack following chest pains, his son, John, told the L.A. Times.

And, when Strahan was asked about his former coach on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday ... the ex-pass rusher explained he was crushed to learn of the passing.

"Just a great man, great coach," Strahan said of Fassel. "And, he will be missed. But, I was definitely shocked this morning to find out this news and I just wanted to send my love and condolences to his family."

Strahan continued, "Great man. I enjoyed every minute with him as my coach and after my career when we continued to stay in touch and talk."

Fassel joined the Giants as an assistant coach in 1991 and later became the head coach in 1997, when he won NFL Coach of the Year honors.

Fassel eventually took Strahan and the G-Men to Super Bowl XXXV in the 2000 season ... where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

Fassel was fired in 2003 after piling up a career 58-53-1 record ... but he still went on to be an offensive coordinator for the Ravens before wrapping up his coaching career as the head man for the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives.

He was 71 years old.

#RIP

Clarence Williams III Dead at 81 'Mod Squad,' 'Half Baked'

Clarence Williams III -- famous for roles in "The Mod Squad," "Half Baked" and several other movies and shows -- has died.

The veteran actor's management team confirmed the sad news Sunday, saying Clarence had actually passed away Friday in L.A. due to colon cancer.

CWIII had a long history with his craft ... dating back to the '60s when he got his start in theater and broke through on Broadway with a Tony win for his work on "Slow Dance on the Killing Ground." He went on to do TV and movie acting thereafter -- and had a number of memorable roles.

He might best be remembered for playing Detective Linc Hayes on 'Mod Squad' ... in which he starred for five seasons, totaling 123 episodes. After that, the work kept pouring in for Clarence ... he was cast in supporting roles in hit shows like "The Cosby Show," "The Littlest Hobo," "Hill Street Blues," "T.J. Hooker," "Miami Vice," "Nasty Boys," "Twin Peaks," "Tales from the Cyrpt," "The Highwayman," 'Star Trek,' "Walker, Texas Ranger" and countless others.

Clarence also had several standout performances for cult classic films, including "Purple Rain" -- in which he played Prince's troubled dad -- as well as Dave Chappelle's stoner comedy "Half Baked" ... where he played a flamboyant local drug lord Samson Simpson, who was dueling with DC's booming Mr. Nice Guy weed biz in the flick. Tons of great lines from that.

Clarence had starred in a ton of other huge movies as well, such as "The General's Daughter," "Reindeer Games," "The Butler," "Deep Cover," "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," "Sugar Hill," "Tales from the Hood" ... and many, many more.

He was 81.

RIP

Lil Durk Brother OTF DThang Dead at 32 Reportedly Shot & Killed

Lil Durk's older brother, OTF DThang, died this weekend ... TMZ has confirmed.

Cook County officials tell us Dontay Banks Jr. -- DThang's government name -- was found deceased on the 7900 block of S. Loomis Blvd. in Chicago, and has been assigned a case number. An autopsy still has to be done to figure out the cause and manner of death.

Reports say DThang was shot in the head outside of a nightclub and died on the spot ... citing alleged witnesses who say they saw the shooting go down.

DThang was a rapper himself ... but wasn't nearly as big as Durk is, who's blowing up right now. Still, he's got a string of songs out -- although it doesn't look like they ever collab'd.

This is just the latest tragedy to strike Durk's inner circle -- he's lost a handful of friends and loved ones over the years ... including, famously, the death of his labelmate King Von ... who was shot and killed last year. A producer he worked closely with named Turn Me Up Josh also died just last week ... something Durk himself commemorated with a post.

Durk hasn't commented on his brother's passing yet, but condolences have been pouring in all over social media. DThang was 32.

RIP

Paul Walker's Brother 'Fast and Furious' & Vin ... They're Still Doing Right By Paul

Walker's Wild Whip
TMZ.com

Paul Walker's brother says Vin Diesel and the rest of the 'Fast and the Furious' family made the right move letting his character ride off into the sunset ... and he thinks Paul would get a kick out of where the franchise is these days.

We got Cody Walker at Sancho's Tacos in Huntington Beach and asked how he feels about the way 'F&F' has honored his bro's legacy with the 9th installment about to hit theaters.

Cody says Vin and co. have done a really good job of tastefully paying tribute to Paul's character, Brian O'Conner, and he thinks Paul would have never imagined the franchise going this far.

As you know ... Paul died in a fiery wreck in November 2013. The crash didn't happen on the set, but he was in the middle of filming "Furious 7" at the time. The script for the 8th installment referred to Paul's character a few times.

It's pretty cool ... Cody says he was in middle school when the OG 'F&F' came out, and his brother's movie is what Cody credits for his own love of cars. He says folks stop him in the street all the time to tell him Paul is the reason they love cars, and he always has the same response ... "Me too!!!"

We also asked Cody about one of the original movie cars -- Paul's orange 1994 Toyota Supra -- going up for auction later this month. Cody's anticipating a huge figure for the winning bid, and he tells us why Paul would think the whole sale is hilarious.

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Speaking of fast cars ... Cody's FuelFest is coming to Los Angeles later this month, right before the movie release, featuring some of the top custom, exotic, rare and exclusive cars from all over the world ... along with live music, drifting and drag racing.

You know Paul woulda loved that too.

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