Lasting legacies: 5 area celebrities we continue to miss

Whether on the basketball court, in a recording studio or on a stage, the Miami Valley has been home to a deep well of talent.

Many of those who left their gifted mark are no longer with us.

Here is a look at 5 celebrities we continue to miss:

Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters and Huckleberry Hound, October 28, 1977.
Photo: File

The Springfield-raised Winters broke into comedy in the late 1950s. 

A master at creating colorful characters, Winters said in a 2011 interview that he found inspiration locally for characters like Maude Frickert and Elwood P. Suggins. 

» FROM 2013: Springfield legend Winters dies at 87

“There were a number of characters growing up that were like this,” he said. “People that were from Enon or Urbana. Not so much Springfield. But the minute you went to Bellefontaine …” 

Winters was a contemporary of well-known actors and comedians Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Buster Keaton but also played a role on television’s “Mork and Mindy” in 1981. 

Winters died at his home in Montecito, Calif. in 2013 at age 87. 

Dr. Creep

Popular local celebrity Barry "Dr. Creep" Hobart hosted scary movies on television
Photo: Teesha McClam/Dayton Daily News

Barry Hobart, known as Dr. Creep to legions of horror fans, was a television celebrity in the 1970s and 80s. 

Dr. Creep was the host of the local show, “Shock Theatre,” from 1972-1985 as well as a co-host of “Clubhouse 22,” a local afternoon children’s television program. 

Hobart was also well known for a children’s holiday charity called Project Christmas Smiles which he co-founded in the 1970s. The organization, which provided toys for children, is credited with helping more than 93,000 families for over 33 years. 

Hobart was 68 when he died in 2011. 

Roger Troutman 

Roger Troutman in an undated publicity photo probably from the early 1980s. Troutman, a musician and leader of the band Zapp, was shot and killed by his brother, Larry Troutman, on April 25, 1999.
Photo: Contributed photo

Musician Roger Troutman helped put the Dayton Funk soundtrack on the map. 

Troutman, who was born in Hamilton, and his brothers, Larry, Roger and Terry, formed the band Zapp. In 1980, their debut single, “More Bounce to the Ounce,” in which Roger created innovative sound using a talk-box, became a hit. 

Troutman also had a successful solo career with songs “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “I Want to Be Your Man” and “California Love.” 

At age 47, Troutman was fatally shot by his brother Larry Troutman during a 1999 murder-suicide. 

Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck at home with her kids, from left to right, Andy, Matt and Betsy. (Wright State University archives)
Photo: HANDOUT

Humorist Erma Bombeck, the author of 12 books and a popular column, “At Wit’s End,” which appeared in more than 900 newspapers, grew up in Dayton. 

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 1949, she began working for the women’s section of the Dayton Journal-Herald. Her first columns were headlined “Operation Dustrag” and offered household tips and reviewed new products. 

Her career later expanded into television. She appeared on “Good Morning America” for 11 years and adapted one of her books, “The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,” as a television movie starring Carol Burnett and James Grodin. 

Bombeck died in 1996 at age 69. She is buried in Woodland Cemetery. 

Jason Collier

051003 ATLANTA: Atlanta Hawks' center Jason Collier is seen during the team's annual Media Day Monday 10/3/05 at Philips Arena. According to staff reports, Collier died of an apparent heart attack early Saturday 10/15/05 despite efforts by his wife to revive him. JENNI GIRTMAN/AJC Staff
Photo: JENNI GIRTMAN/AJC

Jason Collier, a 7-foot NBA basketball star, graduated from Springfield’s Catholic Central High School in 1996. 

That year, Collier took his team to the Division IV state championship and was also named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball. 

» IN PHOTOS: Remembering Jason Collier

Four years later, in 2000, Collier was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and then traded to the Houston Rockets. He was signed as a free agent by  the Atlanta Hawks before the 2003-04 season. 

Collier, 28, died of sudden cardiac rhythm disturbance caused by an enlarged heart in 2005. After his death, Catholic Central renamed its gym the Jason Collier Gymnasium.

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