Jazz ambassador and father of the actress, Bob Ringwald, dies

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Robert Ringwald, the pianist who played and promoted jazz in California for more than half a century, has died at the age of 80, according to his daughter, actress and musician Molly Ringwald.

His daughter wrote in an obituary for the Sacramento Bee that Ringwald, known to friends and fans as Bob, died on August 3. No cause of death was given.

Born in Roseville, California, with vision problems, Ringwald went blind from an early age. He started taking piano lessons at the age of five and started his first band at age 13.

“Four years later, at the age of 17, he was able to grow enough beard that he could pass for an adult to perform in nightclubs as a professional musician, a profession he held during the next six decades, “his daughter wrote.

First drawn to modern jazz, Louis Armstrong’s music instilled in Ringwald a lifelong passion for the interpretation and preservation of traditional New Orleans jazz.

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Robert Ringwald plays the piano while his six-year-old daughter Molly sings in front of the California State Capitol in the 1970s (The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

Robert Ringwald plays the piano while his six-year-old daughter Molly sings in front of the California State Capitol in the 1970s (The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

In the 1970s, Ringwald played the piano in clubs seven nights a week.

He co-hosted the first Sacramento Jazz Festival in 1974, and his group was the headliner for the event, which has become an annual tradition in the city.

In 2012, Ringwald was honored by the festival as “The Emperor of Jazz”.

In addition to music, Ringwald’s passions included amateur radio and the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he was once a guest announcer, reading braille programming.

“Anyone who knew Bob also knew about his mischievous side and his ever-present, slightly saucy sense of humor,” Molly Ringwald wrote.

“If you hadn’t begged enough to get off his list of email jokes, you would have received one just days before his death.”

Besides his daughter Molly, Robert Ringwald is survived by Adele, his wife of 60 years; one sister, Renée Angus; another daughter, Beth Ringwald Carnes; one son, Kelly Ringwald; two grandsons; two granddaughters; two step-granddaughters; a great-grandson; and a step-great-grandson.

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