As our days move forward, we reflect on everything that's happened in the past twelve months. We think of everything that's changed, both in ourselves and in our world. We're thankful for all new and wonderful things in our lives. And we also mourn what has been lost.
Time waits for nobody. We can't stop the clock from ticking. And so, with every passing year, we lose some of the famous people we knew when we were growing up. The year 2018 and 2019 (so far) has been no different, and it's taken some of our most loved celebrities with it as it passes.
Nobody is ever truly gone so long as they can be remembered. So, join us as we take one final look at the famous people we've lost over the past year. These are the celebrities who've passed away in 2018 and 2019. They're gone from this world, but they're remembered in our hearts forever!
American audiences will know the British comedienne Emma Chambers best for her appearance opposite Hugh Grant in 'Notting Hill', where she played the sister of his leading character. That same quirky charm had already endeared Chambers to a whole generation of viewers in Britain, who knew her from her long running role in the popular sitcom 'The Vicar of Dibley'.
Chambers was a warm presence on the screen, always lovable and always smiling, but behind the scenes she suffered from a number of chronic health problems. She liked to keep her private life just that - private - so it was a shock to her army of fans when she passed away this year aged just 53. A combination of her many issues, which included severe asthma and allergic reactions to a variety of common elements, finally resulted in a heart attack. Her close friend and co-star Dawn French paid a beautiful tribute to her in the press.
If you don't recognize the name, you'll almost certainly know his most famous role. David Ogden Stiers became a star through playing Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the hit show M*A*S*H. You may have also heard his voice quite a few times without realizing it was him; his voice acting credits include the Disney movie "Lilo & Stitch", and "Beauty and the Beast". While the big roles paid the bills for him, he was always more at home on the stages of Broadway.
Stiers left it late in life to announce himself to the world, only coming out as gay in 2009. He'd been battling against bladder cancer for a while at the time of his death, but it wasn't the cancer itself which killed him. He sadly suffered a number of complications related to the cancer and its treatment and passed away because of them. He was 75.
The hugely influential preacher Billy Graham went home to meet his maker in 2018. At one time one of the most famous religious figures in the world other than the Pope, Graham can probably be credited with starting the trend of television evangelists. He remains the original and most successful, selling out stadiums all around the world like a touring rock star at the peak of his fame.
Graham had the ear of every US President from Truman through to Obama and was celebrated for his achievements. Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. The passionate freedom campaigner had battled a number of health problems over the course of the years, but still made it through through to the grand old age of 99. He's survived by his son Franklin, who's carried on his father's work.
While 2018 may not have been a great year for heavy metal fans down on Earth, it must have been a fantastic one in the afterlife, where Motorhead are finally reunited. The final remaining member of the original Motorhead lineup, Eddie Clarke, left us this year, following Lemmy Kilmister and Phil Taylor who have died in previous years.
Clarke was nicknamed "fast" because of his incredible agility when playing the guitar. Although he'll always be best known for his time in the band, that isn't to say he didn't have his own musical interests. He recorded and released solo albums away from Motorhead and also worked as a producer for many newer and younger artists. He'd been hospitalized with pneumonia towards the start of the year, and sadly it wasn't a battle he was able to win. Clarke was 67.
Author. Poet. Philosopher. Socialite. There seemed to be nothing that Tom Wolfe couldn't turn his hand to successfully, and his influence on the New York nightlife scene of the 1960s and 70s can't be overstated. He was truly something of a pioneer. In fact, Wolfe is heralded as the inventor of 'New Journalism'. He helped usher journalism away from the dry, somber reporting style of the past and wrote it as if it was fiction. He told the stories of the people he wrote about instead of merely presenting the facts. In a way, he invented the tabloid.
Wolfe's love of fiction eventually led him to walk away from a very successful journalism career to become a fiction writer full time. The move worked out, with successful titles like 'The Bonfire of the Vanities'. He wasn't born a New Yorker, but he moved there in 1962, and remained there until his death at the age of 88.
Harry Anderson had deliberately stayed away from the spotlight during the final years of his life, but that doesn't mean he'd faded from memory. His starring role as Judge Harry Stone in "Night Court" ensured he'd never be forgotten. His comic talent was obvious, but Anderson actually started life on a stage as a magician, only learning comedy to make his act easier to perform. Eventually the jokes won out and he changed careers.
Anderson appeared in both "Cheers" and "Saturday Night Live" in the 90s, alongside a starring role in "Dave's World". However, in 1997, for reasons he never publicly stated, he left the spotlight and went to live in North Carolina, where he stayed under the radar before passing away earlier this year. It's believed a stroke took him in the end. He was 65.
Milos Forman was a film director with a serious eye for talent and a reputation for quality. He was the main the chair for the Jack Nicholson classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and also for "Amadeus", winning Oscars for both. However, no movie he was ever involved in was more incredible than the real-life story of he and his family.
Forman grew up in Czechoslovakia and led a nomadic youth. He stayed with both of his uncles at some points, and also with friends of his parents, after both parents were taken by the Nazis and murdered in concentration camps during the Second World War. He finally fled his home country for the United States after the imposition of Communism in the 1960s and became a US Citizen in 1975. He was 86 when he passed away in April of this year.
Steven Bocho is another person you might not recognize by name, but you're definitely familiar with his work. In fact, he's been celebrated by the Emmy Awards more times than almost any other person in history. During his career as a producer and screenwriter he was nominated an incredible thirty times, winning on ten of those occasions. That should tell you a lot about the quality of his work.
It was crime fiction that seemed to interest Bocho in particular. He was the man behind both "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue". Anyone who worked with him knew his passion; he had a strong and singular vision for how the characters and shows he created ought to be played, and often fought against studios or other writers who wanted to change them. Bocho succumbed to a rare form of leukemia in April. He was 74.
Everything about this story is deeply sad. It isn't so many years ago that Mark Salling was on top of the world. He was a teen icon, appearing in the smash hit show 'Glee', and seemed to have the world at his feet. And then, just as suddenly, everything in his world turned dark.
Salling had been convicted on charges of possessing child pornography and was pending sentencing at the time of his death, having pleaded guilty at trial. His family have stated that Salling was struggling with a number of personal demons but had declined to seek treatment or get help to cope with them. Just weeks before he was due to go back before a judge and find out how long his sentence would be, Salling took his own life. He was found hanging from a tree in the Los Angeles River area. He was only 35 years old.
You may actually owe Nathaniel Reed your life, depending on where you live and what you tend to eat. Younger readers may not be aware or remember this, but a few decades ago, there was a large argument about a popular pesticide called DDT. Farmers and food manufacturers thought it was a great way to keep food safe from insects and pests, and therefore fresh for us to eat. Reed thought it was poisonous. Eventually, after much battling against the industry, it turned out Reed was right. DDT was banned.
A dedicated conservationist and environmentalist for all of his life, Reed co-wrote the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s, which was the first concentrated attempt to make sure we don't lose some varieties of animal forever. He never lost his love of the outdoors, and in fact died from complications relating to a head injury he received whilst out fishing. He was 84.
Unfortunately, 2018 doesn't seem to have been a great year for some of our most celebrated authors. Philip Roth is another casualty who was best known for his power with words. Roth wrote classics like "Portnoy's Complaint", which was a best seller. It was obvious he was going to be a huge success in his chosen career from his very early days; he won the highly regarded National Book Award for his very first published novel "Goodbye, Columbus", all the way back in 1959.
Somehow, the Nobel Prize for Literature evaded Roth for his entire career, and his books took on an increasingly biographical tone as his life went on. He wrote about his failed marriage in "I Married A Communist", and he delved further into the background of his childhood, and his thoughts on being brought up Jewish; something that often put him at odds with the traditional Jewish community. Roth was 85.
Well, there goes a piece of our childhood. Goodbye Charlotte Rae, and goodbye Mrs. Garrett, the much-loved character she played on both "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life". Rae had worked many years as an actress, and performed in countless roles, but none found their way into the hearts of the public like Mrs. Garrett did.
Rae had been known to have been battling bone cancer for some time at the time she passed, having been diagnosed off the back of a previous cancer scare. In fact, she'd been having treatment for far longer than anybody knew, having lost all of her hair because of chemotherapy, and replacing it with a wig without anybody noticing. Cancer ran strongly on both sides of Rae's family, and she'd long accepted it would probably come for her. Despite that, she managed to avoid it for a long time; she was 92 by the time she passed.
We call gorillas 'the great apes'. Koko may have been the greatest of them all. If you're not familiar with Koko, take the time to look her up on YouTube, and study how amazing she was. She was adopted by humans at a very early age and raised in a protected environment for study. In the decades that followed, she completely changed the way we think of the relationship between apes and humans.
Koko was taught sign language, and never stopped learning. By the time of her death, she could both understand - and respond to - over 1500 separate signs. She could also understand spoken words, even though she wasn't able to respond the same way. Through Koko, we now know that not only do gorillas have a sense of self, they also have preferences, dislikes, aspirations, and dreams. Koko bridged the gap between our species and hers and will be sadly missed. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, aged 46.
The food of 2019 may not taste as good as the food of 2018, and that's because the famous chef Anthony Bourdain won't be around to cook it for us. Bourdain's talents for engaging with people and communicating his passions were every bit as big as those he had for cooking, and Bourdain could count a number of successful books on his resume alongside his many television appearances. He was also a popular figure on the speaking circuit.
Despite a lifetime of success, which he relayed on to charities with a series of good deeds that went unknown until after he died, it seems depression treats everybody equally. Bourdain took his own life in a hotel room at the age of 61 this past June, leaving friends and fans stunned and heartbroken. His friends have compiled a biography of him, which will be released next year.
In another tale of private unhappiness, Kate Spade was found dead by her own hand in the same month as Bourdain. The vastly popular and successful fashion designer was just 55 and left behind both her husband and her 13-year-old daughter. Spade's shocking demise prompted a prolonged and serious public discussion about the need to better recognize and treat mental health conditions.
Spade's innovative and bubbly approach design won her legions of buyers and admirers, both public and celebrity, and her particular talent for designing handbags is what built her a million-dollar company. She was still active in the industry at the time of her death, having launched the fashion brand "Frances Valentine" after the big money sale of her original company, and surely had more captivating and creative works ahead of her, making her loss all the more tragic.
If you knew alternative music in the 1990s, you knew Dolores O'Riordan. With her band the Cranberries, she released the timeless classic 'Zombie', which its lyrics about religious warfare in Ireland and the waste of life that came with it. It was a global hit, followed up with others like 'Linger'. O'Riordan's distinctive, haunting voice is what gave the band their edge.
Sadly, O'Riordan battled against addiction and mental health problems her entire life, often discussing them openly and referencing them in her music. She was in the process of recording a new album at the time of her death, but it will be left unfinished after she drowned in the bath at the age of only 46. Coroners ruled that her death was accidental; the result of excess alcohol intoxication. She leaves behind four children and an army of broken-hearted fans.
Jarrod Lyle may never have won a major as a golf professional, but the fact that he stayed out on the course for as long as he did makes him truly amazing. So inspiring was his battle against cancer that he was recognized by the PGA with a Courage Award in 2015 for continuing to compete in tournaments despite his diagnosis, and the progression of the disease. Lyle simply wouldn't let the disease end his career early, even though he knew it was a fight he would eventually lose.
Lyle managed five top 10 finishes on PGA tours over the course of his career and played the sport relentlessly despite the fact his cancer continued to fade and reappear, and the impact that the treatment had on his body. He may finally have lost his long fight this year, but he showed all of us that a diagnosis isn't an excuse to lie down, nor is it a reason to stop doing the things you love.
Sadly, 2018 was the year when we lost the patriarch of the famous Jackson singing family. Although his methods may have been controversial, Joe Jackson is the man who brought us the Jackson 5 and, ultimately, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson. His impact on the world of music is therefore as large as anyone's was in the 20th century and will last forever.
Tales from within his own family paint Jackson as a man who was single minded about success, and he pushed his children very hard to reach the top. Some of them felt he pushed a little too hard, but the phenomenal success that came as a result of that pushing can't be denied. Paris Jackson, Michael's daughter, took to Instagram after her grandfather's death to post an emotional tribute. Jackson was 89 when he left us.
Just like Tarzan needs Jane, and Robin Hood needs Maid Marian, Superman needs Lois Lane. Christopher Reeve's portrayal of the Man of Steel may have been the most iconic of any to reach cinema screens, but it wouldn't have been quite the same if Margot Kidder wasn't there to play Lois Lane with real humanity and grace. She gave us a Lois that we could relate to, and it made her a star.
In truth, Kidder found fame hard to deal with. She struggled a lot with mental health issues after her she had her big break, and later became a passionate advocate for mental health charities and particularly bi-polar sufferers, having finally had her disorder correctly diagnosed. Her equally passionate advocacy for animal rights saw her spend great deals of time outdoors, which eventually led to health problems. She died at home in May, aged 69.
It's impossible to look at a picture of Verne Troyer and not think "Mini Me". His roles in the Austin Powers series of films made us all laugh and turned Troyer into a star. In truth, his career on screen had begun many years earlier, appearing as a stunt double for the baby on "Baby's Day Out", but starring opposite Mike Myers made him a household name.
The good times lasted for a while. Troyer appeared in music videos and was also a guest in the UK version of "Celebrity Big Brother". It wasn't all fun and games for Troyer, though. He struggled with a number of addiction problems in his post-fame years, having issues with alcohol in particular, and eventually they became too much for him. He was found dead in April of this year with an excessive amount of alcohol in his system. Coroners later ruled that his death was a suicide. Troyer was 49 years old.
The first wife of Frank Sinatra lived to a grand old age. She was a centurion by the time she passed away, having reached 101. She never surrendered her married name after her divorce from Frank, meaning that she shared both her first and second name with her daughter, who followed her father into the world of entertainment.
Sinatra and her future husband were more or less childhood sweethearts. She met him long before he was a household name, and even worked as a waitress to help support him as he tried to get his career off the ground. After their divorce, which was due to Frank's extramarital affairs, she was awarded a percentage of his income and estate. She then devoted her life to doing good with that money, staying out of the public eye but working with a lot of charitable causes.
In March of this year, the average IQ of our entire planet dropped by a couple of digits. We lost one of the cleverest and most inspirational men who ever lived. Professor Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist who published "The Theory of Everything" had left us, and we were all a little dumber for the loss.
The fact that Hawking survived as long as he did was incredible. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was just a student at Cambridge University, and the prognosis for his life expectancy wasn't good. Defying all the odds, he made it to the age of 76. He may have been restricted to a wheelchair, but his mind was sharp as a tack, and he was known for his wit, delivering withering put-downs in his distinctive 'voice' to comedian John Oliver during an interview in 2014.
There are some actors who you recognize over and over again without ever learning their name. They seem to be in everything you watch, but they never hog the spotlight. They're just there, doing their job quietly. Reg E. Cathey was one such actor. You might struggle with the name, but how about if we mentioned 'The Wire'? Or Freddy Hayes from 'House of Cards'? Do you recognize him now?
Cathey was a distinguished and celebrated actor within his own profession, but truly preferred the stage to the big screen. He'd recently played Red in a stage adaptation of 'The Shawshank Redemption' in London and worked with Oprah Winfrey in 'The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks'. As with many stars on this list, Cathey found himself in a fight with cancer that he couldn't win, and left us in February, aged 59.
This is another truly heartbreaking one. World famous DJ Avicii was only 28 when he took his own life. Many wondered how someone who was considered to be at the peak of his profession could choose to leave us so soon, but in reality Avicii's story is a cautionary one about the excesses of fame.
Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, had already been retired from performing for two years at the time he died. Having encountered fame at a young age, he found himself partying to excess when he was on tour, and the levels at which he drank had caused him chronic health problems. Bergling suffered with acute pancreatitis, and had his appendix and gallbladder removed due to health conditions associated with drinking. Unable to bear the pain any longer, he chose to leave us in April. We'll remember the hits, but his is a tragic tale about the dangers of too much, too soon.
Senator John McCain seemed to be one of the rarest of all types of politician - one who was equally respected by both sides of the political divide. It was easy to see why. He was a war hero and a passionate and intelligent man, who believed strongly in his causes and his party, but also displayed compassion and learning. He was every inch a leader, and nearly became one for his whole country.
In 2008, McCain stood against Barack Obama, but couldn't stand against the tidal wave of enthusiasm for his opponent, and America's desire to elect its first black President. Undeterred, McCain stayed in public service all the way up to his death, becoming quite the thorn in the side of the current administration when he chose to be. He battled bravely against brain cancer, but gracefully accepted defeat in August at the age of 81.
Broadway will be a different place now that Neil Simon is gone. It's already a different place just because he lived. Simon was one of the most prolific playwrights of modern times. He wrote classics like "The Odd Couple", and "Lost in Yonkers". Such is the popularity and quality of his work that, at one time, four different plays of his were running on Broadway at the same time. That's an achievement that's highly unlikely to be matched by any other drama writer within their own lifetime, ever.
In total, he wrote forty plays that made it all the way to professional production. Unsurprisingly, he won a lot of accolades for his craft. He was nominated for a Tony Award on sixteen separate occasions, winning three times, and also being awarded the Tonys equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Simon lived to the ripe old age of 91, eventually passing away this year from complications arisen from pneumonia.
One of the highest profile casualties of 2018 on the global stage was Aretha Franklin. She was the Queen of Soul, and everybody from Chicago to Calcutta knew her name. A popular choice for Presidential inaugurations, Franklin performed at ceremonies for Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Known for timeless classics like "R.E.S.P.E.C.T", and "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman", Franklin's incredibly powerful voice was her trademark, and it endured throughout the years. One of the most decorated performers in the history of music, her final prize tally includes eighteen Grammy Awards and three American Music Awards. A first ballot contender for any musical hall of fame, Franklin fell ill in August of this year, and eventually passed away at the age of 76. We'll still be singing her songs many years from now.
Super! Smashing! Great! Jim Bowen's awkward charm and bumbling nature endeared him to whole generations of British children and adults alike, as he presented the popular Saturday night darts-based quiz show 'Bullseye'. An old-school comedian who usually worked in smoky working men's clubs, Bowen's stumbling over the questions became as much a trademark of his as his catchphrases, and the public fell in love with him.
Bowen presented the show for a full fifteen years and then moved on to present his own radio show for a full twelve years beyond that. Genial, humble and in possession of a fine wit, Bowen was a dear part of many a Brit's childhood and will be sadly missed. Having survived a previous number of strokes, he finally passed away this year at the age of 80.
When an older person dies, it's sad, but we accept it because they've had a long and successful life and have done all there was to do. When we lose someone young, it's an intense tragedy of loss and unfulfilled potential. That's exactly what the friends and fans of Jackson Odell felt earlier this year.
Odell, best known for his role on popular sitcom "The Goldbergs", was as talented a musician as he was an actor. He wrote and performed several songs that feature on the soundtrack of the movie "Forever My Girl", which was released earlier this year. He would undoubtedly have gone on to great success, but sadly with his talent came drug problems, and he passed away in a treatment center whilst attempting to overcome a heroin addiction in June. He was only 20 years old.
If you wanted an epic film score making in the 21st century, Johann Johannsson was the first person you called. The Icelandic EDM pioneer, and Oscar nominated composer of 'Arrival', 'Sicario' and 'The Theory Of Everything', had a great talent and a real knack for finding the perfect soundtrack to support whatever emotion was being portrayed on screen.
Johannsson actually started off his musical life in an indie rock band before progressing into making dance music, releasing a couple of albums before moving onto full scale composition. He was a popular festival choice and toured around the world conducting performances of his film scores and other original compositions. It was feared that his untimely death at the age of 48 was a suicide, but a coroner's report confirmed that it was a tragic accident. Johannsson had taken cocaine, which had reacted badly with medication he was on, resulting in lethal consequences.
This one may have flown slightly underneath the radar, but in 2018 we lost one of Hollywood's most prolific and enduring performers. Connie Sawyer prided herself on being the oldest working actress in the business, and to the best of our knowledge, she was. Even though she died of old age this year at the impressive age of 105, Sawyer was still working all the way up to late 2017. She has more credits to her name than anyone could count, but some of the better-known movies include "Dumb and Dumber" and "When Harry Met Sally".
Sawyer was born in 1912 - the same year the Titanic sank - and first appeared on TV with Jackie Gleason in 1954. She was never truly the star of any show or film she was in and didn't mind one bit. In fact, she had quite a sense of humor about it; her autobiography is titled "I Never Wanted To Be A Star, And I Wasn't".
2018 was the final curtain call for one of Hollywood's all-time great hard men. Burt Reynolds saddled up and rode off into the sunset for the last time. Reynolds made his name as the leading man in "Smokey and the Bandit", "Deliverance" and "The Longest Yard", but it was the unconventional role of a pornography director in "Boogie Nights" that landed him his only Oscar nomination. He had to wait a long time for it; his career began in the 1960s, and "Boogie Nights" was released in 1997.
Reynolds, in his prime, was considered to be a handsome and reliable leading man, with many film producers casting him on his looks alone. His appeal to women translated to real life as well; he married three times but considered Sally Fields his one true love. Reynolds was 82 at the time of his death.
Here's one we're still trying to come to terms with. Mac Miller, who had openly struggled with addiction problems for his entire time in the spotlight, finally succumbed to an overdose in September this year. Miller was 26 years old. The unique and vibrant rapper was best known for tracks like "Self Care" and "Kool Aid And Frozen Pizza".
Miller always seemed to be on the cusp of overcoming his demons before being sucked back in to them, having bouts of sobriety in between encounters with the law. The tragedy of his death came hot off the heels of his abrupt breakup from Ariana Grande, and saw Grande take a beating online from trolls who blamed her for Miller's death. In the aftermath, Grande broke off her own engagement to Pete Davidson and stepped away from social media. The shockwave of Miller's death touched many lives and is a deeply sorrowful tragedy.
His name sounds like it should be a character from a Disney Pixar movie. In many ways, he actually was. Bud Luckey was an animator who worked in the Pixar studios, and was personally responsible for bringing several of our all-time favorites to life. As an example, he was the designer behind Woody from "Toy Story". Imagine how different that film would be in your imagination if Woody hadn't looked exactly how he does?
Luckey and his drawings have worked in the entertainment business for years. You can count the original Alvin from "The Chipmunks" as one of Luckey's works. As well as drawing, he'd lend his vocal talents to Pixar creations; Luckey was the voice of Rick Dickler in "The Incredibles", and Eeyore in the 2011 version of "Winnie the Pooh". He may have been the look and sound of your childhood without you even knowing he was there! We lost Luckey in February this year, at 83 years old.
This is another one that's going to make British people of a certain age feel very old. Geoffrey from "Rainbow" is dead. For those uninitiated, "Rainbow" is a classic British children's show that ran from 1974 to 1992, entertaining and educating two successive generations of Brits, who went from watching it with their parents to becoming parents and watching it with their own children. Geoffrey's daily life, living with puppets Zippy and George along with the lovable bear Bungle, captured the hearts of millions.
Hayes always had mixed feelings about the show after leaving it. He was happy that he'd been able to entertain so many children - and, of course, for the steady television work for so many years - but he was completely typecast and found that getting acting work after leaving the show was impossible. He eventually gave up and retired, passing away this year at the age of 76.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was a man who broke down barriers, and lots of them. The first black African in history to become the world's most senior diplomat, Annan held the role with relish and served two full terms in the position, from 1997 to 2006. Even after stepping down, he devoted his life to finding peaceful solutions to volatile situations, serving as a special envoy for the UN in Syria.
Annan's dedication to the cause he so believed in saw him rewarded on the grandest stage of them all. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. It was a fitting reward for his lifetime's service. Even though he's now left us at the age of 80, his work will continue in the form of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which he founded in 2007, and campaigns for peace and civil leadership across the globe.
For the remainder of Paul Chuckle's days on this planet, his trademark cry of "To me!" will go sadly unanswered by his comedy partner and real-life brother, Barry Chuckle. The comedians and children's entertainers have been a staple of television in the UK for the past thirty years, with their timeless comedy style based on slapstick and simple catchphrases that can be copied in playgrounds.
Barry was the oldest of the two "Chuckle Brothers", and was often the fall guy of the two, although they were both so funny it was difficult to tell. Such was the loss felt when he died in August of this year, his name was sung by the crowds at a Rotherham United Football Club match; the club based in the brothers' home town. Their years in comedy, and their constant support for the club and its associated charities, saw both brothers named as honorary lifetime presidents.
You've probably heard of Stan Lee. You may not have heard of Steve Ditko, even though the two worked side by side for many years. During the time that Ditko and Lee worked together, some very important, culturally significant comic strip creations were born. Specifically, Ditko is credited as the co-creator of 'Spider-Man' and 'Doctor Strange'. We're watching movies in 2018 based on things Ditko drew nearly sixty years ago.
Part of the reason that Ditko may be an unfamiliar name is that he shunned the spotlight. Firstly, he and Lee fell out in the late 60s and went their separate ways, so Lee never speaks about him. Secondly, Ditko was such a recluse that when the BBC made TV movie called "In Search of Steve Ditko" in 2007, he refused to appear in it! Such was his legacy that both DC Comics and Marvel paid tribute to him after his death at the age of 90.
The sight of a grown man with a jockstrap on his head is worrying enough at the best of times. If you were a fan of pro wrestling during WWF's famous "Attitude Era" of the mid 1990s, it was downright terrifying, because it was a jockstrap attached to the head of a 400lb behemoth called Vader.
Vader, real name Leon White, is considered to be legitimately one of the toughest professional wrestlers who ever lived. He was a phenomenally strong man from his college football years onwards. During a match in Japan in the 1980s, his eye was once knocked clean out of its socket by a wayward punch from his opponent. Undeterred, White used his thumb to pop it back into the broken eye socket and carried on with the match. Always a mountain of a man, White struggled with weight issues in his later years, and passed away from heart failure at 63.
An era ended in May of this year. Jerry Maren, the last surviving munchkin from 1939's "The Wizard of Oz", passed away at the age of 98. Maren's most prominent screen time in the movie comes when he hands Dorothy an over-sized lollipop. The producers had noticed that Maren had a particular singing and dancing talent backstage on the set of the film and wanted to reward him for this somehow.
The set of the movie was notoriously hellish for the entire production and performance crew, and conditions on set are the stuff of legend. The munchkins developed a reputation for being gamblers, drunkards and general degenerates, with tales abounding of them wrecking hotel rooms and having to be caught by the police with a net. There is, of course, no direct suggestion that Maren was involved in anything like that. We bet he had some great stories, which he took to the grave!
Only the second woman in history (can you name the first?) to have been wife to one US President and mother to another, Barbara Bush passed away at the age of 92 in April of this year. She had been battling a number of health problems in recent years, including heart disease. She finally decided that enough was enough, and that she'd like to die peacefully in her own home, which she did.
Bush spent her time as first lady campaigning strongly for boosting literacy rates among America's young, with the belief that education was the biggest barrier many young Americans faced to better career prospects. Aside from that, unlike the accusations leveled at some of her predecessors and successors, she largely stayed out of politics, once being quoted as saying of her husband, "I don't fool around with his office, and he doesn't fool around with my household".
Massively influential rapper Craig Mack died of congestive heart failure in March of this year. He was only 47 years old. How well you know his name may depend a little on how into hip hop you are, but you'll definitely have heard of a couple of his proteges - Busta Rhymes and Notorious B.I.G. Both legendary rappers' big breaks came as featured artists on Craig Mack's track 'Flava In Your Ear'.
Mack had a natural talent for the genre, having been discovered by Sean "Puff Daddy" Coombs MCing in a nightclub in 1990. Coombs knew talent when he came across it, and signed Mack to a deal two weeks later. Mack released two albums on Coombs's Bad Boy Records, the first garnering more success than the second, and then seemed to vanish from the industry overnight. It later transpired that he'd turned to religion, and a video surfaced of him worshiping in a Pentecostal church in 2012.
Death just isn't supposed to happen to athletic young men in the prime of their lives. That's why all of Italy stood still in shock when Fiorentina captain, and Italian international defender, Davide Astori died suddenly at the age of 31 in March of this year. It later transpired that the player suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition, and that he'd suffered a heart attack.
To say the world of Italian football was shocked would be an understatement. Every league game scheduled for that weekend was canceled, and both Fiorentina and Astori's former club Cagliari permanently retired his preferred number 13 jersey in his honor. Fiorentina's training ground is now named "Centro Sportivo Davide Astori" in the name of their fallen captain. Astori, who represented his country fourteen times at the highest level, left behind a two-year-old daughter.
Another sad loss to the world of comedy. John Mahoney, who was best known in America but actually born in Blackpool, England, passed away in a hospice in Chicago aged 77 in January of this year. Mahoney will be instantly recognizable to any fan of the hit show "Frasier", where he played Frasier's father Martin Crane for the show's entire eleven-year run.
"Frasier" became the role that Mahoney was most recognized for, but it was far from the only major success of his working life. When he wasn't in front of the camera he found regular work as a voiceover artist, and also liked to tread the boards of Broadway, where he won a Tony in 1986 for his role in "The House of Blue Leaves". Mahoney only gained US citizenship by serving in the US Army, which is an unusual route to take!
Best-known for starring in the classic film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' alongside Jack Nicholson, Louisa Moritz was a talented and much-loved Cuban-American actress. She was born in Havana as Luisa Cira Castro Netto in 1946 and changed her name when she left Cuba and moved to New York City. As a distant relative of Fidel Castro, she wanted to remove any association, so she named herself after the Hotel St. Moritz in New York City.
In 2014, long after her acting career had ended, Moritz found herself in some unpleasant limelight as one of the first women to speak out against Bill Cosby - she accused him of sexually assaulting her back in 1971. Sadly, Moritz passed away on January 4, 2019. She was injured in a fall and died of natural causes in a Los Angeles hospice.
There's nothing sadder than a young talent being lost too soon. Unfortunately for all of us, Puerto Rican singer, Kevin Fret, was murdered at the age of just 24. In addition to being a top Latin music artist, Fret was openly gay, gender nonconforming, and an advocate for up and coming LGBT stars. He also used his extensive social media platform to speak out against bullying.
Sadly, Fret was no stranger to homophobic violence and was charged in 2018 after fighting with a man he claims attacked him because of his sexuality. On January 10, 2019, Fret was shot at eight times while riding his motorbike in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was transported to a medical center, where he was pronounced dead. His death has been labeled a homicide, but many activist groups claim it was also a hate crime.
Veteran actor Scott Wilson, who found his profile suddenly and unexpectedly boosted late in his career by his role on "The Walking Dead" passed away this past October. Wilson had worked on the big screen for many years, having kick started his career in the Oscar winning "In the Heat Of The Night" in 1967. Wilson was a big proponent of actors' rights, serving on the committee of the Screen Actor's Guild for almost his entire career.
He worked solidly throughout the eighties and nineties and has credits on "Pearl Harbor" and "Judge Dredd" among many others, but it was as farmer Hershel Greene that he finally caught on to the mainstream. The character was a "Walking Dead" mainstay for three seasons between 2011 and 2014. Fans of the show can look forward to seeing him one more time; before his death from cancer at the age of 76, he'd filmed scenes for the upcoming ninth season.
In a throwback to an era that we all hoped rap music had moved away from, singer, rapper and songwriter XXXTentacion died in a shooting in South Florida in June. He was only 20 years old. He may have only been at the start of his career, but he was already a big deal both on the stage and in the newspapers. His album "?", released in March, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Away from the stage, he was facing mounting legal problems, not least battery of his pregnant girlfriend.
XXXTentacion seemed to know that the end of his life was a possibility. In a video he posted on Instagram very shortly before he was gunned down, he spoke of how he'd like to be remembered if he died a tragic death, and what influence he'd like to have on young people who were touched by his music. Specifically, he spoke of wanting them to "take his message and turn it into something positive".
If you've never seen the History Channel's reality TV series 'Pawn Stars' you're truly missing out. Not only was it a truly unique television concept, but Richard Benjamin Harrison truly shone as owner of the pawn shop with his son, Richard Harrison. They opened the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in 1989 and it ended up making both of them famous, too.
Harrison's is a true rags to riches fairytale. On their last $5,000, he and his wife took a chance and moved to Las Vegas with their three sons. It was here that he opened his first pawn shop and ended up becoming a reality TV star. By the time he was famous, his store went from 70 visitors per day to 3,000 to 5,000 per day. Harrison suffered from Parkinson's disease and eventually lost the battle at age 77 on June 25, 2018.
If there was one death that rocked 2018, it was that of much-loved comic creator, Stan Lee. It was Lee who gave us so much of the Marvel Comics we know and love, and who took Marvel Comics from a family-run business to a global corporation. Lee is famous for co-creating some of the best-known characters in the world, including Spider-Man, The Hulk, Black Panther, Thor, and X-Men, among others.
Though Lee retired from Marvel in the '90s, he remained a familiar face and figurehead for the business. He still never stopped creating until his death at the end of 2018. Nobody could say that Lee didn't live a full life - he died on November 12, 2018 at the age of 95. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest, but Lee had also been suffering from aspiration pneumonia.