Female Icons We've Lost So Far In 2018

Each and every year we have to say goodbye to so many celebrities and public figures — 2018 is, naturally, no exception. While many may still be reeling from the losses of 2017, which included the likes of Bill Paxton, Don Rickles, and Mary Tyler Moore — just to name a few — the clock continues to tick and the list of famous deaths continues to grow. So far in 2018, we've had to part with a particularly striking number of influential and iconic women. 


Dr. Deborah Carr explained the benefits — that's right, benefits — of mourning celebrity deaths in an article for Psychology Today. "Collective mourning reminds us that we're part of a particular generation," she wrote, "and helps us to celebrate the cultural touchstones that define us." Celebrity deaths, while always tragic and often unexpected, have a silver lining of sorts in that they help all of us become part of something more powerful, something bigger, than ourselves.

So, together, let's revisit some of the incredible women we've lost so far in 2018.

Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling, Mt. Fiji

Just two days into the new year, we lost a true legend. Many may have only known her by her wrestling persona, Mt. Fiji but her given name was Emily Dole. Having never lost one match, Dole was an iconic star in Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.) during the late '80s and early '90s. If you're a fan of the Netflix show of the same acronym, you'll likely spot similarities between Mt. Fiji and Machu Picchu. This is because Dole's character was the inspiration. 


Dole's friend and fellow wrestling star, Patricia Summerland ("Sunny the California Girl") informed fans of Dole's death on social media, writing, "Rip Emily Dole! WE LOST OUR GLOW SISTER THIS MORNING. We are very sad that she passed away." Summerland also added, "She was the CHAMP IN THE RING. Fly high Mountain Fiji."

Dole passed away at 60 years of age, after a long struggle with serious health problems.

The Cranberries front woman Dolores O'Riordan

On January 15, the death of 46-year-old lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O'Riordan, was confirmed by her publicist to BBC News. In the 1990s, the band catapulted to fame thanks to O'Riordan's powerful vocals. After creating international hits like "Linger" and "Zombie," the front woman went solo in 2003 before getting back together with her bandmates in 2009. As her publicist confirmed, O'Riordan was in London for "a short recording session" with the rest of the iconic alternative rock band when she suddenly passed away. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to BBC News that it was at her hotel where she was pronounced dead.


After O'Riordan's shocking death, the band put their music on hold. After a few months, The Cranberries announced their decision to work on a special 25th anniversary edition. They also confirmed what O'Riordan's publicist eluded to — they were recording a studio album when their front woman unexpectedly died.

"After much consideration we have decided to finish what we started," the band wrote. With her vocals already recorded, the band plans to release a posthumous album by early 2019, after the release of their anniversary album in late 2018.

Producer Allison Shearmur

You may not know her name but you have certainly recognized Allison Shearmur's body of work. As both a studio executive and producer, Shearmur is credited for massive hits like the Bourne films as well as the Hunger Games series. She is also the name behind the much anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story. Sadly, Shearmur will not see her film reach theaters as she passed away from lung cancer on July 19 at just 54 years old.


According to her husband, Edward Shearmur, she had received the diagnosis back in 2016, but chose to only reveal the news to their family and closest friends and associates. All the while, she kept working. 

"She didn't want to be defined by her disease," the late producer's husband told The New York Times, "She felt that if people knew of this very difficult detail, it would overshadow everything else." She is missed by family and fans alike.

Rosie the Riveter Naomi Parker Fraley

For more than 70 years, the true identity of Rosie the Riveter, the 1940s model and feminist icon, remained a mystery, according to The New York Times. Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Naomi Parker Fraley, along with her younger sister, got jobs in a machine shop at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. The two young women patched airplane wings, used drills, and riveted — no joke — pieces of metal. One day, a photographer took the older sister's picture — the one would later become famous.


However, it wasn't until 2009 that Fraley herself knew about the photo — or, at least, what the photo had become. At a reunion, the two sisters saw the photographer displayed at the Rosie the Riveter and World War II Home Front National Historical Park. "I couldn't believe it because it was me in the photo," Fraley recalled to People, "but there was somebody else's name in the caption: Geraldine."

Finally, in the summer of 2016, the record was set straight and the real Rosie the Riveter got the recognition she deserved. Nearly a year and a half later on January 20, Fraley passed away at 96.

Oldest working actress Connie Sawyer

Just one day after the feminist icon Naomi Parker Fraley passed away, we lost another inspiring woman. Connie Sawyer was the oldest working Hollywood actress up until her death at 105 years old, her daughter confirmed to CNN. According to her daughter, she suffered a heart attack on the morning of January 21 before passing away later that afternoon. 


Over the years, Sawyer played bit roles for a variety of movies and television shows — ranging from Will & Grace to, most recently, Ray Donovan

At just 8 years old, Sawyer knew acting was her passion and, by the time she was a teenager, she'd already landed a professional radio job. Although she never became a household name like Ava Gardner or Lucille Ball, she was happy all the same.

"On the whole, it's been a good [career]," she told The Spectrum. "Frankie [Frank Sinatra] told me 'Never give up and you'll always find a good part somewhere, sometime.' And I did," she added. Living until 105 just proves she followed his sage advice.

Country star and actress Lari White

At 52 years old, after battling peritoneal cancer in hospice care, multi-talented Lari White passed away. White was known for her hit country songs, including "That's My Baby" and "Now I Know." White was also a music producer and actress. If you aren't familiar with her Grammy-winning music, you may remember her from her role in Cast Away with Tom Hanks. 


Although she excelled in acting, it seems music was her calling. As a preschooler, White started singing and performing gospel music alongside her parents. She also learned to play piano and entered talent contests and performances as a teen. In 1988, she won a Nashville network television talent competition You Can Be a Star. 

In 2014, White proved she had yet another talent when she produced The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul, a collection of audio short stories by a range of authors, including herself. 

White became sick in September of 2017 before succumbing to her illness on January 23, 2018. She left behind her husband, Chuck Cannon, along with the couple's three children.

Emma Chambers of Notting Hill fame

Emma Chambers, the actress who is perhaps best known for her role in the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film Notting Hill died at age 53. Chambers also starred in the long running BBC show, The Vicar of Dibley.


"We are very sad to announce the untimely death, from natural causes, of the acclaimed actress, Emma Chambers," the star's agent, John Grant, wrote in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. He went on to add, "She brought laughter and joy to many, and will be greatly missed."

The actress' Notting Hill costar Hugh Grant tweeted after hearing the news of her death, "Emma Chambers was a hilarious and very warm person and of course a brilliant actress. Very sad news." Another costar of Chambers', Dawn French of Vicar of Dibley, tweeted about her as well, dubbing the actress a "unique & beautiful spark." It is apparent that Chambers is sorely missed.

Classic Hollywood actress Nanette Fabray

The stunning and incredibly talented actress Nanette Fabray died at the age of 97 in her California home, her son, James MacDougall, told The New York Times. Fabray, whose acting career began in the '40s, was both a Tony and Emmy Award-winning performer. 


Fabray put her heart and soul into her work and starred in just about every medium — from Broadway musicals to television to film. Although live television is arguably one of the most intimidating arts, Fabray cited it as her favorite. In the mid-1950s she told a reporter why, saying, "It involves a form of insanity that reminds me of make-believe games that you played as a child."

Fabray is also quoted as having once said, "I fell in love with the audience, and I fell in love with performing." Perhaps that's why she was so successful. Fabray is survived by her son, as well as his two children.

Bollywood actress Sridevi Kapoor

Sridevi Kapoor, one of India's most popular and well-known actresses, unexpectedly passed away on February 24 at the age of 54. Her death hit the country hard — even India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to express his condolences. "Saddened by the untimely demise of noted actor Sridevi," he wrote, "She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances." Fans, too, expressed their grief, starting the hashtag "#SrideviLivesForever" on Twitter.


Kapoor, whose vast list of films spans decades, was credited as "one of India's first female superstars," Bollywood critic Rajeev Masand told CNN.

Two days after her passing, Dubai Police (via CNN) confirmed her cause of death: drowning in a bathtub after losing consciousness. While the loss of Kapoor was completely unexpected and undoubtedly tragic, the actress continues to live on through her diverse and remarkable body of work.

Chicago Fire's DuShon Monique Brown

DuShon Monique Brown of NBC's hit drama Chicago Fire died at 49 years old, the Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed to Chicago Tribune. The office did not list a cause of death but Brown's manager, Robert Schroeder, told USA Today that the actress died suddenly and from "natural causes."


Although Brown is widely known for her role as "Connie" on the hit television show, Brown was also a stage actor for many years and has appeared in other television shows including Prison Break, Shameless, and Empire. In addition to developing a strong and stable acting career, Brown also held a master's degree in counseling and worked as a high school crisis counselor in Chicago, no doubt helping many teenagers and families alike.

Brown was a kind soul and beloved by her coworkers. Dick Wolf, executive producer or Chicago Fire said the show's "family" was devastated by the news of her passing. He added, "Our thoughts and prayers are with DuShon's family and we will all miss her."

South African activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was keeping busy fighting for his release. Additionally, she fought for the rights of all black South African people, which led to being arrested herself. Her family told NBC News that she spent the majority of her adult life fighting for that cause. "For this [she] was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation," the family said in a statement.


Madikizela-Mandela and her husband eventually divorced, due in part to their differences in approaches to the racial divide in South Africa. "I was married to the ANC [African National Congress]," she is quoted as having routinely stated, "It was the best marriage I ever had."

Although she thought her ex-husband had gone soft after his release from prison, she had the support and backing of many South Africans. After her death on April 2 at age 81, the ANC tweeted their condolences, calling her in part a freedom fighter, stalwart, and revolutionary.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush

At 92 years of age, former President George H. W. Bush said goodbye to the love of his life, wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush. Although it was not widely known, Bush had been suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as well as congestive heart failure, according to CNN. Shortly before her death, the former first lady decided to forgo medical treatment and turn to home care instead, her husband's office confirmed.


Although Bush may have been best known for her supporting role in White House, she was also a dedicated mother and loving wife. In fact, she and the former president were married the longest of all first couples in United States history — what a feat! The former first lady is survived by her longtime husband, five children as well as their partners, 17 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. The beloved icon will certainly not be forgotten.

Twin Peaks' actress Pamela Gidley

Pamela Gidley, an actress best known for her role in Twin Peaks, died peacefully at home on April 16, her obituary stated.

As a three year old, Gidley was already actively involved in the arts, specifically dance. At four, she won "New England's Little Miss Lovely" competition. Then, while many children were just entering kindergarten, Gidley was busy winning modeling competitions. By the time she reached her junior year of high school, she had already graced the cover of Seventeen magazine. She showed no signs of slowing down as she entered into adulthood.


As Gidley continued her career in modeling, she also began to take up acting. She relocated to New York City before eventually putting down roots in Los Angeles, California. She starred in a range of movies and television shows, including Cherry 2000MacGyver, and CSI before landing the iconic role of Teresa Banks in 2014's Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces.

Although many are mourning the loss of this phenomenal actress, the family decided to forgo public services and, instead, made private arrangements.

Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder, the iconic actress who played Lois Lane in 1978's Superman died in her Montana home on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13. She was 69 years old and is survived by her daughter Maggie McGuane. TMZ confirmed the tragic news with a spokesperson at Franzen-David Funeral Home in Montana.


The cause of her death is not yet known, but 911 was called to report Kidder as being unconscious and not breathing. According to a Park County attorney, Kidder was already deceased when police arrived to the scene. As of May 14, her death is under investigation by local police, although foul play is not expected.

For years, Kidder suffered from bipolar disorder and, in 1996, became homeless after a particularly rough bout with her illness. In 2001, she became a mental health advocate. All the while, Kidder continued to act. After starring in Superman and its subsequent three sequels with Christopher Reeve, Kidder took minor parts in television and other movies. She even starred on stage in the Broadway play The Vagina Monologues. Kidder may have been Superman's sidekick on the big screen, but she was very much a real life super hero. She will be missed.


Iconic designer Kate Spade

Kate Spade, whose very name became synonymous with cheery luxury handbags beginning in the 1990s, was found dead on Tuesday, June 5. According to police, Spade's death has been ruled a suicide. The iconic designer's husband, Andy Spade, released a statement (via Reuters) saying his wife had been suffering from depression and anxiety for years, but noted that he had "no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock." That shock was also felt by fans and colleagues alike.


"Kate Spade had an enviable gift for understanding exactly what women the world over wanted to carry," Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and the artistic director of Condé Nast, said of the designer in a statement shared with The New York Times. Spade is survived by her husband with whom she was recently separated and her beloved 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix.

Lady of London, Annabelle Neilson

Annabelle Neilson of the popular Bravo reality television show Ladies of London died on July 16. The details surrounding the celebrity's death are not available, according to People.

Annabelle Neilson was born in 1969 to Max Neilson, a property adviser with a distant relation to the Queen Mother, and his wife, Elizabeth, an interior designer. As a young socialite, the young Neilson spent time at Warwick Castle reading Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit books. Neilson herself went on to pen children's books, designing a series called The Me Me Me's in an effort to help children manage their emotions.


Most notably, Neilson worked as a model and was considered the muse of her late friend, Alexander McQueen. Neilson lived a life full of adventure, including flying helicopters, swimming with sharks, and riding motorcycles. Her obituary in The Times asserts that "drama, drugs, death and loss" were also a near-constant part of the socialite's life. Neilson was 49 at the time of her death.