Stars You Might Not Know Have Died

The following article mentions suicide, addiction, and mental health struggles.

What stars have died that you didn't know about? When famous figures such as talk show veteran Regis Philbin or superstar vocalist Whitney Houston passed, their deaths were met with massive tributes and worldwide headlines. Sometimes, however, the passing of a celebrity can fly under the radar of fans — who may not even realize the stars they've enjoyed watching for years are no longer living.


While the work these celebs have done in film and television lives on, those who admired the deceased are often saddened when they realize that these celebrities have died. It's doubly upsetting when these beloved celebrities aren't afforded the kind of fanfare that they deserved, with news of their deaths quietly receding into the endlessly churning news cycle. Yet regardless of what led to the deaths of these folks, be it illness, addiction, or an unanticipated accident, the one thing that cannot be denied is that they will be missed.

From beloved cast members of hit television series to lesser-known character actors with familiar faces, read on to learn about stars you might not know have died.


Natasha Richardson

As an actor, Natasha Richardson was known for her roles in such films as "The Parent Trap" and "Nell." Richardson was also famous for her family connections, as the daughter of Oscar-winner Vanessa Redgrave and sister of actor Joely Richardson. She also had a famous spouse, actor Liam Neeson.


Richardson was vacationing at Canada's Mont Tremblant ski resort in 2009, when she fell while taking a skiing lesson. As ABC News reported, she was dismissive of the fall and was ready to carry on. A member of the ski patrol, however, suggested she see a doctor. Richardson didn't think it was that serious, so she ultimately returned to her hotel room. Shortly thereafter, she was rushed to a nearby hospital via ambulance. Sadly, after being airlifted to a hospital in New York City, she passed away at age 45. The cause of death was determined to be "an epidural hematoma due to a blunt impact to the head."

Neeson later paid tribute to his late wife in a since-deleted Facebook post. "Spend time with your spouses. Treat them well," he wrote (via VIP). "Because, one day, when you look up from your phone, they won't be there anymore."


Richard Griffiths

British character actor Richard Griffiths was known for roles on both the big and small screens, such as the lecherous Uncle Monty in the British cult comedy "Withnail & I," and the pie-baking police inspector Henry Crabbe in the U.K. series "Pie in the Sky." Griffiths' most impactful role, however, was certainly Vernon Dursley, the ill-tempered uncle of the titular wizard in the "Harry Potter" film franchise. 


In 2013, Griffiths passed away at 65; his agent, Simon Beresford, told the Associated Press that his death was due to "complications following heart surgery."

His "Harry Potter" co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who also appeared alongside Griffiths in a 2008 Broadway production of "Equus," paid tribute. "Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career," said Radcliffe in a statement obtained by CBS News. "Before official production had even begun on 'Potter,' we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys', which was my first ever shot as Harry. I was nervous and he made me feel at ease." When they reunited for "Equus" seven years later, it marked Radcliffe's first time acting onstage, and Griffiths' presence once again calmed him.


Lisa Robin Kelly

Viewers of "That '70s Show" will certainly recall actor Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Laurie Forman, the sarcastic older sister of Topher Grace's character, Eric Forman. However, those same viewers were no doubt confused when Kelly's character was written out of the show in 2001. Although Kelly returned for a few episodes subsequently, the role was then recast with a different actor, Christina Moore, for the series' remaining seasons. 


Kelly returned to the spotlight in 2010, albeit not the way she would have preferred, due to a DUI arrest. In a 2012 interview with ABC News, she explained that she parted ways with "That '70s Show" after she'd begun misusing alcohol, which she said stemmed from becoming despondent in the wake of suffering a miscarriage.

The following year, Kelly entered a drug rehabilitation center. It was there, reported The New York Times, that she died in her sleep. She was just 43. Kelly's death was determined to be an accidental overdose.

Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis is familiar to fans for his onscreen roles alongside Bill Murray, first in the military comedy "Stripes," and then as the bookish Egon Spengler in "Ghostbusters." However, his biggest successes took place behind the camera. After co-writing the script of mega-successful college comedy "Animal House," Ramis branched out as a director, helming a series of comedy blockbusters including "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Groundhog Day," and "Analyze This." 


When Ramis passed away in 2014, his obituary in the Chicago Tribune revealed he'd been suffering for years from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare condition that causes inflammation of blood vessels. Complications from the disease were severe, ultimately resulting in his death at age 69.

In her memoir, "Ghostbuster's Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis," Lily Ramis Stiel recounted how her father's failing health led to the end of a decades-long feud that developed between her father and Murray. "In classic Bill fashion, he showed up at the house, unannounced, at seven a.m., with a police escort and a dozen doughnuts," she wrote. While Ramis "wasn't able to talk much by that point," the pair "spent a couple hours together, laughed a little, and made their peace."


James Avery

Fans of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" loved to watch Will Smith hilariously face off with his character's wealthy uncle, Philip "Uncle Phil" Banks, played to imperious perfection by James Avery. While the '90s-era sitcom remains Avery's most iconic role, he amassed a lengthy roster of screen credits that spanned four decades. That included both TV guest spots in shows ranging from "L.A. Law" to "Grey's Anatomy," and an impressive body of work as a voice actor in animated projects.


Avery died on December 31, 2013, due to complications from open-heart surgery. Avery's "Fresh Prince" co-star Joseph Marcell — a.k.a. Banks family butler Geoffrey — described Avery to CNN as "a marvelous man and a truly wonderful actor... He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle." Smith likewise paid tribute. "Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery," he wrote on Facebook.

In a lecture for the New York Film Academy, Avery explained how he approached his vocation. "You could either be a movie star or an actor. I'm an actor," Avery said. "But I've done pretty good."

Marcia Wallace

Back in the 1970s, Marcia Wallace got big laughs as the wisecracking, crimson-haired receptionist Carol Kester on beloved TV sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show." Among her many subsequent screen credits, Wallace also gained fame for lending her distinctive voice to Edna Krabappel, Bart Simpson's cynical schoolteacher on "The Simpsons." 


In 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported that Wallace passed away at age 70. Her son, Michael Hawley, told the Times that her health had been poor during the months leading to her death, which came about due to complications related to pneumonia. Wallace had previously undergone surgery for breast cancer, but Hawley said she'd been declared cancer-free; the death certificate, however, was obtained by TMZ, and reportedly indicated the primary cause of death as "pneumonia, sepsis (inflammation due to infection), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)," with cancer listed as a "significant condition."

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean said she was "beloved by all at 'The Simpsons' and we intend to retire her irreplaceable character." True to Jean's word, Edna Krabappel was written out of the show, with the show offering the character a touching tribute.


Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan was a larger-than-life figure onscreen, and his breakout role remained his best-known: inmate John Coffey, whose supernatural abilities are at the center of Stephen King's "The Green Mile." Other film roles included "Planet of the Apes," "The Scorpion King," and "Daredevil," while his TV work included being cast as a series regular in short-lived Fox series "The Finder." 


Duncan was just 54 years old when he died in September of 2012. According to the actor's obituary in The New York Times, he died from complications stemming from a heart attack he had suffered less than two months earlier. 

At the time of his death, Duncan was engaged to Omarosa Manigault Newman, who opened up about the night of his heart attack in an interview with OWN's "Where Are They Now?" She recalled hearing him "laboring, trying to breathe and then I didn't hear anything and I just jumped up." When she realized Duncan had ceased breathing, she performed CPR and was able to get his heart beating, and rush him to a hospital. "He fought," she said. "After two months of fighting, he passed away."


Heather O'Rourke

One of the biggest, scariest horror hits of the '80s was "Poltergeist," in which a platinum-haired youngster played by child actor Heather O'Rourke communicated with a supernatural entity via the static on a television screen. O'Rourke reprised the role in two sequels before passing away unexpectedly in 1988 during surgery to repair a previously undetected bowel defect. She was just 12.


According to a report from, the official cause of O'Rourke's death was intestinal stenosis and septic shock. According to the AP, a gastroenterologist declared he found it very strange that she never experienced any prior symptoms. "It's weird," O'Rourke's manager, Mike Meyer, told the outlet. "She was completely healthy Saturday, they thought she had the flu on Sunday, and she was dead on Monday."

Years later, a bizarre rumor proliferated, claiming that "Poltergeist" was cursed. In addition to O'Rourke's death, reported the New Zealand Herald, actor Dominique Young (who played the older sister of O'Rourke's character) was strangled to death by her boyfriend shortly after the film's release. Additionally, actors Julian Beck and Will Sampson both passed away after appearing in "Poltergeist II," fueling additional speculation.


Taylor Negron

While Taylor Negron's name may not be instantly recognizable, his face will no doubt be familiar. Negron boasted an extensive array of credits on both the small and large screens, including TV series ranging from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to "Party of Five", and films such as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (in a small but memorable role as a pizza delivery guy who delivers a pie to Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli during class). In 2015, Negron passed away at age 57 from cancer.


The year before his death, Negron gave an interview to KCET, discussing his film and television work. "I became the alternative everyman in movies," he said, reflecting on being "that guy" in so many projects. 

One of his flashier roles was playing the villain opposite Bruce Willis in the 1991 action-comedy "The Last Boy Scout." "It wasn't a stretch, but it came as a surprise to me," he said of being cast in such a plum part. In fact, when he was first offered the role, "I thought it was a joke and they had made a mistake in the printing — that I was going to play the first goombah to the left."

John Spencer

Acting professionally since the '60s, John Spencer had amassed a lengthy list of credits in film and television when he was cast as White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry in "The West Wing." Spencer's performance won him critical acclaim, along with five Emmy nominations (and one win). Sadly, the most celebrated role of Spencer's career would also be his last.


In the show's sixth season, a plot twist featured Leo suffering a near-fatal heart attack; in a bizarre case of life imitating art, the following year Spencer himself suffered a heart attack at age 58. Unlike Leo, Spencer didn't survive. The actor was taken to a Los Angeles hospital, where he was declared dead.

In a 2014 retrospective about the show for USA Today, actor Dulé Hill (who played presidential aide Charlie Young) admitted that the loss of Spencer took a toll on the show"'West Wing' without John Spencer isn't 'The West Wing,' to me anyway," he said.

John Mahoney

One of the biggest television hits of the '90s, "Frasier" ran for 11 successful seasons before saying goodbye in 2004. Throughout it all, John Mahoney played Martin Crane, the cranky father of sibling psychiatrists Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde-Pierce). On the silver screen, Mahoney delivered standout performances in such films as "Say Anything..." and "Barton Fink," in addition to a particularly memorable performance in "Moonstruck," as a would-be suitor who tries to charm the mother (Olympia Dukakis) of Cher's character. 


Mahoney passed away at age 77 in 2018 due to complications related to throat cancer. In an October 2017 interview with Fox News, less than four months before his death the following February, Mahoney was optimistic that he'd beaten cancer a second time; he had first been diagnosed 20 years earlier, just as his Hollywood career was heating up. "I had made some of my biggest movies when I was diagnosed," he said of his previous cancer battle. "I wasn't going to let this cancer get me. I waited too long to do this."

Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines was a multitalented actor, singer, choreographer and tap dancer who starred in such films as "The Cotton Club," "Running Scared," and "A Rage in Harlem." He also headlined his own eponymous TV sitcom, "The Gregory Hines Show," and played a recurring role in NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" as Will Truman's (Eric McCormack) ruthless boss, Ben Doucette. When Hines passed away in 2003 at age 57. The cause of death was cancer.


A report in the National Enquirer divulged that Hines had been diagnosed with liver cancer two years earlier, but had kept his diagnosis a secret from those he worked with. According to a source, "No one except his family knew how sick he was." The outlet also noted that the "Will & Grace" cast was devastated by news of Hines' death. "When news like this hits you so suddenly, you're in a state of shock," Sean Hayes told the Enquirer. "I couldn't believe it. I immediately thought of his family and what they must be going through."

Chris Penn

Brother of Oscar-winner Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn, Chris Penn was known for memorable roles in "Rumble Fish," "Footloose," "Reservoir Dogs," "Mulholland Falls," and many more movies. He was just 40 years old when he died; his body was discovered in early 2006 in a California condo.


The cause of death emerged the following month when TV's "Access Hollywood" revealed details from the coroner's investigation, as reported by People. While the official cause of death was an enlarged heart, a toxicology report detailed the various substances present in his body at the time of his death: Valium, morphine, marijuana, an antihistamine, and codeine. 

Actor Lori Singer, who worked with Chris Penn on "Footloose," told the New York Post she was "devastated" by the loss. "He had the understated brilliance of a true artist. He was real in person and in his acting. He was the real thing," she said.

Dana Hill

Dana Hill was one of the most ubiquitous child actors of the early '80s, appearing in TV guest spots on series ranging from "Mork & Mindy" to "Magnum P.I." Perhaps her best known role, however, was Audrey Griswold in the 1985 sequel "National Lampoon's European Vacation." After that, she segued into a career as a voice actor in animated series such as "Rugrats" and "Sonic the Hedgehog."


As People reported, Hill (whose real name was Dana Hill Goetz) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 10, a condition that stunted her growth — and allowed her to play characters far younger than she actually was. Sadly, the diabetes also left her kidneys damaged, causing her to be frequently hospitalized over the years. Those health issues came to a head in May 1995 when she went into a diabetic coma, and then suffered a stroke. 

Forty days later, she died at age 32. Speaking with People, her mother said that Hill "just gave up... She had succeeded at everything she ever tried to do. There was only one area of her life where she was a loser, and that was her infirmity."

Dana Plato

The brief life of Dana Plato was a cautionary tale for the hazards awaiting child actors who experience fame at an early age. Plato was a teenager when she was cast in "Diff'rent Strokes," a massive TV hit when the sitcom debuted in 1978. In the midst of that success, however, issues with substance abuse emerged. As People reported, she overdosed on Valium at 14, and by 15 had started showing up on set drunk. She became pregnant at 18 and was ultimately written off the show.


What had once been a promising acting career fizzled, and the next decade saw even more struggles with alcohol and drug misuse. She made headlines in 1989, when she posed nude for Playboy, and again in 1991, when she was arrested for robbing a Las Vegas video store. Plato was still on probation when she was arrested the following year, this time for forging a prescription for Valium.

In 1999, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Plato died of an apparent overdose at 34. However, her death was later determined to be suicide. 

Erin Moran

Erin Moran was just 13 when she was cast on "Happy Days," playing Joanie Cunningham on the series throughout its run from 1974 to 1984. She and co-star Scott Baio then struck out on their own with the spinoff "Joanie Loves Chachi," which was axed after just two seasons. After that, the success she'd enjoyed on "Happy Days" eluded her; other than a few bit parts on TV series such as "The Love Boat" and "Diagnosis Murder," acting roles dried up. 


In 2012, she and the rest of the "Happy Dayscast won a settlement in a lawsuit (she reportedly received about $60,000) as compensation for using their likenesses on merchandise. However,  a subsequent report from Radar Online claimed Moran quickly spent most of the settlement; she was reportedly homeless and destitute when she got in a physical altercation with her husband's mom, who had kicked the couple out of her mobile home in an Indiana trailer park. She was said to have been writing a memoir, "Happy Days, Depressing Nights," presumably chronicling her post-TV struggles with depression and substance abuse.

Moran passed away at age 56 in 2017; an autopsy confirmed she died of stage 4 cancer.


David Graf

While "Police Academy" may not have bowled over the critics, the wacky comedies were beyond beloved by audiences, ultimately spawning six sequels and a short-lived TV series. A mainstay of the "Police Academy" franchise was actor David Graf in the role of uber-enthusiastic officer Eugene Tackleberry, whose tendency to overreact to even the tiniest whiff of a crime became a running gag throughout the movies.


In addition to "Police Academy," Graf also had a recurring role on TV's "The West Wing." Other screen credits included such films as "Rules of Engagement," "Guarding Tess," "American Kickboxer 2," and "The Brady Bunch Movie." 

Graf was taken at far too young an age in 2001. While in Arizona attending a wedding, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 50. Prior to his unexpected death, Graf had been active within the Screen Actors Guild; the guild's then-president, William Daniels (known for his roles in "St. Elsewhere" and "Boy Meets World"), paid tribute. "His kindness, generosity of spirit and ability to tirelessly work for the better of actors will be missed," Daniels told Variety


Wendie Jo Sperber

Actor Wendie Jo Sperber's big break came when she was cast in the 1978 comedy "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," playing a teenage girl in 1964, with an over-the-top obsession with The Beatles. More high-profile roles followed, including the Steven Spielberg-directed comedy "1941" and "Back to the Future," playing the sister of Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly. Sperber also starred alongside Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in the cross-dressing sitcom "Bosom Buddies," which debuted in 1980.


For the next two decades, Sperber continued to rack up screen credits on both the big and small screens. In addition to being a series regular on short-lived TV series "Babes" and "Hearts Afire," she appeared as a guest star on "Murphy Brown," "Will & Grace," "JAG," "Touched By an Angel" and many more. Sadly, Sperber was 46 when passed away in 2005, from breast cancer.

In addition to her film and TV work, Sperber's legacy lives on in the WeSPARK Cancer Support Center, which she founded in 2001. The Los Angeles-based center, notes its website, "provides free programs and services, which alleviate the physical and emotional side effects of a cancer diagnosis."

Michael Jeter

Actor Michael Jeter was a familiar face on movie and TV screens. A native of Tennessee, Jeter got his start onstage in New York, going on to become a respected actor on the Great White Way. In 1990, he took home a Tony Award for his performance in "Grand Hotel." 


The most notable of his numerous television roles was playing bumbling assistant football coach Herman Stiles on sitcom "Evening Shade." Younger viewers, however, watched him as the brother of Mr. Noodle (Bill Irwin) on "Sesame Street." In the movies, Jeter was best known for playing a homeless cabaret singer in the Robin Williams-starring "The Fisher King "and "The Green Mile" character Eduard Delacroix, a death row inmate with a thick Cajun accent who befriends a mouse he names Mr. Jingles. He was also seen as a dinosaur hunter in "Jurassic Park III" and a patient in "Patch Adams." 

Jeter, who was HIV-positive, passed away of natural causes at age 50. According to his obituary, he was in the midst of motion-capture filming for animated holiday film "The Polar Express" at the time of his death. 


John Cazale

Described by The Telegraph as "the greatest actor you haven't heard of," John Cazale's body of work consists of just five films: "The Godfather," "The Godfather Part II," "The Conversation," "Dog Day Afternoon," and "The Deer Hunter" — every single one nominated for an Oscar. Four decades after his death, Cazale's most iconic role remains the weak and traitorous Fredo Corleone.


He almost wasn't cast in "The Deer Hunter," his final film before he succumbed to cancer in 1978 at age 42. According to The Telegraph, the cancer that started in his lungs had metastasized into his bones. Producers of the film reportedly balked at casting him, fearing he could die before the film was finished. Star Robert De Niro, a longtime friend, stepped in and paid Cazale's insurance himself, as he was that determined Cazale take the role.

At the time of his death, Cazale was in a long-term relationship with Meryl Streep. According to a 1979 profile in People, Streep interrupted her career to be with him until his death. Cazale's passing, Streep admitted, "forced me to confront my own mortality, and once you do that, you look at things differently."


Andy Hallett

Andy Hallett was an actor and musician who became a fan favorite in the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff "Angel." As fans will remember well, he portrayed a green-skinned lounge-singer demon with the unlikely name of Lorne. 


Sadly, "Angel" proved to be Hallett's final live-action role before he passed away from congestive heart disease in 2009. He was just 33. According to Hallett's obituary, his heart condition was diagnosed near the end of "Angel" in 2004. After the show's cancellation, he decided it would be better for his health to stop acting; instead, he shifted his focus to his other love, music. During those years, however, he spent more and more time in hospitals as his health apparently deteriorated.

Hallett's "Angel" co-star J. August Richards paid tribute in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "He brought so much to the table," Richards said of Hallett. "He was the life of the party and made us all laugh. He was a beautiful man."


Glenn Quinn

Andy Hallett wasn't the only "Angel" actor to lose his life at a far-too-young age. Dublin-born actor Glenn Quinn, who played Irish demon Doyle in the series' first season, tragically died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2002. As The Irish Times reported, he was 32 years old. 


Quinn had previously enjoyed much success portraying the boyfriend (and, after they eloped, husband) of eldest Conner sibling Becky on sitcom "Roseanne." As Michael Fishman (who played D.J. Conner) told the Independent, "On 'Roseanne' Glenn was a professional. Any struggles he had started while working on 'Angel.'" In fact, the Independent noted that reports at the time claimed Quinn was dealing with substance abuse during the episodes of "Angel" in which he appeared, and rumors suggested he was "confrontational" on the set. According to Quinn's sister, a 1997 return to Ireland may have been the tipping point. "It was at this time that Glenn's struggles took over. ... Though there were periods of sobriety, ultimately it consumed him," she said.


"Glenn played a great character, but also became a really close friend of mine," "Angel" star David Boreanaz told Entertainment Weekly. "God rest his soul."

'Rowdy' Roddy Piper

In the pantheon of professional wrestling, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper loomed large during wrestling's heyday in the 1980s. In fact, Piper was at the center of the WWE's (then WWF) very first Wrestlemania event, partnering with Paul Orndorff to take on Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in a tag-team match. Piper — who was born Roderick Toombs — fought an astounding 7,000 matches during a wrestling career that began when he was just 15.


In addition to his prowess in the ring, Piper was known for his wildly entertaining pre-match interviews, which led him to Hollywood. Most notable among the many films and TV series in which he appeared was his starring role in the 1988 sci-fi film "They Live," uttering the now-iconic line, "I am here to chew bubblegum and kick a**. And I'm all out of bubblegum." 

Piper died in 2015 at age 61 when a blood clot in one of his lungs led to a fatal heart attack. WWE CEO Vince McMahon paid tribute in a statement to The Oregonian, describing Piper as one of the WWE's "most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever."

Earl Hindman

Earl Hindman spent eight seasons on one of television's most beloved sitcoms, yet never once showed his face. That was on purpose, given that Hindman — who passed away at the age of 61 in 2003 — portrayed Wilson, next-door neighbor of Tim Allen's character in ABC comedy hit "Home Improvement." As viewers will recall, the character — whose full name was actually Wilson K. Wilson Jr., PhD — kept his face hidden from view, typically obscured below the eyes by the fence between their backyards as he offered sage advice to Allen's bumbling "tool man" Tim Taylor.


Hindman had been a professional actor for more than 30 years. Prior to landing his iconic "Home Improvement" role, 16 of those years were spent playing Detective Lt. Bob Reid on daytime soap opera "Ryan's Hope." On the big screen, he appeared in such films as "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," "Three Men and a Baby," and "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three." The cause of Hindman's death was lung cancer. 

Bernie Mac

Bernie Mac's star was rising high when he was tragically cut down in his prime. Starting out as a standup comic, Mac had spent years touring comedy clubs and honing his routine when he teamed up with fellow Black comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley. Billing themselves as "The Original Kings of Comedy," the quartet embarked on a massively successful tour in 1997; according to the Los Angeles Times, the tour raked in a whopping $37 million. A performance film, directed by Spike Lee, premiered in 2000. 


The following year, Mac was tapped to star in his own Fox sitcom, "The Bernie Mac Show," which ran until 2006. From there, he upgraded to movies, appearing as Bosley in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (replacing Bill Murray as the original Bosley's adopted brother). More films followed, including supporting roles in "Bad Santa," "Ocean's Eleven" (and sequels "Ocean's Twelve" and "Ocean's Thirteen"), and "Transformers." He topped the marquee to star in "Mr 3000," and shared top billing with Samuel L. Jackson in "Soul Men." 

His career was continuing to explode when Mac passed away in 2008, due to complications from pneumonia. He was 50.

Andy Whitfield

Welsh actor Andy Whitfield landed his big break when he was cast in the titular role for Starz drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." Months after the show's January 2010 premiere, reported Entertainment Weekly, a routine medical test revealed that Whitfield had stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Production on the second season, which was scheduled to begin in a matter of weeks, was delayed while Whitfield underwent treatment. 


That June, Whitfield's doctors declared him cancer-free, and he began the grueling physical training to get into top shape to play the gladiator slave. Sadly, Whitfield's remission proved to be short-lived. In September 2010, Deadline reported that Whitfield's cancer had returned. He wouldn't be returning for the second "Spartacus" season, Starz announced, while he took time off to undergo "aggressive treatment." In January of 2011, producers of the show revealed that the role had been recast, with Liam McIntyre set to play Spartacus in Season 2.

Sadly, that second bout of treatment proved ineffective. In September 2011, Whitfield died at age 39. Whitfield's cancer battle in his final months became the basis for the 2015 documentary "Be Here Now." 


Heavy D

One of the pioneers of hip-hop, Heavy D was a force to be reckoned with. As a 1996 profile in The New York Times noted, the rapper — whose real name was Dwight Arrington Myers — had been named head of Uptown Entertainment, a division of media conglomerate MCA. In the years that followed, the "Now That We Found Love" artist maintained that position and continued to make music. He also branched out into acting, racking up a roster of screen credits including the TV series "Roc" and "Boston Public," and films such as "The Cider House Rules" and "Tower Heist."


In 2011, Heavy D was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after he fell over in his L.A. home. He died shortly after, aged 44. As the New York Daily News reported, Heavy D had recently flown to L.A. from London. According to the coroner, during the flight a blood clot in his leg traveled to his lung, eventually causing a pulmonary embolism that halted the flow of blood to his lungs.

Lynne Thigpen

Anyone who watched PBS's geography-based children's show "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" back in the 1990s will certainly recognize the face of actor Lynne Thigpen, a.k.a the Chief. In 2003, Thigpen was one of the stars of CBS drama "The District" when she died in her home. She was just 54. At the time, a CBS spokesperson told The New York Times that the cause of her death was undetermined; by all appearances, Thigpen seemed to be healthy. 


The cause of death was later determined to be a cerebral hemorrhage. Thigpen was said to have suffered from an unrelenting headache in the days leading up to her passing. According to the Los Angeles Times, producers of "The District" acknowledged her death by scripting the demise of her character into the series. "We decided to let the audience experience what we experienced, which was the shock," executive producer Pam Veasay explained.

She was posthumously honored in 2005 with the establishment of a nonprofit the Lynne Thigpen/Bobo Lewis Foundation.

Mary Pat Gleason

Mary Pat Gleason was one of Hollywood's most prolific character actors, known for stealing any scene she was in. With dozens upon dozens of film and TV credits, Gleason was equally at home in drama or comedy. High-profile roles included such diametrically opposite projects as Jim Carrey's "Bruce Almighty" and the 1996 film adaptation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Gleason also played Mary Hogan on daytime drama "Guiding Light" in the 1980s, and was also a member of the show's writing team; in fact, she won a Daytime Emmy for her role as a writer in 1986.


More recently, Gleason had been delighting viewers of CBS sitcom "Mom," playing a recurring character named Mary, who had a penchant for taking over AA meetings by discussing her bizarre problems. The character was killed off when she died of a brain aneurysm in the middle of a meeting; Gleason herself died several months later, passing away at age 70 in June 2020. According to her obituary in The New York Times, a family member told news outlets she'd been suffering from uterine cancer.

Thuy Trang

For Thuy Trang, it had been a particularly long and arduous journey to the screen as Trini Kwan, a.k.a. the Yellow Ranger, in the series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." Years before getting cast on the show, Trang, her siblings, and her mother decided to flee their native Vietnam after her father moved to the United States following the fall of Saigon. As she shared in the 1995 documentary 'The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts," her family traveled by boat for around nine months with barely any food or water.


Once Trang reached the U.S., her agent sent her to an audition for "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." In the aforementioned interview, the actor shared she beat out as many as 500 other candidates for the role of the Yellow Ranger. Trang would end up remaining on the show until Season 2 when she decided to leave the show, along with fellow original Power Rangers Walter Emmanuel Jones and Austin St. John.

On September 3, 2001, Trang died following a car accident. The "Power Rangers" actor was supposed to be one of the bridesmaids for a friend who was also in the car with her. Meanwhile, another bridesmaid with the two women had been behind the wheel when their vehicle suddenly swerved off the road. Years after Trang's death, some of fellow Power Rangers reunited onscreen in "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always" where it was revealed early on that the character of Trini had been murdered.


Elizabeth Peña

When Elizabeth Peña first ventured into acting, the last thing she cared about was fame or fortune. Instead, she was all about exploring the craft. "She loved acting and enjoyed immersing herself in the role and she didn't really talk about the process, which was intense and deep," her friend Tony Plana recalled while speaking with La Prensa San Diego. Peña also easily formed a connection with fellow actors, even if they had never met before. Such was the case when she first met Richard Dreyfuss. With their chemistry undeniable, Peña soon landed a supporting role in Dreyfuss' R-rated comedy "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Throughout her career, Peña also became known for her performances in films such as "La Bamba," "Tortilla Soup," "Lone Star," and "Rush Hour." Later on, she was a huge hit on TV when she joined the cast of "Modern Family" and played Gloria's (Sofia Vergara) mother.


Peña died on October 14, 2014, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. While it was initially reported that she died from natural causes, a copy of her death certificate, which was obtained by TMZ, revealed that Peña's heart stopped working after she suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding. The certificate also specified that the actor's "cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol" was a contributing factor to her death.

Kelly Preston

After making her onscreen debut in "Hawaii Five-O" in 1980, it didn't take long before Hawaii native Kelly Preston landed her breakout role in the R-rated romantic comedy "Mischief." Since then, the actor also took on several notable film roles. At one point, she played the girlfriend that Tom Cruise ended up dumping in the hit film "Jerry Maguire." Preston also famously played the mom in the family comedy "The Cat in the Hat."


Indeed, Preston had done a lot of comedy over the years and interestingly, it was also comedy that led her to the love of her life, John Travolta. Travolta and Preston first met while working on the 1989 comedy "The Experts." A few years later, on New Year's Eve 1991, the couple became engaged. In the years that followed, Preston continued to pursue her career while also remaining a dedicated mom to the couple's three children. Together, Preston and Travolta also dealt with tragedy, after losing their oldest child, son Jett, in 2009 while in The Bahamas.

In the years that followed, the bond between the couple grew stronger than ever. Preston even starred opposite her husband one final time in the 2018 crime biopic "Gotti." Just two years later, in 2020, a family representative announced that Preston died of breast cancer. In the two years leading up to her death, she sought medical treatment although she kept her condition private.


Helen McCrory

With an acting career that spanned decades, Helen McCrory had truly been one of British cinema's greatest treasures. Onscreen, the actor first rose to fame following her performance in a 1995 episode of the BBC drama "Screen Two" entitled "Streetlife." Since then, McCrory also starred in the series "The Fragile Heart" before taking on big screen roles in films such as "Anna Karenina," "The Count of Monte Cristo" and later on, the Oscar-winning film "The Queen." Not long after that, she also made her debut in the "Harry Potter" franchise where she played Draco Malfoy's (Tom Felton) mother, Narcissa Malfoy.


Meanwhile, McCrory also eventually made her way back to television, memorably starring as matriarch Polly Gray in the crime drama "Peaky Blinders." She also did voice work briefly for HBO's "His Dark Materials." McCrory also had quite the stage presence, starring in the play "Five Gold Rings" in 2003 where she met her husband, Damian Lewis. In the years that followed, she also returned to the theater to perform in productions of "Uncle Vanya," "As You Like It," and "Medea."

On April 16, 2021, Lewis announced on X that McCrory died from cancer while surrounded by family and friends. The actor's revelation came as a painful shock; McCrory had kept her cancer diagnosis private as she suffered for years. Aside from Lewis, McCrory is also survived by the couple's two children, Manon and Gulliver.


William Hurt

By the time William Hurt made his big screen debut in 1980, he was ready to become the next Hollywood star. The Washington, D.C., native started his foray into acting while he was still at school and his love for the craft eventually led him to Juilliard where Hurt took up drama. The actor later made his way to the Circle Repertory Company. Around this time, Hurt also ran into film producer Howard Gottfried who was having a hard time finding his lead star for the horror sci-fi film "Altered States."


Hurt eventually took on the role, playing a scientist using drugs and other techniques to discover the origins of human consciousness. The movie later earned two Oscar nominations while Hurt received a Golden Globe nod for his performance. Soon after, Hurt booked several other major film projects, including "The Big Chill," "Broadcast News," "Children of a Lesser God," and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," which earned the actor his only Oscar win. Years later, Hurt also landed roles in films like "Syriana" and "Changing Lanes." The actor then made his Marvel debut as General 'Thunderbolt' Ross in the 2008 film "The Incredible Hulk." He also reprised the role in various films for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Hurt died on March 13, 2022, just a few days before his 72nd birthday. In 2018, it was revealed that he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer, which had already spread to the bone.

Robbie Coltrane

Long before he came to be known as the scruffy and lovable Hagrid in the "Harry Potter" movies, Robbie Coltrane was already a three-time BAFTA winner known for his portrayal of criminal psychologist Dr Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald in the award-winning ITV show "Cracker." Series creator Jimmy McGovern didn't think Coltrane was the right actor to play his lead character at first. By the time "Cracker" wrapped up its season 1 though, the actor was the show. "Guinness wanted to sponsor "Cracker," but Robbie refused because they'd closed their Scottish distillery in the 80s," show writer Paul Abbott even recalled during an interview with Radio Times. "He said he'd walk if they didn't back down – ITV knew they couldn't make the show without him." 


In between seasons, Coltrane starred in films like "Ocean's Twelve" and the "James Bond" installment "The World Is Not Enough." Later on, when casting got underway for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling wanted no one else but Coltrane to portray Hagrid onscreen. In the end, Coltrane's Hagrid stayed on throughout the franchise's eight movies, becoming one of the franchise's most popular characters.

Coltrane died from multiple organ failure on October 14, 2022. The actor may be gone too soon but his legacy lives on, especially in the "Harry Potter" movies. As Coltrane once said in HBO's "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts," "I'll not be here, sadly... but Hagrid will, yes..."


Leslie Jordan

At 4 feet, 11 inches, Leslie Jordan appeared to be small in stature, but time and time again, the openly gay star had always been larger than life onscreen. Jordan, whose Hollywood career goes back to the late '80s, got his start with brief appearances in TV shows like "CBS Summer Playhouse," "Night Court," "Annie McGuire," and "Murphy Brown." Several years later, Jordan would land the iconic role of insufferable socialite and Karen Walker's (Megan Mullally) frenemy Beverley Leslie on the hit sitcom "Will & Grace."


The guest role was originally intended for Joan Collins, but she eventually pulled out of the series. That's when Jordan's agent called him. In an instant, he got the part. "I walked in chattering like castanets," Jordan recalled during an appearance on "Today." "And they didn't even audition me. They go, 'Yep. That's it. You're it.'" Years later, the actor also didn't need to audition for his role in "American Horror Story." Show co-creator Ryan Murphy created a role for Jordan and offered it to him.

On October 24, 2022, firefighters responded to a vehicular crash involving the actor. Jordan's BMW had hit the side of the building and airbags had deployed. When they reached the actor, authorities found Jordan to be "pulseless and non-breathing," according to NBC News. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It was later revealed that Jordan suffered from heart failure just before his death.


Barbara Walters

Legacy is quite a loaded word and throwing it around just wouldn't seem right. For Barbara Walters, however, legacy suits her just fine. The Boston native started her career back in 1961 as a writer for NBC's "Today." It didn't take long before Walters also got appointed as the "Today" girl, a reporter position that dealt with soft news (including being a Playboy bunny).


Soon enough, however, her big moment came after Walters got assigned to travel with first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to India and officially got promoted as the show's co-host in 1974. In 1976, Walters made the jump from NBC to ABC where she made history as the first-ever female network news anchor who also signed a shocking $1 million annual salary deal. That said, Walters didn't stay long on the show as she and co-anchor Harry Reasoner didn't get along. Eventually, Walters left the show and became the host of ABC's hit news magazine show, "20/20." Over the years, she became known for high-profile interviews with Monica Lewinsky, Fidel Castro, and Katharine Hepburn. Later on, she also famously co-hosted and executive produced "The View."


Later on, in 2014, Walters announced that she was retiring from reporting altogether. On December 30, 2022, Walters died peacefully at home from natural causes at 93. Her age was confirmed upon her death as the pioneering reporter never wished to disclose her year of birth (1929).

Treat Williams

Back in his college years, Treat Williams was quite certain that he wanted to be an actor, so much so that he was willing to give up football for it. "I didn't think you could be a jock and be in the theatre company at the same time," he explained during an interview with Vermont Voices. Not long after that, Williams got to audition for the road company of "Grease" and landed a gig as an understudy for the role of Danny Zuko. Later on, he played Danny onstage for the "Grease" summer tour before taking over the role for "Grease" on Broadway (meanwhile, "Grease" movie star John Travolta played Doody).


Around the same time, Williams' career was also taking off onscreen, especially after his breakout performance in the musical dramedy "Hair." More film projects followed soon after, with the actor joining the cast of "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "A Streetcar Named Desire," and "The Devil's Own" with Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt. Williams also eventually took his talents to TV, starring in "Everwood," "Chicago Fire," "Chesapeake Shores," and "Blue Bloods." 

On June 12, 2023, Williams was riding a motorcycle in Vermont when it collided with an SUV that was turning left into a parking lot. The actor was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered serious injuries. Williams was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a medical center in Albany, New York for treatment.


Angus Cloud

Angus Cloud was never really about having big dreams. Rather, he kept it simple and specific. "I wanted to work a job where I would get paid and get free food, and get to live on a cruise ship and travel the world," he even told Greatest. But then, the unexpected happened. Cloud was walking around Manhattan when a casting agent came up to him. As it turns out, the agent was casting for "Euphoria." Cloud met the series' pilot director Augustine Frizzell soon after that. That's when he got cast in the HBO series as drug dealer Fez. Soon after, Cloud flew to Los Angeles to shoot the pilot. Following the success of "Euphoria," he went on to become one of Hollywood's most recognizable rising stars. Cloud also settled down in Los Angeles, although his family was always in his thoughts, especially his father whose death was particularly devastating for the actor.


On July 31, 2023, a week after his father's passing, police responded to a medical emergency at Cloud's home in Oakland, California. Upon arrival, they discovered that the actor was already deceased. Later on, it was revealed that Angus Cloud died from an accidental overdose with benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl all present in his system. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, the Alameda County Coroner's Office said that Cloud suffered from an "acute intoxication" due to the combination of drugs. The actor was 25.

Ron Cephas Jones

Years before Ron Cephas Jones became an Emmy-winning television star, he had been making a name for himself in the theater. It began in 1985 when Jones made his way to the Nuyorican Poets Café and joined the cast of the play "Don't Explain." The actor then ventured into several off-Broadway productions such as "Holiday Heart," "Everybody's Ruby," and "Our Lady of 121st Street." Jones also later made his Broadway debut in 2004 where he joined the cast of "Gem of the Ocean."


Meanwhile, on the screen, Jones booked several minor film and TV roles before getting cast in the NBC drama "This Is Us." On the show, he played William Hill, Randall Pearson's (Sterling K. Brown) terminally ill biological father. From the start, casting director Tiffany Little Canfield had always known that the role belonged to Jones. The actor even got offered the role without meeting with the show's producers following a taped audition. He later won two Emmys for his performance on the show.

On August 19, 2023, Jones died from a pulmonary health issue. In 2020, the actor underwent a double lung transplant and remained in the hospital for almost two months where he was hooked to a ventilator. As he told The New York Times in 2021, he did what it took to get back to the stage. He returned to Broadway one last time in 2021 for the production of "Clyde's" with Uzo Aduba.


Michael Gambon

Before lauded actor Michael Gambon took to the stage, he was well on his way to becoming an engineer. But after he finished his apprenticeship, he decided to give theater a go. He soon landed a small role in the Gate Theatre's production of "Othello." Around this time, the actor also met Laurence Olivier who would go on to be his mentor. Under his guidance, Gambon performed in several productions for Olivier's National Theatre Company.


By 1980, the actor was also ready to become a television star, taking on the lead role in the musical drama "The Singing Detective," which won Gambon his first BAFTA award. In the years that followed, he established himself as a film actor too, booking roles in movies such as "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover," "Paris by Night," and "The Rachel Papers." For his work, Gambon was knighted for his services to drama. He was also named as a Commander of the British Empire. Later on, he starred in films such as "Gosford Park," and "Sylvia." At the same time, Gambon took over the role of Albus Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" franchise following the death of actor Richard Harris. Gambon made his "Harry Potter" debut in the 2004 film "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." He stayed on until the end. 


On September 27, 2023, Gambon died while at a hospital after suffering from pneumonia. He was 82.

David McCallum

After serving in the army in the 1950s, David McCallum focused on acting, landing several movie roles immediately with the help of an agent. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as he had hoped and at one point, McCallum didn't have any more jobs. That's when his friend and fellow actor Charlie Bronson suggested having lunch at the MGM commissary.


There, he met Sam Rolfe and soon after, offers started coming. At one point, McCallum got three offers at once, one of which was for a spy series from Rolfe named "Solo." Due to a conflict with the "James Bond" franchise, Rolfe eventually changed the title to "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." In the series, McCallum memorably played secret agent Illya Kuryakin. The actor became so popular that fans mobbed Macy's New York on the day McCallum was set to make an appearance. The show went on for four seasons. After which, McCallum moved to New York to do theater.

Years later, he returned to Los Angeles for television once more, this time for the CBS crime procedural "NCIS." McCallum got cast as coroner Ducky Mallard after two auditions where he pretended to examine a dead body on the floor. Over the years, the actor studied hard for the role, even telling the Daily Record that he'd watched a Los Angeles coroner perform autopsies. McCallum remained on the show until his death on September 25, 2023. The actor died from natural causes while surrounded by his family. He was 90.


Ryan O'Neal

Ryan O'Neal led quite an interesting life from the beginning, first venturing into the world of amateur boxing before eventually setting his sights on Hollywood. After all, his parents were also in the business. In the early '60s, O'Neal booked several brief roles in shows such as "Westinghouse Playhouse," "The Untouchables," and "Perry Mason." Not long after that, he also eventually landed a regular TV role in the romantic drama "Peyton Place."


Just a year after the show ended, O'Neal was getting everyone's attention again for another romantic project. This time, it's Arthur Hiller's "Love Story," which was his take on "Romeo and Juliet." Onscreen, the chemistry between O'Neal and co-star Ali MacGraw was incredible. Behind the scenes, O'Neal also once told CBS News, "It was fun to go to work every day. And romantic!" He later earned an Oscar nod for his performance.

As O'Neal continued to book roles though, he also dealt with health issues. In 2001, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Years later, in 2012, O'Neal also learned that he had prostate cancer. "Although I was shocked and stunned by the news, I feel fortunate that it was detected early and according to my extraordinary team of doctors the prognosis is positive for a full recovery," he said in a statement to People. O'Neal died on December 8, 2023, at the age of 82. The actor's cause of death was unspecified.


Andre Braugher

In Hollywood, roles may be plenty, but success can be elusive. In the case of Andre Braugher, however, success found him early on in his career as he starred in the 1989 biopic "Glory" with Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Cary Elwes. The film would go on to win three Oscars and Braugher would go on to land his next major gig, playing Detective Frank Pembleton in the crime drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street" a few years later. His performance on the show would also lead to his first Emmy win.


When the show ended in 1998, Braugher ventured back into film, joining Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan in the fantasy drama "City of Angels" before starring in "All the Rage," "Frequency," "Poseidon," "The Mist," and years later, the Angelina Jolie-led action film "Salt." Throughout this time, he also continued to take on TV projects, including "House," the short-lived ABC series "Last Resort," and the dramedy "Men of a Certain Age," which won him another Emmy. The actor also joined the cast of the comedy-crime series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" where he famously played Captain Raymond Holt alongside Andy Samberg's Detective Jake Peralta. Braugher's performance on the show earned him four Emmy nods.

Braugher died on December 11, 2023, following an illness. It was later determined that the actor's cause of death was lung cancer. Braugher had been diagnosed with the disease just a few months prior to his passing.


If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.