The Celebrities Lost in 2018
2018 was a rollercoaster of a year. The world watched Mark Zuckerberg teach a bunch of out of touch politicians about Facebook, some kid yodeled his way into the big time in a Walmart in Illinois, and people ate Tide pods for some reason. All I’m trying to say is that there were a lot of forgettable moments in 2018. Sadly, in 2018, we also lost a lot of unforgettable people.
In 2018, we mourned the loss of legendary performers, budding stars, cultural icons, and one of the most intelligent human beings in the history of the human race. Yeah, it was a tough one. But, with every loss comes the opportunity to reflect. We learn from those who come before us and we never lose the lessons learned from those that pass.
Today, we’re going to remember the ones that we lost by celebrating their larger-than-life accomplishments. These are the biggest celebrities the world lost in 2018.
It’s really impossible to understate Aretha Franklin’s impact on popular music, women, and African Americans. The undisputed Queen of Soul had a singing voice that could stop traffic. Songs like “Think”, “Respect”, “A Natural Woman”, and “I Say a Little prayer” dominated the pop charts of the late 60s and still hold major influence on modern music today.
Franklin passed away at her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends on August 16, due to advanced pancreatic cancer.
Burt Reynolds was the personification of the male lead. Smokey in the Bandit, Boogie Nights, Deliverance — what a career. In the 70s, Reynolds’s name on the marquee usually meant big bucks for show producers and local theatres.
The movies appearances may have grown less and less frequent over the years, but his star never faded — as evidenced by his prominent voice acting role in the animated cult classic TV show Archer. He was set to be featured in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming la-la-land thriller, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but passed away before he could start shooting his appearance.
Burt suffered a heart attack on September 6, 2018, and wasn’t able to recover. He was 82.
Few did more for comic books than Stan Lee. The man was a pioneer who dedicated most of his life to inspiring kids and entertaining the masses.
He began his storied career as a writer at Timely Comics in 1939. The real turn happened in the early 60s when Lee’s publisher asked him to create a team of superheroes that could compete with DC’s Batman and Superman. First Lee, with the help of long-time partners Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created the Fantastic Four. Then came Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, and Daredevil. Lee’s audience grew alongside his cast of characters and today, Marvel is synonymous with box-office domination.
The world lost Stan Lee on November 12, 2018, due to heart and respiratory failure at 95-years old.
Stephen Hillenburg might not have created as many bankable franchises as the great Stan Lee, but the one that he did craft sure had an impact. SpongeBob SquarePants, featuring everyone’s favorite sea sponge, enjoyed 12-seasons, three feature films, and a massive fan-base.
Hillenburg’s meteoric rise to the top of the animated series food chain was far from conventional. The Bikini Bottom creator began his career as a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute. Hillenburg would later find his calling while studying Experimental Animation at the California Institute of Arts.
Sadly, Hillenburg was diagnosed with ALS and inevitably lost his life at the age of 57 on November 26, 2018.
SpongeBob creator, Stephen Hillenburg’s ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of California today. Couldn’t have been a more fitting way to say farewell to Stephen, for now he’s one with the ocean. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/NCyQa8qJKQ
— Baby Lamb (@BabyLamb5) December 7, 2018
You can be forgiven if the name Mac Miller escapes you. After all, the rapper, songwriter, and producer’s steady rise was cut tragically short.
For many, the name Mac Miller only entered into their universe by way of Arianna Grande as the two dated and subsequently broke-up in front of the whole world. But Mac Miller was much more than just a pop star’s ex-boyfriend. He could have grown to be a bigger star than even Grande herself; he certainly had the talent for it. Sadly, we’ll never know for sure though.
Miller passed away from an accidental cocaine and fentanyl overdose at the age of 26 on September 7, 2018.
Anthony Bourdain understood the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse quite well too. Bourdain struggled with addiction for most of his early life. He kicked the monkey off of his back and focused his energy on writing. His first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, was a runaway success that opened a lot of doors for the newly minted celebrity chef.
Bourdain quickly moved from books to television, inventing the food and world-travel show genre with A Cook’s Tour on the Travel Network. Foodies, food tourism, and Netflix cooking docu-series owe a great debt to Anthony Bourdain.
It appeared that all of the success wasn’t enough for Bourdain. He took his own life in France on June 8, 2018.
Calling Billy Graham a divisive figure of modern culture is a gross understatement. The world-renowned Evangelist spent most of his long life building and growing one of the largest Evangelical Christian Ministries on the planet. Graham was one of the first televangelists in the history of the Christian Church and acted as a spiritual advisor to countless U.S. presidents including Richard Nixon, Harry S. Truman, and Barack Obama.
Graham spent his final days at his North Carolina home, passing away on February 21, 2018, at 99 years of age.
Mitzi Shore is far from a household name, but she most certainly should have been. The eccentric business owner opened the world’s first stand-up comedy club, The Comedy Store in L.A. Shore. This comedy club was instrumental in launching the careers of superstars like David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, and … well, you get the picture.
You can make the case that stand-up comedy wouldn’t exist in its current form if it wasn’t for this one bar owner — which is remarkable. Shore passed away on April 11, 2018, following a long battle with Parkinson’s at the age of 87.
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) April 12, 2018
Swedish musician Tim Bergling’s star burned hot and fast. Under his stage name Avicii, Bergling managed to rack up countless awards, nominations, and platinum-selling records. Avicii’s success came early in his life. His breakout album, Levels, transformed him into an international superstar in his early 20s. Unfortunately, that success proved to be too much for the virtuoso.
He famously retired from touring in 2016 and struggled with health alcohol-related health problems for much of his later life. On April 20, 2018, the troubled star took his own life while on vacation in Saudi Arabia.
Still can’t get over Avicii’s death man. It’s so sad. Too much pressure on him. All he needed was someone that cared about Tim Bergling not his brand.
Tim för alltid? pic.twitter.com/Op82ubqin6
— Olle Le Moine (@OlleLeMoine) March 18, 2019
The world fell in love with Verne Troyer in 1997’s spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Troyer played Mini-Me, the evil-yet-loveable sidekick of the main antagonist.
Though Troyer enjoyed the benefits of celebrity, the man didn’t have an easy life. Born with dwarfism, Troyer battled health issues for much is life. The actor publicly struggled with addiction too. Though the motive for his death is still largely unknown, what is known is that Troyer took his own life on April 21, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Love him or hate him, Joe Jackson changed music. The father and manager of Michael and Janet Jackson and the genius behind the Jackson Five lost his life on June 27, 2018, at the age of 89.
Jackson’s controversial methods were well documented. Jackson used physical abuse, psychological manipulation, sexual abuse … you name it. Jackson claimed that he “did what he had to do” to transform his children into superstars.
Few did more for physics then Stephen Hawking. He added depth to Einstein’s Theory of relativity, outlined the theory that black holes emit “Hawking radiation,” and sold over 10-million copies of his book A Brief History of Time, all after a terminal motor neuron disease diagnosis.
While Hawking was unquestionably the smartest man on the planet, he was no stranger to pop-culture. Hawking made appearances on shows like The Simpsons, The Big Band Theory, and more. He was an intellectual giant, as evidenced by the countless tributes that were written and broadcast following his death on March 14, 2018.