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Anthony Bourdain

Pop Culture

In memoriam: Remembering the celebrities we lost in 2018

Anthony Bourdain and Aretha Franklin are just some of the legends we lost from film, television, music and more.


Anthony Bourdain

Chef, author, and host of CNN’s globe-trotting culinary travel series "Parts Unknown," Bourdain's rebellious personality and crusading spirit revolutionized food culture. After working for decades in New York restaurants, Bourdain turned his interests toward writing, and later, television. He spent eight seasons as the host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations" and, in 2013, debuted "Parts Unknown," where he famously slurped noodles in Hanoi with President Barack Obama, among other adventures. Bourdain died by suicide on June 8 at age 61.

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Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul began her career in the 1950s singing gospel music in the Detroit church where her father was a pastor. She would later help shape the course of popular music, scoring 73 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Respect" and "Think." In 1987, the 18-time Grammy winner, whom Rolling Stone magazine named the Greatest Singer of All Time, became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She died at home Aug. 16 at age 76 after battling pancreatic cancer.

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Beverly McClellan

Blues rock singer McClellan made it all the way to the final four on season one of "The Voice" in 2011. She was diagnosed with stage 4 endometrial cancer in March, and gradually the disease spread to her colon, bladder and intestines. She died Oct. 30 at age 49.

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Burt Reynolds

Hollywood heartthrob Reynolds defined onscreen masculinity in the 1970s and '80s, starring in blockbusters including "Deliverance," "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Cannonball Run." Known as much for his celebrity romances as for his onscreen charm, the mustachioed actor turned to television in the 1990s, earning an Emmy for his starring role on the CBS sitcom "Evening Shade." In the late 1990s, he enjoyed a career resurgence, scoring an Oscar nomination for his role as a porn director in 1997's "Boogie Nights." Reynolds died Sept. 6 after suffering a heart attack at age 82.

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Charlotte Rae

Rae won the hearts of television viewers as Edna Garrett, the wise and good-humored housemother of a girls’ school on the NBC long-running comedy “The Facts of Life.” She first played Mrs. Garrett character on the hit sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” before starring in its spinoff from 1979 to 1988. Rae's career spanned more than 60 years and saw her go from a nightclub singer to dramatic stage performer to TV icon. In 2017, she revealed she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer. She died at home Aug. 5 at age 92.


Dolores O'Riordan

O'Riordan was the talented lead singer of the Irish rock band The Cranberries, best known for the 1990s hits "Linger," "Dreams" and "Zombie." She died Jan. 15 when she accidentally drowned in her bathtub while intoxicated. She was 46.

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DuShon Monique Brown

Brown was best known for portraying Connie, Chief Boden’s assistant, for six seasons on NBC's "Chicago Fire." She died March 23 of died from sepsis of unknown etiology. She was 49.

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Harry Anderson

Funny man Anderson was best known for his role as quirky Judge Harry Stone on the NBC's hit comedy "Night Court" for nine laughter-filled seasons beginning in 1994. Anderson began his career as a magician before turning to comedy and becoming a TV star. He died April 16 after suffering a stroke. He was 65.

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Jerry Maren

The last surviving Munchkin from the cast of “The Wizard of Oz,” Maren, was just a teen when he played the leader of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 Hollywood classic. He went on to appear in dozens of movies, TV shows and commercials throughout his long career. He died May 24 at age 98.

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Joe Jackson

The Jackson family patriarch put aside his own dreams of pop stardom in the 1960s to guide his young sons — Jermaine, Marlon, Tito, Jackie and, of course, future solo superstar Michael — to the top of the Billboard charts in The Jackson 5. He also helped launch the early show business careers of his daughters Rebbe, LaToya and Janet. He died after battling terminal cancer. He was 89.

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John Mahoney

British-born Mahoney, best known for his television role as the gruff-but-lovable dad Marty Crane on NBC's "Frasier," moved to the U.S. from England as a teen but didn't start acting until his late 30s. Mahoney became a star of both stage and screen, winning a Tony Award in 1986 for "The House of Blue Leaves," and scoring two Emmy nominations for his work on "Frasier." He died Feb. 4 of cancer at age 77.

Matt Sayles / AP

John McCain

The "maverick" of the GOP, McCain spent five years as a POW in Vietnam before returning to the U.S. and beginning his storied political career. He served as an Arizona congressman and senator and ran for president twice, winning the admiration of Americans on both side of the political aisle for his off-the-cuff humor and straight talk. McCain died Aug. 25 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

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Kate Spade

Spade revolutionized fashion in the early 1990s with her signature chic, boxy handbag that appealed to modern career women. The Kate Spade label specialized in color and whimsy and grew to be an international success, expanding over time to include clothing, footwear and other accessories. Behind the scenes, the designer struggled with depression. She died by suicide on June 5 at age 55.

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Katherine MacGregor

MacGregor delighted audiences by playing Harriet Oleson, the campy villain of Walnut Grove, on NBCs “The Little House on the Prairie” from 1974 to 1982. MacGregor once told an interviewer she aimed to make the character of gossipy, mean-spirited Harriet more than just “black and white” mean. "Anyone that mean has to be a fool," she said. "So I began mixing farce into it." She died Nov. 13 at age 93.


Kim Porter

Actress and model Porter, who dated rap mogul Sean “Piddy” Combs for years until their 2007 split and was mother to three of his children, was found dead in her home of undisclosed causes on Nov. 15. She was 47.

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Mac Miller

Miller, born Malcolm McCormick, was a bright light in the world of hip-hop, topping the Billboard charts with his 2011 debut album, “Blue Slide Park,” and scoring a 2013 hit duet, “The Way,” with then-girlfriend Ariana Grande. The rapper died of an apparent overdose on Sept. 27 at age 26.

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Margot Kidder

Kidder charmed audiences as Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent in 1978's "Superman: The Movie" and its three sequels. The Canadian-American actress, who also co-starred opposite James Brolin in 1979's "The Amityville Horror," was an outspoken advocate for mental health following a much publicized 1996 nervous breakdown. She died by suicide May 13 at age 69.

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Neal E. Boyd

Boyd, an opera singer who won the third season of "America's Got Talent" in 2008, wowed fans with his show-stopping voice. The singer had battled severe health problems, including heart and kidney failure for several years, before dying at his mother's home on June 10. He was 42.


Neil Simon

One of Broadway’s most successful playwrights, Simon, was the genius behind some of theater’s most beloved comedies including “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Throughout his nearly half-century career, Simon won three Tony Awards and the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for his plays. He died Aug. 25 of complications from pneumonia at age 91.

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Pres. George and Barbara Bush

Pres. George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush

George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, and his wife of more than seven decades, former first lady Barbara Bush, died less than eight months apart. The longest-married couple in presidential history, the Bushes met at a school dance in 1941. "I could hardly breathe, I thought he was so beautiful," Mrs. Bush once told her granddaughter, TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager. The pair wed in 1945, and welcomed six children, including eldest son, George W. Bush, the 43rd president. The couple's journey took them all the way to the White House, where Mr. Bush served as the vice president for eight years before serving as president from 1989 to 1993. Mrs. Bush died April 17 at age 92 and Mr. Bush followed her on Nov. 30 at age 94.

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Richard "Old Man" Harrison

American businessman Harrison was the beloved "Old Man" of the History Channel's reality series "Pawn Stars." The co-owner of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Harrison starred alongside his son, Rick Harrison, on the long-running series, charming viewers with his crotchety attitude and wisecracking ways. He died June 25 of Parkinson's disease at age 77.

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Robin Leach

Leach, an English entertainment reporter, helped American audiences tap into their “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” as the host of the opulent television series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” from 1984 to 1995. He died Aug. 24 at age 76.

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Roy Clark

Country music legend Clark was the beloved host of the down-home variety show “Hee Haw” for its entire 24-year run. A virtuoso guitarist, banjo player and fiddler, Clark scored several hits, including "Yesterday When I Was Young" and "Thank God and Greyhound" in the 1960s and '70s, and became a country music ambassador thanks to his TV presence and his global tours. He died at home on Nov. 15 from complications of pneumonia. He was 85.

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Stan Lee

The mastermind behind Marvel Comics, Lee helped create some of the world's most beloved comic book superheroes, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther. In in the 1960s, the self-described hack revolutionized the comics industry when he began inventing morally complex crimefighting heroes whose human frailties shined through. Decades later, the legendary writer, editor and publisher moved to Hollywood and, before long, watched as his creations became Hollywood blockbusters. Lee died Nov. 12 at age 95.

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Stephen Hawking

Legendary physicist Hawking, author of the 1988 bestseller "A Brief History of Time," inspired millions around the globe by living a robust life of the mind after being diagnosed at age 21 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. Hawking defied doctors, who gave him just a few years to live, by spending decades redefining how scientists understand gravity, black holes and more fundamentals of the universe. Hawking died March 14 at age 76.

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Stephen Hillenburg

The creator of Nickelodeon’s irreverent cartoon series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Hillenburg revealed in March 2017 that he'd been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. He died Nov. 26 at age 57.

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Tab Hunter

Hunter rose to fame as a boy-next-door Hollywood heartthrob in 1950s and '60s films including "Battle Cry" and “Damn Yankees.” Decades later, he gained new fans playing the husband of drag queen Divine in John Waters’ 1981 cult flick “Polyester,” which proved so successful, the duo paired up again in Waters’ wacky “Lust in the Dust” (1985). Hunter became a gay icon when he came out publicly in a 2005 memoir. He died of a heart attack July 8 at age 86.

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Verne Troyer

Troyer charmed moviegoers as Mini-Me to Mike Myers’ bumbling Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” movies. Upon hearing of death of his friend and co-starred, who battled both depression and addiction, comedian Myers said in a statement, “It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed." Troyer died by suicide on April 21 at age 49.

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