This entry is meant to pay respects to those in the Entertainment Industry who passed away in the year 2018. I’m not the best at eulogy-type stuff, as you can probably tell from my other Rememberence entries, so please bear with me.
Celebrities We Lost in 2018:
Actor Jerry Van Dyke (brother of Dick Van Dyke) passed away in 2018 at the age of 86. I remember him from the old TV show “Coach”. I always thought of Luther as the sweet old uncle everyone wanted. I don’t know much about what Mr. Van Dyke did before “Coach”, but he was a good actor from what I saw and I feel nostalgic remembering him on the show.
The first notable musician to pass away in 2018 was Delores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. The Cranberries were a popular band when I was a just a kid in the 1990’s. They were one of the few bands from the 90’s that you can actually listen to and not hate too much. Delores was 46 which is old, but still too young to die. Her cause of death has still not been released.
Mark Salling of “Glee” took his own life at the age of 35. His role as Puck on “Glee” qualifies him as a kind of singer. I really never watched “Glee”, but for a few excerpts of it and I have to say from what I’ve heard, the actors on that show had pretty decent voices.
John Mahoney was another actor on a very popular show when I was young called “Frasier”. Some of today’s youngsters might be familiar with “Frasier” from the re-runs. Mr. Mahoney played a down-to-earth dad in contrast to the snobby Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde-Pierce). He was 77.
When Harry Anderson passed away at the age of 65, I felt especially saddened since “Night Court” was one of my favorite re-run shows. I loved the earthy Judge Harry Stone and all the crazy happenings in and out of a wacky NYC courtroom. This show was certainly unique and so was Mr. Anderson who put a lot of his real self into his “Night Court” character.
A late 90’s celebrity, Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer died last summer at the age of 49. Mini-Me was a very popular character in my day and it’s sad to see his portrayer go. Although the Austin Powers films were certainly not set in my favorite time period, there are still some funny scenes featuring Verne Troyer that will never be forgotten.
Fashionistas and non were shocked when designer Kate Spade took her own life last summer at the age of 55. Most women own a Kate Spade item, and I am no exception. It’s shocking when someone who has what looks like a dream job is not happy to the point of wanting to end their life. While I still admire some Kate Spade items, I can’t look at them now without being reminded of the brand’s namesake and her tragic end.
Richard Benjamin Harrison aka “The Old Man” passed at the age of 77 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. For a few years in a row, one of my very favorite TV shows was History Channel’s “Pawn Stars”. I learned a lot about history just watching all the amazing items coming into Gold and Silver Pawn. The Old Man, although notoriously grumpy, was a funny and welcome presence on practically every episode.
Another prominent person in the music industry who died in 2018 was D.J. Fontana, the drummer for Elvis Presley. Since Elvis took so much of the lime-light, many of us don’t know who his band members were. However, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of Mr. Fontana, since I am a huge fan of early Rock n Roll. Mr. Fontana’s work can be heard on many of Elvis’s recordings and he also played on stage with him. He was 87.
Tab Hunter was a hugely popular actor in the 50’s and 60’s who was portrayed as a ladies’ man. Later, he came out as gay and spent the rest of his life with his partner who was at his side when he passed away suddenly at the age of 86 from a blood clot.
Aretha Franklin was probably the most well-known Star in the industry to pass away in 2018. Known as “The Queen of Soul”, Ms. Franklin gave us mega-hits such as “Respect”, “Think”, “Chain of Fools”, “A Natural Woman” and many more. She was also an amazing person, an intelligent mind and a phenomenal stage presence. She was 76 when she died, but her legacy will live on forever.
Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82 after an unforgettable career as a popular actor in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. But personally, my favorite role he had was the brief cameo at the end of an episode of “The Golden Girls”.
For me, the most heart-breaking celebrity loss of 2018 was that of Peggy Sue Gerron. Peggy Sue was recognized mostly for her name, which was the title of the 1957 mega-hit song by Buddy Holly. In real life, Peggy Sue married The Crickets’ drummer, Jerry Allison at the age of 18. She left high school to go on tour with the band. Years later, she co-wrote the book “Whatever Happened To Peggy Sue?”, a biography of her days in the middle of early Rock n Roll madness. Peggy Sue will always be the Sweetheart of America’s Golden Era. Her song will live on forever as it continues to be discovered by new generations to come. She was 78.
Ken Berry was an actor whose first big starring role was on “Mayberry R.F.D.”, a spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show”. He went on to play Vinton on the 1980’s sit-com “Mama’s Family” staring Vicki Lawrence. Mr. Berry was another beloved American actor that we hate to see go. He was 85.
Finally, it is with great sadness that the industry and the fans say goodbye to Penny Marshall who passed at the age of 75 on December 22, 2018. Penny Marshall starred as Laverne on the sit-com “Laverne & Shirley” with Cindy Williams. Set in the 50’s and early 60’s, the show was a spin-off of “Happy Days” also produced by Penny’s brother Garry Marshall (1934 – 2016). Penny Marshall went on to direct huge blockbuster films in the 80’s and 90’s such as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Big”, “A League of Their Own” and “Awakenings”.
R.I.P. to those we lost this year, and a special thanks to all they’ve contributed to our entertainment enjoyment.