The People We Lost in 2018

Here's a look back at some of the legendary musicians, writers, actors, politicians, and self-made entrepreneurs who died this year who forever changed the world through their visionary art and inspirational endeavors.
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Dolores O'Riordan (September 6, 1971 - January 15, 2018)

Dolores O'Riordan performs with her band the Cranberries at Central Park SummerStage, New York, New York, August 11, 1994.

Dolores O'Riordan performing at Central Park SummerStage in New York City on August 11, 1994

The 1990s wouldn't have been the same without the Irish grunge rock band The Cranberries led by the hypnotic and ferocious Celtic-infused vocals of Dolores O'Riordan. With her trademark pixie cut, the frontwoman brought the group to the top of the music charts with hits like "Dreams," "Linger" and "Zombie." After going solo in 2003, O'Riordan and the band reunited in 2009, re-establishing their massive influence in Ireland's music scene and around the world. O'Riordan tragically died at the age of 46 in an accidental drowning accident by alcohol intoxication.

Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929 - January 22, 2018)

Ursula Le Guin at home in Portland

Ursula Le Guin at home in Portland, Oregon in December 2005.

Although she struggled early in her career, American novelist Ursula K. Le Guin found major success with her sci-fi novels Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions. Never retiring from her craft, Le Guin made literary waves four decades later with her novel Lavinia (2009) and the trilogy the Annals of the Western Shore, written around the same time. Among her many awards, Le Guin earned one of sci-fi literature's highest honors, the Grandmaster of Science Fiction in 2003. She passed away in her home in Portland, Oregon.

Billy Graham (November 7, 1918 - February 21, 2018)

Billy Graham

Rev. Billy Graham on October 7, 2004, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

As one of the most popular and influential Christian leaders in modern times, Billy Graham held a six-decade career in evangelical television and regularly preached to millions of believers in a live audience setting. The Southern Baptist minister was known for fighting racial injustice, as well as for his longstanding spiritual advisory role to many American presidents — from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. Graham is believed to have preached the Gospel to well over two billion people in his life before he died from natural causes at the age of 99.

Hubert de Givenchy (February 20, 1927 - March 10, 2018)

Herbert de Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy founded the House of Givenchy in the early 1950s, which would build its world-renowned reputation through its tailored suits and refined evening gowns. Givenchy's Parisian chic designs gave him the opportunity to dress the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly before he announced his retirement in the 1990s.

Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942 - March 14, 2018)

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

British scientist Stephen Hawking changed the way we saw the universe with his groundbreaking research into black holes and relativity. Despite his being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, which eventually left him wheelchair bound and paralyzed, Hawking made a huge impact in the field of cosmology and found a mainstream audience with his many bestselling books, including A Brief History of Time and The Grand Design. In addition to serving as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge (1979 - 2009), Hawking was also a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Britons of all time. In March 2018, he succumbed to the disease that plagued him for more than 50 years.

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Linda Brown (February 20, 1942 - March 25, 2018)

Linda Brown in front of segregated Monroe Elementary School

Linda Brown in front of the segregated Monroe Elementary School, which she attended

Born in Topeka, Kansas, during a time when racial segregation was legal, Linda Brown was only a third grader when she was forced to travel a long distance to go to school, despite there being an all-white school just a few blocks from her house. Represented by Thurgood Marshall, who would later become the first black Supreme Court Justice, Brown's father fought for his daughter's rights by showing the injustices of segregated schools as a plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and won. As an adult, Brown herself would continue her father's legacy and become an educational and civil rights activist in her native Kansas.

Barbara Bush (June 8, 1925 - April 17, 2018)

Barbara Bush in October 2011

Former First Lady Barbara Bush in October 2011

Known for her no-nonsense practicality and strong will, Barbara Bush was the only first lady besides Abigail Adams who had the distinction of being married to a president (George H.W. Bush) and being the mother of one (George W. Bush). During her husband's administration and for the rest of her life, Bush passionately dedicated her time to literacy causes, eventually forming the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in 1989. Bush was a tireless campaigner for her sons George and Jeb Bush and was diligently by her husband's side through his various health issues. She was married to George H.W. Bush for 73 years before she died at the age of 92 from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Verne Troyer (January 1, 1969 - April 21, 2018)

Verne Troyer in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Verne Troyer and Mike Myers in 1999's 'Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me'

Standing at two feet, eight inches, Verne Troyer may have been a small man, but he took laughter and his career to tall heights as Mini-Me in the Mike Myers comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me in 1999. He later reprised his role in a 2002 sequel and appeared on a few celebrity-themed reality shows before committing suicide at the age of 49.

Tom Wolfe (March 2, 1930 - May 14, 2018)

Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe

Among the many opinions that could be offered about American author and journalist Tom Wolfe, there was no arguing he was a man of style — both in his work and his daily accouterments. Famous for developing "New Journalism," a method of blending literary techniques into news writing, Wolfe became a bestselling author through his works The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), The Right Stuff (1979) and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987). He passed away after being admitted to the hospital for an infection.

Margot Kidder (October 17, 1948 - May 13, 2018) 

Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder

With her dark doe eyes and scratchy tomboyish voice, Canadian-American actress Margot Kidder became most famous for her role as Lois Lane in the Superman film franchise in the late 70s to mid-80s. Although her career slowed down after Superman, Kidder found work in independent films and TV shows before winning an Emmy for her small-screen role in R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour in 2015. Despite her positive contributions as an environmental and anti-nuclear activist, Kidder struggled with mental health problems and addiction and later committed suicide in her Montana home.

Philip Roth (March 19, 1933 - May 22, 2018)

Philip Roth standing near Jewish center and Hebrew school

Philip Roth standing near a Jewish center and Hebrew school in New Jersey

A gifted and provocative novelist — famous for exploring American and Jewish identity in a largely autobiographical way — Philip Roth first turned heads in the literary world with his novella Goodbye Columbus (1959), which earned him a National Book Award. He would later go on to write the bestseller Portnoy's Complaint (1969) and receive the Pulitzer Prize for his novel American Pastoral (1997), as well as a WH Smith Literary Award for The Human Stain (2000), among his many literary accolades. Roth died at a Manhattan hospital from congestive heart failure at age 85.

Kate Spade (December 24, 1962 - June 5, 2018)

Kate Spade in her office

Kate Spade photographed in her office

Handbags in the 1990s would find its champion in designer Kate Spade, thanks to her innovative modern style and love of bold color. Spade became a fashion accessories juggernaut who would expand her business into a beloved global brand before selling it in its entirety in the mid-2000s. Although she sought new fashion endeavors with her newly launched brand, Frances Valentine, in 2016, Spade — who had been struggling with mental health problems for years — committed suicide in her Park Avenue apartment.

Anthony Bourdain (June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018)

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain at Tintol restaurant in New York City in April 2006

Celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain carved out a unique niche in culinary celebritydom starting with his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000). With his acerbic wit faithfully by his side, Bourdain managed to bring together his love for food, travel, humanity, and storytelling through his TV documentary style shows like Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. His influence as a world-traveling chef was an inspiration to his many fans, making it all the more difficult to say goodbye when news got out that he died of an apparent suicide at the age of 61.

Joe Jackson (July 26, 1928 - June 27, 2018)

Joe Jackson at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2015 in Cannes, France

Joe Jackson at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2015, in Cannes, France

Talent manager and patriarch of the Jackson Family, Joe Jackson was a living example of the American Dream — but not without controversy. Despite having aspirations of becoming a professional boxer, Jackson took a job as a crane operator at an Indiana steel company to help support his growing family with his wife Katherine. Realizing his children had musical talents that could change their family's future, Jackson shaped his sons into the musical pop powerhouse The Jackson 5, starting in the 1960s, but his alleged abusive discipline, (claimed by son Michael and confirmed by other siblings), created tension within the family and led to his ouster as their manager. Jackson died of terminal cancer at 89.

Charlotte Rae (April 22, 1926 - August 5, 2018)

Charlotte Rae on February 12, 2016 in Universal City, California

Charlotte Rae on February 12, 2016, in Universal City, California

With her signature red bouffant, Charlotte Rae was best known as the matriarchal figure "Mrs. G" (aka Mrs. Garrett) on the beloved 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, which was a spinoff of the hit show Diff'rent Strokes. The Facts of Life, which ran for nine seasons, made Rae into a star and earned her two Emmy nominations before she moved onto a variety of film and TV projects, including voiceover work in Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) and appearances in Girl Meets World and the film Ricki and the Flash (2015). She passed away at age 92 from various health issues.

Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942 - August 16, 2018)

Aretha Franklin performs on stage at the Park West Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, March 23, 1992

Aretha Franklin at the Park West Auditorium in Chicago, Illinois on March 23, 1992

Dubbed the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin's velvety, gospel-charged vocals took to the mainstream with pop hits like "Respect," "Freeway of Love" and "I Say a Little Prayer." Her musical prowess gave her the distinction of being the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of the most decorated Grammy winners of all time. She passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 76. In honor of Franklin's many accomplishments and a nod to her hit "Freeway of Love," the pop diva's funeral turned into a joyful celebratory event as evidenced by the procession of 100-plus pink Cadillacs driving down 7 Mile Road in her hometown of Detroit.

Kofi Annan (April 8, 1938 - August 18, 2018)

Kofi Annan in Paris on December 11, 2017

Kofi Annan in Paris on December 11, 2017

Born into an aristocratic Ghanaian family, Kofi Annan was a diplomat who served as Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997 - 2006) and later as a representative for Syria to help with its ongoing humanitarian crisis. Annan received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his work in fighting the spread of AIDS in Africa and international terrorism. At the end of his tenure as Secretary-General, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation, which aims to strengthen global governance and promote peace throughout the world. He died after a short battle with an illness in Switzerland.

Robin Leach (August 29, 1941 - August 24, 2018) 

Robin Leach

Robin Leach in September 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada

If one loved watching Dynasty for its peek into the lavish lives of the exceptionally privileged, Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (1984 - 1995) was its must-see reality version sans the catty drama. The debonair English television host showed off the opulence of the wealthiest people in America and tantalized us with his talk of "champagne wishes and caviar dreams." He died from complications from a stroke in Las Vegas, Nevada.

John McCain (August 29, 1936 - August 25, 2018)

John McCain on December 27, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa.

John McCain at a campaign event on December 27, 2007, in Des Moines, Iowa

John McCain was many things in life: a Naval officer, a Vietnam war veteran and POW, a Senator from Arizona, and the 2008 Republican nominee for President — but none of these titles suited him more than the title of "maverick." McCain had the reputation of holding to his convictions even on issues that went against his party. And despite his well-known adversarial relationship with President Obama, McCain held firm to honoring country before party: In one of his last maverick moves before his death from brain cancer, he asked the former President to eulogize him at his own funeral.

Neil Simon (July 4, 1927 - August 26, 2018)

Neil Simon in 1982

Neil Simon in 1982

Playwright Neil Simon started out in radio and television before heading to Broadway and earning Tony Awards for his shows The Odd Couple (1965), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Lost in Yonkers (1991). A master at his craft, Simon also found major success as a screenwriter, adapting some of his plays onto the big screen and also producing original films like The Out-of-Towners (1970) and Murder by Death (1976). As a writer, Simon has culled the most Academy Award and Tony Award nominations than anyone in his industry. Simon passed away on August 26, 2018, due to complications from pneumonia. He was also reported to have been suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Burt Reynolds (February 11, 1936 - September 6, 2018)

Burt Reynolds during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas

Burt Reynolds during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2016, in Austin, Texas

With his signature mustache and sexy wink in tow, Burt Reynolds charmed audiences as a box office superstar in the 70s and 80s with hits like Deliverance (1972), The Longest Yard (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and The Cannonball Run (1981). After experiencing a string of disappointments in his career, Reynolds made a comeback as porn director Jack Horner in Boogie Nights (1997), earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He died on September 6 after going into cardiac arrest. 

Paul Allen (January 21, 1953 - October 15, 2018)

Paul Allen at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California

Paul Allen at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California

There's rich and then there was being Paul Allen. Best known for being Microsoft co-founder with Bill Gates, Allen resigned from the software company in the early 80s to focus on recovering from Hodgkin's disease. From there he pursued an array of ventures in business, science, media, real estate and philanthropy and became one of the wealthiest people in the world — ranked at no. 44 as of early 2018 — with an estimated net worth of over $20 billion when he died.

Stan Lee (December 28, 1922 - November 12, 2018)

Stan Lee in 2017

Stan Lee in 2017

Comic book creator Stan Lee was the creative driving force behind the success of Marvel Comics and helped create some of the most popular Marvel superheroes today such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Black Panther and Ant-Man. Lee transformed Marvel Comics into a multimedia empire and served as a public figurehead even after he retired from the company in the 1990s. An inductee of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, he continued to work on projects until his death at age 95.

George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924 - November 30, 2018)

George H.W. Bush at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, June 17, 2015

George H.W. Bush at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine in June 2015

His New England manners may have belied his vigorous political ambitions, but George H.W. Bush was first and foremost a public servant. Prior to becoming the 41st president of the United States, he served as a congressman, delegate to the U.N., special envoy to China, C.I.A. director and as Ronald Reagan's vice president. A decorated Navy veteran of World War II, Bush helped guide America through the Cold War in peace. However, he was not afraid of waging battles when he believed them to be warranted. In 1989 he overthrew Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and brought the country into the Gulf War after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Still, most of Bush's major accomplishments have come through his careful restraint and talent for diplomacy. Bush died just six months after his wife of 73 years, former First Lady Barbara Bush, passed away. It was said that his last words were "I love you, too" to his son, 43rd president George W. Bush.