This year, we said goodbye to a number of actors, musicians, authors, and politicans who have left behind a legacy that is not to be forgotten. Take a look and reflect on the prominent and accomplished minds who passed in 2017.
Died: October 24, 2017 (age 89)
Fats Domino was a singer-songwriter who rivaled Elvis Presley by becoming one of the top record-selling artists of the 1950s. Over the course of his illustrious career, Domino sold more than 65 million records, with 35 in the Billboard Top 40.
Domino was the youngest of eight children, and was born and raised in New Orleans. He began performing at local bars at age 14, and he was signed to Imperial Records in 1949.
Died: October 6, 2017 (age 45)
Comedian Ralphie May died at age 45 in Las Vegas after suffering cardiac arrest. He had been battling pneumonia for six weeks prior to his passing, according to TMZ.
May was a stand-up comedian who rose to fame after placing second in the competition Last Comic Standing. Since 2005, he released a number of comedy projects, including the album Just Correct, as well as Girth of a Nation, Prime Cut, and Austin-tatious. In 2015, May released two Netflix specials: Unruly and Imperfectly Yours. He is survived by his wife, Lahna Turner, whom he was divorcing at the time of his death, as well as his two children.
Tom Petty: October 2, 2017 (age 66)
Tom Petty died at 66 after suffering cardiac arrest. In a statement, Tony Dimitriades, Petty’s longtime manager, revealed that Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu and was later taken to UCLA Medical Center. He died at 8:40pm with friends and family at his side.
Petty rose to fame in the 1970s with his band, Petty and the Heartbreakers. In 2002, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Petty and his band finished a summer tour at the Hollywood Bowl just last week.
Died: September 27, 2017 (age 91)
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died at age 91 on Wednesday, September 27. Hefner was the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, which was founded in 1953.
Hefner was born on April 9, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. He left his job at Esquire in 1952 and took out his own mortgage and a loan to launch the first Playboy. Hefner was married three times over the course of his life, and had four children. The political activist and philanthropist was known for advocating civil rights and sexual liberation.
At the time of his death, Hefner was married to 31-year-old Crystal. His daughter, Christie, formerly served as CEO of Playboy Enterprise and his son, Cooper, currently serves as Chief Creative Officer of the company.
Died: September 23, 2017 (age 68)
A soul singer, Charles Bradley referred to himself as the “screaming eagle of soul”.
Bradley was born in Gainesville, Florida, before moving to Brooklyn when he was eight. He was inspired by James Brown, who he watched perform at the Apollo Theater when he was young, to pursue a life of art and music. Bradley worked odd jobs and performed small gigs for years– in 1996, he began moonlighting as a James Brown impersonator at local night clubs.
Eventually, his velvet voice got him recognized by Gabriel Roth, the co-founder of Daptone Records, whom he eventually signed with.
Died: September 18, 2017 (age 89)
Best known for playing Morris “Morrie” Kessler in Goodfellas, Low passed away at a nursing home. Over the course his career, he appeared in The Sopranos as Shlomo Teittleman in season 1, The Mission, Once Upon a Time in America, Mistress, and Sleepers, among others.
Low is known for having appeared in a number of films with Robert De Niro.
Harry Dean Stanton
Died: September 15, 2017 (age 91)
Harry Dean Stanton led an illustrious career in the arts. An actor, musician, and singer, Stanton appeared in a number of notable films over the course of his career, which lasted six decades, including Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, The Straight Story, The Green Mile, Alpha Dog, and Island Empire, among others.
Stanton rose to fame with his appearances in indie and cult films. He is also known for his friendships with Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Nicholson– Stanton served as the best man at Nicholson’s wedding in 1962.
Died: September 11, 2017 (age 46)
Rosie O’Donnell’s ex-wife, Michelle Rounds, was found dead at her home on September 11 from an apparent suicide, according to TMZ.
Rounds and O’Donnell began dating in 2011 and married in a private ceremony in June 2012. The couple broke up in 2014; Rosie for divorce in 2015. Together, O’Donnell and Rounds have an adopted daughter together named Dakota. According to her LinkedIn, Rounds was training as a nursing student at the time of her passing.
Died: August 24, 2017 (age 69)
Actor Jay Thomas died of cancer at age 69. Thomas led a prolific career; he co-starred in roles on Mork & Mindy as Eddie LeBec, and Cheers. In 1990 and 1991, he won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy for his work as Jerry Gold, a talk show host, in Murphy Brown.
Children may recognize Thomas for playing the Easter Bunny in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3. Thomas’s other notable film roles include My Date with the President’s Daughter, Last Chance, Underdogs, and The Trials of Cate McCall.
Died: August 20, 2017 (age 91)
Jerry Lewis is known as one of the slapstick comic greats. The actor, singer, producer, director, and screenwriter partnered with Dean Martin to create the hit comedy duo Martin & Lewis</em. from 1946 to 1956.
Lewis initially gained traction for his friendship with Martin, but went on to appear in films like My Friend Irma, At War with the Army, The Nutty Professor, The Caddy, and The Bellboy among others. Lewis has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Died: August 19, 2017 (age 84)
Dick Gregory was a comedian and civil rights activist who integrated his thoughts on civil rights into his comedy routines. In his famous ’60s comedy routines, Gregory mocked bigotry and racism.
Gregory was arrested multiple times during the ’60s and ’70s; until 1961, he performed primarily for black audiences at segregated clubs.
He and his wife, Lillian Smith, had 11 children together.
Died: August 8, 2017 (age 81)
Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. In 2014, he became a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. Campbell, who was married four times over the course of his life, had 8 children.
A prominent musician, he released more than 70 albums and sold more than 45 million records worldwide over the course of his career. The Arkansas native is known for hits like “Universal Soldier”, “Gentle on My Mind”, “Dreams of the Everyday House Wife”, “Galveston”, and “Southern Nights”. In 1967, he won four Grammys in country and pop categories.
In 1969, Campbell played a supporting role in the film True Grit, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. The title song for the film won the Oscar that year.
Died: August 8, 2017 (age 81)
Chester Bennington was the lead singer of Linkin Park. In July, the Los Angeles County coroner confirmed that he died by hanging.
Bennington passed at age 41 on the birthday of his good friend, Chris Cornell. He sang “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral.
The singer was born in Phoenix, Arizona, to a police detective and nurse. His parents divorced when he was 11. He joined his first band, Sean Dowdell and His Friends in 1993. He later joined “Grey Daze” and recorded singles like ‘Wake Me’, ‘Demo in’, and ‘No Sun Today’. In 2005, he founded his own rock band named ‘Dead by Sunrise.’
Died: May 18, 2017 (age 52)
Chris Cornell was best known for being the frontman for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave.
As a leader of the grunge movement, Cornell received a Golden Globe nomination in 2011 for his song “The Keeper” which appeared in the film Machine Gun Preacher.
Over the course of his career, Cornell sold 14.8 million albums, 8.8 million digital songs, and over 30 million records worldwide. He was nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, earning two wins.
Christopher “Big Black” Boykin
Died: May 9, 2017 (age 45)
Christopher “Big Black” Boykin starred in MTV’s Rob & Big, and was Rob Dyrdek’s best friend and bodyguard from 2006 to 2008.
Boykin served in the US Navy, and was hired by Dyrdek in the early 2000s. He was married to Shannon Turley from 2008 to 2009; together, the couple had one daughter.
Died: April 22, 2017 (age 56)
Actress Erin Moran was best known for playing innocent little Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and its spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi.
An autopsy showed that Moran likely died from complications from cancer, according to the New York Times.
Moran swore off Hollywood in the 1980s, and opted for a home in a quiet area of California. In 1988, she spoke to the Toronto Star and said she had suffered from depression after her TV series ended and she found herself unable to book roles. ”
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