Every year, we tragically lose individuals who were so dedicated and skilled at their craft that they grew to become celebrities among the public. Whether they were musicians, actors, journalist, or politicians, they all made a great enough impact on the world that they were famous in their own right. Unfortunately, we lose some along the way either appropriately for their time or far too young. These are the stars that we lost in 2019 and their accomplishments in life.
John Singleton Was A Revolutionary Director
John Singleton did it all as he was a renowned director, actor, screenwriter, and producer. At the unbelievable age of 24, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for his 1991 film, Boyz n the Hood. This made him the first African American and youngest director to have ever been nominated for the award.
His other notable works include Higher Learning, Poetic Justice, and Baby Boy, all which dealt with issues such as race and poverty. After suffering a stroke on April 17, his family made the decision to take him off life support on April 29.
Jessie Combs Died Attempting To Beat Her Own Record
Known as “the fastest woman on four wheels,” Jessie Combs was not only a record-breaking race car driver, but was also featured on shows such as Mythbusters, Xtreme 4×4, and Overhauling. In 2013, she set a woman’s land speed record only to beat her own record again in 2016.
On August 27, 2019, she attempted to beat her own record for the third time when her jet-power race car crashed in southeastern, Oregon, resulting in her death. She was only 36 at the time.
Peter Fonda Was A 60s Icon
A true man of the ’60s, Peter Fonda was an acclaimed actor, director, and screenwriter. Son of Henry and James Fonda, he was one of the major faces in the counterculture movement starring in revolutionary films such as Easy Rider.
He was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and won three Golden Globes throughout his career. Fonda passed away on August 16, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 79. According to his loved ones, “the official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer.”
Valerie Harper Battled Severe Illness For Years
Valerie Harper made a name for herself as an actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhonda, earning her four Emmy Awards. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003, and a decade later, it was discovered that she had also developed a rare form of brain cancer.
On July 23, her husband, Tony Cacciotti, posted that her doctor recommended she enter hospice care although the ultimately decided against the suggestion. She died on August 30 at the age of 80.
Beth Chapman Succumbed To Cancer
Wife of Duane “Dog” Chapman, Beth Chapman was an American bounty hunter and the co-star of the reality television shows, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Dog and Beth: On the Hunt, and Dog’s Most Wanted. In September 2017, Beth was diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer which soon went into remission.
However, the cancer then spread to her lungs giving her a stage 4 diagnosis. While filming in 2019, she was hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma, passing away on June 25 due to complications from cancer.
Peter Mayhew Was The Man Behind Chewbacca
Peter Mayhew was an over 7-foot-tall English-American actor who is best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise. He played the role in all five of the live-action films that Chewbacca appeared in from the first film in 1977 until 2015’s The Force Awakens before retiring.
In the years leading up to his death, Mayhew had been hospitalized due to pneumonia and had spinal surgery to increase his mobility due to Marfan syndrome. However, he passed away from a heart attack on April 30 at his home in Boyd, Texas.
Comedian And Actor John Witherspoon Had A Lengthy Career
Actor John Witherspoon, known for playing Willie Jones in the Friday film franchise, died at his home on October 29, 2019. A veteran of film and television, he had toles in Boomerang, Vampire In Brooklyn, Good Times, What’s Happening!!, The Richard Pryor Show, Barnaby Jones, The Wayans Bros., The Tracy Morgan Show, The Boondocks, and more.
Witherspoon’s family posted an announcement, which read, “He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever.”
Toni Morrison Left Her Mark On History
Toni Morrison was a writer, editor, essayist, and professor emeritus at Princeton University, among other things. An acclaimed author, she was the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, and later went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved in 1988.
She was also very active and vocal in American politics, especially in regards to race relations. Sadly, at the age of 88, she passed away at the Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx on August 5, 2019, due to complications of pneumonia.
Rutger Hauer’s Cause Of Death Remains Unknown
Born in 1944, Rutger Hauer is a Dutch actor, environmentalist, and writer. Beginning his career in Dutch television in 1969, he eventually moved into American film with popular movies such as Nighthawks, and his most famous, Blade Runner.
In 1999, he was named the Best Dutch Actor of the Century and was made a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2013. Hauer died on July 19 after a short illness at the age of 75 with his agent not revealing his cause of death.
Cameron Boyce Was Far Too Young
First appearing in a Panic! at the Disco music video, Boyce made his film debut in Mirrors in 2006 before starring in the Disney Channel series, Jessie. He was also featured in the films Eagle Eye, Grown Ups, and Grown Ups 2, however, he is best known for his role as Carlos in the Descendants television films.
Shockingly, at the age of 20, on July 6, his family released a statement that he had been sleeping when he suffered from a seizure due to a medical condition.
Nipsey Hussle Left behind A Legacy
Ermias Joseph Ashedon, known as Nipsey Hussle, was a rapper, community activist, and entrepreneur. Coming into the West Coast hip-hop scene in the mid-2000s, his first mixed tape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, resulted in him signing with Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records.
Known for his mixtapes, his debut solo album, Victory Lap, was released in 2018 and was critically and commercially successful, leading to a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2019. Unfortunately, the 33-year-old was shot and killed in front of his store, Marathon Clothing, on March 21.
Luke Perry Was Teenage Heartthrob
Luke Perry got his start as a teen idol playing the role of Dylan McKay on the TV series Beverly Hills, 90210 from 1990 to 1995 and again from 1998 to 2000. He is also well known for his character Fred Andrews on CW’s Riverdale with guest appearances on shows such as Will & Grace, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and more.
He also was featured in films with his last being Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. After a series of strokes on February 27, his family opted to take him off life support and he died on March 4 at the age of 52.
Doris Day Was The Lady of Her Time
Born 1922, Doris Day was a singer, actress, and animal welfare activist. She achieved commercial success as a big band singer in 1939 before going on to record more than 650 songs as a solo act. She transitioned to acting during the Hollywood Golden Age where she worked for 20 years.
During her time acting, she became one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and ’60s, even being nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. At 97 years old, Day passed away on May 13 at her home in Carmel Valley, California due to a serious case of pneumonia.
Albert Finney Was An Actor In All Mediums
Albert Finny was a British actor known for his performances in television, film, and theater. After attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he worked in theater for a time before acting his debut film The Entertainer in 1960.
Some of his most notable works include Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Two for the Road, Big Fish, and Erin Brockovich, among others. He was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor on four occasions. He died on February 7 due to a chest infection in London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.
Rip Torn Had An Extensive Career
Elmore Raul “Rip” Torn Jr. had a carer in the film industry that spanned over 60 years working as both an actor and a voice actor. Torn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Cross Creek in 1984.
He also worked in television as Artie on The Larry Sanders Show which earned him six Emmy nominations, winning in 1996. For his work, he also won an American Comedy Award and two Cable ACE Awards. Although a cause of death is yet to be revealed, he passed away at his home on June 9 at 88 years old.
Ric Ocasek Was The Face Of The Cars
Born on March 23, 1944, Ric Ocasek made a name for himself as a record producer and the lead vocalist, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist for the new wave rock group The Cars. For his work, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
On September 15, 2019, he was found unresponsive by his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova, in his New York City townhouse. According to New York City’s medical examiner, he passed away from hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with pulmonary emphysema.
Bob Einstein Had A Knack For Comedy
Stewart Robert Einstein was a comedy writer, actor, and producer. He is well remembered for creating and performing the satirical stuntman character Super Dave Osborne which helped to put him on the map. he got his start in writing for numerous television shows and earned two Emmy Awards for his work and four other nominations.
Later in his life, played the roles of Marty Funkhouser in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry Middleman on Arrested Development. After a tough battle with cancer, he died on January 2 at the age of 76.
Eddie Money Passed Away Soon After A Big Reveal
Edward Joseph Mahoney, better known as Eddie Money, was a successful rock musician, rising to fame in the 1970s and 80s. He’s best known for his hit songs such as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight,” the latter earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1987.
At the age of 70, he passed away on September 13, just a month after he announced that he had been seeking treatment for stage 4 esophageal cancer.
Russi Taylor Brought Minnie To Life
Russi Taylor was a voice actress known for her many characters throughout her career, mostly for Disney. Her most well-known character, however, was Minnie Mouse, whom she began voicing in 1986. She was also the voice behind Martin Prince of The Simpsons. At the age of 75, she passed away from colon cancer on July 26.
Bob Iger, the Disney Chairman and CEO released a statement “Minnie and Russi worked together to entertain millions around the world — a partnership that made Minnie a global icon and Russi a Disney Legend beloved by fans everywhere.”
Grumpy Cat Was An Internet Sensation
Tardar Sauce, most commonly referred to as “Grumpy Cat,” was an Internet celebrity that was known for her permanently “grumpy” looking expression due to an underbite and feline dwarfism. She became famous after her picture was posted on Reddit, where she grew to become a viral sensation and the subject of countless Internet memes.
At seven years old, Tardar Sauce died in the arms of her owner, Tabitha, after complications from a urinary tract infection on May 14. memorials for her were posted across the Internet worldwide.
Dick Dale Was “The King of Surf Guitar”
Richard Anthony Monsour, better known as Dick Dale was a rock and roll guitarist, best known as the pioneer of surf music. Self-proclaimed as “The King of the Surf Guitar,” he was recognized for his use of Middle Eastern scales and turning them into something new.
He also worked closely with Fender to create custom amplifiers that helped make his music louder without sacrificing the sound. Dale had a series of health problems leading up to his death including rectal cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, and a damaged vertebra. He passed away on March 16 at the age of 81.