Hollywood is a magical place, home to stars of the silver screen, sports, music, and television. It is said that reaching the center of Hollywood means that you have nowhere else to go in your career but up, and into the sky where the stars shine. Home to many stars that continue to outshine the brightest lights in the sky, and also some stars that fade away too soon. Hollywood stardom comes with all the pomp and glory one can imagine, but some stars fizzle out after a bright start, while others leave a lasting legacy in their wake. It’s a tough thing to be famous, and it’s even tougher to stay famous.
Sad as it may be, each year we end up having to say goodbye to stars whose time is up. No one lives forever, not even Hollywood stars, but their work and the memories they leave behind sure do. Now that 2017 is in rear view mirror, we took the time to honor those stars who may have left us too soon, but whose legacies will last forever. They have made an impact on pop culture and have changed the course of Hollywood history forever.
From musicians to TV personalities, and from movie stars to stage actors (and even one magazine founder!), we remember the amazing careers of these Hollywood stars who left this world too soon. And we celebrate what they have left to us and to the shining halls of Hollywood. Here are 15 celebs Hollywood lost in 2017.
15. Tom Petty
Music can bring us all together and make the world a better place. From pop to folk rock, music often puts a smile on people’s faces and can make any day brighter. That was the job of songwriter and vocalist Tom Petty. Tom was best known for being the frontman of the rock group, Tom Petty, and the Heartbreakers. Among their greatest hits were 70s chart-toppers “You Got Lucky” and “Breakdown.”
After Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, he became part of the group The Traveling Wilburys. Petty also enjoyed some success as a solo artist, writing hits like “Free Fallin’” and “I Won’t Back Down.” He died in Malibu, California after going through cardiac arrest on October 2nd. He passed at the age of 66.
14. Mary Tyler Moore
For women, Mary Tyler Moore was a trailblazer, paving the way for women in show business. She was a modern lass with style and grace, which caught producer’s eyes and landed her a spot on her very own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in the 1970s. She was also cast in The Dick Van Dyke Show, and she won six Emmy awards. Her role in the 1980s movie Ordinary People showed that she had the chops for more serious acting, and won her an Oscar Award.
It looked like her star would shine on for a long while. Mary Tyler Moore, unfortunately, contracted pneumonia. This caused the cardiopulmonary arrest that took her life. She died in Greenwich, Connecticut at 80 years old.
13. Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner changed the world of men’s magazines forever when he started Playboy. At 27 years old, Hefner started out with a loan from his mother to publish a magazine with commercialized photos of attractive women. As the magazine matured throughout the 60s and 70s, Playboy became a magazine that had riveting articles and quality reporting, which just so happened to also contain centerfold spreads of women.
Hugh Hefner lived the life of the ultimate playboy, living in a huge mansion with his Playmates and Playboy Bunnies. He lived a lavish lifestyle and dated models who ended up in the pages of his magazine. He made quite the name for himself over the years. Hugh died of natural causes on September 27th. He was 91 years old.
12. John Hurt
Some actors simply bring magic to every screen that they are on. One such person is John Hurt, the famed British actor whose acting career has spanned an astounding sixty years! He was best known for his beloved role as the wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter franchise, and his role in the late 1970s movie, The Midnight Express. One might say his most iconic on-screen appearance could even be as the first victim of the aliens in the original version of the movie Alien.
Truly, John Hurt has stunned film critics time and time again with his gravelly, lilting voice and extensive acting career. But all that came to a halt on January 25th, when he, unfortunately, passed away. Hurt lost his battle with pancreatic cancer after a long period of fighting. He was 77 years old.
11. Robert Guillaume
Robert Guillaume was best known for his role of Benson Du Bois, a butler on the 1970s parody series Soap. His comedic genius then earned him his own spinoff show Benson, where his same character becomes the Governor’s Head of Household Affairs. His impressive show business career spanned a good sixty years, a mix of both Broadway and mainly television acting.
Guillaume also voiced the beloved animated character Rafiki in the Disney classic The Lion King, as well as the rest of the movie’s sequels and spin-offs. He also lent his voice to another iconic cartoon, Captain Planet and the Planeteers. He lost his battle with prostate cancer at his home in Los Angeles, on October 24th. He was 89 years old.
10. Della Reese
Della Reese was a total diva who proved she could do it all. A singer, talk show personality, bonafide actress, and even an ordained minister, her career stretched over seven shining decades. She recorded the hit 1950s single “Don’t You Know,” and went on to host her own show, Della, in the 1960s. She also starred in the 80s TV series Touched by an Angel, boosting her fame to unbelievable heights.
She was a star to remember and was held in high regard by many. Sadly, Della Reese also suffered from Type 2 diabetes for a long time. No cause of death was officially announced, but she died in her home on November 19th. Reese passed at the age of 89 years old.
9. Roy Dotrice
Many actors collect awards over the span of their careers, but only a few can claim that they have earned a world record. Roy Dotrice is one of the few, having earned the record for the most characters voiced by a single actor in an audiobook! He beat the previous record with an astounding 223 characters for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. He also played Hallyne the Pyromancer in a couple of episodes of the Game of Thrones series.
Roy Dotrice also served in the Royal Air Force in WWII, where he was held as a prisoner in a German POW camp. After the war, he then went on to continue his acting career, appearing on stage at the West End as well as in TV and movies. He died in his home on October 16th, surrounded by friends and family. He was 94 years old.
8. Adam West
The Batman legacy would not be as enduring or as memorable without Adam West’s rendition of the character. Working alongside Robin, West’s Batman provided the perfect dose of camp and action. His career spanned the 1960s up until his final days in this world. Adam West also starred in The Young Philadelphians and guested on multiple TV shows such as Maverick and Fantasy Island.
He then reprised the iconic caped crusader in the 2003 movie, Return to the Batcave. Even in his later years, he still managed to play a huge role in pop culture and television. Adam West, unfortunately, lost his fight with leukemia on June 9th and died at his Los Angeles home. He was 88 years old.
7. Roger Moore
Nothing gets more iconic than the lines “I’m Bond… James Bond.” Roger Moore’s Bond was suave and dangerous, with just the right amount of drama to keep audiences watching. From playing small roles in post-war Britain to becoming an advertising model and eventually rising to fame as an actor, Moore’s acting career spanned seventy amazing years.
Roger Moore’s acting career truly got its jumpstart when he took over the James Bond role from Sean Connery in 1972, with his debut movie for the role, Live and Let Die. His final role was voicing Leif in Troll Hunters, which is due to be released in 2018. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer on May 23rd, at his home in Switzerland. He was 89 years old.
6. Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson got a boost to his acting career when he starred in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory in the 1950s. From there, he was mentored by Hollywood nice guy Cary Grant, and the rest? Well, the rest is history with this guy! He went on to play iconic roles such as MacGyver and was hailed as a smart, stylish man.
He was also famously known as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man. He would also portray this character on the spinoff series, The Bionic Woman. Anderson also appeared in numerous television movies and specials. Richard Anderson passed away of natural causes at his Beverly Hills home, surrounded by family, on August 31st. He was 91 years old.
5. Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis was the renowned “King of Comedy,” known for his slapstick humor in TV, film, stage, and radio. He was also famous for commanding great creative control over his show business endeavors, and being both a director and screenwriter in that respect. He and Dean Martin were a comedy duo in the late 1940s named, aptly, “Martin and Lewis.” Both performed at comedy clubs and bars nationwide.
His creativity and a genuine sense of humor, balanced with sharp wit, helped him make a name for himself in Hollywood and kept him under the stage lights constantly. Aside from being a comedian, he also wrote and directed many shows. Jerry Lewis died of cardiovascular disease on August 20th, at his Nevada home. He was 91 years old.
4. Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy is an actor who enjoyed success on both the stage and the screen. He started out as a classical actor, playing roles such as Coriolanus and Henry V on the West End. He then went on to reprise these roles in television specials that celebrated Britain’s love of Shakespeare. His talents also included writing, as he ended up writing and directing a special on the Battle of Agincourt, due to his interest in medieval warfare.
After dedicating most of his life to the stage and the silver screen, Robert Hardy retired and was given a knighthood from the Order of the British Empire. He, unfortunately, died at Denville Hall, a home for retired actors, on August 3rd. He was 91 years old.
3. Chester Bennington
Chester Bennington was best known for being the vocalist of rock band Linkin Park. Their album Hybrid Theory became a hit at the turn of the 21st century. The band then became the mind behind the theme songs of the Transformers trilogy. Bennington would go on to form his own band, Dead By Sunrise, and write songs as a solo artist in the later part of 2016.
But unfortunately, even the brightest stars have a dark side. Having had a history of mental health issues, Chester Bennington lost his battle with depression and committed suicide at his home in California on July 20th. He was 41 years old. Coincidentally, his death occurred on his friend Chris Cornell’s (who also passed this year) birthday.
2. Martin Landau
Martin Landau brought a sternness and mystery to the different roles he played in the late 1950s. He played different imposing roles in movies, but he found his niche on television. He starred in Space: 1999 and Mission Impossible. In 1994, he earned his first Academy Award for playing Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood.
His first academy award would then set his career on a path towards greatness and open more doors for him.. He continued his acting career after his win, playing his final role in Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game, to be released this year. Unfortunately, Martin Landau’s star started to dim suddenly. After a brief hospitalization, Landau passed away on July 15th in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old.
1. Nelsan Ellis
The HBO series, True Blood would not be complete without the flamboyant Lafayette Reynolds. Nelsan Ellis played LaFayette perfectly and was the yin to Sookie Stackhouse’s yang. LaFayette’s role in the series was never short of drama and he added a flair to the cast that made it more interesting to watch. He was the noisy short order cook at Merlotte’s, the town’s drug dealer, and Tara Thornton’s cousin.
Ellis, a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School Conservatory in New York, was a passionate artist. On July 8, 2017, the actor passed away due to complications with his heart which were brought about by alcohol withdrawal. Nelsan is remembered as a gentle, generous, and kind soul. He was 39 years old and is survived by one son.