Beloved Celebrities We Lost In 2014
A lot of good has happened in 2014 but unfortunately we’ve also had to say goodbye to iconic Hollywood legends and young celebrities who left this earth before their time.
Few women have left their marks on the comedy world like Joan Rivers. Coming up during an era when it was an all boys’ club, Rivers’ relentless work ethic helped her become a household name and the first woman to have her own late night talk show. This year the octogenarian showed no signs of stopping or slowing down in her old age. In fact, the night before Rivers went into a clinic on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for a routine procedure, she performed at a local comedy club. But the legendary comedian stopped breathing during the procedure in late August and she was rushed to the hospital where she was put on life support. She died several days later at the age of 81.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Phillip Seymour Hoffman was one of the greatest actors of his generation, but sadly his addiction to heroin ended up costing him his life. He started out in off-Broadway and soon transitioned to the big screen. Hoffman earned four Oscar nominations, taking home the gold for Best Actor for his portrayal of famed author Truman Capote in “Capote.” But few knew the demons he was battling. Hoffman became addicted to drugs soon after graduating from college and went to rehab. But more than 20 years later, his addiction came roaring back. Hoffman was found in the bathroom of his Manhattan apartment on February 2nd with a needle still in his arm.
Robin Williams has made millions people laugh throughout his long career. Getting his start on the stand up circuit in San Francisco, Robin Williams was credited for the comedy renaissance in the area. Williams is known for such comedies as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Night at the Museum,” “Birdcage” and “Good Morning, Vietnam” but he also got serious for his roles in “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The world was shocked when news of Williams’ death began to circulate. The legendary comedian took his own life on August 11th and it was revealed after his death that Williams had been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
When Maya Angelou was a young girl, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and the tragic experience left her mute for more than five years. But after finding her voice, Angelou became one of the greatest authors and poets of her time. With 36 books under her belt, Angelou is perhaps best known for “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” her first of seven autobiographies. Angelou’s work challenged the status quo and tackled heavy issues such as racism, sexism and self-identity. Her health declined in recent years but Angelou was still working on another book when she passed away on May 28th.
You may not easily recognize his face but you surely know Casey Kasem’s voice. His baritone voice counted down the top 40 hits across the country for years. In addition to that, Kasem lent his voice for numerous puppets on “Sesame Street.” But in his last days of his life, Kasem’s adult children were barred from visiting their father because of his second wife. After the legendary disc jockey passed away on June 15th, daughter Kerri Kasem was granted a temporary restraining order to stop his wife from cremating the body, but when she went to give the order to the funeral home, she was informed that her father’s remains were no longer there. More than six months after his death, Kasem was finally laid to rest in Norway.
Simone Battle was part of the five-member group G.R.L., but the all-girl band sadly went from a quintet to a quartet on September 5th. Battle took her own life and was found inside of her West Hollywood apartment. The “X Factor” finalist was just 25 years old. The girl group’s official Twitter handle later tweeted, “Words cannot express the depth of our loss. Simone’s incredible talent was only surpassed by the size of her heart. We will carry her memory with us in everything we do.”
Oscar de le Renta
Oscar de la Renta was one of the biggest names in international fashion for more than half a century. He first gained the world’s attention in the early 1960s dressing a very famous woman: Jacqueline Kennedy. He quickly became a favorite among the “ladies who lunch” crowd and the always tanned and smiling fashion icon was a regular on the red carpet. De la Renta died on October 20th from complications from cancer at age 82.
Legendary screen and stage actress Ruby Dee left an extensive body of work behind when she died on June 11. Some of her more memorable roles in movies include “A Raisin In The Sun,” “Do The Right Thing” and “American Gangster.” Dee brought home an Emmy, a Grammy, and a SAG Award and was a fixture by her husband Ossie Davis’ side until he passed away in 2005. She was also a central figure in the Civil Rights Movement and was close friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Dee was 91 years old when she died.
Diem Brown first starred on “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat” in 2006 and she shocked both contestants and producers when she revealed she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She beat the deadly disease but it came back in 2012 and then again for a third time in the summer of 2014. The reality show star succumbed to cancer on November 14th but she fiercely fought to the end. In one of her final tweets, she wrote, “Whatever option I have to LIVE I’m grabbing! …No is not an option.”
Marion Barry has been an icon of D.C. politics for more than 40 years. His third term as mayor was interrupted when he was busted in a sting operation and his constituents were shocked to see video of their beloved mayor smoking freebase cocaine out of a glass pipe. Insisting he was set up, Barry was sentenced to six months in federal prison shortly before losing the November election. After he became a free man, the disgraced politician staged a comeback and served as city council in Ward 8 before running and winning a fourth and final term as mayor. Barry died from cardiac arrest several days before Thanksgiving.
In early December Stephanie Moseley’s life was taken from her by the very man who swore to love and protect her. Rapper Earl Hayes killed the “Hit the Floor” dancer while she was in the bathtub before turning the gun on himself. Hayes was reportedly upset over his wife’s alleged affairs and he was talking to his friend Floyd “Money” Mayweather via FaceTime when the killing occurred. The boxing champ encouraged Hayes to leave his wife and tried to talk him out of shooting Moseley to no avail.
Joanne Borgella joined “American Idol” on season seven. She made it all the way to the top 24 contestants on the show. She also appeared as a coach on MTV’s “Made” in 2011. Many of her fans were saddened to learn that on October 18th she passed away after suffering from a rare case of endometrial cancer. Her family posted the news on her official Facebook page writing, “To God be the glory! With heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Joanne.”
Sadly, Peaches Geldof died just like her mother Paula Yates did 14 years earlier. The English journalist and television personality was just 11 years old when Yates died of a heroin overdose. Geldof was a mother herself when police found her dead of a heroin overdose on April 7th. She had battled with her addiction before and was placed on methadone for two-and-a-half years before her death. But Geldof had started to use the drug again in February and when her body was discovered, almost seven grams of heroin was also found in her house.
For four seasons, Meshach Taylor starred on the CBS sitcom “Dave’s World” and was also known as the flamboyant window dresser in the cult classic movie “Mannequin.” But he will forever be remembered for his role as Anthony Bouvier on “Designing Women,” for which he was nominated for an Emmy. Taylor passed away on June 28th after a very long battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.
Few artists and entertainers have lasted as long as Bobby Womack. The soul singer’s career has spanned over seven decades. Womack first started back in the early 1960s as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos. One of his biggest hits “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” came in the 80’s. Womack passed away on June 27 at the age of 70 and he had numerous health issues, including prostate cancer, colon cancer, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease.