Here are the biggest celebrities we’ve lost this year . . .
January 4th: Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues, passed away at 76.
He played the flute solo in “Nights in White Satin”.
January 5th: Jerry Van Dyke passed away at 86. He played Luther on “Coach”.
January 10th: Old-school Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke died of pneumonia at 67.
January 15th: Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan died at 46, when she drank too much and accidentally drowned in a hotel bathtub.
January 30th: Mark Salling from “Glee” took his own life by hanging himself from a tree in a park. He was due to be sentenced on child pornography charges. He was 35.
February 4th: John Mahoney died of throat cancer at 77. He was famous for playing Frasier’s dad, Martin Crane, on “Frasier”. He was also in the movies “Say Anything” and “Moonstruck”.
February 21st: Evangelist Billy Graham died at 99. The cause of death? Being 99.
March 3rd: “M*A*S*H” star David Ogden Stiers lost his battle with bladder cancer. He was 75.
March 14th: Physicist and professional brain Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76. Among the many amazing things he achieved, he may have been the longest-living ALS survivor.
April 2nd: Winnie Mandela succumbed to various health problems at the age of 81.
April 15th: Former drill sergeant and “Full Metal Jacket” star R. Lee Ermey died of pneumonia at 74.
April 16th: “Night Court” and “Dave’s World” star Harry Anderson died of a stroke and other causes. He was 65.
April 17th: Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away at the age of 92.
. . . Her husband, George H.W. Bush, followed her seven months later, on November 30th. He was 94.
April 18th: Pro wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino passed on at the age of 82.
He was joined by fellow wrestlers:
. . . Vader (June 18th)
. . . Nikolai Volkoff (July 29th)
. . . Brian Christopher (July 29th)
. . . and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (August 13th).
April 21st: Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer succumbed to his demons at the much-too-young age of 49. His death was ruled a suicide. He drank himself to death. Verne wasn’t the only celebrity to take his own life this year.
. . . Swedish DJ Avicii died on April 20th.
. . . “Superman” actress Margot Kidder committed suicide with drugs and alcohol on May 13th.
. . . And on June 8th, Anthony Bourdain hung himself in a French hotel room.
May 14th: Author Tom Wolfe passed away at 88.
June 18th: Up-and-coming rapper XXXTentacion was shot dead outside a motorcycle dealership in Miami. He was only 20.
June 21st: Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer lost his battle with cancer. He was 68.
June 22nd: Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul joined his brother Dimebag Darrell in the hereafter, due to heart disease. He was only 54.
June 27th: Joe Jackson . . . the father of Michael, Janet, and all those other ones . . . died of cancer at 89.
August 5: “Facts of Life” superstar Charlotte Rae faced the ULTIMATE fact of life. She was 92. Natalie and Tootie went to her funeral.
August 16th: Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at 76. Yes, we lost the Queen of Soul on the same day we lost the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Four decades apart, though.
In typical diva fashion, Aretha made three outfit changes after death.
August 22nd: Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King died at 68, after a battle with lung cancer.
He co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama”.
August 24th: “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” host Robin Leach died at 76. He’d suffered a stroke earlier in the year.
August 25th: John McCain lost his battle with brain cancer at 81. He was probably the most respected senator of our time. McCain was an American war hero who spent five years as prisoner of war in Vietnam, and served six terms in the Senate.
August 26th: Playwright Neil Simon took his last bow at 91. He’d been suffering from pneumonia, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s.
September 4th: “I Dream of Jeannie” star Bill Daily passed away at 91. He was Tony’s best friend Major Roger Healy on “Jeannie” and Bob’s next door neighboor Howard Borden on “The Bob Newhart Show”.
September 6th: Burt Reynolds died after suffering a heart attack. He was 82, and gearing up for a role in the new Quentin Tarantino movie.
September 7th: Rapper Mac Miller died of an overdose at the age of 26. He was Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend, and his death probably kick-started a lot of the drama surrounding her in the last few months of this year.
September 27th: Marty Balin from Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship died at 76.
October 6th: Scott Wilson from “The Walking Dead” died of cancer at 76. He played Dr. Hershel Greene.
October 15th: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen lost his battle with cancer. He was only 65.
October 16th: Legal pimp Dennis Hof, who became famous after one of his Nevada brothels was featured on HBO’s “Cathouse”, was found dead not long after celebrating his 72nd birthday.
November 12th: Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee died of a variety of health issues. He was 95.
November 15th: Country legend and “Hee Haw” host Roy Clark died at 85.
November 16th: “Princess Bride” author William Goldman died at 87. He also an Oscar winner for writing the screenplays for the Robert Redford movies “All the President’s Men” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.
November 26th: “SpongeBob SquarePants” creator Stephen Hillenburg died of ALS at the age of 57. He’d only been diagnosed with it in March of 2017.
November 30th: George H.W. Bush died at his Houston home at age 94. He served as our “kinder, gentler” 41st President from 1989 to 1993. His funeral also brought together the Trumps and the Clintons for the first time since the election.
December 17th: Director Penny Marshall died of diabetes complications at 75. She directed Tom Hanks in “Big” and “A League of Their Own”, and Robin Williams in “Awakenings”. She got her start as Laverne on “Laverne & Shirley”.