Celebrity deaths are often unexpected and controversial, and they touch millions of people who may only have known these iconic figures through their photographs and reputations. We laid many of our favorite celebrities to rest in the year 2008. In alphabetical order, here is a list of 15 celebrity deaths of 2008.
This Swiss scientist, best known as the inventor of LSD, died April 29, 2008, of natural causes. Dr. Hoffman, who was a controversial hero of the 1960s psychedelic movement, had reached the age of 102 at the time of his death.
Arthur C Clarke
Scientist and science-fiction author, Clarke will be best remembered as the author of the iconic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was also responsible for some of the scientific work that led to the global system of satellites. Clarke passed away on March 19, 2008, from breathing problems, having reached the age of 90.
This beloved comedian lost the battle against pneumonia on August 9, 2008. Mac, who had suffered from the lung condition sarcoidosis, had a thirty year run in the comedy business, and will be best remembered for his eponymous sitcom The Bernie Mac Show. He was 50 years old at the time of his death.
This iconic pin-up model caused controversy when she posed for S&M photo shoots in the 1950s, but her image went mainstream later in the century when Bettie Page likenesses graced posters, lunch boxes and t-shirts. Page, who was considered both a sex symbol and a feminist pioneer, died of a heart attack on December 11, 2008. She stayed out of the public eye in her old age, but lived to be 85.
An American Chess Grandmaster who inspired a generation of young chess players, Bobby Fischer suffered kidney failure and died on January 17, 2008. He was living in Iceland at the time of his death, and reportedly rejected medications that may have prolonged his life. Fischer lived to be 64 years old.
The actor and outspoken NRA member Charlton Heston succumbed to the complications of pneumonia on April 5, 2008. Heston was best known for his 1959 portrayal of Ben Hur and his 1956 portrayal of Moses in The Ten Commandments, and he starred in more than 100 films during his 84 years of life.
Otherwise known as the “Movie Trailer Voice,” Don LaFontaine did the voice-overs for more than 5000 movie trailers. His deep voice and signature phrase “In a world…” are instantly recognizable to American movie-goers, and LaFontaine is considered the most famous voice actor of all time. He died of a collapsed lung on September 1, 2008, at the age of 68.
Mount Everest couldn’t stop this famous explorer, but heart failure could. Hillary is best known for his historic trek up Mount Everest in 1953, when he and his Sherpa, Tenzig Norgay, became the first people to conquer the mountain. This amazing feat also won him the attention of Queen Elizabeth II, and he was knighted after returning home to Britain. Sir Edmund Hillary passed away January 11, 2008, at the age of 88.
Until her death on November 6, 2008, Edna Parker was the oldest living woman in the world, clocking 115 years, and well on her way to 116! The cause of death was listed as “natural causes,” or, dare we say, “old age.”
Actor and comedian George Carlin passed away June 22, 2008. Carlin had a long and successful career, and was best known for a comedy routine called “Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV.” He died of heart failure at the age of 71, and staged his last performance in Las Vegas less than a week before his death.
A very sudden and shocking death, 28-year-old Heath Ledger was found dead on January 22, 2008, having taken an accidental overdose of prescription pills. Ledger will likely be best remembered for his portrayal of The Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, which was released 6 months after his death.
This award winning musician succumbed to a stroke on August 10, 2008, having reached the age of 65. Hayes was best known for the theme song of the 1972 film Shaft, which won an academy award, and South Park fans will recognize him as the voice of the character “Chef.”
The best-selling author, known for thrillers such as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, lost the battle against throat cancer on November 4, 2008. Crichton was 66, and had published his last book, called Next, in 2006.
Actor and humanitarian Paul Newman first appeared on the silver screen in the 1950s and kept up a solid career until only years before his death on September 26, 2008. Newman is best remembered for his roles in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke and the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He died of lung cancer at the age of 83.
An award-winning author, Hillerman is best known for his mystery novels placed in the American southwest and featuring the Navajo Tribal Police. Hillerman succumbed to pulmonary failure on October 26, 2008, having reached the age of 83.
May all of our beloved deceased celebrities rest in peace!
http://www.clarkefoundation.org/ Arthur C Clarke Foundation
http://www.hofmann.org/ Albert Hoffman Foundation
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20218097,00.html “Bernie Mac Dies at 50.” by Mandi Bierly. Entertainment Weekly
http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/hil0bio-1 Sir Edmund Hillary Biography
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7468681.stm US Comedian George Carlin Dies
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Hillerman Tony Hillerman
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-parker28-2008nov28,0,3824201.story “Edna Parker dies at 115; former teacher was world’s oldest person.” by Elaine Woo. Los Angeles Times.