Amidst the highs and lows of what some have called the Last Year of Existence are the losses of a lot of beloved entertainers. Here then, is a list of some of those we’ve lost, and their work that influenced us so much.
July 15, 1935 – Oct. 10, 2012
A beast on the football field (with the awesome nickname, “The Mad Duck”) for the Detroit Lions, Karras was also the world’s most beloved teddy bear of a man on the ’80s sitcom, Webster. But our favorite role was his portrayal of Mongo in Blazing Saddles. No one could knock a horse out with one punch like Karras.
Dec. 3, 1927 – Sept. 25, 2012
Best known for his smooth crooner pipes,Williams also held us captive with that gleaming smile and TV variety show. But we feel a special recognition is due for his signature song, Moon River, (written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for Audrey Hepburn to sing in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and the way it made all the ladies swoon for a few decades.
Michael Clarke Duncan
Dec. 10, 1957 – Sept. 3. 2012
Often referred to as a “gentle giant,” Duncan got an Oscar nom for his breakout performance in The Green Mile. But it was his awesome turn as Will Ferrel’s pit crew leader Lucius Washington in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby that we’ll never forget. “Don’t you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!”
July 10, 1934 – Aug. 23, 2012
The beloved Muppet puppeteer was best known for breathing life into Count von Count on Sesame Street, but his contribution as the voice of the Skeksis High Priest in The Dark Crystal helped create an unforgettable cult classic. Oh, and he also handled several characters in The Muppet Movie, including Floyd the Electric Mayhem bassist.
July 17, 1917 – Aug. 20 2012
Though her contributions as a groundbreaking female presence in a male-dominated, mid-20th century comedy world can’t be overstated, Diller’s ability transcended petty things like gender. She was a force on TV and the big screen alike, and influenced a legion of successors. Perhaps one of her best roles was a voice over performance for Pixar’s sophomore hit, A Bug’s Life, where she played The Queen.
June 21, 1944 – Aug. 19, 2012
Scott directed some of the best guilty pleasure films of the last 25 years, including True Romance, Enemy of the State and Domino, to name a few. Perhaps his most underrated film, however, remains the best collection of one-liners ever put into one script, The Last Boy Scout.
April 2 1949 – Aug. 14, 2012
May 7, 1951 – Jan. 26, 2012
We just felt the need to give Arnold Horshack and Juan Epstein a shout out. Welcome Back Kotter was never given its due, if you ask us.
Sept. 21, 1931 – Nov. 23, 2012
Best known as J.R. Ewing on two separate runs of primetime soap opera Dallas, Hagman also played the ever-patient and eternally kind Major Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie.
Sept. 15, 1925 – Aug. 10, 2012
The Italian special effects master’s hand touched some of the most iconic movies of the pre-CGI age, garnering a hat trick of Academy Awards (two Oscars and a “Special Achievement” award) in the process. Some of his more famous works included King Kong (the 1976 version), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Dune and Alien. But the capstone was everyone’s favorite alien from the 1980s, E.T.
Sept. 2 1928 – Aug. 8. 2012
Suart’s list of directorial accomplishments may not have garnered the receipts at Tony Scott’s did, but he was no slouch. Although he focused more on documentaries like The Hobart Shakespeareans and Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde throughout his career, he also gave us the hauntingly sweet 1971 adaptation of the beloved children’s work, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory.
June 2, 1944 – Aug. 6, 2012
One of the most sought-after composers in Hollywood history, Hamlisch might still best be known for writing the music and lyrics to the longest-running play in Broadway history, A Chorus Line, if not The Way We Were, for which he won one of his first Oscars (he nabbed three on the same night). But nothing has the pure signature sound of the Robert Redford/Paul Newman 1973 smash hit, The Sting.