Celebrity Deaths That Sadly Slipped By Us

Celebrity Deaths That Sadly Slipped By US:

Sometimes, the passing of a celebrity can fly under the radar of fans who may not even
realize the stars they’ve loved for years are no longer living. As a small token of
remembrance to those we’ve lost, here are celebrities whose passing may have slipped
past the public consciousness.

Erin Moran was just 13 when she was cast on Happy Days, playing Joanie Cunningham on the
series throughout its run from 1974 to 1984. She and co-star Scott Baio then struck out
on their own with the spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi, which was axed after just two seasons.
After that, other than a few bit parts on TV series, acting roles dried up.
In 2012, she and the rest of the Happy Days cast won a settlement in a lawsuit as compensation
for using their likenesses on merchandise. However, a subsequent report from Radar Online
claimed Moran quickly spent most of the settlement; she was reportedly homeless and destitute
when she got into a brawl with her husband’s mom, who had kicked the couple out of her
mobile home in an Indiana trailer park. She was reportedly writing a memoir, presumably
chronicling her post-TV descent into depression and substance abuse.
According to NBC News, Moran passed away at age 56 in 2017; an autopsy confirmed she died
of stage 4 cancer.
A mainstay of the Police Academy franchise was actor David Graf in the role of uber-enthusiastic
officer Eugene Tackleberry, whose tendency to overreact to even the tiniest whiff of
a crime became a running gag throughout the movies.
‘This is Sgt. Tackleberry.”
“Would you please relinquish this lady’s quarter?”
“I told her we’ll send her a refund.”
“You’ll pay her NOW!”
In addition to Police Academy, Graf also had a recurring role on TV’s The West Wing among
numerous other screen credits.
Graf was taken at far too young an age in 2001. While in Arizona attending a wedding,
he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 50. Prior to his unexpected death, Graf had
been active within the Screen Actors Guild; the guild’s then-president, William Daniels,
paid tribute, telling Variety –
“His kindness, generosity of spirit and ability to tirelessly work for the better of actors
will be missed.”
Actress Wendie Jo Sperber’s big break came when she was cast in the 1978 comedy I Wanna
Hold Your Hand, playing a teenage girl in 1964 with an over-the-top obsession with The
Beatles. More high-profile roles followed, including Back to the Future, playing the
sister of Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly.
For the next two decades, Sperber continued to rack up screen credits on both the big
and small screens in roles ranging from featured roles and series regular to guest star. Sadly,
Sperber was 46 when she passed away in 2005, from breast cancer.
In addition to her film and TV work, Sperber’s legacy lives on in the WeSPARK Cancer Support

Center, which she founded in 2001. The Los Angeles-based center notes on its website

“WeSPARK provides free programs and services, which alleviate the physical and emotional
side effects of a cancer diagnosis.”
Actor Michael Jeter was a familiar face on movie and TV screens. A native of Tennessee,
Jeter got his start onstage in New York, going on to become a respected actor on the Great
White Way. In 1990, he took home a Tony Award for his performance in Grand Hotel.
One of the most notable of his numerous television roles was playing bumbling assistant football
coach Herman Stiles on sitcom Evening Shade. Younger viewers, however, watched him as the
brother of Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street. In the movies, Jeter was best known for playing
a homeless cabaret singer in the Robin Williams-starring The Fisher King and The Green Mile as a death
row inmate.

Jeter, who was HIV-positive, passed away of natural causes at age 50.
Described by The Telegraph as, quote, “the greatest actor you haven’t heard of,” John
Cazale’s body of work consists of just five films — every single one nominated for an
Oscar. Four decades after his death, Cazale’s most iconic role remains The Godfather’s weak
and traitorous Fredo Corleone.
He almost wasn’t cast in The Deer Hunter, his final film before he succumbed to cancer
in 1978 at age 42. According to The Telegraph, producers of the film reportedly balked at
casting him, fearing he could die before the film was finished. Star Robert De Niro, a
longtime friend, stepped in and paid Cazale’s insurance himself.
At the time of his death, Cazale was in a long-term relationship with Meryl Streep,
who interrupted her career to be with him until his death.
Andy Hallett was an actor and musician who became a fan favorite in the Buffy the Vampire
Slayer spinoff Angel.

Sadly, Angel proved to be Hallett’s final live-action role before he passed away from
congestive heart disease in 2009. He was just 33. According to Hallett’s obituary, his heart
condition was diagnosed near the end of Angel’s run in 2004. After the show’s cancellation,
he decided it would be better for his health to stop acting; instead, he shifted his focus
to his other love, music.
Hallett’s Angel co-star J. August Richards paid tribute in an interview with Entertainment
Weekly, saying of Hallett –
“He brought so much to the table. He was the life of the party and made us all laugh. He
was a beautiful man.”
Dublin-born actor Glenn Quinn, who played Irish demon Doyle in the series Angel, tragically
died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2002 at 32 years old.
Quinn had previously enjoyed much success portraying the boyfriend of eldest Conner
sibling Becky on sitcom Roseanne. As Michael Fishman told the Independent –
“On Roseanne Glenn was a professional. Any struggles he had started while working on

In fact, the Independent noted that reports at the time claimed Quinn was battling substance
abuse during the episodes of Angel in which he appeared, and rumors suggested he was “confrontational”
on the set. According to Quinn’s sister, a 1997 return to Ireland may have been the tipping
point, saying –
“It was at this time that Glenn’s struggles took over. […] Though there were periods
of sobriety, ultimately it consumed him,”
In the pantheon of professional wrestling, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper loomed large during wrestling’s
heyday in the 1980s. According to The Oregonian, Piper, who was born Roderick Toombs, fought
an astounding 7,000 matches during his wrestling career that began when he was just 15.

In addition to his prowess in the ring, Piper was known for his wildly entertaining pre-match
interviews, which led him to Hollywood. Most notable among the many films and TV series
in which he appeared was his starring role in the 1988 sci-fi film They Live, uttering
the now-iconic line,
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick a**. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”
As The Washington Post reported, Piper died in 2015 at age 61 when a blood clot in one
of his lungs led to a fatal heart attack.
Earl Hindman spent eight seasons on one of television’s most beloved sitcoms, yet never
once showed his face. That was on purpose, given that Hindman portrayed Wilson, next-door
neighbor of Tim Allen’s character in ABC comedy hit Home Improvement. As viewers will recall,
the character kept his face hidden from view, typically obscured below the eyes by the fence
between their backyards as he offered sage advice to Allen.
According to the actor’s obituary in The New York Times, Hindman had been a professional
actor for more than 30 years. Prior to landing his iconic Home Improvement role, 16 of those
years were spent playing Detective Lieutenant Bob Reid on daytime soap opera Ryan’s Hope.
The cause of Hindman’s death, reported the Times, was lung cancer. He was 61.

Starting out as a standup comic, Bernie Mac teamed up with fellow Black comedians Steve
Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley. Billing themselves as “The Original Kings
of Comedy,” the quartet embarked on a massively successful tour in 1997.
“I’m on 10 planes a week, OK? That’s kinda heavy. You can’t carry no gun, you can’t carry
no knife. But they didn’t say nothing about carrying no hammer.”
The following year, Mac was tapped to star in his own Fox sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show,
which ran until 2006. From there, he upgraded to movies, topping the marquee to star in
Mr. 3000.
His career was continuing to explode when Mac passed away in 2008, due to complications
from pneumonia. He was 50.
Welsh actor Andy Whitfield landed his big break when he was cast in the titular role
for the Starz drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Months after the show’s January 2010 premiere,
reported Entertainment Weekly, a routine medical test revealed that Whitfield had stage 1 non-Hodgkin
lymphoma. Production on the second season was delayed while Whitfield underwent treatment.

That June, reported Deadline, Whitfield’s doctors declared him cancer-free, but sadly,
Whitfield’s remission proved to be temporary. In September 2010, Deadline reported that
Whitfield’s cancer had returned. In January of 2011, producers of the show revealed that
the role had been recast for season 2.
In September 2011, Whitfield died at age 39. Whitfield’s cancer battle in his final months
became the basis for the 2015 documentary Be Here Now.
One of the pioneers of hip-hop, Heavy D was a force to be reckoned with. As a 1996 profile
in The New York Times noted, the rapper, whose real name was Dwight Arrington Myers, had
been named head of Uptown Entertainment. In the years that followed, the artist maintained
that position and continued to make music. He also branched out into acting, racking
up a roster of screen credits.

In 2011, reported

The New York Times, Heavy D was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
after he’d “collapsed” in his L.A. home. He died shortly after, aged 44.
According to the coroner, he developed a blood clot in his leg during an earlier flight that
travelled to his lung, eventually causing a pulmonary embolism that halted the flow
of blood to his lungs and took his life.
Anyone who watched PBS’s geography-based children’s show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
back in the 1990s will certainly recognize the face of actress Lynne Thigpen, a.k.a the
Chief. In 2003, Thigpen was one of the stars of the CBS drama The District when the Associated
Press reported that she had died in her home. She was just 54.

The cause of death, E! recalled, was later determined to be a cerebral hemorrhage, which
Thigpen suffered after reportedly complaining of a headache for multiple days. According
to the Los Angeles Times, producers of The District acknowledged her death by scripting
the demise of her character into the series.
She was posthumously honored in 2005, reported Broadway World, with the establishment of
a nonprofit, the Lynne Thigpen/Bobo Lewis Foundation.
Mary Pat Gleason was one of Hollywood’s most prolific character actresses, known for stealing
any scene she was in. With dozens upon dozens of film and TV credits listed on IMDb, Gleason
was equally at home in drama or comedy. Gleason played Mary Hogan on the daytime drama Guiding
Light in the 1980s, and was also a member of the show’s writing team; in fact, she won
a Daytime Emmy for her role as a writer in 1986.

More recently, Gleason had been delighting viewers of the CBS sitcom Mom, playing a recurring
character named Mary. Gleason died several months after her character’s last appearance,
passing away at age 70 in June 2020. According to her obituary in The New York Times, a family
member told news outlets she’d been suffering from uterine cancer.
The brief life of Dana Plato was a cautionary tale for the hazards awaiting child actors
who experience fame at an early age. Plato was a teenager when she was cast in Diff’rent
Strokes, a massive TV hit when the sitcom debuted in 1978. In the midst of that success,
however, issues with substance abuse emerged. As People reported, she overdosed on Valium
at 14, and by 15 had started showing up on set drunk. She became pregnant at 18; as ABC
News recalled, she was ultimately written off the show.

The next decade was a downward spiral into drug and alcohol abuse. She made headlines
in 1989, when she posed for Playboy, and again in 1991, when she was arrested for robbing
a Las Vegas video store. Plato was still on probation when she was arrested the following
year, this time for forging a prescription for Valium.
In 1999, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Plato died of an apparent overdose at 34. However,
her death was later determined to be suicide.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call the Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Administration’s 24/7 National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. That’s 1-800-662-4357.

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