Hidden facts about celebrities we lost
FROM some of music's biggest legends to Hollywood trailblazers, these are the stars who left us in 2017 and the surprising facts you didn't know.
TOM PETTY, 66
The laidback king of cool's sudden death in October, just days after completing his band's 40th anniversary tour shocked and saddened fans. It also caused confusion due to initial reports that the dynamic Heartbreakers frontman was dead when he was still fighting for his life.
Petty, best known for hits like Free Fallin', Don't Come Around Here No More and American Girl, died at UCLA Medical Centre after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu.
"It's shocking, crushing news," Petty's friend and Travelling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone in a statement shortly afterwards. "I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I'll never forget him.
Little-known fact: Petty's abusive childhood - he spoke of being reguarly beaten by his father - and marriage breakdown led to a secret heroin addiction in the 1990s. He later went into treatment, describing the drug as "an ugly f---ing thing".
JERRY LEWIS, 91
Comedy legend Lewis, famed for his partnership with Dean Martin, was one of Hollywood's most complicated figures.
A comic genius, his legacy also included more than $2.5 billion raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through his annual Labor Day telethon in the US. But his reputation soured when he was forced to apologise for making homophobic slurs on camera as well as racist and misogynist jokes.
His offscreen persona was in stark contrast to his slapstick humour as he battled numerous illnesses and a prescription drug dependency.
Little-known fact: Lewis's infamous Holocaust movie, The Day The Clown Cried, has only been seen by a handful of people and is considered to be one of the most notorious "lost" films in movie history.
CHRIS CORNELL, 52
One of rock's most powerful singers, Chris Cornell channelled his dark side into his grunge classics. It would finally get the better of him.
Born in Seattle, Cornell would become synonymous with the city's grunge movement, his band Soundgarden joining the likes of Nirvana and Alice in Chains. He also had a successfiul solo careeer.
The father of three was found dead in his Detroit hotel room on May 18, just hours after performing with the reformed Soundgarden.
His wife, Vicky, later said she missed "the signs of addiction" and blamed the singer's prescription use of prescription drugs for altering his state of mind before he hung himself.
Little-known fact: Cornell's Bond theme song You Know My Name - for Casino Royale in 2006 - was only the second song not to have the same title as the movie and the first theme performed by an American man.
CHESTER BENNINGTON, 41
The death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in July - just months after his close friend Chris Cornell's suicide - left fans devastated.
Bennington died of suicide by hanging in his Los Angeles home on Cornell's 53rd birthday, a week before he was due to go on a North American tour with Linkin Park.
His autopsy revealed that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death. Bennington went to rehab in 2006 and appeared to be sober in the years after, Rolling Stone reports. But friends say he suffered a relapse in late 2016.
The star had always been open about his struggles with addiction and depression. His troubles stemmed from an abusive childhood - sexually abused by an older male friend, he turned to drugs and alcohol as a teen to numb the pain.
Rolling Stone's Kory Grow writes: "Bennington poured his experiences into Linkin Park's songs, which mixed his soul-baring screams with Mike Shinoda's rapping and the band's lumbering riffs for a sound that dominated the pop charts for much of the 2000s."
TMZ reported that Bennington's wife, Talinda, had informed the authorities of the singer's previous attempt at death by suicide, including one time in 2006 when he left the house with a gun after drinking heavily.
But his suicide still came as a shock to his friends, with one saying he was "on top of the world" and excited about his upcoming tour and Linkin Park's new album One More Light.
Little-known fact: Bennington was the father of six children ranging in age from 21 to seven.
MALCOLM YOUNG, 64
With his quiet and unassuming manner, legendary Australian guitarist and AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young was often described as the band's engine. While his younger brother Angus was the public face of the band, Malcolm Young was its key writer and leader.
Young's family said in a statement he had been "suffering from dementia for several years".
"It is with deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of Malcolm Young, beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother," the statement said. "Renowned for his musical prowess, he was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.
"From the outset he knew what he wanted to achieve, and along with his younger brother, took to the world stage, giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans."
Little-known fact: Although Malcolm's two older brothers found success in the music industry, their father still made Malcolm work as a mechanic in a bra factory after leaving school at 15.
"I've never felt like a pop star - this is a nine-to-five sort of gig," he told Rolling Stone in 2008. "It comes from working in the factories, that world. You don't forget it."
GEORGE YOUNG, 70
A member of The Easybeats and older brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young, George Young would become of the greatest songwriters and producers in Australian history with his former bandmate Harry Vanda.
George's career was synonymous with Albert Music, the record label and production house which has been home to dozens of Australian acts from Stevie Wright to John Paul Young, who is no relation.
After his death, AC/DC paid tribute to their "beloved brother and mentor."
"It is with pain in our heart that we have to announce the passing of our beloved brother and mentor George Young. Without his help and guidance there would not have been an AC/DC," they posted on their website.
"As a musician, songwriter, producer, advisor and much, much more, you could not ask for a more dedicated and professional man.
"As a brother, you could not ask for a finer brother. For all he did and gave to us throughout his life, we will always remember him with gratitude and hold him close to our hearts."
Among Australian musicians and songwriters, Young was considered a rock god, Kathy McCabe writes. He also happened to be one of the most reclusive rock stars on the planet, never attending awards or events.
Little-known fact: George Young met his fellow Easybeats members at the Villawood Migrant Hostel in Sydney's western suburbs, where the Young family landed after immigrating to Australia in 1963.
ANITA PALLENBERG, 75
The long-time partner of Rolling Stone Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg was one of the 20th century's great fashion icons.
Eclectic and boehmian, her influence on the Stones's music and image was legendary. But she also struggled with heroin addiction and alcoholism throughout her life. She died from hepatitis C complications in June.
Modelling and acting comprised the bulk of Pallenberg's career. Her most notable film roles include a supporting turn in the 1968 Jane Fonda cult classic Barbarella and Performance, a 1970 crime drama co-starring Mick Jagger.
During their relationship, Pallenberg and Richards had three children, Marlon, Angela and Tara, who tragically died of cot death at 10 weeks.
In later years, Pallenberg got her life back together, studying for a degree in Fashion and Textiles at Central St. Martins in London.
Little-known fact: Pallenberg's relationship with Richards abruptly ended in 1979 when teenager Scott Cantrell allegedly killed himself in her bed while playing Russian roulette with a stolen handgun in her presence. Richards was recording with Stones in Paris at the time of the shooting.
CHUCK BERRY, 90
The rock n'roll pioneer was undoubtedly a musical genius. His songs, including Johnny B Goode and Maybellene, inspired generations of musicians. His work staked out the territory, in both sonics and lyrics, for a new art form, the New York Times said at the time of his death in March. In the decade from 1955 to 1965, the Times eulogised, he created a body of work filled with dozens of perfectly crafted masterpieces.
"If you had tried to give rock and roll another name," John Lennon once said, "you might call it 'Chuck Berry.'"
But there was a dark side to Berry - who in private life was a notorious misogynist and alleged sexual predator. In 1962, married with four children, he was sentenced to three years for having sexual relations with a fourteen-year-old girl and transporting her across state lines.
Little-known fact: In 1990, Berry was busted for placing a camera in the women's bathroom of his restaurant. Almost 60 victims of his voyeurism filed a class-action suit, which he settled. He was also arrested - but not charged - for possession of pornographic tapes.
JOHN HURT, 77
John Hurt was widely regarded as one of Britain's finest actors. David Lynch, who directed him as Jospeh Merrick in the 1980 film The Elephant Man, went one step further, describing him as "simply the greatest actor in the world".
The well-decorated actor's breakthrough role was in the 1978 film Midnight Express which earned him a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and two Oscar nominations.
The esteemed actor also had well-known roles in Alien, 1984, V for Vendetta and the Harry Potter series.
Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June, 2015 but always remained optimistic telling the Radio Times in August of the same year, "I can't say I worry about mortality."
Little-known fact: Hurt witnessed the horrific horse-riding acccident in which his long-term partner Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot was killed in 1983. They were out riding together in Oxfordshire when she was thrown from her horse and landed on her head on the road.
ERIN MORAN, 56
Best known for her role as the smart-talking Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days, Erin Moran's life took a downward spiral when she left the 1970s sitcom. She reportedly spent her final days broke and living in a trailer park in Indiana, where she was found dead of a heroin overdose.
After her short-lived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi was cancelled after two seasons, Moran had a number of brief roles over the years on shows including The Love Boat, Bold and the Beautiful and Murder, She Wrote.
But, in 2012, the actor was reportedly kicked out of her trailer park home in Indiana, along with her husband Steve Fleischmann because of her hard-partying ways. She reportedly became homeless, boucning from motel to motel as she battled drug addiction.
Little-known fact: Moran and her husband were reportedly living off a dwindling sum of money which was the result of a payout springing from a breach of contract lawsuit over merchandising filed by several Happy Days cast members in April 2011.
AZZEDINE ALAIA, 82
Known as the King of Cling, Azzedine Alaia was the couturier loved by some of history's greatest supermodels, including his long-time muse Naomi Campbell.
He even designed Elle Macpherson's wedding dress when she married French photographer Gilles Bensimon in 1986.
Vogue Magazine described his garments as creations that "moulded the body into extraordinary proportions, the product of an obsessive craftsman who bears more resemblance to a sculptor than a fashion designer".
He died of a heart attack after falling down the stairs at his home in Paris last month.
"Azzedine Alaia was a true visionary, and a remarkable man. He will be deeply missed by all of those who knew and loved him, as well as by the women around the world who wore his clothes," said Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
"The generosity of his spirit and genius of his designs will never be forgotten."
The fashion legend's last collection will be shown in Paris next year, his couture house said, and a retrospective of his work will be held in London.
Little-known fact: The Tunis-born Alaia had actually trained as a sculptor in his youth before changing direction and moving into fashion.
NELSAN ELLIS, 39
The tragic circumstances that led to the death of actor and playwright Nelsan Ellis shocked Hollywood when his family revealed his heartbreaking final days.
Ellis, who stole the show in True Blood as Lafayette Reynolds, struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years. That battle ultimately cost the father of one his life in July when he attempted to withdraw from alcohol without medical supervision.
In a statement, Ellis's family told how the popualr star died of heart failure.
"After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.
"On the morning of Saturday July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul. He was a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, and a great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him.
Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others."
Little-known fact: A graduate of the Julliard School, Ellis was loved by True Blood fans so much that his character - which was killed off early in the book series - survived in the TV show.
JANA NOVOTNA, 49
Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna Novotna passed away peacefully last month after a long battle with cancer, the World Tennis Association announced.
A statement from the World Tennis Association read: "It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, the former WTA World No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles champion. After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49."
Novotna won the Wimbledon women's singles title in 1998 and was beaten by Steffi Graf in the 1993 final.
She captured the hearts of fans when she burst into tears after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and was consoled by the Duchess of Kent.
Novotna started crying when presented with the loser's trophy before the Duchess of Kent put a comforting arm around her and gave her a shoulder to shed her tears on during emotional scenes on Centre Court.
Little-known fact: When she finally won Wimbledon in 1998, Novotna became the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles winner in the Open era at 29 years and nine months.
ROGER MOORE, 89
Starring in seven James Bond films, the suave British actor was the longest serving Bond so far. His relaxed style and use of the arched eyebrow made his portrayal the franchise's most whimsical and ironic. In England, he had a long-running TV hit with The Saint, playing Simon Templar.
Moore died in Switzerland in May after a short battle with cancer, according to a family statement posted on Sir Roger's official Twitter account.
"We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF, which he considered to be his greatest achievement," the statement said.
Little-known fact: Moore once said the upper-crust image he portrayed both on and off the screen was a cover for his shyness and timidity. He also said he was terrified of playing the sex scenes which were a key part of the Bond movies.
GREG ALLMAN, 69
Allman's death from liver cancer in May came just one day after he completed what would be his farewell album, Southern Blood.
By the time Allman began planning the album, he had already defied the odds. He'd endured a liver transplant in 2010, but two years later was diagnosed with liver cancer, Rolling Stone reported.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Allman was raised in Florida by a single mother. Allman idolised his older brother, Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him.
Together they formed the heart of The Allman Brothers Band before Duane died in a motorcycle crash in 1971, just as they were reaching stardom.
In his 2012 memoir, My Cross to Bear, Allman said he finally felt "brand new" at 50 after years of overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol.
But hepatitis C ruined his liver, and after getting a transplant, it was music that helped him recover. Allman died mere months after the death of his Allman Brothers bandmate Butch Trucks.
Little-know fact: Cher was Allman's third of seven wives and the pair had a son, Elijah Blue Allman. Cher filed for divorce nine days after their wedding because of Allman's heroin addiction but they reconciled within a month and remained married until 1979 when they divorced.
DAVID CASSIDY, 67
David Cassidy, the former teen idol who took the world by storm in the 1970s as the star of TV's The Partridge Family, was being treated for organ failure at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida hospital when he died.
His publicist Joann Geffen released a statement from his family. "On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy.
"David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years."
The former teen heart throb was rushed to hospital on November 16, requiring a liver transplant following a tumultuous few years.
He had a turbulent personal life in recent years, including divorcing his third wife in 2014, filing for bankruptcy and being charged with drink-driving three times between 2010 and 2014.
Cassidy rose to fame in the early 1970s through the musical sitcom The Partridge Family, where he played the eldest of five siblings who embarked upon a musical career together.
Little-known fact: The Partridge Family provided the launching pad for Cassidy's hugely successful solo career as a singer and pop idol. At the age of 21, he briefly became the highest paid entertainer in the world.
MARY TYLER MOORE, 80
Beloved TV icon Mary Tyleer Moore, who was credited with changing the face of womanhood, was hailed as a groundbreaking actress and a fearless visionary after her death in Jauary.
Playing a single, female news producer in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Tyler Moore became a feminist icon. The show was the first to feature a never-married, independent career woman as its central character.
Tyler Moore's health problems were well-documented: she battled alcoholism and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes early in the run of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, becoming a tireless diabetes advocate.
Little-known fact: The Mary Tyler Moore Show was truly groundbreaking, introducing issues such as equal pay for women and pre-marital sex into a standard sitcom format.
HUGH HEFNER, 91
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who built up an empire estimated to be worth more than $40 million, was always a divisive figure.
Hefner started Playboy with just $600 of his own money and borrowed $8000 from his mum.
"My father declined. He was an accountant, and he didn't feel that a magazine was a good business investment, Hefner told CNN in 2003.
"My mother took me aside and said that she had some money of her own, and she would give me $1,000. She didn't believe in the magazine, but she believed in her son."
Asked by The New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner responded:
"That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction."
Hefner kickstarted a sexual revolution in the 1950s and built a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, movies and television, symbolised by women in bunny costumes.
But he was accused of exploiting and sexually objectifying women. In her 2015 book Down the Rabbit Hole, his ex-girlfriend Holly Madison depicted the Playboy founder as controlling and manipulative.
She said women were given an allowance, meals and rooms at the Playboy Mansion and were expected to have sex with Hefner, in front of each other, even though they denied it publicly.
Little-known fact: Hefner was born in Chicago to devout Methodist parents who he said never showed, "love in a physical or emotional way". His bunny obsession began with the figures that decorated a childhood blanket.
BILL PAXTON, 61
Paxton developed a close working relationship with director James Cameron, who he met while building sets for low-budget films.
Paxton went on to star in The Terminator, True Lies and Titanic. He also featured in hits such as Alien, Apollo 13 and Twister. |
In a statement sent to Vanity Fair, Cameron said: "The world is a lesser place for his passing." He added: "I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was."
Paxton was also known for his small screen work, scoring three Golden Globe nominations for his role in HBO's drama Big Love.
Little-known fact: At the age of eight, Paxton was in the crowd when John F Kennedy emerged from his hotel on the morning of his assassination. Photographs of him being lifted above the crowd are on display at a museum in Texas.
GLENNE HEADLY, 62
Much loved for role in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, alongside Steve Martin and Michael Caine, Glenne Headly was a gifted actor of the stage and screen.
She died in June in Santa Monica, Califonia, from complications of a pulmonary embolism, her husband, Byron McCulloch, said.
After showing youthful promise as a comic performer, she enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts in New York but moved to Chicago to perform with the famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
She was hailed for her performance as Tess Trueheart in the 1990 film Dick Tracy.
In recent years, she appeared on the television series Monk, E.R and The Night Of, and in the films Don Jon and The Circle. At her death she was filming the Hulu series Future Man with Ed Begley Jr.
Little-known fact: Headly was married to fellow Steppenwolf actor John Malkovich from 1982 to 1988.
FATS DOMINO, 89
Born in 1928, Antoine Domino was the nice guy of rock 'n' roll who helped changed popular music and ended up selling more than 100 million records, with hits including Blueberry Hill and Ain't That a Shame.
Playing piano and performing in New Orleans since the age of 10, his dynamic performance style and warm vocals drew crowds for five decades.
According to Rolling Stone, Antoine was given the nickname "Fats" by bandleader Billy Diamond, partly in homage Fats Waller and partly because, as Diamond told one crowd, "I call him 'Fats,' 'cause if he keeps eating, he's going to be just as big!" Domino was hesitant about the nickname, but it stuck.
Little-known fact: Domino lost his home and most of his possessions - including is gold records - when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
SAM SHEPARD, 73
He was one of the most profound and influential playwrights of his generation, whose works laid bare the failure of the American Dream and the dark side of family life.
The taciturn Sam Shepard, who died from Lou Gehrig's disease in July, grew up on a Californian avocado ranch. He was a man of few words who nevertheless produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories.
His 1979 play Buried Child won the Pulitzer for drama. His Western drawl and laconic presence made him a reluctant movie star, too. He met Jessica Lange on the set of the 1982 film Frances - they stayed together for 30 years and had two children.
Little-known fact: Shepard's work extended to the music world. He wrote songs with John Cale and Bob Dylan. He also had a relationship with the singer-songwriter Patti Smith.
HARRY DEAN STANTON, 91
One of the world's most distinctive actors, Harry Dean Stanton's career spanned six decades. He laboured in obscurity for decades before starring in Paris, Texas in 1984 at the age of 58. The movie, which was penned by Sam Shepard, was his first role as a leading man.
The actor was also known for his roles in Twin Peaks, Big Love, Pretty in Pink and Repo Man. Critics hailed his final performance in David Lynch's recently released Lucky as one of his best. News Corp's Leigh Paatsch wrote: "Lucky is Stanton's screen swansong, a low-key character study delivered with no frills and real feeling.
"He plays the title role, a lifelong loner who knows he is coming to the end of the line, but is in no discernible hurry to put his affairs in order ... The scripting of Lucky is beyond sparse, but that magnificently expressive face of Stanton fills in all the blanks, and then some."
Little-known fact: Stanton never married, though he said he had "one or two children".
ADAM WEST, 88
His tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman in the 1960s TV series made him a pop culture icon. But Adam West - who died in Los Angeles in June after a short battle with leukaemia - fell victim to typecasting after the show ended.
His struggle to land a part changed when Seth MacFarlane approached him to voice the the mayor of Quahog - named Adam West - on the animated hit series Family Guy.
"Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans' lives. He was and always will be our hero," his family said in a statement.
Little-known fact: Asked by Variety what the character of Batman has come to mean to him over five decades, West said: "Money.
JOHN HEARD, 72
Heard, who was best as the dad in the Home Alone films, was found dead in a hotel where he was reportedly recovering after undergoing back surgery
The actor's career spanned 40 years and more than 150 films and television programs, including a recurring role as corrupt police detective Vin Makazian on The Sopranos (1999), for which he received an Emmy nomination.
His private life was complicated. His first marriage, to the actor Margot Kidder, in 1979, lasted six days. His third, to Lana Pritchard, in 2010, made it to seven months. In 1997 he was found guilty of trespassing at the home of a former partner, the actor Melissa Leo.
Little-known fact: Heard was convinced that Home Alone would be a disaster. But he took the part of frazzled dad Peter McCallister because he thought that he might be able to take his son to work and that there would be other children for him to play with on set.
GLENN CAMPBELL, 81
Country legend Glen Campbell died in Nashville in August after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Praised as one of country's finest voices, the musician recorded a string of classics including Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Galveston and Where's the Playground Susie.
Many of his biggest hits were written by Jimmy Webb, who toured Australia in June, Cameron Adams writes.
Webb dedicated Adios to Campbell at the shows - the song became the title track of Campbell's 64th and final album, released in June. The album had been recorded in 2012 and 2013, with Campbell's failing memory requiring him to sing each song line by line.
Campbell's last Australian tour was in 2009. Promoter Andrew McManus said Campbell's memory was starting to fail.
"It was the beginning of his Alzheimer's," McManus told News Corp's Cameron Adams. "Some days and nights were more difficult than others. You could see he knew things were happening, he knew he was going to lose his memory, he was getting frustrated. His voice and guitar playing were still stunning, it was just his memory. It was very tough to watch, especially someone who was so iconic."
Little-known fact: One of Campbell's early visits to Australia resulted in a TV show - Down Home Down Under - filmed here in 1976.
Olivia Newton-John acted as Campbell's guide around Australia, while the country star sang tunes including My Boomerang Won't Come Back and The Wild Colonial Boy.
For crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au