In Memoriam 2014
It’s time to pay tribute to some notable figures that we lost in 2014 (last year’s list can be read here.)
Probably the most shocking loss this year was actor Robin Williams, 63, who hanged himself on August 11 in Paradise Cay, California. He began his career in the mid-70s as a stand-up comedian, which was soon followed by landing the role of Mork on TV’s Mork & Mindy. What followed was a fruitful decades-spanning career as both a comedian and actor, starting with the title character in 1980’s Popeye and later dozens of other comic and dramatic roles. Shortly after the tragic news was revealed, the G33king Out crew made a tribute that can be read here.
Actor and writer-director Harold Ramis, 69, died from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis on February 24 in Glencoe, Illinois. His most widely recognized role was Dr. Egon Spengler in 1984’s Ghostbusters: a film that he also co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd. Spengler also wrote and/or directed many other classic films, with writer-director credits including Caddyshack, Groundhog Day (which he made a cameo in) and Analyze This.
Actor Bob Hoskins, 71, died from pneumonia on April 29 in London. Though he was English-born, he managed to score a number of American-accented roles, with my favorite easily being the crabby private investigator Eddie Valiant in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Video game developer, inventor and engineer Ralph Baer, 92, died on December 6 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Anyone who’s played a video game should know Baer’s name: back in the sixties, when he was working for defense contractor Sanders Associates, he explored the possibilities of playing games on a television screen. He wrote a proposal to his supervisors, convincing one to give him $2500 and the time of two engineers to work with him on a prototype. A few years later, Baer managed to convince Magnavox to begin producing the “Brown Box,” so the world’s first commercial home video game console – the Magnavox Odyssey – debuted in 1972.
Disc jockey and actor Casey Kasem, 82, died on June 15 in Gig Harbor, Washington. He co-founded the America’s Top 40 radio franchise in 1970, hosting it and several other shows such as Casey’s Top 40. He was also a prolific voice actor, with his most notable role being recognizable to almost every cartoon fan who’s been around since 1969: Shaggy from the decades-spanning Scooby-Doo franchise.
Record producer and drummer Tommy Ramone, 65, died from cancer on July 11 in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Originally intended to be the Ramones’ manager, Erdélyi Tamás (his Hungarian birth name) ended up playing drums when future lead singer Joey Ramone couldn’t drum fast enough. Now called Tommy Ramone, he remained with the band for four years, playing on and co-produced four of the band’s albums: the self-titled debut, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia, and the live album It’s Alive. Though Tommy’s left the drumming position in 1978, he continued serving as manager and producing two more albums. He was the last surviving original member of the Ramones: lead singer Joey died in 2001, guitarist Johnny died in 2004 and bassist Dee Dee died in 2002.
Vocalist Dave Brockie, 50, died from a heroin overdose on March 23 in Richmond, Virginia. Born in Canada, he would become best known for performing as the “intergalactic humanoid barbarian” Oderus Urungus: lead singer (and sometimes guitarist and bassist) for the outrageous heavy metal/comedy rock band Gwar. Though he was the band’s last active original member, they have no plans to retire. Gwar’s new lead singer is Michael Bishop, who now portrays a character named Blothar (he originally played bass as Beefcake the Mighty.)
Voice actress Christine Cavanaugh, 51, died from undisclosed causes on December 22 in Cedar City, Utah. She was active from 1988 to 2001, providing the voices for numerous characters throughout the 90s: Gosalyn Mallard from Darkwing Duck, Chuckie Finster from Rugrats, Bunnie Rabbot from Sonic the Hedgehog SatAM, Oblina from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Marty Sherman from The Critic, Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory, the title character from the movie Babe, and more. She also had guest appearances on several live-action TV shows including Salute Your Shorts, Cheers, The X-Files, Everybody Loves Raymond and ER, as well as films including Jerry Maguire.
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