17 August 1920 – 24 October 2015 (Aged 95)
O’Hara was a renowned Irish actress and a famous redhead who was best known for her roles in films such as The Quiet Man, The Parent Trap, How Green Was My Valley, Sinbad the Sailor, and Miracle on 34th Street.
O’Hara grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and trained to become an actress from the age of 10.
In 1939, she got her big break in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, and moved to Hollywood the same year, signing a contract with RKO Pictures.
In 1950, O’Hara made her first film with John Wayne and director John Ford, with Rio Grande, before later going on to star with Wayne in The Quiet Man, The Wings of Eagles, McLintock!, and Big Jake.
In 1971, O’Hara retired from the film industry, after which she helped run her third husband Charles F. Blair, Jr.’s flying business in St Croix in the American Virgin Islands, and also wrote in a tourist magazine.
In 1982, O’Hara was the first person to receive the American Ireland Fund Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1991, she returned to star with John Candy in Only the Lonely, her final film, but she did make a number of television appearances.
O’Hara’s 2004 autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2011, she was formally inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame at an event in New Ross, County Wexford.
In November 2014, she was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her life’s work, becoming only the second person to win the award without having a previous Academy nomination.
O’Hara died in her sleep at the age of 95. She had been one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015 (Aged 93)
Lee was a legendary English actor whose career spanned nearly 70 years, during which he played a number of iconic villains.
Among his best-known roles are Count Dracula, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
During World War II, Lee served in the Royal Air Force and was later tasked with helping to track down Nazi war criminals in the Speical Forces, he later refused to talk in detail about his time in the Special Forces.
He retired from service in 1946 with the rank of flight lieutenant.
In 1947, Lee made his film debut in the Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors. Following his success as Dracula, Lee appeared in nearly 50 horror films between 1959 and 1976.
Famed for his deep, strong voice, Lee recorded numerous opera and musical pieces between 1986 and 1998. He also worked with several heavy metal bands and was honored with the “Spirit of Metal” award in 2010.
Lee was knighted in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011, and received the BFI Fellowship in 2013.
He died from complications of respiratory problems and heart failure at the age of 93.
16 September 1925 – 14 May 2015 (Aged 89)
King was an influential American blues singer-songwriter who is considered one of the greatest blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues” as he won 15 Grammy Awards during his career.
Born on a cotton plantation in Berclair, Mississippi, King worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music in church, becoming a disc jockey in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was labeled “the Beale Street Blues Boy.”
Following his debut record in 1949, King became one of the most acclaimed R&B artists of the 1950s. Renowned as a tireless performer throughout his musical career, King averaged more than 250 concerts per year into his 70s.
Among his best-loved hits are “You Know I Love You”, “Woke Up This Morning”, “There Must Be a Better World Somewhere”, “Sweet Little Angel”, “The Thrill Is Gone”, and “When Love Comes to Town.”
King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in 2008. Rolling Stone ranked King at No. 6 in a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time in 2011.
King died at the age of 89 after a series of small strokes as a result of his type 2 diabetes.
10 April 1932 – 10 July 2015 (Aged 83)
Sharif was an iconic Egyptian actor most famous for his roles in the 1960’s films Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Funny Girl.
In 1954, Sharif began his film career in Egypt, quickly becoming a star during the rest of the 1950s, earning his first English-language role in the historical epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.
Sharif’s role in Lawrence of Arabia saw him nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor, as well as Golden Globe wins for supporting actor and New Star of the Year.
In 1965, in the title role of Doctor Zhivago, Sharif earned another Golden Globe for actor in a drama.
Despite appearing in numerous films in the following decades, Sharif never reclaimed his success in the 1960s.
Outside of film, Sharif was a lifelong horse racing enthusiast, and at one time was ranked as one of the top bridge players in the world.
Sharif died at the age of 83, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly before his death.
28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015 (Aged 66)
Pratchett was an English author of fantasy novels, best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels.
In 1971, Pratchett’s published his first novel, The Carpet People. His first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, after which he wrote an average of two books per year.
Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author during the 1990s, with his books having sold more than 85 million books worldwide in total, while they have been translated into 37 languages.
In 2001 he won the annual Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. In 2009, Pratchett was knighted for services to literature. He also received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.
In December 2007, Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He later filmed a television program about his experiences with the disease and became a patron of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Pratchett died at the age of 66. His final Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, was published in August 2015, five months after his death.
Ben E. King
28 September 1938 – 30 April 2015 (Aged 76)
King was an American soul and R&B singer best known for his 1961 hit song “Stand by Me”, which later re-charted in 1987 when it was used as the theme song in the film Stand By Me.
As one of the lead singers of the Drifters in the late 1950s, King sang the lead vocals for some of their biggest hit singles, including “This Magic Moment”, “Save the Last Dance for Me”, and “There Goes My Baby”.
His songs “Stand by Me”, “There Goes My Baby”, “Spanish Harlem”, and “Save the Last Dance for Me” were each named in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Throughout his career, King recorded 21 songs that entered the Top 100 of Billboard’s pop charts.
In 1988, King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he has also been nominated as a solo singer.
In his later years, King played an active role in the Stand By Me Foundation, his charitable foundation which helps to provide education to deserving youths.
King died from heart problems at the age of 76.
12 May 1975 – 18 November 2015 (Aged 40)
Lomu was a legendary New Zealand rugby union winger, widely regarded as the first true global superstar of rugby.
In 1994, Lomu burst onto the scene during the Hong Kong Sevens tournament, and later that year became the youngest ever All Black when he played his first international at the age of 19 years and 45 days.
At the 1995 World Cup, Lomu scored seven tries in five matches, including four tries in the semi-final against England, in one what is seen as one of the greatest performances of all time.
Despite losing the final to South Africa, Lomu was widely acknowledged as the top player at the 1995 World Cup, with his new superstar status resulting in a growth in popularity of the sport and a rise in attendance when he played.
In 1995, Lomu was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder, resulting in a detrimental impact on his life and playing career. By 2003 he was on dialysis and undergoing a kidney transplant in 2004.
Lomu played his final international game in late-2002. In 2005, he attempted a comeback but did not play international rugby again, ultimately retiring in 2007.
Playing on the wing, Lomu’s international career saw him finish with 63 caps and 37 tries, sharing the Rugby World Cup all-time try-scoring record of 15 tries, which he reached in only two tournaments.
In 2007, Lomu was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame, and the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011. Lomu died unexpectedly at the age of 40, after suffering a heart attack associated with his kidney condition.
26 March 1931 – 27 February 2015 (Aged 83)
Nimoy was an American actor best known for his role as Spock in the Star Trek franchise, beginning with the pilot television episode shot in 1964 to his final film role in 2013.
Following his roles on Dragnet and The Twilight Zone in the 1950s, Nimoy attracted the attention of Star Trek producer and writer Gene Roddenberry and was cast as Mr. Spock, with the show premiering in 1966.
The character of Spock went on to have a significant cultural impact, earning Nimoy three Emmy Award nominations, and TV Guide naming him as one of the 50 greatest TV characters.
Spock became recognized for his Vulcan salute, with the phrase, “Live long and prosper.” Nimoy created the sign himself from his childhood memories of the way Jewish priests hold their hand when giving blessings.
Among his other work, Nimoy, who was a life-long photographer, starred in Mission: Impossible for two seasons, hosted the documentary series In Search of…, narrated Civilization IV, and made a number of acclaimed stage performances.
During the 1970s, Nimoy published several volumes of poetry and released his autobiography, I Am Not Spock, which featured a series of imagined discussions between himself and his most famous character.
In 1995, Nimoy released a second autobiography, I Am Spock. The documentaries For the Love of Spock and Remembering Leonard Nimoy were produced by Nimoy’s son and daughter, detailing his life and later illness.
In 2015, an asteroid was named 4864 Nimoy in his honor. He died at the age of 83 as a result of lung disease, which he attributed to a smoking addiction he had long since quit.
27 May 1943 – 1 August 2015 (Aged 72)
Black was an English singer and television presenter best known for her chart success in the 1960s and presenting shows such as Cilla between 1968 and 1976 and Blind Date from 1985 to 2003.
In 1963, Black began her career as a singer, with her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World” both reaching number one in the UK.
By 1971, she had 11 Top Ten hits on the British charts, and eight more hits that made the top 40. Her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the UK’s biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s.
Black hosted her own show, Cilla, on the BBC between 1968 and 1976, going on to become a much-loved presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, with popular shows such as Blind Date, The Moment of Truth, and Surprise Surprise.
Black died from a stroke following a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain, at the age of 72. After her funeral, her album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one in the UK Albums Chart, becoming her first number one album.
6 February 1950 – 31 December 2015 (Aged 65)
Cole was an American singer best known for her multiple Grammy Award-winning albums Inseparable andUnforgettable…with Love.
The daughter of the great singer Nat King Cole, Natalie graduated from university in 1972, majoring in child psychology, before she began singing in clubs and rising to critical success by the mid-1970s as an R&B artist.
During the early 1980s, Cole hit a lull in her career due to her struggle with drug addiction, before re-emerging as a pop artist with her 1987 album Everlasting.
In the 1990s, Cole enjoyed her biggest success with Unforgettable…with Love, which sold over seven million copies. In total, Cole received nine Grammy awards from 21 nominations.
Among her most famous hits are “This Will Be”, “Inseparable”, her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac”, “I’ve Got Love on My Mind”, and “Our Love”.
During her life, Cole struggled with heroin and crack cocaine addiction, before overcoming her addiction after checking into rehab in 1983. She died at the age of 65 due to heart failure.
12 May 1925 – 22 September 2015 (Aged 90)
Berra was a legendary American baseball catcher, renowned as one of the greatest catchers in history, winning three Most Valuable Player Awards while leading the Yankees to 10 World Series championships.
An 18-time All-Star and winner of 10 World Series championships, Berra won more than any other player in MLB history. He is one of only five players to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award three times.
Berra quit school after the eighth grade, going on to sign with the Yankees in 1943 before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He made his major-league debut in 1946, becoming a mainstay in the Yankees’ lineup from 1949 to 1962.
In 1965, Berra joined the New York Mets in 1965 as a coach, remaining with them for the next decade. In 1976, he returned to the Yankees, coaching them for eight seasons, before coaching the Houston Astros.
In 1972, the Yankees retired Berra’s uniform number 8 and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame the same year. He was also named to the MLB All-Century Team in a vote by fans in 1999.
In 1998, Berra opened the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University, New Jersey, which he was closely involved with for the rest of his life.
Known as ‘Yogi-isms’, Berra came to be known for his expressions that were often contradictory but usually carried wisdom and humor also, such as “90 percent of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.”
Berra and his wife, Carmen, were married for 65 years before she died of a stroke in 2014. Yogi died in his sleep the following year at the age of 90.
4 October 1937 – 19 September 2015 (Aged 77)
Collins was an English romance novelist and the younger sister of Dame Joan Collins.
In the 1960s, Collins moved to Los Angeles, where she spent most of her career.
All 32 of Collins’ novels appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list.
In total, her books have sold over 500 million copies and been translated into 40 languages, with eight of them adapted as either films or television miniseries.
Collins died of breast cancer just shy of her 78th birthday.