Atlantic Records / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Aretha Franklin


25 March 1942 – 16 August 2018 (Aged 76)

Franklin was a famous American singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, known as “The Queen of Soul”.

Her singing career began as a child singing gospel in a church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father was a minister. After first recording for Columbia Records, Franklin achieved commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966.

Among her best-known songs are “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Rock Steady”, “Freeway of Love”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” in a duet with George Michael.

In 1998, Franklin filled in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards, who canceled as the show had begun. She earned widespread acclaim for her performance of “Nessun Dorma”.

Franklin became the most charted female artist in history, winning 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 to 1975. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling over 75 million records worldwide.

In 1987, Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted. She also received the U.S. the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Franklin was also inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

Throughout her life, Franklin was strongly involved in the struggle for civil rights and women’s rights, providing money for civil rights groups and performed at benefits and protests.

Franklin died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. She is widely recognized as one of the Greatest Artists of All Time.

George H. W. Bush

(American Politician)

  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

(12 June 1924 – 30 November 2018) (Aged 94)

Bush was a Republican American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bush postponed his university studies and enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, becoming one of the Navy’s youngest aviators, serving until the end of the war in September 1945.

Bush graduated from Yale University in 1948 and moved to West Texas where he entered the oil business and became a millionaire by the age of 40. In 1966, Bush was elected to the House of Representatives.

Prior to assuming the presidency, Bush served as Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of Central Intelligence, and was the 43rd vice president of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

In 1988, Bush became the first incumbent vice president to be elected president in 152 years. Foreign policy dominated the Bush presidency, with military operations conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf, as well as the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Bush signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992. However, he reneged on a campaign promise and signed a bill to increase taxes. He lost the 1992 presidential election to Bill Clinton following an economic recession.

Following George W. Bush’s election in 2000, Bush and his son became the second father-son pair to serve as President, following John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

In 2011, he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bush died suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 94, making him the longest-lived president in U.S. history.

Stephen Hawking

(Theoretical Physicist)

NASA / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018 (Aged 76)

Hawking was a world-renowned English theoretical physicist and director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

Among his scientific work is the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation and his theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

Hawking achieved commercial success with several works, most notably, A Brief History of Time, which appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

In a 2002 BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Hawking was ranked number 25. In 2009, Hawking was given the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

In 1963, Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (MND) that gradually paralyzed him over the decades.

After the loss of his speech, he communicated through a speech-generating device by using a single cheek muscle. He died in March 2018 at the age of 76, having battled the effects of MND for over 50 years.

Burt Reynolds


ABC / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

11 February 1936 – 6 September 2018 (Aged 82)

Reynolds was a much-loved American actor best-known for his roles in films such as Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run.

Having earned a football scholarship, Reynolds attended Florida State University, played as a halfback. 

However, a couple of major injuries hampered his ambitions to play pro-football, forcing him to give up and leading Reynolds to try his hand at acting.

During the 1960s, Reynolds came to national attention while starring in  Gunsmoke and Hawk, both television series. After this, Reynolds went to be a leading movie star during the 1970s and ‘80s.

In 1997, Reynolds was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Boogie Nights. Reynolds died of a heart attack in September 2018 at the age of 82.

Kofi Annan

(UN Secretary-General)

UN / FlickrCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

(8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) (Aged 80)

Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. In 2001, Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Annan studied economics in Minnesota, international relations in Geneva, and management at MIT. In 1962, he joined the UN and worked for the World Health Organization’s Geneva office.

From 1992 to 1996, Annan served as the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping. before being appointed the Secretary-General on 13 December 1996. He was succeeded by Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2007.

As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV/AIDS, and launched the UN Global Compact, which encouraged businesses around the world to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, trying to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict, but quit after becoming frustrated with the UN’s lack of progress.

Annan was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.

In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis. He died in August 2018 following a short illness at the age of 80.

Anthony Bourdain


Peabody Awards / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

25 June 1956 – 8 June 2018 (Aged 61)

Bourdain was a hugely influential American chef and travel documentarian, who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition.

In 1978, Bourdain graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, going on to work in numerous professional kitchens, most notably his many years spent as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.

In 2000, Bourdain released his first bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

Starting in 2002, Bourdain’s first food and travel television show, A Cook’s Tour, aired on the Food Network. From 2005 to 2012, he began hosting Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

In 2013, he began a three-season run as a judge on The Taste and started Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN, which went on to earn ten Primetime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award in 2013.

Along with several books on food, cooking and his travel adventures, Bourdain also wrote fiction and historical nonfiction books. In June 2018, Bourdain committed suicide while working in France for Parts Unknown.

Dolores O’Riordan


By Bart Notermans / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018 (Aged 46)

O’Riordan was an Irish singer-songwriter, famous for being the lead singer for the rock band The Cranberries from 1990 until their break-up in 2003. The band reunited in 2009 until her death in 2018.

Among the band’s biggest hits are “Linger”, “Dreams”, “Zombie”, “Salvation”, and “Ode to My Family”. O’Riordan’s first solo album, Are You Listening?, was released in May 2007 and was followed up by No Baggage in 2009.

She appeared as a judge on The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. In April 2014, O’Riordan joined and began recording new material with the trio D.A.R.K.

Her final public performance was on 14 December 2017 in New York. O’Riordan died suddenly at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in January 2018, at the age of 46.

She died as a result of accidental drowning in a bathtub due to sedation by alcohol intoxication.

John McCain


US Senate / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

29 August 1936 – 25 August 2018 (Aged 81)

McCain was an American politician, serving as a U.S. Senator from January 1987 until his death. He was the Republican nominee for President in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

In 1958, McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned into the United States Navy. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in a fire on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in July 1967.

On a bombing mission over Hanoi in October 1967, McCain was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese.

As a prisoner of war, McCain was tortured and refused an out-of-sequence early release. He was eventually released after five and a half years on 14 March 1973.

The wounds McCain sustained left him with lifelong physical disabilities. In 1981, he retired from the Navy as a captain and moved to Arizona where he was elected to and served two terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1982.

In 1987, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he gained a reputation as a maverick for his willingness to break from party policy on certain issues, such as gun control and LGBT issues.

During the 1990s, he was also known for his work in restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

Following his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008, McCain became a key figure in the Senate for negotiating deals in an otherwise partisan environment.

In 2015, he became Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and refused to support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.

In spite of opposing the Affordable Care Act, McCain famously cast the deciding vote against the bill to repeal the ACA in July 2017.

In 2017, McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer and reduced his role in the Senate to focus on treatment. He died on August 25, 2018, four days before his 82nd birthday.

Paul Allen

(Co-Founder Microsoft)

  Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

21 January 1953 – 15 October 2018 (Aged 65)

Allen was an American business magnate and philanthropist, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, which grew into one of the biggest companies in the world.

In both 2007 and 2008, Allen was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World. Allen was the founder of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Institute for Cell Science, and Apex Learning.

Allen was the owner of the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA and was part-owner of the MLS side, the Seattle Sounders.

In 2015, Allen was given the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy for his work in areas such as education, wildlife and environmental conservation, the arts, healthcare, and community services.

Among his philanthropic efforts, Allen was a founding member of the International SeaKeepers Society, funded the Global FinPrint initiative, a three-year survey of sharks and rays in coral reef areas, and he was the largest private donor during the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In 2009, Allen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which was initially treated successfully until it returned in 2018.

He died in October 2018 at the age of 65. He was worth over $20 billion at the time of his death.

Stan Lee

(Comic Book Writer)

By Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

(28 December 1922 – 12 November 2018) (Aged 95)

Lee was a legendary American comic book writer, who rose through the ranks to become the driving creative force behind Marvel Comics.

In 1939, Lee was hired as an office assistant at Timely Comics (later Marvel Comics). During World War II, Lee served in the United States Army as a member of the Signal Corps.

After the war, Lee was called upon by his boss to create a series for Marvel Comics (Timely’s new name) that could compete with rival DC Comics’ hit title Justice League of America, with the first of his characters being the Fantastic Four.

In collaboration with others at Marvel, particularly Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee went on to create numerous popular superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man.

Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, Lee remained a public face for the company, often making cameo appearances in films and TV shows based on Marvel characters.

Lee was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.

He received the NEA’s National Medal of Arts in 2008. The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education, and the arts.

In July 2017, his wife of 69 years, Joan, died of complications from a stroke. Lee died in November 2018 at the age of 95 from cardiac arrest after suffering from pneumonia.

Winnie Mandela

(Civil Rights Activist)

  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

26 September 1936 – 2 April 2018 (Aged 81)

Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela.

Winnie was a qualified social worker when she married Nelson Mandela in 1958. They were married for 38 years and had two children together.

After Nelson was imprisoned in 1963, Winnie became his public face while he was in jail.

She rose to prominence in the anti-apartheid movement, which saw her detained by state security services and tortured, subjected to banning orders, and spent several months in solitary confinement.

In the mid-1980s Mandela was at the centre of instigating violence in  Soweto, which led to condemnation by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Her home was burned down by residents of Soweto during this time.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found Mandela was politically and morally accountable for the violations of human rights committed by her security detail.

Winnie was accused of endorsing the torture of alleged police informers, kidnapping, and murder, notably the killing of a 14-year-old, whose kidnapping she was convicted of.

After Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, they separated in 1992. Winnie went on to serve as a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2003, and from 2009 until her death. 

In 2003, she was convicted of theft and fraud. Winnie died at the age of 81, after suffering from diabetes.

Verne Troyer


By Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

1 January 1969 – 21 April 2018 (Aged 49)

Troyer was a much-loved American comedic actor best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers film series. He was renowned for being only 2 ft 8 in (81 cm) in height.

Among the other films he featured in are Baby’s Day Out, Jingle All the Way, Men in Black, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

He died from suicide as a result of alcohol poisoning at the age of 49.

Neil Simon


AP / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

4 July 1927 – 26 August 2018 (Aged 91)

Simon was an American playwright, screenwriter and author, who holds the record for receiving more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.

Simon grew up in New York City during the Great Depression, often taking refuge in movie theatres.

After serving in the Army Air Force Reserve, and graduating from high school, he began writing comedy scripts for radio and some popular early television shows, such as The Phil Silvers Show.

During the 1960s, Simon began writing his own plays beginning with Come Blow Your Horn and The Odd Couple in 1965, for which he won a Tony Award.

Over the course of his career, Simon received 17 Tony nominations, winning three. In 1983, he became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor.

In 1991 he won a Pulitzer Prize and also received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006. Simon had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease when he died from renal failure at the age of 91.

Remembering also…
Barbara Bush (U.S. First Lady) (Aged 92)

Bush was the First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993 as the wife of George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41stPresident of the United States, and founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Jim Bowen (British TV Presenter) (Aged 80)

Bowen was an English stand-up comedian and television personality. He was the long-time host of the game show Bullseye, which he presented from 1981 until 1995.

Charles Krauthammer (Political Columnist) (Aged 68)

Krauthammer was an American political columnist and conservative political pundit. In 1987, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his column in The Washington Post. Krauthammer’s weekly column was syndicated to over 400 publications around the world.

Roger Bannister (Athlete) (Aged 88)

Bannister was a British middle-distance athlete who became famous for being the first person to run the first sub-4-minute mile. He went on to become a distinguished neurologist, before retiring in 1993.

R. Lee Ermey (Actor/Marine Drill Instructor) (Aged 74)

Ermey was an American actor and Marine corps drill instructor. In 1987, he found fame as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He also appeared in Mississippi BurningThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Se7en, and provided the voice for plastic army men leader Sarge in the Toy Story films.

Hubert De Givenchy (Fashion Designer) (Aged 91)

Givenchy was a French fashion designer who founded the house of Givenchy in 1952. Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy were among his most famous clients.