The entertainment world has lost a lot of iconic figures over the years, but there are definitely some recognizable actors that you probably didn’t know have already died. The public is always devastated to hear of one of their favorite actors passing, but what about the lesser known actors? You know, the ones whose face you definitely recognize because they’ve been in a bunch of things you’ve seen, but you just can’t remember their name.
Haven’t you wondered why you haven’t seen that big, funny guy in the Miller High Life commercials anymore? How about Meep from American Horror Story? Has anyone noticed he was not around last season?
These celebrity deaths often go fairly unnoticed for years by the general public. Did you know that Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air passed away almost four years ago?
Check out the full list below to see which actors you probably didn’t know already died.
18. Chris Penn – October 10, 1965 – January 24, 2006
Chris Penn was a well-known actor, but I don’t know if his career could hold a candle to his brother, Sean Penn. Chris Penn played some big roles in popular films like Reservoir Dogs, Footloose, Starsky & Hutch, and Rush Hour.
The actor tragically passed away in 2006 from cardiomyopathy at the young age of 40.
According to the toxicology report, valium, morphine, marijuana and an elevated level of codeine were all found in Chris Penn’s body when he died.
The report also found traces of promethazine (an antihistamine) in his system.
Chris Penn’s last film, The Darwin Awards, premiered in January of 2006, just before his death in February.
17. Dana Hill – May 6, 1964 – July 15, 1996
Dana Hill was a popular and widely-recognized actress back in the day. She was best known for her role as Griswold child Audrey in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. You may also recognize her voice in episodes of Rugrats, Goof Troop, or Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.
Many people were unaware that the actress actually died back in 1996 at the age of 32. Hill had suffered from diabetes and passed away due to complications.
The actress had battled the illness for quite some time and began to take a heavy toll on her fragile body during the last couple of years. Diabetes had stunted her growth as a child and damaged her kidneys when she was a teenager.
Hill’s resulting physical appearance led to directors calling less and less. Eventually, Hill picked up some voice-over roles for cartoons and commercials. Unfortunately, soon after Hill was hospitalized multiple times due to a stomach disorder brought on by diabetes. Prior to her death, Hill slipped into a diabetic coma, followed by a stroke. She passed away a short time later.
16. Richard Kiel – September 13, 1939 – September 10, 2014
Remember that outrageously tall guy with the nail through his head in Happy Gilmore? Well, that 7’2” actor was Mr. Richard Kiel. Kiel was also widely recognized for his role in The Longest Yard. In his early acting days, Kiel was in big time productions like James Bond and appeared on the classic series, Gilligan’s Island.
Even besides those mentions, Kiel actually had a pretty extensive filmography. The actor passed away in 2014, days before his 75th birthday from acute myocardial infarction. It was said that Kiel had been suffering from long-standing coronary artery disease.
Sir Roger Moore, 86, took to Twitter after his death to express his grief, posting: “I am totally distraught to learn of my dear friend Richard Kiel’s passing.”
15. George Coe – May 10, 1929 – July 18, 2015
You may recognize this actor’s animated character on Archer, as Sterling’s heroin-addicted butler, Woodhouse. What you may not realize is that actor George Coe had been in the acting business for nearly half a century by that point. In fact, Coe was one of the first, original members of Saturday Night Live.
Coe’s character on Archer has since been replaced by the voice of Tom Kane and is set to continue to be a major character in the show. Some people did not even know the voice had changed! This Hollywood Vet was doing fun acting jobs right up until the end. Coe died at the age of 86 from a long-term illness.
14. Taylor Negron – August 1, 1957 – January 10, 2015
You may not recognize his name, but his face you probably would. Negron was an actor, comedian, and playwright most recognized from his small roles in Friends and Seinfeld. One of his earliest roles was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when he famously delivered Jeff Spicoli’s pizza in the middle of class. Although, the actor was probably most well-known for being the bad guy in The Last Boyscout.
Negron got started in the entertainment industry after he began working the LA club circuit while he was still in high school.
Sadly, Negron lost his battle with liver cancer last year (2015). “I want to inform you that my cousin Taylor Negron just passed away. His mother, his brother Alex and my brother Rene and his wife Julie were all there with him,” his cousin, Chuck Negron, said in a video. “May he rest in peace.”
13. Lisa Robin Kelly – March 5, 1970 – August 14, 2013
Who remembers Eric’s hot older sister Laurie Forman on That ’70s Show? Well, actress Lisa Robin Kelly unfortunately, didn’t make it to her seventies. Coincidentally, she was born in 1970 as well.
The actress had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout her lifetime. Multiple mug shot photos of Kelly have been spread across the internet. The actress died at the young age of 43 from an accidental overdose. Kelly died in her sleep a few days before she was admitted to hospital with a blood/alcohol reading of .34, which is almost fatal.
According to updated reports, the family of Lisa Robin Kelly has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the rehabilitation center where the That ’70s Show actress was enrolled at the time of her death.
The site claims that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Estate of Lisa Robin Kelly on June 9, 2014 against Pax House LLC, claiming “negligence resulting in wrongful death.” Lisa’s husband, Robert Gilliam, was said to be the ringleader in the fight against the rehabilitation center where he believed the center’s professionals were mistreating Kelly.
12. Michelle Thomas – September 23, 1968 – December 22, 1998
Michelle Thomas was a pretty popular actress in the nineties on hit series like The Cosby Show, Family Matters, and The Young and The Restless. Sadly, Michelle had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and she passed away at the age of 29 in 1998.
Some years later, Michelle’s mother, Penwah, was interviewed by Madam Noir, and explained her daughter’s disease in further detail.
“They found a rare cancer in my daughter called desmoplastic small round, which at the time had only been found in adolescent Caucasian boys. They diagnosed her in November 1998 and she was gone that Christmas eve. She had just turned 30. My daughter was a vegan, so they’d give her a sedation that was supposed to put her out for 20 minutes and she’d be asleep for four days. Her body couldn’t take it.”
11. Ellen Albertini Dow – November 26, 1913 – May 4, 2015
This feisty, wild grandma lived to be 101 years old! You may recognize her from her roles in The Wedding Singer and Wedding Crashers. In fact, the actress did not get her first role acting until she was 72 years old!
If you don’t know her from the “Rapper’s Delight” scene in The Wedding Singer, I suggest you go click on the video below and enjoy a good chuckle.
Albertini Dow has a background in comedy and theater. She later went on to study acting at the American Film Institute.
She landed her first role on the ’80s version of The Twilight Zone and during the next decade appeared in films including My Blue Heaven and the Sister Act pics. Dow didn’t limit herself to just film, the actress also appeared in hit TV series as Moonlighting, Murphy Brown, The Golden Girls, The Wonder Years, Star Trek: The Next Generation, ER, and Seinfeld.
Ellen peacefully passed away due to old age.
10. Earl Hindman – October 3, 1942 – December 29, 2003
This actor probably wouldn’t have been too offended that you weren’t aware of his passing, and that’s because the man spent most of his career with his face halfway behind a fence.
That’s right, Wilson, the infamous neighbor whose face you never fully see on Home Improvement, passed away all the way back in 2003, due to lung illness. The actor was 61 years old and was a longtime smoker up until his death.
Aside from his role in Home Improvement, Hindman has also previously had roles in a few 1970s thrillers – The Taking of Pelham and The Parallax View. His voice can also still be heard on the Disney Railroad.
His face was finally revealed during the end of the final episode of Home Improvement (1991) as he and the rest of the cast took a bow for the cheering audience.
“I can’t understand why a man would want to hide his face.” – Earl Hindman
9. Ryan Dunn – June 11, 1977- June 20, 2011
Dunn was a pretty well-known stuntman and television personality. He starred in the popular Jackass TV show and films. Dunn was known as a pretty reckless guy who would do the stunts that his co-stars were even too afraid to try. The Jackass franchise is known for hilarious pranks, dangerous stunts, and wild antics.
In 2011, Ryan and his production assistant were involved in a car accident which took both of their lives. Dunn was driving his Porsche 911 GT3 when he spun out of control at 130 miles per hour, hit a guardrail, and collided with a tree.
Michael Carroll, chief of the Police Department in Pennsylvania where this incident occurred, told reporters that Dunn’s speed had been estimated after a team reconstructed the accident.
Carroll said it was the “worst” accident he’d ever seen, adding that he’d “never seen a car destroyed in an automobile accident the way this car was … even before it caught on fire.”
“I have to be horrible at everything or else it wouldn’t be me.”—Ryan Dunn
8. Phillip Seymour Hoffman – July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014
Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a very well-known and highly regarded actor. What people didn’t know, however, was that Hoffman had been struggling with serious drug addiction issues for years.
In 2014, Hoffman’s family became worried when the actor did not show up to pick his kids up. He was later found dead in his Manhattan apartment with a needle in his arm. Medical examiners stated that he died from an acute mixed intoxication, which was ruled accidental.
Hoffman was nominated for numerous Academy Award nominations throughout his acting career for films like Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, and The Master. In 2006, he won the award for best actor and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
“People actually live with their ID exposed. They’re not good at concealing what’s going on inside” – Phillip Seymour Hoffman
7. Ben Woolf – September 15, 1980 – February 23, 2015
Actor Ben Woolf took on a variety of small roles throughout his acting career, but his most recognizable role was in American Horror Story. He played Thaddeus Montgomery and more notoriously, Meep in American Horror Story: Circus.
Fans of the show may not even be aware of the actor’s recent accidental death. Woolf had suffered a traumatic head injury after being struck by a moving vehicle’s side-view mirror in February of 2015. Woolf was just 34 years old.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all over the world for our beloved Ben,” Woolf’s family said in a statement. “He touched so many hearts in his 34 years. His memory will live on within each of us and within his work.”
“Ben was one-of-a-kind, and will never be forgotten,” said a statement from Woolf’s agency, ZTPR. “The time we all shared together will be remembered forever.”
6. Doris Roberts – November 4, 1925 – April 17, 2016
Just this past spring, America lost its favorite sitcom grandmother, Doris Roberts. Roberts was best known for her role as Ray’s mother in Everybody Loves Raymond. She also had roles in some popular films like Grandma’s Boy and National Lampoon’s Vacation. The talented actress had over 60 years of acting under her belt.
Roberts’ son, Michael Cannata, confirmed the news in a statement issued Monday that says his mother “died peacefully in her sleep of natural causes.”
The actress was 90 years old.
Everybody Loves Raymond star Ray Romano paid a tribute to the sweet, hilarious woman who played his mother on the show “Doris Roberts had an energy and a spirit that amazed me. She never stopped. Whether working professionally or with her many charities, or just nurturing and mentoring a young, green comic trying to make it as an actor, she did it all with such a grand love for life and people and I will miss her dearly.”
”Humor is imperative, more important than food. You have a choice when someone dies. You can lie down or get back into life. Do something for someone else.” – Doris Roberts
5. Michael Clarke Duncan – December 10, 1957 – September 3, 2012
You will probably recognize this next actor from a bunch of films you have seen. Duncan was most recognizable for his roles in The Green Mile, Sin City, Planet of the Apes, and Daredevil. In July of 2012, Duncan was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering from a heart failure.
Duncan’s acting debut was in a beer commercial which he played a drill sergeant. After appearing in a number of regional and national TV spots, Duncan made his big-screen debut in 1995 in an uncredited walk-on role in the comedy film Friday.
“Whatever God gave you, you have to work that to your best ability—especially out here in Hollywood, the land of beautiful people.” – Michael Clarke Duncan
4. James Avery – November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013
Best known for his role as Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, James Avery was a widely recognized face throughout the nineties. Prior to his acting career, Avery served in the Vietnam War in the U.S. Navy. He went on to study acting classically at UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College.
In 2013, Avery underwent an open heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center where unforeseen complications led to his passing.
Fresh Prince co-star Joseph Marcell, who played the role of Geoffrey, told CNN after his death that Avery was “a marvelous man and a truly wonderful actor. He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle. Avery believed the show was important because “the striving of African-American out to have been shown on television. What he has done for television, for African-Americans on television is unsurpassable.”
“Monetary success is not success. Career success is not success. Life, someone that loves you, giving to others, doing something that makes you feel complete and full. That is success. And it isn’t dependent on anyone else.” –James Avery
3. Windell Middlebrooks – January 8, 1979 – March 9, 2015
If you have ever watched television, you have probably seen Windell Middlebrooks. You may not have known his real name, but Middlebrooks has appeared in series like Hannah Montana, Parks & Recreation, Body of Proof, and Scrubs. And yes, that is the guy from those Miller High Life beer ads!
Unfortunately, Windell passed away in 2015, after suffering from a pulmonary embolism in his San Fernando Valley home. The actor was only 36 years old, but it was most likely his unhealthy weight was a contributing factor to his untimely death. According to Middlebrooks’ family, he had no prior health issues. His family released this statement after his death. “The Middlebrooks, with sorrowed hearts, announce the passing of a young, black star,” started the statement.
“Windell took his final bow and with great joy exited stage left in the early morning of March 9, 2015. It was Windell’s biggest wish that his final scene not be lived on social media. Further details will be forthcoming once the family members’ plans have been finalized.”
The actor had also appeared on hit series like Cougar Town and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
2. Edward Herrmann – July 21, 1943 – December 21, 2014
The beloved actor was widely known for his role in Gilmore Girls as Richard Gilmore, father to Lorelei and grandfather to Rory. The show was extremely popular and ran for 7 seasons. They are even producing a reunion series on Netflix this year.
Unfortunately, Herrmann passed away in late 2015 at the age of 71. The actor had reportedly been struggling with brain cancer for some years. Prior to his passing, Herrmann had spent 3 and a half weeks in the ICU at a hospital in New York City. Herrmann appeared in many on stage plays and a few Broadway productions before he expanded into TV and films.
The actor appeared in many popular TV series and movies throughout his career. In his early days, he appeared in a version of The Great Gatsby. More recently, you could catch Herrmann on Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order and The Good Wife. Altogether, Edward Herrmann spent more than 40 years on screen.
1. Angela “Big Ang” Raiola – June 30, 1960 – February 18, 2016
Fans of VH1’s hit series Mob Wives were devastated when their favorite reality TV character, Big Ang, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung and brain cancer.
Ang underwent surgery to remove the cancer and seemed to be in good spirits. She even appeared on the last season of Mob Wives. Unfortunately, Big Ang lost her battle in February of this year and passed away. She was 55.
More than 200 mourners gathered at the Basilica of Regina Pacis in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, on Monday for her funeral. And at her wake, longtime friend Vinnie Medugno presented a eulogy with Diane Morton-Gattulo that speaks to her legacy of laughter and zest for life.
The reality star was known for her unnaturally large chest, bronzed tan, and being the life of the party. However, the constant cigarette in her mouth most definitely had something to do with her untimely death. Big Ang was thought to be connected to the Genovese mob family; her uncle, Salvatore Lombardi was the leader of the crime circle.
Big Ang leaves behind her husband, Niel, 2 children, and 6 grandchildren.
“You think it’s easy carrying these things [breasts] around? –Angela Raiola