It can be an incredibly weird feeling when someone that you loved to watch as an actor passes away. You don’t know the person, but you may still feel an incredibly strong connection. Leonard Nimoy helped bring to life one of the most iconic franchises of all time, and his death this past year was devastating for countless people. Some of the most influential people in the world, can be the ones that also inspire you in your everyday life.
As 2015 starts to wind down, it can be natural to start looking at what eventful things have happened in the past year. There have been a lot of positive developments in the world, as well as some hardships, but let’s hope that 2016 will be filled with a general sense of optimism.
Leonard Nimoy was not the only incredibly talented individual who passed away in 2015. When looking at what determines a life that is well lived, one of your requirements may be that you had a positive impact on the world around you. With the loss of each of these individuals, there was no doubt that they had an impact on the world, even if they did not all pass away under ideal terms.
Perhaps some of your favorite actors or entertainers are on this list, and if that is the case, then I am sorry if I made you sad all over again. There are other individuals on this list that you may not have recognized who impacted the world, even if it wasn’t your world. Death is never an ideal thing, but it comes for everyone and these individuals have left a legacy that will help keep their memory living on long after they have passed.
15. Wes Craven
Wes Craven was one of the most creative men to ever step behind a movie camera. Craven’s first featured film, The Last House On The Left, was written, directed and edited by Craven and helped make his mark in Hollywood. Craven’s vision for the horror genre helped not only terrify viewers, but helped inspire countless filmmakers to try and follow in his footsteps. Craven’s most iconic creation is The Nightmare On Elm Street series, which introduced audiences to the terrifying Freddy Kruger (as well as Johnny Depp!). Craven was also the director and vision behind the 4 films in the Scream franchise. Craven passed away at the age of 76 after suffering a long battle with brain cancer, but his impact will always live on.
14. Maureen O’Hara
Maureen O’Hara was a tremendous actress over the course of several decades. While she was most prominent in the 30s-50s, she also made a re-emergence in Hollywood in 1991 after a 20-year absence. O’Hara appeared in a variety of films, but none may be more appropriate then the Christmas classic, The Miracle on 34th” Street. O’Hara was also the lead in the original Parent Trap (not the one with Lindsey Lohan). As a result of her vast impact on the world of cinema, O’Hara and received an honorary Academy Award in November of 2014. Maureen passed away peacefully in her sleep in October of 2015.
13. Christian Audigier
Christian Audigier had a monumental influence on the world of fashion. Audigier is perhaps best known for his brand Ed Hardy. Whether you love or hate Ed Hardy clothing (people are hardly just iffy on it), it is hard to deny that Christian Audigier had an impact on the world. Before starting Ed Hardy, Audigier worked with several prominent names in fashion including Guess, Diesel, and XOXO. Audigier’s brands are sold in over 40 countries, and as a result, his brands and style of fashion are known worldwide. Audigier unfortunately passed away in July of 2015 after being diagnosed in January with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone cancer.
12. Geoffrey Lewis
Like Maureen O’ Hara, Geoffrey Lewis was successful over several decades in Hollywood. Lewis started his career in 1971, and appeared in films and television until 2012. Lewis may perhaps be prominent for a lot of individuals for his continual work with Clint Eastwood. Together, the two of them worked on seven different projects. Lewis was 79 at the time of his passing, and was due to natural causes. While there is never an “ideal way” to die, it is hard to imagine that a life would feel unfilled when you look at the amount of success that Geoffrey Lewis was able to achieve throughout his career.
11. Sam Simon
Sam Simon was one of the co-creators of The Simpsons, alongside Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. Although Simon left in 1993, citing a strained relationship with Matt Groening as part of the cause. Upon leaving The Simpsons, Simon created the show The George Carlin Show which ran for 27 episodes. Simon was also a strong animal rights advocate, and created The Sam Simon Foundation in the attempts to help train and rescue stray dogs. Upon his death due to colon cancer, Simon had his $100 million fortune donated to a variety of different charity organizations that he had supported throughout his lifetime.
10. Scott Weiland
Scott Weiland was an incredibly talented musician. Weiland came to people’s attention alongside his band Stone Temple Pilots in the early 90s. In 1998, Weiland also released a solo album 12 Bar Blues which included collaborations with other artists, including Sheryl Crow. After Stone Temple Pilots stopped playing in 2003, Weiland switched his focus to another band, Velvet Revolver who he played with till 2008. Weiland passed away after ingesting a toxic cocktail of drugs that included cocaine, ecstasy, and alcohol. This was unfortunately a problem for much of Weiland’s career, as he had stints in rehab as well as former arrests related to drug abuse.
9. Grace Lee Whitney
Grace Lee Whitney was one of the original cast members of a little TV series by the name of Star Trek. Whitney played Janice Rand, who was to be the assistant of Kirk (played by William Shatner). Whitney only appeared in 8 of the first 13 episodes, before being taken out of the show in part due to her addiction problems. Fans still loved the character and the outpouring of support led to the re-emergence of the character in several of the Star Trek motion picture films. Whitney was 85 years old when she passed away earlier this year of natural causes.
8. Robert Loggia
Robert Loggia was an incredibly talented actor as well as director for many years. Loggia’s best role was perhaps in Jagged Edge, a 1985 film starring Glenn Close which helped earn Loggia an Academy Award for the best supporting actor. Loggia also excelled on television as well, earning an Emmy in 1989 for his role on the show Mancuso, FBI (of which he was the lead). Combined with some other notable appearances on television, including The Sopranos, it was clear that Loggia will leave a legacy. Loggia was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease in 2010, and passed away earlier this year as a result.
7. David Canary
Sometimes the only thing that would get you through a sick day from school would be the morning soap operas. Sure, they were awful and over the top, but it was at least better entertainment than infomercials? David Canary was a soap opera legend, and appeared in All My Children from 1984 until 2011 (that’s TWENTY SIX YEARS). It is hard to imagine being on any show for that long, but Canary was tremendously talented. Before landing the role on All My Children, Canary was also on the hit show Bonanza which ran from 1967-1973. For his accomplishments, Canary won 5 Daytime Emmy awards and was nominated an astonishing 16 times. Canary passed away peacefully in his home due to natural causes on November 16th.
6. Vincent Margera
The people involved with the Jackass series might not always be the smartest individuals. Yet they all clearly care about each other, because if they didn’t there was no way they would have put up with all the physical or emotional pain! Vincent Margera, better known as Don Vito, and the uncle of Jackass superstar Bam Margera passed away in 2015. Don Vito battled obesity as well as alcoholism throughout his life and as a result had been struggling with kidney as well as liver failure for several years. Margera eventually fell into a coma, and passed away due to liver failure at the age of 59.
5. Fred D. Thompson
Fred D. Thompson’s impact on the world can be linked to several different areas. The first worth talking about was his role as a politician, where he represented the state of Tennessee from 1994-2003. Thompson was also at one point linked to potentially be running for president in 2008. Perhaps his experience in government buildings allowed him to excel in the television show Law and Order which he started on in 2002. Thompson appeared in over 100 episodes of the series before stepping away after 5 years to potentially run for president. Thompson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2004, but thankfully he stated that the disease had no impact on his everyday life. However, in 2015, a reoccurrence of Lymphoma led to him passing away at the age of 73.
4. Richard Glatzer
Richard Glatzer was responsible for helping transformer the amazing book Still Alice into a major motion picture in 2014. The film helped earn Julianne Moore an Academy Award for her performance. The book tells the story of a linguistics professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Glatzer was unfortunately suffering from ALS and ended up passing away in 2015. It is definitely possible that some of the amazing emotion that was on display throughout the film was drawn from Glatzer’s own struggles.
3. Taylor Negron
Taylor Negron appeared in over 100 motion pictures and television appearances throughout his career. Perhaps his most notable role would have been for Fast Times In Ridgmont High (he killed it as the pizza guy!), which developed a huge fan base. Negron also appeared in Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Friends, Seinfeld and 8 episodes on the show The Hughleys, among other prominent television shows. Negron’s talent also extended to writing, as he worked on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron which was shown at several comedy festivals. Negron had sadly been battling liver cancer since 2008, and passed away earlier this year after a tremendous life that was well lived.
2. Douglas Tompkins
Douglas Tompkins was the co-founder of the brand The North Face, as well as helping co-create the brand Esprit. Tompkins sadly passed away in December at the age of 72. Tompkins was involved in a Kayak incident which caused him to fall into the water and eventually develop hypothermia. Tompkins impact on the world may most largely be recognized by the impact that he had on helping land conservation. It was estimated that he and his wife Kristine, bought and preserved two million acres of South American ecosystems. Tompkins was widely recognized for his efforts, including the accolade of “Environmental Leader Of The Year” by the Latin Trade in 2009.
1. Leonard Nimoy
If there is one name on this list that perhaps had the biggest public reaction, it would have to be Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy is best represented by his incredible portrayal of Spock in the original Star Trek series. Alongside actors like William Shatner, Nimoy helped inspire the Star Trek following that is still very much alive today. It’s perhaps fitting that the last appearance of Nimoy on screen was in his portrayal (of Spock of course) in the Star Trek film that was released in 2013. Talk about big shoes for Zachary Quinto, who is portraying Spock now, to try and fill! Live long and prosper, my friend.