We all look up to our favorite stars, and when one of them sadly passes, it leaves us all with a heavy heart.
There’s never truly a good time to say goodbye to a loved one, and the same is somehow true for people we only know from afar, whether they were actors, musicians, or sports legends. Many of these names you will recognize, some you may not, but each of these people left an undeniable mark on our lives and the world we know today.
Some were cut short in their prime while others led long, fulfilled lives before leaving the mortal coil, and some stars may have faded in recent years, but they all have one thing in common: They will be missed.
Join us as we take a look at these stars, how we lost them, and the accomplishments or feats we’ll always remember them for.
Omar Sharif is probably most famous for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, but while those roles kicked off his career in the U.S., they certainly weren’t the end of it. The Egyptian actor was a powerhouse in cinema for over 60 years, up to his most recent role in 2013’s Rock the Casbah (not to be confused with Bill Murray’s Rock the Kasbah). Younger fans might recognize him from The 13th Warrior, which also starred Antonio Banderas, or the Viggo Mortenson film Hidalgo.
In early 2015, Omar Sharif was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He had a heart attack later that same year and died on July 10, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt. Sadly, his mental health had deteriorated rapidly in those few short months. According to his son, the 83-year-old could remember the broad strokes of his life — he knew he was an actor — but he couldn’t recall when some of his films had been made.
In 1987, 15-year-old Amanda Peterson catapulted into our hearts with her breakout role in Can’t Buy Me Love. It was a shining moment that burned all too briefly for the teen star. Can’t Buy Me Love was, sadly, the height of her career. In the decades after, Peterson developed a drug habit and was arrested multiple times for drug possession and assault.
In July 2015, Amanda Peterson’s body was found in her home after her family became worried that she hadn’t spoken with them for two days. The 43-year-old reportedly had a cocktail of drugs in her system, and the cause of death was officially chalked down to respiratory failure. Following her untimely death, her family revealed in an emotional interview that, as a 15-year-old, Amanda Peterson had been raped by a man nearly twice her age, a horrifying incident which left emotional scars that never completely went away. Maybe Cindy Mancini was right after all: the moon looks different now. It’s not as mysterious or romantic as before.
On February 25, 2016, 78-year-old actor and ex-boxer Tony Burton finally fought his last round after a long battle with pneumonia. The world knew Tony Burton best as Duke, the hard-ass boxing trainer in the Rocky series. He had a supporting role in six total Rocky films, most recently the 2006 sequel, Rocky Balboa. Burton was a long-time friend of Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the franchise.
It should come as no surprise that the man who trained both Creed and Rocky on film was a boxer himself in his early years. He was a two-time light-heavyweight champion before he retired from the sport in 1959. After that, Tony Burton tried to cobble his life together, but eventually found himself doing a three-year stretch in a California prison for robbery. While behind bars, Burton took an interest in acting, and in 1974 he landed his first role in the blaxploitation film The Black Godfather.
After a string of minor TV appearances, Burton nabbed a small role in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, and then finally went for the knockout when he was cast as Duke in the first Rocky film. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I didn’t blame anyone for the loss of my legs. Some Chinaman took them from me in Korea.”
It’s a fact. You can’t watch The Big Lebowski without cracking up at David Huddleston’s performance. In a cast littered with heavyweight comedy actors, Huddleston stole his scenes without even bothering to stand up. He was one of “those guys,” a face you knew immediately with a name you could never remember. Although the world will probably remember him as the titular Big Lebowski, David Huddleston was gracing the camera long before then (and long after). From the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles to 2005’s The Producers (which also starred Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, and Will Ferrell), David Huddleston was a part of decades’ worth of pop culture.
On August 2, 2016, David Huddleston died in New Mexico after a long fight with heart and kidney disease. He was 85 years old. According to his wife, he was a man who lived as large as the roles he played, but who never hesitated to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. Here’s to you, Dave. Because strong men also cry.