The starlight in Hollywood dimmed significantly in 2018, a year that saw the deaths of iconic and influential celebrities. In fact, so many stars passed away that it’s hard to believe they all occurred within the span of a mere 365 days: Flags were held at half-mast for two major American heroes, while a superhero creator hung up his cape forever. A metal legend played his last-ever solo, and a Queen bowed out.
While many of these beloved famous faces lost their lives to devastating and deadly illnesses, others passed from natural causes. Tragically, some of these celebrities were gone too soon by their own hand. But one thing is for certain: The boldfaced names we lost in 2018 won’t be forgotten. Their legacies will live on in the music, the humor, the films, the written works, and the simple joy they left behind to their fans and loved ones. Grab your Kleenex and raise a toast to these celebs we said goodbye to forever in 2018.
Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee died Nov. 12, 2018 at age 95, TMZ reported. Stanley Martin Lieber’s comics career began when he was just 16 years old and serving as an office assistant at Timely Comics in New York City. He became an interim editor in the 1940s, and in May 1941, he used his iconic pseudonym for the first time in an issue of Captain America. Lee went on to help create iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel’s Thor, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, and others. Timely Comics became Marvel Comics, and Lee took over as publisher and editorial director in 1972. In the 1980s, his role transitioned to that of a brand ambassador as Marvel Comics expanded into motion pictures.
Though Lee took Marvel Comics from a niche market to a major household name, he confessed to The Hollywood Reporter that the business side of things wasn’t his strength. In 1998, he exchanged his percentage of Marvel films’ gross profits in exchange for a flat $10 million and $1 million per year for the rest of his life. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal, until you consider that Avengers: Infinity War grossed $2 billion worldwide.
The last three years of Lee’s life were tumultuous. While films starring his beloved characters saw record-shattering successes, his personal life was rife with trauma. In August 2015, Lee’s former assistant sued him, allegedly for "severe mental abuse." Lee’s beloved wife of 69 years, Joan, passed away at age 93 in July 2017. The following January, Lee was accused of sexually harassing nursing staff at his home. A month later, he was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat and pneumonia. In February 2018, TMZ reported that some $1.4 million had allegedly been "siphoned" from Lee’s funds behind his back. Lee’s daughter, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee, also made headlines when she was accused of elder abuse against her father, reported People. The comics icon denied any abuse.
J.C. spoke about her father after his death, telling TMZ, "My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man."