This is a melancholy post we do every year — but it’s an important one, celebrating the actors, directors, artists, composers, writers, creators, and other icons in the realms of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy we lost this year. Their influence and inspiration lives on.
Kirstie Alley – Before her big sitcom breakout on Cheers, she played Spock’s Vulcan protege Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She also starred in John Carpenter’s 1995 Village of the Damned remake.
Angelo Badalamenti – A composer and musician whose haunting creations will forever be associated with the work of David Lynch; his many credits include Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and perhaps most indelibly Twin Peaks.
Greg Bear – Award-winning sci-fi novelist (the Forge of God series) and one of the founders of San Diego Comic-Con.
James Caan – Veteran, prolific actor; Oscar-nominated for The Godfather, his genre titles included Rollerball, Misery, and Elf.
Pat Carroll – Actor and comedian beloved by Disney fans for her vocal performance of Ursula, the villainous sea witch, in The Little Mermaid.
Robbie Coltrane – Scottish actor perhaps best-known for playing Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, with other credits including Krull, Van Helsing, From Hell, and a pair of James Bond films.
Coolio – His vast music career expanded to include acting roles, including appearances on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Futurama.
Kevin Conroy – The definitive voice of Batman, forever.
Julee Cruise – As the singer of the band at Twin Peaks’ favourite bar, the Roadhouse, her ethereal vocals backgrounded some of the cult David Lynch series’ most memorable scenes.
Ruggero Deodato – Influential Italian genre director and occasional actor whose oft-controversial filmography included Cannibal Holocaust — a direct inspiration for the “found-footage” horror craze; it also no doubt had a hand in his in-joke casting as “the Italian cannibal” in Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II — and legendary “video nasty” The House at the Edge of the Park. He also made cult-favourite fantasy film The Barbarians.
Gilbert Gottfried – Distinctively voiced comedian whose many, many roles included the devious parrot Iago in Disney’s animated Aladdin (and its many spin-offs).
Ron Goulart – His 180-plus (!) titles included his collaboration with William Shatner on the TekWar sci-fi series and 1970’s acclaimed After Things Fell Apart.
Clu Gulager – Versatile character actor who any zombie fan will immediately recognise from The Return of the Living Dead, and any slasher fan will immediately recognise from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.
Anne Heche – Though she was mostly known for dramatic roles in movies and TV, with a few romantic comedies sprinkled throughout her career, she also played Marion Crane in Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, and popped up in slasher classic I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Mike Hodges – A film director (Get Carter) whose genre credits included 1980’s Flash Gordon and 1974’s The Terminal Man; he also co-wrote 1978’s Damien: Omen II.
William Hurt – Oscar-winning actor whose credits are too numerous to mention, but Marvel fans know him for his recurring role as Thaddeus Ross. Other notable genre performances included A.I Artificial Intelligence, The Village, and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.
Aline Kominsky-Crumb – Groundbreaking underground comics artist and editor (Weirdo) who frequently drew on her own life for inspiration.
Wilko Johnson – A celebrated musician who favoured playing “fingerstyle” rather than using a guitar pick, he makes the list of genre luminaries because of his unforgettable turn as Game of Thrones’ terrifying, tongue-less Ser Ilyn Payne — the royal executioner who lops off Ned Stark’s head.
Angela Lansbury – A film, television, and theatre superstar whose career spanned eight decades, she was a Disney icon — Beauty and the Beast, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins Returns — and headlined the much-loved, long-running crime drama series Murder, She Wrote.
Ray Liotta – Though he was best-known for playing tough guys and gangsters in movies like GoodFellas, fans of magical baseball stories will always favour his performance as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.
Meat Loaf – The bombastic rock vocalist (Bat Out of Hell) carved out his place in cult-movie history by co-starring in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He also had a small but pivotal role in Fight Club.
Olivia Newton-John – The pop superstar turned actor starred in classic musical Grease, of course, but also appeared in cult-beloved epic rollerskating fantasy Xanadu.
Nichelle Nichols – Her role as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek was a breakthrough for Black women on television — and she used her popularity as a sci-fi hero to inspire budding scientists and champion diversity at NASA.
George Pérez – An acclaimed comics writer and artist, his legacy includes an extensive array of both Marvel and DC titles, though he was perhaps best-known for two DC collaborations with Marv Wolfman: The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Wolfgang Peterson – After making an Academy Award-nominated breakthrough with submarine drama Das Boot, the director had a lengthy career that included some notable genre films, including The NeverEnding Story and Enemy Mine. He also made the eerie prescient Outbreak.
Ivan Reitman – His illustrious career of mostly comedy films (heavy on the Bill Murray, though Arnold Schwarzenegger was also a repeat collaborator) included Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II; he also produced Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was directed by his son, Jason Reitman.
Tim Sale – A DC Comics artist most known for his work on Batman, including his acclaimed collaboration with writer Jeph Loeb, Batman: The Long Halloween.
Peter Straub – A decorated horror author whose titles included Ghost Story — which was made into an acclaimed film starring Fred Astaire and Melvyn Douglas — Julia, and The Talisman (the latter co-written with Stephen King).
Douglas Trumbull – Special effects legend whose talent brought movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner to innovative new heights. He was also a feature film director, helming Silent Running and Brainstorm.
Joe Turkel – A veteran character actor instantly recognisable to genre fans for two iconic roles: replicant tycoon Tyrell in Blade Runner and Lloyd the bartender in The Shining.
Vangelis – Innovative composer whose standout soundtrack scores included Blade Runner and his Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire.
Tom Veitch – One of the vanguards of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, he wrote the highly influential Dark Horse comic series Star Wars: Dark Empire as well as Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi.
Jimmy Wang Yu – Decorated martial arts actor whose impressive array of films included the One-Armed Swordsman series, The Chinese Boxer, Master of the Flying Guillotine, and Once Upon a Time in China.
David Warner – He played a good guy in The Omen, but the imposing actor’s turns as Jack the Ripper in Time After Time and literal Evil in Time Bandits helped cement him as a memorable villain. Other genre credits include two Star Trek movies (parts V and VI), Twin Peaks, Doctor Who, In the Mouth of Madness, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
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