Nostalgia is difficult. A smell, a sound, or an image can bring you back to a familiar place. When you see one of your favorite actors or actresses on-screen, it’s the same experience. The celebrities we grew up with, the ones who hold a place in our hearts, and the ones we carry with us throughout our lives are the ones we grew up with.

One of the last movies made by Hollywood powerhouses like Robin Williams or John Candy can make you smile, cry, and then smile again in one sitting. The late performers and stars who gave up the craft are some of the ones we miss the most. When they were no longer gracing our screens, we enjoyed them for a long time.

When we had the chance, we should have valued these performers’ efforts more. Whether we took them for granted, were unaware of their brilliance, or were too young to really take them in, they left an impression. Which ones did the same thing for you?




 

1. Michael Clarke Duncan.

The Green Mile and Armageddon were two of the films that Michael Clarke Duncan appeared in before he died. The Chicago native had a heart attack at the age of 54 and died of his injuries on September 3.

Former costar Tom Hanks described Duncan as “a big love of [a] man,” while director Michael Bay recalled “his infectious spirit and great belly laugh.” After Duncan’s passing, his manager, Dan Spilo, recalled fans’ reactions to the actor: “He was the only actor I ever knew that more often than not when fans came up to him, of any age or race or gender, they wouldn’t ask for an autograph, they’d want a hug. He had a heart as big as the world.”

2.

Robin Williams entertained audiences on TV and in live performances as the star of comedies, dramas, thrillers, and animated features. Millions of people were shocked to hear of his passing on August 11, 2014; his boundless energy and drive to make people laugh brought smiles to their faces.

Williams took his own life after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Williams was found to have Lewy body dementia, a progressive condition that causes impaired mental functions and behavioral changes.

The loss of Williams caused reactions from celebrities and fans alike. A fansite dedicated to the late actor has been created.

3. Alan Rickman.

While older generations miss Alan Rickman after having watched him in movies like Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Sense and Sensibility, Harry Potter fans mourn the loss of their favorite character. When Rickman died of Pancreatic Cancer on January 14, 2016, he had a long career in theater.

On the anniversary of Rickman’s passing, fans raised their wands to honor him.

4. Patrick Swayze.

Patrick Swayze died of cancer in 2009, after entertaining fans on TV and in movies. The star of Dirty Dancing, Road House, Ghost, and Point Break was my first onscreen crush.

Fans were reminded of how much Patrick Swayze meant to them after the documentary I Am Patrick Swayze aired in 2019. Swayze’s legacy is strong because of “blubbering” and “teary” messes.

5. John Candy.

John Candy, a staple in John Hughes movies, a comedy favorite, and an alum of SCTV died of a heart attack while filming a movie in Mexico.

Candy’s legacy as an actor was perhaps best expressed by Brianna Benozich from Hollywood Insider in February 2022: “John Candy is fondly remembered for being America’s uncle, being a figure of positivity and laughter during many childhoods thanks to his vehicles with John Hughes. John Candy and his films were childhood staples for many thanks to his working-class everyman charm and larger-than-life characters.”

6. Bruce Willis.

Bruce was diagnosed with aphasia and decided to retire from acting in March 2022. His career included roles in movies such as Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, and The Whole Nine Yards.

Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian captured a bit of what the actor’s fans were feeling after he retired: “It’s so sad for all of us that Willis will not take any more movie roles. It’s like seeing a great sports star suddenly getting an injury or a sandwich shop deciding to withdraw one of its tastiest flavors. All we can do is wish all the best to Bruce and his family for a happy retirement.”

7. Heath Ledger.

A Knight’s Tale, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Brokeback Mountain were some of the films in which Heath Ledger appeared. His performance in The Dark Night is still receiving praise.

An accidental drug overdose in January 2008 killed the actor before The Dark Knight was released. On the 13th anniversary of his passing, one of his fans posted a tribute: “Still miss you, Heath Ledger. Makes me sad to think of all the amazing roles we missed out on from you. But I also feel so blessed with the fantastic work you *did* give us.”

8. Rick Moranis.

Rick Moranis was well-known for his roles in Ghostbusters, I Shrunk the Kids, and Spaceballs. He left acting after his wife died of cancer. Their two children, Mitchell and Rachel, were raised by Moranis. He told USA Today in 2005: “I pulled out of making movies in about ’96 or ’97. I’m a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it…. I don’t know whether I’ll go back to it or not.”