The people listed here were all lost to us in 2017. They all touched our minds and hearts to varying degrees either because they personified excellence at their craft, or they just happened to be in the right place at the right time and ended up becoming a pop culture icon. In any case, 2017 seemed to be a bumper crop of some of the people and faces that were a big part of my childhood and life, and this is my way of saying a fond farewell and thanks to some folks I grew up with and in a way loved.
Richard Hatch, 71. Actor best remembered for playing a space pilot in TV’s first “Battlestar Galactica” series. Feb. 7.
Bill Paxton, 61. A prolific and charismatic actor who had memorable roles in such blockbusters as “Apollo 13” and “Titanic” as well as the low-budget thriller “One False Move” and HBO’s “Big Love.” Feb. 25. Complications due to surgery.
Charlie Murphy, 57. Popular stand-up comic (and actor-comedian Eddie Murphy’s older brother) who was a regular on “Chappelle’s Show.” April 12.
Roger Moore, 89. The suavely insouciant star of seven James Bond films. May 23.
Adam West, 88. His straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a campy 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness. June 9.
Nelsan Ellis, 39. Actor who made his mark in TV’s “True Blood” and “Elementary.” July 8. Complications from heart failure.
Martin Landau, 89. The chameleon-like actor who gained fame as the crafty master of disguise in the 1960s TV show “Mission: Impossible,” then capped a long and versatile career with an Oscar for his portrayal of aging horror star Bela Lugosi in 1994’s “Ed Wood.” July 15.
George Romero, 77. His classic “Night of the Living Dead” and other horror films turned zombie movies into social commentaries, spawning countless imitators, remakes, and homages. July 16.
John Heard, 72. Actor who played flawed figures in and out of authority, from the dad in the “Home Alone” movies to a detective on “The Sopranos.” July 22.
Sam Shepard, 73. Prolific playwright and actor, known for work reflecting hard truths about American life in both disciplines. July 27.
Jerry Lewis, 91. The manic, rubber-faced showman who rose to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons. Aug. 20.
Richard Anderson, 91. Actor best known for co-starring simultaneously in the popular 1970s television shows “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.” Aug. 31.
They are never truly gone as long as they live in our hearts and seeing them on the screen makes us smile.