In a year filled with heightened political vitriol, two deaths brought the nation together to remember men who represented a seemingly bygone era of U.S. politics.
George H.W. Bush was a president, vice president, congressman, CIA director and Navy pilot during World War II, where he flew 58 missions and was shot down over the Pacific. As a politician, he had his fair share of critics and was voted out of office after one term as president. But the Republican reinvented himself in the years after his time in the White House, becoming a fundraiser for disaster relief and forming an unlikely friendship with the man who ousted him from office, former President Bill Clinton.
John McCain was a political giant in his own right. He served as a senator for more than 30 years, ran for president twice and spent five years as a prisoner of war after being shot down during the Vietnam War. In captivity, McCain endured torture and even turned down a chance to be released early, denying the North Vietnamese military a propaganda victory.
Bush died in in November at age 94, just months after the death of his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, who died in April. McCain died in August at the age of 81 after a battle with brain cancer.
Their deaths prompted an outpouring of public mourning from across the political spectrum that was at odds with a recent political climate that has been defined by intense partisanship, coarse insults and divisive rhetoric.
The year also saw the death of one of the world’s best-known singers, Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul’s death in August prompted a grand send-off during a week of mourning in her hometown of Detroit, including a funeral that featured a who’s who list of entertainers, former presidents and prominent preachers.
Others from the world of entertainment who died in 2018 included the two men who created one of the most popular and enduring superheroes of the modern day. Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, who died in November, and artist Steve Ditko, who died in June, gave the world the web-swinging Spider-Man along with a host of other super-powered heroes. Author Tom Wolfe, playwright Neil Simon, actor Burt Reynolds and screenwriter William Goldman also died.
And one of the world’s most influential scientists died in 2018. Though his body was paralyzed by disease, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking explained the mysteries of space, time and black holes to a generation of enthusiasts.
Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2018. (Cause of death cited for younger people, if available.)
John Young, 87. The legendary astronaut who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight. Jan. 5.
Keith Jackson, 89. His signature phrases like “Whoa, Nelly!” made him the down-home voice of college football during more than five decades as a sportscaster. Jan. 12.
Dolores O’Riordan, 46. Her urgent, powerful voice helped make Irish rock band The Cranberries a global success in the 1990s. Jan. 15.
Edwin Hawkins, 74. The gospel star best known for the crossover hit “Oh Happy Day” and as a major force for contemporary inspirational music. Jan. 15.
Stansfield A. Turner, 94. He served as CIA director under President Jimmy Carter and oversaw reforms at the agency after the Senate uncovered CIA surveillance aimed at American citizens. Jan. 18.
Dorothy Malone, 93. An actress who won hearts of 1960s television viewers as the long-suffering mother in the nighttime soap “Peyton Place.” Jan. 19.
Olivia Cole, 75. She won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Matilda, wife to Chicken George in the landmark miniseries “Roots.” Jan. 19.
John Coleman, 83. He co-founded The Weather Channel and was the original meteorologist on ABC’s “Good Morning America” during a six-decade broadcasting career but who later drew people’s anger for his open skepticism about climate change being man-made. Jan. 20.
Mort Walker, 94. A comic strip artist and World War II veteran who satirized the Army and tickled millions of newspaper readers with the antics of the lazy private “Beetle Bailey.” Jan. 27.
Dennis Edwards, 74. A Grammy-winning former member of the famed Motown group The Temptations. Feb. 1.
John Mahoney, 77. An actor who played the cranky, blue-collar dad in the TV show “Frasier.” Feb. 4.
John Gavin, 86. The tall, strikingly handsome actor who appeared in “Spartacus,” ”Psycho” and other hit films of the 1960s before forsaking acting to become President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Mexico. Feb. 9.
Marty Allen, 95. The baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades. Feb. 12.
The Rev. Billy Graham, 99. He transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history. Feb. 21.
Nanette Fabray, 97. The vivacious actress, singer and dancer who became a star in Broadway musicals, on television as Sid Caesar’s comic foil and in such hit movies as “The Band Wagon.” Feb. 22.
Roger Bannister, 88. He was the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile. March 3.
Stephen Hawking, 76. A theoretical physicist whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease. March 14.
Charles P. Lazarus, 94. The World War II veteran who founded Toys R Us six decades ago and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana. March 22.
H. Wayne Huizenga, 80. A college dropout who built a business empire that included Blockbuster Entertainment, AutoNation and three professional sports franchises. March 22.
Delores Taylor, 85. She co-starred with her husband Tom Laughlin in his productions of the “Billy Jack” series of films. March 23.
Linda Brown, 75. As a Kansas girl, she was at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools. March 25.
Rusty Staub, 73. The orange-haired outfielder who became a huge hit with baseball fans in two countries during an All-Star career that spanned 23 major league seasons. March 29.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 81. She was Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife and an anti-apartheid activist in her own right whose reputation was sullied by scandal. April 2.
Milos Forman, 86. A Czech filmmaker whose American movies “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” won a deluge of Academy Awards, including best director Oscars. April 14.
R. Lee Ermey, 74. A former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” April 15. Pneumonia-related complications.
Harry Anderson, 65. The actor best known for playing an off-the-wall judge working the night shift of a Manhattan court room in the television comedy series “Night Court.” April 16.
Barbara Bush, 92. The snowy-haired first lady whose plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretense made her more popular at times than her husband, President George H.W. Bush. April 17.
Bruno Sammartino, 82. He was professional wrestling’s “Living Legend” and one of its longest-reigning champions. April 18.
Verne Troyer, 49. He played Dr. Evil’s small, silent sidekick “Mini-Me” in the “Austin Powers” movie franchise. April 21.
Margot Kidder, 69. She starred as Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the “Superman” film franchise of the late 1970s and early 1980s. May 13.
Tom Wolfe, 88. The white-suited wizard of “New Journalism” who exuberantly chronicled American culture from the Merry Pranksters through the space race before turning his satiric wit to such novels as “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “A Man in Full.” May 14. Infection.
Clint Walker, 90. The towering, strapping actor who handed down justice as the title character in the early TV western “Cheyenne.” May 21.
Philip Roth, 85. The prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of “Portnoy’s Complaint” to the elegiac lyricism of “American Pastoral.” May 22.
Alan Bean, 86. A former Apollo 12 astronaut who was the fourth man to walk on the moon and later turned to painting to chronicle the moon landings on canvas. May 26.
Kate Spade, 55. A fashion designer known for her sleek handbags. June 5. Apparent suicide.
Red Schoendienst, 95. The Hall of Fame second baseman who managed the St. Louis Cardinals to two pennants and a World Series championship in the 1960s. June 6.
Anthony Bourdain, 61. The celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created. June 8. Suicide.
D.J. Fontana, 87. A rock ‘n’ roll pioneer who rose from strip joints in his native Shreveport, Louisiana, to the heights of musical history as Elvis Presley’s first and longtime drummer. June 13.
Joseph Jackson, 89. The fearsome stage dad of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and their talented siblings, who took his family from poverty and launched a musical dynasty. June 27.
Harlan Ellison, 84. The prolific, pugnacious author of “A Boy and His Dog,” and countless other stories that blasted society with their nightmarish, sometimes darkly humorous scenarios. June 27.
Tab Hunter, 86. The blond actor and singer who was a heartthrob for millions of teenagers in the 1950s with such films as “Battle Cry” and “Damn Yankees!” and received new attention decades later when he revealed he was gay. July 8.
Nancy Sinatra Sr., 101. She was the childhood sweetheart of Frank Sinatra who became the first of his four wives and the mother of his three children. July 13.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard, 80. He was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party who served as newspaper editor, information officer and logistics genius behind the group’s popular social programs. July 23.
Charlotte Rae, 92. She played a wise and patient housemother to a brood of teenage girls on the long-running sitcom “The Facts of Life” during a career that encompassed many other TV roles as well as stage and film appearances. Aug. 5.
Stan Mikita, 78. The hockey great who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup title while becoming one of the franchise’s most revered figures. Aug. 7.
Aretha Franklin, 76. The undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think,” ”I Say a Little Prayer” and her signature song, “Respect,” and stood as a cultural icon around the globe. Aug. 16. Pancreatic cancer.
Kofi Annan, 80. A charismatic global diplomat and the first black African to become United Nations secretary-general who led the world body through one of its most turbulent periods. Aug. 18.
Ed King, 68. A former guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd who helped write several of their hits including “Sweet Home Alabama.” Aug. 22. Cancer.
Robin Leach, 76. His voice crystallized the opulent 1980s on TV’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Aug. 24.
John McCain, 81. He faced down his captors in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp with defiance and later turned his rebellious streak into a 35-year political career that took him to Congress and the Republican presidential nomination. Aug. 25.
Neil Simon, 91. A playwright who was a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as “The Odd Couple,” ”Barefoot in the Park” and his “Brighton Beach” trilogy dominated Broadway for decades. Aug. 26.
Bill Daily, 91. The comic sidekick to leading men on the sitcoms “I Dream of Jeannie” and “The Bob Newhart Show.” Sept. 4.
Burt Reynolds, 82. The handsome film and television star known for his acclaimed performances in “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights,” commercial hits such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and for an active off-screen love life. Sept. 6.
Marty Balin, 76. A patron of the 1960s “San Francisco Sound” both as founder and lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane and co-owner of the club where the Airplane and other bands performed. Sept. 27.
Betty Lavonne Grissom, 91. The widow of astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom who successfully sued a NASA contractor after his death in the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire. Oct. 7.
George Taliaferro, 91. The star Indiana running back who in 1949 became the first black player drafted in the NFL when George Halas and the Chicago Bears took him in the 13th round. Oct. 8.
Paul G. Allen, 65. He co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates before becoming a billionaire philanthropist who invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports. Oct. 15. Complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
James “Whitey” Bulger, 89. The murderous Boston gangster who benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI before spending 16 years as one of America’s most wanted men. Oct. 30. Killed in prison.
Stan Lee, 95. The creative dynamo who revolutionized comic books and helped make billions for Hollywood by introducing human frailties in superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk. Nov. 12.
Katherine MacGregor, 93. She played petty, gossiping mother Harriet Oleson on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie.” Nov. 13.
Roy Clark, 85. The country star, guitar virtuoso who headlined the cornpone TV show “Hee Haw” for nearly a quarter century and was known for such hits as “Yesterday When I was Young” and “Honeymoon Feeling.” Nov. 15. Complications from pneumonia.
William Goldman, 87. The Oscar-winning screenwriter and Hollywood wise man who won Academy Awards for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men” and summed up the mystery of making a box office hit by declaring “Nobody knows anything.” Nov. 16.
Robert “Bob” McNair, 81. The founder and owner of the Houston Texans was one of the NFL’s most influential owners. Nov. 23.
Stephen Hillenburg, 57. He created SpongeBob SquarePants and the absurd undersea world he inhabited. Nov. 26. Lou Gehrig’s disease.
George H.W. Bush, 94. His presidency soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait, but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of office after a single term. Nov. 30.
Nancy Wilson, 81. The Grammy-winning “song stylist” and torch singer whose polished pop-jazz vocals made her a platinum artist and top concert performer. Dec. 13.
Penny Marshall, 75. She starred in the top-rated sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before becoming the trailblazing director of smash-hit big-screen comedies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own.” Dec. 17. Complications from diabetes.
Peter Masterson, 84. The playwright, filmmaker and actor whose credits ranged from co-writing the Tony-winning musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” to directing the movie adaptation of “The Trip to Bountiful.” Dec. 18.
Follow Bernard McGhee on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BMcGhee13 .