Every year sees a number of high-profile deaths and 2013 was no exception. It had its share of tragedies of young death, sudden illness, death from long-term illness and horrific accidents. It wasn’t just actors either; 2013 claimed some rather big names in the world of politics and journalism too. Here is a list of ten of the most notable.
1. Margaret Thatcher
The first female British Prime Minister passed away in April of 2013. Adored by the Conservative Party faithful and despised by her critics, no other politician has ever divided the nation in life or in death. She changed the country in the 1980s, challenging the power of the unions that she felt had brought the country to ruin in the 1970s. Some accused her of attempting to impose American-style Republican politics in a country that didn’t want it. She was given a ceremonial funeral (which included a military parade) though some had suggested a state funeral
2. Paul Walker
The most tragic death of the year came a month before Christmas in an accident when the car he was travelling in hit a post and caught fire. Despite being in a 45mph zone, the vehicle was said to be travelling at near 100mph in an area popular with drifters. Walker was the passenger in a friend’s car. Walker was famous for starring in the series of films Fast and the Furious ‘ about illegal street racing. His other credits include Timeline, Into the Blue and Pleasantville
3. Sir David Frost
The veteran broadcaster and political commentator was a treasure of the BBC for many years having fronted TV-AM, Through the Keyhole as well as his distinguished journalistic career. Towards the end of his working life, he accepted a role for Al Jazeera English presenting a global current affairs programme. His most famous interview was with former US President Richard Nixon and the proceedings were made famous in the biopic Frost/Nixon. He died of a heart attack while on a cruise ship.
4. Nelson Mandela
Easily the biggest name to have passed away in 2013, the former ANC leader, President of South Africa, political revolutionary, poverty campaigner and anti-apartheid activist passed away in December after a very long illness. Revered around the world for his non-aggressive stance, he was applauded by both blacks and whites in South Africa for his vision of a united country, open dialogue and reconciliation. Sadly, many feel that his dream for the country has yet to be realised. His funeral was broadcast all over the world, a testament to how much he was revered.
5. Peter O’Toole
One of the biggest stage and screen actors of all time, O’Toole died in December aged 81. He was most famous for playing the title role in Lawrence of Arabia. He had a phenomenal stage career in London’s West End. Amusingly, he never knew his real date of birth, nor did he know his real place of birth because he had multiple birth certificates from different countries. O’Toole, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton and Richard Harris were informally referred to as ‘The Hellraisers’ because of their hard-living lifestyle ‘ O’Toole was the last of them to pass away.
6. Lou Reed
The Velvet Underground was a strange enigma in the music world. Considered a flop in the 1960s, their debut album having sold only 30,000 copies, they are now cited as one of the most influential bands of the era despite having such little commercial success. After leaving the band in 1970, Reed went on to massive commercial success and produced some of the finest albums through the decade. When in 2003 Rolling Stone magazine published the 500 most influential albums of all time, two of his solo efforts made the list. He died in October of liver disease
7. Iain (M) Banks
It seems we lost a few famous big-name writers in 2013, Iain (M) Banks being arguably the most celebrated. He wrote a lot of modern literary works, sometimes dabbling in science fiction ‘ and when he did he would use the ‘M’ middle initial to differentiate his work. He announced in April 2013 that he was terminally ill with cancer of the gallbladder, expecting to have no more than one year to live. He wanted a quiet end and withdrew from public life, announcing that ‘The Quarry’ would be his last book. He died in June and the book was released a couple of weeks later. He was 59
8. James Herbert
The British Master of Horror, who was often compared to Stephen King, burst onto the scene in the 1970s with The Rats. Though the book was about mutant rats there was a lot of social commentary about post-war London and the ruined state of the city. Critics challenged its graphic violence but it won appreciation in recent years. His final book Ash ‘ the third book featuring ongoing character David Ash was published in 2012. Herbert was 69 and died of a heart attack
9. Tom Clancy
Staying with famous writers, the worldwide bestselling thriller writer passed away in October. The reason for his death was never made public but it is believed to have been heart-related due to him having suffered heart attack five or six years previously. His most famous books starred the character Jack Ryan: The Hunt for Red October, A Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games. All three became movies with Alec Baldwin as Ryan in the first and Harrison Ford playing the role in the other two
10. Cory Monteith
No year is complete it seems without a high-profile celebrity death from accidental drug overdose. Recent victims include Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger. Corey Monteith was a well-known face on the dance smash hit TV series Glee. In July, aged just 29, he was discovered dead in his Vancouver hotel room having taken a fatal mix of alcohol and heroin. In March he had submitted himself into a program to clean up his addictions but sadly it was not to work. The Westboro Baptist Church said they would picket his funeral. Though Cory was not gay, his character in Glee was.
As 2013 drew to a close, we counted the surprising number of big names that we lost in the year. Many of these were very big names and on reflection, it seems that the year stands out as being particularly unusual for celebrity deaths