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Famous New Yorkers who died in 2018

As New Year’s Day approaches, we leave behind a year marked by the losses of many notables who contributed to the art, politics and more that shape our lives and culture. Many had strong ties to New York City, either by birth or by choice -- or both -- including the intense foodie Anthony Bourdain, trailblazing trumpeter Roy Hargrove and name-brand designer Kate Spade. Below, we remember the celebrities, chefs, authors, artists and more who left their mark on the city

Penny Marshall

Actress and director Penny Marshall, of "Laverne &
Photo Credit: Michael Buckner

Actress and director Penny Marshall, of "Laverne & Shirley" and "A League of Their Own" fame, died on Dec. 17. She was 75. The Bronx native was the first female director to gross $100 million, with 1988's "Big." 

Nancy Wilson

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Recording artisit
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown

Across a long, award-winning career that included Grammys and many TV appearances ("Hawaii Five-O," "Room 222"), Nancy Wilson kicked her career as a jazz singer into high gear shortly after arriving in New York City in the late 1950s. After signing with Capitol Records and releasing an early 1960s record with Cannonball Adderley, she went on to put out dozens of albums — across an array of genres including pop and R&B — and became known to NPR listeners as the host of "Jazz Profiles." She died on Dec. 13, at 81.

Meena Alexander

Born in Allahabad, India, lauded poet Meena Alexander
Photo Credit: Eugene Gologursky

Born in Allahabad, India, lauded poet Meena Alexander was a longtime resident of NYC, and was an English professor at Hunter College. Subjects of her numerous poems included migration; “Atmospheric Embroidery” concerns her travels as a young child with her mother to Sudan. Of her novels, her memoir, “Fault Lines,” is probably her most well known. The New York Times reported that she died on Nov. 21; she was 67.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee attends the Hollywood premiere of Disney
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

Stan Lee, who created your favorite Marvel superheroes, from Spider-Man to the Hulk, died on Nov. 12. He was 95. Lee had a heavy hand in the Marvel world, serving as a comic editor and writer as well as an executive producer in several film adaptations. Lee, born in Manhattan, often made cameo appearances in his film projects as well, including 1989’s “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk,” 2003’s “Daredevil” and 2007’s “Spider-Man 3.”

Roy Hargrove

Legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove died on Nov.
Photo Credit: Paul Morigi

Legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove died on Nov. 2 at age 49 in Manhattan; he had battled kidney disease for years. Embraced by the jazz community, he also tooted his horn as a member of the Soulquarians, a soul-hip-hop collective that included Questlove, Erykah Badu and Q-Tip, among many others. As the New York Times wrote in its obit, even in “his final days, dogged by failing health, Mr. Hargrove remained a fixture of the jam sessions at Smalls in Greenwich Village. When not on tour, he spent multiple nights each week in that low-ceilinged basement, his slight, nattily dressed frame emerging occasionally from a corner to blow a smoky, quietly arresting solo.”

Neil Simon

Playwright Neil Simon attends the Broadway opening night
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cindy Ord

Neil Simon, one of Broadway's most popular playwrights, died on Aug. 26. The Bronx native, 91, was beloved for his works "The Odd Couple," "The Goodbye Girl" and "Lost in Yonkers," among others. 

Craig Zadan

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 1: Producer Craig Zaden
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Robert Mora

Hollywood producer Craig Zadan, a Miami native, died Aug. 20 at age 69. Born in Florida, he attended college on Long Island at Hofstra University and started his studio company, Storyline Entertainment, in New York City in the '70s. Zadan’s production company brought us several famed TV and film projects, such as 1984’s “Footloose” and 2007’s “Hairspray.”

Tab Hunter

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jason Merritt

Manhattan-born actor Tab Hunter, who rose to fame in the '50s and later became a symbol of the gay rights movement, died July 8 at age 86, which was announced on the “Tab Hunter Confidential” Facebook page. Hunter made waves in Hollywood for his 2005 “Confidential” autobiography, in which he revealed he was gay. Hunter was known for his heartthrob image appearing in “Damn Yankees!” and “The Burning Hills,” among other projects. A film based on the revelations in his autobiography was released in 2015.

Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rob Kim

The comic book artist and co-creator of such legendary comic book characters as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange was found dead in his Manhattan home on June 29, according to the NYPD. He was 90 years old. Ditko was responsible for conceiving Spider-Man's signature attributes, such as his costume and web shooters. The superhero is one of the most popular ever invented, generating over 360 million book sales and several movie franchises since his debut. Among Ditko's fans was author Neil Gaiman, who tweeted, "I know I'm a different person because he was in the world." Born in Pennsylvania, Ditko moved to the city, where he worked on the Marvel Comics character alongside Stan Lee.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer
Photo Credit: Globe Photos / Zuma Press / TNS / William Regan

Pulitzer Prize winner and conservative political commentator Charles Krauthammer died on Thursday, June 21 at the age of 68. Krauthammer, who died of cancer of the small intestine, was a fixture on the Fox News Channel as well as on editorial pages of The Washington Post and other national newspapers. He was born in New York City in 1950 and died in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain at a panel discussion at the
Photo Credit: Getty Images for The New Yorker / Craig Barritt

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died June 8 from a suicide at the age of 61. The outspoken host of the food and travel series "Parts Unknown," born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, was a cultural icon who penned bestsellers, such as 2000's  “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”

Kate Spade

NEW YORK - MARCH 02: Designer Kate Spade
Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin

Designer Kate Spade, born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan on June 5, an apparent suicide. Spade's design ventures grew into an empire that started with her signature handbags and eventually included jewelry, home decor and more.

Tom Wolfe

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Author Tom
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Fernando Leon

Tom Wolfe, author and journalist behind the New Journalism movement, died on May 15. He was 87. Wolfe was the bestselling author of "The Right Stuff" and "Bonfire of the Vanities." A Virginia native, Wolfe moved to New York City in 1962 when he began working for the New York Herald Tribune.

Chuck McCann

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 10: Actor Chuck McCann
Photo Credit: Ben Horton

Even if you don’t recognize his face, you certainly know his voice. Chuck McCann, a Brooklyn native, was the voice behind the "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" commercial. He was also known for roles including "Little House on the Prairie," "Bonanza" and "Columbo.” "His work was legendary," his publicist Edward Lozzi said. "What baby boomer doesn't know cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?" McCann died on April 9 at the age of 83.

Steven Bochco

LOS ANGELES - JULY 24: Producer Steven Bochco
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Amanda Edwards

New York City-born producer Steven Bochco, known best for his TV dramas including "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blue,” died April 1 at age 74.

George Kaufman

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Chairman of
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Robin Marchant

The man behind New York City’s Kaufman Astoria Studios, George Kaufman, died on Feb. 20 at age 89. "George was so much more than a real estate developer. He understood deep in his bones the importance of investing in New York's communities because they are the very foundation of the City's greatness," Hal Rosenbluth, the president and CEO of Kaufman Astoria Studios, said in a statement.

Vic Damone

23rd August 1974: American singer and actor Vic
Photo Credit: Getty Images/David Ashdown

Brooklyn-born singer Vic Damone, known for "On the Street Where You Live," among other singles, died Feb. 11 at age 89. The legendary performer also had several TV and film credits, including "The Vic Damone Show," "Rich, Young and Pretty" and "Kismet."

Jan Maxwell

NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Jan Maxwell attends
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Bryan Bedder

Five-time Tony-nominated actress Jan Maxwell died Feb. 11 at age 61. An honorary New Yorke, the Fargo, North Dakota native spent much of her life in the city. Her theater roles included "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Sound of Music," and on TV, she had notable stints on shows with New York City connections, including "Law & Order.”

Lovebug Starski

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 06: (2ndL-R) Doug
Photo Credit: Getty Images for BET/Isaac Brekken

Lovebug Starski, above, right, the pioneering Bronx DJ and rapper whom many credit with coining the term "hip hop," died Feb. 8 at age 57.

Louis Zorich

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Desiree Navarro

Tony Award-nominated actor Louis Zorich, who played the father of Paul Reiser's character on NBC's "Mad About You," died on Jan. 30 at age 93. Born in Chicago, the actor spent much of his career in the city, earning a 1969 Tony nomination for his role in “Hadrian VII.”


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