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Shocking suicides mark celebrity deaths of 2018

By
Karen Butler
2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles
Chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain attends the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on August 16, 2014. Bourdain died by suicide in France at the age of 61, his employer CNN announced on June 8. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A spate of shocking celebrity suicides rocked the entertainment world in 2018.

Before the year closed, the list of stars who died by suicide included TV personality Anthony Bourdain, handbag designer Kate Spade, DJ and producer Avicii and actors Verne Troyer and Mark Salling.

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2018 was also notable for the deaths of aging pop-culture titans such as comic-book creator Stan Lee, music superstar Aretha Franklin, screen legend Burt Reynolds, playwright Neil Simon and filmmaker Penny Marshall.

Here is a look at the artists who died this year.

Glee alum Mark Salling hanged himself in Los Angeles on Jan. 30. The actor and singer had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was facing prison at the time of his death.

Tim Bergling, the Swedish disc jockey and music producer who performed as Avicii, died in Oman on April 20. He was 28.

Best known for his work on the hit songs "Sunshine," "Levels," "Wake Me Up" and "Hey Brother," Avicii fatally injured himself with a broken wine bottle.

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A day later, Austin Powers and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone actor Verne Troyer died in Los Angeles at age 49.

Troyer, who was born with the genetic disorder known as achondroplasia dwarfism, appeared on the docu-series The Surreal Life and in the films Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Love Guru and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. His death was ruled a suicide by alcohol poisoning.

Kate Spade, the namesake of a fashion brand whose purses were the status symbol of a generation, hanged herself on June 5 at her home in New York City. She was 55.

She was the sister-in-law of comedian David Spade and the aunt of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan.

Celebrity chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain also hanged himself.

Bourdain, 61, was found dead in his hotel room in France on June 8.

He had been working abroad on an episode for Season 11 of his travel and food series Parts Unknown.

Bourdain first gained global fame after penning the 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. His other television shows include A Cook's Tour and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. He also was a vocal advocate for women involved in the Me Too and Time's Up movements spotlighting sexual abuse and harassment.

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Aretha Franklin, the legendary Queen of Soul whose songs "Respect" and "Chain of Fools" topped the charts in the 1960s, died Aug. 16 of an undisclosed illness for which she was hospitalized. She was 76.

Throughout a career that spanned six decades, Franklin won 20 Grammy Awards, including the Legend Award in 1991, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2008. She was also honored with three American Music Awards, a Golden Globe, two MTV Video Music Awards and three NAACP Image Awards.

The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers playwright Neil Simon died Aug. 26 at age 91.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning scribe and three-time Tony winner had been suffering from kidney failure, Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Pneumonia was the official cause of his death.

Simon's works include the plays Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, Promises, Promises and The Sunshine Boys. Most of his stage comedies were adapted as successful films and he also wrote the original screenplays for the classic movies The Goodbye Girl, The Heartbreak Kid, The Out-of-Towners and Murder by Death.

Simon was a Kennedy Center honoree and recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

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Burt Reynolds, an actor famous for the hit films Smokey and the Bandit and Deliverance, died of a heart attack in Florida on Sept. 6. He was 82.

The actor had been dealing with multiple health issues in recent years, but worked on Quentin Tarantino's film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shortly before he died. He has since been replaced by Bruce Dern in the movie.

Reynolds' other film credits include The Longest Yard, The Cannonball Run, Sharky's Machine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Boogie Nights. He also starred in the sitcom Evening Shade.

Stan Lee, former president and chairman of Marvel comics, died Nov. 12 at age 95.

The most recognizable and successful comic-book creator in the history of the medium paved the way for Marvel to become the premiere multimedia company it is today under Disney, producing top-grossing films, television series, video games and merchandise.

Lee is credited with writing and creating alongside a collection of artists the majority of Marvel superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men with noted artist Jack Kirby, Daredevil with artist and writer Bill Everett, and Spider-Man alongside artist Steve Ditko.

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Laverne & Shirley star Penny Marshall, who went on to direct the classic movies Big, A League of Their Own and Awakenings, died Dec. 18 of complications of diabetes in Los Angeles. She was 75.

She had a documentary about Dennis Rodman in post-production when she died.

2018 also saw the passing of Superman icon Margot Kidder and Damn Yankees! star Tab Hunter, as well as TV favorites Harry Anderson, Bill Daily, Ken Berry, Katherine McGregor, Charlotte Rae, David Ogden Stiers, John Mahoney, Susan Brown, Robin Leach and Jerry Van Dyke.

Other luminaries who died this year were filmmakers Milos Forman and Bernardo Bertolucci; writers William Goldman, Audrey Wells and Tom Wolfe; model Kim Porter; movie and TV musical producer Craig Zadan; comedian Mike MacDonald; Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson; TV writer-producer Steven Bochco; and musicians Mac Miller, Yvonne Staples, Minwoo, Dolores O'Riordan, Edwin Hawkins, Devin Lima, Roy Clark, Ed King, Alan Longmuir, Danny Kirwan, Vic Damone, Smoke Dawg, Scott Hutchison, Craig Mack and Matt Murphy.

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