It was a tough year for the horror community. While 2015 was a great year for genre films, it seems we lost more than our fair share of favorites and icons. As we look forward to 2016 with optimism, I’d like to take a moment to honor some of those who passed. They may be gone from this world, but their legacies will endure. Horror wouldn’t have been the same without them!
Rod Taylor: January 1, 1930 to January 17, 2015.
Rest in Peace, Rod! One of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite leading-men, he’ll be remembered for his riveting portrayal of Mitch Brenner in The Birds. Other films of note include: The Time Machine, 101 Dalmatians, and Inglorious Bastards.
Ben E. Woolf: August 15, 1980 to February 23, 2015.
Rest in Peace, Ben! It’s never easy to lose a member of our community, but Ben’s passing was especially stinging because he was so young and seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. He’s best known for playing Meep in Season 4 of American Horror Story (Freakshow); Ben also gave a memorable performance as Squeak in Dead Kansas.
Leonard Nimoy: March 26, 1931 to February 27, 2015
Rest in Peace, Leonard! While best known as royalty in horror’s sister genre, Science Fiction, Leonard made forays into our beloved genus in 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and as the host of the 1970’s TV series In Search Of.
Robert D’Zar: June 3, 1950 to March 30, 2015
Rest in Peace, Robert! He was huge in cult horror circles, lauded for his portrayal of Officer Matt Cordell in the Maniac Cop Trilogy. Other films of note include: Hellhole, The Killing Game, and Samurai Cop.
Betsy Palmer: November 1, 1926 to May 29, 2015
Rest in Peace, Betsy! With three small words, Betsy sent seminal horror icon Jason Voorhees on a decades-long rampage: “Kill for mommy!” The original villain of the Friday the 13th Franchise, she was one of horror’s most beloved mothers.
Sir Christopher Lee: May 22, 1922 to June 7, 2015
Rest in Peace, Sir! Soldier, horror icon, heavy metal god: Sir Christopher seemed larger than life, nearly immortal like the classic vampires he portrayed during Hammer’s heyday. A staple of UK gothic horror, he achieved mainstream fame as the evil wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper: April 17, 1954 to July 31, 2015
Rest in Peace, Roddy! While the world knew him as one of the first villains of the WWF, horror fans will never forget that infamous line he uttered as Nada in John Carpenter’s They Live (1988): “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” Roddy was memorialized in the short film Portal to Hell which ignited the festival circuit after his passing.
Wes Craven: August 2, 1939 to August 30, 2015
Rest in Peace, Wes! Part of what made his passing from brain cancer so shocking is that no one knew he was even sick—a testament to the iconic director’s ability to keep his private life to himself. A bona fide “Master of Horror”, Wes will be best remembered as the creator of Freddy Krueger and the driving force behind 1996’s modern horror classic Scream.
Catherine Coulson: October 22, 1943 to September 28, 2015
Rest in Peace, Catherine! One of David Lynch’s lifelong collaborators, she’s best known to horror fans as the enigmatic Margaret Lanterman, aka The Log Lady in televisions cult series Twin Peaks. She also appeared in Eraserhead, Fire Walk with Me, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn.
Gunnar Hansen: March 4. 1947 to November 7, 2015
Rest in Peace, Gunnar! The man who’s galvanizing portrayal of Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre made the fiend a household name. In addition to playing one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, Gunnar was known to be an incredibly intelligent and friendly person. Other films of note include: Murder-Set-Pieces, Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, and Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Robert Loggia: January 3, 1930 to December 4, 2015
Rest in Peace Robert! His performance as Mr. Eddy in David Lynch’s Lost Highway is one of the most underrated mob-boss portrayals in US film history and absolutely deserves a second look. Other films of note include: Independence Day, Scarface, and TV’s The Sopranos.
Whose passing affected you the most in 2015? Feel free to share memories in the Comments section.
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It’s not “Kill for mommy” it’s “Kill her mommy”
A very nice tribute, thanks Josh.
Roddy and Gunnar were definitely the ones who were the most painful for me. I am very grateful to have met and been able to talk with both of them, experiences I wont ever forget.
I would like to add the recently passed Rose Siggins who we know from American Horror Story Freak Show
And just saw Will MacMillan from The Crazies has also gone
May all who’ve passed rest in peace, and peace to their friends and families still here.
I posted this the night before word came down that Rose had passed. Waking up to that news was like a cruel joke. What a rough year! Thanks for adding Rose and Will to the list.
Great tribute, and a reminder that so many icons passed away this year. Losing Roddy Piper was the most painful for me, but they were all shocking in their own way.
Mary Ellen Trainor as well.
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