With the ever-increasing number of news channels, websites, and social media platforms, it’s never been easier to share the latest news. Perhaps because of this, topics tend to be hotly discussed in the moment and then forgotten when the next big thing occurs.
This fast-moving cycle can lead people to miss big events if they are away from a computer for any substantial amount of time. Celebrity deaths are particularly easy to miss, as people quit discussing the sad events as the newness quickly wears off.
Here are five actors who died without a great deal of publicity. If you happened to miss the news, you might not know that they’ve passed away.
1. Michael Clarke Duncan
Duncan was famous for his deep voice, giant smile, and gentle demeanor. He had a small part in Armageddon where he fortuitously got to know Bruce Willis. When director Frank Darabont was casting The Green Mile, Willis called him to suggest Duncan for the role of John Coffey.
Duncan won the role and ended up with an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor. He went on to land dozens of TV and movie roles.
Duncan died of respiratory failure in 2012. The charismatic actor was just 54 years old.
2. Harold Ramis
Everyone knows Ramis’ work even if they don’t know that he was responsible for it. He directed Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This. He also starred as the ultra-nerdy and ultra-intelligent Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters.
Ramis was a comedian’s comedian that actors loved to work with. While his work was famous, his face wasn’t particularly well known. That’s likely why his death in 2014 was under the radar for many who weren’t tuned into the comedy scene.
3. James Avery
Avery played Uncle Phil on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The lovable if somewhat stuffy lawyer always had his nephew Will’s best interests at heart.
Avery had many other roles, but none that garnered the attention like Philip Banks did. Avery passed away from complications due to open heart surgery in 2013.
4. Chris Penn
Chris never achieved the A-list status that his older brother Sean was able to wrangle. Still, he had a long career starting at the age of 12 and lasting until his untimely death.
His most famous role is likely that of Nice Guy Eddie Cabot in Reservoir Dogs, but he was also in Footloose, Rush Hour, True Romance, and Pale Rider. Sadly, he died of drug-related cardiomyopathy in 2006.
5. Richard Attenborough
This well known British actor nabbed two Oscars for directing and producing Gandhi in 1983. Americans will recognize him for his role as John Hammond, the eccentric and naive financier that brought dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park.
Attenborough was an accomplished actor and was president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He was also the older brother of famed naturalist David Attenborough. Richard passed away in 2014 at the age of 90.