10 Celebs From The ’90s Who Passed Away


Fans will never forget their talent, and their ability to make us both laugh and cry. Decades later, the brilliance of these stars remains with us.

Dustin Diamond (center) in Saved By The Bell

In recent years, the 1990s have been a beacon of nostalgia for many. A time of positivity, vibrancy, and many classic TV shows, movies, and bands, it’s not difficult to fathom why it was such an endearing era.

In addition to all that we have gained from the ’90s, we have also lost many wonderfully talented individuals. It’s immensely saddening that certain celebrity deaths receive mass publicity whereas other stars seem to fade away with little recognition.

Considering a macabre trend that has surfaced in recent years, in which the morbidly-minded track celebrity deaths, it seems unusual that the tributes to these fallen celebrities have been sparse.

But fans will never forget their talent, and their ability to make us both laugh and cry. Decades later, the brilliance of these stars remains with us. These sadly departed celebrities have left an indelible mark on this generation and, doubtlessly, many more to come.

10 Dustin Diamond

Screech in Saved By the Bell
via Toronto Sun

Classic 90s sitcom Saved By The Bell continues to hold a special place in so many people’s hearts. Although the show has many aspects that would now be considered problematic, it nonetheless remains a pivotal coming-of-age sitcom. As the lovable, socially awkward Screech, Dustin Diamond embodied a character relatable for many viewers who felt that they did not quite fit into society. In January, fans were devastated when Diamond announced he was battling stage 4 cancer. He died shortly afterwards, aged just 44.

9 Elizabeth Peña

Elizabeth Pena with Me and Ro Tibetan necklace during The 18th Annual IFP Independent Spirit Awards - Official Talent Gift Bag Produced by On 3 Productions at Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, California, United States.
via Arun Nevader/WireImage)

The glamorous star of 90s classics such as Jacob’s Ladder and Free Willy 2, Peña also helped found the Hispanic Organization of Actors, which helps ensure equal opportunities for Hispanic artists. She also won an Independent Spirit Award for her role in 1996 indie film Lone Star, alongside a young Matthew McConaughey. Sadly, her life was blighted by a struggle with alcoholism and she died of cirrhosis of the liver in 2014, aged 55.

8 Michelle Thomas

Michelle Thomas in Family Matters
via Glamour Fame

The charming actress was best known for her role on Family Matters as the somewhat unhinged Myra Monkhouse, who harbored an obsessive love for Steve Urkel. Thomas led a healthy lifestyle of teetotalism and was a vegan, so it was a shock when the young actress was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of stomach cancer in 1997. She died just one year later, at the age of 30. Reflecting on her death two decades later, Jaleel White, who played Urkel, paid tribute to his late co-star on Instagram: ‘Michelle’s smile never failed to brighten your day and I will forever miss my bubbly Myra Monkhouse’.

7 Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland onstage with Stone Temple Pilots
via Getty Images

Grunge icon Scott Weiland fronted Stone Temple Pilots in the 90s and early 2000s, selling an impressive 40 million records. He went on to find further success in the supergroup Velvet Revolver. Offstage, he led a troubled life and was haunted by memories of childhood sexual abuse. After years of suffering from drug addiction, Weiland was found dead in his tour bus in 2015. He was 48.

6 Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks tribute
via Hollywood Reporter

Best known for her role as the gaudy Vicki Dubeck in quirky sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, Hooks is also famous for her appearance on Saturday Night Live, as well as voicing Apu’s wife, Manjula, on The Simpsons. Tragically, Hooks died in 2014 of throat cancer. She was 57. The Simpsons episode ‘Super Franchise Me’ was dedicated to her.

5 Lisa Robin Kelly

Lisa Robin Kelly promo photo
via Getty

Kelly found fame on That 70s Show as Laurie, the manipulative sister of protagonist Erin Forman (Topher Grace). Sadly, Kelly suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, which led to several run-ins with the authorities. In 2013, she died from multiple drug intoxication at a rehab clinic. She was just 43.

4 Glenne Headly

Glenne Headly obituary
via Rollingstone.com

Headly stole our hearts as Richard Dreyfuss’s struggling wife, Iris, in 1995 tearjerker, Mr. Holland’s Opus. A sympathetic actress with soulful eyes, Headly was masterful at both comedy and drama. She went on to appear in roles as diverse as Lindsay Lohan’s mom in teen flick Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and as a criminal defense lawyer in the critically acclaimed miniseries The Night Of, which was one of her last roles. Headly died of a pulmonary embolism in 2017. She was 62.

3 Luke Perry

Luke Perry in the 90s
via NYT

The Beverly Hills, 90210 heartthrob was a 90s icon for so many. As the troubled yet effortlessly cool Dylan McKay, Perry stole the hearts of teenaged boys and girls alike. After the teen drama ended in 2000, Perry had roles in many other TV shows including Oz, Will & Grace, and Criminal Minds. His last role was in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-nominated film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Unfortunately, Perry never got to attend the movie’s premier, as he passed away from a stroke in 2019, aged just 52.

2 John Heard

A young John Heard
via Criterion Collection

John Heard appeared in countless TV shows and movies, but he will always be remembered for his role in the first two Home Alone movies as Kevin McCallister’s dad, Peter. The actor’s life was not without tragedy: his son, John Matthew, whose mother is actress Melissa Leo, died in 2016 at the age of 22. Just six months after his son’s untimely death, Heard died of a heart attack. He was 71.

1 Garry Shandling

Garry Shandling as Larry Sanders
via HBO

With its absence of a laugh track (an anomaly in the 90s), The Larry Sanders Show was a ground-breaking sitcom that paved the way for shows such as 30 Rock and The Office. As the creator, producer, and star of the show, Garry Shandling honed his reputation as a comedic innovator pushing the boundaries of the television sitcom format. The comedy world mourned when the 66-year-old died from a pulmonary embolism in 2016. Paying his respects, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane Tweeted, ‘He was a comedy idol of mine. He leaves behind the greatest single-camera comedy of all time.’

Next: 10 ’90s Stars Who Aren’t As Famous As They Used To Be


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About The Author

Antonia Georgiou
(9 Articles Published)

Antonia is a writer based in London, UK. She is a massive film and TV nerd who is always quick to offer random trivia about her favourite media. A graduate of Queen Mary University and UCL, her other passions include fashion, cats, books, and vegan food.

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