Circle of life: 2014’s famous births and deaths

Ryan Gosling became a father in 2014; Joan Rivers passed away. Getty Images

TORONTO — Just call it the celebrity circle of life.

There were a number of celebrity deaths in 2014 but also a lot of tiny additions to famous families.

Here’s a look back at some of the moments that made headlines.


One thing is for sure: It was a sad year for comedy.

Stand-up veteran David Brenner passed away in March after a battle with cancer. He was 78.

In a statement, comedian Richard Lewis described Brenner as “the godfather of hip, observational comedy.”

The world was stunned in August when Robin Williams took his life. He was 63.

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Williams, who had just finished work in Vancouver on a new Night at the Museum movie, was found in his San Francisco home with a belt around his neck.

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” revealed Williams’ wife Susan Schneider.

In September, legendary comedian Joan Rivers passed away after she stopped breathing during a medical procedure at a New York City endoscopy clinic. She was 81.

“Joan Rivers was not done. She lived a life that could jam-pack 10 lifetimes,” comedian Sarah Silverman said in December. “She wasn’t the average person. She wasn’t done. She left us unfinished.

“The only thing that was going to stop Joan Rivers was death.”

Saturday Night Live veteran Jan Hooks died in October at 57 after battling an undisclosed illness.

Hooks was on SNL from 1986 to 1991 along with Canadians Mike Myers and the late Phil Hartman and played the wife of Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick character in both his Primetime Glick series and the 2004 movie Jiminy Glick in Lalawood.

“I idolized her,” Andrea Martin tweeted. “A comedy original. ALWAYS made me laugh. Too short a career and life.”

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Also in 2014, Hollywood mourned the loss of veteran film and TV actor James Garner, who died of natural causes in July at 86, and screen icon Lauren Bacall, who passed away at 89 in August of a stroke.

Famed film and stage director Mike Nichols was mourned in November. He died a little more than a week after his 83rd birthday of cardiac arrest.

Other actors who died in 2014 include Designing Woman star Meshach Taylor, who was 67 when he passed away in June, and Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, who died in July at 89.

“I suspect Elaine Stritch won’t know how to rest-in-peace,” tweeted actress Mia Farrow, who called her an “iconic entertainer” and “force of nature.”

In January, Russell Johnson — best known as the Professor on Gilligan’s Islanddied at 89 and Dave Madden of Partridge Family fame died at 82.

Closer to home, veteran Canadian actor Walter Massey died in August only two weeks shy of his 86th birthday.

The former Lassie star, who voiced Principal Herbert Haney on the animated TV series Arthur since 1996, passed away in a Montreal hospital after an undisclosed illness.

“Walter was a very special and kind person,” said Don Jordan, an actor and president of the Montreal chapter of ACTRA, the union representing performers. “He was a storyteller. He loved to tell stories.”

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Among the notable deaths in the music industry in 2014 were blues icon Johnny Winter, who died in July at 70, and American Idol finalist Michael Johns, who passed away at 35.

Drummer Tommy Ramone, co-founder of punk band the Ramones, was 65 when he died in July.


The celebrity baby boom hit Canadian stars hard in 2014.

In October, B.C.-born Hayden Christensen became a first-time father with actress Rachel Bilson, with whom he starred in 2008’s Toronto-shot Jumper.

The couple, who owns a farm in Zephyr (just north of Toronto), welcomed daughter Briar Rose on Oct. 29.

Ontario native Ryan Gosling also became a dad for the first time when his girlfriend, actress Eva Mendes, gave birth to Esmeralda in September.

In October, news broke that Vancouver-born Ryan Reynolds and his wife, actress Blake Lively, are expecting their first child.

(Reynolds’ ex-wife, actress Scarlett Johansson, welcomed baby Rose this year.)

Montreal-born Mad Men star Jessica Paré announced in September she is expecting her first child with boyfriend John Kastner, a musician who hails from Beaconsfield, Quebec.

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Supermodel Coco Rocha announced her pregnancy in October. The Toronto native, who grew up in Richmond, B.C., is expecting with husband James Conran.

Ontario-born NHL player Mike Fisher announced on Sept. 1 that he will become a first-time parent with his wife, country music superstar Carrie Underwood.

“We haven’t picked names yet but it’s looking like Fly is gonna fly,” he joked on Twitter.

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