Each and every year we have to say goodbye to so many celebrities and public figures — 2018 is, naturally, no exception. While many may still be reeling from the losses of 2017, which included the likes of Bill Paxton, Don Rickles, and Mary Tyler Moore — just to name a few — the clock continues to tick and the list of famous deaths continues to grow. So far in 2018, we’ve had to part with a particularly striking number of influential and iconic women.
Dr. Deborah Carr explained the benefits — that’s right, benefits — of mourning celebrity deaths in an article for Psychology Today. “Collective mourning reminds us that we’re part of a particular generation,” she wrote, “and helps us to celebrate the cultural touchstones that define us.” Celebrity deaths, while always tragic and often unexpected, have a silver lining of sorts in that they help all of us become part of something more powerful, something bigger, than ourselves.
So, together, let’s revisit some of the incredible women we’ve lost so far in 2018.
Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling, Mt. Fiji
Just two days into the new year, we lost a true legend. Many may have only known her by her wrestling persona, Mt. Fiji but her given name was Emily Dole. Having never lost one match, Dole was an iconic star in Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.) during the late ’80s and early ’90s. If you’re a fan of the Netflix show of the same acronym, you’ll likely spot similarities between Mt. Fiji and Machu Picchu. This is because Dole’s character was the inspiration.
Dole’s friend and fellow wrestling star, Patricia Summerland (“Sunny the California Girl”) informed fans of Dole’s death on social media, writing, “Rip Emily Dole! WE LOST OUR GLOW SISTER THIS MORNING. We are very sad that she passed away.” Summerland also added, “She was the CHAMP IN THE RING. Fly high Mountain Fiji.”
Dole passed away at 60 years of age, after a long struggle with serious health problems.
The Cranberries front woman Dolores O’Riordan
On January 15, the death of 46-year-old lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, was confirmed by her publicist to BBC News. In the 1990s, the band catapulted to fame thanks to O’Riordan’s powerful vocals. After creating international hits like “Linger” and “Zombie,” the front woman went solo in 2003 before getting back together with her bandmates in 2009. As her publicist confirmed, O’Riordan was in London for “a short recording session” with the rest of the iconic alternative rock band when she suddenly passed away. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to BBC News that it was at her hotel where she was pronounced dead.
After O’Riordan’s shocking death, the band put their music on hold. After a few months, The Cranberries announced their decision to work on a special 25th anniversary edition. They also confirmed what O’Riordan’s publicist eluded to — they were recording a studio album when their front woman unexpectedly died.
“After much consideration we have decided to finish what we started,” the band wrote. With her vocals already recorded, the band plans to release a posthumous album by early 2019, after the release of their anniversary album in late 2018.
Producer Allison Shearmur
You may not know her name but you have certainly recognized Allison Shearmur’s body of work. As both a studio executive and producer, Shearmur is credited for massive hits like the Bourne films as well as the Hunger Games series. She is also the name behind the much anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story. Sadly, Shearmur will not see her film reach theaters as she passed away from lung cancer on July 19 at just 54 years old.
According to her husband, Edward Shearmur, she had received the diagnosis back in 2016, but chose to only reveal the news to their family and closest friends and associates. All the while, she kept working.
“She didn’t want to be defined by her disease,” the late producer’s husband told The New York Times, “She felt that if people knew of this very difficult detail, it would overshadow everything else.” She is missed by family and fans alike.
“Rosie the Riveter” Naomi Parker Fraley
For more than 70 years, the true identity of Rosie the Riveter, the 1940s model and feminist icon, remained a mystery, according to The New York Times. Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Naomi Parker Fraley, along with her younger sister, got jobs in a machine shop at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. The two young women patched airplane wings, used drills, and riveted — no joke — pieces of metal. One day, a photographer took the older sister’s picture — the one would later become famous.
However, it wasn’t until 2009 that Fraley herself knew about the photo — or, at least, what the photo had become. At a reunion, the two sisters saw the photographer displayed at the Rosie the Riveter and World War II Home Front National Historical Park. “I couldn’t believe it because it was me in the photo,” Fraley recalled to People, “but there was somebody else’s name in the caption: Geraldine.”
Finally, in the summer of 2016, the record was set straight and the real Rosie the Riveter got the recognition she deserved. Nearly a year and a half later on January 20, Fraley passed away at 96.
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