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Paying Tribute: Disney Stars We Tragically Lost in 2023

Celebrity Deaths 2023
Credit: ABC/Suzanne Somers/Disney

2023 is nearly over, and 2024 is coming at us, full steam ahead. Each year, we take a look at the highs and lows that happened during the 365 days that seemed to fly by. It has been a tough year for Disney, but CEO Bob Iger is looking towards the future. It has also been a rough year for Hollywood, which saw two of the biggest strikes in history.

And, as with every year, we lost a number of notable celebrities. While some were more expected than others, they still left us shocked and saddened.

Sag-aftra national day of solidarity wga strike

Credit: Facebook/SAG-AFTRA

Here are some of the biggest names we lost this year.

Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry’s death came out of left field and absolutely devastated fans around the world. On October 28, police were called to the home of the Friends¬†actor, after his assistant found him unresponsive in a hot tub. He was just 54 years old.

Matthew Perry

Credit: ABC

Related: Stars Pay Tribute to Matthew Perry

Initial toxicology reports indicated that there was no fentanyl or methamphetamine detected in his system. Then, two months later, his cause of death was revealed. Perry had died from the “acute effects” of ketamine. He was reportedly being treated for depression with the powerful drug. However, the Los Angeles Medical Examiner noted that there was too much in his system to be from the last time he received treatment.

Matthew Perry The Odd Couple

Credit: CBS

Cindy Williams

January did not start off very well for those who fell in love with Cindy Williams when she starred in the hit show,¬†Laverne & Shirley. Williams passed away after a brief illness at the age of 75. Williams’ children, Zak and Emily Hudson, broke the sad news about the death of their “hilarious mother”. They called her, “kind, beautiful, and generous,” and said that she “possessed a brilliant sense of humor.”

Cindy Williams Laverne & Shirley

Credit: ABC

Laverne & Shirley was a spinoff of the iconic ABC show, Happy Days. Williams first appeared in Happy Days, and her character became so loved that she received her own show, alongside Penny Marshall, who played the other half of the duo.

Suzanne Somers

One of the biggest shows of the 1970s was¬†Three’s Company, which starred John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers — two friends who let a man move in with him, as long as he pretended that he was gay. Suzanne Somers starred in the show as Chrissy, the blonde bombshell with that classic girl-next-door vibe.

Suzanne Somers

Credit: Walt Disney Archives

On October 25, Somers passed away at the age of 76, after battling breast cancer for more than two decades. Somers died just one day before she would have celebrated her 77th birthday. Her publicist said that Somers was surrounded by her husband, her son, and other immediate family members.

Burny Mattinson

The name Burny Mattinson might not be well-known to some people, but to Disney fans, he is one of the biggest parts of The Walt Disney Company. Mattinson was a dedicated cast member, working for Disney for more than 70 years. And during those seven decades, Mattinson worked on some of the most iconic Disney films of all time.

burny mattinson

Credit: Disney

Mattinson was a hugely talented animator whose work can be seen in Lady and the Tramp¬†(1955),¬†One Hundred and One Dalmatians¬†(1961),¬†The Sword in the Stone¬†(1963),¬†The Jungle Book¬†(1967), and¬†The Rescuers¬†(1977). He was also a huge part of what is known as “the Disney Renaissance”, contributing to Aladdin¬†(1992),¬†Beauty and the Beast¬†(1993),¬†The Lion King¬†(1994),¬†Pocahontas¬†(1995),¬†The Hunchback of Notre Dame¬†(1996),¬†Tarzan¬†(1997), and¬†Mulan¬†(1998).

'Beauty and the Beast' Belle and Beast dance in the ballroom

Credit Disney

Related: Once Upon A Studio May Have Featured an Unexpected Disney Icon

Mattinson passed away on February 27 at the age of 87. According to his family, he died after battling a “short illness.”

Tony Bennett

It’s hard to think of a time when Tony Bennett wasn’t a major part of the music industry and a part of the lives of people around the world. Sadly, Bennett passed away on July 21 at the age of 96. He was just two weeks shy of his 97th birthday and died from the effects of Alzheimer’s, which he had been suffering from since 2016.

Tony Bennett Muppets Most Wanted

Credit: Disney

Throughout his distinguished career, Bennett worked with Disney more than once. He made a guest appearance on Muppets Tonight and appeared as himself in the 2014 film, Muppets Most Wanted. His lasting legacy was also mentioned in the 2022 Pixar film, Turning Red, and in the Disney+ series, The Santa Clauses.

Joss Ackland

One of the most popular Disney franchises of the 1990s was The Mighty Ducks. The trilogy starred Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay, a disgraced lawyer who is forced to coach a group of ragtag hockey players as part of his community service. The first film came out in 1992, with D2; The Mighty Ducks coming out in 1994, and D3 following two years later.

Joss Ackland

Credit: Disney

In¬†The Mighty Ducks, Gordon relied on the sage advice of Hans, a hockey shop owner who had known Gordon since he was a young boy. In the third film, Hans passed away, but the actor Joss Ackland actually died on November 21, 2023, at the age of 95. Mr. Ackland’s rep, Paul Pearson, said that the British actor died surrounded by friends and family.

Kamar de los Reyes

For decades, the heart of ABC’s afternoon lineup was soap operas, including¬†General Hospital, One Life to Live,¬†and¬†All My Children. As time went on, soap operas became less popular, and there are now very few that are still on the air.

For years, Kamar de los Reyes played the key role of Antonio Vega in One Life to Live. He was also well-known to millions of video game fans as the voice of Raul Menedez in several Call of Duty games.

Kamar de los Reyes All American

Credit: Warner Bros.

Tragically, on Christmas Eve, de los Reyes passed away at the young age of 56 after a brief battle with cancer. He left behind a wife, two young sons, a grown son, his parents, two brothers, and two sisters.

Billy Miller

Over the years, people have come to realize just how important it is to have open and honest conversations about mental health. Unfortunately, even though it is becoming part of the mainstream conversation, there are still a lot of people who suffer in silence.

Billy Miller General Hospital

Credit: ABC

General Hospital¬†star Billy Miller was one of those people. Fans were shocked when it was reported on September 19 that the actor had died at the incredibly young age of 43. Days later, Miller’s mother shared that her son had suffered from bipolar disorder for years, a disease that ultimately ended his life. His mother said that he bravely fought his disorder for a long time.

Billy Miller

Credit: ABC

Over the years, Miller starred in a number of popular soap operas, including General Hospital, All My Children, and The Young and the Restless.

Which celebrity death hit you the hardest this year? Let us know in the comments.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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