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Famous People Who Died in 2004

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For one reason or another, we as human beings seem to be fascinated by celebrity deaths. Every year we mourn the loss of famous people who pass away, and 2004 was no exception. America weeped as former president Ronald Reagan died. Other included legendary musician Ray Charles, and renowned chef Julia Child. Here's our list of the most notable people to die in 2004, ordered by how well-known they were.

All walks of famous people are on this list, including actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and more.Although the rich and famous are just like the rest of us, it's alarming how many of them have their lives cut short because of drug overdoses or other accidents. Still others live out many long years only to succumb to diseases like cancer late in life. Which celebrities died in 2004? Scroll down and see for yourself.
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  • Ronald Reagan

    Alzheimer's disease, Pneumonia
    Ronald Wilson Reagan (; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a...  more
  • Marlon Brando

    Cardiovascular disease, Liver tumour
    Marlon Brando Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor and film director. With a career spanning 60 years, he is well-regarded for his cultural influence on 20th-century film....  more
  • Rodney Dangerfield

    Surgical complications
    Jack Roy (born Jacob Rodney Cohen, November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004), popularly known by the stage name Rodney Dangerfield, was an American stand-up comedian, actor, voice artist, producer,...  more
  • Julia Child

    Renal failure
    Julia Carolyn Child (née McWilliams; August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author and television personality. She is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public...  more
  • Christopher Reeve

    Cardiac arrest, Cardiovascular disease
    Christopher D'Olier Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was an American actor who played DC comic book superhero Superman, beginning with the acclaimed Superman (1978), for which he won a...  more
  • Janet Leigh

    Myocardial infarction
    Janet Leigh (born Jeanette Helen Morrison; July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and author. Raised in Stockton, California, by working-class parents, Leigh was...  more
  • Harold Shipman

    Suicide, Hanging
    Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was an English general practitioner and is one of the most prolific serial killers in history. On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman...  more
  • Ray Charles

    Acute Liver Disease, Hepatitis
    Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), professionally known as simply Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians...  more
  • Jerry Orbach

    Prostate cancer
    Jerome Bernard Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) was an American actor and singer, described at the time of his death as "one of the last bona fide leading men of the Broadway musical and...  more
  • Johnny Ramone

    Prostate cancer, Cancer
    John William Cummings (October 8, 1948 – September 15, 2004), known professionally as Johnny Ramone, was an American guitarist and songwriter, best known for being the guitarist for the punk rock...  more
  • Michael Kelway Oliver

    Michael Kelway Oliver (February 2, 1925 – September 29, 2004) was a Canadian academic, political organizer and the sixth president of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Oliver was born...  more
  • Ann Miller

    Lung cancer
    Johnnie Lucille Collier (April 12, 1923 – January 22, 2004), known professionally as Ann Miller, was an American dancer, singer, and actress. She is best remembered for her work in the Classical...  more
  • Fay Wray

    Natural causes
    Vina Fay Wray (September 15, 1907 – August 8, 2004) was an American actress most noted for starring as Ann Darrow in the 1933 film King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned nearly six decades,...  more
  • Yasser Arafat

    Cerebral hemorrhage
    Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini (; Arabic: محمد ياسر عبد الرحمن عبد الرؤوف عرفات القدوة الحسيني‎‎; 4 / 24 August 1929 – 11 November 2004), popularly known as...  more
  • Reggie White

    Cardiovascular disease
    Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional football player who played defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons during the...  more
  • Arthur Kane

    Leukemia
    Arthur Harold Kane Jr. (February 3, 1949 – July 13, 2004) was a musician best known as the bass guitarist for the pioneering glam rock band the New York Dolls. Kane was a founding member of the...  more
  • Alan King

    Lung cancer
    Alan King (born Irwin Alan Kniberg; December 26, 1927 – May 9, 2004) was an American actor and comedian known for his biting wit and often angry humorous rants. King became well known as a Jewish...  more
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard

    Heart failure, Drug overdose
    Russell Tyrone Jones (November 15, 1968 – November 13, 2004), better known by his stage name Ol' Dirty Bastard (often abbreviated as O.D.B.), was an American rapper and producer. He was one of the...  more
  • Spalding Gray

    Drowning, Suicide
    Spalding Gray (June 5, 1941 – January 11, 2004) was an American actor and writer. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he wrote and performed for the theater in the 1980s and...  more
  • David Brudnoy

    Kidney cancer, Lung cancer
    David Barry Brudnoy (June 5, 1940 – December 9, 2004) was an American talk radio host in Boston from 1976 to 2004. His radio talk show aired on WBZ radio. He was known for espousing his libertarian...  more
  • Alistair Cooke

    Cancer, Bone cancer
    Alistair Cooke (20 November 1908 – 30 March 2004) was a British writer whose work as a journalist, television personality and radio broadcaster was done primarily in the United States. Outside his...  more
  • Francesco Scavullo

    Myocardial infarction
    Francesco Scavullo (January 16, 1921 – January 6, 2004) was an American fashion photographer best known for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan and his celebrity portraits....  more
  • Rick James

    Myocardial infarction, Stroke
    Rick James (born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, James began...  more
  • Francis Crick

    Colorectal cancer
    Francis Harry Compton Crick (8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004) was a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist. In 1953, he co-authored with James Watson the academic paper proposing...  more
  • Paul Winfield

    Myocardial infarction
    Paul Edward Winfield (May 22, 1939 – March 7, 2004) was an American television, film and stage actor. He was known for his portrayal of a Louisiana sharecropper who struggles to support his family...  more