2016 was a horrible year for celebrity deaths. We’re thankful that we’ve been out of the woods for a while, because for a few months, it genuinely felt like all of Hollywood was cursed, and our favorite stars were doomed. But as devastating as celebrity deaths can be for long time fans, the people who will always be hit the hardest are their family members. When your favourite celebrity passes away, do you ever stop to think about how difficult it must be for their children not only to lose a parent, but have to see reminders of it on every TV show and magazine? It must be a very traumatizing experience.
After a celebrity death, the children usually have to issue statements about their parents. If you’ve ever read them, you know that they can be real tear-jerkers. Here are 15 heart breaking messages from celebrity children who lost their parents.
15. Frances Bean Cobain
Frances Cobain, the daughter of Kurt Cobain, lost her father when she was too young to remember it. Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, famously took his own life at the age of 27 in 1994. When Frances spoke publicly about her father’s death for the first time in a Rolling Stone interview with David Fricke in 2015, she spoke very highly of her father. “He’s inescapable,” she said. “Even if I was in a car and had the radio on, there’s my dad. He’s larger than life and our culture is obsessed with dead musicians. We love to put them on a pedestal. If Kurt had just been another guy who abandoned his family in the most awful way possible . . . But he wasn’t. He inspired people to put him on a pedestal, to become St. Kurt. He became even bigger after he died than he was when he was alive.”
14. Duncan Jones
When David Bowie died, the world was absolutely shocked. Bowie was such a legend in the music world that it was almost impossible to imagine the industry without his influence. But no one was more affected by his death than his son, Duncan Jones. After his father’s death, Jones shared his feelings on a podcast called “The Nerdist.” “He was a big gravitational pull on my life as far as who I saw myself as, how I separated myself from the world and how I saw myself,” Jones said about his father. “I was very fortunate we got a chance to say our goodbyes… Weird things make me miss him – I’m sure I always will – but it’s still early days, it’s tricky.” Jones was definitely lucky that he got the chance to say a proper goodbye to his father, as many people never do get that important opportunity.
13. Laila Ali
Even if you’ve never been a big fan of boxing, you’ve probably heard of Muhammed Ali. His daughter, Laila, chose to follow in his footsteps and also became a professional boxer. After his death, she opened up with some very touching words about her father and his legacy in an interview with TODAY magazine. “I personally have been sad for a long time,” she said. “It’s not easy, it wasn’t easy, to watch him suffer. Knowing he’s not suffering anymore gives me comfort. I’ve prepared mentally for many years, that obviously one day I was going to lose my father and that time has come.” She says her son reminds her a lot of her father. “My son is a spitting image of my father when he was young and he has so many of his same similar characteristics and qualities,” said Laila. “And he’s definitely going to live on through him.”
12. Paris Jackson
At Michael Jackson’s funeral, his daughter Paris Jackson, who was only eleven years old at the time, bravely stepped up the mic to say, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just wanted to say I love him so much.” In 2017, she did her first ever public interview about her father’s death with Brian Hiatt in Rolling Stone and spoke honestly about grieving. “They always say, ‘Time heals,'” she says. “But it really doesn’t. You just get used to it. I live life with the mentality of ‘OK, I lost the only thing that has ever been important to me.’ So going forward, anything bad that happens can’t be nearly as bad as what happened before. So I can handle it.” Paris has been so brave in the face of everything the world threw at her-she should be proud.
11. Patti Davis
Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, did not share her parents’ conservative political views. This caused lots of tension within the family. But when her mother died and Americans mourned the beloved former First Lady, Patti shared many kind words about her mother. “My mother had been in poor health for quite a while, and recently had gotten markedly worse, so this wasn’t a surprise,” Davis wrote on her personal website. “That said, death always feels like a surprise. I appreciate the attention and prayers of people I will probably never meet. Just as when my father died, there is comfort in feeling surrounded by gentle thoughts and kind wishes, often sent out by strangers.” Davis was upset because TMZ released a statement about Nancy’s death before the family could, but she handled the issue with grace and dignity, like her mother would.
10. Guy Johnson
You may have complained when you had to read Maya Angelou’s work in school, but her writing is worth a second look. Angelou was an incredible activist, and her legacy has lived on long after her death in 2014. Her son, Guy Johnson, shared his feeling about his mother in a beautiful speech at her funeral. “My mother loved the concept of joy,” he said, encouraging everyone to think of positive memories of Angelou. “She felt it was an important emotion to keep in one’s life because often, it was the difference between striving and thriving. In the midst of our sadness, we are finding joy.” Johnson went on to say: “Now, we are ready to celebrate her life. There is no mourning here. We have added to the population of angels, and she has left each one of us with something in our hearts.” Kind words for a wise woman!
9. Shlomo Elisha Wiesel
You probably had to read the harrowing book Night by Elie Wiesel for history class at some point. This book is Wiesel’s first hand account of the horrors that he experienced in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Wiesel was lucky enough to survive the Holocaust and share his story with the world. In June 2016, he passed away. He led a very fulfilling and inspiring life, spreading a message of peace and justice throughout the world. He survived so much hardship that when he died, it was shocking, it was easy to see him as a person who could live through nearly anything. His son, Shlomo Elisha Wiesel, said that days before his father’s death, he dreamed of talking a walk back in Romania with his family that had been killed during the Holocaust. At his funeral, Shlomo stated, “I hope you enjoyed that walk. By every measure, you earned it.”
8. Zelda Williams
We’ve lost many great celebrities, but for many people, the saddest celebrity death of all time was when beloved comedy actor Robin Williams took his own life. His daughter Zelda Williams spoke out about the painful experience of losing her father on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show, Chelsea. “I didn’t see daylight for a while,” Zelda admitted. “For a while no one would let me do anything. I think there’s, like, that reaction of like, ‘Oh no. Are you okay?’” She tried to bury her emotions in her work for some time. “So for a while I was left to my own devices and a lot of great stuff came out of that. I ended up writing 12 scripts, which is great, but then you’re like, ‘Is there something wrong with me?’” Zelda said she often takes breaks from social media in order to focus on things besides her father’s death.
7. Michael Wilding
In her prime, actress Elizabeth Taylor was a force to be reckoned with, both on screen and off. She starred in many popular films, but she was known just as much for her beauty as for her acting. She was also no stranger to love, in fact, she married EIGHT times in her life. Um, we can’t even get the one guy in our calculus lecture to text us back. What the heck? Sadly, Elizabeth Taylor passed away in 2011. Her son Michael Wilding shared his vision of his mother after her death. “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love,” said Wilding, now 64. “Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.” His mother left an untouchable legacy.
6. Michael Gandolfini
Every Sopranos fan loved James Gandolfini. He embodied everything it meant to be Italian-American, and he played the role of Tony Soprano perfectly for years. When he died of a massive heart attack in Italy, fans were shocked. One of the saddest things about his death was his teenage son, Michael, finding him unconscious before they realized he could not be saved. His son gave a lovely tribute speech when Gandolfini’s final film, The Drop, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “He didn’t want to be Tony Soprano; he wanted to go on and push himself more, try to get harder, get different,” Michael said of his father’s choice in acting roles. “I wanted the world and everyone just to know that he was more than just an actor,” he continued. “I wanted to show and represent my dad as a person. I want to make sure that everyone knows who he really was.”
5. Liza Minnelli
Judy Garland might be best known for her role as Dorothy in the classic film The Wizard of Oz, but she lived a tragic life off screen. She struggled with abuse and addiction throughout her life, and when she died, she left behind her daughter Liza Minelli. Even though Judy left before her time, Liza remembers her mother fondly and learned many important lessons from her. In an interview with The New York Times, Liza said, “When I walk outside the theatre and see a lady, someone of another generation, who’s been standing there, waiting out in the cold – if I’ve given her just one touch of anything, because through my mother, through me, she chooses to think ‘life goes on,’ well, that’s wonderful. It really is. Things do go on – and on. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to be a good daughter.”
4. Redmond O’Neal
Farrah Fawcett, the blonde bombshell who starred in Charlie’s Angels and had the whole world copying her iconic hairstyle, passed away in 2009. In fact, she died on the same day as Michael Jackson, and her son, Redmond O’Neal, has admitted that he felt upset when Jackson’s death overshadowed his mother’s. “I remember, and I got mad ’cause Michael Jackson had a bigger page,” said O’Neal on the entertainment news show Extra. O’Neal was in jail at the time and did not get to say goodbye to his mother. “For the last four months she was living, I didn’t even get to talk to her. She was bedridden, incapable of getting on the phone,” said O’ Neal. “The good thing is she didn’t know I was in jail. My dad kept that from her.” We hope that Farrah’s son has been able to find peace even though he couldn’t say goodbye.
3. Billie Lourd
As we mentioned earlier, 2016 may have been the worst year for celebrity deaths. And when Carrie Fisher passed away in December, Star Wars fans everywhere were shocked and upset. Her daughter, Billie Lourd, also lost her grandmother, Debbie Reynolds, only days later. We can’t imagine how difficult this must have been, but Billie stayed strong. She finally spoke up a few days after their deaths with a picture of herself, Carrie, and Debbie on Instagram. She captioned it by saying: “Receiving all of your prayers and kind words over the past week has given me strength during a time I thought strength could not exist. There are no words to express how much I will miss my Abadaba and my one and only Momby. Your love and support means the world to me.” We hope that Billie is doing well many devoted fans have shared in her grieving Debbie and Carrie.
2. Bindi Irwin
Who could forget Steve Irwin, the fearless star of Animal Planet’s old show The Crocodile Hunter? When Irwin met an untimely death due to a fatal stingray encounter, his daughter Bindi was very young. Now, she has become an inspiring young woman who loves nature just like her father. On the 10th anniversary of his death, her post about her father brought a tear or two. “You’ll be my hero for my entire existence,” she wrote in a caption under an Instagram photo of herself as a baby with her father. “I love you more than words can describe.” Wow, that really just sums it up. Those few sentences said so much, and it’s clear that Steve and Bindi had a strong bond, even when she was very young. It’s amazing to see her following in his footsteps, and we have no doubt that he would be very proud of her!
1. Meadow Walker
So many people love the Fast and Furious franchise that there are eight movies in the series so far. But these films have had to go on without one of the actors that made them so awesome and fun: Paul Walker. Walker was killed in a car accident, but he left behind a beautiful daughter who definitely has a big heart. After her father’s death, Meadow Walker let the world know how she felt. On Instagram, Meadow posted, “Reflecting on my father, I found myself reflecting on his passions. His passion for the ocean, his passion for rescuing animals, his passion for helping people and his passion for spontaneous goodwill.” Her father’s motivation to do some good in this world inspired her to create the Paul Walker foundation. “I wanted to start this foundation because I wanted to share that piece of him with the world,” she continued. Good for you, Meadow!