When folks like Princess Diana and Michael Jackson die, the world reels in shock and sorrow. But then there are those other celebrity deaths. These people were less high-profile, and you didn’t even hear about the deaths for weeks, months, or years after they occurred. At that point, you assumed that it was an internet hoax. But after obtaining enough independent verification, you had to face the truth. And like truth does, it hurt. Here are five departed celebrities whose deaths hit me harder than I would have expected.
Ashleigh Aston Moore, Chrissy in Now and Then
Like many young girls in the late 90s, my group elementary school friends went through a phase where we were really into Now and Then. We rocked out to early 70s oldies, saved up for a tree house, and wore out the VHS cassette at slumber parties. Three of the girls in the movie were played by the top tween actresses of the time- Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, and Gaby Hoffman. The fourth, Ashleigh Aston Moore, was a relative unknown. But as prissy, sheltered Chrissy, she was arguably the funniest kid in the movie. So, when I heard that Miss Moore had died, I refused to believe it. It was one of those things that I heard years after the fact, because the actress slipped out of the public eye so it wasn’t reported on the news or anything. It sounded like something that would be an urban legand. I mean, how could that cute, talented little kid have died at 26? I loved Now and Then so much that I feel like I practically grew up with her, and now Ashleigh’s work will live on to attest to how bright and funny she was. Ashleigh’s cause of death has been speculated online, but is not verified. Ashleigh Aston Moore died unexpectedly at the age of 26, in 2007.
Thuy Trang, The Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers
Trini?! I know. Even if you weren’t technically (or publicly, in my case) a fan of the Power Rangers, you couldn’t be a kid in the early/mid 90s without escaping their influence. The Rangers weren’t just a boys’ club, but you could always count on the pink and yellow rangers. Thuy Trang had an amazing story – born in South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon, she was forced to flee to the United States at age 2. Trang went on to excel in school and even earn a scholarship for engineering, before switching to acting and landing the role of the Yellow Ranger after only a year or so in the business. Tragically, Thuy Trang died in an automobile accident at the age of 27 in 2001.
Michelle thomas, Myra in Family Matters
Michelle Thomas played Urkel’s girlfriend on Family Matters, during those later seasons when he was Stefan Urkell most of the time. Myra’s obsession with Steve somehow even overshadowed Steve’s obsession with Laura. Outside of Family Matters, Michelle was one of those age-defying actresses who successfully played teenagers throughout her 20s. Sadly, Thomas died of a rare form of abdominal cancer at only 29 or 30 in 1998.
Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi, Yokozuna in the WWF
Yokozuna was my favorite WWF wrestler when I was 5 or 6, dragged – physically dragged – into the fake wrestling fandom by my older brothers. Born Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi, ‘Yokozuna’ was a Samoan-American from a family of wrestlers and, contrary to the ‘fake-wrestling’ stigma, actually did train in the sport. In the year 2000 and at the age of 34, while still actively competing as a wrestler, Anoa’i died of pulmonary edema.
Kim Walker, Heather Chandler in Heathers
Life imitates art – Heather Chandler was the first of the Heathers (in Heathers) to die, and Kim Walker was the first cast member to pass away as well. In her short life, Walker amassed numerous tv and film credits after graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, AKA the Fame school. Her career would undoubtedly have continued much longer, however Kim was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1999 and died two years later, at only 32 years of age.