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Roseanne Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Every family experiences its share of ups and downs, and the Conners are no different. First appearing in 1988, the unit at the heart of the hit ABC sitcoms "Roseanne" and "The Conners" might be associated with bringing laughter and joy to people's lives, but they've also been used as vehicles to explore some hot-button issues and upsetting topics. From domestic abuse to death and beyond, these characters know life's hardships all too well and it doesn't make for pleasant viewing. 

Sadly, life for the cast of "Roseanne" hasn't always been easy behind the scenes, either. Whether it's actors losing their jobs due to their bad behavior outside of the show, or others encountering unfortunate personal difficulties due to a host of factors, it's been a tumultuous trip at times. However, the most upsetting stories pertain to the show's stars who've passed away throughout the years. From bit-part players to regulars, these performers all made an impact in their own way, and it's a shame they won't be part of the sitcom franchise's future.

Debbie Reynolds played Dan Conner's mother in one episode

Debbie Reynolds enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the spotlight. After soaring to fame courtesy of "Singin' In the Rain," she went on to become a leading lady, starring alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood during the golden age of moviemaking. One of her more famous roles saw her play the eponymous character in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination.

That said, sitcom aficionados might associate Reynolds with her stints on "Will and Grace" and "Roseanne," the latter of which was short-lived, but boasts an interesting backstory all the same. Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher, wrote the "Arsenic and Old Mom" episode, and she penned a part just for her mom. In this one, Reynolds starred as Dan Conner's mother, Audrey, a character who only appeared once before (played by Ann Wedgeworth).

Reynolds was 84 when she passed away in 2016, but the circumstances pertaining to her death are heartbreaking. According to TMZ, she suffered a stroke on December 28, just one day after Fisher died of a heart attack. Prior to her stroke, Reynolds reportedly told her son Todd that she "want[ed] to be with Carrie."

Glenn Quinn played Mark Healy

Some viewers might remember Glenn Quinn for his stint on "Angel" as Doyle, the half-human/half-demon who helped the titular character set up an occult investigation agency and save the day from a variety of supernatural foes. Prior to joining Joss Whedon's cult-favorite horror series, however, he was primarily known for playing Mark Healy, the boyfriend and eventual husband of Becky Conner (Lecy Goranson), in "Roseanne."

Unfortunately, Quinn tragically passed away before the ABC sitcom was revived in 2018. Per The Los Angeles Times, he died of an accidental drug overdose in 2002 after long struggling with alcohol and cocaine addiction. However, his autopsy revealed that heroin was the cause of death. The Dublin-born actor was only 32 at the time.

While speaking to The Independent, Quinn's "Roseanne" co-star Michael Fishman said that his former colleague was always great to work with during the show. He also stated that Quinn's issues came after leaving the sitcom that made him a household name. "On Roseanne Glenn was a professional," Fishman said. "Any struggles he had started while working on Angel."

Fred Willard took part in a memorable gay wedding storyline

Fred Willard was a gifted character actor whose presence boosted many beloved movies and TV shows — especially those of the comedic variety. While he's arguably best-known for his work with director Christopher Guest in mockumentaries such as "This Is Spinal Tap," "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show," he was no stranger to the world of sitcoms, having featured in some of the most popular small-screen comedies to ever exist — "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Modern Family," "Friends” and "Roseanne," to name a few. 

His tenure in "Roseanne" was especially memorable, however. The "December Bride" episode was a key moment for LGBTQ+ representation on mainstream television at the time, as Willard's character, Scott, was at the center of a gay wedding storyline. According to Decider, the episode even predates Carol and Susan's wedding in "Friends," and it was a huge deal in 1995.

Willard enjoyed a lengthy career until he died following a heart attack in 2020, per Entertainment Weekly. His passing led to many tributes from the celebrity community, many of whom acknowledged the actor as a comedic giant. As PopCulture highlights, some of his former "Roseanne" co-stars were among those names, with Roseanne Barr describing him as a "great comic and great person."