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A Nightmare On Elm Street Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

Few classic slashers can instill fear like the razor glove-wearing Freddy Krueger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." While other bad guys, such as Michael Myers in "Halloween" and Chucky in "Child's Play," are pretty terrifying, their attacks are done in real life. Freddy, on the other hand, prefers to conduct his murders via his victims' dreams. This unique concept is why Wes Craven's inaugural 1984 film has not only stood the test of time, but evolved into a seven-part franchise, not including Craven's meta flick "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," the 2003 spinoff "Freddy vs. Jason," and the 2010 remake.

In addition to its successful thrill factor, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" must be applauded for its top notch cast. The first seven flicks and "Freddy vs. Jason" starred master of horror Robert Englund as Freddy. Though Jackie Earle Haley took over for the 2010 reboot, Englund will always be the essence of the creepy character. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" made Englund a staple in the horror genre and also introduced Johnny Depp to Hollywood. Depp made his film debut in the 1984 original as Glen Lantz, one of Freddy's unfortunate victims.

Though Englund and Depp continue to appear in various projects, the same can't be said for a number of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" actors who have sadly passed away through the years.

John Saxon played Donald Thompson in two installments

John Saxon portrayed Donald Thompson in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and 1987's "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors." Donald is the ex-husband of Marge (Ronee Blakley) and father of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp). Nancy calls on her sergeant father to help catch Freddy after he murders her friend Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss). Though he vows to avenge Marge after her death at the hands of Freddy and puts up a good fight during the two movies, Donald ends up getting stabbed in the stomach by Freddy's bladed glove in "Dream Warriors."

Saxon passed away on July 25, 2020, at the age of 83, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from pneumonia (via The Hollywood Reporter). The Italian American native of Brooklyn, New York, boasted a vast career of personifying a variety of characters, including Rashid Ahmed in "Dynasty" and gambler turned martial arts competitor Roper in 1973's "Enter the Dragon," in which his costar was Bruce Lee. 

While filming "Enter the Dragon," Saxon learned some impressive moves from Lee himself, but their lessons weren't without an injury or two. Saxon said that one time while they were practicing kicks with each other, "All of a sudden, [Lee] slid in front of me and he did a hop, skip and a jump and he knocked me clear across on my heels across the room ... I got up and I saw he was very anxious and quiet and I said, 'It's OK, I'm not hurt.' He said, 'I know, but that was my best chair!'" (via South China Morning Post).

Melinda O. Fee, who played Mrs. Webber, was a soap opera star

Melinda O. Fee appears in 1985's "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" as Mrs. Webber, the wife of Eddie (Thom McFadden) and mother of Lisa (Kim Myers). At one point, as she and her husband are hosting a pool party for their daughter's friends, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton), who is possessed by Freddy, locks the couple in their bedroom before murdering a number of their guests.

Fee passed away on March 24, 2020, at the age of 77 (via Soap Central). The actress, who was born in Los Angeles, California in October 1942, has numerous credits to her name, including the shows "The Invisible Man," "Lost in Space," "Santa Barbara," and the soap opera "Days of our Lives," in which she played Mary Anderson Marshall. Fee also made brief appearances on several other soap operas, including "Guiding Light" and "The Young and the Restless."

Similar to Mrs. Webber, Fee's character of Mary in "Days of our Lives" is tossed into the path of evil. Mary ends of being one of several unsuspecting victims of the mysterious Salem Strangler (via Soap Central), who is eventually revealed to be Jake Kositchek (Jack Coleman). Unlike Freddy, Jake comes for his victims in real life, not in their subconscious.

Nan Martin brought Freddy Krueger's mother to life

Nan Martin brought to life Freddy's mother, Amanda Krueger, in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors," allowing audiences to get a glimpse into the slasher's dark entrance into the world. Viewers learn that, at the age of 18, Amanda has a goal of becoming a nun. 

But when she's assigned to work with inmates at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital, she goes through intense trauma and sexual assault that leads to her being pregnant with Freddy, who she gives up for adoption. Years later, Amanda finds out about the horror Freddy continues to create, and she can't handle it.

Martin passed away on March 4, 2010, at the age of 82, in her Malibu home (via New York Times). Throughout her career, Martin shined on stage in a number of Broadway shows, including "A Story for a Sunday Evening" and "Eccentricities of a Nightingale." She also appeared in a slew of television shows, such as "The Twilight Zone" and "The Drew Carey Show," in which she played the recurring character of Mrs. Fran "Dotty" Louder.

For Martin, the role of Fran was a standout one that truly showcased her comedic chops. As the CEO of Cleveland's Winfred-Louder department store, where Carey's fictional persona is employed, Fran gives Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in "The Devil Wears Prada" a run for her money as far as horrible bosses go. 

Yaphet Kotto learned Freddy's secret as therapist Doc

Yaphet Kotto is known in the franchise for his portrayal of Doc in 1991's "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare." His character is a therapist with a passion for dream therapy. Unlike Freddy's countless unsuspecting victims, Doc is ready for him and even beats Freddy with a bat when he tries to enter his subconscious. Thanks to Doc's research, audiences learn that Freddy gets his powers from "Dream Demons," creatures that grant evil individuals the ability to live between dreams and reality.

Kotto passed away on March 15, 2021, at the age of 81, near Manila in the Philippines (via The Hollywood Reporter). He left behind Tessie Sinahon, his wife of 24 years. Though Kotto voluntarily rejected several major roles, including Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Lando Calrissian in "The Empire Strikes Back," he still had a jam-packed career. His credits include Lieutenant Al Giardello in "Homicide: Life on the Street," Idi Amin in "Raid on Entebbe," Dickie Coombes in "Brubaker," and Dennis Parker in "Alien."

As chief engineer Parker, one of the crew members on the USCSS Nostromo, Kotto helped launch what would become an entire "Alien" franchise. Though his character only appears in the inaugural 1979 film, Kotto credits the movie with stretching his acting chops. "All the scenes were challenging, particularly when you know you have to act against sets that were huge," he said in an interview with Cult Film Freaks. "The special effects determined where you could walk. Then you ask yourself, 'How can you survive in acting against a monster? Will you be remembered?'" 

The answer is a resounding "yes."

Zsa Zsa Gábor portrayed her socialite self in Dream Warriors

The ever-glamorous Zsa Zsa Gábor played herself in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors." In the film, Jennifer Caulfield (Penelope Sudrow) doses off in front of the TV, something she's desperately trying to avoid following Freddy's murder of her friend Phillip Anderson (Bradley Gregg). While asleep, Jennifer dreams that she's watching an interview by Dick Cavett with Gábor, who urges viewers with acting aspirations to get started on their goals. As expected, Cavett transforms into Freddy, who tries to attack Gábor before the TV turns off.

The Hungarian actress and socialite passed away on December 18, 2016, at the age of 99 (via People). At the time, her husband commented to the New York Daily News that after suffering from dementia and other ailments for years, "She was slowly slipping away, peacefully, without pain. And it was just the time for her to go." Gábor appeared in several films, including "Moulin Rouge" and "Touch of Evil," but the great aunt of Paris Hilton's claim to fame was largely her various marriages, which totaled nine, and her own celebrity status, as she is largely know as one of the first people to be famous for being famous (via Biography).  

Hope Lange had a knack for playing mothers on screen

Hope Lange appeared in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" as Cheryl Walsh, wife of Ken (Clu Gulager), and mother of Angela (Christie Clark) and Jesse (Mark Patton). Cheryl is one of the first to recognize that something is wrong with her son, as Freddy's constant presence in his dreams – and eventual possession – begins to take a toll on his mental health. She fiercely defends Jesse, even when he returns home naked on the same night that Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) is murdered.

Lange passed away on December 19, 2003, at the age of 70, in Santa Monica, California, from side effects of ischemic colitis (via Today). Lange acted for decades, nabbing several major award wins, including two Emmys for her portrayal of Carolyn Muir in the 1968 series "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (via IMDb). Other credits include "Peyton Place," "The Young Lions," and Blue Velvet."

After Lange's death, Kellie Flanagan, who played Lange's daughter in "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," reflected on her childhood years spent on set with her fictional mother. "Hope had a daughter around my age. She was a lovely woman," said Flanagan. "Honestly, there are no negative associations. Nothing bad, nothing tawdry. It was a really fun experience" (via Sydney Morning Herald).

Noble Craig utilized his disabilities to his advantage

Noble Craig is one of the few actors to ever play Freddy aside from Englund. In 1989's "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Child," Englund briefly passed the baton to Craig for a disturbing scene that shows Freddy emerging from Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox). Though this moment looks flawless in the film, much time and effort went into making it look as realistic as possible. Utilizing straps and wires, Craig was strongly secured to Wilcox, allowing him to put his all into the scene without fear of falling (via Bloody Disgusting).

Craig passed away on April 26, 2018, at the age of 69 (via Legacy). Throughout his adolescent years, acting wasn't necessarily something that Craig thought about pursuing. In fact, any dreams Craig possessed were forced to be put on pause in 1967, when he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War with the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army. During the war, Craig suffered the loss of his legs and part of his right arm. 

Rather than feel sorry for himself, Craig adapted to life with his disabilities and went on to appear as creepy figures in not only "A Nightmare on Elm Street," but also "Sssssss," "The Blob," and "Poltergeist II: The Other Side." Outside of his acting career, Craig was also married and had five children. 

Wes Craven was the man behind the franchise

We can't forget about Wes Craven, the man who started it all. Not only was Craven the brains of the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, but his writing and directing talents were also behind many other horror favorites, including "Scream," "The Last House on the Left," and "The Hills Have Eyes," as well as MTV's "Scream: The TV Series." According to CNN, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" wasn't an immediate success for Craven. He previously said, "For three years I was unable to sell it. I basically went broke. So when the film got made and was a financial success, my career went from the basement through the roof. It was a wonderful feeling."

Craven passed away on August 30, 2015, at the age of 76 (via The Hollywood Reporter). At the time of his death, Craven's beloved horror community mourned the devastating loss. Englund tweeted, "RIP Wes Craven, my director, my friend. A brilliant, kind, gentle and very funny man. A sad day on Elm St and everywhere. I'll miss him." Courteney Cox, who portrays Gale Weathers in the "Scream" franchise, said, "Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor." The latest "Scream" film, released on January 14, 2022, pays tribute to Craven by featuring a Woodsboro High School student named Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) and the words "For Wes" at the end of the movie.