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Iron Man Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

It's hard to believe, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to this very day in its original continuity, but it's been nearly 15 years since "Iron Man" — the movie that's arguably responsible for making superheroes the pop culture phenomenon they are today — kicked it all off. And while fans have seen neither hide nor hair of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, since he met his demise against Thanos in heroic fashion in 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," the character remains as popular as ever.

Of course, Downey himself remains very much alive. That said, with so many years having passed since his "Iron Man" debut in 2008, its 2010 sequel, and even the third and final entry of his solo series in 2013, some of his co-stars are not. Here are the four actors in the "Iron Man" series whom you might not know have passed away.


DJ AM — born Adam Goldstein — was a celebrity DJ who worked at some of show business' most exclusive parties and famously romanced the likes of Mandy Moore and Nicole Richie. In his private life, though, the musician suffered through drug and alcohol addiction, as well as depression. He was also involved in a 2008 plane crash that resulted in the deaths of four people. Less than a year after the accident, in August 2009, he died at the age of 36 from an accidental overdose, as reported by CNN.

However, before his untimely passing, Goldstein did work on "Iron Man 2" in a cameo role as himself. In the scene, he's DJing Stark's birthday party when the genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist turned superhero says, "Goldstein, give me a fat beat." When the movie was released the following year, director Jon Favreau made sure to include a dedication to Goldstein in the credits.

"I was just a fan of his, just an admirer of his work, and it was supposed to be a one-day bit," Favreau said after Goldstein's death via Rolling Stone. "But Robert [Downey Jr.] took a real shine to him, as we all did. His energy was amazing, he was such a [sic] inspiring guy and there was a lot of depth to him and this positive energy. He ended up staying on with us for about a week and it was just great, we set up this turntable and between takes he would give me pointers."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Garry Shandling

Garry Shandling was a comedy legend, having first gained notoriety on a national scale for his stand-up appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" during the 1980s. From there, he became an Emmy nominee for his work on his own series, "It's Garry Shandling's Show" on Showtime (via IMDb), leading to his time on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," for which he received an Emmy Award for outstanding writing for a comedy series. He also appeared in a variety of film and TV projects.

In the MCU — specifically "Iron Man 2" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" — he played Senator Stern, a bureaucrat who initially acts as something of a foil for Stark. It's eventually revealed in the latter film that he's a Hydra sympathizer, working to undermine the U.S. government from within as a means of furthering the cause of the terrorist organization.

Variety reported that Shandling died in March 2016 at the age of 66 from a blood clot in his heart.

Eugene Lazarev

Russian actor Eugene Lazarev — born Yevgeni Lazarev — is best known for playing Anton Vanko in "Iron Man 2." And while his screen time in the film could be easily clocked with a stopwatch, his character's importance to the story simply cannot be understated. As the movie begins, Vanko is actually shown on his deathbed; his final words to his son, Ivan (Mickey Rourke), are "I'm sorry. All I can give you is my knowledge." Shortly thereafter, it's revealed that Anton had worked with Howard Stark (John Slattery) on the Arc Reactor project and clearly, did not achieve nearly the same level of fame, riches, and respect for his contributions. The perceived injustice of it all is what eventually spurs Ivan on to his battle with Iron Man in the film.

While his time in "Iron Man 2" was fleeting, Lazarev enjoyed a lengthy career in the movie business. After over three decades of working on films in the U.S.S.R., he made the jump to American cinema in 1992 and from that point on, lived the life of a working Hollywood actor. He appeared in such films as "The Sum of All Fears," "Duplex," and "The Pink Panther 2" in addition to television appearances on "The West Wing," "Alias," "24," and "ER."

According to Lenta.ru, Lazarev died in November 2016 as a result of a cardiac arrest. He was 79 years old.

Miguel Ferrer

Miguel Ferrer was Hollywood royalty long before he ever took on his first acting role — he was the son of Oscar-winning actor José Ferrer and singer and actor Rosemary Clooney (making George Clooney his first cousin). And by the time his role in "Iron Man 3" came around, he had already enjoyed a decades-long career in film and on TV. He famously provided the voice of Shan-Yu in Disney's animated "Mulan" and also played Bob Morton in "RoboCop," Eduardo Ruiz in "Traffic," and Dr. Garret Macy on "Crossing Jordan."

In "Iron Man 3," Ferrer portrayed U.S. Vice President Rodriguez, who's discovered to be secretly working with Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and "the Mandarin" (Ben Kingsley) in hopes of securing a cure for his disabled daughter. His actions in support of them and Killian's Extremis project ultimately result in the kidnapping of President Ellis (William Sadler). Ultimately, Ellis is rescued by Stark and Col. James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Rodriguez is arrested.

As reported by Variety, Ferrer passed away in January 2017 at the age of 61 due to throat cancer.