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Actors In Adam Sandler Movies You May Not Know Are Dead

Love him or hate him, you can't deny the fact that Adam Sandler has left his mark on Hollywood. Since the 1990s, the former "Saturday Night Live" standout has offered up a profusion of comedy movies – some undoubtedly great, others not so much – that have left audiences either laughing or groaning. During that time, he's established a core team of dependable comic friends, including Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider, and also worked with some of the most well-known actors on the planet, such as Jennifer Aniston, Steve Buscemi, and of course, Drew Barrymore. He's nothing if not a skilled collaborator.

Over the years, Sandler's flicks have featured a slew of talented cast members, ranging from NBA stars to musical icons, in supporting roles. Some are one-offs, only appearing in one movie, whereas others return for more on-set laughs in additional films. Given that the Sandman has been making movies for over two decades, it's inevitable that some of his former costars are unfortunately no longer with us. Here are some beloved actors in Adam Sandler movies that you might not know have passed away.

Richard Kiel earned gigantic laughs in Happy Gilmore

Although he's almost certainly most recognized as the notorious steel-toothed Bond villain Jaws, from 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me" and 1979's "Moonraker," Richard Kiel made an unforgettable appearance alongside Sandler in "Happy Gilmore." A behemoth of a man (he was 7 feet, 2 inches tall!), Kiel perfectly played an intimidating presence in the gallery at Gilmore's tournaments, one who just so happened to always be hilariously crossing paths with Gilmore's rival, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald). Apparently, he and Sandler developed a great bond while on set.

When Kiel passed away in September 2014, Sandler mourned the loss of his pal on Twitter: "Richard Kiel was one of the nicest, funniest guys I've ever met. I'll never forget hanging out with him and how good he was to everyone." It is believed that the towering actor died of a heart attack, but TMZ also reported a death certificate indicating that he had coronary artery disease too. Regardless of the cause of his ultimate demise, Kiel will always be remembered as one of the greatest of Hollywood's giants.

Ray Liotta popped up in Hubie Halloween

Ray Liotta's death in May 2022 rocked the world. The mega-talented actor, best known for playing the main protagonist, Henry Hill, in Martin Scorsese's 1990 gangster classic "Goodfellas," passed away in his sleep while working on the upcoming movie "Dangerous Waters" in the Dominican Republic. He was 67 years old, with a slew of movie credits and impressive awards, including an Emmy win for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series thanks to his work in "ER." 

While Liotta's death is pretty common knowledge at this point, it might be less known that he actually starred in one of Adam Sandler's Netflix movies before he died. In 2020's "Hubie Halloween," the "Shades of Blue" actor played Pete Landolfa, one of Hubie's many bullies. Although Liotta's character in the flick was a major jerk, Sandler noted that he was the polar opposite in real life, tweeting that he was a "tremendous actor" and a "sweetheart of a dad," while adding, "[He was] such a great funny man to know. Prayers are with his whole family."

Alexis Arquette was in The Wedding Singer and Blended

One could argue that some of Sandler's best works are his romantic comedies alongside Drew Barrymore. The two stars seem to bring out the best in each other, and their three films together — 1998's "The Wedding Singer," 2004's "50 First Dates" and 2014's "Blended" — are honestly all phenomenal movies that are both heartwarming and hilarious. Interestingly, there's almost always another person who tagged along whenever Barrymore and Sandler teamed up: Alexis Arquette.

Arquette was a talented character actor and also a major transgender activist who transitioned into a woman in 2004. Sadly, she passed away in late 2016 after suffering a heart attack while also stricken with AIDS. In their statement about her death, her siblings Patricia, Rosanna, Richmond and David Arquette praised her for living her truth (via The Guardian): "Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical ... She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people."

Arquette's final appearance in a feature film before she died was actually in 2014's "Blended," wherein she had a brief cameo as Georgina/George Stitzer, the same character that she played in 1998's "The Wedding Singer." In both movies, she played a Boy George impersonator, and she actually did it so well, George himself tweeted that she was "another bright light gone out far too soon" when he learned of her passing.

Cameron Boyce played Sandler's son

While losing someone always hurts, there's arguably nothing worse than losing someone who still has a whole life ahead of them. That's precisely what happened in the case of Disney Channel breakout Cameron Boyce, who in 2019 died of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) at the young age of 20. Boyce was probably best known for his roles in Disney TV shows like "Descendants" and "Jessie," but he also starred as Adam Sandler's son, Keithie, in the highly lucrative "Grown Ups" franchise.

When speaking to Young Hollywood, the teenage star admitted that Sandler was actually the first person who he was starstruck by, noting that since he was nine years old when they first met, Sandler's trademark immature jokes were right up his alley. "A nine-year-old likes their fart jokes. So, he's good at those." However, that bond clearly developed into something deeper, as the comedian took Boyce's passing incredibly hard. "Too young. Too sweet. Too funny. Just the nicest, most talented, and most decent kid around. Loved that kid," Sandler wrote on his social media accounts. "Thank you, Cameron, for all you gave to us. So much more was on the way. All our hearts are broken."

Sandler even honored Boyce in the credits of "Hubie Halloween." A few minutes after the film ends, a picture of the late actor appears on the screen, as well as a heartfelt tribute that reads: "You live on forever in our hearts and are truly missed every day." 

Chris Farley and Sandler go way back

Adam Sandler has possibly worked with more top-notch comedians than anyone else in Hollywood history. However, during the most touching song of his uniquely musical Netflix special, "100% Fresh," he poignantly sings, "When they ask me who's the funniest guy I ever knew, I tell 'em hands down without a doubt it's you." Of course, he's "singin' about [his] friend Chris Farley."

Farley and the Sandman were incredibly close buddies. They came up together on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1990s, and aside from countless hilarious "SNL" sketches, the duo co-starred together in "Coneheads," "Airheads," and "Billy Madison." In "Billy Madison," Farley absolutely steals every scene as the wildly unhinged bus driver, arguably providing more infamous lines than any other character in that movie. The man was truly a one-of-a-kind comedic talent.

As probably everyone now knows, however, Farley's "wild man" personality came with great consequences. On December 18, 1997, he was found dead in his apartment due to an accidental drug overdose. He was only 33 years old.

Joseph Bologna was the big daddy in Big Daddy

1999's "Big Daddy" has perhaps the most tearjerking scene in any Adam Sandler movie. In the film, it's established that Sonny (Sandler) has an estranged relationship with his father, Lenny, played by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and actor Joseph Bologna. This relationship is tested when, during a hearing to establish whether or not Sonny was a good father to Julian, Sonny asks his dad to question him. It's a truly powerful scene that will make you want to call up your own dad and tell him, "I love you."

While "Big Daddy" was Bologna's only appearance in a Sandler flick, it was most definitely a memorable one. So much so that, when he passed away in 2017, it's arguably one of the parts he was most remembered for, despite the fact that he'd been starring in TV shows and movies since 1971. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 82.

Mary Pat Gleason popped up in a pair of Sandler comedies

If you watched any sitcoms in the 1990's, there's a very good chance you saw Mary Pat Gleason in action. The talented actress was seemingly everywhere during that era, appearing in huge shows like "Saved by the Bell," "Friends," and "Will and Grace." She also starred in a plethora of movies throughout her lengthy career, ranging from teenage romcoms like 2004's "A Cinderella Story" to historic dramas like 1996's "The Crucible."

Although she had great range, one could easily argue that Gleason's forte was in the world of comedy. She just had a natural ability to make people laugh, and she didn't need a big part to do so. For example, in the two Adam Sandler movies she popped up in, 2007's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" and 2014's "Blended," Gleason had very limited lines (in "Blended," she's only in one scene), but still contributed to some of the films' biggest laughs.

Unknown to most, Gleason did most of her later acting after being diagnosed with cancer, and she ultimately succumbed to it in June 2020, joining a slew of other actors and actresses that we lost that year. In a statement (via CNN), her manager confirmed that she was an incredibly tough woman, continuing "to work on shows like 'The Blacklist' and 'Mom' even through the pain." She is most certainly missed.

Sandler considered Cloris Leachman a true legend

In early 2021, the world was rocked with the news that Cloris Leachman, treasured actress and comedian, had passed away of natural causes. The Oscar-winning star, who was 94 when she died, made her onscreen debut in 1947's "Carnegie Hall," accumulating a laundry list of acting credits over the next 70 years. In total, she starred in more than 280 films and TV shows alongside some of Hollywood's most elite celebrities, ranging from Gene Wilder to Paul Newman.

Another one of Leachman's prestigious costars was Adam Sandler. It's easy to forget that the "Young Frankenstein" actress actually popped up in not one, but two of the Sandman's movies. In 2004's moody romantic drama, "Spanglish," Leachman played Evelyn, Sandler's alcoholic mother-in-law. One year later, she took on a small but quite hilarious role in 2005's remake of "The Longest Yard," wherein she played the warden's assistant with an especially aggressive crush on Sandler's character, Paul Crewe. 

The pair had a natural chemistry that apparently extended even after the cameras stopped rolling. When Sandler learned of Leachman's passing, he tweeted that she was "a true legend," and even crowned her as "one of the funniest of all time." That's quite high praise coming from someone who has made movies with so many A-list comedians throughout his career.

Conchata Ferrell starred as Jan in Mr. Deeds

Although she's likely best known for playing sassy housekeeper Berta in over 200 episodes of "Two and a Half Men," Conchata Ferrell starred in loads of popular movies and TV shows throughout her decades-spanning acting career. Her filmography boasts credits from popular shows like "L.A. Law," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Grace and Frankie," and she was nominated for Emmy awards on three separate occasions. She also starred as the no-nonsense Jan alongside Adam Sandler in 2002's quirky comedy, "Mr. Deeds."

Ferrell's great run all came to an end in October 2020, however, when she passed away from medical complications at the age of 77 following a cardiac arrest. Some of her old costars and celebrity friends took to social media to express their sympathy over the terrible news, including "Two and a Half Men" stars Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer. Sandler himself even tweeted: "RIP. Great lady. Will be missed terribly. So sorry to her family." 

Jerry Reed was unforgettable in The Waterboy

Adam Sandler has an undeniable ability to seamlessly combine laughs and sports. With films like "Happy Gilmore" and "The Longest Yard," the Sandman has been responsible for helping create some of the most memorable sports comedies of all time. However, his most quotable sports laugher was easily 1998's timeless classic, "The Waterboy."

Sandler stars as good-hearted momma's boy Bobby Boucher, an oft-bullied waterboy for the University of Louisiana football "foos-ball" team. After he's fired from UL, Bobby's given a second chance by Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) and his South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs, where he learns that his place on the gridiron is actually on the field as opposed to the sidelines. With enough laughs to make an ornery alligator smile, "The Waterboy" is arguably the funniest football film in history, mostly due to the great performances of Sandler and his fellow cast members.

Sadly, some of those cast members are no longer with us. Jerry Reed, who perfectly captured Coach Klein's fiercely competitive nemesis, Red Beaulieu, passed away in 2008 due to emphysema, a dangerous lung condition. Reed was not only a talented actor, starring as Cledus Snow in three "Smokey and the Bandit" films during the late '70s and early '80s, but also a chart-topping country music star. During his music career, he took home three Grammy awards, and was even inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017. Talk about an impressive legacy to leave behind!

Edmund Lyndeck was a Broadway star

You might not know it from his small role as the frequently intoxicated Mr. Herlihy in "Big Daddy," but Edmund Lyndeck was once a big-time Broadway star. He was actually the very first actor to bring the nefarious Judge Turpin to life in Stephen Sondheim's timeless revenge musical, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and he went on to star in several other plays during his time on stage.

While Broadway was clearly his forte, Lyndeck did dip his toes into film and television. He popped up in small roles in Disney's "Enchanted" and the raunchy teen comedy, "Road Trip," and also appeared in a few TV shows, even including one episode of "The Cosby Show" in 1990. His most recognized film role was probably in the aforementioned "Big Daddy," but he actually did cameo in another Adam Sandler comedy nearly a decade later, 2008's  "You Don't Mess with the Zohan."

According to Playbill, Lyndeck passed away on December 14, 2015 at the age of 90, though the cause of death was "not immediately known."