Physicist Stephen Hawking Dead at 76: The Big Bang Theory Cast Pays Tribute

Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist who authored A Brief History of Time, died on Wednesday morning after a decades-long battle with ALS. He was 76.

Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, announced their father’s passing in the following statement:

We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world. He once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” We will miss him forever.

Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS in 1963, at the age of 21. He was only expected to live for another couple of years, but was ultimately discovered to have a rare form of the disease that progressed at a much slower rate. He was able to walk on his own for much of the 1960s with the help of crutches, but eventually required a mobilized wheelchair. When he lost the use of his voice, he began using a unique method of synthesized computer vocalizations that allowed him to remain vocal for the rest of his life.

A Brief History of Time was released in 1988, and went on to sell 10 million copies, making Hawking a public figure. His life was depicted in the 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything; Eddie Redmayne went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Redmayne released the following statement to our sister site Deadline:

We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.

Hawking guest-starred as himself on numerous TV shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons:

He later recurred on The Big Bang Theory, first appearing in the Season 5 episode “The Hawking Excitation.” Watch his first scene opposite Jim Parsons below:

Hawking would return to Big Bang for six more episodes, including the most recent season premiere last September. Cast members — as well as co-creator Bill Prady — shared the following tributes on social media:

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Thank you, Stephen Hawking. ❤️

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We will miss one of the best recurring characters.

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