Fame, wit allowed Hawking to land gigs unusual for a physicist

The 76-year-old remarked about his bestseller, Brief History of Time, that it was probably the least-read, most-bought book ever

"He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years," the (Hawking) family statement said, according to The Guardian. "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour 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 for ever."

Hawking was probably the best-known scientist in the world. He was a theoretical physicist whose early work on black holes transformed how scientists think about the nature of the universe.

But his fame wasn't just a result of his research. Hawking, who suffered from a debilitating neurological disease that made it impossible for him to move his limbs or speak, was also a popular public figure and best-selling author. There was even a biopic about his life, The Theory of Everything, that won an Oscar for the actor, Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Hawking.

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