What is it with 2016? It’s become the year of celebrities passing away, and there have been some big ones to go down. David Bowie and Prince! Alan Rickman! Gene Wilder! I thought it was unusual in 2014 when both Robin Williams and Joan Rivers died, but this year has been one shocking death after another.
And truthfully, I had this article all written up, and I was just waiting for the time to source for some images, and we had three more celebrity deaths in four days! Is the celebrity death knell going to continue? By the time this is posted we’ll have a little over 24 hours left, but who knows what will happen? Charlie Sheen is calling for Donald Trump to be the next, and an average Joe has set up a GoFundMe page trying to protect Betty White to make sure she stays safe through the end of the year.
Let’s review the celebrities who have passed.
David Bowie Born January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, UK, died January 10, 2016 in New York City. The singer/songwriter/actor left a lot of great music behind, including his final album, Blackstar, that was released two days before he died of liver dancer.
Alan Rickman Born February 21, 1946 in West London, England, died January 14, 2016 in London, England. He acted in so many things but will most be remembered as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in Harry Potter. He died of pancreatic cancer.
Glenn Frey Born November 6, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan, died January 18, 2016 in Manhattan, New York City, New York. If you don’t remember the name, you definitely remember his music as a solo act or part of the Eagles. Don Henley says The Eagles died along with him. He died of complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.
Abe Vigoda Born February 24, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York, died January 26, 2016 in Woodland Park, New Jersey. This time he really did die. While he has a very long list of credits, he’s known for playing one character and for not dying. He played Fish on Barney Miller and a spinoff. Then he was rumored to be dead often but never was until 2016. He died of natural causes.
Garry Shandling Born November 29, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, died March 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. This self-deprecating comedian starred in It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and the iconic The Larry Sanders Show. He was known by other supremely funny comics to be among the best. He died of a massive heart attack.
Patty Duke Born December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, New York, died March 29, 2016 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She was known for playing “identical cousins” on The Patty Duke Show and for her role in The Miracle Worker that won her an Oscar. She died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine.
Merle Haggard Born April 6, 1937 in Oildale, California, died April 6, 2016 in Palo Cedro, California. After being a troubled youngster, he turned things around and became a huge star with hits such as “Okie fro Muskogee.” After that conservative song, he was not allowed to release a song about interracial romance. He died of complications from pneumonia on his birthday.
Doris Roberts Born November 4, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri, died April 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. This funny woman played many a mother and grandmother in her career, but she’ll be fondly remembered as Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond. She died of a stroke.
Prince Born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died April 21, 2016 in Chahassen, Minnesota. His music is iconic and needs no explanation. His film Purple Rain and its soundtrack won seven Grammys, an AMA, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar. Tragically he died of an accidental overdose.
Muhammad Ali Born January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, died June 3, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was known simply as The Greatest. He was a heavyweight champion of boxing as well as an Olympic Gold medalist. A longtime sufferer of Parksinson’s, he died of septic shock.
Christina Grimmie Born March 12, 1994 in Marlton, New Jersey, died June 10, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. This contestant on The Voice found the career she was looking for after finishing in third place in season 6. She was shot while signing autographs after a performance.
Anton Yelchin Born March 11, 1989 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, died June 19, 2016 in Studio City, California. Starting his career on TV and in film as a child actor, he was mostly known for his role in the Star Trek films. He died when his Jeep pinned and crushed him of traumatic asphyxia.
Garry Marshall Born November 13, 1934 in The Bronx, New York, died July 19, 2016, in Burbank, California. He’ll be remember for creating Happy Days and Mork and Mindy, bringing The Odd Couple to TV … twice, and for directing classic romcoms including Pretty Woman, Beaches, and The Princess Diaries. He died of pneumonia after suffering a stroke.
Gene Wilder Born June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died August 29, 2016 in Stamford, Connecticut. He was well-known for his comedic roles in Mel Brooks films such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, but he’ll probably be remembered most for his role as Willy Wonka and as the widower to Gilda Radner. He died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alexis Arquette Born July 28, 1969 in Los Angeles, California, died September 11, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. She’s known for a few roles, such as in The Wedding Singer, but is mostly known for transitioning into a female, having been born as Robert. She died of cardiac arrest caused by HIV.
Bobby Vee Born April 30, 1943 in Fargo, North Dakota, died October 24, 2016 in Rogers, Minnesota. He was an early pop singer, a teen idol in the 1970s. Ten of his songs hit the top 20, including “Take Good Care of My Baby” that went to number one. He died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Florence Henderson Born February 14, 1934 in Dale, Indiana, died November 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. A gifted singer and actress, she did a lot but will only be remembered by future generations as being our beloved Mrs. Brady. Ironically, she was born on Valentine’s Day and died of heart failure.
Ron Glass Born July 10, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana, died November 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. He was the second star of Barney Miller to die in 2016. He was most known for that role as well as his role in the series Firefly and the film that served as a sequel, Serenity. He died of respiratory failure.
Alan Thicke Born March 1, 1947 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, died December 13, 2016 in Burbank, California. You either know him as the dad on Growing Pains, a talk show host, and writer of theme songs, or you know him as Robin Thicke’s dad. It depends on how old you are. He died of a heart attack after playing hockey with his son.
Zsa Zsa Gabor Born February 6, 1917 in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, died December 18, 2016 in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California. She was a one-time Miss Hungary and moved on to a film career, but she was much more known for just simply being a celebrity and for being married nine times. She died of a heart attack.
George Michael Born June 25, 1963 in East Finchley, London, England, died December 25, 2016 in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England. He made a name for himself as part the pop group Wham! in the 1980s and went on to an even more successful solo career. He died in bed on Christmas Day of cardiac arrest.
Carrie Fisher Born October 21, 1956 in Burbank, California, died December 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. She was a very successful actress and writer, but we’ll always remember her as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. Her last portrayal of the character will be released next year, and a documentary she filmed with her mother will be on HBO next year as well. She died after suffering a heart attack while on a flight.
Debbie Reynolds Born April 1, 1932 in El Paso, Texas, died December 28, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Like her daughter, she had a long film career, but she’ll be remembered for three things: Singin’ in the Rain, her husband’s affair with Elizabeth Taylor, and for being Carrie’s mother. She died most likely of a stroke the day after Carrie, but most of us know she really died of a broken heart.
That list above is just of the entertainers whose deaths made headlines. But there were plenty of others who either weren’t quite as well known or who weren’t entertainers. Other notable deaths this year include Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra Jr., Chyna, Leonard Cohen, John Glenn, Alice Drummond, Arnold Palmer, Harper Lee, Ken Howard, Vanity, René Angélil, Joey Feek, and Margaret Whitton. And that’s still not a complete list.
The youngest to die was Christina Grimmie. Sure, she wasn’t as big a name as others on the list, but it was significant and newsworthy as she was the only one who was murdered. It definitely speaks of lawmakers needing to do something regarding background checks for gun sales.
It should also be pointed out that with David Bowie, Prince, Christina Grimmie, Glenn Frey, Bobby Vee, Merle Haggard, and George Michael, they may have started a kick-ass new band together. I’m predicting they’re still playing music somewhere.
Of the above twenty-three notable entertainment deaths from 2016, seven were from heart failure. The youngest cardiac victim was just 46. That’s an important fact to remember.
Also remember … 2016 isn’t over yet.
Image Credits: Mari-Lan Nguyen, jeaneeem, Micahmedia, Alan Light, Jeremy Luke Roberts, Angela George, Justin Higuchi, Louise Palanker, Caroline Bonarde Ucci, © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com, Harry Pot/Anefo, Alan Light, Raven Underwood, © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com, Frantogian, Riccardo Ghilardi photographer, Allen Warren via Wikimedia Commons