movie stars, musicians and more


Photo: Getty Images

Norm Macdonald, Michael K. Williams, DMX and Cloris Leachman are a few of the celebrities who died in 2021. (Photo: Getty Images)

In 2021, Hollywood lost dozens of accomplished performers who’ve entertained audiences for years: legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, rapper DMX, actress and music video star Tawny Kitaen, Saved by the Bell‘s Dustin Diamond, The Mary Tyler Moore Show alums Cloris Leachman, Ed Asner and Gavin MacLeod, plus many, many others.

Below are just some of the people we wrote about. Keep in mind that we didn’t list people such as Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer killed tragically on the set of the movie Rust, who we’ve extensively covered elsewhere on Yahoo Entertainment. And please note that an even longer list can be found here. — by Suzy Byrne, Erin Donnelly, Lyndsey Parker, Taryn Ryder and Raechal Shewfelt

Gerry Marsden

Date: Jan. 3

Cause of death: Blood infection

Age: 78

Marsden was the frontman and co-founder of Liverpool rock combo and Beatles contemporaries/rivals Gerry & the Pacemakers. As the second act to sign with the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, Gerry & the Pacemakers scored big U.K. hits with “How Do You Do It?,” “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” “I Like It,” a cover of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (which became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club) and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” which also went to No. 4 in America. After the band broke up in 1967, Marsden became a British television personality and West End theater actor.

Tanya Roberts

Date: Jan. 4

Cause of death: Urinary tract infection

Age: 65

Roberts, a former Bond girl, was mistakingly reported dead after she collapsed at her home. The former That ’70s Show actress ultimately passed away after the premature reports. Roberts’s publicist announced she died “from a urinary tract infection which spread to her kidney, gallbladder, liver and then blood stream.”

Marion Ramsey

Date: Jan. 7

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 73

Perhaps best known for her role as soft-spoken Officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy movies, Ramsey also appeared in TV shows, such as The Jeffersons, Bill Cosby’s 1976 sketch show, Cos, and Beverly Hills, 90210. In 2015, she reunited with her Police Academy co-star Steve Guttenberg for the sci-fi TV movie Lavalantula and reprised her role in its 2016 sequel, 2 Lava 2 Lantula!. Her career also included work in theater.

Sylvain Sylvain

Date: Jan. 13

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 69

Sylvain Mizrahi, aka guitarist and pianist Sylvain Sylvain, was a founding member of the highly influential glam-rock band the New York Dolls. Although their two ’70s albums were commercial disappointments, the band, which has been twice-nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inarguably laid the groundwork for the punk revolution of the 1970s and the hair-metal scene of the ’80s with their sleazy sound and androgynous fashion sense. Sylvain and frontman David Johansen (who is now the only surviving member of the group) reunited the Dolls in 2004, after two acclaimed concerts at London’s Meltdown Festival at the invitation of Morrissey (who was once the president of the Dolls’ U.K. fan club), and released three more albums in the 2000s.

Phil Spector

Date: Jan. 16

Cause of death: COVID-19 complications

Age: 81

The famed music producer, who was imprisoned since 2009 for the murder of Lana Clarkson, died at a California hospital. Known for his “Wall of Sound,” in his younger years he helped create hits for the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Beatles among others. He long had personal issues, with wife Ronnie Spector (of the Ronettes) claiming abuse. In 2003, after a night of drinking, he shot and killed Clarkson at his home. He was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison, and was serving time at a prison hospital due to long-term medical issues. Spector’s daughter said he tested positive for COVID in December 2020 and died several weeks after being intubated.

Larry King

Date: Jan. 23

Cause of death: Sepsis

Age: 87

Larry King on CNN's

Larry King on CNN’s Larry King Live in 2003. (Photo: SGranitz/WireImage)

The veteran newsman, known for his matter-of-fact interview style and signature suspenders, died after a series of health problems. He started as a radio host and went on to become a TV staple, hosting CNN’s Larry King Live from 1985 to 2010. King got celebrities, world leaders and other newsmakers talking, which he credited to his “dumb” questions. After CNN, he continued to work creating content through his own production company, including Politicking With Larry King. King, who was married eight times to seven women, had health issues throughout his life, including suffering a stroke in 2019. He was hospitalized in December 2020 with COVID and developed sepsis, which is when the infection-fighting processes turn on the body, causing organ malfunction. His estranged wife, Shawn King, said his body gave out.

Hal Holbrook

Date: Jan. 23

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 95

A five-time Emmy winner who scored an Oscar nomination, at age 82, for his poignant performance in 2008’s Into the Wild, Holbrook was regarded as an esteemed character actor in films like The Firm, Magnum Force, Lincoln and All the President’s Men. He played Deep Throat in the latter film, but his most famous role was undoubtedly his Tony-winning portrayal of Mark Twain in a long-running one-man show he kept going until retiring, in 2017, at age 92. Preceded in death a decade before by actress wife Dixie Carter — whom he also romanced in a recurring role on her ’80s sitcom, Designing Women — Holbrook was less than a month shy of his 96th birthday when he died.

Cloris Leachman

Date: Jan. 27

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 94

Leachman won an Oscar for her role in The Last Picture Show in 1972. The same decade, she played the iconic character of Phyllis Lindstrom on TV’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show and one of its spinoffs, Phyllis. And she didn’t slow down in the following decades, racking up credits in the 1993 big-screen adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies, The Muppet Movie, TV shows such as Raising Hope, Touched by an Angel and Malcolm in the Middle, as well as dozens of other projects.

Cicely Tyson

Date: Jan. 28

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 96

Cicely Tyson holds the two Emmy Awards that she won for her performance in

Cicely Tyson holds the two Emmy Awards that she won for her performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman on May 28, 1974 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The celebrated actress, who counted an Emmy, a Tony and an honorary Oscar among her many accolades, died two days after the release of her memoir, Just As I Am. Her earliest credits were on stage and in TV shows, including I Spy and Guiding Light. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her turn as Rebecca in the 1972 movie Sounder, about a family of Black sharecroppers in Depression-era Louisiana. Tyson accumulated more than 90 credits over the decades, including roles in the film Fried Green Tomatoes, TV miniseries such as Roots and King, and, as late as last year, Shonda Rhimes’s How to Get Away With Murder. Tyson, who took home the Tony for her work in the play The Trip to Bountiful, was recognized with a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 2015 and, the next year, was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sophie

Date: Jan. 30

Cause of death: Accidental fall

Age: 34

Sophie was a trailblazing experimental pop artist and producer who worked with Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Camila Cabello, Charli XCX, Vince Staples, Kim Petras and many others. Sophie — who often eschewed samples, instead using Elektron Monomachine and Ableton technology to build instrumentals from waveforms that mimicked the unorthodox found sounds of metal, water and plastic — was heralded for a signature surrealist sound that incorporated elements of Japanese and Korean pop, Eurodisco, U.K. garage, ’90s house and hip-hop and millennial pop. The visionary British musician, who preferred not to use gendered or nonbinary pronouns, made history as one of the three first openly transgender women to be nominated for a Grammy, when the full-length sophomore effort Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides received a nod for Best Dance/Electronic Album. According to statements by the artist’s record label and publicist, Sophie was in Athens, Greece, and “climbed up to watch the full moon” and then “slipped and fell.”

Dustin Diamond

Date: Feb. 1

Cause of death: Stage IV small cell carcinoma

Age: 44

Diamond played nerdy pal Samuel “Screech” Powers in the original Saved by the Bell series, which was must-see TV in the early ’90s. He reprised the role in two spinoffs, Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and two TV movies. Diamond alienated himself from the rest of the cast at times — his tell-all book about the show, sex tape, arrests, a jail stint — and was not invited to join them for the 2020 reboot. He was hospitalized in January after noticing a lump on his throat, which was determined to be stage IV cancer. He started chemo, but the cancer had spread, and he died.

Christopher Plummer

Date: Feb. 5

Age: 91

Cause of death: Head injury following a fall

Christopher Plummer plays Capt. Georg von Trapp in

Christopher Plummer plays Capt. Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music in 1965. (Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Nearly 50 years after cementing his screen icon status as the dashing but stern Captain Von Trapp in 1965’s The Sound of Music — a film experience for which he later voiced contempt — the Canadian star at last took home his first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, at the tender age of 82. Plummer’s performance of a father who comes out late in life in 2011’s Beginners made him the oldest person to take home the accolade for the better part of a decade, a record usurped by Anthony Hopkins this February. Though his trophy case was hardly bare — the father of actress Amanda Plummer also had two Tonys and two Emmys — the recognition was certainly a highlight of a golden years renaissance of sorts, thanks to films including The Insider, Inside Man, The Last Station, Knives Out and All the Money in the World; the latter resulted in another Oscar nod after he was hastily cast to replace Kevin Spacey amid the actor’s #MeToo scandal. Sadly, that renaissance was cut short after Plummer suffered a fall this winter, striking his head and dying just a couple of weeks later, according to widow Elaine Taylor.

Brayden Smith

Date: Feb. 5

Cause of death: Complications from surgery

Age: 24

Smith was one of the last Jeopardy! champions before legendary host Alex Trebek’s death in November 2020. In a five-game winning streak, which made him eligible for the show’s annual Tournament of Champions, Smith had earned $115,798. He described sharing the stage with Alex as “a dream come true.”

Mary Wilson

Date: Feb. 8

Cause of death: Hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

Age: 76

Mary Wilson and The Supremes rehearse for their performance on the TV show

Mary Wilson rehearses for a performance on the TV show Hullabaloo on May 11, 1965 in New York City. (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Wilson was an original and the longest-running member of the Supremes, Motown Records’ most successful signing, one of the biggest groups of the 1960s (at some points only rivaled by the Beatles) and the most successful American vocal group of all time. Wilson and her bandmates in the classic lineup, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, scored a dozen No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’60s and paved the way for girl groups like the Pointer Sisters, En Vogue, TLC and Destiny’s Child. After the Supremes, Wilson went solo. She scored her last Billboard hit in 2015 with “Time to Move On,” which peaked at No. 17 on the Dance Club Songs chart; with that feat, she set a record for the longest gap between hits on that chart. Her disco single “Red Hot” had debuted there in 1979, 36 years earlier. In 2019, Wilson was introduced to a new audience when she competed on Dancing With the Stars. Just two days before her death, she had excitedly announced on her YouTube channel that she was working on various projects to celebrate Black History Month and this year’s 60th anniversary of the Supremes, and that she had been negotiating with Universal to put out “new recordings,” four “wonderful songs that were never released” and her shelved 1979 album Red Hot.

Chick Corea

Date: Feb. 9

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 79

Armando “Chick” Corea was an architect of the jazz fusion genre as a member of Miles Davis’s first electric ensemble and one of the most important pianists of the post-John Coltrane era. He played on the seminal Davis albums Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way, Miles Davis at the Fillmore, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, On the Corner and one of the most influential albums in jazz history, Bitches Brew. In 1970, he and his Davis band colleague Dave Holland left to form the free jazz ensemble Circle; two years later, he changed course again and formed the seminal fusion group Return to Forever, which revolutionarily mixed elements of rock, funk and Latin American music and, along with Weather Report and John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, spearheaded the jazz-rock movement of the ‘70s. Corea is the fourth-most-nominated artist in the history of the Grammy Awards, with 65 nominations, as well as 25 total Grammy trophies, two of which were posthumous at the Grammys ceremony that took place in March 2021.

Larry Flynt

Date: Feb. 10

Cause of death: Heart failure

Age: 78

Pornographer and founder of Hustler magazine, Flynt also was known for his court battles in the name of the First Amendment. In 1978, he was shot and paralyzed in an attempted assassination. He was famously played by Woody Harrelson in the 1996 movie The People vs. Larry Flynt.

Rush Limbaugh

Date: Feb. 17

Cause of death: Lung cancer

Age: 70

Limbaugh was one of the loudest voices in right-wing politics beginning in the ’80s, when The Rush Limbaugh Show was the highest-rated of any radio show in the country. In 2009, the Washington Post estimated that he regularly reached between 14.2 and 25 million people in the broadcast. His brash style of criticizing those who disagreed with his political beliefs was influential on the politics of today, and paved the way for commentators including Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. When he died, former President Trump called Fox News to sing Limbaugh’s praises.

Prince Markie Dee

Date: Feb. 18

Cause of death: Congestive heart failure

Age: 52

Mark Anthony Morales was better known as rapper Prince Markie Dee of the pioneering beatboxing trio the Fat Boys, one of the first recording artists to bring hip-hop to the mainstream. They had four successful albums — they were in fact the second-most successful rap act of the ’80s, after Run D.M.C., in terms of number of LPs to either gold or platinum — their own comedy movie, 1987’s Disorderlies; and crossover hits like the Beach Boys collaboration “Wipeout” and a remake of “The Twist” with Chubby Checker himself. Dee also hosted The Prince Markie Dee Show on LL Cool J’s SiriusXM channel Rock the Bells and did songwriting and production work for Father MC, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, among others.

Bunny Wailer

Date: March 2

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 73

Wailer was a member of the original Wailers trio (alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh) and a reggae music legend whose career spanned seven decades. As a solo artist, he was extremely prolific and successful, winning the Grammy for Best Reggae Album three times. No cause of death was given, but Wailer had been in and out of the hospital since suffering his second stroke in 2020.

Yaphet Kotto

Date: March 15

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 81

In the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, Kotto played the villain, Kananga, who also went by the name of Mr. Big. He also co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Alien and The Running Man. On TV, he was a regular on Homicide: Life on the Street and For Love and Honor, while he made appearances on shows such as Hill Street Blues and The Wire.

George Segal

Date: March 23

Cause of death: Complications of bypass surgery

Age: 87

Since 2013, Segal played Pops on ABC’s The Goldbergs, but the actor had worked steadily since 1960. His long list of credits includes the role of Nick in Mike Nichols’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1967; Jack Gallo, the owner and publisher of the magazine where the characters worked in Just Shoot Me!; and Sloan’s uncle, talent manager Murray Berenson, in Entourage.

Jessica Walter

Date: March 24

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 80

Jessica Walter stars in a 2019 episode of

Jessica Walter stars in a 2019 episode of Arrested Development. (Photo: Netflix/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Best known as Bluth family matriarch Lucille on TV sitcom Arrested Development, Walter won an Emmy in 1975 (for playing the title character in limited series Amy Prentiss) and was nominated for another four: for The Streets of San Francisco, Trapper John, M.D., animated series Archer and, yes, Arrested Development, the series she starred in during both of its runs, from 2003 to 2006 and again between 2013 and 2019.

Samuel E. Wright

Date: March 24

Cause of death: Prostate cancer

Age: 74

While Wright leaves a body of work that dates back to the ’70s, he’s best remembered as the voice of Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid, a role he reprised for TV shows and video games. He also earned a Tony nomination in 1998 for playing another Disney character, Mufasa in The Lion King, when he originated the role on Broadway.

Beverly Cleary

Date: March 25

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 104

The beloved children’s author introduced young readers to beloved characters, including Ramona Quimby and her big sister Beezus, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, Ralph S. Mouse and many more in a career that spanned half a century. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the Newberry Medal and many other awards, she was recognized as a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.

Larry McMurtry

Date: March 25

Cause of death: Congestive heart failure

Age: 84

A true-blue Texan whose nostalgic novels set Hollywood on fire, Pulitzer Prize winner McMurtry saw many of his works, from Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment to The Last Picture Show and Horseman, Pass By (the basis of the Paul Newman Western Hud) adapted into award-winning miniseries and films. But it was his adaptation of a story originally written by E. Annie Proulx — Brokeback Mountain — which earned the writer his own Oscar, which he accepted in jeans and cowboy boots.

DMX

Date: April 9

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 50

The multiplatinum-selling rapper and actor, whose real name was Earl Simmons, was one of the most successful hip-hop artists of all time, with his first three albums selling a combined 15 million copies. During this peak career era, he was recognized as the new reigning king of hardcore rap and garnered frequent comparisons to the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. His final album, Exodus, released seven weeks after his death, featured appearances by Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, Usher, U2’s Bono and others.

Prince Philip

Date: April 9

Cause of death: Old age

Age: 99

The longest-serving royal consort in world history was just two months shy of his 100th birthday — an occasion typically recognized in the U.K. with a letter written by Queen Elizabeth II, his wife of 73 years — when he died of what his official death certificate lists as “old age.” Though he retired from his royal duties in 2017 and had been beset by various health complications in recent years, the Greek-born prince’s gradual retreat from the spotlight strangely coincided with a raised public profile thanks to the Netflix drama The Crown, in which he was portrayed by actors Matt Smith, Tobias Menzies and, soon, Jonathan Pryce. Indeed, his life had no shortage of drama, from being exiled from Greece at just 18 months old, to serving in the Royal Navy up until his young wife’s becoming queen in 1952, to being renown for his off-color remarks. Father to future king Charles and siblings Anne, Andrew and Edward, the prince famously once insisted that he had “no desire whatsoever” to reach the age of 100 and was laid to rest following a subdued, socially distanced memorial service a week after his death.

Helen McCrory

Date: April 16

Cause of death: Breast cancer

Age: 52

Helen McCrory attends the premiere of

Helen McCrory attends the premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 on July 7, 2011 in London. (Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Her most high-profile role was sinister Slytherin Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise, but McCrory’s stage and screen work was rife with rich performances, from Lady Macbeth and Medea to the seductively scheming Aunt Polly on Peaky Blinders. Married to fellow actor Damian Lewis, with whom she shared two children, McCrory earned Order of the British Empire honors in her native England in 2017. Though she and Billions star Lewis made headlines for campaigning to help feed U.K. health care workers early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple chose to keep the actress’s breast cancer diagnosis private. In April, Lewis broke the news over Twitter that McCrory had died “peacefully at home.”

Black Rob

Date: April 17

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 51

Robert Ross, aka Buffalo rapper Black Rob, was a former Bad Boy Records recording artist best known for the solo hit “Whoa!”; he also guested on tracks by the Notorious B.I.G., Diddy, Ma$e, Cru, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Faith Evans and 112. Shortly before Rob’s death, another former Bad Boy artist, Mark Curry, organized a GoFundMe to help the rapper, who had been battling numerous health problems in recent years, including diabetes, lupus, kidney failure and multiple strokes.

Jim Steinman

Date: April 19

Cause of death: Kidney failure

Age: 73

Steinman was a record producer, theater composer and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee whose bombastic, theatrical, Wagnerian rock ‘n’ roll earned him the nickname “Lord of Excess” — a title he proudly used on his own website. He was perhaps best known for his work on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell (and later the comeback album Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell), one of the best-selling albums of all time, with more than 50 million copies sold worldwide; this established Steinman as the only artist in music history’s top 20 best-selling albums to have written all songs, both music and lyrics, solo. Steinman also wrote and/or produced such epics as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” the Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion,” Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” and the Streets of Fire soundtrack.

Les McKeown

Date: April 20

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 65

Scottish pop singer McKeown was best known as the frontman of the wildly successful 1970s bubblegum-glam band the Bay City Rollers, who during the height of their “Rollermania” teen idol era were heralded as the next Beatles. Music journalist Danny Fields once told the BBC, “The invention of boy bands became an industry thanks to the Bay City Rollers.” McKeown sang on the band’s biggest hits, including “Remember (Sha-La-La-La),” “Shang-a-Lang,” “Summerlove Sensation,” “Give a Little Love” and “All of Me Loves All of You,” and a cover of the Four Seasons’ “Bye, Bye, Baby,” all of which cracked the top 10 in Britain. Their albums Rollin’ and Once Upon a Star both went to No. 1 in the U.K. chart, and the Rollers eventually went on to sell 120 million records worldwide. After leaving the group in 1978, McKeown released nine solo albums, enjoying success in Japan with his 1979 solo debut, the cheekily titled All Washed Up, but his solo output failed to chart elsewhere. In 2015, he reunited with fellow Rollers Stuart Woo and Alan Longmuir for a Bay City Rollers nostalgia tour. His most recent album was 2016’s The Lost Songs, featuring tunes he’d written while touring with the Bay City Rollers in the ’70s.

Shock G

Date: April 22

Cause of death: Accidental overdose of fentanyl, methamphetamine and alcohol

Age: 57

Rapper and producer Gregory Jacobs, better known as Shock G, made his mark on the ’80s/’90s hip-hop scene as part of Oakland’s Digital Underground. The group Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired party jams and campy image was led by the charismatic Shock G and his many alter egos, but it was his most famous character — the prosthetic-nosed, plaid-suited, Groucho-spectacled, Burger King bathroom-frequenting Humpty Hump — that turned Digital Underground into MTV superstars with “The Humpty Dance.” In addition to his work with Digital Underground, as a solo recording artist, and as a guest rapper on tracks by everyone from George Clinton to Too $hort, Shock G was also a successful music producer. He produced Tupac Shakur’s tracks “I Get Around” and “So Many Tears” in 1993 and 1995, respectively, and co-produced Shakur’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now. His production and remixing discography also included work with Bobby Brown, Dr. Dre, KRS-One, Monie Love, Prince, the Luniz Operation, Murs and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Ray Reyes

Date: April 30

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 51

Reyes was a member of Latin boy band Menudo during its golden era, joining in 1983, shortly before the addition of Ricky Martin and Robi Draco Rosa. He reportedly was forced to leave the group in 1985 due to a sudden growth spurt and was replaced by Raymond Acevedo. He released two solo albums in 1986, but found it hard to escape the shadow of Menudo, according to a statement he made in one of his final interviews for Telemundo. In 1988, he joined former Menudo members Rene Farrait and Johnny Lozada in a group called Proyecto M, and in 1997 he organized a Menudo reunion featuring Farrait, Lozada and former bandmates Miguel Cancel, Ricky Melendez and Charlie Massó, for a successful worldwide tour and live album.

Olympia Dukakis

Date: May 1

Cause of death: Undisclosed illness

Age: 89

Volumes could be written about the woman who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1987’s Moonstruck. The daughter of Greek immigrants and a cousin to former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, the actress also shined as a wealthy, wise-cracking Southern belle in Steel Magnolias; an overbearing mother in Look Who’s Talking; the Italian mother of Ol’ Blue Eyes in the 1992 miniseries Sinatra; and trans landlady Anna Madrigal in 1993’s Tales of the City, a role she reprised in 1998, 2001 and 2019. The Obie winner was also a mainstay of the theater scene, co-founding the Whole Theater Company with her husband, the late actor Louis Zorich (Mad About You). At the time of her death, the star was under hospice care after suffering from ill health, though her exact cause of death has not been released.

Tawny Kitaen

Date: May 7

Cause of death: Dilated cardiomyopathy

Age: 59

The video vixen memorably starred in the videos for Whitesnake’s hits “Is This Love?” and “Here I Go Again.” She also appeared alongside Tom Hanks in the 1984 film Bachelor Party.

Charles Grodin

Date: May 18

Cause of death: 86

Age: Bone marrow cancer

Charles Grodin visits Johnny Carson's show on Sept. 5, 1990. (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Charles Grodin visits Johnny Carson’s show on Sept. 5, 1990. (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

An Emmy winner known for his work in The Heartbreak Kid, Heaven Can Wait, Beethoven, Dave, Midnight Run and many more productions, Grodin was also well known for his appearances on The Tonight Show, when it was hosted by Johnny Carson, and on Late Night With David Letterman. There, he would spar with the comedy legends, though it was often unbeknownst to the audience that he was in on the joke.

Paul Mooney

Date: May 19

Cause of death: Heart attack

Age: 79

Although his name isn’t as recognizable as those of Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle, Mooney was every bit as influential as them. He was the head writer on Pryor’s self-titled show and co-wrote the comedian’s material on Saturday Night Live and his smash-hit comedy albums. Mooney, who was also an actor, wrote for shows including Sanford and Son, Good Times, In Living Color, The Larry Sanders Show, Chappelle’s Show and Real Husbands of Hollywood, too.

Eric Carle

Date: May 23

Cause of death: Kidney failure

Age: 91

It’s hard to imagine a child’s bookshelf upon which an Eric Carle classic — most likely The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but also The Grouchy Ladybug and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, a collaboration with writer Bill Martin Jr. — doesn’t take pride of place. Born in New York but raised in his family’s native Germany, the beloved author and illustrator’s legacy lives on not just in his charming and colorful work but in the eponymous Amherst, Mass., children’s picture book art museum he founded in 2002.

Kevin Clark

Date: May 26

Cause of death: Accident

Age: 32

Kevin Clark attends a

Kevin Clark attends a School of Rock“screening during the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10, 2003 in Toronto. (Photo: Donald Weber/Getty Images)

The former child actor appeared in Jack Black’s School of Rock. He did not pursue a career in Hollywood after playing Freddy Jones in the hit 2003 film, but was a professional drummer instead. The Chicago Sun Times reported that he played in local bands. Tragically, he was killed in a cycling accident after being struck by a motorist. 

Gavin MacLeod

Date: May 29

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 90

MacLeod is known to many sitcom lovers as Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and cheerful Capt. Stubing on The Love Boat. His stepdaughter attributed his death to old age, telling the Associated Press he had been healthy until recently.

B.J. Thomas

Date: May 29

Cause of death: Lung cancer

Age: 78

Thomas was a Grammy-winning pop/country/gospel singer known for hits like “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” The latter tune, penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, won an Oscar for Best Original Song as part of the soundtrack for the 1969 Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, although Thomas was not the first artist offered the song (Ray Stevens turned it down). Thomas continued to chart big country hits in the ’70s and ’80s with “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love” and “New Looks from an Old Lover” and was a successful gospel recording artists, winning two Dove Awards and five Grammys in the gospel category. He also sang the theme song to the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains and acted in several films. Prior to his death, he had reportedly planned to record in 2020 in Muscle Shoals, but those sessions were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ernie Lively

Date: June 3

Cause of death: Cardiac complications

Age: 74

The actor, who perhaps most memorably played the father of his daughter Blake‘s character in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies, appeared in dozens of films and TV shows beginning in the ’70s, with a part on The Waltons. He later played Longstreet B. Davenport on The Dukes of Hazzard, several different single-episode characters on Murder, She Wrote, Mr. Loch on The West Wing’s revered two-parter In the Shadow of Two Gunmen and more.

Clarence Williams III

Date: June 4

Cause of death: Colon cancer

Age: 81

The actor was best known for his roles as Linc Hayes in the iconic ’60s and ’70s TV series Mod Squad and as Prince’s father in 1984 movie Purple Rain. He popped up on shows, such as Hill Street Blues and Twin Peaks, as well as movies, like I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, Half Baked, Reindeer Games and Lee Daniels’s The Butler, over six decades in the entertainment industry. He was nominated for four NAACP Image Awards along the way.

Ned Beatty

Date: June 13

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 83

The Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor was famous for films like Network and Superman. Other credits include All the President’s Men, Back to School, Deliverance and Toy Story 3, in which he voiced the evil pink bear Lotso.

Lisa Banes

Date: June 14

Cause of death: Traumatic brain injury

Age: 65

The actress, who appeared in the films Gone Girl and Cocktail, died 10 days after being the victim of a hit-and-run in NYC. She was struck by an electric scooter while crossing the street, in a crosswalk, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on her way to meet friends for dinner. Banes, who had more than 80 film and television roles during her career, suffered a traumatic brain injury. A 26-year-old Manhattan man was later arrested.

Gift of Gab

Date: June 18

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 50

Timothy J. Parker (aka Gift of Gab) was the verbally agile rapper known as one-half of the acclaimed Bay Area hip-hop duo Blackalicious. The duo’s most famous track, 1999’s “Alphabet Aerobics,” iconically showcased his warp-speed, tongue-twisting style and became a viral sensation in 2014 after Daniel Radcliffe performed it on The Tonight Show. The prolific rapper also released three solo albums and two albums as part of the supergroups Quannum MCs and the Mighty Underdogs, and left behind nearly 100 tracks for future Blackalicious releases. Gift of Gab had suffered from kidney failure in recent years, and had received a new kidney in January 2020.

Richard Donner

Date: July 5

Cause of death: Heart failure

Age: 91

Donner was an accomplished director, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, when he helmed a string of hits that included Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon and holiday favorite Scrooged. His production company with his wife, which is now called The Donner’s Company, had its first success with Free Willy, the 1993 heartwarmer about a boy’s friendship with a killer whale. In addition, his producing credits include X-Men and Any Given Sunday.

Suzzanne Douglas

Date: July 6

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 64

Suzzanne Douglas arrives at the L.A. premiere of

Suzzanne Douglas arrives at the L.A. premiere of Whitney in 2015. (Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

Douglas famously played the mother on the WB’s The Parent ‘Hood, from 1995 to 1999, but her credits stretch back to the early ’80s. Among them were School of Rock, Touched by an Angel, the 2015 TV movie Whitney (playing Cissy Houston) and Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed series When They See Us.

Charlie Robinson

Date: July 11

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 75

Robinson, who played Mac the court clerk in the sitcom Night Court, passed away after battling cancer. His manager said he suffered multi-system organ failures due to septic shock and metastatic adenocarcinoma. The veteran actor appeared in more than 125 films and television shows, including Love & War, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Home Improvement and Grey’s Anatomy.

Biz Markie

Date: July 16

Cause of death: Complications from a stroke

Age: 57

Marcel Theo Hall, aka Biz Markie, was the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” best known for his 1989 global smash “Just a Friend.” The rapper, singer, DJ, producer, actor, comedian and writer, who launched his career in the Manhattan club scene and East Coast college circuit as a human beatbox for acts like Roxanne Shanté and MC Shan, was an icon of the alternative hip-hop genre, collaborating with the Beastie Boys, Slick Rick, Will Smith, Wu-Tang Clan, Coolio, Fat Joe, the Avalanches, Kesha, the Flaming Lips, Canibus, the Aquabats, Len and — in recorded-sample form — even the Rolling Stones. Biz also reached new audiences by appearing in Men in Black II, Black-ish, SpongeBob SquarePants, Empire, In Living Color, Wild ‘n Out, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Sharknado 2 and the first season of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, which he won. He also hosted a daily radio show on LL Cool J’s SiriusXM channel Rock the Bells. Biz was hospitalized in April 2020 due to complications from Type 2 diabetes, and, as of December 2020, had reportedly been living in a Maryland rehabilitation facility after suffering a diabetic coma and stroke.

Robby Steinhardt

Date: July 17

Cause of death: Acute pancreatitis/septic shock

Age: 71

Robert Steinhardt was the violinist, co-frontman and co-founder of classic rock group Kansas, performing with them from 1972 (when they were originally called White Clover) through 1983 and then again from 1997 to 2006. The interplay of his violin playing with the group’s guitar and keyboards, and his harmonies with the band’s other singer, high tenor Steve Walsh, helped define the unique Kansas sound.

Siegfried Fischbacher

Date: July 24

Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer

Age: 81

Siegfried in the famed duo of Siegfried and Roy, who wowed audiences with their big cats and magic tricks for decades in Las Vegas and elsewhere, died roughly eight months after his longtime showbiz partner. The two were so strongly associated with Sin City that, in the wake of Roy’s death, a street near the strip was named for them. “From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world,” Siegfried said in a statement when Roy died. “There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.”

Jackie Mason

Date: July 24

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 93

A comedian whose career took him from a rabbi at synagogues in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to, by the early ’60s, The Ed Sullivan Show. In the late ’80s, he earned a Tony and an Emmy for his 1988 HBO special, The World According to Me!, and an additional Emmy for voicing the character of Rabbi Krustofsky in a 1989 episode of The Simpsons. “I very rarely write anything down. I just think about life a lot and try to put it into phrases that will get a joke,” the often politically incorrect star told the Associated Press about his style of comedy. “I never do a joke that has a point that I don’t believe in. To me, the message and the joke is the same.”

Joey Jordison

Date: July 26

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 46

Jordison was best known as the former drummer/co-songwriter of Slipknot — one of the most successful, pioneering and enduring bands of late-’90s/early-2000s nu-metal explosion, selling 30 million albums worldwide and earning 10 Grammy nominations — as well as the guitarist for horror-punk group Murderdolls. He also played in Scar the Martyr, Vimic and Sinsaenum, and worked with Rob Zombie, Metallica, Korn, Ministry, Otep and Satyricon. In 2010, Rhythm magazine’s readers voted Jordison the best drummer of the previous 25 years, ranking him above the likes of Dave Grohl and Rush’s Neil Peart.

Saginaw Grant

Date: July 28

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 85

Saginaw Grant attends the premiere of Netflix's

Saginaw Grant attends the premiere of Netflix’s The Ridiculous 6 on November 30, 2015 in Universal City, Calif. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

A genuine Native American leader — hereditary chief and medicine man of the Oklahoma-based Sac and Fox Nation — Grant portrayed Chief Big Bear in Disney’s 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. He also appeared in Community, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad, Baywatch and many other TV shows and movies.

Dusty Hill

Date: July 28

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 72

For 52 years, Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill was bassist and secondary lead vocalist for legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees ZZ Top. The band was first known as a more traditional, heavy Texas blues-rock group with classic rock radio hits like “La Grange,” “Tush” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” but they enjoyed their most commercially successful period in the 1980s as unlikely MTV superstars; 1983’s Eliminator album, which incorporated synthesizers and was reportedly influenced by Depeche Mode, spawned three massive pop singles, sold more than 10 million copies and spent a whopping 183 weeks on the Billboard album chart. While no cause of death was given, Hill died five days after he was forced to pull out of a ZZ Top concert due to an injury; this was reported to be the first time that ZZ Top had played without Hill since 1969.

Ron Popeil

Date: July 28

Cause of death: Brain hemorrhage

Age: 86

It’s Popeil who is largely credited with creating infomercials as TV viewers know them. (If you’ve ever heard the words, “But wait, there’s more,” that was Popeil’s handiwork.) Perhaps the greatest example of his influence on the culture is Dan Akroyd’s classic “Bass-o-matic” sketch on Saturday Night Live, which first aired in 1975.

Markie Post

Date: Aug. 7

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 70

The actress worked in TV for 40 years, but will always be remembered for her role as public defender Christine Sullivan on Night Court from 1984 to 1992. Post had many other roles, including recurring ones on Scrubs and Chicago P.D., and appeared in There’s Something About Mary (playing the mom of Cameron Diaz’s character). She was diagnosed with cancer four years before her death, but she kept working while getting chemotherapy.

Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas

Date: Aug. 7

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 70 

As the co-founder, multi-instrumentalist, and master of ceremonies of Kool & the Gang, Thomas helped create many timeless soul-funk classics, including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Summer Madness,” “Open Sesame,” “Ladies’ Night,” “Joanna” and “Fresh.” Over the course of their career, Kool & the Gang earned two Grammys, charted 25 top 10 R&B hits and nine top 10 pop hits, and sold 70 million albums worldwide; they also still hold the record as the most sampled band of all time, with their music featured on tracks by the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, P. Diddy, the Killers and many others. Thomas’s final concert with the group was at the Hollywood Bowl’s fireworks spectacular on July 4.

Sonny Chiba

Date: Aug. 19

Cause of death: COVID-19 complications

Age: 82

Sonny Chiba attends the premiere of

Sonny Chiba attends the premiere of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on Sept. 29, 2003 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

A black belt in karate, judo and other forms of martial arts, Chiba displayed his skills in the Kill Bill movies, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and other productions. He began acting in the 1950’s and had earned more than 200 credits by the time he died.

Don Everly

Date: Aug. 21

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 84

As one-half of the 1950s’ Everly Brothers duo, Everly was one of early rock ‘n’ roll’s most important pioneers. Don and his older brother Phil set the standard for rock/pop two-part harmony, laid down the groundwork for roots-rock and alt-country and influenced everyone from the Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds to even Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, who recorded a joint album of Everly Brothers covers, Foreverly, in 2013.

Charlie Watts

Date. Aug. 24

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 80

It was more than a drum kit that set Watts apart from his long-haired, hard-living Rolling Stones bandmates. Married to wife Shirley for nearly 57 years, the drummer was known for his cropped silver cut, dapper style and passion for jazz. Though he eventually battled substance abuse in the 1980s — something he chalked up to a midlife crisis — Watts was more likely to sketch his hotel room than trash it; he reportedly had more than a dozen journals filled with illustrations of his lodgings. Despite a previous battle with throat cancer, Watts had kept up with the Stones’ notoriously exhaustive tour schedule until this year. In August, the band announced that he’d be sitting out the remaining No Filter shows due to a heart procedure; by month’s end, he had died, though no exact cause of death has been publicly revealed.

Ed Asner

Date: Aug. 29

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 91

From left, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Knight and Cloris Leachman appear on

From left, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Knight and Cloris Leachman appear on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Asner will be forever remembered for his role as newsman Lou Grant, first on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, from 1970 to 1977, and then in a spinoff, called simply Lou Grant, from 1977 to 1982. His cranky demeanor endeared him to fans from the moment he told Moore’s Mary Richards in the sitcom’s very first episode, “You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk!” (He was the third regular cast member of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, after Cloris Leachman and Gavin MacLeod, to die this year.) Asner’s portrayal of Grant earned him five Emmy Awards. He took home two others for his turns in a pair of miniseries from the same era: Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. Among his other notable parts were those of Santa in holiday favorite Elf, Carl Fredricksen in the heartfelt Disney/Pixar movie Up and FBI agent Guy Bannister in Oliver Stone’s JFK

Lee “Scratch” Perry

Date: Aug. 29

Cause of death: Unspecified illness

Age: 85

Rainford Hugh Perry was an eccentric, Grammy-winning Jamaican producer, songwriter and reggae artist, and a pioneer in the 1970s’ development of dub music through his Upsetter record label. Keith Richards compared him to both Phil Spector and Salvador Dali. Over the course of his 60-year career, he released more than 70 albums under his own name, and he worked with and produced for Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Congos, Adrian Sherwood, King Tubby, the Clash, the Beastie Boys, Bill Laswell, Andrew W.K. and the Orb. He also founded the Black Ark studio in Kingston, where Paul and Linda McCartney, Robert Palmer and John Martyn all recorded. His colorful life was captured in three documentaries, 2008’s The Upsetter, 2015’s Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise and 2019’s The Revelation of Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Gregg Leakes

Date: Sept. 1

Cause of death: Colon cancer

Age: 66

NeNe Leakes’s husband, who she married in 1997, had appeared alongside her on The Real Housewives of Atlanta since 2008. The couple split in 2010, but they remarried three years later, with Gregg becoming a fan favorite. After he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018, his cancer battle was documented on the hit Bravo show.

Willard Scott

Date: Sept. 4

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 87

The legendary Today show weatherman was known for his infectious personality. In the ’60s, he hosted children’s television shows and appeared on WRC-TV playing several characters, like Bozo the Clown. He was the very first person to play Ronald McDonald. Scott’s death was confirmed by his wife. She did not specify a cause, but noted that he had died after a brief illness.

Sarah Harding

Date: Sept. 5

Cause of death: Breast cancer

Age: 39

As a member of the British pop group Girls Aloud — which formed over the course of the 2002 reality show Popstars: The Rivals — Harding and her bandmates dominated the airwaves with hits like “Sound of the Underground” and “Love Machine.” All told, the group enjoyed 20 consecutive top 10 singles in their native U.K. before disbanding for good in 2013. Outside of music, Harding explored modeling, acting (St. Trinian’s 2) and reality stardom, winning Celebrity Big Brother U.K. in 2017. In August 2020 she broke the news of her breast cancer diagnosis, telling fans the following March that it had spread and was considered terminal. That same month she released her autobiography, Hear Me Out.

A.J. Johnson

Date: Sept. 6

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 55

The stand-up comedian broke out playing E.Z.E. in 1990’s House Party, though he was best known for his hilarious performance as Ezal in Friday. No cause of death was disclosed.

Michael K. Williams

Date: Sept. 6

Cause of death: Accidental overdose

Age: 54

Michael K. Williams appears on the virtual 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021 in Miami. (Photo: Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)

Michael K. Williams appears on the virtual 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021 in Miami. (Photo: Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)

Williams created unforgettable characters on The Wire (Omar Little) and Boardwalk Empire (Chalky White) — the former getting high praise from then-President Barack Obama. Overall, the actor received five Emmy nominations for his work, including Lovecraft Country and the miniseries When They See Us. Williams, who was open about his addiction struggle, died at his Brooklyn home of acute intoxication by a mixture of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.

Norm Macdonald

Date: Sept. 14

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 61

An anchor of Saturday Night Live staple Weekend Update in the ’90s, Macdonald was known for his biting wit, as he took shots at O.J. Simpson, President Bill Clinton and many more during his time at the news desk. Current anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost even paid tribute to him on the SNL season premiere in October, with Jost explaining that Macdonald was the one who made him want to work on Update. Macdonald also was beloved for his turns as Burt Reynolds on the show’s Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches. When he wasn’t in Studio 8H, McDonald found time to appear in shows such as The Orville, where he voiced the character of Yaphit, The Middle and, from 1999 to 2001, his own sitcom, Norm. He counted Dirty Work (which he also wrote), Billy Madison and Funny People among his movie credits.

Willie Garson

Date: Sept. 21

Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer

Age: 57

While filming the Sex and the City spinoff, And Just Like That…, the beloved actor who played Stanford Blatch, lost his private battle with cancer. In addition to being Carrie Bradshaw’s male bestie, he appeared on White Collar and Hawaii Five-0 and in movies including Being John Malkovich and Groundhog Day. His favorite role was being “papa” to a son adopted from foster care.

Melvin Van Peebles

Date: Sept. 21

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 89

The groundbreaking director was known for films like Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. His passing was announced by his son, who noted how Peebles “knew that Black images matter.” Mario Van Peebles wrote, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”

Alan Kalter

Date: Oct. 4

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 78

Kalter served as Late Show With David Letterman announcer from 1995 to Letterman’s retirement in 2015. He was more of a utility player, participating in whatever silly skits Letterman had planned. The red-head also did many commercial voiceovers and was the announcer on game shows including To Tell the Truth. He died at Stamford Hospital, near his home, with no cause of death shared by his family. Letterman recalled his “wonderful voice and eagerness to play a goofy character of himself. Did I mention he could sing? Yes he could. He enthusiastically did it all.”

Peter Scolari

Date: Oct. 22

Cause of death: Leukemia

Age: 66

An ’80s sitcom favorite who starred on Bosom Buddies alongside future superstar Tom Hanks — and, later, Newhart, for which he racked up three supporting actor Emmy nominations — Scolari died from leukemia this fall after a two-year illness. In addition to being a frequent Broadway presence who reunited with Hanks for Lucky Guy in 2013, Scolari at last struck Emmy gold in 2016 with his performance as Hannah Horvath’s doting dad, who comes out as gay in middle age, on Girls. Despite his illness, the father of two had continued to act, with recent credits including Evil, Lisey’s Story and Blue Bloods.

James Michael Tyler

Date: Oct. 24

Cause of death: Stage IV prostate cancer

Age: 59

Best known for his role as Central Perk manager Gunther on Friends, Tyler revealed in June he had been quietly battling prostate cancer since 2018. It wasn’t caught early and spread to his bones. Tumors on his spine left him unable to walk, but he hid it when appearing virtually on the HBO Max Friends reunion in May because, “I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and Gunther has cancer,'” he said. He passed away peacefully at his L.A. home.

Mort Sahl

Date: Oct. 26

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 94

A legendary funny man, Sahl was the first to record an album of stand-up comedy, 1955’s At Sunset and, in 1960, he was the first comedian to cover Time magazine. His approach to basing his act on the news of the day inspired generations of his fellow comics, from Elaine May to George Carlin to Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle. “Every comedian who is not doing wife jokes has to thank him for that,” actor Albert Brooks told the Associated Press in 2007. “He really was the first, even before Lenny Bruce, in terms of talking about stuff, not just doing punch lines.”

Dean Stockwell

Date: Nov. 7

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 85

The actor racked up more than 200 acting credits throughout his decades-long career, earning an Emmy nomination for Quantum Leap and supporting Oscar nomination for Married to the Mob. He had memorable roles in Blue Velvet, Battlestar Galactica and Dune. The actor died peacefully at home of natural causes, a rep for the family confirmed to Deadline.

Stephen Sondheim

Date: Nov. 26

Cause of Death: Cardiovascular disease

Age: 91

The celebrated composer and lyricist was responsible for some of the biggest Broadway successes of our lifetimes, including A Little Night Music, for which he penned Grammy-winning tune “Send in the Clowns”; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Sweeney Todd; Into the Woods and Company. He won a long list of accolades, including an Oscar for the Madonna song “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” in Dick Tracy; a Pulitzer Prize; a Kennedy Center honor; the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and eight Tony Awards. (The one he received in 2008 was for lifetime achievement.) In 2010, a Broadway venue on West 43rd Street was named the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Mike Nesmith

Date: Dec. 10

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 78

Mike Nesmith, top right, appears with, clockwise, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, as part of The Monkees in 1965. (Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Mike Nesmith, top right, appears with, clockwise, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, as part of The Monkees in 1965. (Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Robert Michael Nesmith was a musician, songwriter and pop-culture innovator best known as the dry-witted, wooly-hatted guitarist/co-frontman of the 1960s’ zeitgeist-capturing television rock band the Monkees. While that band was often unfairly dismissed as a “Prefab Four” TV creation, and the creators of The Monkees television series famously did not allow the group to play on their first two albums, Nesmith had a serious musical background (his pre-Monkees songwriting credits included Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys’ “Different Drum”) and he was the Monkees’ most prolific songwriter, penning classics “Mary, Mary,” “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “You Just May Be the One,” “Listen to the Band” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” After the Monkees split up, he formed the seminal country-rock outfit First National Band, and he later made music television history again when a program he created for Nickelodeon, PopClips, was sold to the Time Warner and developed into MTV. His collection of video shorts, Elephant Parts, won the first-ever Grammy in the Music Video category in 1981, and in 1984 he served as an executive producer of the 1984 punk/cult film Repo Man. Over the years he participated in sporadic Monkees reunions, and he died less than a month after he and his bandmate Micky Dolenz wrapped the Monkees’ farewell tour with an emotional performance at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre.

Anne Rice

Date: Dec. 11

Cause of death: Complications of a stroke

Age: 80

The New Orleans author’s very first published novel, 1976’s Interview With the Vampire, which had evolved from a short story she wrote in the ’60s, was a big hit. In addition to establishing her gothic style and spawning more books, the story of blood-thirsty characters Lestat and Louis became a successful movie, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, in 1994. Over the course of Rice’s career, she wrote more than a dozen books in The Vampire Chronicles series, as well as many others, including romances.



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