23 Celebs Who Died In 2016
As if 2016 weren't already a tough year for so many, it forced us to say goodbye to some of our favorite celebrities. This year, barrier-breaking women, our favorite actors, and inspiring musicians passed away, some in very tragic ways.
Snape! Though in hundreds of movies, we probably best know the beloved Alan Rickman for his role as evil-but-not-evil Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. Rickman died unexpectedly at age 69, and he will be hugely missed by Potterheads and non-Potterheads alike, “always.”
Music legend and inspiration Prince died on April 21. He changed the game for musicians, mixing all kinds of music genres to find his sound, and putting on a show like none other. Prince was found dead following an opioid overdose at his home in Paisley Park. He was just 57 years old.
This super-talented YouTube star came in third place on The Voice before she passed away at the young age of 22. Christina Grimmie was murdered by a “fan” named Kevin James Loibl, who tragically shot her during a meet-and-greet.
This iconic actor was beloved by many. Gene Wilder inspired us to use our imagination when he starred as the titular Willy Wonka in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and made us LOL in “Young Frankenstein” in the 1970s. He died August 29 at age 83.
WWE wrestler Chyna was groundbreaking for women in the ring, becoming the face of female wrestlers and being the first woman to ever join a Royal Rumble. Chyna, born Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead inside her California home on April 20. She was just 46 years old.
The glam rock icon inspired people across the globe to proudly be themselves, which made him so much more than a musician. David Bowie was a fashion legend, an actor (who could ever forget The Goblin King in Labyrinth?), an activist, and he will be greatly missed. Bowie passed away just after his 69th birthday, on January 10, after an 18-month battle with liver cancer.
The former FLOTUS died on March 6. Before marrying former President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Davis Reagan worked as an actress in Hollywood. In the White House, she was famous for being a huge influence on her husband, the president, playing a key role in his diplomatic decisions. So whether you agree with her politics, she was a major female political power back in the 1980s, when women were criticized for changing the White House china set (true story).
We lost one-half of American husband-and-wife country and bluegrass duo Joey + Rory this year. Singer Joey Feek lost her brave battle with cancer this year. Her daughter, Indiana, 3, is being raised by her husband, Rory.
Our parents’ favorite mom! The actress best known for her role as matriarch Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch died suddenly on November 24. Florence Henderson suffered heart failure, passing away at age 82.
Author of the super popular high school read To Kill A Mockingbird, died on February 19. (We all remember having to write an essay on Atticus and wanting to be Scout, right?) Lee’s life was filled with great achievements including winning the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, but she never wanted the limelight and lived back in her hometown until her death.
The charming 27-year-old actor who played the role of Chekov in the Star Trek franchise reboot died in a tragic, freak car accident back in June.
Transgender actor and activist Alexis Arquette died on September 11 in Los Angeles. He (Alexis’ family refers to their sibling with male pronouns) suffered a heart attack at age 47. During Arquette’s life, he worked with younger transgender men and women to help them through their transitions.
“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” her brother Richmond wrote in a Facebook post. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”
Legendary director and producer Garry Marshall brought us Pretty Woman, one of our fave films ever, as well as Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, and many more movies. He passed away on July 19.
You may not know her by name, but Janet Waldo voiced two iconic feminist ladies of our childhood (and let’s face it: our grown-up-hood): Judy Jetson on The Jetsons and Josie on Josie and the Pussycats. She died on June 12 at the age of 96.
Among many other things, you can thank this YA author for the book that gave you nightmares as a kid, I Know What You Did Last Summer, (and the movie adaptation that introduced you to Ryan Phillipe) and Hotel for Dogs. Lois Duncan died on June 15 at the age of 82.
A pioneer in U.S. government, Janet Reno was the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general. She died on November 7 after a battle with Parkinson's disease. She was 78 years old.
From the fun-loving father of the Seaver family in Growing Pains to Robin Scherbatsky’s Canadian celeb BFF in How I Met Your Mother, Alan Thicke has been gracing our TV screens for decades. Robin Thicke’s father tragically died of a heart attack December 13 while doing what he loved: playing hockey with his son Carter.
Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsman of the Century” Muhammad Ali was inspiring in the boxing ring and out of it. He’s the greatest boxer of all time, but his philanthropy work and activism will be remembered just as much, protesting the Vietnam War and taking part in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. More recently, he worked as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace” traveling to Afghanistan. Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., died June 3 at age 74.
Any proclaimed writer or journalist knows barrier-breaking Gwen Ifill. Peabody Award-winning journalist, political analyst, and famous presidential debate moderator (she was even parodied by Queen Latifah on SNL), Ifill was the first African-American woman to ever host a nationally televised U.S. public affairs TV show, with her award-winning PBS series Washington Week in Review. Ifill sadly passed away from breast and endometrial cancer November 14 at age 61.
Who wasn’t completely blown away by Elie Weisel’s autobiographical “Night” in school? The Auschwitz concentration camp Holocaust survivor-turned-author and political activist won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work against violence, oppression, racism, and his “practical work in the cause of peace.”
English singer/songwriter George Michael, best known as a member of the duo Wham! and for his solo work, was found dead on Christmas day, December 25, at his home in Oxfordshire, England. He was only 53 years old.
Actress Carrie Fisher, known to most Star Wars fans as Princess Leia Organa, passed away on December 27 after suffering a heart attack. She was just 60 years old.