Celebrities who died in 2021

Two figures central to American tradition died December 28: former U.S. Senate Majority Chief Harry Reid and former NFL coach John Madden, whose namesake online game has enthralled soccer followers for many years, having bought greater than 180 million copies by 2018. They’re the most recent in a listing of high-profile losses in 2021, from the worlds of Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and past.


We misplaced 91-year-old Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer, whose lengthy, distinguished profession included every little thing from The Sound of Music to Knives Out to Pixar’s Up. Plummer’s Up costar, Ed Asner, who performed the movie’s lovable curmudgeon, additionally died at age 91; Asner was recognized for his husky supply and comedian chops in Elf and as iconic newsman Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Present. Cloris Leachman, additionally an alum of The Mary Tyler Moore Present, and the most-awarded performer in Emmy historical past, died in January. And Michael K. Williams, who most famously portrayed Omar Little on The Wire, died in September at age 54.


TV host Larry King died in January; he reportedly carried out greater than 50,000 interviews throughout his decades-long profession, together with with each sitting U.S. president since Gerald Ford. We mourned many comedy stars: Jessica Walter, greatest often called Lucille Bluth in Arrested Improvement; British comic Sean Lock; and Saturday Night time Stay’s Norm MacDonald, whose deadpan type lives on, most memorably in his well-liked moth joke. We additionally misplaced two beloved actors from sitcom historical past: Dustin Diamond, who performed oddball Screech in Saved by the Bell, and James Michael Tyler, who performed the meek coffeehouse waiter, Gunther, on Pals.

In music, hip-hop misplaced legends together with rapper DMX, recognized for his uncooked content material and gruff circulation; MF Doom, the rapper with a comic book book-inspired persona (and masks); and one-hit surprise Biz Markie, whose feel-good single “Only a Good friend” was licensed platinum in 1990. Legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died in August at age 80, whereas actor-musician Michael Nesmith of the Monkees died simply this month at 78. Prolific Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim died in November; the 91-year-old was one of many key figures of the trendy musical, writing the lyrics for West Facet Story and the music for Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods.

The literary world mourned two influential feminine writers in December: Joan Didion, who was famend for her nonfiction works exploring American tradition of the Sixties and ’70s; and feminist writer Gloria Jean Watkins, recognized by her pen identify bell hooks, who wrote on the intersection of race and gender and the experiences of Black and working-class girls.

Public figures and politicians

In April, Queen Elizabeth misplaced her husband and royal consort, 99-year-old Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was a passionate pilot, with a protracted army profession; curiosity in him had heightened in current years with the discharge of The Crown on Netflix, in which he was depicted by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies. In December, human rights activist Desmond Tutu, the primary Black bishop of Johannesburg and archbishop of Cape City, died at age 90. An influential voice for nonviolence throughout South Africa’s anti-apartheid motion, Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

In U.S. politics, Reid was instrumental in passing the Reasonably priced Care Act in 2010, however he wasn’t the one former Senate Majority Chief who died in 2021: Bob Dole, who led the Senate Republicans from 1987 to 1996 and misplaced the 1996 presidential race to Invoice Clinton, died in early December at age 98. Retired Military Basic Colin Powell, the nation’s first Black secretary of state and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, died in November at 84. Powell performed a key half in justifying the Iraq Conflict in 2003 below President George W. Bush; in 2020, nonetheless, he introduced his assist of Democrat Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the presidential election, and renounced allegiance to the GOP after the Capitol revolt on January 6, 2021.

Enterprise and science

The enterprise world misplaced Richard Trumka, who was president of the AFL-CIO, the biggest federation of unions in the U.S. A former president of the identical federation, John Sweeney, additionally died. Larry Flynt, founding father of Hustler journal, recognized for a slew of First Modification authorized battles, died in February. And clothier Virgil Abloh, who labored as creative director of Louis Vuitton and was the primary African American to go a luxurious French vogue home, died at 41 following a battle with most cancers.

The science neighborhood mourned NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who, together with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, flew to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. And E.O. Wilson, the evolutionary biologist who began his profession learning ants and seemed on the complexity of genetics and human habits, died in December. The 92-year-old was sometimes called “Darwin’s pure inheritor.”


Villains and heroes

Some controversial figures additionally died this yr, together with Rush Limbaugh, the incendiary conservative radio host who incessantly lied and generated conspiracy theories—and who problematically obtained the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump. Phil Spector, the document producer whose discography included a number of the greatest hits of all time—together with “Let It Be,” “Think about,” and “Unchained Melody”—died in January whereas serving a jail sentence for the 2003 homicide of actress Lana Clarkson. And Bernie Madoff died in April; the financier and former chairman of the Nasdaq ran the world’s largest-ever Ponzi scheme, reportedly value about $65 billion. In 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in federal jail.

Maybe most poignantly, we misplaced a hero for the pandemic age: Captain Tom Moore, a former British Military officer who raised 30 million kilos (greater than $40 million) for the NHS throughout the coronavirus disaster by strolling round his backyard 100 occasions in the lead-up to his a hundredth birthday. In February, struck with pneumonia, he died of issues after testing constructive for COVID-19.