Here Are 48 Notable Deaths of 2016

December 30, 2016 5:00 am
(Photo Illustration by Adrian Lam/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Adrian Lam/Getty Images)
Notable Deaths of 2016 (Photo Illustration by Adrian Lam/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Adrian Lam)


We lost a lot of good people this year. An unusually large number of good people, actually. Everyone from legendary actors to transcendent athletes to prolific musicians to culture-changing authors. And even a few sitcom stars. Here are 48 of the most notable deaths of 2016, in words and pictures.


Muhammad Ali
(Stanley Weston/Getty Images)

Muhammad Ali died at 74. Born Cassius Clay, he became a heavyweight boxing champ known as The Greatest. One of the most celebrated sports figures of all time, Ali was a social activist who famously opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He also set an example of racial pride for African Americans during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

José Fernández, a pitcher for the Miami Marlins, died in a boating accident at 24.


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Craig Sager, an NBA sideline reporter known for his wild suits and tense interviews with coaches like Gregg Popovich, died at 65.

Arnold Palmer was a four-time Masters champ and one of the greatest golfers in history. He died at 87.

Joe Garagiola was a baseball player and baseball announcer who occasionally guest-hosted on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He died at 90.

Pat Summitt coached the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team from 1974 to 2012, won eight national championships, and accrued the most wins in NCAA basketball history. She died at 64.


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David Bowie, the envelope-pushing English rocker known for hits like “Space Oddity,” “Young Americans,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and “Under Pressure” (with Queen), died at 69.

George Michael, an English pop superstar known for hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Faith,” and “Last Christmas,” died at 53. He died on Christmas Day.


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Prince, the singer-songwriter from Minneapolis with hits like “Little Red Corvette,” “Purple Rain,” and “When Doves Cry,” died at 57. He was one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Glenn Frey, a singer, songwriter, and actor who is best known as the founding member of the Eagles, died at 67. He sang lead vocals on classic songs like “Take It Easy,” “Tequila Sunrise,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”


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Leonard Cohen, the revered singer and songwriter, died at 82.

Merle Haggard, a country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler who helped create the “Bakersfield sound,” died at 79.

Keith Emerson, the keyboardist who founded Emerson, Lake & Palmer, died at 71. His bandmate Greg Lake died at 69.

Maurice White was a singer who founded Earth, Wind & Fire. He died at 74.

Attrell Cordes, known as Prince Be of the ’90s band P.M. Dawn, died at 46.

Sharon Jones, lead singer of the Dap-Kings, died at 60.

Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, died at 45.


Fidel Castro
(Getty Images)
Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Fidel Castro died at 90. He was a Cuban revolutionary who ruled Communist Cuba from 1959 to 2008. He enjoyed cigars and baseball.

Antonin Scalia, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 30 years, died at 79.

Shimon Peres, a former Israeli president and prime minister who won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating with the Palestinians, died at 93.


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Nancy Reagan was an actress and the wife of the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan. She died at 94.

Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, died at 78.

Phyllis Schlafly, an activist who inspired modern social conservationism by denouncing feminism, died at 92.

Rob Ford was a scandal-prone ex-Toronto mayor who reportedly smoked crack and visited suspected prostitutes. He died at 46.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, an Egyptian statesman who became the United Nations’ secretary general in the 1990s, died at 93.


John Glenn
(Getty Images)

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and the oldest person to fly in space, died at 95. He was also a Korean War fighter pilot and a U.S. senator for 24 years. In a word: legend.

Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-born British architect who in 2015 became the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. She died at 65.

Henry Heimlich, a surgeon who created the eponymous anti-choking technique in 1974, died in December at 96. Several months earlier, he performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking person for the first time.


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Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor who wrote Night based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He died at 87.

Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, died at 89.

Edward Albee died at 88. He was a playwright who wrote Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Gwen Ifill was a Peabody Award–winning journalist, debate moderator, bestselling author, and co-anchor of The PBS NewsHour. She died at 61.

Morley Safer, a journalist for CBS who reported more than 900 stories for 60 Minutes, died at 84.

John Saunders was a Canadian-American sports broadcaster who worked for ESPN and ABC for 30 years. He died at 61.


Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher
(Getty Images)

Carrie Fisher, an actress and writer best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died at 60.

Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, was an American actress, singer, and dancer who at 19 starred in Singin’ in the Rain. She died at 84, one day after her daughter.

Kenny Baker died at 81. An English actor who portrayed R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise, he stood 3’8″ as an adult.

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Alan Thicke played the dad in the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains. Somewhat surprisingly, he also co-wrote the theme songs to Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. He died at 69.

Gene Wilder was an actor, writer, and director who famously starred in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He died at 83.

Garry Shandling was a comedian, writer, actor, and director who starred in the groundbreaking series The Larry Sanders Show. He died at 66.


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Abe Vigoda played Sal Tessio in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II and Detective Phil Fish on Barney Miller. He died at 94.

Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, died at 82.

Doris Roberts died at 90. She was a five-time Emmy winner who played Raymond’s mother on Everybody Loves Raymond.


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George Kennedy, who co-starred in The Naked Gun and Cool Hand Luke, died at 91.

Zsa Zsa Gabor was a Hungarian model-turned-Hollywood actress. Although she appeared in more than 70 films and TV shows, she is remembered more for her many marriages (nine!) and socialite lifestyle. She died at 99.

Garry Marshall, who created Happy Days, co-created Laverne & Shirley, and directed movies like The Princess Diaries and Pretty Woman, died at 81.

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Alan Rickman was an English actor best known for playing Hans Gruber in Die Hard (one of the most entertaining holiday films of all time) and Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. He died at 69.

Patty Duke, who won an Academy Award for The Miracle Worker and played identical cousins on her own TV show, died at 69.

For a full list of notable deaths of 2016, check out The New York Times‘ article here.

—Shawn Donnelly for RealClearLife

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