The world lost many great entertainers, politicians, and more in 2021, including Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State. Many other stars were taken from us too soon, including Saved By The Bell star, Dustin Diamond, who was just 44 years old when he died on Feb. 1. This year also claimed the life of Larry King, who is recognizable to just about anyone as a talk show host. That 70s Show star, Tanya Roberts, also passed away, along with Hank Aaron and more. Jazz legend Chick Corea passed away at the age of 76 in February, while a fellow music icon — The Supremes founding member Mary Wilson — also left us. Read on to learn about the stars who passed this year.
2021 ended by taking Betty White with it. On Dec. 31, right as the world was about to welcome the new year, news broke that Betty had passed away the night before at age 99. She was weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday (Jan. 17), and the death left many fans and friends heartbroken.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent said in a statement. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
Peter Scolari, best known for starring opposite Tom Hanks on the sitcom Bosom Buddies, died on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at the age of 66, following a two-year battle with cancer. His death was confirmed by his manager Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment, per Variety.
On Bosom Buddies, Peter and Tom played Henry (Scolari) and Kip (Hanks), two young professional New Yorkers who work at an advertising agency. They adopted drag personas in order to move into an inexpensive women-only residence, the Susan B. Anthony Hotel. The show ran for two seasons on ABC, and was credited for launching both of their careers. Peter won an Emmy in 2016 for his portrayal of Tad Horvath on Girls, the father of Lena Dunham’s character. He was also nominated three times for supporting actor Emmys for his role as Michael Harris on Newhart, Bob Newhart’s CBS comedy. Peter is survived by his wife, Tracy Shayne, and their children Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton, and Cali.
Colin Powell’s family confirmed on Oct. 18, 2021 that the former U.S. Secretary of State died from complications due to COVID-19. He was 84 years old at the time of his death. The family noted that Colin was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but still suffered issues from the horrific disease. “We lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” their statement read.
Willie Garson, an actor best known for playing Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City, died on Sept. 21 after battling pancreatic cancer. The tragic news was confirmed by his son, Nathen Garson. “I love you so much papa. Rest in peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much. I’m so proud of you,” Nathen said. Willie was 57 when he passed, and he had filmed scenes for the upcoming Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That, before his death.
After news of Willie’s death broke, many of his Sex and the City co-stars, including Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Mario Cantone, and Chris Noth, posted tributes about their beloved Willie. HBO shared a statement as well, saying, “Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe. He created one of the most beloved characters from the HBO pantheon and was a member of our family for nearly twenty-five years.”
Norm Macdonald, a comedian, actor and former cast member of Saturday Night Live, died at age 61 after a private, nine-year battle with cancer. Norm’s management firm Brillstein Entertainment confirmed the news to Deadline on September 14. After Norm’s passing was made public, stars like Seth Rogen and Jim Carrey paid tribute to him, and remembered him for his iconic work in comedy.
“Oh f**k. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting,” Seth said on Twitter. “I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.” Meanwhile, Jim wrote, “My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.”
Hollywood is mourning the loss of one of its Golden Era movie stars.Jane Powell sadly passed away at the age of 92 at her home in Wilton, Connecticut, on September 16. Her friend Susan Granger confirmed the sad news to the New York Times and the Associated Press. The actress, who was born Suzanne Lorraine Burce, broke into the industry after her turn in 1944’s Song of the Open Road. She is arguably best known for her role in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and for starring opposite Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding.
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams sadly passed away at the age of 54. The actor, who was best known for his long running role on HBO’s The Wire, was found in his living room in New York City on Sept. 6, 2021. “We responded to his residence at 440 Kent Ave at 2pm. He was found deceased in his living room. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death,” Lt. John Grimpel of NYP’s Media Relations Department said via email.
Fans would recall Michael played Omar Little on the popular HBO Series which ran from 2002 to 2007. The character was known to be a ‘stick up’ man in the city of Baltimore who targeted street-level drug dealers. “Mike is a beautiful man, but a gangster he is not,” Williams reflected on his character back in 2015.
My Big Fat Greek Life actor Michael Constantine, who was best-known for playing the proud father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, died at the age of 94. He played Seymour Kaufman in the 1970 ABC series Room 222, for which he won an Emmy, but it was his turn as family patriarch Gus Portokalos that cemented his placve in Hollywood history. He passed away in Reading, Pennsylvania, on August 31 following a long illness, his agent, Julia Buchwald confirmed.
Helen McCroryHelen McCrory was respected and beloved by generations of audiences for her work in films like The Queen, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the Harry Potter franchise. On April 16, her dear husband, actor Damian Lewis, shared the heartbreaking news that Helen had passed away following a private battle with cancer. “I’m heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family,” he wrote. “She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”
DMXDMX, who rose to fame in the ’90s as a legendary rapper who also acted, was only 50 years when he passed away on April 9, 2021. He died a week after suffering a heart attack inside his New York home; DMX’s attorney, Murray Richman, confirmed the heart attack but did not know what had caused it.
DMX’s death was also confirmed in a statement from his family: “We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50-years-old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days. Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end.” You can read the full statement given to PEOPLE, here.
DMX’s debut album released his debut album It’s Dark and Hell is Hot in 1998, which sold an impressive 251,000 copies in the U.S. within the first week of its release. He went on to release seven more studio albums throughout his lifetime. DMX’s most famous songs include “X Gon’ Give It to Ya,” “Where the Hood At?” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.”
Prince PhilipPrince Philip, who also went by his royal title The Duke of Edinburgh, was 99 years old when he passed away on April 9, 2021. “It is with deep sorrow that her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Palace. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family will join people around the world in mourning his loss,” Buckingham Palace wrote in a statement.
Philip had been Queen Elizabeth II‘s husband since 1947, and together they welcomed four children: Charles, the Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, Anne, Princess Royal, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. He was also the grandfather of Prince Harry, Prince William, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, Zara Tindall, James, Viscount Seven, Lady Louise Windsor and Peter Phillips.
Philip came from Greek and Danish royalty as a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary passed away at the ripe old age of 104 on March 25, 2021. She started out as a children’s librarian and began writing books in 1950 after her young patrons couldn’t find any books that related to their own lives as elementary school students. Beverly ended up penning the classic series on Henry Huggins, as well as his neighbors Beezus and Ramona Quimby. Her over books have sold 85 million copies and been translated into 29 languages, showing that her wonderful storytelling was beloved around the world.
Jessica WalterBeloved actress Jessica Walter passed away at the age of 80 years old on March 24 at her home in New York City, Deadline reported on March 25. Jessica’s career spanned more than five decades, earning fans from multiple generations from her work in series like Amy Prentiss, Trapper John, M.D., Arrested Development, and the animated series Archer. In 1975, Jessica earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series for her role Amy Prentiss.
In the latter half of her career, Jessica was best known for her role as Lucille Bluth on the comedy series Arrested Development. For her work, Jessica earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005. Along with her remarkable career on screen, she also served as the 2nd National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild, per Deadline. She was also elected to the SAG Board of Directors for more than a decade.
Jessica is survived by her daughter, Brooke Bowman, and grandson, Micah Heymann. “It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica,” Brooke shared in a statement obtained by Deadline. “A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off. While her legacy will live on through her body of work, she will also be remembered by many for her wit, class and overall joie de vivre.”
The Goldbergs star George Segal sadly passed away at the age of 87 on Mar. 23. The actor, who played Albert “Pops” Solomon on the series, died from “complications of bypass surgery”, according to his wife Sonia. “The family is devastated to announce that this morning George Segal passed away due to complications from bypass surgery,” she wrote in a statement, Variety reported.
George’s longtime manager also commented on his death, saying, “I am saddened by the fact that my close friend and client of many years has passed away. I will miss his warmth, humor, camaraderie and friendship. He was a wonderful human.”
George is known for appearing all eight seasons of The Goldbergs, and has had success in his career over the years, even earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 1966 film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Born in Great Neck, NY, he also appeared in several other films, television series, and Broadway shows over the years, including Bye Bye Braverman, A Touch of Class, The Owl and the Pussycat, Where’s Poppa?, Look Who’s Talking, and many more.
Former Lakers star Elgin Baylor passed away at the age of 86 on March 22 from natural causes, his wife, Elaine Baylor, told the NBA in a statement. “Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” said Elaine. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”
Elgin was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958 and was named Rookie of the Year. He would go on to play 14 seasons for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, when the team moved to California. Elgin NBA All-Star honors 11 times before retiring from basketball in 1971. But he didn’t leave the league behind. Elgin also served as a coach for the New Orleans Jazz and Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers.
He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. His No. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 1983; a statue honoring Elgin was unveiled in 2018 at the Staples Center. He is survived by Elaine and three children: daughters Krystal and Alison, and son Alan.
Chick Corea, a famous pianist and composer who had a legendary impact on jazz, sadly passed away at 79 years old on Feb. 9. He died from “a rare form of cancer” that was “only discovered very recently,” which the music icon’s team shared on his Facebook page two days after his passing. Leading up to his death, Chick penned a heartfelt message for his fans:
“I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”
Chick, who composed classics like “Spain” and “500 Miles High,” continued, “And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly—this has been the richness of my life.”
Iconic Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt passed away from heart failure at his Hollywood Hills home on Feb. 9, 2021. He was 78-years-old. Flynt founded the graphic adult mag in 1974, and as a result became the target of a number of obscenity cases. He was a champion of First Amendment rights, and one of his legal battles made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 1981. Larry had been confirmed to a wheelchair since a 1978 assassination attempt where he was shot. He was a frequent critic of Donald Trump and openly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Flynt’s greatest fear was that a Republican would pack the Supreme Court with conservatives, which is what Trump did by naming three arch-conservative judges Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney-Barrett to the high court for life, tipping the balance of SCOTUS in favor of right wing issues.
Mary Wilson, who was a founding member of The Supremes, “passed away suddenly” on the evening of Feb. 8, 2021, her publicist confirmed. She was at home in Nevada and surrounded by her daughter, son, grandchildren, sister and brother. The circumstances of her death were not initially revealed, but her publicist did confirm that funeral and memorial services will be private due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mary was a Motown legend, who helped open the door for future artists.
A true Hollywood icon Christopher Plummer passed away at 91, his family confirmed to Deadline on February 5. He passed peacefully at his home in Connecticut, with Elaine Taylor, his wife of 53 years, dutifully by his side. In a statement to Deadline, Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager of 46 years said; “Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self deprecating humor and the music of words. He was a National Treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”
Christopher was best known for his roles in movies like Knives Out, All The Money In The World, and Beginners, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2012. However, he’ll likely be best known for his role Captain Von Trapp alongside Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music.
On Feb. 1, 2021, Dustin Diamond’s rep confirmed to HollywoodLife that the actor had died at just 44 years old. The sad news came just three weeks after Dustin found out that he had been diagnosed with carcinoma, otherwise known as lung cancer. His disease was already in stage IV at the time of his diagnosis, and he immediately began chemotherapy. Dustin confirmed his cancer diagnosis to fans on Jan. 14, but his health rapidly began to decline. Unfortunately, the cancer spread quickly, and Dustin was dead just two and a half weeks later.
Iconic TV personality Larry King, 87, sadly died on January 23. The longtime host had been hospitalized in early January 2021 as he battled COVID-19, and the tragic news of his death was announced on his Twitter account. “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host, and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,” the tweet read. Larry rose to fame with the all-night nationwide call-in radio program, The Larry King Show which ran from 1978 to 1994. He soon became a household name thanks to his show Larry King Live on CNN, which was known for its exclusive interviews with some of the biggest stars in the world.
Baseball Hall of Fame legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron has sadly passed away at the age of 86. The Major League Baseball star, whose 755 career home runs long stood as the league’s record, died on January 22. The Atlanta Braves revealed in a statement that Hank died peacefully in his sleep. “We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” the team’s chairman Terry McGuirk said. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”
Siegfried Fischbacher, who was one-half of the German-American big cat illusionist act Siegfried and Roy, died on January 13 at his home in Las Vegas. He was 81 when he passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer. The Sin City superstar recently underwent an operation to remove a tumor, and was released from hospital just weeks before his death, a rep for the legendary magician told The Post. His passing comes just eight months after his longtime stage partner Roy Horn died of complications related to COVID-19. The pair met on board a cruise ship in 1957, bonding over Roy’s pet cheetah. Their act, which was part magic show, part tiger-taming, launched in Las Vegas in the late 60s, and had a 14-year run at the Mirage Hotel & Casino. Their residency remains one of the most successful in Vegas history, and catapulted the pair to global stardom.
Survivor star Angie Jakusz sadly lost her battle with cancer at the age of 40. The tragic news was confirmed by an obituary published by her family on Louisiana news site Nola.com, noting that she died on January 8. “Angie was an incredibly passionate person with an extraordinary lust for life,” the obituary read. “Whether she was sewing, painting, drawing, doing nail art or makeup, costuming, reading, snorkeling, scuba diving, traveling or just raising hell, she did it lovingly and with laser precision.” She was just 25-years-old when she competed on the intense reality show in 2005, and was later diagnosed with a rare form of squamous cell colorectal cancer in 2017.
Iconic soap opera star John Reilly sadly passed away at the age of 86. The “General Hospital” actor died on January 9, his daughter Caitlin Reilly confirmed. “John Henry Matthew Reilly AKA Jack. The brightest light in the world has gone out,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Imagine the best person in the world. Now imagine that person being your dad. I am so grateful he was mine.” His three-decade long career included an 11-year stint as Sean Donely on “General Hospital” along with appearances on “As the World Turns,” “Sunset Beach,” “Passions” and “Dallas.”
That 70s Show star Tanya Roberts sadly passed away on January 4 at the age of 65. The circumstances surrounding her death were confusing to say the least. It was reported on January 3 that she had died after collapsing in her home on Christmas Eve. Her partner Lance O’Brien believed she had passed away, telling TMZ, “As I held her in her last moments, she opened her eyes.” Just one day later, her rep Mike Pingel told the outlet that Tanya was actually alive. Despite the seemingly happy news, the TV star died later that night. Tributes poured in from friends and former co-stars, like Topher Grace who tweeted, “I was so sad to hear that Tanya Roberts has passed away. She was a Bond girl, one of Charlie’s Angels, and truly a delightful person to work with. I had never acted before and, to be honest, a little nervous around her. But she couldn’t have been kinder. We’ll miss you Midge.”
Food Network judge Kerry Vincent sadly died on January 2 at the age of 75. The “Food Network Challenge” judge, and “Save My Bakery”, host was known as the “Queen of Cakes”. Her death was announced by the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, a nonprofit organization she co-founded. “It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of Kerry Vincent earlier this evening. Being a very private person when it came to all things not cake, she did not want to put her illness out there to the public,” the post read. “Unfortunately her fight has come to an end but she will no longer have any pain. She will be sorely missed by all who she has touched through the Sugar Arts as well as personally.”Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.