By Vikki Damon
The year 2016 has come and gone – and it took many beloved celebrities with it. Many famous men and women passed away last year, and each one deserves to be remembered.
The first notable death of the year was on January 10th, when famous musician David Bowie died at age 69 because of liver cancer. He was a singer known for hits such as; “Space Oddity”, “Ashes to Ashes”, and “Starman”. Bowie was soon followed by actor Alan Rickman. He was known for playing the character of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movie series. He passed away on January 14th at the age of 69 as a result of pancreatic cancer.
On March 6th, at age 94, former First Lady Nancy Reagan died due to of heart failure. She was the wife of President Ronald Reagan. She was known as a style icon during her years in the White House and was an advocate for drug prevention during the 1980s.
The month of April took two important contributors to the music world. The first was Merle Haggard, a country superstar who died at age 79 on April 6th. His most famous songs included “Okie from Muskogee”, “Fightin’ Side of Me”, and “Branded Man”. He was honored in 2010 with a Kennedy Center Honor for his contributions to music. Second, Rock star Prince died of a fentanyl overdose, at age 57 on April 21st. The “Purple Rain” singer is now considered a legend; Rolling Stone called him “one of the most influential artists of the rock and roll era.”
One of the most talked-about demises of 2016 was that of boxer Muhammad Ali on June 3rd. He was 74 years old and died of septic shock, a result of his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He fought for civil rights in the 1960s and was widely known for his quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” On August 29th, Gene Wilder passed on at the age of 83. He was known for his role as Willy Wonka in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
September 10th claimed the life of Arnold Palmer, who was a well-known professional golfer in the 1950s and 60s. He passed away at age 87. Even if you are not familiar with the man, you probably are familiar with the drink: the Arnold Palmer – a mix of lemonade and sweet tea. A week later, on September 17th, actress Charmian Carr died. She was most famous for her role as Liesl in the 1965 movie The Sound of Music.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2016 actress Florence Henderson died. She garnered national fame in the 1970s for her celebrated role as Mrs. Brady on the classic TV show The Brady Bunch. The following day, Fidel Castro’s demise made worldwide headlines. The 90-year-old ex-president of Cuba died in his home. The communist leader was president of Cuba for 32 years before resigning in 2008.
December took more celebrity lives than any month preceding it. The first death of December was on December 8th, when John Glenn died. He was the first American to be put into space and orbit the Earth. He passed away at age 95, and was nationally mourned and remembered for his trailblazing journey into space. On December 13th, actor Alan Thicke died. He was known for playing Mr. Seaver on the popular 80s and 90s sitcom Growing Pains. Early on Christmas morning, 80s pop icon George Michael died at age 53 of congestive heart failure. He sang some of the biggest hit songs of the 1980s, including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Last Christmas”, and “Careless Whisper”. Two days later, actress Carrie Fisher suffered from cardiac arrest and died at age 60. She gained international fame for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies. The very next day, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died from a stroke at age 84. Reynolds was most famous for her role as Kathy in the classic 1952 movie Singin’ in the Rain. Her last words reportedly were, “I want to be where Carrie is.”
So many icons and historical figures were lost, and many deaths were heartbreaking to hear about when they happened. Keep these people in memory, but remember that 2017 is a brand-new year with a lot of hope and promise. Contrary to what most people think, 2016 does not hold the record for the most deaths of famous people. According to TV Guide, 2016 has taken the least famous lives in the last six years. 2013 saw almost 140 famous deaths, and 2015 saw roughly 100. 2016 only lost about 60 noteworthy people’s lives.