In 2021 we saw the deaths of many rich and famous. No matter how much wealth you have or how famous and powerful you are, death waits for no one. Below is just a summary of some of the stars and celebrities we lost this year.
Actress and model Tanya Roberts — known for her roles as Midge in “That ’70s Show” and a Bond Girl in 1985’s “A View to Kill” — died on Jan. 4, one day after her publicist mistakenly announced her death prematurely. The 65-year-old passed peacefully at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, where she’d been hospitalized since Christmas Eve after collapsing at her home following a hike.(picture above)
Dustin Diamond, age 44
Diamond was known best for playing the bumbling comic relief Samuel “Screech” Powers in the beloved 1990s TV series “Saved by the Bell.”
“We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma,” Diamond’s representative said in a statement provided to Insider.
“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system,” the statement continued. “The only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
Yaphet Kotto, age 81
The veteran character actor was known best for playing Bond villain Mr. Big in 1973’s James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and Parker in the sci-fi classic “Alien.”
Known for his physically imposing characters, Kotto was a fixture in movie and TV for decades, including roles on the series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and FBI agent Mosely in the beloved comedy “Midnight Run” opposite Robert De Niro. His wife, Thessa Sinahon, announced Kotto’s passing in a Facebook post. It was confirmed by Kotto’s agent, Ryan Goldhar, The New York Times reported.
Kotto died on March 15 near Manila in the Philippines. No cause of death was given.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh age 99
Philip died of “old age” on the morning of 9 April 2021 at Windsor Castle, aged 99, two months before his 100th birthday. He was the longest-serving royal consort in world history. The Queen, who was reportedly at her husband’s bedside when he died, privately described his death as “having left a huge void in her life”
The palace said Philip died peacefully, which was confirmed by Philip’s daughter-in-law, the Countess of Wessex, who told the press, it was “so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went.” His death led to the commencement of Operation Forth Bridge, the plan for publicly announcing his death and organising his funeral The funeral took place on 17 April 2021 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and he was interred in the Royal Vault inside St George’s.The Duke’s body is expected to be moved and interred in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George’s, after the death of the Queen.
Charles Grodin, age 86
A master at deadpan humor, Charles Grodin became a comedy fixture in the 1980s and 1990s for roles in “The Great Muppet Caper,” “Midnight Run,” and “Beethoven.” Grodin was also known for writing a number of plays and books. He earned an Emmy for being one of the writers on the 1977 “Paul Simon Special.”
In the 1990s, he showed a different side of his talents, talk show host, when he did “The Charles Grodin Show” on CNBC.
Johnny Solinger,age 55
Former Skid Row singer Johnny Solinger reportedly died on June 26 at the age of 55. The news came about a month after he told fans that he’d been diagnosed with liver failure, according to reports.
The band, which Solinger was a part of from 1999 to 2015, posted a tribute to Solinger that read in part, “We are saddened to hear the news of our brother Johnny Solinger. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans.”
Richard Donner, age 91
One of the early architects of the Hollywood blockbuster, director Richard Donner’s filmography is a legendary one.
From the original “Superman” in 1978 starring Christopher Reeve to “The Goonies” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, Donner’s storytelling has touched generations.
Then there are the non-franchises that are also memorable: horror classic “The Omen,” the Bill Murray-starrer “Scrooged,” and the hit Western “Maverick.”
And before movies, Donner made his mark in television, having directed the iconic “Twilight Zone” episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which featured William Shatner convinced a monster is on the wing of the airplane.
Donner died on July 5, was confirmed to Deadline by his wife and business manager Lauren Schuler Donner No cause of death has been revealed.
Charlie Watts, age
Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones, died at age 80 on Aug. 24. A statement from his spokesperson, posted to the band’s social media accounts, said Watts “passed away peacefully in a London hospital,” and was “surrounded by his family.”
While he is thought to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all time, and is the only member besides Mick Jagger and Ketih Richards to have credits on every studio album, Watts managed to keep his other interests alive throughout his long career.
Having gone to art school, and became a graphic designer, he helped compose the Between the Buttons record sleeve, and would work with Jagger on conceiving elaborate staging for their tours. Watts also had a jazz quintet on the side, and organized tributes to Charlie Parker.
Norm Macdonald age 61.
Comedian and “Saturday Night Live” star Norm Macdonald died after a private nine-year battle with cancer in September. He was 61.
He was most proud of his comedy,” his friend Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was also his longtime producing partner, said. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered.”
James Michael Tyler, age 59
James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends, died on October 24. He was 59.
His manager confirmed to the BBC that Tyler died on Sunday, peacefully at his home. “If you met him once you made a friend for life,” a statement from his manager read. “[He] is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, the love of his life.” In June, Tyler revealed he was battling stage 4 prostate cancer. “Wanting to help as many people as possible, he bravely shared his story and became a campaigner for those with a prostate to get a… blood test as early as 40-years-old,” his manager said, per the BBC. Tyler was well-known for his role as Gunther, the Central Perk coffee shop manager, who had an unrequited crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) throughout the show’s run. While best known for Friends, his other onscreen credits include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Showtime’s Episodes, and Scrubs.
Graeme Edge, age 80.
Edge was the drummer and last original member of the legendary rock band The Moody Blues.
The band, which was formed in 1964, had a revolutionary sound which has stood the test of time thanks to iconic songs like “Nights in White Satan” and “Tuesday Afternoon.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
“It’s a very sad day. Graeme’s sound and personality [are] present in everything we did together and thankfully that will live on,” the band’s current lead singer and guitarist, Justin Hayward, wrote on the band’s website.
“In the late 1960′s we became the group that Graeme always wanted it to be, and he was called upon to be a poet as well as a drummer,” Hayward continued. “He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly, while creating an atmosphere and setting that the music would never have achieved without his words.”
Edge died on November 11, no cause was given.
Michael Nesmith, age 78
The guitarist for the iconic 1960s pop band The Monkees, Nesmith was recognizable for being the tallest of the foursome and often sporting a wool cap.
The band was created at the height of The Beatles’ popularity and became superstars thanks to being on the hit NBC series “The Monkees” in which Nesmith, along with bandmates Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz did silly comedy while performing chart-topping songs.
Song like “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” and “Daydream Beliver” made Nesmith and the group the first big American boy band.
Over his career, Nesmith won a Grammy and was an executive producer behind the 1984 cult classic movie “Repo Man.”
Nesmith died of natural causes on December 10.
“With infinite love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” his family said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “We ask that you respect our privacy at this time and we thank you for the love and light that all of you have shown him and us.”