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Well Known Figures Who Passed In 2021

May 28, 2024
2021 was a tough year for many of us, and sadly the world has lost a lot of good people since the beginning of the year
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Hank Aaron, 87

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One of the biggest and oldest baseball superstars in the history of the sport, "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron was a constant figure in Major League Baseball for 21 seasons as a player for Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. He was the first player to break Babe Ruth's home run record in 33years in 1974, coincidentally setting a record himself that would remain untouched for the same period of time.After a lengthy and colorful career of 21 seasons, Hank Aaron retired but remained attached to the sport in a more managerial capacity, serving as an executive for the Milwaukee Braves. The baseball superstar passed away on January 22nd earlier this year of natural causes.

Charles Grodin, 86

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The lovable Charles Grodin sadly passed away on May 18, 2021. He was one of the most famous faces in American comedy and amused audiences with his deadpan sense of humor since the 1980s. He has appeared in quite a number of films, including famous 80s and 90's blockbusters such as The Great Muppet Caper, Midnight Run, and Beethoven.Aside from his on-screen performances, Grodin was also busy behind the scenes, writing many books and plays as well. He won an Emmy for his work in the 1977's Paul Simon Special.

Sarah Harding, 39

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The talented singer, most known for being a part of the group "Girls Aloud", started her career in 2002 after she broke the small screen in the British reality show Pop stars: The Rivals. The group's single "Sound of the Underground" became the 2002 Christmas number one in the UK, and they even won the Brit Award, in an unforgettable moment when Harding grabbed the prizes and yelled "it's about time!"The group disbanded in 2013, and Harding went on to appear in several soap operas and independent films before being diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2020. The illness already spread to Harding's entire body at that stage, and on October 5th, 2021, Harding passed away.

James Michael Tyler, 59

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Before James Michael Tyler won the hearts of millions playing the role of Gunther in NBSs hit comedy Friends, he actually worked behind the camera, starting out as a production assistant and assistant film editor. He was also an amateur musician and was a public advocate for cancer awareness. He also made appearances in small roles in numerous films.The actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years back, which ended up being the cause of his death earlier this year on October 24th. Though his legacy isn't huge, he will still be mourned by many who enjoyed his antics on TV.

Ed Asner, 91

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Michael Tullberg/GettyImages

While most widely known for his role as Carl in Pixar's classic Up to modern audiences, Ed Asner has been around for a long time on TV. Asner won an Emmy award for his superb performance as Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Asner also had roles in films and starred along with some of the biggest Hollywood stars of his time such as John Wayne. Asner also took an active interest in politics and charity work. The actor died on August 29th earlier this year, though the cause of death hasn't been made public.

Christopher Plummer, 91

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Frederick M. Brown/GettyImages

Christopher Plummer rose to prominence as a stage actor, eventually making his way to the big screen. The illustrious actor went on to receive two Tony and Emmy awards appearing in 118 films, 17 stage plays, and 71 TV shows. His most notable film appearance before his death was in 2019s Knives Out.The extraordinary actor made his mark in 1965's The Sound of Music, playing the role of Captain Von Trapp. He published his own memoir in 2008 and was a patron at the Theatre Museum in Canada. The actor died at his own home on February 5th this year after being bedridden for a couple of weeks after receiving a blow to the head.

Larry King, 87

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CNNs legendary Larry King needs no introduction, being an international celebrity long before the internet even became a thing. The veteran TV and radio host had been around the news media scene since the 1950s and gained a reputation for his insightful and detailed interviews with celebrities and prominent political figures. King gained international acclaim after starting to host the Larry King Show in 1985.The show was CNNs longest-running and most-watched show, many even eluding the network owes a lot of its tremendous success thanks to this one man's influential presence. The veteran broadcaster passed away on February 13th earlier this year after contractingCOVID-19.

Willie Garson, 57

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A staple face on TV for decades, Willie Garson is mostly recognized for his role as Stanford Blach in the hit TV show Sex and the City. He was also a regular face in other hit TV shows like White Collar and Stargate SG-1. His popularity as Blach led him to appear in the subsequent high-grossing Sex and the City movies as well. Garson was also a veteran film actor, appearing in over 55 movies in the span of his career. The actor died on September 21st earlier year after suffering from pancreatic cancer for a number of years.

DMX, 50

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One of the few hip-hop artists whose career took off in the 90s in the early heydays of hip-hop, DMXs death hit us hard. Born Earl Simmons, the prolific artist has a large body of work in his musical career with Grammy-nominated tracks like Get at Me Dog, Belly, andX Gon' Give It to Ya.The actor also made a career in acting and also authored his own autobiography E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. The rapper also got into a lot of trouble, getting into feuds with fellow rappers. DMX died on April 9th, a few weeks after suffering a cocaine-induced heart attack.

Norm Macdonald, 61

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One of the few comedians capable of delivering the raunchiest joke with a straight face, Norm MacDonald was another of Americas prodigal stand-up comedians. His jokes were so off the script that at one point he was taken off the SNL show as its anchor after hosting the show for three years. Macdonald demonstrated his comedy chops not only through his standup comedy routines but in movie and TV roles as well such as Dirty Work, Dr. Dolittle, Billy Maddison, and more. The veteran comedian died on September 14th earlier this year after a prolonged and private battle with cancer.

Charlie Watts, 80

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The legendary Charlie Watts needs no introduction to anyone who has had even a passing interest in music in the last 60 years. The drummer for Rolling Stones was the most level-headed of the bunch and probably was the main reason the band could stay together despite all the crazy antics and shenanigans of the other members. Watts had a lifetime commitment to music and actively played in concerts until 2019. Often referred to as one of the most skilled drummers of all time, Watts demise on August 24th earlier this year was a heavy blow to music fans all over the world listening toRolling Stones for decades.

Dustin Diamond, 44

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Jeffrey Phelps/GettyImages

Very few celebrities in this list have a colorful resume like Dustin Diamond who, aside from being a part-time actor also worked as a director, part-time wrestler, director, and musician. But he was best known in pop culture for his role as Samuel "Screech" Powers in the hitTV show Saved by the Bell. After the show ended in 2000, the actor took up stand-up comedy, finding success.Unfortunately, the actor was diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer known as carcinoma, which affects the lungs, a couple of weeks before his death on February 1st earlier this year.

Ned Beatty, 83

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Stephen Shugerman/GettyImages

Starting his acting career in the early 70s, Ned Beatty appeared in a staggering 160 films over a span of more than 50 years. The veteran actor also spent a considerable amount of time on TV as well, with roles dating back to the beginning of his film and acting career.Beatty made his debut in the 1972 film Deliverance and is probably best known to modern audiences for his voice work for Lot so in Toy Story 3 as well as Tortoise John in the 2011s animated film Rango. The iconic actor passed away of natural causes onJune 13th.

Dean Stockwell, 85

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Vegas Report/GettyImages

An avid actor since his childhood, Dean Stockwell spent an entire lifetime in Hollywood, growing up acting with Hollywood legends like Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, and more. Stockwell dipped his toes in both movies and TV shows in his life, but stage acting always remained his constant passion. His most notable Broadway work was the play Compulsion, which went on to receive a film adaptation.The actor also appeared in two of the most iconic sci-fi properties on TV: David Lynch's Dune and the early 2000s reboot of Battlestar Galactica. Stockwell passed away peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on November 7th.

Michael Constantine, 94

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Donna Ward/GettyImages

Another old school actor who passed away earlier this year, Michael Constantine had a lengthy TV career of nearly five decades. He is probably best known for his role as Gus Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The actor also won an Emmy Award for his role asPrincipal Kaufman in ABCs Room 222.The actor was loved by friends, family, and colleagues alike. Constantine has also appeared in a lot of films, mostly playing supporting roles. The actor passed away from natural causes at the age of 94 on August 31st.

Sonny Chiba, 82

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David Livingston/GettyImages

The legendary Japanese actor Shinichi Sonny Chiba died on August 18th due to pneumonia. Famous for playing the lead roles in most of the 70s and 80s Japanese action blockbusters, Sonny Chiba redefined the genre internationally by dialing up the violence and gore levels in martial art movies that had been mostly bloodless, even most war movies.Chiba made his debut in the 1974 martial art classic Street Fighter and went on to star in other classics like Golgo 13, Yakuza Cop, and The Bullet Train. Even the Hollywood wild child director Quentin Tarantino was influenced by Chiba's movies, going on to cast him in his critically acclaimed cult classic Kill Bill.

Dusty Hill, 72

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Tim Mosenfelder/GettyImages

An integral part of the legendary rock band ZZ Top since its inception, Dusty Hill played a key role in setting the bands signature look of long beards and Stetson hats. Hill played the bass along with lead guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Drummond. The band was immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.Hill also made on-screen appearances in the movies Back to the Future III and Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme. This world-famous rockstar passed earlier this year on July 28th at his own home in Texas in his sleep. Hill inspired an entire generation of rock musicians, with millions of fans mourning his death.

Richard Donner, 91

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Frazer Harrison/GettyImages

While most of us enjoy movies and TV shows, we seldom appreciate the storytellers role in the success of these movies and shows unless it's an award ceremony. Richard Donner is often considered by many as the pioneer of modern Hollywood blockbusters, being responsible for beloved classics such as Superman, The Goonies, The Lethal Weapon series, Maverick, and more.This legendary director and father of Hollywood action blockbusters sadly passed away on July 5 earlier this year from heart failure, leaving behind a lasting legacy in modern film and television.

Halyna Hutchins, 42

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Fred Hayes/GettyImages

Unless youv'e been living under a rock or don't read the news, you should already know about the shooting incident in the film set of Rust which tragically claimed the life of up and rising cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The incident is still being investigated, but the fact remains that the film world lost a very talented cinematographer way too early.The Ukraine-born cinematographer helmed the cinematography of successful films in recent years such as Archenemy, Snowbound, Darlin, Blindfire, and The Mad Hatter. Hutchins was gravely wounded on set when a prop gun containing a life round was fired by Alec Baldwin. She shortly died from her wounds after the incident on October 21st.

Robert Downey Sr., 85

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Stephen Lovekin/GettyImages

The father of the extremely talented and beloved Robert Downey Jr, Robert Downey Sr was also an extremely talented actor of his time and the pioneer of experimental filmmaking in Hollywood. Appearing in blockbusters like The Twilight Zone, Matlock, To Live and Die in LA,Magnolia, and more, Robert Downey Sr made his directorial debut with the indie film Putney Swope. The veteran star acted in multiple movies, notably Hail, Caesar with his son, not unlike another iconic father-son duo Charlie and Martin Sheen. The actor died on July 7 earlier this year after battling Parkinsons disease for several years.

Helen McCrory, 52

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Jeff Spicer/GettyImages

The beautiful, vivacious, and evergreen Helen McCrory passed away suddenly and tragically earlier this year leaving millions of fans in tears. McRory had a highly successful and diverse film and TV, career starring in films like The Count of Monte Cristo, The Queen,Casanova, James Bonds Skyfall, the final three Harry Potter sequels, and more.In the last few years, she became widely popular playing the role of Polly Gray in the hit TV show Peaky Blinders. The actress had been struggling with cancer for quite a while and finally succumbed to it on April 6th earlier this year.

Jessica Walter, 80

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Santiago Felipe/GettyImages

Best known to modern audiences thanks to her appearances and voice work in hit TV shows Archer and Arrested Development, Jessica Walter had been around the film and TV industry for several decades. Her breakout role was in the 1971 thriller PlayMisty for Me in which she starred opposite Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood.The veteran actress had dominated the TV scene since her first appearance in the 1960 show Diagnosis: Unknown, appearing in hit TV shows like For the People, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Hawai Five-O, and more. Walter died of natural causes earlier this year onMarch 24th.

Graeme Edge, 80

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Kevin Winter/GettyImages

Drummer and last surviving member of classic rock band The Moody Blues, Graeme Edge was also the last of the original surviving member of the band. Starting out his musical career in 1964, Edge made his bones in the bands most iconic and popular songs like Nightsin White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon.The band was recently disbanded after Edges death by Justin Hayward, the bands last frontrunner. Before disbanding, Hayward posted on the bands' website, "He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly while creating an atmosphere and setting that the music would never haveachieved without his words." The veteran musician died o November 11 earlier this month due to metastatic cancer.

Cloris Leachman, 94

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Kevin Winter/GettyImages

One of the most versatile actresses of her time, Cloris Leachman was particularly well-known for her comedic prowess. She made consistent appearances in both Hollywood and comedy TV shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Malcolm and the Middle. Her films appearances are numerous a well, starring in blockbusters like High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, and The Last Picture Show.The actress went on to win Emmy awards in her lengthy and illustrious career which spanned over seven decades. The actress died in her residence in California on January 27th earlier this year. The cause of her death was determined to have been a stroke.

Larry Flynt, 78

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One of the oldest and most revered names in the American publishing industry, Larry Flynt is a name synonymous with Hugh Hefner for starting the Hustler magazine in 1974. He was a champion of the First Amendment, fighting numerous and extensive court battles to remove regulations put on the adult industry.Unfortunately, his vocal advocacy for the First Amendment made him the target of extremists. On a fateful day in 1978, Flynt was gunned down while walking out of a courtroom in Georgia. Though he survived, he was left paralyzed for the rest of his life. The publisher died onFebruary 10th from heart failure.

Peter Scolari, 66

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Emma McIntyre/GettyImages

With a career spanning several decades, Peter Scolari was known for playing memorable characters on the TV screen starting from the 1980s when he starred opposite Tom Hanks in the popular TV show Bosom Buddies. Scolari went on to star in other critically acclaimed TVshows like Girls, Newhart, The Twilight Zone, Fallen Angels, and more as well as voice in popular cartoons.The veteran actor was also a mainstay in Broadway, appearing in famous plays such as Wicked, Sly Fox, Hairspray, and Lucky Guy. The actor died on October 22nd earlier this year after suffering from prolonged leukemia.

Hal Holbrook, 95

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Jason Kempin/GettyImages

Five-time Emmy award-winning actor Hal Halbrook was a beloved face in the TVs and movies for decades. He was also a veteran stage actor, making his debut in 1954 with the hit one-man show Mark Twain Tonight. In seven decades, Halbrook appeared in countless films, plays, and TV shows.Best known for his roles in classics such as Wall Street, The Firm, All the Presidents Men, and Into the Wild (for which he got an Oscar nomination), Halbrook played a wide range of nuanced roles over the years, solidifying his reputation. The actor sadly passed away on January 23rd.

Greg "Shock G" Jacobs, 57

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Earl Gibson III/GettyImages

Back when hip-hop was still trying to find its identity, Greg Shock G Jacobs was already moving crowds with his rhythm and lyrics. The veteran hip-hop artist was part of the original hip-hop group Digital Underground, making his mark in the scene with his hit track TheHumpty Dance. Few are aware of the fact that Shock G is also the mentor of the legendary Tupac Shakur, introducing the promising young rapper to the professional hip-hop scene. Unfortunately, his addiction to drugs led to his demise when he was found dead in a hotel room in Florida onApril 22nd this year; his cause of death was confirmed as an accidental overdose.

Yaphet Kotto, 81

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Suzi Pratt/GettyImages

Though virtually unknown to modern film and TV audiences, Yaphet Kotto was one of the top supporting actors of the 70s and 80s. He first gained prominence after playing Mr. Big in the James Bond flick Live and Let Die. Some of his other memorable performances include the role of Parker in the genre-defining sci-fi classic Alien and as FBI agent Mosley in the action-comedy Midnight Run. Kottos hulking physique and serious demeanor made him a perfect fit for many roles that required both gravitas and an imposing physical presence. The actor spent his final days in Manila, in the Philippines where he reportedly died on March 15th.

Art LaFleur, 78

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Kevin Winter/GettyImages

Art LeFleur was one of those faces that most of us immediately recognize but cant put a name on. The veteran actor had 170 film and TV show appearances over his career. But the kind face could equally harden up, giving him a thuggish look and making him a good fit for tough-guy roles as well.Art was a staple face in the 80s TV show scene, making appearances in popular TV shows like The Incredible Hulk, The A-Team, and Hill Street Blues. He also appeared in many movies, his standout performance being 1993s The Sandlot. In his later years, the actor was afflicted with Parkinsons, to which he succumbed on November 17th.

Peter Aykroyd, 66

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SNL Twitter

One of the most beloved Canadian celebrities of all time, Peter Akroyd has been a household TV name since 1979 after joining the cast of Saturday Night Live. (don't get confused with his brother Dan Aykroyd) He was also a writer for the show, going on to be nominated for the Emmy Award with the rest of the SNL crew the following year. Akroyd also voiced Jake and Elwood Blues in the late 90s cartoon The Blues Brothers: Animated Series.Mostly known for his time in SNL, Akroyd was also a minor figure in the Hollywood scene, playing small roles in films like 1983s Dr. Detroit and 1987s Dragnet. This prolific comedian and actor died on November 6th ; he had had an untreated hernia that led to septicimia.

Tommy Lasorda, 94

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Ron Vesely/GettyImages

Another baseball legend who died this year was Los Angeles Dodgers Tommy Lasorda, who died in his 90s after suffering a cardiac arrest on January 17th. This talented baseball player led the Dodgers to win two World Series championships, leaving a lasting legacy. His colorful personality also led to many TV and public appearances as well, always falling back to his cheerful and positive demeanor.His overwhelming positivity was something everyone around him took note of, including many of his teammates over his long and colorful career.

Prince Philip, 99

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WPA Pool/GettyImages

The spouse to one of the most prominent figures of the last and current century, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh went by many royal monikers in his lifetime. Born in Greece, Prince Philip hailed from Greek and Danish royal lineage. He got the title Duke of Edinburgh after marrying the current monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth II.The Prince lived by his spouses side for a very long time, having been blessed enough to see his grandchildren grow up and get married. When he died on April 9th earlier this year in Buckingham Palace, he set the record as the longest living royal consort inBritish history.

Gregg Leakes, 66

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Jason Kempin/GettyImages

A popular crowd favorite of the hit reality TV show The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Gregg Leakes was a long-time cast member whose marriage and eventual divorce with his wife NeNe in 2011 was documented through the show for 11 years. The couple eventually got back together two years later, opting to keep their married life away from cameras ever since shooting a special limited series.The reality star passed away after battling colon cancer for a couple of short years after being diagnosed in 2018. He passed away on September 1st earlier this year, leaving friends and family mourning for his loss.

Rush Limbaugh, 70

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Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Often considered the spearhead of conservative political views, legendary radio host Rush Limbaugh had been the voice of Republican voters since the 80s. Over the years he gained a reputation as a controversial figure.Many Americans tuned in to his TV show in the mid-nineties which also helped boost his popularity. Limbaugh received many accolades in his lifetime, his death leaving an empty space in conservative media voice in current-day media. Limbaugh died on February 17 earlier this year after suffering from lung cancer along with other physical complications.

Jackie Mason, 93

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Jennifer Lourie/GettyImages

Jacky Mason was a pop culture darling due to many of his stand-out politically incorrect comedy routines that mix Jewish themes. He had been a legendary name in the stand-up comedy scene for decades, few being able to match his quick wit and on-stage presence. Mason also made regular appearances on late-night TV shows in the 80s.Few of his fans know that before turning into one of the most prolific American standup comedians Jackie Mason was actually a practicing rabbi. The comedian died on July 24th earlier this year after being admitted to Mt. Sinai hospital.

Roger Michell, 65

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Emma McIntyre/GettyImages

Though his body of work might not be as large as some other TV and movie celebrities on this list, Roger Michell is still widely known for some of the most ground-breaking narrative and character-driven indie films such as Changing Lanes, Venus, Morning Glory,and more. The South African-born director came into the spotlight after directing the 1999 romantic hit Notting Hill.Throughout his career, Michell worked and directed some of the biggest names in Hollywood such as Ben Affleck, Samuel L Jackson, Harrison Ford, Rachel Weisz, and more. The prolific director died earlier this year on September 22nd.

Jay Pickett, 60

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Vince Bucci/Newsmakers

Jay Pickett had been a familiar face in Hollywood since the 80s, with many of his fans back in the day hoping he would jump to international stardom. The actor trained hard at UCLA, making his entry into the media scene by starring in guest roles in popular TV shows like ChinaBeach, Perry Mason, and Matlock. Matlocks' career never took off, but he still found himself a steady fandom in his TV appearance, especially Detective David Harper in General Hospital, and its spinoff Port Charles. The actor suddenly died of a suspected heart attack on August 2nd while preparing to shoot a movie scene.

Tanya Roberts, 65

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Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The vivacious and charming Tanya Roberts was probably one of the very few Bond girls who had an actual acting career. Most well-known for her appearance as the Bond Girl for 1985's Bond Film A View to Kill, she also starred in the 1980s TV show CharliesAngels as well as onThat 70s Show.Roberts was also a popular choice in 80s B-movies, appearing in twenty of them over the course of her career. This talented actress died on January 4th after complications arose from a urinary tract infection which she was suffering from for a long time.

Joseph Siravo, 66

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Jamie McCarthy/GettyImages

A legend in the theater scene for his work in plays like Oslo and The Light in the Pizza, Joseph Siravo also surprisingly found himself being courted for tough roles in Hollywood films, making his debut in Carlitos Way, which also starred the legendary Al Pacino. On TV, he was best known for playing Tony Sopranos father in the iconic TV show The Sopranos. Siravo ultimately didn't find much success in films and mostly stuck to theater roles in his later years. He died from colon cancer on April 11th this year per his agent.

Stephen Sondheim, 91

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Roy Rochlin/GettyImages

One of the greatest talents to ever grace Broadway, Stephen Sondheim was a modern-day maestro who will be remembered for generations to come. This talented composer first came into the spotlight after his runaway Broadway hits West Side Story and Gypsy in the late 1950s. His other popular works include Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Assassins.Sondheim also won an Academy Award for the cult classic 1991 film Dick Tracy and a Grammy award for Send in the Clowns in 1975. This great Broadway talent died on November 26th at his own residence.

Phil Spector, 81

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One of the most famous music producers of the last century, Phil Spector worked with some of the biggest musical talents of his time including The Beatles, George Harrison, Tina Turner, The Ramones, and more. However, the talented music producer was also one of the mostprivate people in the rock and roll industry.Ever since the 80s, Spector mostly led a secluded life plagued with drug usage and erratic behavior, remaining isolated until he was charged with the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. At the time of his death, he was imprisoned in the California state prison. He diedon January 16th after contracting COVID-19 in prison.

Dennis "Dee Tee" Thomas, 70

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Mychal Watts/GettyImages

Considered one of the pioneers of modern funk and jazz, Dennis Dee Tee Thomas held a legendary status in modern American music. In 1964 he formed the band Kool & the Gang with his friends, going on to make legendary tracks such as Jungle Boogey, HollywoodSwinging, and more.The groups unique arrangement of funk and jazz gave them their iconic and signature sound enhanced by Thomas's expert saxophone beats. He also mastered the flute and percussion's as well. This legendary musician passed away on August 7th in his New Jersey home in his sleep.

Cicely Tyson, 96

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Charley Gallay/GettyImages

Cicely Tyson established herself as one of the most talented actresses in a time when Hollywood wasn't receptive to black stars leading films and TV shows. The actress made her bones through stage acting, going on to star in Hollywood classics such as Sounder and Howto Get Away With Murder. The actress was a popular face on both TV and the stage during her acting career.While she has appeared in films, there aren't many of them as she preferred and felt more comfortable performing for the small screen and stage. Tyson died on January 28th earlier this year of natural causes.

Melvin Van Peebles, 89

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Paul Warner/GettyImages

Often referred to as The Godfather of Black Cinema, Melvin Van Peebles was the first Hollywood director of African-American descent who proved that a major studio movie leading a black star could be financially successful. He pioneered the Blaxploitation genre with Shaft, Sweetbacks Badasssss Song, and more.Aside from a prolific career in directing films and making space in Hollywood for black talents to thrive, Van Peebles was also an avid novelist and playwright, publishing 13 books over his lifetime. This esteemed multi talented director breathed his last on September21st.

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