Artists and entertainers we lost in 2016
Tributes lie beneath a mural of British singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C in Brixton, south London, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Matt Dunham / AP Photo)
Published Monday, December 19, 2016 7:00AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 28, 2016 9:55AM EST
“Worst year ever” was a common refrain on social media this past year, as Canadians learned that some of their favourite actors, musicians and comedians had died.
Here’s a list of artists and entertainers we lost in 2016.
- David Bowie, the gender-bending English singer-songwriter who rocketed to success with 1972’s "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” died of liver cancer in January at age 69, just days after releasing the album “Blackstar.”
- Leonard Cohen, the Montreal writer, poet and singer known for "Hallelujah," "Show Me the Place,” and "The Darkness" among many others, died in November at age 82, after a experiencing a fall.
- Carrie Fisher, an actress and author who gained film-icon status playing Princess Leia in "Star Wars," died in December, days after suffering a medical emergency aboard an airline flight. She was 60.
- Gene Wilder, screenwriter, author and comedic actor known for his roles in “The Producers” and “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” died in August, at age 83, of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
- Prince, the singer-songwriter behind "Purple Rain,” "Little Red Corvette" and “1999,” died at age 57 in his suburban Minneapolis home in April. The cause of death was an overdose of fentanyl.
- George Michael, a British pop singer who rose to fame in the 1980s as a member of the duo Wham! before embarking on a legendary solo career died at his property in England on Dec. 25. He was 53.
- Alan Thicke, best-known for his role in 1980s sitcom "Growing Pains" and for composing of the theme songs for "The Wheel of Fortune," The Facts of Life" and "Diff'rent Strokes," died in December from a heart attack. He was 69.
- Bobby Curtola, the 1960s teen idol best known for the singles “Fortune Teller” and “Aladdin,” died in June at the age of 73.
- Bill Cunningham, fashion photographer for The New York Times and subject of the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York,” died in June after suffering a stroke. He was 87.
- Merle Haggard, the country singer-songwriter behind "Okie from Muskogee" and "The Fightin' Side of Me," died in April at age 79 of complications from pneumonia.
- Sir George Martin, the record producer, composer, arranger and engineer sometimes called the “fifth Beatle,” died in March at age 90.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor, the jet-setting Hungarian actress who was best-known for her glamorous lifestyle and multiple marriages, died in December of a heart attack at the age of 99.
- Sharon Jones, the powerhouse voice of the retro-soul band the Dap-Kings, died of cancer in November at the age of 60.
- Toots Thielemans, the jazz harmonica player who jammed with likes of Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis, died in August after a fall. He was 94.
- Alexis Arquette, sister of David and Patricia, who acted in films like “The Wedding Singer,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Lords of Dogtown,” died at age 47 in September of cardiac arrest.
- Annie Pootoogook, the Inuit artist from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, was found dead in Ottawa’s Rideau River in September. She was 47. The death is being treated as suspicious.
- W. P. Kinsella, author of the book “Shoeless Joe,” which was adapted into the blockbuster film "Field of Dreams," had a doctor-assisted death in September at age 81.
- Phife Dawg, the American rapper born Malik Taylor and best known for his work with A Tribe Called Quest, died in March at age 45 of complications from diabetes.
- Kenny Baker, the 3-foot-8 actor who played R2-D2 in the "Star Wars" films, died of a chronic condition in August. He was 81.
- Vanity, the Niagara Falls, Ont., singer and actress born as Denise Mathews, died from renal failure in February at age 57.
- Harper Lee, the American author who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” died in February at age 89, just months after releasing her second novel “Go Set a Watchman.”
- Janet Wright, the Saskatchewan actress most famous for playing Brent Butt’s mother on the CTV series “Corner Gas,” died in November at age 71.
- René Angélil, music producer and husband of Celine Dion, received a state funeral from Quebec after dying of throat cancer in January at age 73.
- Glenn Frey, The Eagles co-founder and lead guitarist, died in January of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. He was 67.
- Abe Vigoda, best known for his supporting role in "The Godfather," died “of old age” in January at age 94.
- Garry Shandling, the comedian and actor created and starred in the TV series “The Larry Sanders Show,” playing an egomaniacal late-night TV host. He died in March of a blood clot in his lungs. He was 66.
- Doris Roberts, who won four Emmy Awards for her role as the meddling mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” died in April at age 90.
- Alan Rickman, the English actor who played the villain in everything from “Die Hard” to “Harry Potter,” passed away from pancreatic cancer in January at age 69.
- Youree Dell Harris, who played the Jamaican psychic Miss Cleo in infomercials for more than 15 years, died in July of metastatic colon cancer. She was 53.
- Frank Sinatra, Jr., the singer and actor who grew up in the limelight thanks to his famous father, and was once held ransom by kidnappers, died in March from cardiac arrest. He was 72.
- Christina Grimmie, the singer-songwriter made famous by TV show “The Voice,” was shot dead as she signed autographs in Orlando at age 22.
- Anton Yelchin, known for his portrayal of Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, died of blunt traumatic asphyxia after his own vehicle rolled down his driveway and crushed him. He was 27.
- Vilmos Zsigmond, the Hungarian-born cinematographer who won an Oscar for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” died in January at 85.
- Umberto Eco, the Italian author and semiotician who wrote "The Name of the Rose," later made into a movie starring Sean Connery, died in February at 84
- Morley Safer, the Toronto-born journalist who reported for "60 Minutes" for 46 years -- the longest-ever run on prime-time network TV -- died in May, just months after announcing his retirement. He was 84.
- Florence Henderson, who played the sassy matriarch Carol in “The Brady Bunch,” died in November at 82 from heart failure.
- Grant Tinker, the TV hitmaker behind "Rhoda," "The Bob Newhart Show" and the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which starred his wife, died in November at age 90.
- Pete Burns, the “Dead or Alive” singer who belted out "You Spin Me Round" and appeared on reality TV shows like Celebrity Wife Swap, died after suffering a heart attack in October at age 57.
- Greg Lake, the progressive rock pioneer and co-founder of the bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer died of cancer at the age of 69 in December.
- Keith Emerson, the co-founder and keyboardist of the seminal 1970s progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which recorded six platinum-selling albums, died by suicide in March at the age of 71.
- John Berry, was one of the founding members of the Beastie Boys and played guitar on the band’s 1982 debut EP, “Polly Wog Stew.” Berry left the group before it found major commercial success. He died at the age of 52 in May, following a long battle with frontotemporal dementia.
- Maurice White, the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, which sold more than 90 million albums and was responsible for such hits as, “September,” “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland,” died in Los Angeles, Calif., at the age of 74 in February.
- Paul Kantner, the guitarist, songwriter and founding member of the 1960s band Jefferson Airplane, and the eventual leader of the group Jefferson Starship in the 1970s, died at the age of 74 in January.
- Garry Marshall, the writer and director best known for the TV comedies “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” as well as the hit films “Pretty Woman” and “Runaway Bride” died at the age of 81 in July.
- Robert Vaughn, the suave Oscar-nominated actor who played the superspy Napoleon Solo in the hit TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” died in November at the age of 83 following a brief battle with acute leukemia.