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Rest in peace to these Hollywood legends. The celebrity deaths of 2021 include Larry King, Bond Girl Tanya Roberts and other recently passed stars we’ve lost.
It’s no secret that 2020 wasn’t the start to the decade that the world hoped for. From the current health situation to the loss of stars like Kobe Bryant, Naya Rivera and Chadwick Boseman, there were many reasons to mourn in 2020. “Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court. The greatest of all time, a writer, an Oscar winner and the Black Mamba. But to me he was KobKob, my Boo-Boo, my Bae-Boo, my papi chulo. I was his VeBe, his principessa, his reina, Queen Mama,” Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, said at his memorial in February 2020 after he and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in California.
In a statement on Boseman’s Instagram in August 2020, the Marvel star’s family confirmed that he died after a four-year battle with colon cancer. “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” his family wrote. “Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.”
As expected of all things in life, 2021 also will see the loss of many celebrities. Ahead are the celebrity deaths of 2021 so far that we’ll be remembering until the end of time.
Joan Didion, a writer and journalist, died on December 23, 2021 of complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to The New York Times. She was 87 years old. “We are deeply saddened to report that Joan Didion died earlier this morning at her home in New York due to complications from Parkinson’s disease,” Knopf Publishing said in a statement. Didion is an American author and journalist who has worked for publications like Vogue and written books like 1968’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1979’s The White Album, and 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which won a National Book Award for nonfiction writing. In 1964, Didion married novelist John Gregory Dunne. The two share a daughter named Quintana Roo.
James Michael Tyler
James Michael Tyler, who famously played Gunther on Friends, passed away on Sunday, October 24 at the age of 59 following a battle with prostate cancer, People confirmed. Tyler revealed his stage-four diagnosis in June 2021 in an interview with TODAY, noting at the time that he had secretly started treatment three years ago in 2018. “The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh “Friend”), from the hit series Friends, but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband,” read a statement from his representative, Toni Benson. “Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life.”
Willie Garson, an actor best known for his role as Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City, died on September 21, 2021, surrounded by family, People confirmed. He was 57. TMZ reported that Garson died after a battle with cancer. Garson, who also starred in White Collar, played Stanford in Sex and the City for all six seasons from 1998 to 2004. He’s also set to appear in the show’s reboot, And Just Like That. Bosch star Titus Welliver was one of the first to break the news of Garson’s death. “There are no words. I love you dear brother. We are fewer,” Welliver tweeted, alongside a photo of Garson.
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams, an a five-time Emmy-nominated actor who has starred in shows like The Wire and Lovecraft Country, was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment at 2 p.m. ET on September 6, 2021, a police source told People. He was 54. Williams’ rep confirmed the death to People at the time. “It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” the rep said. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
Another police source told People that the cause of death is suspected to be an overdose from heroine laced with fentanyl. The New York Post also reported that drug paraphernalia was also found in the apartment. In an interview with The New York Times in 2017, Williams opened up about his struggle with addiction. “Addiction doesn’t go away,” he said. “It’s an everyday struggle for me, but I’m fighting.”
After his death, many of Williams’ former co-stars took to their social media to pay tribute to the late actor. “The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” Wendell Pierce, who co-starred with Williams on The Wire, tweeted “A immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth.”
New York rapper and actor Earl “DMX” Simmons died on April 9, 2021, at the age of 50 nearly one week after suffering a heart attack, his family confirmed in a statement. “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,” they wrote at the time.
Their statement continues: “Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him. Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever. We appreciate all of the love and support during this incredibly difficult time. Please respect our privacy as we grieve the loss of our brother, father, uncle and the man the world knew as DMX. We will share information about his memorial service once details are finalized.”
White Plains Hospital, where DMX passed, added in an additional note that the hospital “extends its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Simmons, as well as his friends and legions of fans who expressed their unwavering support during this difficult time. Earl Simmons passed away peacefully with family present after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest.”
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died on April 9, 2021, at 99 years old. “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,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Prince Philip’s death comes weeks after he was released from King Edward VII’s Hospital in London in March 2021, where he stayed at for 28 days as he recovered from a heart surgery. “The Duke of Edinburgh has today been discharged from King Edward VII’s Hospital and has returned to Windsor Castle, following treatment for an infection and a successful procedure for a preexisting condition,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement at the time. “His Royal Highness wishes to thank all the medical staff who looked after him at both King Edward VII’s Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital and everyone who has sent their good wishes.”
Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson was found dead in his hotel room in Brandon Florida, on February 15, 2021. His death prompted an investigation by local police. In a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, officials state that Jackson had checked into his room at the Homewood Suites in January. He was discovered at 11:30 a.m. on February 15 by a housekeeper. There were no noticeable signs of trauma.
“My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him,” sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement at the time. “Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else. Football aside, he touched countless lives through his Jackson In Action 83 Foundation. We shared a passion for supporting military families, and three years ago, Jackson was even made an honorary deputy by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to recognize his dedication to the community.”
He continued, “He will be sorely missed by not only football fans across the country, but also the people here in Hillsborough County who reaped the benefits of his generous contributions.”
Five days before he was found, Jackson’s family reported him missing. However, on February 12, authorities confirmed that they spoke with Jackson after they found where he was staying. The missing persons case was dismissed. Before his death, Jackson played for the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Christopher Plummer, who was known for roles in films like The Beginners and , died at the age of 91 on Friday 5, 2021, in his home in Connecticut. His wife of 53 years, Elaine Taylor, was by his side. Plummer is an Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner. His manager of 46 years, Lou Pitt, confirmed the news in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
Dustin Diamond, who is best known for his role as Screech on Saved by the Bell, died at the age of 44 on February 1, 2021, due to carcinoma. He was diagnosed with cancer and hospitalized three weeks before his death. “In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution,” Diamond’s agent, Roger Paul, said in a statement to Variety. “Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
His agent continued, “We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most. He’s had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent. He — much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly — had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples’ emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too—a strength and a flaw, all in one.”
Tyson, who starred in movies like Odds Against Tomorrow and The Comedians, died on January 28, 2021. She was 96. “I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement at the time. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.” Tyson’s death came days after she released her memoir, Just As I Am, which followed her life and career as a trailblazing Black actress in Hollywood.
Leachman—an Oscar and Emmy winner who is best known for her role as Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show—died of natural causes on January 26, 2021. She passed away at her home in Encinitas, California, with her daughter, Dinah, by her side, according to TMZ. “She had the best life beginning to end that you could wish for someone,” Leachman’s son told the site. “She left everyone with a lot of love.”
Leachman’s manager, Juliet Green, also confirmed her death in a statement to People. “It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time. There was no one like Cloris,” she said. “With a single look she had the ability to break your heart or make you laugh till the tears ran down your face. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic.”
She continued, “She loved her children and her grandchildren ferociously. A lifelong vegetarian, she was a passionate advocate for animal rights. The family requests that any donations in her name be made to PETA or Last Chance for Animals.”
News broke that King had on January 24, 2021, after he was hospitalized with COVID-19. He was 87. His family confirmed his death on his Instagram. “We are heartbroken over our father’s death, and together with our extended family mourn his passing,” his kids, Larry Jr, Chance and Cannon wrote. “The world knew Larry King as a great broadcaster and interviewer, but to us he was ‘dad.’ He was the man who lovingly obsessed over our daily schedules and our well-being, and who took such immense pride in our accomplishments — large, small, or imagined.”
The statement continued, “And, through it all, we knew without a doubt in the world that he loved us more than life itself. He was an amazing father, and he was fiercely loyal to those lucky enough to call him a friend. We will miss him every single day of our lives. The outpouring of love and the remembrances of his remarkable career have touched us deeply and we are so thankful. In lieu of flowers, we kindly ask consideration of a donation to the American Heart Association or the Beverly Hills Fire Department EMS, to which a debt of gratitude is owed for the wonderful care they provided to our dad in his final years. With deep appreciation, Larry King, Jr., Chance King, and Cannon King.”
Brant, the son of supermodel Stephanie Seymour and publisher Peter M. Brant, was reported dead on January 19, 2021. He was 24. “It is with enormous sorrow that we share with you the news that our beloved son, Harry Brant, lost his battle with addiction and died due to an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Our hearts are shattered. Harry wanted to overcome his addiction and was just days away from re-entering rehab,” Seymour and Brant said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We will forever be saddened that Harry’s life was cut short by this devastating disease.”
Naomi Campbell, who is a godmother to Brant, mourned him in an Instagram post after the news of his death. “It’s taken me a few days to get my head around this to digest the fact my BEAUTIFUL GODSON HARRY BRANT HAS GONE TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD,” she wrote.
Roberts, who was best known for her role in the Charlie’s Angels TV series and as a Bond Girl in 1985’s A View to Kill, died on January 4, 2021, after she collapsed on Christmas Eve the week before. She was 65. Her death came after she was reported dead the day before on January 3, 2021, when she was in fact still alive. Her family confirmed her death the day after.
TMZ reported that Roberts’ death was misreported after her partner of 18 years, Lance O’Brien, saw her in the hospital and assumed she was dead. “[He] went to the hospital, and as he sat in her room she opened her eyes and tried to grab on to him, but her eyes closed and she ‘faded.’ He said he was devastated and walked out of the room and then the hospital and never spoke with medical staff,” TMZ reported.