2016 witnessed the passings of legends in all walks of life. And entertainment was certainly no exception. From television to music, famous performers took their final bows this year. For the next few minutes, we’ll take a look back, beginning on the big screen.
Gene Wilder worked often with Mel Brooks and the combination led to some of cinema’s greatest comedies. Known for ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein.” Also famous separately for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” among many other roles, Gene Wilder died in August. He was 83.
George Kennedy usually found himself in dramatic roles, whether for ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ ‘Airport,’ or ‘The Eiger Sanction. But he could also make a comedic turn as he did in three “Naked Gun” films. Kennedy died in February. He was 91.
Alan Rickman could play virtually any character, but he was best as a deliciously evil villain, such as in the action classic ‘Die Hard.’ Also known for his work in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and as the sheriff of Nottingham in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,’ Rickman died of cancer in January. He was 69.
Anton Yelchin was a young actor with a world of promise ahead of him. Best known for playing Chekov in the recent ‘Star Trek’ reboots, Yelchin was tragically killed when his vehicle crushed him as he was getting his mail. Yelchin was just 27.
Charmian Carr will forever be sixteen going on seventeen. Immortalized as the eldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in ‘The Sound of Music,’ Carr died in September at age 73.
One of the most inspiring aspects of the ‘Rocky’ series is the passion shown by actor Tony Burton whether he’s in the corner for Rocky or archrival Apollo Creed. Burton died in February. He was 78.
And Zsa Zsa Gabor died in December. One of three famous Gabor sisters, the Hungarian-born actress best known for ‘Moulin Rouge’ later became known for her nine marriages and playing herself dozens of times. Gabor died at age 99 after many years of poor health.
In television, one of America’s most beloved TV moms died this year. Florence Henderson will always be known as Carol Brady – the lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls – on ‘The Brady Bunch.’ Henderson died in November. She was 82.
A more recent TV mom who left us this year was Doris Roberts, immortalized for her depiction of Marie Barone – the hovering and opinionated mother and mother-in-law on “Everybody Loves Raymond.’ Roberts was 90.
Patty Duke began as a star on Broadway and the big screen with her portrayal of Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker.’ She then played identical cousins on ‘The Patty Duke’ show. Active in show business for decades to follow, Duke was 60 when she died in March.
Alan Young was famous for talking to a horse – and even more impressively the horse talked back. Young was the star of ‘Mr. Ed.’ He was 96 when he died in May.
Hugh O’Brian served our nation in World War II and cleaned up the streets of Dodge City in ‘The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.’ Inspired by Albert Schweitzer, O’Brian later devoted himself to helping young people develop into leadership roles through the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program. O’Brian was 91.
Robert Vaughn became a household name as Napoleon Solo, also known as ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Vaughn was also acclaimed for his work on the silver screen in classics like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and ‘Bridge at Remagen.’ Vaughn died just shy of his 84th birthday in November.
By the time the 1970s rolled around, Americans were already nostalgic for the ‘50s. ‘Happy Days’ captured the era perfectly, and the smash hit series was the work of director Garry Marshall. Also the brains behind successful spinoffs like ‘Laverne and Shirley’ and ‘Mork and Mindy,’ Garry Marshall was 81.
‘One Day at a Time’ was a CBS sitcom about a single mom raising two daughters. The only regular male character was also the comic relief found in apartment superintendent Schneider. Schneider was the work of actor Pat Harrington, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in January. He was 86.
‘Alice’ was seen on the same night as ‘One Day at a Time’ and also focused on the working class. Actress Beth Howland was always good for a laugh as the spacy but endearing Vera. Howland was 74.
Another 70s hit was the police comedy ‘Barney Miller.’ The ensemble cast of detectives included Ron Glass as Harris. Harris died in November. He was 71.
Joining ‘Barney Miller’ as a hit ABC comedy was ‘Benson,’ as viewers followed the exploits inside the governor’s mansion of a fictional administration. Gov. Gene Gatling was well-intentioned but not very sharp. Gatling was portrayed by actor James Noble. Noble died in March at age 94.
The 1980s were full of memorable TV dads. Alan Thicke was one of the most recognizable. Thicke’s portrayal of Dr. Jason Seaver on ‘Growing Pains’ helped make the show a smash hit. Known in later years as the father of singer Robin Thicke, Alan Thicke was 69 when he suffered a heart attack while playing hockey and later dying at the hospital. Thicke was 69.
George Gaynes is known to fans of the 80s for two roles, first as Commandant Eric Lassard in the ‘Police Academy’ movies and later as adoptive dad Henry Warnimont on ‘Punky Brewster.’ George Gaynes was 98 when he died in February
Garry Shandling was a stellar stand-up comedian who eventually became a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson. In the late 1980s, Shandling starred in the aptly titled ‘It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.’ In the ‘90s, Shandling starred as Larry Sanders on the acclaimed HBO series, ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ Shandling died suddenly in March. He was 66.
‘Law and Order’ was a staple of prime time television for nearly 20 years. For more than half that time, the role of curmudgeonly, deal-making district attorney Adam Schiff was the work of actor Steven Hill. Hill was 94.
In music, country music lost one of its greatest legends. Merle Haggard was one of the original outlaws and had lived a rough life before he pursued and achieved stardom. One of the great writers in Opry history, Haggard was 79.
Holly Dunn scored multiple hits during her country music career. Known for ‘Daddy’s Hands’ and ‘you Really Had Me Going,’ Dunn was 59.
Music had never seen anything quite like David Bowie in terms of his sound or his look. Known best for classic songs like ‘Under Pressure,’ Bowie broke every conventional mold and always found a huge audience. Bowie died in January. He was 69.
In April, the music world was stunned by the unexpected death of Prince. A guitar whiz and the man behind ‘Purple Rain,’ ‘Little Red Corvette,’ ‘When Doves Cry,’ ‘1999’ and so many other hits, Prince died of a drug overdose at his Minnesota home. He was 57.
There was no bigger act in the late 70s than the Eagles, and Glen Frey was one of the biggest reasons for the massive success. Frey died in January. Frey was 67.
Paul Kantner was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, which later transformed into Jefferson Starship. Also playing lead guitar for the band, Kantner was 74 when he died in January.
George Martin was known as the fifth Beatle. The powerhouse producer helped launch the Fab Four from Liverpool to the most famous music act in the world. Martin was 90.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer was a unique group in the 70s, finding a way to translate classical music into rock and roll. Both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake died this year. Emerson was 71. Lake was 69.
Just about everyone has heard Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ in some form. Cohen died in November at age 82.
George Beverly Shea sang the solos at the Billy Graham Crusades but some of the largest choirs ever assembled at those gatherings were directed by Cliff Barrows. Barrows served as music director for the crusades for many decades. He was 93.