Stars We Lost In 2021

Stars We Lost In 2021

02/19/2021

In memoriam…

Contents

LEON SPINKS

(July 11, 1953 – February 5, 2021)

Leon Spinks, the professional boxer who beat Muhammad Ali in a historic upset for the world heavyweight championship title in 1978, died at age 67. Known for his big, toothy grin and his proclamation following his victory against Ali (“I’m not the greatest. Just the latest”), Leon went on to dabble in wrestling and martial arts. As a former Marine, he won a gold metal at the 1976 Olympics as a light heavyweight. The athlete had been fighting prostate and other cancers for the last five years. His wife, Brenda Glur Spinks, was by his side when he passed. 

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER

(December 13, 1929— February 5, 2021)

The Sound of Music’s Christopher Plummer died peacefully at home in Connecticut surrounded by his family on February 5, 2021. He was 91. Best known for his time as Baron von Trapp in the musical drama, the Canadian actor later won an Oscar for Beginners (as well as was nominated for All the Money in the World and The Last Station). At the time of his win, he was the oldest person to receive an Academy Award. Through his nearly 70-year-long career spanning film, TV, and Broadway, the performer won two Emmys and two Tony awards (as well as numerous other critical acclaims). His friend and manager of 46 years, Lou Pitt, remembered him as “a national treasure” who “will forever be with us.”

DUSTIN DIAMOND

(January 7, 1977 – February 1, 2021)

Dustin Diamond, best known for his portrayal of Samuel “Screech” Powers on Saved By The Bell, died at the age of 44. The shocking news came just two weeks after he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Following a brief stint of chemotherapy, the performer passed away while being transferred from the hospital to his friend’s home in Florida. Throughout his career, the Celebrity Big Brother alum became known for having a bad reputation and falling victim to the effects of childhood fame. After releasing a scathing tell-all memoir, Behind The Bell, about his time filming the hit sitcom, the actor fell out of touch with his castmates who vehemently disagreed with his take on the life changing experience. Growing a strong desire to “be a normal guy” in his later years, Diamond was hoping to settle down with his girlfriend of over a year and remain out of the public eye. His legacy will surely live on…

SOPHIE XEON

(September 17, 1986 – January 30, 2021)

Ground-breaking Grammy-nominated musician and avant-garde pop music producer Sophie died after accidentally slipping and falling while trying to watch the full moon from her roof in Athens, Greece on January 30, 2021. Only 34-years-old at the time of her death, the transgender artist had already made an impressive name for herself within the music industry. Most notably, Sophie collaborated with Madonna (on her hit Bitch I’m Madonna), Charlie XCX, Kim Petras, and many more. By 2013, her debut single Nothing More To Say and second release Bipp rocketed Sophie to fame. Her first full-length album was received well by critics and earned the Glasgow born and raised artist a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2018. Sophie was remembered by her manager as “an icon of liberation.”

CICELY TYSON

(December 19, 1924 – January 28, 2021)

Screen legend Cicely Tyson died on January 28, 2021. The 96-year-old was a pioneering actress who turned a small role in 1957’s Twelve Angry Men into a lifetime of success in nearly 100 movies and TV shows, including The Help and How To Get Away With Murder. The Hollywood A-lister purposely refused to participate in any blaxploitation movies that were poplar in the late 60s and never took roles she felt were demeaning to Black women. Nominated for an Oscar in 1973 for the drama Sounder, she received an Honorary Oscar in 2018. Her memoir Just as I Am was published two days prior to her passing.

CLORIS LEACHMAN

(April 30, 1926 – January 27, 2021)

Cloris Leachman was an iconic actress and comedienne with a career that spanned seven decades and saw her become a beloved figure for several generations of television and movie-goers. Along with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Leachman holds the honor of being the most-nominated and most-awarded actress in Emmy history, and she also won an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Daytime Emmy, and a Golden Globe during her career. Born in Iowa and educated at Northwestern University, she was best-known for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her movie appearances in films like Spanglish, and in the more recent TV comedy Raising Hope. A true legend on screen, Leachman passed away at 94 years old on January 27, 2021.

LARRY KING

(November 19, 1933 – January 23, 2021)

Legendary TV host, radio personality, and on-air interviewer extraordinaire Larry King passed away in the early morning hours of January 23, 2021. He was 87 years old at the time of his death, and though the cause of his death wasn’t immediately announced, he had been battling COVID-19 in a Los Angeles-area hospital in recent weeks. Immediately after his passing, the longtime CNN and Ora TV on-air journalist and TV personality was memorialized by thousands of people online and across the media — celebrities, athletes, politicians, entertainers, and common folk — all of whom were profoundly affected by King’s memorable decades-long career on television and radio.

HAL HOLBROOK

(February 17, 1925 – January 23, 2021)

Hal Holbrook, a critically acclaimed actor best known for his portrayal of Mark Twain in the self-directed play Mark Twain Tonight! (which was adapted for TV in 1967), died at the age of 95. With over 2,200 performances of the one-man show over decades and across countries, Holbrook made a name for himself within the industry, performing until his retirement from the production in 2017. As a Tony and four time Emmy award winner, Hal was best known for playing historical figures in both film and TV due to his natural gravitas. Notably, he also guest starred in hit series such as The Sopranos, The West Wing, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, and Hawaii Five-0. In the late 80s, the Cleveland, Ohio born performer directed four episodes of the sitcom Designing Women. No cause of death was revealed, but his assistant shared with the NYT Holbrook passed in his Beverly Hills home.

HANK AARON

(February 5, 1934 – January 22, 2021)

Legendary baseball player Hank Aaron died on Friday, January 22, 2021. The Baseball Hall of Famer was best known as “Hammerin’ Hank” during his career, in light of his then-record home run totals which, at the time, were the first and only to surpass Babe Ruth. Aaron suffered through racist fan reactions while chasing that home run record near the end of his decades-long career, but he admirably maintained his stellar athletic achievements and stayed as professional as he could be throughout the whole ordeal. His legacy as one of the greatest men to ever play Major League Baseball is one that will last forever.

BABY CEO

(October 22, 2000 – January 20, 2021)

Rapper Baby CEO died at age 20 on January 20, 2021. The musician’s brother suggested CEO had been victim to an overnight shooting, tweeting a FOX13 Memphis article about the incident. Born Jonathon Brown, CEO rocketed to fame as a 14-year-old after a “disturbing video” went viral. Many disliked his explicit lyrics about drugs, gangs, and aspirations of fame, yet that didn’t stop him from accumulating nearly 80K YouTube subscribers during his career. While making a name for himself, hip-hop star Fredo Santana took CEO under his wing, and he was quickly known as Santana’s protégé. According to social media, the rapper had just become a father.

MIRA FURLAN

(September 7, 1955 – January 20, 2021)

Beloved Croatian actress and singer Mira Furlan, best known for her roles on sci-fi series Lost and Babylon 5, passed away due to an unknown cause January 20, 2021. Mira’s family confirmed her death by sharing a heartfelt quote by the performer on Twitter. She was just 65, but “for some time now… heath was failing.” Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski uploaded his own tribute to his former colleague, reflecting on her past as a member of a theater touring group which performed across her home country of Yugoslavia during a civil war. When asked about this risky decision, Furlan responded: “Yes, they could have killed me. So what? Art should have no borders.”

HARRY BRANT

(?? 1996 – January 17, 2021)

The son of supermodel Stephanie Seymour and publishing tycoon Peter Brant, 24-year-old Harry Brant died on January 17, 2021, due to an “accidental prescription drug overdose,” according to a statement the family gave to the New York Times. Tragically, the younger Brant had been just days away from entering a rehab facility to beat the addiction and get clean at the time of his death. In his short life, Harry was known for his own modeling work, following the footsteps of his mother, along with notable work alongside big bro Peter Brant Jr. on a gender-fluid makeup line for MAC Cosmetics.

PHIL SPECTOR

(December 26, 1939 – January 16, 2021)

A longtime music producer and musician, Phil Spector made a name for himself with his “Wall of Sound” music production technique, beginning in the 1960s. He went on to produce hundreds of well-received singles and albums, and worked very closely with Ike & Tina Turner and The Beatles, in particular. He was eventually inducted into both the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, in 1989 as a non-performer, and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, in 1997. In 2003, he shot and killed actress Lana Clarkson at his mansion in Alhambra, California in what he claimed at the time had been an accident. Eventually, in 2009, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 19 years to life in the California state prison system. He died in prison, reportedly from COVID-19 complications, early in 2021.

JOANNE ROGERS

(1928 – January 14, 2021)

Fred Rogers‘ widow, Joanne worked for decades to help preserve and promote his legacy and career works, having been married to the iconic children’s TV personality for fifty years of her life. Joanne, who outlived Fred, was 92 years old when she died on January 14, 2021. Fred had previously died in 2003, at 74 years old, due to stomach cancer. He and Joanne had met in college and were sweethearts their entire lives together. In her own life, Joanne was an accomplished musician and a patron of the arts — and her legacy as Fred’s other half and beyond will be revered for a long time to come.

PETER MARK RICHMAN

(April 16, 1927 – January 14, 2021)

Peter Mark Richman, credited on screen for many years simply as Mark Richman, was a prolific American actor who worked in Hollywood for decades. In all, Richman (pictured here with his wife, Helen, at an event in 2011) appeared in about 30 films and more than 130 different television series from the beginning of his career in the 1950s, all the way through his retirement in 2011. A versatile actor, he appeared on soap operas like Santa Barbara and Dynasty, and also did work on everything from Hawaii Five-0 to Three’s CompanyInterestingly, Richman was also a licensed pharmacist in two states, having learned the trade in his earlier years before really committing to a career in Hollywood. He passed of natural causes in Woodland Hills, California on January 14 at the age of 93.

JOHN REILLY

(November 11, 1934 – January 9, 2021)

John Reilly was a well-respected actor on several major television and film projects for several decades before his death on January 9, 2021. According to his daughter, Caitlin, his passing was due to a heart attack. He was 86 years old. He was best known for his runs on soap operas, including General HospitalSunset Beach, and Passions, in which he often played controversial, dark, or otherwise villainous characters with great talent. He also enjoyed a recurring role on the legendary nighttime soap opera Dallas during the 1980s. Reilly also appeared in many major feature films, including The Main Event, and Gorp.

ED BRUCE

(December 29, 1939 – January 8, 2021)

Ed Bruce died at 81 years old in Clarksville, Tennessee on January 8, 2021, after a long career as an American country music singer, songwriter, and sometimes actor. He was best known in his life for writing the 1975 hit song Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, and later performing the 1982 country number one hit You’re The Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had. During that time, his peak in national popularity, Bruce also appeared and co-starred on the hit television series Bret Maverick alongside longtime acting great James Garner, running from 1981 through the end of the 1982 season.

MARION RAMSEY

(May 10, 1947 – January 7, 2021)

Born in Philadelphia, Marion Ramsey started her acting career on stage, working for years in off-Broadway productions in New York City and building her reputation. After her television debut in a guest role on The Jeffersons, Ramsey starred in Cos, and later got her worldwide big break when she played Officer Laverne Hooks in the popular Police Academy films. She guest starred and appeared on quite a few other shows over the years, as well, and even was a noted singer and songwriter who often lent her voice to charitable causes. She died on January 7, 2021, after a short illness, according to media reports.

DEEZER D

(March 12, 1965 – January 7, 2021)

Actor Deezer D (born Dearon Thompson) died at age 55 on January 7, 2021. Best known for his portrayal of Malik McGrath in nearly 200 episodes of the hit medical drama ER, Deezer was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles home, according to TMZ. His brother, Marshawn, suspected he had suffered a heart attack given a previous issues that resulted in a 2009 heart surgery. The performer was a devoted Christian and also known for his motivational speeches and involvement in underground hip hop communities. Other notable appearances included his roles in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Bringing Down the House. ER producer Neal Baer remembered him as, “a very sweet, kind man.”

TOMMY LASORDA

(September 22, 1927 – January 7, 2021)

Legendary longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager and coach Tommy Lasorda died on January 7, 2021. The Italian-American was one of the greatest managers in MLB history, and led the Dodgers to become World Series champions in both 1984, and in 1988 — the latter a particularly memorable win over the Oakland Athletics. Lasorda managed for 20 years in total, and was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for his impactful work, success on the field, and larger-than-life personality that helped grow the game nationwide.

Sending our love and condolences out to all the family members, friends, and other loved ones of those we lost this year.

Rest in peace…

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