This article was written for KSL.com just a few weeks before the world said goodbye to both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. As a result, here on Utah.film I’m updating the list to include them in the now list of 12 celebrities we said goodbye to in 2016.
ENTERTAINMENT LAND — What happened, 2016?
I imagine we as humanity offended you in some way. We hadn’t even rounded February before you’d stolen David Bowie and Alan Rickman from us. Then, somewhere between Brexit, Hillary, Trump, oil pipelines, mass shootings, and the Zika virus, we found ourselves without Gene Wilder, Prince and Muhammad Ali. Why?
There are so many better ways to write yourself into history than being a jerk, 2016. You could’ve cured cancer or invented real hover boards (not those unconscionably lame things people are riding around on today). “Stranger Things” was a start, but then you went ahead and trusted Zack Snyder with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
And now here we are, only a few weeks from welcoming in a new, hopefully kinder year. While you figure out how you’re going to play your final cards, we’re going to take a minute to remember 10 people who dedicated their lives to making us laugh, cry and altogether forget about reality in the face of years like 2016.
David Bowie Jan. 8, 1947 – Jan. 10, 2016
There was nothing David Robert Jones couldn’t do. When he wasn’t dancing in the street with Mick Jagger, he was creating labyrinths as the Goblin King or showing Hugh Jackman that science is cooler than magic.
Bowie died of liver cancer in his New York apartment just two days after the release of his 25th studio album.
Alan Rickman Feb. 21, 1946 – Jan. 14, 2016
I can’t even write the name Alan Rickman without hearing his iconic voice.
Rickman played funny, vulnerable and terrifying better than about anyone in the business, and elevated every movie he was part of. Rickman was known for his portrayal of Professor Severus Snape, Hans Gruber, Elliott Marston, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Harry from “Love Actually.”
Rickman lost his battle to Pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.
Prince June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016
Prince Rogers Nelson was one of those Grammy and Academy award winning, genre crossing, larger than life sell-over-100-million-records kind of guys. Releasing his first album, “For You,” in 1978, Prince went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time.
In April 2016, Prince started canceling concerts due to illness, and on April 21, lost his life as a result of an accidental drug overdose.
Muhammad Ali Jan. 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016
Muhammad Ali will always be known as one of the greatest athletes of all time, not just because of his incredible talent in the ring, but because of his showmanship and personal conviction. Ali is still the only three-time lineal heavyweight boxing champion and was named the third greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sport’s Illustrated.
Ali had been battling Parkinson’s Syndrome since 1984 and passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 3, 2016.
Anton Yelchin March 11, 1989 – June 19, 2016
While most people will remember Anton Yelchin as Star Trek’s Pavel Chekov, the 27-year-old actor had already played in 12 films before 2009’s “Star Trek,” and had been cast in in over 40 films before his death in June of this year.
Yelchin passed away June 19 because of a tragic accident, and the film “Star Trek Beyond” was dedicated to his memory.
Kenny Baker Aug. 24, 1934- Aug. 13, 2016
Kenny Baker was the man behind one of the most iconic sci-fi characters of all time, but playing R2-D2 in all seven Star Wars films wasn’t Baker’s only claim to fame. Baker played in numerous films including “The Elephant Man,” “Time Bandits” and “Willow,” and he also spent time as a musician and stand-up comic.
Baker was too ill to make the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiere due to an illness that eventually took his life in August, 11 days before his 82nd birthday.
Gene Wilder June 11, 1933 – Aug. 29, 2016
One of the funniest men to ever grace the silver screen, Gene Wilder became a favorite go-to actor for writer/director Mel Brooks, and Richard Pryor’s comic partner in four films including the 1976 film, “Silver Streak.” Wilder will probably always be best known for his portrayal of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, and was also a talented writer and director.
Wilder was 83 when he passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Leonard Cohen Sept. 21, 1934 – Nov. 7, 2016
You probably know Leonard Cohen best as the guy who wrote “Hallelujah,” but the Canadian artist, singer, songwriter, poet and painter is also a best-selling novelist, and has been inducted in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cohen’s music has been covered and re-covered by artists since the late ’60s, and in 1980, Cohen co-wrote the rock musical film “Night Magic.”
Cohen was battling cancer when he fell in his home and later died in his sleep.
Florence Henderson Feb. 14, 1934 – Nov. 24, 2016
Florence Henderson may always be remembered as Carol Brady, the TV mother of three very lovely, golden haired daughters and three very Brady stepsons, but Henderson also enjoyed a long career as a Broadway star and television personality.
In late November, Henderson was hospitalized suddenly, and died of heart failure one day later.
Carrie Fisher Oct. 21, 1956 – Dec. 27, 2016
Was there any boy in the galaxy that didn’t dream of growing up and finding a girl just like Princess Leia? Between “When Harry Met Sally” and the Star Wars movies, The writer, actress and humorist is a talent still playing on high rotation in home theaters around the world, and for good reason.
According to People.com, “Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital.Dec 27, 2016.”
Debbie Reynolds Apr. 1, 1932 – Dec. 28, 2016
When she wasn’t singing in the rain, Debbie Reynolds was Tammy, Charlotte, and about every other lovable character from 1950 to 2015. Reynolds was also the mother of Carrie Fisher and a talented singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian.
One day after her daughter passed away, Reynolds suffered a severe stroke and passed away later that afternoon.