20 Notable Celebrities Who Died in 2021

Sarah Harding

As 2021 rumbles to a close, it’s time to look back in remembrance at those we’ve lost throughout the year. Saying goodbye is never easy, but this year we’ve had to say farewell to some of our best-loved stars, from legendary actor Christopher Plummer to “Sex and the City” star Willie Garson and everyone’s favorite friend, James Michael Tyler. Keep your Kleenex at the ready as we look back on the lives of some of the notable celebrities who died in 2021.

Phil Spector

1. Phil Spector

As Page Six reports, legendary producer Phil Spector died on January 17 while serving a 19-year jail term for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. Despite his troubled personal life, Spector was considered one of the most successful and influential producers of the 20th century, having produced 20 top 20 hits between 1961 and 1965 alone. Some of his most notable projects include the Beatles’ “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road”, the Ramones’ “End of the Century,” and the Righteous Brothers’ classic, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

Willie Garson

2. Willie Garson

Willie Garson died on September 21 from pancreatic cancer. He was just 57 years old. He appeared in over 75 films and more than 300 TV episodes, but is best remembered for his role as Stanford Blatch in “Sex and the City.” Just before his death, he had returned to New York to begin shooting the upcoming “Sex and the City” revival, “And Just Like That.” He leaves behind his son, Nathen, who he adopted in 2009.

Charles Grodin

3. Charles Grodin

On May 18, legendary comedian, author, and television talk show host Charles Grodin passed away in his home in Wilton, Connecticut after losing his battle to bone marrow cancer. He was 86 years old. Known for his deadpan comedic delivery, Grodin began his career in the 1960s in TV serials. He later moved into film, featuring in movies such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Catch-22,” “King Kong,” and “Heaven Can Wait.” In the 2000s, he added the role of talk show host to his resume while also making appearances in Louis C.K.’s TV show “Louie” and the film, “While We’re Young.”

Helen McCrory

4. Helen McCrory

Actress Helen McCrory passed away in April at the age of 52 from breast cancer. She’s best remembered for her roles as Narcissa Malfoy in the final three Harry Potter films, Clair Dowar in the James Bond film “Skyfall,” and Polly Gray in the TV series, “Peaky Blinders.” Her husband, actor Damian Lewis, announced her death via Twitter, confirming that she had passed away “peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family”.

Barbara Shelley

5. Barbara Shelley

English actress Barbara Shelley appeared in over a hundred films and TV shows, but is best remembered for her extensive work in horror movies. Her performances in such ’50s and ’60s horror films as “Village of the Damned;” “Dracula, Prince of Darkness;” “Rasputin, the Mad Monk” and “Quatermass and the Pit” earned her the nickname of the Queen of Hammer. After retiring from films in the 1970s, she continued to make occasional appearances in TV shows and TV movies such as “The Borgias” and “Maigret” in the 1980s. Shelley passed away on 3 January 2021 after contracting COVID-19 during a routine hospital visit. The illness was worsened by underlying health conditions. She was 88 years old.

DMX

6. DMX

Legendary rapper DMX passed away on April 9 this year at the age of 50 years old. After shooting to fame with his 1998 debut album “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot,” he continued to enjoy both commercial and critical success with his subsequent releases. In 2003, he became the first artist in history to debut an album at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 five consecutive times. By the time of his death, he’d sold 74 million records worldwide. He also enjoyed success as an actor in films such as “Romeo Must Die,” “Exit Wounds,” “Cradle 2 the Grave,” and “Last Hour.” According to Wikipedia, he died after experiencing multiple organ failure a week after being admitted to hospital after a cocaine-induced heart attack.

Siegfried Fischbacher

7. Siegfried Fischbacher

On January 11, Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of the legendary magic partnership of Siegfried and Roy, publically announced that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. Just two days later, he passed away in his Las Vegas home at the age of 81 years old. His death followed less than a year after that of his performing partner, Roy Horn, who died in May 2020 after suffering complications from Covid-19. Both Fischbacher and Horn were born in Germany but became naturalized US citizens after moving to the country in 1988.

Larry King

8. Larry King

On January 2, 2021, it was confirmed that legendary broadcaster and talk show host Larry King had been hospitalized with Covid-19. He died three weeks later on January 23 at the age of 87. His widow, Shawn Southwick-King, later confirmed via Entertainment Weekly that the cause of death was sepsis and not COVID. Despite his many professional accomplishments (which included interviewing every US president from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump), Shawn has said that King believed his greatest legacy was his children. A father of five, King tragically lost two of his children, Andy and Chia, within just two months of each other in the summer of 2020.

Larry Flynt

9. Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt, the notorious publisher and president of Larry Flynt Publication, died at the age of 78 on February 10 as a result of heart failure. He’d suffered ill health ever since a failed assassination attempt by serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin in 1978 left him partially paralyzed. Best known as the founder of Hustler, Flynt was involved in several high-profile court cases involving the First Amendment, which were later chronicled in the 1996 film, “The People vs Larry Flynt.” A controversial figure throughout his life, Flynt at one time claimed that his main goal was to “offend every single person in this world at some point.”

Paul Ritter

10. Paul Ritter

On April 5, British actor Paul Ritter died of a brain tumor. According to his agent, he passed away “peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side.” He was 54 years old. Ritter appeared in numerous TV shows and films, but is perhaps best known for his work as Eldred Worple in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and Guy Haines in the 2008 James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace.” He also won acclaim for his work in the Channel 4 sitcom, “Friday Night Dinner,” in which he starred alongside Tamsin Greig and Inbetweeners’ star, Simon Bird. Following his death, Ritter was honored with a posthumous BAFTA nomination for Best Male Comedy Performance for his performance in the show.

Michael K. Williams

11. Michael K. Williams

On September 8, actor Michael K. Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment by his nephew. A coroner later ruled that Williams had died of an accidental drug overdose after fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine were found in his system. As nbcnews.com reports, Williams, who is best remembered for his roles in “The Wire,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Lovecraft Country,” had long been open with his struggle with drug addiction, telling The New York Times in 2017 “Addiction doesn’t go away. It’s an everyday struggle for me, but I’m fighting.”

Peter Scolari

12. Peter Scolari

Actor Peter Scolari died on October 22 following a two-year battle with cancer. He was best known for his role as Tom Hanks’ sidekick on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” and as Michael Harris on Bob Newheart’s CBS comedy vehicle, “Newheart.” Following the announcement of his death, Newheart issued a statement to Variety saying, “I knew that Peter was sick, but his death still comes as a great shock. We were friends and colleagues for over 40 years. In life, he was a fantastic person, and it was a joy to work together. He will be sorely missed and his passing at 66 is much too early.”

Christopher Plummer

13. Christopher Plummer

Acclaimed actor Christopher Plummer passed away peacefully at his home in Weston, Connecticut on February 5, 2021, two weeks after sustaining a head injury during a fall. He’s best remembered for his roles in “The Sound of Music,” “Malcolm X,” ” and “A Beautiful Mind,” and as one of the very few performers to have ever received the Triple Crown of Acting (i.e, an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award). Following his death, his co-star in “The Sound of Music,” Julie Andrews, issued a statement to US Magazine saying, “The world has lost a consummate actor today. And I have lost a cherished friend. I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years. My heart and condolences go out to his lovely wife Elaine, and his daughter Amanda.”

Art LaFleur

14. Art LaFleur

On November 17, 2021, Art LaFleur, an actor best known as Babe Ruth in “The Sandlot” and Chick Gandil in “Field of Dreams, ” passed away after a 10 year battle with A-typical Parkinson’s. Announcing his death via Facebook, his widow, Shelly, said “He brought laughter to so many people. He was a generous and selfless man which carried over to his acting but more importantly, it was who he was for his family and friends.”

Dustin Diamond

15. Dustin Diamond

On February 1, Dustin Dimond, an actor best known for his role of Samuel “Screech” Powers on the “Saved by the Bell” franchise, passed away after being diagnosed with stage IV small cell carcinoma. His death came less than a month after his diagnosis, leading his rep to comment “He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.” His “Saved by the Bell” co-stars led the tributes, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar saying “Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce.”

James Michael Tyler

16. James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for playing Gunther on “Friends,” passed away on October 21 after revealing earlier this year that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. Although the initial treatment was successful, the disease mutated during the pandemic and eventually metastasized to his spine. He was 59 years old.

Heath Freeman

17. Heath Freeman

Heath Freeman, the actor best known for his role as Howard Epps on “Bones” and his appearances in “ER,” “The Closer,” “Raising the Bar” and “Torchwood,” passed away at the age of 41 on 14 November. His manager, Joe Montifiore, confirmed his death via a statement to People. “We are truly devastated at the loss of our beloved Heath Freeman. A brilliant human being with an intense and soulful spirit, he leaves us with an indelible imprint in our hearts,” Montifiore said “His life was filled with deep loyalty, affection, and generosity toward his family and friends, and an extraordinary zest for life.” At the time of writing, the cause of death is still unconfirmed.

Gavan O’Herlihy

18. Gavan O’Herlihy

On September 15, “Happy Days” star Gavan O’Herlihy died at his home in Bath, England at the age of 70. Reacting to the news, his former co-star Ron Howard tweeted “I knew him as the 1st of 2 Chucks on #HappyDays & then as Airk in #Willow where I had the pleasure of directing him. A talented actor with a big free spirit.”

Charlie Watts

19. Charlie Watts

On August 24, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts passed away in hospital at the age of 80 years old. He’d recently pulled out of the band’s US tour after surgery. Watts’ bandmates led the tributes, with Mick Jagger sharing a photograph of a smiling Watts sitting behind a drumkit and Keith Richards sharing a picture of a drumkit with a “closed” sign on it.

Sarah Harding

20. Sarah Harding

On September 5, 2021, Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding passed away following a battle with breast cancer. Her mother, Marie, announced the news with the statement, “Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day. She slipped away peacefully this morning.”

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