Gemma StrongA look back at some of the stars we have lost so far this year
The year 2016 is one many would like to forget. In the last 12 months, the world has lost some of its brightest lights, from musical icons David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Prince, to boxing legend Muhammed Ali and actor Alan Rickman. With the end of the year fast approaching, we take a look back at some of the stars we said goodbye to…
"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer," it read. "While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."
On 14 January came the sad news of Alan Rickman's death. The beloved British actor was also 69 and had been suffering from cancer. Among those who paid tribute to Alan following his passing was his dear friendEmma Thompson, who described him as "the finest of actors and directors" and "the ultimate ally".
"He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again," she added.
Veteran TV presenter Terry Wogan passed away on 31 January after a "short but brave battle with cancer". Helen Boaden, director at BBC Radio, led the tributes to Terry, who had a remarkable 50-year career on radio and television.
"Sir Terry was a radio legend. For decades, he gave great pleasure to radio listeners with his wit, warmth and inimitable humour," she said. "He was an extraordinary broadcaster but also incredibly good fun, and will be sorely missed."
A few days after his death, Celine paid an emotional tribute to René; the devoted couple were married for 21 years and had three children together, René-Charles, Nelson and Eddy.
"He will be remembered as a gentle man, generous and kind, an unprecedented visionary, a modern Pygmalion, a Renaissance man," she wrote on Facebook. "All who had the privilege of knowing him and of working closely with him, whether personally or professionally, salute a leader and a man of great intelligence and wisdom."
Big Ang Mob Wives star Angela 'Big Ang' Raioladied on 18 February at the age of 55 after a battle with lung, throat and brain cancer.
A Twitter message written on behalf of her devastated family confirmed the news. "It is with sad regret that we inform you that at 3.01am Angela Raiola peacefully ended her battle with cancer, and was called home," it read.
"She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family, and the closest friends. YOU (her fans) were some of the most special people in the world, and she loved you immensely. Thank you for your love, prayers and unconditional support of Angela right to the very end."
Harper Lee President Barack Obama led the tributes to Harper Lee following her death on 19 February at the age of 89. He said that the incredibly talented writer had "changed America for the better" with her first ever novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which sold more than 40 million copies and became one of the most beloved and most taught pieces of fiction ever written by an American.
"When Harper Lee sat down to write To Kill a Mockingbird, she wasn't seeking awards or fame. She was a country girl who just wanted to tell an honest story about life as she saw it," the Obama family said in a statement.
"But what that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other, and then the way we saw ourselves. Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities, and our country."
Denise Robertson This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on 31 March. She was 83. Her death was announced on the ITV show's Twitter page on Friday morning with a heartfelt message that read: "Such sad news – our friend and colleague Denise Robertson has lost her short but determined battle against cancer."
Phillip Schofield was among the first to pay tribute to Denise following the news. "I'm heartbroken at the passing of our @itvthismorning icon Denise Robertson. Kind, thoughtful, caring and wonderful," he wrote.
His co-host Holly Willoughby shared a photo of herself with Denise on Instagram, and wrote alongside: "Yesterday we lost this gorgeous lady after her brave fight with cancer... We will miss her deeply... Denise you were quite simply one of life's good ones Xxx."
On 8 March, Sir George Henry Martin – the man known as the 'Fifth Beatle' – sadly passed away at the age of 90. The acclaimed music producer was remembered across the world, after drummer Ringo Starr broke the news of his death on Twitter.
"I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever," Sir Paul McCartney said of Sir George, who signed the Beatles and produced more than 700 records.
"He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.
"From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I've ever had the pleasure to know."
On the morning of 29 March, Patty Duke passed away at the age of 69. Patty was an acclaimed actress; as well as an Academy Award, which she won for her role as Helen Keller in 1962 film The Miracle Worker, she received three Emmys and two Golden Globes in the course of her career. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, she was also a prominent campaigner for mental health awareness.
Her son, Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, paid a touching tribute to his mother. Alongside a photo of Patty holding him as a baby, he shared a heartfelt message that began: "I love you mum."
"This morning, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian and champion for mental health, Anna PATTY DUKE Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place," he wrote. "We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life."
"As a working-class magician from the North, he was personally a huge inspiration for me and I know that he has inspired countless magicians around the world and will forever be known as one of the all-time greats."
Sir Bruce Forsyth, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais and Miranda Hart were among those who paid tribute to Ronnie Corbett, following his death on 31 March at the age of 85. "Ronnie was a friend, someone who I admired so much," Sir Bruce said. "It's a very, very sad day. I'm going to miss him like crazy, I really will."
"Ron wasn't just my husband, and the love of my love. He was also my best friend," she said. "Throughout his whole illness, he never grumbled or complained. No one could have been more courageous."
Frank Sinatra Jr
Frank Sinatra Jr, who carried on his famous father's legacy with his own music career, passed away on 16 March at the age of 72. He died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Sinatra family sadly confirmed in a statement.
Francis Wayne Sinatra was the middle child of Frank and Nancy Sinatra, who was the star's first wife and the mother of all three of his children. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1944, just as his father's career was getting started, and he would watch his dad become one of the most famous singers of all time.
Soap stars came together to pay tribute to Coronation Street creator Tony Warren following his death on 1 March at the age of 79. The TV screenwriter, who started the ITV soap when he was just 24, died after a short illness.
William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since the first episode, said he would be "so desperately missed". Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts, meanwhile, called Warren "a pioneer, a revolutionary, a true genius [and] a giant of British television".
Following the news of her death, her heartbroken former co-stars paid tribute, with on-screen son Ray Romano saying Doris had "an energy and spirit that amazed me".
"She never stopped," he said. "Whether working professionally or with her many charities, or just nurturing and mentoring a green young comic trying to make it as an actor, she did everything with such a grand love for life and people and I will miss her dearly."
On 12 April came the news that David Gest had passed away at the age of 62. The producer and reality star – a former husband of Liza Minnelli and childhood friend of Michael Jackson – died at the Four Season hotel in Canary Wharf, London.
His close friend and ex-bodyguard Imad Handi confirmed his death, describing him as a "huge talent". "David was truly larger than life. He was not just a huge talent and a dear friend but a showbiz icon," he said.
"I know he will be missed by millions of fans around the world, and particularly in Britain, who came to love his charm and blistering one-liners."
The world was shocked and saddened once again by the news that Prince had died aged 57. The iconic singer was found at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota on 21 April. He sold more than 100 million records during his career, including the huge hit albums 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O' the Times.
His death had a profound impact on family, friends and fans across the world. Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry were among those paying tribute to the star, while across the globe landmarks and venues were turned purple in memory of Prince.
His ex-wife Mayte Garcia also broke her silence. "I can't even think of the words of what I'm feeling,” she said in a statement. "This man was my everything, we had a family. I am beyond deeply saddened and devastated. I loved him then, I love him now and will love him eternally. He's with our son now."
The world of comedy was stunned when the news of Victoria Wood's death was announced. The 62-year-old passed away on 20 April after a "short but brave" battle with cancer. Her family were by her side.
Victoria's long-time comedy partner Julie Walters said she was "too heart sore to comment – the loss of her is incalculable".
Muhammad's death came just 24 hours after it was revealed he had been hospitalised with respiratory issues. He was said to be in a "fair condition" but stayed in hospital for precautionary measures.
Following the news of his death, tributes poured in. World champion boxer Floyd Mayweather said: "There will never be another Muhammad Ali. The black community all around the world, black people all around the world, needed him. He was the voice for us. He's the voice for me to be where I'm at today."
The Voice contestant had been signing autographs following a performance when a gunman shot her three times before Christina's brother Mark tackled him to the ground. The gunman then killed himself.
Tributes poured out from friends, family and fans of the star, with Adam Levine, her mentor on the show, saying: "Behati and I are absolutely devastated and heartbroken by Christina Grimmie's death. Our hearts go out to her family."
Film stars, directors, friends and fans were shocked to hear of the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who was killed in a 'freak accident' on 19 June, aged just 27.
JJ Abrams, who directed Anton in two Star Trek movies, penned a touching message in his honour which read: "Anton, you were brilliant. You were kind, you were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough. Missing you… JJ."
Anton, who played Chekov in the Star Trek films, was tragically killed when he was pinned against a brick wall and a security gate by his own car in his driveway.
The cause of death was later confirmed to be blunt force asphyxia.
Comedian Caroline Ahernepassed away on 2 July after a long battle with cancer at the age of 52.
Her publicist confirmed the news, prompting a number of public tributes to the star, who was best known for creating and starring in hit sitcom The Royle Family.
David Walliams wrote: "Absolutely devastating news about Caroline Aherne. A true comedy genius, her work was equally funny & touching."
The comedy world mourned the death of Gene Wilder in August. The silver screen actor – star of comedy classics such as Blazing Saddles and The Producers - passed away at the age of 83 from complications from Alzheimer's disease.
Gene's nephew announced the news in a statement. "It is with indescribable sadness and blues, but with spiritual gratitude for the life lived, that I announce the passing of husband, parent and universal artist Gene Wilder," it read.
He also revealed that the Willy Wonka star was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but had kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans. "He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world."
Director Mel Brooks, Jim Carrey, Rob Lowe and Steve Martin were among those paying tribute. "Gene Wilder – one of the truly great talents of our time," longtime collaborator Mel said. "He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship."
Alexis Arquette, the transgender actress and sibling of actors David, Richmond, Rosanna and Patricia Arquette, passed away in September at the age of 47. She was surrounded by her family, who serenaded her with David Bowie's Starman, her brothers and sisters confirmed in a statement.
"Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor," they said. "We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth – that love is everything."
The Dead or Alive frontman passed away on Sunday 23 October after suffering a cardiac arrest, his management confirmed in a statement. Pete was 57 at the time.
"All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star," it read.
"He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul, and he will be missed by all who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories he has left us with."
Pete will be remembered for his 1985 hit You Spin Me Round, and in recent years for appearing on reality TV shows including Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity Wife Swap and The Body Shocking Show.
The Dad's Army creator sadly passed away at the age of 93 in October.
Jimmy was the mastermind behind one of the most popular comedy series ever, as well as Hi-de-Hi, You Rang M'Lord and It Ain't Half Hot Mum.
He was too young to join the army when the Second World War broke out in 1939, so instead Jimmy joined the local home guard, which is where he drew his experiences from.
Speaking to Radio Times last year, Jimmy revealed that the show almost didn't get made.
"The BBC was so careful that they got market research involved," he said, adding that test screenings of the pilot episode were then showed to audiences.
"One woman said, 'I thought it was rubbish. The public want to forget about the war. They're not interested. We're fed up of having the war shoved down our throats... And that old man with the bald head doesn't know his words!'"
Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs passed away in November at the age of 86. The star, who was best known for playing hapless Spanish waiter Manuel on the BBC sitcom, had been battling dementia for four years.
Confirming the sad news, his wife Melody said: "Dementia is the most awful illness, it sneaks in in then night, when you least expect it…
"Don't feel sorry for me because I had the best life with him. I had the best husband and we really loved each other ... We were married for 57 years, we loved each other very deeply and it was a pleasure looking after him. I miss him terribly."
John Cleese, meanwhile, described his former co-star as a "very sweet, gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur", adding: "I could not have found a better Manuel. Inspired."
In November came the sad news that actor Robert Vaughn had died at the age of 83. The star, best known as secret agent Napoleon Solo in The Man from UNCLE, passed away in New York after battling acute leukemia.
Robert was also famous for playing Lee in the Magnificent Seven, and TV roles in Hustle and Coronation Street. He is survived by his wife Linda, and two children, Cassidy and Caitlin Vaughn.
Stephen Fry led the tributes on Twitter. "Robert Vaughn, such a fine actor, one of the best Columbo villains (no higher praise than that) and an utterly charming man," he wrote.
Adrian Lester, who worked alongside Robert in Hustle, tweeted: "RIP Mr Vaughn. It's been a pleasure, Sir."
Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter whose work inspired generations, passed away in November at the age of 82. A post of his official Facebook page announced the sad news. "We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries," it read.
In one of his final interviews, Leonard spoke to the New Yorker about the prospect of death with calmness and clarity. "I am ready to die," he said. "I hope it's not too uncomfortable. That's about it for me."
Tributes poured in on social media for the Canadian musician following his passing, who had released his 14th album, You Want It Darker, in October. "No other artist's music felt or sounded like Leonard Cohen's," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote. "Yet his work resonated across generations. Canada and the world will miss him."
British actor Peter Vaughan, best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Porridge, died on 6 December at the age of 93. His agent confirmed the sad news, revealing that the star had "died peacefully with his family around him".
Peter specialised in playing characters with a tough edge, from police officers to secret agents and elders. One of his most famous parts was playing villain Grouty in Porridge, despite the fact that he only appeared in a handful of episodes. His other credits included Citizen Smith, Straw Dogs, Our Friends of the North and The Remains of the Day.
However, his role as Maester Aemon Targaryen on Game of Thrones brought him a new level of fame with a younger audience. He started work on the show at the age of 86, and remained on it for five years.
"I've been so lucky with parts," he told BBC Surrey in November, what would be one of his final interviews. "They talk about actors resting. The only time I have ever rested in my 77 years as an actor has been when I've wanted to. Lucky, lucky, lucky."
Beloved American TV star Alan Thicke, best known for his starring role as Dr Jason Seaver on Growing Pains, passed away on 13 December at the age of 69. His son, singer Robin Thicke, led the tributes, describing his father as "the greatest man I ever met".
Alan, who suffered a fatal heart attack while playing basketball with his teenage son Carter, was also remembered by a number of stars on social media, including Ellen DeGeneres, Maria Shriver, John Legend and his Fuller House co-star Bob Saget, who wrote: "Such a good husband, father, brother and friend."
The iconic singer passed away on Christmas Day. He was 53. His publicist told HELLO!: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."
Best known for her role as Nell Perks in The Railway Children, Debbie sadly passed away aged 78. The actress was also an activist, and would go undercover at care homes to expose issues, and worked with charities to help safeguard the elderly.
Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt died at the age of 68 on Christmas Eve. His manager confirmed that the musician passed away from a severe infection after a shoulder injury.
The 16 and Pregnant star was found dead in her home on Thursday 22 December. She was 23-years-old. The cause of death is officially under investigation, although the former reality star - who has a seven-year-old daughter named Nevaeh Lynn Fairman – has struggled with substance abuse for years, as was documented on the show.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
The iconic Hollywood actress suffered a heart attack at the age of 99. Her husband Frederic von Anhalt told AFP news: "Everybody was there. She didn't die alone."