Celebrity deaths of 2016 — Look back at those we lost this year (PHOTOS)
Every year it's tough to think about the public figures who've passed but 2016 seems especially hard. Look back at this year's most notable deaths, including politicians, actors, athletes, musicians, broadcasters and others. Gallery by Clint Davis.
Some of the notable people who passed away in 2016 are shown here, including Muhammad Ali, Pat Summitt, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince and Gwen Ifil. Look through our gallery for a full list of the year's most stunning deaths.Photo by: Collage: Clint Davis David Bowie, 69 — Died: Jan. 8, 2016 — One of the most iconic and unique entertainers in music history, Bowie's death devastated people worldwide. He sold about 140 million records in a recording career that spanned more than 50 years. He also acted in several movies, including 1986's "Labyrinth." Bowie's last album, "Blackstar," was released two days before he died of liver cancer.Photo by: Andrew H. Walker Alan Rickman, 69 — Died: Jan. 14, 2016 — Best known for his role as Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films, Rickman was a gifted actor of stage and screen, who often was cast as a villain. Before moving to films, he was a member of the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company. On screen, he also co-starred in "Die Hard," "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "Love Actually."Photo by: Tim P. Whitby Glenn Frey, 67 — Died: Jan. 18, 2016 — Frey was a co-founder of the Eagles and a respected songwriter/performer in his own right. He sang lead vocals on Eagles songs like "Take It Easy" and "Lyin' Eyes." His solo hits included "The Heat is On" and "You Belong to the City." Frey died after undergoing major intestinal surgery.Photo by: Rick Diamond Abe Vigoda, 94 — Died: Jan. 26, 2016 — His face was unmistakable. Vigoda was a gifted character actor, perhaps known best for his role in TV's "Barney Miller" and "Fish." He also was a cast member of 1972's "The Godfather." Vigoda's death had been erroneously reported several times before he actually passed away in 2016. He died in his sleep.Photo by: Evan Agostini Dave Mirra, 41 — Died: Feb. 4, 2016 — Alongside athletes like Tony Hawk and Shaun White, Mirra was one of the original icons of extreme sports. He was a star of BMX riding, who turned pro at the age of 18, and later was a professional racecar driver. Mirra killed himself at the age of 41 and was psthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease typically caused by numerous concussions.Photo by: Frederick M. Brown Maurice White, 74 — Died: Feb. 4, 2016 — White had one of the most signature voices in music history and was best known as the founder and co-lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire. He was a Hall-of-Fame songwriter who wrote many of Earth, Wind & Fire's tracks, as well as No. 1 hits for the Emotions and Barbara Streisand. White died in his sleep after a battle with Parkinson's disease.Photo by: Frederick M. Brown Antonin Scalia, 79 — Died: Feb. 12, 2016 — Scalia spent nearly 30 years as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and was one of its leading conservative voices during that time. Before joining the Supreme Court, Scalia was a law professor, served as assistant attorney general under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and was judge of Washington D.C.'s U.S. Court of Appeals. Scalia was the first Italian-American Supreme Court justice. He died in his sleep.Photo by: Mark Wilson Harper Lee, 89 — Died: Feb. 19, 2016 — Lee was proof that it only takes one great book to make an author an all-time legend. Her 1960 novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" remains one of America's most read books and it won a Pulitzer Prize upon its release. Lee was also well known as a friend of author Truman Capote, whom she aided in the research for his classic book "In Cold Blood." In 2015, Lee's second novel, "Go Set a Watchman," was released and became a bestseller. Lee died in her sleep in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.Photo by: Chip Somodevilla Sonny James, 87 — Died: Feb. 22, 2016 — From 1967 to 1971, James released 16 singles and each one hit No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart. The feat was unprecedented and cemented James as a country music legend. Some of his most beloved hits include "Young Love" and "Need You." James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He died in Nashville.Photo by: Rick Diamond Joey Feek, 40 — Died: March 4, 2016 — One half of the country music husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory, Feek died after a long and inspiring battle with cancer. Feek was diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and she used her fight with cancer to inspire others through a popular blog she wrote until her death. Her husband Rory Feek made a documentary about her life, which was released in 2016.Photo by: Ethan Miller Nancy Reagan, 94 — Died: March 6, 2016 — A Hollywood actor by trade, Reagan was married to Ronald Reagan for 52 years and served as both first lady of the United States and of California. She founded the infamous "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign of the 1980s. Reagan was a breast cancer survivor and later in life was an active supporter of embryonic stem cell research. She died of congestive heart failure and her funeral was attended by four current or former first ladies.Photo by: Joe Raedle George Martin, 90 — Died: March 8, 2016 — Martin, an icon of British music history, was also known as the "Fifth Beatle." His work as a record producer is the stuff of legend, including his work on all of the Beatles' original albums. He also worked as a music arranger and film music composer.Photo by: Ethan Miller Garry Shandling, 66 — Died: March 24, 2016 — One of TV's most innovative comedy writers, Shandling was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards over his career. His shows "It's Garry Shandling's Show" and "The Larry Sanders Show" are considered milestones of sitcom history. In addition to acting in those shows, Shandling was a stand-up comic and an actor in films like "Iron Man 2" "What Planet Are You From?" and 2016's "The Jungle Book." He died after having a heart attack and was widely mourned in the comedy community.Photo by: Amanda Edwards Patty Duke, 69 — Died: March 29, 2016 — Duke was one of the most in-demand performers of the 1960s. As a teenager, she won an Oscar for her performance as Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker." She followed that with a starring role in "The Patty Duke Show" on ABC, which earned her an Emmy nomination. She also recorded several albums and had a Top 10 hit with 1965's "Don't Just Stand There." Duke was a tireless advocate on behalf of people with mental illnesses. She died after suffering a ruptured intestine.Photo by: Frederick M. Brown Merle Haggard, 79 — Died: April 6, 2016 — "The Hag" was one of country music's true icons, winning Grammys, ACM Awards, CMA Awards and a Kennedy Center Honor during his long career. Haggard had 38 chart-topping country hits including "Mama Tried," "Workin' Man Blues" and "Pancho and Lefty" with his friend Willie Nelson. He's influenced countless musicians in his wake. Haggard recorded his final single months before he died of complications from pneumonia, it was released a month after his death.Photo by: Frazer Harrison Will Smith, 34 — Died: April 9, 2016 — A gifted football player who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints and an NCAA Championship with the Ohio State Buckeyes, Smith's death made national headlines in 2016. He played nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end after being drafted in the first round by the Saints in 2004. Smith was killed after a road-rage incident in New Orleans, when a man shot him. The shooter was found guilty of manslaughter, among other charges.Photo by: Streeter Lecka Doris Roberts, 90 — Died: April 17, 2016 — Perhaps best known for his run as Ray Ramano's mother on CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond," Roberts was a constant on the small screen for 60 years. She got her first TV credit in 1951 and won five Emmy Awards in the years following. She also had prominent roles on stage and in movies, including 1989's "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Roberts was a tireless advocate for animal rights and also testified before Congress as part of a panel fighting age discrimination in Hollywood. She died in her sleep after suffering a stroke.Photo by: Frederick M. Brown Chyna, 46 — Died: April 20, 2016 — Born Joan Laurer, Chyna was one of the most feared and popular female wrestlers in professional wrestling history. She was a mainstay of WWE events in the late 1990s, as a founding member of the iconic group D-Generation X. After leaving WWE, she wrote a best-selling autobiography, appeared in Playboy magazine, starred in several reality TV shows and ventured into pornography. Chyna died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 46. Her brain was donated to science for doctors to study the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez Prince, 57 — Died: April 21, 2016 — One of popular music's all-time legends, Prince was a constant innovator since signing his first record deal at the age of 18. He won Grammy Awards, an Oscar and other honors including an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to his own hit songs like "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry," Prince wrote hits for other artists including Chaka Khan and The Bangles. His sudden death of an opioid overdose shocked the entertainment world and caused millions of fans to mourn his passing.Photo by: Vince Bucci Morley Safer, 84 — Died: May 19, 2016 — An icon of broadcast news, Safer was a reporter for CBS News for more than 50 years, including a 46-year run on "60 Minutes." Safer won 12 Emmy Awards, three Peabody Awards and many other honors. He died from pneumonia about a week after announcing his retirement from "60 Minutes."Photo by: Jason Kempin Muhammad Ali, 74 — Died: June 3, 2016 — Ali was not only one of the greatest boxers in history, he was a tireless advocate for Civil Rights, religious rights and other causes. In the ring, he remains the only person to win the heavyweight title at three different times and was called the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. Ali was controversial outside the ring, being arrested for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He was a pillar of the American Islam community for 50 years. Ali's funeral in his native Louisville, Kentucky was an international event.Photo by: Carsten Koall Kimbo Slice, 42 — Died: June 6, 2016 — Slice was one of the first celebrities who became famous largely thanks to the internet. He was a football player-turned-fighter who became an online star after videos of him engaging in street brawls went viral in the early 2000s. He parlayed his fame into a professional fighting career in mixed martial arts and boxing. He died of heart failure at a hospital in south Florida.Photo by: Robert Laberge Gordie Howe, 88 — Died: June 10, 2016 — One of the greatest hockey players in history, "Mr. Hockey" spent 25 seasons with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, leading the league in points scored six times and being named league MVP six times. Howe also won four Stanley Cups and made the NHL All-Star game 23 times. His long career is considered particularly remarkable due to the physical style of his play. Later in life, Howe suffered from dementia. After his death, his body was brought to Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, where a 12-hour public visitation was held.Photo by: Richard Wolowicz Anton Yelchin, 27 — Died: June 19, 2016 — A young actor who was still making his name, Yelchin was best known as Chekov in the current "Star Trek" film series. Yelchin started his career as a child actor, then later starred in films like "Terminator Salvation" and 2011's "Fright Night." Yelchin's shocking death has been described as a "freak accident." He was killed when his car rolled down his driveway and hit him, pinning him against a security fence and crushing his lungs. The 2016 film "Star Trek Beyond" was dedicated to his memory.Photo by: Francois Durand Buddy Ryan, 85 — Died: June 28, 2016 — Ryan was the father of the modern NFL defense. He was an NFL coach for more than 30 years, including as defensive coordinator for the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears. Ryan won two Super Bowls during his coaching career. His sons Rex and Rob Ryan have been coaching in the NFL for more than 20 years. Buddy Ryan died after a long battle with cancer.Photo by: Mike Powell Pat Summitt, 64 — Died: June 28, 2016 — Summitt's career coaching college basketball is unmatched. Her 1,098 career coaching wins are the most in NCAA basketball history. Her teams at the University of Tennessee won eight NCAA championships in the 38 years she was there. She also never had a losing season as a coach. In 2011, Summitt shocked the world when she announced she'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 59. She resigned from Tennessee in 2012 and passed away this year at the age of 64.Photo by: Jim McIsaac Elie Wiesel, 87 — Died: July 2, 2016 — One of the most famous Holocaust survivors, Wiesel turned the horrors he experienced as a child in Nazi concentration camps into his 1960 book "Night." Wiesel wrote nearly 60 books, was a professor at Boston University and helped found the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with many other international honors. Wiesel died at his home in New York City.Photo by: Chris Hondros Garry Marshall, 81 — Died: July 19, 2016 — An icon of American entertainment, Marshall wrote and directed some of the most beloved movies and TV shows of the 20th century. Along with creating "Happy Days" and its multiple spinoff series, Marshall created 1970's "The Odd Couple" TV series. He also directed one of the 1980s most beloved movies in "Pretty Woman." Marshall's death prompted tributes from many celebrities, including his sister Penny Marshall.Photo by: Frazer Harrison John Saunders, 61 — Died: Aug. 10, 2016 — One of ESPN's most respected reporters, Saunders joined the network in 1986 and served as a long-time host of college football, NHL broadcasts and "The Sports Reporters." Before getting into broadcasting, Saunders played hockey as a student athlete at Western Michigan University and Ryerson University. He died at the age of 61, prompting tributes from figures across the world of sports.Photo by: Frazer Harrison John McLaughlin, 89 — Died: Aug. 16, 2016 — A former Jesuit priest who became a White House speech writer, McLaughlin was one of America's leading voices in political conversation. After working for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, McLaughlin went into television, hosting several long-running political shows during his broadcasting career, most notably "The McLaughlin Group," which he hosted from 1982 until his death this year. He died after a battle with prostate cancer.Photo by: Jason Kempin Gene Wilder, 83 — Died: Aug. 29, 2016 — A beloved actor who starred in some of the most memorable movies ever made, Wilder was a box-office hero through the 1970s and 1980s. His best-known roles came in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein," which he wrote. Wilder mostly retired from acting after the death of his wife, comedian Gilda Radner, in 1989. He won an Emmy Award for a 2002 guest role in "Will & Grace," which was his last screen credit. Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer's disease.Photo by: Bryan Bedder Alexis Arquette, 47 — Died: Sept. 11, 2016 — Arquette was considered a groundbreaker in the transgender community, as one of the first celebrities who transitioned genders. Like her siblings David, Patricia, Richmond and Rosanna Arquette, Alexis Arquette was an actor. She appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, most notably in 1998's "The Wedding Singer" as Adam Sandler's bandmate George. Arquette lived with HIV for nearly 30 years and died of heart failure caused by the disease.Photo by: Charley Gallay Edward Albee, 88 — Died: Sept. 16, 2016 — One of America's most honored writers, Albee won three Pulitzer Prizes and a pair of Tony Awards for plays he wrote. Among his most celebrated plays were "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "A Delicate Balance." Albee died at his home in New York.Photo by: Scott Wintrow Jose Fernandez, 24 — Died: Sept. 25, 2016 — A rising MLB star and one of the best young pitchers in baseball, Fernandez's sudden death shocked the sports world. After being named National League Rookie of the Year in 2013, Fernandez spent four seasons with the Miami Marlins before a boating accident cut his final season short. He and two other men were killed when the boat they were operating crashed off Miami Beach, Florida.Photo by: Mike Ehrmann Arnold Palmer, 87 — Died: Sept. 25, 2016 — Palmer was one of America's most beloved athletes and is considered among the greatest golfers of all time. He played professional golf for more than 50 years and racked up 62 PGA Tour wins and 7 major championships. Palmer was beloved among fellow golfers and is credited with bringing an "everyman" appeal to the sport. He was also the namesake of a popular drink that blends iced tea with lemonade. Palmer died of heart disease in his home state of Pennsylvania.Photo by: Sam Greenwood Leonard Cohen, 82 — Died: Nov. 7, 2016 — An enigmatic member of music history, Cohen was a prolific songwriter and performer who kept recording new music until weeks before his death. His recording career spanned nearly 50 years and resulted in his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His most famous song, "Hallelujah," has been called one of the most performed songs in music history. Cohen was widely celebrated in his native Canada. His death prompted tributes around the world.Photo by: Jim Dyson Janet Reno, 78 — Died: Nov. 7, 2016 — Reno held the distinction of being the second-longest serving U.S. attorney general in history, as she held the role from 1993 to 2001, under President Bill Clinton. She was also the first woman to ever hold that position. As head of the Department of Justice, Reno oversaw the investigations into and captures of the Unabomber and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. She died after a 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease.Photo by: Alex Wong Leon Russell, 74 — Died: Nov. 13, 2016 — Considered a legend among some of music's most famous artists, Russell was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member thanks to his long career as a performer, songwriter and record producer. Russell's biggest hit as a songwriter was "Superstar," which was made famous by The Carpenters in 1971, but his track "A Song for You" may be his most beloved. Russell recorded with iconic musicians like George Harrison, Elton John and the Beach Boys. He died at his home in Tennessee.Photo by: Stephen Lovekin Gwen Ifill, 61 — Died: Nov. 14, 2016 — A groundbreaker in the TV news business, Ifill was a Peabody Award-winning reporter and author. She's best known for her work with PBS News, including as host of "Washington Week in Review" and co-anchor of "PBS NewsHour." She was the first African-American woman to moderate a U.S. vice-presidential debate, serving the role in 2004 and 2008. In 2016, she co-moderated a Democratic presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Ifill died of breast cancer in Washington D.C.Photo by: Pool Jean Shepard, 82 — Died: Sept. 25, 2016 — Shepard was a Country Music Hall of Fame member who was one of the original female stars of the genre. She had dozens of hit singles from the 1950s through the 1970s, including the No. 1 smash "A Dear John Letter" in 1953. Shepard was a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry and was the first woman to be an active member for 60 consecutive years. Shepard died after battling Parkinson's disease.Photo by: Rick Diamond Florence Henderson, 82 — Died: Nov. 24, 2016 — Henderson was among the most beloved TV moms in American history. Her role as Carol Brady in "The Brady Bunch" made her an icon. Her acting career spanned more than 60 years, including her work on stage. Henderson later hosted a self-titled talk show and a cooking show. She died of heart failure in Los Angeles.Photo by: Frazer Harrison Fidel Castro, 90 — Died: Nov. 25, 2016 — One of the world's most controversial leaders, Castro was president of Cuba for more than 30 years. He turned Cuba into a socialist state and aligned with Soviet Russia during the Cold War. Many Cubans fled the country during his reign and he's been criticized as a ruthless dictator. His death prompted celebrations among many Cuban immigrants in the United States and led to a nine-day period of mourning in Cuba.Photo by: Jorge Rey Joe McKnight, 28 — Died: Dec. 1, 2016 — A star college football player who spent three seasons in the NFL, McKnight was said to be an idol to young athletes that followed him in his native Louisiana. McKnight's high school football career was legendary in Louisiana and he followed it with a strong playing career at USC before a tenure as running back for the New York Jets. He most recently played in the Canadian Football League. McKnight was shot and killed near New Orleans in an apparent road-rage incident. The man who killed McKnight was charged with manslaughter.Photo by: Jeff Golden John Glenn, 95 — Died: Dec. 8, 2016 — Glenn was a modern American pioneer and one of the true heroes of the 1960s space age. He was among the first class of NASA astronauts and became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Glenn went on to serve as a U.S. Senator for 25 years, representing his home state of Ohio. In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn returned to space, becoming the oldest person to ever do so. Glenn was highly honored and decorated throughout his life. He died in a Columbus, Ohio hospital.Photo by: Jason Miller Alan Thicke, 69 — Died: Dec. 13, 2016 — For his seven-season run on ABC's "Growing Pains," Thicke was called "America's favorite dad." His acting career spanned nearly 50 years and included appearances on current shows "This Is Us" and "Fuller House," and a starring role in the series "Unusually Thicke." He also composed a few of the most beloved theme songs in TV history, including "The Facts of Life" and "Wheel of Fortune." Thicke died suddenly after having a heart attack while playing hockey with his son.Photo by: Frazer Harrison Craig Sager, 65 – Died: December 15, 2016 – A colorful and iconic American sideline reporter best known for his work reporting from the sidelines of NBA games. Working for an array of television companies on several networks throughout his career, Sager’s face and often garish clothing never went unnoticed. Sager succumbed to leukemia after a long and highly public battle with the disease. Many from the worlds of sports and broadcasting mourned his passing.Photo by: Ronald Martinez Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99 — Died: Dec. 18, 2016 — Gabor racked up dozens of acting credits on screen and stage, beginning in the 1950s, but it was her ultra-public private life that made her an icon. She was married nine times, including finally to a man 26 years younger than her. She was a Hungarian immigrant whom Variety credits with "paving the way for today's celebrity-obsessed culture." She died of a heart attack after years of health issues.Photo by: CNN George Michael, 53 — Died: Dec. 25, 2016 — Two-time Grammy Award winning musician George Michael passed away on Christmas day. Michael performed with the band Wham! from 1981 to 1986. He left the band in 1986 and began a highly successful solo career. He was the highest charting British music artist in America during the 1980s. Michael was also a tireless philanthropist, anonymously giving his time and money to various causes.Photo by: Ernesto Ruscio Carrie Fisher, 60 — Died: Dec. 27, 2016 — Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in four "Star Wars" films, died from heart failure. She was also a bestselling writer, releasing her third memoir about a month before she passed away. Fisher also co-starred in beloved films like "When Harry Met Sally" and "The Blues Brothers." She was a respected screenwriter as well, known for helping fix scripts.Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez Debbie Reynolds, 84 — Died: Dec. 28, 2016 — Reynolds had a remarkable Hollywood career, acting in dozens of movies spanning nearly 70 years. Her most notable roles came in "Singin’ in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." More recently, she appeared in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and HBO's "Behind the Candelabra." Reynolds was Carrie Fisher's mother and she died one day after her daughter passed away.Photo by: C Flanigan