Let’s take a moment to remember the talented and amazing film and TV celebrities that we lost this year.
2016 was just a devastating year for the loss of celebrities we love. Actors like Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder stunned audiences on the big screen. TV moms and grandmas like Florence Henderson and Doris Roberts were there to make us laugh and smile. We invited these wonderful people into our homes and into our hearts. They will truly be missed.
Professor Severus Snape would enter a room, wave his wand and would command everyone’s attention. That was the style of Alan Rickman who delighted audiences with all the Harry Potter films, Love Actually, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Of course there was his role as Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard that somehow charmed the hell out of everyone with his evil charisma. Rickman was born in Hammersmith, London, England, UK in 1946 and his very first TV role was a Romeo and Juliet movie from 1978. His last role was in this year’s film Alice Through the Looking Glass. With a tear in their eyes Galaxy Quest fans will forever shout ‘by Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged.’
David Bowie was hands down one of the most influential artists in music history. He also happened to be an actor and a film composer. He was born David Jones in Brixton, London, England, UK in 1947. Bowie’s film Labyrinth remains a strong cult favorite to this day, as well as his roles in The Prestige, Zoolander, and Twin Peaks. It was his music that changed everything with “Space Oddity” and “Ziggy Stardust” from the 70s, and his huge hits “China Girl” and “Modern Love” that grabbed the attention of the 80s generation. Bowie’s IMDB explodes with 543 credits with everything from actor, actor, producer, and the list goes on. David Bowie continued to reinvent himself with this music with his final album “Bowie Legacy.”
Prince pushed the music envelope. Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, MN in 1958, Prince was a singer/songwriter and seven time Grammy winner with hit songs such as “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” and so many more. He sparked controversy with his sexual themes and to this day all generations know his music. He had an eccentric and enigmatic style and that never changed to fit in with the norm.
Carol Brady was everyone’s 70s TV mom, and losing Florence Henderson felt like losing a family member. Best known for her The Brady Bunch role, Henderson got started way back in 1955 with a guest spot on the TV series I Spy. Born in Dale, IN way back in 1934, this lovely actress never stopped acting. Her last role was that of the character Mimi in an upcoming film called Grandmothers Murder Club with Judge Reinhold and Pam Grier.
Born in Birmingham, England in 1934, Baker became a household name for his iconic role as R2-D2 in all six of the Star Wars films under George Lucas. He got his start in a TV show called Man of the World, and had parts in so many amazing films such as Time Bandits, Labyrinth, and Willow. last film was called When the Devil Rides Out. According to George Lucas “he was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2.”
Everybody loved Doris Roberts. She was the mom that nobody would mess with in Everybody Loves Raymond, the annoying grandmother in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and remember her as Mildred from Remington Steele? Roberts was born St. Louis, MO in 1925 was a Broadway stage star until she made her way to the screen in the TV series Starlight Theatre in 1951. Her last project was a short film called The Escort.
He was just 27. Anton Yelchin had such a bright future and was tragically taken far too soon. He nailed the role of Chekov in the Star Trek reboot films and fought off a vampire in the 2011 Fright Night. Born in Leningrad, (now St. Petersburg, Russia), Yelchin got his start with a role in ER back in 2000 and created such a successful career in a short time. Audiences will find it bittersweet to watch him in the many films that he had in the works such as Rememory with Peter Dinklage and Julia Ormond, We Don’t Belong Here, and Thoroughbred.
There was nobody like Gene Wilder. He charmed and delighted audiences with his roles in Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles. Stir Crazy, and Silver Streak. Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1933, he got his start on TV series Play of the Week back in 1961. The love of his life was Gilda Radner who was taken from him back in 1989.
Born in Chicago, IL in 1949, Garry Shandling was a witty writer and actor best known for It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show. He got his start writing for Sanford and Son back in 1975. His last film was a short called The Brain Storm with Jamie Foxx and Mel Gibson.
Firefly fans, known as “Browncoats,” mourn so much more than an actor. Glass was always kind and generous to his fans, and loved by his fellow actors. 1945 Born in Evansville, IN he had roles on all the hit shows like All in the Family, Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco and more. The talented actor then became a household name for his memorable role as Det. Ron Harris in Barney Miller, for which he was nominated for an Emmy. It is for his role as Shepherd Book in the huge cult favorite TV series Firefly and for his role in Serenity that he is also widely known. He was recently seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and CSI.
Another Barney Miller alumni, Abe Vigoda was lost. Born in 1921 and lived to be 94, Vigoda was famous for his roles in The Godfather and The Godfather II, and had a successful spinoff called Fish. Born in New York City, NY Vigoda got his start in a 1949 TV show called Suspense. He acted all the way up until 2014 in a film called Sweet Destiny.
Peter Vaughan’s watch has ended. Best known for his role as born as Maester Aemon, a leader in the Night’s Watch on Game of Thrones, Vaughan was a very popular character actor known also for films such as Brazil, The Remains of the Day, and Time Bandits. He was born in Wem, Shropshire, England, UK in 1923.
The world has also lost its original Man from U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn, Law and Order’s Steven Hill, Cool Hand Luke’s George Kennedy, Patty Duke, Happy Days’ Garry Marshall, and Joseph Mascolo who played Stefano DiMera in Days of our Lives.
Let’s hope 2017 is infinitely more kind to the celebrity universe.