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Famous People We’ve Lost in 2016

A look back at celebrities who have died this year

  • Debbie Reynolds, 84
    Richard Drew/AP

    Debbie Reynolds, actress, 84

    En español | (April 1, 1932 – Dec. 28, 2016) This acclaimed actress (and mother of actress Carrie Fisher, who died a day prior) made her mark in Hollywood, beginning in the early ’50s, by starring in such musical film classics as Three Little Words, Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Reynolds was also a noteworthy film historian, businesswoman and humanitarian — the latter earned her 2016’s Academy Awards Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.  

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  • Carrie Fisher
    Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett Collection

    Carrie Fisher, actress, 60

    (Oct. 21, 1956 - Dec. 27, 2016) “I knew something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film,” she said of playing Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie (1977). Sure enough, global fame followed. Fisher later costarred in When Harry Met Sally, then became an accomplished memoirist and novelist. She revealed struggling with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness in her solo show, Wishful Drinking (2006). “You’re only as sick as your secrets,” said Fisher in 2009. “If that’s true, I’m just really healthy.”

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  • George Michael
    Michael Putland/Avalon via ZUMA Press

    George Michael, musician, 53

    (Jun. 25, 1963 - Dec. 25, 2016) Already wildly successful at 23 as one half of British duo Wham! (“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”), George Michael launched his solo career in 1986 and won a Grammy for his first solo album, the uplifting Faith (1987). After the release of his fifth and final album, Patience, in 2004, Michael said, “I just wanted people to know that I was absolutely serious about pop music.” He will be remembered for the intimacy of his voice and the earworm irresistibility of songs like “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” and “Last Christmas.”

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  • Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99
    AF archive/Alamy

    Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress, socialite, 99

    (Feb. 6, 1917 – Dec. 18, 2016) This glamorous Hungarian-born figure rose to fame for “being famous.” Before she became a Hollywood star, she earned the title of “Miss Hungary,” in 1936. As an actress, she had roles in more than 60 television movies and feature films, including 1952’s Moulin Rogue, 1958’s Queen of Outer Space and 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

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  • China Machado, 86
    Charles Sykes/AP

    China Machado, fashion model, 87

    (Dec. 25, 1928 – Dec. 18, 2016) Born Noel De Souza Machado, this pioneer, of Chinese and Portuguese heritage, broke racial barriers in the fashion industry by becoming the first nonwhite model to grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in February 1959. At this publication, Machado also became the senior fashion editor, then the fashion director.

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  • Craig Sager
    Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images

    Craig Sager, sports journalist, 65

    (June 29, 1951 – Dec. 15, 2016) This longtime TV reporter brought a noticeable sartorial flair to sideline NBA coverage for Turner Sports and ESPN, thanks to his colorful attire. He also covered college football, the NFL, baseball and the 1992 Winter Olympics, among other high-profile sports.

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  • Bernard Fox
    Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

    Bernard Fox, actor, 89

    (May 11, 1927 – Dec. 14, 2016) For nine years, he portrayed the ostentatious Dr. Bombay on ABC’s iconic TV sitcom, Bewitched. He reprised that role on Bewitched’s short-lived follow-up TV show, Tabitha. Fox’s other memorable roles include Colonel Crittendon on CBS’s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes and Nigel Penny-Smith on ABC’s daytime soap opera, General Hospital.

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  • Alan Thicke, 69
    Richard Shotwell/AP

    Alan Thicke, actor, 69

    (March 1, 1947 – Dec. 13, 2016) For seven seasons, he portrayed Jason Seaver, the patriarch on ABC’s beloved sitcom Growing Pains. The Canadian-born actor hosted several game shows, including First Impressions (based in Montreal), Animal Crack-Ups and Pictionary. Thicke also wrote the theme songs for such popular TV shows as Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

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  • E.R. Braithwaite, 104
    Everett Collection Historical/Alamy

    E.R. Braithwaite, author, 104

    (June 27, 1912 – Dec. 12, 2016) This Guyanese-born author published his most famous book, To Sir, With Love, in 1959; he incorporated many of his own life experiences in the tale of a struggling West Indian schoolteacher in the East End of London. Sidney Poitier starred in the 1967 movie adaption of the novel. In addition to writing several other novels touching upon race, Braithwaite was a Royal Air Force pilot during World War II and a Guyanese diplomat. 

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  • John Glenn, 95
    Jay LaPrete/AP

    John Glenn, astronaut, 95

    (July 18, 1921 – Dec. 8, 2016) This pioneer made history on Feb. 20, 1962, when he commanded the one-man Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth. He retired from the astronaut corps in 1964. Ten years later, he was elected to a U.S. Senate seat representing Ohio and served until 1999. In October 1998, at age 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space on the space shuttle Discovery mission STS-95. 

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  • Fidel Castro
    Jose Goitia/AP

    Fidel Castro, politician, 90

    (Aug. 13, 1926 – Nov. 25, 2016) One of the most polarizing figures in contemporary world politics, he led a Cuban revolution in July 1953 before overthrowing the government in 1959. He then governed the Republic of Cuba for 47 years — first as prime minister (1959 to 1976) and then as president (1976 to 2008).

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  • Ron Glass
    ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

    Ron Glass, actor, 71

    (July 10, 1945 – Nov. 25, 2016) For eight seasons, he portrayed the literary Det. Ron Harris on the sitcom Barney Miller. He also appeared on other popular TV shows such as 227, Family Matters and Murder, She Wrote before landing the role of the spiritual leader Derrial Book on the critically acclaimed sci-fi series Firefly (and its sequel film Serenity).  

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  • Florence Henderson
    CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

    Florence Henderson, actor, 82

    (Feb. 14, 1934 – Nov. 24, 2016) She became one of American television’s most beloved moms for her portrayal of Carol Brady, the matriarch of a blended family on the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. Her acting career started in the 1950s with musicals such as Oklahoma!, South Pacific and Wish You Were Here.

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  • Colonel Abrams
    Steve Pyke/Getty Images

    Colonel Abrams, musician, 67

    (May 25, 1949 – Nov. 24, 2016) In the 1980s, this R&B singer had dance hits with “Trapped,” “Music Is the Answer” and “I’m Not Going to Let You.” Possessing a smoky baritone, he was also considered an EDM (electronic dance music) pioneer. 

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  • Sharon Jones
    Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

    Sharon Jones, musician, 60

    (May 4, 1956 – Nov. 18, 2016) This fiery soul singer experienced a late-career renaissance by connecting with the Brooklyn-based combo the Dap-Kings. She was the subject of the 2015 documentary Miss Sharon Jones!

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  • Mose Allison, musician, 89
    Howard Denner/Avalon/ZUMA Press

    Mose Allison, musician, 89

    (Nov. 11, 1927 – Nov. 15, 2016) Heralded worldwide as the “William Faulkner of Jazz,” this award-winning pianist, singer and songwriter combined jazz, blues and country while making poignant socio-political commentary throughout his 50-year career with such songs as "Your Mind Is on Vacation" and "New Parchman."

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  • Gwen Ifill, journalist, 61
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    Gwen Ifill, journalist, 61

    (Sept. 29, 1955 – Nov. 14, 2016) This Peabody Award-winning and pioneering political broadcast journalist was the news anchor for PBS NewsHour. In 1999, she became the first African American woman to host a political TV show when she joined Washington Week in Review.  

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  • Leon Russell, musician, 74
    Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Alamy

    Leon Russell, musician, 74

    (April 2, 1942 – Nov. 13, 2016) With an intoxicating blend of blues, rock and country, this pianist, composer and arranger created timeless hits such as “A Song for You,” “This Masquerade” and “Tight Rope.” Many of his songs have been famously covered by a diverse array of heavyweights that include Donny Hathaway, George Benson, Willie Nelson and Elton John.

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  • Robert Vaughn, actor, 83

    Robert Vaughn, actor, 83

    (Nov. 22, 1932 – Nov. 11, 2016) Best known for his portrayal of Napoleon Solo, a spy on the 1960s TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., this beloved actor appeared in numerous American and British TV shows such as Law & Order and Hustle.

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  • Leonard Cohen
    Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

    Leonard Cohen, musician, 82

    (Sept. 21, 1934 – Nov. 7, 2016) The iconic, award-winning, Canadian-born singer and songwriter is best known for penning such enduring classics as “Suzanne,” “Hallelujah” and “Avalanche.” His songs have been covered by a vast array of artists, ranging from Elvis Costello and Nick Cave to Herbie Hancock and Dianne Reeves.

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  • Janet Reno, former U.S. Attorney General, 78
    Carol T. Powers/The New York Times/Redux

    Janet Reno, former U.S. Attorney General, 78

    (July 21, 1938 – Nov. 7, 2016) In 1993, she shattered a glass ceiling during President Bill Clinton’s administration when she became the first female attorney general of the United States. She served in that role until January 2001, becoming the second-longest running U.S. attorney general after William Wirt.

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  • Rod Temperton, musician, 66
    Michael Putland/Getty Images

    Rod Temperton, musician, 66

    (Oct. 9, 1947 – announced Oct. 5. 2016) Prolific British pop and R&B songwriter penned “Thriller,” “Rock With You” and “Off the Wall” — three of Michael Jackson’s most iconic hits. Before working with the King of Pop, he was a member of and the main songwriter for the R&B band Heatwave, which had it own string of hits, including “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever.” Temperton also wrote classics for George Benson, Quincy Jones, Michael McDonald, Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin and the Brothers Johnson.

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  • Oscar Brand, musician, 96
    Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

    Oscar Brand, musician, 96

    (Feb. 7, 1920 – Sept. 30, 2016) Best known as a folk singer-songwriter, Oscar Brand was a Peabody Award-winning Renaissance figure who also wrote books, articles, documentary films and Broadway musical scores. At New York City-based radio station WNYC, he also hosted Folksong Festival, the longest-running weekly radio show with a single host in history, which debuted in December 1945.

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  • Gloria Naylor, author, 66
    Tom Keller/AP

    Gloria Naylor, novelist, 66

    (Jan. 25, 1950 – Sept. 28, 2016) Her 1982 novel, The Women of Brewster Place, won a National Book Award. Seven years later, Oprah Winfrey produced an acclaimed television miniseries of it for ABC. Naylor’s other novels include Linden Hills, Bailey’s Cafe and The Men of Brewster Place.

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  • Arnold Palmer
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Arnold Palmer, athlete, 87

    (Sept. 10, 1929 – Sept. 25, 2016) Beloved around the world as the “King” of professional golfing, he helped raise the profile of the sport in America. Between 1958 and 1964, Palmer won seven major titles: four Masters, one United States Open and two British Opens. During his career, he won 93 tournaments worldwide.

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  • Kashif, musician, 59
    Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images

    Kashif, musician, 59

    (Dec. 26, 1956 – Sept. 25, 2016) Born Michael Jones, the influential, three-time Grammy-nominated music producer, singer and keyboardist helped define the early ’80s R&B sound with his bubbly synth-driven sound. He produced and wrote hit singles and LPs for such artists as Whitney Houston, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Meli’sa Morgan.

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  • Bill Nunn
    Paras Griffin/Getty Images

    Bill Nunn, actor, 63

    (Oct 20, 1952 – Sept. 24, 2016) Best known for portraying Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s mercurial 1989 movie, Do the Right Thing, Nunn starred in other critically acclaimed Lee movies such as School Daze, Mo’ Better Blues and He Got Game. In 2004, he appeared in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun.

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  • Buckwheat Zydeco
    Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

    Buckwheat Zydeco, musician, 68

    (Nov. 14, 1947 – Sept. 24, 2016) Armed with an accordion, the Grammy- and Emmy-winning Stanley Dural Jr. — better known as Buckwheat Zydeco — helped bring rollicking Louisiana creole music to the mainstream with a string of infectious albums and collaboration with a diverse slew of artists such as Willie Nelson, Keith Richards and Mavis Staples.

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  • Edward Albee, playwright, 88
    Gordon M. Grant/Alamy

    Edward Albee, playwright, 88

    (March 12, 1928 – Sept. 16, 2016) Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who penned such enduring American classics as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story and The Sandbox. Renowned for his candid psychological explorations into marriage and sexual relationships, Albee published his last work, Me Myself and I, in 2007.  

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  • Gene Wilder, 83
    STEVE WOOD/REX/Shutterstock/AP

    Gene Wilder, actor, 83

    (June 11, 1933 – Aug. 29, 2016) A comedic genius best remembered for portraying Willy Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Oscar-nominated actor also starred in a string of other comedy classics including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Producers, and Stir Crazy.

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  • Juan Gabriel dies at 66
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Juan Gabriel, musician, 66

    (Jan. 7, 1950 – Aug. 28, 2016) Prolific Mexican singing and songwriting superstar whose glitzy stage presence helped break barriers within the expansive world of Latin music. His 1984 LP, Recuerdos, Vol. 11 sold more than 8 million copies and is the best-selling album of all-time in Mexico.

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  • Bobby Hutcherson
    Craig Lovell/Getty Images

    Bobby Hutcherson, musician, 75

    (Jan. 27, 1941 – Aug. 15, 2016) Pioneering jazz vibraphonist and composer who emerged in the 1960s with a series of envelope-pushing LPs on Blue Note Records. Over the course of more than 40 albums as a leader, Hutcherson brought expansive, harmonic colors and liquid melodicism to the language to post-bop vibraphone playing. In 2010, he became a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

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  • Kenny Baker, actor, 81

    Kenny Baker, actor, 81

    (Aug. 24, 1934 – Aug. 13, 2016) The English actor warmed millions of hearts across the galaxy for his portrayal of the resourceful robot R2-D2 in George Lucas’ space-opera franchise, Star Wars. He also portrayed an Ewok in 1983’s Return of the Jedi.

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  • John Saunders, sportscaster, 61
    Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

    John Saunders, sportscaster, 61

    (Feb. 2, 1955 – Aug. 10, 2016) Canadian-born broadcast journalist appealed to both hard-core and passing sports fans with his illuminated coverage and commentary of football, basketball, hockey and baseball on ESPN for 30 years.

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  • David Huddleston, actor, 85
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    David Huddleston, actor, 85

    (Sept. 17, 1930 – Aug. 2, 2016) Veteran movie and TV actor, best known for portraying the titular role in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 comedy classic, The Big Lebowski.  

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  • Garry Marshall, director and creator, 81
    Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images

    Garry Marshall, director and creator, 81

    (Nov. 13, 1934 – July 19, 2016) The brains behind such cherished ’70s TV sitcoms as The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy, he also directed several movies, including the critically acclaimed Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries.

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  • Noel Neill, actor, 95
    Stephen Lance Dennee/The Paducah Sun/AP

    Noel Neill, actor, 95

    (Nov. 25, 1920 – July 3, 2016) Noted for being the first to portray Lois Lane, the news reporter and love interest of Clark Kent/Superman in the first 1948 movie 15-film serial, Superman, she made other TV and movie adaptations of the popular DC comic-book franchise, notably seasons 2-6 of television’s Adventures of Superman, 1978’s Superman: The Movie (starring Christopher Reeves), ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and 2006’s Superman Returns (starring Brandon Routh).

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  • Elie Wiesel, writer, professor and political activist, 87
    Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

    Elie Wiesel, writer, professor and political activist, 87

    (Sept. 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016) Author of 57 books, he’s most renowned for his 1960 book Night, a sobering recollection of his and his father’s experience in the Nazi German concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In 1986, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for speaking out against violence, repression and racism; he was also a founding board member of the New York Human Rights Foundation.  

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  • Michael Cimino, director and screenwriter, 77
    Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images

    Michael Cimino, director and screenwriter, 77

    (Feb. 3, 1939 – July 2, 2016) Noteworthy film director, best remembered for the 1978 Academy Award-winning The Deer Hunter (starring Robert De Niro).

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  • Pat Summitt, college basketball coach, 64
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    Pat Summitt, college basketball coach, 64

    (June 14, 1952 – June 28, 2016) Coached the Tennessee Lady Vols to 1,098 career wins, the most in NCAA basketball coaching history, and eight national championships. Summitt also won a gold Olympic medal as head coach of the 1984 U.S. women’s basketball team and a silver Olympic medal as a player on the 1976 team.

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  • Bill Cunningham, photographer, 87
    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    Bill Cunningham, photographer, 87

    (March 13, 1929 – June 25, 2016) Celebrated fashion photographer for the New York Times renowned for his candid street photos, many of which were of well-known subjects who hadn’t given permission to be photographed. He also pioneered the Times’ coverage of the gay community with provocative photo essays of Fire Island Pines, gay pride, AIDS benefits and the Wigstock drag performance festival.

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  • People Ralph Stanley
    Ed Rode/AP Photo

    Ralph Stanley, musician, 89

    (Feb. 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016) Iconic bluegrass banjo player and singer was one of the first musicians to be inducted into both the Grand Ole Opry and the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. His work was featured in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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  •   Muhammad Ali, boxer and activist, 74
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    Muhammad Ali, boxer and activist, 74

    (Jan. 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) The world’s most iconic boxer, born Cassius Clay, won a gold medal as a light-heavyweight boxer in the 1960 Olympics. He converted to Islam three years later and renamed himself. As a heavyweight boxer, he reigned as the world’s champion from 1964 to 1967, 1974 to 1978, and 1978 to 1979.  In addition, Ali was a leading socio-political activist for racial equality. In 2002, he went to Kabul, Afghanistan, as a U.N. Messenger of Peace.

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  • Burt Kwouk, actor, 85
    Brad Jennings/Photoshot/Courtesy of Everett Collection

    Burt Kwouk, actor, 85

    (July 18, 1930 – May 24, 2016) Chinese-British actor, most remembered for portraying Cato, a martial arts expert in Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther film series. Kwouk appeared in numerous films including 1987’s Empire of the Sun, 2001’s Kiss of the Dragon and 2003’s Beyond Borders. 

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  • Morley Safer, broadcast journalist, 84
    Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    Morley Safer, broadcast journalist, 84

    (Nov. 8, 1931 – May 19, 2016) Canadian-born journalist with 12 Emmys appeared on CBS’ acclaimed 60 Minutes from 1970 to 2016; he’s also remembered for bringing the horrors of the Vietnam War to American households.  

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  • Guy Clark, musician, 74
    Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images

    Guy Clark, musician, 74

    (Nov. 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016) Acclaimed country singer, guitarist and songwriter who released more than 20 albums, including his 2014 Grammy award-winning My Favorite Picture of You, Clark was a progenitor of the progressive country and outlaw country subgenres.

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  • Billy Paul, musician, 81
    Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

    Billy Paul, musician, 81

    (Dec. 1, 1934 – April 24, 2016) Jazz-laden R&B singer who possessed a bristling baritone voice, Paul is best remembered for such timeless Philadelphia International Records’ songs as “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “Ebony Woman” and “Am I Black Enough."

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  • Famous People Lost 2016, Prince
    Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

    Prince, musician, 57

    (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) Born Prince Rogers Nelson, this music genius demonstrated incredible virtuosity over many instruments; broke stylistic barriers around R&B, rock, pop and funk; challenged racial, gender and sexuality conventions; and delivered such timeless hits as “When Doves Cry,” “Sign o’ the Times” and “Little Red Corvette.”

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  • Famous People Lost 2016, Gato Barbieri, musician, 83

    Gato Barbieri, musician, 83

    (Nov. 28, 1932 – April 2, 2016) This Argentine tenor saxophonist once wielded a burly, emotive sound that recalled fellow saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders. Both men explored the heady free-jazz scene in the mid-to-late 1960s, with Barbieri working closely with Don Cherry, Carla Bley and Gary Burton. Also a noted composer, Barbieri was nominated for a Grammy for his score to Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 film, Last Tango in Paris.

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  •  Famous People Lost 2016, Doris Roberts, actress, 90
    CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

    Doris Roberts, actress, 90

    (Nov. 4, 1925 – April 17, 2016) She was most famous as the domineering Mari Barone — the bane of her daughter-in-law’s existence — on the TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. The role earned her four Emmys. Ray Romano, who played her son on the show, said upon her passing, “I will miss her dearly."

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  • Famous People Lost 2016, Merle Haggard, musician, 79
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    Merle Haggard, musician, 79

    (April 6, 1937 ­– April 6, 2016) The country music legend famous for hits like “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Okie from Muskogee,” as well as for his dark past (he was in prison as a youth), was a natural storyteller who influenced countless musicians through the decades. Upon his passing, Dolly Parton said, “We’ve lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time.”

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  • Famous People Lost 2016, Patty Duke, actress, 69
    Andrew Stawicki/Toronto Star/Getty Images

    Patty Duke, actress, 69

    (Dec. 14, 1946 – March 29, 2016) She’s considered one of the greatest teen actresses in history, thanks in part to her star turn on The Patty Duke Show and Oscar-winning role as Helen Keller in 1962’s The Miracle Worker. Hers wasn’t an easy road, however; diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she spent her later years working as a mental health advocate.

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  • Famous People Lost 2016, Bill Henderson, musician, 90
    John Shearer/WireImage/Getty Images

    Bill Henderson, musician, 90

    (March 19, 1926 – April 3, 2016) The veteran jazz singer, who recorded with a litany of top-shelf artists including Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, also appeared as an actor in such movies as Lethal Weapon 4 and White Men Can’t Jump.

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  • Keith Emerson
    Trish Tokar/Getty Images

    Keith Emerson, musician, 71

    (Nov. 2, 1944 – March 10, 2016) Composer Keith Emerson cofounded the progressive-rock triumvirate Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Known for his virtuosity at the keyboards, Lake is also remembered as a “gentle soul” by former band mate Carl Palmer, who said: “[His] love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come."

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  • Ernestine Anderson
    Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

    Ernestine Anderson, musician, 87

    (Nov. 11, 1928 – March 10, 2016) With a career spanning more than 60 years, this iconic jazz and blues singer earned four Grammy nominations and has recorded more than 30 albums. Throughout her career she’s worked with a litany of jazz and blues titans such as Johnny Otis, Rolf Ericson, Lionel Hampton and Quincy Jones.

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  • George Martin
    David Rose/AP

    George Martin, music producer, 90

    (Jan. 3, 1926 – March 8, 2016) As was the late keyboardist and singer Billy Preston, George Martin is often referred to as “the fifth Beatle” because of his eminent role as the Fab Four’s record producer. Martin’s formal music training and keen ear helped the Beatles gain a sophisticated sound that distinguished them from their contemporaries. Martin also produced two of the best-known James Bond movie theme songs: Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” and Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die.” Because of his contribution to pop music culture, Martin was appointed a knight bachelor in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth II.

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  • Nancy Reagan

    Nancy Reagan, former First Lady, 94

    (July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016) When she met Ronald Reagan as a young actress in the 1950s, she could hardly have imagined she’d one day join him in the White House. She was an elegant presence as first lady and later, following her husband’s diagnosis, a strong advocate for Alzheimer’s disease research.

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  • Pat Conroy

    Pat Conroy, novelist, 70

    (Oct. 26, 1945 – March 4, 2016) The Southern writer’s most well-known books are The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini — the latter was based on his abusive real-life father. He once said, “A great story changes the world for you — changes the way you look at life."

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  • Harper Lee
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Harper Lee, novelist, 89

    (April 28, 1926 – Feb. 19, 2016) The Alabama-born writer penned To Kill a Mockingbird, one of America’s most treasured novels. Published in 1960, the book deals with racial inequalities in the Deep South amid a rape trial. It earned Lee a Pulitzer Prize the following year. Her follow-up to the book, Go Set a Watchman, was written in the mid-1950s prior to Mockingbird — but wasn’t published until 2015.

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  • Denise Matthews
    Getty Images

    Denise Matthews, musician, 57

    (Jan. 4, 1959 – Feb. 15, 2016) In the early 1980s, this Canadian-born model became Prince’s girlfriend, muse and protégé. Under his guidance, he renamed her Vanity and enlisted her to front his female trio, Vanity 6, which recorded the racy 1982 funk classic “Nasty Girl.” She was slated to be the love interest in Prince’s semi-autobiographical movie Purple Rain, but she opted for a solo singing and acting career outside Prince’s self-realized Royal Badness.

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  • Antonin Scalia

    Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 79

    (March 11, 1936 – Feb. 13, 2016) Confirmed in 1986, Scalia was the longest-serving justice among the most-recent group of nine and had a reputation for being a reliable — and controversial — conservative. He called the court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage last year “a threat to American democracy.”

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  • Maurice White
    Richard E. Aaron/Getty Images

    Maurice White, musician, 74

    (Dec. 19, 1941 – Feb. 4, 2016) The drummer, singer, songwriter, bandleader and producer extraordinaire founded Earth, Wind & Fire, one of the most popular American bands to emerge in the 1970s. With its mesmerizing blend of R&B, Latin, African, jazz, pop and gospel music, Earth, Wind & Fire released such enduring classics as “Shining Star,” “Devotion” and “That’s the Way of the World,” and won seven Grammys and four American Music Awards.

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  • Paul Kantner
    Steve Snowden/Getty Images

    Paul Kantner, musician, 74

    (March 17, 1941 – Jan. 28, 2016) In the mid-1960s, guitarist and singer Kantner cofounded the immensely influential psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane, and in the ’70s its more pop-oriented spin-off group, Jefferson Starship. Jefferson Airplane became one of the first bands to emerge from the California Bay Area and gain international commercial and critical acclaim. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored Jefferson Airplane with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

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  • Abe Vigoda
    ABC Photo Archives

    Abe Vigoda, actor, 94

    (Feb. 21, 1921 – Jan. 26, 2016) The Brooklyn-born actor is best known for playing Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather movie (1972) and Detective Phil Fish on the 1970s TV sitcom Barney Miller. Before landing those memorable roles, Vigoda worked in such Broadway productions as Marat/Sade and The Man in the Glass Booth.  

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  • Glenn Frey
    Diane Bondareff/AP

    Glenn Frey, musician, 67

    (Nov. 6, 1948 – Jan. 18, 2016) Cofounder of the Eagles with Don Henley, the Detroit-born singer and songwriter cowrote 1970s classics such as “Take It Easy" and “Hotel California.” He later went solo, releasing his latest album, After Hours, in 2012.

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  • Monte Irvin
    Mike Derer/AP

    Monte Irvin, athlete, 96

    (Feb. 25, 1919 – Jan. 11, 2016) As a left fielder and right fielder with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, Alabama-born Irvin helped break racial barriers in American sports when he joined the New York Giants in 1949. With the Giants, he played in two World Series before moving to the Chicago Cubs. Prior to his death, Irvin was the oldest-living former athlete who played in the Negro Leagues and for the Giants and Cubs.

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  • Alan Rickman
    Mike Marsland/Getty Images

    Alan Rickman, actor, 69

    (Feb. 21, 1946 – Jan. 14, 2016) The English actor had many roles through his long career but is probably best known for playing the magic instructor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. You can hear his voice as the Blue Caterpillar in this year’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

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  • David Bowie

    David Bowie, musician, 69

    (Jan. 8, 1947 – Jan. 10, 2016) An icon of 20th-century popular music, Bowie was rarely predictable and often remarkable — beginning in the late 1960s with Space Oddity and right up until his death. Bowie inspired countless other boundary-testing artists, including Lady Gaga, who’s said, “My whole career is a tribute to David Bowie.” Bowie released his final album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday, two days before he died.

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  • Paul Bley
    Frans Schellekens/Getty Images

    Paul Bley, musician, 83

    (Nov. 10, 1932 – Jan. 3, 2016) An influential jazz pianist and composer, this Canadian-born musician helped usher in the free-jazz movement in the 1960s, particularly with his involvement with the Jazz Composers Guild, which also included fellow renegades as Cecil Taylor, Roswell Rudd, Sun Ra and his former wife Carla Bley.

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  • Natalie Cole
    Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

    Natalie Cole, musician, 65

    (Feb. 6, 1950 ­– Dec. 31, 2015) She was known because of her famous father, Nat King Cole, but found her own success in the 1970s with hits such as “This Will Be” and "Our Love.” Cole, who struggled with health and drug problems over the years, won six Grammys for her 1991 album, Unforgettable. It included her moving rendition of the song “Unforgettable,” rerecorded in the form of a duet with her dad.

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(Video) Patty Duke, Dead at 69: Patty Duke, the former teen icon and star of the 'The Patty Duke Show' has died. She was 69.