This list will be updated regularly with major or noteworthy celebrity deaths, and is in reverse-chronological order, beginning January 2017, meaning the most recent updates appear at the top of the page. Scroll down for the 2016 timeline.
2016 was a bleak year in many ways, none moreso than in the number of legends we lost from the world of entertainment. Saying goodbye to Prince, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, George Michael and Alan Rickman among countless others was awful, but the legacies they worked so hard to create live on.
This article exists to keep a record of the biggest #celebrity deaths in 2017, to honor those who pass and celebrate their achievements. It will be updated as the year goes on, hopefully not too often.
Bill Marshall (January 1, 2017, Age 77)
Forty years ago, Bill Marshall co-founded a small film fest which opened its doors to 5,000 movie fans. Today, the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF, is one of the most prestigious in the world, attended by the Hollywood elite and considered a major step on the road to the Oscars.
Marshall received the Order of Canada medal in 2002, and is survived by three children, six grandchildren and his wife Sara Ruda Marshall.
Granny (January 3, 2017, Age 105)
Forgive the slight cheat — Granny was neither your grandmother nor mine, but in fact the oldest killer whale in the world until her death some time around the end of 2016 (it was announced officially on Jan 3rd). Amazingly, this orca had been resident in the Pacific ocean in and around the state of Washington for 105 years (that's 12 in whale years), even though the average lifespan in the wild is around 70. She's even the subject of her own children's book, Granny's Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas.
Continue reading below for the 2016 list.
Ever since the tragic death of not one, but two genuine superstars of the entertainment world in the same week of January 2016, the gods of #celebrity kept on taking. Let's round-up the most heartbreaking deaths of 2016.
David Bowie (January 10, 2016, Age 69)
The death of the legendary 'Ziggy Stardust' singer, whose musical career had influenced everybody from Madonna to Lady Gaga, sent shockwaves through the world in January. David Bowie died from liver cancer only two days after releasing his final album 'Blackstar'. The album was a global number one and critics called it his best work in decades — a bittersweet swansong.
Alan Rickman (January 14, 2016, Age 69)
No death is welcomed, but this one was a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Only four days after David Bowie's death, the world lost one of the most versatile and beloved actors of the 20th and 21st centuries. Alan Rickman had a long career on stage and screen, but it's his deliciously dark role as Severus Snape that younger audiences will carry with them in their memories for years to come.
René Angélil (January 14, 2016, Age 73)
On the same day that Alan Rickman passed away, Céline Dion's husband and manager René Angélil lost his battle with throat cancer. Dion and the Canadian-born Angélil were absolutely inseparable during 22 years of marriage, and in 2013 he was awarded the Order of Canada. The couple's son René-Charles' speech at Angélil's televised funeral in Quebec was almost too emotional to bear.
Denise Matthews (February 15, 2016, Age 57)
The former lead singer of the Prince-mentored funk-pop group Vanity 6, who never achieved mainstream success but garnered a considerable cult following in the years to come, Denise Matthews (also known simply as Vanity) died of complications from kidney disease. Her legacy lives on in contemporary funk/R&B artists such as Jazmine Sullivan (who namechecks Vanity 6 on the track 'Don't Make Me Wait').
Big Ang (February 18, 2016, Age 55)
The undisputed shining jewel in the Mob Wives crown, Big Ang won the hearts of viewers with her bountiful kindness, wisdom and compassion. That, and her love of a big 'old drink and outrageous sense of humor that could split even the most sullen face into a grin. Big Ang (real name Angela Raiola) died of cancer after a tumor in her throat spread to her lungs and brain.
Cara McCollum (February 22, 2016, Age 24)
Cara McCollum was a role model for young women everywhere. Named Miss New Jersey in 2013, the Princeton grad went on to become lead news anchor for SNJ Today at the age of only 23. Tragically she was involved in a car accident in mid-February, and succumbed to her injuries a week later. Her legacy lives on in the charity .
Nancy Reagan (March 6, 2016, Age 94)
In March, the former First Lady of the United States Nancy Reagan died of heart failure. Many people are talented in one area, but few have talents as diverse as Reagan: An actress in the 1950s, she met future husband Ronald on the set of a television show in 1961. In later years she devoted her time to charity work, most notably embryonic cell research. That's what I call a life well lived.
Zaha Hadid (March 31, 2016, Age 65)
Architecture is typically a man's world, which is why Zaha Hadid was such an inspiration. The Iraqi-born British architect was made a Dame in 2012 in recognition of her design work on projects such as the London Aquatics Centre (built for the 2012 Olympic Games) and Hong Kong's gorgeously eccentric Innovation Tower. The word "trailblazer" was practically invented for this uber-talented lady. Hadid suffered a heart attack in Miami.
Daisy Lewellyn (April 8, 2016, Age 36)
The star of E!'s Blood, Sweat & Heels passed away after a battle with a rare form of liver cancer. The style expert had contributed to magazines such as Glamour and InStyle. After receiving her diagnosis in 2015, Lewellyn spoke of her fearlessness at facing death.
Andy Cohen paid tribute to his colleague, whose short life serves as a harsh reminder that death is often senseless, and that the only way to combat it is to live life to its fullest in the time you have.
Victoria Wood (April 20, 2016, Age 62)
US audiences may not be super-familiar with Victoria Wood, but anyone based in the UK will know she was one of the most gifted comedians of her generation and those that followed.
She opened the door for countless funny females to make a mark on showbiz, but above all she was one of a rare breed — somebody so instinctively funny that her every word made you laugh, even when it wasn't meant to. Wood died after a brief battle with cancer.
Check out her sketch shows on Youtube if you have a few minutes to spare — just be prepared to laugh until you cry. A true loss.
Chyna (April 20, 2016, Age 46)
A certain generation who grew up addicted to WWF in the '90s will know Chyna (real name Joan Laurer) all too well. Not to be confused with Blac Chyna, this Chyna actually achieved something (lots of things, in fact) — the wrestler, bodybuilder and glamor model was the first woman to participate in a Royal Rumble and the first to take victory in the ring over male wrestling legends like Triple H and Jeff Jarrett.
Her story of acceptance, told to Vice in the above video profile, is pretty awe-inspiring. Sadly, Chyna died in California on April 20, aged just 46. A pioneer even in death, her brain has been donated to science.
Prince (April 21, 2016, Age 57)
What a one-two sucker-punch. Just a day after Wood passed on, the death of Prince rocked the world. Nobody in my office could quite believe the most outrageous musical star of the '80s, a man who had influenced all of his contemporaries and everyone who followed, was gone.
In timeless classics like Kiss, Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette, his legacy guarantees that even our children will know exactly who Prince was and what he gave to the world.
Doris Roberts (April 17, 2016, Age 90)
Doris Roberts's incredible career in television began in 1951, but it was her ten year stint as Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond, beginning in 1996, that really cemeted the veteran as one of America's most beloved small-screen actresses. She also had a prolific career on stage and in movies, and you probably see her once a year in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
Muhammad Ali (June 3, 2016, Age 74)
Few athletes of the 20th century sum up American over-achievement quite as much as the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. He took gold at the age of 18 in the 1960 Rome Olympics, and to this day Ali is considered one of the greatest athletes in the history of sport, not just boxing. Outside of the ring he was as renowned for his habit of trash-talking as he was his considerable philanthropy, and he even received two Grammy nominations. That's quite a career.
Boxing-related injuries contributed to a Parkinson's Syndrome diagnosis, a disease Ali bravely fought for 32 years until his death in June aged 74.
Christina Grimmie (June 10, 2016, Age 22)
A 2014 contestant on The Voice, Christina Grimmie grafted hard to carve a career for herself in the crowded pop landscape following her third-place finish on the show. Coach Adam Levine was so taken with her voice that he signed her to his own label. In June, Grimmie performed a concert in Orlando, and was shot dead while signing autographs after the show.
Few acts could be more senseless, but Christina's devoted fanbase will ensure that her music is not forgotten. If you'd like to honor her memory by donating to a cause close to Christina's heart, click to find out more about the Humane Society.
Anton Yelchin (June 19, 2016, Age 27)
As with Christina Grimmie, it's always horrible to say goodbye to somebody just as their career is beginning to take off and at such a brutally young age.
Born in Russia but raised in the US, Anton Yelchin was a versatile actor who brought his own distinct sensibility (and a lot of charm) to the iconic role of Chekov in the Star Trek movies. He was killed by his own car in a freak accident at home on June 19.
Bill Cunningham (June 25, 2016, Age 87)
The legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham couldn't have been further removed from the world in which he worked: While his subjects from Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy wore high-end couture from Balenciaga, he wore a blue, unbranded workman's jacket and lived simply in a one-room NYC apartment.
He rode his bike everywhere in his beloved Big Apple. After a career spanning decades, and active until the very end, Cunningham died of a stroke. Touchingly, the luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman devoted an entire window display to him.
Garry Marshall (July 19, 2016, Age 81)
Garry Marshall's directorial career in Hollywood spanned over 30 years, right up to 2016 with Mother's Day, a movie that reunited him with Julia Roberts — but it was the pair's first collaboration on the stone cold classic romantic comedy Pretty Woman which really established Marshall as a man with a gift for the comedic.
He would later direct Julie Andrews and a young Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. Marshall died due to complications of pneumonia in California last month.
Kenny Baker (August 13, 2016, Age 81)
As you can probably imagine, acting opportunities aren't plentiful when you're 3ft 8in in height, but the English actor Kenny Baker defied the odds to portray one of the most iconic non-human characters in the history of cinema: Star Wars's impossibly cute droid R2-D2.
Having enjoyed a long and varied TV career, Baker died at the age of 81, survived by two children and remembered by a legion of very devoted sci-fi fans.
Gene Wilder (August 29, 2016, Age 83)
Some people in Hollywood act, some write, others direct. Gene Wilder did all of the above, and more, during a career which began on stage in 1962, moved to the big screen in Bonnie and Clyde, and ended with a swansong on Will & Grace in 2003.
Wilder didn't make an enormous number of films, but several of those he did star in or write are considered some of the greatest of all time — comedies The Producers and Blazing Saddles with frequent collaborator Mel Brooks, and his hugely memorable, slightly sinister turn as the titular genius chocolatier in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Married four times, Wilder never had children, and died from complications of Alzheimer's at home in Connecticut on August 29.
Alexis Arquette (September 11, 2016, Age 47)
Long before Caitlyn Jenner shone a spotlight on the transgender cause, Alexis Arquette broke through boundaries by announcing her gender transition. She was an actress and activist who began performing at a young age and had a minor role in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
With four brothers and sisters including brother David and sister Patricia Arquette, Alexis forged her own career path. Her cause of death was not disclosed by the family, but in a statement they said that she passed surrounded by family, singing David Bowie's 'Starman'.
Curtis Hanson (September 20, 2016, Age 71)
Curtis Hanson directed one of the great neo-noir movies, LA Confidential, a crime drama set in '50s LA, a period when the cops' hands were just as dirty as the criminals they were supposed to keep from their city's streets. The movie won Kim Basinger an Oscar and received nominations for Best Picture and Director.
Hanson would go on to direct Eminem in 8 Mile. Originally, he wanted to work as a photographer, but switched careers to write and direct movies in the '70s.
Actors from Russell Crowe to Kevin Bacon, who both had the fortune of working with Hanson, tweeted their condolences in the aftermath of his death. Hanson died in LA, the city he was born and raised in, aged 71.
Herschell Gordon Lewis (September 26, 2016, Age 87)
The legendary director Herschell Gordon Lewis was a pioneer of bloody horror who reimagined what the genre could be — and what it could be was a whole hell of a lot more gory. That's why they called him the Godfather of Gore.
His work was provocative, and Blood Feast was variously adored by horror fans in 1963 and reviled by critics as amateur and salacious. His movies were always more niche than mainstream, which only added to Lewis's cult appeal. He died September 26, aged 87.
Don Marshall (October 30, 2016, Age 80)
Star Trek has long been one of the most diverse franchises, and in the '60s when black actors didn't have many opportunities on television, The Original Series gave Don Marshall a guest-starring role as Lt. Boma.
Following that, he would go on to star in the futuristic sci-fi series Land of the Giants. Marshall, who also had roles in The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk, died peacefully in Los Angeles with his children and twin brother at his side.
Leonard Cohen (November 7, 2016, Age 82)
Leonard Cohen got into the music industry at the relatively old age of 33, but that didn't stop him from enjoying an almost-50 year recording career which endured right up until his death with the release of this year's number one record You Want It Darker. That album, powered by Cohen's musings on death, was considered by critics to be an instant masterpiece.
Before his foray into music, though, Cohen was a poet, novelist and lyricist who quickly gained fame outside of his native Canada for his refreshingly candid take on life, love, politics and religion. Cohen had suffered declining health and was diagnosed with cancer, but died as a result of a fall at home on November 7. His vast legacy lives on, and he's survived by two children.
Keo Woolford (November 30, 2016, Age 49)
Keo Woolford played Detective James Chang on the remake of Hawaii Five-0, but his varied career also included roles in the recent Godzilla, his self-directed indie The Haumāna (which won several awards), and a variety of work on the stage including a touring production of The King & I.
He was born in Hawaii in 1967, where he continued to live and work through much of his career. Woolford suffered a stroke and died in hospital three days later.
Alan Thicke (December 13, 2016, Age 69)
Alan Thicke may have been responsible for bringing Robin Thicke into the world, but don't hold that against him. The legendary Canadian actor and talk show host enjoyed an incredible life and career, with memorable roles in the sitcom Growing Pains, How I Met Your Mother and The Bold And The Beautiful, among countless others.
Thicke received a star on Toronto's Walk of Fame in 2013. While playing hockey with his son Carter on December 13 this year he collapsed, and died the same day due to complications in Burbank, CA. He's survived by his wife Tanya Callau and three sons, Carter, Brennan and Robin.
Bernard Fox (December 14, 2016, Age 89)
Bernard Fox's best-known character, the outrageous pun-loving Dr. Bombay, went down so well with American audiences that he appeared on four different shows, beginning with the fantasy sitcom Bewitched, and later cameoing in Tabitha, Passions and Pee-wee's Playhouse. Fair to say he made an impression.
Welsh-born Fox also starred in an almost endless list of classic shows from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to Columbo to M*A*S*H, and played Captain Winston Havlock in The Mummy, over the course of a 50-year career. He died aged 89 in California.
Zsa Zsa Gabor (December 18, 2016, Age 99)
The middle of three sisters, Zsa Zsa Gabor moved from Hungary to America aged 24 and became an icon of aspiration and high society whose lavish fashion and numerous marriages (nine) made her something akin to the original Kardashian. Thanks to her stunningly polished look, Zsa Zsa was perhaps more famous for her glamor than her roles on the screen — although there were plenty, including the original Moulin Rouge.
Gabor's husbands included hotel magnate Conrad Hilton (great-grandfather of Paris) and Jack Ryan, creator of the Barbie doll. She was especially famed for her witty musings on marriage, and once complained that "You just cannot drive a Rolls-Royce in Beverly Hills anymore!" after being caught with a bottle of vodka and no licence. She once told an audience that "divorce lawyers, not diamonds, are a girl's best friend." Gabor died of a heart attack at home in Bel-Air, aged 99.
George Michael (December 25, 2016, Age 53)
In the '80s, Prince, Madonna and MJ reigned — but from across the Atlantic, George Michael became, for a time, the most infallible pop superstar of them all, both with Wham! and as a solo artist. His debut solo record Faith spawned four US number one singles in the US, and remains one of the biggest-selling albums of all time.
Although he sold more than 100m albums worldwide, many will remember the star for his tireless work championing the LGBT cause. The pop icon was forcibly outed by the US media in the '90s, and hit back with the incredible disco track 'Outside' (paired with a brilliant fuck-you music video). He also helped to stamp out ignorance about HIV during a time when misinformation and fear-mongering about the disease was rife and leaves behind a proud legacy of philanthropy.
Carrie Fisher (December 27, 2016, Age 60)
Some celebrity deaths hit closer to home than others, and the death of Carrie Fisher this festive season, aged just 60 and at a time when her career was clearly in the ascendance (she just wrapped filming on both Star Wars 8 and the hit Amazon sitcom Catastrophe), feels like a major loss to film and pop culture. More than just an actor, she was a best-selling author, starred in a brutally funny one-woman stage show based on her own book Wishful Drinking, and did endless work in raising awareness of addiction and mental illness, being bipolar herself.
Fisher was born into stardom, the daughter of Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds and popstar Eddie fisher. Her half-sister is the actress Joely Fisher, and her daughter is Scream Queens star Billie Lourd, who will also be seen in Star Wars 8. That film, along with Catastrophe and the HBO documentary Bright Lights due to air in March 2017, about her relationship with her mother, will be Fisher's final roles in a long and wildly successful, but never predictable, career.
Debbie Reynolds (December 28, 2016, Age 84)
Some people seek stardom — others are destined for it. Debbie Reynolds was destined for it, and over the course of a career which began in 1950 with a performance in Three Little Words (which won a Golden Globe nomination) and continued until her death, she lit up both the screen and the stage. Performing in musicals, comedy and cabaret, on television, in film and on Broadway, Debbie was quite simply the ultimate showgirl. Reynolds was married three times, and had two children with her first husband Eddie Fisher — the eldest was Carrie, who'd go on to play Princess Leia and achieve a fame which arguably eclipsed even that of her hugely successful mother.
Her final screen performance was opposite Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in HBO's Behind The Candelabra. She and Carrie shared an extremely close bond in later years, living as next door neighbors, and one day after her daughter's death, Debbie told her son she wanted to be with Carrie again. She suffered a stroke that afternoon. Reynolds, now reunited with Carrie and singin' in the rain somewhere above, is survived by her son, Todd, and granddaughter, Billie.
Which celebrity death affected you the most, and whose legacy will guarantee they're appreciated for decades to come?