PHOTOS: Remembering the Stars We Lost in 2016
With his electrifying songs, sensual dance moves, ability to play dozens of instruments and purple everything, his talent was limitless. His last live show came just seven days before he died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose, leaving behind devastated family, friends and fans. “The more he evolved as an artist, the greater the songs were,” said longtime collaborator Sheila E. “I watched him change and grow into a musical icon. It was amazing.”
DAVID BOWIE, 69
He was Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, the Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane, but ultimately he was a legend. The gender-bending rock star’s musical style and androgynous look influenced hundreds of musicians after him. “David was a true original in everything he did,” said Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
RENÉ ANGÉLIL, 73
The singer turned manager discovered a then-unknown Céline Dion in 1980 — and made her into a superstar. They wed in 1994. “I lost the love of my life,” Dion told PEOPLE.
MUHAMMAD ALI, 74
Ali, an Olympic gold medalist who won 56 of 61 total fights in his esteemed professional boxing career, called himself the greatest, and no one disagreed. But he made his mark outside the ring as much as he did in it. Ali was a civil rights advocate and made it his mission to help others in need. “He was the voice of defiance. He was the voice of calm. To me, he was a hero,” said friend Lionel Richie.
CHRISTINA GRIMMIE, 22
The Voice alum was tragically shot following a concert in Orlando. “If your purpose in life was to make people’s hearts lighter with your voice and spirit, then mission accomplished, my friend,” said singer Andy Grammer in tribute.
ALAN RICKMAN, 69
He played the villain in everything from Die Hard to Harry Potter, but in real life calling the British star a baddie couldn’t have been further from the truth. “He had such a powerful and commanding presence,” said Kate Winslet, his Sense and Sensibility costar. “And that voice! Oh, that voice. But the reality, of course, was that he was the kindest and best of men.”
DORIS ROBERTS, 90
The Emmy-winning star spent nearly a decade as the overbearing — but beloved — mom on Everybody Loves Raymond. “She did everything with such a grand love for life and people, and I will miss her dearly,” said her TV son Ray Romano.
GARRY MARSHALL, 81
Marshall was the man behind dozens of classics, from Pretty Woman to Happy Days, and was also the man who created some of America’s biggest stars. “I was luckier than most to have loved him for my entire adult life and luckier still to have been loved by him,” said Julia Roberts.
BOBBY VEE, 73
The 1960s pop idol landed 38 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 list between 1959 and 1970. He was “the most meaningful person I’ve ever been on the stage with,” Bob Dylan once said
PHIFE DAWG, 45
The founding member of A Tribe Called Quest died after a 25-year battle with diabetes. “The fight for his joy and happiness gave him everything he needed,” his fellow members of the hiphop group said in a statement.
GENE WILDER, 83
“He was the most talented — and sneaky — actor,” said longtime friend and fellow actor Carl Reiner of the Willy Wonka star. “He would emote, and it sort of slipped out of him. You were always amazed about how good he was — and fell in love with him.”
NANCY REAGAN, 94
Nearly 12 years after her beloved Ronnie died, the devoted couple are “reunited once more,” said fellow former First Lady Laura Bush after Nancy died in her sleep on March 6. When the late President was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, Mrs. Reagan became his fiercest advocate, lobbying for stem-cell research even after his death. “She became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s,” President Barack and Michelle Obama said in tribute.
Born Denise Katrina Matthews, the lead singer of Vanity 6 was a protégée of the late Prince. She was “a talented natural beauty, inside and out,” says Motown founder Berry Gordy. “I will miss her.”
PATTY DUKE, 69
After receiving an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, she starred in her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show. And following her diagnosis with bipolar disorder in 1982, she became a mental health advocate. “She just always fought to try her best to do the right thing,” said her son, actor Sean Astin. “She was a spiritual warrior.”
KEVIN MEANEY, 60
The Uncle Buck and Big star performed on several late-night shows during his 25-year career, “He was the funniest and sweetest,” says fellow comic Kathy Griffin.
ALEXIS ARQUETTE, 47
The transgender actress died with her family, including siblings David and Patricia, by her side. “She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people,” the family said in a statement.
MORLEY SAFER, 84
The longtime news anchor died just one week after retiring from 60 Minutes. “He set the standard for what we all want to be as journalists,” Anderson Cooper told CNN. “His kind shall not pass this way again.”
GLENN FREY, 67
The guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who cofounded the Eagles with singer Don Henley, “was the driving force” behind the band’s success, said record producer John Boylan. “He changed my life forever,” said Henley, “and had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life.”
ANTON YELCHIN, 27
The Star Trek actor died after accidentally being pinned between his car and the gate of his home in June. He was “kind, present, old-souled, curious, brilliant, funny, humble, honest and undeniably talented,” said his costar Zoë Saldana.
JANET RENO, 78
The first woman to serve as Attorney General was “an inspiration and a trailblazer for so many women serving in law enforcement and government, including me,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.
FLORENCE HENDERSON, 82
As the iconic matriarch on The Brady Bunch, Henderson spread joy wherever she went. “She just brought a smile to everyone’s heart,” said costar Maureen McCormick. “She made people feel good.” Henderson also competed in Dancing with the Stars in 2010 and returned for one more dance in September.
JOSE FERNÁNDEZ, 24
A boat crash in South Florida on Sept. 25 ended the hopes of the all-star pitcher for the Miami Marlins. Fernández was posthumously given the National League Comeback Player of the Year award by his peers, and the Marlins will retire his number.
ROBERT VAUGHN, 83
Viewers watched Vaughn save the world each week as the dashing international spy Napoleon Solo in the hit 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Said his costar David McCallum: “I am utterly devastated ... Losing him is like losing a part of me.”
DAVID GEST, 62
The famed music producer worked with everyone from Al Green to ZZ Top in his long career. After a shortlived marriage to Liza Minnelli, Gest dabbled in reality TV, most recently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother U.K. before his death in April.
GWEN IFILL, 61
She was a groundbreaking PBS anchor and author who covered seven presidential campaigns. “Gwen was an extraordinary journalist—asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work,” said President Obama.
ARNOLD PALMER, 87
Nicknamed “the King” of the golfing world, the winner of seven major championships revitalized the game when he came on the scene in 1954. “Arnold transcended the game of golf,” his longtime rival Jack Nicklaus wrote in tribute. “He was a legend.”
GARRY SHANDLING, 66
In March, the comedian died as the result of a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lungs; it was later discovered he also had an enlarged heart. Friends and fellow comedians, including Jim Carrey, remembered the star. “When you get the light in a comedy club you know your time is up,” Carrey said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Life doesn’t always give you a signal. Garry Shandling performed at the highest level on and offstage. He was an excellent man and he was more than ready for the Big Show. Bravo Garry! Yours was a life well lived.”
ANTONIN SCALIA, 79
In 1986 the conservative became the first Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court. He also had a close friendship with liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who said, “It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.”
AGNES NIXON, 93
The Emmy-winning Nixon created One Life to Live and All My Children, tackling taboo topics like abortion, racism and AIDS. “May this liveliest and loveliest of women rest in peace,” said AMC star Susan Lucci.
ALAN THICKE, 69
The TV icon, best known for his work as Dr. Jason Seaver on Growing Pains, suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with his youngest son in December. Countless costars and friends paid tribute to the actor following his death, including son Robin Thicke, who wrote on Instagram, "He was the best man I ever knew. The best friend I ever had."
ANGELA 'BIG ANG' RAIOLA, 55
With her energetic, larger-than-life persona, the Mob Wives star quickly earned her own spinoffs. “Even before there was any television show, everyone knew and loved Big Ang,” said the show’s executive producer Jennifer Graziano.
MERLE HAGGARD, 79
Locked up at 20, he was inspired to turn his life around by a prison performance by Johnny Cash. “He sang about cheating and drinking and his mama. That’s what country music is about,” Miranda Lambert told PEOPLE.
HARPER LEE, 89
Her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird still sells nearly 1 million copies each year. The classic story “proved literature’s power to change the moral stance of a nation,” author Ethan Canin told Entertainment Weekly.
LEONARD COHEN, 82
“I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it,” the legendary musician told The Guardian of his haunting hit “Hallelujah.” In a touching post on social media, his son Adam honored his father, saying, “There’s so much I wish I could thank him, for, just one last time. I’d thank him for the comfort he always provided, for the wisdom he dispensed, for the marathon conversations, for his dazzling wit and humor.”
JOEY FEEK, 40
The country and gospel singer lost her brave two-year battle with cervical cancer in March. “I hope the world remembers my wife for the extraordinary, ordinary woman she was,” said her husband and singing partner, Rory Feek.
RON GLASS, 71
The Emmy nominee found fame as the affable detective Ron Harris on the TV show Barney Miller and later starred on the cult series Firefly. “His laugh was beyond infectious, and his generosity was ever present,” tweeted costar Alan Tudyk.