4YE’s Year In Review: 2016: The Year We Learnt To Say Goodbye

2016 was definitely the year that made us hold our breath. Any time a celebrity’s name started trending on Twitter, we immediately assumed the worst. And with so many legends bowing out this year, it was a valid reaction. Starting with Starman David Bowie in the first fortnight of the year, through to George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds just this week, 2016 was the year we learnt how to say goodbye.


We were shocked on January 14 by the news that Harry Potter star Alan Rickman had succumbed to cancer. A longtime favourite of us here at 4YE, whether Colonel Brandon, Severus Snape or Harry he stole our hearts. 2016 saw us farewell a few key players from the Star Wars universe. While we are still coming to terms with our Princess’ death this week, earlier in the year we farewelled the man behind everyone’s favourite little droid, R2-D2 – Kenny Baker and the Rebel Alliance’s fearsome leader most remembered for shrieking “It’s A Trap!”, Admiral Ackbar – Erik Bauersfeld. The Star Trek franchise were unable to escape the horror of 2016 either, with Anton Yelchin tragically losing his life in a freak accident at his house in June.

We also said goodbye to a number of childhood heroes – The Sound of Music’s Charmain Carr and Willy Wonka himself, Gene Wilder. July saw the death of legendary director Garry Marshall; the man behind The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman, Beaches, A League of Their Own and many more.

Carrie Fisher’s death earlier this week was only just beginning to sink in when the terrible news about the death of her mum and Hollywood royalty, Debbie Reynolds followed the very next day. The loss of these two strong, amazing and talented women was felt around the world.

Leaving behind an immense catalogue of films between them, the film stars we lost in 2016 will never be forgotten.

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If February 3, 1959 was the day the music died, 2016 was the year that finished the job. So many of the greats passed through the pearly gates this year, that Heaven is having one awesome New Years’ Eve party tonight.

We couldn’t believe it when David Bowie died early in January. Privately battling cancer, Bowie didn’t allow the disease to slow him down, producing a final album, Blackstar days before he died as well as writing the music and lyrics for the musical Lazarus, which had its Off-Broadway debut December 2015.

We discovered what doves sound like when they cry when Prince was found dead at his private estate and production complex, Paisley Park in April. Similar to Bowie earlier in the year, folk/soft rock singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen released his final studio album, You Want It Darker weeks before his death in November. Most recently, singer, songwriter, advocate George Michael was found dead in his English home Christmas Day.

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2016 left the world a lot less funny with the death of a number of brilliant comedic actors. We farewelled Garry Shandling, Fawlty Towers’ Manuel, Andrew Sachs, and the last of The Two Ronnies, Ronnie Corbett. We also said goodnight one final time to some of our most beloved TV mums – Everybody Loves Raymond’s Doris Roberts and The Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson. Another of America’s Sweethearts, and star of TV, stage and movies who bowed out in 2016 was Patty Duke. British national treasure, radio and TV presenter Sir Terry Wogan also lost his battle with cancer at the end of January.

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Other Legends

And then there were some big names in the literary world whose pen was silenced in 2016. To KIll A Mockingbird‘s Harper Lee died in February after releasing only her second book (and a sequel to Mockingbird), Go Set A Watchman in 2015. The Italian author Umberto Eco also died in February. He was regarded as one of the finest authors of the twentieth century, writing such classics as The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum and History of Beauty, among others. Edward Albee, the three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf  and A Delicate Balance, died in September. And adding to the dearly departed in the last week or so of 2016, Watership Down‘s author Richard Adams died on Christmas Eve.

John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the earth and the oldest man to fly in space, died at the beginning of December.

Finally the man who “floated like a butterfly, and stung like a bee”, boxer and activist Muhammad Ali lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease in June.

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These are just a few of the remarkable people from the world of pop culture that we lost in 2016. Luckily for us they will live on in their work and accomplishments.


Clare Sidoti
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