By Riccardo Ghilardi / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Carrie Fisher


21 October 1956 – 27 December 2016 (Aged 60)

Fisher was a much-loved American actress best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars film series, as well as her roles in  ShampooThe Blues Brothers, and When Harry Met Sally.

Fisher’s performances on the television series 30 Rock and Catastrophe,  saw her being nominated twice for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Fisher wrote a number of semi-autobiographical novels, including  Postcards from the Edge and an autobiographical one-woman play and subsequent book, Wishful Drinking.

The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, in her later years, Fisher earned praise for speaking out publicly about her experiences with bipolar disorder and drug addiction.

In 2016, Harvard College gave Fisher its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, recognizing “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism.”

Fisher was also a great supporter and advocate for several causes, including women’s advocacy, animal rights, LGBT causes, and AIDS and HIV organizations.

At the age of 60, Fisher died of cardiac arrest, four days after experiencing a medical emergency during a flight from London to Los Angeles.

In 2017, Fisher was posthumously made a Disney Legend and was awarded a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Albumin 2018.

A day after Fisher’s death, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died at the age of 84. Reynolds and her son, Todd, had been making funeral arrangements for Carrie when she suffered a possible stroke.

Leonard Cohen


  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016 (Aged 82)

Cohen was a renowned Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist.

Cohen did not launch a music career until the age of 33, in 1967, before which he had pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1984, Cohen’s most famous song, “Hallelujah” was first released on his studio album Various Positions. Among his other most acclaimed songs are “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Everybody Knows,” “You Want It Darker,” and “I’m Your Man.”

In 2003, Cohen was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor. He also received a Prince of Asturias Award for literature and the Glenn Gould Prize, in recognition of his contributions to music and communication.

Following a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2013, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life, the last of which was released three weeks before his death.

He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 82.

During his life, Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cohen is considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Gene Wilder


Warner Bros. / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

11 June 1933 – 29 August 2016 (Aged 83)

Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder was an American actor, director,  singer-songwriter, and author, best known for his 1971 role as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Wilder began his career on stage, before making his screen debut in the TV series The Play of the Week in 1961.

His first film role came as a hostage in Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. Later that year, his role in The Producers earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

After The Producers, Wilder had a number of collaborations with director Mel Brooks, such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, earning the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Wilder co-starred four times with Richard Pryor in Silver StreakStir CrazySee No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Another You. He also directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Woman in Red.

Following the death of his third wife, Gilda Radner, in 1989 from ovarian cancer, Wilder became active in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping to found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club.

In 2003, Wilder’s last acting performance came in a guest role on Will & Grace for which he received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor.

In 2005, Wilder took to writing, producing his memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, a collection of stories called What Is This Thing Called Love? and three novels.

Wilder died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 83.

Shimon Peres


By Rob C. Croes / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

2 August 1923 – 28 September 2016 (Aged 93)

Peres was an Israeli politician whose career spanned over 70 years, during which he served as the President of Israel from 2007–2014, twice as the Prime Minister of Israel, and the Interim Prime Minister.

In November 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset (Israeli legislature) and except for three months in early 2006, was continuously in office until his election as President in 2007.

From a young age, he was renowned as a gifted orator, and began his political career in the late 1940s, holding several diplomatic and military positions during and after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

In 1956, he took part in the historic negotiations on the Protocol of Sèvres and in 1963, he held negotiations with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, which resulted in the first sale of U.S. military equipment to Israel.

In 1994, as Foreign Minister, Peres engineered the Israel–Jordan peace treaty and won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the Oslo Accords peace talks with the Palestinian leadership.

In 1996, he founded the Peres Center for Peace, with a goal of promoting a lasting peace in the Middle East. In his private life, Peres had a passion for poetry and songwriting.

At the time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world’s oldest head of state and was seen as the last link to Israel’s founding generation. After suffering a stroke, Peres died in September 2016 at the age of 93.

Terry Wogan

(Radio/TV Presenter)

By Julie Anne JohnsonWikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

3 August 1938 – 31 January 2016 (Aged 77)

Wogan was an Irish-born and British radio and television broadcaster who worked for the BBC in the UK for most of his career.

Prior to his retirement in 2009, Wogan’s BBC Radio 2 weekday breakfast program Wake Up to Wogan regularly drew an estimated eight million listeners.

Wogan was a leading media personality in Britain and Ireland, where he worked initially with RTE, from the late 1960s and was often referred to as a “national treasure”.

In addition to his radio show, Wogan was known for his television work, such as his BBC One chat show Wogan, presenting Children in Need, and the game show Blankety Blank. He was also the BBC’s commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1971 to 2008.

In 2005, Wogan acquired British citizenship and was then awarded a knighthood in the same year. He died from cancer at his home in January 2016, at the age of 77.

Harper Lee


Photo by Eric Draper / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

28 April 1926 – 19 February 2016 (Aged 89)

Lee was an American novelist best known for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which was first published in 1960.

To Kill a Mockingbird became an immediate success, resulting in it winning the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and a classic of modern American literature.

The novel deals with the attitudes towards race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s, seen through the eyes of two children. It was inspired by racist attitudes in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

Lee was also known for assisting her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood, which was published in 1966. Capote was the basis for the character Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.

In 2007, Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature, despite having had only one book published at that point.

Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, was written in the mid-1950s and published in July 2015 as a sequel, though it was later confirmed to be To Kill a Mockingbird‘s first draft.

She died in her sleep at the age of 89.

Elie Wiesel


Photo by David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

30 September 1928 – 2 July 2016 (Aged 87)

Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, political activist, and Holocaust survivor.

Over the course of his life, Wiesel authored 57 books, including Night, which was based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.

Outside of writing, he was a professor of the humanities at Boston University, which created the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies in his honor.

Wiesel campaigned for victims of oppression in countries such as South Africa, Nicaragua,  Kosovo, and Sudan, and helped to establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C.

In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a founding board member of the New York Human Rights Foundation and remained active throughout his life.

During the 1990s, Wiesel was awarded, among others, the French Legion of Honor, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and later, an honorary Knighthood from the United Kingdom.

He died in his Manhattan home at the age of 87.

Arnold Palmer


Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

10 September 1929 – 25 September 2016 (Aged 87)

Palmer was an American professional golfer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the history of the sport.

Nicknamed The King, Palmer was a trailblazer and the first superstar of the sport’s television age, which began in the 1950s. The social impact Palmer had on behalf of golf was perhaps unrivaled.

Between his humble background and plain-spoken popularity, Palmer helped to change golf’s perception from an elite, upper-class pastime to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes.

During the 1960s, Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player were “The Big Three” in golf and are credited with commercializing and increasing the popularity of the sport around the world.

In a career spanning across six decades, Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles and seven major titles between 1955 and 1973, putting him fifth on the Tour’s all-time winners list, behind Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan.

In 1974, Palmer was one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame and was awarded the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Merle Haggard


  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

6 April 1937 – 6 April 2016 (Aged 79)

Haggard was an American country singer-songwriter, and one of the most popular country music stars of the late 20th century, with almost 40 number one country hits.

Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, characterized by a unique mix of traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles, and a rough edge not heard on Nashville sound recordings of the same era.

Haggard had a troubled childhood after the death of his father, being incarcerated several times.

After turning his life around, Haggard launched a successful country music career, gaining popularity with his songs about the working class.

Throughout his career, Haggard received many honors for his music, including an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Haggard died on his 79th birthday at his ranch in California, after having been suffering from pneumonia.

Ronnie Corbett


  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

4 December 1930 – 31 March 2016 (Aged 85)

Corbett was a Scottish stand-up comedian and actor, best known for his long association with Ronnie Barker in the BBC television comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies.

During the 1960s, Corbett achieved prominence in David Frost’s satirical comedy program The Frost Report (with Barker) and subsequently starred in sitcoms such as No – That’s Me Over Here!Now Look Here, and Sorry!

The Two Ronnies ran from 1971 to 1987, during which Barker and Corbett performed sketches and musical numbers.

A signature sketch of Corbett’s being a monologue while sitting in a large easy chair, where he would stretch telling a simple joke over several minutes.

Corbett died at the age of 85 in March 2015, having been diagnosed with motor neurone disease earlier that month.

Remembering also…

Antonin Scalia (American Judge) (Aged 79)

Scalia was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016.

Morley Safer (Canadian-American Journalist) (Aged 84)

Safer was a Canadian-American broadcast journalist for CBS News, best known for being the longest-serving reporter on 60 Minutes in his 60-year career in journalism.

Tom Hayden (American Activist/Author) (Aged 76)

Hayden was an American social and political activist, and author, best known for his major role as an anti-war and civil rights activist.

Frank Kelly (Irish Actor) (Aged 77)

Kelly was an Irish actor best known for playing the role of Father Jack Hackett in the acclaimed British sitcom Father Ted during the 1990s.

Paul Daniels (British Magician) (Aged 77)

Daniels was an English magician, who found worldwide fame for his television series The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran for 15 years on the BBC, alongside his wife and assistant, Debbie McGee.

Kenny Baker (English Actor) (Aged 81)

Baker was an English actor and musician, best remembered for his role as the character R2-D2 in the Star Wars movie franchise.

Glenn Frey (American Singer) (Aged 67)

Frey was an American singer-songwriter, most famous for being a founding member of the rock band the Eagles. He was the lead singer and frontman for the Eagles, alongside Don Henley, with whom he wrote most of the bands’ songs.