Two figures central to American culture died on December 28: former majority leader in the United States Senate Harry reid and former NFL coach John madden, whose eponymous video game has fascinated football fans for decades, having sold more than 180 million copies by 2018. They are the latest in a list of high-profile losses in 2021, originating from the worlds of Hollywood , Washington, DC and beyond.
We lost a 91 year old Oscar winner Christophe plummer, whose long and distinguished career has included everything from The sound of music at Knives Out at Pixar At the top. Plummer’s At the top costar, Ed asner, who played the film’s adorable curmudgeon, also died at the age of 91; Asner was known for his husky delivery and comedic chops in Elf and as iconic journalist Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Cloris Leachman, also an alum of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the most awarded performer in Emmy history, passed away in January. And Michael k williams, who most played the role of Omar Little in Thread, died in September at the age of 54.
TV presenter Larry king died in January; he is said to have conducted over 50,000 interviews during his decades-long career, including with every sitting US president since Gerald Ford. We have mourned many comedy stars: Jessica walter, better known as Lucille Bluth in Development stopped; British comedian Sean Lock; and Saturday Night Live ‘s Norm MacDonald, whose tongue-in-cheek style continues, most memorable in his popular moth joke. We also lost two beloved actors from the history of the sitcom: Dust Diamond, who played Weird Screech in Saved by the Bell, and James michael tyler, who played the sweet coffee waiter, Gunther, on Friends.
In music, hip-hop has lost legends including the rapper DMX, known for its raw content and gruff flow; MF Doom, the rapper with a character (and a mask) inspired by the comic book; and wonder all at once Biz Markie, whose wellness single “Just a Friend” was certified platinum in 1990. Legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie watts died in August at the age of 80, while actor-musician Michael nesmith des Monkees died this month at the age of 78. Prolific Broadway Composer Stephen Sondheim died in November; the 91-year-old was one of the key figures in modern musicals, writing the lyrics for West Side Story and music for Sweeney todd and In the woods.
The literary world mourned two influential female writers in December: Jeanne Didion, who was renowned for her non-fiction works exploring American culture of the 60s and 70s; and feminist author Gloria Jean Watkins, known by her pen name bell hooks, who has written on the intersection of race and gender and the experiences of black women and the working class.
Public figures and politicians
In April, Queen Elizabeth lost her husband and royal wife, 99 prince philippe, The Duke of Edinburgh. He was a passionate pilot, with a long military career; interest in him had grown in recent years with the release of The crown on Netflix, in which he was portrayed by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies. In December, a human rights activist Desmond Tutu, the first black bishop of Johannesburg and archbishop of Cape Town, has died at the age of 90. An influential voice for non-violence during the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
In US politics, Reid was instrumental in passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but he was not the only former Senate Majority Leader who died in 2021: Bob dole, who led Senate Republicans from 1987 to 1996 and lost the 1996 presidential race to Bill Clinton, died in early December at the age of 98. Retired army general Colin Powell, the country’s first black secretary of state and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, died in November at age 84. Powell played a key role in the justification of the Iraq war in 2003 under President George W. Bush; in 2020, however, he announced his support for Democrat Joe Biden against Donald Trump in the presidential election, and renounced GOP allegiance after the Capitol uprising on Jan.6, 2021.
Business and science
The lost business world Richard trumka, who was president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States A former president of the same federation, John sweeney, is also deceased. Larry flynt, founder of scammer magazine, known for a slew of First Amendment legal battles, died in February. And fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who worked as artistic director for Louis Vuitton and was the first African-American to run a luxury French fashion house, has died at age 41 from a battle with cancer.
The scientific community mourned the NASA astronaut Michael collins, who, along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, flew to the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. And EO Wilson, the evolutionary biologist who began his career studying ants and studying the complexity of genetics and human behavior, died in December. The 92-year-old was often referred to as “Darwin’s natural heir”.
Villains and Heroes
Some controversial figures have also died this year, including Rush limbaugh, the incendiary conservative radio host who frequently lied and generated conspiracy theories, and who problematically received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump. Phil spector, the record producer whose discography included some of the greatest hits of all time, including “Let It Be”, “Imagine” and “Unchained Melody”, died in January while serving a prison sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. And Bernie madoff died in April; the financier and former Nasdaq chairman ran the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, valued at around $ 65 billion. In 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
Perhaps most poignantly, we have lost a hero in the Age of the Pandemic: Captain Tom Moore, a former British Army officer who raised Â£ 30million (over $ 40million) for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis by walking his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday. In February, suffering from pneumonia, he died of complications after testing positive for COVID-19.