Year In Review: Celebrities Who Died In 2021
It's mind-boggling to think about all the loss of life this past year and 1/2 due to COVID. More than 850 people died in less than two years. So much has happened nationally as America attempted to get back to normalcy. The nation has changed so much, as the political climate has splintered and Democracy hangs in the balance.
The year has been full of drama, history-making moments, good and bad, and plenty of exciting moments in film and sports. Closing out 2021, we wanted to remember the memories of the many celebs that passed this year. Some of those deaths were completely unexpected like that of R&B singer/songwriter Jessie Powell who died at age 51 of unreleased causes, or Coolio, who passed suddenly in a friend's bathroom of cardiac arrest at age 59. Both music stars died in September. For a complete listing, click here.
Hollywood icon died Jan. 28 at age 96. One of the greatest actors of all time, since 1948 she collected acting accolades throughout her seven decades in show business, including three Emmys, one Tony, four Black Reel Awards, a Peabody not to mention the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by America's first Black President Barack Obama.
One of the greatest baseball players to ever live, Hank Aaron died at age 86 on Jan. 22. The hall of famer hit 755 career home runs broke the long-standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth, which stood for an incredible 33 years. In addition, Aaron hit 24 or more home runs every year between 1955 -1973. He is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs at least 15 times in a single season.
Dustin "Screech" Diamond 1977 – 2021
Best known for his role as Samuel “Screech” Powers on the 1989 sitcom “Saved by the Bell.” Diamond's untimely death came as a surprise to fans. The popular TV actor died on Feb. 1 of stage four small cell carcinoma of the lungs, three weeks after turning 44.
Legendary rap pioneer and member of the iconic hip-hop group the Fat Boys. Prince Markie Dee was a rapper. songwriter, actor, and incredible Radio DJ. Markie Dee suddenly and his passing sent shockwaves throughout the Hip Hop community. The beloved rapper died on Thursday, Feb 18 of Congestive Heart Failure, the group’s manager, Louis Gregory confirmed the sad news. He was 52.
Larger-than-life rap genius, best known for his alter ego Humpty Hump. Shock G was the lead vocalist and co-founder of the iconic rap group Digital Underground. He discovered Tupac Shakur, who started his career as a dancer for Shock G's group. Pac got a feature on Digital Underground mega-hit, "Same song," which ultimately jumpstarted his music career. Shock G would later co-produce Tupac's debut album, "2Pacalypse Now" and the rest is rap history.
The rap legend's real name was Gregory Jacobs and he died on April 22 at age 57. Shock G was found dead in a Tampa, Florida, hotel room. His untimely death was ruled an accidental overdose by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner, as there was no evidence of foul play was found.
Iconic television/radio personality Larry King died on Jan. 23 at age of 87. King had been in declining health prior to his death and had multiple issues with his heart that resulted in a quadruple bypass, stents, and more. In 2019, King had a stroke and was in a coma "for weeks". He would recover and return to his TV/radio show. King did well until he contracted COVID-19 in January 2021 and was hospitalized. Remarkably he beat COVID but ultimately died of sepsis as a complication of renal disease on January 23.
Legendary movies star Richard Donner got his start as a television director in 1957. Donne's movie legacy includes The Omen, Superman,
The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Scrooged, and countless popular TV shows. He died on July 5, 2021, at his California home, at the age of 91. The cause of death was a cardiopulmonary failure with atherosclerosis as an underlying cause
Former “Saturday Night Live” writer, comedian, and featured actor. Brother Dan Aykroyd, Peter died on Nov. 6 at the age of 65, just 2 weeks shy of his 66th birthday in Spokane, Washington. Septicemia was reportedly the cause of his death, due to an untreated abdominal hernia.
Michael K. Williams 1966 - 2021
Michael K. Williams was a veteran movie star best known for his role Omar Little, on the hit HBO drama series The Wire from 2002 to 2008. He also played Albert "Chalky" White, on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire from 2010 to 2014. His untimely death was a shock to Hollywood and fans alike. Williams died on Sept. 6 at age 54 of a drug overdose.
Clarence Williams III 1939 – 2021
Iconic Mod Squad actor Clarence Williams served his country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army prior to becoming a superstar. Willims appeared in films such as Purple Rain, 52 Pick-Up, Tales from the Hood, Half Baked, and Reindeer Games. He died of colon cancer on June 7 at age 81.
Asner was an iconic actor best as Lou Grant from the "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Asner's career span more than 5 decades during which he played a wide range of characters from intimidating to his final performance, voicing Carl in the Pixar animated classic, "Up." He died at the age of 91 on August 29. The cause of death is unknown.
Legendary rapper, entertainer, DJ, actor, and one of the greatest human beatboxers of all time. The rap pioneer was a musical master of the turntables and best known for his hit "Just A Friend." Biz died at a Baltimore hospital after a lifelong battle with Type 2 diabetes. He was hospitalized July 1, 2021, and died 15 days later due to severe complications of his illness on July 16. He was 57.
Born Earl Simmons, rapper/actor achieved huge success with his first studio album, 1998’s “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot.” It shot straight to No. 1 and the rest is history. X was one of the most important figures in Hip Hop. Sadly he struggled with drugs most of his life. He ultimately was hospitalized on April 2 after suffering a cocaine-induced heart attack, that left him brain dead. He would never recover and died seven days later he was gone. X was 50.
Beatty was an American acting legend who appeared in more than 160 films over the course of his 50-year career. His film catalog includes iconic movies like Deliverance (1972), All the President's Men (1976), Network (1976), Superman (1978), Back to School (1986), Rudy (1993), Shooter (2007), and Toy Story 3 (2010). Though they were good friends, he and movie star Warren Beatty were not related. Beatty died on June 13, three weeks before his 84th birthday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
An irreplaceable pioneer of rap was U.T.F.O. legend the Kangol Kid. Best known for their groundbreaking single "Roxanne, Roxanne." Word of his passing came via longtime New York City promoter, Van Silk, who confirmed the devastating news via text to HipHopDX. He wrote, “RIP KANGOL KID. He passed at 3:02 a.m. My prayers go out to my brother who fought a battle of colon cancer at Stage 4.” This hit home for Van because he is also battling colon cancer.