Famous Personalities Who Died In 2021

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An article published by AARP reveals the famous celebrity deaths that happen in 2021.

Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, 99

(June 10, 1921 — April 9, 2021) Call him the Duke of Edinburgh, a distinguished World War II veteran, the great-great-grandson of Britain’s Queen Victoria or the Greek-born Danish son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark — each is true, but most famously, he was the husband of Queen Elizabeth. She honored him with the title Prince Philip several years into their nearly 75-year marriage (a record for the British monarchy). Born into the Mountbatten clan, he was schooled in Britain and, later, became a top cadet at the Britannia Royal Navy College and a naval officer who saw active duty in Europe and Japan during the war. Tall and dashing at 26, he married 21-year-old Queen Elizabeth, his third cousin, in 1947. They had four children; their oldest, Prince Charles, is the current heir to the throne. As “first gentleman,” Prince Philip presided over diplomatic and other official events, devoted himself to his hobbies (polo, sailing, flying airplanes) and worked to keep the royal family intact in the face of crises including Princess Diana’s death and through an era of what many view as the royalty’s waning relevance. His death, just shy of his 100th birthday in June, ushers in a 10-day mourning period in Britain.

Vernon Jordan, lawyer, civil rights activist, 85

(Aug. 15, 1935 — March 1, 2021) A civil rights activist and Washington power broker, Vernon Jordan survived a racist assassin’s bullet in 1980, saying afterward: “I’m not afraid and I won’t quit.” After joining the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People soon after graduating from Howard Law School, Jordan went on to lead the United Negro College Fund and at the age of 31 was named president of the National Urban League. After leading those groups, he reinvented himself as a confidant to the political elite and a corporate influencer. He was a close friend to President Bill Clinton, and as head of Clinton’s first-term transition team he approached Colin Powell about becoming the new president’s secretary of state. Jordan, who grew up in the segregated South, sat on the boards of more than a dozen companies and had a reputation for persuading corporate leaders to hire more African American workers and support institutions that helped Black Americans.

Tommy Lasorda, Major League Baseball manager, 93

(Sept. 22, 1927 — Jan. 7, 2021) A legendary Major League Baseball manager who won more than 1,500 games, Tommy Lasorda will be forever associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He managed the team from 1976 to 1996, winning two World Series and four National League titles, and building a reputation as an ambassador for the game he loved. Lasorda had a modest career as a pitcher in the 1950s, then worked his way through the Dodgers organization in management positions in the 1960s and 1970s before getting the manager’s job. In a position that often draws dour personalities, Lasorda was the opposite: It was impossible to watch him at work and not feel his joy for the game and his team. That continued even after he retired, with Lasorda a regular presence at Dodgers games and events. “His heart was bigger than his talent, and there were no foul lines for his enthusiasm,” longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said of Lasorda.

Jessica Walter, actress, 80

(Jan. 31, 1941 — March 24, 2021) Walter, who played Lucille Bluth, the Arrested Development matriarch known for her wicked wink, bottomless cocktails and quips like “I’d like to cry, but I can’t spare the moisture,” specialized in high-strung characters, including Clint Eastwood’s stalker in Play Misty for Me, a race car driver’s faithless wife in Grand Prix, and Candice Bergen’s catty Vassar classmate in The Group. The vice president of the Screen Actors Guild, she earned three SAG award nominations and an Emmy. Asked why she liked playing difficult women, she said, “Those are the fun roles.”

Michael Collins, astronaut, 90

(Oct. 31, 1930 — April 28, 2021) Michael Collins was not as famous an astronaut as his Apollo 11 colleagues — Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. While those two space pioneers were the first people to stand on the moon, Collins, the pilot for command module Columbia, circled the moon 14 times by himself. In a statement honoring Collins, acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said because of his role orbiting the moon, some called Collins “the loneliest man in history.” Collins, who was born in Italy, where his father was a U.S. military attaché, became an Air Force pilot and joined NASA as an astronaut in the Gemini program. He piloted Gemini 10 in 1966. NASA said he spent 266 hours in space. When they returned from the moon and a worldwide victory tour, Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin were all awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. A few years after retiring from NASA, Collins became the founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. He once cited 2001: A Space Odyssey as his favorite movie.

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