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.
Siegfried Fischbacher, magician, 81
(June 13, 1939 — Jan. 13, 2021) Master illusionist Fischbacher has died of pancreatic cancer, about eight months after his partner, Roy Horn, passed away from COVID-19 complications. When Siegfried and Roy did a magic show on a cruise ship, which is where they met, Horn said, “Disappearing rabbits is ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?” They got fired for doing so but won fame for their glitzier-than-Liberace, $30 million Las Vegas show featuring lions and tigers, one of which nearly killed Horn onstage in 2003. Said Fischbacher, “We had the most successful show in the history of Las Vegas anyway.”
Hank Aaron, former Major League Baseball home run king, 86
(Feb. 5, 1934 — Jan. 22, 2021) One of eight children and born in an Alabama home without electricity, Aaron learned to play baseball by hitting bottle caps with sticks. With real bats, he earned the moniker Hammerin’ Hank, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. Ruth’s widow said he would have congratulated him, but Aaron was inundated with racist hate letters. “I like to think every one of them added another home run to my total,” he said. “My hope is one day people will judge me by character rather than by the context of my color. You gotta do all you can to try and make things better for other people.” Aaron, now number two on the all-time home run list, is baseball’s career leader in runs batted in.
Larry King, talk show host, 87
(Nov. 19, 1933 — Jan. 23, 2021) After a 63-year career that prospered despite his 33-year struggle with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and, finally, COVID-19, the legendarily folksy journalist died in Los Angeles. In his radio shows, his USA Today column, and his 1985–2010 CNN show Larry King Live, he interviewed celebrities and became one, chatting with presidents from Nixon to Trump and artists from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga. Asked in 2013 for the secret of his indefatigable success, King said, “I’m 80 years old, and I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up.”
George Segal, actor, 87
(Feb. 13, 1934 — March 23, 2021) Long before he played a grandpa who’s a kid at heart on TV’s The Goldbergs, Segal was a versatile, improv-trained Columbia University grad with a gift for bringing out the best in costars including Barbra Streisand, Elliott Gould and Mary Tyler Moore (in the brilliant comedy Flirting With Disaster). He starred opposite Jason Robards in Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh and in screen adaptations of stage classics Death of a Salesman and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, whose director, Mike Nichols, said he had “masculinity and sensitivity, plus a brain. His conflicting quality — half rough and half gentle and the mind to control it — gives an element of surprise to whatever he does.” The Great Neck, New York, native is survived by his wife, Sonia Segal, his high school sweetheart.
Beverly Cleary, children’s book author, 104
(April 12, 1916 — March 25, 2021) The tower of books written for children through the years could probably reach the moon, but only a small fraction of them remain enveloped in warm memories once their readers reach adulthood. Beverly Cleary’s books are certainly among them. Cleary, who worked as a children’s librarian before she decided to become an author, began her career in 1950 with Henry Huggins, kicking off a best-selling series featuring the relatable third grader. Those were followed by books such as Ramona the Pest (1968), focusing on Henry’s friend Beezus’ wonderfully imperfect younger sister, Ramona Quimby. Gen X girls, especially, devoured stories of Ramona bravely powering through elementary school humiliations like losing a shoe on her first day of first grade. Upon Cleary’s passing, Judy Blume, 83, another beloved children’s author, praised her on Twitter as “My inspiration. I wanted to write books like yours.” But the actress Viola Davis, 55, may have captured fans’ sentiments best: “Rest in peace, Beverly Clearly. You made my childhood fun.”
Helen McCrory, actress, 52
(Aug. 17, 1968 — April 16, 2021) McCrory was known for playing Polly Gray, the crime matriarch who struck terror with one raised eyebrow in Peaky Blinders, and Narcissa Malfoy in three Harry Potter films. She played Mrs. Tony Blair in both The Queen and The Special Relationship. “But she was also a London stage star of rare delicacy and complexity, redefining classic roles from Ibsen, Pinter, Rattigan,” says former New York Times drama critic Ben Brantley. A diplomat’s daughter who grew up in London, Paris and Tanzania, she married her stage costar Damian Lewis, with whom she recently raised more than $1 million for frontline COVID workers. Last year she said, “I’ve lived life at 150 miles an hour.”
Hester Ford, oldest living American, 115 or 116
(Aug. 15, 1905 — April 17, 2021) Hester McCardell Ford, who had been the oldest living American, died Saturday in her home, in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer reported. The supercentenarian lived 115 years and 245 days, according to the Gerontology Research Group. U.S. Census Bureau documents, though, give her year of birth as either 1904 (making her 116 years old) or 1905 (making her 115).
Ford was born on a farm in Lancaster County, South Carolina, and picked cotton and plowed fields in her youth. At just 14 years old, she wed John Ford and, at age 15, gave birth to the first of their 12 children. Her husband died in 1963. Ford had 68 grandchildren, 125 great-grandchildren and at least 120 great-great-grandchildren, according to the Observer. “She not only represented the advancement of our family but of the Black African American race and culture in our country,” a great-granddaughter, Tanisha Patterson-Powe, told the newspaper. When, last summer, the Observer asked Ford her secret to longevity, she replied, “I just live right, all I know.” Relatives said she enjoyed hearty breakfasts (always including a half of a banana), fresh air, a bit of exercise, singing, puzzles, looking at family albums and writing her name on her Etch-a-Sketch. Ford was a teen during the 1918 influenza pandemic. She celebrated her final birthday — during the coronavirus pandemic — by wearing a crown and watching a drive-through parade held in her honor as the people in attendance applauded her.
Yaphet Kotto, actor, 81
(Nov. 15, 1939 — March 15, 2021) As a Bond villain, he was Mr. Big. Kotto also loomed large in iconic hits such as Alien and The Wire — and it’s been reported that he turned down roles that Billy Dee Williams and Patrick Stewart made famous in Star Wars and Star Trek. Descended from African royalty — and, he claimed, Queen Elizabeth’s distant relation — he grew up practicing Judaism, the religion of his parents, in the Bronx, New York. Yaphet is Hebrew for “beautiful.” He smashed stereotypes as the Sicilian-African American Lt. Al Giardello on TV’s Homicide: Life on the Street, as well as in films such as Midnight Run, Blue Collar and Live and Let Die. Director Ava DuVernay called him “one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got. But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star.”
Marvelous Marvin Hagler, boxer, 66
(May 23, 1954 — March 13, 2021) He was known as Marvelous Marvin for a few reasons: The World Boxing Hall of Famer with an intimidating southpaw stance was the middleweight champion through most of the 1980s — six years and seven months from 1980 to 1987, when he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in a much-disputed decision. His was the longest middleweight reign in the past century after Tony Zale’s, and included a famously vicious fight with Thomas Hearns in 1985. Another reason for his bold moniker? He legally changed his name to include “Marvelous” in 1982. Angry over the decision in the Leonard fight, he quit boxing and moved to Italy, where he became an actor — starring in the Italian action comedy Virtual Weapon (1997), among a few other films.
Chick Corea, musician, 79
(June 12, 1941 — Feb. 9, 2021) Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea first heard jazz played by his Dixieland trumpter dad, learned piano at 4, went to Columbia and Juilliard, and became a professional in Cab Calloway’s band. He helped invent jazz-rock fusion on Miles Davis’ biggest hit album, Bitches Brew, and in his own influental band Return to Forever. A master of many styles and exponent of everyone from Mozart to Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder, he earned 23 Grammys, the most for any jazz artist in history.
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Source : AARP