When a celebrity dies, fans can be left heartbroken by the tragic loss, but it can also lead to the celebration of a legacy they left behind. Whether it’s entertaining millions, inspiring people or helping to change the world for the better in some way, their contributions affect many of our lives, often in very significant ways.
Here’s a look at the people we’ve lost in 2021 who have made an impact on their fans and the world at large.
Talk show host Larry King died on January 23, aged 87, after contracting coronavirus.
Born Lawrence Zeiger, legendary broadcaster King began his career on radio, making his first on-air appearance in 1957. Three years later he made the jump to TV and began presenting a local news show.
He eventually returned to radio to host own national show – called The Larry King Show – on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1978 until 1994. The show earned him a Peabody Award in 1982.
In 1985, Larry began hosting Larry King Live on CNN in 1985, where he interviewed a host of public figures and famous faces. He the helmed the iconic show for 25 years until he stepped down in 2010.
Legendary South African jazz star Jonas Gwangwa died on January 23, aged 83.
During a career that spanned more than 40 years, Gwangwa using his music to highlight social issues in South Africa during apartheid. and was one of the musicians behind the soundtrack to the Richard Attenborough film Cry Freedom.
South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa wrote on Twitter : « A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest; the trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody has lost its life force
Actress Mira Firlan died on January 21 aged 65.
Firlan was born in the former Yugoslavia and emigrated to the U.S. in 1991. Two years later she landed her most famous role, playing as Delenn in sci-fi show Babylon 5 for five seasons until it ended in 1998.
Mira also played Danielle Rousseau in Lost, appearing in 25 episodes between 2004 and 2010.
Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski paid tribute on social media: « It is a night of great sadness, for our friend and comrade had gone down the road where we cannot reach her.
« But as with all things, we will catch up with her in time, and I believe she will have many stories to tell us, and many new roles to share with the universe. »
Reality TV star and entrepreneur Mick Norcross died on January 21 aged 57.
Norcross appeared on ITV hit TOWIE alongside his son Kirk, and was well known in Essex as the boss of popular celebrity nightspot the Sugar Hut.
Mick joined the cast of the show in the early series, appearing alongside his son and Mario as well as famous faces like Mark Wright and Lucy Mecklenburgh. He left the programme in 2013.
And after hearing the tragic news, TOWIE’s Mario Falcone said he was « shocked and heartbroken ».
Rapper Baby CEO died at the age of just 20. The cause of his death has not yet been announced.
The star, whose real name was Jonathan Brown, hailed from Memphis, Tennessee and was signed to Savage Squad Records. He was best known for the tracks Been Down and Can’t Wait.
Musician Mark Keds died on January 10 aged 55.
Keds was best known as the frontman of 90s pop punk band Senseless Things, and for co-writing The Libertines’ 2004 hit Can’t Stand Me Now.
Senseless Things formed in 1986, releasing four albums and landing two UK Top 20 singles before they split in 1995.
The band reformed in 2017 and went on to release new material and tour.
Bandmate Ben Harding posted a message about Mark on Facebook : « He was beloved across the country, from Inverness to Plymouth, from Ipswich to Aberystwyth, and across the world, from Tokyo to California. It’s his passion and lust for life that will stick with us, and we’re truly thankful (we know Mark was, too) that we all got to do it properly one last time at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2017. »
Actor John Reilly died on January 9 aged 84.
Reilly’s breakout role was in 1974 on the soap As the World Turns, playing Dr Dan Stewart.
He went on the star in television shows How the West Was Won, Quincy M.E. and Dallas. In 1984, John was cast as Sean Donely in General Hospital, and played the character for 11 years.
Film maker Michael Apted died on January 7 aged 79.
Apted directed the 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough, as well as 24 episodes of Coronation Street from June 1966 to July 1967.
One of his most famous projects was the Up series of documentaries for Granada Television, in which he profiled a varied group of young Britons and revisited them every seven years to see how their lives had changed.
Director’s Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme said: « His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our guild.
Actor Dearon Thompson, better known as Deezer D, died on January 7 aged 55 following a suspected heart attack.
He was most famous for his role on medical drama ER as nurse Malik McGrath, appearing in nearly 200 episodes of the show.
Deezer D also had a rap career, and spent some time as a motivational speaker.
Actress Marion Ramsey died on January 7 aged 73.
She was best known for her appearances in the Police Academy film series, playing Officer Laverne Hooks in every instalment in the franchise.
Her rep paid tribute to her in a statement: « Marion carried with her a kindness and permeating light that instantly filled a room upon her arrival.
« The dimming of her light is already felt by those who knew her well. We will miss her, and always love her. »
Antonio Sabato Sr
Actor Antonio Sabato Sr died on January 6 aged 77 after being diagnosed with coronavirus
The Italian-born star emigrated to America in 1985. His career spanned four decades, following a debut in the 1966 Italian drama Lo Scandalo. Sabato Sr is best known for his roles in Escape From The Bronx and Grand Prix – which led to Golden Globe nomination in 1967.
More recently, he appeared in American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, playing a character named Aldo Damiano.
Celebrity chef Albert Roux died on January 4 aged 85.
The French culinary star and restaurateur opened the iconic London eaterie Le Gavroche in 1967, bringing his style of haute cuisine to the capital.
A statement released by his family recalled his contribution to London’s dining culture: “Albert is credited, along with his late brother Michel Roux, with starting London’s culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967.”
As well as his brother, Albert’s son Michel Roux Jr is part of the Roux cooking dynasty, becoming a celebrity chef himself and hosting Masterchef.
Director AnnaRose King died on January 3 at the age of 35, three years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The filmmaker is best known for 2016 feature Good Enough. She also directed the movies Spanish Rice, Crystal Sessions and Stood Up.
In 2020, she was made Sundance Institute FilmTwo Fellow for a screenplay she’d penned about a cancer-stricken woman taking part in a medical trial.
An obituary penned by her family reads: « Her friendships spanned continents and were close and enduring.
« AnnaRose worked hard, lived fully, loved to travel around the world, and generously hosted friends and family at her beloved home in Sherman, CT. »
Coronation Street actor Mark Eden died at the age of 92 after a battle with Alzheimer’s.
He was best known for playing Alan Bradley in the ITV soap in the 80s and is survived by his wife and co-star Sue Nicholls, who plays Audrey Roberts.
A statement to the PA news agency said: « We are very sad to announce the death of actor Mark Eden.
« He died peacefully, in hospital, earlier today, 1st Jan 2021. Mark had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for some time, and was hospitalised in November.
« Mark, 92, had a long career spanning more than 50 years, including eight years in Coronation Street as character Alan Bradley. »
Gerry and the Pacemakers star Gerry Marsden died aged 78.
The legend shot to fame as the leader of the 1960s Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Sixties pop icon Gerry was best known for the hit You’ll Never Walk Alone but they had a string of huge hits and were one of the biggest bands of their generation.
Their hit songs included Ferry Cross The Mersey, I’ll Be There, You’ll Never Walk Alone, How Do You Do It? and I Like It.
Tanya Roberts died at the age of 65 after she reportedly « collapsed after walking her dogs on Christmas Eve. »
She was a Charlie’s Angel in the TV series as well as a Bond girl, starring opposite Roger Moore in A View To A Kill in 1985.
TMZ has reported that Tanya returned home from a walk with her dogs, when she « collapsed, » and was « taken to a hospital. »
Her representative told the site that Tanya was « put on a ventilator, but never got better » though her death was unrelated to Covid-19.
The actress passed away at a hospital in California.
Barbara Shelley died at the age of 88.
The star, considered an icon of early horror films, had caught Covid-19 in hospital, but it was not her cause of death.
Her agent said: « She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
« On screen she could be quietly evil. She goes from statuesque beauty to just animalistic wildness.
« She was a regular favourite of Hammer events and autograph shows but also performed on stage with the RSC. »
Alexi Laiho, the legendary guitarist and singer of Children of Bodom, died at the age of 41.
According to his label Napalm, Alex passed away at home in Helsinki after suffering ‘long term health issues.’
He was regarded as one of the greatest – and fastest – heavy metal guitarists of all time by industry experts.
A statement from the musicians Bodom After Midnight said: « It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Alexi Laiho. We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken for the sudden loss of our dear friend and band member. «
Laiho’s wife, Kelli Laiho-Wright, said: « Alexi was the most loving and magnificent husband and father. Our hearts are eternally broken. »
Alex formed Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom in 1993, with the group going on to become of Finland’s best selling acts of all time before splitting in 2019.