The notable and celebrated folks who left us in 2021 ranged from British royalty to supremely talented artists.
Prince Philip, rock drummer Charlie Watts, revered actress Cicely Tyson and sports icon Hank Aaron are some of the most famous losses of this year. Here is a look at the legends and the noteworthy who died this year.
Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents on opening night of "West Side Story," September 26, 1957.
Legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim died on Nov. 26 at age 91. During 60 years in the business, his legacy was varied and repeatedly honored. Sondheim received eight Tonys, eight Grammys, and one Oscar.
He was awarded his sole Pulitzer for "Sunday in the Park with George." He famously wrote the lyrics for "West Side Story," which premiered in 1957.
His most famous works include "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1962), "Company" (1970), "Follies" (1971), "A Little Night Music" (1973), "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (1979), "Merrily We Roll Along" (1981), and "Into the Woods" (1987).
Virgil Abloh on Paris runway in 2017.
Virgil Abloh was the trailblazing artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear and a creative collaborator of Kanye West. He died of cancer on Nov. 28 at age 41. Abloh helped run West's creative agency Donda and helped direct his album art.
Abloh stormed into the fashion world with Off-White, an irreverent brand that generated widespread acclaim. In 2018, he was hired by Louis Vuitton and became the first person of African descent to lead its upscale menswear line.
His shows were heavily attended by celebrities including Rihanna. He also designed Hailey Bieber's wedding dress for her marriage to Justin Bieber.
From left, Ronnie Wilson, Charlie Wilson and Robert Wilson of The Gap Band funk group performing on "Soul Train" in 1975.
Ronnie Wilson, founder of the popular funk group The Gap Band, died at age 73, his wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, said in a Nov. 2 Facebook post.
"The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01 a.m.," she wrote. "Ronnie Wilson was a genius with creating, producing, and playing the flugelhorn, trumpet, keyboards, and singing music, from childhood to his early seventies. He will be truly missed!!!"
Wilson formed The Gap Brothers in the late 1960s with siblings Charlie and Robert. Originally named The Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band (after streets in their Oklahoma hometown, which was was targeted in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre), the group rose to fame in the '70s and '80s with many releases, including "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" and "Oops Upside Your Head."
The brothers also opened for The Rolling Stones. Their songs have been sampled by artists including Snoop Dogg, Janet Jackson, Nas, Mary J. Blige and Ice Cube.
James Michael Tyler
James Michael Tyler on the set of "Friends" with Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston.
James Michael Tyler, an actor best known for his portrayal of grumpy Gunther, coffee house manager on "Friends," died at age 59 on Oct. 24. He had been battling prostate cancer.
"Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed," actress Jennifer Aniston posted on social media after his death was announced. He appeared in nearly 150 episodes of the hugely popular TV series that ran from 1994 to 2004.
"The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh Friend, but Michael's loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband. If you met him once you made a friend for life," Tyler's manager said in a statement.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed Oct. 21 on the set of "Rust," a Western being filmed in New Mexico. Investigators later determined the weapon was carrying a live round.
Hutchins, 42, was considered a rising star in the film world. The director of photography was born in Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle. As a child, she was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines,” she wrote on her personal website.
She studied economics at Agrarian University in Ukraine, then switched to journalism at Kyiv National University. She later attended the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles.
The incident remains under investigation. In an interview with ABC News, Baldwin said he did not how or why a live round had been placed in the prop. Hutchins' death, the emotional actor said, was the worst thing he had ever experienced.
Tom Hanks, left, and Peter Scolari on the set of "Bosom Buddies" in 1980.
Actor Peter Scolari, who appeared in the television comedies "Bosom Buddies" and "Newhart," died of cancer at age 66 on Oct. 22. "Bosom Buddies" also starred Tom Hanks, who became a lifelong friend. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Lena Dunham's father on the HBO show "Girls."
Willie Garson and Sarah Jessica Parker during filming of the "Sex and the City" movie in 2007.
Willie Garson, best known for his portrayal of Stanford Blatch in “Sex and the City,” died from pancreatic cancer at his Los Angeles home on Sept. 21. He was midway through reprising his beloved character in the upcoming 10-episode revival of the hugely popular "Sex and the City" series titled "And Just Like That.”
Anthony "A.J." Johnson
Anthony Johnson appearing in the 1995 film "Friday."
Anthony "A.J." Johnson, a comedian and actor known for co-starring with Chris Tucker and Ice Cube in the movie "Friday," died at age 55, a representative announced on Sept. 20.
Johnson began performing stand-up comedy in the 90s. He went on to appear in films including "Menace II Society" and "Lethal Weapon 3."
Norm MacDonald in a "Weekend Update" sketch on "SNL" with Tracy Morgan
“Saturday Night Live” star Norm Macdonald died Sept. 14 following a nine-year battle against cancer that he waged in private. He was 61.
"He was most proud of his comedy,” said friend and producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him."
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams as Omar Little in the hit HBO series "The Wire."
Michael Kenneth Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment on Sept. 6. An autopsy showed he died from an overdose of drugs including fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. He was 54.
The acclaimed actor was lauded for his performance of infamous gangster Omar Little on HBO's "The Wire" series, from 2002 to 2008. He also drew praise for his portrayal of "Chalky White" on "Boardwalk Empire" from 2010 to 2014.
Charlie Watts, considered one the greatest drummers of modern times, died on Aug. 24 at age 80. Known for his jazz-influenced playing, he was the least flamboyant member of The Rolling Stones, serving as the group's drummer for 58 years, from 1963 to his death.
Watts, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, are the only members of the group to appear on every Rolling Stones studio album.
Tracy Morgan, Biz Markie and Samuel L. Jackson at an after party for the 2004 ESPY Awards.
Legendary New York rapper Biz Markie died on July 16 after a long battle against complications from diabetes. He was 57. Born born Marcel Theo Hall, he died in a Baltimore hospital.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce, this evening, with his wife Tara by his side, hip hop pioneer Biz Markie peacefully passed away,” his rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement. “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.
Robert Downey Sr.
Director Robert Downey Sr. and son, actor Robert Downey Jr., at Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2008.
Robert Downey Sr. was a provocative filmmaker best known for his breakthrough movies "Putney Swope" and "Greaser's Palace." He also acted in the films "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia" and "To Live and Die in L.A."
His son, actor Robert Downey Jr., posted an online tribute to his 85-year-old father, who died on July 6: "Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson's ... he was a true maverick filmmaker, and remained remarkably optimistic throughout."
TikTok star Matima Miller, who went by Swavy and Babyface.S, was shot to death in Delaware on July 5, in front of his mother. The 19-year-old, who had more than 2.3 million followers, was killed in a "senseless act of gun violence," his family said.
The internet sensation was famous for posting dance videos, paintball sessions, memes and goofy comedy bits. His posts earned nearly 100 million likes in the days after his shooting death. A suspect in the killing was arrested in November.
Actor Daniel Mickelson, the older brother of model Meredith Mickelson, died July 4 from what was later said to be an accidental drug overdose of fentanyl and cocaine.
He starred in the 2019 film "The Killer Clown Meets the Candy Man" and the series "Mani." He was 23.
Kevin Clark, the child actor who portrayed drummer Freddy “Spazzy McGee” Jones in the 2003 film “School of Rock,” died on May 26 after being hit by a car while riding his bike in Chicago. He was 32.
Actors Alan Alda, left and Charles Grodin at a 2007 book party in New York City.
Veteran actor Charles Grodin died from bone marrow cancer on May 18 at his Connecticut home.
Blessed with an impeccable sense of timing and deadpan, Grodin starred in movies such as “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Midnight Run” and “Beethoven,” as well as the Broadway show “Same Time, Next Year."
Olympia Dukakis and her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in "Moonstruck" at the 1988 Academy Awards ceremony.
Olympia Dukakis, best known for her stellar film performances in 1987's "Moonstruck," in which she played Cher's mother and 1989's "Steel Magnolias," which also starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine, died at her New York City home on May 1. She was 89, and had been in ill health.
DMX performing at Woodstock '99 in Saugerties, New York.
Rapper and actor DMX, born Earl Simmons, died April 9, one week after suffering a heart attack following a drug overdose. He was 50.
“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end,” his family said in a statement. “He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him. Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever.”
Piccadilly Circus billboard in central London displayed a tribute to Prince Philip on the evening of his death.
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died on April 9, at the age of 99.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
The Supremes, left to right, Cindy Birdsong, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross, appearing in 1967 on "The Andy Williams Show."
Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Supremes, died Feb. 8 from heart disease at her Las Vegas home. She was 76. Part of one of the most successful acts in Motown history, the Wilson and the Supremes had a string of hits in the 1960s including "Come See About Me," "You Can't Hurry Love," and "You Keep Me Hangin' On."
Wilson helped found the group in 1959 at age 15 while living in a Detroit housing project.
"I am reminded that each day is a gift. I have so many wonderful memories of our time together," Diana Ross posted on social media after learning of Wilson's death. "The Supremes will live on in our hearts."
Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in a studio handout from the 1965 film adaption of "The Sound of Music."
Renowned Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died Feb. 5 at age 91. Best known for his starring roles in "The Sound of Music,” “Beginners,” “All the Money in the World” and “Knives Out,” Plummer "was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self-deprecating humor and the music of words,” his longtime manager said in a statement.
Julia Roberts and Cicely Tyson at the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award ceremony honoring Denzel Washington in 2019.
Actress Cicely Tyson, whose work spanned seven decades, died on Jan. 28 at age 96. Honored for her portrayal of strong, Black women, Tyson won three Emmys, a Tony, a Screen Actors Guild award and an honorary Oscar during her distinguished career.
Her first claim to fame in film came with "Sounder," a 1972 movie about a Black sharecropper and his family.
Oprah Winfrey being interviewed by Larry King in 2007 for his 50th anniversary in broadcasting.
Radio and television host Larry King died on Jan. 23 at age 87. The veteran broadcaster had interviewed more than 50,000 people in his long career. King, who had survived several bouts of cancer, died from sepsis, his wife said.
He is credited with interviewing every U.S. president from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
Hank Aaron being honored as a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team during game two of the 1999 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees.
Baseball icon Henry "Hank" Aaron, who battled racism and poverty to become one of the best-known players in professional baseball, died on Jan. 22 at age 86. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali once called Aaron “the only man I idolize more than myself.”
Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record despite threats to his life and used his Hall of Fame baseball career as a pulpit to endorse civil rights.