CLEVELAND (WJW)– As 2021 comes to an end, we’re looking back on the actors, athletes and artists who passed away this year.
The baseball great and one-time home run king died on Jan. 22, 2021 at the age of 86. “Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during his 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.
Designer Virgil Abloh, a leading fashion executive hailed as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation, died after a private battle with cancer on Nov. 28, 2021. He was 41.
Ed Asner died on Aug. 29, 2021 at the age of 91. He won three Emmys as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” He had more than 300 acting credits and remained active throughout his 70s and 80s in a variety of film and TV roles.
Ned Beatty died peacefully in his Los Angeles home on June 13, 2021 at 83. Beatty acted in several feature films and hit TV shows. However, he was most known for his roles in the films “Superman” (1978) and “Network” (1976).
Japanese actor Sonny Chiba, who wowed the world with his martial arts skills in more than 100 films, including “Kill Bill,” died on Aug. 19, 2021. He was 82. Chiba rose to stardom in Japan in the 1960s, portraying samurai, fighters and police detectives, the anguished so-called “anti-heroes” trying to survive in a violent world. He did many of the stunt scenes himself.
Kevin Clark, who played drummer Freddy Jones in the 2003 film “School of Rock,” was struck by a car and killed while riding his bike on May 26, 2021. He was 32.
Children’s book author Beverly Cleary passed away at 104 on March 25, 2021. Cleary’s first book, “Henry Huggins,” was published in 1950. Since then she wrote and published more than forty books. The publisher says Cleary’s books have sold more than 85 million copies and have been translated into 29 languages.
Dustin Diamond on Feb. 1, 2021. The 44-year-old had just recently been diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma and was undergoing chemotherapy. Diamond played Samuel “Screech” Powers on “Saved by the Bell,” which aired from 1989 to 1993, and its spinoffs included “Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” and “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,”
DMX, the raspy-voiced hip-hop artist who produced the songs “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here)” died at 50 on April 9, 2021. The Grammy-nominated performer died after suffering “catastrophic cardiac arrest,” according to the hospital in White Plains, New York.
Former Senator Bob Dole died in his sleep on December 5, 2021. He was 98. He overcame severe WWII wounds then moved on to lead Senate GOP and ran for president.
Graeme Edge, drummer and co-founding member of the Moody Blues died at 80 on Nov. 11, 2021. The English musician was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his 50 years of work with the rock band, providing their imaginative rhythms and memorable spoken word.
Don Everly, one-half of the pioneering Everly Brothers whose harmonizing country rock hits impacted a generation of rock ‘n’ roll music, died on Jan. 3, 2021. He was 84. His brother, Phil Everly, died in January 2014 at age 74.
Siegfried Fischbacher, of the duo Siegfried and Roy, died in Las Vegas at age 81 on Jan. 13, 2021. Fischbacher’s long-time show business partner, Roy Horn, died in May 2020. The duo astonished millions with their extraordinary magic tricks until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers.
Larry Flynt, founder of “Hustler” magazine, died of heart failure at age 78 on Feb. 10, 2021.
Willie Garson died on Sept. 21, 2021 after a short illness at age 57. He was best known for his roles as Stanford Blatch on “Sex and the City” and Mozzie on the USA Network series “White Collar.”
The actor, who played the dad in the ““Beethoven” movies, died on May 18, 2021 at the age of 86. Grodin appeared in a string of notable films from the 1970s onward, including “Midnight Run,” “The Woman in Red” and “Heaven Can Wait.” On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the long-running 1970s comedy “Same Time, Next Year.”
The bass player and founding member of the Texas band ZZ Top died at 72 on July 28, 2021.
Greg “Shock G” Jacobs
Greg “Shock G” Jacobs died at 57 on April 22, 2021. He was the leader of the Bay Area hip hop ground Digital Underground, of “Humpty Dance” fame.
Former CNN talk show host Larry King died following a battle with COVID-19 on Jan. 23, 2021. He was 87. “Larry King Live” ran in prime time on CNN from 1985 to 2010.
Julie E. “Tawny” Kitaen, whose appearance in numerous Whitesnake videos made her a sex symbol in the 1980s, died at 59 on May 7, 2021.
Tommy Lasorda, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved during his 71 years with the franchise, died on Jan. 7, 2021. He was 93.
Legendary actress and comedian Cloris Leachman died of natural causes on Jan. 27, 2021. She was 94. Leachman won an Academy Award and eight Primetime Emmys during her decades-long career that spanned stage and screen. She appeared on the Mary Tyler Moore Show as Phyllis Lindstrom and was in three Mel Brooks movies.
Conservative talk show radio host and Republican party icon Rush Limbaugh died Feb. 17, 2021 at age 70. He had been battling advanced lung cancer since February 2020. Former President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union address.
Comic and former “Saturday Night Live” star Norm Macdonald died at 61 on Sept. 14, 2021. He went on to star in his own comedy series, “The Norm Show,” after leaving SNL. Macdonald also appeared in a several movies, including “Billy Madison,” “Dirty Work” and “Doctor Dolittle.” He was battling cancer privately for nine years.
Legendary Oakland Raiders head coach, longtime broadcaster and video game namesake John Madden died unexpectedly on Dec. 28, 2021 at the age of 85.
“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Biz Markie, a hip-hop staple known for his beatboxing prowess, turntable mastery and the 1989 classic “Just a Friend,” died on July 16, 2021. He was 57.
Eddie Mekka died on Nov. 27, 2021 at 69. He appeared as Carmine in “Laverne and Shirley” from 1976 through 1983. He later appeared on shows including “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat,” “Moonlighting,” and “Family Matters.”
Jay Pickett, 60, passed away while filming a movie on July 30, 2021. He was 60. Pickett appeared on soap operas including “Port Charles,” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital.” He also appeared on TV shows like “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Mentalist” and “Rosewood.”
Christopher Plummer, the actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history, died on Feb. 5, 2021. He was 91. Over more than 50 years in the industry, Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009′s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind.”
Markie Post, who played the public defender in the 1980s sitcom “Night Court” and was a regular presence on television for four decades, died on Aug. 7, 2021 after a years-long battle with cancer. She was 70.
Peter Scolari, who starred alongside Tom Hanks in the 1980s sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” died at the age of 66 on Oct. 22, 2021. Scolari’s television career spanned nearly four decades with stints on “Newhart” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show.” He also did voice work for several animated series and was in Broadway musicals like “Wicked” and “Hairspray.”
Joseph Siravo died following a battle with colon cancer on April 11, 2021. He was 66. Siravo is best-known for his role as Johnny Soprano, who was featured prominently in flashbacks on HBO’s “Sopranos.” Other recent credits include roles in “New Amsterdam,” “Blue Bloods” and “The Blacklist.”
Stephen Sondheim died at Nov. 26, 2021 at age 91. Sondheim was a composer and lyricist for Broadway juggernauts like “Into the Woods” and “Company,” and wrote lyrics for “West Side Story.”
James Michael Tyler
James Michael Tyler died at his home in Los Angeles on Oct. 24, 2021 at 59 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was best known for his role as Gunther on the hit show “Friends.”
Cicely Tyson, the pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” died on Jan. 28, 2021. She was 96.
Jessica Walter, who played a scheming matriarch in TV’s “Arrested Development,” died on March 24, 2021 at age 80. One of her best-known roles was the stalker in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller, “Play Misty for Me.”
Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones, died on Aug. 24, 2021 at the age of 80. The quiet, elegantly dressed Watts was often ranked with Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and a handful of others as a premier rock drummer.
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams died on Sept. 6, 2021 of an overdose at the age of 54. Williams played Omar Little in “The Wire” and starred as Albert “Chalky” White on “Boardwalk Empire.” He was also in other works for more than two decades, including “Lovecraft Country,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Assassin’s Creed.”
Samuel E. Wright
Samuel E. Wright, the Tony Award-nominated actor best known for voicing the role of Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid,” died on May 24, 2021. He was 74.