The year 2016 has been a very turbulent one with life-changing news like Brexit and a Trump presidency. However, for many of us, the most heart-wrenching events that took place this year were the deaths of our most beloved celebrities. So, here is a list of everyone we have lost so far, with a sincere wish that 2017 will not be so injurious to our poor hearts.
1. David Bowie
The year began badly for many with the announcement of David Bowie’s death due to a cancer many didn’t know he had. The 69-year-old passed away just three days after releasing his 25th studio album breaking the collective hearts of all of his fans.
2. Alan Rickman
Just a few days after Bowie, the entire world was shocked to hear the death of the idolized British actor Alan Rickman who was most famous for his portrayal of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. It was with Rickman’s death that we all knew 2016 was truly a bad year.
3. Terry Wogan
The final celebrity death in January was Terry Wogan, veteran broadcaster who passed away at the age of 77, once again due to cancer.
4. Frank Kelly
Actor Frank Kelly best known for his role as Father Jack in the comedy Father-Ted, died at the age of 77 in February. He was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2015.
5. Tony Warren
March was a difficult month too, with many renowned names dying. Tony Warren was one. The Coronation Street creator passed away aged 79, after a short illness. He was considered one of the television industry’s greatest minds as he devised the idea for the
Weatherfield soap at the age of 24 at the very beginning of his acclaimed writing career.
6. Paul Daniels
Paul Daniels, an internationally acclaimed magician, who achieved worldwide fame through his BBC series The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran from 1979 to 1994 also died. In February 2016, it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and in March, he sadly lost his fight.
7. Ronnie Corbett
The year 2016 clearly didn’t like celebrities, especially comedians. Ronnie Corbett was best known for his success his comedy-sketch show The Two Ronnies, alongside Ronnie Barker. Aged 85, the British comedian passed away in hospital, surrounded by his family.
8. Denise Robertson
Denise Robertson lost her battle with pancreatic cancer aged 83. Best known as the agony aunt on ITV’s This Morning, Denise made her TV debut in 1985 as the presenter of the Junior Advice Line on BBC’s Breakfast Time show.
9. David Gest
The 62-year-old music producer David Gest died in April at the age of 62.
10. Victoria Wood
April was another sad month which was confirmed with the death of Victoria Wood, also aged 62. The star died after a battle with cancer.
The collective world of music wept with heart-break after the death of Prince. Pop megastar Prince passed away at his recording studios in Minneapolis at the age of 57.
12. D.B. Nihalsinghe
Sri Lankan celebrities were not spared the gruesome plight either. A pioneer in Sinhala cinema, D.B. Nihalsinghe, passed away last April at the age of 77. Nihalsinghe was the first person to introduce colour films to Sri Lanka.
13. Carla Lane
In May, writer Carla Lane also died in a nursing home at the age of 87.
14. Muhammed Ali
After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, died at the age of 74 in June.
15. Anton Yelchin
Star Trek star Anton Yelchin was killed at the age of 27 in a car crash.
16. Caroline Aherne
Actress Caroline Aherne died on July 2 at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer. The star was best known for her work in The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show and The Fast Show.
17. Kenny Baker
On 13 August, actor Kenny Baker died at the age of 81. The 3ft 8in tall performer’s most iconic role was of fan favourite R2-D2 in the Star Wars movie series. Baker appeared in the first six films, playing the role from 1977 to 2005.
18. Wijaya Nandasiri
On August 8 here in Sri Lanka, Wijaya Nandasiri, who used to make us laugh through his various characters in comedies like Yes, Boss and Nonawaruni Mahathwuruni, died at the age of 72. The dramatist died after a heart attack at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital.
19. Gene Wilder
Film star Gene Wilder died on August 29 aged 83 over complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Wilder had a long and storied movie career but is by far best known for his role as Willy Wonka. The film adaption of Roald Dahl’s classic childhood book has stood the test of time since it was released in 1971 and continues to touch each generation time and time again.
20. Alexis Ariquette
Alexis Ariquette died aged 47 on September 11. The transgender actress starred in The Wedding Singer and two episodes of Friends.
21. King Bhumibol Adulyade
King Bhumibol Adulyade, the world’s longest-serving head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thai history, died after serving for 70 years, 126 days. Adulyade, conferred with the title King Bhumibol the Great in 1987, passed away on October 13.
22. Jean Alexander
The Hilda Ogden star of Coronation Street died on October 14, 2016, aged 90 – three days after her birthday and four years after announcing her retirement.
23. Pete Burns
The Dead or Alive hit-maker – who scored an infectious number one with You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) in 1984 – died of a massive heart attack on October 23, aged 57.
24. Leonard Cohen
The Hallelujah star, whose career spanned over five decades, passed away with his death confirmed by his label in November.
25. Robert Vaughn
Most famed for his role as Napoleon Solo in the hit TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E, veteran actor Robert Vaughn passed away on November 11, 2016.
26. Pandit Amaradeva
Amaradeva, who made an immense influence on many through his music, passed away at the age of 88 on November 3. His final rites took place with full state honours at the Independence Square amid many of Sri Lanka’s acclaimed celebrities.
27. Florence Henderson
Brady Bunch actress Florence Henderson died on November 25, aged 82.
28. Fidel Castro
The surviving face of the Cuban revolution that faced off against the might of the United States, Fidel Castro passed away on November 25. Castro is famous for many achievements, including escaping 683 attempts of assassination.
29. Jayalalithaa Jeyaram
The infamous ‘Amma’ of Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram passed away on December 5. After suffering from various illnesses, the controversial politician passed away at a private hospital in Tamil Nadu, much to the grievance of her followers.
30. Peter Vaughan
Game of Thrones and Porridge actor Peter Vaughan passed away on December 6, aged 93.
31. Rick Parfitt
Status Quo rocker Rick Parfitt died at the age of 68 on December 24. Famous for hits such as Rockin’ All Over The World, his manager confirmed that he passed away at a hospital in Spain.
32. Anne Ranasinghe
December 17 was another sad day for poetry and history lovers in Sri Lanka, with the death of our beloved Anne Ranasinghe, whose work was so inspirational that it even made it into the Ordinary Levels and Advanced Levels literature syllabus.
33. George Michael
On Christmas Day, December 25, it was announced that George Michael passed away peacefully at his home. He sold more than 80 million records worldwide in a career spanning four decades. He began as one half of pop duo Wham but became famous in his own right with his debut solo single Careless Whisper. His 1987 debut solo album Faith sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
34. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds died of heart complications aged 84 on December 28, just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher’s death. Carrie Fisher was a famed actor and author, best known for her role in Princess Leia in the Star Wars film series. Academy award nominee Debbie Reynolds was also a singer and dancer. She won critical acclaim for her role, Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain.
35. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake passed away on December 27, aged 83. He was a National List member of the Parliament and held office from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2005 to 2010. He was an active member of Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United People’s Freedom Alliance.