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  • Celebrities Who’ve Died in 2021 – PEOPLE

 February 1

by Carolina

Dustin Diamond

Noel Vasquez/Getty

The actor, best known for playing Samuel “Screech” Powers on Saved by the Bell, died on February 1 after a battle with cancer. He was 44 years old. 

Diamond’s rep confirmed the actor’s cancer diagnosis to PEOPLE the month prior, saying the actor had started chemotherapy for stage 4 small cell carcinoma, a cancer that commonly occurs in lungs, but can also manifest in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract.

“We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma,” Diamond’s rep said in a second statement. “He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.” 



Cicely Tyson

The trailblazing Tony Award and Emmy-winning actress died on Jan. 28. She was 96.

“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”

Tyson, famous for her choice of roles portraying resilient, uplifting Black women, was active in the entertainment industry since her 1956 debut in Carib Gold

“It’s very exciting to know that you are, hopefully, making a roadway for someone else to follow,” she told PEOPLE in an early January interview about her groundbreaking life and career.

Tyson earned a slew of accolades and awards for her starring roles in film and television over the years, including the notable 1972 drama Sounder, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which earned her two Emmy awards, as well as Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. In 2018, she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar. Two years later, she was selected for the Peabody Career Achievement Award for her work on the stage, in film and on television.

She also scored Emmy nods for the miniseries Roots and King. Her memoir, Just As I Am, was released just days before her death. 

The history-making actress was married to jazz legend Miles Davis from 1981 to 1988 and has one daughter from a brief early marriage.

Cloris Leachman

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The award-winning stage and screen actress, best known for her role as Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died on Jan. 27 of natural causes, her manager Juliet Green confirmed to PEOPLE. She was 94.

“It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time. There was no one like Cloris. With a single look she had the ability to break your heart or make you laugh till the tears ran down your face. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic,” said Green.

“She loved her children and her grandchildren ferociously. A lifelong vegetarian, she was a passionate advocate for animal rights. The family requests that any donations in her name be made to PETA or Last Chance for Animals,” Green added.

Over her seven decades in the business, the star would go on to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe and over 20 Emmy nominations and nine wins — more trophies than any other television performer in history.

Her breakout role came in 1971, with The Last Picture Show earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to find her most iconic role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she earned supporting actress Emmys in 1974 and 1975.


Corky Lee

LegalResearch345 2/Wikimedia

The legendary photojournalist, known as the “unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate,” died on Jan. 27 due to complications from COVID-19, according to Reuters. He was 73.

Lee first began experiencing symptoms of the virus on Jan. 3 and was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 7, the outlet reported. He was then moved to the ICU on Jan. 11, according to CNN.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Corky (Young Kwok) Lee,” his family shared in a statement to Facebook. “Corky, as he was known to the Asian American community, was everywhere. He always had a camera around his neck, documenting a community event, capturing a social injustice for the record and even correcting the social injustice of an historical event that took place well over a century ago. He did what he loved and we loved him for it.”

The photo in question is one which commemorated the completion of the transcontinental railroad, in which Lee noticed no Chinese workers appeared. He famously recreated the photo in 2014 with descendants of Chinese railroad workers. 

“He has left us with what is likely to be the single largest repository of the photographic history of Asian Americans of the past half century,” the family added.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in Lee’s honor to the Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA) Photog Affinity Group.

Sonny Fox

Bettmann/ Getty

The the beloved host of 1960s children’s show Wonderama died due to complications from the novel coronavirus, according to a statement on his official website. He was 95. 

“It is with sadness that we share the news of Sonny’s passing in Los Angeles on Sunday January 24th of Covid Related Pneumonia,” read the statement. “We will post more as we learn more of where to send your condolences.” 

Fox rose to fame after he was hired to replace Bill Britten and Doris Faye as the host of Wonderama in 1959. The Sunday morning classic featured a mix of cartoons, celebrity guests, magic tricks and more, and was well-known as a particularly engaging show for kids.

In addition to his time on Wonderama from 1959 through 1967, Fox had hosting gigs on various game shows, including The $64,000 ChallengeThe Price Is Right and To Tell the Truth

Larry King

Stephen Lovekin/WireImage

The beloved journalist and radio host died in Los Angeles on Jan. 23. He was 87.

Ora Media, which King co-founded, shared the news in a statement on King’s Twitter. A cause of death was not given. His passing comes weeks after he was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Jan. 2.

“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster. Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ titles, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience,” the statement said in part. “Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed considered questions usually provided the best answers and he was not wrong in that belief.”

Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on Nov. 19, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, King changed his birth name in the late 1950s as he was beginning his broadcast career in Miami. In 1985, he launched the cable TV show Larry King Live, which became CNN’s tent-pole program. The longtime journalist earned a number accolades throughout his career, including two Peabody Awards and inductions into the National Radio Hall of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He was also the author of several books.



Song Yoo-jung

The South Korean actress died on Jan. 23. She was 26.

The actress’ death was announced by Sublime Artist Agency on Instagram on Jan. 25, though Song’s cause of death was not released. The Agency did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Song rose to fame for her roles in TV shows including Make a Wish from 2014-2015 and School 2017 in 2017. She also appeared in 2013’s Golden Rainbow and the 2019 web series Dear My Name.

The actress was also a model and advocate for people with disabilities.

Harry Brant

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty

The son of supermodel Stephanie Seymour and magazine publisher Peter Brant died on Jan. 17. He was 24.

The budding socialite died of an accidental overdose, his family said in a statement to the New York Times.

“We will forever be saddened that his life was cut short by this devastating disease,” the statement read in part. “He achieved a lot in his 24 years, but we will never get the chance to see how much more Harry could have done.”

Harry had reportedly struggled with addiction for several years.

Harry was a model, appearing in Italian Vogue and Balmain campaigns. He and his brother also previously collaborated on a unisex makeup for MAC. As a teenager, he wrote for Interview magazine, which his father Peter owned.

Joanne Rogers

Fred Rogers Productions

Joanne Rogers, the classical pianist and widow of TV icon Fred Rogers, died on Jan. 14. She was 92.

“Fred Rogers Productions is deeply saddened by the passing of Joanne Rogers,” the non-profit organization said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “The loving partner of Fred Rogers for more than 50 years, she continued their shared commitment to supporting children and families after his death as chair of the board of Fred Rogers Productions.”

“Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization,” the statement continued. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her.”

Joanne and Fred Rogers were married for 50 years before his death in 2003 from stomach cancer at 74. 


Sylvain Sylvain

Bobby Bank/WireImage

New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain died on Jan. 13. He was 69.

Sylvain’s wife, Wanda O’Kelley Mizrahi, shared the news of his death in a Facebook post on Jan. 14.

“As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years,” Mizrahi wrote. “Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease. While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain.”

Sylvain will be buried in New York, Mizrahi told Rolling Stone.


Peter Mark Richman


Peter Mark Richman, an actor with over 130 television credits including his recurring role as Reverend Snow on Three’s Company, died on Jan. 14 at the age of 93.

Richman died of natural causes at his home in Woodland Hills, California, his rep confirms to PEOPLE.

“Peter Mark’s family would like to thank all those who have been expressing their condolences and admiration for his extraordinary accomplishments,” a statement provided to PEOPLE reads. “The love he gave — to everything he did, and everyone he knew — will live forever.”

In another statement to PEOPLE, Richman’s Three’s Company costar Suzanne Somers said, “Comedy is musical. Peter Mark Richman and I understood the music from the very first time we appeared together on Three’s Company. He knew his ‘stuff.’ We lost a good one. Rest In Peace Peter Mark Richman.”


Sheldon Adelson

Bob Riha, Jr./Getty

The multibillionaire casino owner and prominent donor to the Republican Party died on Jan. 11. He was 87.

His casino and resort destination Las Vegas Sands announced the news, confirming that Adelson died from “complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.” There will be a funeral held in Israel, with a Las Vegas memorial service at a later date. According to Forbes, he was worth $35 billion. The outlet added that in 2018 alone, he donated some $123 million to Republican PACs and campaigns. 

“He will be missed by people from all parts of the world who were touched by his generosity, kindness, intellect and wonderful sense of humor,” the Sands staff said in a press release


Pat Loud

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Loud, the matriarch of one of television’s first-ever reality shows — the 1973 PBS docuseries An American Familydied on Jan. 10. She was 94.

Her family announced her passing with a statement on Facebook, disclosing that she died of natural causes.

“With inconsolable sorrow, we are sad to share the news with friends and family that on Sunday, January 10 at 1:55 p.m. PT, Pat Loud passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes,” the statement read. “She was snuggled up safe in her comfy home, attended by loving children Michele, Delilah, Kevin and Grant.”

Born in Eugene, Oregon, Pat studied world history and English literature at Stanford University. After graduating in 1948, she returned to her hometown, where she met and then married William (Bill) Carberry Loud. Their family went on to star in the groundbreaking 1973 docuseries, which followed their everyday lives in Santa Barbara, California. 


John Reilly

ABC/Everett Collection

The actor, who rose to fame in his roles on General Hospital and Beverly Hills, 90210, died on Jan. 10. He was 84.

Reilly’s daughter, social media personality Caitlin Reilly, announced the news of her father’s death on Instagram. A cause of death was not disclosed.

“John Henry Matthew Reilly AKA Jack. The brightest light in the world has gone out,” Caitlin captioned a throwback photo of her and her father. “Imagine the best person in the world. Now imagine that person being your dad. I’m so grateful he was mine. I’m so grateful I got to love him. I’m so grateful I made it in time to hold him and say goodbye.”

“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know he’ll be with me,” she added. “I love you forever Daddy.”

A Chicago native, Reilly started acting in the 1960s with guest-starring roles on Death Valley Days, Apple’s Way and Gunsmoke. In 1984, he starred in six episodes of Dallas as Roy Ralston. He then went on to portray WSB agent Sean Donely in General Hospital for 11 years.


Ed Bruce

David Redfern/Redferns

The country icon died of natural causes on Jan. 8, PEOPLE confirmed. He was 81.

Bruce had several hit songs over the course of his decades-long career, including all-time classic “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” which he co-wrote with his then-wife Patsy Bruce before the pair split in 1987. In 1982, he released “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” featuring Lynn Anderson, which charted for 21 weeks and landed at No. 1.

That same year, Bruce co-starred in TV series Bret Maverick, alongside James Garner. The late icon also appeared in many fan-favorite shows, including Walker, Texas Ranger and The Chisholms. His music has earned him 35 Billboard spots, including six Top 10 hits.


Dave Creek

Dave Creek/Instagram

Creek, the lead character designer on popular animated comedy series Bob’s Burgers, died Jan. 7. He was 42. 

According to the website Cartoon Brew, which first reported the news, Creek died following complications from a skydiving incident.

The Fox series issued a statement confirming the news.

“We are heartbroken at the tragic passing of Dave Creek, an extraordinary artist who had been with Bob’s Burgers from day one,” read the statement, signed by 20th Television, Fox Entertainment and Bento Box Entertainment. “He was not just an incredible talent but a beautiful person as well, and our hearts go out to his family, friends and all his colleagues at the show who loved him and are grieving today.”

According to his IMDb page, Creek — a graduate of  the California Institute of the Arts — also contributed to the animation for a number of other shows, including Central ParkBrickleberry and Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.


Deezer D

Barry King/WireImage

The actor, best known for his role as nurse Malik McGrath on the medical drama ER, died on Jan. 7, his brother Emmery Thompson announced on Instagram. He was 55. 

“My Big Brother! God is with you. I will miss you. #deezerd,” Emmery captioned a series of photos, which featured family snaps and pictures of the late actor and musical performer’s career highlights.

Thompson, born Dearon Thompson, was found unresponsive at his Los Angeles home on the morning of Jan. 7, according to TMZ. An official cause of death has not been determined, though another brother of his, Marshawn, told the outlet they suspect he had a heart attack.


Tommy Lasorda

MLB Photos/Getty

The beloved former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and manager died of a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home on Jan. 7 at 10:09 p.m. local time, the Los Angeles Dodgers confirmed on Twitter.

He was transported to the hospital, where he was ultimately pronounced dead at 10:57 p.m. He was 93. 

Lasorda, who began as a pitcher before taking on the role of manager of the Dodgers from the 70s to 90s — had just been discharged from the hospital two days prior after being hospitalized in November for an undisclosed medical issue, ESPN reported.

In total, Lasorda was with the Dodgers organization for 71 seasons, including 14 as a special advisor to the chairman.


Marion Ramsey

James Lemke Jr/WireImage

The Broadway and Police Academy actress died on Jan. 7 at 73.

Ramsey died at her home in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Marion carried with her a kindness and permeating light that instantly filled a room upon her arrival,” her agency Roger Paul Inc. wrote in a statement obtained by THR. “The dimming of her light is already felt by those who knew her well.”

The actress is best known for her performance as Officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy film franchise, beginning with the 1984 film Police Academy starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and G.W. Bailey and including several role reprisals. 

Ramsey — a long-time advocate for HIV and AIDS awareness, according to Variety — was also known for her Broadway performances in shows like Hello, Dolly and the Los Angeles production of Little Shop of Horrors. She appeared in the production of Miss Moffatt with Bette Davis, as well as Harold Prince’s Grind and Eubiel, according to THR.


Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart

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The founder of Sandals Resorts International died on Jan. 4, multiple outlets reported. He was 79.

According to the New York Times, his death was confirmed in a statement by his family, who shared that his death was related to a “recent medical diagnosis” that Stewart had kept private. He died in the United States. 

A native of Jamaica, Stewart — born Gordon Arthur Cyril Stewart — launched his first resort, Sandals Montego Bay, in 1981. The luxury chain now spans 15 resorts, with six across Jamaica.  

A lifelong entrepreneur — he started out selling and installing air-conditioners — Stewart created the Sandals Foundation in 2009, to support local construction of schools and access to health care. Among the numerous awards and distinctions he received over the years was the Order of Jamaica.


Eric Jerome Dickey

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The New York Times bestselling author, who rose to prominence for his work about contemporary Black life, died of cancer on Jan. 3. He was 59.

Dickey died in Los Angeles, his publicist at Penguin Random House confirmed to PEOPLE.

Prior to his writing career, Dickey earned a degree in Computer System Technology at the University of Memphis and worked as a software developer in the aerospace industry, according to his website.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1983 to pursue a career in engineering, but found himself drawn to writing and comedy. Starting with scripts for his personal comedy act, he went on to write poetry and short stories before releasing his debut novel Sister, Sister in 1996.

His novels Chasing DestinyLiar’s GameBetween Lovers, Thieves’ Paradise, The Other WomanDrive Me CrazyGenevieveNaughty or NiceSleeping with StrangersWaking with Enemies and Pleasure all landed spots on The New York Times bestseller list.


AnnaRose King

J.T. WHITE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The writer and director — who was the daughter of King World Production’s Roger King — died following a three-year battle with lung cancer on Jan. 3. She was 35.

King’s family announced that she died at Manhattan’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.

“AnnaRose had a playful spirit and profound love and caring for others. Her friendships spanned continents and were close and enduring,” a statement from her family read. “AnnaRose worked hard, lived fully, loved to travel around the world, and generously hosted friends and family at her beloved home in Sherman, CT.”

King directed a total of seven films, per her IMDB page, and was selected as a 2020 Sundance Institute FilmTwo Fellow thanks to her original screenplay about a young woman who participates in an experimental treatment program to treat her incurable cancer.


Original posted at people.com

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