My last column of 2016. And what else could I write about this week other than the gut punches this year gave us?
I’m talking about the way you feel like someone has just Mike Tyson-ed you to the belly button every time you hear about another beloved star passing.
We started off 2016 with the death of two musical legends with David Bowie on Jan. 10 and Glenn Frey on Jan. 18. And wrapping up with the Christmas holiday we lost George Michael and Carrie Fisher. Jan. 1 can’t get here quick enough.
As if Bowie, Frey and Michael weren’t enough musical losses this year, 2016 saw the end of Prince, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen and Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire).
I grew up listening to The Eagles because it was probably my dad’s favorite band. Prince’s “When Doves Cry” is just powerful today as it was in the 1980s. And how many of us had been listening to “Last Christmas” when we found out it was indeed George Michael’s last Christmas?
We lost one of our favorite TV moms (Florence Henderson, “The Brady Bunch”) and one of our favorite TV dads (Alan Thicke, “Growing Pains”) and one of the more unconventional, but still loved TV moms (Doris Roberts, “Everybody Loves Raymond).
We lost the creator of “Space Oddity” as well as Princess Leia (Fisher), R2D2 (Kenny Baker), Ensign Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass).
We lost the wife of a U.S. president (Nancy Reagan) to a man who played a president, Franklin Roosevelt (Richard Vaughn), to a man who had interviewed presidents (Morley Safer) to a man who defied U.S. presidents (Fidel Castro).
We lost sports figures like Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Gordie Howe, Pat Summitt, Craig Sager, John Saunders and Joe Garagiola to American heroes like astronaut John Glenn, Janet Reno (the first female attorney general) and Antonin Scalia, the first Italian Supreme Court justice.
We lost the beloved author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Harper Lee), beloved villain Alan Rickman and beloved actors and directors like Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Patty Duke and Garry Shandling. We also lost possibly the first celebrity who was only famous for being famous; the Kim Kardashian/Paris Hilton of her time: Zsa Zsa Gabor.
“Barney Miller” lost both Ron Glass and Abe Vigoda. “Cool Hand Luke” lost his pal George Kennedy.
Now it’s not like 2015 was easy. Heck, we lost Mr. Spock, Elly May Clampett, Roscoe P. Coltraine, Saruman and Dr. Zhivago. We lost sports figures Yogi Berra and Frank Gifford, and musicians like B.B. King and Natalie Cole.
In 2014 we lost Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, two great actors. Still, those two years together don’t add up to all we have lost in 2016.
As one meme I saw on social media stated, I’m definitely staying up to midnight on New Year’s Eve so I can seen 2016 die.
All these celebrity deaths make a man wonder who might be next – and on a darker note, who surprisingly isn’t dead. Abe Vigoda spent much of the 2000s trying to convince folks he wasn’t dead yet.
According to Wikipedia, Olivia de Havilland and Kirk Douglas are still kicking at age 100. Betty White turns 95 in a couple of weeks; a South Carolina man started a GoFundMe account this week “to protect Betty White” from 2016.
Another meme, which I posted to my Facebook page a couple of years ago, showed the face of a certain guitar legend and implored us, “Perhaps it’s time we considered what kind of world we are leaving Keith Richards.”
Here are a list of some of the better-known people to die in 2016, with their age at death.
Muhammad Ali, 74
Kenny Baker, 81
David Bowie, 69
Patty Duke, 69
Fidel Castro, 90
Leonard Cohen, 82
Carrie Fisher, 60
Glenn Frey, 67
Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99
Joe Garagiola, 90
Ron Glass, 71
John Glenn, 95
Florence Henderson, 82
Merle Haggard, 79
Gordie Howe, 88
George Kennedy, 91
Harper Lee, 89
Garry Marshall, 81
George Michael, 53
Arnold Palmer, 87
Nancy Reagan, 94
Janet Reno, 78
Alan Rickman, 69
Doris Roberts, 90
Morley Safer, 84
Craig Sager, 65
John Saunders, 61
Antonin Scalia, 79
Garry Shandling, 66
Pat Summit, 64
Alan Thicke, 69
Robert Vaughn, 83
Abe Vigoda, 94
Maurice White, 74
Gene Wilder, 83
Anton Yelchin, 27
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.