2016: The famous faces we have lost during the year

Among the major news stories of 2016, some of the biggest and saddest events have been the deaths of a string of famous faces we have known and loved through the years.

From actors and musicians to writers and politicians, every month has seen the loss of at least one memorable name.

Here, we look back at those who have died during 2016.


  • David Bowie - The singer, perhaps the most influential of his time, died aged 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie had a string of hits including Heroes,Life on Mars and Space Oddity and appeared as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust during the 1970s. Throughout his career he sold more than 140 million albums, as well as having five number one singles and 11 chart-topping albums in the UK.

  • Alan Rickman - A star of stage, films and TV, the 69-year-old British actor died in London surrounded by friends and family after suffering from cancer. Younger fans came to know him through his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, but Rickman first came to global recognition as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, before again memorably playing the villain in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

  • Glenn Frey - The Eagles guitarist died aged 67 in New York from complications arising from rheumatoid, arthritis, colitis and pneumonia. Frey co-founded the band with Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner in 1971 and went on to have multiple hits, including 1976's Hotel California. The band split in 1980 and Frey had a solo career before they reunited in 1994.

  • Sir Terry Wogan - One of the most-loved broadcasters of his generation, Sir Terry died aged 77 following a short illness. During his 50 years in the industry, he presented Wake Up To Wogan on BBC Radio 2 and the Wogan chat show on BBC1, as well as helping to raise hundreds of millions of pounds for Children in Need from the 1980s onwards and voicing the UK coverage of the Eurovision song contest.


  • Harper Lee - Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird saw her gain global fame, selling more than 40 million copies and earning her the Pulitzer Prize. But the 89-year-old shunned the limelight and did not publish another book until 2015's Go Set a Watchman. She died in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

  • Frank Kelly - The Irish actor had a career on stage and screen, but was best known for his role as the foul-mouthed Father Jack in sitcom Father Ted. He died aged 77 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015, passing away exactly 18 years after the death of Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan. His other roles included Emmerdale and Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie.


Ronnie Corbett died aged 85 in March. Credit: PA
  • Tony Warren - The Coronation Street creator and writer died aged 79 following a short illness. He wrote the first scripts for Corrie in 1960 after finding inspiration while on a train to Manchester. He wrote episodes until the late 1970s before working on other TV dramas and crafting several novels in the 1990s.

  • Sir George Martin - Known as "The Fifth Beatle", record producer Sir George signed the band in 1962 and worked with a host of other artists including Cilla Black and Dame Shirley Bassey. In 1997, Sir George co-produced Sir Elton John's Candle in the Wind, which was released in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales.He died aged 90.

  • Paul Daniels - After being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in February, the 77-year-old magician and entertainer died at his home in Berkshire with his wife Debbie McGee at his side. He rose to fame through his self-titled magic show on the BBC, which ran from 1979 to 1994, as well as starring on Wizbit and Odd One Out.

  • Ronnie Corbett - The entertainer had been unwell for some time when he died aged 85. He was best known for starring alongside Ronnie Barker in The Two Ronnies during the 1970s and 1980s. His TV comedy career began on David Frost's the Frost Report in 1960 and other work included sitcom Sorry! and game show Small Talk.

  • Denise Robertson - Known as ITV This Morning's agony aunt, Denise Robertson died aged 83 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had been with the programme since it began in 1988 and also wrote a number of novels and advice books.


David Gest appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. Credit: PA
  • David Gest - Reality TV star and music producer David Gest was found dead aged 62 at a London hotel. The former husband of Liza Minelli appeared on shows including I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here and Celebrity Big Brother, as well as producing 2001's Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration.

  • Victoria Wood - The comedian, writer and singer died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer. She appeared in shows including Acom Antiques, Dinnerladies and Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV, and collaborated with Julie Walters throughout her career.

  • Prince - One of the best-selling musicians of all time, Prince was found dead at his home in Minnesota aged 57. He rose to fame in the mid-70s and sold more than 100 million records, won seven Grammys, an Oscar and a Golden Globe. His hits included Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Little Red Corvette. Medical examiners found he died from an accidental painkiller overdose.


Carla Lane was known for her animal rights activism. Credit: PA
  • Carla Lane - The 87-year-old writer was behind shows including The Liver Birds, Bless This House, Bread and Butterflies. She was also known for her animal rights activism and returned her OBE to then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 in anger at continuing animal cruelty.


Anton Yelchin was killed in an accident. Credit: PA
  • Muhammad Ali - Among the greatest sporting figures to have ever lived, boxing legend Muhammad Ali died aged 74 after suffering from a respiratory illness complicated by Parkinson's disease. He was crowned heavyweight champion of the world three times, famously taking the title from George Foreman in the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle". He retired in 1981 after winning 56 of his 61 fights.

  • Anton Yelchin - Known for portraying Pavel Chekov in the latest Star Trek film series, Yelchin was killed in an accident aged 27 when his vehicle rolled backwards and pinned him against a wall. He first appeared in US drama ER in 2000 and went on to star in films including Alpha Dog, Terminator Salvation and Green Room.


  • Caroline Aherne - Star and writer of comedy The Royle Family and The Mrs Merton Show, the 52-year-old died at her home from cancer. Aherne, who revealed her cancer diagnosis in 2014, also appeared in The Fast Show and narrated Channel 4's Gogglebox.


Gene Wilder had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease-related complications. Credit: PA
  • Kenny Baker - Baker, who played droid R2D2 in the Star Wars films, died aged 81. He had been suffering from a long illness. During his career, 3ft 8in Baker also appeared in Flash Gordon and Time Bandits.

  • Gene Wilder - His most memorable role was as Willy Wonka, but the American actor also starred in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and The Producers. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease-related complications when he died aged 83 in Connecticut.


Shimon Peres suffered a heart attack in January. Credit: PA
  • Shimon Peres - The former Israeli prime minister and president led a sceptical Israel into peace talks with Palestine in the 1990s and was a celebrated Nobel prize-winning visionary. He stood down as president in 2014 and suffered a heart attack in January. Peres then suffered a stroke before passing away aged 93 at a medical centre in Tel Aviv.


Jean Alexander played Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street. Credit: PA
  • Jean Alexander - Dying three days after her 90th birthday, Alexander played the legendary Coronation Street character Hilda Ogden from 1964 until 1987. She was voted the greatest soap star of all time by a 2005 TV Times poll and featured in other roles including Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer Wine.

  • Jimmy Perry - The actor and scriptwriter who created the iconic TV comedy Dad's Army died aged 93 after a brief illness. Perry was also responsible for a string of other British TV classics such as It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M'Lord? His experience as a Home Guard during World War Two and as a Butlin's Redcoat influenced his writing.

  • Pete Burns - Hailed as a "true visionary", singer-songwriter Pete Burns died suddenly of a cardiac arrest aged 57. He shot to fame as the frontman of band Dead or Alive in the 1980s and appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 before presenting spin-off show Big Brother's Big Mouth. Burns admitted spending his life savings on cosmetic surgery, having more than 300 operations and nearly dying in the process.


Andrew Sachs will forever be remembered for his role as Manuel. Credit: PA
  • Sir Jimmy Young - The veteran broadcaster, who spent nearly three decades at BBC Radio 2, died at home aged 95. Sir Jimmy was one of the original DJs on Radio 1 when it launched in 1967 before moving to Radio 2 in 1973, eventually retiring in 2002. During his career he interviewed every prime minister from 1964 to 2010, as well as many other leading world figures.

  • Leonard Cohen - A legendary singer, songwriter and poet who penned the classic song Hallelujah, Cohen died aged 82. Just weeks earlier the Canadian had said in an interview that he was "ready to die". His fourteenth studio album, You Want It Darker, was released in October and topped the charts in 10 countries.

  • Fidel Castro – The former Cuban leader died at the age of 90. Castro, who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States ,defied American efforts to topple him from power for five decades. Thousands of people lined the streets of Cuba to pay tribute to him before his ashes were interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

  • Andrew Sachs – The actor, famed for playing Spanish waiter Manuel in the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers, died aged 86. His wife said he had been battling dementia since 2012.


George Michael's death at 53 was confirmed on Christmas Day. Credit: PA
  • AA Gill – Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill died aged 62, just three weeks after revealing he had cancer. Gill, who wrote he had a “full English” of cancers, said he had no regrets about his diagnosis, adding that it prompted his proposal to Nicola Formby, his partner of nearly 25 years.

  • Ian McCaskill – The 78-year-old presented the weather on the BBC for 20 years until he retired in 1998. He was famed for his Scottish accent and flamboyant enthusiasm for presenting – becoming recognised for his explanation of isobars, warm fronts and anticyclones.

  • Michael Nicholson – The veteran ITN war correspondent died aged 79 while on a cruise with his wife, Diana. In a career spanning more than five decades, he reported on conflicts including the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 Iraq invasion, the Falklands War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the Fall of Saigon the following year.

  • Zsa Zsa Gabor – The Hungarian actress, singer and socialite died aged 99. The Moulin Rouge star, who was married nine times, passed away following years of health problems.

  • Rick Parfitt - The Status Quo guitarist died aged 68. He entertained audiences for more than 50 years, with the band finding success with hits including Rockin' All Over The World and Whatever You Want.

Liz Smith at the 2007 British Comedy Awards Credit: PA
  • George Michael - The pop superstar passed away peacefully at home at 53. As a performer with Wham! and then a solo singer he sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades. His hits included Careless Whisper, Faith and Last Christmas.

  • Liz Smith - The actress, who was perhaps most recognised for her role as Nana in the comedy series The Royle Family, died at the age of 95. Born in Lincolnshire as Betty Gleadle, Smith also starred in a number of films such as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Keeping Mum.

Carrie Fisher starred as Princess Leia in Star Wars Credit: AP
  • Richard Adams - The author of Watership Down died peacefully on Christmas Eve aged 96. He penned the classic novel in 1972 - when he was 52 - and it has sold tens of millions of copies. It was also transformed into the big screen with its theme - Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes - becoming number one for six weeks in 1979.

  • Carrie Fisher - The actress died four days after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. The 60-year-old became an international screen star when she first appeared as Princess Leia in the 1977 sci-fi blockbuster.

  • Debbie Reynolds - Carrie Fisher's mother, a much-loved Hollywood star in her own right, died just 24 hours after her daughter. The 84-year-old had a glittering career in the 1950s and 60s, but was best known for her role in the musical hit Singin' in the Rain.