Now that the end of the year has come and gone, it’s time to pay our respects to all of the great celebrities that died in 2021. From Tanya Roberts to Ed Asner, join Facts Verse as we take a look at the saddest celebrity deaths of 2021.
Tanya Roberts was one of the first celebrities to pass away in 2021, with her death occurring in January. Tanya’s death came as a surprise to many. The 65-year-old star certainly didn’t look as if she was about to pass away, and her cause of death was something that you wouldn’t normally expect to kill a person. That cause of death was a UTI or urinary tract infection that got out of control and developed into sepsis.
Tanya rose to prominence as a sex symbol, with one of her most notable appearances during her earlier career being as a Bond girl in the 1985 James Bond film A View to Kill. Since then, Tanya has arguably become just as well known for portraying the character of Midge on That’s 70’s Show, a role that she played from 1998 until 2004. Though deaths from UTIs aren’t very common, they can occur in those with weakened immune systems, particularly when you’re old.
Phil Spector was another celebrity figure that died in January of 2021, though his death might not be the saddest! Although Phil Spector remains one of the most legendary producers in popular music thanks to his numerous contributions in his early career, he became a reclusive and controversial figure later in life. One reason that the producer took on controversy later in life was that he was convicted of murder!
In 2009, Phil Spector was convicted of a murder that he had committed earlier in the decade. The victim was an actress by the name of Lana Clarkson. The death occurred in 2003, and Phil claimed that the woman had been shot in the head accidentally during some kind of twisted sex game. After a long trial, it was eventually determined that Phil was guilty of murder. Numerous women had come forward with claims that the producer had threatened them with firearms after turning down his sexual advances, and the authorities determined that this is what happened to Lana.
Long before becoming a convicted murderer and passing away, Phil Spector was one of the most sought-after producers in all of popular music! Phil produced numerous hits during the 1960s, with some of the notable artists he worked for including George Harrison and the Beach Boys. Phil had long-since succumbed to drugs and alcohol by the time of the crime that landed him in prison. He had essentially retired from the music industry by the 1990s, and few people had heard from him before he began making headlines in the 2000s due to the murder. He passed away of natural causes while serving his sentence in California.
Larry King is yet another celebrity figure that passed away in January of 2021. He King was 87 years old at the time of his death and, like Tanya Roberts, died of sepsis. Larry had been hospitalized for COVID-19, and ended up getting particularly affected by the infection due to his respiratory symptoms. Many people had speculated upon the announcement of Larry’s death that the beloved television host had died of COVID-19. But this wasn’t technically the case. Of course, Larry was best known as the host of Larry King Live, which he hosted for well over two decades on CNN, from 1985 to 2010.
Cloris Leachman is the last celebrity figure we’ll be looking at on this list to have passed away in January of 2021. Certainly, January wasn’t a great year for elderly celebrities! Many people knew Cloris best for her time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The actress was 94 years old at the time of her death, and passed away due to a stroke. Cloris also had some notable film roles during her career, including her turns in The Last Picture Show and Young Frankenstein.
Film and television star Jessica Walter passed away in March of 2021, at the age of 80. In recent years, the actress was best known for her comedic role on the classic cult sitcom Arrested Development. Which aired and was canceled in the early 2000s before being revived on the Netflix streaming platform in the 2010s. However, Jessica started her career as a film actress decades before. With one of her most memorable film roles being her turn alongside Clint Eastwood in his directorial debut, which was the 1971 feature Play Misty for Me. Jessica Walter also had a long-running gig on the animated television series Archer at the time of her death. And her character subsequently had to be written out of the show for future seasons.
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Prince Philip is the only royal figure on this list, though his death didn’t come as much of a surprise to his legion of adorers. The prince had been known to be in poor health for some time; as he had been by Queen Elizabeth II’s side for six decades and was nearly 100 years old! Still, many were saddened by the death of the whimsical royal figure when he passed away in April of 2021, at the age of 99.
Olympia Dukakis was 89 years old when she passed away in May of 2021. The beloved actress had been suffering from poor health for some time according to her family. She remains best known for her string of critically acclaimed roles throughout the 1980s; not the least of which being her turn as Cher’s on-screen mother in the classic film Moonstruck. Olympia had been married to husband Louis Zorich from 1962 until his own death in 2018. And had likely been counting down the days until the two were reunited.
Charles Grodin is another beloved actor that passed away in May of 2021. He was 86 years old at the time of his death. While Olympia was known for her dramatic performances, Charles was known for his comedic performances. Some of Charles’ most classic films include Beethoven, Midnight Run, and The Heartbreak Kid, and he also appeared on Broadway. It was revealed after the actor’s death that the cause had been bone marrow cancer.
Beloved comedian Jackie Mason died in July of 2021, at the age of 93. The comedian apparently passed away after being hospitalized for two weeks. Though friends, family, and fans were saddened to see him go. He had accomplished a great deal throughout his decades-spanning career. He remains best known for his stand-up comedy, which he shared with the world via his numerous television appearances. One of the shows that Jackie appeared on the most was The Ed Sullivan Show.
Just as the Rolling Stones were preparing to go out on tour, their drummer sadly passed away. Charlie Watts, who had been drumming for the band since they became famous, passed away in August of 2021, at the age of 80. The band was incredibly disheartened by the news, but they have since gotten themselves together and are still planning on making the dates of their tour, which may be their last!
Former Saturday Night Live star and stand-up comedian Norm Macdonald passed away in September of 2021. The comedian was only 61 years old at the time, and had been keeping his battle with cancer a secret from all but those who knew him the best. Norm rose to prominence hosted the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live. A job which he performed to immense acclaim from 1994 to 1998. Norm is still regarded as one of the best hosts that the segment has ever had. Though he ended up being fired from the show after getting on the bad side of NBC executives.
After Norm Macdonald left Saturday Night Live, he attempted to break into film with the movie Dirty Work. Although the film has developed a cult following in the years since it’s release, it underperformed at the box office. According to Norm, one of the reasons the film underperformed was that NBC executives wouldn’t allow it to be advertised on their networks. In later life, Norm retained his status as a cult comedian thanks to stand-up appearances and shows.
Around the time of the #metoo movement, Norm Macdonald was momentarily cancelled due to sympathetic remarks that he made in support of his friend, fellow comedian Louis C.K. Though the cancellation didn’t completely destroy the comedian’s career. Many credit these events with causing him to lose out on his various shows with Netflix. Still, Norm was performing in the years leading up to his death.
The last celebrity that we’ll be looking at in this video is Ed Asner. Ed passed away in August of 2021, at the age of 91. After Cloris Leachman, Ed is yet another alum from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to have passed away in 2021. Besides his work alongside Mary Tyler Moore, more modern audiences may better know Ed thanks to his appearances in the modern family classics Up and Elf. After The Mary Tyler Moore Show came to an end; Ed continued portraying his character from the show on his very own spin-off. The sitcom, titled Lou Grant, was named after the character.
Those were the saddest celebrity deaths of 2021! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that two veterans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show passed away in 2021. Did you know that there was also a royal death?