Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2021
They both carved out sterling reputations as military and political leaders over years of public service. But both also saw their legacies tarnished by their actions in the long, bloody war in Iraq.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are among the many noteworthy people who died in 2021.
Powell, who died in October, was a trailblazing soldier and diplomat. He rose to the rank of four-star general in the Army before becoming the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And under former President George W. Bush, he became the nation’s first Black secretary of state.
Rumsfeld, who died in June, had a storied career in government under four U.S. presidents and was seen as a visionary of a modern military.
Rumsfeld was secretary of defense and shouldered some of the blame as Iraq sank into chaos after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime. In the leadup to the war, Powell cited faulty information during a United Nations Security Council address while claiming Hussein had secretly stashed weapons of mass destruction.
Others political figures the world said goodbye to this year include former U.S. Vice President Walter F. Mondale, former South African President F.W. de Klerk, former Sen. Bob Dole, former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, former Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, former Danish Prime Minister Poul Schlueter and Iranian ambassadors Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour and Ardeshir Zahedi.
Also among those who died this year was a man who held the title of baseball’s home run king for years. Hank Aaron, who died in January, endured racist threats on his path to breaking Babe Ruth’s record and is still considered one of the game’s greatest players.
Other sports figures who died in 2021 include Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda, college football coach Bobby Bowden, Olympic swimmer Clara Lamore Walker, NBA players Paul Westphal and Elgin Baylor, auto racer Bobby Unser, golfer Lee Elder, track and field star Milkha Singh and boxer Leon Spinks.
Among the entertainers who died this year was a children’s author whose books were enjoyed by millions around the world. Beverly Cleary, who died in March, channeled memories from her youth in Oregon to created beloved characters such as Ramona Quimby, her sister Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby and Henry Huggins.
Others from the world of arts and entertainment who died this year include actors Cicely Tyson, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Plummer, Olympia Dukakis, Ned Beatty, Jane Powell, Sonny Chiba, Gavin MacLeod, George Segal, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Johnny Briggs and Dustin Diamond; magician Siegfried Fischbacher; Bollywood star Dilip Kumar; Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts; theater songwriter Stephen Sondheim; ballerina and actress Carla Fracci; rappers DMX and Biz Markie; artist Arturo Di Modica; telenovela writer Delia Fiallo; authors Anne Rice, Eric Carle, Joan Didion, bell hooks and Norton Juster; reggae musician Bunny Wailer; comedians Norm Macdonald and Paul Mooney; singers Pervis Staples and Sabah Fakhri; ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill; and filmmaker Richard Donner.
Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2021 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):
George Whitmore, 89. A member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada. Jan. 1.
Paul Westphal, 70. A Hall of Fame NBA player who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and later coached in the league and in college. Jan. 2.
Brian Urquhart, 101. The British diplomat was an early leader of the United Nations and played a central role in developing the U.N. practice of peacekeeping. Jan. 2.
Gerry Marsden, 78. The lead singer of the 1960s British group Gerry and the Pacemakers that had such hits as “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and the song that became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Jan. 3.
Eric Jerome Dickey, 59. The bestselling novelist who blended crime, romance and eroticism in “Sister, Sister,” “Waking With Enemies” and dozens of other stories about contemporary Black life. Jan. 3. Cancer.
Tanya Roberts, 65. She captivated James Bond in “A View to a Kill” and appeared in the sitcom “That ’70s Show.” Jan. 4.
Tommy Lasorda, 93. The fiery baseball Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved. Jan. 7.
Meredith C. Anding Jr., 79. A member of the “Tougaloo Nine,” who famously participated in a library “read-in” in segregated Mississippi about 60 years ago. Jan. 8.
Sheldon Adelson, 87. He rose from a modest start as the son of an immigrant taxi driver to become a billionaire Republican powerbroker with a casino empire and influence on international politics. Jan. 11.
Siegfried Fischbacher, 81. He was the surviving member of the magic duo Siegfried & Roy who entertained millions with illusions using rare animals. Jan. 13. Pancreatic cancer.
Phil Spector, 81. The eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his “Wall of Sound” method and who later was convicted of murder. Jan. 16.
Hank Aaron, 86. He endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players. Jan. 22.
Larry King, 87. The suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary people helped define American conversation for a half-century. Jan. 23.
Walter Bernstein, 101. The screenwriter was among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for “The Front” drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name. Jan. 23.
Sifis Valyrakis, 77. A former minister and resistance fighter against Greece’s 1967-74 military dictatorship who twice made daring escapes. Jan. 24.
Carlos Holmes Trujillo, 69. As Colombia’s defense minister, he was one of the country’s most recognized conservative politicians. Jan. 26. Complications of COVID-19.
Cloris Leachman, 94. An Oscar-winner for her portrayal of a lonely housewife in “The Last Picture Show” and a comedic delight as the fearsome Frau Blücher in “Young Frankenstein” and self-absorbed neighbor Phyllis on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Jan. 27.
Cicely Tyson, 96. The pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” won a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” Jan. 28.
Paul J. Crutzen, 87. A Dutch scientist who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work understanding the ozone hole and is credited with coining the term Anthropocene to describe the geological era shaped by mankind. Jan. 28.
John Chaney, 89. One of the nation’s leading basketball coaches and a commanding figure during a Hall of Fame career at Temple. Jan. 29.
Hilton Valentine, 77. He was the founding guitarist of the English rock and roll band The Animals who is credited with coming up with one of the most famous opening riffs of the 1960s in “The House of the Rising Sun.” Jan. 29.
Sophie, 34. She was the Grammy-nominated Scottish disc jockey, producer and recording artist who had worked with the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX. Jan. 30. Accidental fall.
Abraham J. Twerski, 90. An esteemed Hassidic rabbi and acclaimed psychiatrist who championed treatment for substance abuse and authored over 80 books on subjects both spiritual and scientific. Jan. 31.
Dustin Diamond, 44. An actor best known for playing Screech on the hit ’90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell.” Feb. 1. Cancer.
Jack Palladino, 76. The flamboyant private investigator whose clients ranged from presidents and corporate whistleblowers to celebrities, Hollywood moguls and sometimes suspected drug traffickers. Feb. 1. Injuries suffered in an attack.
Rennie Davis, 80. He was one of the “Chicago Seven” activists who was tried for organizing an anti-Vietnam War protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in which thousands clashed with police. Feb. 2. Lymphoma.
Millie Hughes-Fulford, 75. A trailblazing astronaut and scientist who became the first female payload specialist to fly in space for NASA. Feb. 2.
Tony Trabert, 90. A five-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1 player who went on to successful careers as a Davis Cup captain, broadcaster and executive. Feb. 3.
Jim Weatherly, 77. The Hall of Fame songwriter who wrote “Midnight Train to Georgia” and other hits for Gladys Knight, Glen Campbell and Ray Price. Feb. 3.
Christopher Plummer, 91. The dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history. Feb. 5.
Leon Spinks, 67. He won Olympic gold and then shocked the boxing world by beating Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in only his eighth pro fight. Feb. 5.
George P. Shultz, 100. The former secretary of state was a titan of American academia, business and diplomacy who spent most of the 1980s trying to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and forging a course for peace in the Middle East. Feb. 6.
Mary Wilson, 76. The longest-reigning original Supreme. Feb. 8.
Marty Schottenheimer, 77. He won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his “Martyball” brand of smash-mouth football but regularly fell short in the playoffs. Feb. 8.
Chick Corea, 79. He was a towering jazz pianist with a staggering 23 Grammy Awards who pushed the boundaries of the genre and worked alongside Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Feb. 9. Cancer.
Larry Flynt, 78. He turned his raunchy Hustler magazine into an empire while fighting numerous First Amendment court battles. Feb. 10.
Johnny Pacheco, 85. A salsa idol who was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer of music stars such as Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz. Feb. 15.
Bernard Lown, 99. A Massachusetts cardiologist who invented the first reliable heart defibrillator and later co-founded an anti-nuclear war group that was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Feb. 16.
Rush Limbaugh, 70. The talk radio host who ripped into liberals and laid waste to political correctness with a merry brand of malice that made him one of the most powerful voices on the American right. Feb. 17.
Arturo Di Modica, 80. The artist who sculpted Charging Bull, the bronze statue in New York which became an iconic symbol of Wall Street. Feb. 19.
Ahmed Zaki Yamani, 90. A long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis, the nationalization its state energy company and once found himself held hostage by the assassin Carlos the Jackal. Feb. 23.
Michael Somare, 84. A pivotal figure in Papua New Guinea’s independence and the South Pacific island nation’s first prime minister. Feb. 26.
Kenneth C. Kelly, 92. A Black electronics engineer whose antenna designs contributed to the race to the moon, made satellite TV and radio possible and helped NASA communicate with Mars rovers and search for extraterrestrials. Feb. 27.
Johnny Briggs, 85. A British actor best known for his role as businessman Mike Baldwin in the long-running TV soap opera “Coronation Street.” Feb. 28.
Vernon Jordan, 85. He rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer. March 1.
Bunny Wailer, 73. A reggae luminary who was the last surviving founding member of the legendary group The Wailers. March 2.
Carla Wallenda, 85. A member of “The Flying Wallendas” high-wire act and the last surviving child of the famed troupe’s founder. March 6.
Lou Ottens, 94. The Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, the medium of choice for millions of bedroom mix tapes. March 6.
Sister Janice McLaughlin, 79. A Maryknoll Sisters nun who was jailed and later deported by white minority-ruled Rhodesia for exposing human rights abuses. March 7.
Norton Juster, 91. The celebrated children’s author who fashioned a world of adventure and punning punditry in the million-selling classic “The Phantom Tollbooth.” March 8.
Roger Mudd, 93. The longtime political correspondent and anchor for NBC and CBS who once stumped Sen. Edward Kennedy by simply asking why he wanted to be president. March 9.
James Levine, 77. The conductor ruled over the Metropolitan Opera for more than four decades before being eased aside when his health declined and then was fired for sexual improprieties. March 9.
Luis Palau, 86. An evangelical pastor who was born in Argentina and went on to work with Billy Graham before establishing his own powerhouse international ministry. March 11.
Ronald DeFeo, 69. The man convicted of slaughtering his parents and four siblings in a home that later inspired the “The Amityville Horror” book and movies. March 12.
King Goodwill Zwelithini, 72. The traditional leader of South Africa’s Zulu nation, he reigned for more than 50 years, making him the longest-serving Zulu monarch. March 12.
Yaphet Kotto, 81. The commanding actor who brought tough magnetism and stately gravitas to films including the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and “Alien.” March 15.
Elsa Peretti, 80. She went from Halston model and Studio 54 regular in the 1960s and ’70s to one of the world’s most famous jewelry designers with timeless, fluid Tiffany & Co. collections. March 18.
Elgin Baylor, 86. The Lakers’ 11-time NBA All-Star who soared through the 1960s with a high-scoring style of basketball that became the model for the modern player. March 22.
George Segal, 87. The banjo player turned actor who was nominated for an Oscar for 1966′s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and worked into his late 80s on the ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs.” March 23. Complications from bypass surgery.
Jessica Walter, 80. Her roles as a scheming matriarch in TV’s “Arrested Development” and a stalker in “Play Misty for Me” were in line with a career that drew on her astringent screen presence. March 24.
Beverly Cleary, 104. The celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins. March 25.
Larry McMurtry, 84. The prolific and popular author who took readers back to the old American West in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lonesome Dove” and returned them to modern-day landscapes in works such as his emotional “Terms of Endearment.” March 25.
Bill Brock, 90. A former senator from Tennessee whose long career in Washington included a key role in rebuilding the Republican Party after the Watergate scandal. March 25.
Bobby Brown, 96. An infielder who played on five World Series champions with the New York Yankees and later became a cardiologist and president of the American League. March 25.
G. Gordon Liddy, 90. A mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison. March 30.
Clara Lamore Walker, 94. She swam for the U.S. at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, won three national championships, and later in life set hundreds of national and world swimming records in several masters age groups. April 2.
Sugako Hashida, 95. She was a renowned Japanese scriptwriter best known for the internationally popular TV drama series “Oshin.” April 4.
Hans Kueng, 93. A Roman Catholic theologian who was an early colleague and friend of the future Pope Benedict XVI but later fell foul of the Vatican for challenging church doctrine and became a vocal critic of the pontiff. April 6.
Anne Beatts, 74. A groundbreaking comedy writer with a taste for sweetness and the macabre who was on the original staff of “Saturday Night Live” and later created the cult sitcom “Square Pegs.” April 7.
John Naisbitt, 92. The author whose 1982 bestselling book “Megatrends” was published in dozens of countries. April 8.
Prince Philip, 99. The irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life. April 9.
DMX, 50. The iconic hip-hop artist behind the songs “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here)” whose distinctively gruff voice and thoughtful messages in his rhymes made him one of rap’s biggest stars. April 9.
Bernard Madoff, 82. The infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term. April 14.
Charles “Chuck” Geschke, 81. The co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc. who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs. April 16.
Walter F. Mondale, 93. The former U.S. vice president was a liberal icon who lost one of the most lopsided presidential elections after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won. April 19.
Jim Steinman, 73. The Grammy-winning composer who wrote Meat Loaf’s best-selling “Bat Out Of Hell” debut album as well as hits for Celine Dion, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler. April 19. Kidney failure.
Shock G, 57. He blended whimsical wordplay with reverence for ’70s funk as leader of the off-kilter Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground. April 22.
Christa Ludwig, 93. The mezzo-soprano was a renowned interpreter of Wagner, Mozart and Strauss who starred on the world’s great stages for four decades. April 24.
Michael Collins, 90. An Apollo 11 astronaut who orbited the moon alone while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic first steps on the lunar surface. April 28. Cancer.
Jason Matthews, 69. An award-winning spy novelist who drew upon his long career in espionage and his admiration for John le Carre among others in crafting his popular “Red Sparrow” thrillers. April 28. Corticobasal degeneration.
Eli Broad, 87. The billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc. April 30.
Olympia Dukakis, 89. The veteran stage and screen actor whose flair for maternal roles helped her win an Oscar as Cher’s mother in the romantic comedy “Moonstruck.” May 1.
Bobby Unser, 87. A beloved three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and part of the only pair of brothers to capture “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” May 2.
Jacques d’Amboise, 86. Grew up on the streets of upper Manhattan to become one of the world’s premier classical dancers at New York City Ballet and spent the last four and a half decades providing free dance classes to city youth. May 2.
Lloyd Price, 88. The singer-songwriter was an early rock ‘n’ roll star and enduring maverick whose hits included such up-tempo favorites as “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality” and the semi-forbidden “Stagger Lee.” May 3.
Paulo Gustavo, 42. A popular comedian whose character Dona Herminia dealt with everyday family and LGBTQ issues in some of Brazil’s biggest-box office movies and television shows. May 4. COVID-19.
Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, 78. A prominent politician in Kashmir who challenged India’s rule over the disputed region for decades. May 5. Died while in police custody.
Pervis Staples, 85. His tenor voice complimented his father’s and sisters’ in the legendary gospel group The Staple Singers. May 6.
Norman Lloyd, 106. His role as kindly Dr. Daniel Auschlander on TV’s “St. Elsewhere” was a single chapter in a distinguished stage and screen career. May 11.
Charles Grodin, 86. The actor and writer who scored as a caddish newlywed in “The Heartbreak Kid” and later had roles ranging from Robert De Niro’s counterpart in the comic thriller “Midnight Run” to the bedeviled father in the “Beethoven” comedies. May 18. Bone marrow cancer.
Paul Mooney, 79. A boundary-pushing comedian who was Richard Pryor’s longtime writing partner and whose sage, incisive musings on racism and American life made him a revered figure in stand-up. May 19. Heart attack.
Lee Evans, 74. The record-setting sprinter who wore a black beret in a sign of protest at the 1968 Olympics then went onto a life of humanitarian work in support of social justice. May 19.
Alix Dobkin, 80. The lesbian singer and feminist activist who appeared in an iconic and recently resurgent 1975 photo wearing a T-shirt that read “The Future is Female.” May 19. Brain aneurysm and stroke.
Yuan Longping, 90. A Chinese scientist who developed higher-yield rice varieties that helped feed people around the world. May 22.
Max Mosley, 81. Shook off the stigma of his family’s links to fascism to become international motorsport’s top administrator and later made a stand as a privacy campaigner in response to tabloid stories about his sex life. May 23.
Eric Carle, 91. A beloved children’s author and illustrator whose classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other works gave millions of kids some of their earliest and most cherished literary memories. May 23.
John Warner, 94. He served for 30 years in the U.S. Senate and was a longtime military expert who became famous as the sixth man to walk down the aisle with movie star Elizabeth Taylor. May 25.
Lois Ehlert, 86. Her cut-and-paste shapes and vibrant hues in books including “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” put her among the most popular illustrators of books for preschoolers of the late 20th century. May 25.
Kay Lahusen, 91. A pioneering gay rights activist who chronicled the movement’s earliest days through her photography and writing. May 26.
Carla Fracci, 84. An Italian cultural icon and former La Scala prima ballerina renowned for romantic roles alongside such greats as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. May 27.
Poul Schlueter, 92. Denmark’s prime minister for over a decade who negotiated exemptions for his country to a key European Union treaty after Danes rejected the initial text in a referendum. May 27.
B.J. Thomas, 78. The Grammy-winning singer who enjoyed success on the pop, country and gospel charts with such hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling.” May 29.
Gavin MacLeod, 90. The veteran supporting actor who achieved fame as sardonic TV news writer Murray Slaughter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and stardom playing cheerful Capt. Stubing on “The Love Boat.” May 29.
F. Lee Bailey, 87. The celebrity attorney who defended O.J. Simpson, Patricia Hearst and the alleged Boston Strangler, but whose legal career halted when he was disbarred in two states. June 3.
John Patterson, 99. A former Alabama governor who entered politics as a reformer after his father’s assassination but was criticized for failing to protect the Freedom Riders from angry white mobs. June 4.
Clarence Williams III, 81. Played the cool undercover cop Linc Hayes on the counterculture series “The Mod Squad” and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain.” June 4.
David Dushman, 98. The last surviving Soviet soldier involved in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. June 5.
Chief Leonard Crow Dog, 78. A renowned spiritual leader and Native American rights activist who fought for sovereignty, language preservation and religious freedom. June 6.
Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, 74. A Shiite cleric who as Iran’s ambassador to Syria helped found the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and lost his right hand to a book bombing reportedly carried out by Israel. June 7. COVID-19.
Ned Beatty, 83. The Oscar-nominated character actor who in half a century of American movies, including “Deliverance,” “Network” and “Superman,” was a booming, indelible presence in even the smallest parts. June 13.
Yang Huaiding, 71. A former factory worker known as “China’s First Shareholder” after he amassed a fortune trading in the country’s infant financial markets starting in the 1980s. June 13.
Enrique Bolaños Geyer, 93. The former Nicaraguan president was a businessman who led the country from 2002 to 2007, saw his predecessor and old running mate locked up for corruption and pushed for the country’s economic development. June 14.
Jack B. Weinstein, 99. A former federal judge who earned a reputation as a tireless legal maverick while overseeing a series of landmark class-action lawsuits and sensational mob cases in New York City like that of the “Mafia Cops.” June 15.
Frank Bonner, 79. He played a brash salesman with an affection for polyester plaid suits on the TV comedy “WKRP in Cincinnati.” June 16. Complications of Lewy body dementia.
Consuewella Dotson Africa, 67. A longtime member of the Black organization MOVE and mother of two children killed in the 1985 bombing of the group’s home in Philadelphia. June 16.
Merle Smith Jr., 76. The first Black cadet to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy. June 16. Complications from Parkinson’s disease and COVID-19.
Kenneth Kaunda, 97. Zambia’s founding president and a champion of African nationalism who spearheaded the fights to end white minority rule across southern Africa. June 17.
Milkha Singh, 91. One of India’s first sport superstars and ace sprinter who overcame a childhood tragedy to become the country’s most celebrated athlete. June 18. Complications from COVID-19.
Mike Gravel, 91. A former U.S. senator from Alaska who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and confronted Barack Obama about nuclear weapons during a later presidential run. June 26.
Greg “Da Bull” Noll, 84. He became a surfing legend by combining a gregarious, outsized personality with the courage and skill to ride bigger, more powerful waves than anyone had ever attempted. June 28.
Donald Rumsfeld, 88. The two-time defense secretary and one-time presidential candidate whose reputation as a skilled bureaucrat and visionary of a modern U.S. military was unraveled by the long and costly Iraq war. June 29.
Delia Fiallo, 96. She was considered the mother of Latin America’s telenovelas and wrote dozens of the popular television soap operas. June 29.
William H. Regnery II, 80. The heir to a family publishing fortune who was known for his quiet but influential support of extreme right-wing causes in the United States. July 2.
Raffaella Carra’, 78. One of Italian television’s most beloved entertainers for decades and affectionately nicknamed the “queen of Italian TV.” July 5.
Richard Donner, 91. The filmmaker who helped create the modern superhero blockbuster with 1978’s “Superman” and mastered the buddy comedy with the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. July 5.
Father Stan Swamy, 84. A jailed Jesuit priest and longtime Indian tribal rights activist. July 5.
Dilip Kumar, 98. Bollywood icon hailed as the “Tragedy King” and one of Hindi cinema’s greatest actors. July 7.
Jovenel Moïse, 53. The Haitian president was a former banana producer and political neophyte who ruled for more than four years as the country grew increasingly unstable. July 7. Assassinated at his home.
Edwin Washington Edwards, 93. The high-living, quick-witted four-term governor who reshaped Louisiana’s oil revenues and dominated the state’s politics for decades, a run all but overshadowed by scandal and eight years in federal prison. July 12.
Kurt Westergaard, 86. A Danish cartoonist whose image of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban was at the center of widespread anti-Danish anger in the Muslim world in the mid-2000s. July 14.
Gloria Richardson, 99. An influential civil rights pioneer whose determination not to back down while protesting racial inequality was captured in a photograph as she pushed away the bayonet of a National Guardsman. July 15.
Biz Markie, 57. A hip-hop staple known for his beatboxing prowess, turntable mastery and the 1989 classic “Just a Friend.” July 16.
Floyd Cooper, 65. An award-winning illustrator and author of children’s books whose mission to offer candid and positive images of Black history included subjects ranging from Frederick Douglass to Venus and Serena Williams. July 16.
Tolis Voskopoulos, 80. A popular Greek folk singer, songwriter and actor whose career spanned more than six decades. July 19.
Phyllis Gould, 99. One of the millions of women who worked in defense plants in World War II and who later relentlessly fought for recognition of those “Rosie the Riveters.” July 20. Complications of a stroke.
Gloria Ratti, 90. A champion of women’s running who rose from a finish line volunteer at the Boston Marathon to vice president of the race’s organizing body. July 24.
Robert Parris Moses, 86. A civil rights activist who was shot at and endured beatings and jail while leading Black voter registration drives in the American South during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math. July 25.
Mike Enzi, 77. The retired U.S. senator and Wyoming Republican was known as a consensus-builder in an increasingly polarized Washington. July 26. Died after breaking his neck in a bicycle accident.
Joey Jordison, 46. A founding member of Slipknot, who drummed for the influential metal band in its most popular period and helped write many of its best-known songs. July 26.
Dusty Hill, 72. The long-bearded bassist for the Texas blues rock trio ZZ Top. July 28.
Ron Popeil, 86. The quintessential TV pitchman and inventor known to generations of viewers for hawking products including the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone and the Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ. July 28.
Richard “Dick” Lamm, 85. A former Colorado Democratic governor who successfully fought to stop the 1976 Winter Olympics from being held in Colorado even though they had been awarded to the state. July 29.
Carl Levin, 87. A powerful voice on military issues in Washington and a staunch supporter of the auto industry back home in Michigan during his tenure in the U.S. Senate. July 29.
The Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, 78. He came to the United States as a childhood refugee from war-torn Poland and later became a leader in cross-church cooperation and the first Eastern Orthodox president of the National Council of Churches. Aug. 3. Heart attack.
Richard Trumka, 72. The powerful president of the AFL-CIO who rose from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to preside over one of the largest labor organizations in the world. Aug. 5.
Donald Kagan, 89. A prominent classical scholar, contentious defender of traditional education and architect of neo-conservative foreign policy. Aug. 6.
Markie Post, 70. She played the public defender in the 1980s sitcom “Night Court” and was a regular presence on television for four decades. Aug. 7.
Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, 70. A founding member of the long-running soul-funk band Kool & the Gang known for such hits as “Celebration” and “Get Down On It.” Aug. 7.
Bobby Bowden, 91. The folksy Hall of Fame coach who built Florida State into an unprecedented college football dynasty. Aug. 8.
Walter Yetnikoff, 87. The rampaging head of CBS Records who presided over blockbuster releases by Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and many others and otherwise devoted his life to a self-catered feast of “schmoozing, shmingling and bingling.” Aug. 9.
Maki Kaji, 69. The creator of the popular numbers puzzle Sudoku whose life’s work was spreading the joy of puzzles. Aug. 10.
Gino Strada, 73. An Italian surgeon who co-founded the humanitarian group Emergency to provide medical care for civilian victims of war and poverty in many countries, and was a fierce critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Aug. 13.
Nanci Griffith, 68. The Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South. Aug. 13.
James Hormel, 88. The first openly gay U.S. ambassador and a philanthropist who funded organizations to fight AIDS and promote human rights. Aug. 13.
Sonny Chiba, 82. The Japanese actor who wowed the world with his martial arts skills in more than 100 films. Aug. 19.
James W. Loewen, 79. His million-selling “Lies My Teacher Told Me” books challenged traditional ideas and knowledge on everything from Thanksgiving to the Iraq War. Aug. 19.
Tom T. Hall, 85. The singer-songwriter who composed “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and sang about life’s simple joys as country music’s consummate blue collar bard. Aug. 20.
Don Everly, 84. He was one-half of the pioneering Everly Brothers whose harmonizing country rock hits affected a generation of rock ‘n’ roll music. Aug. 21.
Charlie Watts, 80. The self-effacing Rolling Stones drummer who helped anchor one of rock’s greatest rhythm sections and used his “day job” to support his enduring love of jazz. Aug. 24.
Hissene Habre, 79. Chad’s former dictator, he was the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court after his government was accused of killing 40,000 people. Aug. 24.
Akis Tsochadzopoulos, 82. A once prominent Greek socialist politician who held nearly a dozen ministerial positions over two decades but later fell from grace, was convicted and imprisoned in one of Greece’s highest profile corruption trials. Aug. 27.
Ed Asner, 91. The burly and prolific character actor who became a star in middle age as the gruff but lovable newsman Lou Grant, first in the hit comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and later in the drama “Lou Grant.” Aug. 29.
Michael Constantine, 94. An Emmy Award-winning character actor who reached worldwide fame playing the Windex bottle-toting father of the bride in the 2002 film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Aug. 31.
Syed Ali Geelani, 91. An icon of disputed Kashmir’s resistance against Indian rule and a top separatist leader who became the emblem of the region’s defiance against New Delhi. Sept. 1.
Mikis Theodorakis, 96. The beloved Greek composer whose rousing music and life of political defiance won acclaim abroad and inspired millions at home. Sept. 2.
George M. Strickler Jr., 80. A civil rights attorney who fought to desegregate Southern schools in the 1960s and was pushed out of his University of Mississippi teaching job amid uproar over his work on behalf of Black clients. Sept. 2.
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, 85. One of Iraq’s most senior and influential Muslim Shiite clerics. Sept. 3.
Willard Scott, 87. The beloved weatherman who charmed viewers of NBC’s “Today” show with his self-deprecating humor and cheerful personality. Sept. 4.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, 88. Star of the iconic French New Wave film “Breathless,” whose crooked boxer’s nose and rakish grin went on to make him one of the country’s most recognizable leading men. Sept. 6.
Sunil Perera, 68. A singer and musician who entertained generations of Sri Lankans with captivating songs, but won their minds and hearts with his outspoken comments against social injustice, corruption, racism and suppression of democracy. Sept. 6. Complications from COVID—19.
Elizabeth Ireland McCann, 90. A Tony Award-winning producer who helped mount an astounding array of hits on Broadway and in London, including “The Elephant Man,” “Morning’s at Seven,” “Amadeus,” “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” and “Copenhagen.” Sept. 9. Cancer.
Abimael Guzmán, 86. The leader of the brutal Shining Path insurgency in Peru who was captured in 1992. Sept. 11.
The Rev. Cho Yong-gi, 85. His founding of South Korea’s biggest church was a symbol of the postwar growth of Christianity in the country before that achievement was tainted by corruption and other scandals. Sept. 14.
Norm Macdonald, 61. A comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer who was “Weekend Update” host when Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson provided comic fodder during the 1990s. Sept. 14.
Jane Powell, 92. The bright-eyed, operatic-voiced star of Hollywood’s golden age musicals who sang with Howard Keel in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and danced with Fred Astaire in “Royal Wedding.” Sept. 16.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 84. A former Algerian president who fought for independence from France, reconciled his conflict-ravaged nation and was then ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after two decades in power. Sept. 17.
George Holliday, 61. The Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991. Sept. 19. Complications of COVID-19.
Hussein Tantawi, 85. The Egyptian general who took charge of the country when longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down amid the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Sept. 21.
Melvin Van Peebles, 89. The groundbreaking filmmaker, playwright and musician whose work ushered in the “blaxploitation” wave of the 1970s and influenced filmmakers long after. Sept. 21.
Theoneste Bagosora, 80. A former Rwandan army colonel regarded as the architect of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. Sept. 25.
George Frayne, 77. As leader of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, he enjoyed a cult following in the 1970s with such party and concert favorites as “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette).” Sept. 26.
Bobby Zarem, 84. A tireless, relentless entertainment publicist, with a client list that read like a Who’s Who of a certain era: Cher, Diana Ross, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Ann-Margret, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and more. Sept. 26.
Michael Renzi, 80. During a storied musical career, he worked with Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Lena Horne and some of the other biggest names in jazz and pop, and for years was also the musical director of “Sesame Street.” Sept. 29.
Umar Sharif, 66. One of Pakistan’s most beloved comedians. Oct. 2.
Todd Akin, 74. A conservative Missouri Republican whose comment that women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” sunk his bid for the U.S. Senate and became a cautionary tale for other GOP candidates. Oct. 3.
Bernard Tapie, 78. A flamboyant businessman who was beloved by sports fans for leading French soccer club Marseille to glory but also dogged by legal battles and corruption investigations. Oct. 3.
Lars Vilks, 75. A Swedish artist who had lived under police protection since making a sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body in 2007. Oct. 3. Killed in a car crash along with two police bodyguards.
Alan Kalter, 78. The quirky, red-headed announcer for David Letterman for two decades who frequently appeared in the show’s comedy bits. Oct. 4.
Abolhassan Banisadr, 88. Iran’s first president after the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution who fled Tehran after being impeached for challenging the growing power of clerics as the nation became a theocracy. Oct. 9.
Abdul Qadeer Khan, 85. A controversial figure known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. Oct. 10.
Megan Rice, 91. A nun and Catholic peace activist who spent two years in federal prison while in her 80s after breaking into a government security complex to protest nuclear weapons. Oct. 10.
Eddie Jaku, 101. A Holocaust survivor who published his best-selling memoir, “The Happiest Man on Earth.” Oct. 12.
Hubert Germain, 101. The last of an elite group of decorated French Resistance fighters who helped liberate France from Nazi control in World War II. Oct. 12.
Ronnie Tutt, 83. A legendary drummer who spent years playing alongside Elvis Presley and teamed up with other superstars ranging from Johnny Cash to Stevie Nicks. Oct. 16.
Betty Lynn, 95. The film and television actor who was best known for her role as Barney Fife’s sweetheart Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Oct. 16.
Colin Powell, 84. The trailblazing soldier and diplomat whose sterling reputation of service to Republican and Democratic presidents was stained by his faulty claims to justify the 2003 U.S. war in Iraq. Oct. 18.
Jerry Pinkney, 81. A prize-winning children’s book illustrator known for his richly textured images of Black life, fables and fairy tales in works ranging from “The Lion and the Mouse” to “The Sunday Outing.” Oct. 20.
Peter Scolari, 66. A versatile character actor whose television roles included a yuppie producer on “Newhart” and a closeted dad on “Girls” and who was on Broadway with longtime friend Tom Hanks in “Lucky Guy.” Oct. 22.
Sunao Tsuboi, 96. A survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with President Barack Obama in 2016. Oct. 24.
Roh Tae-woo, 88. The former South Korean president was a major player in a 1979 coup who later became president in a landmark democratic election before ending his tumultuous political career in prison. Oct. 26.
Mort Sahl, 94. A satirist who helped revolutionize stand-up comedy during the Cold War with his running commentary on politicians and current events and became a favorite of a new, restive generation of Americans. Oct. 26.
A. Linwood Holton Jr., 98. Virginia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a crusader against racial discrimination. Oct. 28.
Aaron T. Beck, 100. A groundbreaking psychotherapist regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. Nov. 1.
Sabah Fakhri, 88. One of the Arab world’s most famous singers, he entertained generations with traditional songs and preserved nearly extinct forms of Arabic music. Nov. 2.
Ruth Ann Minner, 86. A sharecropper’s daughter who became the only woman to serve as Delaware’s governor. Nov. 4.
Marília Mendonça, 26. She was one of Brazil’s most popular singers and a Latin Grammy winner. Nov. 5. Airplane crash.
Dean Stockwell, 85. A top Hollywood child actor who gained new success in middle age in the sci-fi series “Quantum Leap” and in a string of indelible performances in film, including David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas” and Jonathan Demme’s “Married to the Mob.” Nov. 7.
Max Cleland, 79. He lost three limbs to a hand grenade in Vietnam and later became a groundbreaking Veterans Administration chief and U.S. senator from Georgia until an attack ad questioning his patriotism derailed his reelection. Nov. 9. Congestive heart failure.
Jakucho Setouchi, 99. A Buddhist nun and one of Japan’s best-known authors famous for novels depicting passionate women and her translation of “The Tale of Genji,” a 1,000-year-old classic, into modern language. Nov. 9.
Jerry Douglas, 88. He played handsome family patriarch John Abbott on “The Young and the Restless” for more than 30 years. Nov. 9.
F.W. de Klerk, 85. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela and as South Africa’s last apartheid president oversaw the end of the country’s white minority rule. Nov. 11.
William Sterling Cary, 94. A pioneering minister and civil rights activist who was the first Black person in prominent church leadership roles, including president of the National Council of Churches. Nov. 14.
Ardeshir Zahedi, 93. Iran’s flamboyant ambassador to the United States during the rule of the shah who charmed both Hollywood stars and politicians with his lavish parties until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Nov. 18.
Chun Doo-hwan, 90. A former South Korean military strongman who seized power in a 1979 coup and brutally crushed pro-democracy protests before going to prison for misdeeds while in office. Nov. 23.
Stephen Sondheim, 91. The songwriter who reshaped the American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century with his intelligent, intricately rhymed lyrics, his use of evocative melodies and his willingness to tackle unusual subjects. Nov. 26.
Phil Saviano, 69. A clergy sex abuse survivor and whistleblower who played a pivotal role in exposing decades of predatory assaults by Roman Catholic priests in the United States. Nov. 28.
Lee Elder, 87. He broke down racial barriers as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters and paved the way for Tiger Woods and others to follow. Nov. 28.
Virgil Abloh, 41. A leading designer whose groundbreaking fusions of streetwear and high couture made him one of the most celebrated tastemakers in fashion and beyond. Nov. 28. Cancer.
David Gulpilil, 68. Australia’s most acclaimed Indigenous actor. Nov. 29.
Arlene Dahl, 96. The actor whose charm and striking red hair shone in such Technicolor movies of the 1950s as “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Three Little Words.” Nov. 29.
Antony Sher, 72. One of the most acclaimed Shakespearean actors of his generation. Dec. 2.
Bob Dole, 98. He overcame disabling war wounds to become a sharp-tongued Senate leader, a Republican presidential candidate and then a symbol of his dwindling generation of World War II veterans. Dec. 5.
Lina Wertmueller, 93. Italy’s provocative filmmaker whose mix of sex and politics in “Swept Away” and “Seven Beauties” made her the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for directing. Dec. 9.
Al Unser, 82. One of only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 a record four times. Dec. 9.
Michael Nesmith, 78. The singer-songwriter, author, actor-director and entrepreneur who will likely be best remembered as the wool-hatted, guitar-strumming member of the made-for-television rock band The Monkees. Dec. 10.
Anne Rice, 80. The novelist whose lush, best-selling gothic tales, including “Interview With the Vampire,” reinvented the blood-drinking immortals as tragic antiheroes. Dec. 11.
Vicente Fernández, 81. An iconic and beloved singer of regional Mexican music who was awarded three Grammys and nine Latin Grammys and inspired a new generation of performers, including his son, Alejandro Fernández. Dec. 12.
bell hooks, 69. The groundbreaking author, educator and activist whose explorations of how race, gender, economics and politics intertwined helped shape academic and popular debates over the past 40 years. Dec. 15.
Eve Babitz, 78. The Hollywood bard, muse and reveler who with warmth and candor chronicled the excesses of her native world in the 1960s and 1970s and became a cult figure to generations of readers. Dec. 17. Complications from Huntington’s disease.
Johnny Isakson, 76. An affable Georgia Republican politician who rose from the ranks of the state legislature to become a U.S. senator known as an effective behind-the-scenes consensus builder. Dec. 19.
Joan Didion, 87. The revered author and essayist whose social and personal commentary in such classics as “The White Album” and “The Year of Magical Thinking” made her a clear-eyed critic of turbulent times. Dec. 23.
Desmond Tutu, 90. South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon, an uncompromising foe of apartheid and a modern-day activist for racial justice and LGBT rights. Dec. 26.
Sarah Weddington, 76. A Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court. Dec. 26.
Edward O. Wilson, 92. The pioneering Harvard biologist who advanced the provocative theory that human behavior such as war and altruism has a genetic basis and warned against the decline of ecosystems. Dec. 26.
Sandra Jaffe, 83. The co-founder of Preservation Hall in New Orleans who introduced countless people to jazz music in the intimate French Quarter venue. Dec. 27.
John Madden, 85. The Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades. Dec. 28.
Harry Reid, 82. The former U.S. Senate majority leader from Nevada, widely acknowledged as one of toughest dealmakers in Congress. Dec. 28. Pancreatic cancer.
Betty White, 99. Her saucy, up-for-anything charm made her a television mainstay for more than 60 years, whether as a man-crazy TV host on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the loopy housemate on “The Golden Girls.” Dec. 31.
This story has been corrected to show that the date of bell hooks’ death was Dec. 15, not Oct. 15.