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Actors We Sadly Lost In 2016

2016 has been a long, brutal year for celebrity deaths. In addition to the loss of renowned musicians such as David Bowie and Prince, many actors have died this year, from character actors to major movie stars. Here's a look back at the actors and actresses who passed away in 2016.

Alan Rickman (January 14)

After joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in England the '70s, Alan Rickman broke out on the big screen in 1988, at the relatively advanced age of 41—but what a breakthrough role it was. Playing the evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard set in motion a career of playing some of Hollywood's most iconic screen villains, such as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, and Professor Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter movies. When the movies were gearing up for production, Rickman wasn't even sure he wanted the Potter role, as it appeared that Snape was a garden variety villain. Only a few Potter books had been published when the first movie entered production, but author J.K. Rowling met with Rickman and told him his character's endgame long before the rest of the world found out. (Spoiler alert: he's a double agent who's working for the good guys all along.) Rickman died at age 69 after a quiet battle with pancreatic cancer.

Garry Shandling (March 24)

One of the most prominent stand-up comedians of the 1980s, and a pioneer of the observational comedy style made famous by Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno (to name just a couple), Shandling went on to co-create and star in two of the most forward-thinking TV comedies ever made. It's Garry Shandling's Show (1986-1990) was a self-aware, fourth-wall breaking series about a comedian named Garry Shandling starring in a sitcom; The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998) was a mockumentary-style, single-camera dramedy about the backstage world of a late-night TV show. For starring in, writing for, and producing the show, Shandling earned 18 Emmy nominations for Sanders, winning one for writing the series finale. Although better-known for his small-screen work, Shandling appeared in a lot of movies, too, including Town and Country, What Planet Are You From?, Iron Man 2, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not known to be suffering from any major illnesses or medical conditions, Shandling, 66, died in a Los Angeles hospital after paramedics were summoned to his home.

Patty Duke (March 29)

Many actors start out in TV and then head on to the movies—and, if they're lucky, maybe they win an Oscar. Patty Duke did it in the other way around. She started acting professionally as a child, and at age 16 became the youngest-ever Academy Award winner at the time for her role as young Helen Keller in 1962's The Miracle Worker. A year later, she started working on the TV comedy The Patty Duke Show in dual roles as "identical cousins": one American, one British. Duke continued to work in movies, TV, and on the stage for the rest of her life; she was also the mother of actor Sean Astin (of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Goonies), and became one of the first celebrities to openly advocate for mental health issues after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. Duke died at age 69 of sepsis after suffering a ruptured intestine.

Doris Roberts (April 17)

Roberts had a long career in movies and TV, but she's best known for her role as the ultimate meddling and aggravating TV mother (and mother-in-law) on the long-running CBS hit Everybody Loves Raymond. The role of Marie Barone won her four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She was also a regular cast member of shows like Angie (1979-1980), Dream On (1993-1995), Remington Steele (1983-1987), and St. Elsewhere, the latter of which earned Roberts her first Emmy for best supporting actress in a drama. Roberts, 90, died after suffering a stroke.

Anton Yelchin (June 19)

Yelchin was just beginning to emerge as a major talent, earning critical praise for his work in Green Room, Charlie Bartlett, Fright Night, and as Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. Unlike Walter Koening, who originated the role on the Star Trek TV series, Yelchin really was Russian, born in that country shortly before moving to the U.S. with his parents, figure skaters who defected to escape both religious and political persecution. Yelchin was just 27 years old at the time of his passing, the victim of a bizarre car accident that occurred after he stepped out of his Jeep and the vehicle rolled down his driveway, fatally pinning him against a brick pillar.

Garry Marshall (July 19)

Marshall is best known for creating TV shows. He brought more than 14 to the small screen, including Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley (which starred his sister, Penny Marshall). He parlayed his television success onto the big screen, directing major comedy films, including The Flamingo Kid, Overboard, The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman, and Mother's Day, the last of which was released just a few months before his death. But Marshall often also appeared in front of the camera, lending his boisterous personality and memorable voice to films (Hocus Pocus, A League of Their Own) and TV. He had a recurring role on Murphy Brown as network executive Stan Lansing, guest-starred on The Simpsons as Larry Kidkill (a promoter who exploited Apu's octuplets), and on Bojack Horseman as a hack director. Marshall, 81, died from pneumonia after suffering a stroke.

Kenny Baker (August 13)

You probably wouldn't have recognized Baker on the street, but you definitely know his work: He was the man inside R2-D2 in six Star Wars movies. Baker began his entertainment career in 1950 as a part of a vaudeville troupe with the now not-so-PC name "Burton Lester's Midgets." (Baker was 3'8," and he often referred to his "height difficulties.") Before Star Wars , Baker also performed as a circus clown, in ice shows, and as part of a two-man comedy act. His partner: Jack Purvis, who played the Chief Jawa in the original Star Wars. Baker initially turned down the role of R2-D2 because he didn't "want to be stuck in a robot." The 81-year-old actor passed away at his home in Preston, England, after a long illness.

Gene Wilder (August 29)

Few would disagree with the assertion that Wilder was a comic genius. His collaborations with director Mel Brooks were especially fruitful, with Wilder memorably playing nervous accountant Leo Bloom in The Producers (for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards), the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles, and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein (a film Wilder conceived and co-wrote). That would be enough of a legacy for any actor, but Wilder also played the title role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and starred in three buddy comedy movies with Richard Pryor. Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, a condition he purposely kept from the public—not so much for his own privacy, but because, according to his Jordan Walker Pearlman, a nephew Wilder raised as a son, the actor "simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world."

Jon Polito (September 1)

The Coen Brothers are among Hollywood's most versatile directors, adept with comedy, drama, Western, and thrillers. Their constants are the actors they use, and they've used Polito a lot—he appeared in the Coens' Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, and The Man Who Wasn't There. A consummate "hey, it's that guy!" character actor, Polito appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows over the course of a three-decades-long career, including a regular role as Detective Steve Crosetti on NBC's acclaimed 1990s drama series Homicide: Life on the Street. Polito, 65, died from problems relating to multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer he was diagnosed with in 2008.

Alexis Arquette (September 11)

A member of the Arquette acting family, which also includes siblings Patricia, Rosanna, and David, Alexis Arquette was a performer as well as a transgender pioneer. (She documented her transition from male to female in the documentary Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother.) Arquette is best known for two small but pivotal parts in two big '90s films. As "Man #4" in Pulp Fiction, Arquette is the small-time criminal who busts out of the bathroom to shoot up John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson's characters...and doesn't hit them once. In The Wedding Singer, Arquette was the keyboardist in Adam Sandler's wedding band—the character who dressed like Boy George and refused to play any song other than Boy George's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me." Arquette was 47.

Robert Vaughn (November 11)

Vaughn thrived for decades in a genre of TV that's more or less disappeared: action shows. In the 1960s, he was pretty much the American television version of James Bond, portraying the dashing Napoleon Solo on the rollicking spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. For his next big TV gig, Vaughn played the complicated military official General Hunt Stockwell on The A-Team. His segue into TV was preceded by memorable roles in classic action movies, such as The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt. Nevertheless, his acting chops in The Young Philadelphians earned him an Oscar nomination in 1960 for best supporting actor. Vaughn was also among the first actors to ever speak out about political views — he worked with several anti-Vietnam War organizations. Then in 1970, Vaughn went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in communications from USC; his thesis was on the history of blacklisting in show business. Dr. Vaughn loved to work, and kept at it until nearly the end as a fixture on British television. From 2004 to 2012, he starred as a card hustler on the series Hustler, and then had a stint on the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. Vaughn was 83.

Florence Henderson (November 24)

She'll forever be a crucial part of TV history for playing one of the most definitive TV moms of all time: Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch. While the show was innovative in its depiction of a modern, blended family (you'll recall that Carol was bringing up three very lovely girls, all of them had hair of gold, like their mother), Henderson reprised the role of the ever-sunny Mrs. Brady long after The Brady Bunch wrapped up a five-year run in 1974. She returned for The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, The Brady Brides, A Very Brady Christmas, The Bradys, and in a cameo role as "Grandma" in the 1995 spoof, The Brady Bunch Movie. But Henderson had a very active career besides The Brady Bunch and all its iterations. In the 1950s and '60s, she was a major star of stage musicals. In 1952, she landed the lead role of Laurey in the touring production of Oklahoma! at just age 18, a part she reprised on Broadway. In the '80s, she hosted a cooking show and her ads as the face of Wesson most certainly interrupted many episodes of the endless Brady Bunch reruns. In a 2010 stint on Dancing With the Stars, she finished in eighth place. Just days before her death, she returned to the ABC celebrity dance show to give support to one of the contestants: Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady. Henderson was 82.

Ron Glass (November 25)

An actor will be beloved forever if they're lucky enough to star in one cult hit TV show — the kind with critical praise and devoted fans if perpetually low ratings. Glass starred in two of such shows of all time: the 1975-1982 sitcom Barney Miller and the 2002 sci fi classic Firefly. On Barney Miller, which was set almost entirely in a grimy New York police precinct, Glass was a scene-stealer as the cool Sgt. Harris, a cop whose heart isn't quite in it — he's much more focused over the seven years of the series with becoming a bestselling crime novelist, as well as looking cool and acting sophisticated. For the show's final season, Glass earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy. After working steadily with guest appearances on TV shows in the '80s and '90s, Glass returned to TV as Shepherd Book on Joss Whedon's short-lived space western Firefly. As a religious leader with a mysterious past, Glass returned to the role for the series' sequel film Serenity. Glass passed away at age 71.

Alice Drummond (November 30)

Drummond was undoubtedly one of the most recognizable character actresses of all time. She popped up in dozens of movies and TV shows since the late '60s, when she moved from the New York stage (she originated roles in more than one play by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee) to the screen. Her most famous appearance is certainly in Ghostbusters. She opened the 1984 classic as the New York librarian chased and terrorized by ghosts. Ten years later, she popped up again as a seemingly sweet old lady in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as the Dan Marino-hating mother of ex-football player and crime suspect Ray Finkle. Drummond got one of the most memorable lines of the movie: "Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell." Drummond also had crucial roles in Doubt, Awakenings, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and received a Tony nomination in 1970 for her role in The Chinese. She was 88.

Margaret Whitton (December 4)

Whitton was more of a stage actress than a film one, appearing in plays both on and off-Broadway throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s. But what film roles she did were very big. She played one of the all-time great screen villains: Rachel Phelps, showgirl-turned-owner of the Cleveland Indians in Major League. (The character's plans to move the team to Florida are thwarted when the Indians miraculously reach the playoffs — much like they did for real in 2016.) Contrary to her character in the Major League films, Whitton truly loved baseball off-screen. She was a longtime New York Yankees season-ticket holder. Whitton was 67.

Peter Vaughan (December 6)

The tireless character actor was probably best known to American audiences as Maester Aemon on Game of Thrones, the long-serving member of the Night's Watch who's also a Targaryen. Vaughan brought not only the required grace and gravitas to the role, but also a physical authenticity. Vaughan was partially blind in real life, and Aemon was fully blind. Like many Game of Thrones actors, Vaughan was an accomplished star of film and TV for decades before before he joined the HBO fantasy series. His standout roles were in the British comedies Porridge and Citizen Smith, along with memorable bits in cult classics such as Brazil and Time Bandits. Vaughan was 93.

Alan Thicke (December 13)

Thicke is probably most fondly remembered for playing the sweet but bumbling psychiatrist dad Jason Seaver on the long-running '80s sitcom Growing Pains. He also had a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother, but Thicke had already enjoyed a long, varied career before he started acting. In addition to being the head writer for the cult comedy Fernwood 2 Night in the '70s, Thicke hosted his own extremely popular talk show in his native Canada, The Alan Thicke Show. That led to the American syndicated late-night talk show Thicke of the Night, which went head-to-head with Johnny Carson's unstoppable The Tonight Show. It was canceled in less than a year, but in 1985, Thicke moved on to star in the network's Growing Pains. He was all over '80s TV, as he was the co-songwriter for a number of classic shows, including The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes (which he also sang). On the personal side, Thicke was once married to soft rock singer Gloria Loring and was the father of three sons, including pop star Robin Thicke. Alan Thicke was 69.

Zsa Zsa Gabor (December 18)

Zsa Zsa Gabor is the predecessor of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and other modern-day "celebutantes." She pioneered the idea of being "famous for being famous." A fixture of gossip columns and tabloids for decades, the Hungarian-born Gabor was married at least eight times, almost always to wealthy tycoons of one sort or another. It enabled her to live the lifestyle to which she was accustomed: the glamorous, jet-set, jewel-encrusted one. But still, both before she became a celebrity and because she was one, Gabor appeared in quite a number of films and TV shows in the '50s and '60s, such as Moulin Rouge (1952), Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958), and as the seductive Minerva on the campy Batman series. That was the first of what would become a string of winking cameos, most exemplified by appearances in The Naked Gun 2 1/2 and A Very Brady Sequel. After suffering from a series of illnesses and injuries over the last few years (including the amputation of her leg in 2011), Gabor passed away at the age of 99.

Ricky Harris (December 26)

Harris was a comedian and a gigging actor who turned up in '90s and 2000s movies and TV shows like Poetic Justice and Everybody Hates Chris, but he turned out his most famous work in the world of hip hop. Harris gave voice to characters in that now-lost, but oh-so-'90s artform of the rap album skit. Harris can be heard on the comedy interludes of albums by Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and other West Coast rap classics. Harris was friends with Snoop Dogg for years and appeared in several of Snoop's videos. He plays a nightclub host in the 1994 video for "Doggy Dogg World," and Snoop's grumpy bad in the comic intro to "Gin and Juice." That's him under a ton of makeup who delivers the line, "Snoop Doggy Dogg. Needs to get a jobby-job!" Harris was 54.

Carrie Fisher (December 27)

Fisher was a prominent screenwriter, humorist, and comic actress, but she'll be most remembered for bringing to life one of the most iconic characters in probably the most beloved film franchise of all time: Fisher was, and will always be, Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. She was Hollywood royalty even before top-lining the first Star Wars movie in 1977. She was the daughter of Singin' in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds and pop singer Eddie Fisher; her only child is actress Billie Lourd, currently starring on Scream Queens. In addition to saving the universe and modeling both bun hair and metal bikinis, Fisher reprised her most famous role just last year in The Force Awakens. Always providing an outspoken voice about the dark side of Hollywood, Fisher spoke out about how she was all but forced to lose weight before she could start filming for The Force Awakens. Indeed, Fisher was a prolific writer, creating works for page, stage, and screen, such as The Princess Diarist, Wishful Drinking, and Postcards from the Edge, which she adapted into a film in 1990. In addition to Star Wars, Fisher was a sharp comic actress and turned in memorable performances in classics like Shampoo, When Harry Met Sally, The Blues Brothers, and 30 Rock. Fisher packed a lot of work into her brief 60 years.

Debbie Reynolds (December 28)

In an absolutely heartbreaking turn of events, Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, died just one day later. Reynolds became famous in the 1950s, when she was considered "America's sweetheart" as half of a Hollywood dream couple with singer Eddie Fisher. More than just a pretty face, Fisher had the acting, singing, and dancing chops to take her far, and she starred in the classic 1952 Gene Kelly movie musical Singin' in the Rain. As a young woman, the blond, perky, all-American Reynolds played good girls in squeaky clean movies, such as Bundle of Joy, The Singing Nun, and Tammy and the Bachelor; Reynolds had a No. 1 hit with the latter's theme song.

In 1965, she earned a best actress nomination at the Academy Awards for playing Titanic survivor and early 20th-century socialite Molly Brown in the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown. (She didn't win, but was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars in 2016 in recognition of her community service work.) Reynolds was also a tabloid fixture for a time in the late '50s and early '60s, when Eddie Fisher left her for actress Elizabeth Taylor ... who also happened to be one of Reynolds' closest friends. A well-established icon of American cinema, Reynolds enjoyed a nice comeback in the late '90s. In 1996, she played Albert Brook's overbearing mother in Mother, and also had major roles in In & Out, on Will & Grace, and starred in the made-for-TV Those Old Broads alongside Elizabeth Taylor. The movie was written by Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84.