Notable deaths of 2016 A final farewell to many greats


By BERNARD McGHEE

Associated Press

Embracing Soviet-style communism, Fidel Castro overcame imprisonment and exile to become leader of Cuba and defy the power of the United States at every turn. The strongman’s half-century rule was marked by the unsuccessful U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. But after surviving a crippling trade embargo and dozens of assassination plots, Castro died in November at age 90. Perhaps befitting the controversial leader, his death elicited both tears and cheers across the Western Hemisphere.

But Castro was just one of many noteworthy people who died in 2016.

The year also saw the deaths of pop music giants: David Bowie, who broke musical boundaries through his musicianship and striking visuals; Prince, who was considered one of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times; and George Michael, first a teenybopper heartthrob and then a mature solo artist with videos that played up his considerable appeal.

Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2016. (Cause of death cited for younger people, if available.)

JANUARY

Pat Harrington Jr., 86. Actor and comedian who in the 1950s got attention as a member of Steve Allen’s fabled TV comic troupe but secured lasting fame decades later as Dwayne Schneider, the cocky handyman on the long-running sitcom “One Day at a Time.” Jan. 6.

David Bowie, 69. Other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust. Jan. 10.

Alan Rickman, 69. Classically-trained British stage star and sensual screen villain in the “Harry Potter” saga and other films. Jan. 14.

Rene Angelil, 73. Celine Dion’s husband and manager, who molded her from a French-speaking Canadian ingenue into one of the world’s most successful singers. Jan. 14.

Dan Haggerty, 74. Rugged, bearded actor who starred in the film and TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.” Jan. 15.

Glenn Frey, 67. Rock ‘n’ roll rebel who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.” Jan. 18.

Abe Vigoda, 94. Character actor whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather.” Jan. 26.

Paul Kantner, 74. Founding member of the Jefferson Airplane who stayed with the seminal band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hit makers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship. Jan. 28.

FEBRUARY

Bob Elliott, 92. Half of the enduring TV and radio comedy team Bob and Ray. Feb. 2.

Maurice White, 74. Earth, Wind & Fire founder whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums. Feb. 3.

Edgar Mitchell, 85. Apollo 14 astronaut who became the sixth man on the moon when he and Alan Shepard helped NASA recover from Apollo 13’s “successful failure.” Feb. 4.

Antonin Scalia, 79. Influential conservative and most provocative member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Feb. 13.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93. Veteran Egyptian diplomat who helped negotiate his country’s landmark peace deal with Israel but clashed with the United States when he served a single term as U.N. secretary-general. Feb. 16.

Harper Lee, 89. Elusive novelist whose child’s-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” became standard reading for millions of young people and an Oscar-winning film. Feb. 19.

George Kennedy, 91. Hulking, tough-guy actor who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a savage chain-gang convict in the 1960s classic “Cool Hand Luke.” Feb. 28.

MARCH

Pat Conroy, 70. Author of “The Great Santini,” ‘’The Prince of Tides” and other best-sellers, whose novels drew upon his bruising childhood and the vistas of South Carolina. March 4.

Raymond Tomlinson, 74. Inventor of modern email and a technological leader. March 5.

Nancy Reagan, 94. Helpmate, backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president — and finally during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. March 6.

George Martin, 90. The Beatles’ urbane producer who quietly guided the band’s swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries. March 8.

Frank Sinatra Jr., 72. He carried on his father’s legacy with his own music career; his kidnapping as a young man added a bizarre chapter to his father’s legendary life. March 16.

Rob Ford, 46. Pugnacious, populist former mayor of Toronto whose career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced debacle. March 22. Cancer.

Phife Dawg, 45. Lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. March 22. Complications from diabetes.

Garry Shandling, 66. Actor and comedian who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with “The Larry Sanders Show.” March 24.

Earl Hamner Jr., 92. Prolific writer who drew upon his Depression-era upbringing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to create one of television’s most beloved family shows, “The Waltons.” March 24.

Mother Mary Angelica, 92. Folksy Roman Catholic nun who used a monastery garage to begin a television ministry that grew into a global religious media empire. March 27.

Patty Duke, 69. As a teen, she won an Oscar for playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker,” then maintained a long career while battling personal demons. March 29.

APRIL

Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, 83. Latin Jazz saxophonist who composed the Grammy-winning music for the steamy Marlon Brando film “Last Tango in Paris” and recorded dozens of albums over a career spanning more than seven decades. April 2.

Merle Haggard, 79. Country giant who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as “Okie From Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home.” April 6.

Doris Roberts, 90. She played the tart-tongued, endlessly meddling mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” April 17.

Chyna, 46. Tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired pro-wrestler who rocketed to popularity in the 1990s and later made the rounds on reality TV. April 20.

Prince, 57. One of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times with hits including “Little Red Corvette,” ‘’Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.” April 21.

Billy Paul, 80. Jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and “Philadelphia Soul” classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” April 24.

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, 94. Roman Catholic priest and peace activist who was imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the Vietnam War. April 30.

MAY

Guy Clark, 74. Texas singer-songwriter who helped mentor a generation of songwriters and wrote hits like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” May 17.

Morley Safer, 84. Veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent who was equally at home reporting on social injustices, the Orient Express and abstract art, and who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing Americans’ view of the war. May 19.

Alan Young, 96. Actor-comedian who played the amiable straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom “Mister Ed.” May 19.

JUNE

Muhammad Ali, 74. Heavyweight champion whose fast fists, irrepressible personality and determined spirit transcended sports and captivated the world. June 3.

Victor Korchnoi, 85. Chess grandmaster and former Soviet champion who defected to the West and was considered among the best players never to win a world championship. June 6.

Gordie Howe, 88. Known as “Mr. Hockey,” the rough-and-tumble Canadian farm boy whose blend of talent and toughness made him the NHL’s quintessential star. June 10.

George Voinovich, 79. Former U.S. senator and a two-term Ohio governor who preached frugality in his personal and public life and occasionally bucked the GOP establishment. June 12.

Anton Yelchin, 27. Rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films. June 19. Hit by his car in his driveway.

Michael Herr, 76. Author and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer who viscerally documented the ravages of the Vietnam War through his classic nonfiction novel “Dispatches” and through such films as “Apocalypse Now” and “Full Metal Jacket.” June 23.

Bernie Worrell, 72. “Wizard of Woo” whose amazing array of keyboard sounds helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced performers of many genres. June 24.

Alvin Toffler, 87. Guru of the post-industrial age whose “Future Shock” and other books anticipated the disruptions and transformations brought about by the rise of digital technology. June 27.

Pat Summitt, 64. Winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who uplifted the women’s game from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee. June 28.

JULY

Elie Wiesel, 87. Romanian-born Holocaust survivor whose classic “Night” became a landmark testament to the Nazis’ crimes and launched his career as one of the world’s foremost witnesses and humanitarians. July 2.

Michael Cimino, 77. Oscar-winning director whose film “The Deer Hunter” became one of the great triumphs of Hollywood’s 1970s heyday and whose disastrous “Heaven’s Gate” helped bring that era to a close. July 2.

Bernardo Provenzano, 83. Convicted Cosa Nostra “boss of bosses” who reputedly led the Mafia’s powerful Corleone clan. July 13.

Nate Thurmond, 74. Tenacious NBA defensive center who played with Wilt Chamberlain. July 16.

Gloria DeHaven, 91. Daughter of vaudeville stars who carved out her own career as the vivacious star of Hollywood musicals and comedies of the 1940s and ’50s. July 30.

AUGUST

Harry Briggs Jr., 75. As a young boy, he was at the center of a lawsuit that culminated with the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing segregated public schools. Aug. 9.

Kenny Baker, 81. He played the lovable droid R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” films, achieving cult status and fans’ adulation without showing his face or speaking any lines. Aug. 13.

Fyvush Finkel, 93. Plastic-faced Emmy Award-winning actor whose career in stage and screen started in Yiddish theater and led to memorable roles in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway and on TV in “Boston Public” and “Picket Fences.” Aug. 14.

Arthur Hiller, 92. Oscar nominee for directing the hugely popular romantic tragedy “Love Story” during a career that spanned dozens of popular movies and TV shows. Aug. 17.

Donald “D.A.” Henderson, 87. Epidemiologist whose leadership resulted in the eradication nearly 40 years ago of smallpox, one of the world’s most feared contagious diseases. Aug. 19.

Gene Wilder, 83. Frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in “The Producers” and the mad scientist of “Young Frankenstein.” Aug. 28.

Harry Fujiwara, 82. Better known as Mr. Fuji, he was a former star wrestler and manager. Aug. 28.

SEPTEMBER

Jon Polito, 65. Raspy-voiced actor whose 200-plus credits ranged from “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Modern Family” to the films “Barton Fink” and “The Big Lebowski.” Sept. 1.

Hugh O’Brian, 91. He shot to fame as Sheriff Wyatt Earp in what was hailed as television’s first adult Western. Sept. 5.

Phyllis Schlafly, 92. Outspoken conservative activist who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and founded the Eagle Forum political group. Sept. 5.

Bobby Chacon, 64. Hall of Fame boxer whose memorable fights included victories over Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Danny Lopez and Ruben Olivares. Sept. 7.

Greta Zimmer Friedman, 92. Believed to be the woman in an iconic photo shown kissing an ecstatic sailor in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II. Sept. 8.

Edward Albee, 88. Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who challenged theatrical convention in masterworks such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “A Delicate Balance.” Sept. 16.

W.P. Kinsella, 81. Canadian novelist who blended magical realism and baseball in the book that became the smash hit film “Field of Dreams.” Sept. 16.

Charmian Carr, 73. Actress best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter in “The Sound of Music.” Sept. 17.

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., 68. Musician who rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his band Buckwheat Zydeco. Sept. 24.

Arnold Palmer, 87. Golfing great who brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner’s touch. Sept. 25.

Jean Shepard, 82. “The grand lady of the Grand Ole Opry” who had a long recording career in country music. Sept. 25.

Ben Steele, 98. Bataan Death March survivor whose art helped him maintain his sanity as a prisoner of war and helped him forgive his captors. Sept. 25.

Shimon Peres, 93. Former Israeli president and prime minister, whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state and who was celebrated around the world as a Nobel prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace. Sept. 28.

OCTOBER

Joan Marie Johnson, 72. A founding member of the New Orleans girl group The Dixie Cups, who had a No. 1 hit in 1964 with “Chapel of Love.” Oct. 3.

Donn Fendler, 90. As a boy, he survived nine days alone on Maine’s tallest mountain in 1939 and later wrote a book about the ordeal. Oct. 10.

Junko Tabei, 77. The first woman to climb Mount Everest. Oct. 20.

Bobby Vee, 73. Boyish, grinning 1960s singer whose career was born when he took a stage as a teenager to fill in after the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Oct. 24.

NOVEMBER

Janet Reno, 78. First woman to serve as U.S. attorney general and the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration, including the seizure of Elian Gonzalez. Nov. 7.

Leonard Cohen, 82. Baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter who blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” ‘’Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire.” Nov. 7.

Robert Vaughn, 83. Debonair, Oscar-nominated actor whose many film roles were eclipsed by his hugely popular turn in TV’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Nov. 11.

Gwen Ifill, 61. Co-anchor of PBS’ “NewsHour” with Judy Woodruff and a veteran journalist who moderated two vice presidential debates. Nov. 14.

Denton Cooley, 96. Cardiovascular surgeon who performed some of the nation’s first heart transplants and implanted the world’s first artificial heart. Nov. 18.

Sharon Jones, 60. Powerhouse who shepherded a soul revival despite not finding stardom until middle age. Nov. 18. Cancer.

Ralph Branca, 90. Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who gave up the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” that still echoes six decades later as one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. Nov. 23.

Florence Henderson, 82. Broadway star who became one of America’s most beloved television moms in “The Brady Bunch.” Nov. 24.

Fidel Castro, 90. He led his bearded rebels to victorious revolution in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of U.S. presidents during his half-century of rule in Cuba. Nov. 25.

Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, 98. McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac nearly 50 years ago and saw it become perhaps the best-known fast-food sandwich. Nov. 28.

Grant Tinker, 90. He brought new polish to the TV world with beloved shows including “Hill Street Blues” as both a producer and a network boss. Nov. 28.

DECEMBER

John Glenn, 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. Dec. 8.

E.R. Braithwaite, 104. Guyanese author, educator and diplomat whose years teaching in the slums of London’s East End inspired the international best-seller “To Sir, With Love” and the movie of the same name. Dec. 12.

Alan Thicke, 69. Versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on the sitcom “Growing Pains.” Dec. 13.

Craig Sager, 65. Longtime NBA sideline reporter famous for his flashy suits and probing questions. Dec. 15.

Henry Heimlich, 96. Surgeon who created the life-saving Heimlich maneuver for choking victims. Dec. 17.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99. Jet-setting Hungarian actress and socialite who helped invent a new kind of fame out of multiple marriages, conspicuous wealth and jaded wisdom about the glamorous life. Dec. 18.

George Michael, 53. Musician who shot to stardom at an early age in the teen duo WHAM! and moved smoothly into a solo career. Dec. 25.

Carrie Fisher, 60. Actress who found enduring fame as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars.” Dec. 27.

Debbie Reynolds, 84. Actress who embodied the sunshine of postwar America on the screen as she matched steps with Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.” She died one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Dec. 28.

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