Two key figures in American culture died on December 28: a former Senate majority leader Harry Reid and former NFL coach John madden, whose video game of the same name has delighted football fans for decades and sold more than 180 million copies by 2018. They’re the latest on a list of high profile losses in 2021 from around Hollywood, Washington, DC and beyond.
We lost the 91-year-old Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plumperwhose long, distinguished career spanned everything from The Sound of Music to Knives Out to Pixar’s Up. Plummer’s Up co-star, Ed Asner, who played the lovable curmudgeon of the film, also died at the age of 91; Asner was known for his husky delivery and weird chops in Elf and as the iconic journalist Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Cloris Leachman, also an alum on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the most honored performer in Emmy history, died in January. and Michael K. Williams, who most famously played Omar Little on The Wire, died in September at the age of 54.
TV host Larry King died in January; He reportedly conducted more than 50,000 interviews during his decade-long career, including with every incumbent US president since Gerald Ford. We mourned many comedy stars: Jessica Walter, best known as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development; British comedian Sean Castle; and Saturday Night Lives Norm MacDonald, whose dry style lives on, most memorable in his popular moth joke. We also lost two popular actors from sitcom history: Dustin’s diamondwho played Oddball Screech in Saved by the Bell, and James Michael Tylerwho played the humble coffeehouse waiter Gunther in Friends.
Hip-hop has lost legends like r -pers in music DMX, known for its raw content and rugged flow; MF Doom, the r -per with a comic book-inspired personality (and mask); and one hit wonder Biz Markie, whose feel-good single “Just a Friend” went platinum in 1990. Legendary drummer for the Rolling Stones Charlie Watts died in August at the age of 80 while actor-musician Michael Nesmith of the Monkees just died this month at the age of 78. Convincing Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim died in November; The 91-year-old was one of the key characters in the modern musical, writing the lyrics for West Side Story and the music for Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods.
The literary world mourned two influential women writers in December: Joan Didionwho was known for her non-fiction books exploring American culture of the 1960s and 1970s; and feminist author Gloria Jean Watkins, known by her pen name Bell hookwho wrote about the intersection of race and gender and the experiences of blacks and working class women.
Public figures and politicians
In -ril, Queen Elizabeth lost her 99-year-old husband and royal consort Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was a passionate pilot with a long military career; Interest in him had increased in recent years with the release of The Crown on Netflix, in which he was portrayed by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies. Human rights activist in December Desmond tutu, the first black bishop of Johannesburg and Archbishop of C -e Town, died at the age of 90. Tutu, an influential voice for nonviolence during the South African anti- -artheid movement, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
In U.S. politics, Reid was instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, but he wasn’t the only former Senate majority leader to die in 2021: Bob Dole, who led the Republicans in the Senate from 1987 to 1996 and lost the 1996 presidential race to Bill Clinton, died in early December at the age of 98 Colin Powell, the country’s first black foreign minister and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died in November at the age of 84. Powell played a key role in justifying the 2003 Iraq war under President George W. Bush; In 2020, however, he announced his support for the Democrat Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the presidential election and renounced the allegiance of the GOP after the uprising in the C -itol on January 6, 2021.
Economy and science
The business world is lost Richard Trumka, who was president of the AFL-CIO, the largest trade union confederation in the USA A past president of the same federation, John Sweeney, also died. Larry Flynt, Founder of Hustler magazine, best known for a string of litigation in the First Amendment, died in February. And fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who worked as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and was the first African American to run a French luxury fashion house, died at the age of 41 of complications from cancer.
The scientific community mourned the NASA astronaut Michael Collinswho flew to the moon in 1969 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the -ollo 11 mission EO Wilson, the evolutionary biologist who began his career studying ants and delving into the complexities of genetics and human behavior, died in December. The 92-year-old has often been referred to as “Darwin’s Natural Heritage”.
Villains and heroes
Some controversial personalities also died that year, including Rush Limbaugh, the inflammatory conservative radio host who has lied frequently and generated conspiracy theories – and who problematically received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump. Phil Spector, the record producer whose discogr -hy included some of the greatest hits of all time – including “Let It Be,” “Imagine” and “Unchained Melody” – died in January while serving a prison sentence for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson . and Bernie Madoff died in -ril; The financier and former Nasdaq chairman led the world’s largest Ponzi program, which is reportedly worth around $ 65 billion. In 2009 he was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
Perh -s most poignant is that we lost a hero for the pandemic age: C -tain Tom Moore, a former British Army officer who raised £ 30 million (more than $ 40 million) for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis by walking through his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday. He died of pneumonia in February after testing positive for COVID-19.