Saying goodbye to those we loved and lost
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well, really, let’s cut the crap: 2016 was the WORST of times. For a lot of people. For a lot of reasons.
Let’s just jump right into it, shall we?
The presidential election of 2016 will go down in the history books as the most unconventional, if not the most outright terrifying, smackdown between haggard career politicians and the man-child who would be king, ultimately ending in an upset for Team Trump, who won the majority of electoral college votes, despite, at press time, still being waaaay behind in number of people who actually like him.
Between Hillary’s ghosts of emails past and personal, (as well as personality) issues – oh, and Benghazi – plaguing the first woman to ever be nominated to the highest office in the land, and Trump’s caution and Constitution to the wind attitude, the 2016 presidential race and the next four years will have our space overlords scratching their heads in the centuries to come (we’re optimistic because climate change is a hoax, after all).
Despite the death of Democracy (we kid, we hope), there were some actual major losses in the entertainment, political, sports and pop culture worlds that brought a lot of us to our knees.
– Prince: The paisley guitar guru and all-around hip-as-hell dude checked out on April 21. The world cried purple tears and music lost an icon.
– David Bowie: Speaking of music icons… Ziggy Stardust went back to his planet on Jan. 10 following a little known battle with cancer. He was 69. Bowie opened people’s eyes and ears with his ever-changing fashion choices and visionary musical creations.
– Alan Rickman: As if Bowie’s death wasn’t bad enough, the “Harry Potter” actor died four days later on Jan. 14. Many wands were raised in tribute.
– Gene Wilder: The funny man who never really thought of himself as a comedian tiptoed from our lives on Aug. 28. Wilder might forever be known as?Willy Wonka but his talents were far-reaching and his death will likely be felt for a long, long time.
– Muhammad Ali: Simply put, he was the greatest. The boxing champ passed away at age 74 on June 3.
– John Glenn: Ohioan. Senator. First man to orbit the Earth. Legend. Dec. 8.
Others we mourn:
Natalie Cole, R&B singer and daughter of music legend Nat “King” Cole, died New Year’s Eve at age 65 from heart failure caused by lung disease.
Rene Angelil, husband and manager of Celine Dion, died Jan. 14 of cancer at age 73. The “My Heart Will Go On” singer’s brother Daniel Dion died two days later.
Dan Haggerty, “Grizzly Adams” actor and ’70s star best-known for his beard and rugged looks, died of cancer at 74 on Jan. 15.
Glenn Frey, The Eagles guitarist and co-founder, died at 67 on Jan. 18. Frey co-wrote hits like “Hotel California” with Don Henley.
Abe Vigoda, character actor in “The Godfather” and “Barney Miller,” died at 94 on Jan. 26.
Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane co-founder and guitarist, died at 74 on Jan. 28.
Vanity, an ’80s singer-actress and Prince protege also known as Denise Katrina Matthews, died Feb. 15 at 57.
Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” died Feb. 19 at age 89.
George Martin, the “Fifth Beatle” best known as a producer for The Beatles, died March 8 at 90.
Keith Emerson, founder and keyboardist of the progressive-rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, died March 11 at 71.
Frank Sinatra Jr., singer and son of Ol’ Blue Eyes, died March 16 of cardiac arrest at 72.
Garry Shandling, comedian and ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ star, died March 24 at 66.
Earl Hamner Jr., “The Waltons” creator and “Twilight Zone” writer, died March 24 at 92.
Patty Duke, Oscar and Emmy-winning actress, former child star and mother of “Lord of the Rings” actor Sean Astin, died March 29 of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at 69.
Merle Haggard, country music legend who had more than 30 No. 1 hits, died April 6 on his 79th birthday.
David Gest, a producer, Michael Jackson collaborator, reality TV star and ex-husband of Liza Minelli, died April 12 at 62.
Doris Roberts, Emmy-winning actress on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” died April 18 at 90.
Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, WWE wrestling legend and Rochester native, died April 20 at 46.
Lonnie Mack, blues guitar great who inspired everyone from Eric Clapton and Keith Richards to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Bonamassa, died April 21 at 74.
Michelle McNamara, True Crime Diary writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, died in her sleep April 21 at age 46.
Morley Safer, CBS News correspondent, died at 84 on May 19, days after retiring from “60 Minutes.”
John Berry, original Beastie Boys member, died May 19 at 52 after a long struggle with dementia.
Nick Menza, former Megadeth drummer, died May 21 after collapsing on stage at age 51.
Beth Howland, who played Mel’s Diner waitress Vera on ‘Alice,’ died Dec. 31, 2015. Her husband Charles Kimbrough announced the death May 24, 2016, in accordance with her wishes.
Christina Grimmie, “The Voice” singer who finished third on season six in 2014, died June 11 at 22 after being shot at an Orlando concert.
Anton Yelchin, actor in “Star Trek,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Charlie Bartlett,” died June 18 at 27 after being hit by his own car at his home.
Ralph Stanley, bluegrass music legend and “O Brother Where Art Thou” singer, died June 23 at 89.
Elie Wiesel, author, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, died July 2 at 87.
Garry Marshall, legendary writer, director and actor whose credits include “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Pretty Woman,” died July 19 at 81.
Miss Cleo, the famed TV psychic born Youree Harris, died July 26 at age 54 after a cancer battle.
Kenny Baker, “Star Wars” actor who played R2-D2, died Aug. 13 at 81.
Fyvush Finkel, Emmy-winning stage and screen actor best known for playing lawyer David Wambaugh on “Picket Fences,” died Aug. 14 at 93.
James Woolley, former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist, died Aug. 15 at 49 from neck-related injuries after falling off a ladder.
John McLaughlin, political commentator and host of “The McLaughlin Group,” died Aug. 16 at 89.
Juan Gabriel, superstar Mexican singer-songwriter, died Aug. 28 at 66.
Alexis Arquette, transgender activist and “The Wedding Singer” actress, died Sept. 11 at 47.
Shawty Lo, “Dey Know” rapper and member of “Laffy Taffy” hip-hop group D4L, died Sept. 21 in a hit-and-run crash at age 40.
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., Buckwheat Zydeco leader and Louisiana accordionist, died Sept. 24 at 68
Arnold Palmer, golf legend known as “The King,” died Sept. 25 at 87.
Pete Burns, Dead Or Alive singer best known for 1985 hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” died Oct. 23 after a massive cardiac arrest at 57.
Janet Reno, first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, died Nov. 7 at 78 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Leonard Cohen, singer-songwriter behind ‘Hallelujah,’ died Nov. 7 at 82.
Leon Russell, influential singer-songwriter and all-star collaborator, died Nov. 13 at 74.
Gwen Ifill, “PBS NewsHour” anchor and vice presidential debate moderator, died Nov. 14 at 61 after a battle with cancer.
Florence Henderson, beloved “Brady Bunch” mom, died Nov. 24 at 82.
Ron Glass, actor from TV’s ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Firefly,’ died Nov. 26 at 71.
*Editor’s note: As if 2016 weren’t crappy enough, it decided at the last minute to kick us while we were down. Our extensive, although by no means comprehensive, list of those we lost this year is missing George Michael, because he passed away on Dec. 25 after that article was already written. However, we could not overlook the huge loss of this pop icon, whose death from heart failure on Christmas Day, was a serious blow to all Gen Xers raised on Wham! and day-glo shorty shorts.
Yours truly had a special connection to Wham! as a prepubescent girl, who clung to their poppy melodies during times of trouble and transition at home. As George Michael ditched the day-glo and matured into jean-clad rump shaking and a perfectly coifed 5 o’clock shadow, his songs, crooned with a velvety voice, became the soundtrack to many people’s lives, including my own.
So, taking a lyric from Mr. Michael, our wish to all our readers is for a better 2017… “Be good to yourself because nobody else has the power to make you happy.”