From David Bowie to George Michael and Carrie Fisher: the legends we lost in 2016


Movie stars, musical masters, and the "greatest" of all time - 2016 saw the deaths of many of the world's most beloved celebrities.

People around the world took to social media in 2016 to mourn the many celebrities that passed away.

Here are some of the famous faces who attracted the most reaction online.

David Bowie

David Bowie
Singer David Bowie. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

The year started badly for music fans with the death of rock star David Bowie at the age of 69 on January 10.

As news of his death spread, social media went into meltdown and moving impromptu memorials were held for the well-loved singer and performer.

The horror year that was to follow even prompted a meme suggesting Bowie was the glue that held the universe together.

Alan Rickman

British actor Alan Rickman has died aged 69.
British actor Alan Rickman died aged 69. (AAP)

Like Bowie, Alan Rickman died suddenly on January 14 at the age of 69 from cancer – a condition he had not publicly disclosed.

Best known for his roles in 'Harry Potter' and 'Die Hard', he was remembered as an actor who redefined the ‘bad guy’ role.

Stars and fans alike poured out their grief on social media.

Harper Lee

Author Harper Lee
Author Harper Lee. (AAP)

American author, Harper Lee, who wrote the literary classic 'To Kill a Mockingbird', died aged 89 on February 19.

She followed up her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel with the prequel 'Go Set a Watchman' in 2015.

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco
Novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

Author Umberto Eco died aged 84, also on February 19.

The Italian author famously wrote the novel 'The Name of the Rose', but thought of himself more as a philosopher than a novelist.

George Martin

George Martin
George Martin, the 'fifth Beatle'. (AAP)

Known as the “fifth Beatle”, George Martin died on March 8 aged 90.

He was the music producer who made the Beatles a household name and produced a record number of hit records in the US and the UK.


US singer Prince. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

Music fans were in for yet more shock when Prince died aged 57 on April 21.

He was found unresponsive in his Paisley Park Studios home and was later pronounced dead.

The news of his death prompted a world-wide out-pouring of grief.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali dies at 74; Obama hails 'man who fought for us'
US boxer Muhammad Ali. (Reuters)

Three-time heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, who once declared himself to be the “greatest”, died aged 74 on June 3.

Ali was known for his showmanship and his stellar career and fought a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was an inspiration to many social media users around the world.

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder in scene from the film 'Another You', 1991. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

Gene Wilder, the man who embodied many great roles, including Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, died on August 29 aged 83.

Social media remembered him fondly for his comic roles in movies like 'Young Frankenstein' and 'Blazing Saddles'.

After his death from Alzheimer’s, his nephew issued a statement saying the family had kept Wilder’s illness a secret so children would not associate Willy Wonka with the disease.

Max Walker

Max Walker
Former Australian Test cricketer Max Walker died at age 68. (AAP)

The well-liked Test cricketer Max Walker died aged 68 on September 28.

After a sporting career that covered not only cricket but AFL, he became a popular commentator for the Nine Network.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej. (AAP)

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej died in hospital after a long illness aged 88 on October 13.

King Bhumibol enjoyed near deity status in Thailand and his death sparked mass displays of public grief around the country.

He was replaced on the throne by his only son Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Canadian poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen, died at the age of 82 on November 7.

The announcement of his death was made on his official Facebook page and fans took to both Facebook and Twitter to express their grief at his passing.

Robert Vaughn

Actor Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn, who starred as Napoleon Solo on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died aged 83. (AAP)

Best known for his role in the 1930s TV show 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.', Robert Vaughn died on November 11 aged 83.

He also featured in the iconic Western, 'The Magnificent Seven'.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died aged 90. (AAP)

There were mixed reactions to the death of former Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro.

He died on November 25, aged 90, prompting fried among some Cuban residents, and jubilation among other, particularly the Cuban community in Miami.

Earlier in the year, on February 23, his brother Ramon died, aged 91.

World leaders also had mixed responses to Castro’s death.

Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson
US actor Florence Henderson. (AAP)

The actor behind the classic television character Carol Brady, Florence Henderson died from heart failure, aged 82 on November 24.

She had a varied career across television, stage and screen, including repeated spin-off and return series of 'The Brady Bunch'.

Andrew Sachs

Andrew Sachs
British actor, Andrew Sachs, best known for playing Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers, died aged 86. (PA)

Known by many as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel on the 1970s sitcom 'Fawlty Towers', Andrew Sachs died aged 86 on November 23.

The German-born actor had reportedly suffered from vascular dementia for four years.

While he went on to perform other roles, he was always best known for his work on 'Fawlty Towers'.

John Glenn

John Glenn
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died in Ohio, aged 95. (AAP)

The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn died in Ohio on December 9 aged 95.

He was also the oldest person to ever go into space, blasting off aboard the shuttle Discovery aged 77.

He also served as a US senator for the state of Ohio for 24 years until 1999.

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor arrives at London Airport from Paris, in a Crimson dress and a straw hat on  July 14, 1955. (AP Photo)
Zsa Zsa Gabor has aged 99. (AAP)

Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Hungarian-born actress and socialite, died on December 18 aged 99.

Born Sair Gabor, she starred in a number of films and television shows, but was best known for her tumultuous personal life.

She was married nine times, the final time to Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, whom she married in 1986.

George Michael

George Michael
British singer George Michael in concert to raise money for AIDS charity Sidaction, in Paris, France in 2012.

George Michael's publicist announced the superstar singer had "passed away peacefully" at his home on December 26. He was 53 years old.

The singer-songwriter, who first rose to prominence after forming Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, went on to have a highly successful solo career, releasing popular hits including Careless Whisper, Faith and Jesus to a Child.

Michael's first solo album, Faith, released in 1987, sold over 25 million copies and landed him a Grammy. By the time of his death, he was one of the world's biggest selling artists.

Carrie Fisher

This May 2, 1973 file photo shows Carrie Fisher, the 16-year-old daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, in New York. On Tuesday
This May 2, 1973 file photo shows Carrie Fisher, the 16-year-old daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, in New York. On Tuesday

Carrie Fisher, known for her "Star Wars", died on December 27, days after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.

The American actress, best-selling author and screenwriter - who suffered from numerous addictions and later turned that into writing gold - was a member of Hollywood royalty, both on screen and off.

Born in Los Angeles in October 1956, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher became an international star overnight with the release of ''Star Wars" in 1977.

Leia was the tough rebel princess in a white dress with a strange hairdo and blaster guns, who was unafraid to stare down the villainous Darth Vader. 

Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds
Entertainer Debbie Reynolds has died aged 84, one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died aged 60. (AAP)

And just when we thought 2016 could not wrench one more giant from among our ranks, Carrie Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds died at age 88 on December 28. 

She died after she was rushed to hospital after suffering a suspected stroke just one day after her daughter's death.

Reynolds, who received the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2015, first captivated audiences in 1952's "Singin' in the Rain".

She was later nominated for an Oscar and helped found a group that works to combat mental health issues.

Her 2013 autobiography "Unsinkable: A Memoir" detailed the highs and lows of her rocky personal life and a screen career forged in the glamour of Hollywood's "Golden Age" which was still going well into the 1990s. 

Known at one time as the foremost collector of Hollywood memorabilia, Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 and had two children, Carrie and Todd. The couple divorced in 1959 after he fell for Elizabeth Taylor.

- with AFP

WATCH: David Bowie in 'Velvet Goldmine' 


Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch