The news broke earlier yesterday of the passing of actor Sidney Poitier at age 94. He was the Academy Award winning actor who starred in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Lilies in the Field, In The Heat of the Night and so many other great films. I’m sure there were other minor celebrity passings already this year, but his death is the first “big” one. Betty White, of course, was the last “big” one of 2021.
I’ve always found it fascinating to go back at the end of each year and look back at those celebrities who have passed away. USA today used to (and may still) put out a special edition that saluted those famous people who passed away the previous year. I know People Magazine and other publications do this as well. There are also many In Memoriam videos that are produced by various outlets that feature those who have passed as well. Those videos are often a highlight at award shows.
The problem with them is that they are always produced before the end of the year. I remember when Dean Martin died on Christmas Day of 1995, he wasn’t in any of those publications or videos. He was often forgotten in the following year’s as well. This will probably be the case with Betty White this year.
I have found that when I go back and look through the list, there are many people I forgot about. Some celebrity passings go by with little or no fanfare and then on the anniversary of their death a year (or sometimes 3-5 years) later, people post it on social media without even realizing that the celebrity has been gone for some time.
Now that we are a week into the new year, I decided to go back and look at some of those we lost in 2021. So many great talents. Many managed to live to a nice old age, while others were gone very young. I’ll give you some of my sources for the lists. If you wish, check them out. Which ones stick out to you? Which ones did you forget passed away? Which ones did you not know passed away?
One of the most comprehensive lists for people in entertainment comes from my friend, and author James Neibaur. His blog can be found here:
Find a Grave is a site that is helpful if you are looking for ancestry stuff. It also has a section for celebrities and a yearly necrology you can check out. It is not as exhaustive as some of the other lists, and it tends to focus on just the “big” names. Here is a link to that:
A source that is extremely exhaustive (almost TOO exhaustive) can be found on Wikipedia. A simple search of “Lists of deaths by year” will bring you to a place where you can look by year, by month, and by day. The only issue I have with this is that the list has just about everybody and anybody from all over the world. While sports figures from Scotland or actors and actresses from Russia are of interest to folks in those countries, they aren’t quite what I am interested in. Here is the link to that page:
IMDB produced their video on December 20th –
ABC News’ video is a lot more thorough … produced December 27th
WMUR produced this video and it includes Betty White, John Madden and others that were left out of the earlier produced tributes:
One of my favorites every year is produced by Turner Classic Movies – It was produced on December 21st:
It seems like every year I look at those lists and am amazed at the talent that is represented on them. Gone, but not forgotten. How wonderful that we can revisit them often in their books, on television, in movies, by listening to their music, and many other ways.