By Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Notable people die every year, but 2016 has been particularly devastating, as legendary figures were lost in the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics. Some were beloved, others were controversial and even reviled, but all left an unforgettable mark on history. Here is a look back at the notable figures who died in 2016.
David Bowie: The first major loss of 2016 came Jan. 10 with the death of Bowie. He died at the age of 69 after a battle with liver cancer. A transformative and prolific musician, Bowie’s passion for experimentation left a lasting mark on a variety of music genres, from rock to jazz to techno pop. Bowie was also an actor, starring in “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “The Hunger” and “Labyrinth.” Bowie won numerous awards and honors, including two Grammys, over his long and prolific music career. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Justice Antonin Scalia: The Supreme Court lost one its most outspoken members when Scalia died Feb. 13 at a Texas resort. He was 79. Scalia was known for his fiery opinions, often peppered with a sharp wit, and was one of the court’s most staunch conservatives. His death left a vacancy on the court that was not filled during the election year.
Harper Lee: The author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” lived a mainly reclusive life, but she left her mark on American literature. Lee died Feb. 19 at the age of 89. “To Kill a Mockingbird” has become a classic in American literature, and the film version won three Oscars. Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
Nancy Reagan: The former first lady died March 6 at the age of 94. Reagan was known for her sense of style, her dedication to fighting drug abuse with the “Just Say No” campaign and her devoted care of husband and former President Ronald Reagan during his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Merle Haggard: The country music legend died on his birthday, April 6, at the age of 79. Haggard helped establish the Bakersfield sound and was one of the earlier outlaw country artists. Haggard’s plainspoken, heartfelt songs, such as “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee,” earned him the title of “poet of the common man.” Haggard recorded dozens of hit songs, including 38 No. 1 hits, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.
Prince: One of the most shocking deaths of 2016 was Prince. The legendary music artist was found dead at his home on April 21. He was 57. The cause of death was an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. It’s believed that Prince developed a dependence on powerful pain medication to deal with chronic hip and knee issues suffered during years of high-energy performances. Prince brought his creative, innovative style to multiple music genres, winning several Grammy Awards, and also left his mark in film, winning an Academy Award for the “Purple Rain” soundtrack.
Muhammad Ali: The boxing legend died June 3 at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Ali changed the world of boxing forever, with his flamboyant, boastful style and undeniable talent. Ali charmed more than just sports fans with his poetry: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He also was a political activist, passionate about fighting for civil rights and refusing to serve after being drafted in the Vietnam War. Ali went public with his Parkinson’s diagnosis to help raise awareness and raise funds for research. Ali held numerous heavyweight champion titles over his boxing career, earned a gold medal at the Olympics and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Gene Wilder: The beloved comedic actor died Aug. 29 at the age of 83 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Wilder delighted audiences with his comedic talent in such classic films as “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles.” Wilder received two Oscar nominations and won a Primetime Emmy Award during his acting career. Wilder is also remembered for his marriage to another comedic legend, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. Wilder remarried in 1991.
Arnold Palmer: One of the best golfers to ever play the game, Palmer died Sept. 25 at the age of 87. His career, which spanned more than six decades, included 62 PGA Tour titles. Beyond sports titles, Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, one of the original golfers to receive the honor. Outside golf, Palmer enjoyed being a pilot and created a popular beverage, the Arnold Palmer, a blend of iced tea and lemonade.
Leonard Cohen: The prolific and critically acclaimed singer-songwriter died Nov. 7 at the age of 82. Cohen, who was born in Canada, received many honors from his home country and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Cohen was a poet and novelist before turning to music in his 30s. “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Hallelujah” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” are among his well-known songs. His final album, “You Want it Darker,” was released three weeks before his death.
Fidel Castro: The former Cuban leader died Nov. 25 at the age of 90. Castro rose to power in 1959 after his socialist revolution led to the downfall of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. Castro’s 47-year rule was marred by extensive human rights violations, and many Cubans went into exile, fleeing to Florida to escape harsh conditions. Cuba and the U.S. were bitter adversaries during Castro’s reign, but relations between the two countries began to thaw as Castro handed over power to brother Raul and the Obama administration expressed interest in restoring diplomatic ties.
John Glenn: The first American to orbit the Earth, Glenn died Dec. 8 at the age of 95. After serving a distinguished military career, Glenn joined NASA and went on his historic mission in 1962, circling the Earth three times in the Friendship 7. He became the oldest man to fly in space when he served as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998. Glenn also had a career in politics, serving as a senator representing Ohio from 1974 to 1999.