Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Final goodbye - Roll call of some of those who died in 2016

Published:Tuesday | December 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Fidel Castro salutes during a speech in Havana, Cuba, in May 20, 2005.

Embracing Soviet-style communism, Fidel Castro overcame imprisonment and exile to become leader of Cuba and defy the power of the United States at every turn. The strongman's half-century rule was marked by the unsuccessful US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. After surviving a crippling trade embargo and dozens of assassination plots, Castro died in November at age 90, one of many notables who left the world stage in 2016.

The year also saw the deaths of pop music giants: David Bowie, who broke musical boundaries through his musicianship and striking visuals; Prince, considered one of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times; and George Michael, first a teenybopper heartthrob and then a mature solo artist.

Among the political figures who died in 2016 was the world's longest-reigning monarch: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, revered in Thailand as a demigod, a father figure, and an anchor of stability.

Others in the world of public affairs included, former United National Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, ex-senator and astronaut John Glenn, former US Attorney General Janet Reno, former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, and former US first lady Nancy Reagan.

In sports, the year saw the passing of Muhammad Ali, whose fast fists and outspoken personality brought him fans around the world. Other sports figures included golfer Arnold Palmer, Gordie 'Mr Hockey' Howe, basketball players Dwayne Washington and Nate Thurmond; and Olympians Vera Caslavska and Tommy Kono.

Here is a roll call of some of those who died in 2016.

JANUARY:

- Otis Clay, 73. Hall of fame rhythm and blues artiste known as much for his charitable work in Chicago as for his singing.

- David Bowie, 69. Other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust. January 10.

FEBRUARY:

- Maurice White, 74. Earth, Wind & Fire founder whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums.

- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93. Egyptian diplomat who helped negotiate his country's landmark peace deal with Israel but clashed with the US as UN secretary-general.

MARCH:

- Rob Ford, 46. Pugnacious, populist former mayor of Toronto whose career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced debacle.

- Garry Shandling, 66. Actor and comedian who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with The Larry Sanders Show.

APRIL:

- Merle Haggard, 79. Country giant who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws and underdogs.

MAY:

- Morley Safer, 84. Veteran '60 Minutes' correspondent who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing Americans' view of the war.

JUNE:

- Anton Yelchin, 27. Rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new Star Trek films. Hit by his car in his driveway.

JULY:

- Clown Dimitri, 80. Beloved Swiss clown and mime who studied under Marcel Marceau.

AUGUST:

- John McLaughlin, 89. Conservative political commentator and host of a television show that pioneered hollering-heads discussions of politics.

- Sonia Rykiel, 86. French designer whose relaxed sweaters in berry-colored stripes and eye-popping motifs helped liberate women from stuffy suits.

- Gene Wilder, 83. Frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in The Producers.

SEPTEMBER:

- Arnold Palmer, 87. Golfing great who brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma, and a commoner's touch.

OCTOBER:

- Junko Tabei, 77. The first woman to climb Mount Everest.

NOVEMBER:

- Leonard Cohen, 82. Canadian singer-songwriter who blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like Hallelujah, Suzanne and Bird on a Wire.

- Florence Henderson, 82. Broadway star who became one of America's most beloved television moms in The Brady Bunch.

DECEMBER:

- Alan Thicke, 69. Versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on the sitcom Growing Pains.

- Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99. Jet-setting Hungarian actress and socialite who helped invent a new kind of fame out of multiple marriages, conspicuous wealth, and jaded wisdom about the glamorous life.