Why have so many famous people died in 2016?


Apart from Brexit and the US elections, the refugee crisis, Putin flexing his muscles and other disasters this year, so many famous people seem to have died. Just yesterday Robert Vaughan and a few days prior to that it was Leonard Cohen.

  • David Bowie
  • Prince
  • Alan Rickman
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Glen Frey
  • George Kennedy
  • Nancy Reagan
  • Joe Santos
  • Ken Howard
  • Gary Shandling
  • Patty Duke
  • Doris Roberts
  • Morley Safer
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Gene Wilder
  • Harper Lee
  • George Gaynes
  • Joey Feek
  • George Martin
  • Keith Emerson
  • Merle Haggard
  • Anton Yelchin
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Shimon Perez
  • Bobby Vee
  • David Gest
  • Pete Burns
  • Robert Vaughan

Those are just some of them. There are many more – less famous but oh so familiar faces who played small roles in many of the popular shows in the 1970s and 1980s.

I have been wondering why it has happened just this year…

  • Maybe it is not just this year. Maybe death of well-known people will be a common thing in coming years, as baby boomers get older and inevitably die.  It would not be that more celebrities are dying, just that more people are dying in general. There are a lot of baby boomers and they are all reaching ‘that age’!
  • Maybe more people, both past and present, have became well-known due to the development of broadcast media. So more people know of them and about them these days. Would the people that are all dying now have been the first wave of true celebrities that we feel we know through television and movies?
  • Does the rise of social media mean that new of deaths seems to be greater than it actually is because it spreads so quickly in so many different places?
  • Maybe classic movie channels, re-runs and the rise of reality tv means that more actors and singers from previous decades are known to more people.

What do you think?

Whatever it is, I have a feeling that the programmes and articles summing up ‘who died in 2016’ will have to be longer than they usually are.


Strangely, the death that affected me the most this year was not David Bowie, despite the fact that I have been a huge Bowie fan for almost half a century, but Elie Wiesel.  Bowie’s legacy will live on and in a sense he will never die. But I am very afraid that Elie Wiesel and his memories of the Holocaust will disappear from public consciousness. And if we forget history, we will be doomed to repeat it. If anyone has a chance to watch the programme where Elie Wiesel as an old man walks around Auschwitz with Oprah Winfrey and describes his experiences, please please do. And his books, particularly Night, should be required reading.

Excerpt from Night:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Here he is in Buchenwald, second row from the bottom, seventh from left, against the post. I am half German and I honestly feel that we must never forget, because as soon as we do, something like this could happen again.

These are slave laborers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Jena; many had died from malnutrition when U.S. troops of the 80th Division entered the camp. Germany, April 16, 1945. Pvt. H. Miller. (Army) NARA FILE #: 208-AA-206K-31 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1105

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. I’ll never let Elie’s legacy die. Not as long as I breathe. His legacy will never be forgotten. Not as long as I’m still living. He was my hero and my inspiration and his death hit me like a runaway freight train but now I fight to protect the Holocaust in his honor. His legacy will always live on as long as I have something to say about it.

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