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24 Deaths That Took Us By Surprise in 2016

2016 was a shocking year for the deaths of famous faces with headlines almost every day breaking the news of another passing.

From musicians to politicians to the stars of the big and small screen a like 2016 has been a tidel wave of sudden and in a lot of cases devastatingly tragic deaths.

Below are 21 of the most shocking deaths that blew up the mainstream media this past year.

David Bowie


2016 started with the heart breaking news of the death of Glam Rock icon David Bowie.

Unbeknown to fans Bowie had been suffering with cancer and on the 10th of January his family announced to the world that the star had passed away.

One of the most influential musicians of the past 50 years the world was shook to it’s core with celebrities and fans a like turning to social media to express their sorrow at the stars passing.

Never one to fade away Bowie had just released a new album just days before his death and it has gone on to be one of the biggest selling records of 2016.

Alan Rickman


Only days after the death of Bowie the world was sent another shocking blow with the death of actor Alan Rickman.

Most well known for his portrayal of Snape in the Harry Potter series, Rickman was regarded as one of the best actors of his generation as a star of both stage and screen.

Rickman passed away from cancer on the 14th of January aged 69 leaving those he had worked with and fans reeling from the news.



In April the world lost one of the biggest pop icons and music legends of the last century with the unforeseen death of Prince.

The world watched online as news emerged that someone had passed away in the stars home but within hours it became clear that it was the star himself who had died suddenly.

The official cause of death was ruled as accidental overdose of medication that the 57 year old musician had been taking.

To include the world in their mourning the family of Prince gifted belongings of the star to fans who attended his memorial service but the longest standing gift to his fans will be the work Prince created in his short lifetime.

Christina Grimmie


Star on the rise and singer Christina Grimmie was shot in cold blood as she signed autographs for fans in Florida this summer.

Grimmie who is most well known as being a contestant on season 6 of The Voice (US) was murdered by a 27 year old obsessed fan who moments shot and killed himself.

Grimmie was rushed to hospital but soon after her arrival. Aged only 22 the singer’s death on June 10th sent a shock wave through the music community with a lot of musicians upping security checks at their concerts since.

In a touching move her The Voice mentor Adam Levine paid for the young musicians funeral. Grimmie was just about to release an album at the time of her death and her family have uploaded her new music posthumously to her YouTube channel.

Jo Cox


Another murder that rock the world, British MP and mother Jo Cox was brutally shot and stabbed to death by a 77 year old man shouting ‘Britain First’.

Cox was a member of the Labour Party in the UK and was passionate about Britain becoming a more diverse and united country.

Known for her charity work in the wake of her death her husband urged people to donate to the charities closest to his late wife’s heart and in little over a day over 1 million had been raised for charity.

With photographs from friends and family flooding the internet the hearts of people across the world broke for Jo’s two children aged just 3 and 5 at the time of their mother’s untimely death on June 16th aged 41.


Anton Yelchin


Most known at the time of his death for his portrayal of Chekov in the recent Star Trek movies, Anton Yelchin had been acting since the age of 9 and was just about to see the release of his latest film when his young life was cut short.

The 27 year old actor died in a tragic accident when his Jeep malfunctioned and pinned him to the pillar outside of his home. It was later discovered that the car model was under a recall notice as others had also experienced malfunctions.

Colleagues and fans were horrified by news of his death on June 19th and social media was saturated with an out pouring of grief.

Star Trek Beyond, which was released after the star’s death, was dedicated to his memory.

Gene Wilder


Comedic actor and Hollywood legend, Gene Wilder’s death on August 29th devastated fans the world over.

The 83 year old best known as the beloved character of Willy Wonka, shot to fame in 1968 when he was cast as a lead in Mel Brook’s film The Producers.

With a career spanning decades Wilder amassed a huge amount of fans, kept his Alzheimer’s diagnosis secret so as not to upset them.

Wilder passed away from complications due to his condition surrounded by family and listening to ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’

Leonard Cohan


The music world was shook when on the 7th of November the news broke that icon Leonard Cohan had passed away.

Best known for his record ‘Hallelujah’, Cohan produced 14 albums before his death at the age of 82.

With most musicians citing him as one of their influences, Cohan is considered by many to have had one of the most significant impacts on modern music.

Cohan’s death is said to be due to a fall he sustained at home but the cancer he was suffering from was a contributing cause.

Caroline Aherne


Best known for her performance in TV show the Royle Family the world was heart broken at the news of comedian and actor Caroline Ahearne’s passing.

Beloved for her bubbly personality and witty sense of humour, Ahearne’s death at the age of 52 shocked and devastated fans.

One of the best known comedian’s of her generation Ahearne’s swift deterioration to cancer left the world too soon but continues to make the world smile with the characters she left behind.

David Gest


Back when news broke of David Bowie’s death both Bowie’s ex wife, Angie and David Gest were contestants and celebrity Big Brother and when Angie was taken aside to be informed of Bowie’s death some of the contestants mistakenly thought it was David Gest who had passed.

Unfortunately the mistake became a self fulfilling prophecy as only a couple of months later in April, Gest suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of 62.

Gest who was a close friend of Michael Jackson made headlines in the 2000s with his marriage to Liza Minnelli and starred in a string of reality tv shows.

His body was found in his London hotel room on the 12th of April.

Pete Burns


Another former contestant of Celebrity Big Brother, many an 80s child were devastated at the news of Pete Burns passing.

A pop icon in the 80s as front man to band Dead Or Alive, Burns came back into the public eye in 2006 when he appeared on the reality show looking far from his usual self.

Burns who’s face had been drastically altered admitted to having botched facial procedures.

The UK pop star died of sudden cardiac arrest on the 23rd of October. Days after his death Strictly Come Dancing paid tribute to Burns by opening the show to his chart topper ‘You Spin Me Round’.

Victoria Wood


Funny lady and BAFTA award winner Victoria Wood worked right up till her untimely death is April this year.

With a career spanning decades she amassed awards as a writer, comic and actor.

Best known for Dinnerladies, Wood had worked as a writer for over 30 shows by the time of her death.

Wood had just finished shooting a mini series when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She passed away surrounded by her family at the age of 62.

Frank Kelly


One of Ireland’s best known actors, Frank Kelly’s death this year struck a chord in the heart of the nation.

A veteran actor Kelly shot to fame during the 90s portraying Father Jack in comedy series Father Ted.

Kelly had suffered with numerous health conditions and had only just over come cancer when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year.

Kelly passed away due to a heart attack on the 28th of February 2016, exactly 18 years after the death of Father Ted co star Dermot Morgan who passed suddenly in February 1998.

Muhammad Ali


Probably the most iconic boxer of all time the world lost in June with the death of Muhammad Ali.

Known for not just being a heavy weight champion, Ali was also a advocate of the Civil Rights movement in America during the 1960s and his opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

In later life Ali worked with the United Nations and even visited Ireland in 2009 to visit the home of his great grandfather but his fighter image never diminished in the public eye.

Ali who had been severaly ill since 2013 passed away on the 2nd of June to septic shock at the age of 74.



Another well known fighter, Joan Marie Laurer better known as Chyna shocked the world with her untimely death in April.

A professional wrestler and glamour model at 6ft Chyna was an intimidating figure though those close to her said she was actually a very sensitive soul and suffered badly with anxiety.

Chyna led the way for women in professional during the 90s as the first woman to participate in Royal Rumble and King of the Ring as well as being the founding member of D-Generation X and being the only female to hold the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

Chyna was found dead at her home on April 20th from a prescription drug over dose. Her brain was donated to science to study the effects of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a trauma suffered by people who have received severe blows to the head.

Alexis Arquette


Trans icon and member of acting brood The Arquettes, Alexis’ death sent shock waves through the LGBT community.

Talented actor and guy rights activist, Arquette was beloved in the trans and gay community as one of the first people to speak openly about transitioning from one gender to another.

Alexis documented this transition in 2007 with the film ‘Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother’ and opened the way for other celebrities to tell the world that they were trans.

Alexis who had been diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s passed away on September 11th due to complications of the disease. Alexis died surrounded family while listening to David Bowie.

Terry Wogan


Another iconic Irish figure, Terry Wogan was deeply mourned by fans when he passed this August.

Radio and television broadcaster, Wogan worked for both RTE and the BBC during his lifetime and was knighted in addition to receiving UK citizenship in 2005.

Considered a national treasure Wogan presented some of the most beloved shows like The Eurovision Song Contest and Children In Need.

Wogan’s health began to decline from 2015 onwards due to cancer and on the 31st of January he passed away at his home. Among those who publicly mourned his passing was Irish president Micheal D Higgins.

Natalie Cole


The world was devastated to hear on the turn of New Year’s Eve of the passing of singing sensation Natalie Cole.

Daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole struck out in her own right as a RnB artist during the 1970s.

After a battle with drug addiction in the early 80s Natalie came back with a vengeance with her tour de force album Everlasting in 1987. Cole’s career soared in the 1990s winning her several Grammy awards.

As the world was ringing in the new year Natalie Cole passed away to congestive heart failure at the age of 65 only outliving her father, who died aged 45, by 20 years.

Ronnie Corbett


The world was saddened at the loss of funny man Ronnie Corbett this March.

Stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and broadcaster, Corbett is best known for his work with Ronnie Barker as the Two Ronnies.

Corbett who’s career began in the 1950s worked right up until his diagnosis with motor neuron disease.

Corbett passed away due to the disease on the 31st of March surrounded by family at Shirley Oaks Hospital, London, devastating fans and those he had worked with over his expansive career. Among his mouners were John Cleese, Michael Parkinson and David Walliams.



Over the decades there have been several false reports on the death of Fidel Castro but it wasn’t until 2016, the year that seems to have taken more well known figures than any other year, for the passing of the famous revolutionary.

Regarded as the villain to some and a hero to others, Castro’s involvement with key historic moments like the Cuban Missile Crisis and friendship with iconic revolutionary figure Che Guevara has ensured that he will never be forgotten.

Castro’s death was announced to the public on the 25th of November but case of death was never disclosed.

During his lifetime Castro had made the statement that he would not die till America was destroyed and some believe his death so soon after Donald Trump’s presidential victory to be prophetic with meme after meme flooding the internet. Coincidental as it may be this ominous statement has guaranteed that Castro went out with a bang.

Johannah Deakin


Though not a celebrity herself, Johannah Deakin was thrown into the public eye when her son Louis Tomlinson became a member of chart topping band One Direction.

Johannah who was incredibly close to her son was often seen with the band or by Louis’ side on the red carpet and updated her social media frequently with photographs with herself and Louis and her new grandson Freddie.

The heartbreaking news of the mum and new grandmother’s death to leukemia on the 7th of December engulfed social media with everyone from celebrities to fans of One Direction outpouring their sympathies.

Just days after her passing Louis performed ‘Just Hold On’ a song he had written for his mother live on the X Factor in tribute to her. Record numbers of people tuned in to watch the touching performance which even melted the heart of Simon Cowell who told Louis “Your Mum is watching down on you now”.

George Micheal

George Michael

2016 wouldn’t even let us have Christmas without tragedy and on the 25th of December the news broke that pop star George Micheal had died.

At the fore front of many a fans mind this time of year due to his holiday hit ‘Last Christmas’ , George passed away aged only 53 in his sleep.

While the cause of death is still to be determined the young age and suddenness of the star’s death has left the world shaken.

The sadness felt by fans and colleagues world wide has only been made more harrowing from the discovery that during his life George made a myriad of donations to individuals and causes anonymously never seeking fame for his kind deeds.

Carrie Fisher

carrie-harrison star wars

Just when we thought 2016 had taken all that it could take we were taken aback by another momentous loss.

Carrie Fisher best known for portraying Princess Leia passed away several days after suffering a heart attack on board a flight. The actress was rushed to hospital immediately on landing and her mother Debbie Reynolds reported to fans a couple of days later that she looked to be improving.

Unfortunately it was not to be and on the 27th of December the announcement was made that Fisher had passed away.

Carrie who had only recently reprised her role as Leia for The Force Awakens was only 60 at the time of her death.

Debbie Reynolds


In a shocking turn of events actress Debbie Reynolds was pronounced dead only 24 hours after the sudden death of her daughter Carrie Fisher.

The star of stage and screen was planning her daughter’s funeral when she suffered a stroke and died soon after.

Reynold’s best known for her role in Singing In The Rain was one of the last surviving members of the golden era of Hollywood.

She was 84 when she died on the 28th of December.


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