New years bring about new hopes and a host of annual occasions to celebrate, from birthdays to anniversaries. But with the passing of the days also comes new losses, as time spent with those we love and admire turns into memories.
As we journey through this year, each day we remember the celebrities and public figures whose lights now shine among us in a different way and the impact they’ve had on not only the entertainment industry but as public servants. Here are the stars we’ve lost in 2021.
Eric Jerome Dickey
Famed author Eric Jerome Dickey passed away from cancer at the age of 59 on January 3.
Actress Marion Ramsey, known for her role as Officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy franchise, passed away from a short illness on January 7 at age 73.
Gospel singer Duranice Pace of the Pace sisters passed away at the age of 62 on January 15.
On January 28, Award-winning actress and activist Cicely Tyson passed away at the age of 96.
American TV writer and brother of Larry Wilmore, Marc Wilmore, died on January 30 at the age of 57. He had been battling COVID among other long-term health conditions.
Original Supremes member Mary Wilson died in her home at age 76 on February 8.
Prince Markie Dee
Prince Markie Dee, born Mark Anthony Morales, was a member of the pioneering rap group the Fat Boys. He died on February 18, one day before his 53rd birthday.
Canadian actor Jahmil French, best known for his role on Degrassi, passed away at the age of 29 on March 1.
The last living member of the Bob Marley reggae group The Wailers, Bunny Wailer, died on March 2 at 73.
Pro Boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler died at his home at the age of 66 on March 13.
Former NBA player Elgin Baylor died of natural causes at the age of 86 on March 22.
Representative Alcee Hastings was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation at the time of his death on April 6. He was 84.
CNN and MSNBC legal analyst and ESSENCE contributor Midwin Charles passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47 on April 6.
(Photo by Aurora Rose/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
On April 9, DMX’s (née Earl Simmons) family confirms the Ruff Ryder icon succumbed at age 50 after suffering a heart attack.
Former Bad Boy rapper Black Rob passed away on April 17 at the age of 51. Just a week before his death, the “Whoa” artist shared his condolences for the passing of DMX while revealing he was in the hospital and had been dealing with health issues, from kidney failure to multiple strokes, over the past five years.
Digital Underground’s Shock G passed away on August 22 at the age of 57. The rapper was found dead in a hotel in Tampa; the cause of death is currently unclear.
Comedian Paul Mooney died at the age of 79 in his home in Oakland, California after suffering a heart attack the morning of May 19.
Samuel E. Wright
Actor Samuel E. Wright, who voiced Sebastian the Crab in 1989’s The Little Mermaid, passed away May 24. Wright also appeared on screen in Bird and on Broadway in The Tap Dance Kid, The Lion King, Pippin and Jesus Christ Superstar. Fun fact: He was also starred as the purple grape in the late 70s commercials for Fruit of the Loom. Wright was 74.
Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Lee Evans, center, raises in fist in solidarity with the Black Panther movement at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He won two gold medals at the games (400 meter run and 1,600 meter relay). Evans died on May 26; he was 74.
Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Clarence Williams III
Actor Clarence Williams III (pictured here, right with his Mod Squad costars Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton) passed away from colon cancer on June 4. Known for his groundbreaking role as Linc in the late 60s/early 70s action series Mod Squad, Williams also had memorable appearances starring in Purple Rain, Sugar Hill, Tales from the Hood and a comedic cameo in Half-Baked. He was 81.
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