Celebrity Deaths 2017: Who We Lost This Year

Aaron Homer - Author

Dec. 31 2017, Updated 10:10 a.m. ET

2017 has brought its share of celebrity deaths, including some who died of old age after long careers; some who died unexpectedly after shocking illnesses or accidents; and even some young people cut down in the prime of their lives. Here, now, is a list of celebrities who have passed away this year. NOTE: For the sake of brevity, this article will exclude some celebrities whose careers may not be as noteworthy as others or celebrities whose principal fame came outside of the United States.

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Rock & Roll

Chuck Berry, who died on March 18, would become the first of several Rock & Roll stars to die this year. He was 90.

John Warren Geils, the name behind the 80’s rockers J. Geils Band, died April 11 at 71.

Chris Cornell, a pioneering rock guitarist who was one of the early leaders of the Grunge movement, with stints in both Soundgarden and Audioslave, died of suicide on May 18. He was 52.

Gregg Allman, the 70’s rock legend who fronted The Allman Brothers, died May 27 at 69.

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, and who long struggled with painful illnesses and injuries, died of suicide on July 20. He was 41.

Walter Becker, co-founder, and guitarist for jazz-rock fusion group Steely Dan died September 3 at 67.

Tom Petty, whose death was perhaps one of the biggest and most shocking deaths in the Rock & Roll world this year, died of cardiac arrest on October 2. He was 66.

Fats Domino, who rose from the New Orleans R&B scene to become one of the early pioneers of Rock & Roll, died October 24 at 89.

Malcolm Young, the legendary AC/DC guitarist, had battled dementia in his later years and spent his last months in an Australian nursing home. He died November 18 at 64.

David Cassidy broke millions of hearts as a teen idol and star of The Partridge Family in the 70’s. In his later years, he battled illness and addiction and struggled to hold on to his fame. He died November 21 at 67.

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Country Music

Glen Campbell, the country crooner with a huge slew of hits under his belt during the 60’s and 70’s, will perhaps best be remembered for the ultra-cheesy 1975 hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He died August 8 at 81.

Troy Gentry, who lent his name to half of the country power duo Montgomery Gentry, died September 8 in a helicopter crash. He was 50.

The Small Screen

Mary Tyler Moore, who gained fame portraying a wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show and later paved the way for leading women on TV with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died January 25 at 80.

Joseph Wapner, who pioneered the genre of daytime court TV with The People’s Court, died February 26 at 97.

Chuck Barris, the legendary TV producer behind such hits as The Gong Show and The Dating Game, died March 21 at 87.

Erin Moran, best known for playing the role of lovable kid sister Joanie on Happy Days, and whose later years were marred by poverty and substance abuse, died April 22 of cancer. She was 56.

Adam West, the bit actor who found fame in the ultra-cheesy 60’s TV series Batman, and a later career simply by being Adam West died June 9 at 88.

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Martin Landau, an accomplished TV and screen actor whose big break came in the 60’s with Mission: Impossible, died July 15 at 89.

June Foray, the voice actress behind countless cartoon voices, most notably Rocky from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” died July 26 at 99.

Sam Shepard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright before finding fame as a TV actor, died July 27 at 73.

Monty Hall, the game show host who is best known for Let’s Make a Deal, and whose name is attached to a complicated mathematical principle, died September 30 at 96.

Robert Guillaume won two Emmys for playing essentially the same role: butler-turned-politician on both Soap and Benson, died October 24 at 89.

Della Reese got her start in jazz and gospel music before finding fame on TV – a rare feat for an African-American actress of her day. The devoutly-religious woman would later go on to find fame in the TV series Touched by an Angel. She died November 19 at 86.

Rose Marie joins Mary Tyler Moore as another Dick Van Dyke Show alum to have passed away this year. She died December 28 at 94.

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The Silver Screen

John Hurt, the accomplished English actor known best for The Elephant Man and Alien, died January 25 at 77.

Bill Paxton, a prolific American actor who built a career playing everyday characters in films such as Twister and Titanic, died February 25 of a stroke. He was 61.

Roger Moore, the legendary British actor best known for his stint as James Bond, died May 23 at 89,

John Heard, an accomplished American actor perhaps best known for his role as Kevin McAllister’s dad in the Home Alone franchise, died July 21 at 71.


Don Rickles, the sharp-tongued comedian who was most famous for his stinging insults, died April 6 at 90.

Charlie Murphy, the brother of comedian Eddie Murphy and an accomplished comedy writer in his own right, died April 12 of leukemia. He was 57.

Jerry Lewis, the comedian best known for his later work with disabled children, had long battled a host of illnesses and substance abuse issues. He died August 21 at 91.

Ralphie May, the raunchy comedian who rose to fame on Last Comic Standing, had long battled health issues due in no small part to his weight. He died on October 6 at age 45.

Sports, History, Publishing

Eugene “Gene” Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, died January 16 at 82.

Hugh Hefner, the publishing pioneer who made nudey magazines somewhat respectable with the advent of Playboy, and who lived the lifestyle that lent its name to his magazine, passed away September 27 at 91.

Dick Gordon regretfully joined Eugene Cernan as one of the few living men who had walked on the Moon to die in 2017. He died November 6 at 88.

Roy Halladay was a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and eight-time All-Star. He died in a plane crash on November 7 at age 40.


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