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Celebrity Deaths 2017: Celebrating This Year's Greats

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Mar. 18 2020, Updated 5:11 p.m. ET

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The celebrity deaths suffered this past year have been some of the greats, with so many of the world’s heroes and legends leaving us all too soon. Taking a look at the 2017 year in review reveals the loss of many famous faces who had a huge impact in entertainment— from Lil' Peep and Mary Tyler Moore to Chris Cornell and Tom Pettyin addition to others who had so much of their talents still left to share. While their absences are felt in a major way, let's remember them and the legacy of contributions they left behind, whether it was in music, TV, or movies.

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More: 2016’s Most Notable Celebrity Deaths

Check out the list of celebrities who died in 2017, from music legends, to big screen stars and television icons. They will all certainly be missed.

More: Most Shocking Reality Star Deaths of 2016

1. Chris Cornell

Soundgarden and Audioslave front man Chris Cornell died of suicide by hanging on May 18 at age 52. He had performed with Soundgarden just the night before and was in the middle of a tour with the band.

chris cornell celebrity deaths

In 2015, Cornell brought his daughter on stage to sing Bob Marley’s "Redemption Song" in a touching duet.

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2. Mary Tyler Moore

Television icon Mary Tyler Moore, who starred as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and as Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died on January 25. She was 80. Moore had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the 1960s and in 2011 had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. Moore’s health had declined in her later years and she was reportedly nearly blind toward the end of her life.

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3. Tom Petty

Tom Petty was rock royalty, with an impressive number of hit songs over the years, including “Free Fallin’.” He died from a heart attack on October 2 at age 66. Petty told Rolling Stone earlier in the year, before his 40th anniversary tour with the Heartbreakers, that it would likely be his “last big one.”

tom petty celebrity deaths

Petty's Super Bowl Halftime Show is still regarded as one of the all time greatest.

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4. Hugh Hefner

The Playboy magazine founder died on September 27 at age 91. At the time, Hugh Hefners son, Cooper, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, issued a statement that said, in part: “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.”

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hugh hefner celebrity deaths
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5. Lil Peep

Lil Peep’s star was on the rise, but sadly the rapper left this world too soon, dying on November 15. A toxicology report would later confirm the cause of death was an accidental overdose due to the effects of the pain medications. Blood and urine tests revealed a variety of drugs in his system at the time of his death as well.

lil peep celebrity deaths

His mom later released a music video for his song, “Save That Shit.”

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6. John Heard

Although Home Alone movie fans knew John Heard best for his role as Peter McAllister, Heard also enjoyed a fruitful career in other famous movies, including Big and Beaches, as well as roles on TV. Heard was recovering from back surgery when his body was discovered by a maid at a Santa Clara County, California hotel on July 21. His cause of death was later determined to be a heart attack. He was 71.

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john heard celebrity deaths

Revisit a moment with Kevin McAllister's parents here:

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7. Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry, the rock ‘n’ roll icon best known for hits like “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” died on March 18 at age 90. Berry died of natural causes, according to reports.

chuck berry celebrity deaths

Even in his later years, he was still pulling out his signature move. Watch Berry in action with another legend, Keith Richards:

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8. Della Reese

While Della Reese was perhaps best known for her role on TV’s Touched by an Angel, she was also a singer, ordained minister, and the first black woman to guest host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Reese passed away on November 19 at age 86.

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9. David Cassidy

Once a teen heartthrob, pop singer David Cassidy lit up TV screens in the 1970s classic The Partridge Family. Cassidy retired in 2017 after announcing that he had dementia and, in November 2017, he was hospitalized for liver and kidney failure and put in a medically induced coma. He remained in critical condition when he came out of the coma and died on November 21 from liver failure at age 67.

david cassidy celebrity deaths

"I Think I Love You" will always and forever be a Cassidy classic.

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10. Jim Nabors

The actor best known for playing Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and on his own series died November 30 at age 87. After contracting hepatitis B in 1994, Jim Nabors underwent a liver transplant. In 2014, Nabors announced that his health was limiting his ability to travel and that the 2014 Indianapolis 500 would be his final appearance.

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This video remembers the actor's work fondly, recalling how his Gomer Pyle character earned him a spin-off show.

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11. Erin Moran

The Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi star was rumored to have had some challenging times after her TV stardom faded. Erin Moran sadly passed away at the age of 56 on April 22 following a battle with cancer.

erin moran celebrity deaths

It's easy to see how she was considered America's sweetheart during her run as Joanie. Check out Moran in action in this compilation of clips from Happy Days:

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12. Charlie Murphy

Eddie Murphy’s older brother, Charlie Murphy, was a regular fixture on Chappelle’s Show during its run in the early 2000s. Murphy died following a battle with leukemia on April 12 at age 57.

charlie murphy celebrity deaths
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13. John Hurt

Legendary actor John Hurt, best known for his roles in Midnight Express, The Elephant Man, Alien, and Harry Potter films, had been diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2015 and, following treatment, said his cancer was in remission. Sadly, he died at age 77 on January 25.

Stevie Ryan
john hurt celebrity deaths

Hurt's first interaction with the title character of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone shows his immense talent.

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14. Bill Paxton

This talented star graced the big screen in classics like Aliens, Apollo 13, and Titanic, as well as in the small screen HBO series Big Love. Bill Paxton passed away at age 61 on February 25 from complications following heart surgery.

bill paxton celebrity deaths

This tribute video shows just how huge of an impact Paxton had in the world of entertainment.

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15. Don Rickles

Legendary comic and honorary Rat Pack member Don Rickles had amazing career longevity over the years, but sadly died on April 6 at age 90 from kidney failure. Kimmel was moved to tears over the loss of "Mr. Warmth."

don rickles celebrity deaths

His insult comedy shtick made him one of the all-time great guests on late night talk shows – check him out in this Jimmy Kimmel Live tribute video:

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16. Roger Moore

Perhaps best known for his role as James Bond in the film franchise (he appeared in seven Bond movies!), Roger Moore sadly passed away on May 23 following a battle with cancer. He was 89.

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17. Adam West

Adam West, who is best known for his role as Batman in the campy 1960s TV series, died on June 9 after a battle with leukemia. He was 88. Among his film and TV resume, fans have also heard his voice work on The Simpsons, The Fairly Odd Parents, and Family Guy.

adam west celebrity deaths

His Batdance was a favorite among fans of the campy series. Check out West's moves in this classic Batman clip:

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18. Chester Bennington

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was found dead on July 20 at age 41; the cause of death was revealed to be suicide by hanging. His Carpool Karaoke episode was filmed just six days before his death and, when later released that year, showed Bennington in high spirits.

chester bennington celebrity deaths

Fans found the segment to be touching as Bennington appeared to be having the time of his life.

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19. Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris was a huge part of game show history, serving as host of The Gong Show and creator of The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. In 2002, his book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, was made into a film, directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell. He died on March 21 at age 87.

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19. Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard was a true renaissance man — an acclaimed playwright, actor, screenwriter, and director. Shepard died July 27 following complications with Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 73.

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20. Glen Campbell

 A true country music legend, Glen Campbell, known best for his hit song “Rhinestone Cowboy,” passed away on August 8 at age 81. Campbell had battled Alzheimer’s for the six years leading up to his death.

glen campbell celebrity deaths

Check out Campbell in the "Rhinestone Cowboy" music video.

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21. Jerry Lewis

The legendary comedic actor Jerry Lewis passed away at age 91 in August 2017. He is best known for his roles in The Nutty Professor and The Bellboy, as well as for his work for the Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Lewis’ daughter, Danielle, confirmed his cause of death in a statement that noted: “he passed peacefully at home of natural causes with his loving family at his side.”

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22. Robert Guillaume

Best known for his roles on the TV series Benson and Soap, Robert Guillaume also provided the voice of Rafiki in Disney’s animated movie The Lion King. Guillaume sadly passed away at age 89 on October 24 after a battle with prostate cancer.

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23. Stevie Ryan

YouTube star Stevie Ryan died on July 1 from an apparent suicide by hanging. She was just 33 years old. Ryan was known for her VH1 comedy series, Stevie TV. Ryan’s grandfather had passed away just days before her death and she reportedly said during a podcast, “I’m just worried that this is going to send me into a deeper depression.”

stevie ryan celebrity deaths

It's easy to see why Ryan was a viral video star!

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24. Greg Allman

Greg Allman, who co-founded the legendary Allman Brothers band, canceled a tour shortly before his death due to health reasons. He passed away in May at age 69 from complications due to liver cancer.

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25. Martin Landau

Actor Martin Landau had a long career, beginning in the 1950s, with roles in North by Northwest and TV’s Mission: Impossible. Over the years, he went on to win an Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi in the 1994 film Ed Wood. Landau passed away in July at age 89 of unexpected complications while at UCLA Medical Center.

martin landau celebrity deaths

Landau's Oscar was well earned, as seen in this clip from Ed Wood.

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