Year in review: Matthew Perry, Tina Turner among celebrity deaths

Matthew Perry was one of the many beloved Hollywood stars who died in 2023. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 5 | Matthew Perry was one of the many beloved Hollywood stars who died in 2023. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- 2023 was a rough year for the entertainment industry and those who follow it, as dozens of beloved pop-culture icons -- including Matthew Perry, Lance Reddick, Lisa Marie Presley, Paul Reubens, Tina Turner and Tony Bennett -- took their final bows.

While some celebrity deaths naturally ended long and fruitful lives, others shocked their families, friends and fans because they were tragically early and unexpected.


Here's a look back at some of the stars we lost this year.

Artists who made us laugh

Paul Reubens -- best known for playing Pee-wee Herman on TV and in comedy films -- lost his private battle with cancer July 31. He was 70.

Reubens actually apologized to his fans for not warning them about his illness in a note posted to his social media accounts after his death.


"I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you," he said.

His other credits include Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Batman Returns, Matilda, Blow and recently on What We Do in the Shadows and The Conners.

Friends, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Odd Couple "everyman" Perry died in his hot tub at home Oct. 28 at age 54.

The actor struggled for years with substance abuse issues, but no illegal drugs were found at the scene of his death. The cause has been deferred pending the results of toxicology tests.

Friends ran from 1994 to 2004, and co-starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.

"We loved him deeply. He was such a part of our DNA," Aniston wrote on Instagram last month.

TV writer and producer Norman Lear was 101 when he died Dec. 6.

He was the creator of some of the biggest hit TV sitcoms of the 1970s, such as All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons and Good Times.


Lear's shows were among the first to address political, cultural and social issues including racism, abortion, homosexuality and the Vietnam War, revolutionizing TV comedy.

"I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father," actor, filmmaker and frequent Lear collaborator Rob Reiner wrote on social media in response to his death.

Also dying in 2023 were Alan Arkin -- the 89-year-old Oscar-winning star of The In-Laws, Little Miss Sunshine, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, Argo and The Kominsky Method, as well as Three's Company scene-stealer and self-help book author Suzanne Somers, 76; Cheers and Sex and the City matriarch Frances Sternhagen, 93; Laverne & Shirley and American Graffiti alum Cindy Williams, 75; and Night Court gentle giant Richard Moll, 80.

Music legends

Singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley was having a moment in the spotlight, thanks to the celebrated movie, Elvis, and related awards shows and promotional events when she died Jan. 12 of small bowel obstruction caused by scar tissue that developed after bariatric surgery performed years before.

The only child of the late Elvis and Priscilla Presley grew up in the public eye, and then embarked on her own career. She is also known as the mother of actress Riley Keough and the ex-wife of musicians Michael Jackson and Danny Keough and actor Nicolas Cage, Lisa Marie Presley was 54.


She was buried with her late father and her only son, Benjamin Keough -- who died by suicide in 2020 when he was 27 -- at the family's famous Graceland estate in Tennessee.

"She was the most passionate strong and loving woman I have ever known," her mother, Priscilla, said at the time.

Harry Belafonte -- actor, civil rights activist who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and singer known as the "King of Calypso" -- died of congestive heart failure April 25.

Best known for performing "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," "Jump in the Line" and "Jamaica Farewell," Belafonte was a Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning performer, who received Kennedy Center Honors in 1989 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.

He acted in celebrated films BlacKkKlansman, Bright Road, Carmen Jones and Island in the Sun.

Grammy-winning, rock and roll legend Tina Turner died May 24 at age 83 after years of failing health.

"With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow," the Grammy winner's official social media said at the time.


"Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music."

Born Anna Mae Bullock, she changed her name to Tina Turner when she sang with husband Ike Turner as a duo. Their hits include "River Deep, Mountain High," "Nutbush City Limits" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

After divorcing, Turner fought in court to retain her stage name, and then launched a career as a solo artist with hits "What's Love Got to Do With It," "Simply the Best" and "Private Dancer."

Famed entertainer Tony Bennett died July 26 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 96.

Bennett was a World War II veteran who went on to enjoy a music career that spanned more than 70 years and earned him 19 Grammy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Bennett was best known for his songs, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "Because of You," "Rags to Riches," "Stranger in Paradise," "Blue Velvet" and "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight."

He also was an accomplished painter whose original works are part of the Smithsonian Institute's permanent collection. His autobiography, The Good Life, was published in 2020.


His late-life musical collaborator Lady Gaga remembered him fondly on social media.

"I will miss my friend forever. I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together. With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp," she said.

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who inspired a beachy lifestyle brand and was a popular late-night talk show guest for years, died of skin cancer at age 76 on Sept. 1.

He was known for his songs "Margaritaville," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere," "Come Monday" and "Fins."

His final album, Equal Strain on All Parts, was released in November.

The musician also was a successful author, penning Tales from Margaritaville, Where Is Joe Merchant?, A Pirate Looks at Fifty, The Jolly Mon, Trouble Dolls, A Salty Piece of Land and Swine Not?

Members of his devoted fanbase call themselves "parrotheads" and wear Hawaiian shirts.

U.S. President Joe Biden called Buffett "a poet of paradise" and "an American music icon who inspired generations to step back and find the joy in life and in one another."

We also lost David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, 81; "Nothing Compares 2 U" singer Sinead O'Connor, 56; The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, 65; and pop-music composer Burt Bacharach, 94.


Screen icons

Gina Lollobrigida, international sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, died Jan. 16. She was 95.

Lollobrigida appeared in more than 60 movies, including The World's Most Beautiful Woman, Beat the Devil and Come September.

One Million Years B.C. and Bedazzled siren Raquel Welch died Feb. 15 at age 82.

A Golden Globe winner for The Three Musketeers, she later played herself on Seinfeld and in Naked Gun 33 ⅓, and then continued to act in the films, Legally Blonde, How to Be a Latin Lover, House of Versace and Ultimate Legacy.

She was also the face of Raquel Welch Wigs.

Michael Gambon, Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film franchise, died Sept. 28 at age 82.

Laurence Olivier recruited Gambon as a founding member of the National Theatre at London's Old Vic, alongside Derek Jacobi and Maggie Smith.

Other screen credits include The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, an elderly King George V in The King's Speech, and Lord Salisbury in Victoria & Abdul.


Shaft icon Richard Roundtree, recognized as the first Black action star, died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer at age 81 on Oct. 25.

His other credits include Inchon, City Heat, Se7en, Roots, Alias, Desperate Housewives and Being Mary Jane.

"Loved being around him, learning, working, laughing & feeling Blessed to have an idol live up to who I expected him to be!! Thanks for making us feel REAL GOOD about ourselves! Rest In Power," actor Samuel L. Jackson, who cited Roundtree as an inspiration, said at the time of his death.

Peyton Place, Love Story and What's Up, Doc? actor Ryan O'Neal died of cancer Dec. 8 at age 82.

He is also known for starring with his daughter, Tatum, in Paper Moon, a performance that won her an Oscar.

His other credits include Bones, Barry Lyndon, Irreconcilable Differences, Chances Are, Tough Guys Don't Dance, Zero Effect, Malibu's Most Wanted and Knight of Cups.

In 1991, he starred with his longtime girlfriend Farrah Fawcett, who also died of cancer in 2009, on the sitcom Good Sports.


End of watch for TV cops

Lance Reddick from John Wick, Bosch, The Fringe, The Wire, Resident Evil and the upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians died of heart disease at home on March 17 at age 60, while David McCallum from JAG and NCIS died Sept. 25 at age 90, and Homicide: Life on the Street detectives Richard Belzer, 78, and Andre Braugher, 61, died Feb. 19 and Dec. 12, respectively.

Robert Blake -- who starred in the 1970s police drama, Baretta, but was charged with and ultimately acquitted of killing his real-life wife in 2001 -- died on March 9 at age 89.

Notable Deaths of 2023

Lee Sun-kyun
Lee Sun-kyun arrives at a photocall for "Parasite" during the Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 22, 2019. The South Korean actor died at the age of 48 on December 27. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

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