2016 Celebrity Deaths: 21 Tributes to 21 Stars

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Prince. David Bowie. Muhammed Ali. Gene Wilder. Alan Thicke, George Michael. Carrie Fisher.

There have been far too many celebrity deaths in 2016.

Before we turn the calendar and hope for better in the new year, however, here's a look back at some of the most memorable tributes from living stars to those that left us too soon...

1. Joanna Kerns on Alan Thicke

Joanna Kerns on Alan Thicke
Alan had this way about him. He was handsome, cocky, and fiercely intelligent, but he was no saint. That was what made him so much fun. He lived to connect with people, and even more important, he loved to make them laugh. He was happiest when he could perform. It's very hard to have a self-deprecating humor about the silliness in yourself, but he could do it better than anybody… Growing Pains was a gift. It lifted us both out of insecurity and changed my life forever. Best of all, it introduced me to Alan. He was my mentor and friend, and I loved him.

2. Henry Winkler on Garry Marshall

Henry Winkler on Garry Marshall
Wisdom. Generosity. No-nonsense. Warm. Funny. Loyal. These are the words that frame his life. He carved his own avenue through the world… I will never get over missing him. I will never get over the gratitude that I have that I was able to have him in my life.

3. Barbra Streisand on Pat Conroy

Barbra Streisand on Pat Conroy
Do you know how you just feel comfortable with some people immediately? That's how I felt with Pat. I wanted to hear his stories: about his father, his mother, his family, his whole life. I was greedy for any detail that would help me flesh out the characters and understand his world. After I showed the movie to Pat, he wrote me a long, beautiful letter that I will treasure forever, and one of the lines was, 'You gave me my book back to me.' At the very end, he said, 'Let me tell you this: I love the movie version of The Prince of Tides. I simply love it. The book has many flaws based on basic flaws of my character. But the movie sings and soars.

4. Sheila E. on Prince

Sheila E. on Prince
You're first attracted by the melody of what he's created, and then you start singing those lyrics. It was just incredible how he would talk about something so personal and specific, but in a way that you're thinking, 'Wait. What did he just say?' Some of the rock & roll bands did that as well, but he did it in a different way. He was an amazing songwriter and, I think, one of the greatest guitar players ever.

5. Ray Romano on Doris Roberts

Ray Romano on Doris Roberts
She played this woman who was intrusive, jealous, and overbearing, who could have easily been hated by the audience. But they adored her because she showed where it came from — love. That's who she was in real life.

6. Paul McCartney on George Martin

Paul McCartney on George Martin
I can't think of anyone who was as good a producer and whose input was as significant to a band as George Martin was to us.

7. John Cameron Mitchell on David Bowie

John Cameron Mitchell on David Bowie
You are possessed by Bowie. He lies to you, pulls you close, and injects the poison that cures you. I'd even find myself buying his LPs that I didn't like, knowing I'd somehow love them in the future. At times I longed for him to let his divinity slip more often, because I craved the deep empathy and longing that burned behind the brilliant facades of 'Sweet Thing,' 'Repetition,' 'Conversation Piece,' and 'Heroes.'

8. JJ Abrams on Anton Yelchin

JJ Abrams on Anton Yelchin
He was just a wildly promising artist who was taken away too early. It's not like there's some kind of wisdom or normalcy in regards to Anton's passing. It still is as surreal and shocking as it was the day we heard.

9. James L. Brooks on Grant Tinker

James L. Brooks on Grant Tinker
There is no way you can exaggerate how great he was. He was enormously attractive, elegant, and with extraordinary manners. At the company softball game, he would hit the home run. And he was consumed with doing the right thing, even to the point that he gave himself such a hard time internally. He bought a Rolls-Royce one day and returned it two days later. It was, like, revulsion. He couldn't bear to ride in it.

10. Leon Gast on Muhammad Ali

Leon Gast on Muhammad Ali
He was the kindest human being I have ever been around in my life. I can't even come up with a second person.

11. Carol Kane on Gene Wilder

Carol Kane on Gene Wilder
He was soft-spoken, and that is kind of funny because so many of his most famous characters are so wacky and intense — but they're always true. In The Producers, that's some wacky business he's got going there, but there's a complete honesty in it, so it's moving and it has an emotional truth to it. And that is what's so valuable in his work. It's always connected to the heart, and that really is not an easy thing to execute.

12. Bob Seger on Glenn Frey

Bob Seger on Glenn Frey
It's still really hard to imagine he's gone. I wrote this song about him, 'Glenn's Song': 'When I think about you/I always smile.' For me, that's the way it was. He was always a positive force in my life, never a negative one. It's hard to replace 49 years of that.

13. Melissa Gilbert on Patty Duke

Melissa Gilbert on Patty Duke
We bonded because our working relationship forced us to be really close, but also we had a lot in common growing up as child actors. She forded the waters before I got there. She was really open about her struggles and her childhood and the difficulties of growing up in the public eye. She was like a second mother to me throughout my entire life.

14. Wally Lamb on Harper Lee

Wally Lamb on Harper Lee
My understanding is that Lee was not really reclusive so much as she was well protected within her Alabama community. She didn't want to become a brand. Her work is the teacher. She led a private life in her hometown and still had a global influence on writers and readers.

15. Kate Winslet on Alan Rickman

Kate Winslet on Alan Rickman
If there was one word I could use to really describe Al, it would be kind. He was so kind. My daughter actually had a tiny role in A Little Chaos, and I kept saying to her, 'When Alan is directing you, you've got to just try and not think, "My God, it's Snape!" ' But she couldn't do it. She said, 'Mommy, he was so kind to me, but I just kept thinking, "Snape isn't this kind!"' At Al's memorial, [actress] Juliet Stevenson told the story of how whenever Al would go out to supper and anyone else would try and pay, he would somehow have phoned ahead or slipped his credit card ahead of the meal so no one even got a look at the check. He'd just say, 'I've got two words for you: Harry Potter.' And he became known for doing that. What can you say but 'thank you?'

16. Loretta Lynn on Merle Haggard

Loretta Lynn on Merle Haggard
I think he will be remembered as great as he was. Everybody loved Merle Haggard.

17. Eve Plumb on Florence Henderson

Eve Plumb on Florence Henderson
Florence was a teacher on how to be a good celebrity. She always kept up with sending thank-you notes, birthday and Christmas cards, handwritten throughout the years. I don't know how she ever learned all of that.

18. Barbara Kopple on Sharon Jones

Barbara Kopple on Sharon Jones
Her positive motion forward resonates with anybody who has fought cancer. Sharon loved to dance. She would bring people up from the audience to dance, even if they didn't know what they were doing. They would try so hard, looking directly into her eyes. You just felt totally honored to be in her presence. She changed me forever.

19. Bill Maher on Garry Shandling

Bill Maher on Garry Shandling
He was a friend for a very long time. He watched my show every week, and he would very often drop a note and talk about something that went on in the show. He was a great connoisseur of the art of structure. He was a structure person. He designed his own house! It was a very long process, but it was all him. Most people just buy a house. He bought a piece of land.

20. Elton John on George Michael

Elton John on George Michael
I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend—the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans. #RIP.

21. Mark Hamill on Carrie Fisher

Mark Hamill on Carrie Fisher
It's never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family, but this is downright heartbreaking. Carrie was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all – whether she liked it or not. She was our Princess, damn it, and the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away. Determined and tough, but with a vulnerability that made you root for her and want her to succeed and be happy.

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