In Memoriam: Remembering the TV stars we lost in 2021

We said goodbye to favorites from The Rifleman, The Love Boat, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and more.

As we reach the end of the year, we want to take a moment to reflect upon the beloved television talents that passed away in 2021.

Over the past 12 months, we have had to say goodbye to Emmy legends, Mayberry loves, beloved captains, barrier breakers, former child stars, and more. Thankfully, their wonderful work lives on.

Here are some of the losses that hit the TV industry in 2021. Visit our remembrances page to read more obituaries.

Images: The Everett Collection

Betty White, the TV legend whose career spanned eight decades

The Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls star died at 99.

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Ed Asner, TV legend, star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant

He held the record for the most Emmy awards of any male performer and shaped Chicago's improv scene. He was 91.

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Cloris Leachman, Phyllis from Mary Tyler Moore and most awarded actress in Emmy history

The actress appeared on television in eight different decades. She was 94. 

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Johnny Crawford, Mark McCain on The Rifleman and original Mouseketeer

The former teen idol was 75.

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Gavin MacLeod of The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Before becoming Stubing and Slaughter, he made memorable appearances in Mayberry. He was 90.

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Michael Nesmith of the Monkees

The singer-guitarist was 78.

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Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife's love Thelma Lou

She toured Asia during USO shows, became fast friends with Bette Davis, and retired to the real-life Mayberry.

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Cicely Tyson, a pioneering TV icon who garnered countless awards

She was the first black actor with a lead role in a primetime television drama.

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Markie Post, a 1980s television icon from Night Court and The Fall Guy

The actress best known for playing public defender Christine Sullivan was 70.

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Peter Scolari, star of Bosom Buddies and Newhart

He won an Emmy for HBO’s Girls and reunited with Tom Hanks on Broadway.

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Hal Holbrook, the Mark Twain impersonator who replaced Perry Mason

The recurring star of TV movies, miniseries and Evening Shade was 95.

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Jessica Walter, the 'Arrested Development' star with six decades of TV credits

She worked with everyone from Ron Howard and William Shatner to Wonder Woman and Mannix.

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George Segal, Oscar-nominated comedy legend of TV and film

He was a go-to leading man for rom-coms in the 1970s.

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Arlene Golonka, love interest to both Howard and Sam in Mayberry

The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. actress was 85.

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Richard Gilliland, actor on 'Designing Women' and 'The Waltons'

He played Mary Ellen Walton's second husband and married his 'Designing Women' costar in real life.

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Dustin Diamond, who became a Nineties icon as Screech in Saved by the Bell

The former child star passed away at the age of 44.

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Christopher Plummer, legendary screen star in The Thorn Birds and The Moneychangers miniseries

He brought his striking stage presence to many live television productions in the 1950s.

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Frank Bonner, the colorful Herb Tarlek of WKRP in Cincinnati

The Arkansas native played one of the great characters of Seventies sitcoms.

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Dean Stockwell, star of 'Quantum Leap' who began his career as a child star

He appeared in everything from Wagon Train and The Twilight Zone to David Lynch’s Dune.

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Clarence Williams III, the hip undercover detective Linc on The Mod Squad

The former paratrooper later had memorable roles in Purple Rain and Twin Peaks. He was 81.

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Norman Lloyd, 106-year-old television star and entertainment icon

Who else can claim to have worked with both Hitchcock and LeBron James?

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Charles Grodin, beloved comedy star of TV and film

He was a master of droll, deadpan humor.

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Joanne Linville, who had memorable roles in Star Trek and The Twilight Zone

She was the first woman to play a Romulan in the Trek universe. She was 93.

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Billie Hayes, the wicked witch known as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf

The Broadway veteran was 96 years old.

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Felix Silla, Cousin Itt of The Addams Family and Twiki on Buck Rogers

Silla was one of the few surviving cast members of The Addams Family. He was 84.

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Henry Darrow, star of 'The High Chaparral'

He later became the first Latino actor to play Zorro on television.

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James Hampton, F Troop bugler and Michael J. Fox's dad in Teen Wolf

The Oklahoma native also played a ranch hand on The Doris Day Show.

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Gloria Henry, the mom on Dennis the Menace

The actress behind Mrs. Mitchell died one day following her 98th birthday.

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Robert Hogan, the namesake of the Col. Hogan character on Hogan's Heroes

He played a helicopter pilot on 'M*A*S*H' and the love interest of Alice on 'Alice'.

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Bruce Kirby, who played a sergeant on both Columbo and M*A*S*H

The father of Bruno Kirby was truly the only other regular on Columbo besides Peter Falk.

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Amy Johnston, Vinnie Barbarino's love on Welcome Back, Kotter

She also played Buddy Holly's girlfriend in The Buddy Holly Story.

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Erin O'Brien, who played Andy Griffith's gal and the title character in the '77 Sunset Strip' pilot

The former Tonight Show singer made her final TV acting appearance on Perry Mason.

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Lee Aaker, child star who played Rusty in 'The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin'

He later became a carpenter. He was 77.

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John Reilly, soap opera star who got his start in Westerns with James Arness

He was also in everything from ‘The Love Boat’ to ‘Beverly Hills, 90210.’

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Gregory Sierra, actor in everything from Gunsmoke to Barney Miller

He played tough cops, funny neighbors and even visited Walton’s mountain.

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Norm MacDonald, SNL Weekend Update anchor

He was a favorite late-night guest and played a washed-up hockey player in his own sitcom Norm.

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Gavan O'Herlihy, Richie's older brother, Chuck, in Happy Days

He reunited with Ron Howard years later for the movie Willow and played the memorable gang leader in Death Wish 3.

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Jerry Douglas, who starred on ‘The Young and the Restless’ for over three decades

He started his career in classic shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Mission: Impossible.

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Eddie Mekka, Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa from Laverne & Shirley

He also appeared in a scene-stealing dance number with Madonna in "A League of Their Own". He was 69 years old.

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Peter Mark Richman, prolific TV and film actor in everything from The Twilight Zone to Three’s Company

He acted professionally on stage and screen for over six decades.

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Chuck Hicks, robot boxer in The Twilight Zone and frequent Clint Eastwood collaborator

The stuntman-actor was also one of The Untouchables. He was 93.

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Linda Carlson of Newhart, Kaz and Westside Medical

She worked with Leonard Nimoy on Broadway and played Pearl Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies on the big screen. She was 76.

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Kim Tyler, former child star of 'Please Don't Eat the Daisies' and 'The Andy Griffith Show'

He played Opie's chum Billy Gray.

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Richard Lee-Sung, a M*A*S*H actor who actually served in the Korean War

The Texas native was a bartender in Chinatown before becoming a guest star in the 4077th.

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Mark Wilson, magician host of Sixties Saturday morning series The Magic Land of Allakazam

His magic show ran alongside Bugs Bunny and Captain Kangaroo in the early '60s.

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Bridget Hanley, the sweet Candy Pruitt from Here Come the Brides

The self-described ''tomboy'' played the love interest of teen idol Bobby Sherman.

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Cynthia Harris, who wooed King Edward in ‘Edward and Mrs. Simpson’ and played Sylvia in ‘Mad About You’

She also appeared on the big screen with Barbra Streisand and had guest roles on Kojak, Three’s Company and The Bob Newhart Show.

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Tommy Kirk, star of Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, and the Hardy Boys of The Mickey Mouse Club

He was named a Disney Legend for his work in The Absent-Minded Professor, Swiss Family Robinson, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and more.

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Jean Hale, the Mad Hatter's moll on Batman who married Dabney Coleman

She twice played an accused client of Perry Mason. She was 82.

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Al Harrington, the Honolulu local who became a big part of Hawaii Five-O

The multitalented man was a regular on both Hawaii Five-O shows, decades apart.

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Tim Donnelly, funny fireman Chet Kelly on Emergency!

The prankster of Station 51 passed away at the age of 77.

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Jane Powell, star of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and many other Golden Age musicals

She also sang on The Ed Sullivan Show and boarded The Love Boat.

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Don Collier, a real rancher who landed starring roles on The High Chaparral and Outlaws

The true cowboy later appeared in a memorable bubblegum commercial. He was 92.

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Art Metrano, comedian and Police Academy star

He won Johnny Carson over with his simple but hilarious “magic” act and appeared in Joanie Loves Chachi as Uncle Rico.

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Michael Constantine, star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding who appeared all over classic television

He played Principal Kaufman in Room 222 and guest starred in Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes and The Dick Van Dyke Show – just to name a few.

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Michael Nader, the dashing Dex Dexter of Dynasty and Siddo on Gidget

Surfing led him to a career alongside Gidget, Alexis Colby and Erica Kane.

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Patricia Hitchcock, daughter of Alfred Hitchcock who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents

She also acted on TV alongside William Shatner and Andy Griffith.

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Alex Cord, who played the CIA boss on Eighties action favorite Airwolf

The rugged TV actor met his wife on Night Gallery and was lifelong friends with Robert Fuller. He was 88.

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Jackie Mason, the comedian who famously feuded with Ed Sullivan

The Emmy-winning actor had a career that spanned over half a century

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Charlie Robinson, who played Mac on Night Court

He was the lovable court clerk in cardigan sweaters, though not the first clerk on the sitcom.

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Richard Donner, Superman and The Goonies director who got his start in 1960s television

He directed episodes of The Rifleman, Perry Mason, Gilligan’s Island and The Twilight Zone.

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William Smith, muscleman actor of Laredo and Hawaii Five-O

The bodybuilder duked it out with Clint Eastwood and later played Arnold's dad.

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Jane Withers, Golden Age child actor and beloved star of 1960s commercials

She costarred with Shirley Temple and received a teddy bear from President Roosevelt.

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124 Comments

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Raydel 6 months ago
No one can ever fill their roles like they did, thank you for the wonderful memories, RIP.
denny 8 months ago
Joanna Cameron passed away October 15, 2021 from complications from a stroke.

Filmnoirfan 8 months ago
So many talented actors and actresses passed away in 2021 and sadly Betty White was the last of them to go and did so just three weeks before turning 100
Chavella13 8 months ago
I never heard that Henry Darrow past away… not telling my grandpa! Don’t have the courage too. 😢
JiminFL 8 months ago
Brings back fond memories, such a long time ago and so many people I remember and these shows.
vinman63 8 months ago
The year ended with the inmortal Betty leaving us.
RJpitt 8 months ago
Four died this year from the Mary Tyler Moore show. That kind of shocked me!
vinman63 9 months ago
Betty White turning 100 on 2022.
JDnHuntsvilleAL vinman63 8 months ago
No, not now. 9_9
vinman63 JDnHuntsvilleAL 8 months ago
Yeah I guess I stink at prognosticating.
CuriousGeo 9 months ago
Although not a star, Shaaron Claridge, the RTO’s voice on Adam-12, passed away earlier this year at 82.
Yuuji 9 months ago
All we missed is the famous Japanese actress you have never heard of....
R.I.P. Sayaka Kanda (1986-2021)
JDnHuntsvilleAL Yuuji 8 months ago
The "WE" in the title refers to the U.S.
jaygarrick 9 months ago
Not bad but you missed 2, Jan Shutan and Joanna Cameron.
Michael33rs 9 months ago
To be an entertainer and have your work live on for the next generation of viewers is a blessing. May all the wonderful entertainers we have lost this year and in all the years past rest in paradise. You will live on through your awesome work. 🙏🏾
Irisfc 9 months ago
Seeing all of these deaths of tv stars I grew up watching makes me so aware of my mortality.
Billy609 Irisfc 9 months ago
Ain’t that the truth!
JulieTV Irisfc 8 months ago
So very true.
horrordavidlee 9 months ago
You also have Cara Williams who starred alongside Harry Morgan in the tv show Pete and Gladys died recently as well.
CJLV 9 months ago
The older I get, the more peers I seem to lose each year (every time during Award Ceremonies, I watch the "In Memoriam" for the Academy Awards - Grammy Awards - Emmy Awards hoping nobody is forgotten). ❤️
deby 9 months ago
so many wonderful actors and actress have passed away this year, it makes you feel so very sad.
mdit21 9 months ago
I'm mourning the unexpected and sudden passing of Supreme Mary Wilson during what is the 60th Anniversary year of the Supremes. (I feel like I lived 1976 all over again).😢❤

Mary Wilson (March 6, 1944-February 8, 2021) and Florence Ballard (June 30, 1943-February 22, 1976)
CJLV mdit21 9 months ago
We loss Ms. Young from The Marvelettes 2 days ago 😢
mdit21 CJLV 9 months ago


I've written about Wanda Young and the Marvelettes in other forums.
mdit21 mdit21 9 months ago
Also, When Wanda Young left to give birth to one of her children, Florence Ballard filled in for her for the live performances of the Marvelettes.
texasluva 9 months ago
Some of the oldest living actors that died in the last two years.

It started with Kurt Douglas 103 Feb. 5th 2020
Then Olivia De Havilland 104 July 26th 2020
Then to top them both was Norman Lloyd 106 just this year May 11, 2021


I remember Kurt Douglas playing in so many block buster movies. He seemed to put his all into it. Anne Douglas his wife also made it into the 100+ years (102) before she passed in Feb. this year.

Sad to see these fine actors passing R.I.P ALL
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