Final goodbyes: A look back on those we lost in 2017

As we head towards the final days of 2017 and begin to look ahead to the new year, we take a look at some of the global figures that we lost over the past twelve months.

In 2017, the entertainment world bid farewell to many faces such as John Hurt, Chuck Berry, Hugh Hefner, Roger Moore and Shashi Kapoor.

In the political sphere, influential figures such as Martin McGuinness, Manuel Noriega, Helmut Kohl and Liu Xiaobo passed away.

In sports, we mourned legends who left us too soon such as Joost van der Westhuizen and Jana Novotna.

1. Johnny Hallyday, France’s biggest rock star and hailed as the French Elvis, died from lung cancer in December at age 74. He sold around 100 million records and starred in a number of films over a career lasting almost 60 years, but although a superstar in his own country, he never achieved fame outside France.

2. Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who directed his followers to commit a string of brutal murders, died in November at age 83 after four decades in jail. In the summer of 1969, his followers, known as the Manson Family, killed nine people at four locations. The victims included actress Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of film-maker Roman Polanski.

3. British actor John Hurt died in January at the age of 77. Hurt starred in over 200 films and TV series over a career spanning six decades, his best known work including the films The Elephant Man, Alien, and Midnight Express, and the BBC drama I Claudius. Latterly he was known to a younger generation as the wand-maker Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.

4. Martin McGuinness, former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, died in March at age 66. The former IRA commander turned peacemaker was Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, after which he forged an unlikely alliance with the Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley, working with him at the heart of the power-sharing government.

5. U.S. guitarist, singer, and rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry died in March at the age of 90. Berry introduced musical elements and techniques that would define generations of rock music to follow, and his music proved immensely valuable in bridging the cultural gap between Americans of different races.

6. Actress Jeanne Moreau, one of the biggest stars of French “new wave” cinema, died in July at age 89. Also a director and screenwriter, she is probably best known for her role in Francois Truffaut’s classic 1962 film Jules et Jim. She won a number of awards including the best actress prize at Cannes for Moderato Cantabile in 1960.

7. Veteran Bollywood actor and producer Shashi Kapoor died in December, aged 79. One of the Kapoor dynasty, which has dominated the Hindi film industry for decades, Kapoor starred in huge hits like Deewar and Kabhie Kabhie, as well as several British and American films. He won a number of Indian film awards and was awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan civilian honour in 2011.

8. Manuel Noriega, former military dictator of Panama, died in May at age 83. He was a key U.S. ally for many years but was forcibly removed from power when American troops invaded in 1989. He was later tried and jailed in the U.S. on drugs and money laundering charges. He spent the rest of his life in custody, being extradited to France before being transferred back to Panama to serve jail time for murder, corruption and embezzlement.

9. Hugh Hefner, founder of the international adult magazine Playboy, died in September at age 91. Hefner created Playboy in 1953, overseeing the brand’s development into a media and entertainment giant. Always an advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, Hefner was also famous for squiring attractive young women, occasionally marrying them, well into his old age.

10. Harry Dean Stanton, prolific American character actor who appeared in dozens of films including Alien, Repo Man, The Straight Story and Paris, Texas, died in September at age 91. In a career that spanned more than six decades, one of the Kentucky-born star’s last roles was in the 2017 revival of David Lynch’s cult TV classic Twin Peaks.

11. Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish former president of Iraq and its first non-Arab head of state, died in October at age 83. A veteran of the struggle for an independent Kurdish state, he survived Saddam Hussein’s brutal purges and became a key figure in the transitional governing council that drafted a new constitution after Saddam’s overthrow in 2003. He became president in 2005, trying to steer a divided nation through years of civil war that followed.

12. British actor Roger Moore, best known for playing secret agent James Bond in seven films between 1973-85, died in May at age 89. He took over the role of Bond from Sean Connery, first appearing as 007 in Live and Let Die. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for services to charity and in 2008, the French government appointed him a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

13. Liu Xiaobo, Chinese pro-democracy activist, political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died from liver cancer in July at the age of 61. He had been released from prison on medical parole. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 in recognition of his lifelong efforts to promote human rights in China.

14. Helmut Kohl, Germany’s ex-chancellor and architect of reunification in 1990, died in June at the age of 87. Germany’s longest serving post-war chancellor from 1982 to 1998, Kohl is credited with reuniting East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He formed a close relationship with French President Francois Mitterrand in pushing for closer European integration.

15. Emmanuelle Riva, French actress best known for her roles in the films Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and Amour (2012), died in January, aged 89. Her role as a stroke victim in Michael Haneke’s Amour won her multiple awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, for which she was the oldest ever nominee.

16. Czech tennis player Jana Novotna died from cancer in November at the age of 49. She won Wimbledon, her sole Grand Slam singles title, in 1998, five years after famously ‘choking’ in the 1993 final against Steffi Graf. She also 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, four mixed doubles titles, and three Olympic medals.

17. Former South Africa rugby captain Joost van der Westhuizen died from motor neurone disease at the age of 45, in February. Regarded as one of the finest scrum-halves in rugby history, he won 89 international caps in a 10-year career, scoring 38 tries. He was in the team that won the World Cup in 1995, and he went on to captain the Springboks for four years, including at the 1999 World Cup, before his retirement in 2003.

18. Jake LaMotta, the New York boxer who became world middleweight champion in 1949 and whose turbulent life was portrayed in the 1980 film Raging Bull, died in September at the age of 95. He took up boxing after being rejected by the U.S. military on medical grounds, becoming well known after handing Sugar Ray Robinson his first ever defeat in 1943.


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