In Memoriam: Remembering the TV stars we've lost in 2021

By: H&I Staff    Posted: December 20, 2021, 12:19PM

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

Over the past year, we have had to say goodbye to Emmy legends, 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. 

Images: The Everett Collection


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.


Johnny Crawford, Mark McCain on The Rifleman and original Mouseketeer

The former teen idol was 75.


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.


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.


Hal Holbrook, the Mark Twain impersonator who replaced Perry Mason

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


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.


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

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


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

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


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.


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.


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.


Frank Bonner, the colorful Herb Tarlek of WKRP in Cincinnati

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


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.


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

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


Charles Grodin, beloved comedy star of TV and film

He was a master of droll, deadpan humor.


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.


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

The Broadway veteran was 96 years old.


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.


Henry Darrow, star of 'The High Chaparral'

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


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.


Gloria Henry, the mom on Dennis the Menace

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


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'.


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.


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

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


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.


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

He played Opie's chum Billy Gray.


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

He later became a carpenter. He was 77.


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.’


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.


Gregory Sierra, actor in everything from Gunsmoke to Barney Miller

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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


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.


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.


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.


Tim Donnelly, funny fireman Chet Kelly on Emergency!

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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


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.


Jackie Mason, the comedian who famously feuded with Ed Sullivan

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


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.


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.


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

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


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.


Michael Nesmith of the Monkees

The singer-guitarist was 78.


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.


Hal Holbrook, the Mark Twain impersonator who replaced Perry Mason

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


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.


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.


Peter Scolari, star of Bosom Buddies and Newhart

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.