In 2016, New York City lost some famous born-here natives, and others who famously adopted NYC. From the big screen to the TV screen, Broadway stage and the world’s concert stages, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a First Lady, a master real estate developer and more.
We dim the lights and tip the hat in respect for all you gave us. Your work and your influence lives on.
A sad farewell to these notable New Yorkers —
Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher
Mother and daughter died one day apart. Although they were both famous for their movie roles, both appeared on Broadway and in TV shows filmed here in NYC. Debbie Reynolds made her Broadway debut in 1973 in a revival of the 1920s musical “Irene,” for which she received a Tony Award nomination for best actress in a musical. In 1976, she had a one-woman Broadway show, “Debbie.” Her last Broadway appearance was in 1983, taking over the role originated by Bronx-born Lauren Bacall in the musical version of “Woman of the Year.” She also later toured the country with stage shows including “Annie Get Your Gun” and the stage version of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” reprising her titanic role in the movie. Carrie Fisher appeared on Broadway in a one-woman play “Wishful Drinking,” a humorous and insightful look a her mental health and addiction issues.
- Debbie Reynolds obituary in Variety (photo courtesy Variety)
- Carrie Fisher obituary in Broadway World
Author, Noble Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel was our conscience about the horrors of war and the hate that makes war happen. He was born in Romania, survived Auschwitz, and called Manhattan home until his death, although he was really a citizen of the world. One of his most simple – and complicated – quotes is this : The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The founding Eagles member made Manhattan his home base for the successful solo music and acting career he launched after the Eagles broke up in 1980. He is most remembered for Eagles songs including “Hotel California”, “Life in the Fast Lane”, and my personal favorite, “Desperado”. There was no “Wasted Time” in Frey’s life.
Songwriter, entertainer, actor, writer, fashion icon, pop icon. Pushing the envelope in all, for three generations of fans and the musicians he inspired. Born in Great Britain, he became a transplanted New Yorker, and loved exploring it from bookstores to art galleries. NYTimes obituary, photos and videos.
One of the most respected journalists of our time, the Canadian-born newsman was one of the first TV news reporters to cover the Vietnam War, for CBS, and his searing reports are credited with helping turn public sentiment against the war. He joined CBS 60 Minutes in 1970 as one of its original correspondents, winning dozens of top awards along the way. Morley Safer biography
A master builder of the 20th century whose Tishman Realty and Construction Company transformed the New York City skyline, including overseeing construction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. He also built skyscrapers in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, and his company also managed buildings, including the Empire State Building. John Tishman obituary in the New York Times
Theater impressario, with an empire of theaters on Broadway, in London and in Los Angeles, including the one in NYC named for him. He loved musicals, and Nederlander shows included “Sweet Charity” (1966) with Gwen Verdon; “Annie” (1977); Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” (1994) with Glenn Close; “Wicked” a twist on “The Wizard of Oz,” based on a novel by Gregory Maguire, which opened in 2003 at the Gershwin and is still there; “Hairspray” (2002), and “In the Heights” (2008), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-winning show. Nederlander revivals included “The King and I” (1977) with Yul Brynner; “Hello, Dolly!” (1978) with Carol Channing; “Man of La Mancha” (1992) with Raul Julia; “Camelot” (1993) with Robert Goulet; “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1995) with Matthew Broderick; “Annie Get Your Gun” (1999) with Bernadette Peters and later Reba McEntire, and “Fiddler on the Roof” (2004) with Alfred Molina and later Harvey Fierstein. The current Fiddler revival, starring Danny Burstein, is at a rival Schubert Orgnization theater. One of the nine theaters the Nederlander Organization owns or manages in NYC is the Richard Rodgers, where the mega hit show “Hamilton” is on stage now, and likely will be for years to come.
The name may not be familiar, but his images certainly are. His obituary in the New York Times describes him as a “photographer of surrealistic whimsy”. That, they are, and this one is likely his most famous. Smith was born in Manhattan, the son of one of the founders of Anne Klein & Company, and worked around the world photographing fashion and streetscapes with that same unique eye.
Another photographer whose name we might not recognize, who documented the lives of the dispossesed in World War Two and the years after. Her images of the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from the port of Haifa by British authorities became the basis for a best-selling novel and a movie. The name of the ship was Exodus. According to the New York Times obituary, she counted Eleanor Roosevelt and Golda Meir as friends. She was 105.
This photographer’s name we all know, from his weekly page of street fashion and high fashion in the NYTimes. They were more than fashion photos. They were cultural anthropology, especially when he focused on a theme, such as hats or multiple women wearing the same checked skirt or boots. His obituary in Vanity Fair.
It was always Happy Days for this Bronx-born writer/producer/director, who also created “The Odd Couple” and directed “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries.” He was known for his gentle touch with light comedies, and for nurturing his actors, whether he was working in NYC or in Hollywood.
“PBS NewsHour” co-anchor Gwen Ifill was born in Jamaica, Queens, and grew up in federally subsidized housing in Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island. A pioneering black female journalist in a world dominated by white men, she covered the White House, Congress and national campaigns during three decades for The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC before moving to PBS.
Born in NYC, the actor was most famous for his ground-breaking TV role as a spy in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E, ” and as a gunslinger-for-hire in the original Magnificent Seven film. He was equally urbane in comedies and dramas, big screen or small. Robert Vaughn obituary in New York Times
From Flushing to First Lady. Reagan grew up in Flushing, Queens, before becoming a Hollywood actress and falling in love with one of her co-stars, Ronald Reagan. He, of course, became President after serving as Governor of California, and she became an influential First Lady.
- One of Nancy Reagan’s favorite designers, James Galanos, also a New Yorker, also died in 2017.
To all the New Yorkers we lost in 2016, famous and not, you will be missed.