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These Are The Celebrities And Notable People Who Died In The 2010s

The 2010s were a rough decade for music fans since we lost many all-time great legends, like Amy Winehouse, 27. Carl De Souza / AFP / Getty Images Amy died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, but not before becoming the first British woman to win five Grammys thanks to her incredible songwriting and…



These Are The Celebrities And Notable People Who Died In The 2010s

The 2010s were a rough decade for music fans since we lost many all-time great legends, like Amy Winehouse, 27.

Carl De Souza / AFP / Getty Images

Amy died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, but not before becoming the first British woman to win five Grammys thanks to her incredible songwriting and expressive vocals on hits like “Back to Black” and “Rehab.”

Singer and actor Whitney Houston, 48.

Warner Bros.

Whitney arrived on the scene in the ’80s with one of music’s all-time greatest voices, and used it to win seven Grammys and score 11 chart-toppers including “I Will Always Love You.” She also acted in films including The Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale. She drowned on Feb. 11, 2012.

Musician Prince, 57.

Kevin Winter

The Minneapolis-born hitmaker could do it all: write, produce, dance, sing, and play guitar (and other instruments) like a house on fire. In addition to his own endless list of hits, like “Purple Rain” and “1999,” he wrote Sinead O’Connor’s worldwide No. 1 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U.” He died of an accidental overdose on April 21, 2016.

Singer-songwriter Tom Petty, 66.

Ирина Лепнёва / Via Creative Commons

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were the definitive American rock band of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, with a blistering live show that featured hits like “American Girl,” “Refugee,” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” As a solo artist, Tom released hits like “Free Fallin” and the classic album “Wildflowers.” He was also a member of The Traveling Wilburys. He died of an accidental overdose on Oct. 2, 2017.

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry, 90.

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Chuck helped create the blueprint for rock ‘n’ roll with his clever lyrics, peerless guitar riffs, and on-stage persona (google “Chuck Berry duck walk”). His hits “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven” were covered by The Beatles. He died of cardiac arrest on March 18, 2017.

Musician and actor David Bowie, 69.

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David was one of rock’s most influential artists, exploring a wide range of styles including folk, hard rock, soul, psychedelic, pop, and electronic/industrial on hits like “Heroes,” “Fame,” and “Let’s Dance.” He also was a style leader who often changed his appearance, most famously with his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. As an actor, he appeared in many films, including his role as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth. He died of liver cancer on January 10, 2016.

“King of the Blues” B.B. King, 89.

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No one could bend a a string like B.B., who was born on a cotton plantation in Mississippi and ended up winning 15 Grammys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. His hits included “The Thrill Is Gone” and “Every Day I’ve Got The Blues.” He died from vascular dementia on May 14, 2015.

Country star Merle Haggard, 79.

Frazer Harrison

A troubled youth who spent time at San Quentin State Prison, Merle went on to score 38 No. 1 country hits — most of which were about the working class — including “Okie from Muskogee” and “Pancho and Lefty.” He died of complications from pneumonia on April 6, 2016.

The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, 76.

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Aretha was known for her gospel-inspired vocals on songs like “Respect”, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”, but she was also a talented pianist and songwriter (she co-wrote “Think”). No female artist has had more songs place on the Billboard charts…period. She died of a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor on Aug. 16, 2018.

Singer-songwriter George Michael, 53.

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George exploded as a star in the ’80s as a member of Wham (which scored hits like the chart-topping “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”), then went on to have a huge career as a solo artist punctuated by the landmark albums Faith and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. He also campaigned for LGBT rights and fundraised for HIV/AIDS charities. He died of heart and liver issues on December 25, 2016.

And singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, 82.

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This Canadian icon is probably most famous for writing “Hallelujah,” but he released 15 albums in his lifetime full of acclaimed and intelligent songs that made him one of Bob Dylan’s few lyrical peers. He also wrote well-regarded poetry and novels. He died of leukemia on Nov. 7, 2016.

The decade also saw us lose a number of artists who defined ’90s music, like singer-songwriter Chris Cornell, 52.

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Chris was the lead singer of classic ’90s grunge-rock band Soundgarden, and amazed people with his epic, uncontainable vocals. He was later the lead singer of Audioslave and a Grammy-winning solo artist. He died by suicide on May 18, 2017.

Rocker Scott Weiland, 48.

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Scott was the definition of rock ‘n’ roll cool as he fronted popular ’90s rock band Stone Temple Pilots — one of the most commercially successful acts of the decade. Scott was also in Velvet Revolver with former members of Guns N’ Roses. He died of an accidental overdose on Dec. 3, 2015.

Singer-songwriter Dolores O’Riordan, 46.

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Dolores fronted the Irish band The Cranberries, and was known for her instantly recognizable, lilting, and expressive vocals. She also wrote most of the band’s timeless songs like “Linger,” “Dreams,” and “Zombie.” She drowned due to alcohol intoxication on Jan. 15, 2018.

And rapper/musician and filmmaker Adam Yauch, 47.

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Adam was a founding member of The Beastie Boys, the biggest-selling rap group of all time. In the ’90s they released the seminal albums Check Your Head and Ill Communication, with them playing live instruments on hits like “Sabotage.” He died of cancer on May 4, 2012.

The 2010s were a decade when we said goodbye to legends of cinema like comedian/actor Robin Williams, 63.


Robin started as a stand-up with a dazzling quick mind, but transitioned to acting with the TV show Mork and Mindy. Later, he starred in hit comedy films like Mrs. Doubtfire, and established himself as a dramatic actor. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards three times, and won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. He died by suicide on Aug. 11, 2014.

Actor and humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor, 79.


Elizabeth began as a teen star in the ’40s (famously starring in National Velvet) and went on to become a mega-star in the ’50s and ’60s with Academy Award winning performances in Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Later, she was an HIV/AIDS activist. She died of congestive heart failure on March 23, 2011.

Actor Peter O’Toole, 81.


The Irish star of stage and screen was a renowned Shakespearean actor who was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including his signature performance in Lawrence of Arabia. He died of stomach cancer on Dec. 14, 2013.

Actor Lauren Bacall, 89.


Lauren left a modeling career behind to become a movie star, acting opposite husband Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo. Her long career had a late highlight with an Academy Award nomination for 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. She died after suffering a stroke on Aug. 12, 2014.

Comedian and humanitarian Jerry Lewis, 91.


Jerry rose to fame as part of a comedy duo with Dean Martin dubbed Martin & Lewis. After they broke up, he went on to star in many hits including The Nutty Professor (which he directed, co-wrote, and starred in). Later, he had an acclaimed dramatic turn in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, and hosted a yearly telethon for muscular dystrophy of cardiac disease. He died Aug. 20, 2017.

Actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, 46.

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Phillip was a brilliant, intense actor (who could also do comedy) who starred in both small indie films and big budget fare. He won a Best Actor Academy Award for 2005’s Capote, and played Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games films. He died of a drug overdose on Feb. 2, 2014.

And actor and filmmaker Gene Wilder, 83.


Gene — who was best known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory — first made a splash working with writer/director Mel Brooks on the classic comedies The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein (which he co-wrote). Later, he teamed with Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy and three other films. He died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on August 29, 2016.

In the 2010s we also lost legendary family members like actor and writer Carrie Fisher, 60, and her mother actor and singer Debbie Reynolds, 84.

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Mom Debbie had an incredible 70-year career starring in films like Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She also sang “Tammy,” a No. 1 hit, and was a Tony-nominated stage performer.

Daughter Carrie famously played Princess Leia in six Star Wars films, and wrote acclaimed books and screenplays like Postcards From The Edge.

Carrie died of a heart attack on Dec. 27, 2016. A grieving Debbie died of an intracerebral hemorrhage the next day.

And siblings Penny Marshall, 75, and Gary Marshall, 81.

Charley Gallay

These siblings from The Bronx made a big name for themselves in Hollywood. Penny starred as Laverne on the hit TV show Laverne & Shirley, then became one of the most successful female directors ever, helming classics such as Big and A League of Their Own. She died of complications from diabetes on Dec. 17, 2018.

Gary acted too (with a hilarious cameo in Lost in America), but was most famous for creating hit TV show Happy Days and directing hit feature films Pretty Women and The Princess Diaries. He died from pneumonia after suffering a stroke on July 19, 2016.

Some of our most famous former child stars also died in the decade, like sitcom funny kid Gary Coleman, 42.


The comedically gifted Gary was a huge star in the late ’70s and ’80s thanks to his role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes . While the show was on the air, Gary also starred in two features, four made-for-television films, and an animated series, The Gary Coleman Show. He died of a subdural hematoma on May 28, 2010.

Actor and diplomat Shirley Temple, 85.


Shirley began acting at the age of 3 in 1932, and became a huge star thanks to films like Bright Eyes and merchandising products that capitalized on her wholesome charm. She was presented with a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1935 for her films. Later in life, she served as a US Ambassador. She died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Feb. 10, 2014.

And actor Mickey Rooney, 93.


Mickey’s career began in the silent film era, and he went on to appear in over 300 films in his lifetime. He played Andy Hardy in 16 popular films, and was the biggest box office star in the world from 1939–1941. He died of natural causes on April 6, 2014.

Fandoms were hit hard during the decade. Harry Potter fans, for example, said goodbye to Alan Rickman, 69.

Warner Bros.

In addition to playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, Alan will be remembered for his roles as villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Harry (not Potter) in Love Actually. He died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 14, 2016.

Actor John Hurt, 77.

Warner Bros.

John was beloved for his role as wand-maker Mr. Ollivander, but he was also a hugely acclaimed actor outside of the magical world, with Academy Award nominations for Midnight Express and The Elephant Man. He was knighted in 2015 for his services to drama. He died from cancer on Jan. 25, 2017.

Actor Richard Griffiths, 65.

Warner Bros.

Richard was perfect as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter film series, however, his career high point was on stage in The History Boys. His performance in that role won him numerous awards including a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play. He died after heart surgery on March 28, 2013.

And actor Robert Hardy, 91.

Warner Bros.

In addition to playing Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, Robert had a long career on stage and screen, including a memorable turn in 1994’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He died of natural causes on Aug. 3, 2017.

Star Trek fans also lost some beloved performers, including “Spock” Leonard Nimoy, 83.


Leonard first played Spock in the TV pilot for Star Trek in 1964, and was still playing him 50 years later in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. He was also a successful author and directed the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Feb. 27, 2015.

Actor Grace Lee Whitney, 85.


Grace played Captain Kirk’s yeoman first in the television series and later in the feature films. Also a singer, she started her career opening for Billie Holiday in Chicago nightclubs. She died of natural causes on May 1, 2015.

And, tragically, actor Anton Yelchin, 27.


The Russian-born actor played Pavel Chekov in the three most recent Star Trek films. He died in a freak accident on June 19, 2016, when he was pinned between his Jeep and a brick pillar.

Glee lost a couple of its young actors, Cory Monteith, 31, and Mark Salling, 35.


Cory, who played Finn Hudson on the show, died of a drug overdose on July 13, 2013. Mark, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman, died by suicide on Jan. 30, 2018.

Fashion said goodbye to some iconoclastic titans, like fashion designer Oscar De La Renta, 82.

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Born in the Dominican Republic, Oscar rose to fame, in part, for designing Jackie Kennedy’s iconic clothes. Later, his name became synonymous with high fashion as his self-titled fashion house became popular worldwide. He died of cancer on Oct. 20, 2014.

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, 85.

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Karl — who had an instantly recognizable personal style — worked for 27 years with Fendi before becoming the creative director of the then-floundering Chanel, making it hugely successful. He died from pancreatic cancer on Feb. 19, 2019.

Fashion designer Kate Spade, 55.

Matthew Simmons / Getty Images

Kate (seen above with brother-in-law David Spade) started the designer brand Kate Spade New York with her husband, Andy. The brand quickly became famous for their stylish handbags, but later expanded into other products like clothes and eyewear. She died by suicide on June 5, 2018.

And fashion designer Alexander McQueen, 40.

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

London-born Alexander was the chief designer at Givenchy before founding his own label in 1992 and winning four British Designer of the Year awards. He died by suicide on Feb. 11, 2010.

The literary world was hit hard, losing brilliant writers like J.D. Salinger, 91.

Public domain

After serving in World War II, J.D. launched an incredibly successful career as a novelist and short story writer. His most famous book, The Catcher in the Rye, is now a staple of school reading. He stopped publishing in the early ’60s and lived a largely reclusive life thereafter, although he is said to have continued writing in private. He died of natural causes on Jan. 27, 2010.

Memoirist and poet Maya Angelou, 86.

Clinton Library

Maya wrote seven landmark autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She was also one of America’s most acclaimed poets, and recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton. She died of natural causes on May 28, 2014.

Comic book writer Stan Lee, 95.

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While leading Marvel Comics, Stan co-created Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, and more. These comic book characters were more complicated and human than any that came before, and made Marvel a household name. He died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 12, 2018.

Children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, 83.

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Maurice became famous for Where the Wild Things Are, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and was adapted into a feature film. He wrote many other popular children’s books, like the award-winning In The Night Kitchen. He died from complications of a stroke on May 8, 2012.

Novelist and essayist Toni Morrison, 88.

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Toni’s powerful novels, such as Song of Solomon and Beloved, won her numerous awards, including a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She died from complications of pneumonia on Aug. 5, 2019.

And author Harper Lee, 89.

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Harper only wrote one novel in her lifetime, but that novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, left an incredible footprint, winning a Pulitzer Prize and being voted “Best Novel of the Century” by the Library Journal (an early draft of To Kill A Mockingbird was released posthumously as Go Set a Watchman). She died of natural causes on Feb. 19, 2016.

We also lost hugely important political leaders, like South African President Nelson Mandela, 95.

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Nelson lead an incredible life, fighting to change South Africa for the better and dismantle its whites-only apartheid government. He was jailed for 27 years for his efforts, but upon release helped negotiate an end to apartheid. Incredibly, he was later elected president of the country. He died from a respiratory infection on Dec. 5, 2013.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, 87.

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Dubbed “The Iron Lady,” Margaret was both England’s longest-serving prime minister (1979–1990) and the first woman to hold the office. She died after suffering a stroke on April 8, 2013.

And United States President George Bush, 94.

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After serving in World War II, George went on to be a member of Congress, the head of the CIA, and the vice president for two terms under President Reagan. He then was elected 41st president and played a key role in the liberation of Kuwait. He died of Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 30, 2018. His wife, first lady Barbara Bush, died earlier in the year at the age of 92 on April 17, 2018.

It was a decade where we lost legendary astronauts, like Neil Armstrong, 82.

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On July 21, 1969, Neil became the first person to walk on the moon, saying “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” upon taking his first step. After returning to Earth, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died following heart surgery on Aug. 25, 2012.

Astronaut and politician John Glenn, 95.

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In 1962, John became the first American to orbit the Earth. After leaving NASA, he was elected senator for Ohio. In 1998, at the age of 77, he flew on Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission, becoming the oldest person to fly in space. He died of natural causes on Dec. 8, 2016.

And astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, 61.

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In 1983, Sally became both the first American woman and the youngest person in space. Later, she became a college professor and served on the investigative committees examining the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle disasters. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.

We also lost some incredible thinkers who changed how we see and live in the world, like Steve Jobs, 56.

Photo: Matthew Yohe

Steve was the cofounder of Apple and had a hand in the creation of some of their landmark products, including the Apple II, iPod, and iPhone. In 1986 he bought The Graphics Group (soon to be renamed Pixar) and helped it become an animation powerhouse. He died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5, 2011.

And theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking, 76.

Bryan Bedder

Stephen was diagnosed with ALS at 21 and gradually became paralyzed and unable to speak without the assistance of a computer. Nevertheless, his scientific ideas were groundbreaking and he was able to articulate them to non-scientists in books such as the bestselling A Brief History of Time. He died from ALS on March 14, 2018.

The world of sports lost a number of legends, like “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali, 74.

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The greatest athlete of the 20th century according to Sports Illustrated, a 22-year-old Muhammed upset Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion in 1964, and remained the champion on-and-off until 1979. The larger-than-life personality, who had Parkinson’s disease, died June 3, 2016.

Golfer Arnold Palmer, 87.

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Arnold was a charismatic star who won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973 and is often called the game’s greatest player. And yes, he invented the drink that bears his name. He died while awaiting heart surgery on Sept. 25, 2016.

Hall of Famers from baseball’s Golden Era Stan Musial, 92, Yogi Berra, 90, and Ernie Banks, 83.

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Stan “The Man” played 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .331 and amassing an amazing 3,630 hits. He died of natural causes on Jan. 19, 2013.

Yogi was an 18-time All Star catcher for the Yankees, and holds the record for playing on the most World Series champions — 10. He died of natural causes on Sept. 22, 2015.

Ernie Banks holds the opposite record of Yogi’s — the most games played (2,528) without a playoff appearance. The Cubs’ legend was a 14-time All Star who hit a whopping 512 home runs. He died of a heart attack on Jan. 23, 2015.

And baseball star Tony Gwynn, 54.

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Tony was arguably the greatest hitter of baseball’s next era, winning eight batting titles and hitting .338 over 21 years with the San Diego Padres. He died of cancer on June 16, 2014.

Other greats we lost include:

Actor and filmmaker Dennis Hopper, 74.

20th Century Fox

Dennis received a Best Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards for Easy Rider, which he also co-directed and co-starred in. He later starred in Apocolypse Now, Speed, and Hoosiers (for which he received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor). He died from prostate cancer on May 29, 2010.

Performer and civil rights activist Lena Horne, 92.

Public Domain

Lena had an amazing 70-year career that began when she joined the chorus of the legendary Cotton Club at 16. A four-time Grammy winner, she also appeared in many movies, singing and dancing, and was one of the era’s top nightclub performers. She cared deeply for civil rights, and when performing for USO troops during World War II, refused to perform for segregated audiences. She died of congestive heart failure on May 9, 2010.

TV legend Rue McClanahan, 76.


Rue starred in the hit TV comedies Maude, Mama’s Family, and The Golden Girls, the last of which won her an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She died after suffering a brain hemorrhage on June 3, 2010.

Rich Cronin, 36, and Devin Lima, 41, of the boy band LFO.

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LFO’s self-titled debut in1999 sold nearly 3 million copies in the United States and landed two top ten hits “Summer Girls” and “Girl On TV.” Tragically, Rich died of leukemia on Sept. 8, 2010, and bandmate Devin died of adrenal cancer on Nov. 21, 2018.

Teen star Corey Haim, 38.

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After starring in 1987’s classic horror/comedy The Lost Boys, Corey went on to make a number of movies with his friend, Corey Feldman, including License To Drive. Corey struggled with drugs later in life and died of pneumonia on March 10, 2010.

Australian actor Andy Whitfield, 39.


Andy made his first international splash playing the title character in the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Sadly, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma while filming Season 2 and died 18 months later on Sept. 11, 2011.

Film producer Laura Ziskin, 61.

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Laura was the first woman to produce (alone) The Academy Awards telecast. She also produced classic films Pretty Woman, As Good As It Gets, and all three of the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films. She died of breast cancer on June 12, 2011.

Television star and stunt performer Ryan Dunn, 34.

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Ryan was notorious for the extreme pranks and stunts he pulled with Bam Margera in the ’90s. In 2000, he and Bam joined MTV’s comedic stunt show Jackass, which became wildly popular and spawned two feature films. He died in a car crash on June 20, 2011.

Radio and television performer Dick Clark, 82.


Dick — known as “the world’s oldest teenager” — hosted the iconic American Bandstand from 1957 to1988, and is synonymous with New Year’s Eve thanks to his Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast. A true American legend, he died of a heart attack on April 18, 2012.

Blues singer Etta James, 73.

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Etta is most famous for her version of “At Last” but also had hits “The Wallflower,” “Tell Mama,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” She won six Grammys in her lifetime and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She died from leukemia on Jan. 20, 2012.

Musician Lou Reed, 71.

Danny Norton / Via Flickr: dannynorton

As the main songwriter (plus guitarist and singer) of the wildly influential band The Velvet Underground, Lou was responsible for timeless songs like “Sweet Jane” and “Walk on the Wild Side.” He died of liver disease on Oct. 27, 2013.

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, 54.

Warner Bros.

Michael worked as a bodyguard (among other jobs) before realizing his dream to be an actor. After appearing in Armageddon, he was cast in in The Green Mile, and went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He appeared in many more films before passing of a heart attack on Sept. 3, 2012.

Writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, 71.

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Nora wrote the classic romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle, plus the drama Silkwood — and received Best Screenplay nominations at the Academy Awards for all three. She also directed eight films including Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia. She died of leukemia on June 26, 2012.

Sitar legend Ravi Shankar, 92.

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Ravi was a masterful Indian musician and composer who became well known in the West after The Beatles’ George Harrison became a fan and friend. He had three children, including “Come Away With Me” singer Norah Jones. He died after undergoing heart surgery on Dec. 11, 2012.

The Bee Gees Robin Gibb, 62.


Robin, along with brothers Barry and Maurice, made up the wildly popular group The Bee Gees, which sold more than 220 million records worldwide. He co-wrote and sang lead on the classic “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” He died of colorectal cancer on May 20, 2012.

Disco singer Donna Summer, 63.


The “Queen of Disco” won five Grammys and scored dozens of hits including the classics “Last Dance” and “She Works Hard For The Money.” She died of lung cancer on May 17, 2012.

Actor Paul Walker, 41.


While he’s best known for playing Brian O’Conner in The Fast and the Furious franchise, Paul began acting in the ’80s and notably appeared in Pleasantville and Varsity Blues. He died in a high-speed car accident on Nov. 30, 2013.

Actor James Avery, 68.


James was best known for playing Will Smith’s “Uncle Phil” on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. After serving in Vietnam, he worked for PBS until his acting career took off around the age of 40. He died on Dec. 31, 2013, following open-heart surgery.

Actor James Gandolfini, 51.


James won three Emmy awards for his unforgettable portrayal of Tony Soprano on HBO’s classic series The Sopranos. On the big screen, he starred films like Get Shorty, True Romance, and Enough Said. He died of a heart attack on June 19, 2013.

Film critic Roger Ebert, 70.

Tribune Ent.

Roger made generations of Americans fall in love with the movies thanks to his erudite reviews in print and on his TV show At the Movies (which famously gave films a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”). He died of cancer on April 4, 2013.

Actor Edward Hermann, 71.

Warner Bros.

Hermann had a long career on stage and screen, winning a Tony Award and receiving multiple Emmy award nominations. He appeared in movies The Purple Rose of Cairo and Annie, and TV shows St. Elsewhere and Grey’s Anatomy, but he is best known for playing Richard Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. He died of brain cancer on Dec. 31, 2014.

Actor Elizabeth Peña, 55.


Born in Cuba, Elizabeth moved to New York as a child. She soon established herself as a gifted actor in films such as La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob’s Ladder, Rush Hour, The Incredibles, and Lone Star. She died of cirrhosis of the liver on Oct. 14, 2014.

Comedic actor Jan Hooks, 57.


Jan started her comedy career with The Groundlings before joining Saturday Night Live in 1986. She spent six years as a regular on the show (and often returned after leaving to play Hillary Clinton). After SNL, she joined Designing Women and had recurring roles on 3rd Rock From the Sun and 30 Rock. She died on Oct. 9, 2014, of throat cancer.

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81.

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Joan not only guest-hosted The Tonight Show, but was the first woman ever to host her own late night network television talk show with Late Show With Joan Rivers. Later, she hosted E’s popular Fashion Police and was a fixture on red carpets. She died following minor throat surgery on Sept. 4, 2014.

Actor and director Richard Attenborough, 90.


Richard famously appeared in Jurassic Park and Miracle on 34th Street, but his career high point was directing/producing 1982’s Gandhi, which won Best Picture. Richard also won Best Director. He died of natural causes on Aug. 24, 2014.

Actor and writer Ruby Dee, 91.

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Ruby was a star of the stage and screen for seven decades, and appeared in classic films like Raisin in the Sun and Do The Right Thing. She won a Grammy, Emmy, Obie and Drama Desk award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Ruby died of natural causes on June 11, 2014.

Writer, director, and actor Harold Ramis, 69.


Harold was most famous for playing Egon Spengler in the original Ghostbusters films, which he co-wrote. He also directed the classic comedies Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation, and co-wrote and directed Groundhog Day and Analyze This. He died from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis on Feb. 24, 2014.

Horror film director Wes Craven, 76.

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Dubbed “The Master of Horror,” he created A Nightmare on Elm Street (which introduced Freddy Krueger to the world) and Scream. He died Aug. 30, 2015 of brain cancer.

Sportscaster Stuart Scott, 49.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Stuart was one of America’s most popular sportscasters for two decades, first on ABC and then ESPN. He was famous for his knowledge of basketball, style, and ability to talk about sports the way average people do (“Boo-yah!” was a catchphrase he popularized). He died of cancer on Jan. 4, 2015.

Singer-songwriter Glen Frey, 67.

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Glen Frey was a founding member of the rock band The Eagles, which dominated the musical landscape in the ’70s. He sang lead on famous Eagles’ tracks like “Take It Easy” and “Heartache Tonight,” and later scored solo hits like “The Heat Is On.” He died from complications including pneumonia on January 18, 2016.

Actor and activist Alexis Arquette, 47.

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A member of the famous Arquette acting family, Alexis appeared in films like Last Exit to Brooklyn, Pulp Fiction, Bride of Chucky, and The Wedding Singer. She was also a fierce advocate of other transgender people. After dealing with HIV-related health issues, she died of a heart attack on Sept. 11, 2016.

Singer Christina Grimmie, 22.

Kevin Winter

Christina became a YouTube favorite thanks to a series of song covers she posted that showed off her incredible vocal stylings. After finishing third on season six of NBC’s The Voice, she released an EP entitled Side A. Tragically, she was shot and killed by an obsessed fan on June 10, 2016.

Comedian Gary Shandling, 66.


Gary’s successful stand-up career featured numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (he was even a frequent guest host). Later, his shows It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show were critical and popular favorites. He died of a pulmonary embolism on March 24, 2016.

Music producer Sir George Martin, 90.

Keystone / Getty Images

George was The Beatles producer and the true fifth Beatle. His suggestion to speed up Please, Please Me made it the group’s first #1, he played on dozens of their recordings (including contributing the piano solo on “In My Life”), and he composed and orchestrated the strings on songs like “Eleanor Rigby.” After The Beatles broke up, he produced many great artists like Elton John, The Who, and his old friend Paul McCartney. He died of natural causes on March 8, 2016.

Baseball star Jose Fernandez, 24.

Rob Foldy / Getty Images

Born in Cuba, Jose defected to the USA in 2008. He made his major league debut for the Marlins at the age of just 20, and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award. A two-time All Star, Jose was having his best season yet when he died in a boating crash on Sept. 25, 2016.

Actor, songwriter, and host Alan Thicke, 69.


Alan was best known for playing the patriarch on the hit sitcom Growing Pains, but he also co-wrote a lot of TV show theme songs, including the classic ear worms for Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life. He died of a heart attack on Dec. 13, 2016.

Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, 91.

Robert Mora / Getty Images

Hugh’s Playboy magazine — with its nude and semi-nude images of women — helped drive the sexual revolution of the ’60s. He was a larger-than-life figure, known for always wearing a robe, living in The Playboy Mansion, and having many girlfriends at once time. He died of cardiac arrest on Sept. 27, 2017.

Comedian and civil rights Dick Gregory, 84.

Public Domain

Dick revolutionized stand-up comedy by refusing to play nice. In his sets he lampooned the idiocy of racism, and soon became the first black comedian to cross over to white audiences. He also was a leader for civil rights in the ’60s, and a critic of the Vietnam War. He died of heart failure on Aug. 19, 2017.

Musician Glen Campbell, 81.

Ed Rode / Getty Images

Blessed with powerful pipes and blazing guitar skills, Glenn became a country music star thanks to hits “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Wichita Lineman,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He won 10 Grammys and also hosted CBS’ The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. He died of Alzheimer’s on Aug. 8, 2017.

Actor Mary Tyler Moore, 80.


Mary was one of TV’s all-time legends thanks to her groundbreaking work in the ’60s and ’70s on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She won seven Emmy Awards and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in Ordinary People. Also a philanthropist, she died from cardiopulmonary arrest on Jan. 25, 2017.

Actor Bill Paxton, 61.

Paramount/20th Century Fox

Bill brought an everyman quality and sharp acting skills to films like Aliens, Twister, Titanic, and A Simple Plan. He also starred as polygamist Bill Henrickson on HBO’s long-running series Big Love. He died of a stroke following heart surgery on Feb. 25, 2017.

United States senator and military officer John McCain, 81.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

John was naval aviator during the Vietnam War who was shot down and held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese for five years. While he was tortured during his capture, he refused to be released early. Later, he served decades as a Representative and then Senator. He also was the 2008 Republican nominee for president. He died of brain cancer on August 25, 2018.

Animator Stephen Hillenburg, 57.

Mark Mainz / Getty Images

Stephen was best known for creating — plus writing, directing, and producing — Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. Also a philanthropist, Stephen helped many charities. He died of ALS on Nov. 26, 2018.

Musician Mac Miller, 26.

Warner Bros.

Mac was a multi-instrumentalist who made a name for himself as a teenager in Pittsburgh’s hip hop scene. He went on to release five top ten albums, be nominated for a Grammy, and appear on Ariana Grande’s hit song “The Way.” He died of an accidental overdose on Sept. 7, 2018.

Celebrity chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain, 61.


Anthony’s 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly made him famous, but he was best known for his food and travel shows A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He died by suicide on June 8, 2018.

Actor Verne Troyer, 49.

New Line Cinema

Verne captivated audiences as “Mini Me” to Mike Meyers’ Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers franchise. He later played the goblin Griphook in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and appeared in reality shows. Verne struggled with alcoholism and died on April 21, 2018.

Actor Cameron Boyce, 20.

Cameron was a prolific actor best known for his roles on the Disney shows Jessie and Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, as well as for playing Carlos in The Descendants franchise. He died on July 6, 2019, due to complications of epilepsy.

Writer and director John Singleton, 50.

Rob Kim

At 24 years old, John became both the first African American and the youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Director at The Academy Awards for his landmark film Boyz n the Hood. He was also nominated for Best Screenplay. Later, he directed films like Baby Boy and 2 Fast 2 Furious, and co-created the TV series Snowfall. He died after a stroke on April 28, 2019.

Actress and singer Doris Day, 97.

Public Domain

Doris established herself as a Hollywood star in the ’40s, but scaled her greatest heights in the ’60s when she became Hollywood’s number-one box office star four out of the decade’s first five years thanks to hits like Pillow Talk. Doris also had a long and successful singing career, scoring five chart-topping hits. She died of pneumonia on May 13, 2019.

Actor Luke Perry, 52.


Luke became a star in the ’90s for playing teen hearthrob Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. In recent years, he starred in the CW’s Riverdale and appeared in Quentin Tarrantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. He died on March 4, 2019, after a stroke.

Musician and producer Ric Ocasek, 75.

Kevin Kane / Getty Images

Ric was the lead singer and main songwriter for The Cars, who scored hit songs in the ’70s and ’80s like “Just What I Needed,” “You Might Think,” and “Drive.” He was also an in-demand producer who oversaw Weezer’s classic debut album. He died of natural causes on Sept. 15, 2019.

Other notables who died during the decade include:

Heavy metal artist Ronnie James Dio, 67; author and health care advocate Elizabeth Edwards, 61; New York Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner, 80; The Naked Gun funny man Leslie Nielson, 84; 60 MinutesAndy Rooney, 92; rapper/actor Heavy D, 44; boxing legend Joe Frazier, 67; author Pat Conroy, 70; Columbo star Peter Falk, 83; author Tom Clancy, 66; actor Jane Russell, 89; The Monkees’ Davy Jones, 66; The Band’s Levon Helm, 71; football Hall of Famer Junior Seau, 43; musician Keith Emerson, 71; composer James Horner, 61; The Doors’ Ray Manzarek, 74; Cream’s Jack Bruce, 71; designer Gloria Vanderbilt, 95; radio legend Casey Kasem, 82; The Brady Bunch stars Florence Henderson, 82; and Ann B. Davis, 88; James Bond actor Roger Moore, 89; Everybody Loves Raymond actors Doris Roberts, 90; and Sawyer Sweeten, 19; teen idol and musician David Cassidy, 67; rapper XXXTentacion, 20; rock artist Eddie Money, 70; Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, 41; rapper Nipsey Hussle, 33; musician Avicii, 28; Cream drummer Ginger Baker, 80; actor Robert Forster, 78, politician Elijah Cummings, 69.


An earlier draft omitted some celebrities and notable people who should have been on the list. They have since been added.

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Stressed Students, Bridesmaids Drama, And More: An Advice Column From A Total Amateur

Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results! NBC 1. “Dear Andy,I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying…



Stressed Students, Bridesmaids Drama, And More: An Advice Column From A Total Amateur

Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results!



“Dear Andy,

I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying to 12 schools, 10 on the west coast and two in BC. I’m a high achieving student (I’m in five AP classes, president of two clubs, volunteering and a job, etc.) and I don’t want to go somewhere that’s all about the pressure, but I still want a high quality education. I’m so lost, help!”

—The Overwhelmed Student

Dear Overwhelmed,

You posted this just to dunk on all of us academically, didn’t you?

Kidding. In all seriousness, you can get a very good education at a bunch of different schools. And when you’re done, you’ll have a degree that probably nobody will ever verify! In my completely amateur opinion, the only reason people think the “Ivy League” schools are better is because a lot of wealthy, well-connected people go there (and have gone there), and therefore when you graduate from one, you’re more likely to get in at some fancy law firm or whatever because of your connections. So if you aren’t planning on being like, IDK, the CFO of Waystar Royco or something, just pick the school that you really want to go to. Where are you going to be happy living? Is one of the schools in a city you already want to move to and/or the city that has jobs in your future profession? Is it important for you to be close to home? How many Wendy’s are there on campus, and do they carry Spicy Nuggets? These are the questions you should be asking.

Oh, wait, actually…forget all that. Go to the school that will cost the least when you factor in tuition, room & board, and any scholarships you might get. Student loans are a curse and you want as little of them as possible. In the end, you might not even end up doing the thing you studied in college. Wanna know what degree I have? A BFA in Theater Performance. An acting degree. And now here I am, writing for a website. You’ll be fine.



“Dear Andy,

I got married this summer, and I decided to choose only family to be my bridesmaids. For me this included three female cousins and my (now) sister-in-law. My husband, on the other hand, decided to do a mix of family as well as friends from high school for his groomsmen. I had no problem with this at all.

I had a few friends who I knew would expect to be bridesmaids, so I made it clear to them from the very beginning that I would be choosing family only as to not have a huge wedding party, but I told them they were not any less important to me and that I still wanted them to be involved in the wedding as much as they felt comfortable with. Most of the friends I had this conversation with were very understanding, however one straight up told me that she was disappointed (this was two years before the wedding).

Now it’s been a few months since I got married and this friend (a friend from childhood) started talking about the wedding. She told me she felt left out of the wedding since she wasn’t part of the wedding party. It particularly bothered her that my husband included friends and I didn’t. She then proceeded to tell me that it was difficult for her to be there the day of my wedding because of these feelings. AT MY WEDDING. She also included the fact that she didn’t want to upset me and that it doesn’t change our friendship. But if that is the case then why say anything in the first place? I’ve already said one too many times the reason for my bridesmaid choices and how important she is to me regardless. And she says she understands. I just wish she would let it go. Ever since this conversation I feel like I’ve been seeing her in a whole new light.

I do care about her feelings, but I stick by my decision and I don’t regret anything. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to make her feel better.”

—The Besieged Bride

[TL;DR: Bride had only family as bridesmaids, groom had some friends in the mix, bride’s childhood friend felt left out and complained about it a few months after the wedding.]

Dear Besieged,

Question one: How drunk was your friend when she brought this up to you? If she was like, a 6 or more out of 10, I say let’s give it a pass and hope she got it out of her system.

Question two: Has your friend had a wedding of her own yet? If yes, then she should’ve understood the situation, because wedding planning is a special kind of hell and inevitably you have to make difficult decisions like this one that might hurt people’s feelings. So if you’ve planned your own wedding, you know the deal and you’re able to say to yourself, “It’s their wedding, I’m just going to be supportive and have fun.” If she hasn’t gotten married yet, she’ll realize later that it was totally inappropriate to complain about this to you. Hopefully.



“Dear Andy,

I have been taking so many of the relationship quizzes on BuzzFeed but they all say I’m single. The major problem is I have an S.O. Is she just faking or am I?? Help me!! Is my girlfriend not actually mine or are we real?”

—The Quizzical Quiz-Taker

Dear Quizzical,

You’re not real. This is all a simulation.

—Andy (or am I?)


“Dear Andy,

I’m not sure where to live. I live in Milwaukee, WI, right now. Moved here three years ago for school, but that fell through because Milwaukee is friggin expensive. My family wants me to move back to the other side of the state, towards Minneapolis/St. Paul. What should I do?”

—Meandering the Midwest

Dear Midwest,

Get the fuck out of there, it’s so cold! Listen, I used to live in Michigan, and it was depressing because it was grey and miserable nine months out of the year. Now I live in Southern California, it’s sunny and beautiful and my vitamin D levels are through the roof. Migrate south, seriously.

But if you HAVE to stay, I will say that everybody who lives in Minneapolis seems to LOVE Minneapolis for some reason.



“Dear Andy,

My problem is that I struggle with feeling attractive. I started taking birth control when my boyfriend and I started dating (six years ago). I started gaining the weight right after. I’m now a size 12 and my boyfriend is a slender guy. I haven’t felt attractive in the last year. I gained so much weight at one point I was a size 16. I’m back to a 12 and trying to lose weight again. I don’t feel sexy or beautiful in any way. I prefer to keep my shirt on during sex now. I don’t know why my boyfriend still finds me attractive. I have a tummy, I have rolls when I sit down, I just don’t know what he sees anymore. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.”

—Struggling With Size

Dear Struggling,

First off, don’t worry about your boyfriend. Clearly he finds you attractive, and when you actually care about someone, the size tags on their clothes don’t matter to you at all. Appreciate that fact and find some security there.

Now, consider the possibility that if your boyfriend finds you attractive at any size, you can too! It’s not easy. It requires shedding every bit of toxic influence that the media and our society overall has thrown at you for your entire life. That takes time and work.

But if you are worried about your physical health at all, consult a doctor. There are many different types of birth control and like 40 different pills, and everyone reacts to each one differently. It can take time to find the right one, and not every doctor is going to be helpful about it. Advocate for yourself if you’re unhappy with your medication. You may have done all of this already and I’m just sitting here mansplaining BC to you, but if so at least you can cross that off your Mansplaining Bingo Card.


That’s it for this week. But if you’re having a problem that you need advice about, let me know! It could be anything: petty arguments that you need a judge to decide who was right and who was wrong, help making life decisions, relationship issues — I’m your completely unqualified man. Email (for total anonymity) or leave a comment here!

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Doctors Can Already Refuse To Prescribe The Pill. The Religious Discrimination Bill Could Make That Easier.

The Australian government is pushing ahead with its proposed religious discrimination laws, and doctors and lawyers are concerned the legislation could allow practitioners to deny or delay medical care when it comes to reproductive health.But as signs in GP’s offices provided to BuzzFeed News show, doctors are already refusing reproductive healthcare under the current guidelines,…



Doctors Can Already Refuse To Prescribe The Pill. The Religious Discrimination Bill Could Make That Easier.

The Australian government is pushing ahead with its proposed religious discrimination laws, and doctors and lawyers are concerned the legislation could allow practitioners to deny or delay medical care when it comes to reproductive health.

But as signs in GP’s offices provided to BuzzFeed News show, doctors are already refusing reproductive healthcare under the current guidelines, before a patient has even walked into an appointment.

Laura — who asked to use a pseudonym to protect her privacy — saw this sign in the waiting room for her GP’s office in Sydney’s north. It makes clear the doctor will not prescribe any kind of contraception or referrals for sterilisation or in-vitro fertilisation.

“I just felt really angry that you can basically say ‘I’m not interested in seeing women aged between 15 or 16 and 50’, and that a bulk billing doctor receiving Commonwealth funding refuses to see certain people,” she told BuzzFeed News. “It is within the law to go to the doctor and ask for contraception so I don’t feel like it should be the right of the doctor to refuse it.”

Laura said it was “really alienating” and she was shocked that the sign was allowed under current guidelines.

“It seems to contravene a woman’s right to access healthcare and it sends a really negative message to young women who might be sitting in the waiting room,” she said.

The doctor can be booked online and Laura worries that some patients might not see this sign and then be refused care.

A Melbourne midwife saw this sign in her GP’s surgery making clear the doctor would not give referrals for abortion and featuring the Badge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Catholic devotional article.

The sign itself does not breach Victorian law, nor professional guidelines governing abortion, as a termination has not yet been requested by — and therefore hasn’t been denied to — the patient. If a patient was to request a termination, the law dictates that they must be referred to someone who will provide it.

“According to the legislation, a patient who requests an abortion must be referred to another practitioner — we expect this law to be upheld by all clinicians,” a Victorian Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

Chair of the Australian Medical Association Ethics and Medico-Legal Committee, Dr Chris Moy, said the religious discrimination bill was, to some degree, “a solution searching for a problem”.

“With respect to abortion every [jurisdiction] pretty much allows people to conscientiously object,” Moy told BuzzFeed News. “Most people accept at this moment in time that there can be conscientious objection, but the biggest controversies have always been about your obligations after that and the impact of a delay in treatment should be considered by doctors.”

Australian Government

Religious Discrimination Bill explanatory notes.

The association’s position statement on conscientious objection for any treatment says the impact of a delay in treatment, and whether it might constitute a significant

impediment, should be considered by a doctor if they conscientiously object: “For example, termination of pregnancy services are time critical.”

Moy said doctors need to consider not only their own needs but those of the wider community.

“We as doctors have a right to conscientious objection if we have deeply held beliefs but we cannot walk away from patients and we owe a responsibility to patients in urgent situations,” he said.

Equality Australia chief executive and lawyer Anna Brown said the government’s religious discrimination bill gives additional rights to health professionals who wish to refuse treatment to patients based on personal religious beliefs.

She said it makes it difficult for any health organisation — hospitals, pharmacies, clinics — to enforce standards requiring medical staff to provide “judgement-free treatment, or even treatment at all, regardless of any personal religious views”.

“Because you will not be able to ask current or prospective employees about their religious objections, employers will not — and cannot — know whether someone is willing to do the job until it’s too late,” she said.

“[If the bill passes] a health centre cannot ask its GP whether he objects to prescribing the pill before a patient seeking access books in for an appointment. This will make it very difficult for hospitals, clinics and practices to take steps to ensure continuity of care for their patients.”

Australian Government

Religious Discrimination Bill explanatory notes.

Brown said the bill would “expressly authorise adverse impacts on patient health” to accomodate the religious objections of a health professional, which could have serious implications for patients, particularly those outside major cities.

“If a pharmacist in a small town refuses to dispense a script, how far should the nearest pharmacy be, and how much should it cost to get there, before the law will protect the patient?” she said. “This law doesn’t provide an answer.”

Brown predicted the law would allow “religious judgement” to interfere with the relationship between health professionals and patients.

“Patients will have less protection if a health worker makes certain discriminatory statements during a consultation on the basis of their religious belief,” she said. “For example, women may lose existing discrimination protections if they are told they should ‘pray for forgiveness’ for having sex outside of marriage, falling pregnant outside of wedlock, or sleeping with other women.”

A spokesperson for the Medical Board of Australia told BuzzFeed News that its code states doctors have the right to “not provide or directly participate in treatments if they conscientiously object”.

“However, they must inform patients and colleagues, and not impede patients’ access to treatment,” the spokesperson said.

The code is “not a substitute” for the law.

“If there is any conflict between the code and the law, the law takes precedence,” the spokesperson said. “Anyone who has concerns about the actions of a registered health practitioner, such as a medical practitioner, is encouraged to report this to AHPRA so the concerns can be investigated.”

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Vijay Roach said the college’s response to the bill is consistent with its position on conscientious objection, the right of patients to access health care and the duty of a medical practitioner to ensure that a woman can access the health care she needs.

“RANZCOG respects the personal position of all of our members, and recognises the right to conscientious objection in relation to provision of certain aspects of healthcare,” Roach told BuzzFeed News.

“However, the college emphasises that health practitioners owe a duty of care and must refer the patient to other health practitioners or health services where a woman is able to receive the health care she needs.”

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The Sick Refugees Held In Island Camps Have Become A Defining Political Issue For Australia

The health of the hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees held on island nations in the Pacific has become a defining political issue for Australia. World Vision / PR IMAGE A Sri Lankan asylum seeker looks out to sea on Manus Island in 2017. More than seven years have passed since Australia reopened its offshore…



The Sick Refugees Held In Island Camps Have Become A Defining Political Issue For Australia

The health of the hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees held on island nations in the Pacific has become a defining political issue for Australia.

World Vision / PR IMAGE

A Sri Lankan asylum seeker looks out to sea on Manus Island in 2017.

More than seven years have passed since Australia reopened its offshore detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru. There, and in Papua New Guinea, refugees and asylum seekers were sent to wait in limbo for years, the human collateral of a harsh policy. Many got sick, both physically and mentally.

Fast forward to today. The government desperately wants to repeal the “medevac” law, which, by giving doctors a greater say, makes it easier for the hundreds still in island detention to access medical treatment in Australia.

The issue has become a defining one, and debate on the medevac repeal is likely to feature in Australia’s final political sitting week of 2019.

But how did we get here?

When Kevin Rudd unseated Julia Gillard to return as prime minister in 2013, he made a surprise announcement: nobody who came to Australia by boat in the future would ever be settled in Australia.

Australian Government

Gillard, who led a centre-left government, had reopened detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for offshore processing in 2012, as thousands of people tried to make it to Australia by boat. But Rudd’s ban on ever being re-settled in Australia was new.

The policy was justified as an attempt to discourage people from taking the treacherous boat journey to Australia and halt the people smuggling trade in its tracks.

When the conservative Coalition won the election in September 2013, they doubled down on Rudd’s pledge and introduced Operation Sovereign Borders — a military-led operation that includes intercepting boats before they arrive in Australian waters and turning them back to where they came from.

The numbers of potential refugees in the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island escalated, starting from Rudd’s declaration.

Eoin Blackwell / AAPIMAGE

Asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre in 2014.

By June 2014, there were more than 2,500 asylum seekers in offshore detention: 1,198 men on Manus Island, and 1,268 people on Nauru — including women and children.

24-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei, who was held on Manus Island, died from a leg infection in September 2014.

Refugee Action Coalition / PR IMAGE

After Khazaei contracted the leg infection, he developed flu-like symptoms. After three days, the Australian government approved his transfer to Port Moresby. He had a series of cardiac arrests. He was transferred to Brisbane, Australia, but he died a week later. A coroner would later find that Khazaei could have lived if he had received appropriate medical care when his condition first deteriorated. He found that Khazaei would have survived if he had been evacuated to Australia for medical treatment earlier.

Darren England / AAPIMAGE

Khazaei was the third man to die in offshore detention. Earlier in 2014, Reza Berati was murdered by security guards at the Manus Island regional processing centre, and Sayed Ibrahim Hussein drowned.

Meanwhile the number of people needing medical treatment for serious and complex complex in Australia was escalating. But in mid-2015, the government put on the brakes, deciding transfers to Australia should become “increasingly rare”.


In 2013, 92 people were transferred to Australia. The following year that number went up to 362. The first half of 2015 saw similarly high numbers of transfers.

But in May 2015, after a review of the number and purpose of medical transfers, the government decided they should become “increasingly rare”. According to a directive issued by immigration department secretary Michael Pezzullo, a patient would need to be in a “life and death” situation, or one “involving the risk of life-time injury or disability”, to come to Australia. He said he expected at least half the asylum-seekers temporarily in Australia for medical treatment to be returned within a month.

Previously, family members of a patient were automatically transferred with them. After the review, the immigration department would decide on a case-by-case basis.

The review also led the government to invest in more medical facilities and expertise on Nauru and Manus.

A failed legal challenge to offshore detention saw people take to the streets for the Let Them Stay campaign at the start of 2016.

Carol Cho / AAPIMAGE

A Let Them Stay rally in Sydney in February 2016.

On Feb. 3, 2016 the High Court rejected a claim from a refugee that Australia’s system of offshore detention was illegal.

In the wake of the case, refugee advocates launched the Let Them Stay campaign, demanding that 267 people in Australia for medical treatment (including 37 babies and more than 50 children) not be sent back to Nauru and Manus Island. The campaign achieved widespread support, with churches offering to provide sanctuary, and the 267 people were able to stay in Australia.

Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE

Demonstrators in Sydney in February 2016.

While the government largely stopped returning people to offshore detention, transfer numbers dropped dramatically.

Supplied: Department of Home Affairs.

In the calendar year 2016, just 73 people came to Australia from offshore detention. The number fell to 37 in 2017.

Although it is not government policy to keep sick refugees from offshore detention in Australia, since the Let Them Stay campaign very few people have been returned, even if they are not granted a visa. The last person went back to Nauru voluntarily in April 2018.

In the middle of 2016, two more refugees aged in their 20s died.

Dave Hunt / AAPIMAGE

A vigil for Omid Masoumali outside the inquest into his death in February 2019.

Omid Masoumali, 26, set himself on fire on Nauru on April 29, 2016. More than 24 hours later, he was flown to Brisbane, where he died several days later. Just two weeks later, Rakib Khan died at 26 from a suspected overdose.

A groundbreaking case in May 2016 laid the foundations for a legal campaign to get sick refugees to Australia.

Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE

The National Justice Project’s George Newhouse, who represented the woman.

A young woman refugee who became pregnant after a sexual assault on Nauru, and wanted an abortion, brought the case in the Federal Court. The Australian government wanted to take her to Papua New Guinea for the abortion, but the court found she could not receive a safe or legal termination there. The government gave evidence that they did not bring her to Australia because her case was not “exceptional” enough to comply with their strict policy.

In a landmark ruling, Justice Mordecai Bromberg found that the Australian government had a duty of care to the people it holds offshore.

In November 2016, the United States agreed to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island.

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and president Donald Trump meet in the Oval Office in February 2018.

After a famously heated phone call, US president Donald Trump agreed to continue the arrangement, which prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had negotiated with the Obama administration. The first refugees left for the US in September 2017.

In the face of the “unique and complex” medical problems facing refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, the government convened a taskforce of bureaucrats to decide who would come to Australia.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Home affairs department secretary Michael Pezzullo.

The transitory persons committee, established in mid-2016, sat without a doctor among its members for nine months. Meeting records obtained by BuzzFeed News showed the committee discussed the department’s reputation and the likelihood of litigation when considering what to recommend. Until the medevac law, the secretive committee was the forum where transfer decisions were made.

The memo setting up the transitory persons committee noted that the government continued to see “unique and complex” cases, involving a combination of physical health, mental health and child protection issues. It said the committee’s purpose was to consider the “medical, legal, diplomatic, policy and financial implications” of medical transfers to Australia.

After reading the minutes, a former doctor on Nauru, Nick Martin, told BuzzFeed News: “They’re coming at it from the position of, what can we do to keep this person out of Australia? That a dangerous point to start off from.”

Taiwan and Australia secretly reached a deal in September 2017, allowing sick refugees to receive high-quality care for complex medical conditions — without being brought to Australia.

Solomon203 / Wikimedia

The first transfers happened in January 2018. At least 33 people have gone from Nauru to Taiwan for treatment, but many have refused to go.

Between August 2016 and November 2017, five more detainees died. Four had been held on Manus Island, and one on Nauru.

Building on the May 2016 decision, a flood of cases seeking medical transfers from offshore detention hit the Federal Court throughout 2018.

Refugee Action Coalition / PR IMAGE

A group of men protest in the Manus Island detention centre in November 2017.

Some of the cases were brought on behalf of children on Nauru suffering from serious psychiatric problems.

All up, lawyers brought 48 court cases between December 2017 and February 2019 to have clients transferred for treatment. They won every case.

Lawyers who fought the cases have said the government routinely ignored requests to evacuate desperately ill refugees, forcing lawyers to front court on weekends and in the middle of the night.

In the midst of the legal onslaught, the Department of Home Affairs formalised its hardline policy: nobody would come to Australia unless there were “exceptional” circumstances.

Supplied: Department of Home Affairs.

The policy, from June 2018, stated that transfer requests would only be considered if a patient had a “critical and complex” medical condition that would result in their death or “permanent, significant disability” if they were not transferred to Australia.

The transitory persons committee would later discuss whether there was “room for compassion” in the policy.

A health crisis was building. Evidence grew that the environment of offshore detention not only made it more difficult to access medical treatment, but was causing health problems in the first place.

Danny Casey / AAPIMAGE

MSF doctors addressing the media in Sydney in October 2018.

By mid-2018, health contractor International Health and Medical Services had started regularly reporting that the environment on Nauru was a factor causing ill health among refugees and asylum seekers.

International medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières agreed. “Living under a policy of indefinite processing creates a perpetual state of despair, making it impossible for asylum seekers and refugees to recover,” said the organisation’s Australian president in December 2018. After spending 11 months working on Nauru, MSF was expelled by the Nauruan government. MSF described the mental health situation on Nauru as “disastrous”.

“In fact the mental health situation and suffering is amongst the most severe that MSF has seen around the world, including in projects providing care for victims of torture,” president Stewart Condon said.

In mid-2018, two more asylum seekers died.

Children on Nauru developed Resignation Syndrome, a rare psychological illness where they withdrew from the world.

Mike Leyral / Getty Images

A 12-year-old Iranian refugee girl, who had attempted to self-immolate with petrol, on Nauru in September 2018.

BuzzFeed News reported, and MSF later confirmed, that a number of children held on Nauru had developed the condition, which doctors liken to “going into hibernation”. Children with the condition withdraw from the world, cease eating, drinking, speaking, and using the toilet, and fall into a seemingly comatose state.

Revelations in the media and the courts meant the Kids Off Nauru campaign gathered pace in the last months of 2018.

News Corp

The front page of the Sunday Telegraph on October 28, 2018.

Tracey Nearmy / Getty Images

A billboard outside parliament in November 2018.

This is big. Page 2 of today’s @dailytelegraph, which is a Murdoch newspaper. #KidsOffNauru

This is big. Page 2 of today’s @dailytelegraph, which is a Murdoch newspaper. #KidsOffNauru

Meanwhile in Canberra, home affairs minister Peter Dutton launched a leadership challenge against prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.


Dutton announcing his challenge on August 23, 2018.

Dutton was unsuccessful in the first spill, but over the course of a chaotic parliamentary week, Turnbull lost the numbers and resigned as leader.

A second spill saw Scott Morrison emerge victorious and be sworn in as prime minister in August 2018.

During her campaign, Phelps had spoken out about the treatment of refugees in offshore detention.

Her victory, together with the resignation of MP Julia Banks from the Liberal party because of her disgust with the leadership spill, left the Coalition with less than half of the seats in the lower house of parliament.

In February 2019, Phelps and the combined forces of Labor, the Greens and other independents succeeded in getting the medevac law through parliament.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

It was the first time a government had lost a substantive vote on the floor of the House of Representatives in 78 years. The government stridently opposed the changes, which gave doctors a greater role in deciding who would be transferred. The government claimed it would lead to a flood of people smuggler boats making a dangerous sea voyage to Australia.

The first people transferred under medevac came to Australia on March 29, after the law commenced at the start of March.

Meanwhile, the health crisis in detention was worsening. In the first three months of 2019, 43 detainees were admitted to Nauru’s Regional Processing Centre Medical Centre (RPCMC), for stays between 1 and 44 days. The majority of admissions were for mental health treatment and some of the 43 were admitted more than once, with 73 admissions in total. There were 359 detainees in total on Nauru at the end of March.

Although the minority government could not repeal medevac, it fought the law in the courts, but lost in the Federal Court and the Full Federal Court. It has also tried to argue the courts cannot order refugees to be transferred from offshore, but was unsuccessful in the Full Federal Court. It wants to appeal the judgment in the High Court.

In February 2019, the last four children left Nauru, boarding a plane for settlement in the US.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

A woman and her daughter protest in Canberra in November 2018.

The Morrison government was returned in the May election, this time with a majority.

Tracey Nearmy / Getty Images

Morrison’s victory speech.

But that election also brought back Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie.

Tracey Nearmy / Getty Images

Lambie returns to parliament in July 2019.

With its newfound parliamentary majority, the government passed a bill to repeal medevac through the lower house in July. But it needs Lambie’s vote to secure a victory in the Senate before it is passed into law and medevac is gone.

Meanwhile, medevac has continued to operate.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Doctors call for medevac to be saved, at parliament house this week.

Under the first six months of the medevac regime, 127 people were approved to come to Australia. Since medevac became law, there have been no deaths in offshore detention. The independent panel which reviews government vetos of medical transfers has agreed with the government most of the time.

With one week left for the government get it done before the end of the year, all eyes are on Jacqui Lambie. She’s said she’ll vote to repeal medevac, on one condition…

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

…but has refused to reveal the condition, citing national security. Nine newspapers reported that she wants the government to secure third-country resettlement for the people remaining on Nauru and Manus, perhaps by taking up New Zealand’s offer.

What happens next? We’ll find out this week.

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