Deaths of the decade

The 2010s were full of movies, songs, and pop culture that shaped the decade. However, some of the most influential people of the past and of recent years have passed away. From scientists to singers to actors, here are some of the most impactful people who the world said goodbye to. 


J. D. Salinger

   The American author is best known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye. He also published other short stories and served in World War II. Salinger was 91 when he passed away on January 27, 2010.


Elizabeth Taylor who passed away in 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

   At just ten years old, the movie star debuted in There’s One Born Every Minute and had her breakout role two years later with National Velvet. Taylor acted in at least thirty-five movies, winning two Oscars. On March 23, Taylor died at the age of 79.

Steve Jobs

   The co-founder of Apple revolutionized technology and greatly impacted everyday life across the world. Over two billion iPhones have been sold since the release of smartphones by Jobs. Other technologies like personal computers, portable music players, and iPads were popularized with his help, but he passed away on October 5, 2011 at 52 years old.


Sally Ride

   In 1983, she made history as the first American woman to travel into space and is still the youngest American who has been to space at just 32 years old. Ride went to space a second time in 1984 and passed away at age 61 on July 23, 2012. 

Neil Armstrong

   In one of the most important moments of the century, he became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969, as the commander of Apollo 11. Armstrong then said his famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He passed away at 82 years old on August 25, 2012.


Margaret Thatcher who passed away in 2013

Margaret Thatcher

   Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of Britain and the longest serving one of the 20th century after serving for over 11 years. She was nicknamed “The Iron Lady” because she had an uncompromising leadership and political style. Thatcher was 87 at the time of her death on April 8, 2013.

Nelson Mandela

   Nelson Mandela was a political leader who worked in South Africa to end the apartheid. Mandela fought for rights for the people who the racial segregation disadvantaged. He was imprisoned for attempting to overthrow the state but was elected president when he was freed. 

   History teacher Mr. Gates spoke on Mandela’s impact. 

   “Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on; first of all in the country he helped bring together and the fact that he changed that culture for the better, proving that it’s possible to do anywhere,” Gates said. 

   Mandela died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95.


Shirley Temple who passed away in 2014

Shirley Temple

   The child actress sang and danced her way through Hollywood and into the hearts of America. She acted for 33 years but as an adult, became the ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia. Temple passed away at 85 years old on February 10, 2014.

Robin Williams

   Robin Williams was a comedian and actor who became popular through stand-up comedy and sitcoms, such as Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. Williams won an Oscar, four Grammy Awards, and six Golden Globe Awards. On August 11, 2014, Williams died at age 63.


Leonard Nimoy

   This actor was best known for playing Mr. Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series and in some Star Trek movies. At 83, he passed away on February 27, 2015.


David Bowie

   He was a songwriter, musician, and actor who recorded over four hundred songs. Bowie died on January 10, 2016 at 69 years old.


   The “Purple Rain” musician conquered the music world as a singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He died at age 57 on April 21, 2016.

John Glenn

   He was not only the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, but also a U.S. senator. Glenn went back into space on the Discovery space shuttle at age 77. He was 95 when he passed away on December 8, 2016.

Carrie Fisher

   Carrie Fisher acted as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, but also wrote screenplays and novels. She died on December 27, 2016 at 60 years old and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died one day later.


Mary Tyler Moore

   Mary Tyler Moore was an actress on television, film, and stage, and a producer. She was most well known for her roles in The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore passed away on January 25, 2017 at 80 years old.

Tom Petty

   Tom Petty was a singer, musician, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty was 66 years old at the time of his death on October 2, 2017.


Stephen Hawking

   Stephen Hawking may be one of the most influential physicists of the century and also appeared on everything from The Simpsons to Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was young and died on March 14, 2018 at 76.

Aretha Franklin

   Aretha Franklin was a singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist. She began singing gospel at the Baptist church where her father was a pastor and was nicknamed “The Queen of Soul” as an adult. Franklin was 76 when she passed away on August 16, 2018.

John McCain

   The former Senator of Arizona served in the United States Navy. McCain fought in the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war for five and a half years. He passed away on August 25, 2018 at 81 years old.

Stan Lee

   The comic-book pioneer was the leader of Marvel Comics. He made cameos in Marvel movies and created Spider-Man along with many other characters. Lee was 95 when he died on November 12, 2018.


Cameron Boyce

   He was an actor who first appeared in a Panic! at the Disco music video. Boyce later became popular as an actor on the Disney Channel series “Jessie” where he played Luke Ross. He passed away at only 20 years old on July 6, 2019.

Juice WRLD

   He was a singer, rapper, and songwriter. He was most popular for his singles “All Girls Are the Same” and “Lucid Dreams.” At 21 years old, he died on December 8, 2019.

   All of these people have made headlines and were revolutionary in their fields. Though their deaths were tragic, their lives continue to change society. They had ups and downs just like everyone else but were impactful and became models for others to make the world better. 

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