2016 was a big year for major celebrity news. Let's take a look at some of the most monumental stories, starting with the most shocking death to hit Hollywood. David Bowie, Mr. Ziggy Stardust himself, passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 69 after a secret 18-month battle with liver cancer. Few knew of the struggle he was facing, as he only told his family and people he was working with about his condition. His last public appearance before his sad passing was on Dec. 7, 2015, at the opening night of "Lazarus," an off-Broadway show he'd composed.
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David Bowie's death absolutely shook Hollywood, which had just finished celebrating at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards when it heard the news. "I'm Devastated! This great Artist changed my life! First concert i ever saw in Detroit!," Madonna tweeted, adding, "R.I.P. … Talented . Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever! … So lucky to have met you!!!! Hot Tramp I love you So! #rebelheart." Kanye West said, "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."
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Interest in David Bowie's music went through the roof after his death. He became the king of YouTube. Just after his passing, the iconic star's catalog garnered 51 million video views within 24 hours, obliterating Adele's "Hello" comeback single record, which saw her rack up 36 million views in October 2015. David's newest music video before his passing, "Lazarus," was only released a week before his death and alone had nearly 19 million views.
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On April 15, it was reported that Prince was rushed to the hospital after his jet made an emergency landing in Illinois following a concert in Atlanta as he was heading home to Minnesota. Less than a week later, on April 21, the legendary musician passed away in his Paisley Park compound. He was found unresponsive in an elevator.
Just hours prior to Prince's sudden death, the singer was spotted hitting up a local Walgreens pharmacy, which was apparently his fourth visit there that week. Investigators then reported that Prince had been in possession of prescription painkillers, prompting the Drug Enforcement Agency to join the death investigation in early May. The early thinking was that doctors may have been over-prescribing Prince. On June 6, nearly two months after his untimely passing, the medical examiner finally revealed the cause of death: Prince died of an accidental opioid overdose, specifically from the drug Fentanyl.
Prince was reported to be worth as much as $300 million, but what becomes of his estate is still unknown, as he wasn't married and had no children — and didn't leave a will. More than a dozen people came forward in the months after his death to claim that they deserved a piece of the pie. Prince's only full sibling, Tyka Nelson, was the first to file court documents on April 26, submitting a petition for formal appointment of a special administrator five days after her brother's death. Half-siblings have come forward, as have people claiming to be related in some way. It's likely that this won't be cleared up for months or even years.
On Nov. 8, Hollywood was as jubilant as ever as many expected Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, and win it quite handily. But on Nov. 9, the celebration was over in Tinseltown. Business mogul Donald Trump, the former host of "The Apprentice," had won the presidency, shocking many to their core.
Many celebrities didn't know how to react to Donald Trump's win. Some did. While holding up a sign that read "Love Trumps Hate," Lady Gaga protested outside of Trump Tower in New York City, where the President-elect lives. Katy Perry tweeted, "WE WILL NEVER BE SILENCED. #LOVETRUMPSHATE." She later tweeted, "Do not sit still. Do not weep. MOVE. We are not a nation that will let HATE lead us." Chris Evans — Captain America himself — tweeted, "This is an embarrassing night for America. We've let a hatemonger lead our great nation. We've let a bully set our course. I'm devastated." Granted, Trump had some supporters in Hollywood, but by and large, Tinseltown was Hillary country.
Perhaps no one summed up the entertainment world's feelings better than the cast of "Saturday Night Live," who mocked Donald Trump (and, sometimes, Hillary Clinton) leading up to the election. Five days after the former reality star won the electoral college, Kate McKinnon reprised her role as Hillary and sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" accompanying herself on piano (the music legend passed away that week, so it was especially poignant). As she drew to a close, a teary-eyed Kate turned to the camera and said, "I'm not giving up. And neither should you." Many media outlets described the opening as "cold," and it was.
Kim Kardashian West's life changed dramatically on Oct. 3. As she relaxed in her apartment hotel room in Paris, five masked men came in and robbed her at gunpoint. During the heist, the men bound and gagged her and put her in a bathtub while they searched for money and jewelry. Her bodyguard was not with her, but with sister Kourtney Kardashian at a nearby nightclub — Kim had thought she was safe since she was in for the night. After the robbery, the men escaped on foot and on bicycles with more than $5.6 million in jewels, including a $4 million diamond ring that had been a gift from husband Kanye West. Surveillance video was reviewed but no arrests have been made and authorities have few leads.
Kim Kardashian West immediately left Paris after the robbery and headed to New York City to be with her husband, Kanye West, who'd stopped performing in the middle of a concert upon hearing the news of her ordeal. Kim all but retreated from public life for more than a month, canceling appearances and interviews and avoiding her beloved social media. Reports also said that Kim was going to rethink how she used social media in the future, including how she flaunts her wealth. "The robbery made her reevaluate what's important in life," a source told Us Weekly. "She will be more careful and more private now."
After the robbery, Kim Kardashian West fired her bodyguard and initiated a complete overhaul of her security detail, hiring a new team made up of both uniformed and non-uniformed guards to watch over her every move. There were also reports that she was building a state-of-the-art panic room in her home and being trained in self-defense.
On Nov. 21, another bombshell struck the Kardashian-West family. Kanye West was hospitalized after canceling the remaining U.S. dates of his Saint Pablo tour amid a devastating mental health crisis. According to multiple reports, the rapper and fashion designer was placed on a 5150 hold and taken to UCLA Medical Center for psychiatric evaluation after his doctor requested help from paramedics and law enforcement. Reports revealed Kanye was handcuffed to a gurney before being taken away from his trainer Harley Pasternak's home, where he was allegedly acting erratically. (Other reports insisted he was simply exhausted and sleep-deprived.) Kanye's mental health crisis came on the heels of two headline making outbursts: On Nov. 17, he ranted about how he didn't vote but would have voted for Donald Trump and thought the President-elect's campaign approach was "absolutely genius." Then on Nov. 19, he made jaws drop again when he complained about Jay Z, Beyonce, Mark Zuckerberg and more from the stage before ending another concert after just 30 minutes. "Kim has had a very rough time since the robbery [in October]," a source close to her told People magazine. "It hasn't helped that Kanye has been touring. Their lives have been quite chaotic. It's been very trying for them both and not a good recipe for a happy marriage."
What most thought would never happen in Hollywood did on Sept. 19: Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. The split was, to say the least, beyond huge and certainly one of the biggest in modern times. Initial reports indicated that Angie pulled the plug after Brad and their 15-year-old Maddox got into an altercation on an airplane. Since then, there's been speculation that perhaps that fight either never happened or wasn't really volatile, as there was no mention of it in FAA tapes. Still, Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services launched a child abuse investigation into Brad's parenting that lasted for nearly two months. On Nov. 9, news that it had closed the investigation emerged — social workers determined Brad did nothing wrong. There were also reports that Brad had issues with drugs and alcohol, but he voluntarily took drug tests that came back negative.
After Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, a custody battle ensued over the couple's six children. In her filing, she requested sole physical custody with visitation for Brad. A few weeks after the filing, Brad and Angie agreed to a temporary custody arrangement for Maddox, 15, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8, so long as the DCFS investigation was active. Under the agreement, she would get full custody and he would get visitation rights. However, the initial visits were monitored by a therapist, who then had the authority to allow or deny him unmonitored time with the kids. The agreement also said that the former couple would undergo individual counseling as well as attend family counseling sessions with the kids.
In November, Angelina Jolie claimed she and Brad Pitt agreed to another custody arrangement. Angie's rep said in a statement, "We can confirm that childcare professionals have encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides over a week ago. In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother's custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children's best interest." But Brad's side clearly didn't get the memo. In fact, on Nov. 4, Brad filed a formal response to Angelina's divorce petition in which he asked a judge to award him joint physical and legal custody — setting the table for a custody war that is headed for family court.
Taylor Swift may just want to shake off 2016. Sure, there were good times, like her Fourth of July party, or that report from Forbes naming her the top-earning celebrity under 30. Really, though, it was tough going for Tay Tay much of the year on the personal front. She and Calvin Harris seemed happy together for more than a year, but on June 1, it was confirmed that the couple had split. The breakup was initially very amicable, although rumors swirled that he was envious of her success. But he took to Twitter on June 2, writing, "The only truth here is that a relationship came to an end & what remains is a huge amount of love and respect." Taylor retweeted it.
All was fine and dandy for a while — until Taylor Swift's rep confirmed swirling rumors that the pop star had written Calvin Harris' massive song "This Is What You Came For" under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg. (Meanwhile, Taylor had also started dating another tall Brit — Tom Hiddleston — but more on that in a minute.) Interestingly, Calvin had, months earlier, given an interview to Ryan Seacrest saying he didn't foresee himself ever working with Taylor. After the truth came out, Calvin complimented his ex in a series of now-deleted tweets, saying she was an "amazing lyric writer and she smashed it as usual." Then things got nasty. He also tweeted, "Hurtful to me at this point that her and her team would go so far out of their way to try and make ME look bad at this stage though." He then referenced her long-standing feud with Katy Perry. "I know you're off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it," he wrote.
In July, Taylor Swift was at it again with old nemesis Kanye West when she reportedly threatened to have the rapper criminally prosecuted upon learning that he'd secretly recorded a January phone conversation they'd had to discuss his lyrics about her in his controversial single "Famous." During the conversation — which was later posted by Kim Kardashian West on Snapchat — Taylor (who earlier in the year denied ever approving Kanye's lyrics) refers to one of Kanye's lines about her as a "compliment." "Go with whatever line you think is better. It's obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way," she could be heard saying over speakerphone. "…And I really appreciate you telling me about it. That's really nice… Even asking or seeing if I would be okay with it… I never would have expected you to like tell me about a line in one of your songs." After Kim posted the Snapchat receipts, Taylor responded with an epic defensive post of her own on Instagram that read, in part, "Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that b—-' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened."
In the blink of an eye after her split from Calvin Harris, Taylor Swift started dating Tom Hiddleston in mid-June. The couple was photographed kissing on some rocks in Rhode Island, sending the pop culture world into a frenzy. The new couple sent things into overdrive again as they were spotted vacationing together all over the world — Nashville, England, Rome, Australia, Los Angeles — and meeting each other's parents. Eventually, the flame burned out and the couple split in September after three months of a fast-moving romance. It was reportedly amicable, but we've all heard that before.
Prince Harry may have found his princess in 2016. In late October, it was reported that Harry was quietly dating "Suits" actress and humanitarian Meghan Markle. "He's happier than he's been for many years," a source told Britain's Sunday Express. The couple apparently met through a mutual friend and even spent Halloween together at her home in Toronto after he took a secret trip to see her. Harry and the American divorcee began their romance late last spring, according to reports.
About a week after news got out that Prince Harry was dating Meghan Markle, it was assumed that news outlets would only be able to confirm the romance via "sources." However, on Nov. 8, Kensington Palace issued an unprecedented statement that confirmed Meghan was Harry's girlfriend and pleaded with the media to report responsibly. "The past week has seen a line crossed. [Harry's] girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments… Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his."
Beyonce's "Lemonade" album was all about cheating, leading the world to believe that it was autobiographical and, basically, told the story of how Beyonce ultimately forgave Jay Z after he put her through hell by being unfaithful. With just one line, she had everyone wondering who the other woman was as she sang, "Her heaven will be a love without betrayal. Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks," and repeatedly brought up how "He better call Becky with the good hair." The hunt was on to ID "Becky," though most of the suspicion centered on designer Rachel Roy. Hours after "Lemonade" dropped, Rachel posted an Instagram pic captioned, "Good hair don't care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. live in the light #nodramaqueens." That was incriminating evidence as far as the Internet was concerned.
Hollywood lost too many legends in 2016, particularly on the music front. On Jan. 18, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Glenn Frey of the Eagles passed on. According to the band's website, he died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. He was 67. In an interview with The Wrap, Eagles manager Irving Azoff said that Glenn's illnesses were partly caused by the medication he was taking for his rheumatoid arthritis, from which he suffered for 15 years.
Leonard Cohen, who penned the the iconic and oft-covered song "Hallelujah," died on Nov. 7 at 82. His death was announced on his website: "Leonard Cohen died during his sleep following a fall in the middle of the night on November 7th. The death was sudden, unexpected, and peaceful. He is survived by his children Adam and Lorca, and his three grandchildren Cassius (Adam's son), and Viva and Lyon (Lorca's daughter and son)."
The fightin' side of Merle Haggard couldn't fight anymore. On April 3, the legendary country music star passed away on his 79th birthday after battling double pneumonia.
Alan Rickman took his last breath on Jan. 14. The "Harry Potter" star had been terminally ill but hid it from nearly everyone but his closest friends. There were also reports that he himself had only found out about the seriousness of his illness — believed to be pancreatic cancer — a few weeks before his death. In fact, he attended charity events just a month before his passing. He was 69 years old.
Celine Dion's husband and manager Rene Angelil passed away on Jan. 14 at the age of 73 after a long battle with throat cancer. Following his death, he was given a state funeral at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica and Canadian cable news channels provided live coverage of the service, which was also live-streamed around the world.
On March 24, comedian Garry Shandling made a desperate 911 call while he was having a heart attack. Reports said he fell unconscious during the call. By the time paramedics got there, Garry was unresponsive. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead at 66. His death was shocking, as he appeared to be in fine health before the heart attack.
"The Voice" alum Christina Grimmie had just finished a concert in Orlando, Florida, on June 10 and was signing autographs for fans when a deranged man approached her with two handguns. He began firing at her. After the gunman shot Christina, her brother tackled him to the ground. The shooter then shot and killed himself. Christina was rushed to a local hospital but died several hours later from her wounds. She was only 22.
The great Garry Marshall died on July 19 at the age of 81 from pneumonia complications following a stroke. He was a Hollywood legend who acted, directed, produced and wrote many of the world's most well-known films. Julia Roberts, who starred in "Pretty Woman," which he directed, said Garry "was a giant in every way… To know Garry Marshall was to love him. And I was luckier than most to have loved him for my entire adult life and luckier still to have been loved by him because his love was unconditional, inexhaustible and magical."