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Hail and farewell: A tribute to those we lost in 2021

They touched us in so many ways … their talents, their deeds, their special gifts. Time for our look back at those who left us in the year gone by. With Lee Cowan, we say "Hail and Farewell":

As Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters sang in "Sunday in the Park With George," "Move On" – that's something we've been trying to do all year, to move a little closer to normalcy. But we still ended the year with more COVID deaths than last year, and a whole new variant that's threatening our holidays once again.

There were more school shootings, and a deadly line of tornadoes that cut a scar across the nation's midsection in December – not exactly common. So much for normal.

Broadway, though, re-opened (cautiously), and with it a new revival of the groundbreaking musical "Company," although still reeling from the loss of its creator, Stephen Sondheim.

From "Into the Woods" to "Follies" to "Sweeney Todd," Sondheim was one of the most influential composer-lyricists Broadway has ever known. A standing ovation to him.

Cicely Tyson left us after decades of powerful performances that elevated the lives of Black Americans and their stories.

In 2013 Tyson told "Sunday Morning" correspondent Lee Cowan, "I wanted to address certain issues, and I chose to use my career as my platform."

"And how did you go about doing that?" he asked.

"Just simply ruling out what I wouldn't do."

Of all her roles, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" she considered her most important.

There were other fighters, like Gloria Richardson, who pushed aside a National Guardsman's rifle.

Lucille Times staged a one-woman bus boycott six months before Rosa Parks.

And they both lived long enough to see Colin Powell reach the peak of politics. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and National Security Advisor, and later, President George W. Bush's Secretary of State.

"People look to you and trust you because you're serving selflessly as the leader – not self-serving, selflessly," Powell said.

To all of those who served our country – abroad and at home – we salute you. 

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick Lies In Honor At U.S. Capitol
 A man pays respect to U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick as he lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol on February 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Hammering Hank Aaron served America in uniform, too, surpassing Babe Ruth as baseball's home run king, on April 8, 1974.

As broadcaster Vin Scully said following Aaron's 715th home run, "What a marvelous moment for baseball, for the country, and the world … a Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol!"

Aaron's reaction: "I just thank God it's all over with. Thank you very much."

And we can't forget Tommy LaSorda. As manager he took his beloved LA Dodgers to two world championships and four pennants. As he told CNN's Larry King, "I love every day of my life, Larry!"

Larry King loved every day of HIS life, too. With his signature suspenders he reigned as king of the TV interview, but he wasn't really royalty …

… Not like Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He cut a dashing figure by his wife Queen Elizabeth's side for royal weddings and funerals, defending the monarchy for nearly three quarters of a century.

Christopher Plummer was royalty in his own way, but he'll always be remembered as "Captain" von Trapp – even if he wished he was remembered for something else.

In 2011 "Sunday Morning" correspondent Anthony Mason asked Plummer, "Have you ever sung 'Edelweiss' in public after that?"

"You mean, you were hoping I might sing it for you here now? … It's a wrap!" Plummer laughed.

He won his first Academy Award at age 82. "You're only two years older than me, darling," he said, holding is Oscar. "Where have you been all my life!"

To you Captain, Auf Wiedersehen!

Another Captain left us this year – "The Love Boat"'s Captain Stubing, played by Gavin MacLeod.

Piloting a cruise ship was quite a promotion from the struggling writer he once played being bossed around by Lou Grant. Of all the roles Ed Asner played, the gruff, hardworking newsman on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was really his favorite.

Lou:  "You know what? You've got spunk!"
Mary: "Well… "
Lou Grant: "I HATE spunk!"

He said it was because everyone on that cast was family. That included Cloris Leachman as Phyllis. Also a memorable part of the "Young Frankenstein" household, as Frau Blücher. Except for the horses, she made everyone laugh.

As did a chorus of other actors to whom we bid a fond farewell:

Olympia Dukakis won an Oscar playing Cher's mother in "Moonstruck."  She was 89.

Sally Ann Howes was Truly Scrumptious in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." We lost her at 91.

And we lost Jessica Walter, too. She played one of the worst – and funniest – moms ever, in "Arrested Development":

Lucille Bluth: "I'll be in the hospital bar."
Michael Bluth: "You know, there's isn't a hospital bar, Mother."
Lucille Bluth: "Well, this is why people hate hospitals!"

Clockwise from top left: Broadway composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell; "Lou Grant" actor Ed Asner; "Interview with the Vampire" author Anne Rice; "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" actress Cicely Tyson; and baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.  © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/via Getty Images; Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images; CBS; Philip Gould/Corbis via Getty Images; Jack Mitchell/Getty Images; Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

George Segal was a powerful dramatic actor, but he came to prefer lighter fare, and he was good at it, right up to the end.

Child actor Jane Withers found humor in being a brat, but later in life she was known as Josephine the Plumber in good-natured commercials for Comet Cleanser.

Ron Popeil could sell almost anything. He invented gadgets to solve problems we didn't even know we had, and sold 'em by the millions. His inventions will be cluttering our closets for years to come.

Spencer Silver invented that slightly sticky glue that ended up on the back of Post-It notes. So, remember to thank him.

And we lost the creator of The Game of Life, Reuben Klamer. He died at 99. Maybe helping entertain people is the key to longevity.

Comedian Jackie Mason had us laughing until he was 93. His thick Yiddish accent brought the Borscht Belt to Broadway. His advice: "There's only one way that you can always look young – hang around with very old people."

Comedian Mort Sahl was one of the first to make us laugh at politics. "There's an official portrait of the president which shows him next to a globe with the trouble spots of the world marked in black," he once noted. "He's standing next to this black globe." We lost him at 94.

Hal Holbrook became the living embodiment of Mark Twain over the years.

"Man is really the most interesting jackass there is," he said in his one-man show, "Mark Twain Tonight!" "He's the only one that's got the true religion … several of them! He loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight."

He died this year, at 95.

When it came, though, to staying power, Norman Lloyd had them all beat. He started out with Alfred Hitchcock back in 1942, in "Saboteur." Seventy years later, he took a turn with Amy Schumer in "Train Wreck," at age 100.

In 2016 Lloyd told CBS News, "When I look back on what is a long life, I think how lucky I was. It was just luck!"

And he was ready for more. He died at 106. Farewell to him.

So many, however, weren't as lucky to live that long. Suzzanne Douglas ("Tap") died of cancer at just 64.

We lost actor Willie Garson ("Sex and the City") to cancer, too, at only 57.

Michael K. Williams, who first strode into the limelight on the mean streets of Baltimore as Omar Little in "The Wire" died at only 54.

And Peter Scolari – "Bosom Buddies" with everyone, it seemed – was only 66. Farewell to him, and all those we cheered on screens large and small:

Melvin van Peebles' gritty, funny, and shocking films revolutionized Black cinema.

Photographer Corky Lee gave us pictures of Asian American life often left out of the history books.

Italian film director Lina Wertmüller broke new ground for women – the first to be nominated for a best director Oscar. She died this year at 93.

And Halyna Hutchins had just started creating her own view of the world as a cinematographer, when she was killed by a prop gun on a movie set. She was only 42.

Music can help heal from loss. Don Everly died this year at 84, seven years after his brother Phil. Their sweet harmonies made them teen idols back in the '60s.

The Monkees were '60s teen idols, too; never mind that the group was made-for-TV. Mike Nesmith, the "quiet Monkee," died this year at 78.

As drummer for The Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts was the "quiet one," with a sweet, shy smile, keeping the beat right there in the back.

As co-founder of The Supremes, Mary Wilson was rarely front-and-center, but she was always there – a true "dream girl." Farewell to her.

And to Chick Corea, who fused jazz and rock and Latin and even classical music into his own unique sound. He died this year, at 79.

Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, transmuted his troubled soul into rap music that spoke to his generation. He died this year, at only 50.

The troubled souls of vampires were Anne Rice's specialty. She brought the undead to life on film and in books. She died this year at 80.

And Joan Didion wrote brilliantly about the world she observed, and the culture of the time she lived in. She died this past week at 87.

In 2010 Beverly Cleary told the "CBS Evening News," "I was a children's librarian, and a little boy said to me, 'Where are the books about kids like us?'" Cleary wrote her books for children, creating a host of loveable characters, including a motorcycling mouse named Ralph.

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"'s creator, author Eric Carle, left us, too, this year. He was 91.

Not all of those who entertained us – however, left us with a smile.

Famed conductor James Levine's career ended when sexual misconduct claims arose.

Legendary music producer Phil Spector died in prison doing time for murder.

G. Gordon Liddy, who masterminded the Watergate break-in, died at 90.

And goodbye to Bernie Madoff, architect of one of the most audacious Ponzi schemes ever. He died in prison, at 82.

Lucky for us, there are crusaders out there seeking out wrongdoing. Michigan Senator Carl Levin was one of them.

While we're up on Capitol Hill, remember "Schoolhouse Rock"? We can thank songwriter Dave Frishberg for making the process of legislating ("I'm Just a Bill") a little more understandable, following a lonely bill all the way up the chain to the White House.

Walter Mondale lost his bid for the White House to Ronald Reagan in the '80s, but had already been there in 1976, as President Jimmy Carter's VP.  He died at 93.

Donald Rumsfeld served four presidents during his long career in Washington – twice serving as America's Secretary of Defense.

But it was Robert Dole who ended up one of the longest-serving Republican leaders in Washington – a poor kid from Russell, Kansas, who sought his party's nomination for president several times before finally getting it in 1996, only to lose to Bill Clinton. The statesman and veteran left us at 98.

"Weekend Update"'s Norm Macdonald honored Dole on "Saturday Night Live" in the way that comedians do:

Macdonald: "Well, how are ya', Senator?"
Dole: "Norm, Bob Dole knows how much it meant for you to play me on the show the next four years … and Bob Dole feels your pain!"

Macdonald died this year at just 61.

Roger Mudd was a very real newsman, reporting the news with integrity, and insight for over 30 years.

In 1977 Larry Flynt told "60 Minutes," "Freedom is not just limited to '60 Minutes,' or The New York Times; it also means Hustler Magazine."

Flynt was on the other side of that spectrum. He and his Hustler Magazine became unlikely vehicles to test the First Amendment.

Rush Limbaugh exercised his First Amendment rights on the radio – never shy to say what he thought. He told "60 Minutes" in 1991, "I think I just happen to be saying what a whole lot of people think, that don't have the chance to say themselves. That's why they call me the Most Dangerous Man in America!"

It might feel like there is a big divide in this country, but there are those whose actions have bridged that chasm – making us feel a little bit closer.

For nearly 50 years on NBC, weatherman Willard Scott always found a little something to celebrate, rain or shine.

When the skies get cloudy, we have this tune, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," performed by B.J. Thomas to cheer us up.

And we had more than a few dark skies over our CBS family this year.

"Sunday Morning" producer Judy Hole embodied everything this show is known for. It won't be the same without her.

We lost Ray Brady, who reported the financial news here at CBS for almost three decades.

Cameraman Izzy Bleckman took to the backroads with Charles Kuralt, and he brought the beauty of the world to us here at "Sunday Morning."

Goodbye, friends, one and all.

There are many, many more we've failed to mention – those who delighted us with their dances (Jacques d'Amboise, Jane Powell); inspired us with their music (Sarah Dash, Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains); left us with wisdom, love, and the satisfaction of lives well lived.

To all of them, we bid a fond "Hail and Farewell."

Story produced by Mary Lou Teel. Editor: Steve Tyler. 

Photo of Corky Lee © by David M. Bernstein, for Alliance of Ethics & Art.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this video featured a photograph of The Supremes' Florence Ballard instead of Mary Wilson. "Sunday Morning" regrets the error.

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