What a year. So many of our beloved luminaries, entertainers, and writers have passed. It’s mind boggling and leaves us feeling almost numb, but not numb enough. There are simply too many fantastic creative intelligent people who have passed in 2016 to cover here. We do want to begin though by giving a special nod to Gwen Ifill of PBS and broadcasting fame as well as writers Harper Lee and Richard Adams who wrote the famous To Kill a Mockingbird and Watership Down respectively. All three gave us so much and they leave behind a legacy of intelligence and excellence in their fields.



Now we will turn to those three we have decided to remember here in slightly more depth, although the task impossible. It would take infinite volumes to cover not only their works but their lives, which were equally interesting and unique.

Carrie Fisher
She was our Princess Leia and the single most famous and beloved female in the Star Wars Saga. It all began with her, I remember being 11yrs old and watching her on big screen in the original release of the very first Star Wars movie (yes, we had to stand in line even back then). She was so beautiful but also relatable; little girls could actually imagine themselves in her shoes. Here was a genuine female doing spectacular things, running with the heroes and not taking any guff. How many of us went home and tried in vain to get our own hair into those side buns?? Naturally this is what most folks think of when her name is mentioned but her career was far more varied and involved than one movie. After reviewing her writing and other films we can almost understand why Fisher was quoted as lamenting that she wished she had turned down Star Wars. It was an uneasy crown she would wear the rest of her too-short life even though she worked hard in other fields.

Most notably was her writing. We had hints of her sassy wit and irreverent honesty but her novels and script writing fleshed this side of her out. We were able to see what she really thought. Fisher went on to write Postcards from the Edge, Surrender the Pink, Wishful Drinking, and The Princess Diarist among others. She was a powerful force in screen writing having written and contributed to These Old Broads, Sister Act, Last Action Hero and the Wedding Singer. Her own works were adapted for production. Carrie was open and forthright about her personal struggles as well giving voice to those who struggled with bi-polar disorder and addiction. Carrie Fisher came out of the gate fearless and swinging; giving us all she had. We just hope that her official obituary includes her now famous quote “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

George Michael
Next we cover the spectacular George Michael. We all fell in love with George when we heard him sing “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” with is band Wham! George was just too beautiful and his energy and singing were irresistible. Georgios Kyriacos Panayioutou was the son of a a Greek Cypriot restaurateur who moved to London where George was eventually born and raised. In 1981 George met Andrew Ridgeley and together they formed the band Wham! Prior to his eventual fame and fortune George had cut his teeth in many beginner groups and several projects. It was Wham!, however, that took him and Andrew to the charts and kept them there. It was in 1987 after George and Andrew parted ways that George’s solo album Faith was released. This was a huge commercial success and had just enough controversy to keep it in the charts. The music was fantastic and solidified Michael as a bone-fide talent. To our modern ears a song like “I Want Your Sex” might not sound off-putting but remember that it was brave musicians like George Michael that paved the way for further musical exploration.

Leonard Cohen
Last but far from least is Leonard Cohen. Leonard Norman Cohen was a real life Renaissance Man. A singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter used his life exploring religion, politics, sexuality and relationships to inspire his varied works. Cohen grew up in a highly Orthodox Jewish home in Quebec, Canada. Cohen remarked in a 1967 interview “I had a very Messianic childhood. I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest.” These experiences would propel Cohen into many creative endeavors. He learned to play acoustic guitar in high school but actually began his career as a writer and poet. At the age of 33 Cohen released his first musical project, a record entitled “Songs of Leonard Cohen”. This was quickly followed by 3 more released albums and then in 1977 Cohen began working with the famed music producer Phil Spector. This partnership produced Death of a Ladies’ Man but in 1979 Cohen returned to a more tradional sound with his recent songs. It was “Hallelujah” released on the album “Various Positions” in 1984 that became one of his best known works. Cohen experienced heartbreak and betray from longtime financial manager and friend Kelley Lynch when Lynch embezzled an estimated $5 million from Cohen. Cohen later won a civil suit and was awarded a $9 million settlement but had difficulty collecting from the now disappeared Lynch. Cohen went on to partner with the famed minimalist composer Phillip Glass and found artistic success again.

All three of these incredible individuals left us a lasting legacy of art, writing, music and paved the way having lived brave lives, for all of us. All three experienced loss, disgrace and failure, just like all of us. They endured but boy did they shine. They will be deeply missed and we will be forever changed by their contribution to our collective lives. Bookmans’ sends love and light to everyone saddened by these losses.