(CNN) Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84.
"General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19," the Powell family wrote on Facebook, noting he was fully vaccinated.
Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune response, as well as Parkinson's, Peggy Cifrino, Powell's longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN. Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from the virus.
"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," the family said.
Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush's first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a "blot" on his record.
Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was "a great public servant" who was "such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush's secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession.
"I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country," Powell said of his history-making nomination during his Senate confirmation hearing. "It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval."
The Point: The Colin Powell Republican no longer exists in the Republican Party
Later in his public life, Powell would grow disillusioned with the Republican Party's rightward lurch and would use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign.
The announcement was seen as a significant boost for Obama's candidacy due to Powell's widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life.
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.
Alma Powell, who is fully vaccinated against the virus, also tested positive for Covid-19 this month, but only exhibited mild symptoms, a source close to the family told CNN. She was sent home after treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
People we've lost in 2021
artistic director and Off-White founder Virgil Abloh has died of cancer on Sunday, November 28, according to a tweet by luxury group LVMH. He was 41.
, the founder of the Williams Formula 1 team and the longest-serving team principal the sport has ever seen, has died on November 28, at 79. The Williams F1 team, founded in 1977, dominated much of the 1980s and 1990s under his guidance, and has 117 race victories in total.
Former Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers legend Curley Culp
died Saturday, November 27, according to a statement from his family. Culp was 75 years old. The 14-year NFL veteran was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013
the renowned composer of "Into the Woods," "Sweeney Todd," "Gypsy," "Sunday in the Park with George" and other essential works of musical theater, died Friday, November 26, according to the New York Times. He was 91.
a daughter of slain civil rights activist Malcolm X, died on Monday, November 23, according to the New York Police Department. She was 56. Police said her death appeared to be due to natural causes.
Actor Art LaFleur
-- known for his roles in "The Sandlot" and "Field of Dreams" -- died at the age of 78, his wife said in a statement on November 18.
Rapper Young Dolph
died in a fatal shooting in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 17, according to Memphis police. He was 36.
an actor who appeared in numerous television series including "Bones," "NCIS" and "The Closer," has died, his manager said in a statement to CNN on November 16. Freeman was 41. A cause of death was not immediately released.
the Dominican-born shortstop who won a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox, died at the age 45, the Red Sox said on November 15. No cause of death was given. Lugo's career also included stints with the Houston Astros, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.
NPR books editor Petra Mayer
died November 13 at the age of 46, NPR reported.
The cause of death was believed to be a pulmonary embolism, Nancy Barnes, NPR's senior vice president for news, said in an email to staff. Mayer was a popular editor on NPR's Culture desk, drawing in readers and listeners with her outpouring of knowledge of cats, comics and science fiction, as well as her on-site reporting at Comic-Con.
Hall of Fame football linebacker Sam Huff
died at the age of 87 on November 13, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. Huff made five Pro Bowls over a 13-year career, won an NFL title with the New York Giants in 1956 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
FW de Klerk,
the last leader of apartheid-era South Africa who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela after working to end racial segregation in the country, died at the age of 85, his foundation said on November 11. De Klerk released Mandela, his subsequent successor, from prison and laboriously negotiated a transition to democracy, ending a decades-long segregationist system that kept South Africa's White minority in power over the Black majority for generations.
Actor Jerry Douglas,
best known for his role as family patriarch John Abbott on the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless," died November 9 at the age of 88.
Former New York Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano
died November 8 at age 45, the team confirmed in a statement. The cause of death was not immediately released. Feliciano, a pitching stalwart for the Mets, led the league in appearances in three consecutive seasons from 2008-10. He was also the last pitcher to throw in more than 90 games in a season.
a founding member of the R&B group The Gap Band, died November 2 at the age of 73. Wilson, who can be seen here in the center of the top row, formed the band with his brothers Charlie and Robert, according to the band's website. Their best-known songs include "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Party Train" and "Burn Rubber on Me."
the beloved longtime Boston Red Sox broadcaster and former Major League Baseball infielder, died October 30 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer, the team announced. He was 68.
Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar
died after suffering cardiac arrest on October 29, according to a statement from Vikram Hospital in the city of Bangalore. He was 46. Rajkumar was a popular actor, television presenter, singer and producer known for his work in Kannada cinema, which makes movies and television in the Kannada language spoken in the southwestern state of Karnataka.
James Michael Tyler,
best known as the coffee shop manager Gunther on the hit show "Friends," died at the age of 59 on October 24, according to his representative Toni Benson. Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, Benson said.
a veteran actor who rose to fame alongside Tom Hanks on "Bosom Buddies," died on October 22. He was 66. Scolari had cancer and had been ill for two years, according to his manager.
a trailblazing military leader who went on to become the United States' first Black secretary of state, died October 18 at the age of 84. Powell died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook, noting he was fully vaccinated. Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune response, as well as Parkinson's disease, Peggy Cifrino, Powell's longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN.
best known for playing Barney Fife's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, on "The Andy Griffith Show," died on October 16, the Andy Griffith Museum said. She was 95.
a singer and musician who played bass guitar for the '80s pop group Wham!, died on October 11, according to a post on his Twitter page. He was 65. In addition to playing and touring with Wham!, Estus had collaborations with Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Elton John, Aaron Neville and other artists.
Actor Willie Garson,
a veteran actor known for his work on the "Sex and the City" series and films, died at the age of 57, his son Nathen Garson announced on September 21.
Melvin Van Peebles,
a groundbreaking African American director who helped champion a new wave of modern Black cinema in the 1970s, died on September 21, his son Mario Van Peebles announced. He was 89. Van Peebles' numerous film credits include "Watermelon Man" and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song."
a World Cup winner with England in 1966 and one of the most prolific goalscorers in English football history, died on September 19, his former club Tottenham said. Greaves, seen on the right in this photo from 1963, was 81.
Actor Gavan O'Herlihy,
best known for his brief role as the eldest Cunningham son on the sitcom "Happy Days," has died at the age of 70 on September 15, his agent said.
a comic who was beloved as an anchor of "Saturday Night Live's" popular "Weekend Update" segments, died on September 14, according to multiple reports citing his manager. He was 61. Macdonald had been battling cancer for several years but kept his diagnosis private, his friend and producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, told CNN in a statement.
a stand-up comedian best known for his role as ruthless police captain Ernie Mauser in two "Police Academy" films, died September 8 at the age of 84.
Michael K. Williams,
an actor best known for his role as Omar Little on HBO's "The Wire," was found dead in his New York apartment, a law enforcement official told CNN on September 6. He was 54. Williams amassed a number of accolades during his career, including five Emmy nominations.
Legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo
died at the age of 88, his lawyer, Michel Godest, said on September 6. He was best known for his breakthrough performance as the dangerous yet romantic criminal Michel in the 1960 film "Breathless," where he worked with film director Jean-Luc Godard and starred alongside American actress Jean Seberg.
the former longtime weatherman for "Today" who was known for his outgoing, jovial personality, died at the age of 87, according to the NBC show on September 4.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Tunch Ilkin
died September 4 at the age of 63, according to a statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II. Ilkin was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in September 2020.
a former NFL wide receiver who helped the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls between 2001 and 2004, died September 2, according to a statement from the Patriots. Patten, 47, died in a motorcycle crash.
Actor Michael Constantine
, best known for playing the proud father in the hit movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," died August 31 following a long illness, according to an article in the Reading Eagle
that was confirmed to CNN by his agent. He was 94.
Veteran actor Ed Asner,
best known for his role as the crusty but lovable newsman Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," died August 29, according to his publicist. He was 91.
Former International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge
died August 29, according to an announcement by the organization. He was 79.
the unassuming son of a truck driver who gained global fame as the drummer for the Rolling Stones, died August 24 at the age of 80.
Former hockey player Jimmy Hayes,
who played seven seasons in the NHL and won an NCAA hockey championship at Boston College, died August 23 at the age of 31. The cause of his death was not disclosed, the Boston Globe reported.
Hall of Fame hockey player Rod Gilbert,
who earned the nickname "Mr. Ranger" while playing his entire 18-season career with the New York Rangers, died on August 22. He was 80.
the last of the silken-voiced Everly Brothers music duo, died August 21 at the age of 84. He's on the right here performing with his younger brother, Phil, in 1962. The two became pop idols in the late 1950s with chart-topping hits such as "Bye Bye Love," "All I Have to Do is Dream" and "Wake Up Little Susie."
who in 2010 was crowned the tallest living man in the United States, died August 20 at the age of 38. Vovkovinskiy, who was 7 feet, 8.33 inches tall, died in a hospital from heart disease, according to a Facebook post from his mother.
Singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall
died August 20 at the age of 85, according to his son. Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Artist Chuck Close,
whose large-scale portraits immortalized friends, artists and some of pop culture's most recognizable faces, died August 19 at the age of 81.
a ferociously talented martial artist whose international renown grew with films like "The Street Fighter" and the "Kill Bill" series, died from Covid-19 complications, his representative Timothy Beal confirmed to CNN on August 19. Chiba was 82.
Japanese puzzle maker Maki Kaji
died August 10 from bile duct cancer. Kaji, 69, was known as the "godfather of Sudoku" for his hand in bringing the puzzle to the masses.
Hall of Fame hockey player Tony Esposito
died August 10 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to a statement from the Chicago Blackhawks. He was 78. Esposito was a six-time NHL All-Star, including five straight seasons between 1970 and 1974. He won the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the league three times -- 1970, 1972 and 1974 -- and was named the NHL's top rookie in 1970.
the famed college football coach who led Florida State University for more than 30 years and transformed the Tallahassee team into a powerhouse, died Sunday, August 8, the school said in a statement. He was 91.
, the actress known for her roles in "Night Court" and "The Fall Guy," died Saturday, August 7. She was 70.
Kool & the Gang co-founder Dennis Thomas
, often referred to as "Dee Tee," died August 7 at the age of 70. Known for classics like "Celebration," "Jungle Boogie" and "Cherish," Kool & the Gang bill themselves as having performed "longer than any R&B group in history."
comedian, actor, producer and co-founder of the sketch comedy group The Whitest Kids U Know, died Friday, August 6, at the age of 41. Moore died "in a tragic accident," according to the statement.
a veteran soap opera actor best known for his roles on "General Hospital," "Days of Our Lives" and "Port Charles," died July 30 at the age of 60. He was on location in Idaho, filming a scene for his upcoming movie, "Treasure Valley," when he died, according to the film's director, Travis Mills.
a former US senator from Michigan who advanced Democratic priorities throughout his 36-year tenure in Congress, died July 29 at the age of 87. Levin was the longest-serving US senator in Michigan's history.
Actor Saginaw Grant,
known for his roles in "Breaking Bad" and "The Lone Ranger," died July 28, according to his publicist Lani Carmichael. He was 85.
the bearded bassist from blues-rock band ZZ Top, died at the age of 72, according to the band's official website on July 28.
Infomercial king Ron Popeil
died July 28 at the age of 86. Although his company Ronco was already a household name in the 1970s, Popeil's fame exploded in the '80s when looser federal regulations on TV ads allowed him to go from brief commercials to 30-minute self-contained "infomercials," which soon dominated late-night and weekend schedules.
Civil rights legend Bob Moses
died July 25 at the age of 86, according to a statement from NAACP President Derrick Johnson and a statement from the organization's Legal Defense Fund.
Comedian Jackie Mason,
known for his rapid-fire befuddled observations in a decades-long stand-up career, died July 24 at the age of 93, longtime friend and collaborator Raoul Felder told CNN.
Rapper Biz Markie,
best known for his lighthearted 1989 hit "Just a Friend," died July 16 at the age of 57, his manager told CNN. Markie also expanded his career to include acting, appearing in several films and TV shows, including "Men in Black II" and "Yo Gabba Gabba."
Actor and filmmaker Robert Downey Sr.
died July 7 at the age of 85. He is perhaps best known for his films "Putney Swope" and "Greaser's Palace." He also appeared in "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia" and "To Live and Die in L.A."
an accomplished stage and screen actress who starred in the film "Tap" and the television series "The Parent 'Hood," died in July at the age of 64, her representative told CNN in a statement. No cause of death was shared.
an accomplished Hollywood producer and director known for his work on the "Lethal Weapon" franchise and "The Goonies," died on July 5. He was 91.
a longtime UCLA football coach, died July 4 at the age of 77, the school announced. Donahue died after a two-year battle with cancer, the school said.
the acerbic architect of the Iraq War and a master Washington power player who served as US secretary of defense for two presidents, died at the age of 88, his family announced on June 30.
Former US Sen. Mike Gravel,
an Alaska Democrat who garnered national attention by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and waged two unsuccessful bids for president, died June 26 at the age of 91.
Qatari sprinter Abdalelah Haroun,
who won bronze in the 400 meters at the 2017 World Championships, died June 26 at the age of 24. The Qatar Olympic Committee, which announced Haroun's death on social media, did not say how he died.
Daredevil Alex Harvill
died June 17 while practicing for a world-record motorcycle ramp jump, officials in Washington state said. He was 28. Harvill was hoping to break the record of a 351-foot jump, according to the Moses Lake Airshow, where his attempt was scheduled.
Actor Frank Bonner,
best known for his role as an overconfident sales manager in the TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati," died on June 16, his daughter Desiree Boers-Kort told CNN. He was 79.
Actress Lisa Banes,
who appeared in numerous television series and films such as "Gone Girl," died June 14 after suffering injuries sustained from being hit by a scooter in New York, the NYPD and a law enforcement official told CNN. She was 65.
an Oscar-nominated character actor whose many films include "Deliverance" and "Superman," died June 13 at the age of 83.
Clarence Williams III,
who played Linc Hayes in "The Mod Squad," died at his home in Los Angeles after battling colon cancer, his manager Peg Donegan told CNN in a statement on June 6. Williams was 81.
the last surviving soldier who helped liberate Auschwitz-Birkenau, died June 5 at the age of 98, the Jewish community of Munich and Upper Bavaria said in a statement on its website.
F. Lee Bailey,
a prominent and controversial defense attorney, died June 3 at the age of 87. His death was confirmed to CNN by Jennifer Sisson, a manager at Bailey's consulting firm. Bailey was best known for his participation in the successful defenses of high-profile clients, including O.J. Simpson.
known for his roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Love Boat," died on May 29, his nephew Mark See told Variety. He was 90.
Grammy-winning singer B.J. Thomas
died May 29 of complications from lung cancer, his publicist said. Thomas was 78. He was propelled to stardom in 1970 when he was chosen to perform "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" for the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Former Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton
died at the age of 64, the team confirmed in a statement on May 29. Eaton was found unconscious near his home in Summit County, Utah, after being involved in what appeared to be a bicycle crash, according to the Summit County Sheriff's Office. Eaton was transported to a nearby hospital where he died. Eaton was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and has the fourth-most blocks in league history. He still holds the record for most blocked shots in a season, amassing 456 blocks during the 1984-85 season.
who represented Virginia in the US Senate for three decades and was widely respected for his views on military affairs, died May 25 at the age of 94.
Samuel E. Wright,
the actor who voiced Sebastian the crab in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" and sang the film's Oscar-winning song "Under the Sea," died May 24 at the age of 74.
the author and artist of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and dozens of other popular children's books, died on May 23. He was 91.
an actor-comedian famous for starring on "Chappelle's Show" and "Bamboozled," died on May 19, according to a rep for the actor. He was 79.
a versatile comedic actor best known for his roles in movies like "Midnight Run" and "The Heartbreak Kid," died May 18 after battling cancer, according to his son. He was 86.
a former football quarterback who starred at the University of Hawaii, died at a California hospital at the age of 37, his family confirmed to CNN on May 11. His sister, Carrera Shea, said he had been in a long-term rehab facility and relapsed. Brennan set the NCAA single-season record for touchdown passes when he threw 58 of them in 2006. That record was eclipsed by LSU's Joe Burrow in 2019.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer Lloyd Price
died at the age of 88, his longtime manager confirmed to CNN on May 9. Price was called "Mr. Personality" for his smash recording of "Personality," and he was known for adapting the New Orleans sound starting in the 1950s with hits such as "Stagger Lee" and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy."
Pervis Staples, one of the founding members of the legendary Chicago gospel group the Staple Singers, died on May 6, according to a funeral home notice and Facebook post. He was 85. Staples is seen here, third from left, along with the rest of the Staple Singers.
a British model and singer who appeared in a famous 1985 Levi's commercial, died at the age of 59, his family confirmed to the PA Media news agency on May 5. Kamen also collaborated with Madonna on the 1986 record "Each Time you Break my Heart."
Race car driver Bobby Unser,
winner of the 1968, 1975 and 1981 Indianapolis 500s, died May 2 at the age of 87. Unser is one of 10 drivers to win the prestigious Indy 500 at least three times, and he was the first driver to win the race in three different decades.
Actress Olympia Dukakis,
who won an Oscar for her role in the 1987 film "Moonstruck," died on May 1, according to her agent. She was 89.
Former New York Jets football player Pete Lammons
died in an accident during a fishing tournament in Texas on April 29, according to tournament officials and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He was 77.
a former NFL linebacker, died April 26, according to his former high school football coach Frankie Carroll. The cause of death was related to liver disease, Carroll said. Hayes played at Florida State University before going on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars. He was 33.
Celebrated fashion designer Alber Elbaz,
perhaps best known for his work at Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, died of Covid-19 on April 24, a spokesperson for the luxury fashion company Richemont told CNN. Elbaz was 59.
Walter "Fritz" Mondale,
who served as vice president under President Jimmy Carter before waging his own unsuccessful White House bid in 1984, died on April 19. He was 93.
the British actress best known for her roles in the Harry Potter films and the TV series "Peaky Blinders," died April 16 at the age of 52. Her husband, actor Damian Lewis, tweeted that she died "peacefully at home" after a "heroic battle with cancer."
the lifelong companion of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history, died on April 9. He was 99.
a rapper known as much for his troubles as his music, died after being hospitalized following a heart attack, according to a statement released by his family on April 9. He was 50. The Grammy-nominated artist sold millions of albums, boosted by hits like "Get At Me Dog" in 1998, "Party Up" in 1999 and "X Gon' Give It to Ya" in 2003.
US Rep. Alcee Hastings,
a civil rights activist and the longest-serving member of Florida's congressional delegation, died at the age of 84, his chief of staff Lale M. Morrison told CNN on April 6.
G. Gordon Liddy
-- a former FBI agent, organizer of the Watergate break-in and radio show host -- died March 30 at the age of 90, his son confirmed to CNN.
Children's book author Beverly Cleary
died March 25 at the age of 104, her publishing company announced. Cleary's books have sold more than 85 million copies and were translated into 29 different languages.
Acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry
died March 25 at the age of 84, according to his publicist. McMurtry won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for the novel "Lonesome Dove."
an award-winning actress beloved for her role in the television series "Arrested Development," died March 24, her daughter confirmed in a statement to CNN. She was 80.
a prolific actor with a career that spanned more than six decades, died at age 87, his wife said on March 23. Segal received an Oscar nomination in 1966 for his role in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor,
who played for the Lakers for 14 seasons and was an All-Star 11 times, died March 22 at the age of 86.
the famed jewelry designer for Tiffany & Co., died on March 18, according to her foundation. She was 80. "A masterful artisan, Elsa was responsible for a revolution in the world of jewelry design," said a statement from Tiffany. "Her collections of organic, sensual forms have inspired generations."
an actor known for bringing gravitas to his roles across television and film, died March 14, according to his agent. He was 81. Kotto's notable film work includes roles in "Alien," "The Running Man," "Midnight Run" and "Live and Let Die," in which he played iconic Bond villain Mr. Big. In television, his longest-running role was as Lt. Al Giardello on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Former boxing champion "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler
died March 13 at the age of 66, according to his wife. Hagler dominated the middleweight division for nearly a decade.
the Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, died at the age of 94, his family confirmed to CNN on March 11.
an actor known for his role as Dave Turner on the Canadian series "Degrassi: The Next Generation," died on March 1, according to his manager, Gabrielle Kachman. He was 29. No details on the cause of death were made available.
a civil rights leader and close adviser to former President Bill Clinton, died on March 1, multiple sources close to the family told CNN. He was 85.
Broadcasting pioneer and former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Irv Cross
died on February 28, the Philadelphia Eagles announced on the team's website. He was 81. Cross was the first African American sports analyst on national television when he worked for CBS Sports as an NFL analyst and commentator from 1971 to 1994.
the Beat poet, publisher and founder of San Francisco's beloved City Lights bookstore, died February 22 at the age of 101. Ferlinghetti was one of the last surviving members of the Beat Generation, and he played a key role in expanding the literary movement's focus to the West Coast.
the conservative media icon who for decades used his perch as the king of talk radio to shape the politics of both the Republican Party and nation, died February 17 after a battle with cancer. He was 70.
considered the "godfather of salsa" for popularizing the Latin musical genre, died at the age of 85 according to his wife and and former record label on February 15.
Renowned jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea
died from "a rare form of cancer," a statement on the musician's website said on February 11. He was 79. Over a career that spanned more than 50 years, Corea worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Mann and Miles Davis.
the Hustler magazine founder and outspoken First Amendment activist who built an adult entertainment empire, died on February 10, his nephew, Jimmy Flynt Jr., told CNN. He was 78.
a founding member of "The Supremes," died on February 8 at the age of 76, according to a statement from her longtime friend and publicist, Jay Schwartz.
George P. Shultz,
who played a central role in helping to bring the Cold War to an end as President Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, died February 6 at the age of 100, according to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University where he worked for over 30 years.
the former first lady of Indiana, died February 5 from complications due to glioblastoma, her family announced. She was 61.
the elegantly voiced, Oscar-winning actor perhaps most fondly remembered for "The Sound of Music," died February 5 at the age of 91.
who as a teen became the first Black gymnast to win a USA Gymnastics national championship, died on February 4. She was 52.
who played the role of Screech on the popular 1990s high school comedy "Saved by the Bell," died February 1 after a recent cancer diagnosis, according to Diamond's manager, Roger Paul. He was 44.
an award-winning icon of the stage and screen who broke barriers for Black actresses, died on January 28, her longtime manager Larry Thompson confirmed to CNN. She was 96.
the acclaimed actress whose one-of-a-kind comedic flair made her a legendary figure in film and television for seven decades, died on January 27. She was 94.
an award-winning photographer who captured the everyday lives and political activism of the Asian American community, died January 27 after a battle with Covid-19. He was 73.
an NBA reporter and analyst for more than two decades, died from Covid-19 on January 26. He was 48. Smith covered the NBA for more than two decades, including 11 years with Turner Sports, which, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.
the longtime CNN host who became an icon through his interviews with countless newsmakers, died January 23 at the age of 87.
a legendary Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor, died January 23 at the age of 95. Holbrook portrayed iconic author Mark Twain in one-man shows for more than six decades.
the Baseball Hall of Famer who broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run record and lived a life as an ambassador to the game, died January 22 at the age of 86.
Hall of Fame baseball player Don Sutton
died January 18 at the age of 75, according to a tweet from his son. Sutton, a right-handed pitcher, spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
the widow of Fred Rogers, star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," died at age 92, Fred Rogers Productions announced on January 14.
a longtime soap-opera actor known for his time on "General Hospital," died on January 9, his daughter confirmed to CNN. He was 86.
who spent seven decades in the Dodgers organization -- first as a player in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles as a two-time World Series-winning manager -- died January 8 at the age of 93.
British filmmaker and documentarian Michael Apted
died January 7 at the age of 79. Apted directed the 1980 movie "Coal Miner's Daughter," which won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the musical and comedy category. Other notable works he directed include "Agatha," "Gorky Park," "Gorillas in the Mist," "Nell," and "Enough."
the actress best known for her role as Officer Laverne Hooks in the film franchise "Police Academy," died January 7 at the age of 73.
Chef and restaurateur Albert Roux
died January 4 at the age of 85. Roux founded Britain's first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, and revolutionized London's restaurant scene.
lead singer of the 1960s British rock band Gerry and the Pacemakers, died of a heart infection at the age of 78, his friend and radio broadcaster Pete Price announced on January 3. Marsden was known for his cover of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical "Carousel." It became the anthem for his hometown football team, Liverpool FC.
Former NBA player and coach Paul Westphal
died January 2 after a battle with brain cancer, according to the University of Southern California. He was 70. In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Westphal "one of the great all around players of his era." He won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 1974.
Hall of Fame football player Floyd Little
died January 1 at the age of 78. Little rushed for more than 6,000 yards and scored 43 touchdowns for the Denver Broncos.
Cifrino told CNN Powell was vaccinated early on and received his second shot in February. He was scheduled to get his booster shot this past week but that was when he fell ill so he wasn't able to receive it. Covid-19 vaccines are a highly effective tool in preventing severe disease and death, but no vaccine is 100% effective.
More than 7,000 breakthrough cases of Covid-19 that have resulted in death have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through October 12. By that time, more than 187 million people in the US were fully vaccinated. That's one out of every 26,000 fully vaccinated people who has died of Covid-19, or 0.004%.
Of those breakthrough cases resulting in death, 85% were among people age 65 and older and 57% were among men, according to the CDC.
CDC data also show that the risk of dying from Covid-19 is more than 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than it is for vaccinated adults throughout August. Among seniors, who are more susceptible to severe Covid-19, that gap is smaller. Among those 80 and older, the risk of dying from Covid-19 in August was about five times higher among unvaccinated people than among fully vaccinated people.
Leaders mourn a 'trailblazer and role model'
Powell's death was met with an outpouring of grief from former and current leaders, including President Joe Biden who described Powell a "dear friend" and a dedicated public servant who broke barriers.
"Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation's strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity. From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation's policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else -- in uniform and out -- and it earned him the universal respect of the American people," Biden said.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served alongside Powell under Bush said he was "deeply saddened to learn that America has lost a leader and statesman. General Powell had a remarkably distinguished career, and I was fortunate to work with him," Cheney said in a statement, adding that Powell was a "trailblazer and role model."
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Powell's predecessor at the department, remembered him on Monday as "a wise and principled man, a loyal friend, and one of the kindest people I have ever met."
"Although we grew up in different contexts, we bonded over our family's immigrant stories, our deep love of America, and our belief in the importance of public service," she said in a statement.
Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded Powell at State following his retirement in 2005, said on Monday that he "was a trusted colleague and a dear friend through some very challenging times," adding in her own statement that "much of his legacy will live on in the countless number of young lives he touched."
Colin Powell's life in pictures
Colin Powell poses for a portrait in 2012.
Powell married his wife, Alma, in 1962, He joined the US Army in 1958 and served two tours of duty in South Vietnam.
A young Powell takes a photo of himself in a mirror. Powell, a son of Jamaican immigrants, was born in Harlem, New York, in 1937 and grew up in the South Bronx. He attended the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps.
Powell serves as an adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion while deployed in 1963. Powell was wounded that year by a Viet Cong booby trap. He was also wounded in a 1969 helicopter crash in which he rescued two soldiers.
Powell confers with US Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger during a Senate committee meeting in Washington in 1985. Powell stayed in the Army after returning home from Vietnam, attending the National War College and rising in leadership. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, and he became a senior military assistant to Weinberger in 1983.
Powell became the nation's first Black national security adviser in 1987. From left here are White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, Secretary of State George Shultz, Powell and President Ronald Reagan. They were discussing an upcoming summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Powell advises Reagan in 1988 during an Oval Office meeting of the National Security Council.
Powell accompanies Reagan on a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1988.
In 1989, Powell was tapped by President George H.W. Bush to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here, he speaks during a Pentagon briefing about Panama. At left is Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, who later became vice president of the United States.
Although Powell was initially reluctant to commit US troops when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, he became one of the administration's most trusted spokesmen when the assault on Saddam Hussein's army finally came.
Powell addresses the crew of the USS Wisconsin during Operation Desert Shield in 1990.
Powell joins President George H.W. Bush and other key advisers at the President's summer home near Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1990. Bush is on the left in the blue hat.
Powell and Cheney talk to reporters during a Pentagon briefing in 1990.
Powell playfully uses the head of Air Force Sgt. Thaddeus Fernandez while autographing a Saudi monetary note in 1990. Powell was visiting an Air Force base in San Antonio.
Powell makes a point about entrenched Iraqi troops during a Pentagon briefing in 1991.
Powell addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1991, shortly after the end of the Gulf War.
Powell tours a Soviet air base in 1991.
Powell reads aboard the USS Wasp while it was off the coast of Somalia in 1993.
Powell salutes as he tells a story about himself and former President Ronald Reagan in 1996. He was attending Reagan's 85th birthday celebration at a restaurant in West Hollywood, California.
Powell flies over Arlington, Virginia, in a Blackhawk helicopter in 1996.
Powell joins Republican candidate Bob Dole, center, and Dole's running mate, Jack Kemp, while the two were campaigning in Louisville, Kentucky, before the 1996 election.
Powell and Cheney fly to Waco, Texas, for a meeting with President-elect George W. Bush in 2000. Bush would later nominate Powell to be secretary of state.
Powell takes photos beside his wife, Alma, at Bush's inauguration in 2001.
Powell is joined by his wife as the President swears him in as secretary of state in 2001.
Powell testifies about various foreign policy issues during a Senate committee hearing in 2001.
From left, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Powell share a laugh in Rumsfeld's office in 2001.
Former President Bill Clinton pats Powell's back as they depart the Washington National Cathedral in 2001. They were there on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, honoring those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Bush and Powell meet in the White House Oval Office in 2001.
Powell shakes hands with Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai in 2002. It was the first time a US secretary of state had visited Afghanistan since 1976.
Powell prepares to testify about Bush's budget proposal before a Senate committee hearing in 2002.
Powell receives a pat on the cheek from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice during an Oval Office meeting in 2002. In 2005, Rice would succeed Powell as secretary of state.
Powell and Bush attend a NATO summit in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2002. Behind them are Rice and Rumsfeld.
Powell holds up a vial, which he described as one that could contain anthrax, during a speech to the United Nations Security Council in 2003. Powell presented evidence that the US intelligence community said proved Iraq had misled inspectors and hid weapons of mass destruction. "There can be no doubt," Powell warned, "that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more." The United States went to war with Iraq just six weeks after Powell's speech. Inspectors, however, later found no such weaponry in Iraq, and two years after Powell's UN speech, a government report said the intelligence community was "dead wrong" in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Powell later called his UN speech a "blot" that will forever be on his record. "The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary," Powell wrote in his 2012 memoir.
Bush meets with his war council in the White House Situation Room in 2003. Powell is next to Bush on the right.
Powell appears before a Senate committee in 2003. He spoke on various issues, including North Korea and the post-war situation in Iraq.
Powell speaks to the media after UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered a speech to the UN Security Council in 2003.
Powell stands with Bush before the President signed a $15 billion global AIDS bill in 2003.
Powell takes reporters' questions during a 2004 news conference at the State Department.
Powell reads over papers while standing in the Oval Office in 2004.
Bush and Powell wave from Powell's home in McLean, Virginia, in 2005.
From left, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Powell and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the US Diplomacy Center at the State Department in Washington in 2014.
Powell, left, joins national security leaders past and present while meeting with President Barack Obama in 2015. The meeting was about the national security implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact. From left are Powell, former Secretary of State James Baker, Obama, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Albright.
Powell salutes as he and other former military commanders pay their last respects to former President George H.W. Bush in 2018.
Powell shakes hands with President Donald Trump during the Ford's Theatre Gala in Washington in 2019. Though the large majority of Powell's time as a public servant was spent in Republican administrations, the later years of his life saw him supporting Democratic presidential candidates and harshly criticizing top Republican leaders. Powell endorsed Obama, voted for Hillary and also supported Joe Biden. He once called Trump a "national disgrace and an international pariah."
And Antony Blinken, the current officeholder, said Monday that Powell "gave the State Department the very best of his leadership, his experience, his patriotism."
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in remarks on Monday that in Powell he "lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor."
"He always made time for me and I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel. We will certainly miss him," said Austin, who himself made history earlier this year as the first Black Defense secretary.
Colin Luther Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx, Powell attended school at the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel.
"I liked the structure and the discipline of the military," Powell said, according to a CNN profile of him in the early 2000s. "I felt somewhat distinctive wearing a uniform. I hadn't been distinctive in much else."
He entered the US Army after graduating in 1958, and later served two tours in South Vietnam during the 1960s, where he was wounded twice, including during a helicopter crash in which he rescued two soldiers. He stayed in the Army after returning home, attending the National War College and rising in leadership. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, appointed as Reagan's final national security adviser in 1987 and was tapped by the elder Bush in 1989 to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell's tenure in the elder Bush's administration was marked by his involvement in some of the most notable American military actions of the late 20th century, including the 1989 Panama operation, the 1991 Gulf War and the US humanitarian intervention in Somalia, though he retired from the Army days before the disastrous Battle of Mogadishu.
Although Powell was initially reluctant to commit US troops when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, he became one of the administration's most trusted spokesmen when the assault on Saddam Hussein's army finally came.
"First we're going to cut it off. Then we're going to kill it," Powell famously said at a news conference at the time, referring to the Iraqi army.
Following the assault, Powell became something of a national hero, enjoying a 71% favorability rating in the first few years after the war. His efforts during the war also earned him two prominent awards: a Congressional Gold Medal in March 1991 "in recognition of his exemplary performance in planning and coordinating" the US response to Iraq's invasion, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As the elder Bush presented Powell with the award at a White House ceremony in 1991, he said the general's "deep compassion for every one of the thousands of men and women under (his) command will always be remembered."
During Powell's time in the military, which lasted until 1993, he also received a number of other notable awards, including the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He received his fourth star in 1989, becoming the second African American to rise to that rank.
In addition to the military awards, Powell also received the President's Citizens Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal, as well as a second Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded with distinction, from President Bill Clinton.
Top diplomat during turbulent time
With a prominent national profile, Powell was floated as a potential presidential candidate in the 1996 election. But in a highly anticipated decision, he declined to participate in the race, citing a lack of "passion" for electoral politics.
"Such a life requires a calling that I do not yet hear," he told reporters in 1995. "And for me to pretend otherwise would not be honest to myself, it would not be honest to the American people."
Powell was again encouraged to run in the 2000 presidential election, but rebuffed calls for him to mount a bid. He instead endorsed George W. Bush, delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he argued that the then-governor of Texas would "help bridge our racial divides."
He was Bush's first Cabinet selection when he was announced as the 43rd President's nomination for secretary of state, and with his expertise in foreign policy and widespread popularity, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
He shared Bush's reluctance to project military strength across the globe, a view that was quickly displaced by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As Bush's top diplomat, he was tasked with building international support for the War on Terror, including the Afghanistan War, but it was his involvement in the administration's push for intervention in Iraq, over the concerns of many of America's longtime allies, for which his tenure at State would become best known.
In February 2003, Powell delivered a speech before the United Nations in which he presented evidence that the US intelligence community said proved Iraq had misled inspectors and hid weapons of mass destruction.
"There can be no doubt," Powell warned, "that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."
Inspectors, however, later found no such weaponry in Iraq, and two years after Powell's UN speech, a government report said the intelligence community was "dead wrong" in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the US invasion.
But the damage was already done -- to both Iraq, which the US went to war with just six weeks after Powell's speech, and to the reputation of the once highly popular statesman, who was reportedly told by Cheney before the UN speech: "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."
Powell, who left the State Department in early 2005 after submitting his resignation to Bush the previous year, later called his UN speech a "blot" that will forever be on his record.
"I regret it now because the information was wrong -- of course I do," he told CNN's Larry King in 2010. "But I will always be seen as the one who made the case before the international community."
"I swayed public opinion, there's no question about it," he added, referring to how influential his speech was on public support for the invasion.
In his 2012 memoir, "It Worked for Me," Powell again acknowledged the speech, writing that his account of it in the book would likely be the last he publicly made.
"I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me," he wrote, referring to the report he used that contained faulty evidence of supposed Iraqi WMDs. "It was by no means my first, but it was one of my most momentous failures, the one with the widest-ranging impact."
"The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary," Powell wrote.
After leaving the Bush administration, Powell returned to private life. He joined the renowned venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in 2005, where he worked as a strategic adviser until his death. For a time, he gave speeches at "Get Motivated!" business seminars, and he authored the 2012 memoir.
Though the large majority of Powell's time as a public servant was spent in Republican administrations, the later years of his life saw him supporting Democratic presidential candidates and harshly criticizing top Republican leaders.
By 2008, the longtime Republican's coveted presidential endorsement went to another party when he announced his support for Obama's White House bid. At the time, he touted Obama's "ability to inspire" and the "inclusive nature of his campaign," while criticizing attacks on the Illinois senator by Republican presidential nominee John McCain's campaign as "inappropriate." He was later named an honorary co-chair of Obama's inauguration and endorsed him again in 2012.
Powell went on to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Donald Trump, whom he had strongly condemned as a "national disgrace and an international pariah."
In an extraordinary move that year, three presidential electors in Washington state cast votes for Powell rather than Clinton, resulting in state fines that were later upheld by the Supreme Court.
He again snubbed Trump in 2020 during the President's second campaign, announcing his support for Joe Biden in June of that year while blasting Trump's presidency.
"We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it," he told CNN, adding that he "certainly cannot in any way support President Trump this year." The retired general later delivered an address in support of Biden during the Democratic National Convention.
And after Trump incited a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol in early January 2021, Powell told CNN that he no longer considered himself a Republican, with the longtime grandee of the GOP saying he was now simply watching events unfold in a country he long served.
"I can no longer call myself a fellow Republican. I'm not a fellow of anything right now," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on "GPS." "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now, I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN's Deidre McPhillips, Jake Tapper, Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.