PEOPLE Magazine's Biggest Celebrity Stories of 2021 – PEOPLE

Diane J. Cho was the Features Editor of PEOPLE Digital from 2019 to 2022. She worked at the brand for nearly four years covering news, features, human interest, evergreen, holiday gift guides and more. She launched the How I Parent and What It's Really Like to Be …. digital series and has interviewed several celebrities and influential leaders within the entertainment industry. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Diane worked at Bustle, VH1 and Complex. She received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from Rutgers University and her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School.
Though the follow-up year to a tough 2020 wasn't exactly the "normal" one many hoped for, it did give us headlines that didn't have to do with COVID-19, thanks in large part to the daily, and often dramatic, happenings of celebrities.
As the end of 2021 nears, look back on the 10 PEOPLE stories that compelled us all.
Paris Hilton and Carter Reum had one of the most extravagant celebrity weddings of the year, complete with multiple designer gowns, a caviar station, a flash mob, a star-studded guest list, Demi Lovato as the wedding singer, a 6-ft.-tall cake and a 13-part docuseries called Paris in Love to document it all. It also brought a particularly joyous moment for fans: watching longtime Hilton pal Kim Kardashian step in to fluff the tulle skirt on the bride’s custom Oscar de la Renta wedding dress (which took designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim months to create). The heartwarming photo was a nice full-circle moment considering all the two reality stars have been through together.
Demi Lovato left no stone unturned in their Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil docuseries, which revealed the details of their near-fatal 2018 drug overdose via interviews from Lovato and close confidants.
In the YouTube series, Lovato talked about being hospitalized and how it affected their life and long-term health. They said they had three strokes and a heart attack, which left them with brain damage.
"Everything had to happen in order for me to learn the lessons that I learned," Lovato told PEOPLE about the aftermath of the overdose. "It was a painful journey, and I look back and sometimes I get sad when I think of the pain that I had to endure to overcome what I have, but I don't regret anything."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
When Jamie Lee Curtis‘ daughter Ruby Guest decided to tell her parents that she was trans, she told PEOPLE in October, “It was intimidating — but I wasn’t worried. They had been so accepting of me my entire life.” Curtis remembers “some tears involved” at the time, but has since been ready to learn and listen.
“I’m not proselytizing, and I’m not trying to force-feed something to people. I’m simply saying, ‘This is our family’s experience.’ I am here to support Ruby. That is my job. Just as it is to care and love and support her older sister Annie in her journeys,” Curtis shared. “I’m a grateful student. I’m learning so much from Ruby. The conversation is ongoing. But I want to know: How can I do this better?”
Guest added: "You've done the most you can, and that's all I want. Helping others is something everyone should do. I don't think it's only our household thing. It should be a human thing."
Fans were heartbroken to learn that DMX, born Earl Simmons, was in a “vegetative state” following a heart attack he suffered in April. The initial news was shared by his family, who said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, “We ask that you please keep Earl/DMXand us in your thoughts, wishes, and prayers as well as respect our privacy as we face these challenges.”
Family and friends gathered outside of the White Plains, New York, hospital where the beloved rapper remained on life support, sharing their memories of the star and playing his music. A week later, Simmons was pronounced dead at 50.
DMX is survived by his mother Arnett Simmons, his siblings, his children and their mothers.
The news of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez ending their engagement first broke in March, but it was a month later when the former couple officially shared a joint statement on their relationship status.
"We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so. We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects. We wish the best for each other and one another's children. Out of respect for them, the only other comment we have is to say is thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and support," the statement read.
The stars were together for almost four years, and engaged for two. Rodriguez proposed in the Bahamas in March 2019. Lopez is now back with ex Ben Affleck.
Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton put their own personal touches on their big day in July. The couple had an intimate at-home wedding at Shelton’s ranch in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, where Shelton wore a classic black tuxedo and blue jeans while Stefani put on a pair of sky-high custom stiletto cowboy boots from Le Silla, which featured Swarovski crystals with the monogram of the couple’s initials on the sole.
The Voice host Carson Daly officiated, and also revealed that Shelton had written a song for his bride. “We Can Reach the Stars” was later released as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of the country crooner’s Body Language album.
Following the April 2021 death of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years, the 95-year-old monarch continued her duties by extending her sympathy and support to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Commonwealth nation, after a series of volcanic eruptions.
Her April 16 statement, which would’ve normally started with “The Duke of Edinburgh and I,” simply began with “I” — a first for the royal since resuming her duties without the royal consort by her side.
Former 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar was arrested by Homeland Security in April, a representative for the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to PEOPLE. He was being held without bond in an Arkansas jail and at the time, online jail records did not show what he was arrested for.
The controversial TLC star ultimately confessed to having a pornography addiction, cheating on his wife Anna Duggar and apologized for his “wrongdoing” after a 2006 police report revealed that he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching five underage girls, including two of his sisters, Jill and Jessa.
In December, Josh was found guilty of two charges of knowingly receiving and possessing child pornography, also known as child sexual abuse material. He faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines. His sentencing is expected in early 2022 pending a pre-sentence investigation; because possession is a lesser included offense, he will only be sentenced for the receipt crime.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced in February that they would soon become a family of four! “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child,” a spokesperson for the couple told PEOPLE at the time. The happy news was shared along with a stunning black-and-white photo of the couple taken remotely via iPad by their friend and longtime photographer, Misan Harriman.
On June 4, the couple announced that their baby girl, Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California.
On Nov. 4, Jessica Simpson shared a photo of herself from four years ago to honor the start of her sobriety journey and detail her experience as she celebrated being four years sober.
“This person in the early morning of Nov 1, 2017 is an unrecognizable version of myself,” she began her Instagram note. “I had so much self discovery to unlock and explore. I knew in this very moment I would allow myself to take back my light, show victory over my internal battle of self respect, and brave this world with piercing clarity. Personally, to do this I needed to stop drinking alcohol because it kept my mind and heart circling in the same direction and quite honestly I was exhausted.”
"I wanted to feel the pain so I could carry it like a badge of honor. I wanted to live as a leader does and break cycles to advance forward- never looking back with regret and remorse over any choice I have made and would make for the rest of my time here within this beautiful world," she continued. "I can't believe it has been 4yrs! It feels like maybe 2. I think that is a good thing. Ha. There is so much stigma around the word alcoholism or the label of an alcoholic. The real work that needed to be done in my life was to actually accept failure, pain, brokenness, and self sabotage. The drinking wasn't the issue. I was. I didn't love myself. I didn't respect my own power."
She concluded, "Today I do. I have made nice with the fears and I have accepted the parts of my life that are just sad. I own my personal power with soulful courage. I am wildly honest and comfortably open. I am free."

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