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Nelson Mandela dead at 95: Celebrities react

Following the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, the celebrity world was quick to react, both on social media and in statements.

A surprising number of celebrities had met Mandela in person and sent out photos of their meetings along with their condolences. Among them were:

Larry King, "Sad to hear about the passing of Nelson Mandela -- he was the greatest figure of the 21st century -- a fascinating man."

Gloria Estefan, "RIP Nelson Mandela, who truly changed the world with his sacrifice ... it was an honor to have been in his presence."

Fergie, "Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel.

Donald Trump, "Nelson Mandela and myself had a wonderful relationship -- he was a special man and will be missed.

PHOTOS: Actors who’ve portrayed Nelson Mandela on screen

John Legend, "I've never been so honored to meet anyone #Mandela."

Mike Tyson, "I'm hearing about Nelson Mandela's death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela's family.

Also turning out were folks from the A-list, including Sean "Diddy" Combs and Gwyneth Paltrow.

"'Your playing small does not serve the world'. #RIPMandela," Paltrow tweeted

Wrote Diddy: "Mandela stood for justice and truth!! Today the world lost a beautiful soul, fighter and true KING!! #RIPMandela." 

Then there were those who included links to lengthy remembrances: actor Ian McKellan, who referred to "the valiant Nelson Mandela," and Virgin honcho Richard Branson.

FULL COVERAGE: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

"Today we lost not only a great man; we also lost one of the world’s greatest leaders," wrote Branson as introduction to his tribute webpage. He said he'd been fortunate to see Mandela's "human side," and remembered the man "would start dancing spontaneously with people wherever he went, making them smile, laugh and feel completely at home."

McKellan, who is gay, wrote of his trip with two gay youths to meet Mandela, then president of South Africa, on behalf of a new constitution-in-progress that would, in part, forbid discrimination on the basis of sexuality.

"I asked if we could tell the press that the president supported the Constitutional Committee," McKellan wrote. "The president nodded 'Yes' and it was time for the photograph – taken without flash because of his sight. Simon put a protective arm round Tata's shoulder. Phumzeli beamed. The constitution, explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, came into effect two years later."

Morgan Freeman issued a statement, saying in part about Mandela, "As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we've come, but on how far we have to go.  Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us."

PHOTOS: Nelson Mandela through the years

Paul Simon, in his statement, called for peace. "He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness," the singer-songwriter said. "His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace."

And "Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin, after first wishing blessings at Mandela's passing, followed up with a unique take: "Passing of #NelsonMandela is profound, not a surprise," he wrote. "I keep thinking it's actually a gift to this season, an opportunity 4all 2 rededicate."

For more celebrity reactions, click through the photo gallery at the top of this post.

ALSO:

Obituary: Nelson Mandela -- 1918-2013

Photos: Actors who have portrayed Nelson Mandela on screen

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs and on Facebook facebook.com/ministryofgossip.

PHOTOS AND MORE: PHOTOS: Celebrity portraits by The Times PHOTOS: Royal visit to New Zealand and Australia PHOTOS: 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

 

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