Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the bold-faced names we lost in 2020, starting with this actress… The news came as a shock to fans, as Kelly Preston's illness had not been revealed publicly, but "On the morning of July 12, 2020, Kelly Preston, adored wife and mother, passed away following a two-year battle with breast cancer," a family representative told People magazine. The actress known for her work in films including "SpaceCamp," "Twins," "Jerry Maguire, "For Love of the Game," "The Cat in the Hat" and many others — was 57. "Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends," the rep continued. "She was a bright, beautiful and loving soul who cared deeply about others and who brought life to everything she touched." Kelly's husband of 28 years, actor John Travolta, shared the sad news on Instagram too, praising his love's "courageous fight." Actress daughter Ella Travolta mourned her mother on social media, writing in part, "Thank you for your love. Thank you for your help and thank you for making this world a better place. You have made life so beautiful and I know you will continue to do so always. I love you so much mama.❤️." Kelly also leaves behind son Benjamin; son Jett preceded her in death in 2009. Keep reading for more stars who died in 2020…
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On Aug. 28, Chadwick Boseman's rep broke the devastating news that the "Black Panther" star had died earlier that day, sparking an outpouring of grief from Hollywood stars and fans. The "42" and "Get On Up" actor, who'd quietly been battling colon cancer since 2016, passed away at home surrounded by his wife and family. The star, who famously played T'Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was just 43.
On Nov. 8, Emmy-winning "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek — who led the show for 36 years — died following a 20-month battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80. "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex," read a tweet from his show's official account. In 2019, Alex told CTV he'd made peace with his prognosis. "I'm not afraid of dying," he said. "I've lived a good life, a full life, and I'm nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid of that?"
Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, 41 — who won an Oscar in 2018 for his animated short film "Dear Basketball" — tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people on Jan. 26. Fans, many in Hollywood, mourned the athlete and his little girl as well as their companions, who were on their way to Kobe's Mamba Academy for a kids basketball tournament. Kobe and Gigi left behind wife and mother Vanessa and daughters and sisters Natalia, Bianka and Capri, who was just born in June 2019.
Actor Kirk Douglas — the three-time Oscar nominee and honorary Academy Awards recipient who was perhaps the most famous actor on the silver screen following World War II — died in Los Angeles on Feb. 5. "It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103," son Michael Douglas announced on Instagram. "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the Golden Age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to [my wife] Catherine [Zeta-Jones], a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband." Michael ended his tribute to the "Spartacus" star with "the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son."
Naya Rivera — who's best known for playing Santana Lopez on "Glee" for all six seasons — went missing on the afternoon of July 8 after taking Josey, her 4-year-old son with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, out on California's Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest about an hour north of Hollywood. The actress-singer had rented a pontoon boat for them to enjoy the water but three hours later, it was spotted adrift with only Josey on board in his life jacket. Authorities launched a search for Naya, who grew up nearby, but the following day announced that it had tragically turned from a rescue to a recovery mission. Her body was found on July 13. The former child star — who also memorably appeared on TV's "Devious Maids," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "The Royal Family" — was 33.
On Oct. 31, the world learned that Hollywood's original James Bond — Scottish movie star Sean Connery — was dead at 90. The Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award winner's son, Jason Connery, told the BBC his father died overnight, peacefully in his sleep, in the Bahamas after having been "unwell for some time." The news was also announced by Scotland's Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon on social media. "I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons," she tweeted, adding, "Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent & sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world's most accomplished actors. Sean will be remembered best as James Bond – the classic 007 – but his roles were many & varied. He was a global legend but, first and foremost, a patriotic and proud Scot … When I last spoke to him it was clear even then that his health was failing – but the voice, the spirit and the passion that we all loved so well were still there. I will miss him. Scotland will miss him. The world will miss him." Hollywood stars also mourned the loss of Sir Sean on social media.
Guitar legend and Van Halen co-founder Eddie Van Halen died on Oct. 6 following a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was 65. "I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," son and musician Wolf Van Halen wrote on Twitter. "He was the best father I could ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop." Reports revealed that Eddie passed away at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, with Wolf, second wife Janie, first wife Valerie Bertinelli and brother and bandmate Alex Van Halen by his side. Hollywood mourned the music star, with everyone from Lenny Kravitz, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Kenny Chesney to Brian Wilson, ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli and Jimmy Kimmel taking to social media to celebrate his life.
German magician and entertainer Roy Horn — half of the duo Siegfried & Roy — passed away from complications of COVID-19 in Las Vegas on May 8 following a late-April diagnosis. He was 75. "Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Siegfried Fischbacher said in a statement mourning Roy, who was unable to return to the show that made them famous after he was attacked by one of their famed white tigers on stage in 2003. "From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried." He continued, "Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days. I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy's life."
Beloved television host Regis Philbin died of natural causes on July 24, one month shy of his 89th birthday, his family announced the following day. His 60-year career in TV included, most memorably, his long runs hosting "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Former co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa were among the dozens of stars who mourned his loss on social media. Kathie Lee wrote on Instagram, "I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly — a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he's making someone laugh." Kelly shared, "He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place."
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, the court announced. She was 87. The pioneering attorney, judge and champion of gender equality — who was lovingly dubbed the "Notorious R.B.G." and given the biopic treatment in the 2018 film "On the Basis of Sex" — served on the nation's highest court for 27 years. Days before her death, NPR reported, she dictated this statement to granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." The trailblazer, who was mourned by Hollywood stars and politicians alike, suffered multiple bouts of cancer during her lifetime with her most recent occurrence coming in 2020.
On July 5, Broadway star Nick Cordero died in a Los Angeles hospital following a lengthy battle with the coronavirus and ensuing complications. He was 41. The Tony Award nominee's wife, fitness trainer Amanda Kloots — who chronicled Nick's ups and downs as he faced a leg amputation and countless infections — shared the devastating news on Instagram. "God has another angel in heaven now. My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth," she wrote. "I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him. Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone's friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband. [Our 1-year-old son] Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday." The former Rockette thanked Nick's doctor and all the fans who sent love and support to their family over the previous 95 days. "I will love you forever and always my sweet man," she concluded her post.
Visionary fashion designer Pierre Cardin died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just outside Paris, it was announced on Dec. 28. He was 98.
On July 12, a representative for Lisa Marie Presley confirmed the tragic news that her only son, Benjamin Keough — the grandson of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley — had died in Calabasas, California. He was 27. Lisa Marie, her rep shared, was "entirely heartbroken, inconsolable and beyond devastated but trying to stay strong for her 11-year-old twins and her oldest daughter, Riley." It was later confirmed that Benjamin died by suicide.
Model Stella Tennant — the British beauty from an aristocratic family who rose to fame in the '90s on fashion runways, as Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld's muse and as a cover model for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and more — passed away just a few days before Christmas. She was 50. "It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on 22 December 2020," her family said in a statement. "Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed."
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Four-time Primetime Emmy nominee Fred Willard — who won a Daytime Emmy for his work on the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 2015 — died at home on May 16 of natural causes. He was 86. The New York Times called Fred — who stole scenes in movies like "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," "Waiting for Guffman" and "This Is Spinal Tap" and on TV sitcoms like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Modern Family" — the "king of the deadpan cameo." His work can next be seen in the 2020 Netflix series "Space Force," in which he plays the father of star Steve Carell's character. Dozens of celebrities took to social media to pay tribute to Fred as news of his death made headlines. "How lucky we all are that we got to witness his great gifts. Thanks for the deep belly laughs. You are now with Mary. Home safe," Jamie Lee Curtis — whose husband, Christopher Guest, worked with Fred multiple times — wrote on social media, referencing the 2018 death of Fred's wife. Actor Henry Winkler tweeted, "RIP Fred Willard… you were incomparable."
David L. Lander — who was best known for his hilarious performances as Squiggy opposite Michael McKean's Lenny on the hit '70s and '80s sitcom Laverne & Shirley — passed away at 73 on Dec. 4 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. His family confirmed to Variety that he died of complications related to multiple sclerosis. David, who went public with his diagnosis in 1999 and for decades worked as an ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, fought the disease for 37 years.
Rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard died of bone cancer on May 9 in Nashville. He was 87. The talented showman born Richard Wayne Penniman, who was known for his aggressive piano style, flamboyant wardrobe and hairstyles and vibrant personality, influenced generations of artists from The Beatles to Elton John to Prince with his hits including "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally," "Rip It Up," "Lucille," "Good Golly Miss Molly" and more.
"Gone With the Wind" star Olivia de Havilland died of natural causes at 104 at her residence in Paris on July 26, her publicist told CNN. Olivia — who was born in Japan to British parents and spent the last 60 years of her life in France — was a two-time Oscar winner for her work in "The Heiress" and "To Each His Own."
On May 11, Ben Stiller announced that his dad, comedy great Jerry Stiller — who played Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld" and Arthur Spooner on "The King of Queens" — was dead. "I'm sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes. He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad," Ben wrote on Twitter. Jerry, who lost wife and longtime comedy partner Anne Meara in 2015, was 92.
Singer-songwriter John Prine, who famously worked as a mailman before embarking on a five-decade career as a musician and storyteller, died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on April 7 from complications related to COVID-19. He was 73.
English actress Diana Rigg — famed for her work on TV's "The Avengers" and "Rebecca" and for being the only Bond girl to get 007 to the altar (in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service") — died at home surrounded by her family on Sept. 10, her agent confirmed to the BBC. She was 82. Her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, later revealed that Diana died of cancer following a March diagnosis. "She spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession," Rachel told the BBC. The Emmy, Tony and BAFTA Award winner, who was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, was also known to a younger generation as the formidable Lady Olenna Tyrell on "Game of Thrones."
Country music star Charley Pride — a pioneer for Black artists in the genre and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — died from complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 12 in Dallas. He was 86. The Grammy winner known for hit songs like "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" and "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" delivered his final performance at November's 2020 Country Music Association Awards, where he also received a lifetime achievement award.
Actress, dancer and Tony Award-winning choreographer Ann Reinking — who played Roxie Hart in the musical "Chicago" and starred in other Broadway productions — died in her sleep in a Seattle hotel while in Washington visiting her brother, reports revealed. She was 71. Ann, the onetime protegee and romantic partner of famed director-choreographer Bob Fosse, also memorably appeared in movies including "All That Jazz," "Annie" and "Micki & Maude."
Radio veteran-turned-TV newsman Hugh Downs died on July 1 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 99. Hugh, who served as Jack Paar's sidekick on "The Tonight Show" and hosted the game show "Concentration," famously hosted the "Today" show on NBC and "20/20" — much of it beside Barbara Walters — on ABC, until he retired from the primetime TV news magazine in 1999. The trusted journalist was such a television staple that for years, he held a Guinness-certified record for most total hours on commercial network television.
Kenny Rogers died on March 19 at 81, his family announced with a statement on his official Twitter account. The three-time Grammy winner "passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family," they wrote.
Wilford Brimley died on Aug. 1 in St. George, Utah, where he'd been in the ICU being treated for kidney issues. The 85-year-old Marine Corp veteran known for his mustache, baritone voice and Quaker Oats commercials memorably starred in films including "Cocoon," "The Natural," "The Firm" and "The Thing" and TV shows like "Our House" and "The Waltons" during his long career. "Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust. He said what he meant and he meant what he said," his agent, Lynda Bensky, told CNN. "He had a tough exterior and a tender heart. I'm sad that I will no longer get to hear my friend's wonderful stories. He was one of a kind."
John le Carré — the British author known for his espionage books — died on Dec. 12 from pneumonia. He was 89. The writer (real name: David Cornwell), who worked for the spy agencies MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and '60s, wrote 26 books during his career including "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "A Most Wanted Man" and "The Night Manager," which were all, among other works he penned, adapted into movies or TV series. "I represented David for almost 15 years. I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend," Jonny Geller, CEO of literary agency The Curtis Brown Group, told CNN. "We will not see his like again."
Carol Sutton, who appeared in films and on TV shows including "Steel Magnolias," "The Pelican Brief," "Queen Sugar," "Treme," "Claws" and "Lovecraft Country," died at 76 on Dec. 10 in New Orleans following a battle with COVID-19. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the sad news on social media, describing the actress as "practically the Queen of New Orleans theater, having graced the stages across the city for decades."
Tommy "Tiny" Lister, 62 — who memorably appeared in movies like "Friday" and "The Fifth Element" — was found dead in his California home on Dec. 10 after experiencing coronavirus symptoms again four months after he first tested positive for COVID-19. His manager, Cindy Cowan, told People magazine she was planning to take him for another test the same day he died because he'd begun "to feel not well again" in the week before he passed away. "He thought maybe his diabetes was starting to kick up because he just wasn't feeling right," she told People, noting that the "Zootopia" and "The Dark Knight" actor was having a hard time breathing.
Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels, the man who fused traditional country and Southern rock as the founder of the Charlie Daniels Band, died of a hemorrhagic stroke in Hermitage, Tennessee, on July 6. He was 83. Charlie will perhaps best be remembered for his hit 1979 single "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which hit No. 1 on the country chart but was also a crossover pop hit that sold 1 million copies and won a Grammy Award.
Brian Dennehy — who had a career that spanned five decades — passed away of natural causes on April 15, his family said in a statement. He was 81. Over the course of his career, Brian netted five Emmy nominations and one Grammy nomination. He collected a Golden Globe in 2001 for his performance in "Death of a Salesman" and he also won two Tony Awards. John Lithgow called Brian "one of our great actors." Michael McKean called him "brilliant and versatile, a powerhouse actor."
British-French actor Michael Lonsdale — who's best known for playing the iconic James Bond movie villain Hugo Drax opposite Roger Moore in 1979's "Moonraker" — died on Sept. 21. Michael, who was also known for his work in "Ronin," "Munich" and "The Day of the Jackal," was 87.
On July 13, Discovery Communications confirmed that longtime "MythBusters" host Grant Imahara, the electrical engineer and roboticist who later hosted Netflix's "White Rabbit Project," passed away at 49. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he died suddenly after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Phyllis George, who served as Miss Texas 1970 and Miss America 1971 and went on to become a broadcast television pioneer — she was the first female co-anchor of "The NFL Today" — died on May 16 at a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, from complications of the blood disorder polycythemia vera, which she was diagnosed with 35 years earlier. She was 70. After paving the way for other women to become sportscasters, Phyllis hosted "Candid Camera" and a TV version of People magazine. She also served as Kentucky's first lady while married to Governor John Y. Brown Jr., launched her own successful beauty line and Chicken by George food line and authored several books.
Famed Bond girl Honor Blackman has died at 94, her family announced on April 6. After becoming a household name on the TV series "The Avengers" in the early 1960s, she starred opposite Sean Connery in 1964's "Goldfinger" and went on to act for decades. "She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby," her family told The Guardian in a statement. "As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times."
Following a year-and-a-half-long battle with an extremely rare cancer, "MasterChef Junior" season 6 contestant Ben Watkins passed away in Chicago on Nov. 16. The fan favorite was 14. Ben's death came three years after he lost both parents in a September 2017 domestic violence incident. His guardians — uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards — said in a statement that he had gone "home to be with his mother." Ben was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor, in 2019. "We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today," host Gordon Ramsay wrote on Twitter. "Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins' family with this terrible loss Gx."
Prolific entertainer Carl Reiner died of natural causes at his Beverly Hills home on June 29. He was 98. The stand-up comedian, actor, director, producer, writer and Broadway star with more than 400 credits to his name won 11 Emmys over seven decades and memorably worked with comedy geniuses Mel Brooks (with whom he won a Grammy for best spoken comedy album), Steve Martin (who he directed in movies including "The Jerk") and more. His children include famed director Rob Reiner (pictured with his dad here), who called the star "my guiding light."
Golden Globe-winning actor John Saxon, who starred opposite Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon" and appeared in more than 200 TV shows and movies including "A Nightmare on Elm Street," died at his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on July 25 from complications of pneumonia, his wife told CNN. He was 83.
Frederick Hibbert — better known as Toots, the leader of legendary Grammy-winning ska and rocksteady pioneers Toots and The Maytals — died on Sept. 11 at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 77. Though his family has yet to confirm his cause of death, it was reported earlier in September that the singer-songwriter, who's long been credited as the "Father of Reggae," was in intensive care awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Following the news of his passing, music stars from Mick Jagger to Ziggy Marley mourned him on social media.
"All My Children" alum John Callahan passed away on March 28 at 66. One day before his death, the actor suffered a massive stroke and was put on life support, The Blast reported.
On Sept. 29, country music singer-songwriter Mac Davis — a former Academy of Country Music Awards entertainer of the year who's famed for writing Elvis Presley songs including "In the Ghetto" and "A Little Less Conversation" — died in Nashville following heart surgery. He was 78.
James Lipton, a former actor, writer, lyricist and dancer who's most famous for creating, hosting and executive producing "Inside the Actors Studio," died of bladder cancer at his New York home on March 2. He was 93. Over the course of his career, James — who also served as dean and later dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at New York City's Pace University — earned 20 Emmy nominations and won the Emmy for outstanding informational series or special in 2013. He also received a lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmys in 2007.
On March 8, Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Max von Sydow died at 90. The Swedish actor famously starred in Ingmar Bergman films including "The Seventh Seal" and went on to appear in everything from "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and "The Exorcist" to "Pelle the Conqueror," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Game of Thrones." Filmmaker Edgar Wright was among the acting great's biggest fans and took to Twitter to honor the legend, writing, "Max Von Sydow, such an iconic presence in cinema for seven decades, it seemed like he'd always be with us. He changed the face of international film with Bergman, played Christ, fought the devil, pressed the HOT HAIL button & was Oscar nominated for a silent performance. A god."
Famed astrologer, sometime reality star and women's wrestling promoter and manager Jackie Stallone — the mother of actors Sylvester Stallone, Frank Stallone and Toni D'Alto — passed away on Sept. 21 at 98. "She died in her sleep as she had wished," son Frank wrote on Instagram, calling his mom "fearless" and "a remarkable woman." In his lengthy post, he added that "It was hard not to like her, she was very eccentric and [a] flamboyant person." Jackie helped launch the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, on which the series "GLOW" is based, and also appeared on the U.K.'s "Celebrity Big Brother."
On Sept. 21, music star Tommy DeVito died in a Las Vegas area hospital from complications of the coronavirus, "Casino" actor Alfredo Nittoli confirmed on Facebook. Tommy, 92, was a founding member of famed doo-wop group The Four Seasons — he played lead guitar and sang — and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Nikki McKibbin — the flame-haired singer who found fame as a contestant on the first season of "American Idol," on which she placed third — suffered an aneurysm on Oct. 28 and died on Oct. 31. She was 42. "She would already be gone, but she's an organ donor and has been kept on life support to make that possible. That shouldn't be a surprise to us. Even at the end she is still giving," husband Craig Sadler wrote on Facebook shortly before Nikki's death. "She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us." He asked fans to help honor Nikki by pausing at 3 p.m. on Halloween — the time she would be wheeled into the operating room to "give her final gift that will save the lives of strangers" — and sing the Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide," as Nikki "practically worshipped" vocalist Stevie Nicks.
On Oct. 28, the Miss America Organization announced that Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett, who went on to enjoy a career as a television host and sometime actress, was dead at 49. "We are devastated by this sudden loss in our Miss America family and we are deeply sorry for her family and close friends for their loss," the organization said in a statement. According to "News 4" in Leanza's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, the former beauty queen had been hospitalized after suffering a head injury on Oct. 12. Her ex-husband, former "Entertainment Tonight" host Mark Steines — with whom she had sons Kai, 18, and Avery, 16 — took to Instagram to mourn Leanza. "We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth. I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life's path," Mark wrote.
Character actress Mary Pat Gleason died at 70 on June 2 following a cancer battle. She's appeared in more than 100 film and TV projects since the '80s including movies like "A Cinderella Story," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," "Basic Instinct," "Traffic," "Bruce Almighty," "13 Going on 30" and "Sierra Burgess Is a Loser" and TV shows like "Saved by the Bell," "Sex and the City," "Desperate Housewives" and, more recently, "Mom."
Marriage and family therapist Amie Harwick, 38 — a former Playboy model who famously was once engaged to comedian Drew Carey — was killed at her home in the Hollywood Hills on Feb. 15, according to the LAPD. Police found the mental health professional "gravely injured" beneath a third-story balcony with "significant injuries consistent with a fall," cops said in a statement. Later that day, police — who said there were signs of a struggle in Amie's apartment — arrested her ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse in connection with the case. Reports revealed Amie had a restraining order against him that had recently expired. "Amie and I had a love that people are lucky to have once in a lifetime," a grieving Drew told People magazine in a statement. "She was positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women, and passionate about her work as a therapist."
Chris Trousdale — a former child Broadway performer and singer-actor best known as a member of the late-'90s and early-aughts boy band Dream Street — died on June 2 at 34. A family member confirmed to TMZ that the cause of death was complications from COVID-19. Chris, who auditioned for "The Voice" in 2012, also appeared on TV shows like "Austin & Ally" and "Shake It Up." "Chris had an explosively charming personality with boundless amounts of talent," former bandmate Jesse McCartney said, adding. "I truly envied him as a performer. We were a part of something people never get to experience in an entire lifetime at the tender ages of 12 and 14. Although we were a band for only three years, at that age, it felt like a lifetime and we built a real brotherhood. In later years, we would grow apart as our lives would take different turns, but I would often reflect on our early days together and think about how exciting it all was. My deepest sympathies go out to his mother whom I know cherished him dearly. RIP Chris. I'll never forget your smile."
Veteran character actor Richard Herd — who's perhaps best remembered for his work on "Seinfeld" as George Costanza's demanding boss at the Yankees organization, Mr. Wilhelm — died of cancer-related causes at his home in Los Angeles on May 26. He was 87. Richard also memorably appeared in projects including "Get Out," "All the President's Men," "The China Syndrome," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and several "Star Trek" TV franchises.
Three-time Emmy nominee Conchata Ferrell — who's best known for her work on "Two and a Half Men" as no-nonsense housekeeper Berta and to "L.A. Law" fans as entertainment lawyer Susan Bloom — died on Oct. 12 at Los Angeles's Sherman Oaks Hospital after suffering complications of cardiac arrest. She was 77. Co-stars took to social media to mourn her, with Jon Cryer writing, "Berta's gruff exterior was an invention of the writers. Chatty's warmth and vulnerability were her real strengths. I'm crying for the woman I'll miss, and the joy she brought so many." Charlie Sheen called her "an absolute sweetheart, a consummate pro, a genuine friend," adding, "Berta, your housekeeping was a tad suspect, your 'people' keeping was perfect."
Joel Schumacher — who directed "St. Elmo's Fire," "The Lost Boys," "Flatliners," "Falling Down," "The Client," "A Time to Kill" and two of the "Batman" franchise movies, among many others — died in New York City on June 22 following a year-long cancer battle. The former costume designer was 80.
Famed Japanese designer Kenzo Takada – the man behind the international luxury fashion house Kenzo — died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, on Oct. 4 due to COVID-19-related complications, a spokesperson for his K-3 brand confirmed in a statement. He was 81.
Singer and feminist icon Helen Reddy — famed for her hits including the anthem "I Am Woman" and the 1970s chart-toppers "Delta Dawn" and "Angie Baby" — died on Sept. 29 under the care of the Motion Picture and Television Fund's Samuel Goldwyn Center for Behavioral Health in Woodland Hills, California. She was 78. Helen, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, was the first Australian to win a Grammy.
Golden Globe-nominated actor Robert Conrad, who was known for his work on 1960s and 1970s television shows including "The Wild, Wild West," "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (later known as "Black Sheep Squadron") and "Hawaiian Eye," died of heart failure in Malibu on Feb. 8. He was 84.
Hall of Fame wrestler Joseph Laurinaitis — better known to fans as Road Warrior Animal — died suddenly on Sept. 22 at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri, TMZ confirmed with authorities. The wrestling legend — one half of the Road Warriors tag team who's long been regarded as one of the best in-ring performers of all time — was 60. His son, NFL and Ohio State football star James Laurinaitis, took to social media to mourn, writing, "I hate that I wasn't able to say goodbye. … I love you Dad." Other big-name wrestlers also shared their grief online, with Hulk Hogan writing, "RIP Animal, love you my brother."
Stevie Lee — the onetime pro wrestler who used the name "Puppet The Psycho Dwarf" and went on to work as an actor and stuntman — died on Sept. 9 from a heart attack at 54, friend and fellow wrestler Jacob "Turtle" Colyer confirmed to CNN. Fans might know Stevie best from his appearances in Johnny Knoxville's "Jacka** 3D" movie, the film "Oz the Great and Powerful" and TV shows like "American Horror Story: Freak Show" and Spike TV's "Half-Pint Brawlers" reality show.
"Top Chef: Boston" competitor Aaron Grissom died following a motorcycle accident in Washington state on Sept. 8. The season 12 star, who also appeared on an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" while cooking at a restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, was 34.
Eddie Hassell, who's best known for his work in the acclaimed movie "The Kids Are All Right" and on the NBC series "Surface," was shot and killed in Grand Prairie, Texas, early on Nov. 1. He was 30. His rep told The New York Times that the actor was shot in the abdomen outside his girlfriend's apartment. Within days, police had arrested an 18-year-old suspect in the actor's murder, which they described as a "random robbery" that turned fatal.
Kool & the Gang co-founder, singer and saxophonist Ronald "Khalis" Bell, whose music group was one of the most celebrated funk bands of the 1970s and later, died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 9, Rolling Stone confirmed. He was 68.
Former Temptations lead singer Bruce Williamson died from complications of the coronavirus at his Las Vegas home on Sept. 6. He was 49. Bruce became a Temptation in 2006 and performed with the group until 2015.
On Sept. 6, the United Veterans Council of San Joaquin County, California, announced that Army vet and actor Kevin Dobson, 77, had died that day due to"medical complications." He was best known for playing Mack on "Knots Landing," Detective Bobby Crocker on "Kojak" and Mickey Horton on "Days of Our Lives." His rep further told The Hollywood Reporter that Kevin passed away at a Stockton, California, hospital after struggling with an autoimmune deficiency.
On Aug. 23, reps for Justin Townes Earle revealed that the singer-songwriter was dead at 38. A spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department later confirmed to Rolling Stone that the musician — the son of country rocker Steve Earle — had passed away due to a "probable drug overdose." A statement on his social media pages read, "It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin. So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys."
"Chariots of Fire" star Ben Cross died on Aug. 18 at a hospital in Vienna, Austria, at 72. Ben is also perhaps best known for playing Spock's father in the 2009 movie reboot of "Star Trek."
On July 25, legal representatives for Peter Green — the influential blues guitarist who co-founded Fleetwood Mac with drummer Mick Fleetwood in 1967 — confirmed that he'd died "peacefully in his sleep." He was 73.
Actress Galyn Görg, who was best known for her work in projects including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Twin Peaks" and "RoboCop 2," died in Hawaii on July 14 — one day before her 56th birthday — following a cancer battle.
On July 3, trailblazing Bermuda-born British actor Earl Cameron — one of the first black actors to perform in mainstream British films and TV shows — died at his home in Kenilworth, England. He was 102. Earl appeared in everything from the 1965 James Bond movie "Thunderball" to Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter" to Christopher Nolan's "Inception" and in 2006 was appointed as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
On July 6, reports confirmed that Oscar- and Grammy-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone — the man who scored more than 500 films over seven decades and was known to many simply as "Maestro" — died in a hospital in Rome at 91 after fracturing his femur in a fall. His myriad music credits include the Clint Eastwood Westerns "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" as well as "Once Upon a Time in America," "The Untouchables," "Cinema Paradiso" and, more recently, Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight."
On June 30, Variety confirmed that Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter Johnny Mandel — who wrote the "M*A*S*H" theme song — had died at 94. He worked with vocalists including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett and Natalie Cole and scored more than 30 films during his Hollywood career. He won five Grammys as well as a best original song Oscar for "The Shadow of Your Smile" from 1965's "The Sandpiper." Stars including singer Michael Bublé spoke out to honor the talent. "I was so sad to learn that a hero of mine, Johnny Mandel, passed away," Michael tweeted. "He was a genius and one of my favorite writers, arrangers and personalities. He was a beast."
Benny Mardones, the singer-songwriter who wrote music for Brenda Lee and Three Dog Night — but is most famous for his '80s radio ballad "Into the Night" — died on June 29 at his home in Menifee, California, from complications following a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 73.
Steve Bing — a screenwriter, movie producer and investor as well as a generous philanthropist who's also famous for having a son, Damian, with actress Elizabeth Hurley — died by suicide on June 22 in Los Angeles. The "Kangaroo Jack" writer and "The Polar Express" producer was 55.
On June 19, celebrated English stage and screen actor Ian Holm died in a London hospital at 88 from an illness related to Parkinson's disease. He was perhaps best known for his stage work in Shakespeare and Harold Pinter plays and his film work in movies including the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" trilogies as well as Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan."
Screenwriter and playwright Lewis John Carlino died at his home on Washington's Whidbey Island on June 17 from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disease. He was 88. He earned an Oscar nomination for writing "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" and was known for adapting the book and directing "The Great Santini." More recently, he wrote "The Mechanic" and its sequel, the action thrillers starring Jason Statham.
Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide in Mumbai on June 14, police confirmed. He started his career on television in projects including the soap opera "Pavitra Rishta" before moving on to Bollywood films like "Kai Po Che."
Mel Winkler, who memorably played Joppy, the best friend of Denzel Washington's Easy Rawlins character in 1995's "Devil in a Blue Dress," died in his sleep on June 11. The "Doc Hollywood" and "Coach Carter" actor was 78.
Bonnie Pointer, one of the Grammy-winning co-founders of the Pointer Sisters, passed away at 69 on June 8, sibling and former bandmate Anita Pointer confirmed, adding in a statement, "Bonnie was my best friend and we talked every day. We never had a fight in our life. I already miss her and I will see her again one day." In July, TMZ reported that Bonnie's death certificate revealed she died of cardiopulmonary arrest with liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver as underlying causes.
Peggy Pope, a veteran Broadway and character actress who's appeared in everything from TV's "Soap" to the hit movie "9 to 5," died on June 3 in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was 91.
Saxophonist arranger and composer Lennie Niehaus — famous for playing with Stan Kenton's band and collaborating with old Army buddy and fellow jazz enthusiast Clint Eastwood on more than two dozen films — died at 90 on May 28 under hospice care in Redlands, California. He worked on the music for movies including "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Escape From Alcatraz," "Pale Rider," "Unforgiven," "The Bridges of Madison County," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," "Million Dollar Baby" and more. The two-time Emmy nominee took home the prize in 1994 for his work on the TV movie "Lush Life."
KISS guitarist Bob Kulick passed away on May 28, brother Bruce Kulick, who's also played guitar for the rock band, announced on social media. "His love of music, and his talent as a musician and producer should always be celebrated. I know he is at peace now, with my parents playing his guitar as loud as possible," Bruce, who didn't share a cause of death, said in a statement. Bob was 70. Keep reading for more stars who died in 2020…
Larry Kramer, whose works include the famed autobiographical 1985 play "The Normal Heart," died from pneumonia in New York City on May 27. He was 84. The New York Times credits his "raucous, antagonistic campaign for an all-out response to the AIDS crisis" with helping to shift national health policy in the 1980s and 1990s.
Character actor Anthony James, who appeared in films including "Unforgiven," "In the Heat of the Night" and "High Plains Drifter," died on May 26 following a cancer battle. He was 77.
On May 24, jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb — the last surviving member of the sextet that played on Miles Davis's 1959 album "Kind of Blue," which is considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time — died of lung cancer at his New York City home. He was 91.
Former WWE star Shad Gaspard went missing after he was swept under waves and caught in a riptide while swimming at a Venice, California, beach on May 17. Lifeguards entered the water to help Shad and his son, Aryeh, amid rough surf but after they rescued the boy, Shad went under and did not resurface, sparking a lengthy search. Shad's body was recovered on a beach a mile away on May 20. He was 39.
Actor Hagen Mills, 29 — who most notably appeared on the TV series "Baskets" — died in Kentucky on May 19 in what authorities are characterizing as an attempted murder-suicide. Police say he shot Erica Price, the mother of his young daughter, then turned the gun on himself. Erica survived the shooting and was transported to a local hospital.
Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell on the classic TV show "Leave It to Beaver," died at his Los Angeles home on May 18 from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and peripheral artery disease. He was 76. In addition to "Beaver," he notably appeared on shows like "The Munsters" and "Happy Days" and also fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a motorcycle officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Gregory Tyree Boyce, who's best known for playing Tyler Crowley in the first film in "The Twilight Saga," was found dead with his girlfriend, Natalie Adepoju, in their Las Vegas condo on May 13. The following month, Nevada's Clark County Coroner confirmed the pair died from the effects of cocaine and fentanyl intoxication.
Canadian actress Monique Mercure died in palliative care at 89 on May 16 at St. Raphael's House in Montreal following a cancer battle. She earned a Palme d'Or — the highest prize handed out at the annual Cannes Film Festival — in 1977 for her work in "J.A. Martin photographer." During a six-decade stage and screen career, she appeared in more than 100 projects including David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch," Robert Altman's "Quintet," Claude Chabrol's "The Blood of Others," Piers Haggard's "Conquest" and François Gerard's "The Red Violin."
"Trading Spaces" designer Frank Bielec — who appeared on every season of the TLC and Discovery Home show from 2000 to 2008 — died at a Houston hospital on May 15 from complications following a heart attack. He was 72.
Director Lynn Shelton, the indie filmmaker best known for the work she did in the mumblecore genre, died of acute myeloid leukemia on May 16 at 54. She wrote and directed movies like "Humpday," "Your Sister's Sister" and "Sword of Trust" and directed TV shows including "The Mindy Project," "Mad Men," "GLOW," "Fresh Off the Boat" and, most recently, Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere." Her boyfriend, comedian Marc Maron, told IndieWire that Lynn collapsed after having been ill for a week. "There was a previously unknown, underlying condition. It was not COVID-19," he said. "The doctors could not save her. They tried. Hard." He also shared how much he loved her, explaining, "She was a beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist. Her spirit was pure joy. She made me happy. I made her happy. We were happy. I made her laugh all the time. We laughed a lot. We were starting a life together. … This is a horrendous, sad loss."
British singer and lyricist Phil May, the frontman for rock band Pretty Things, who were known for releasing one of the first real rock opera concept albums in the 1960s, died on May 15 from complications from emergency hip surgery at a hospital in England's Norfolk region. Phil, 75, had fallen off his bike earlier in the week.
On May 12, legendary French actor Michel Piccoli died at 94 "in the arms of his wife Ludivine and his children Inord and Missia after a stroke," his family told AFP. Michel memorably starred in projects including Luis Bunuel's "Belle de Jour" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and opposite Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt." On screen, he had an everyman persona, AFP explained, calling him "a kind of French Cary Grant."
Soul, funk and R&B singer Betty Wright died on May 10 at her home in Miami. The 66-year-old Grammy winner, who was known for her hits like "Clean Up Woman" and "Tonight is the Night," had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer last fall. Her songs have been sampled by everyone from Beyonce and Color Me Badd to Chance the Rapper.
Actor Geno Silva, who's best known as the silent assassin in the 1983 film "Scarface," died at 72 on May 9 at his Los Angeles home due to complications from a form of dementia known as frontotemporal degeneration. Geno — seen here in a 1991 episode of "MacGyver" — also appeared on stage and in other TV shows including "Fantasy Island," "Star Trek: Enterprise," "Walker Texas Ranger" and "Alias."
Electronic music pioneer Florian Schneider of the German band Kraftwerk died "from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday," the Grammy-winning group's co-founder, Ralf Hütter, confirmed on May 6.
Singer Brian Howe, who was the frontman for the British rock band Bad Company for eight years after he replaced singer Paul Rodgers, died on May 5 in his Florida home from cardiac arrest. He was 66.
Andre Harrell, the music executive who founded Uptown Records and later led Motown Records, died at his West Hollywood home of heart failure. He was 59. DJ D Nice announced the news on Instagram Live on May 8. Andre, who was an artist — half of the rap act Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde — in the early '80s is credited with helping launch the careers of Sean "Diddy" Combs (his former intern) and Mary J. Blige (whom he signed as a teenager), among many others. Stars like Mariah Carey took to social media to mourn the music giant. "Why Andre … My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever," she wrote.
"The Little Girl" and "Forget You" country singer Cady Groves passed away on May 2 from complications of chronic ethanol abuse. She was 30.
Matt Keough — the former MLB All-Star pitcher who most notably played for the Oakland Athletics and later appeared as a guest star on "The Real Housewives of Orange County" alongside estranged wife Jeana Keough and their kids — died from a pulmonary embolism on May 1. Matt's death hit his family extra hard as he unexpectedly passed away just days after daughter Kara Keough and her husband, former NFL player Kyle Bosworth, lost son McCoy shortly after birth due to complications from a compressed umbilical cord. Matt was 64. "Daddy, please take care of my son," Kara wrote on social media. "Teach him the circle change-up and how to find forever friends. You're on grandpa duty in heaven now."
On April 30, actor Sam Lloyd — who memorably played New Sacred Heart hospital lawyer Ted Buckland on "Scrubs" — died at 56. "Sam passed away peacefully at 10:30 on April 30th, 2020 as a result of complications from lung cancer. Our family is devastated. It doesn't feel real. It never will. It just feels like he will walk through the door," wife Vanessa said in a statement. Sam revealed in 2019 that he'd been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. "Scrubs" star Zach Braff paid tribute to Sam on Twitter, writing, "Rest In Peace to one of the funniest actors I've ever had the joy of working with. Sam Lloyd made me crack up and break character every single time we did a scene together. He could not have been a kinder man. I will forever cherish the time I had with you, Sammy."
Irrfan Khan — one of India's best known and most beloved actors, who's perhaps best known to American audiences for his work in movies including "Slumdog Millionaire," "Jurassic World" and "Life of Pi" — died of cancer in Mumbai on April 29. He was 53. He revealed in 2018 that he'd been diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine tumor. Stars mourned the star, with Riz Ahmed calling him "one of the greatest actors of our time," Mindy Kaling branding him "my favorite actor… I can't think of someone who gave such layered and thoughtful performances but was also a movie star; you couldn't take your eyes off of him onscreen," she wrote on Twitter. Frequent co-star Priyanka Chopra tweeted, "The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic. Your talent forged the way for so many in so many avenues. You inspired so many of us. #IrrfanKhan you will truly be missed."
"Little Women: Atlanta" star Ashley "Minnie" Ross died on April 27, one day after she suffered serious injuries in a head-on vehicle collision in Georgia. She was 34.
Celebrated actor Rishi Kapoor, the veteran Bollywood star who appeared in more than 100 films, died in a Mumbai hospital on April 30 following a two-year fight with leukemia. He was 67.
Harold Reid (left), a founding member of the quartet the Statler Brothers, died on April 24 in Staunton, Virginia, after he "bravely endured a long battle with kidney failure," the band said in a statement. The three-time Grammy winner was 80.
Former Motown musician Hamilton Bohannon died on April 24. He was 78. Billboard described him as "an under-sung but highly influential percussionist whose '70s solo work set the stage for disco." His music has been sampled by artists including JAY-Z, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg.
On April 22, Tony-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Shirley Knight — who was also a two-time Oscar nominee — died of natural causes at the San Marcos, Texas, home of her daughter, actress Kaitlin Hopkins. She was 83. Some of her most memorable performances were in "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "Dutchman" and "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Dimitri Diatchenko — who's best known for playing Uri in "Chernobyl Diaries" and also appeared in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and on "Sons of Anarchy," "Alias" and "Bones," among other shows — died at his home in Daytona Beach, Florida, on April 21 at 52. At the time, his agent told Deadline that Dimitri's sudden death appeared to be either from a heart attack or related to a 200-volt electric shock injury he'd sustained at work the week prior. But in late May, the local medical examiner confirmed that Dimitri died from an accidental fentanyl and valium overdose, not a delayed arrhythmia from the electrocution.
Ashley Mattingly, who was Playboy's Miss March 2011, died by suicide at her home in Austin, Texas, on April 15, her family told TMZ. Ashley — who made headlines in 2012 after her then-boyfriend, "Prison Break" star Lane Garrison," was convicted of domestic violence against her — was struggling with alcohol abuse in recent years, her sister told the webloid.
Derek Jones, the guitarist for post-hardcore band Falling In Reverse, died in April. The news was announced by bandmate Ronnie Radke on Instagram on April 21. "I'll never forget when you picked me up from jail In Your old tour van to start falling in reverse. Your spirit will be interwoven through the music I write forever. Rest In Peace Derek Jones. My heart is broken," Ronnie wrote alongside a slideshow of photos with his friend. Reports revealed that Derek, whose cause of death has not been reported, passed away several months after losing his fiancée to cancer.
Peter Beard, who was renowned for his images of Africa and African wildlife, passed away in April. He was 82. The photographer, who had dementia, went missing from his Montauk, New York, home on April 1 and was found deceased nearly three weeks later on April 19. "Peter defined what it means to be open: open to new ideas, new encounters, new people, new ways of living and being. Always insatiably curious, he pursued his passions without restraints and perceived reality through a unique lens," his family said in part in a lengthy statement. "He was a pioneering contemporary artist who was decades ahead of his time in his efforts to sound the alarm about environmental damage. … He died where he lived: in nature. We will miss him every day."
"Green Acres" actor Tom Lester — who memorably portrayed farmhand Eb Dawson on the '60s sitcom — died on April 21 at the Nashville home of his fiancée and caregiver, Jackie Peters, from complications related to Parkinson's disease. He was 81.
On April 16, the WWE announced that longtime WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel — who was also a member of the WWE Hall of Fame — had passed away at 69. Though a cause or date of death was not publicly shared, it's been reported that Howard — whose voice was heard at every WrestleMania from the first in 1985 until 2016 — had been in ill health following a 2018 stroke.
In April, the world learned that character actor Gene Dynarski — who was perhaps best known for his roles on "Seinfeld" (on which he played Izzy Mandelbaum Jr., the son of an ultra-competitive elderly man played by Lloyd Bridges, both seen here) and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" — died on Feb. 27 in a Studio City, California, rehabilitation center. The onetime Hollywood theater owner, who's also appeared on shows like "Star Trek: The Original Series" and "Star Trek: The Next generation" as well as the '60s TV show "Batman," was 86.
On April 15, cinematographer Allen Daviau — a five-time Oscar nominee for his work on films including "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial," "The Color Purple," "Empire of the Sun" and "Bugsy" — died at a Los Angeles hospital from complications of COVID-19. He was 77. "E.T." filmmaker Steven Spielberg said of Allen, "His warmth and humanity were as powerful as his lens. He was a singular talent and a beautiful human being."
On April 15, legendary jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz — an early and much admired player of the cool jazz style — died in New York City from complications of the coronavirus. He was 92.
Wynn Handman — the acting teacher who co-founded and served as director of New York City's American Place Theatre, an influential part of the off-Broadway scene following its 1963 opening — died on April 11 at 97 from complications of COVID-19. His theater, as Deadline reported, championed new playwrights like a young Sam Shepard and cast actors including Robert de Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Raul Julia, Faye Dunaway and John Leguizamo early in their careers.
German actor Dieter Laser — who appeared in more than 60 films and TV shows during his career but is best known for playing Dr. Heiter in the 2009 cult-horror movie "The Human Centipede" — died in Berlin on Feb. 29, wife Inge confirmed more than a month later. He was 78. A cause of death was not made public. The film's writer-director, Tom Six, mourned the loss of his star on Twitter: "I'm totally shocked Dieter passed away. He was a force of nature, an unique human being and an iconic actor. I'm so damn proud we created pop culture together. Wished we could have made many more movies. RIP my friend, you will live forever on screen!"
On April 8, rapper-model Chynna (full name: Chynna Rogers) died at her home in Philadelphia. She was 25. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health revealed the cause of death was an accidental drug overdose. The sad news comes four months after the up-and-coming music star, who was part of the A$AP Mob crew and had spoken openly about her past struggles with opioid addiction, released the EP "If I Die First."
Linda Tripp — the infamous pop culture celebrity who came to fame after she secretly recorded conversations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in which they spoke about the young woman's relationship with then-President Bill Clinton, which led to the president's impeachment — died on April 8 at 70. Linda's mother told CNN that Linda had been diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic/lymph node cancer in the days preceding her death.
James Drury, who starred on the TV Western "The Virginian," which aired from 1962 to 1971, died from natural causes on April 6, his assistant confirmed on Facebook. James, who also starred in movie Westerns including "Good Day for Hanging" and "Ride the High Country" as well as in films like "Love Me Tender" and "Bernardine," was 85.
On April 1, Fountains of Wayne frontman Adam Schlesinger passed away at 52 due to complications from the coronavirus. The Emmy and Tony winner had previously been put on a ventilator in a New York hospital as he battled COVID-19. According to his girlfriend, the "Stacy's Mom" singer had been "sedated to facilitate his recovery." Adam — who was also nominated for an Oscar for writing the theme song for the film "That Thing You Do!" — is survived by his two daughters with his ex-wife.
Former Bollywood actor Ranjit Chowdhry, who's best known for playing Vikram on "The Office," died on April 15. He was 64. According to actress Dolly Thakore, Ranjit got stuck in his native India while visiting and was unable to fly home to his wife and son in New York due to the global coronavirus pandemic when he suffered a ruptured intestinal ulcer that led to his death. He's also appeared on "NYPD Blue," "Cosby," "Falcone" and Prison Break."
Kiefer Sutherland took to social media on April 5 to announce that his mother, actress Shirley Douglas, had died at 86. "Early this morning my mother, Shirley Douglas, passed away due to complications surrounding pneumonia (Not related to COVID19)," the actor shared on Twitter on behalf of his family, which includes twin sister Rachel. "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming." Shirley's father was former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas, who founded Canada's Medicare system.
Fred The Godson, a Bronx-based rapper and hip-hop radio fixture, died on April 23 from complications of the coronavirus following a lengthy hospitalization. Fred (real name: Frederick Thomas) was 35.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Alan Merrill died at 69 from complications caused by the novel coronavirus on March 29. Alan wrote and performed the original version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" as a member of the Arrows in 1974. The song famously blew up when it was covered by Joan Jett. Alan was also known as the first Western musician to reach pop star status in Japan.
On April 3, Giacinto Gorga — the father of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" stars Teresa Giudice and Joe Gorga — passed away at 76. "My father, my protector, my hero, God took you early this morning to be with mommy, I saw you peacefully pass & I know you kept fighting for my daughters and I. I have so many amazing thoughts of you, every day seeing you in the kitchen at my home, teaching my girls to cook, my partner in crime on shopping trips, your love of the shore & my travel buddy," Teresa captioned an Instagram video tribute to her dad, who's endured multiple health issues and hospitalizations in recent years, which have been noted on the Bravo show. "You always wanted everyone to have a good time, eat great food, have a stiff drink and enjoy life. You are the absolute strongest man I know & I know you missed mommy so much but you stayed for us. Thank you for being the best husband, father & Nonno. Your devotion to mommy was one for the record books, you were the true example and a gentleman and devoted husband. You visited mommy every single day & would go twice for the days you missed while traveling or if you were too sick to go, my silver lining is knowing you'll be together now. 💕Thank you for showing us all what true love is. Love you Papa Rest In Peace. 🙏🏻❤️😭."
NFL player-turned-actor Timothy Brown died on April 4 in Southern California. He was 82. The former Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts athlete memorably acted on the TV series "M*A*S*H" and later appeared in small roles on shows like "T.J. Hooker," "Benson," "Remington Steele," "The Colbys" and more.
Actress-turned-journalist and author Patricia Bosworth, who starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in "The Nun's Story," died in New York at 86 on April 2 from pneumonia brought on by the novel coronavirus, her stepdaughter Fia Hatsav confirmed to The New York Times. Patricia famously profiled stars for Vanity Fair and wrote biographies on Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Jane Fonda and photographer Diane Arbus, among others.
Famed jazz guitarist John "Bucky" Pizzarelli died on April 1, at his home in Saddle River, New Jersey. The New Jersey Hall of Fame inductee tested positive for the novel coronavirus and his family believe he died from complications of COVID-19. He was 94.
Grammy-winning music star Bill Withers — the man who gave us songs like "Lean on Me," "Just the Two of Us," "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine" — died in Los Angeles on March 30 from heart complications, his family announced days later. He was 81.
Country star Joe Diffie passed away on March 29 due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 61. The "John Deere Green" singer had more than 20 Top 10 hits to his name and was hugely influential to many of today's top country stars. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years.
On April 1, legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. died at 85 from complications of the novel coronavirus. One of Ellis's sons, Branford Marsalis, said in a statement, "My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be." New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell added, "Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz."
Broadway actor David Schramm, who was best known for playing Roy Biggins on the NBC series "Wings" for eight seasons, died in New York in late March. He was 73.
Longtime "Saturday Night Live" staffer Hal Willner died on April 7 at 64. A spokesman for Hal, who worked as a sketch music producer on the comedy series since the 1980s, said Hal had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but had not been formally diagnosed before his death. From "SNL" cast member Ben Stiller called Hal "a part of so much of the music and pop culture comedy we have all enjoyed for years," while former "SNL" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus tweeted that she was "Absolutely devastated to get this news about my weird and lovely pal, Hal. We are heartbroken." The show's Taran Killam called Hal "a mad genius" who "loved everything weird. He always made me feel good in an environment where it was sometimes hard to feel good about yourself. I really love him. I love you Hal." Adam Sandler called Hal "an incredible person who so many of us will miss."
Veteran stage actor Mark Blum, who also memorably appeared in movies like "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Crocodile Dundee," died due to complications from COVID-19 on March 25, the Screen Actors Guild announced. Mark, who was 69, more recently appeared on TV's "Succession," "You" and "Mozart in the Jungle."
"Top Chef Masters" winner Floyd Cardoz died on March 25 due to complications from the novel coronavirus, his family said in a statement. The 59-year-old celebrity chef, who cooked on dozens of TV shows, was being treated at a New Jersey hospital after feeling ill upon returning from a trip to Mumbai in March.
Lyle Waggoner — the actor known for his good looks and runs on TV's "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Wonder Woman," on which he played Steve Trevor — died on March 17 in Westlake, California, after a long illness. Lyle, who in 1973 became the first star to pose for the centerfold of Playgirl magazine, was 84.
Acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally died in a Sarasota, Florida, hospital on March 24 at 81 due to complications of COVID-19. The four-time Tony Award winner — for his work writing the books for the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and penning the plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class" — also took home a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theater in 2019. Terrence also won an Emmy in 1990 for the TV version of his play "Andre's Mother."
On April 7, actor Allen Garfield, 80, died from COVID-19. He appeared in movies including "Irreconcilable Differences," "Beverly Hills Cop II" and "Diabolique." He's seen here on an episode of the acclaimed TV series "Sports Night" in 2000.
On April 4, English actor Jay Benedict died from complications caused by the coronavirus. He was 68. He appeared in films including "Aliens" and "The Dark Knight Rises."
"Natural Born Killers" actor Matthew Faber was found dead at his home in the Los Angeles area on March 28 after his family had not heard from him "in some days," TMZ reported, noting that the death appeared to be natural. He was 47.
Jan Howard, who often performed at Grand Ole Opry and famously sang "Evil on Your Mind," passed away on March 28 at 91 in Gallatin, Tennessee.
On March 31, Philadelphia-born jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney died from complications of COVID-19. He was 59. The Grammy winner famously studied with Miles Davis from 1985 until the acclaimed musician's death in 1991.
Mart Crowley, who wrote the Tony Award-winning play "The Boys in the Band," a groundbreaking production that portrayed the lives of gay men, died from a heart attack at 84, journalist Michael Musto announced on March 8. "He was Natalie Wood's assistant and told me she encouraged him to write the play. He nabbed a Tony when the all-star version came to Bway in '18 and the movie version of that will come out this year," Michael shared. Mart also wrote other plays and worked in television on shows including the series "Hart to Hart."
Danny Tidwell, who was the runner-up on season 3 of "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2007, died in a car accident on March 6, brother Travis Wall, who competed on the show's second season, revealed on Instagram. Danny was 35. "Danny Tidwell our beautiful dancing genius 'Prince amongst Paupers' you are in God's Ensemble," Debbie Allen, who was a judge on his season, wrote on Twitter. "We will always speak your name with love and respect. See you on the other side. Love, Mama D."
On March 30, English actress Hilary Heath (who was also known as Hilary Dwyer) died from complications related to COVID-19. She was 74. Hilary appeared in films including 1968's "Witchfinder General" and 1970's "Wuthering Heights." The Liverpool native was best known for her many appearances in horror films in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She's seen here in the 1970 horror movie "Cry of the Banshee."
On March 6, Roscoe Born's friend and business partner took to social media to announce that the songwriter and actor had passed away at 69. The Daytime Emmy nominee was best known for his work on "Paper Dolls" as well as soap operas including "Ryan's Hope" (pictured), "Santa Barbara," "All My Children," "The City," "Passions," "The Young and the Restless" and "One Life to Life."
On March 6, the family of five-time Grammy winner McCoy Tyner announced that the influential jazz pianist, who was the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet, had died at 81. "It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of jazz legend Alfred 'McCoy' Tyner," they wrote in a statement. "McCoy was an inspired musician who devoted his life to his art, his family and his spirituality. McCoy Tyner's music and legacy will continue to inspire fans and future talent for generations to come."
Actor Nicholas Tucci, who's appeared on "Pose," "Ramy," "Homeland" and "Quantico" but is perhaps best known for his work in the 2011 horror film "You're Next," died at the Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, on March 3 after a secret health battle, his father told fans on Facebook. He was 38. "Nick chose to keep his illness private so that he could continue to pursue his professional and artistic dreams for as long as possible. In the last year, he was able to audition, go on location, and continue the work he loved so much," his dad wrote. "To those of you in the film, television, and theater communities…thank you for guiding, encouraging, and supporting Nick. To those of you who enjoyed Nick's work on the screen and stage…thank you for recognizing his talent and appreciating his efforts. To all…thank you for your gift of friendship to my son."
Musician Manu Dibango, who was known for playing the saxophone and vibraphone, died on March 24 from COVID-19 complications. He was 84. He was best known for his single "Soul Makossa," which came out in 1972.
Barbara Martin (left), an original member of The Supremes, died on March 4. The singer was 76. "Our hearts go out to Barbara's family and friends. Once a Supreme, always a Supreme," read a message posted by the 1960s Motown vocal group's official Facebook page.
Japanese comedian Ken Shimura, who co-starred on the Japanese variety show "Shimura Ken no Bakatonosama," died at 70 on March 29 from COVID-19 health complications. Ken, who was known for his slapstick comedy style, was often referred to as "Japan's Robin Williams."
Bobbie Battista, one of the original anchors for CNN Headline News who also hosted "TalkBack Live," died on March 3 in Davenport, Iowa, after a four-year battle with cervical cancer. She was 67. "Bobbie was the consummate trooper in her struggle with cancer, she was courageous and fearless in her battle and thoughtful for all the others in her life even as she fought through the pain," her husband, John Brimelow, told CNN. "My dear partner of 25 years of marriage has cut her earthly bonds and is now in peace."
On Feb. 26, cabaret and cruise entertainer Nick Apollo Forte — famous for playing lounge singer Lou Canova in Woody Allen's 1984 film "Broadway Danny Rose" — died at 81.
Adventure novelist Clive Cussler, who authored more than 80 books, died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Feb. 24. He was 88. Clive, who was also an underwater explorer, founded a real-life version of the U.S. National Underwater and Marine Agency (his adventurer character Dirk Pitt was with the fictional version in Clive's books), an American maritime and naval history organization whose volunteers have discovered dozens of shipwreck sites over the years.
David Roback, who co-founded '90s alt-rock band Mazzy Star and was also previously a member of influential groups Rain Parade and Opal, died on Feb. 24 at 61. His mother told The New York Times he passed away from metastatic cancer.
Katherine Johnson — the trailblazing mathematician whose story served as the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated 2016 film "Hidden Figures" starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae — died on Feb. 24 at 101. The African American math prodigy-turned-government "computer" helped NASA and predecessor the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics send astronauts into orbit and to the moon. Her accomplishments finally made mainstream news after President Barack Obama awarded her the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2015. "Thank you QUEEN #KatherineJohnson for sharing your intelligence, poise, grace and beauty with the world!" Taraji, who played Katherine, wrote on social media. "Because of your hard work little girls EVERYWHERE can dream as big as the MOON!!! Your legacy will live on FOREVER AND EVER!!! You ran so we could fly!!!"
Actor Ben Cooper, who appeared in countless Westerns on the big and small screens, died on Feb. 24 in Memphis, Tennessee, following a long illness. The fast-on-the-draw star was 86. He appeared in films including "Johnny Guitar" (pictured, with co-star Joan Crawford), "Gunfight at Comanche Creek," "Rebel in Town" and "One More Train to Rob" as well as on TV shows like "Gunsmoke, "Bonanza," "Tales of Wells Fargo" and more.
Emmy winner Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created the wildly popular soap operas "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful," died on Feb. 25 at 91. Lee, a former broadcast journalist, was also famous for producing and hosting her own program, "The Lee Phillip Show," for CBS for more than 30 years.
Silent film child star Diana Serra Cary — who was best known as Baby Peggy Montgomery — died in Gustine, California, on Feb. 24. She was 101. Baby Peggy started working in Hollywood when she was 19 months old and wrapped up her child acting career when she was about 6, according to reports. During that time, she starred in more than 100 shorts as well as several feature-length films such as "Captain January." She went on to forge a career as a journalist and author.
On Feb. 22 following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, B. Smith — the restaurateur, cookbook author, model and lifestyle guru — passed away at 70. The star, whose full name was Barbara Elaine Smith, in 1976 became one of the first black women to be featured on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, and her "B. Smith with Style" syndicated talk show aired on NBC stations for many years. Stars including Viola Davis, Al Roker, Dr. Oz, Matthew Modine and more took to social media to honor her in the wake of her death.
Actress Claudette Nevins, known for her work on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" as well as appearances in everything from "Sleeping With the Enemy" to TV's "Headmaster," "Hart to Hart" (pictured) and "Melrose Place," died in hospice care at her Los Angeles home on Feb. 20. She was 82. "Claudette's acting career spanned six decades and included roles on Broadway, regional theater, national companies, numerous television shows, voiceovers and commercials," her family said in a statement shared by People magazine. "Competent in everything she touched, Claudette was funny, strong-willed, awesomely disciplined, relentless in her pursuit of excellence. Starting from very humble origins, Claudette grew herself into an elegant, articulate, gorgeous woman who was universally admired. She was dazzling. She will be endlessly missed."
Up-and-coming rapper Pop Smoke, the artist behind "Dior" and "Welcome to the Party," was shot and killed on Feb. 19 in what at first appeared to be a home invasion robbery in Los Angeles. TMZ later reported that the rapper (real name: Bashar Jackson), was the victim of a targeted hit and not a robbery gone wrong. He was 20.
"Good Times" star Ja'net Dubois — who played gossipy divorcée neighbor Willona Woods on the hit CBS sitcom for five years in the '70s — died of cardiac arrest at her home in Glendale, California, on Feb. 17. She was 74. Janet Jackson, who played Penny Gordon Woods, the adopted daughter of Ja'net's character on the CBS show, took to Instagram to honor her on-screen mother, writing, "I saw first hand how she broke stereotypes and changed the landscape for Black women in entertainment. I'm grateful in recent years I had a chance to see her and create more lasting memories. I pray for comfort for all her family and friends. Thank you Ja'Net, I'll miss you." Ja'net — who won two Primetime Emmys for her voice work as Mrs. Avery on the animated show "The PJs" in 1999 and 2001 — is also famous for composing and singing "Movin' On Up," the theme song from "The Jeffersons."
Broadway star Zoe Caldwell died on Feb. 16 at 86 from complications of Parkinson's disease. The Australian actress won four Tony Awards during her career for her performances as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's "Master Class," the title character in "Medea," a Scottish school teacher in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and her work in "Slapstick Tragedy," a collection of Tennessee Williams one-act plays. She also appeared in films including "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and "Lilo & Stitch," in which she voiced the Grand Councilwoman, the leader of the United Galactic Federation.
Actress Esther Scott — who memorably appeared in "Boyz N The Hood," had recurring roles on TV's "The Geena Davis Show," "The Help" and "Hart of Dixie" and voiced Shodu in the "Ewoks" TV series — died on Feb. 14 after suffering a heart attack at her Santa Monica, California, home. She was 66.
DJ-producer Andrew Weatherall — a pioneering DJ in Britain's late-1980s and early-1990s acid house scene who's known for his work with bands and artists including Primal Scream, New Order, Björk, Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, Beth Orton, Saint Etienne and more — died in a London hospital on Feb. 17 of a pulmonary embolism. He was 56.
On Feb. 16, it was revealed that Nikita Pearl Waligwa — who starred in Disney's 2016 film "Queen of Katwe" — had died. She was 15. According to Ugandan newspaper the Daily Monitor, Nikita was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016. In 2017, she was declared tumor-free. However, in 2019, another tumor was found. Lupita Nyong'o took to Instagram to pay tribute to her late co-star, writing, "It is with great sadness that I post about the passing of Nikita Waligwa, the sweet, warm, talented girl whom I worked with on the film, Queen Of Katwe. She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon. May she truly rest in peace. May it be well with her soul."
Actress Kellye Nakahara — who's best known for playing Lieutenant Nurse Kellye on TV's "M*A*S*H" (pictured) for nearly it's entire 1973 to 1983 run — passed away at her home in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 16 following a cancer battle. She was 72. Hawaii-born Kelley, who was also a painter, also had memorable roles in the 1985 "Clue" movie and 1998's "Doctor Dolittle" film.
Jason Davis — who voiced Mikey Blumberg on the Disney animated show "Recess" and had appeared on shows and in movies including "Roseanne," "7th Heaven," "Rush Hour" and "Beverly Hills Ninja" as well as on "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew" amid an addiction battle a decade earlier — died on Feb. 16 of unknown causes. He was 35. Jason, who co-founded the charity Cure Addiction Now and years ago was nicknamed "Gummi Bear" by the Hollywood paparazzi, was the the grandson of philanthropist Barbara Davis and late 20th Century Fox studio chief Marvin Davis. "I am so heartbroken to share the saddest news of my life that my son Jason Davis passed away this morning in Los Angeles," Jason's mother, Nancy Davis Rickel — who famously founded Hollywood's long-running Race to Erase MS fundraiser — told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. "Jason had a true heart of gold with such a zest for life. He was such a caring soul to everybody who ever knew him. He loved his friends and his family above all else."
British TV presenter Caroline Flack, 40, was found dead in her London home on Feb. 15. A lawyer for her family confirmed she died by suicide. Caroline, who most recently hosted "Love Island," was also known to American audiences for her headline-making romances with Harry Styles and Prince Harry.
Actress Lynn Cohen — who memorably played Miranda's Ukrainian housekeeper, Magda, on "Sex and the City" — died in New York City on Valentine's Day. She was 86. The Missouri native also appeared on TV's "Nurse Jackie," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Blue Bloods" as well as in the films "Across the Universe" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Former co-stars took to social media to honor Lynn, with Sarah Jessica Parker praising her "talent, grace, inspiration," while Sam Claflin name-checked her "Hunger Games" character, writing, "Mags, I'll carry you everywhere. Always. RIP Lynn. You wonderful wonderful lady you."
Joseph Shabalala died on Feb. 11 of natural causes. He was 78. The Grammy-winning South African music star was the founder and director of the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who remembered him in a statement: "Our Founder, our Teacher and most importantly, our Father left us today for eternal peace. We celebrate and honor your kind heart and your extraordinary life. Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever."
Drummer Paul English died on Feb. 11 from complications of pneumonia. He was 87. Paul was a longtime member of Willie Nelson's touring band who started working with the musical legend in 1955 and became his full-time drummer in 1966. He was playing with Willie up until his death.
Stage and screen actress Paula Kelly, who earned Emmy nominations for her performances on the sitcom "Night Court" and in the miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place," died in Whittier, California, on Feb. 8 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Paula, who was also a dancer, choreographer and singer — her breakthrough role was in Bob Fosse's 1969 movie "Sweet Charity" — was 77.
Actress Ann E. Todd died from complications of dementia on Feb. 7. She was 88. The former child star made dozens of films with Hollywood greats, notably "Intermezzo" with Ingrid Bergman, "All This, and Heaven Too" with Bette Davis and "Destry Rides Again" with Marlene Dietrich, among others.
Raphael Coleman, a former child star who appeared in 2005's "Nanny McPhee," died on Feb. 7. He was 25. Variety reported that the British star, 25, collapsed during a run. After appearing in a handful of films, he studied zoology at the University of Manchester then transitioned into activism, working with the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion to advocate for wildlife conservation.
Guitarist-producer Andy Gill, who co-founded the influential post-punk band Gang of Four, died in a London hospital on Feb. 1 of pneumonia. He was 64. "His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed," his bandmates said in a statement. "But to us, he was our friend — and we'll remember him for his kindness and generosity, his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too."
Orson Bean — an actor, game show staple, and frequent guest on "The Tonight Show" especially during the Johnny Carson era — died in Venice, California, on Feb. 7. The comedic star, who was married to actress Alley Mills (pictured) for nearly three decades, was hit by a car while crossing the street to get to the Venice Resident Theatre, Deadline reported. He was 91.
On Feb. 5, stage and screen actor Kevin Conway — perhaps best known for his work on the TV drama "Oz" and in the movies "Gettysburg," "The Quick and the Dead," "Thirteen Days" and "Invincible" — died of a heart attack. He was 77.
Actress Marj Dusay died of natural causes at her home in New York City on Jan. 28. She was 83. Marj memorably played an alien opposite Leonard Nimoy on the "Spock's Brain" episode of "Star Trek" in 1968 (pictured). During a career that spanned five decades, she also appeared on five daytime soaps — "Capitol," "Santa Barbara," "Days of Our Lives," "All My Children" and "Guiding Light."
Tyler Gwozdz, a contestant on Hannah Brown's season of "The Bachelorette" in 2019, died at 29 on Jan. 22, TMZ reported. Boca Raton, Florida, police confirmed to NBC News that Tyler was hospitalized on Jan. 13 following a "medical overdose" and passed away days later in the intensive care unit.
On Jan. 15, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson died at 75. The Canadian professional wrestler is wrestler-actor Dwayne Johnson's father. The Rock, who revealed that the cause of death was a blood clot in the leg that later caused a heart attack, took to social media to praise his dad, writing in part, "I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love. The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deeply complicated sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That's when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life's invaluable lessons."
One of rock music's greatest drummers died on Jan. 7 in Santa Monica, California. Rush percussionist and lyricist Neil Peart passed away following a three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. He was 67.
Terry Jones — the comedian, screenwriter, movie director, poet, medieval historian and author who was also a founding member of the Monty Python troupe — died on Jan. 31 "at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD," his family said in a statement. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Life of Brian" and "The Meaning of Life" are among the most well-known projects that he wrote and directed.
Veteran journalist Jim Lehrer, who co-founded the PBS show "NewsHour" and won Peabody Awards and Emmys during his five-decade career – died at his home in Washington on Jan. 23. He was 85.
Thérèse Tanguay-Dion — a mother of 14 including singer Céline Dion — died in Montreal on Jan. 14. She was 92. The woman known to Quebecers as "Maman Dion" once had her own line of food products called Pâtés de Maman Dion as well as her own television cooking show.
Actor John Karlen, who won an Emmy for his work on "Cagney & Lacey" and was also known for his performance on "Dark Shadows," died of congestive heart failure in hospice care in Burbank, California, on Jan. 22. He was 86.
On Jan. 31, bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark — who was known as "the Queen of Suspense" — died of natural causes in Naples, Florida. She was 92. "Beginning in 1975 with the publication of 'Where Are The Children?' each of her 56 books has been a bestseller," Simon & Schuster President and CEO Carolyn K. Reidy said in a statement. "There are more than 100 million copies of her books in print in the United States."
"Highlander" and "General Hospital" actor Stan Kirsch — an acting coach who was also known for playing Monica's young boyfriend on "Friends" — died by suicide at his Los Angeles home on Jan. 11. He was 51.
Musician Bob Shane (right) — the last original member of the Grammy-winning group Kingston Trio — died on Jan. 26 of complications from pneumonia just a few days before his 86th birthday.
Folk singer-songwriter David Olney, whose music was performed by artists including Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, died on Jan. 18 at 71 after collapsing on stage during a performance in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, from an apparent heart attack.
Actor Edd Byrnes — who many remember as Vince Fontaine in 1978's "Grease" — died on Jan. 8 from natural causes. He was 87. The actor rose to fame after landing the role of Kookie on the ABC detective show "77 Sunset Strip" in the 1950s (pictured).
Three-time Grammy nominee Jimmy Heath — a saxophonist, composer and bandleader who played alongside jazz's biggest names including Miles Davis and John Coltrane — died on Jan. 19 in Loganville, Georgia, of natural causes. He was 93.
Actress Norma Michaels — an actress with a six-decade career who was perhaps best known for playing Josephine on "King of Queens" — died on Jan. 11. She was 95. She's seen here shooting a a guest starring spot on a 2010 episode of "Modern Family."
Up-and-coming rapper Lexii Alijai died on Jan. 1 from what the Hennepin County, Minnesota, medical examiner later determined was an accidental overdose of fentanyl and alcohol. Music stars including Kehlani, who collaborated with Lexii — the granddaughter of singer-songwriter Roger Troutman — on the track "Jealous," and Wale, took to social media to mourn her. "You knew what you meant to me. everyone knew what you meant. you were so special bro. i seen you fight thru it all i seen u thug it out lex. imma miss you so bad. you was about to get everything you always talked about," Kehlani wrote. The rapper was set to release her debut album, "Come Back Soon," in 2020.
On Jan. 1 — nearly five years after Bobbi Kristina Brown died, her boyfriend at the time that she was found facedown and unconscious in a bathtub, Nick Gordon, was discovered unresponsive in a Maitland, Florida, hotel room. Nick, 30, later died in a hospital; officials later confirmed he died from heroin toxicity. His passing came three years after he was found legally responsible for the death of the late Whitney Houston's daughter.
On April 27, Grammy-nominated gospel singer Troy Sneed died at a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, from complications of the coronavirus. He was 52.