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Chadwick Boseman, Naya Rivera, Alex Trebek and more celebs we lost in 2020

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·48 min read
Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alex Trebek and Naya Rivera are a few of the celebrities who died in 2020. (Photo: Getty/Design: Nathalie Cruz and Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Life)
Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alex Trebek and Naya Rivera are a few of the celebrities who died in 2020. (Photo: Getty Images)

While 2020 will go down in history as the year of COVID-19, it will also be known as the one in which audiences lost stars like Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, Glee’s Naya Rivera and Oscar-nominated sports figure Kobe Bryant under heartbreaking circumstances. We said goodbye, too, to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spawned many memes and a memorable Saturday Night Live impression, while making immeasurable strides in women’s rights. And beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who’s been delivering clues on the brainiac game show since 1984, signed off for the final time.

Here are some of the many others in entertainment — not an exhaustive list — who died this year, in chronological order:

Nick Gordon

Date: Jan. 1

Cause of death: Heroin overdose

Age: 30

Bobbi Kristina Brown's ex-boyfriend (real name: Nicholas Bouler) died of an accidental overdose in a Florida hotel room after a night of partying. His death came nearly five years after Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found unresponsive in a bathtub at the Atlanta townhome they shared. She died after spending six months in a coma, and he was found liable in a wrongful death lawsuit after he failed to appear at two hearings.

Neal Peart

Date: Jan. 7

Cause of death: Brain cancer

Age: 67

The Rush band member was considered one of the greatest, most flamboyant, and most inventive virtuoso rock drummers of all time — arguably as legendary as his idols, John Bonham and Keith Moon — due to his epic concert drum solos, odd time signatures, massive modified drumkits, incorporation of unorthodox instruments and “butt-end out” technique (reversing stick orientation for heavier impact). The youngest person ever inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, Peart was also a pioneer in the use of electronic drums, starting with Rush’s landmark 1984 album Grace Under Pressure.

Buck Henry

Date: Jan. 8

Cause of death: Heart attack

Age: 89

The prolific screenwriter made an indelible mark on pop culture with his script for The Graduate, co-written by Calder Willingham, but he also co-created the sitcom Get Smart with Mel Brooks and regularly hosted Saturday Night Live in its infancy. He was nominated for two Oscars: one for his work on the Mike Nichols-directed classic, in which Henry was credited with the famous “plastics” scene, and one for co-directing the 1978 Warren Beatty movie Heaven Can Wait.

Alexis Eddy

Date: Jan. 9

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 23

A former cast member of MTV’s Are You the One?, Eddy appeared on the sixth season of the matchmaking show, which began airing in September 2017.

Rocky Johnson

Date: Jan. 15

Cause of death: Heart attack

Age: 75

Johnson, the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was a star in his own right in the world of pro wrestling. After fighting elsewhere for more than a decade, the elder Johnson (real name: Wayde Bowles) made his debut in the WWE in 1983. The same year, he and Tony Atlas were the first Black men to win the World Tag Team Championship. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. His son explained that Johnson had “a big old blood clot [in his leg] that broke free, traveled up his body, and went right to his lung and clotted his lung and he died very quickly from a massive heart attack.”

Terry Jones

Date: Jan. 21

Cause of death: Frontotemporal dementia

Age: 77

In January, Jones became the second member of the Monty Python comedy team to pass away, more than 30 years after Graham Chapman’s death from tonsil cancer in 1989. The Welshman distinguished himself by directing the comedy troupe’s cult classic films, collaborating with Terry Gilliam on Monty Python and the Holy Grail before going solo on Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. Outside of Python, he created the British anthology series Ripping Yarns with Michael Palin, wrote an early draft of the screenplay for Labyrinth which was largely rewritten, and established himself as both a children’s book author and a well-respected medieval historian. Sadly, nearly a decade after overcoming colon cancer, he was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, and spent the last few years of his life unable to speak more than a few words.

Kobe Bryant

Date: Jan. 26

Cause of death: Blunt trauma

Age: 41

The NBA legend and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died when his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif. The group was heading from Orange County to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy when they experienced heavy fog. The manner of death was ruled an accident. Vanessa Bryant is suing the pilot’s family and the helicopter company for wrongful death.

Andy Gill

Date: Feb. 1

Cause of death: Multiple organ failure, pneumonia (possibly COVID-19)

Age: 64

The post-punk pioneer, activist and record producer’s band, Gang of Four, was one of the most important acts of the 1970s’ U.K. punk scene — with Gill’s distinctively funky, spiky guitar sound influencing everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose debut album he produced), INXS, R.E.M. and Nirvana to dance-rock bands of the 2000s like Franz Ferdinand and the Rapture. At the time of Gill’s death, a tribute double-album featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and other disciples was already in the works; The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four will now arrive in May 2021.

Kirk Douglas

Date: Feb. 5

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 103

The cleft-chinned matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age died at his Beverly Hills home, announced his son Michael Douglas. The star of Spartacus, Ace in the Hole, Champion and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he was a three-time Academy Award nominee, being awarded an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1996. He also played an instrumental role in helping end the Hollywood blacklist against suspected communist sympathizers. In the 1990s, he barely survived a helicopter crash and then was slowed by a stroke — but he kept acting. Of his roles, he once said, “I’ve always been attracted to characters who are part scoundrel.” One of his final movies was co-starring with Michael, grandson Cameron Douglas and ex-wife Diana Douglas in 2003’s It Runs in the Family.

Robert Conrad

Date: Feb. 8

Cause of death: Heart failure

Age: 84

A TV staple in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Conrad famously portrayed Jim West, the lead character in The Wild Wild West, which Will Smith played in the blockbuster reboot in 1999. For his insistence on doing many of his own stunts on that show, he was one of few actors inducted into the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame. He also appeared on Mission: Impossible, Columbo and Black Sheep Squadron. Moviegoers saw him in the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle and modern holiday classic Jingle All the Way, in which he played a police officer.

Caroline Flack

Date: Feb. 15

Cause of death: Suicide

Age: 40

The British TV presenter, who hosted the across the pond version of reality show Love Island until 2019, died just after learning that she would be prosecuted for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend. A well known celebrity in Britain, Flack had previously acted in several TV series and hosted shows such as I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! NOW! and The X Factor UK. She was the winner of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.

Nikita Pearl Waligwa

Date: Feb. 15

Cause of death: Brain tumor

Age: 15

The young star’s only credited role was in Disney’s Queen of Katwe in 2016. She played a friend of the title character, a girl who became a chess prodigy with international success, despite not having a traditional education. The movie was based on a true story. Waligwa’s death was announced by Ugandan media, about four years after she’d been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Ja’Net DuBois

Date: Feb. 17

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 74

Best known for her portrayal of the neighbor on ‘70s sitcom Good Times, Dubois also contributed greatly to another TV comedy of that era. She co-wrote and sang “Movin on Up,” the memorable theme song for The Jeffersons. She died in her sleep at home in Glendale, Calif. One of her last appearances had been in the December 2019 edition of Live in Front of a Studio Audience, in which stars recreated episodes of Good Times and All in the Family.

Ja'Net DuBois hugs Janet Jackson on an episode of "Good Times." (Photo: Everett Collection)
Ja'Net DuBois hugs Janet Jackson on an episode of Good Times. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Pop Smoke

Date: Feb. 19

Cause of death: Gunshot wound

Age: 20

Pop Smoke, legal name Bashar Barakah Jackson, was killed during a robbery at a home he was renting in the Hollywood Hills. A rising rap star from Brooklyn, his posthumous debut album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and all 19 songs charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

B. Smith

Date: Feb. 22

Cause of death: Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease

Age: 70

The successful model, restaurateur and lifestyle guru (full name: Barbara Smith) started showing signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in her late 50s and went public with it in 2013 after being formally diagnosed. Her restaurants shuttered around that time and her condition worsened with Smith even going missing in 2014. Her second husband, Dan Gasby, remained her caregiver until her death, but began a relationship with another woman that he claimed Smith, who no longer recognized him, gave her blessing to. They have since split.

James Lipton

Date: March 2

Cause of death: Bladder cancer

Age: 93

The actor, producer and writer, who died of cancer, became best known for interviewing Hollywood’s biggest talents about art and life on Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, which he created and hosted for 23 seasons. Saturday Night Live parodied his signature interview style, but it helped make him a pop culture icon, even having his own The Simpsons character. He stepped down as host of the interview show in 2018.

Danny Tidwell

Date: March 6

Cause of death: Car accident

Age: 35

One of the most acclaimed contestants to ever compete on So You Think You Can Dance, the Season 3 runner-up (and brother of Season 2 runner-up Travis Wall) went on to be the artistic director of Movmnt magazine and a soloist with Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo. Upon hearing the shocking news of Tidwell’s death, the series’ producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe called him “one of the most brilliant dancers we have ever had on SYTYCD,” while renowned choreographer Debbie Allen called Tidwell a “beautiful dancing genius.”

Danny Tidwell competed on "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2007. (Photo: Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)
Danny Tidwell competed on So You Think You Can Dance in 2007. (Photo: Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)

Max von Sydow

Date: March 8

Cause of death: Not publicly revealed

Age: 90

Born Carl Adolf von Sydow, the Swedish actor and director enjoyed a 70-year career that spanned everything from The Exorcist (1973), to Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), to numerous international films including Ingmar Bergman’s critically acclaimed The Seventh Seal (1957). Von Sydow — who is said to have turned down the role of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music — often gravitated to antagonistic roles, with his turns as a pragmatic assassin in Three Days of the Condor (1975) and the Bond villain Blofeld in Never Say Never Again (1983) among his standouts. In more recent years, he received his second Oscar nomination (for 2011’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) and reached a new audience with his Emmy-nominated performance as the Three-eyed Raven in Game of Thrones.

Lyle Waggoner

Date: March 17

Cause of death: Complications from cancer

Age: 84

Best known as Carol Burnett’s co-star on her eponymous show in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Waggoner also had the memorable role of Col. Steve Trevor Jr. on TV’s Wonder Woman, from 1975 to 1979. One of his last onscreen projects was an appearance on That ‘70s Show in 1999. After he retired from acting, he was a successful businessman, creating Star Waggons, the popular company that provides on-set trailers to actors. “I didn’t know if this was going to work or not,” Waggoner told CNBC in February 2016. “But that’s what entrepreneurs do, they take a risk.”

Kenny Rogers

Date: March 20

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 81

One of the most successful recording artists of all time, the country star recorded 65 albums, sold more than 165 million records, and racked up more than 120 Billboard hit singles across various genres — including his 1978 story song “The Gambler,” which was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress and inspired five television movies. A Country Music Hall of Fame inductee in 2013, Rogers also won three Grammys, 13 American Music Awards, six Country Music Association Awards, the CMA Lifetime Achievement Award and the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award. In a true demonstration of his crossover appeal, one of his final concerts, an all-star tribute at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 25, 2017, featured appearances from the Flaming Lips, Elle King, Idina Menzel, Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie and Dolly Parton.

Mark Blum

Date: March 25

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 69

COVID-19 claimed the lives of many in the entertainment industry, with this venerated Broadway performer and character actor among the first. Whether you knew him as Sue’s snotty boyfriend in Crocodile Dundee or as Madonna’s dance partner in Desperately Seeking Susan — the pop star hailed Blum as “funny, warm, loving and professional” in a tribute posted shortly after his death — the Obie-winning actor was a familiar face often cast in slick, smarmy, well-to-do roles during the ‘80s. More recent credits included You, Mozart in the Jungle and Succession, the latter of which saw him as Bill, Tom Wambsgans’s Adventure Parks predecessor and fall guy.

Floyd Cardoz

Date: March 25

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 59

Cardoz was the winner of the third season of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, which aired in 2011, and he donated the $100,000 prize to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in memory of his father, who died of cancer. The James Beard nominee was the co-owner of several restaurants in Mumbai and New York City over the course of his life. When he died, the reality cooking competition’s host and judge Padma Lakshmi remembered him for his “innate need to make those around him happy” and his influence on Indian cooking. He died at Mountainside Medical Centre in New Jersey, one day after he was admitted and one week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Joe Diffie

Date: March 29

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 61

One of the first major music celebrities to die due to the coronavirus, Diffie was a Grammy- and ACM-winning neotraditionalist country music singer and songwriter who placed 35 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, five of which peaked at No. 1. Having started in the business as a demo singer, he continued to work behind the scenes throughout his career, collaborating with fellow Nashville stars like Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Mary Chapin Carpenter, George Jones and Marty Stuart. At the Country Music Association Awards ceremony in November, Diffie was remembered with a performance by Jon Pardi, who said he’d been listening to Diffie “since the cassette tape days.”

Bill Withers

Date: March 30

Cause of death: Heart complications

Age: 81

The three-time Grammy-winner released soul classics like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Just the Two of Us” and “Lean on Me” during his relatively brief career, before retiring in 1985 due to his frustrations with the record industry. However, his music continued to inspire younger musicians, like Club Nouveau, BLACKstreet, the Black Eyed Peas and Will Smith, who covered or sampled his hits. A documentary about Withers’s life, StillBill, was released in 2009, and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder in 2015.

Adam Schlesinger

Date: April 1

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 52

Schlesinger was one of the most prolific songwriters of his generation, founding the indie-pop bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy before branching into film, television and production work. Among his many projects were the music for That Thing You Do!, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, Kathy Griffin’s talk show and the Cry-Baby musical. He was also a member of the powerpop supergroup Tinted Windows (with Hanson’s Taylor Hanson, the Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos) and was an in-demand producer and songwriter, working with the Monkees, Dashboard Confessional, Robert Plant, They Might Be Giants, Fastball and many other artists. During his career, Schlesinger won three Emmys and a Grammy Award as well as multiple Oscar, Golden Globe and Tony Award nominations.

Shirley Douglas

Date: April 5

Cause of death: Pneumonia

Age: 86

The mother of Kiefer Sutherland, Douglas was an actor, mostly in Canadian productions. Her most prominent American credits include Stanley Kubrik’s Lolita in 1962, the 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, in which she played Madeline Albright, and the TV movie The Christmas Shoes, with Rob Lowe, in 2006. Douglas was a Canadian activist, fighting for civil rights and the preservation of her country’s universal health care. “My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life,” Sutherland said in a statement when she died. “Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming.”

John Prine

Date: April 7

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 73

One of the most influential songwriters of all time, Prine’s numerous admirers included Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Roger Waters. While he never charted a major hit on his own, his compositions were recorded by Joan Baez, the Everly Brothers, George Strait, Bette Midler, Dwight Yoakam, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Maren Morris, John Mayer, the Dave Matthews Band, John Denver, Maggie Rogers and many others. Among the many illustrious honors Prine received during his five-decade recording career were three Grammys, six American Music Awards, an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and — just two months before his death — a Lifetime Achievement honor at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Brian Dennehy

Date: April 15

Cause: Cardiac arrest due to sepsis

Age: 81

His stocky physique and average Joe disposition helped this former Marine establish himself as a memorable supporting player in films like Tommy Boy, First Blood and Presumed Innocent. (In fact, Ratatouille co-star Patton Oswalt quoted his “rat-dad” as once cheering, “Character actors! Who gives a f*** if we're fat?” as he piled his plate on set.) But Dennehy also shined in leading roles, winning two Best Actor Tonys in less than five years: one for his 1999 take on Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman (a role which also earned him a Golden Globe for a 2000 TV film adaptation of the Arthur Miller play), and the other for playing the patriarch in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 2003.

Florian Schneider

Date: April 21

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 73

In 1970, German musician Schneider cofounded Kraftwerk, one of the first successful acts to popularize the electronic genre due to their innovative use of synthesizers, drum machines and vocoders. Kraftwerk were declared “the most influential group in pop history” by music journalist Neil McCormick and one of “the two most important bands in the music history” (the other being the Beatles) by the NME, and they effectively laid the foundation for all synthpop, techno and EDM artists that followed. (AllMusic said Kraftwerk’s influence “resonates in virtually every new development to impact the contemporary pop scene of the late 20th Century.”) In 2014, Kraftwerk received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; a year later, their landmark fourth album Autobahn was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Kraftwerk were nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the sixth time this year, but were ironically passed over in favor of two inductees that owe them a debt, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails.

Irrfan Khan

Date: April 29

Cause of death: Complications from a colon infection

Age: 53

The actor began his career in the Indian film industry — which he didn’t like to call Bollywood — before crossing over into the mainstream, with hits such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Life of Pi, The Darjeeling Limited and Jurassic World. In March 2018, he was diagnosed with a rare endocrine cancer, for which he later underwent treatment before returning to work. Narenda Modi, the prime minister of India, called his death, “a loss to the world of cinema and theatre.”

Sam Lloyd

Date: April 30

Cause of death: Complications from lung cancer

Age: 56

Lloyd appeared in dozens of TV shows including Desperate Housewives, Modern Family, Shameless, Spin City and Seinfeld, but he’s best known for playing lawyer Ted Buckland in Scrubs. The actor was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs, liver and spine.

Roy Horn

Date: May 8

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 75

Horn was half of the successful Las Vegas duo Siegfried and Roy, who entertained crowds with magic tricks and interaction with lions and tigers, for 35 years. He had miraculously survived after being mauled and dragged offstage by a 400-pound white tiger during a performance on Oct. 3, 2003, although he had a stroke and partial paralysis afterward. While the duo made an appearance for charity in 2009, they officially retired their act the following year. His death came one week after his diagnosis with the coronavirus.

Little Richard

Date: May 9

Cause of death: Bone cancer

Age: 87

Considered the founding father of rock ‘n’ roll whose combination of boogie, gospel and blues paved the way for every rocker that followed, the flamboyant “Tutti Frutti” showman’s death prompted a flood of tributes to his incredible legacy. Mick Jagger called the legend, born Richard Wayne Penniman, “the biggest inspiration of my early teens”; Ringo Starr called Richard one of his “all-time musical heroes”; Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page tweeted, “It’s Little Richard’s songs that pioneered rock ‘n’ roll”; and Elton John stated, “Without a doubt — musically, vocally and visually — he was my biggest influence.” Even David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, tweeted, “From what my dad told me about his love of this legend growing up, it’s very likely he would not have taken the path he did without the huge influence of Little Richard. One of the highest of the high.”

Betty Wright

Date: May 10

Cause of death: Endometrial cancer

Age: 66

The six-time Grammy nominee, known for her incredible range and whistle tone, was still a teenager when she released her signature song, “Clean Up Woman,” which went to No. 2 on the R&B charts and No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than a million copies. She cracked the R&B charts another two-dozen times during her career, notably with the 1974 Best R&B Song Grammy-winner “Where Is the Love?” and 1981’s Stevie Wonder-produced “What Are You Going to Do With It.” In 1988, she became the first black female artist to score a gold album on her own record label (Ms. B Records) with her 12th LP, Mother Wit. Wright was also successful behind the scenes as an in-demand background singer, vocal coach, songwriter, producer and engineer. Later in life, she earned new fans as a regular on Sean Combs’s reality show Making the Band, in which she served as the vocal coach for Danity Kane.

Jerry Stiller

Date: May 11

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 92

The comedian, who became a hit duo with his wife of 60 years Anne Meara (of Stiller and Meara), died at his Manhattan home, his son, actor Ben Stiller, announced. He had a late-career boost first on Seinfeld, playing George Costanza's father Frank (Festivus!), starting in 1993, and that was followed by playing Leah Remini's dad on The King of Queens. He also appeared with Ben in numerous films, including Zoolander, Heavyweights and Hot Pursuit.

Phyllis George

Date: May 14

Cause of death: Complications from a blood disorder

Age: 70

After winning the title of Miss America 1971, George became one of the first female sports broadcasters when she joined the NFL Today team four years later. At the time, she was heavily criticized for lacking a sports background, although she was a big fan of teams in her home state of Texas. Her first marriage was to movie producer Robert Evans and her second, to Kentucky Gov. John T. Brown Jr., made her first lady of the “Bluegrass State” from 1979 to 1983. Brown, whom she divorced in 1998, shared the news of her death.

Phyllis George attends a Superbowl party in 1995. (Photo: Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Phyllis George attends a Superbowl party in 1995. (Photo: Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Lynn Shelton

Date: May 15

Cause of death: Acute myeloid leukemia

Age: 54

Shelton wrote and directed independent films, including 2009’s Humpday, which popularized the mumblecore genre, as well as mainstream TV shows. She was behind the camera on episodes of shows such as The Mindy Project, Fresh Off the Boat, Mad Men and, in her final months, Little Fires Everywhere. Shelton also directed comedian Marc Maron, her boyfriend during the year before she died, in several projects. Maron was the one who explained she had collapsed at home with organ failure resulting from acute myeloid leukemia, after feeling sick for two days.

Fred Willard

Date: May 15

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 86

Deadpan comedian Willard was best known for his roles in Christopher Guest movies, such as This Is Spinal Tap and Best in Show, as well as mainstream comedies like Anchorman. On TV, he appeared on dozens of shows, such as Family Matters, The Golden Girls and Modern Family over more than five decades. As the five-time Emmy nominee told The New York Times in February 2008, “I like to play the guy that has no self-awareness, kind of the likable buffoon who will stick his foot in his mouth and say the wrong thing.” His final appearance was in the Netflix comedy Space Force, starring Steve Carell, which premiered two weeks after his death.

Bob Kulick

Date: May 28

Cause of death: Heart disease

Age: 70

The guitarist and producer, best known for his work with KISS, initially tried out for the then-unknown shock-rock band in 1972. Though KISS decided to hire Ace Frehley at that time, they hired Kulick five years later to secretly record guitar parts for KISS Alive II, and Kulick later contributed to several other KISS albums. The respected studio musician and producer’s many credits included playing lead guitar on Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby and touring and/or recording with Motorhead, Roger Daltrey, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Meat Loaf, Michael Bolton and Diana Ross.

Chris Trousdale

Date: June 2

Cause of death: COVID-19

Age: 34

Best known for his boy band days in Dream Street with Jesse McCartney, the singer first carved out a name for himself on Broadway. Trousdale also appeared on Disney channel's Austin & Ally and Shake It Up and auditioned for The Voice in 2012. While his rep said the entertainer died from an “undisclosed illness,” Trousdale’s sister-in-law confirmed it was COVID-19.

Bonnie Pointer

Date: June 8

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Age: 69

A founding member of the pioneering sibling act the Pointer Sisters, Pointer got her start in the late ‘60s San Francisco rock scene before landing a record deal with the group in the early ‘70s and racking up a string of hits that crossed genres — encompassing disco, jazz, electronic music, R&B, pop and even country. Her song “Fairytale,” co-written with sister/bandmate Anita, even established the Pointer Sisters as the second Black artist (and only Black group) to ever win a country music Grammy, and the first Black group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Although Bonnie left the Pointer Sisters in 1978 and did not appear on the singles of the group’s ‘80s heyday, she enjoyed a modestly successful solo career with Motown. In February of this year, she reunited with Anita for the single “Feels Like June,” a touching tribute to their late sister June Pointer, who died in 2006.

Ian Holm

Date: June 19

Cause of death: Illness related to Parkinson’s disease

Age: 88

A Tony winner (for 1967’s The Homecoming) and Academy Award nominee (for 1981’s Chariots of Fire), the English actor was regarded as one of the most versatile performers of his generation, sinking his teeth into supporting roles as varied as the android Ash in Alien, Chef Skinner in Ratatouille, the rascally restaurateur Pascal in Big Night and Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series. “I'm never the same twice,” Holm told the Los Angeles Times in 2000, “and I’m not a movie star-type, so people don’t demand that I’m always the same.”

Joel Schumacher

Date: June 22

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 80

Judging by his notoriously candid 2019 Vulture interview, Schumacher’s personal life was film-worthy on its own. But the fashion school grad and former costume designer instead threw himself into telling other stories, directing a string of memorable feature films, including St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Phantom of the Opera, Falling Down and yes, the much-reviled Batman & Robin. He’s also credited with putting young performers on the map, from Colin Farrell in Tigerland to Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill.

Carl Reiner

Date: June 29

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 98

Because he was a writer, producer, director and even an actor, it’s tough to explain how important an influence Reiner was on comedy. Dick Van Dyke, who worked with him on the Dick Van Dyke Show (which Reiner created and co-starred on) in the ‘60s, once called him not only a mentor and friend but “possibly the best comedy writer who ever lived.” His other projects included comedies The Jerk in 1979, All of Me in 1984 and, in 1979, Oh, God! with George Burns. The winner of multiple Emmys and the father of director Rob Reiner, Carl continued to act into his later years. He made memorable appearances in the Ocean’s Eleven franchise and loaned his voice to last year’s Toy Story 4. He died at home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Nick Cordero

Date: July 5

Cause of death: COVID-19

Age: 41

Early in the pandemic, the Tony-nominated Broadway singer/dancer of Bullets Over Broadway fame contracted COVID. While more than one test came back negative, he was hospitalized on March 30 and put on a ventilator soon after. His valiant battle saw him undergoing multiple surgeries, including to amputate his leg, which wife Amanda Kloots documented on social media. While she channeled a lot of positivity his way — including daily "Wake Up Nick" dance parties — Cordero lost his battle 95 days after being hospitalized.

Nick Cordero earned a Tony nomination for his role in "Bullets Over Broadway" in 2014. (Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)
Nick Cordero earned a Tony nomination for his role in Bullets Over Broadway in 2014. (Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)

Charlie Daniels

Date: July 6

Cause of death: Hemorrhagic stroke

Age: 83

The Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member,and virtuosic multi-instrumentalist worked behind the scenes with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Ringo Starr, Hank Williams Jr. and the Marshall Tucker Band, and recorded the hits “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” and “Long Haired Country Boy” early in his career. But it was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” later featured on the triple-platinum soundtrack for Urban Cowboy, that became his signature song. The good-vs.-evil bluegrass jam, which went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 14 weeks on the Hot Country Singles charts in 1979, won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance and a Country Music Association Award for Single of the Year. In 1993, Daniels joined forces with fiddler Mark O’Connor to record a sequel, “The Devil Came Back to Georgia,” which featured vocals by Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt.

Ennio Morricone

Date: July 6

Cause of death: Injuries from a fall

Age: 91

The Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor and trumpet player was considered as one of the most prolific and greatest composers of all time, with more than 100 classical works and 400 film and TV scores to his credit — including the 1966 score for longtime collaborator Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which is regarded as one of the most iconic in cinematic history and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Over the course of his eight-decade career, Morricone won three Grammy Awards, three Golden Globes, six BAFTAs, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award, the Polar Music Prize and the Oscars’ Academy Honorary Award. He won his first and, surprisingly, only competitive Academy Award, for Best Motion Picture Score, in 2016 for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, the first Western scored by Morricone in 34 years. At that time, Morricone was the oldest person ever to win a competitive Oscar.

Naya Rivera

Date: July 8

Cause of death: Drowning

Age: 33

The Glee star went missing after she rented a pontoon boat to take her 4-year-old son, Josey, swimming at Lake Piru, Calif. Rivera’s body was recovered five days later and the medical examiner’s office ruled her drowning accidental. It’s believed the boat started to drift when the two were in the water due to high winds and strong currents. Rivera’s last act was saving the life of her son over her own.

Naya Rivera poses for a promotional shot for "Glee." (Photo: Miranda Penn Turin/© Fox Television /Courtesy: Everett Collection)
Naya Rivera poses for a promotional shot for Glee. (Photo: Miranda Penn Turin/© Fox Television /Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Kelly Preston

Date: July 12

Cause of death: Breast cancer

Age: 57

The Jerry Maguire and For Love of the Game actress privately battled breast cancer for two years before succumbing to the disease at her Florida home. Her husband John Travolta, who she met on the set of 1989's The Experts and married in 1991, shared the sad news, saying, Preston "fought a courageous fight." She left behind daughter Ella, 20, and son Benjamin, 10 — being predeceased by their son Jett.

Benjamin Keough

Date: July 12

Cause of death: Suicide

Age: 27

The son of Lisa Marie Presley and her first husband, Danny Keough, took his own life. She remembered him as her "beautiful angel" who was "too good for this world." His sister, actress Riley Keough, called him her "twin soul” and "protector" who was "too sensitive for this harsh world.” He was laid to rest at grandfather Elvis Presley's Graceland estate in its Meditation Garden.

Grant Imahara

Date: July 13

Cause of death: Brain aneurysm

Age: 49

It was reported on July 13 that the electrical engineer and roboticist suddenly passed away. Imahara hosted MythBusters and was one third of “The Build Team” or “B Team.” He went on to host Netflix's White Rabbit Project and worked on the Star Wars prequels, where he built robots and controlled R2-D2’s movements.

John Lewis

Date: July 17

Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer

Age: 80

An icon of the civil rights movement, Lewis was one of the activists who was by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s side during the March on Washington in 1963 and during the Bloody Sunday March in 1965. Lewis eventually spent more than three decades as a congressman representing Atlanta. His death came six months after he revealed that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Diana Rigg

Date: Sept. 10

Cause of death: Lung cancer

Age: 82

Long before she delighted audiences as the wickedly witty Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones — a show she admitted never watching, despite her four Emmy nods for the role — Rigg was a ‘60s sex symbol playing crimefighting assistant Emma Peel on the British TV series The Avengers. A star on stage and screen, the British actress would also play James Bond’s wife in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But Mrs. 007 paled in comparison to her real-life title; Rigg was made a “Dame” for her services to drama in 1994, the year she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play after starring in the London and New York productions of Medea.

Regis Philbin

Date: July 24

Cause of death: Heart attack

Age: 88

The iconic TV personality, who set the Guiness World Record for "Most Hours on US Television" during his 60-year showbiz career, died at his Connecticut home. He was best known for the morning show Live!, which he co-hosted for 24 seasons (first with Kathie Lee Gifford and then Kelly Ripa), and the hit primetime game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? "Reeg," known for his quick wit and funny banter, had retired in 2011 amid health woes and died from "myocardial infarction," or a heart attack, "due to coronary artery disease and hypertension."

Peter Green

Date: July 25

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 73

The British bluesman, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, got his first big break in 1966 when he replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, but he came to fame as the cofounder of Fleetwood Mac. “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac” released four albums between 1968 and 1969, with Green penning early classics like the No. 1 single “Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman” (which was famously covered by Carlos Santana in 1970), “Oh Well” and “Man of the World.” Green left the band in 1971 as his behavior became increasingly erratic; he was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals in the mid-’70s. Green returned to performing in the ‘90s, and he joined Fleetwood Mac when they entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, jamming with Santana on “Black Magic Woman” at the induction ceremony.

Olivia de Havilland

Date: July 26

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 104

The two-time Oscar winner and last surviving star of Gone With the Wind died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Paris. Aside from playing Melanie Hamilton in the 1939 classic, her other notable credits include The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Snake Pit, To Each His Own and The Heiress. The fiery actress made a splash off-screen, too, as she helped buck the old Hollywood studio system with what’s known in the industry as de Havilland Law.

Wilford Brimley

Date: Aug. 1

Cause of death: Kidney ailment

Age: 85

The actor pursued showbiz after serving as a marine, landing a role on The Waltons followed by Our House. He appeared in many films as well, including Cocoon, The China Syndrome, Tender Mercies and The Natural. His commercial work was memorable as well, first as the Quaker Oats pitchman ("It's the right thing to do") and then Liberty Medical, promoting diabetes education.

Trini Lopez

Date: Aug. 11

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 83

A Mexican-American singer, guitarist and international nightclub entertainer and the son of Mexican immigrants, Lopez broke boundaries in the early ‘60s not only by uniquely blending folk, Latin and rockabilly music, but by refusing to go by a less ethnic-sounding stage name. Championed in the industry by both Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra, Lopez scored hits with his renditions of “If I Had a Hammer,” “Lemon Tree,” the West Side Story classic “America” and “The Bramble Bush” from 1967 film The Dirty Dozen (in which he also appeared, during his brief stint as an actor). Lopez released more than 70 albums during his lifetime, and enjoyed another side career as a designer of Gibson guitars, including a famous model favored by Dave Grohl.

Frankie Banali

Date: Aug. 20

Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer

Age: 68

The Quiet Riot drummer was a rock veteran who also played with Ozzy Osbourne, W.A.S.P., Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Billy Idol, Steppenwolf and many others during his five-decade career. In 1983, he made history when Quiet Riot’s Metal Health became the first heavy metal album to go to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, knocking both Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the Police’s Synchronicity out of the top spot; the record sold 10 million copies worldwide. Quiet Riot disbanded in 1989 but reformed with different lineups over the years, with Banali rejoining full-time in 2010 and becoming the group’s manager. After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in April 2019, he became a passionate spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

Chi Chi DeVayne

Date: Aug. 20

Cause of death: Kidney failure and pneumonia related to scleroderma

Age: 34

Taking her first stage name from the film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, the Southern drag queen, whose real name was Zavion Davenport, cut her teeth in the Shreveport, La. bar scene before competing on Drag Race in 2016. A Season 8 fan favorite and top four finalist due to her vivacious personality and “cheap queen” resourcefulness, she returned for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3. Davenport also had a part on Season 1 of Apple TV+’s Little America and appeared on the web series and podcasts Hey Qween, Bootleg Opinions, How to Makeup, Drag Babies and Whatcha Packin’.

Chi Chi DeVayne starred on "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" in 2018. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
Chi Chi DeVayne starred on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars in 2018. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Justin Townes Earle

Date: Aug. 20

Cause of death: Accidental overdose of fentanyl-laced cocaine

Age: 38

The son of famed roots musician Steve Earle — with a middle name that was a nod to Steve’s mentor, Townes Van Zandt — Justin was an acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter in his own right. The younger Earle’s many accolades and achievements included an invitation to play the Grand Ole Opry in 2008; two Americana Music Awards (for New and Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009, and Song of the Year for 2011’s “Harlem River Blues”); and a spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 50 albums of 2012 for Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. The prolific troubadour released eight studio albums and one EP between 2007 and 2019.

Chadwick Boseman

Date: Aug. 28

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 43

The Black Panther star’s death sent a shockwave around the world when Boseman’s family announced he privately battled colon cancer for four years. The actor made acclaimed films like Da 5 Bloods and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, not to mention, he brought King T’Challa to life in the Marvel Universe between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.

Ronald “Khalis” Bell

Date: Sept. 9

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 68

The Kool & the Gang cofounder was self-taught musician who cowrote and produced many of R&B/soul/funk/disco/jazz group’s smash hits, including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Summer Madness” “Open Sesame,” “Ladies’ Night,” “Joanna,” “Too Hot” and “Fresh.” Kool & the Gang racked up 14 top 40 singles in the U.S. between 1980 and 1986 (a feat not even accomplished by Michael Jackson), and over the course of their career, they sold 70 million albums and earned two Grammys, seven American Music Awards, a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They also still hold the record as the most sampled band of all time, with their music featured on tracks by the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, P. Diddy, the Killers and many others. In addition to his work with Kool & the Gang, Bell also served as a producer and arranger for artists like the Fugees, Jimmy Cliff, House of Pain, Phillip Glass and Rachid.

Toots Hibbert

Date: Sept. 11

Cause of death: Undisclosed (possibly COVID-19)

Age: 77

The Grammy-winning Jamaican singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was one of reggae’s most charismatic frontmen and one of the all-time 100 Greatest Singers according to Rolling Stone, with a soulful voice that was often compared to Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. His reggae/rocksteady/ska band Toots & the Maytals — who to this day hold the record for the most No. 1 hits in Jamaica, with a total of 31 — was one of the most important and influential acts in reggae history. (In fact, Hibbert was the first artist to even use the word “reggae,” in the 1968 song “Do the Reggay.”) In the ‘70s the Maytals crossed over to the mainstream by touring with British and American acts like the Who, Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt and appeared in the Jimmy Cliff film The Harder They Come, and were also hugely influential on ‘80s acts like the Specials and the Clash. Hibbert went on to collaborate with other admirers like Trey Anastasio, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, No Doubt, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards and the Roots. Toots & the Maytals’ comeback album, Got to Be Tough, was released just 13 days before Hibbert’s death.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Date: Sept. 18

Cause of death: Metastatic pancreatic cancer

Age: 87

The Supreme Court justice, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993, was beloved for the many advancements she made for women. Even before she became only the second woman (and the first Jewish woman) to sit on the nation’s highest court, Ginsburg had fought for women’s rights on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union and had persevered against sexism in her own life as one of the few women studying law. In her later years, Ginsburg became so famous for her dissents, that she was given the nickname of “the notorious RBG.” Her story inspired books and movies, a meme and even a regular sketch on Saturday Night Live, in which she was played by Kate McKinnon.

Helen Reddy

Date: Sept. 29

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 78

During her career, the trailblazing Australian singer-songwriter placed 15 singles in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 40 (including three No. 1s and six top 10 hits) and 25 singles on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. However, she was best known as the voice of the 1970s women’s liberation movement, thanks to her second-wave feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” which was partially inspired by her many personal experiences with sexism in the music industry. The million-selling single earned Reddy a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; in her acceptance speech, she controversially thanked God “because She makes everything possible.” Reddy came out of retirement in 2017 to sing an a cappella rendition of the song in front of 750,000 people at the inaugural Women’s March — a moment that was recreated for the dramatic final scene in the biopic I Am Woman, which came out just one month before Reddy’s death.

Johnny Nash

Date: Oct. 6

Cause of death: Natural causes

Age: 80

The crossover reggae star started off as a teen-pop crooner in the 1950s, but became best known for his sunny singalong “I Can See Clearly Now,” which topped Billboard’s Hot 100 and Adult-Contemporary charts for four consecutive weeks in November 1972 and eventually sold more than 1 million copies. Nash was also one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica, and among the first artists to introduce reggae to mainstream U.S. and U.K. audiences. Nash additionally had a key role in launching the career of his friend Bob Marley, who was signed early on to Nash’s record label, JAD Records.

Eddie Van Halen

Date: Oct. 6

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 65

The founding member of Van Halen — and one of the greatest guitar players of all time — lost his battle to cancer. He first had tongue cancer in 2000, but was cancer-free two years later. His son with ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli, Wolfgang Van Halen, said he was then diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2017. Initially told he had just six weeks to live, he sought alternative cancer treatments in Germany, which his family credits for extending his life. However, his health issues kept stacking up, including a brain tumor diagnosis in 2019, and Bertinelli revealed he had been getting treatment for lung cancer at the end of his life.

Conchata Ferrell

Date: Oct. 12

Cause of death: Complications from cardiac arrest

Age: 78

This three-time Emmy nominee (nominated once for L.A. Law, and twice for Two and a Half Men) put the “character” in “character actress,” making sassy, no-nonsense supporting players her trademark. But off-screen, she was an “absolute sweetheart,” according to former Two and a Half Men co-star Charlie Sheen. In addition to her work as sharp-tongued housekeeper Berta on the CBS sitcom, the redhead’s credits included memorable turns in E/R (1984-85) Mystic Pizza (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990), as well as an Obie-winning performance in the off-Broadway play The Sea Horse in 1974.

Conchata Ferrell appears on "Two and a Half Men." (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)
Conchata Ferrell appears on Two and a Half Men. (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)

Spencer Davis

Date: Oct. 19

Cause of death: Pneumonia

Age: 81

As the leader of the Spencer Davis Group, the Welsh multi-instrumentalist recorded the top 10 hits as “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man,” which introduced teen vocalist Steve Winwood to the rock world. After the band officially ended in 1974, Davis embarked on a short-lived solo career, then had a second act as an executive for Island Records, working to promote the music of Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and his former bandmate, Winwood.

Tony Lewis

Date: Oct. 19

Cause of death: Undisclosed

Age: 62

The frontman for U.K. ‘80s powerpop band the Outfield was known for his distinctive high-pitched vocals on hits like “All The Love,” “Say It Isn’t So” and most notably the enduring top 10 smash “Your Love” — which has been covered or sampled more than 1,000 times, by everyone from Katy Perry to Bruno Mars, and was also the inspiration for a memorable Saturday Night Live skit featuring a cameo by HAIM. Lewis took a professional hiatus after the 2014 death of his Outfield bandmate John Spinks, but eventually returned to music, collaborating with his wife Carol on the 2018 solo album Out of the Darkness and reforming the Outfield to play various ‘80s-nostalgia package tours. He released an EP, Unplugged - The Acoustic Sessions, in May of this year.

Jerry Jeff Walker

Date: Oct. 24

Cause of death: Throat cancer

Age: 78

The Austin-based anchor of the contemporary outlaw country music scene was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in New York. His early dalliance with folk music resulted in his best-known — and most mainstream — songwriting credit, “Mr. Bojangles,” but it was his take on twangy tunes like “London Homesick Blues,” “Trashy Women” and "Desperados Waiting for a Train” that made him a dive bar favorite and cult country and western icon.

Nikki McKibbin

Date: Oct. 28

Cause of death: Brain aneurysm

Age: 42

McKibbin, a Texas singer-songwriter, launched her career after placing third on Season 1 of American Idol behind Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. Her husband shared the news of her unexpected death, revealing she was kept on life support for days so that her organs could be recovered for donation. “Even at the end she is still giving,” Craig Sadler wrote.

Sean Connery

Date: Oct. 31

Cause of death: Respiratory failure due to pneumonia, old age and atrial fibrillation

Age: 90

He was a singing Irish heartthrob in Disney’s Darby O'Gill and the Little People, won an Oscar playing a tough-talking cop in The Untouchables and found late-in-life success with a series of ‘90s thrillers and action hits (The Rock, Just Cause, The Hunt for Red October), but the suave Scotsman will forever be synonymous with three words: “Bond, James Bond.” A lover and a fighter equally at home in white dinner jacket or snug swim trunks, Connery’s original 007 — with 1962’s Dr. No the first of his seven outings — set the benchmark for debonair-but-deadly action heroes. To paraphrase one of the franchise’s more memorable theme songs: Nobody did it better.

Alex Trebek

Date: Nov. 8

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 80

Less than two years after announcing his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, the beloved Jeopardy! host passed away at home surrounded by loved ones. Trebek filmed his final episodes just 10 days before his death. The pop culture icon hosted the game show since its revival in 1984. It’s no wonder why in 2014, he was awarded the Guinness World Record for most gameshow episodes hosted by the same presenter.

Doug Supernaw

Date: Nov. 8

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 60

A mainstay of country music in the ‘90s, the singer passed away after a nearly two year battle with lung and bladder cancer. His hit 1993 single “I Don’t Call Him Daddy” earned him an Academy of Country Music Award nomination for top male vocalist and song of the year. Other hits included “Reno” and “Not Enough Hours in the Night.”

Ben Watkins

Date: Nov. 16

Cause of death: Cancer

Age: 14

Watkins was fan-favorite from MasterChef Junior, appearing on the sixth season of the culinary competition show. He won over the hearts of viewers — and Gordon Ramsay — with his positive attitude. Watkins, who dreamed of opening his own bakery or restaurant someday, was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, an extremely rare form of cancer at age 13.

David Prowse

Date: Nov. 28

Cause of death: Coronavirus-related complications

Age: 85

“It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and [millions] of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85,” Bowington Management announced the day after Thanksgiving. Prowse, a former bodybuilder, played Star Wars villain Darth Vader, although the character was voiced by James Earl Jones, in the original films of the ‘70s. He popped up, too, on Doctor Who, Little House on the Prairie and in the movie A Clockwork Orange over the years. He was a statuesque 6-foot-6, which allowed him to also play Frankenstein’s Creature in the 1967 Peter Sellers spy spoof Casino Royale.

Natalie Desselle Reid

Date: Dec. 7

Cause of death: Colon cancer

Age: 53

The actress was best known for playing Mickey in B.A.P.S. opposite Halle Berry — as well as roles in 1997’s Cinderella, Set It Off and TV’s Eve. Berry said Reid “represented actual Black women, not what Black women are perceived to be.” Reid’s family announced her death from colon cancer, saying she “was a bright light in this world. A queen. An extraordinary mother and wife.”

Natalie Desselle Reid attends a movie premiere in 2011. (Photo: John Shearer/WireImage)
Natalie Desselle Reid attends a movie premiere in 2011. (Photo: John Shearer/WireImage)

Tommy “Tiny” Lister

Date: Dec. 10

Cause of death: Unclear

Age: 62

Best known for his role as bully Deebo in the Friday movies, Lister also had roles in The Fifth Element; The Dark Knight; the WWE flick No Holds Barred, alongside Hulk Hogan; and more than 200 other projects. His Friday co-star Ice Cube remembered him as “a born entertainer who would pop into character at the drop of a hat terrifying people on and off camera,” although he would follow that up with “a big smile and laugh.” Several months prior to his death, Lister had tested positive for the coronavirus and continued to struggle with his health, his friend and manager told the New York Times.

Charley Pride

Date: Dec. 12

Cause of death: COVID-19-related complications

Age: 86

Pride was a legendary baritone singer who broke barriers as the first Black country superstar, first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the first Black artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry since DeFord Bailey in 1925. During his peak recording years, he was RCA Records’ best-selling artist since Elvis Presley, earning 52 top 10 country hits (36 of which went to No. 1) and 12 gold albums. Pride was the winner of four Grammys and three Country Music Association Awards — including the CMAs’ Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award just one month before his death, at what was to be his last public appearance.

— by Suzy Byrne, Erin Donnelly, Lyndsey Parker, Taryn Ryder and Raechal Shewfelt

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