The global coronavirus pandemic made it an especially difficult year for celebrity deaths in 2020, adding to the annual tally of losses caused by time, illness and personal tragedy.
From the shocking accidental deaths of Kobe Bryant and Naya Rivera to the secret cancer that claimed Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, there were plenty of unexpected losses that had nothing to do with COVID-19.
The world also lost legends Neil Peart, Alex Trebek, Regis Philbin and Eddie Van Halen.
Here are some of the beloved celebrities we lost in 2020.
Kobe Bryant, the former NBA superstar and Los Angeles Lakers legend, died at age 41 in a helicopter crash outside L.A. on Jan. 26.
Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others also died in the crash.
Bryant was one of the NBA’s most charismatic and accomplished players when he retired from the game in 2016, ending his career as the third-leading scorer in league history. He spent his entire career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships, two scoring titles and the league MVP award in 2008.
He launched a women’s basketball school, opened a production company and ventured into the entertainment industry in his post-retirement days. He also won an Academy Award in 2018 for his contributions to Dear Basketball, an animated short about his relationship with the game.
Neil Peart, the legendary drummer for Canadian rock band Rush, died at the age of 67 on Jan. 7.
According to the band, Peart had been battling glioblastoma for three and a half years before his death — the same type of brain cancer that claimed the life of Gord Downie.
Born Neil Ellwood Peart in Hamilton in 1952, Peart became a drummer in his teens and joined Rush in 1974.
The band went on to enjoy incredible success in Canada and the United States, with several of their albums selling more than one million copies each. Peart and his bandmates, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, were the first rock musicians to be inducted into the Order of Canada. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
Canadian pro wrestling legend Rocky Johnson, a.k.a. the Soul Man and father of Dwayne Johnson, died at the age of 75 on Jan. 15.
Johnson was born in Nova Scotia and started his pro wrestling career in Ontario before joining the then-WWF. He was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame in 2008 by his son Dwayne, a.k.a. The Rock.
Terry Jones, a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, died on Jan. 21 at the age of 77.
Jones passed away after a “long, extremely brave but always good-humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD,” his agent said at the time.
Jones was a founding member of Monty Python’s Flying circus, a troupe whose anarchic humour helped revolutionize British comedy. He appeared in the troupe’s TV series and films such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Life of Brian.
Kirk Douglas, father of Michael Douglas and one of the last remaining superstars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died at the age of 103 on Feb. 5.
Douglas had suffered a severe stroke in 1996 that left him on a difficult road to recovery.
He was Spartacus and many other characters over his long career on the silver screen.
Nikita Pearl Waligwa, child actor from the Disney film Queen of Katwe, died at the age of 15 on Feb. 15.
Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumour years before her death.
She was best known for portraying Gloria Nansubuga, the best friend of protagonist Phioa Mutesi in Queen of Katwe.
“Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother,” her family said in a statement. “Gracious and kind, she enriched the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her tremendously.”
Bell and her husband William J. Bell co-created two of daytime television’s most successful and enduring dramas. Y&R has been on the air since 1973, while The Bold and the Beautiful will mark its 33rd anniversary in March.
James Lipton, an actor-turned-academic who became an unlikely celebrity and got hundreds of master actors and Hollywood luminaries to open up about their craft as the longtime host of Inside the Actors Studio, died of bladder cancer at his New York home. He was 93.
Lipton was known, and often parodied, for his highbrow and sometimes worshipful tone with his subjects, and for his intensive preparation, represented by a stack of blue notecards that held his meticulously researched questions.
He often said his only requirement for a guest was whether they had something to teach his students. His first guest, Paul Newman, set a standard of stardom for those that would follow, including Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Glenn Close, Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand.
Max von Sydow, the legendary Swedish actor, died on March 8 in Provence, France, at age 90.
The entertainer was best known for his iconic portrayal of Father Lankester Merrin in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. In his lifetime, von Sydow was featured in a total of more than 100 movies and TV series, including 11 feature-length films directed by the late and legendary Ingmar Bergman.
One of the actor’s final roles was the mystical Three-Eyed Raven in three episodes of Game of Thrones‘ sixth season. His performance in the beloved HBO series earned him an Emmy nomination in 2016.
Actor-singer Kenny Rogers, the smooth, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as Lucille, Lady and Islands in the Stream and embraced his persona as The Gambler on record and on TV, died at 81 of natural causes.
He died at home in Sandy Springs, Ga., under hospice care.
The Houston-born performer with the husky voice and silver beard sold tens of millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, making him a superstar in the ’70s and ’80s. Rogers thrived for some 60 years before he retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.
Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, died from heart complications at age 81.
The three-time Grammy Award winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died in early April in Los Angeles. Withers’ songs during his brief career have become the soundtracks of countless engagements, weddings and backyard parties.
Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean on Me are among Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
B.C. teen actor Logan Williams died on April 2 as a result of a fentanyl overdose, a week before his 17th birthday.
The Coquitlam-born actor was best known for playing the young version of the titular DC superhero, Barry Allen, in CW’s The Flash. He also had minor roles in series like Supernatural and When Calls the Heart.
Shirley Douglas, the impassioned Canadian activist, veteran actor and mother to actor Kiefer Sutherland and daughter of medicare founder Tommy Douglas, died in early April at age 86. She died from complications involving pneumonia.
A native of Weyburn, Sask., Douglas worked with famed directors including Stanley Kubrick (Lolita) and David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers), and won a Gemini Award for her performance in the 1999 TV film Shadow Lake.
She also tirelessly supported a variety of causes throughout her life, including the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers and the fight to save public health care, pioneered by her politician father.
In 1965, Douglas married Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, with whom she had two children before they divorced — twins Rachel, a production manager, and Kiefer, who became a film and TV star in his own right.
Honor Blackman, the British actor who played Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger, died at 94 of natural causes on April 6.
Blackman is best known for her parts as Pussy Galore in the Bond film and Cathy Gale in the British series The Avengers.
Blackman also appeared in So Long at the Fair (1950), A Night to Remember (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Upper Hand (1990s) and in recent years she toured the U.K. with her show Honor Blackman As Herself, where she reflected on her career.
Legendary folk singer-songwriter John Prine died of complications from COVID-19 on Apr. 7. He was 73 years old.
Prine was beloved for his conversational lyrics that explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life. He had a rough voice made rougher by a hard-luck life, including a bout with throat cancer that left him with a disfigured jaw.
He began playing as a young Army veteran who invented songs to fight boredom while delivering the U.S. mail in Maywood, Ill. He was eventually discovered by Kris Kristofferson, and he signed his first recording deal in 1971.
Prine was never a major commercial success, but performed for more than four decades, often selling his records at club appearances where he mentored rising country and bluegrass musicians.
Many other musicians embraced his work and covered his songs, including Bette Midler, Johnny Cash, John Denver, the Everly Brothers, Miranda Lambert, Carly Simon, George Strait, Norah Jones, Don Williams, Tammy Wynette and Old Crow Medicine Show.
Rolling Stone proclaimed him the “Mark Twain of American songwriting” in 2017, and he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement earlier this year.
He underwent surgery to address throat cancer in 1998 and lung cancer in 2013.
Brian Dennehy, an actor whose career spanned TV, movies and the stage, died of natural causes on April 15 at the age of 81.
Known for his broad frame, booming voice and ability to play good guys and bad guys with equal aplomb, Dennehy won two Tony Awards and a Golden Globe and was nominated for six Emmys. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2010.
Dennehy starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in the 1982 film First Blood. He was also in the films Gorky Park (1983), Silverado (1985), Cocoon (1985), F/X (1986), Presumed Innocent (1990), Gladiator (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996), Tommy Boy (1997), Knight of Cups (2015), The Seagull (2018) and Driveways (2019).
The six-time Emmy nominee most recently appeared in The Blacklist as Dominic Wilkinson.
Howard Finkel, a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ring announcer and WWE Hall of Famer, died at age 69 on April 16.
Finkel, also known as The Fink, made his WWE debut in 1977 at Madison Square Garden when the entertainment company was known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). Finkel was the WWE’s first full-time employee, and he was always dressed in a tuxedo.
At the time, WWE released a statement about Finkel’s death on its website, saying he was considered among “the greatest ring announcers in the history of sports and sports-entertainment.”
His cause of death is unknown, though he suffered a stroke in 2019 and had been struggling with his health.
Tom Lester, best-known for the role of Eb Dawson on Green Acres, died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease at age 81 on April 20.
He was the last surviving cast member of Green Acres. Lester landed the role of Eb Dawson on Green Acres in 1965 and starred on the show until its end in 1971. Lester went on to appear in two related series, Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies, and also had roles in Benji (1974) and Gordy (1994).
The actor appeared in popular TV series such as Little House on the Prairie and Knight Rider.
According to Lester’s brother Michael, the actor “became a born-again Christian” in 1948 and “during and after his role as Eb, he became more involved travelling the nation, preaching a message of Christian faith and obedience.”
Shirley Knight, the Kansas-born actor who was nominated for two Oscars early in her career and went on to play an astonishing variety of roles in movies and TV and on the stage, died on April 22 at age 83. Knight’s career carried her from Kansas to Hollywood and then to the New York theatre and London and back to Hollywood. She was nominated for two Tonys, winning one.
In recent years, she had a recurring role as Phyllis Van de Kamp (the mother-in-law of Marcia Cross’s character) in the long-running ABC show Desperate Housewives, gaining one of her many Emmy nominations.
Knight’s first Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress came in just her second screen role, as an Oklahoman in love with a Jewish man in the 1960 film version of William Inge’s play The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.
She was nominated for best supporting actress two years later for her role as the woman seduced and abandoned by Paul Newman in the 1962 film Sweet Bird of Youth, based on the Tennessee Williams play.
Irrfan Khan, a veteran Bollywood character actor who crossed over to Hollywood, died at age 53 in late April after being admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital with a colon infection.
In 2018, Khan was diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine cancer and underwent months of treatment in the United Kingdom.
Khan made his screen debut in the Academy Award-nominated 1988 drama Salaam Bombay!, a tale of Mumbai’s street children. He later worked with directors Mira Nair, Wes Anderson and Ang Lee.
Khan won a number of film awards in India, including a 2012 Indian National Film Award for best actor for his performance in Paan Singh Tomar, a compelling tale of a seven-time national champion athlete who quit India’s armed forces to rule the Chambal ravines in central India.
During his crossover from Bollywood to Hollywood, Khan also acted in big films like Jurassic World, Inferno, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi.
Florian Schneider-Esleben, who helped pioneer electronic music as the co-founder of Kraftwerk and influenced genres ranging from disco to synth-pop, died at age 73 on April 30 from cancer.
Schneider-Esleben and Ralf Huetter met while both were students at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid, Germany. They started working together in 1968, and two years later founded the Kling-Klang-Studio in Duesseldorf and launched Kraftwerk.
They rarely spoke to reporters and their individual names were largely unknown to the general public, but few groups were as important in shaping the sounds of popular music over the past half-century.
Kraftwerk albums included the breakthrough release Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978) and Tour de France Soundtracks (2003).
Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy, the duo whose extraordinary magic tricks astonished millions until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers, died at age 75 in early May.
Horn died of complications from the coronavirus in a Las Vegas hospital.
He was injured in October 2003 when a tiger named Montecore attacked him on stage at the Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas. He had severe neck injuries, lost a lot of blood and later suffered a stroke. He underwent lengthy rehabilitation, but the attack ended the long-running Las Vegas Strip production.
The darker-haired of the flashy duo, Horn was credited with the idea of introducing an exotic animal — his pet cheetah — to the magic act.
“Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” Siegfried Fischbacher said at the time. “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.”
The two became an institution in Las Vegas, where their magic and artistry consistently attracted sellout crowds. The pair performed six shows a week, 44 weeks per year.
They returned to the stage in February 2009 for what was billed as their one and only comeback performance, to raise funds for the new Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.
Little Richard, the self-proclaimed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” whose piercing wail, pounding piano and towering pompadour irrevocably altered popular music while introducing Black R&B to white America, died at age 87 on May 9. His son said he had cancer.
Born Richard Penniman, Little Richard was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s founding fathers who helped shatter the colour line on the music charts, joining Chuck Berry and Fats Domino in bringing what was once called “race music” into the mainstream. Richard’s hyperkinetic piano playing, coupled with his howling vocals and hairdo, made him an implausible sensation — a gay, Black man celebrated across America during the buttoned-down Eisenhower era.
He sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and his influence on other musicians was equally staggering, from the Beatles and Otis Redding to Creedence Clearwater Revival and David Bowie. In his personal life, he wavered between raunch and religion, alternately embracing the Good Book and outrageous behaviour and looks — mascara-lined eyes, pencil-thin moustache and glittery suits.
Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller, who launched his career opposite wife Anne Meara in the 1950s and reemerged four decades later as the hysterically high-strung Frank Costanza on the smash TV show Seinfeld, died at 92 of natural causes on May 11.
Stiller was a multi-talented performer who appeared in an assortment of movies, playing Walter Matthau’s police sidekick in the thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Divine’s husband Wilbur Turnblad in John Waters’ twisted comedy Hairspray.
He also wrote an autobiography, Married to Laughter, about his 50-plus year marriage to soulmate and comedic cohort Meara, who died in 2015. And his myriad television spots included everything from Murder She Wrote to Law & Order — along with 36 appearances alongside Meara on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Stiller, although a supporting player on Seinfeld, created some of the Emmy-winning show’s most enduring moments: co-creator and model for the “bro,” a brassiere for men; a Korean War cook who inflicted food poisoning on his entire unit; and an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!”
Stiller earned a 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible Seinfeld performance.
Fred Willard, the comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and Anchorman, died at 86 on May 15. He suffered a cardiac arrest.
Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small, scene-stealing appearances.
Willard was a four-time Emmy nominee for his roles in What’s Hot, What’s Not, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family and The Bold and the Beautiful.
His death came nearly two years after his wife, Mary Willard, died at the age of 71.
Ken Osmond, best known for playing two-faced teenage scoundrel Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver, died on May 18 at the age of 76. Osmond, who also had a second career as a police officer, died due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and peripheral arterial disease.
Osmond’s Eddie stood out among many memorable characters on the classic family sitcom Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1957 to 1963 on CBS and ABC but had a decades-long life of reruns and revivals.
The role of Eddie in Season 1 was supposed to be a one-off guest appearance, but the show’s producers and its audience found him so memorable he became a regular, appearing in nearly 100 of the show’s 234 episodes.
Osmond returned to making guest appearances on TV shows, including The Munsters in the late 1960s, but found he was so identified with Eddie that it was hard to land roles.
Shortly after that, Osmond gave up on acting and became an LAPD officer for more than a decade.
Actor Gregory Tyree Boyce and his girlfriend, Natalie Adepoju, were found dead at their home in Las Vegas on May 13. The couple died of accidental overdoses due to a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl, a coroner later ruled.
Boyce, 30, was best known for playing Tyler Crowley in the first Twilight film.
He is survived by his mother Lisa Wayne, brother Chris Wayne and 10-year-old daughter, Alaya Boyce.
Adepoju, 27, is survived by her father, two brothers, a sister and baby son, Egypt.
Veteran actor Richard Herd died on May 26 at the age of 87.
He was best known for playing George Costanza’s supervisor, Mr. Wilhelm, on Seinfeld. Herd also played multiple roles in the Star Trek franchise, as L’Kor the Klingon in The Next Generation and Admiral Owen Paris in Voyager.
Herd appeared in several major films over the years, including All the President’s Men (1976), The China Syndrome (1979), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) and Get Out (2017).
He died of “cancer-related causes,” his wife said.
Singer Bonnie Pointer, a former member of the Pointer Sisters quartet, died of a cardiac arrest on June 8. She was 69.
Born into an Oakland minister’s large family, Bonnie and her five siblings grew up singing gospel songs at church.
She and her sisters Ruth, June and Anita formed the Pointer Sisters together, and rose to fame in the mid-1970s with hit singles such as How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side) and Live Your Life Before You Die.
Bonnie later signed with Motown Records and launched her solo career in the late ’70s. She released four studio albums in a four-decade span, including her most recent, Like a Picasso, which dropped in 2011.
Pointer is survived by her sisters Ruth and Anita, and her two brothers Aaron and Fritz. Their sister June died in 2006.
Jas Waters, a writer for the hit TV series This is Us, died at the age of 39 on June 9.
Waters worked on a long list of film and TV projects, including the Barbershop franchise, Save the Last Dance, MTV’s The Real World, ER and the first two Spider-Man films.
The Los Angeles County Coroner said she died by suicide.
Dame Vera Lynn, the endearingly popular “Forces’ Sweetheart” who serenaded British troops abroad during the Second World War, died on June 18. She was 103.
During the war and long after, Lynn got crowds singing, smiling and crying with sentimental favourites such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover.
Lynn possessed a down-to-earth appeal, reminding servicemen of the ones they left behind.
“I was somebody that they could associate with,” she once told The Associated Press. “I was an ordinary girl.”
Lynn appeared in a handful of films: We’ll Meet Again (1942), playing a young dancer who discovers her singing voice; Rhythm Serenade (1943), in which she plays a woman who joins the Women’s Royal Navy and organizes a nursery in a munitions factory; and One Exciting Night (1944), a comedy about a singer who is mistakenly caught up in a kidnapping.
While Lynn is best remembered for her work during the war, she had great success during the post-war years. Her Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart in 1952 became the first record by an English artist to top the American Billboard charts, staying there for nine weeks. Lynn’s career flourished in the 1950s, peaking with My Son, My Son, a No. 1 hit in 1954.
Veteran British actor Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and Ash the android in Alien, died on June 19 of causes related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 88.
Throughout his nearly six-decade-long career on stage and screen, Holm was nominated for and won a myriad of prestigious awards. He received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in 1967’s Homecoming and won a BAFTA for his portrayal of coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire (1982). The role also earned him an Oscar nomination.
Holm’s onstage portrayal of the titular character of King Lear won him a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 1998. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II later that year for his contributions to drama.
Holm had been battling the progressive nervous system disorder for several years, as reported by Variety. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001.
Joel Schumacher, the veteran American director known for several hit 1980s films and two contentious entries in the Batman franchise, died on June 22 at the age of 80.
The world-renowned filmmaker was best known for directing St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), Flatliners (1990) and Phone Booth (2002), among many other blockbuster movies. He was also the director behind the cult-classic film Batman Forever (1995) and the widely panned Batman & Robin (1997), which sent the franchise into hibernation for nearly a decade.
Schumacher dressed department store windows across New York City as a full-time job before breaking into Hollywood as a costume designer in the 1970s. He later became a director and shepherded the “Brat Pack” onto the big screen in St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys.
Schumacher’s death triggered an outpouring of sympathy from many in Hollywood, including Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland, who appeared in four of his films.
“His mark on modern culture and film will live on forever,” Sutherland said at the time.
Hollywood comedy legend Carl Reiner died at the age of 98 in late June.
Reiner was a jack of all trades in showbiz: he was a director, writer, producer and actor who had an incredibly lengthy résumé. He created The Dick Van Dyke Show, directed several movies and was nominated for 17 Emmy Awards, of which he won 10.
The tall, bald Reiner was a welcome face on the small and silver screens. He captured attention in Sid Caesar’s 1950s comedy troupe, as the snarling, toupee-wearing Alan Brady of The Dick Van Dyke Show and in such films as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
In recent years, Reiner was part of the roguish gang in the Ocean’s Eleven movies starring George Clooney and appeared in documentaries including Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age and If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.
He died on June 29, according to his son Rob Reiner.
Canadian Broadway star Nick Cordero died on July 5 after a months-long battle with health issues related to COVID-19. He was 41.
Cordero’s career involved playing a mob soldier on Broadway in 2014 in Woody Allen’s 1994 film adaptation of Bullets Over Broadway.
He received a Tony nomination for best featured actor in a musical for that role. He later starred in Rock of Ages and has appeared in several episodes of Blue Bloods and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Cordero was born in Hamilton and was living in Los Angeles when he was hospitalized in late March. He struggled with several complications from COVID-19, including lung infections and blood clotting in his right leg, which was eventually amputated. His wife spoke of a potential lung transplant a few days before he died.
Country music firebrand and fiddler Charlie Daniels, who had a hit with The Devil Went Down to Georgia in 1979, died at the age of 83.
Daniels passed away on July 6 due to a stroke. He had reportedly suffered what was described as a mild stroke in January 2010 and had a heart pacemaker implanted in 2013, however, continued to perform.
Daniels, a singer, guitarist and fiddler, started out as a session musician, even playing on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline sessions. Beginning in the early 1970s, his five-piece band toured endlessly, sometimes doing 250 shows a year.
Throughout his six-decade-spanning career, Daniels performed at the White House, the Super Bowl, across Europe and often for troops in the Middle East.
Daniels played himself in the 1980 John Travolta movie Urban Cowboy and was closely identified with the rise of country music generated by that film.
At the age of 71, he was invited to join the epitome of Nashville’s music establishment, the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
Kelly Preston, who played dramatic and comic foil to actors ranging from Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins, died at the age of 57 from breast cancer.
Her husband, John Travolta, said she died on July 12.
“She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many,” he wrote in a post.
Preston had a lengthy acting career in movies and television, starring opposite Kevin Costner in the 1999 film For the Love of the Game. In 2003, she starred in What a Girl Wants and as the mom in the live-action adaptation of The Cat in the Hat. The following year she appeared in the music video for Maroon 5′s She Will Be Loved.
She occasionally appeared in films with her husband, such as the box-office bomb Battlefield Earth in 2000, and the mobster film Gotti (2018).
Preston and Travolta were married in 1991 and had three children together. Their first-born, Jett, died after a seizure in 2009 at the age of 16.
She is survived by daughter Ella Bleu, 20, and son Benjamin, 10.
On July 8, Glee star Naya Rivera drowned in the Lake Piru reservoir in California, where she had rented a pontoon boat with her four-year-old son, Josey Dorsey. She was 33.
Diving teams and law enforcement searched the waters of the lake for five days after she went missing.
Police confirmed that there was no reason to think Rivera’s death was a suicide or that it involved foul play.
Rivera’s young son was found on the boat by himself wearing a life-jacket, and the actor’s identification was also found on the vessel. Rivera is the third major cast member from Glee to die in their 30s. Mark Salling died in 2018 and Canadian actor Cory Monteith died in 2013.
Grant Imahara, the American TV personality, robotics professional and electrical engineer, died on July 13 at the age of 49 of a brain aneurysm.
The entertainer was best known for his time as a host on the Discovery channel’s MythBusters between 2005 and 2014 as well as Netflix‘s White Rabbit Project in 2016. Before his career onscreen kicked off, Imahara worked behind the scenes on a variety of smash-hit films for Lucasfilm in the late 1990s and mid-2000s.
He was known as the “geek” alongside his “Build Team” co-hosts — Kari Byron and Tory Belleci — on MythBusters and when he wasn’t building robots for his colleagues to help “bust” myths, he would frequently participate in stunts for the science-centred series. Host Jamie Hyneman helped him get the job.
MythBusters host Adam Savage said he was “at a loss” and had “no words” after hearing the news.
Peter Green, the dexterous blues guitarist who led the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in a career shortened by psychedelic drugs and mental illness, died at 73 on July 25.
Green, to some listeners, was the best of the British blues guitarists of the 1960s. B.B. King once said Green “has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”
Green also made a mark as a composer with Albatross, and as a songwriter with Oh Well and Black Magic Woman.
He crashed out of the band in 1971. Even so, Mick Fleetwood said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2017 that Green deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the band’s success.
“Peter was asked why did he call the band Fleetwood Mac. He said, ‘Well, you know I thought maybe I’d move on at some point and I wanted Mick and John (McVie) to have a band.’ End of story, explaining how generous he was,” said Fleetwood, who described Green as a standout in an era of great guitar work. Indeed, Green was so fundamental to the band that in its early days it was called Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
Green spent time in a mental hospital in 1977 after an incident with his manager. Testimony in court said Green had asked for money and then threatened to shoot out the windows of the manager’s office.
Green was released later in the year and married Jane Samuels, a Canadian, in 1978. They had a daughter, Rosebud, and divorced the following year. Green also has a son, Liam Firlej.
Regis Philbin, the genial host who shared his life with television viewers over morning coffee for decades and helped himself and some fans strike it rich with the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, died at 88 in late July.
Philbin died of natural causes, just over a month before his 89th birthday.
Celebrities routinely stopped by Philbin’s eponymous syndicated morning show, but its heart was in the first 15 minutes, when he and co-host Kathie Lee Gifford — on Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1985-2000 — or Kelly Ripa — on Live! with Regis and Kelly from 2001 until his 2011 retirement — bantered about the events of the day.
After hustling into an entertainment career by parking cars at a Los Angeles TV station, Philbin logged more than 15,000 hours on the air, earning him recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most broadcast hours logged by a TV personality.
Actor Olivia de Havilland died on July 26 in Paris at age 104 of natural causes, and was one of the last survivors of Hollywood’s so-called Golden Age.
She was beloved to millions as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, but also won Oscars for To Each His Own and The Heiress and challenged and unchained Hollywood’s contract system.
During a career that spanned more than 70 years, de Havilland was praised in roles ranging from an unwed mother to a psychiatric inmate in The Snake Pit, a personal favourite. The doe-eyed actress projected both a gentle, glowing warmth and a sense of resilience and mischief that made her uncommonly appealing, leading critic James Agee to confess he was “vulnerable to Olivia de Havilland in every part of my being except the ulnar nerve.”
She moved to Paris in 1953, “at the insistence” of her then-husband, Frenchman Pierre Galante, she told The Associated Press in 2016. Hollywood had become a “dismal, tragic place” and she found no reason to return to the U.S.
Filmmaker Alan Parker, one of Britain’s most successful directors, whose movies included Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express and Evita, died at 76 on July 31 after a long illness.
Parker’s diverse body of work includes Fame, Mississippi Burning, The Commitments and Angela’s Ashes. Together his movies won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards.
Parker was a notable director of musicals, a genre he both embraced and expanded. Fame was a gritty but celebratory story of life at a performing arts high school; Pink Floyd — the Wall was a surreal rock opera; The Commitments charted a ramshackle Dublin soul band; and Evita cast Madonna as Argentine first lady Eva Peron in a big-screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.
Parker also championed Britain’s film industry, serving as the chairman of the British Film Institute and the U.K. Film Council. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from movie stunt rider to an indelible character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included Cocoon, The Natural and The Firm, died at 85 on Aug. 1.
Brimley’s manager said at his time of death that he was on dialysis and had several medical ailments.
The mustached Brimley was a familiar face for a number of roles, often playing characters like his grizzled baseball manager in The Natural opposite Robert Redford’s bad-luck phenomenon. He also worked with Redford in Brubaker and The Electric Horseman.
Brimley’s best-known work was in Cocoon, in which he was part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them.
For years he was a pitchman for Quaker Oats and in recent years appeared in a series of diabetes spots that turned him at one point into a social media sensation.
Justin Townes Earle, the singer-songwriter and son of country rocker Steve Earle, died at the age of 38 on Aug. 20. Officials later declared his cause of death to be an accidental drug overdose.
Earle got his start as a musician as a teenager, playing in a local Nashville band and touring with his dad. However, Steve Earle eventually fired him due to drug use.
In multiple interviews, Earle admitted to using drugs, and said he’d survived five heroin overdoses by age 21. He said in recent years that he was now sober.
He won Emerging Act of the Year at the 2009 Americana Honors & Awards, and Song of the Year in 2011 for Harlem River Blues. He was nominated for Artist of the Year in 2012.
Earle’s most recent album, The Saint of Lost Causes, was released in 2019 to relatively positive reviews.
Chadwick Boseman, who played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before his inspirational turn as King T’Challa in Marvel’s Black Panther, died of cancer at the age of 43 on Aug. 28.
The actor had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago but never spoke about it in public. His family revealed the diagnosis at the time of his death.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more — all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman was born in South Carolina and educated at Howard University. He had several small TV roles before he broke out in 2013 as baseball star Jackie Robinson in 42, opposite Harrison Ford. He played Brown a year later in the biopic Get On Up and made his first appearance as Black Panther in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War in 2016.
Two years later he starred in Black Panther, which became a cultural phenomenon and a billion-dollar film at the box office. Boseman’s “Wakanda Forever” salute echoed around the world when the film debuted and became a cry of mourning last summer after his death.
His last film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, debuted on Netflix in December.
British actress Diana Rigg, who starred in the 1960s spy series The Avengers and later played a sharp-tongued matriarch in Game of Thrones, died at the age of 82.
She died on Sept. 10, six months after she was diagnosed with cancer, her agent said at the time.
Rigg starred in The Avengers as secret agent Emma Peel alongside Patrick Macnee’s bowler-hatted John Steed. The pair were an impeccably dressed duo who fought villains and traded quips in a show whose mix of adventure and humour was enduringly influential.
She also starred in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) as Tracy di Vicenzo, the only woman ever to marry the spy.
In recent years she played the Queen of Thorns, Lady Olena Tyrell, in Game of Thrones. The role earned her an Emmy Award nomination.
Rigg also spent many years acting on stage. She won a Tony Award and was nominated for three others over her career.
“She was what used to be called a ‘Trouper,'” playwright Tom Stoppard said after her death. “She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous.”
Eddie Van Halen, the rockstar guitarist and cornerstone of the group Van Halen, died of throat cancer Oct. 6. He was 65.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” his son, Wolfgang, wrote in announcing his death. “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 fully recover from this loss.”
Van Halen’s death triggered a tide of sympathy and memories from other rockers, including the likes of former bandmate Sammy Hagar, Gene Simmons, Lenny Kravitz and Billy Idol.
Van Halen had been suffering from cancer for more than a decade. While he was a longtime chain smoker, he blamed his cancer onset on a metallic pick he often held in his mouth.
Van Halen is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time — using blinding speed, control and innovation — and one of the kings of the rock genre. One of his most notable solos was featured in Michael Jackson’s hit Beat It.
With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fuelled the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record 1984, which contains the classics Jump, Panama and Hot for Teacher.
For much of his career, Van Halen wrote and experimented with sounds while drunk or high or both. He had been sober since 2008.
Van Halen is survived by his brother Alex, wife Janie and son Wolfgang, who joined the band in 2006.
Conchata Ferrell, who became known for her role as Berta the housekeeper on TV’s Two and a Half Men after a long career as a character actor on stage and in movies, died following a cardiac arrest on Oct. 12. She was 77.
Ferrell received two Emmy supporting actress Emmy nominations for Two and a Half Men, and a nod for her role as Susan Bloom on L.A. Law.
Her other credits include the films Heartland, True Romance, Mystic Pizza, Network and Erin Brockovich, while her TV appearances came on Good Times, ER, Grace and Frankie and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among other series.
Sean Connery, the accomplished Scottish actor who starred as James Bond in the 1960s, died at the age of 90 on Oct. 31.
As Bond, his debonair manner and wry humour in foiling flamboyant villains and cavorting with beautiful women belied a darker, violent edge, and he crafted a depth of character that set the standard for those who followed him in the role. His performance also prompted novelist Ian Fleming to give the character a Scottish background.
He went on to star in many films after Bond, including director Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), The Wind and the Lion (1975) with Candice Bergen, director John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975) with Michael Caine, director Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and the Cold War tale The Hunt for Red October (1990).
Fans of alternative cinema will always remember him starring as the “Brutal Exterminator” Zed in John Boorman’s mind-bending fantasy epic Zardoz (1974), where a heavily mustachioed Connery spent much of the movie running around in a skimpy red loin-cloth, thigh-high leather boots and a ponytail.
Connery retired from movies after disputes with the director of his final outing, the forgettable The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003.
“I get fed up dealing with idiots,” he said at the time.
Connery was a proud Scot and supported Scottish independence. He wore full Scottish regalia to meet Queen Elizabeth II when she knighted him in 2000.
Singer Nikki McKibbin, who placed third in the first season of American Idol, died Nov. 1 following a brain aneurysm at the age of 42.
The Texas native appeared on American Idol in 2002, when the show started, and became an instant hit. She ultimately finished behind Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, who won the competition.
“Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing,” the TV show said in a statement following her death. “She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed.”
Alex Trebek, the Canadian host of the quiz show Jeopardy! for three-and-a-half decades, died Nov. 8 following a public battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 at the time.
Trebek was the stern, good-humoured host of the quiz show for 36 years. He also continued to host after revealing his Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March of 2019.
“Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he said at the time.
“Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”
George Alexander Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ont., in 1940 and grew up in a bilingual French-English household. He graduated from the University of Ottawa with a philosophy degree and started his career with the CBC as a reporter, sportscaster and, later, the host of a quiz show.
From there, he moved to the United States to further his career, and he hosted a multitude of other game shows like High Rollers and Double Dare, but none really gained any traction until media mogul Merv Griffin and CBS signed him on to the Jeopardy! revival. No one ever replaced Trebek as host (even temporarily) once he started in ’84.
Trebek also simultaneously hosted memory-match game show Classic Concentration from 1987 to 1991 and became one of the best-known game-show hosts in the industry. Over the course of his career, he won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host. He also made several TV and movie appearances over his career, often as a parody of his day job.
Natalie Desselle Reid
Natalie Desselle Reid, who starred alongside Halle Berry in the 1997 movie B.A.P.S. and on the sitcom Eve, died on Dec. 7. She was 53.
Reid starred as Eve’s friend Janie Egins over a three-season span on the UPN sitcom Eve. The actor also appeared in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, F. Gary Gray’s Set It Off and Def Jam’s How to Be a Player.
British bodybuilder David Prowse, who brought Darth Vader’s imposing presence to the screen in the first three Star Wars films, died at the age of 85 on Nov. 28. His daughter told British papers that he died of complications from COVID-19.
Born in Bristol, southwest England, in 1935, Prowse was a three-time British weightlifting champion and represented England in weightlifting at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before breaking into movies with roles that emphasized his commanding size, including Frankenstein’s monster in a pair of Hammer Studios horror films.
Star Wars director George Lucas saw him in a small role in A Clockwork Orange and cast him to play Vader on screen. James Earl Jones provided the villain’s voice.
Prowse once told BBC News that he had a choice between playing Vader or Chewbacca, Han Solo’s towering wookiee sidekick. He chose Vader because “you always remember the bad guys.”
He also worked as a Hollywood trainer, and helped Christopher Reeve pack on muscle to play the Man of Steel in Superman.
He was a regular at Star Wars fan events but was banned from official conventions by Lucas in 2010 after the pair fell out.
Charley Pride, country music’s first Black star whose rich baritone on such hits as Kiss an Angel Good Morning helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died at 86 on Dec. 12.
He died of complications from COVID-19.
Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s. Hits besides Kiss an Angel Good Morning in 1971 included Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone, Burgers and Fries, Mountain of Love and Someone Loves You Honey.
He had three Grammy Awards and more than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, won the Country Music Association’s Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who first embodied the masked villain Boba Fett in Star Wars, died at the age of 75 on Dec. 17.
Bulloch donned Fett’s beat-up Mandalorian armour in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, bringing a cold gravitas to the faceless bounty hunter as he chased Han Solo (Harrison Ford) across the galaxy.
Bulloch played the character on screen while another actor provided the voice, much like Darth Vader actor David Prowse.
Bulloch died of health complications after a years-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, according to a statement on his official website. He is survived by Maureen, his wife of 50 years, as well as his three sons and 10 grandchildren.
Dawn Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died Dec. 30 of causes related to COVID-19. She was 82.
Born in Reno, Nev., Wells represented her state in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. Her early TV roles came on shows including 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick and Bonanza.
Then came Gilligan’s Island, a goofy, good-natured show that became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture. Wells played the innocent Mary Ann, a counterpoint to the more worldly Ginger (played by Tina Louise).
Wells’ iconic wardrobe included a gingham dress and shorts that modestly covered her belly button. Both costumes were later put on display in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Museum.
Besides TV, film and stage acting credits, her other real-life roles included teacher and motivational speaker.
A GoFundMe campaign raised more than US$180,000 to help cover Wells’ medical costs for an illness in 2018.
— With files from The Associated Press