50 celebrities we lost in 2020

A huge number of famous faces passed away in 2020

50 celebrities we lost in 2020 13

2020 has been a year to forget for any number of reasons, and plenty of celebrities from every industry including cinema, television, theater, music, and more are no longer with us having passed away over the last eleven months.

Many of them were true heavyweights and legends of their respective industries, and as desperate as many people are to put 2020 behind them, some of the names we’ve lost are well worth remembering.

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Carol Sutton

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Died December 10th, aged 76

Actress Carol Sutton died at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans due to complications from COVID-19. She was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in New Orleans.

Sutton joined the Dashiki Project Theatre in the 1960s and began acting in New Orleans theater productions such as The Last Madam, Native Tongues, and A Raisin in the Sun. She made the leap to television in 1974, in which she appeared in the TV movie The Autobiography of Miss Pittman, starring Cicely Tyson in the title role. From there, Sutton went on to land roles in films like Monster’s Ball, Ray, Steel Magnolias and The Help. Her other TV credits include Tremé, True Detective, and Lovecraft Country.

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Alex Trebek

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Credit: Fox News
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Died November 8th, aged 80

The Canadian-born TV host had been a regular fixture on the small screen since 1963, but rose to mainstream fame and fortune as the host of Jeopardy since 1984, racking up an impressive 37 seasons at the helm of the popular game show.

Trebek was no strange to cameo appearances either, having appeared in everything from The X-Files to Orange Is the New Black, and following his passing after a long battle with pancreatic cancer his final credit will be for playing himself in Ryan Reynolds blockbuster Free Guy.

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John Sessions

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Died November 2nd, aged 67

Actor and comedian John Sessions built up an eclectic and diverse array of film and television projects throughout his career, dating back to one of his earliest roles opposite the esteemed likes of Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins and Daniel Day-Lewis in 1984’s The Bounty.

Sessions remained incredibly busy throughout his career until suffering a fatal hert attack, showing up everywhere from Gangs of New York and The Iron Lady to Sherlock and Outlander, via guest spots on virtually every major British panel show over the last three decades.

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Sean Connery

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Died October 31st, aged 90

Sean Connery may have quietly retired from the public eye following his disastrous experience on comic book adaptation The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003 until his death, but the Scottish screen legend leaves behind an iconic legacy.

As well as his tenure as the first and arguably best James Bond, Connery starred in countless classics from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to The Rock, via an Academy Award-winning performance in crime classic The Untouchables.

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Anthony Chisolm

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Died October 16th, aged 77

You might not instantly recognize the name, but Vietnam veteran Anthony Chisolm was one of the most distinguished stage actors of his generation, with multiple awards and countless further nominations under his belt.

On the big screen, Chisolm worked with Spike Lee in Chi-Raq and appeared opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush, as well as playing Burr Redding on three seasons of acclaimed and severely underrated TV drama Oz.

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Conchata Ferrell

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Died October 12th, aged 77

Conchata Ferrell might be best known as Two and a Half Men’s housekeeper Berta, a role that saw her land two Emmy nominations, but the actress had a solid career on television dating all the way back to 1974, right up to her passing last month at the age of 77.

Ferrell was seen everywhere from Edward Scissorhands, Mr. Deeds and True Romance to L.A. Law and Murder, She Wrote in a career based on her warm, fiercely outgoing and typically larger than life personality.

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Eddie Van Halen

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Died October 6th, aged 65

Quite simply one of the greatest and most influential guitarists that’s ever lived, Eddie Van Halen left behind a rock n’ roll legacy that few will be able to match, leaving behind a legacy that inspired generations.

Van Halen had been suffering from various health problems for years that had severely impacted his ability to perform, but even as his career started to wind down towards his eventual death from lung cancer at the age of 65 he still cast a shadow over all of rock music.

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Johnny Nash

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Died October 6th, aged 80

Johnny Nash was most famous for the 1972 classic “I Can See Clearly Now”, which is one of the most-played songs in history, but he had a long and varied career that covered a multitude of musical genres.

Nash was one of the first Americans to record reggae music in the Jamaican capital of Kingston, and while he was never very prolific following his heyday in the 1970s and 80s, he recorded seventeen studio and his most famous song has been featured in countless forms of media.

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Clark Middleton

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Died October 4th, aged 63

Clark Middleton may have been small in stature but he had a huge personality, and found a new lease of life as a cult favorite after starring as the scene-stealing Glen Carter in The Blacklist.

The diminutive actor also showed up in projects as diverse as Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Sin City, Fringe, Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where he was rarely found shrinking into the background.

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Diana Rigg

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Died September 10th, aged 82

Dame Diana Rigg may have landed her career-defining role as early as 1965 when she was cast as Emma Peel in British spy series The Avengers, but she found a whole new fanbase as Game of Thrones’ Olenna Tyrell in the later stages of her career.

Between those two impressive bookends, Rigg also starred in James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and will receive a posthumous credit for the last role completed before her death at the age of 82 in Edgar Wright’s upcoming horror Last Night in Soho.

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Chadwick Boseman

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Died August 28th, aged 43

Chadwick Boseman’s death at the age of 43 came as a monumental shock because the actor had kept his four-year battle with colon cancer a secret from everyone except his very closest friends and family.

The 43 year-old left behind a lasting legacy, most notably as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther, playing the lead role in a blockbuster that was less of a mere movie and more of a genuine cultural event.

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Ben Cross

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Died August 18th, aged 72

Best known for playing the lead role of Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire, Ben Cross was also a respected stage actor that appeared in some of the biggest shows of the modern era on both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway.

While he never found a role as substantial or career-defining as Chariots of Fire again, Cross was a regular presence on film and television over the next four decades and cropped up everywhere from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek to found footage disaster movie The Hurricane Heist.

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Olivia de Havilland

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Died July 27th, aged 104

Olivia de Havilland’s death marked the end of an era, as she was the last surviving star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as the oldest living Academy Award winner.

Gone with the Wind’s Melanie Hamilton was her most famous role, but de Havilland picked up five Oscar nominations in total and starred in a series of critical and commercial hits from the 1930s to the 1950s.

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John Saxon

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Died July 25th, aged 83

Anyone with even a passing interest in 1980s horror is more than familiar with John Saxon after he starred in Black Christmas and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but he initially broke out almost 30 years previously as a teen hearthhrob.

In his later years, Saxon’s square-jawed and all-American image were put to good use in a series of B-level projects, but for many people his career-defining role will always be opposite Bruce Lee as Enter the Dragon’s Roper.

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Peter Green

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Died July 25th, aged 73

As the founder of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green had long since ascended to legendary status in the music industry, and his guitar playing abilities were lauded by some true titans of the business like Eric Clapton and B.B. King.

A regular fixture at the top end of any list that attempts to rank the greatest guitarists in history, Green left behind a back catalog of stone-cold classics from Fleetwood Mac’s most well-known songs to some of the deeper cuts from his solo discography.

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Regis Philbin

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Died July 24th, aged 88

Regis Philbin more than lived up to the reputation frequently bestowed upon him as the hardest working man in show business, with vision presenter, talk show host, game show host, actor and singer listed among his various vocations.

A fixture on the small screen for over half a century, Philbin’s exuberant personality became synonymous with his work ethic, and he also made countless cameos as himself in a variety of movies and TV shows ranging from Little Nicky to Family Guy.

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Kelly Preston

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Died July 12th, aged 57

Eleven years after the loss of his son Jett, John Travolta suffered even more personal tragedy when his wife of almost 30 years Kelly Preston passed away after a privately fought battle against breast cancer.

Rising to fame in the 1980s, Preston showed expert comic timing and plenty of screen presence in movies like Twins, Jerry Maguire and Sky High, although her personal commitments had seen her slow down her output over the last decade.

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Naya Rivera

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Died July 8th, aged 33

There was an outpouring of grief when Naya Rivera’s body was recovered from California’s Lake Piru, with the former Glee star just 33 years of age and with her four year-old son when she was tragically drowned.

Rivera was on a break between seasons of TV series Step Up in which she played the lead role, and had a hugely bright future ahead of her in the industry before she was taken in the most tragic of circumstances.

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Ennio Morricone

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Died July 6th, aged 91

A legendary composer, Ennio Morricone has been cited as a massive inspiration by artists as singular and wildly different as Quentin Tarantino and Metallica, both of whom have used his music throughout their own careers.

As well as selling over 70 million records, the Italian composed the iconic scores to numerous classic movies including Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables and The Hateful Eight.

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Earl Cameron

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Died July 3rd, aged 102

Bermudan-born Earl Cameron was one of the first black actors to enjoy mainstream success in the United Kingdom, becoming the first to star on London’s West End before going on to play a major role in 1951 movie Pool of London.

Throughout his extensive career, Cameron would also show up in James Bond sequel Thunderball and make his final feature film appearance in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and starred in some British TV classics like Doctor Who, The Prisoner and many, many more.

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Carl Reiner

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Died June 29th, aged 98

One of the finest comedians to ever grace Hollywood, Carl Reiner found a whole new legion of fans later in his career after playing the wizened old sage of Danny Ocean’s crew in Steven Soderbergh’s breezy blockbuster trilogy.

Long before that he’s carved out his niche as a regular collaborator of Mel Brooks, and played a huge part in launching Steve Martin’s career after co-writing and directing The Jerk and The Man with Two Brains.

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Joel Schumacher

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Died June 22nd, aged 80

Joel Schumacher became something of a puncline later in his career owing to his reputation as the man that killed the Batman franchise with Batman & Robin, but he built up a solid filmography throughout his lengthy career in the upper echelons of Hollywood’s directorial elite.

The Lost Boys, Flatliners, The Client, Falling Down, A Time to Kill, Tigerland and Phone Booth are all distinctly different movies in terms of both tone and genre, proving Schumacher to be a talented and versatile filmmaker.

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Ian Holm

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Died 19th June, aged 88

Audiences will continue to enjoy the work of Ian Holm for generations thanks to his appearances as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the classically trained thespian was already one of the most respected talents in the business long before then.

After scoring an Academy Award nomination for Chariots of Fire in 1981, Holm went on to appear in cult classics, awards season favorites and blockbusters alike including Time Bandits, Brazil, The Fifth Element, Garden State, The Aviator and Ratatouille.

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Vera Lynn

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Died June 18th, aged 103

One of the most popular entertainers in the United Kingdom during World War II, Dame Vera Lynn’ long-lasting legacy saw her top the country’s album charts in 2009 at the age of 92 and become the first centenarian to score a Top 10 album when her greatest hits were released to celebrate the landmark.

Known as the ‘Forces’ Sweetheart’, Vera Lynn traveled everywhere during the conflict to entertain and raise morale among British troops, and her contributions were never forgotten over the following seven decades.

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Anthony James

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Died May 26th, aged 77

Anthony James was never leading man material, but he still showed up in a number of fantastic movies, having spent the vast majority of his career being typecast as the bad guy or a henchman of some description.

James lent his distinctive looks to In the Heat of the Night, Vanishing Point, High Plains Drifter, The Naked Gun 2 ½ and many more. After appearing in so many Westerns, it was fitting that his final feature film role came in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, one of the genre’s finest efforts.

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Richard Herd

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Died May 26th, aged 87

A regular on the convention circuit after playing characters in beloved sci-fi shows V, Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Voyager, not to mention his recurring appearances as George Costanza’s boss on Sienfeld, Richard Herd was just as energetic offscreen as he was on it.

Herd is also part of a unique piece of Hollywood trivia, as he made his feature film debut in 1970’s Hercules in New York, which also happened to mark the first appearance of a young Austrian by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Fred Willard

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Died May 15th, aged 88

Despite making his screen debut in 1966, it wasn’t until the last fifteen years or so that Fred Willard gained the most widespread mainstream recognition of his career after showing up to lend support in a series of hit comedies.

A regular collaborator of Christopher Guest dating back to This Is Spinal Tap, Willard appeared in some major box office successes in the comedy arena like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Anchorman and Wall-E, and was always a welcome presence.

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Lynn Shelton

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Died May 16th, aged 54

Lynn Shelton was a unique and singular voice in American independent cinema, and many of her contemporaries were stricken with grief when she passed from acute myeloid leukemia at the age of just 54.

As well as directing nine feature films of her own, Shelton also stepped behind the camera for several of the finest shows of the modern era, calling the shots on episodes of Mad Men, Master of None, GLOW and Little Fires Everywhere.

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Jerry Stiller

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Died May 11th, aged 92

While he may have eventually been eclipsed in terms of status and fame by his son Ben, Jerry Stiller had a solid career of his own dating back to the 1950s, and he formed a popular comedy duo with his wife Anne Meara.

It was a late-career resurgence as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld that brought him back into the public eye, leading to a series of scene-stealing supporting parts over the next two decades that showed he hadn’t lost any of his impeccable comic timing.

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Little Richard

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Died May 9th, aged 87

You don’t get a nickname like ‘The Innovator, the Originator and the Architect of Rock n’ Roll’ without leaving an indelible impact on the music industry, and that’s exactly what Little Richard did over a legendary career that spanned seven decades.

A charismatic showman with a flair for the theatrical, his stage presence and unique vocal range made him an icon and inspiration to countless musicians, and his influence can be felt everywhere from pop and rock to soul and funk

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Roy Horn

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Roy Horn (left). Credit: Wiki Commons
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Died May 8th, aged 75

Magicians and entertainers Siegfried & Roy were genuine megastars during their pomp, commanding massive audiences and earning millions of dollars thanks to their legendary stage show.

Sadly, after an infamous incident where he was attacked onstage by a tiger in 2003, Roy Horn scaled back his onstage presence before retiring in 2010, and died in a Las Vegas hospital this year after suffering complications related to COVID-19.

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Sam Lloyd

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Died April 30th, aged 56

Sam Lloyd was best known for starring 95 episodes of Scrubs as downtrodden lawyer and musical aficionado Ted Buckland, but he’d also appeared in some of the most popular shows of the era such as The West Wing, Seinfeld and 3rd Rock from the Sun.

He also recorded two studio albums with his a capella group The Blanks, and their numerous guest spots on scrubs saw them build up a large following thanks to the hit show’s sizable audience.

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Irrfan Khan

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Died April 29th, aged 53

Irrfan Kahn had only made a few appearances in Hollywood movies, but they largely tended to be in massive blockbusters that did big business at the box office like Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, The Amazing Spider-Man and Jurassic World.

In his native India, Khan was a huge star that racked up plenty of awards recognition during his career and is widely regarded as one of the finest talents his country had seen for decades, making his death at the age of 53 all the more tragic.

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Allen Daviau

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Died April 15th, aged 77

Academy Award nominated cinematographer Allen Daviau was one of Steven Spielberg’s go-to collaborators in the 1980s after working with the director on E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun.

Picking up five Oscar nods in total during his career, Daviau was also responsible for lensing other movies such as Barry Levinson’s Avalon and Bugsy, Frank Marshall’s Congo and Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing, which marked his last feature film credit.

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Brian Dennehy

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Died April 15th, aged 81

A respected veteran of both stage and screen, Brian Dennehy had a trophy cabinet that housed an Oliver Award, two Tonys and a Golden Globe, as well as picking up six Emmy nods during a distinguished career.

His most famous film role was as the antagonist in Rambo: First Blood, but Dennehy kept busy right up until his death at the age of 81, and was most recently seen in a recurring role on The Blacklist.

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Honor Blackman

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Died April 5th, aged 94

Much like her contemporary Diana Rigg, who also passed away this year, Honor Blackman was also a star of spy series The Avengers before going on to become a Bond Girl as the iconic Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, arguably the best entry in the franchise’s illustrious history.

Blackman also played Hera in legendary Ray Harryhausen adventure Jason and the Argonauts in 1963, but despite slowing down her output in later decades, the 94 year-old still left behind an impressive legacy.

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Logan Williams

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Died April 2nd, aged 16

A 16 year-old struggling with opioid addiction is a terrible thing to hear, and Logan Williams’ mother revealed her son had been battling against his demons for three years before a tragic overdose earlier this year.

The world looked to be at the youngster’s feet after starring in The Flash as a young Barry Allen, but the pressures of the industry became too much for the rising star and his last onscreen appearance came in TV series When Calls the Heart in 2016.

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Bill Withers

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Died March 30th, aged 81

Although Bill Withers was the man behind several all-time classic songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Lean on Me”, “Lovely Day” and “Just the Two of Us”, winning three Grammys in the process, he was a professional musician for just fifteen years.

Withers was well into his 30s by the time he found success, and abandoned the music industry almost entirely after growing disillusioned with the behind the scenes politics of the recording business, but his most famous songs will endure forever.

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Stuart Gordon

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Died March 24th, aged 72

He may never have established himself as an elite-level directorial talent, but Stuart Gordon was responsible for more than a few cult classics during his lengthy career as a feature filmmaker, theatrical director, writer and playwright.

Although he was best known for working in the horror genre having directed Re-Animator, From Beyond and Fortress, Gordon also wrote hit kids movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, proving that his output wasn’t solely restricted to scaring audiences senseless.

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Kenny Rogers

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Died March 20th, aged 81

The perma-tanned country legend enjoyed a career that saw him find success in seven different decades before he retired from performing in 2017, selling well over 100 million records and gaining a well-earned reputation as a titan of the music industry.

Releasing 39 studio albums and writing some of the most popular songs of the modern era, Kenny Rogers’ legacy will last for a long time as countless new generations discover his work and the innumerable artists that name him as a direct influence and inspiration.

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Michel Roux

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Died March 11th, aged 78

If you’ve been to even a halfway decent restaurant, then chances are you’ve been impacted by Michel Roux’s legacy on the culinary industry, with the chef and restaurateur revolutionizing modern cuisine alongside brother Albert.

He may have been an outspoken critic of cooking shows designed for entertainment, but any chef that’s fronted their own series owes a huge debt to Michel Roux with Gordon Ramsay just one of many celebrity chefs to have studied under his learning tree.

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Max Von Sydow

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Died 8th March, aged 90

Not many actors in film history can claim that they worked with as many legendary directors as Max Von Sydow, who collaborated with Ingmar Bergman, John Huston, William Friedkin, Sydney Pollack, David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and many more.

Over a career spanning 71 years, Von Sydow was renowned for his intensity and imposing screen presence, and whether he was appearing in atmospheric dramas or mega-budget blockbusters, he could always be relied on to deliver a memorable performance no matter how big or small the role.

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Nicholas Tucci

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Died March 3rd, aged 38

Nicholas Tucci was a Yale graduate who spent years flitting around various movies and TV shows in Hollywood without landing on that one big breakout role that would go on to define his career, which was sadly cut short at the age of just 38.

Best known for subversive 2011 horror You’re Next, Tucci also lent his voice to several video games and had guest spots on shows like Person of Interest, Homeland, Quantico, Daredevil, Pose and The Blacklist.

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James Lipton

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Died March 2nd, aged 93

James Lipton initially tried to make it as an actor, but he eventually found long-lasting fame as the host and dryly charismatic frontman of the Inside the Actors Studio series that he hosted for 24 years until stepping down in 2018.

As the dean of the institution itself, he was in the fortunate and knowledgeable position to interview many of the biggest names in the business, while his persona permeated pop culture and led to dozens of cameo appearances as himself on both the big and small screens.

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Orson Bean

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Died February 7th, aged 91

Orson Bean used to poke fun at his own success by saying that he was famous just for being famous, having become a regular fixture on TV after first rising to prominence in L.A’s local theater scene, and he ended up making over 200 appearances on The Johnny Carson show.

A charismatic talker with a quick wit, Bean parleyed his natural talents and became a small screen mainstay appearing on almost every major talk show and tackling a series of dramatic film and TV roles running the entire genre spectrum from Being John Malkovich to Desperate Housewives.

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Kirk Douglas

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Died February 5th, aged 103

The man born Issur Danielovitch was the embodiment of the American Dream, one of seven children being raised in poverty by immigrant parents who went on to become a matinee idol and one of the biggest movies stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Kirk Douglas was also hugely influential in launching Stanley Kubrick’s mainstream career and ending the industry’s blacklisting of certain talents, and he used that determination to forge a secondary career as a humanitarian and philanthropist.

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Kobe Bryant

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Lakers at Wizards 12/2/15
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Died January 26th, aged 41

One of the most famous and recognizable athletes on the planet, Kobe Bryant transcended the game of basketball to become a global icon, and even people with absolutely no interest in basketball were more than aware of his reputation.

And what a reputation it was, with Black Mamba comfortably ranking among the finest players the NBA had ever seen, spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and eclipsing Magic Johnson in the eyes of many to be regarded as the finest talent to ever put on the team’s jersey.

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Terry Jones

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Died January 21st, aged 77

The name Monty Python is enough to have fans quoted the troupe’s most famous lines back at each other for hours on end, and while he wasn’t an on-camera presence to the same level as his collaborators, Terry Jones was renowned as the creative driving force behind the scenes.

Anyone that had a hand in the writing and directing of Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life has already assured a place in the annals of big screen comedy history, but Jones was also an accomplished historian as well as a filmmaker.

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Rocky Johnson

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Died January 15th, aged 75

A trailblazer and pioneer in the professional wrestling industry, ‘Soulman’ Rocky Johnson broke down barriers after making his in-ring debut in 1964, and along with tag team partner Tony Atlas they became the first black champions in the WWF after winning gold in 1983.

After his retirement in 1991, Johnson would train his son to follow in the family business, and the performer initially known as Rocky Maivia and later The Rock went on to become the biggest crossover star that the wrestling business has ever seen.

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Neal Peart

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Died January 7th, aged 67

You’d have to travel far and wide to find any self-respecting drummer in any band of any genre that hadn’t found themselves in awe at Neal Peart’s jaw-dropping style, speed and technique as Rush’s resident tub-thumper from 1974 until his retirement from the band in 2015.

As well as selling millions of records and touring the world dozens of times over, Peart also published several memoirs and reinvented both his own playing style and drumming as a whole by incorporating jazz and swing influences into rock music to great success.

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Harry Hains

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Died January 7th, aged 27

The son of actress and singer Jane Badler, who starred in cult sci-fi series V from 1983 to 1985, Harry Hains was well on the way to emulating his mother’s success after racking up a series of supporting roles on some big-name TV shows.

Appearing in American Horror Story: Hotel, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete and Netflix’s The OA, Hains was also a model and aspiring musician under the name Antiboy, but tragically passed away at the age of just 27 from a drugs overdose.

Helen Reddy

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Died September 29th, aged 78

Dubbed the ‘Queen of 70s Pop’ and lauded as a feminist icon, the ‘I Am Woman’ singer became the poster child for the movement’s second wave, but boasted many more strings to her bow.

After retiring from the music industry in the early 2000s, Reddy earned a degree in her native Australia and began practising as a clinical hypnotherapist and motivation speaker before she got bitten by the performing bug again.

A decade later, she made a brief and intermittent comeback before being diagnosed with dementia and Addison’s disease in 2015, with the health conditions ultimately taking her life.

Joe Diffie

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Died March 29th, aged 61

One of the most popular country music stars of the modern era, Joe Diffie had five number one singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts, and also wrote songs for many other notable artists.

He released eleven albums including a Christmas collection, with two each being certified gold and platinum respectively before he took a step back from releasing new music in recent years.

During the first wave of the pandemic in March, Diffie died from complications related to COVID-19, passing away just two days after publicly revealing that he was suffering from the condition.

Charlie Daniels

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Died July 6th, aged 83

A bluegrass, country and all-round Southern legend, Charlie Daniels and his band were at the forefront of the country music genre for decades, and his legendary reputation was cemented long ago.

Daniels was always politically active, straddling both sides of the party divide depending on what he agreed with at the time, and his opinions tended to split opinion down the middle.

He suffered from numerous health problems later in life including a battle with prostate cancer, a stroke and pneumonia, but died from a second stroke at the age of 83.