In the early hours on the very first day of 2020, the world had already said a final farewell to two celebrities — a troubled soul known for dark times, his demons and his connection with the death of a beloved late celebrity’s child, and a promising hip-hop ingenue gone too soon.
Even before January’s end, comedic and rock music legends, a fan-favorite reality starlet, a talented television actor, a teen idol-turned bit movie and TV star and a wrestling icon (who spawned one of the biggest blockbuster star’s on the planet) had also passed on, and they were all gone too soon … because it’s always too soon. Take a look back at the stars whose light burned out this year, but still shines on in the legacies they’ve left behind, the loved ones who survive them, and the memories they’ve given to us all.
Here are the celebrities we’ve lost in 2020.
Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist of the Canadian progressive rock band Rush, died on Jan. 7, 2020. He was 67 years old. “It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer,” Rush told the CBC in a statement.
Peart famously performed with a drum kit that completely surrounded him. He and Rush last toured in 2015, at the conclusion of which he revealed he’d suffered from pain throughout. Peart suffered from two major tragedies in 1997: His 19-year-old daughter Selena died in a car accident, and he lost his wife to cancer just 10 months later. He remarried and is survived by his wife, Carrie, and daughter Olivia. Stars including Slash, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Bryan Adams, Kiss’ Paul Stanley, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all paid their respects to Peart on social media, with Trudeau writing, “We’ve lost a legend. But his influence and legacy will live on forever in the hearts of music lovers in Canada and around the world. RIP Neil Peart.”
Saturday Night Live favorite and screenwriter Buck Henry died on Jan. 8, 2020, Deadline confirmed. He was 89 years old. Henry was acclaimed for his screenplays, scoring an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Graduate and an Emmy win for Get Smart, the spy spoof series he co-created with comedy legend Mel Brooks. Though most screenwriters aren’t widely known to audiences, television viewers were familiar with Henry, who hosted SNL numerous times during the NBC staple show’s first five seasons. Henry was also an occasional director, helming Heaven Can Wait and First Family.
In addition to appearances on SNL, Henry had small acting roles in several films and TV shows, including parts in Hot In Cleveland, Law & Order: SVU, Franklin & Bash, and as Liz Lemon’s dad on 30 Rock. He also served as a guest host for late night shows including The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, The Dick Cavett Show, and The Late Show With David Letterman.
Despite his success in comedy, Henry admitted in the 2009 book And Here’s The Kicker (via Vulture) that he doesn’t actually watch comedy much. “I just don’t find comedy as interesting as the forms that I don’t do myself,” he said, adding, “It’s harder to make me laugh than it is to make me cry.”
Rocky Johnson, wrestling legend and father to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, died on Jan. 15, 2020. He was 75 years old.
According to TMZ Sports, Johnson first became a professional wrestler in the 1960s, when he took to the ring in the National Wrestling Alliance, but he didn’t become a household name until the 1980s, when he joined the WWE (then known as the WWF). Johnson and partner Tony Atlas became the first African American wrestling tag team in the franchise’s history as the Soul Patrol. He retired from wrestling in 1991 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Johnson was close with son Dwayne, who previously bought Rocky a house and purchased him a car for Christmas in 2016. On Father’s Day 2018, Dwayne wrote on Facebook, “Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like ’em, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. Funny thing is, the day I stopped looking for that approval was the day I understood what it meant to be man and more importantly, a father. That shift lifted me to a new level of gratitude for the tough love he always gave. Years later as a man and father of three girls, I know that tough love is a helluva lot better than no love at all. I’ll take it. It made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock.”
Terry Jones, co-founder of the Monty Python comedy troupe, died on Jan. 21, 2020, following a long battle with frontotemporal dementia, per The Hollywood Reporter. He was 77 years old. “Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in North London,” his agent stated. “We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humor has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades.”
Jones met Michael Palin while studying English at Oxford University in the 1960s. The duo began acting in sketches together, before meeting John Cleese, Graham Chapman, and Eric Idle while appearing on Do Not Adjust Your Set. Cleese introduced them to Terry Gilliam, and they soon launched Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the BBC. Following its run from 1969 to 1974, Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail and directed Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Jones was also a history buff and opponent of the war in Iraq, publishing a book of essays called Terry Jones’ War on the War on Terror in 2004 and nabbing an Emmy nod the same year for Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives.
With several celebs reacting to his death, collaborator Cleese tweeted in part, “It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away.”
Jim Lehrer, the founder and longtime anchor of PBS Newshour, died peacefully at home on Jan. 23, 2020, according to PBS. Lehrer was 85 years old.
Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kansas, and attended Victoria College in Texas and studied journalism at the University of Missouri before serving in the Marines. He began his journalism career in Dallas 1959.
In 1975, Lehrer joined forces with Robert MacNeil to cover the Watergate scandal on what was then The Robert MacNeil Report. The show eventually became The MacNeil Lehrer Report and later The MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour. In 1995, MacNeil retired and the show became The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. Throughout Lehrer’s 36-year PBS career, he covered just about every major news story, including the Kennedy assassination and Bill Clinton’s impeachment. He moderated 12 presidential debates, the most of anyone in history, from 1988 through 2012 (including every debate in the 1996 race, making him the only person to ever to do that). He retired from NewsHour in 2011.
Lehrer was also a writer and the subject and host of the 1986 Emmy-winning documentary My Heart, Your Heart, in which he detailed his 1983 heart attack.
He told The American Journalism Review in 2011 (via The New York Times), “I have an old-fashioned view that news is not a commodity. News is information that’s required in a democratic society, and Thomas Jefferson said a democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry. That sounds corny, but I don’t care whether it sounds corny or not. It’s the truth.”
Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas died on Feb. 5, 2020 at 103 years old.
Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky to a Russian Jewish immigrant family, Douglas had six sisters. His acting career kicked off when fellow Manhattan American Academy of Dramatic Arts student Lauren Bacall helped him land his first movie role. He won two Golden Globes and was nominated for three Oscars in the 1950s, finally receiving an honorary Oscar in 1996. He was best known for Spartacus, for which he hired blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo at the height of McCarthyism’s attacks on alleged Communists. “Dalton was in prison because he refused to answer questions, so I decided, the hell with it! I’m going to put his name on it,” Douglas told People. “I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of because it broke the blacklist.”
Douglas survived a helicopter crash in 1991 and a stroke in 1996. He was a proud father of two sons with first wife Diana Dill; the actor Michael Douglas and Joel Douglas. He remarried to Anne Buydens in 1956, with whom he shared producer son Peter Douglas and actor son Eric Douglas, the latter of whom died of a drug overdose in 2004. Kirk and Anne were together until his death.
Michael Douglas said in part in a statement to People, “To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.
Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton died following a battle with bladder cancer on March 2, 2020, TMZ reports. He was 93 years old.
Lipton first developed his hit Bravo series in 1994. With his first guest being screen legend Paul Newman, students featured on the show included future Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper (who later appeared as a guest). The famously verbose host interviewed nearly 300 stars on the long-running series, and once told The Hollywood Reporter, “If you had put a gun to my head and said, ‘I will pull the trigger unless you predict that in 23 years, Inside the Actors Studio will be viewed in 94 million homes in America on Bravo and in 125 countries around the world, that it will have received 16 Emmy nominations, making it the fifth-most-nominated series in the history of television, that it will have received an Emmy Award for outstanding informational series and that you will have received the Critics’ Choice Award for best reality series host — predict it or die,’ I would have said, ‘Pull the trigger.'”
Lipton hosted the show until his 2018 retirement, when it moved to Ovation TV. Following his death, his wife, Kedakai, told The Hollywood Reporter, “He lived each day as if it were his last. His work was his passion, loved what he did and all the people he worked with. He empowered people to do their best, and hopefully his spirit, curiosity and passion will live on.”
Max Von Sydow
Legendary actor Max Von Sydow passed away on March 8, 2020, at the age of 90, his wife, Swedish filmmaker Catherine, revealed in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Swedish actor served two years in the Swedish military, before studying acting at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre. Von Sydow worked with iconic filmmaker Ingmar Bergman in both Sweden and Hollywood, with one of his first prominent roles being the knight Antonius Block in The Seventh Seal. He remains the only Swedish actor to date to earn an Oscar nomination, but it was an even more rare feat: he was nominated for best actor for Pelle The Conqueror, a foreign-language film. His more recent roles included Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones.
Von Sydow famously portrayed characters much older than he was in real life. When he was 43, he played 80-year-old priest Father Merrin in The Exorcist. He also portrayed Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, which was admittedly the actor’s most difficult role, because he felt the need to stay in character even off-set. “I couldn’t smoke or drink in public,” Von Sydow once lamented (via THR). “The most difficult part of playing Christ was that I had to keep up the image around the clock. As soon as the picture finished, I returned home to Sweden and tried to find my old self. It took six months to get back to normal.”
Kenny Rogers died on March 20, 2020, at 81 of natural causes, Rolling Stone reported.
Raised in a housing project in Houston, the musician joined a doo-wop group when he was 18, and had his first solo hit with “That Crazy Feeling” two years later. In 1967, Rogers found further success when he joined First Edition alongside Glen Campbell. However, Rogers’ first No. 1 singles as a solo artist came in 1977 with “Lucille” and “Coward of the County,” followed by his magnum opus “The Gambler,” as well the Grammy-winning “You Decorated My Life.”
Rogers’ 1983 duet with Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream,” became an instant classic, and Parton performed the song with Rogers at his 2017 farewell concert in Nashville. “You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” Parton tweeted after his death. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success, I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”
While Rogers sold 100 million records, country radio often refused to play his crossover music. “You know, country music has a box, and there’s four corners,” Rogers told Rolling Stone in 2001. “You can be all the way out to any one of those corners and still get played. But the minute you step outside that box, you’re gonna get shut down. The trick is to be so successful that you can move the box.”
Singer and songwriter John Prine passed away on April 7, 2020, from complications from coronavirus, Rolling Stone reported. He was 73 years old. Prine, a two-time Grammy winner, was one of the most prolific country and folk songwriters in America, widely known for his storytelling in hits like “Hello In There,” about a lonely elderly couple; “Paradise,” a song about his parents’ mining town of Paradise, Ky.; and “Sam Stone,” about a Vietnam War soldier numbing his PTSD with drugs. In 2018, Prine saw a resurgence with his first album of original material in 13 years, giving him his highest career debut at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Everyone from Johnny Cash to Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Miranda Lambert and Bette Midler has covered Prine’s tunes.
Prine’s wife, Fiona, who recovered from COVID-19, said in a statement after his passing, “My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC. We send our condolences and love to the thousands of other American families who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time — and to so many other families across the world. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends and fans all over the world. John will be so missed but he will continue to comfort us with his words and music and the gifts of kindness, humor and love he left for all of us to share.”
Linda Tripp, famous for secretly recording her conversations with Monica Lewinsky that ultimately led to then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, died on April 8, 2020 at 70 years old. Tripp’s mother, Inge Carotenuto, told CNN that Tripp, who’d previously survived breast cancer, had been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic and lymph node cancers just days before her death.
Tripp was a friend of Lewinsky’s while the brunette anti-bullying activist was a White House intern. Lewinsky first told Tripp of her affair with Clinton in 1996; Tripp began recording their conversations in 1997. After contacting Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr about the tapes in early 1998, Tripp wore a wire when meeting with Lewinsky, who told Tripp what to say to attorneys about Kathleen Willey, a former White House staffer who accused Clinton of sexual misconduct in 1993.
Tripp told Larry King Live in 2003 that despite the fallout from the recordings, she would do it again, refusing to “fix a court case.” She would later say she was trying to protect Lewinsky, not vilify her, and that her intentions were to aid other women, including Paula Jones, who’d accused Clinton of sexual harassment previously, and stop Clinton from allegedly harassing other women in the future.
Despite their history, Lewinsky remained compassionate in Tripp’s final hours, tweeting shortly before Tripp’s passing, “No matter the past, upon hearing that Linda Tripp is very seriously ill, I hope for her recovery. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.”
Actor Brian Dennehy died on April 15, 2020 at age 81, TMZ reported. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related,” his daughter said in a statement. “Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends.”
Dennehy started his career with guest roles in TV series like M*A*S*H, Kojak, and Dallas before hitting it big with a starring role on Dynasty. His first big break on the big screen was as antagonist Sheriff Will Teasle in First Blood, the first film in the Rambo franchise, in 1982. He went on to star in Cocoon, Tommy Boy, Silverado, Presumed Innocent, and Romeo + Juliet, among other blockbusters. He also voiced Django in Disney’s Ratatouille. More recently, Dennehy starred in The Blacklist in 2001, and won a Golden Globe for the TV movie adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman — after winning a Tony two years earlier for the same role in the play on Broadway.
Dennehy is survived by his wife and five children. Sylvester Stallone honored Dennehy on Instagram, sharing a still from First Blood and writing, “The great actor Brian Dennehy has passed away. He simply was a brilliant performer… He also was a Vietnam vet that helped me very much building the character of RAMBO. The world has lost a great artist. #FirstBlood.”
Actor Irrfan Khan died on April 29, 2020. He was 53 years old. Khan was a prolific actor and Bollywood star with over 150 credits, including Slumdog Millionaire, Jurassic World, Life of Pi, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Darjeeling Limited. He appeared in the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay! in 1988; his breakout role was in The Warrior in 2001. He also appeared in New York, I Love You, A Mighty Heart, and the TV series In Treatment. Khan won numerous awards throughout his three-decade career, including an Independent Spirit Award for The Namesake.
Khan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor in 2018, Deadline reported, but continued working. Shortly before his death, the BBC reported that he was hospitalized for a colon infection. His family said in a statement in part, “‘I trust, I have surrendered’: These were some of the many words that Irrfan expressed in a heartfelt note he wrote in 2018 opening up about his fight with cancer … Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of a rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it.” He was surrounded by his family when he died, and they said his final words were, “As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it.”
Actor Sam Lloyd died on April 30, 2020 “as a result of complications from lung cancer,” his wife Vanessa confirmed to People. He was 56 years old.
Lloyd was a prolific character actor, most famous for Scrubs, in which he starred as attorney Ted Buckland (later reprising the role in Cougar Town); he appeared in many other sitcoms as well as movies including Flubber and Galaxy Quest. He was also a musician and working on directing a country rock musical, With Pam and Gil, before his passing, Variety reported.
Lloyd was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019 and it metastasized to several other organs. Vanessa said in a statement, “Our family is devastated. It doesn’t feel real. It never will. It just feels like he will walk through the door. The overwhelming outpouring of love and sharing your stories about working with or knowing Sam keeps his memory alive and our hearts strong. Sam loved his work. I want to continue his legacy, and hope to share some of the beautiful songs he was working on for his musical and our son, Weston.” Scrubs creator and star Zach Braff paid tribute to Lloyd, tweeting, “Rest In Peace to one of the funniest actors I’ve ever had the joy of working with. Sam Lloyd made me crack up and break character every single time we did a scene together. He could not have been a kinder man. I will forever cherish the time I had with you, Sammy.”
Legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula died on May 4, 2020. He was 90 years old. The team said in a statement (via TMZ), “Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years. He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”
Shula began his NFL career as a defensive back in the 1950s for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and Washington Redskins before becoming a coach for the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1969, then for the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995. He has the record for most wins ever by an NFL coach with a whopping 347 victories in 33 years, including two Super Bowl wins for the Dolphins. He remains the only coach to ever guide an undefeated NFL team, being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
“Don Shula will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches and contributors in the history of our game,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “He made an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. His iconic legacy will endure through his family and continue to inspire generations to come.”
Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy died from coronavirus complications on May 8, 2020, TMZ reported. He was 75 years old.
Horn and his magic act partner, Sigfried Fischbacher, were Las Vegas performing staples for decades after meeting on a cruise ship. The duo were famous for stunts with big cats, including cheetahs, tigers, and lions. They were the highest earning Sin City acts ever, clocking in at $57 million per year, and even inspired a song by Michael Jackson.
In 2003, Horn appeared to be mauled by a white tiger onstage, though Horn and Fischbacher claimed he actually suffered a ministroke onstage and that the tiger was helping drag him offstage. Doctors claimed to 2020 the ministroke actually occurred after Horn was hospitalized from the tiger attack and suffered massive blood loss. The incident left Horn partially paralyzed, but he made a remarkable recovery and was eventually able to walk and even perform again.
Fischbacher said in a statement, “Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.” He continued, “Roy was a fighter his whole life, including during these final days. I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy’s life.”
Rock and roll pioneer Little Richard died at age 87 on May 9, 2020 from bone cancer, Rolling Stone reported. Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Ga., his flamboyant style, “gospel-infused” vocals, piano pounding, and at times nonsensical lyrics made him a chart staple in the 1950s, starting with “Tutti Frutti,” the hook of which he conceived while at work washing dishes at a bus station. “When I first came along, I never heard any rock and roll. When I started singing [rock and roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public because I was afraid they wouldn’t like it,” he admitted to Rolling Stone in 1990. “I never heard nobody do it, and I was scared.”
Little Richard famously rocked a pompadour and makeup onstage, which he claimed was to make white audiences less intimidated by his presence — but gave fodder to speculation about his sexuality for decades. His public proclamations about his sexuality ranged from allegedly calling himself “the founder of gay” to “omnisexual” (a term he used to describe his attraction to both men and women) to outright homophobic.
He left rock behind in 1957 to become a minister, then a gospel artist. He made a rock comeback in 1964 and hob-nobbed with the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles (who covered “Long Tall Sally”) and Bob Dylan. He remained a successful touring act and was one of the original inductees to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Jerry Stiller, prolific comedian and actor, died on May 11, 2020 at age 92, his son Ben Stiller confirmed on Twitter, writing, “I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes. He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.” No cause of death has been reported, as of this writing
New York City native Stiller served in the Army during and after World War II. He studied theater at Syracuse University, after which he began his stage career, according to The New York Times. He married fellow comedian and actor Anne Meara not long after they met. The pair worked together as Stiller and Meara, doing improv and comedy in clubs, then on radio and TV spots. He appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway shows, as well over 100 screen credits.
Stiller was likely best known for his television and film roles, namely as Frank Costanza — father to George Costanza and Festivus enthusiast — on Seinfeld, for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 1997. When Seinfeld ended, he played another often-irrationally temperamental patriarch in King of Queens from 1998 to 2007. He also appeared in movies with his beloved son Ben, including The Heartbreak Kid, Zoolander, and Zoolander 2. He previously told Esquire, “You’ll always know if I’m in the audience when Ben or our daughter, Amy, is performing. I’m the one laughing loudest.”
Fred Willard, great comic and character actor, died on May 15, 2020 at 86 years old, The Guardian reported. Willard served in the Army before studying drama in New York. He and pal Vic Grecco performed comedy and sketches together as Willard & Grecco. His first big break was the talk show satire Fernwood Tonight, playing a sidekick to a smarmy onscreen host, in 1977. In 1984, he made a memorable turn as an Air Force lieutenant in This Is Spinal Tap alongside Christopher Guest, with whom he would collaborate frequently, co-starring in cult classics including Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and Family Tree. Willard was also beloved for his television work, with recurring roles on Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Modern Family. In the latter, he starred as Ty Burrell’s eccentric father, Frank Dunphy.
He told Vulture of his long and illustrious career, “I’ve been in a lot of shows, I will say that. Every once in a while I’ll look at a tape of something I’ve done and I won’t even remember having done it.” He added, “I’m trying to think what I saw the other day — oh, a sketch on the Jay Leno show. I did over 90 of them, and I just happened to have one on my TiVo, and I looked at it and I said, ‘I have no memory of the character or any of the jokes.’ So I could watch it objectively and say, ‘Oh, this is funny.'”
Director Lynn Shelton died on May 16, 2020 from a previously undiagnosed blood disorder, The New York Times reported. She was 54 years old.
Shelton got her breakthrough in 2006, winning the Grand Jury prize with We Go Way Back at the Slamdance Film Festival. She followed with 2008’s SXSW entry My Effortless Brilliance, then the acclaimed Humpday in 2009, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She directed numerous TV series, including Little Fires Everywhere, New Girl, GLOW, The Good Place, Fresh Off the Boat, and The Morning Show. She is survived by her son, Milo Seal, parents Wendy and Alan Roedell, two brothers, a sister, her estranged husband Kevin Seal, and boyfriend Marc Maron. Maron said, in part, in a statement (via IndieWire), “I have some awful news. Lynn passed away last night. She collapsed yesterday morning after having been ill for a week. There was a previously unknown, underlying condition. It was not COVID-19. The doctors could not save her. They tried. Hard.”
Maron continued, “I loved her very much as I know many of you did as well. It’s devastating. I am leveled, heartbroken and in complete shock and don’t really know how to move forward in this moment.” He added, “She was a beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist. Her spirit was pure joy. … This is a horrendous, sad loss.”
Professional wrestler Shad Gaspard died on May 17, 2020 at 39 years old. Gaspard went missing after he and his 10-year-old son, Aryeh, got caught in a rip current while swimming in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Gaspard encouraged first responders to save his son first. Gaspard’s body was later discovered on Venice Beach, TMZ reported.
Gaspard made his WWE debut in 2006 as half of Cryme Tyme with JTG, leaving in 2010 to pursue acting. His acting credits include Think Like A Man Too, Get Hard, Black Panther, and From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series. Fellow WWE alum turned Hollywood actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was heartbroken at Gaspard’s passing, writing on Instagram, “This one hurts. Great guy. My deepest condolences and love to Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family. Shad drowned in the ocean, but not before instructing lifeguards to save his 10yr old son first. That’s the love of a father. This is a tough one to process. Love and light to Shad’s family. And your warrior spirit lives on through your son.”
Gaspard’s wife, Siliana, said in a statement (via CNN), “Shad was our whole world and we were his. There are not enough words to describe what he means to all of us. He was our heart, our soul, our protector, our warrior. He was a bright force of nature, who brought joy to many through his joyous and gracious nature.” She added, “Shad was and always will be our real-life superhero.”
Tyler Gwozdz, a contestant on Season 15 of ABC’s The Bachelorette, died on Jan. 22, 2020. Gwozdz was 29 years old.
TMZ reported that Gwozdz was suspected to have suffered from an overdose at his Boca Raton, Fla., home and was hospitalized on Jan. 13, 2020. He reportedly was treated in an intensive care unit and was in stable but critical condition. His official cause of death has not yet been reported, but the report cited a 911 call in which the caller told a dispatcher that Gwozdz may have used heroin at the time of the incident.
Gwzodz competed for Hannah Brown’s final rose (and nabbed a one-on-one date with the former pageant princess) before he left the show with no explanation after three weeks of shooting. At the time, he told Refinery29 in a statement that his exit was “a decision that I came to with producers, and something that I’ve come to realize what is the best decision that could’ve been made.”
According to Gwzodz’s Bachelorette profile (via Business Insider), he was a sales manager and entrepreneur who aspired to someday be a clinical psychologist; he also did volunteer work to raise awareness and funds for gun control efforts after a friend’s daughter was killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February 2018. He is survived his parents and five younger siblings.
Ian Holm passed away at age 88 on June 19, 2020, surrounded by loved ones. Noting that the beloved actor’s death was related to Parkinson’s disease, his agent told The Guardian, “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”
Holm began his career in London’s theater scene, before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and later performing on Broadway; he won a Tony Award in 1967 for playing Lenny in The Homecoming. However, Holm temporarily quit stage acting in 1976 because he had such brutal stage fright during a performance of The Iceman Cometh, later recalling to the Independent, “That is a scar on my memory that will never go away.” He then transitioned to film, and did so gloriously. Two years after playing android Ash in Ridley Scott’s iconic Alien in 1979, Holm starred as Olympic coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, earning his first BAFTA. Appearing in numerous other films, including The Fifth Element, he braved the Shakespearean stage once again in 1997. Still, Holm was best known for his role of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Holm is survived by fourth wife Sophie de Stempel and five children from prior relationships — the result of a colorful personal life chronicled in his autobiography, which earned him the tabloid nickname of “Lord of the Flings.” Among the several LOTR castmates paying tribute was Elijah Wood, who tweeted, “So sad to hear that the singular, brilliant and vibrant, Sir Ian Holm has passed. Farewell, uncle.”
Director Joel Schumacher died from cancer on June 22, 2020, at 80 years old, Variety reported.
Schumacher started as a costume designer, then a screenwriter for projects including Sparkle, The Wiz, and Car Wash. He followed with television, writing, and directing The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin and Mr. T in D.C. Cab.
With St. Elmo’s Fire, Schumacher introduced the Brat Pack — including a young Demi Moore — to the world in 1985. He followed with vampire comedy The Lost Boys, starring Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland, then 1990 thriller Flatliners and 1993 critically acclaimed hit Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas. Critics also praised Schumacher’s John Grisham adaptations, such as A Time To Kill, which became a breakout hit for Matthew McConaughey.
Schumacher’s distinct aesthetics showed in projects like Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, the latter of which notoriously featured nipples on George Clooney’s batsuit and Chris O’Donnell’s Robin costume. After his Batman films failed critically, he earned several Oscar nominations for his adaptation of Phantom Of The Opera. He returned to television in 2013, directing several episodes of House Of Cards. Rob Lowe said in a statement, “Joel saw things others could not. When casting St Elmo’s Fire, everyone thought I should play the yuppie, but Joel knew I could play the Bad Boy … He had extraordinary taste. The images from his films are timeless snapshots of their era. He was a larger than life original; I will never forget him.”
Comedy legend Carl Reiner died on June 29, 2020, at 98 years old, his son, actor, writer, and director Rob Reiner, announced on Twitter, adding, “As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.” Throughout his career, Reiner was a producer, comedian, actor, writer and director, likely most famous for creating The Dick Van Dyke Show. The series was meant to be autobiographical, but he couldn’t sell the show until Dick Van Dyke played him; Reiner had a supporting role as cocky, cantankerous comedian Alan Brady.
Reiner wrote Oh God, starring George Burns, as well as numerous films with Steve Martin, including The Jerk. He directed a slew of movies, including Summer Rental (starring the late great John Candy). His seemingly endless acting credits included Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Thirteen, House, Hot in Cleveland, and Two and a Half Men. Over 70 years in the business, Reiner won nine Emmys, two Grammys (with best friend Mel Brooks), and a Mark Twain Prize. Late in life, he was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump.
Reiner was married to wife Estelle from 1943 until her death in 2008; they share three children (including Rob). Dick Van Dyke tweeted of his longtime friend, “My idol, Carl Reiner, wrote about the human comedy. He had a deeper understanding of the human condition than I think even he was aware of. Kind, gentle, compassionate, empathetic and wise. His scripts were never just funny, they always had something to say about us.”
Broadway veteran Nick Cordero died on July 5, 2020, following a harrowing, months-long battle with COVID-19. He was 41 years old.
Cordero was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. For two years, he attended Ryerson University before pursuing music with the band Lovemethod, eventually turning his attention to theater. He appeared in Rock of Ages in 2009 and in 2014, he starred as Cheech in Bullets Over Broadway, earning a Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony nomination and winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Theater World Award. His screen work included a recurring role on CBS mainstay Blue Bloods and guest roles on Law & Order: SVU.
Cordero’s wife, Amanda Kloots, chronicled his battle with COVID-19 in detail daily. Before his death, Cordero was in and out of a coma and had to have a leg amputated due to complications from the disease. He is survived by Kloots and their one-year-old son, Elvis. Kloots said Cordero was surrounded by loved ones when he died and that they sang his song, “Live Your Life,” writing, “As I sang the last line to him, ‘They’ll give you hell / But don’t you [let] them kill your light / Not without a fight / Live your life.’ I smiled because he definitely put up a fight. I will love you forever and always my sweet man.”
Naya Rivera was reported missing on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, after she took her four-year-old son, Josey, to Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Josey was found alone and asleep on their rented boat, while Rivera was nowhere to be found. Tragically, what started as a search-and-rescue mission for the actress and singer turned into a recovery mission: Her body was found on Monday, July 13, 2020, after a days-long search, TMZ reported. Rivera was 33 years old, and no foul play is suspected in her death, which is being treated as a tragic accident.
Rivera started out as a child star, landing the role of Hillary Winston on The Royal Family when she was just four years old. Her big break came as Santana on Glee in 2009, which launched her to a record deal with Columbia two years later. Her hit “Sorry Not Sorry” in 2013 featured her then-fiance Big Sean; years after they split, she accused him of hooking up with Ariana Grande while they were together. She married childhood friend Ryan Dorsey on what would have been her wedding day to Big Sean in July 2014; they share son Josey and divorced in 2018.
In addition to an actress and singer, Rivera was also a businesswoman, designing unisex kidswear for Jojo & Izzy, and the author of candid memoir Sorry Not Sorry. Rivera is survived by her parents, brother, sister, and son.
Kelly Preston died on July 12, 2020, her husband John Travolta announced on Instagram. She was 57 and had been battling breast cancer in secret for two years. “She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many,” he wrote in part, adding, “Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered.”
Hawaii native Preston studied acting at the University of Southern California, landing her first role in 1985’s Mischief. She went on to appear in CHiPs and star in movies including Twins and Jerry Maguire.
Travolta and Preston married in 1991 and welcomed son Jett in 1992, followed by daughter Ella in 2000. Jett tragically passed away in 2009 at age 16; a year later, Preston and Travolta welcomed son, Ben. Ella wrote on Instagram, “I have never met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving as you. Anyone who is lucky enough to have known you or to have ever been in your presence will agree that you have a glow and a light that never ceases to shine and that makes anyone around you feel instantly happy. Thank you for being there for me no matter what. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your help and thank you for making this world a better place. You have made life so beautiful and I know you will continue to do so always. I love you so much mama.”
TV icon Regis Philbin died on July 24, 2020, at 88 years old. His family told People, “His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him — for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about.”
The Bronx native served in the Navy before becoming a writer and host of San Diego, Calif. local talk show, The Regis Philbin Show, in 1961, followed by a stint on The Joey Bishop Show in 1967. He went on to host numerous local talk shows in The Golden State, before moving back to New York City to host The Morning Show in 1983, which was later retitled Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. While Philbin left Live in 2011, passing the baton to co-host Kelly Ripa, he was also the first host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Million Dollar Password, and the first season of America’s Got Talent. Throughout his career, he won three Emmys, plus a Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy. Philbin also earned a Guinness World Record for most broadcast hours from a TV personality (over 16,000!), boasting (via ABC 7), “Every day, you see the record shattered, pal! One more hour!”
Philbin is survived by daughters Joanna and J.J. and his second wife, Joy, as well as daughter Amy from first wife Catherine Faylen. In separate Instagram tributes, Ripa called Philbin “the ultimate class act,” and Kathie Lee Gifford wrote in part, “I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh.”
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving star of Gone with the Wind, died peacefully in her sleep on July 25, 2020, at 104 years old, Entertainment Weekly reports. The Old Hollywood actress wasn’t just famous for her work onscreen, but also for the landmark lawsuit that took on the restrictive studio system: following multiple suspensions after she refused too many damsel-in-distress roles, Warner Bros. attempted to extend de Havilland’s seven-year contract; she sued and won in what’s still known as the de Havilland decision.
De Havilland got her first role at 18 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and grew famous in the 1930s for starring alongside Errol Flynn in several films, including The Adventures of Robin Hood. After nabbing an Oscar nomination for her performance as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, she turned to more dramatic roles, winning two Academy Awards for 1946’s To Each His Own and 1949’s The Heiress. De Havilland also appeared on Broadway and television, scoring a Golden Globe for Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. Also known for her bitter lifelong rivalry with younger sister Joan Fontaine, de Havilland denied in 2016 — three years after Fontaine’s death — that she ever “initiated hostile behavior” toward Fontaine. They’re the only sisters to ever both win Academy Awards.
The beloved star, who gave up on Hollywood in the mid-1950s and moved to Paris, was also politically active, campaigning for Franklin D. Roosevelt and against communism, and fighting to improve the industry throughout her life. In 2017, de Havilland sued FX Networks for defamation over her portrayal in Feud, but the suit was ultimately dismissed.
Character actor Wilford Brimley died on Aug. 1, 2020, at 85 years old. As his agent told The New York Times, Brimley had a kidney condition for about two months before his passing.
Born Anthony Wilford Brimley in Utah, he dropped out of school and became a real-life cowboy at 14. Brimley went on to become a ranch hand, Marine, and bodyguard for Howard Hughes, before venturing into Hollywood. First working with horses in TV and film, he eventually graduated to nonspeaking roles on horseback. Brimley then cut his acting teeth on television in recurring roles on series like How The West Was Won, Kung Fu, and The Oregon Trail, and later landed a breakthrough role on The Waltons as Horace Brimley. His star turn on the big screen was in The China Syndrome, alongside Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon; he followed with Absence Of Malice, The Natural, The Firm, and Cocoon. “Wilford’s a testy guy, not an easy guy to work with all the time, but he has great instincts,” Cocoon director Ron Howard previously admitted to the NYT. “Many of his scenes were totally improvised.”
Brimley, who received a type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 1979, later became the face of Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical, the latter of which became a meme for his distinct, accented pronunciation of “diabetes.” In 1993, Brimley told The Dallas Morning News of his career (via the NYT), “I’m never the leading man. I never get the girl. And I never get to take my shirt off. I started by playing fathers to guys who were 25 years older than I was.”
Chadwick Boseman died on Aug. 28, 2020, the actor’s team said in a statement on Instagram. His wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family were at his side. He was 43 years old.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” the statement read in part. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. 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 honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman was born and raised in South Carolina and studied directing at Howard University, where actor/director Phylicia Rashad mentored him. He then attended the British American Drama Academy in London and graduated from New York City’s Digital Film Academy. His first recurring role was as Reggie Montgomery in All My Children; he was fired and recast (with future Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan) after expressing concerns over racial stereotypes in the script. Boseman went on to star as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up.
While numerous stars paid tribute to Boseman, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said it succinctly: “Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference.”
Diana Rigg died on Sept. 10, 2020, at 82 years old. Rigg was diagnosed with cancer in March, her daughter told BBC News, adding, “She spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession.”
Rigg was most famous for starring as Emma Peel in the TV series The Avengers, as well as Tracy in Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement, “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond.”
Rigg was acclaimed for her stage and screen work, winning a Tony Award in 1994 and four other nominations throughout her life, in addition to two BAFTAs, one Primetime Emmy, and nine Emmy nods. For all of her roles as heroines, it was villainous Tyrell she liked best, telling the BBC in 2019, “I love playing bad [characters]. They are so much more interesting than good. There are some actors who don’t like to play bad; they like to be liked. I love to be disliked. Olenna had the best lines.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, 2020, at 87 years old following a battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Court said in a statement. Chief Justice John Roberts said of her passing, “Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Born in Brooklyn, Ginsburg married her fellow Cornell University alum Martin “Marty” J. Ginsburg in 1954, and they shared daughter Jane and son James. She credits Marty with her success, including her 1993 appointment to the Supreme Court during then-President Bill Clinton’s first term. She once called her husband “the only young man I dated who cared that I had a brain” (via Washington Post). Marty passed in 2010.
Ginsburg was a fervent fighter for gender equality, not only as an attorney and judge, NPR reported, but also for causes like the American Civil Liberties Union, for which she founded the Women’s Rights Project, and as the first female tenured professor at Columbia University Law School. In the late 2010s, Ginsburg, the second female Justice ever on the Supreme Court, became a pop culture icon as “The Notorious R.B.G.” On her deathbed, she reportedly said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Eddie Van Halen
Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen died on Oct. 6, 2020, from lung cancer that had spread to his other organs, TMZ reported. He was 65 years old.
Eddie and brother Alex formed Van Halen in 1978, releasing classics like “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “You Really Got Me Now,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump,” all famous for Eddie’s solos. He also played guitar for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” even reworking almost the entire song in secret behind the King of Pop’s back before its release — but Jackson loved it.
Famous for the technicality in his guitar work, Eddie was modest about it, explaining to NPR the basic reason he made all of his own effects: “I couldn’t afford the pedals, you know? I couldn’t afford a wah-wah pedal. I couldn’t afford a fuzz box and all the toys that everybody else had. So I did everything I could to get sounds out of the guitar with my fingers.”
Eddie married Valerie Bertinelli in 1981, and they raised their son, Wolfgang, who would become Van Halen’s bassist in 2006, together. They separated in 2001 and divorced in 2007 but remained friends. Eddie went on to marry Janie Liszewski in 2009 with Bertinelli in attendance, and both women, as well as Wolfgang, were at his bedside when he died.
He remained humble about his rock god status, telling MTV (via NPR), “It’s nice, but sometimes it’s like, come on, you know? I’m just a punk kid who plays guitar.”
Screen legend Sean Connery, died on Oct. 31, 2020 at age 90. Connery was surrounded by loved ones at his home in the Bahamas and had reportedly felt “unwell for some time,” the BBC reported. He is survived by his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune, son Jason, stepson Stephane, and brother Neil.
Connery starred as the first James Bond in Dr. No, followed by From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and more, but he had range beyond the super spy: He won a BAFTA for The Name Of The Rose in 1988 and a Golden Globe and an Oscar the same year for his portrayal of a cop going after the Mob in The Untouchables; a decade later he won a Tony Award for Art. In 1996, he won the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, in 1998 a BAFTA Fellowship, a Kennedy Center Honor in 1999 and an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. The proud Scotsman, Connery was knighted in 2000.
Current Bond Daniel Craig said in a statement of his iconic predecessor, “Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster. He will continue to influence actors and filmmakers alike for years to come. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course.”
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died at his home on Nov. 8, 2020, while surrounded by loved ones, after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. Trebek previously announced in March 2019 that he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, but promised to fight the disease and keep working — all while maintaining his sense of humor. “Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!” he told People that same month. Noting that he had no plans to retire, he explained, “I’m enjoying myself and I’m having a good time with what I’m doing now, but if I were to retire, what would I do? I’d be lost.”
A native of Ontario, Canada, Trebek hosted the quiz show for more than 35 years, breaking a Guinness World Record for most game shows hosted (more than 8,200!) and winning seven Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award. With his last day of filming on Oct. 29, 2020, his episodes of Jeopardy! will air through Christmas 2020, per Deadline. Trebek is survived by wife Jean Currivan and their two adult children.
Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings spoke for the world in a series of tweets honoring Trebek, writing, “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him. Thinking today about his family and his Jeopardy! family — which, in a way, included millions of us.”
David Prowse, who starred as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died on Nov. 28, 2020. He was 85 years old. Prowse’s daughter, Rachel, told The U.S. Sun that while Prowse had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, it was COVID-19 that ended his life.
The 6’6″ star was an imposing figure, but his height was matched by his congenial nature. Prowse began his career as a personal trainer and bodybuilder, with clients including Christopher Reeve, the original big screen Superman. His onscreen credits include television work on The Saint and Doctor Who, as well as playing Frankenstein’s monster in 1967 Bond classic Casino Royale — he’d portray the creature two more times. However, The U.S. Sun notes that Prowse was “most proud” of being the “Green Cross Code Man,” a road safety icon who toured schools and starred in public service announcements for kids.
George Lucas reportedly offered Prowse a choice between playing Darth Vader or Chewbacca, per the Daily Beast. He went with the Big Bad, despite his lines being dubbed by James Earl Jones, noting, “Everyone remembers the villain.” Indeed, Prowse won’t be forgotten. Lucas said in a statement, “David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character. He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence. David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.”
David L. Lander
Actor and comedian David L. Lander, who starred as Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman in Laverne & Shirley, died on Dec. 4, 2020, People reported. He was 73 years old.
Lander was born David Leonard Landau in Brooklyn, New York and studied at the High School for the Performing Arts, then Carnegie Mellon University, where he met Michael McKean. He and McKean created characters Lenny and Squiggy and joined Los Angeles troupes, where they further honed their comedic personas. In 1975, Garry Marshall cast McKean and Lander as Lenny and Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley, the titular girls’ upstairs neighbors. They remained on the series until it ended in 1983. Throughout his career, Lander logged over 100 film and television credits.
Lander was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984, but kept it a secret for 15 years, fearing it would cost him work. In his 1999 memoir, Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody, he revealed his condition, and since became an activist for MS awareness and research funding.
He is survived by wife Kathy Fields, a daughter and an older brother. In a 2007 interview with Brain & Life, Lander said, “Whatever happens, MS can’t take it all. I will always have my heart and soul, my wit and wisdom. Wherever the chips may fall, if I fall with them I will make it a point to do so gracefully—and laughing.”
Country legend Charley Pride died on Dec. 12, 2020, at age 86 of complications from COVID-19. Pride performed indoors at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards that November, leading many to speculate that he may have contracted the coronavirus at the ceremony.
However, reps for both the CMAs and Pride said in a joint statement (via CNN), “Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions. Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times.”
A Mississippi native, Pride was a baseball star in the Negro League as a teen, before turning his talents to music, being featured on more than 50 Top 10 country songs during his illustrious career. Winning four Grammys (including Lifetime Achievement) throughout his four decades in music, Pride was also inducted to the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 — no small feats for anyone, let alone a Black artist in a white-dominated field. He unfortunately faced a good deal of racism early in his career, and not all of it was from outwardly racist foes: In 1994, Pride recalled in his Pride: The Charley Pride Story memoir (via The New York Times) that country star Webb Pierce told him, “[It’s] good for you to be in our music,” leading Pride to reply, “It’s my music, too.”
Jeremy Bulloch, who starred as the original Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, died on Dec. 17, 2020. He was 75 years old. His agent told CNN in a statement, “He died peacefully, in hospital, surrounded by his family, from health complications following his many years living with Parkinson’s disease. He had a long and happy career spanning more than 45 years. He was devoted to his wife, three sons, and ten grandchildren and they will miss him terribly. We ask that their privacy be respected at this very difficult time.”
In addition to starring as the most famous Mandalorian pre-Din Djardin, the British actor also appeared in Bond films, Octopussy and Dr. Who. He was a regular at conventions and was beloved by fans of the space opera franchise.
Mark Hamill wrote of Bulloch’s passing, “Jeremy Bulloch was the quintessential English gentleman. A fine actor, delightful company & so kind to everyone lucky enough to meet or work with him. I will deeply miss him & am so grateful to have known him.” Daniel Logan, who starred as the notorious bounty hunter in the Star Wars prequel films, tweeted a photo with Bulloch, writing, in part, “I will never forget all you taught me and all the good times we had together. You will be forever remembered. Cons won’t be the same with out you. The Force will be with you always. RIP my Mando brother!”