It’s always hard to lose someone you love — whether they pass away unexpectedly or leave this earth in their golden years. Death is difficult. And the celebrity deaths in 2020 so far are no exception to that rule. Just because you don’t know a star personally doesn’t mean it won’t or shouldn’t affect you. For starters, you’re a human with empathy. Plus, while in some ways Hollywood feels like a million miles away from everyday life for most of us, we can grow surprisingly close to stars. We let them into our homes, and they become a part of our world, too.
Sometimes, a celebrity passes away who played an important role in your life through their work in film, stage, fashion or music. When Robin Williams died in 2014, we all mourned the loss of a man who always knew how to make us laugh, whose movies were part of the canon of our childhood. In January, we were forced tragically and suddenly to say goodbye to Kobe Bryant — a basketball legend that inspired many of us to hustle harder every time we hit the court. More recently, we lost country music icon Kenny Rogers and daytime soap opera actor John Callahan. Complications from COVID-19 took the life of Broadway actor Nick Cordero. And now we’ve lost Jerry Maguire actress Kelly Preston after a two-year battle with breast cancer, and Glee star Naya Rivera in a tragic drowning accident.
Sadly, death is a part of life. While 2020 has already seen its fair share of loss, let’s pay tribute to the famous faces who’ve left us so far this year. They will be missed.
Legendary country singer Charley Pride died on Saturday, December 12 of complications from COVID-19 per a statement on his website at the age of 86.
His chart-topping hits include, “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Mountain of Love.” In 2000, Pride made history as the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In his final performance at the CMAs in November, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Natalie Desselle Reid
Actress Natalie Desselle Reid has passed away at age 53 from colon cancer, leaving behind family, friends, and a Hollywood community grieving her loss. Star of films like Madea’s Big Happy Family, B*A*P*S, and Brandy’s Cinderella, Desselle has been winning audiences over for decades with her humor and charm.
“She was a bright light in this world. A queen. An extraordinary mother and wife,” a statement on her Instagram read. “Her diverse career touched so many and she will be loved forever. Naturally, we are grieving and processing this profound loss and we thank you in advance for respecting our privacy at this extremely difficult time.”
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” a statement read on Twitter Sunday.
The legendary TV personality passed away after revealing in March 2019 he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
Sean Connery died on October 31 at the age of 90 at his home in the Bahamas surrounded by family.
“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad,” Connery’s son Jason said in a statement. “And a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”
Two and a Half Men star Conchata Ferrell has passed away at age 77 from complications after a cardiac arrest. She gained fame for her years playing housekeeper Berta on the hit sitcom, and has been mourned by co-stars including Charlie Sheen already, who call her a “beautiful human” and “genuine friend,” per Deadline.
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen, who co-founded the rock band Van Halen, has passed away at 65 after a battle with cancer.
The iconic musician is best-knows for hit songs “Jump”, “Jamie’s Cryin“, and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”. He leaves behind 29-year-old son Wolf and wife Janie Liszewski.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop,” his son wrote on Twitter.
Singer Helen Reddy, best known for her feminist anthem “I Am Woman” died Sep. 29 at the age of 78.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles,” read a statement on Facebook from Reddy’s children, Traci and Jordan. “She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.”
British actress, Diana Rigg, most famous for her roles in TV series The Avengers and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 82.
According to The New York Times, the Emmy and Tony award-winning actress died Thursday, Sep 10 at her home in London.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning,” a statement read from her agent Simon Beresford. “She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time.”
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died at age 43 after battling colon cancer for four years.
“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” a statement on behalf of Boseman read.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV. 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.”
Longtime television host Regis Philbin died July 24th from natural causes — Philbin was 88.
“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family shared with People in an exclusive statement.
“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. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
Glee star Naya Rivera’s body was recovered on July 13 after a tragic drowning accident that left her missing on July 8. Her 4-year-old son Josey was found sleeping in a boat on Lake Piru, and it’s believed that Rivera used her final moments of strength to save her son’s life.
Exact circumstances of her drowning are unknown, but investigators have ruled out suicide and foul play.
Actress Kelly Preston lost her two-year battle with breast cancer on Sunday, July 12. She was 57 years old. Her husband, John Travolta, shared the news on Instagram and posted a tribute to his wife of 28 years, writing in part: “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”
Ennio Morricone, the Italian Oscar-winning film composer died Monday in Rome following complications from an injury that broke his leg. He was 91.
Morricone’s longtime lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, spoke to CNN confirming his death sharing, “He died at dawn in a Rome hospital after falling and breaking his leg.”
Morricone is best known for creating melodies for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, and won the Oscar in 2016 for his soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
After a months-long battle with coronavirus, Broadway star Nick Cordero has passed away. He was 41.
He is survived by his wife Amanda Kloots and their 1-year-old son Elvis Eduardo.
“God has another angel in heaven now,” Kloots shared on Instagram Sunday. “My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth. ⠀ I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him. Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband. Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday.”
Comedy legend and actor Carl Reiner has passed away at the age of 98 in his Beverly Hills home on June 29, 2020. The Dick Van Dyke Show star has three adult kids: actor/director Rob Reiner, painter Lucas Reiner, and author Annie Reiner.
Jerry Stiller passed away at the age of 92, from natural causes. The beloved actor was best known for his role as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld. Son Ben Stiller paid tribute to his dad on Twitter: “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.”
Little Richard died at age 87 after battling bone cancer. The rock & roll icon is credited with moving the genre into a new, flamboyant era, and was a massive inspiration for artists including Elton John, Prince, the Beatles, and more.
Veteran actress Shirley Douglas has died at 86 of pneumonia — son Kiefer Sutherland took to Twitter paying tribute to his mother, “Early this morning my mother, Shirley Douglas, passed away due to complications surrounding pneumonia,” Sutherland wrote.
“My mother was an extraordinary women who lived an extraordinary life. Sadly, she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming.”
The legendary ‘Lean on Me’ singer passed away Monday in Los Angeles — he was 81 years old.
All My Children star John Callahan died on Friday, March 28th at the age of 66. The cause of his death was a massive stroke, People reported. The actor played the character of Edmund Grey on the popular daytime soap opera from 1992 to 2005. He had been married to fellow AMC star Eva LaRue (the pair divorced in 2004) and is survived by their daughter, Kaya.
Country Music Hall of Famer and icon Kenny Rogers passed away from natural causes at the age of 81 on Friday, March 20th at his home in Georgia. The news was released in a statement by the singer’s family on Saturday morning, and was quickly met with sadness and touching tributes from fellow country music greats, including Rogers’ frequent duet partner Dolly Parton. Parton took to social media to honor her friend, saying, in part, “…I loved Kenny with all my heart, and my heart’s broken and a big ole chunk of it has gone with him today.”
James Lipton’s wife, Kedakai Turner, gave the following statement about her late husband: “There are so many James Lipton stories but I’m sure he would like to be remembered as someone who loved what he did and had tremendous respect for all the people he worked with.”
Lipton, the famous host of Inside the Actors Studio, passed away after a long battle with bladder cancer at age 93 in his NYC home. Many of the stars he interviewed are speaking out in honor of his legacy.
Iconic actor Kirk Douglas died in Los Angeles at the age of 103. Kirk’s son Michael Douglas confirmed the news and celebrated his dad’s life and legacy in a touching social media tribute on Wednesday night.
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. 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,” Michael wrote on Instagram.
The world struggled to cope on Sunday when devastating news broke that NBA icon Kobe Bryant had died in a tragic helicopter crash. Even more heartbreakingly, subsequent reports revealed that his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant was with him at the time. Seven other people also perished in the crash, including two of Gianna’s teammates on the Mamba University Sports basketball team Kobe coached. The athlete was 41 at the time of his death.
Jim Lehrer, a giant in the journalism world, died peacefully in his sleep at home on Thursday, Jan. 23. Among the many accomplishments in his illustrious career, Lehrer co-founded PBS NewsHour and moderated presidential debates. He was 85 at the time of his death.
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, veteran TV actor John Karlen passed away at age 86 due to congestive heart failure. Karlen is remembered for his work on such classic shows as Dark Shadows and Cagney & Lacey, the latter of which he won a 1986 Emmy for his role as Harvey Lacey.
Tyler Gwozdz, a contestant on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, died on Jan. 22 following a suspected overdose. Per People, authorities in Boca Raton, Florida, responded to an emergency call at a residence on Jan. 13. Although Gwozdz was rushed to a hospital and admitted to an intensive care unit, he passed away. He was 29 at the time of his death.
Beloved actress Norma Michaels passed away peacefully in January at her home in Palm Springs, California. She was 95 at the time of her death. The star, who got her break in 1964 with The Jack Benny Program, was known in recent years for her roles on King of Queens and Modern Family.
Celine Dion’s mother, Thérèse Tanguay Dion, died at the age of 92 on Jan. 16. According to ET, “Maman Dion” (as she was affectionately known) fought bravely against serious health issues for months before succumbing to them. She was surrounded by loved ones when she passed.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, People broke the news that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson had passed away at the age of 75. The famed Canadian professional wrestler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 and was even portrayed by his son in a guest cameo on That ’70s Show in 1990. Dwayne has credited his dad with “making me the man I am today.”
In a heartbreaking turn of events, Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta was found dead in a Miami hotel room of an apparent suicide on Jan. 7. America Ferrera, who starred as the titular character in Horta’s telenovela-based series, lamented his death on Instagram, writing, “His talent and creativity brought me and so many others such joy and light.”
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