When a celebrity dies, fans can be left heartbroken by the tragic loss, but it can also lead to the celebration of a legacy they left behind. Whether it’s entertaining millions, inspiring people or helping to change the world for the better in some way, their contributions affect many of our lives, often in very significant ways.
In 2019 we said goodbye to a number of public figures from the world of stage, screen, sport, politics and more. Among them were literary icon Toni Morrison, actor Peter Fonda, film star Rutger Hauer and Hollywood legend Doris Day.
The start of the new decade has already seen the passing of some stars, including Monty Python legend Terry Jones, spiritual medium Derek Acorah, and WWE legend Rocky Johnson.
Here’s a look at the people we’ve lost in 2020 whose influence will be felt for many years to come.
Lynn Faulds Wood
Lynn Faulds Wood, former Watchdog host, has died on April 24, aged 72.
The Broadcast journalist sadly suffered from a stroke and passed away with her husband John Stapleton, and son by herside.
Lynn was the face of Watchdog, during the mid 80’s to early 90’s.
Neil Black, EX Chief of U.K Athletics has died on April 19, aged 60.
At the time of writing the cause of death has been released.
The former performance director of U.K Athletics was an integral part to many athletes careers,
however none more so than Sir Mo Farah who was coached by Black between 2011-2017.
Ebow Graham, Foreign Beggars star, died on April 18, aged 41.
The founding member of the hip-hop electronic cross over group, know as Metropolis, died after an accident at home.
Ebow was known as a beautiful soul, and leaves behind a 10 year old child.
Norman Hunter, a member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, died on April 17, aged 76.
The Leeds United legend, who made 726 appearances during his 17-year stay at Elland Road, was taken to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, but sadly passed away.
Hunter was a renowned as a fearsome tackler, creating a formidable central defensive partnership with fellow England hero Jack Charlton.
Howard Finkel, an American wrestling ring announcer, died on April 16, aged 69.
At the time of writing their hasn’t been a confirmed reason of death.
Finkel is mostly famous for his 40 year career within the WWE as a ring announcer.
He was added into the hall of fame in 2009.
Ranjit Chowdry, Bolllywood actor, died on April 15, aged 64.
No formal cause of death has been announced.
The actor was a big name within Bolllywood.
Ranjit was mostly known in the UK and the US for his roles within The Office and Prison Break.
Brian Dennehy, American actor died on April 15, aged 81.
Dennehy’s death was announced to have been via natural causes.
The actor was most famous for his roles in Romeo and Juliet and Dystany.
Sean Arnold died on April 15, aged 79.
The former Grange Hill and Bergerac star sadly lost his battle with a long term illness in his carehome.
Sean was born in Gloucestershire in January 1941. The English actor was most recognisable for his roles as Mr. Llewelyn in Grange Hill and as Barney Crozier in Bergerac.
Tim Brooke-Taylor died on April 12, aged 79.
A statement from his agent confirmed the sad news the much revered comedian and actor died after contracting Covid-19.
Brooke-Taylor is most well-known for starring in classic British comedy series The Goodies.
The show ran from 1970 to 1982 and was admired for its surreal style and uproarious slapstick.
Sir Stirling Moss
Sir Stirling Moss died on April 12 at the age of 90.
A motor-racing legend, Moss won 212 of his 529 races – but famously never won a Formula One title.
The closest he came to winning the drivers’ championship was in 1958, when he lost out on becoming Britain’s first world champion to Mike Hawthorn by one point, despite winning four races to the Ferrari driver’s one.
Black The Ripper
Black The Ripper died at the age of 32 on April 6.
The rapper, whose real name was Dean West, found fame in the early noughties with mix tapes Holla Black and Afro Sumurai.
In recent years, he had been a strong advocate for the legalisation of marijuana in the UK.
His cause of death is currently unknown.
House DJ and producer DJ Pioneer paid tribute by sharing a picture of the artist, writing on Twitter: “R.I.P Black The Ripper”
James Drury died at the age of 85 on April 6.
The Hollywood actor starred in The Virginian, one of the longest-running Westerns in television history.
His assistant, Karen Lindsey, confirmed the sad news on Facebook, saying the actor had died of natural causes.
The star also appeared in several Westerns on the big screen, including Ten Who Dares in 1960 and Ride the High Country in 1962.
He was best known for his role as the no-nonsense foreman of the Shiloh Ranch in TV series The Virginian.
Bond Girl Honor Blackman died at the age of 94 on April 6.
The actress was best known for her role as Pussy Galore, as well as starring in The Avengers and A Night to Remember.
She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Sussex.
Her family said in a statement to The Guardian: “She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family.
“She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.”
South African television presenter Vinolia Mashego died at the age of 56.
The Generations star, commonly known as V-Mash, is reported to have died in her sleep at her home in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
According to Sowetan Live, Vinolia’s sister Prelley Seale found out about her sister’s death on the morning of April 6.
Prelley said: “It’s true. We got the news this morning.
“We are still shocked and we don’t know what happened to her.”
My 600-lb Life star James king passed away at the tender age of 49 on April 3.
The reality TV favourite died after ‘several different health battles’.
James’ family confirmed the news to TMZ with a heartwarming tribute to the young father-of-six.
He died in Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital while his obituary celebrated James as a ‘loving’ husband, son, brother, dad and grandfather.
Singer Bill Withers died on April, 3, aged 81.
The American music icon had lost a battle with an ongoing heart condition.
Born on July 4, 1938 in Slab Fork, West Virgina, the soul singer was given the name of William Harrison Withers. Most famous for his smash hit Ain’t No Sunshine, Withers’ other well known tracks include Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Use Me Up.
Comedian Eddie Large died on April 2 after contracting coronavirus.
Eddie, alongside funnyman Syd Little, made up one of Britain’s most beloved comedy duos, who were known as Little And Large.
He died alone in hospital without his family or friends allowed to visit him due to the strict rules around slowing the spread of the virus.
His son Ryan McGinnis broke the sad news on Facebook, telling family and friends that his Scottish comedian dad had passed away at the age of 78.
Actor Logan Williams died on April 2, aged 16. The cause of his death as not been made public.
The young star’s most famous role was on CW superhero series The Flash. He portrayed a younger version of main character Barry Allen. Williams also appeared on Hallmark show When Calls the Heart as Miles Montgomery.
Country music singer Joe Diffie died on March 29, aged 61. According to his publicist, his death was due to coronavirus complications.
Diffie was a Grammy award winner, earning the Best Country Collaboration with Vocals gong in 1998. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, a renowned weekly country music show.
Actor John Callahan died on March 28 aged 66 following a sudden stroke.
Callahan appeared on hit US soap opera All My Children as Edmund Grey from 1992 to 2005.
During the mid 80s and early 90s he also had roles on drama shows Santa Barbara and Falcon Crest.
Actor Mark Blum died on March 25 aged 69 following coronavirus complications.
Among Blum’s most notable big screen appearances were his roles in Crocodile Dundee and Desperately Seeking Susan.
He also featured on a number of TV shows, including Law and Order, NYPD Blue and The West Wing.
Kenny Rogers died on March 20 aged 81.
The country music legend had a career that spanned more than six decades, and featured chart topping hits like The Gambler and Islands in the Stream, his iconic duet with fellow country star Dolly Parton.
His music earned him numerous awards, including two Grammys for tracks Lucille and The Gambler in 1977 and 1979 respectively.
Rogers also turned his hand to acting, appearing in a number of TV movies inspired by The Gambler, as well as making cameos in various TV shows.
Actor Lorenzo Brino died on March 9 aged 21 after a car crash.
Brino was a former child star most famous for his portrayal of Sam Camden in 90s TV show 7th Heaven. He joined the show alongside his brother in 1996 when they were just five months old, and were part of the cast until 2001.
Max von Sydow
Actor Max von Sydow passed away on March 8, aged 90.
His career spanned many cult favourites including Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
Eggheads star Dave Rainford died aged 49.
Rainford was a general knowledge expert who was a fan favourite on the BBC quiz show. He joined the programme following an appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2015 which saw him win £250,000.
Eggheads host Jeremy Vine led the tributes on Twitter:” Dave “Tremendous Knowledge” Rainford, famous for being banned from pub quiz machines in Manchester, was the best company after a recording: always fun and sociable.
“I never saw him angry or ungenerous, not once.”
Professional dancer Danny Tidwell died on March 6 aged 35 following a car crash.
Tidwell became an American dance star after his appearance on the third season of US talent show So You Think You Can Dance? in 2007.
He went on to appear on other reality shows including Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.
Actor Nicholas Tucci died on March 3 aged 38 after a battle with cancer.
Tucci was most famous for his appearances on horror show Channel Zero and Netflix thriller You’re Next.
Barbara Crampton, one of Nicholas’ co-stars, paid tribute to him on social media: “Rip dear, sweet friend Nicholas Tucci. I was lucky to work w/ him twice on YOU’RE NEXT & CHANNEL ZERO.
“He is gone way too soon but his mark on the genre and our hearts will never be forgotten. Chilling in UNDOCUMENTED, MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND and funny in LONG LOST and more…XX”
Actor Michael Medwin died on February 26 aged 96.
Medwin’s most famous roles include his appearance in Carry On Nurse and his portrayal of Don Satchley in detective show Shoestring. He also starred in 1970 musical film Scrooge alongside Albert Finney.
Michael’s career included theatre as well, with West End productions such as Man and Superman and What the Butler Saw. He was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama in 2005.
Simon Warr died on February 22 aged 65 after battling pancreatic and liver cancer.
The broadcaster and former teacher worked on BBC Radio for over 20 years, and appeared on Channel 4 TV show That’ll Teach ‘Em as the headmaster.
Actor Boris Leskin died on February 21 aged 97.
Leskin was born in Romania and starred in a number of Soviet-era films, eventually making it to Hollywood and appearing in sci-fi movie Men in Black as the chef.
He also featured on TV show Third Watch and had a role in comedy drama Everything is Illuminated.
Bashar Barakah Jackson (Pop Smoke)
The American rapper known as Pop Smoke died on February 19, aged 20.
Pop Smoke was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 20, 1999.
The artist was only active within the American rap/grime scene for two years.
His first single to become popular was ‘Welcome to the party’ which was on his debut album ‘Meet the Woo’
It’s believed he was killed by a rival gang member.
Actress Ja’net DuBois died on February 18 aged 74.
DuBois was most famous for her role on the American 70s sitcom Good Times as Willona Woods. She also appeared on Beverly Hills 90210, ER and Everybody Loves Raymond. The star voiced a character on animated show The PJs, which earned her two Emmys.
Andrew Weatherall died on February 17, at the age of 56.
The DJ and music producer suffered from a pulmonary embolism and passed away in hospital, according to a statement released by his management.
Andrew – also known as The Major – first found fame with the club remix of Hallelujah for the Happy Mondays, for which he collaborated with DJ Paul Oakenfold.
He also helped produce World in Motion for New Order, Loaded, and a remix of Primal Scream’s track I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper and Munich air disaster hero Harry Gregg has passed away at the age of 87.
Gregg, a Northern Ireland international, helped rescue some of his teammates and other passengers on board the plane which came down in Munich as United travelled back from a European Cup tie in Belgrade on February 6, 1958.
Twenty-three passengers on board the plane were killed, including eight United first-team players.
United icon Bobby Charlton credits Gregg for saving his life after the crash, while he also helped pull a baby from the wreckage of the aircraft.
Gregg – who was back in the United goal just two weeks after the disaster – received an MBE in 1995 and an OBE in 2018, both for his services to football.
The goalkeeper is widely recognised as one of the greatest stoppers ever to play for United, and maintained that he was determined not to be remembered for his actions at Munich alone.
Disney voice actor Jason Davis has died on February 17 aged 35.
He was the voice of character Mikey Blumberg on the Disney animated series Recess for four years and has opened up in recent years about his struggles with addiction.
Jason’s mother, Nancy Davis Rickel, confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter, with the cause still unknown.
In a statement, Jason’s heartbroken mum wrote: “I am so heartbroken to share the saddest news of my life that my son Jason Davis passed away this morning in Los Angeles.
TV presenter Caroline Flack died on February 15 aged 40 after taking her own life.
A lawyer for the Flack family confirmed that Caroline took her own life and was found in her east London flat on Saturday.
A family spokesperson today said: “We can confirm that our Caroline passed away today on the 15th February.
“We would ask that the press respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time.”
She also hosted a radio show on Heart alongside Gethin Jones, and appeared as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.
American actress Esther Denise Scott has died on February 14, aged 66, following a heart attack.
Born in Queens, New York on April 13 1953, Esther made her acting debut as a voice actress on Star Wars, Ewoks.
Throughout her 31 year career she stared in films and TV shows such as, The Geena Davis show, Transformers, Fun with Dick and Jane, Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Arguably her most notable role come in the 1991 film, Boyz N the Hood.
Country singer Lindsey Lagestee died on February 14 aged 25 after being hit by a car.
Lagestee performed as part of Dixie Crush, a popular cover band in midwest America. She was one of the group’s founding members.
Actor John Shrapnel died on February 14 aged 77.
As well as featuring in a number of stage productions as part of the Royal Shakespeare company, Shrapnel starred in Notting Hill and Gladiator, and also appeared on TV show Waking the Dead.
Actress Lynn Cohen died on February 14 aged 86.
The star’s most famous role was as Magda in hit TV series Sex and the City, and she went on to portray the character in the show’s two big screen outings.
Cohen also appeared in numerous episodes of Law and Order and Damages, as well as featuring in various movies including Munich and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Nanny McPhee star Raphaël Coleman died on February 7, aged just 25.
Raphaël’s stepdad Carsten Jensen took to Facebook to say that Raphaël passed away after collapsing during a jog and could not be revived.
As well as appearing as Eric Brown in Nanny McPhee, he also had roles in It’s Alive, Edward’s Turmoil and The Fourth Kind.
In recent years, he had been actively involved with Extinction Rebellion, earning himself the nickname Iggy Fox within the group.
Actor Orson Bean died on February 7 aged 91 after being struck by a car.
The star’s career started on the radio in the 50s, before becoming a game show host in the 60s and then moving on to a number of TV roles.
Bean’s appearances include The Twilight Zone, Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman and Desperate Housewives, as well as big screen outings in Being John Malkovich and Alien Autopsy alongside Ant and Dec.
Actor Kirk Douglas died on February 5 aged 103.
The Hollywood legend was born Issur Danielovitch, and worked forty different jobs – including a stint in the United States Navy during World War II – before starting his acting career.
Following his debut big screen appearance in the 1946 film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Douglas went on to star in nearly 100 movies, including the role he was most famous for, Spartacus.
In a statement, his actor son Michael said: “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.”
Speedway star Danny Ayres passed away aged 33.
Ayres was a beloved figure among fans and those involved in the sport, and was part of various teams during his career, starting with Kent in the National League at the age of 27, followed Championship team Glasgow in 2016.
He also had stints for Leicester, Redcar, Cradley and Ipswich.
Musician Andy Gill died on February 1 aged 64.
Guitarist Gill was one of the founding members of post-punk band Gang of Four. The group’s debut album Entertainment! appeared on the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons died on January 28, aged 96.
Parsons had hosted the hit BBC Radio 4 radio comedy show Just A Minute since its inception in 1967, a show in which celebrity panelists must speak for 60 seconds “without hesitation, repetition or deviation” while swerving challenges from their rivals.
He also was known for his TV work, presenting shows such as Sale of the Century.
Retired LA Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant passed away on February 26, aged 41.
The five-time NBA Champion and American Basketball sensation was tragically killed following a helicopter crash.
The Shooting guard had a one club career with the Los Angeles side spanning 20 years.
Kobe’s daughter also passed away in the crash, along with several others.
Writer, actor and comedian Jack Burns died on January 26, at the age of 86.
One of the original writers for The Muppet Show, he was also a comedy partner to George Carlin, the pair penning radio shows and an album together in the 1960s.
The American actor starred in Happy Days, The Partridge Family and Sour Grapes, as well as voicing characters on hit animated series such as The Simpsons, Animaniacs, Mother Goose And Grim, and Darkwing Duck.
Monty Python founder and star Terry Jones died on January 21, aged 77.
According to a family statement Jones, who had been battling a rare form of dementia, died with with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side.
Jones was an original member of the legendary comedy troupe, and was largely responsible for getting them together after meeting Michael Palin at Oxford University.
Together, the Pythons created some of the world’s most famous comedy sketches of all time and released a number of hit movies, including Life Of Brian and The Holy Grail.
Yes Minister and Heartbeat star Derek Fowlds died on January 17, aged 82.
The actor died at Royal United Hospitals Bath after suffering from pneumonia that led to heart failure caused by sepsis.
Fowlds was best known for playing Private Secretary Bernard Woolley in the hit political sitcom and police officer Oscar Blaketon in Heartbeat, but he also entertained kids as Mr Derek on The Basil Brush Show from 1969 until 1973, starring opposite the famed puppet.
Canadian TV star Therese Dion died on January 16 at the age of 92.
She was in the company of her close family on the day she died, according to reports.
It’s said she had been struggling with illness in recent months including memory loss, loss of vision and hearing impairment, according to TMZ.
Therese was a star in her own right as she was the host of a cooking show for Canadian-French language channel TVA.
Also she was fondly nicknamed and known as Maman Dion.
Maman Dion was the mother of 14 children including singer Celine Dion.
Christopher Tolkien, the son of Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien, died on January 16, aged 95.
Christopher, an accomplished author in his own right, was key in keeping his father’s legacy alive after his death, editing works such as the The Silmarillion.
He also drew the famous original Lord of the Rings maps which decorated the books released across the 1950s after the success of the prequel, The Hobbit, the highly-detailed maps addong to the sense of a complete mythical world of Middle Earth.
Rocky Johnson, the wrestler dad of The Rock, died on January 15, aged 75.
Rocky became National Wrestling Alliance Georgia Champion and NWA Southern Heavyweight Memphis Champion as well as a host of other titles across his career, before going on to become part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship in the World Wrestling Federation with partner Tony Atlas.
After retiring, he went on to train son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to wrestle.
Stan Kirsch died on January 11, age 51.
The actor – who was best known for his role of Richie Ryan in Highlander – is believed to have taken his own life and was found dead at his home by his wife.
As well as playing Richie Ryan for six seasons, Kirsch also Stan also starred as Lieutenant Ferrari in hit series JAG for five seasons, as well as appearing in shows such as Friends.
Actor Edd Byrnes died on January 8 from natural causes, aged 87.
Byrnes appeared in the 1979 musical Grease as dance show host Vince Fontaine, and portrayed Kookie on TV series 77 Sunset Strip.
Musician Neil Peart died on January 7 aged 67 following a fight with brain cancer.
Peart was the drummer in rock band Rush, joining the ensemble in 1974 and retiring from music in 2015.
Neil is survived by Carrie, his wife of 19 years.
Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta died on January 7, aged 45.
He is believed to have taken his own life after being discovered in a motel room in Miami.
Horta was the show-runner and head writer behind the hit ABC show starring America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams, which ran for four seasons between 2006 and 2010.
He also wrote hit films Urban Legend and Urban Legend: Final Cut.
BBC presenter Stephen Clements passed away at the age of 47.
The much-loved TV and radio presenter died just months after landing what he called the “job of a lifetime” at the BBC.
Stephen, formerly a long-time presenter of Q Radio’s breakfast show, started working with BBC Northern Ireland last September.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Upstairs Downstairs star Christopher Beeny died on January 3, aged 78.
The star’s son, Rick Blackman, broke the sad news in a Twitter tribute to his dad.
As well as playing footman Edward Barnes in Upstairs Downstairs, Beeny also starred in Last Of The Summer Wine and In Loving Memory.
Derek Acorah died on January 3 aged 69 after falling into a septic coma.
Born Derek Francis Jason Johnson, Acorah was a self-styled spiritual medium who rose to fame on the the TV show Most Haunted when it launched it 2001, before fronting his own show Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns.
French striker Nathael Julan died in a car accident, aged 23.
Julan, who is believed to have been on his way home from training, was involved in the collision near the town of Saint-Brieuc with firefighters called to the scene.
Guingamp confirmed the news via a statement, saying: “The club had the immense pain of learning this afternoon of the accidental death of their player Nathael Julan.
“On this tragic day, all the members of the club join together to send their condolences to Nathael’s family.”
Former Barnsley and Cardiff City defender Chris Barker passed away, aged just 39.
In a career that spanned almost 20 years, the Sheffield-born left back made more than 500 career appearances since making his Football League debut for Barnsley back in 1999, before going on to play for teams such as Cardiff, QPR, Plymouth, Southend and Aldershot.
Young rising rap star Lexii Alijai died on January 1, aged just 21.
Fans of the up-and-coming star, whose real name is Alexis Alijai Lynch, were left devastated when news of her sudden death broke just hours after she had been active on social media.
She recently appeared on Kehlani Parrish’s single Jealous, and the American singer was one of the first to share the news as it broke.
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- Caroline Flack’s last Instagram picture: Love Island star’s Valentine’s Day pic was final social media post
- Caroline Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton breaks silence after Love Island star’s tragic suicide
- Final photos of Caroline Flack in public show her smiling three weeks before tragic death aged 40
- Paddy McGuinness urges followers to ‘check in on friends’ as he posts touching tribute to Caroline Flack
- Laura Whitmore in tears remembering Caroline Flack on BBC 5 Live: ‘None of this makes sense’
- Olly Murs to embark on two-day charity trek in memory of close friend Caroline Flack
- Love Island presenter Caroline Flack dies aged 40
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