Looking back over the beloved stars we lost in the past year is always emotional, and this year has been especially devastating, given how many members of the entertainment community died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic hit the music community especially hard, but television and film performers, as well as stage actors and below-the-line workers were also affected. Singer-songwriter John Prine, record producer Hal Willner and “Nashville” actor Allen Garfield all died of coronavirus on April 7. Broadway actor Nick Cordero died on July 5 after a four-month battle with the disease.
Adam Schlesinger, a composer and co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, died on April 1 at 52. Charley Pride, remembered as country music’s first Black superstar, died on Dec. 12 of coronavirus complications. The year ended with another COVID-19 death: Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann in “Gilligan’s Island,” died Dec. 30 at 82.
Chadwick Boseman‘s death due to colon cancer rocked the entertainment industry on Aug. 28. The “Black Panther” star was just 43, and his death came as a shock since few of his associates knew he had been ill.
Some of the last remaining stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age left us in 2020, including Kirk Douglas, 103, and Olivia de Havilland, 104. “Spartacus” star Douglas died on Feb. 5, while de Havilland died on July 26 in Paris. She was the last remaining member of the principal “Gone With the Wind” cast.
In movies, Max von Sydow, star of Ingmar Bergman movies, died on March 8 at 90. Brian Dennehy, who appeared in films like “Cocoon” and “Tommy Boy,” and on television and stage, died on April 15 at 81. Kelly Preston, who appeared in “Mischief” and “Twins,” died on July 12 at 57.
“Cocoon” star Wilford Brimley died on August 1 at 85. Sean Connery, dashing star of seven James Bond films, including the first in the series, “Dr. No,” died on Oct. 31. Rhonda Fleming, known as the “Queen of Technicolor,” died on Oct. 14 at 97. Broadway legend Ann Reinking, who also starred in “All That Jazz,” died on Dec. 12.
Several notable filmmakers died this year as well. Director Lynn Shelton, known for films including “Your Sister’s Sister,” died on May 16 at 54. “Batman” and “The Lost Boys” director Joel Schumacher died on June 22 of cancer. “Midnight Express” director Alan Parker died on July 31.
Television stars who died in 2020 include “Wild Wild West” star Robert Conrad, on Feb. 8 at 84. “Good Times” star Ja’Net Dubois died on Feb. 18. Comedian Jerry Stiller, the father of Ben Stiller, died on May 11 at 92. Comic actor Fred Willard died on May 15. Comedy legend and “Dick Van Dyke Show” creator Carl Reiner died on June 29 at 98. “Glee” star Naya Rivera drowned in California on July 8. Diana Rigg, star of the original “Avengers” series, on died Sept. 10. Conchata Ferrell, who appeared on “Two and a Half Men,” died on Oct. 13.
In the music world, Rush drummer Neil Peart, considered one of the most innovative directors in rock history, died of brain cancer on Jan. 7. Country megastar Kenny Rogers died on March 20 at 81. R&B singer-songwriter Bill Withers died on March 30 at 81. Movie score composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6 at 91, and country rocker Charlie Daniels died the same day.
Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard died on May 9. Reggae singer Toots Hibbert died on Sept. 11. “I Am Woman” singer Helen Reddy died on Sept. 29. Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen died on Oct. 6 after a long cancer battle.