Fifty-five celebrities who tragically died in 2020

Sir Sean Connery, Dame Barbara Windsor, and Caroline Flack were among the many stars who died in 2020.

The tumultuous year began with the shock death of basketball star Kobe Bryant, who was killed alongside his daughter in a helicopter crash.

This was before the pandemic upended life as we knew it, and took it away from a famous few.

Here, we take a look at 55 of the high-profile figures who said their final goodbyes over the last 12 months:

January

Derek Acorah

Celebrity TV psychic Derek Acorah
(Image: MDG)

Derek Acorah died at the age of 69 on January 3.

Acorah, from Merseyside, was a spiritual medium and best known for his work on the Most Haunted TV series.

He died after being treated in intensive care following a ‘brief illness’.

Neil Peart

Legendary drummer Neil Peart of the band Rush died at age 67 on January 7
(Image: Getty Images)

Neil Peart, the drummer from Canadian rock trio Rush, died aged 67 on January 7 following a battle with brain cancer.

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl led the tributes for Peart, lauded as one of the greatest drummers in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Derek Fowlds

Derek Fowlds as Oscar Blaketon in Heartbeat
(Image: Yorkshire Television)

Derek Fowlds, star of Yes Minister, died aged 82 on January 17.

Fowlds is also well-known for playing the role of Oscar Blaketon for 18 years in the long-running police drama Heartbeat.

The star also spent four years on the children’s TV show The Basil Brush Show as Mr Derek.

Terry Jones

Terry Jones
(Image: PA)

Monty Python star Terry Jones, who had dementia, died at the age of 77 on January 21.

The actor and comedian directed some of the comedy troupe’s best-loved works and his former colleagues were among those to pay tribute.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
(Image: Getty Images)

The basketball superstar, 41, was killed on January 26 alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others after their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Southern California.

Oscar-winner Bryant’s death sent shockwaves around the world and Barack Obama was among those who paid tribute.

Nicholas Parsons

Nicholas Parsons died aged 96 after a short illness
(Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

Nicholas Parsons CBE, a broadcaster known for hosting Radio 4’s Just A Minute, died on January 28 aged 96 following a short illness.

Stephen Fry described Parsons as a “great institution” while Graham Norton said he was “truly the kindest and most generous person I’ve ever worked with”.

February

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas at his home in Beverly Hills
(Image: AP)

One of the last stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103 on February 5.

The patriarch of an acting dynasty and star of films Spartacus, Ace In The Hole and Champion, Douglas’ son Michael said he leaves a cinematic legacy that “will endure for generations to come”.

Caroline Flack

Caroline Flack
(Image: PA)

The Love Island host, 40, took her own life at her home in north-east London, on February 15.

An inquest into her death heard she was concerned about a forthcoming trial, where she was accused of assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton.

Andrew Weatherall

Andrew Weatherall
(Image: PA)

Andrew Weatherall, British musician and DJ, died aged 56 on February 17.

The record producer known for helming Primal Scream’s Screamadelica died of a pulmonary embolism, his management announced at the time.

March

Michel Roux

Michel Roux
(Image: Getty Images)

Michel Roux died aged 79 on March 11.

The legendary French-born chef opened the first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, in Britain in the 70s alongside his brother Albert.

Roy Hudd

Roy Hudd and Maggie Jones in Corrie in April 2002
(Image: Granada Television)

Comedian and actor Roy Hudd, who played undertaker Archie Shuttleworth in Coronation Street, died on March 15 aged 83.

Hudd, who was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to entertainment, passed away peacefully after a short illness.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers
(Image: WADE PAYNE/INVISION/AP)

The country music star, known for his husky singing voice and hits such as Coward Of The County and The Gambler, died aged 81 on March 20 from natural causes.

His collaborator and long-time friend Dolly Parton paid an emotional tribute and said: “I loved Kenny with all my heart. And my heart’s broken. A big old chunk of it has gone with him today.”

Bill Withers

Bill Withers
(Image: AP)

The soul singer, whose hits included Lean On Me, Lovely Day, and Ain’t No Sunshine, died on March 30 from heart complications aged 81.

Beach Boys star Brian Wilson remembered him as a “songwriter’s songwriter”.

April

Eddie Large

Eddie Large
(Image: PA)

The comedian, who delighted audiences for decades as part of his Little And Large partnership with Syd Little, died on April 2 at the age of 78 after contracting coronavirus while being treated for heart failure in hospital.

Little said he was “devastated”.

Honor Blackman

Honor Blackman
(Image: Getty Images)

Perhaps the most famous Bond girl ever, Honor Blackman played Pussy Galore alongside Sir Sean in Goldfinger.

After her death at 94 on April 5, Blackman, also known for TV roles in The Avengers and The Upper Hand, was hailed a “film icon”.

Tim Brooke-Taylor

Tim Brooke-Taylor
(Image: Getty Images)

The Goodies star Brooke-Taylor died aged 79 on April 12 after contracting coronavirus.

Tributes flooded in from across the entertainment world and Bill Oddie, his former comedy partner, described him as a “true visual comic and a great friend”.

Lynn Faulds Wood

Lynn Faulds Wood
(Image: Getty Images)

Former BBC Watchdog presenter Lynn Faulds Wood died at the age of 72 on April 24.

The Scottish television presenter and journalist suffered a stroke and a subsequent bleed on the brain.

May

Little Richard

Little Richard
(Image: AP)

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard died aged 87 on May 9 after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

Tributes flooded in following his death and Sir Paul McCartney said: “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it.”

Michael Angelis

Michael Angelis on his wedding day with Helen Worth in 1991

Liverpool actor Angelis, best known as the long-term narrator of Thomas The Tank Engine series Thomas And Friends, died at the age of 76 on May 30.

Among those paying tribute was comedian Matt Lucas, who described Angelis as “one of the greatest TV actors I’ve ever seen”.

June

Willie Thorne

Willie Thorne died at the age of 66
(Image: PA)

Snooker star Willie Thorne died on June 17 at the age of 66 after a short battle with leukaemia.

Thorne reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982.

Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn has died at the age of 103
(Image: PA)

National treasure Dame Vera Lynn died at the age of 103 on June 18.

Dame Vera was known as the nation’s sweetheart for keeping up morale during World War Two.

In the final months of her life, We’ll Meet Again, the track she is best known for, become a rallying cry to help the country through lockdown.

Sir Ian Holm

Sir Ian Holm
(Image: Getty Images)

Sir Ian, whose distinguished career on stage and screen included films Chariots Of Fire and The Lord Of The Rings, died at the age of 88 on June 19.

“He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” his agent said at the time, adding that his illness was Parkinson’s related.

Joel Schumacher

Joel Schumacher
(Image: Getty Images)

Hollywood director Schumacher, whose films included classics St Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys, as well as the much-derided Batman & Robin, died on June 22 at the age of 80 after a year-long battle with cancer.

July

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone
(Image: AP)

Italian composer Morricone, who created The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’s main theme over a varied career, died aged 91 on July 6.

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera
(Image: Getty Images)

The former Glee actress, 33, drowned on July 8 at a Southern California lake while on a boating trip with her four-year-old son.

Rivera played cheerleader Santana Lopez on the musical drama and following her death she was praised for the portrayal of an LGBT character.

Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton died on July 10 aged 85 at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.

Charlton, the brother of Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, was a former Leeds and England defender who won a World Cup winner’s medal in 1966.

He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

Peter Green

Peter Green
(Image: BBC)

Green, who co-founded Fleetwood Mac in London in 1967, died at the age of 73 on July 25.

He left the influential group following struggles with his mental health. Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks led the tributes.

Dame Olivia de Havilland

Dame Olivia de Havilland
(Image: PA)

Another star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dame Olivia died in Paris at the age of 104 on July 26.

As well as winning two best actress Oscars, the Gone With The Wind star played a pivotal role in breaking the studio system after winning a legal battle to end her contract with Warner Bros in 1944.

Denise Johnson

Denise Johnson
(Image: Sue Langford)

Manchester music icon Denise Johnson died suddenly on July 27.

She was famed for collaborations with Scottish rock band, Primal Scream, and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr’s group Electronic.

Sir Alan Parker

Alan Parker
(Image: Getty Images)

Hollywood mourned British filmmaker Sir Alan following his death at the age of 76 on July 31.

His work included Bugsy Malone, Fame, Midnight Express, and Mississippi Burning.

August

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman
(Image: Getty Images for MTV)

Boseman was best-known for his portrayal of Marvel superhero Black Panther, a blockbuster hailed as a landmark moment for representation in Hollywood.

He died at the age of 43 following a private four-year-battle with colon cancer.

September

Erick Morillo

Erick Morillo
(Image: WireImage)

Erick Morillo, DJ and music producer, was found dead in his Miami Beach home on September 1 aged 49.

The I Like to Move It producer died from ‘acute ketamine toxicity’.

Rodney Litchfield

Actor Rodney Litchfield
(Image: BBC)

Actor Rodney Litchfield – known for his role as Old Tommy in the show Early Doors – died aged 81 on September 5.

Rodney, from Wigan, died in his sleep after being ill ‘for some time’.

Dame Diana Rigg

Dame Diana Rigg
(Image: Getty Images)

 

Veteran actress Dame Diana, known for her roles in The Avengers, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Game Of Thrones, died at the age of 82 on September 10.

She had been diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year and died peacefully at home, her daughter said.

Toots Hibbert

Toots Hibbert
(Image: Getty Images)

 

Legendary reggae singer Toots Hibbert died aged 77 on September 11.

He is best remembered for being behind hits including Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and 54-46 That’s My Number as leader of reggae group Toots and the Maytals.

Jackie Stallone

Jackie Stallone and son Sylvester Stallone
(Image: WireImage)

Jackie Stallone, the mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester and one of Celebrity Big Brother’s most memorable contestants, died aged 98 on September 21.

Stallone, who was known as an astrologer and wrestling promoter, ‘died in her sleep as she wished’.

Archie Lyndhurst

Archie Lyndhurst
(Image: CBBC)

Actor Archie Lyndhurst, son of Only Fools And Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst, died at the age of 19 on September 22.

The teenager, who played Ollie in So Awkward on CBBC, is said to have died following a ‘short illness’.

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy
(Image: Getty Images for G’Day USA)

Reddy, best known for the feminist anthem I Am Woman, died aged 78 on September 29.

The Australia-born singer enjoyed a prolific career and earlier this year her life was the subject of a biopic.

October

Margaret Nolan

Model and actress Margaret Nolan
(Image: Getty Images)

 

Bond girl Nolan died aged 76 on October 5.

Best known for playing the gold-painted model in the Goldfinger, she also made appearances in six Carry On films.

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen
(Image: Getty Images for Esquire)

 

Van Halen was commended as one of the greatest rock music guitarists ever after he died at 65 on October 6 following a battle with cancer.

His son Wolfgang announced the death and said “my heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss”.

Johnny Nash

Johnny Nash
(Image: Michael Ochs Archives)

Singer-songwriter Johnny Nash, best known for the 1972 hit I Can See Clearly Now, died aged 80 on October 6.

His son said his father, whose health had been in decline, died at his home of natural causes in October.

Frank Bough

Frank Bough
(Image: PA)

 

Former TV presenter Bough, one of the best-known hosts of the 1970s and 1980s, died at the age of 87 on October 21.

Gary Lineker was among those to pay tribute, describing Bough as “a brilliant presenter who made it all look so easy”.

Johnny Leeze

Johnny as Ned with Claire King as Kim Marchant and Roy Glover played by Nicky Evans on Emmerdale
(Image: ITV)

Former soap star Johnny Leeze died aged 78 on October 25 after testing positive for coronavirus and suffering from underlying health conditions.

He played farmer Ned Glover in Emmerdale from 1994 until 1999 and played milkman Harry Clayton who bought 11 Coronation Street in 1985.

Bobby Ball

Bobby Ball
(Image: Getty Images)

The comedian, known for his double act with Tommy Cannon, died at the age of 76 on October 28 after testing positive for Covid-19.

Cannon said: “Rock on, my good friend, I can’t believe this, I’m devastated.”

Nobby Stiles

Nobby Stiles was diagnosed with Alzhemier’s over 15-years-ago
(Image: PA)

Manchester United legend and England 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles died aged 78 on October 30 after a long illness.

Stiles, who was born in Collyhurst, was part of the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup, when they beat Benfica in the final at Wembley.

Stiles was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease more than 18 years ago.

Sir Sean Connery

Sir Sean Connery
(Image: Getty Images)

Sir Sean, who died peacefully in his sleep aged 90 on October 31, was seen by many as the ultimate James Bond.

Among the world leaders and celebrities to pay tribute, Pierce Brosnan, one of Sir Sean’s 007 successors, said he “cast a long shadow of cinematic splendour that will live on forever”.

November

John Sessions

John Sessions
(Image: PA)

 

John Gibb Marshall, better known by the stage name John Sessions, died aged 67 on November 2.

Sessions was best known for his work on TV shows Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Geoffrey Palmer

Geoffrey Palmer
(Image: PA)

 

Palmer, perhaps best known for his role as Lionel Hardcastle in As Time Goes By, died aged 93 on November 5.

Among those to pay tribute was his As Time Goes By co-star Dame Judi Dench, who described Palmer as a “master of comedy”.

Des O’Connor

Des O’Connor and wife Jodie
(Image: PA)

All-round entertainer, Desmond Bernard O’Connor CBE, died at the age of 88 on November 14 – days after he suffered a fall at home.

He was known for hosting his own chat show, as well as Take Your Pick and Countdown – and for his friendship with Morecambe and Wise.

Eric Hall

Eric Hall
(Image: PA)

Eric Hall, showbiz and football agent, died aged 73 on November 16 after a short illness.

Hall, who was famed for his trademark cigar and ‘Monster monster’ catchphrase, made deals on behalf of household names Dennis Wise, Tim Sherwood, and Neil Ruddock.

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona
(Image: PA)

 

Professional football player and manager, Diego Maradona, died aged 60 on November 25.

He was widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

December

Dame Barbara Windsor

Barbara Windsor after she was made a Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire
(Image: PA)

 

Dame Barbara died aged 83 on December 10, six years after being diagnosed with dementia.

The iconic actress found fame in the 1960s starring in the Carry On films before becoming a national treasure playing Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.

Charley Pride

Charley Pride has died at age 86 of COVID-19 complications
(Image: Getty Images for CMA)

 

Country music star Charley Pride died aged 86 on December 12 from coronavirus complications.

Pride was one the genre’s first black stars and the first black member of the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Martin Lambie-Nairn

Martin Lambie-Nairn
(Image: PA)

 

Martin Lambie-Nairn, the graphic designer credited with creating Spitting Image and the Channel 4 logo, died aged 75 on Christmas Day.

Martin was widely acknowledged as one of the leading graphic designers and creative directors of his generation.

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin
(Image: AP)

 

French fashion designer Pierre Cardin died at the age of 98 on December 29.

Cardin was credited with revolutionising fashion in the 1960s and ’70s with his avant-garde style, space age designs and love of geometric shapes.

Manchester Evening News