Who We Lost In 2020

The Influential People We Will Miss The Most

Who+We+Lost+In+2020

Jennifer Love, Copy Editor

From COVID-19 to a chaotic election, 2020 dealt everyone a difficult year. The world has lost many important and influential people throughout this year, and sadly some of those deaths were covered by all the chaos. The following list, while still extensive, is not a complete list. 

DISCLAIMER: If someone you think should be on this list does not appear listed, it is not a slight against that person. We have tried to include a range of influential people, from actors and actresses to members of government. The list of people lost in 2020 is devastating, it was impossible for us to make a list of every single person we lost last year.

January:

  • 7 – Neil Peart – Brain Cancer – Age 67 – drummer and songwriter for Rush (notable song: “Tom Sawyer”)
  • 16 – Christopher Tolkein – No reported cause – Age 95 – editor and son of author J.R.R. Tolkein
  • 26 – Kobe and Gianna Bryant – Helicopter crash – Ages 41 and 13 – basketball player and his daughter
  • 31 – Mary Higgins Clark – Natural causes – Age 92 – mystery novelist 

February:

  • 5 – Kirk Douglas – Natural causes – Age 103 – actor (notable roles: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Spartacus, and Lonely are the Brave)
  • 24 – Katherine Johnson – Natural causes – Age 101 – former NASA mathematician

March:

  • 20 – Kenny Rogers – Natural causes – Age 81 – singer (notable song: “The Gambler”)
  • 30 – Bill Withers – Cardiopulmonary arrest – Age 81 – singer (notable songs: “Lean on Me” and “Just the Two of Us”)

May:

  • 9 – Little Richard – Bone Cancer – Age 87 – musician, singer, songwriter (notable songs: “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Reddy Teddy,” and “Tutti Frutti”)
  • 15 – Fred Willard – Cardiac arrest – Age 86 – actor (notable role: Modern Family)
  • 26 – Richard Herd – Colon Cancer – Age 87 – actor (notable roles: Star Trek: Voyager and Seinfeld)

June:

  • 5 – Kurt Thomas – Stroke – Age 64 – first American male gymnast to receive an olympic gold medal
  • 6 – Reche Caldwell – Armed Robbery – Age 41 – former NFL player
  • 8 – Bonnie Pointer – Cardiac arrest – Age 69 – former member of the Pointer Sisters (notable song: “I’m so Excited”)
  • 16 – Yohan – No reported cause – Age 28 – former member of K-Pop band TST
  • 17 – Jean Kennedy Smith – No reported cause – Age 92 – American diplomat and member of the Kennedy family
  • 18 – Vera Lynn – No reported cause – Age 103 – English singer popular during World War II (notable songs: “We’ll Meet Again” and “I’ll be Seeing You”)
  • 19 – Ian Holm – Parkinson’s related illness – Age 88 – actor (notable roles: Alien and Lord of the Rings)
  • 29 – Carl Reiner – Natural causes – Age 98 – actor (notable role: Dick Van Dyke Show)

July:

  • 1 – Hugh Downs – Heart ailment – Age 99 – American broadcaster (notable shows: 20/20 and the Today Show)
  • 5 – Nick Cordero – COVID-19 – Age 41 – Broadway actor (notable roles: Rock of Ages and Waitress)
  • 8 – Alex Pullin – Spearfishing accident – Age 32 – Australian olympic snowboarder
  • 8 – Naya Rivera – Drowning accident – Age 33 – actress (notable role: Glee)
  • 12 – Benjamin Keough – Suicide – Age 27 – son of Lisa Marie Presley and grandson of Elvis Presley
  • 12 – Kelly Preston – Breast Cancer – Age 57 – actress (notable roles: Jerry Maguire, Sky High, and Jack Frost) and wife of John Travolta
  • 13 – Grant Imahara – Brain aneurysm – Age 49 – former MythBusters host and electrical engineer
  • 13 – Zindzi Mandela – COVID-19 – Age 59 – South African diplomat and daughter of Nelson Mandela
  • 16 – Phyllis Somerville – Natural causes – Age 76 – actress (notable roles: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Our Souls at Night)
  • 17 – John Lewis – Pancreatic Cancer – Age 85 – former U.S. Representative and Civil Rights activist
  • 24 – Regis Philbin – Heart attack from coronary artery disease – Age 88 – TV presenter (notable shows: Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee and Live! with Regis and Kelly)
  • 25 – Peter Green – In sleep – Age 73 – founder of Fleetwood Mac and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (1998)
  • 26 – Olivia de Havilland – Natural causes – Age 104 – actress (notable role: Gone with the Wind)

August:

  • 5 – John Saxon – Pneumonia – Age 83 – actor (notable roles: Enter the Dragon and A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • 18 – Jack Sherman – Heart attack – Age 64 – former guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers (notable songs: “Dani California” and “Wet Sand”)
  • 26 – Joe Ruby – Natural causes – Age 87 – animator (notable work: Scooby-Doo)
  • 28 – Chadwick Boseman – Colon Cancer – Age 43 – actor (notable roles: Black Panther, 42, and 21 Bridges)
  • 29 – Cliff Robinson – Lymphoma – Age 53 – 18 season basketball player

September:

  • 6 – Lou Brock – Cancer – Age 81 – former baseball player and Hall of Famer (1985)
  • 6 – Bruce Williamson – COVID-19 – Age 49 – singer and former lead of The Temptations (notable songs: “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”)
  • 9 – Ronald “Khalis” Bell – No reported cause – Age 68 – founding member of Kool & the Gang (notable song: “Celebration”)
  • 10 – Diana Rigg – Cancer – Age 82 – English actress (notable role: Game of Thrones
  • 18 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Pancreatic Cancer – Age 87 – former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
  • 18 – Pamela Hutchinson – Health issues – Age 61 – former member of R&B group The Emotions (notable song: “Boogie Wonderland”)
  • 21 – Tommy Devito – COVID-19 – Age 92 – founding member of The Four Seasons (notable songs: “December, 1963,” “Sherry,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”)
  • 23 – Gale Sayers – Dementia – Age 77 – former NFL player and Running Back Hall of Famer (1977)
  • 29 – Mac Davis – Heart surgery complications – Age 78 – singer-songwriter, best known for writing with Elvis Presley (notable songs: “Memories,” “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “In the Ghetto,” and “A Little Less Conversation”)
  • 29 – Helen Reddy – Dementia – Age 78 – Australian-American singer (notable song: “I Am Woman”)

October:

  • No Reported Day – Luis Troyano – Oesophageal Cancer – Age 48 – Great British Bake Off finalist on Series 5
  • 6 – Eddie Van Halen – Stroke – Age 65 – guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen (notable songs: “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Jamie’s Cryin’”)
  • 6 – Johnny Nash – Natural causes – Age 80 – singer (notable song: “I Can See Clearly Now”)
  • 8 – Whitey Ford – No reported cause – Age 91 – former New York Yankees pitcher
  • 11 – Joe Morgan – Unspecified polyneuropathy – Age 77 – former MLB 2nd baseman
  • 14 – Fred Dean – COVID-19 – Age 68 – Football Hall of Famer (2008)
  • 31 – Sean Connery – Pneumonia related respiratory failure – Age 90 – actor (notable roles: Dr. No, Thunderball, and The Untouchables)

November:

  • 8 – Alex Trebek – Pancreatic Cancer – Age 80 – game show host (notable show: Jeopardy!)
  • 25 – Diego Maradona – Heart failure – Age 60 – Argentine soccer player 
  • 28 – David Prowse – COVID-19 – Age 85 – actor (notable role: Star Wars Franchise as Darth Vader)

December:

  • 2 – Rafer Johnson – No reported cause – Age 86 – 1960 decathlon gold medalist
  • 7 – Chuck Yeager – No reported cause – Age 97 – first to break the sound barrier in 1947, retired U.S. Air Force Officer
  • 10 – Carol Sutton – COVID-19 – Age 76 – actress (notable roles: Glory Road and The Help)
  • 12 – Charley Pride – COVID-19 – Age 86 – singer (notable songs: “Roll on Mississippi” and “All I Have to Offer You is Me”) and best selling performer for RCA Records in the 1970s since Elvis
  • 12 – Ann Reinking – In sleep – Age 71 – actress (notable roles: Chicago and Annie), dancer, and choreographer
  • 14 – Jeannie Morris – Appendiceal Cancer – Age 85 – pioneer for women in sports journalism in Chicago 
  • 17 – Jeremy Bulloch – Parkinson’s disease related – Age 75 – English actor (notable role: Star Wars Franchise as Boba Fett)
  • 22 – Stella Tennant – Suicide – Age 50 – British model
  • 25 – Tony Rice – No reported cause – Age 69 – Bluegrass guitarist and International Bluegrass Hall of Famer (2013)
  • 30 – Dawn Wells – COVID-19 – Age 82 – actress (notable role: Gilligan’s Island)