x
Breaking News
More () »

WNEP.com | News, Weather & Sports from WNEP-TV — Proud to Serve Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania

Entertainers we lost in 2020

A superhero brought to life. A TV quiz show giant. They are among those we lost in 2020 who made us smile, sing, laugh, cry and think.

They captivated us with their music, their words, their acting, their status and their personality. Some you may have never heard of but will recognize their work as soon as you see or hear it.

Two were among the last members of Hollywood's "Golden Age." Another was the original 007.

One came into people's homes every night for 37 years, requiring answers in the form of a question.

And one turned a comic book hero into a real-life inspiration for people of color while secretly fighting a long battle with cancer.

RELATED: Sports figures we lost in 2020

RELATED: Newsmakers we lost in 2020

Here is a look at the legends of stage, screen, music and pop culture we lost in 2020.

  • Malik B, 47; Rapper and founding member of The Roots.
  • Frankie Banali, 68; Drummer for heavy metal band Quiet Riot.
  • Ronald "Khalis" Bell, 68; Co-founder and singer of the group Kool & the Gang.
  • Roger Berlind, 90; Producer of more than 100 Broadway plays and musicals and the winner of 25 Tony Awards.
  • Frank Bielec, 72; Celebrity designer and star of the long-running TLC show "Trading Spaces"
  • Honor Blackman, 94; Played Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger" and Cathy Gale in the 1960s TV spy series “The Avengers."
  • William Blinn, 83; Screenwriter for the landmark TV projects "Brian's Song" and "Roots" and the Prince film "Purple Rain."
  • Mark Blum, 69; Actor who starred in "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Crocodile Dundee."
  • Chadwick Boseman, 43; Played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before inspiring audiences worldwide as the regal "Black Panther" in Marvel's blockbuster movie franchise. Secretly fought colon cancer for four years.
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Chadwick Boseman, a cast member in "42," poses at the Los Angeles premiere of the film at the TCL Chinese Theater on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  • Wilford Brimley, 85; Movie stunt rider became indelible character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included "Cocoon," "The Natural" and "The Firm."
  • Jeremy Bulloch, 75; Played the original Boba Fett in two "Star Wars" films.
  • Edd Byrnes, 87; Played Kookie in "77 Sunset Strip" and dance-off host Vince Fontaine in "Grease."
  • Zoe Caldwell, 86; Four-time Tony Award winner.
  • John Callahan, 66; Known for playing Edmund Grey on "All My Children."
  • Earl Cameron, 102; One of the first Black actors to perform in mainstream British films and played supporting roles to enduring entertainment icons such as James Bond and "Doctor Who."
  • Floyd Cardoz, 59; "Top Chef Masters" winner and beloved restaurateur died from complications from the coronavirus.
  • Mary Higgins Clark, 92; Publishing's "Queen of Suspense."
  • Lynn Cohen, 86; Played Magda in "Sex and the City" and quarter quell tribute Mags in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
  • Joanna Cole, 75; Author whose "Magic School Bus" books transported millions of young people on extraordinary and educational adventures.
  • Sean Connery, 90; Charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the suave secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles.
Credit: WXIA
James Bond's cinematic ties to the Caribbean began way back in 1962, when super-cool Sean Connery portrayed 007 in the first film in the James Bond series, Dr. No., set in Jamaica.
  • Robert Conrad, 84; Rugged, contentious actor who starred in the hugely popular TV series "The Wild, Wild West."
  • Nick Cordero, 41; Broadway star known for known for his roles in “A Bronx Tale The Musical" and “Bullets Over Broadway” died following coronavirus complications
  • Norm Crosby, 93; Deadpan mangler of the English language who thrived in the 1960s, '70s and '80s as a television, nightclub and casino comedian.
  • Ben Cross, 72; Starred in the Academy Award-winning film "Chariots of Fire" and played Spock's father, Sarek, in the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot.
  • Clive Cussler, 88; Million-selling novelist and adventure writer.
  • Charlie Daniels, 83; Country music pioneer and fiddler best known for the hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."
  • Mac Davis, 78; Country singer launched his career crafting the Elvis hits "A Little Less Conversation" and "In the Ghetto," and whose own hits include "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me."
  • Spencer Davis, 81; British guitarist and bandleader whose eponymous rock group had 1960s hits including "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man."
  • Olivia de Havilland, 104; Two-time Oscar winner best known as the kindly Melanie in "Gone With the Wind" was also an off-screen fighter who challenged and unchained Hollywood's contract system.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this file photo dated Dec. 28, 1979, actress Olivia De Havilland at Hollywood dinner party. Olivia de Havilland, Oscar-winning actress has died, aged 104 in Paris, publicist says Sunday July 26, 2020. (AP)
  • Brian Dennehy, 81; Known for his broad frame, booming voice and ability to play good guys and bad guys with equal aplomb, Dennehy won two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe and was nominated for six Emmys.
  • Tommy DeVito, 92; a founding member of the 1960s Four Seasons.
  • Chi Chi DeVayne, 34; Competitor on two seasons of "RuPaul's Drag Race."
  • Manu Dibango, 86; Fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music.
  • Joe Diffie, 61; Country singer's 1990s hits included "Honky Tonk Attitude," "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)," "Bigger Than the Beatles" and "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)."
  • Kevin Dobson, 77; Best known for his roles on the shows "Kojak" and "Knots Landing."
  • Kirk Douglas, 103; One of the actors of Hollywood's Golden Age starred in "Spartacus," "Lust for Life" and dozens of other films.
  • Ja'Net DuBois, 74; Played the vivacious neighbor Willona Woods on "Good Times" and composed and sang the theme song for "The Jeffersons."
  • Justin Townes Earle, 38; Singer-songwriter was a leading performer of American roots music known for his introspective and haunting style.
  • Conchata Ferrell, 77; Became known for her role as Berta the housekeeper on TV's "Two and a Half Men" after a long career as a character actor on stage and in movies, including "Mystic Pizza" and" Network."
Credit: AP
Conchata Ferrell arrives at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences 21st Annual Hall of Fame Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, March 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
  • Caroline Flack, 40; British TV presenter and former host of the reality TV show "Love Island."
  • Rhonda Fleming, 97; Fiery redhead who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan and other film stars of the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Christian Garrison, 78; Author and filmmaker who displayed an unfiltered slice of 1960s Mississippi hill country life in a short film about influential blues guitarist Fred McDowell.
  • Peter Green, 73; Dexterous blues guitarist who led the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac.
  • Winston Groom, 77; Writer whose novel "Forrest Gump" was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop cultural phenomenon.
  • Andre Harrell, 59; Uptown Records founder credited with discovering Sean "Diddy" Combs.
  • Guy Harris, 81; Longtime friend of Elvis Presley who spent years sharing his personal memories of the King of Rock' n' Roll.
  • Eddie Hassell, 30; Actor whose credits included "The Kids Are All Right."
  • Buck Henry, 89; Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "The Graduate" and regular host in first five years of "Saturday Night Live."
  • Ian Holm, 88; Well known for his role as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins in The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the android Ash in "Alien."
  • Roy Horn, 75; One-half of famous duo Siegfried and Roy whose extraordinary magic tricks astonished millions until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act's famed white tigers.
  • Silvio Horta, 45; Created groundbreaking comedy-drama "Ugly Betty."
  • Grant Imahara, 49; Former electrical engineer who became co-host of Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters"
Credit: Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP
Grant Imahara attends the "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" premiere at iPic Theaters Westwood on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
  • Andrew Jack, 76; Appeared in three of the most recent "Star Wars" films. Also served as a dialect coach for actors including Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth.
  • Terry Jones, 77; Monty Python member.
  • Roger Khan, 92; "The Boys of Summer" author.
  • Rishi Kapoor, 67; Indian actor was a scion of a famous Bollywood family.
  • John Karlen, 86; Had starring roles on "Dark Shadows" and "Cagney & Lacey."
  • Donna Kauffman, 60; Best-selling romance novelist with more than 70 titles to her name.
  • Paula Kelly, 77; 2-time Emmy-nominated actress appeared on "Night Court" and "The Women of Brewster Place."
  • Hal Ketchum, 67; 1990s country music star had hits "Small Town Saturday Night" and "Past the Point of Rescue."
  • Irrfan Khan, 54; Veteran character actor in Bollywood movies and one of India's best-known exports to Hollywood. Roles included "Slumdog Millionaire," "Life of Pi," and "Jurassic World."
  • Astrid Kirchherr, 81; Photographer shot some of the earliest and most striking images of the Beatles and had a lasting impact on their visual style.
  • Stan Kirsch, 51; Actor played the immortal Richie Ryan on the TV series "Highlander."
  • Shirley Knight, 83; Two-time Oscar-nominated actress.
  • Larry Kramer, 84; Playwright whose angry voice and pen raised theatergoers' consciousness about AIDS and roused thousands to militant protests in the early years of the epidemic.
  • Herbert Kretzmer, 95; Journalist and lyricist best known for his English-language adaptation of the musical "Les Miserables."
  • David L. Lander, 73; Best known for playing Squiggy on the popular ABC comedy “Laverne & Shirley."
  • John le Carre, 89; Spy-turned-novelist whose elegant and intricate narratives defined the Cold War espionage thriller and brought acclaim to a genre critics had once ignored.
  • William Link, 87; Co-created the hit series “Columbo” and “Murder, She Wrote” and made 1970s and ’80s TV movies about social issues.
  • James Lipton, 93; Longtime host of "Inside the Actors Studio."
Credit: AP
James Lipton arrives at night one of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
  • Michael Lonsdale, 89; Giant of the silver screen and theater in France who worked with some of the world's top directors in an acting career that spanned 60 years.
  • Tommy “Tiny” Lister, 62; Former professional wrestler who was known for his bullying Deebo character in the “Friday” films.
  • Barry Lopez, 75; Award-winning writer who tried to tighten the bonds between people and place by describing the landscapes he saw in 50 years of travel.
  • Trini Lopez, 83; Singer and guitarist who gained fame for his versions of "Lemon Tree" and "If I Had a Hammer" in the 1960s.
  • Alison Lurie, 94; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs."
  • Ellis Marsalis Jr., 85; Patriarch of New Orleans clan that included famed sons Wynton and Branford.
  • Michael McClure, 87; One of San Francisco's famed Beat poets of the 1960s.
  • Phyllis McGuire, 89; The last surviving member of the three singing McGuire Sisters who topped the charts with several hits in the 1950s.
  • Nikki McKibbin, 42; Singer from Texas best known for her third-place finish in the first season of American Idol.
  • Terrence McNally, 81; one of America's great playwrights whose prolific career included winning Tony Awards for the plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class."
  • MF Doom, 49; British-born rapper who often sported a signature mask that resembled Marvel Comics' villain Doctor Doom.
  • Ian Mitchell, 62; Bassist for Bay City Rollers near height of band's popularity in 1976-77.
  • Johnny Nash, 80; Singer-songwriter, actor and producer who rose from pop crooner to early reggae star to the creator and performer of the million-selling anthem "I Can See Clearly Now."
  • K.T. Oslin, 78; Country singer-songwriter was first woman to win CMA Song of the Year award with her 1987 hit "80's Ladies."
  • Ken Osmond, 76; Played the two-faced teenage scoundrel Eddie Haskell on TV's "Leave it to Beaver."
  • Neil Peart, 67; Drummer and key lyricist for the band "Rush."
  • Regis Philbin, 88; Genial TV host who shared his life with television viewers over morning coffee for decades and helped himself and some fans strike it rich with the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
  • Bonnie Pointer, 69; Founding member of the pop group "The Pointer Sisters."
  • Kelly Preston, 57; Actor starred in "Jerry Maguire," "Twins" and "For the Love of the Game;" wife of John Travolta.
  • Charley Pride, 86; His rich baritone on such hits as “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • John Prine, 73; Singer-songwriter explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in "Angel from Montgomery," "Sam Stone" and "Hello in There."
  • Dave Prowse, 85; British weightlifter-turned-actor who played Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.
  • Sushant Singh Rajput, 34; Popular Bollywood actor.
  • Helen Reddy, 78; Shot to stardom in the 1970s with her rousing feminist anthem "I Am Woman" and recorded a string of other hits.
  • Sumner Redstone, 97; Joined his family's drive-in movie chain in the 1950s and used it to build a vast media empire that included CBS and Viacom.
  • Harold Reid; 80; Bass singer for the Grammy-winning country group the Statler Brothers.
  • Natalie Desselle Reid, 53; Starred alongside Halle Berry in the 1997 film “B.A.P.S.” and on the sitcom “Eve."
  • Carl Reiner, 98; Legendary comedian, producer, director, 'Dick Van Dyke Show creator
  • Ann Reinking, 71; Tony Award-winning choreographer, actress and Bob Fosse collaborator who helped spread a cool, muscular hybrid of jazz and burlesque movement to Broadway and beyond.
  • Tony Rice, 69; Master bluegrass picker who drew fans worldwide for the chance to hear the quick, fluid sounds he conjured from his storied Martin D-28 guitar.
  • Little Richard, 87; One of the defining artists in the early rock 'n' roll era with classics like "Good Golly Miss Molly, "Long Tall Sally" and "Tutti Frutti."
  • Diana Rigg, 82; British actress who became a 1960s style icon as secret agent Emma Peel in the TV series "The Avengers." Also starred in spy thriller "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" as the only woman ever to marry James Bond.
  • Naya Rivera, 33; Singer and actor who played a cheerleader on the hit TV musical comedy "Glee."
  • Kenny Rogers, 81; Country music crossover legend whose hits included "The Gambler," "Lucille" and "Islands in the Stream."
  • Annie Ross, 89; Popular jazz singer in the 1950s crossed over into a successful film career.
  • Reni Santoni, 81; Played Poppie in "Seinfeld" and appeared in multiple films including "Dirty Harry."
  • John Saxon, 83; Versatile actor with a lengthy and prolific career who starred with Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon" and appeared in several "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.
  • Adam Schlesinger, 52; Emmy and Grammy-winning musican and songwriter co-founded Fountains of Wayne.
  • David Schramm, 73; Founding member of New York's The Acting Company played Roy Biggins on NBC's "Wings."
  • Joel Schumacher, 80; Filmmaker who dressed New York department store windows before shepherding the Brat Pack to the big screen in "St. Elmo's Fire" and steering the Batman franchise into its most baroque territory in "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin."
  • Joseph Shabalala, 78; Founder of the South African multi-Grammy-Award-winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
  • Billy Joe Shaver, 81; Outlaw country singer-songwriter who wrote "Honky Tonk Heroes," "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train" and "Old Five and Dimers Like Me."
  • Lynn Shelton, 54; Independent filmmaker who directed "Humpday" and "Little Fires Everywhere."
  • Fred Silverman, 82; TV executive at ABC, NBC and CBS.
  • Barbara "B." Smith, 70; One of the nation's top black models who went on to open restaurants, launch a successful home products line and write cookbooks.
  • Jerry Stiller, 92; Teamed for decades with wife Anne Meara as a beloved comedy duo. Starred in "Seinfeld" and "The King of Queens."
  • Doug Supernaw, 60; Country singer who had hits in the early '90s with "I Don't Call Him Daddy," and "Reno."
  • Carol Sutton, 76; A fixture on stages in her native New Orleans who built a steady career on the big and small screens, including roles in the 1989 comedy “Steel Magnolias” and the TV series “Queen Sugar."
  • Bruce Swedien, 86; Five-time Grammy-winning audio engineer who collaborated with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones.
  • Alex Trebek, 80; Presided over the beloved quiz show "Jeopardy!" for more than 30 years with dapper charm and a touch of schoolmaster strictness.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Friday, April 28, 2006, file photo, Alex Trebek holds the award for outstanding game show host, for his work on "Jeopardy!" backstage at the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. Trebek died at home with family and friends surrounding him, “Jeopardy!” studio Sony said in a statement. Trebek presided over the beloved quiz show for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
  • Max Von Sydow, 90; Acclaimed actor played priest in "The Exorcist." Starred in close to 200 film and TV productions.
  • Danny Tidwell, 35; Season 3 runner-up on "So You Think You Can Dance."
  • McCoy Tyner, 81; Groundbreaking and influential jazz pianist and the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet.
  • Lyle Waggoner, 84; Played comic foil on "The Carol Burnett Show."
  • Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 15; Appeared in Disney's "Queen of Katwe" about the rise of a Ugandan chess prodigy.
  • Jerry Jeff Walker, 78; Texas country singer and songwriter who wrote the pop song "Mr. Bojangles."
  • Kellye Nakahara Wallett, 72; Played Nurse Kellye Yamato on "M-A-S-H'
  • Charles Webb, 81; Lifelong non-conformist whose debut novel "The Graduate" was a deadpan satire of his college education and wealthy background adapted into the classic film of the same name.
  • Fred Willard, 86; Comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like "This Is Spinal Tap," "Best In Show" and "Anchorman."
  • Hal Willner, 64; Music producer and longtime "Saturday Night Live" music supervisor.
  • Bill Withers, 81; Wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including "Lean on Me," "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine."
  • Barbara Windsor, 83;  British actress whose seven-decade career ranged from cheeky film comedies to the soap opera “EastEnders."
  • Elizabeth Wurtzel, 52; Author who gave blunt confessions of her struggles with addiction and depression in "Prozac Nation."
  • Kansai Yamamoto, 76; Japanese fashion designer known for his avant-garde and colorful work that included flamboyant costumes of the late rock icon David Bowie.
  • Stella Tennant, 50; Aristocratic British model who was a muse to designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace.
  • Dawn Wells, 82; Played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan's Island."
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Dawn Wells arrives at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel on Friday, April 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)