Remembering the Stars We Lost in 2019
The Tony Award-winning Broadway composer behind Hello, Dolly!, died in Miami, Florida on Dec. 27. He was 88.
Herman’s goddaughter confirmed his death from pulmonary complications to The Associated Press on Friday.
Born in New York City in 1931, the legendary composer worked on several iconic Broadway shows throughout his career, including Hello, Dolly! (1964) and La Cage aux Folles (1983) — both of which earned him Tony Awards for best musical. He was nominated a total of five times.
In addition to his Tony Awards, Herman also won two Grammy Awards for the cast album of Mame and song of the year for Hello, Dolly!
He is the only composer to have had three original Broadway productions running at the same time — Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and Dear World all ran from February to May in 1969.
He is survived by his partner, real estate broker Terry Marler.
The well-known Bollywood actor died by suicide at his Bandra, Mumbai home in India on Dec. 27. He was 42.
The actor was reportedly found dead by his parents around 2 a.m. Friday, according to Indian news channel ABP Live. A suicide note was recovered, according to The Times of India, which stated that no one should be held responsible for his death and that his property should be divided between his parents, his son, Kian, 3, and sisters.
Punjabi was best known for popular Bollywood films including Lakshya (2004), Kaal (2005) and Salaam-E-Ishq (2007) in which he co-starred with Priyanka Chopra.
Best known as the star of Stanley Kubrick's screen adaptation of Lolita, the actress died in Los Angeles on Dec. 26. She was 73.
A longtime friend of the actress told The New York Times that her health had been declining for a while.
Lyon’s acting career spanned 1959 to 1980, with her breakout role being the titular character in 1962’s Lolita. The role earned her a Golden Globe award for most promosing female newcomer and the 1963 awards ceremony.
She continued to work with notable directors in her next two films, including John Ford’s 7 Women and John Huston’s The Night of the Iguana.
According to the Times, Lyon was married four times, to Hampton Fancher, Roland Harrison, Cotton Adamson and Edward Weathers. She is survived by her daughter Nona from her marriage to Harrison.
The celebrated author and former husband of Norway's Princess Martha Louise died by suicide on Christmas Day. He was 47.
Behn and Princess Martha Louise were married for 14 years before officially divorcing in 2016. They share three daughters: Maud Angelica, 16, Leah Isadora, 14, and Emma Tallulah, 11.
Princess Martha Louise’s parents, King Harald and Queen Sonja, said in a statement that Behn was "an important part of our family for many years, and we carry warm, fond memories of him." They added, "We are grateful that we got to know him. We grieve that our grandchildren have now lost their beloved father — and have deep compassion for his parents and siblings, who have now lost their beloved son and brother."
In addition to his work as an author — he wrote three novels, three collections of short stories and three plays — Behn also found success as an artist, selling a number of paintings in recent years.
Three years to the day after George Michael's death on Christmas in 2016, his sister Melanie was found dead in her London home. She was 55.
"Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s," the Metropolitan Police told PEOPLE in a statement.
Police announced that "the death is not being treated as suspicious by police," and noted that a "report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances."
Panayiotou’s family also confirmed her death.
"We can confirm that very tragically Melanie has passed away suddenly," her family said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comment."
Mendelson passed away at his home in Hillsborough, California, following a battle with cancer, according to Variety.
In addition to producing other beloved holiday specials like 1973’s Thanksgiving episode and 1966’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Mendelson is perhaps best known for A Charlie Brown Christmas, the 1965 classic for which he also penned the lyrics to "Christmas Time Is Here."
"It wasn’t great for us, but to have him pass on Christmas really ties into his history and legacy," one of his sons, Jason Mendelson, told the Palo Alto Daily Post of the significant timing of his father's passing.
A San Francisco native, Mendelson is survived by his wife Ploenta, his children Glenn, Lynda, Jason, Sean and Ken, and eight grandchildren, according to Variety.
The songwriter, who was best known for writing hits for acts like Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown and Patti LaBelle, has died at 72. She passed on Dec. 24 after suffering cardiac arrest in L.A., Variety reported.
Willis' death was confirmed on her personal Instagram page, where a spokesperson wrote, “We are extremely shocked and devastated to share this news.”
Last year, Willis was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, at which time she reflected on her career to the New York Times, as well as shared her upcoming goals, in a profile from the newspaper.
“I want to do more things that involve everything I do: the music, the art, the technology, the social aspect of things,” said Willis at the time. “I want to be able to move quicker, so no more huge, self-funded projects.”
She added: “Life is too short, and I am too tired!”
The prolific romance writer died at 67 from complications for treatment for stage 4 lung cancer, according to The New York Times. Lindsey died on Oct. 27 but the family was too devestated to announce the news at the time.
Lindsey wrote nearly 60 romance novels, beginning with 1977’s Captive Bride. Her novels sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, according to publisher Simon & Schuster, and nearly every single one of her books achieved best-seller status.
“Johanna Lindsey was one of the most powerful voices of the romance genre, and at a critically important time,” best-selling author Sarah MacLean said in an exclusive statement to EW. “As the women’s movement revolutionized homes and workplaces in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Johanna’s strong, feminist heroines were revolutionaries in their own right — fighting for partnership, respect, and happily ever after. These were heroines who captained their own fate…they lived fearlessly, fought passionately, and loved with abandon…and they inspired millions of us to do the same.”
Jim France, the chairman and CEO of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, confirmed Johnson’s death in a statement on Twitter on Dec. 20.
“Junior Johnson truly was the ‘Last American Hero,'” he said. “From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit.”
“Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has,” the statement continued. “The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Johnson had been in declining health and had entered hospice care prior to his death, according to the racing association.
Johnson won 50 races — including the 1960 Daytona 500 — as a driver and six championships as a team owner. He was inducted into International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991. In 2010, he was one of the first drivers to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The star, who was best known for his role alongside Chelsea Handler on her E! series, Chelsea Lately, died at the Centro Médico Dalinde in Mexico City at 8:20 a.m. on Dec. 15, PEOPLE confirms. He was 63. (Entertainment Tonight was the first to report.)
“Bravo’s family is devastated as they cope with his sudden loss. They are overwhelmed with the thoughts and prayers they have received and send their appreciation,” Bravo's rep said in a statement.
Shortly after news of his death, Handler shared a tribute to Bravo, recalling his laughter and how much she valued their friendship.
“I loved this nugget in a big way, and I took great pleasure in how many people loved him as much as I did and do. @chuybravo gave us so much laughter and I’ll never forget the sound of his laughter coming from his office into mine,” she wrote alongside a collage of photos of the pair.
The Oscar-nominated actor, best known for movies including Do the Right Thing and Moonstruck, died on Dec. 12 at 86 years old, PEOPLE confirmed.
According to TMZ, Aiello died on at a medical facility in New Jersey. The actor was in the facility being treated for a sudden illness and had suffered an infection related to his treatment, the outlet reported.
Though Aiello is best known for his role in Do the Right Thing, he also starred in movies including Moonstruck, Hudson Hawk and Jacob’s Ladder, and enjoyed a career on the stage.
The actor is survived by his wife Sandy Cohen, whom he married in 1955, and three children. His son, Danny Aiello III, died of cancer in 2010.
Auberjonois' son, Rèmy-Luc Auberjonois, told the Associated Press that his father died at home on Dec. 8 after a battle with metastatic lung cancer.
An update to Auberjonois’ official Twitter account confirmed the news, with a tweet reading, “(Minions say: We’re sad to confirm that René passed away today, Sunday, December 8).”
The longtime actor is survived by his wife Judith Auberjonois, a writer whom he was married to for 56 years, as well as their two children, Rèmy-Luc and Tessa, and their spouses. He also had three grandchildren.
The Chicago-born artist, whose real name was Jarad Anthony Higgins, died after reportedly having a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Higgins reportedly remained conscious while en route to a local hospital, TMZ reported. He was pronounced dead around 3:14 a.m. local time at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, a spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner said.
The spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE that they had been “notified of the death of Jarad A. Higgins.” An autopsy has yet to be performed and his cause of death is not immediately known.
According to the statement, Spinney died on Dec. 8 at his home in Connecticut after living with dystonia for some time. Dystonia is a movement disorder that affects a person’s muscles.
“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending,” the statement said.
“His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while,” the statement added.
Robert Walker Jr.
The Star Trek actor had died at 79. The drama series confirmed the news on Twitter on Dec. 6, writing, “We are saddened to report the passing of Robert Walker Jr., the actor who played the titular role in Star Trek: The Original Series episode ‘Charlie X.'” According to the show’s website, Walker’s family shared the devastating news. His cause of death is not immediately clear.
In addition to his work on Star Trek, Walker Jr. appeared on several other TV shows and movies, including the series Charlie’s Angels in 1979, Dallas from 1984 to 1986, Murder, She Wrote from 1987 to 1990 and the 1969 film Easy Rider.
The Korean actor, known for his roles in The Banker and Miss Independent Ji Eun 2, died on Dec. 3 at 27 years old.
Cha’s talent agency, Fantagio, confirmed the news in a statement obtained by the Korean daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo.
“We’re sincerely hurt that we’re sending this sad news to the people who have given Cha In-ha so much love and supported him until now,” said a spokesperson from the entertainment agency.
The spokesperson urged fans to refrain from speculating about the circumstances around Cha’s death while his family copes with their loss. They also revealed that a private funeral would be held in the coming days.
South Korean police told the outlet that the young actor’s body was discovered by his manager at his home. Police are currently investigating details, but no cause of death has been released.
The Broadway star died on Nov. 5 at the age of 13, according to her Dignity Memorial page.
Her family told The Post that she died in New York City after suffering a “massive asthma attack,” according to Page Six. The teenager was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, her grandfather, David B. Rivlin, told the outlet. Doctors were unable to revive her.
She is best known for her role as Ivanka in the Tony Award-winning musical ONCE. She performed the role for 17 months between 2013 and 2015.
The beloved Young and the Restless and General Hospital soap star died on Nov. 5 at 88 years old, his daughter Tiffany Harmon announced on Facebook. The actor died peacefully at his home in L.A., where he had lived for more than 40 years.
“My beautiful father, William Wintersole, passed in the stealth of the night at age 88. Tuesday 11/5/19,” Harmon wrote.
“I’m so glad that I got to share him on my show with my listeners,” she added. “As a Hollywood actor for 60 years, he touched many ppls lives. I did EVERYTHING I could for him..and that brings me peace. But alas…I miss him so. One love!”
The star is survived by several family members, including life partner Marlene Silverstein, as well as his daughters Tiffany Harmon, who lives in L.A., and Katherine Ramsey, who lives in Ohio. He is also survived by three granddaughters, Kristy, Amy and Jill, and his only great-granddaughter, Abby, who all live in Ohio.
The former Survivor contestant died at 91 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, PEOPLE confirmed on Nov. 2.
Boesch, a former Navy Seal, was cast on the inaugural season of the long-running reality show in 2000. Then 72, Boesch finished the season in third place and quickly became a fan favorite due to his lovably cantankerous persona.
“Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy! You and I helped open minds and undermine predjudces [sic]. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!” Boesch’s closest Survivor ally Richard Hatch tweeted.
More than 51 million people watched the final episode, in which Boesch was eliminated after losing the final immunity challenge. He proved so popular that he was brought back for the show’s eighth season, Survivor: All Stars. He was the second contestant voted out of that season.
The actor and comedian died at his home in Sherman Oaks, California on Oct. 29. He was 77.
“It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband and father John Witherspoon has passed away,” the Witherspoon’s family wrote on his Twitter account, which was accompanied by a photo of Witherspoon smiling.
“He was a legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever,” the statement concluded.
A cause of death is not immediately clear.
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela, whom he married in 1988, and his sons Alexander and John David Witherspoon.
Rep. Elijah Cummings
According to the statement, Cummings — who was also a prominent civil rights leader — died at 2:30 a.m. local time at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate in Baltimore, after “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” The Baltimore Sun reported that he had recently undergone an unspecified medical procedure and had not returned to his office this week as was expected.
The politician had served in the House of Representatives for decades and recently had served as the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, helping to oversee the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
According to WBAL-TV, Cummings’ widow, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, released a statement that said: “Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”
“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem. It has been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly,” she said.
The National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster died on Oct. 17 while receiving treatment for bladder cancer. He was 80.
Kingsley died at his home in Weatherford, Texas, just one week after he announced his diagnosis and that he would be stepping away from his syndicated radio show, Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 on Oct. 9.
“While there is no doubt that the immediate road ahead will push me and challenge my resolve, I want you to know I am blessed to be working with the very best in the medical profession, and they have a plan to deal with this awful disease,” he wrote in a post shared on the Country Top 40 website. “I have no intention of stopping anytime soon, but for a moment, I need to ask for your patience as I step away from the mic and focus on my treatment.”
Kingsley is survived by his wife of 30 years, and business partner, Nan Kingsley.
The boxer died after suffering a traumatic brain injury during his USBA super welterweight title fight in Chicago, which was held on Oct. 12 and took place four days prior to his death. He was 27.
After the hit, the fighter’s eyes instantly rolled back and he began twitching, SI reported. He was promptly taken by ambulance in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. Day then fell into a coma due to the injury and died on Oct. 16.
Dibella Entertainment announced his death in a statement, writing, “Day passed away today, succumbing to the traumatic brain injury he suffered in his fight this past saturday.”
The statement continued: “He was surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins."
The former member of the popular K-Pop girl group f(x) was found dead in her Sujeong-gu apartment on Oct. 14. She was 25.
South Korean police confirmed her death to CNN, saying her body was discovered by her manager on the second floor of her house.
An exact cause of death is still under investigation, CNN reported. Initial evidence, including a note found at the scene, indicates that Sulli died by suicide, authorities said — though they “will leave all possibilities open and investigate.”
Until then, Sulli’s talent agency, SM Entertainment, has asked fans not to jump to conclusions.
“Please refrain from spreading speculative articles or rumors in respect of the bereaved’s family who are saddened by the sudden tragedy,” they said in a statement to local press.
Earlier this month, Sulli appeared on the South Korean TV series Reply Night, where she admitted that she was struggling with depression amid online bullying and harassment.
“My life is actually empty, so I feel like I’m lying to everyone by pretending to be happy on the outside,” she confessed, according to local reports. “I asked around a lot for advice. They told me, ‘Everyone has a dark side in their lives but they live pretending that they don’t. Don’t think of it as weird.'”
She went on to say that she continues to pretend to be happy, and “simply live a two-sided life.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy star died at 81.
The radio and TV series producer and director, Dick Maggs, announced the sad news on Oct. 12, tweeting, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has died. A fine actor, a lovely man and the original and most iconic voice of Marvin The Paranoid Android in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy."
"Our thoughts are with his family and our memories of him will always make us smile," he added. "RIP Stephen."
The actor, known for his roles in films like Mulholland Drive and Medium Cool, died in L.A. on Oct. 11 after battling brain cancer, a representative for the actor confirmed to PEOPLE. He was 78.
Despite being known for acting in movies, Forster also appeared in many TV shows, including Heroes, Alcatraz, Twin Peaks and, most recently, Last Man Standing. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1998 for his supporting role in Jackie Brown.
The actor is survived by his children Bobby, Elizabeth, Kate and Maeghen, and grandchildren Tess, Liam, Jack and Olivia, according to Variety.
One of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club House died on Oct. 6 from a heart attack. She was 73.
Pendleton, who was just 8 years old when she joined the popular series, died in Fresno, Disney historian Lorraine Santoli shared. The star was one of the youngest members ever to join the cast, and remained a regular for the entire show’s run on ABC from 1955-1959 — a feat which only nine children accomplished, including Annette Funicello.
Pendelton is survived by her daughter and two grandsons.
The news was announced on Oct. 6 via statement shared on .38 Special’s Facebook page. Junstrom had played with the group from 1977 until his retirement in 2014.
“The Big Man on the Big Bass has left us,” the tribute message began. “He rocked arenas all over the world and succeeded in living his dream. He was truly one of a kind, a congenial traveling companion and a great friend to all with a humorous slant on life that always kept our spirits high – a kind man with a big heart for everyone who crossed his path. There will never be another like him. We are sending our devoted love, strength and comfort to his wife Thania and Larry’s family. We will miss our friend and partner.”
The legendary actress died of cancer on Oct. 4 in L.A., her daughter, Susan Kay, confirmed to PEOPLE. She was 84.
Born Carol Diahann Johnson to subway motorman John and nurse Mabel Johnson in the Bronx, New York, Carroll grew up in Harlem, where her family moved when she was an infant. Carroll started her career at 15, modeling for Essence magazine, but her heart was in performing: “I always knew I had to do something that was in front of an audience,” Carroll told PEOPLE in 2008.
Throughout her life, Carroll’s professional career in acting flourished in groundbreaking fashion. In 1962, she won the best actress Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway musical No Strings — a first for a black woman, and then in 1968, she became the first black star to play a role other than that of a domestic worker on her own TV series, Julia.
Carroll told PEOPLE she found the pioneer label to be a complicated but tremendous blessing, particularly with regard to Julia. “The attention and responsibility were so stressful,” the actress-singer said in 2008. “But I’m enormously proud of that show.”
Carroll was married four times. First to Monte Kay from 1956–62, during which they had a daughter, Suzanne, a journalist and screenwriter. After a failed engagement to TV presenter David Frost, she married Las Vegas boutique owner Freddé Glusman in 1971 but filed for divorce several weeks later. In 1975 she married Jet magazine editor Robert DeLeon, who died in a car accident in March 1977. Ten years later, Carroll married singer Vic Damone. They divorced in 1996.
After decades in the spotlight, Carroll will long be remembered for her tremendous and trailblazing talent.
The AP first reported news of her death.
Michael James Ryan
The songwriter and producer, famously known as Busbee, has died at 43. News of his death broke on Sept 29.
Though a cause has yet to be reported, a friend told Variety that Ryan was undergoing treatment for glioblastoma — an aggressive brain tumor that last year took the life of Sen. John McCain — after being diagnosed with it over the summer.
During his prolific career in music, Ryan helped shape the sound of modern country music, creating hits for artists like Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts and more. Outside of country, he also worked with a number of pop artists like Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and the Backstreet Boys, and opened his own label, Altadena, under the Warner Records umbrella.
Ryan is survived by his wife and three children, including a newborn baby daughter.
Garrison died the morning of Sept. 27 at a hospital in West Virginia after a month-long hospitalization due to kidney and liver failure, TMZ reported.
"This is a sad day for the Karate Kid / Cobra Kai family," Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "Rob Garrison was a kind gentleman from the first day I met him to the last day we spoke. I am so glad he had the opportunity to show his range and genuine heart with his performance last season on Cobra Kai. His campfire scene in Ep 206 was truly one of my favorites of Season 2. My thoughts are with his friends and family."
Garrison is survived by his brother Peter and his sister-in-law Linda.
The beloved actress, known for her roles in Superstore and Twin Peaks, died on Sept. 25 at the age of 86.
Porter’s death comes after a long battle with cancer, Deadline reported.
Following the news of her death, several of Porter's costars and fellow actors posted tributes of their late colleague.
“Here’s hoping the angels don’t call cut right away because your best stuff always came at the end. We’ll miss you Linda Porter,” Superstore star Ben Feldman tweeted.
Danny Gura, who plays Elias on Superstore, wrote, “We lost a good one. R.I.P. Linda Porter, who was always smiling and always brightened up the Superstore set. This is a hard one. You will be missed.”
The longtime collaborator and lyricist for the Grateful Dead died on Sept. 23. He was 78.
“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night,” Hunter’s family shared in a statement with Rolling Stone. “He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand.”
“For his fans that have loved and supported him all these years, take comfort in knowing that his words are all around us, and in that way his is never truly gone,” the statement continued. “In this time of grief please celebrate him the way you all know how, by being together and listening to the music. Let there be songs to fill the air.”
Hunter is survived by his wife, Maureen, whom he married in 1982.
“He was all about great times, great food and great friends,” Ruiz’s brother George wrote on behalf of their family. “Please remember his laugh and his wit.”
Ruiz's sudden death has prompted many celebrities from the food world to come forward and share their favorite memories of the chef.
Guy Fieri: “I’m heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone. I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family. His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef."
Alex Guarnaschelli: "This man was somehow fatherly, comforting, wise, reckless, brilliant, wickedly funny & unique all in 1. My life will be lonelier without him. Love you Carl. I’ll make sure no one puts pineapple on pizza best I can without you here. #rip @carlruiz"