Remembering the Stars We've Lost in 2020
Gone, but never forgotten
Wells' publicist said that the actress died of causes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Tina Louise, who played Ginger, is the last surviving major cast member of Gilligan's Island. The show also starred Bob Denver (Gilligan) Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley) and Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper).
Following the success of the family comedy, Wells reprised her character in the TV movies Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979) and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981).
Seger announced the news in an emotional statement on Twitter, paying tribute to the saxophonist and his longtime friend.
"It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and bandmate, Alto Reed. Alto passed away this morning at his home with his family by his side after fighting a courageous battle with colon cancer," the singer said.
"Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years," Seger continued. "I first started playing with Alto in 1971. He was amazing. He could play just about anything... he was funky, could scat, and play tenor sax and alto sax at the same time."
Fashion designer Cardin, whose name became synonymous with branding and licensing, died on Dec. 29 at the American Hospital in Paris, his family told the Agence France-Presse. The French Academy of Fine Arts confirmed his death on Twitter. He was 98.
As an haute couture designer, Cardin's futuristic fashions were popular in the 1960s. But he became globally influential for decades past that because he understood, pioneered and created the globalized market for French luxury items, and showed a demand for licensing brand names on items beyond a typical fashion line.
Legendary Mexican singer-songwriter Manzanero died of COVID-19 complications. He was 85.
On Dec. 28, the renowned musician died, weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus on Dec. 17 and five days after he was intubated, according to Mexico's El Universal. The newspaper reported that he was starting to be stable and was able to answer phone calls until the night before his death.
Manzanero composed hundreds of songs, including some that were translated to English such as classic track "Somos Novios," which was recorded in English by Perry Como and Elvis Presley as "It's Impossible." (Como's rendition was nominated for a song of the year Grammy in 1971.) In 2014, Manzanero was recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy Awards.
Legendary bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice died at his home in North Carolina on Dec. 25. He was 69.
"Sometime during Christmas morning while making his coffee, our dear friend and guitar hero Tony Rice passed from this life and made his swift journey to his heavenly home. It’s still quite a shock to the whole family," Skaggs wrote.
McGlashan, who worked as deck boss on the Discovery series, died on Dec. 27 in Nashville, according to TMZ, which first reported the news. The cause of death is currently unknown.
McGlashan appeared on 78 episodes of Deadliest Catch, starting in 2013. A rep for Discovery did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
His sister confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, "My brother nick passed away. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Please hold your loved ones tight."
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro, known for his trademark knuckleball died at 81.
The Hall of Famer died on Dec. 26 in his sleep following a “long battle with cancer,” the team announced in a statement the following day.
“We are heartbroken on the passing of our treasured friend,” the Braves said in a statement. “We will forever be grateful for having him be such an important part of our organization. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Nancy, sons Philip, John and Michael and his two grandchildren Chase and Emma.”
A beloved player, Niekro spent 21 years of his 24-year career in the majors with the Braves, during which time he helped the team win their first division title since relocating from Milwaukee and pitched the franchise’s 12th no-hitter in 1973.
As a sign of respect, the team retired his No. 34 jersey in 1984 — when Niekro started a brief stint with the New York Yankees — and the star was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1999.
Professional wrestler Huber, known in the ring as Mr. Brodie Lee and Luke Harper, died in late December. He was 41.
His wife Amanda shared the sad news online, saying that her husband died on Dec. 26 after a “hard fought battle with a non Covid related lung issue.”
“My best friend died today. I never wanted to write out those words. My heart is broken. The world saw him as the amazing @brodielee (fka Luke Harper) but he was my best friend, my husband, and the greatest father you would ever meet,” Amanda, who shares two children with the late wrestler, wrote in an emotional post.
“No words can express the love I feel or how broken I am right now. He passed surrounded by love ones after a hard fought battle with a non Covid related lung issue," she added, going on to share that before his death, her husband had been treated at the Mayo Clinic.
John 'Ecstasy' Fletcher
Fletcher of hip-hop trio Whodini died in mid-December, according to The Roots' Questlove.
In a short, yet touching post, The Roots' drummer revealed that Ecstasy had died at the age of 56. A cause of death has not been revealed.
"One Love to Ecstasy of the Legendary #Whodini," he captioned a black-and-white photo. "This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man."
The group — originally comprising Jaili Hutchins, Grandmaster Dee and Ecstasy — was responsible for their influential approach to rap with songs such as "Freaks Come Out at Night," "One Love" and "Five Minutes of Funk" in the mid-1980s.
The group's influence is far-ranging and has been sampled over the years — Will Smith's "Potnas" and Tupac Shakur's "Troublesome '96" sample Whodini's song "Friends." Meanwhile, Beck sampled "Five Minutes of Funk" in his 1996 track "Gold Chains."
Mountain co-founder and guitarist West died on Dec. 21. He was 75.
Dean Guitars confirmed his death in a statement on Twitter.
“With a heavy heart, we are saddened to hear about the passing of #Dean Artist and part of the Dean family, Leslie West. [He was] legendary and one of a kind. Rest In Peace," the band announced on their official Twitter account.
West (né Leslie Weinstein) died after going into cardiac arrest at his Florida home, Rolling Stone reported.
During the era of fellow guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen, West was revered as an equally talented, legendary guitar player.
His band, Mountain, was founded in 1969 and rose to stardom after performing at the Woodstock Festival which they landed in the first year of their inception.
Even after his countless accomplishments throughout his decades-long career, West will forever be immortalized as the roaring voice behind Mountain's timeless, smash hit "Mississippi Queen."
Model Tennant died suddenly at the age of 50.
The supermodel's passing was confirmed by her family on Dec. 22.
“It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on December 22, 2020. Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed. Her family asks for their privacy to be respected. Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced at a later date," Tennant's family said in the statement obtained by The Guardian.
Tennant broke into the fashion world in the early '90s and modeled alongside the reigning supermodel squad of the decade including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer. The runway regular ruled the catwalks for all the high-fashion brands over the past 30 years, including Chanel, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier.
On Dec. 21, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that Kevin Greene — a star at linebacker and defensive end who played in the NFL for 15 years — died at his home in Florida. He was 58. No cause of death was given.
"We lost an amazing player and person this morning with the passing of Kevin Greene," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement on Twitter. "His sudden death is a shock to us all as he was a close friend and teammate to so many people in the Steelers family."
Country singer-songwriter Oslin (née Kay Toinette Oslin) died on Dec. 21. She was 78.
The "80's Ladies" star had been residing in an assisted-living facility since 2016 and was coping with Parkinson's disease. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 the week before her death, though it is unclear whether she died from coronavirus-related complications, Music Row reports. The outlet was the first to break the news — the Country Music Association confirmed her death in a statement soon after. Oslin was one of the most iconic trailblazers of country music, particularly for female artists in the male-dominated industry.
Bulloch died in London following "health complications," an announcement of his death on the actor's website said. Bulloch had suffered from Parkinson's disease.
"He spent his final weeks in the wonderful care of staff at St George's Hospital in Tooting, close to the house where he and his wife Maureen had lived together for more than fifty years," the statement said. "Maureen and two of his sons, Jamie and Robbie, were with him during his final days."
Bulloch joined the Star Wars franchise in 1980's Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, starring as bounty hunter Boba Fett — a character that would go on to become a fan favorite. Bulloch reappeared as Fett in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and then as Captain Colton in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Morris, a longtime sportscaster who broke barriers for women in sports journalism during the 1970s and 1980s, died on Dec. 14. She was 85.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Morris died of appendiceal cancer, which she was receiving treatment for the past year. She died at her home in Chicago while surrounded by friends, her four adult children, and her ex-husband, retired Chicago Bears player Johnny Morris.
"My mom had a stack of accomplishments," her daughter, Holly, told the outlet. "She woke up every morning curious, grateful and spring-loaded to say, 'Yes.' That inspires me the most. The levity and bravery she brought to the last weeks of her life was a master class in dignity."
The Tony-winning actress died in her sleep while visiting family in Seattle, her sister-in-law Darhla King told the outlet. The cause of death is not yet known, The New York Times reported.
"The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party," her family told Variety in a statement Monday. "She was visiting our brother in Washington state when she went to sleep and never woke up. We will miss her more than we can say. Heaven has the best choreographer available now. I’m sure they are dancing up a storm up there! Annie, we will love and miss you always!!!"
Edgardo del Villar
Telemundo 47 anchor del Villar died after a battle with brain cancer.
Del Villar died on Dec. 13 after battling the disease over the last two years, according to NBC New York. He is survived by his mother and siblings, his wife — TV and radio host Carolina Novoa — and his daughter, Dana.
“Edgardo del Villar was a talented journalist and gifted storyteller with a smile that lit up the screen. We stood in awe as he fought an incurable disease with remarkable resolve; pushing himself to the limits, returning to the air throughout his treatment and remaining positive and upbeat through it all. He was our inspiration and we loved him,” Cristina Schwarz, president and general manager of Telemundo 47, said in a statement to NBC New York.
“Our station family extends condolences to Edgardo’s mother, his siblings, his wife Carolina – and his beloved daughter, Dana," said Schwarz.
With top hits including “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone,” Pride became the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
He was born in Mississippi in 1934 as the son of a sharecropper. After a brief time serving in the Army and some unsuccessful attempts at becoming a professional baseball player, Pride headed to Nashville in 1963.
He recorded songs immediately but it wasn’t until Pride’s manager, Jack Johnson, met with late producer Jack Clement that Pride’s career took off. Clement offered songs for Pride to learn and in 1965, RCA Record's Chet Atkins signed him to a recording contract.
Pride quit his day job as a smelter when his 1967 recording of Clement’s “Just Between You and Me” broke into country’s top ten — and the rest is history.
Sutton had been hospitalized at New Orleans’ Touro Infirmary for several days prior to her death, according to WGNO.
Sutton played Nurse Pam in 1989’s Steel Magnolias, starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts. On TV, she appeared in an episode of Queen Sugar, as well as episodes of True Detective and, most recently, HBO’s Lovecraft Country.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell confirmed the news of her death in a lengthy tribute.
Dame Barbara Windsor
Beloved British actress Windsor died on Dec. 10 at the age of 83.
Her husband, Scott Mitchell, confirmed her death to PA News, telling the agency that her final weeks were "typical of how she lived her life" and "full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end."
"Myself, her family and friends will remember Barbara with love, a smile and affection for the many years of her love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives and the entertainment she gave to so many thousands of others during her career," he said, according to Yahoo News.
"It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve," Mitchell added, referencing his wife's battle with Alzheimer's, which she was diagnosed with in 2014. "I will always be immensely proud of Barbara’s courage, dignity and generosity dealing with her own illness and still trying to help others by raising awareness for as long as she could."
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
Lister, best known for his roles in The Dark Knight and the Friday film series, died at the age of 62.
While he had not tested positive for the novel coronavirus prior to his death, Lister died on Dec. 10 after exhibiting "COVID symptoms" for a week, his manager Cindy Cowan told PEOPLE.
"He was a gentle giant and one-of-a-kind," she said. "A man that's like been a brother to me for 20 years."
The musician's daughter, Alyssa Carlson, shared the sad news to TMZ, sharing that her father had suffered from liver failure and died at a hospital in Maui, Hawaii, that day. He was 49.
Carlson added in her comments to the outlet that she didn't know about Slater's condition until last month, when she got a call that he was in the hospital.
A rep for Third Eye Blind says in a statement shared with PEOPLE that although the band had not spoken with Slater in almost 25 years, "When a spirited member of the music scene is taken too soon, it is always a sad time."
Arnie Robinson Jr.
Speaking with San Diego ABC affiliate KGTV, Paul told the outlet that his father first fell ill in mid-November, suffering from "labored breathing, coughing." He then tested positive for COVID-19 but began to feel better.
But, "out of the blue, he struggled to take breaths," according to Paul, before he eventually died.
Desselle-Reid died in early December at age 53 after a private battle with colon cancer.
Desselle-Reid's death was announced on her Instagram page on Dec. 7.
She was best known for roles on the UPN series Eve (2003-2006) and the Robert Townsend-directed 1997 comedy B.A.P.S., in which she played a waitress in Georgia who ends up caring for a Beverly Hills millionaire and living the life of "Black American Princesses." The cult classic famously co-starred Halle Berry.
Desselle-Reid also appeared in the racially diverse 1997 retelling of Cinderella, starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, and Madea's Big Happy Family (2001).
She is survived by her husband, Leonard, and children Sereno, Summer and Sasha.
Charles Elwood Yeager, the first pilot ever to break the sound barrier, died in early December. He was 97.
The retired brigadier-general's wife, Victoria Yeager, confirmed the news of his death on Dec. 7 through the former World War II pilot's Twitter account, writing, "It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET."
"An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever," she continued.
In addition to breaking the sound barrier on October 14, 1947 while flying the Bell X-1 as a test pilot, Chuck shot down more than 11 aircraft as a P-51 pilot on the Western Front in World War II.
David L. Lander
Actor, comedian and multiple sclerosis advocate Lander (right), most beloved for his role as Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on the classic Garry Marshall sitcom, Laverne & Shirley, died on Dec. 4 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after bravely fighting MS for several decades, PEOPLE confirms.
Born David Leonard Landau, the youngest son of two Jewish schoolteachers, in Brooklyn, New York, on June 22, 1947, the actor never let his illness prevent him from pursuing his life’s passions.
Having amassed over 120 film and television credits, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Used Cars, Scary Movie and 101 Dalmatians: The Series, Lander continued working as an animation voice actor as recently as 2017.
Lander decided to become an actor when he was just 10 years old, studying drama first at the High School for the Performing Arts, before continuing his education and training in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was introduced to fellow performer Michael McKean (left), forming a creative partnership that would forever change the course of his life.
Bad Girls Club star Collings died on Dec. 3 at the age of 33.
"I am completely broken and will never get over this. Life is so unfair. She was kind with a big heart," her mother Linda Houghton Collings wrote on Facebook, according to TMZ, which was the first to share the news.
The reality star died in a hospital near hometown of Boston, but a cause of death has not yet been given, according to the outlet.
The Boston medical examiner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Collings appeared on season 3 of the Oxygen series in 2008, when she was 21 years old. At the time, she was studying biology and physics at Salem State University, according to a profile in the Boston Herald.
Berlinger, who also appeared on Broadway, died at the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, California, his daughter Elizabeth Berlinger Tarantini confirmed to PEOPLE.
"His favorite role on stage was J. Pierrepont in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," Tarantini told PEOPLE, "but I don't know anyone who succeeded in life more than my dad. Everyone who met him loved him, everyone."
The actor's cause of death was not revealed.
Johnson, the famed Olympian who won gold and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died on Dec. 2 at age 86.
The former athlete — whose cause of death was not announced — died at his home in Sherman Oaks, the University of California, Los Angeles, confirmed in a statement.
Johnson rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to his remarkable talents in track and field, which was sparked by his decathlon win at the Pan American Games as a student at UCLA in 1955.
Five years later, Johnson became the first African American flag bearer for the United States at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He'd go on to win the gold medal in the decathlon and would be instrumental in bringing the Games to Los Angeles in 1984.
For his work in bringing the Olympics stateside, Johnson was given the honor of lighting the Olympic torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Keays-Byrne, the man who embodied two of the iconic villains from George Miller's Mad Max film franchise, died on Dec. 1 at age 73.
Director Brian Trenchard-Smith, who directed Keays-Byrne in 1975's The Man From Hong Kong, announced the news on Dec. 2 on his Facebook page, writing, "I am sad to report that our friend Hugh Keays-Byrne passed away in hospital yesterday."
"A former Royal Shakespeare Company actor who settled in Australia co-starred in my Man From Hong Kong, and achieved world wide recognition as the Toecutter in Mad Max, and Immortan Joe in Mad Max-Fury Road," Trenchard-Smith wrote alongside a photo of Keays-Byrne.
"This photo reflects the innate sense of humor he brought not only to my film but every production he worked on," the filmmaker continued. "He was a fine actor and a good friend to [wife] Margaret and myself for 46 years. We spent many happy Sunday mornings with him, his partner Christina, and a group of fellow actors and artists (the Macao Light Company) at the house they shared in Centennial Park. Christina, Jack, Shawn, Tim, Ralph, Robina, our hearts go out to you."
Patterson, the WWE Hall of Famer who is considered the sport’s first gay superstar, died in early December at age 79.
Patterson’s death was announced by the WWE on Dec. 2 in a statement that called him a “true trailblazer of the industry” who made his mark as a renaissance man not just in the ring, but as a color commentator and behind the scenes as well.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at the age of 79,” the WWE said in a statement.
Born Pierre Clermont in Montreal, Patterson — who said he spoke only French and no English when he moved to the U.S. — began his wrestling career in 1958 before joining the WWE in the late 1970s.
Patterson officially retired from the ring in 1984, but continued to work with the WWE, becoming a color commentator and taking on a role as confidante for WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
Dalton got her start in film in the 1950s with several projects from director Roger Corman, including Rock All Night and The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, both of which premiered in 1957.
She later became a TV star, joining 1960s sitcoms The Joey Bishop Show and Hennesey, the latter of which earned Dalton an Emmy nomination in 1961 for outstanding performance in a supporting role by an actor or actress in a series.
Former Zappos CEO Hsieh died from complications of smoke inhalation, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed to PEOPLE. His death was ruled an accident, the office confirms.
Hsieh died at 46 on Nov. 27 after sustaining injuries in a house fire while visiting Connecticut. He was reportedly surrounded by family at the time of his death while hospitalized.
"Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world," said a statement from DTP Companies, which Hsieh founded. "Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life."