Celebrities We Lost to Coronavirus in 2020
Remembering the stars who died from COVID-19, including Dawn Wells, Nick Cordero and more
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads globally, claiming thousands of lives, notable names are among those taken by the deadly virus.
Read more about them ahead. For more information on lives that were lost to the COVID-19 and the latest updates on confirmed cases in the U.S., expert health advice and how the virus is affecting people around the world, visit PEOPLE's coronavirus hub here.
Wells' publicist said that the actress died of causes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
A rep for Wells did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Before and after Gilligan's Island, Wells appeared on countless television programs, including Bonanza, The Love Boat, Gilligan's Planet, Growing Pains, Baywatch, Columbo and Roseanne, among many others.
Recently, Wells' good friend Dugg Kirkpatrick launched a fundraiser in 2018 with a goal of almost $200,000 to help the actress pay off medical bills. (The fundraiser raised $205,510.)
“She did not know that I was setting it up,” Kirkpatrick exclusively told PEOPLE of Wells. “She was very upset with me, probably still is a little upset with me because she’s a little bit embarrassed. But being her dearest friend, I know that this is the best thing. Today she seems to be more on board with it because she’s seeing all the positive things people are saying.”
According to the fundraiser description, Wells had been struggling to make ends meet since the 2008 financial crisis. She allegedly suffered “an unexpected accident that required hospitalization for two months” and needed the funds to “alleviate penalties by the IRS” and cover her hospital costs.
“Dawn is so flattered that her fans have come to her rescue — shocked and amazed, actually,” said Kirkpatrick. “She loves them and always has. She’s proved that over the years. She’s even flown people to her ranch (where she was working) in Idaho for movie screening because they couldn’t afford it. She’s been very generous to many people for many years.”
Kirkpatrick also told TMZ at the time that Wells had no family to support her and had already lost her home.
The country legend, who was a pioneer for Black musicians in country music, died on Dec. 12 in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 86 due to complications from COVID-19, a statement on his website confirmed.
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.
Born in Mississippi in 1934 as the son of a sharecropper, Pride served a brief time in the Army before heading to Nashville in 1963.
In addition to earning three Grammy Awards during his career, Pride took home the entertainer of the year award at the 1971 Country Music Awards and won male vocalist of the year both that year and in 1972. In 1975, he became the first Black man to host the Country Music Association Awards.
Sutton had been hospitalized at New Orleans’ Touro Infirmary for several days prior to her death, according to WGNO.
Sutton was perhaps most famous for her turn as Nurse Pam in 1989’s Steel Magnolias. On the small screen, 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 on Friday.
“Carol Sutton was practically the Queen of New Orleans theater, having graced the stages across the city for decades,” Cantrell wrote, before noting her most famed theater performances, including A Raisin in the Sun.
Arnie Robinson Jr.
The Olympic gold medalist died on Dec. 1, USA Track and Field confirmed. He was 72.
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.
"You’re just in a state of shock and disbelief over how it happened," Paul added to the outlet. "Respect COVID for what it is. Once COVID comes and closes in, there’s nothing you can do."
According to USA Track & Field, Arnie was inducted into the USATF National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2000, as well as the San Diego Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1984. He additionally was named to the CCCAA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2007.
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
The actor, best known for his roles in The Dark Knight and the Friday film series, died on Dec. 10. He was 62.
While he had not tested positive for the coronavirus prior to his death, Lister died after exhibiting "COVID symptoms" for a week, his manager Cindy Cowan told PEOPLE.
"He was a gentle giant and one-of-a-kind," she says. "A man that's like been a brother to me for 20 years."
The first Japanese designer to make his mark in Paris, Kenzo's designs focused on his love of graphics and large floral prints. After a nearly 30-year career in France, he sold his eponymous fashion house to LVMH in 1993 and retired from fashion six years later, before launching a homewares brand in January 2019.
″COVID was the one thing he couldn't fight,″ Mary said, adding that her father died at a nursing home in Granada Hills. ″It's really kind of shocking.″
Johnstone enjoyed a long career in Major League Baseball, playing on the New York Yankees from 1978 to 1979, followed by a brief stint on the San Diego Padres before heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980. He was then traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1982 and returned to the Dodgers in 1985.
After retiring, Johnstone worked as a radio commentator for the Yankees and Phillies.
DeVito, one of the founding members of The Four Seasons, has died from coronavirus complications. He was 92.
The star's close friend, actor Alfred Nittoli, announced the news on Facebook on Sept. 22, 2020.
"My dear friend Tommy passed away in Las Vegas at 9:45 last night with deep regret I am writing this sitting in his living room," he shared, including a photo of DeVito. "I was informed by his daughter Darcel there will be a service in New Jersey."
DeVito helped his pal Frankie Valli found The Four Seasons in 1960, which went on to garner international fame.
The American rock and pop band had several chart-topping hits, such as "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Sherry" and "Walk Like a Man." It even inspired the 2005 Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which was eventually adapted into a feature film.
His son Bruce paid tribute to the singer on Facebook. "There's no words in the world that can express how I feel right now," Bruce wrote. "I love you Daddy thank you for being awesome thank you for being loving thank you for being Who You Are I pray to God and we will meet again, I love you Daddy R.I.H KING WILLIAMSON."
The singer joined The Temptations in 2006 and continued with the group through 2015. After leaving the group, Williamson sang soul music. He was set to perform on Sept. 12 at a pay-per-view concert.
The Legendary New York Mets pitcher died in his sleep on Aug. 31, due to complications of Lewy Body Dementia and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced in a statement. He was 75.
In 1969, Seaver helped the Mets win their first World Series championship. He also won the Cy Young Award and led the National League with 25 wins. A 12-time All-Star, Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
His number, 41, was retired by the Mets.
"We are heartbroken to share that our beloved husband and father has passed away," his wife Nancy and daughters Sarah and Anne said in a statement to the Hall of Fame. "We send our love out to his fans, as we mourn his loss with you."
Herman Cain, the TV and radio host, former business executive and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, died about a month after he became sick with the novel coronavirus disease, his team announced on July 30. He was 74 years old.
"We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord," reads an update posted to his official website.
"We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight," Cain's friend Dan Calabrese wrote in the same update. "He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle."
Calabrese continued: "We all prayed so hard every day. We knew the time would come when the Lord would call him home, but we really liked having him here with us, and we held out hope he’d have a full recovery."
Cain had spent most of July getting treated for COVID-19 in an Atlanta-area hospital. His team said early this month that he tested positive on June 29.
Cain is survived by his wife, Gloria, children Vincent and Melanie and their three grandchildren.
Cordero, whose Broadway credits include Waitress and Rock of Ages, died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he had been hospitalized for over 90 days after falling ill in early March 2020.
He is survived by his wife Amanda Kloots, whom he wed in September 2017, and their 1-year-old son Elvis Eduardo.
In a touching Instagram post following his passing, Cordero's wife wrote, "God has another angel in heaven now. My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth. ⠀ I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him. Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband. Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday."
Kemp died July 4 at her home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was surrounded by family and friends, actress and acting coach Myra Turley told the outlet.
Kemp was diagnosed with glioblastoma — an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord — last December at age 75, and it is unclear how long ago she contracted COVID-19.
Chris Trousdale, a member of the late '90s and early 2000s boy band Dream Street, died on June 2. He was 34.
News of his death was confirmed by a statement shared to his Instagram, which read, "It is with a heavy heart that we confirm the passing of Chris Trousdale on June, 2, 2020 from an undisclosed illness. He was a light to so many and will be missed dearly by his family, friends and fans all over the world."
A woman named Jane Gagle, who appears to have worked with Trousdale at the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, added in the comments section that "Chris was in a coma, on life support when he passed." She continued, "The outpouring of love has been tremendous. I am comforted by the hundreds of kind words and wishes. Chris was one of a kind and always the brightest light on any stage he stood on. Thank you for the love you gave him. He felt it to the end and I’m sure still as he watches from heaven."
Former Dream Street bandmate Jesse McCartney paid tribute to his friend on Instagram as well, noting in his caption that Trousdale "passed away due to complications from COVID-19.”
The famous illusionist died at age 75 due to complications from the novel coronavirus in a Las Vegas Hospital on May 15, his publicist confirmed in a statement to ABC.
The entertainer, who became a household name as part of the duo Siegfried & Roy, tested positive for the respiratory virus in April. At the time, his publicist announced that he was "responding well to treatment."
"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Horn's partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, said in a statement. "From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried."
"Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days," Fischbacher continued. "I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy's life."
The duo are best known for their Las Vegas show at the Mirage Resort and Casino that ran from 1990 until 2003, when Horn was mauled on stage by one of the tigers used in their act, which ultimately left him partially paralyzed.
The widow of astronaut and Senator John Glenn who became a renowned advocate for those with speech disorders after overcoming her own stutter, died of complications from COVID-19 on May 19. She was 100.
A spokesperson for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University confirmed the sad news to PEOPLE, adding that a virtual memorial service for Annie will be held on June 6 at 11 .a.m. EDT due to coronavirus restrictions.
Despite her reluctance for media attention due to an “85 percent speech impediment,” Annie entered into the spotlight in 1962 when her husband became the first American astronaut, and she stood by him when he was elected to the Senate in 1974.
At age 53, Annie underwent a three-week intensive therapy program to overcome her stutter, and went on to become a champion of helping those who also suffered from speech impediments.
The Nigerian British artist, born Ben Chijioke, died on May 7 after contracting pneumonia while in recovery, according to a GoFundMe previously set up for Ty.
"It is with much sadness that I have to report the passing of Ben Chijioke, better known as TY Chijioke on the 7th May 2020, close friends, family and fans are devastated of his death," an update for the campaign read.
"Since then TY’s condition had been improving but last week while on a normal ward he had contracted pneumonia which worsened his recovery and ultimately TY’s body couldn’t fight back anymore," the campaign continued. "This is a shock to everyone."
Born in London in 1972, Ty first rose to prominence in 2001 after the release of his debut album, The Awkward. He followed up the record with 2003's Upwards, which went on to be nominated for a Mercury Prize the following year. He released his third LP, titled Closer, in 2006.
The rapper known as Fred the Godson died on April 23, according to several reports. He was 35.
Thomas revealed that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus on Instagram on April 6, writing, "I’m in here wit this Corvus 19 s---! Please keep me in y’all prayers!!!! 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿 #godisgreat," he wrote.
Fellow artists Pusha T and E-40 were among the first few musicians to respond with words of support.
"Pull thru my brother...🙏🏿," Pusha-T wrote.
"Prayers up 🙏🏾," E-40 added.
Since his death, many have offered their condolences, including Fat Joe, who shared a heartbreaking post in honor of his late friend.
"My little brother ooooh how sad am I," Fat Joe captioned his Instagram tribute. "I prayed and prayed and prayed for you all night long. So many dreams, so many conversations, so many great times we had. I am in shock to say the least. I love you soooooooo much little brother, it’s been years since I felt this pain."
"I always wanted the best for you, I played you all my important songs to get your feedback [because] I respect you so much as an artist. Why the GOOD die young?" he wrote. "I was soooooooo proud of you little brother. Maybe now the world will pay attention to your greatness, you was always my favorite."
Thomas is survived by his wife LeeAnn Jemmott, who had been providing updates regarding his health, as well as their children.
The British comedian died from coronavirus at the age of 79, according to his agent, who spoke with the BBC.
Brooke-Taylor became a household name after starring in the BBC sitcom The Goodies, in which he starred alongside Graham Garden and Bill Oddie.
He also played a scientist in 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The country-folk singer and songwriter died on April 7 as a result of complications from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Prince was being treated at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, a representative confirmed on behalf of Prine’s family to PEOPLE. He was 73.
“This is hard news for us to share,” his family wrote. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now,” the statement continued. “And know that we love you, and John loves you.”
His wife of 23 years, Fiona Whelan Prine, was also diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in March and had been keeping fans updated about Prine’s condition while he was in the hospital.
Prine is survived by Fiona and their three children.
"It is with profound sorrow that we must announce Jay’s death on the 4th of April due to complications arising from a COVID-19 infection," his official website announced in a statement on April 6.
His agency, TCG Artist Management, also confirmed his death on Twitter, sharing, "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear client Jay Benedict, who this afternoon lost his battle with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with his family."
Kevin Ryan, artistic director and board president for Island Theatre Workshop — where Fierro worked for over 40 years during her time at Martha’s Vineyard — confirmed the news with Martha’s Vineyard Times and Entertainment Tonight.
"We will miss her terribly. She spent 40 years here on the vineyard," Ryan told ET.
Alongside Ryan, the theatrically trained actress and longtime Martha’s Vineyard resident taught and mentored more than 1,000 children in the art of theater on the island. At the time of her death, she was living in Ohio at an assisted living facility to be closer to her family.
The New Orleans Saints, whom Dempsey played for as a kicker, released a statement following news of his death.
"Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Carlene and the entire Dempsey family on the passing of their dear Tom," the statement read, adding, "Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations ... He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."
Dempsey had been living at the Lambeth House Retirement Community in New Orleans since 2012, when he revealed he was diagnosed with dementia. Dempsey tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26, after the assisted living facility reported more than 50 confirmed cases and 13 deaths related to the virus.
The world-renowned jazz pianist and beloved member of the New Orleans music scene passed away from complications of coronavirus at a local hospital on April 1, his son Brandford Marsalis told PEOPLE. He was 85.
"It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Ellis Marsalis Jr., as a result of complications from the Coronavirus," the statement read. "My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be."
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell also paid tribute to the late musician after news of his death broke, writing on Twitter, "Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz."
Marsalis Jr. was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Donations can be made in his memory to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, which provides music education, academic support and food security to children from the 9th Ward.
Bennett was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the time of her passing, her talent agent and longtime friend, Mark Scroggs, confirmed to PEOPLE.
Bennett is survived by what she called her “mutually adopted family” — close friends Carol, Nick and Mark Scroggs.
Donations can be made in her name to The Actors’ Fund.
Sergio Rossi, one of Italy’s most celebrated footwear designers, died in Cesena from complications related to the coronavirus, the brand confirmed on April 3. He was 84.
Rossi was responsible for building one of Italy’s largest luxury shoe brands, launching his company in 1968 after learning how to make shoes from his father.
His designs were worn by celebrities around the globe and used by major designers.
“Today everyone at Sergio Rossi joins me in remembering our dear Sergio, the inspiring founder of our dream,” Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of the Sergio Rossi Group, shared on the brand’s Instagram page.
"Sergio Rossi was a master, and it is my great honor to have met him and gotten to present him the archive earlier this year. His vision and approach will remain our guide in the growth of the brand and the business," Sciutto continued.
He closed his tribute by saying, "Our long and glorious history started from his incredible vision and we’ll remember his creativity forever."
The designer was also involved in the fight against coronavirus, donating €100,000 to the Sacco hospital in Milan.
His son, John Pizzarelli — also a jazz artist who toured and performed alongside his father — confirmed the news on Instagram, highlighting Bucky’s career highlights. John called Bucky a “wonderful dad.”
“My father was a mentor to so many guitarists both professional and amateur,” wrote John. “Always doling out advice, always encouraging, always in tune and always ready for a record date.”
Bucky is also survived by his wife Ruth, daughters Anne Hymes and Mary Pizzarelli, another son, bassist Martin Pizzarelli, and four grandchildren, according to The New York Times.
The Emmy and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and Fountains of Wayne co-founder died on April 1 at 52 years old after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Fountains of Wayne musician’s lawyer, Josh Grier, confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.
Schlesinger won three Emmys during his career: one for writing lyrics for Rachel Bloom‘s hit musical series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and two for his lyrical contributions to the 2011 and 2012 Tony Awards telecasts.
In a tribute posted to Twitter, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna remembered the musician as “so funny, so kind, so opinionated, so clever, so passionate."
Schlesinger is survived by his partner, Alexis Morley; his daughters, Sadie and Claire Schlesinger; his sister, Laurie Rose; and their parents, Bobbi and Stephen Schlesinger.
The legendary musician — and protégé of the late Miles Davis — died around noon on March 31 at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, said his publicist, Lydia Liebman. It is unknown if Roney had any underlying health conditions.
In a statement, Roney’s collaborator, pianist Herbie Hancock, told PEOPLE that even though his “journey has ended in this lifetime … his impact lives on.”
“He carved out his own voice on the trumpet even with the initial strong influence from Miles Davis,” Hancock said.
The Star Wars actor and dialect coach for the Lord of The Rings films died at age 76.
Jill McCullough, his representative, said in a statement to the Evening Standard that Jack died on March 31 at a hospital outside of London as a result of complications he’d developed from COVID-19.
“Andrew lived on one of the oldest working houseboats on the Thames, he was fiercely independent but madly in love with his wife; also a dialect coach: Gabrielle Rogers,” said McCullough. “Tragically she is stuck in quarantine in Australia having just flown in from NZ last week. She was unable to see or talk to him at the end of his life and there is a chance a funeral may not be held.”
Rogers said in a tweet on Tuesday, "We lost a man today. Andrew Jack was diagnosed with Coronavirus 2 days ago. He was in no pain, and he slipped away peacefully knowing that his family were all 'with' him."
Jack had a long and impressive résumé, and was most recently hired to work on The Batman starring Robert Pattinson.
He also worked as a dialect coach on many of the Marvel films, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
CBS said that the journalist, who had been at the network for three decades, had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since late February and passed away in a hospital in New York.
According to the network, the veteran journalist “fought cancer and related illnesses for more than 20 years, and was an inspiration each time she returned to work after a setback threatened to end her life.”
“Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,” Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer, said in a statement. “Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized — and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement, and would say ‘you can do this.’ I called Maria a ‘warrior,’ she was. Maria was a gift we cherished.”
Mercader is survived by her father Manuel and brother Manuel.
McDaniel, who got his start as a two-sport athlete during his time at Louisiana State University, recently displayed symptoms of the coronavirus after returning home to Texas following a trip to Washington, according to The Advocate. It is unclear where he may have contracted the virus.
McDaniel played briefly for the Denver Broncos after being selected in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. The athlete would later become executive director and founder of the North Texas Cheetahs girls’ track club, a position he held until his death.