Celebrity deaths in 2020: Paying tribute to the stars we've lost this year

22 December 2020, 15:51 | Updated: 22 December 2020, 19:10

We said goodbye to Kenny Rogers, Sean Connery and Caroline Flack in 2020
We said goodbye to Kenny Rogers, Sean Connery and Caroline Flack in 2020. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

We look back at the famous faces we've sadly said goodbye to in 2020.

From actors to musicians to athletes, here are some of the most high-profile and inspirational stars who have passed away this year so far.

  1. Derek Acorah

    Derek Acorah
    Derek Acorah. Picture: Getty

    Medium Derek Acorah died on January 3, aged 69, after falling into a septic coma.

    The self-styled spiritual medium found fame on the the TV show Most Haunted, and continued to appear on TV ever since, including when he finished fourth in 2017's Celebrity Big Brother.

  2. Edd Byrnes

    Edd Byrnes
    Edd Byrnes. Picture: Getty

    Actor Edd Byrnes died on January 8 from natural causes, aged 87.

    He famously appeared in the 1979 musical Grease as Vince Fontaine, and also played Kookie on TV series 77 Sunset Strip.

  3. Terry Jones

    Terry Jones
    Terry Jones. Picture: Getty

    Monty Python star Terry Jones died on January 21, aged 77. He had been battling a rare form of dementia for a number of years.

    He was an original member of the legendary comedy group, and was also in the director's chair for their films Life Of Brian and The Holy Grail.

  4. Kobe Bryant

    Kobe Bryant
    Kobe Bryant. Picture: Getty

    Retired LA Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant passed away on February 26, aged 41.

    The five-time NBA Champion was tragically killed alongside his daughter and several others following a helicopter crash.

  5. Nicholas Parsons

    Nicholas Parsons
    Nicholas Parsons. Picture: Getty

    Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons died on January 28, aged 96.

    He had hosted the famous radio comedy show since its inception in 1967. He also was known for his many years of TV work, including shows such as Sale of the Century.

  6. Kirk Douglas

    Kirk Douglas
    Kirk Douglas. Picture: Getty

    Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas died on February 5, aged 103.

    One of the last surviving legends of classic Hollywood, he was known for many films including Spartacus.

    His actor son Michael said: "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”

  7. Caroline Flack

    Caroline Flack
    Caroline Flack. Picture: Getty

    TV presenter Caroline Flack died on February 15 aged 40, after taking her own life.

    A lawyer for the Flack family confirmed that Caroline was found in her east London flat.

    Caroline hosted a number of shows including Love Island, The X Factor, and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now. She also won Strictly Come Dancing.

  8. Max von Sydow

    Max von Sydow
    Max von Sydow. Picture: Getty

    Actor Max von Sydow passed away on March 8, aged 90.

    His career spanned many decades, and he appeared in many cult films and TV shows, including Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Exorcist, Dune and Flash Gordon.

  9. Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd
    Roy Hudd. Picture: Getty

    Comedian Roy Hudd died on March 16, aged 83.

    The entertainer starred in Coronation Street, and was known for his many TV and film roles for decades.

    His agent added: "The family would ask you to respect their privacy at this very sad time."

  10. Kenny Rogers

    Kenny Rogers
    Kenny Rogers. Picture: Getty

    Read more: Dolly Parton's heartbreaking tribute to Kenny Rogers

    Kenny Rogers died on March 20, aged 81.

    The country music legend was one of the biggest music stars of the 1970s and '80s, and was known for hits like 'The Gambler' and 'Islands in the Stream'.

  11. Eddie Large

    Eddie Large
    Eddie Large. Picture: Getty

    Comedian Eddie Large died on April 2, after contracting coronavirus.

    Alongside Syd Little, Eddie Large made up one of Britain's most beloved comedy duos in the '70s and '80s, and were known as Little And Large.

  12. Bill Withers

    Bill Withers
    Bill Withers. Picture: Getty

    Read more: The Story of... 'Ain't No Sunshine'

    Singer Bill Withers died on April 3, aged 81. The American soul icon was battling a heart condition.

    He was most famous for his hits 'Ain't No Sunshine', 'Lean on Me' and 'Lovely Day'.

  13. Honor Blackman

    Honor Blackman
    Honor Blackman. Picture: Getty

    Actor Honor Blackman died aged 94, on April 6.

    The actress was best known for her role as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, as well as starring in The Avengers.

    Her family said: "She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family."

  14. John Prine

    John Prine
    John Prine. Picture: Getty

    Country and folk singer John Prine died on April 8, after contracting coronavirus.

    Prine was an American country and folk singer-songwriter, who was recognised as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.

  15. Stirling Moss

    Stirling Moss
    Stirling Moss. Picture: Getty

    Sir Stirling Moss died on April 12, at the age of 90.

    The motor-racing legend won 212 of his 529 races, and came ever so close to being Britain's first Formula One champion in 1958, when he lost to Mike Hawthorn by one point.

  16. Tim Brooke-Taylor

    Tim Brooke-Taylor
    Tim Brooke-Taylor. Picture: Getty

    Comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor died on April 12, aged 79.

    The Goodies and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue star died after contracting coronavirus.

  17. Irrfan Khan

    Irrfan Khan
    Picture: Getty

    Actor Irrfan Khan died on April 29 aged 53, after battling a colon infection.

    He was best known for his many Bollywood movies, and for his success in Hollywood films Jurassic World, Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man.

  18. June Bernicoff

    June Bernicoff
    Picture: Getty

    Gogglebox star June Bernicoff died on May 5, aged 82 after a short illness.

    June and her late husband Leon were among the first people to join the show when it started back in 2013. She left the show when Leon passed away in December 2017.

  19. Florian Schneider

    Florian Schneider
    Picture: Getty

    Musician Florian Schneider died on May 6, aged 73.

    Schneider was a founding member of legendary electronic group Kraftwerk. He launched the German band alongisde Ralf Hutter in 1970, and they inspired countless artists such as David Bowie.

  20. Millie Small

    Millie Small
    Picture: Getty

    'My Boy Lollipop' singer Millie Small died on May 5, after a stroke.

    The Jamaican star was one of the first singers to score an international hit from the Caribbean, but largely stayed out of the limelight since the 1970s.

  21. Little Richard

    Little Richard
    Picture: Getty

    Rock and roll pioneer Little Richard passed away on May 9, aged 87.

    He was one of the best known stars of the 1950s, inspiring many artists with his brand of fast-paced rock music, and hits such as 'Tutti Frutti' and 'Good Golly Miss Molly'.

  22. Willie Thorne

    Willie Thorne
    Picture: Getty

    Snooker legend Willie Thorne died on June 17, aged 66, after a short battle with leukaemia.

    Known as Mr Maximum, he became known as one of the best snooker commentators in his later career.

  23. Bonnie Pointer

    Bonnie Pointer
    Bonnie Pointer. Picture: Getty

    Singer Bonnie Pointer died on June 8, aged 69, after a heart attack.

    She was one of the members of famous group The Pointer Sisters alongside her siblings, and also scored solo success after leaving the band.

  24. Dame Vera Lynn

    Vera Lynn
    Vera Lynn. Picture: Getty

    Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn died on June 18, aged 103.

    She was best remembered for her songs 'We'll Meet Again' and 'The White Cliffs of Dover', and entertained the nation during its toughest period.

  25. Ian Holm

    Ian Holm
    Picture: Getty

    Actor Ian Holm died on June 19, aged 88.

    He was a prolific actor on stage and screen, appearing in many films such as Chariots of Fire, Brazil, The Fifth Element, Aliens and the Lord of the Rings series.

  26. Ennio Morricone

    Ennio Morricone
    Picture: Getty

    Italian composer Ennio Morricone died aged 91 on July 6, due to injuries sustained during a fall.

    Morricone composed over 400 scores for film and TV, as well as over 100 classical works. His score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history.

  27. Naya Rivera

    Naya Rivera
    Picture: Getty

    Glee star Naya Rivera died aged 33 on July 8, after accidentally drowning during a swim with her son in California.

    The singer and actress was best known for playing cheerleader Santana in the popular musical TV show.

  28. Jack Charlton

    Jack Charlton
    Jack Charlton. Picture: Getty

    England's World Cup winner Jack Charlton died aged 85 on July 11.

    The Leeds United legend had been diagnosed with lymphoma and was also battling dementia. Bobby Charlton's older brother, he was part of the 1966 England World Cup winning squad.

  29. Kelly Preston

    Kelly Preston
    Kelly Preston. Picture: Getty

    Kelly Preston passed away on June 12, aged 57, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    She was married to John Travolta, and appeared in various films including Twins and Jerry Maguire.

  30. Wayne Fontana

    Wayne Fontana
    Wayne Fontana. Picture: Getty

    Singer Wayne Fontana died on August 6, aged 74.

    He was the frontman with The Mindbenders, scoring a hit with 'Game of Love' in the 1960s.

  31. Chadwick Boseman

    Chadwick Boseman
    Chadwick Boseman. Picture: Getty

    Actor Chadwick Boseman died on August 28, aged 43, following a secret battle with colon cancer.

    Read more: Remembering Chadwick Boseman's excellent performance as James Brown in Get On Up

    He appeared in many TV show and films, most famously as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  32. Ian Mitchell

    Ian Mitchell
    Ian Mitchell. Picture: Getty

    Bay City Rollers star Ian Mitchell died on September 2, aged 62.

    He was just 17 when he replaced bassist Alan Longmuir in the band.

  33. Ronald Bell

    Ronald Bell
    Ronald Bell. Picture: Getty

    Singer Ronald Bell died on September 9, aged 68.

    He co-founded funk legends Kool & The Gang in 1964, scoring massive hits including 'Celebration', 'Jungle Boogie' and 'Cherish'.

  34. Diana Rigg

    Diana Rigg
    Diana Rigg. Picture: Getty

    Dame Diana Rigg died on September 10, aged 82 after a short battle with cancer.

    The legendary British actress was best known for playing Emma Peel in The Avengers, Tracy in Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

  35. Pamela Hutchinson

    The Emotions (Wanda, Pamela and Sheila)
    The Emotions (Wanda, Pamela and Sheila). Picture: Getty

    Singer Pamela Hutchinson from the vocal group The Emotions died on September 18 aged 61, after battling several health issues.

    The group had big hits with 'The Best Of My Love' and 'So I Can Love You'.

  36. Tommy DeVito

    Tommy DeVito (right) with actor Joe Pesci
    Tommy DeVito (right) with actor Joe Pesci. Picture: Getty

    Singer Tommy DeVito died on September 21, aged 92 after contracting coronavirus.

    DeVito was one of the founding members of The Four Seasons, the legendary doo-wop group with hits including 'Big Girls Don't Cry' and 'Walk Like A Man'.

  37. Archie Lyndhurst

    Archie Lyndhurst with parents Nicholas and Lucy
    Archie Lyndhurst with parents Nicholas and Lucy. Picture: Getty

    Actor Archie Lyndhurst died in September, aged 19.

    He was son of Only Fools and Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst, and became a successful actor in his own right, best kn own for the CBBC show So Awkward.

  38. Helen Reddy

    Helen Reddy
    Helen Reddy. Picture: Getty

    Singer Helen Reddy died on September 29, aged 78 after a battle with dementia.

    The Australian star became a feminist icon thanks to her massive hit single 'I Am Woman'.

  39. Eddie Van Halen

    Eddie Van Halen
    Eddie Van Halen. Picture: Getty

    Rock icon Eddie Van Halen died on October 6, aged 65, from a stroke after battling cancer for a number of years.

    Read more: How Eddie Van Halen transformed Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' into a pop-rock anthem

    He was known as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, famously playing with his namesake band Van Halen for decades.

  40. Johnny Nash

    Johnny Nash
    Johnny Nash. Picture: Getty

    Singer Johnny Nash died on October 6, aged 80.

    The American reggae star helped bring the genre to wider audiences, mainly thanks to his 1972 hit 'I Can See Clearly Now'.

  41. Gordon Haskell

    Gordon Haskell
    Gordon Haskell. Picture: Getty

    Musician Gordon Haskell died on October 15, aged 74, from cancer.

    He had been a singer and bassist with King Crimson before a successful solo career. He just missed out on the Christmas number one in 2001 with his track 'How Wonderful You Are'.

  42. Spencer Davis

    Spencer Davis
    Spencer Davis. Picture: Getty

    Musician Spencer Davis died on October 19, aged 81, after a heart attack.

    Davis founded the famous 1960s beat band The Spencer Davis Group in 1963, scoring hits including 'Keep on Running', and 'Gimme Some Lovin''.

  43. Bobby Ball

    Bobby Ball (right) with Tommy Cannon
    Bobby Ball (right) with Tommy Cannon. Picture: Getty

    Comedian Bobby Ball died on October 28, aged 76, after testing positive for coronavirus.

    Real name Robert Harper, Bobby was one half of legendary comedy double act Cannon and Ball alongside best friend Tommy Cannon.

  44. Nobby Stiles

    Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles. Picture: Getty

    England World Cup-winner Nobby Stiles died on October 30, aged 78.

    He played a big role in the Three Lions side which won the tournament in 1966, and also made 311 appearances for Manchester United.

  45. Sir Sean Connery

    Sean Connery
    Sean Connery. Picture: Getty

    Sir Sean Connery died on October 31, aged 90.

    Read more: Sean Connery's cover of 'In My Life' is beautiful and very poignant

    The Scottish acting legend was best known for playing James Bond, alongside many other famous movie roles, winning an Oscar and two Baftas.

  46. John Sessions

    John Sessions
    John Sessions. Picture: Getty

    Comedian John Sessions died on November 2, aged 67, after a heart attack.

    He was best known for his voice work on Spitting Image, as well as his appearances on Have I Got News For You and Whose Line Is It Anyway? He also co-created and starred in Stella Street.

  47. Geoffrey Palmer

    Geoffrey Palmer
    Geoffrey Palmer. Picture: Getty

    Actor Geoffrey Palmer died on November 5, aged 93.

    Palmer starred in various TV shows and films over the decades, perhaps most famously the sitcom As Time Goes By alongside Dame Judi Dench.

  48. Des O'Connor

    Des O'Connor
    Des O'Connor. Picture: Getty

    TV icon Des O’Connor died on November 14, aged 88.

    Read more: When Des O'Connor sang a brilliant duet of 'The Power of Love' with Jennifer Rush

    The all-round entertainer was a comedian, singer and TV presenter, and hosted shows such as Take Your Pick, Countdown, The Des O'Connor Show and Today with Des and Mel. He also scored a number one single with 'I Pretend'.

  49. Diego Maradona

    Diego Maradona
    Diego Maradona. Picture: Getty

    Football icon Diego Maradona died on November 25, aged 60, after a cardiac arrest.

    The Argentinian legend is often considered to be one of the greatest football players of all time. He famously captained his national team to victory in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which included his infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England.

  50. Dave Prowse

    Dave Prowse
    Dave Prowse. Picture: Getty

    Actor Dave Prowse died on November 28, aged 85.

    He was most famous for playing Star Wars villain Darth Vader in the original trilogy. He also played the Green Cross Code Man in the 1970s, and trained Christopher Reeve for his role as Superman.

  51. Barbara Windsor

    Barbara Windsor
    Barbara Windsor. Picture: Getty

    Dame Barbara Windsor died aged 83 on December 10.

    Read more: Barbara Windsor singing 'You Made Me Love You' is so moving

    Actor and singer Barbara was best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On movies, having made a name for herself in the West End in the 1960s.