When a celebrity dies, fans can be left heartbroken by the tragic loss, but it can also lead to the celebration of a legacy they left behind. Whether it’s entertaining millions, inspiring people or helping to change the world for the better in some way, their contributions affect many of our lives, often in very significant ways.
In 2019 we said goodbye to a number of public figures from the world of stage, screen, sport, politics and more. Among them were literary icon Toni Morrison, actor Peter Fonda, film star Rutger Hauer and Hollywood legend Doris Day.
The start of the new decade has already seen the passing of some stars, including spiritual medium Derek Acorah, WWE legend Rocky Johnson and TV and radio presenter Stephen Clements.
Here’s a look at the people we’ve lost in 2020 whose influence will be felt for many years to come.
Canadian TV star Therese Dion died on January 16 at the age of 92.
She was in the company of her close family on the day she died, according to reports.
It’s said she had been struggling with illness in recent months including memory loss, loss of vision and hearing impairment, according to TMZ .
Therese was a star in her own right as she was the host of a cooking show for Canadian-French language channel TVA.
Also she was fondly nicknamed and known as Maman Dion.
Maman Dion was the mother of 14 children including singer Celine Dion.
Christopher Tolkien, the son of Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien, died on January 16, aged 95.
Christopher, an accomplished author in his own right, was key in keeping his father’s legacy alive after his death, editing works such as the The Silmarillion.
He also drew the famous original Lord of the Rings maps which decorated the books released across the 1950s after the success of the prequel, The Hobbit, the highly-detailed maps addong to the sense of a complete mythical world of Middle Earth.
Rocky Johnson, the wrestler dad of The Rock, died on January 15, aged 75.
Rocky became National Wrestling Alliance Georgia Champion and NWA Southern Heavyweight Memphis Champion as well as a host of other titles across his career, before going on to become part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship in the World Wrestling Federation with partner Tony Atlas.
After retiring, he went on to train son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to wrestle.
Stan Kirsch died on January 11, age 51.
The actor – who was best known for his role of Richie Ryan in Highlander – is believed to have taken his own life and was found dead at his home by his wife.
As well as playing Richie Ryan for six seasons, Kirsch also Stan also starred as Lieutenant Ferrari in hit series JAG for five seasons, as well as appearing in shows such as Friends.
Actor Edd Byrnes died on January 8 from natural causes, aged 87.
Byrnes appeared in the 1979 musical Grease as dance show host Vince Fontaine, and portrayed Kookie on TV series 77 Sunset Strip.
Musician Neil Peart died on January 7 aged 67 following a fight with brain cancer.
Peart was the drummer in rock band Rush, joining the ensemble in 1974 and retiring from music in 2015.
Neil is survived by Carrie, his wife of 19 years.
Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta died on January 7, aged 45.
He is believed to have taken his own life after being discovered in a motel room in Miami.
Horta was the show-runner and head writer behind the hit ABC show starring America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams, which ran for four seasons between 2006 and 2010.
He also wrote hit films Urban Legend and Urban Legend: Final Cut.
BBC presenter Stephen Clements passed away at the age of 47.
The much-loved TV and radio presenter died just months after landing what he called the “job of a lifetime” at the BBC.
Stephen, formerly a long-time presenter of Q Radio’s breakfast show, started working with BBC Northern Ireland last September.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Upstairs Downstairs star Christopher Beeny died on January 3, aged 78.
The star’s son, Rick Blackman, broke the sad news in a Twitter tribute to his dad.
As well as playing footman Edward Barnes in Upstairs Downstairs, Beeny also starred in Last Of The Summer Wine and In Loving Memory.
Derek Acorah died on January 3 aged 69 after falling into a septic coma.
Born Derek Francis Jason Johnson, Acorah was a self-styled spiritual medium who rose to fame on the the TV show Most Haunted when it launched it 2001, before fronting his own show Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns.
French striker Nathael Julan died in a car accident, aged 23.
Julan, who is believed to have been on his way home from training, was involved in the collision near the town of Saint-Brieuc with firefighters called to the scene.
Guingamp confirmed the news via a statement, saying: “The club had the immense pain of learning this afternoon of the accidental death of their player Nathael Julan.
“On this tragic day, all the members of the club join together to send their condolences to Nathael’s family.”
Former Barnsley and Cardiff City defender Chris Barker passed away, aged just 39.
In a career that spanned almost 20 years, the Sheffield-born left back made more than 500 career appearances since making his Football League debut for Barnsley back in 1999, before going on to play for teams such as Cardiff , QPR, Plymouth, Southend and Aldershot.
Young rising rap star Lexii Alijai died on January 1, aged just 21.
Fans of the up-and-coming star, whose real name is Alexis Alijai Lynch, were left devastated when news of her sudden death broke just hours after she had been active on social media.
She recently appeared on Kehlani Parrish’s single Jealous, and the American singer was one of the first to share the news as it broke.