As the world turns and the days pass of 2020, it’s important to remember those that we’ve lost. That holds especially true for stars, authors, athletes and other celebrities, those who have made our lives that much better with their work.
Why look back? “It’s always been important to remember,” says Ben Mankiewicz, a host on TV’s Turner Classic Movies network. “It’s more than just a nostalgia factor. Shutting that history off is an obstacle to progress. Acknowledging our history and celebrating it is critical to moving forward as a society. It makes it particularly important to acknowledge where we came from. Celebrating the lives of great artists is a huge part of it.”
We forge a unique and powerful bond with public figures and celebrities, says Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, host of TV’s The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and author of the recent book Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving. “People who we see on TV, I think especially, become part of our lives,” he says. “We mourn them. Maybe not in the same way we mourn family members, but they’re a part of us.”
Celebrities who have died in 2020
The legendary Los Angeles Lakers player died tragically in a helicopter crash on January 26 at age 41. The man known as the “Black Mamba” was one of nine passengers on board, according to a press conference held by authorities near the crash site shortly after the accident. His daughter Gianna was also on board the helicopter and was killed in the crash, as well. It was just announced that Bryant was inducted into the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame. He also received two Olympic medals in 2008 and 2012, as well as an Academy Award in 2018.
The country music icon who dominated country and pop charts in the 1970s and ’80s, died March 20 at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He was 81. The three-time Grammy winner is known for songs “Lady,” “The Gambler,” “Islands in the Stream,” “She Believes in Me” “Lucille,” and many others that have long been pop culture staples.
In 2017, he was presented with the SESAC Legacy Award for his countless contributions to the music and entertainment world. The star-studded ceremony in Nashville was just a couple of months before he called off the final dates of The Gambler’s Last Deal tour.
An acting legend and the star of the golden age of Hollywood with more than 75 movies to his credit, died in February at 103. Best known as the star of Spartacus, Douglas had been in good health and had starred in four films since suffering a stroke in 1996.
One of the trailblazing NASA mathematicians depicted in Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures died on February 24 at the age of 101. Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film, published NASA’s first scientific paper to name a woman as author, and her trajectory calculations enabled Apollo 11 to land on the moon.
The prolific and dazzling playwright best known for writing Master Class, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Love! Valour! Compassion! died March 24 of complications from coronavirus. He was 81. In his five-decade career, this four-time Tony Award-winning maestro of the theater produced works filled with heart. He never shied away from writing about AIDS or other topics that were complicated and effected our world. McNally had a particular knack for being empathic for the human condition. He penned 36 plays, books for 10 musicals, wrote screenplays for television and film along with librettos for operas. Last June, he was given a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The New York chef and Top Chef Masters winner died at 59, after he experienced complications following a positive coronavirus diagnosis. He had helmed a number of successful restaurants over the years, including pioneering Indian restaurant Tabla, Meyer’s North End Grill and the Bombay Bread Bar, which closed last year. He also had three restaurants in his home city of Mumbai, and had written two cookbooks.
The film, television and stage actor, who was known for his roles in Crocodile Dundee, Desperately Seeking Susan, Mozart in the Jungle, Succession, You and scores of other roles, died March 26 due to coronavirus complications. He was 69.
During his four-decade career, Blum was a force on Broadway and Off-Broadway. He played eclectic roles in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, My Thing of Love, The Best Man, A Thousand Clowns, The Graduate, Twelve Angry Men, The Assembled Parties, Rancho Vieijo, The Good Mother, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Waverly Gallery, Mizlanski Zilinski, Little Footsteps, It’s Only A Play, Gus and Al (for which he was awarded an Obie), Key Exchange, Table Settings, Say Goodnight Gracie, Fern Hill and Amy and the Orphans.
Here’s a list of all the celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for coronavirus.