Who died in 2020? List of celebrity deaths this year - from Barbara Windsor to Sir Sean Connery and Diego Maradona

A number of famous actors, footballers and musicians passed away in 2020

Dame Barbara Windsor, Kobe Bryant and Caroline Flack all passed away in 2020 (Getty Images)
Dame Barbara Windsor, Kobe Bryant and Caroline Flack all passed away in 2020 (Getty Images)

As a tumultuous year approaches its end we are looking back at those we lost in 2020.

From sporting giants to silver screen giants, many famous faces have left us in a year, that for many will be defined by the loss of loved ones.

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While the death of a celebrity will naturally bring about sadness, it also presents an opportunity to celbrate the life’s work of the deceased, whether it be the world cup winning heroics of Diego Maradona, or the tireless campaign work and acting career of Dame Barbara Windsor.

Here is a look at some of the famous faces who left us in the previous year.

January

Kobe Bryant: The five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna as a result of a helicopter crash in California. Pop star Beyonce paid tribute, posting on social media: “I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe.”

Terry Jones: The actor and comedian, who directed some of Monty Python’s best-loved works, “gently slipped away” at the age of 77. Terry Gilliam paid tribute calling him a “brilliant, constantly questioning, iconoclastic, righteously argumentative and angry but outrageously funny and generous and kind human being”.

February

Pop Smoke: Rapper Pop Smoke died at the age of 20. A statement from his record label read: “We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of @POPSMOKE10. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together.”

Andrew Weatherall: Primal Scream producer and DJ Andrew Weatherall was remembered as a “cosmic traveller” after his death at the age of 56. He produced legendary album Screamadelica.

Caroline Flack: Love Island presenter Caroline Flack was remembered by the show’s narrator Iain Stirling who remembered her “passion, warmth and infectious enthusiasm”. She died aged 40 in February.

Kirk Douglas: American actor Kirk Douglas died aged 103. Douglas, best known for films including Spartacus and Ace In The Hole, was one of the last remaining stars of Hollywood’s golden age.

March

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Kenny Rogers: The husky-voiced singer, known for hits such as Coward Of The County and The Gambler, died at home, aged 81, from natural causes. Dolly Parton reacted to the news, tweeting: “But I loved Kenny with all my heart. And my heart’s broken. A big old chunk of it has gone with him today.

Max Von Sydow: Hollywood star Max von Sydow was hailed for his “tremendous presence and power” following his death aged 90. Best known for roles in Game of Thrones and The Exorcist, Jonathan Ross paid tribute to him, tweeting: “Never ever felt like he was ‘acting’. At his best when playing thoughtful, emotionally detached men. 3 Days of the Condor is one of my faves. We were lucky to have him.”

Michel Roux Sr.: Chef and restaurateur Michel Roux was remembered as a “humble genius” after his death at the age of 78.

April

Bill Withers: Bill Withers was remembered as a “songwriter’s songwriter” after his death at the age of 81. The US soul star, best known for hits such as Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, died from heart complications.

Jill Gascoine: The Gentle Touch actress Jill Gascoine died in April after living with Alzheimer’s disease. Gascoine rose to prominence in the 1970s drama The Onedin Line, about a shipping company in Liverpool, before landing a starring role in The Gentle Touch, the first major British police drama with a female lead.

Irrfan Khan: Irrfan Khan died on April 29 after a short illness. The Bollywood star found fame in Hollywood in films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Life Of Pi and Jurassic World.

Lynn Faulds Wood: Lynn Faulds Wood died aged 72 in April. The presenter, who was born in Glasgow, presented Watchdog alongside John Stapleton from 1985 to 1993.

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Norman Hunter: The world of football paid tribute to Leeds defender Norman Hunter, who died aged 76 after contracting coronavirus. Hunter, nicknamed ‘Bites Yer Legs’ because of his fearsome reputation in the tackle, was part of the hugely successful Leeds side of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Sir Stirling Moss: Formula One great Sir Stirling Moss died at the age of 90. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who built a close friendship with Moss, said on Instagram Moss would always be “in our memories and will always be such a huge part of British Motorsports Heritage.”

May

Little Richard: A pioneer of rock’n’roll, Little Richard passed away aged 87 on May 9. Rolling Stones singer Sir Mick Jagger said he had “contributed so much to popular music”, adding that he would “watch his moves” to learn from them while they toured together.

Michael Angelis: Angelis, best known as the long-term narrator of Thomas The Tank Engine series Thomas And Friends, died suddenly while at home in May. Among those who paid tribute to the actor on social media was comedian Matt Lucas, who described Angelis as “one of the greatest TV actors I’ve ever seen”.

June

Vera Lynn: The singer died aged 103 just weeks after thousands across the United Kingdom performed her 1939 We’ll Meet Again to celebrate VE Day. The Queen sent a private message of condolence following her death.

Naya Rivera: Naya Rivera died of accidental drowning ar Lake Piru in Southern California on July 8. The former Glee star’s husband Ryan Dorsey paid tribute in an Instagram post writing: “This is so unfair…there’s not enough words to express the hole left in everyone’s hearts. I can’t believe this is life now. I don’t know if I’ll ever believe it.”

Ian Holm: The Lord of the Rings actor passed away on June 19, aged 88. Frozen star Josh Gad has paid tribute to Sir Ian Holm as “the beating heart” of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy following his death.

July

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Jack Charlton: A stalwart in England’s 1966 World Cup winning side, Jack Charlton passed away after living with lymphoma and dementia. Charlton was a one-club-man with Leeds United during one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.

Ennio Morricone: legendary film score composer Ennio Morricone died in July aged 91. Morricone is best known for his scores on "A Fistful of Dollars" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", more recently teaming up with Quentin Tarantino to compose music for The Hateful Eight.

August

Chadwick Boseman: News of the Black Panther actor’s private cancer battle and death aged 42 shocked the world. The performer is widely expected to be nominated for a posthumous Oscar for his role in Netflix original Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

John Hume: The former SDLP leader and Nobel laureate died in early August aged 83. A message from the Dalai Lam was read out at his funeral – it read: “It was his leadership and his faith in the power of negotiations that enabled the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to be reached. His steady persistence set an example for all of us to follow.”

Trini Lopez: The Dirty Dozen actor died aged 83 shortly after he tested positive for coroanvirus. Lopez was also known for creating pop hits out of songs La Bamba and If I Had A Hammer.

September

Ruth Ginsberg: American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg died aged 87 on September 18. A Democrat, she is recognised as a legal, cultural and feminist icon.

Toots Hibbert: The frontman of Toots and the Maytals died on September 11 aged 77. His group helped to bring reggae to a wider audience with hits such as Pressure Drop.

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Dame Diana Rigg: The veteran actress passed away aged 82 on September 10. Though a younger generation will recognise her as Olenna Tyrell from the Game of Thrones series, Dame Diana had a career on the small screen and the stage stretching back decades, with credits including series The Avengers and film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

October

Sir Sean Connery: One of the most famous Scots of all time best known for his turn as Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Sir Sean Connery passed away on October 31 aged 90. Knighted in 2000, Sir Sean Connery won a best supporting actor for his role in 1988 film The Untouchables.

Eddie Van Halen: one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Eddie Van Halen passed away aged 65 on October 6 following a battle with throat cancer. Son Wolf Van Halen shared the news, writing: “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift.“

Margaret Nolan: the Bond girl and Carry On star passed away on October 5. Director Edgar Wright was among those who paid tribute, writing: "She was so funny, sharp and, as you might imagine, full of the most amazing stories. I’m so glad I got to know her. My heart goes out to her family and all that loved her. She will be much missed."

Nobby Stiles: The 1966 World Cup winner died aged 78 following a long illness. Stiles was part of the Manchester United side which became the first English side to claim the European Cup in 1971.

November

Papa Bouba Diop: The Premier League star died on November 29 following a battle with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. He is best known for his performances with Fulham, West Ham and Portsmouth, and his stunning goal for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup.

Diego Maradona: Considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time, Argentinian legend Diego Maradona died on November 24 after suffering cardiac arrest. Fellow playing legend Pele was one of the millions who paid tribute to the former Napoli player, stating: "Certainly one day we'll kick a ball together in the sky above."

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David Prowse: The Darth Vader actor died on November 28, aged 85, following a short illness. The actor also appeared in Doctor Who and The Two Ronnies.

Des O’Connor: Much-loved TV presenter Des O’Connor died on November 14 aged 88 following a fall at his home. Des’ agent said: "It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O'Connor passed away yesterday”.

John Sessions: veteran comedian John Sessions died aged 67 on November 2. The performer was known for his voice work in the original incarnation of Spitting Image, as well as regular appearances on Have I Got News For You.

December

Dame Barbara Windsor: EastEnders and Carry On actress Dame Barbara Windsor died aged 83 following a battle with dementia. In a touching tribute Windsor’s husband Paul Mitchell said: “It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve. 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.”

John Le Carre: The author died aged 89 after a battle with pneumonia. Born in 1931, Cornwell was educated at the universities of Bern, in Switzerland, and Oxford, before embarking on his undercover intelligence career, according to Curtis Brown. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, published in 1963, brought him worldwide acclaim and he left the service to pursue writing full time.