Wednesday, December 30, 2020


As time goes by we come to the end of another year, and we come to a list of great entertainers and memorable people that have died in 2020. This is just a partial list of who we lost this year...

Vera Lynn

Singer, DAME VERA LYNN died on June 18th at the age of 103. She was a British singer, songwriter and entertainer whose musical recordings and performances were largely popular during the Second World War. She was widely known as "the Forces' Sweetheart" and gave outdoor concerts for the troops in during the war . The songs most associated with her are "We'll Meet Again", "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "There'll Always Be an England". She remained popular after the war, appearing on radio and television in the United Kingdom and the United States, and recording such hits as "Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart" and her UK number one single "My Son, My Son". Her last single, "I Love This Land", was released to mark the end of the Falklands War. In 2009, at the age of 92, she became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart with the compilation album We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn. In 2014, she released the collection Vera Lynn: National Treasure and in 2017, she released Vera Lynn 100, a compilation album of hits to commemorate her centenary year—it was a No. 3 hit, making her the first centenarian performer to have a Top 10 album in the charts.

Actor KIRK DOUGLAS died at the age of 103 on Feburary 5th. Making his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early film include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, and he received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner. He survived a helicopter crash in 1991, and he recovered from a stroke in 1996. He retired from acting in 2008.

Screenwriter and actor BUCK HENRY died on January 8th at the age of 89 of a heart attack. He was twice nominated for an Academy Award, in 1968 for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Graduate and in 1979 for Best Director for Heaven Can Wait alongside Warren Beatty. His long career began on television with work on shows with Steve Allen in The New Steve Allen Show (1961). He went on to co-create Get Smart (1965-1970) with Mel Brooks, and hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times from 1976 to 1980. He made his last movie in 2015.

Singer LYNN EVANS died at the age of 95 on February 6th. She was the last surviving member of the original The Chordettes. The group performed from 1946 to 1963 and have huge hits like "Mr. Sandman" and "Lollipop". Lynn came out of retirement in 2004 to appear and sing at a PBS nostalgia special.

Actor EDD "KOOKIE" BYRNES died on January 8th at the age of 87.He was best known for his starring role in the television series 77 Sunset Strip. He also was featured in the 1978 film Grease as television teen-dance show host Vince Fontaine, and was a charting recording artist with "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" (with Connie Stevens). He retired from acting in 1999.

Jerry Stiller

Actor JERRY STILLER died at the age of 92 on May 11th. He spent many years as part of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara with his wife, Anne Meara, to whom he was married for over 60 years until her death in 2015. Stiller saw a late-career resurgence starting in 1993, playing George Costanza's father Frank in the sitcom Seinfeld, a part which earned him an Emmy nomination. The year Seinfeld went off the air, Stiller began his role as the eccentric Arthur Spooner on the CBS comedy series The King of Queens, another role which garnered him widespread acclaim. He retired in 2016. Jerry was also the father of actor Ben Stiller.

Actor SEAN CONNERY died at the age of 90 on October 31st. He is best known as the first actor to portray the character James Bond in film, starring in seven Bond films (every film from Dr. No to You Only Live Twice, plus Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again) between 1962 and 1983. Connery began acting in smaller theatre and television productions until his breakout role as British secret agent James Bond garnered him international recognition. Other great films included Marnie (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Highlander (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996), The Rock (1996), and Finding Forrester (2000). Connery retired from acting in 2006.

Comedian TERRY JONES died on January 21st at the age of 77 from dementia. He was a Welsh actor, writer, comedian, screenwriter, film director and historian. He was a member of the Monty Python comedy team. He created Monty Python's Flying Circus with  fellow Cambridge graduates Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman, and American animator/filmmaker Terry Gilliam. Jones was largely responsible for the programme's innovative, surreal structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2015.

Comedian FRED WILLARD died on May 15th at the age of 86. He was an American actor, comedian and writer. He was best known for his roles in the Rob Reiner mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap; the Christopher Guest mockumentaries Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots; and the Anchorman films. He had important supporting roles on television from Everybody Loves Raymond to Modern Family. His last role was on the Netflix series Space Force, playing Steve Carell's father. It debuted shortly after Fred's death.

Actress RHONDA FLEMING died on October 14th at the age of 97. She was considered one of the great beauties of Hollywood, and she appeared in over 40 movies during her career mostly in the 1940s and 1950s. She starred with Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (1949), with Bob Hope in The Great Lover (also 1949), and Cry Danger (1951) with Dick Powell among others. She made her last movie in 1990, but she was active in her charities through the 2000s.

Regis Philbin

Television host REGIS PHILBIN died on July 24th of heart failure at the age of 88. Once called "the hardest working man in show business", he holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on U.S. television. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Philbin served in the U.S. Navy and got his television start serving as a page for The Tonight Show in the 1950s. He got his first network TV exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. He is most widely known as the co-host of the New York City-based nationally syndicated talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, starting in 1988, which became Live! with Regis and Kelly in 2001, and continued as Live! with Kelly after Philbin's departure in 2011.

Singer BETTY BENNETT died at the age of 98 on April 7th. Her first major signing was with the Claude Thornhill band in 1946, the band in which her husband, bassist Iggy Shevak, was playing. Shortly after her husband left to join Alvino Rey, Bennett followed him there. In 1949, she joined Charlie Ventura's band before going on to join Benny Goodman in 1959.Her second album featured arrangements by Shorty Rogers and her second husband, AndrĂ© Previn. Bennett later married guitarist Mundell Lowe. 

Actor ROBERT CONRAD died of heart failure on February 8th at the age of 84. Robert was a television actor, singer, and stuntman. He is best known for his role in the 1965–1969 television series The Wild Wild West, playing the sophisticated Secret Service agent James T. West. He portrayed World War II ace Pappy Boyington in the television series Baa Baa Black Sheep (later syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron). In addition to acting, he was a singer, and recorded several pop/rock songs in the late 1950s and early 1960s as Bob Conrad. He retired from hosting a radio show in 2019.

Singer FREDDY COLE died at the age of 88 on June 27th. He was an American jazz singer and pianist whose recording career spanned almost 70 years. He was the brother of singer Nat King Cole. During the 1970s, Cole recorded several albums for European and English based labels. He went on to work with Grover Washington, Jr. and to record jingles for various companies, including Turner Classic Movies. He was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Cole Nobody Knows.

Dancer TOMMY RALL died of heart failure on October 6th at the age of 90. He was a gifted ballet dancer who played supporting roles in such MGM musicals as Kiss Me Kate (1953) and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954). Later on he appeared in movie musicals like Funny Girl (1968) with Barbra Streisand. He recent years he became a gifted painter as well.

Ann Reinking

Dancer and choreographer ANN REINKING died on December 12th at the age of 71. Her extensive work in musical theater included starring in Broadway productions of Coco (1969), Over Here! (1974), Goodtime Charley (1975), Chicago (1977), Dancin' (1978) and Sweet Charity (1986). In the 1996 revival of Chicago, she reprised the role of Roxie Hart and was also the choreographer, winning the Tony Award for Best Choreography. For the 2000 West End production of Fosse, she won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer. She also appeared in the films All That Jazz (1979), Annie (1982), and Micki & Maude (1984).

Actor DANIEL GOLDMAN died on April 12th at the age of 80 from a stroke. He is most widely recognized as the voice of Brainy Smurf in Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs (1981–1989) and as the inquisitive medical student in the opening scene of Young Frankenstein (1974). He remained active as a casting director through 2012.

Actress OLIVIA DEHAVILLAND died on July 26th at the age of 104. The major works of her cinematic career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films and was one of the leading actresses of her time. She was the last major surviving star from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema and the oldest living and earliest surviving Academy Award winner until her death in July 2020. Her younger sister was the actress Joan Fontaine. De Havilland first came to prominence with Errol Flynn as a screen couple in adventure films such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). One of her best-known roles is that of Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she received her first of five Oscar nominations.

Singer LITTLE RICHARD died on May 9th at the age of 87. He was an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades. Nicknamed "The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll", Little Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll.

Actor and screenwriter NED WYNN died on December 21st at the age of 79 from Parkinson's Disease. He was the son of actor Keenan Wynn and the grandson of comedian Ed Wynn. Ned Wynn appeared in small roles in just a handful of films. He, his father and grandfather worked together in The Absent Minded Professor (1961), Son of Flubber (1963) and The Patsy (1964); he also acted with his dad in Bikini Beach (1964) and Stagecoach (1966). He also wrote an autobiography on his life as a Hollywood child in 1990.

Carl Reiner

Comedian CARL REINER died on June 29th at the age of 98. During the early years of television comedy from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar. In the 1960s, Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also had great success as a film director and writer and in the 1970s and 1980s. He co-wrote and directed some of Steve Martin's most successful films, including The Jerk (1979). He also directed notable comedies such as Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and All of Me (1984). Over his long and distinguished career, Reiner won many awards and honors including, nine Emmy Awards, one Grammy Award, and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Actress DIANA RIGG died of cancer at the age of 82 on September 10th. Some of her notable roles were as Emma Peel in the TV series The Avengers (1965–1968); Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, wife of James Bond, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969); and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones (2013–2017).Rigg had a successful career and life in theatre, making her professional stage debut in 1957 in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959, she made her Broadway debut in Abelard & Heloise in 1971. She performed the title role in Medea, both in London and New York, for which she won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She continued working through 2020.

Singer PHYLLIS MCGUIRE died on December 29th at the age of 89. She was the last surviving member of the McGuire Sisters singing groups, which also consisted of her older sisters - Christine (1926-2018) and Dorothy (1928-2012). Among their most popular songs were "Sincerely" and "Sugartime", both number-one hits. Phyllis was the long time girlfriend of mobster Sam Gianciana, and as a result the sister broke up the act in 1968. They reunited to perform in the 1980s, and they last performed together in 2004 on a PBS special. 

They wonderful stars and icons left us in 2020 but they will never be forgotten...

1 comment:

  1. I don't recall hearing about Freddy Cole and Phyllis McGuire. We do have the work, which is all we ever had but it was a kind thing knowing they were still with us.