Some of the entertainers, innovators, news makers and people of note we lost in 2020
Now that the year is finally over and done with, we at Village Media would like to take pause and remember those the world lost in 2020.
Here are just some of the entertainers, innovators, news makers, and people of note that left us this year (in no particular order):
Alex Trebek – Jeopardy! host from 1984 through 2020. The Northern Ontario native also made appearances in numerous television series, usually as himself. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy in 2011 and named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017 by then Governor General David Johnston for “his iconic achievements in television and for his promotion of learning, notably as a champion for geographical literacy.”
Ann Reinking – Tony Awarding-winning actress, dancer and choreographer. Won the Tony Award for Best Choreography for her work in the 1996 revival of Chicago.
Steven Thronson AKA Saint Dog – rapper and original founding member of Kottonmouth Kings.
Fred Sasakamoose – one of the very first Indigenous hockey players in the NHL. Following his hockey career, he became involved in Indigenous affairs and was recognized for his work by being named a member of the Order of Canada.
Fred ‘Curly’ Neal – legendary Harlem Globetrotter who was the team’s featured ball-handler for 22 seasons from 1963 to 1985. The team retired his number (22) in 2008.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – sat as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in September 2020. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the court and spent much of her career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights.
John le Carré – former MI6 agent and author of espionage novels, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Little Drummer Girl, The Night Manager, The Tailor of Panama, The Constant Gardener, A Most Wanted Man.
James Redford – documentary filmmaker and son of Robert Redford.
Rhonda Fleming – actress whose titles include Spellbound, The Last Outpost, Pony Express, and Run for Your Wife.
Billy Joe Shaver – country musician, songwriter who released 17 studio albums throughout his career.
Charley Pride – singer, guitarist and professional baseball player. Had 52 top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 30 of which made it to number one. He won the Entertainer of the Year award at the Country Music Association Awards in 1971. One of only three African-American members of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
William Blinn – TV screenwriter and producer whose works include Roots, Brian’s Song, Purple Rain, and Starsky & Hutch.
Spencer Davis – musician and founder of The Spencer Davis Group whose hits include Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m a Man.
Tony Lewis – musician, singer and bass player for The Outfield whose biggest hit was Your Love.
Daniel Dumile AKA MF DOOM – rapper and producer, famed for his intricate wordplay, signature metal mask, and ‘supervillain’ stage persona. He became a major figure of underground hip hop in the mid-2000s. Variety called him “one of the most celebrated, unpredictable and enigmatic figures in independent hip-hop.”
Conchata Ferrell – actress best remembered as Berta the housekeeper on Two and a Half Men.
Tom Kennedy – game show host, including Name That Tune, Split Second, and You Don’t Say!
Eddie Van Halen – musician, founding member and main songwriter for Van Halen whose hits include You Really Got Me, Dance the Night Away, (Oh) Pretty Women, Jump, Panama, Why Can’t This Be Love, and Hot For Teacher. During the 1980s, Van Halen had more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other hard rock or heavy metal band.
Thomas Jefferson Byrd – actor who appeared in numerous Spike Lee films, including Clockers, He Got Game, Get on the Bus, and Bamboozled. Other film and TV credits include Bulworth, Ray, In the Heat of the Night, and She’s Gotta Have It.
Justin Townes Earle – musician and son of Steve Earle. He received an Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009 and for Song of the Year in 2011 for Harlem River Blues.
Clark Middleton – actor best known for his supporting roles in Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Sin City, Fringe, Snowpiercer, and The Blacklist.
Mac Davis – country music singer and songwriter who enjoyed success as a crossover artist and in his early career wrote for Elvis Presley, including the hits Memories, In the Ghetto, and A Little Less Conversation.
Richard Wayne Penniman AKA Little Richard – singer, songwriter often credited with laying the foundations for what would become rock and roll. Nicknamed ‘The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll’, his work influenced generations of soul, funk, hip hop and rhythm and blues artists. His hits include Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Keep A-Knockin’, Jenny Jenny, Lucille, and Good Golly Miss Molly. He was one of the very first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Helen Reddy – pop singer whose hits include Delta Dawn, I Don’t Know How To Love Him, I Am Woman, and Angie Baby.
Katherine Johnson – pioneering mathematician who worked for 35 years for NASA and helped make US space travel possible. Her life and work served as inspiration for the film Hidden Figures. President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
Tommy DeVito – founding member, guitar player and vocalist of the Four Seasons.
Chadwick Boseman – actor whose most beloved role was that of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His breakout role was as baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42 in 2013. He also starred in Get on Up as singer James Brown, and Marshall as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, but kept his condition private and continued to film through treatment. His last film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, was released posthumously to critical acclaim.
Johnny Nash – singer, songwriter best known for his 1972 hit I Can See Clearly Now.
Michael Lonsdale – actor best remembered as Hugo Drax in Moonraker. Other film credits include The Day of the Jackal, Chariots of Fire, The Name of the Rose, and The Remains of the Day.
Yuko Takeuchi – Japanese actress best known for her roles in Miss Sherlock and Ringu.
Georgia Dobbins – musician and co-writer of Motown’s first No. 1 hit Please Mr. Postman as part of The Marvelettes.
Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert – musician and front man of Toots and the Maytals. His 1968 song Do the Reggay is widely credited as the genesis of the genre name ‘reggae’. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 2012.
Olivia de Havilland – actress whose career spanned from 1935 through 1988, appearing in 49 feature films. She first came to prominence with Errol Flynn in adventure films such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood. One of her best-known roles is that of Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind. She was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two. She was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017.
Irrfan Khan – Bollywood actor known internationally for his roles in Life Of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire.
Shirley Douglas – Canadian actress – Daughter of Tommy Douglas, wife of Donald Sutherland, and mother of Kiefer Sutherland. Her film and television roles include those in Lolita, Dead Ringers, Street Legal, Made in Canada, Corner Gas, and Degrassi: The Next Generation.
James ‘The Amazing’ Randi – magician who was known for challenging and debunking paranormal activity and pseudoscientific claims.
Ken Osmond – actor best known for his role as troublemaker Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver.
Roy Horn – magician and entertainer who was one half of the duo Siegfried & Roy. He suffered career-ending injuries after a white tiger attacked him during a show in 2003.
Sean Connery – actor, the first to portray the legendary James Bond, portraying the character in six films between 1962 and 1983. Other film credits include Murder on the Orient Express, The Man Who Would Be King, A Bridge Too Far, Highlander, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Rock, and Finding Forrester. He was presented the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, the same year he retired from acting.
Eddie Hassell – actor, best remembered as Clay in The Kids Are All Right.
Carol Arthur – actress and wife of Dom DeLuise. Film credits include Blazing Saddles, Hot Stuff, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Sunshine Boys, Intrepid, and 7th Heaven.
Jerry Jeff Walker – musician, songwriter best remembered as the songwriter who penned Mr. Bojangles.
Dame Diana Rigg – Emmy, Tony and BAFTA award-winning English actress best remembered as Emma Peel in The Avengers.
Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell – founding member of Kool and the Gang. The band recorded nine No. 1 R&B singles in the 1970s and 80s, including its No. 1 pop single Celebration. The group is honoured on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Max von Sydow – Swedish actor who enjoyed a 70-year career in film, television and theatre. His numerous memorable roles include Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, Father Lankester Merrin in The Exorcist, Lamar Burgess in Minority Report, Dr. Jeremiah Naehring in Shutter Island, Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Three-Eyed Raven on Game of Thrones.
Kevin Dobson – actor best remembered for his roles in Kojak and Knots Landing.
Erick Morillo AKA Reel 2 Real – DJ and producer who rose to fame with I Like to Move It.
Frankie Banali – drummer for Quiet Riot who also performed with W.A.S.P. and Billy Idol.
Zavion Davenport AKA Chi Chi DeVayne – entertainer, drag queen and reality TV personality who drew international attention after appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Kirk Douglas – actor, director, producer, writer who became a box office star in the 1950s. Throughout his career, he appeared in more than 90 films, including Spartacus, Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful, Lust for Life, The Way West, The Brotherhood, and many others. Douglas received three Academy Award nominations, an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ben Cross – actor best remembered as Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, and as Ambassador Sarek in 2009’s Star Trek.
Raymond Allen – actor best known as Ned the Wino on Good Times, Woodrow ‘Woody’ Anderson on Sanford and Son, and Merle the Earl on Starsky & Hutch.
Neil Peart – drummer and primary lyricist for the Canadian band Rush. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Readers Poll Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest person ever so honoured. His drumming was renowned for its technical proficiency and his live performances for their exacting nature and stamina.
Wilford Brimley – character actor whose numerous credits include The China Syndrome, The Thing, Tender Mercies, The Natural, The Firm, Hard Target, and Cocoon. He was the longtime face of TV commercials for the Quaker Oats Company.
Reni Santoni – actor best remembered as Poppie on Seinfeld, Gonzales in Cobra, and Chico González in Dirty Harry.
Alan Parker – director whose numerous credits include Fame, Pink Floyd – The Wall, The Commitments, Evita, Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning, Angela’s Ashes, Shoot the Moon, and Angel Heart. Throughout his career his works have won 19 BAFTA awards, 10 Golden Globes, and six Academy Awards.
Malik Abdul Basit AKA Malik B – rapper, singer and founding member of The Roots.
Regis Philbin – talk show host, game show host, and television presenter who holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on U.S. television.
Peter Green – singer-songwriter, guitarist and founder of Fleetwood Mac. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. His songs, including Albatross, Black Magic Woman, Oh Well, The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) and Man of the World, appeared on singles charts, and several have been adapted by a variety of musicians.
Phyllis Somerville – stage, film, and television actress best known for her roles in Little Children, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Surviving Family, The Big C, and Outsiders.
Grant Imahara – engineer and roboticist best remembered for his work on MythBusters as a co-host and build team member. He began his career at Lucasfilm where he worked in the THX division as an engineer and in the Industrial Light & Magic division in visual effects. His work has been featured in Star Wars, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and Terminator.
Lou Brock – Baseball player who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a special instructor coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ian Mitchell – musician, bass player for the Bay City Rollers.
Naya Rivera – actress, singer and model best remembered as Santana Lopez on Glee.
Kelly Preston – actress and wife of John Travolta who appeared in more than 60 television and film productions, including Mischief, Twins, Jerry Maguire, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Gotti, Hawaii Five-O, Riptide, and For Love of the Game.
Charlie Daniels – singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for his contributions to southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He was best known for his No. 1 country hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia.
Ennio Morricone – composer with more than 400 scores for cinema and television and more than 100 classical works. He is widely considered as one of the most prolific and greatest film composers of all time. His filmography includes more than 70 award-winning films, including all Sergio Leone’s films since A Fistful of Dollars, as well as The Thing, Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission, The Untouchables, Mission to Mars, Bugsy, Disclosure, In the Line of Fire, and The Hateful Eight. His score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is regarded as one of the most recognizable and influential soundtracks in history.
Earl Cameron – British actor was one of the first black actors to break the ‘colour bar’ in the United Kingdom. His credits include Thunderball, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, and The Andromeda Breakthrough.
Hugh Downs – broadcaster and announcer whose career spanned from 1939 through 2007. His work includes announcer and sidekick for Tonight Starring Jack Paar, co-host of the NBC News program Today, and anchor of the ABC’s 20/20. He held the Guinness World Record for the most hours on network television before being surpassed by Regis Philbin.
Carl Reiner – actor, writer, director, comedian who, early in his seven decade career, created, produced, wrote acted on, The Dick Van Dyke Show. As an actor, his credits include It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, The Jerk, The Carol Burnette Show, The Spirit of ’76, Mad About You, Toy Story 4, Parks and Recreation, Bob’s Burgers, and the Ocean‘s film series. His numerous honours include 11 Emmy Awards, one Grammy Award, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour, and he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.
David Lander – actor best remembered as Andrew ‘Squiggy’ Swiggman on Laverne & Shirley.
David Prowse – British actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Joel Schumacher – director, screenwriter, producer whose credits include The Wiz, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Flatliners, The Client, Falling Down, A Time To Kill, and Phone Booth,
Ian Holm – actor who may be best known as Ash in Alien, Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element, Chef Skinner in Ratatouille, and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series. He won the 1981 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his role as athletics trainer Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, for which he was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Charles Webb – American author best known for writing The Graduate.
Bonnie Pointer – singer and founding member of the Pointer Sisters whose hits include Yes We Can Can, He’s So Shy, I’m So Excited, and Jump (For My Love).
Carol Sutton – actress known for her appearances in the films Steel Magnolias, Monster’s Ball, Treme, and Ray.
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister – wrestler, actor best known for his roles as the neighbourhood bully Deebo in the 1995 film Friday, and as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element.
Edward Charles ‘Whitey’ Ford AKA The Chairman of the Board – legendary MLB pitcher who played all 16 of his season with the New York Yankees. He was a 10-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion. In 1961, he won both the Cy Young Award and World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Ford led the American League in wins three times and in earned run average twice. He is the Yankees franchise leader in career wins (236), shutouts (45), innings pitched ( 3,170 1⁄3), and games started by a pitcher (438; tied with Andy Pettitte). Ford was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
Joseph Laurinaitis AKA Road Warrior Animal – wrestler and one half of the tag team The Road Warriors/The Legion of Doom.
Herman Cain – businessman, activist and 2012 presidential candidate.
Dawn Wells – actress, best remembered as Mary Ann on Giliigan’s Island.
Pierre Cardin – fashion designer known for his avant-garde style and Space Age designs, preferring geometric shapes and motifs.
Tony Rice – bluegrass musician, inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
John Fletcher AKA Ecstasy – rapper and founding member of Whodini who is credited with helping to create new jack swing by incorporating R&B into hip hop music.
John Prine – prolific folk singer, songwriter widely regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation. He was known for humorous lyrics about love, life, and current events. In 2020, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. His single Angel from Montgomery immediately became a standard in the folk music world.
K.T. Oslin – country music singer best known for her 1987 top-ten hit country single 80s Ladies.
Jeremy Bulloch – actor, best known for portraying Boba Fett in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Hugh Keays-Byrne – actor best remembered as the antagonist in Mad Max and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Kobe Bryant – NBA star widely considered once of the best players of all time who spent his entire 20-year basketball career with the LA Lakers. Throughout his career, he won five NBA championships, and was an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a two-time NBA Finals MVP.
William Link – film and TV screenwriter and producer whose credits include Murder She Wrote, and Columbo.
Alto Reed – saxophone player with Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.
Leslie West – founding guitar player of Mountain best remembered for the hit Mississippi Queen.
Jeannie Morris – sportscaster known for breaking barriers for women in sports journalism. She was the first woman to broadcast live from the Super Bowl in 1975, she won several television Emmy Awards for local reporting, and in 2014 was the first woman to receive the Ring Lardner Award for excellence in sports reporting.
Chuck Yeager – US Air Force officer and test pilot who was the first pilot to break the sound barrier in 1947.
Rafer Johnson – Olympic gold-medalist who was the first African American flag bearer for the United States at the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Pat Patterson – WWE Hall of Famer, widely considered the sport’s first openly gay superstar.
David Dinkins – New York City’s very first Black mayor.
Rep. John Lewis – politician and civil rights activist who was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. He served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death.
Mary Pat Gleason – TV and film actor whose credits include Full House, Murphy Brown, L.A. Law, Saved by the Bell, Friends, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Basic Instinct, Traffic, Bruce Almighty, and The Island. She also also wrote for Guiding Light and was part of the team that won the 1986 Daytime Emmy for outstanding daytime drama series writing.
Fred Willard – beloved actor, comedian, and writer 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. His other credits include Get Smart, The Bob Newhart Show, The Golden Girls, Friends, Mad About You, King of the Hill, Community, and many others.
Jerry Stiller – actor, comedian and father of Ben Stiller. Best remembered as George Costanza’s father Frank in Seinfeld. His other credits include Zoolander, Hairspray, Law and Order, Sex and the City, and The Good Wife.
Sam Lloyd – actor best known for his portrayal of lawyer Ted Buckland on Scrubs.
Brian Dennehy – actor who appeared in more than 180 films and in many television and stage productions. His film roles include First Blood, Gorky Park, Silverado, Cocoon (1985), Presumed Innocent, Romeo + Juliet, and Knight of Cups.
Adam Schlesinger – singer, songwriter, producer and founding member of Fountains of Wayne. He also composed for TV and film, and had music featured in That Thing You Do!, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Music and Lyrics, Shallow Hal, Robots; There’s Something About Mary, Art School Confidential, Fever Pitch, The Manchurian Candidate, Scrubs, Gossip Girl, and many others.
Bill Withers – singer, songwriter best remembered for Ain’t No Sunshine. He has a relatively short professional music career – just 15 years – during which he won three Grammy Awards and was nominated for six more.
Kenny Rogers – singer, songwriter, actor and producer who was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. He charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, topping the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States. Rogers rose to prominence with the First Edition, with whom he scored the major hits Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) and Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town. His other hits include The Gambler, Coward of the County, Lucille, She Believes in Me, Islands in the Stream (with Dolly Parton), Lady, and We’ve Got Tonight (with Sheena Easton).
James Lipton – writer, actor, and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City. He hosted Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio from 1994 through 2018.
Robert Conrad – actor and stuntman who rose to prominence portraying James T. West in The Wild Wild West. His other credits include Mission: Impossible, Columbo, and Nash Bridges.
Edd Byrnes – actor 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.
Terry Jones – actor, writer, comedian, and co-creator of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He co-directed the Python film Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and also directed the subsequent Python films Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.
Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson – wrestler, WWE Hall of Famer and father of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.