In Memoriam: Stars We Lost In 2019Published on January 15, 2020. Updated February 13, 2020
To celebrate the legacies and memories of those who have left us, we’re taking a look back at the accomplishments of the talented and influential who entertained, inspired, and united us. From novelists and cherished recording artists to actors and former U.S. presidents, we’re saying goodbye to the notable individuals, some of whom you may have already forgotten, who shaped the world as we know it.
Even though their lives have ended, their spirits live on in all of us. Their speeches will continue to echo for ages to come, audiences will enjoy their works even as mediums change, and future generations will benefit from the life-changing technologies they innovated. It is never easy saying goodbye, especially when tragedy strikes, but we’re all the more lucky to have experienced the contributions these remarkable individuals have given the world. Take a look back at just some of the names who we’ve said goodbye to recently, and join us in celebrating their life and legacies one more time.
Actor, director and screenwriter Peter Fonda passed away at the age of 79 on August 16, 2019 from respiratory failure due to lung cancer. He became a counterculture icon after his breakout role in the 1969 classic “Easy Rider.” Fonda received an Academy Award nomination for the film’s screenplay. He received another Oscar nomination for his performance in the 1997 film “Ulee’s Gold.” Born into a Hollywood family, he was Henry Fonda’s son and Jane Fonda’s brother.
Best known for popularizing designer jeans, socialite Gloria Vanderbilt passed away at the age of 95 on June 17, 2019. She had recently been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. In 1976, Vanderbilt became a pioneer in the denim industry, launching what’s often credited as the first designer jeans collection. She had four children, including CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
Edward Joseph Mahoney passed away at 70 years old on September 13th, 2019 after announcing that he had stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money was known best for his popular rock and roll songs including “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
Actor Robert Wallace Forster Jr. passed away on October 11, 2019 at the age of 78 due to brain cancer. Forster was best known his roles in “Medium Cool”, “The Delta Force” and “Jackie Brown” for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998. Forster most recently starred in “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” released on Netflix the same day of his passing.
Actor Luke Perry passed away after a stroke at the age of 52 on March 4th, 2019. He was best known as “Beverly Hills, 90210” heartthrob Dylan McKay. More recently, he played Fred Andrew, Archie’s dad, on “Riverdale.” Though he worked mostly in television, he also appeared in movies, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Fifth Element.” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” his last film, was released on July 26th, 2019.
“Boyz n the Hood” writer and director John Singleton passed away on April 29th, 2019 after suffering an apparent stroke. At the age of 24, Singleton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for “Boyz n the Hood” becoming the first African American and youngest person to have ever been nominated for that award.
Caroll Spinney, known best for his work on Sesame Street as the puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, passed away at the age of 85 on December 8th, 2019. After teaching millions about kindness, compassion and friendship, this American legend is on his way to where the air is sweet.
Hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Ermias Davidson Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, was shot in front of his popular store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles on March 31st, 2019. Memorials quickly sprang up across Los Angeles after his passing and an outpouring of condolences flooded social media from notable people including Barack Obama, Rihanna, Drake and Chance the Rapper. Hussle was honored with a 25 mile funeral procession through South Los Angeles, music video tributes and numerous dedicated performances, including one by YG at the 2019 Coachella Valley music Festival. Nipsey Hussle was 33.
Actor, writer, comedian, and all-around TV star, Tim Conway passed away on May 14th 2019 at the age of 85. Winner of four Emmys for his work on “The Carol Burnett Show” and two more for his roles in comedy TV shows, Conway had incredible ad-lib abilities, often making his co-stars break from character in fits of laughter. Known for his roles in “McHale’s Navy”, “Dorf” and his own TV series, Conway appeared in more than 20 TV shows over his 60 year career.
“Star Wars” alum Peter Mayhew, famous for portraying everyone’s favorite Wookiee from a galaxy far, far away, Chewbacca, passed away at age 74 on May 30th, 2019.
Actress Valerie Harper passed away on August 30, 2019 at the age of 80 after battling lung and brain cancer. Originally a stage actress, she became a household name as Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda.” Audiences rooted for Rhoda as she transformed from dumpy sidekick to stylish leading lady. She won four Emmys for the role. Returning to Broadway later in her career, Harper received a Tony nomination for the play “Looped.”
Actress Carol Channing passed away on January 15th, 2019 at the age of 97. The Tony winner got her big break as Lorelei Lee in Broadway’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” but it was “Hello, Dolly!” that made her a stage icon. After originating the role of Dolly Levi, she went on to perform the show more than 5,000 times in various revivals and tours. She won a Golden Globe for her performance in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and guest-starred on many TV shows, from “The Love Boat” to “The Muppet Show.”
“Curb your Enthusiasm” actor Bob Einstein passed away on January 2nd, 2019 at the age of 76. An accomplished comedic writer and producer, he is best known for his work on “Arrested Development”, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, and for his role as stuntman Super Dave Osborne.
Famed actor and comedian John “Pops” Witherspoon passed away on October 29th, 2019 at the age of 77. Witherspoon’s comedic talents were only eclipsed by the breadth of his body of work, having appeared in dozens of films and television shows over the course of his 56 year career, including the “Friday” series, “The Wayans Bros.” “The Tracy Morgan Show”, “Barnaby Jones”, “The Boondocks”, “Black Jesus”, “Hollywood Shuffle”, “Boomerang”, “The Five Heartbeats” and “Vampire in Brooklyn”.
Actor Ron Leibman, known for his Tony Award winning role as Roy Cohn in “Angel’s in America”, Primetime Emmy Award winning role as Martin ‘Kaz’ Kazinsky in the drama series “Kaz”, and sitcom role as the father of Rachel Green in “Friends”, passed away on December 6th, 2019 at the age of 82.
Chart topping rapper Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice WRLD, passed away on December 8th, 2019. Higgins’ album Death Race for Love peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 in March, 2019, with his single Bandit reaching number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 later that year. Higgins’ suffered a seizure and cardiac arrest at a private hangar at Chicago’s Midway airport. He was 21 years old.
“Will & Grace” star Shelley Morrison passed away on December 1st at 83 years old. Morrison enjoyed a 50-year career in film and television, but was best known for her role as Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) quick-witted housekeeper and partner in crime.
Actress, singer and model Diahann Carroll passed away on October 4th, 2019 at the age of 84. Carroll became the first African American woman to win the Tony Award for best actress in 1962 for her role in “No Strings”. Carroll continued to break color barriers in 1968 by starring in TV’s “Julia”, later receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for the film “Claudine”.
Bill Macy, famous for playing Bea Arthur’s husband Walter Findlay on the hit 1970s sitcom “Maude”, passed away on October 17th, 2019 at the age of 97.
Actor and comedian Rip Taylor, known for his bombastic personality and trademark of showering others with confetti passed away on October 6th, 2019 at the age of 88. Taylor served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War where he was a part of the entertainment wing of the military which acted as a launch pad for his nearly 60 year career in movies and television.
Great American novelist, essayist, editor, and professor Toni Morrison passed away August 2019 at the age of 88. She is renowned for her exploration of black identity and the cultural experiences of Black America. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was released in 1970, but her Song of Solomon is what brought her to the nation’s attention.
Suzanne Whang, best known for hosting HGTV’s “House Hunters” from 1999 to 2007, passed away on September 20th, 2019 at the age of 56 after a 13 year battle with cancer. Whang found success in many different careers as a television and radio host, comedian, writer and actress.
Hotelier and philanthropist Barron Hilton passed away at the age of 91 on September 19th, 2019. Grandfather to socialites Paris and Nikki Hilton, Hilton was the son of Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad Hilton. Hilton grew the hotel chain into the brand that it is today, even helping to found the Los Angeles Chargers football organization.
Famous for his work in 1982’s “Blade Runner”, actor Rutger Hauer passed away on July 19th, 2019 at the age of 75. An artist who never took himself or his work too seriously, Hauer’s career spanned many genres and included such films as “Turkish Delight,” “Batman Begins,” Nighthawks,” and many independent features.
Emmy Award-winner Rip Torn, best know for his roles in “Men in Black”, “Dodgeball”, and “The Larry Sanders Show”, passed away on July 9th, 2019. He was 88 years old.
Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce passed away at the age of 20 on May 28th, 2019 due to complications relating to epilepsy. Boyce stared in dozen of TV shows and movies, most notably Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” and HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher”.
Tardar Sauce, better known as internet celebrity Grumpy Cat, passed away due to health complications on May 14th, 2019 at the age of 7 years old. As an influencer, Grumpy Cat garnered 8.5 million followers across social media and generated thousands of memes reaching all parts of the web.
Emmy winner Arte Johnson, best known for being a cast member on the hit sketch comedy series “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, passed away on July 3rd, 2019 at the age of 90.
Actress and singer Doris Day passed away of pneumonia at the age of 97 on May 13, 2019. At the height of her box office success, Day was best known for playing the single career woman in romantic comedies, including “Lover Come Back,” “That Touch of Mink” and her Academy-Award nominated performance in “Pillow Talk.” She originally performed her signature song “Que Sera, Sera” in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Day retired from Hollywood in 1973 after a five-season run on her sitcom “The Doris Day Show.” She spent the later years of her life as an animal rights activist.
Actress, singer and model Peggy Lipton passed away of colon cancer on May 11, 2019 at the age of 72. She won a Golden Globe for her role as undercover cop and hippie style icon Julie Barnes in “The Mod Squad.” After taking a break from acting to raise her daughters Rashida and Kidada Jones, Lipton returned to television in 1990 as Norma Jennings in the cult classic “Twin Peaks.” She reprised the role in 2017 for “Twin Peaks: The Return.” Lipton was married to record producer Quincy Jones from 1974 to 1990.
“Dallas” star Ken Kercheval passed away on April 21st, 2019 at the age of 83. Kercheval was famous for playing Cliff Barnes, the main antagonist of the “Dallas” series and nemesis to J.R. Ewing, the show’s most popular character.
Actress Georgia Engel passed away on April 12, 2019 at the age of 70. She was best known for her Emmy-nominated role as Georgette Franklin on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She teamed up again with fellow “MTM Show” alum Betty White in “The Betty White Show” and “Hot in Cleaveland.” An experienced stage actress, her Broadway credits included the original productions of “Hello, Dolly!” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Bassist for The Monkees, Peter Tork, known as the jovial prankster of the group thanks to the band’s 1960s TV series, passed away on February 21st, 2019 at the age of 77.
Actor Albert Finney passed away on February 7th , 2019 at the age of 82 due to a chest infection. Originally a stage actor, the five-time Oscar nominee got his start with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His impressive film career included comedies like “Tom Jones,” dramas like “Erin Brockovich,” musicals like “Annie” and action movies like “Skyfall.” Finney won three Golden Globes, two BAFTA Awards, one Emmy Award and received two Tony nominations.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away on January 2nd, 2019 at the age of 76. The star announcer for professional wrestling, Okerlund spent years introducing and interviewing household names such as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and other legends. Inducted into the WWE Hall of fame in 2006, this is one announcer that no one is soon to forget.
Robert “Bob” Norris
The man who originally played the iconic Marlboro Man throughout the 1960s, Robert “Bob” Norris, passed away on November 3rd, 2019 at the age of 90. Norris abandoned his role as the cigarettes spokesmodel after having kids stating in his obituary that his job was “setting a poor example for his children.”