2019 Hollywood In Memoriam: Celebrity Deaths – Variety

The man inside the yellow Big Bird suit; TV’s Rhoda; and a “Beverly Hills 90210” heartthrob are just a few of the beloved entertainment figures who died in 2019. Here are some of the unforgettable stars and creators of movies, TV and music who we lost this year.


Several notable directors died in 2019, including pioneering French New Wave director Agnes Varda, who died March 29 at 90. “Singin’ in the Rain” director Stanley Donen died Feb. 21 at 94, while cult movie director Larry Cohen, who helmed “It’s Alive,” died March 23 at 77. “Boyz N the Hood” director John Singleton suffered a stroke and died April 29 at 51, and renowned documentarian D.A. Pennebaker, who made “Don’t Look Back,” died Aug. 1 at 94. “Romeo and Juliet” director Franco Zeffirelli died June 15 at 96. The colorful studio executive and producer of “Chinatown” and many other films, Robert Evans, died Oct. 26 at 89.

Movie stars who died in 2019 included Doris Day, the sunny actress and singer known as America’s sweetheart, who died May 13 at 97. Musical comedy star Carol Channing, who first played the lead role in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway and starred in the movie version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” died Jan. 15 at 97. Bibi Andersson, who starred in Ingmar Bergman movies including “The Seventh Seal” and “Persona,” died April 14 at 83. “Lolita” star Sue Lyon died Dec. 26 at 73.

Rutger Hauer, the Dutch actor who played a murderous replicant in “Blade Runner” and starred in “Ladyhawke,” died July 19 at 75. Peter Fonda, son of Henry Fonda and brother of Jane Fonda, who starred in and wrote “Easy Rider,” died Aug. 16 at 79. British actor Albert Finney, who was Oscar-nominated five times for films including “Tom Jones,” died Feb. 7 at 82. Peter Mayhew, who wore the Chewbacca costume in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died April 30 at 74.

We lost several beloved character actors over the past year, including “Jackie Brown” actor Robert Forster, who died Oct. 11 of brain cancer at 78; Rip Torn, who appeared in “Men in Black,” won an Emmy for “The Larry Sanders Show,” and died July 9 at 88; and Danny Aiello, who was Oscar-nommed for “Do the Right Thing” and died Dec. 12 at 86. Sylvia Miles, who was twice Oscar-nommed for “Midnight Cowboy” and “Farewell, My Lovely,” died June 12 at 94.


The small screen world lost numerous major figures in the past year. “Beverly Hills 90210” star Luke Perry died March 4 of a stroke at age 52, while Valerie Harper, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s” Rhoda Morgenstern, died Aug. 30 at 80. Bill Macy, who played Maude’s husband on “Maude,” died Oct. 17 at 97.

Diahann Carroll, who played the nurse “Julia,” was the first black woman to star in a TV series and not play a servant. She died Oct. 4 at 84.

Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce suffered a seizure and died July 6 at 20; his series “Mrs. Fletcher” aired on HBO in the fall. “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Benson” star René Auberjonois died Dec. 8 at 79. Peggy Lipton, who starred as part of TV’s “The Mod Squad” and made a comeback on “Twin Peaks,” died May 11 of cancer at 72.

Tim Conway, the “Carol Burnett Show” comedian who later voiced Barnacle Boy on “Spongbob Squarepants,” died May 14 at 85. After delighting generations of children, “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch puppeteer Caroll Spinney died Dec. 8 at 85.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Georgia Engel, remembered for her distinctive voice and comic chops, died April 12 at 70, while “Who’s the Boss” matriarch Katherine Helmond died Feb. 23 at 89. Bob Einstein, known for his “Super Dave Osborne” character and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” role, died Jan. 2 at 76.

Kristoff St. John, who played Neil Winters on “The Young and the Restless” for 28 years, died Feb. 4 at 52. “Airwolf” star Jan-Michael Vincent died Feb. 10 at 73.


On March 31, the city of Los Angeles and the music world were rocked by the death of Nipsey Hussle, the rapper and community activist who was killed in a shooting at 33.

“Lucid Dreams” rapper Juice WRLD died Dec. 8 at 21 after being treated for opiod use. The Prodigy frontman Keith Flint died by suicide on March 4; he was 49.

In the rock world, Ric Ocasek, the “Cars” founder who helped usher in the new wave of the late 1970s-early 1980s, died Sept. 15 at 75. Eddie Money, who sang “Two Tickets to Paradise,” died Sept. 13 at 70.

Influential figures in 1960s music included Dick Dale, the king of the surf guitar, who died March 16 at 83; Dr. John, the New Orleans singer and musician who performed with rock greats of the ’60s and ’70s and died June 6 at 77; and Ginger Baker, the powerful drummer for Cream, who died Oct. 6 at 80.

Peter Tork, bassist for the Monkees, the 1960s novelty band that had its own TV sitcom, died Feb. 21 at 77. Daryl Dragon, half of the hitmaking pop duo Captain and Tennille with his then-wife Toni Tenille, died Jan. 2 at 76.

Brazilian singer and guitarist Joao Gilberto, who helped launch the bossa nova genre, died July 6 at 88.

In the composing world, Michel Legrand, who created the score for “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” died Jan. 26 at 86. Pianist and composer Andre Previn died Feb. 28 at 89.

Major losses in musical theater included Harold Prince, director and producer of shows such as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cabaret,” who died July 31 at 91, and Jerry Herman, “Hello Dolly” composer, who died Dec. 26 at 88.

Other notables

Provocative radio host Don Imus died Dec. 27 at 79.

Toni Morrison, who won a Nobel prize for “Beloved,” died Aug. 5 at 88.

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