OK! remembers those we lost in 2020 from Caroline Flack and Barbara Windsor to Chadwick Boseman
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In a year dominated by heartbreaking news, the showbiz world lost a host of its most celebrated stars. Some were tragically young, others had lived a full, rewarding life – but all those who died left behind a legacy that will ensure they’re never forgotten.
The year ended on a particularly sad note with the loss of Dame Barbara Windsor, who passed away on 10 December, aged 83, after battling dementia.
But prior to that, 2020 was filled with tragic tales of celebrity death – the most shocking of all being that of Caroline Flack, the host of Love Island, who died by suicide in February, aged 40.
The Enfield-born presenter had an infectious giggle and radiated a warmth that viewers loved.
It was her instinctive empathy that she showed towards the Love Island contestants that made her perfect for the job.
She said of the show in 2017, “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you’re from, how old you are, it doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve got in life, how educated you are – emotions are all the same.”
Another unexpected loss was actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his starring role as T’Challa/Black Panther, which made him as a role model to millions worldwide.
The actor passed away at 43 after succumbing to colon cancer on 28 August. Fans were shocked to know that, incredibly, he’d filmed movies Marshall, Da Five Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in between chemotherapy and various surgeries.
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Actor Denzel Washington had championed Chadwick from early in his career. He said of his friend, “He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career.”
This was also the year that the world lost two Bond girls, Dame Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman. Dame Diana died on 10 September, aged 82, after a short battle with cancer.
She played Tracy, James Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but had become popular more recently with younger fans playing Game Of Thrones’ strict matriarch Olenna Tyrell.
Others will remember her as leather-clad Emma Peel in 60s TV show, The Avengers.
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Classic beauty Honor Blackman died aged 94 on 5 April, and was most famous for her sultry role as Pussy Galore in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger.
And then, of course, there was the original James Bond himself, Sean Connery, who died at home in the Bahamas on 31 October, aged 90.
Meanwhile, Kirk Douglas, who famously played Spartacus, and was Michael Douglas’s dad and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ father-in- law, passed away on 5 February, aged 103.
Another Dame we lost this year was Forces’ Sweetheart and symbol of hope during the Second World War, Vera Lynn.
She was best known for her wartime songs We’ll Meet Again and White Cliffs Of Dover, which have endured for more than 70 years.
She was 103 and passed away on 18 June, at her home in East Sussex – even the Queen sent private condolences.
An enduring screen giant in more than one sense was David Prowse, the Star Wars actor who brought the character of Darth Vader to life.
David, who passed away at the age of 85 on 28 November, would act the role inside the imposing black suit and later the gravelly voice of James Earl Jones was added.
Bristol-born David was also known for his role as the Green Cross Code man in the 70s.
Jackie Stallone made an impact on Celebrity Big Brother back in 2005 when she was a late arrival into the house, much to the surprise of her former daughter-in-law Brigitte Nielsen.
She died on 21 September, aged 98, and was a huge presence in the life of her movie star son Sylvester. The Rocky actor said of her passing, “She lived through Prohibition, the Depression and the Second World War.
"I would talk to her for hours about the 20s, 30s and 40s. It was a history lesson. Her mind was as sharp as a razor till the day she died.”
Another small screen icon we said goodbye to this year was June Bernicoff, who along with her husband Leon, made Gogglebox such a compelling watch.
June died on 5 May, aged 82, following a short illness. She left the show at the end of 2017 after Leon died.
Channel 4 said that she and Leon were, “a huge part of the programme’s success. Their warmth, wit and contrasting personalities endeared them to the nation during the course of the first 10 series.”
Jill Gascoine, who was married to actor Alfred Molina and paved the way for strong female roles on TV thanks to her part as
DI Maggie Forbes in The Gentle Touch, died on 28 April, aged 83.
The actress turned author had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 10 years previously.
Lord Of The Rings fans were sad to hear that Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of movies, died on 19 June, aged 88.
And music fans mourned the news that singer Kenny Rogers, who famously duetted with Dolly Parton on Islands In The Stream, passed away on 20 March, aged 81.
One of the world’s finest guitarists, Eddie Van Halen, left us on 6 October.
Best known for forming his rock group Van Halen and co-writing their 1984 hit Jump, he succumbed to throat cancer aged 65.
National treasure Nicholas Parsons died on 28 January, aged 96. He had hosted the BBC Radio 4 panel show Just A Minute since it began in 1967, and TV game show Sale Of The Century.
Entertainer Des O’Connor died on 14 November, aged 88, after a fall at home. He also presented his chat show The Des O’Connor Show, as well as Today With Des And Mel alongside Melanie Sykes.
Paddy McGuinness wrote on Twitter, “Des O’Connor was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm.”
A great loss for comedy fans was the news that Monty Python star Terry Jones had died aged 77 on 21 January after his battle with a rare form of dementia.
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Other comedians we lost this year included Bobby Ball, half of the duo Cannon and Ball, on 28 October, aged 76; former Goodies star Tim Brooke-Taylor, on 12 April, aged 79; and Eddie Large, who was half of the comedy duo Little and Large, on 2 April, aged
78 – all from coronavirus.
Also much missed will be Ian Royce, who died on 2 September, aged 51. He was the warm-up man on Britain’s Got Talent and had many fans, including Ant and Dec. They said, “We’re sorry to hear of the passing of Ian ‘Roycey’ Royce. He was an integral part of the #BGT team for many years.”
Presenter and journalist Lynn Faulds Wood, who was the face of the consumer show Watchdog from the mid-80s to the early-90s, and also World In Action, died from a stroke on 24 April, aged 72.
Her husband and Watchdog co-presenter John Stapleton and her son Nick were by her side.
There wasn’t a bigger name in football than Diego Maradona.
His “hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup shot him to infamy on this side of the pond, but Maradona was almost a god himself in his native Argentina.
After the football legend died of a heart attack on 25 November, aged 60, his body lay in state in Buenos Aires for three days of national mourning and thousands flocked to pay their respects.
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