Remembering the stars we've lost to coronavirus
Stars we lost to coronavirus in 2020
A number of celebrities revealed that they tested positive for COVID-19 in early 2020, and some, like Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, were lucky enough to recover from the disease. However, we've also lost talented musicians, actors, comedians, and other stars to the global pandemic. Click through to read about some of the stars who died from coronavirus complications this year.
Illusionist Roy Horn, best known for his work as half of Siegfried & Roy, died at 75 on May 8 from complications of COVID-19. It was first announced that he was undergoing treatment for the illness on April 28. Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher created a popular Las Vegas show that ran from 1990 until 2003. The show famously came to an abrupt end when Horn was mauled on stage by a tiger during one of their acts.
Fred the Godson
New York rapper Fred the Godson died on April 23 due to complications from COVID-19. Since hitting the music scene in 2010, he collaborated with top talent including Diddy, Meek Mill, and Cam'ron.
Actor Jay Benedict — who had roles in major movies from James Cameron's Aliens to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises — died on April 4 at age 68 after contracting coronavirus. Benedict played John Kieffer in the series Foyle's War, and had an arc on the British series Emmerdale in the late '90s. He also did post-production audio work on series like Downton Abbey, Dickensian, Call the Midwife, and Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands through his Sync or Swim company, and lent his voice to video games, documentaries, and commercials on television and radio.
Fierro was a scene-stealer in Steven Spielberg's famous thriller, in which she played the mother of the great white shark's second victim. Her character was memorable for walking up to police chief Brody (Roy Scheider), lifting her black veil, and slapping him in the face. She also reprised the character in 1987's Jaws: The Revenge and appeared as herself in various documentaries about Jaws, including a TV docuseries celebrating the film's 25th anniversary. Her last film role came in 2016, in Harry Tappan Heher's The Mistover Tale.
Veteran voiceover actress Julie Bennett, who famously voiced Cindy Bear on The Yogi Bear Show, died on March 31 in Los Angeles from COVID19. She was 88.
The New Orleans jazz legend died on April 1 from COVID-19 complications at age 85, after being admitted to the hospital a few days prior. A pianist, Marsalis released nearly 20 albums but was best known as a music educator. His past students included Harry Connick, Jr. and Terence Blanchard. The father of six was also the patriarch of a jazz dynasty, with four of his sons following in his musical footsteps. One of his sons, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, said in a statement to EW: "My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be."
Emmy and Grammy award-winning songwriter and Fountains of Wayne co-founder Adam Schlesinger died on April 1 of complications from coronavirus. He was 52. Schlesinger was best known as bassist and co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, the band behind the hit 2003 song "Stacy's Mom." He was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar for the title track of 1996's That Thing You Do! He more recently found acclaim as a music producer on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, earning a total of five Emmy nominations, and winning three during his run on the series.
Andrew Jack, a longtime Hollywood dialect coach and actor who played a supporting role in the latest Star Wars film trilogy, died March 31 of complications from coronavirus. He was 76. Jack appeared as Major Ematt in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but his main craft was dialect coaching. In that capacity, his credits included Thor: Ragnarok, the third and fourth Avengers movies, the Lord of the Rings films, and Batman Begins.
Famed trumpeter Wallace Roney died March 31 at age 59 due to complications of COVID-19. Mentored by jazz great Miles Davis, Roney got to play with his idol and even won a Grammy in 1994 for the album A Tribute to Miles. He also scored a nod three years later.
Comedian Ken Shimura, known as Japan's Robin Williams, died at age 70 on March 30 in a Tokyo hospital from coronavirus complications. Shimura rose to fame on the '70s variety show Hachijidayo Zeninshugo! (It’s 8 O’clock, Assemble Everyone!) and was known for his slapstick comedy. Before the Tokyo Olympics were postponed, Shimura was set to run in the Olympic torch relay this summer.
Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Alan Merrill died March 29 in New York at the age of 69 as a result of coronavirus. Merrill was best known for writing the track "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." He originally wrote and recorded the iconic song while a member of the band the Arrows, which released the track in 1975. The song would later become a huge hit for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who topped the charts with the tune in 1982.
Country singer and songwriter Joe Diffie died March 29 at age of 61. According to his publicist, Diffie died from complications relating to coronavirus. Diffie had a string of hits during the '90s including "If You Want Me To," "Home," "Whole Lotta Gone," "C-O-U-N-T-R-Y," "The Quittin' Kind," "Texas Size Heartache," "A Night to Remember," "Third Rock From the Sun," and "Pickup Man." He also wrote songs for Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty, and Jo Dee Messina.
Actor Mark Blum died March 25 at the age of 69. Blum was an accomplished stage actor who appeared in numerous Broadway productions, including Lost in Yonkers, The Best Man, and The Assembled Parties, and won an Obie Award for the Playwrights Horizons production of Gus and Al. He also brightened up the big screen with roles in films like Crocodile Dundee, Desperately Seeking Susan, and Lovesick. More recently, he recurred on the TV shows Mozart in the Jungle, You, and Succession.
Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz died March 25 as a result of complications from coronavirus. He was 59. The chef was admitted to the hospital with a fever a week earlier, and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Cardoz was born in India, and later moved to New York City. In 1997, he opened his first restaurant, the immediately popular Indian restaurant Tabla, earning him three stars from the New York Times. Cardoz won season 3 of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters in 2011. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi honored Cardoz on Instagram, writing: “Floyd made us all so proud. Nobody who lived in NY in the early aughts could forget how delicious and packed Tabla always was. He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch. This is a huge loss, not only for the professional food world, but for the Indians everywhere.”
Prolific playwright Terrence McNally, whose works included Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, Ragtime, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, died on March 24 from complications of coronavirus. He was 81. McNally, a winner of four Tony Awards and recipient of the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, always seemed to cast an eye toward those who suffer for (or because of) their art as well the disenfranchised and regretful as the man behind the backbones of dozens of plays and musicals over the years, many of them considered modern touchstones, especially in his depictions of various generations of gay men, particularly in dealing with the life complication of a community’s loss from AIDS and its aftermath, often handled in a thoughtful, seriocomic manner. After his death, the theater community united to honor McNally with a livestream reading of his 1991 play Lips Together, Teeth Apart.