Celebrities and entertainers who have died from complications related to the coronavirus and COVID-19

cwillen@businessinsider.com (Claudia Willen)
Manu Dibango and Floyd Cardoz both died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

C Brandon/Getty Images; Brian Ach/Getty Images for New York Magazine

  • As the number of novel coronavirus cases climbs, famous figures in industries such as theater, film, food, and music have died after testing positive for COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus. 
  • The theater community has mourned the loss of four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, who died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus. 
  • And Floyd Cardoz, a celebrated Mumbai-born chef and "Top Chef Masters" winner, also passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

COVID-19, the disease resulting from the coronavirus, has led to the deaths of more than 26,000 people — including well-known figures in arts and entertainment industries. 

Theater enthusiasts around the world mourned the death of four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, who died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus. 

And Floyd Cardoz, the influential chef who was widely acknowledged for introducing Indian flavors to New York's fine dining scene, died after testing positive for the disease, shaking the food and restaurant industry. 

Here are members of the arts and entertainment industries who have passed away due to issues related to the novel coronavirus. 

Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, died due to complications from the novel coronavirus.

Terrence McNally was a famous playwright.

Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Terrence McNally died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida on March 24, NPR confirmed. He was 81.

The playwright was a lung cancer survivor and had chronic inflammatory lung disease, ABC News reported.

McNally was lauded for his plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class" along with the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman." 

In 2019, he won the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award. During his acceptance speech, he told the audience, "Theater changes hearts, that secret place where we all truly live."

Manu Dibango, a famous saxophonist, also died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Manu Dibang was a famous saxophonist.

C Brandon/Getty Images

Manu Dibango died at a hospital in France on March 24, according to his Facebook page. He was 86. 

The announcement confirmed that the musician died as a result of COVID-19 and said, "His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible."

The Cameroonian musician surrounded himself with jazz after moving to Paris and became well-known for his 1972 hit song "Soul Makossa." He performed his music— often incorporating African rhythm — for a global audience throughout his career. 

"In music there is neither past nor future, only the present. I must compose the music of my time, not yesterday's music," Dibango said in an interview with UNESCO Courier magazine.

He continued, "All creators have something of the vampire in them: painting, literature, and journalism function like music. Some musicians are afraid of reaching that universal. But without that perspective what are we here for? What's the point of curiosity, energy, movement, if we live for 70 years tucked away in a corner, bound hand and foot?"

"Desperately Seeking Susan" and "You" actor Mark Blum died due to health complications related to COVID-19.

Mark Blum appeared in plays, on television, and in movies.

Getty/Brian Killium

Mark Blum died at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York on March 25, the off-Broadway theater company Playwrights Horizons announced. He was 69. 

The actor died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus after being diagnosed with the disease the week prior, his wife Janet Zarish told the Los Angeles Times. She explained that the couple didn't know where he came in contact with the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, but said that her husband had asthma. 

Playwrights Horizon was the first to announce Blum's death and called the actor "a dear longtime friend and a consummate artist." SAG-AFTRA confirmed the news on Twitter shortly after. 

The Obie Award winner was a staple in New York's theater community and had a variety of film and television roles throughout his nearly 40-year-career

Floyd Cardoz, a world-renowned chef, died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

World-renowned chef Floyd Cardoz died from complications related to the coronavirus at the age of 59.

Kris Connor/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Floyd Cardoz, a celebrated chef credited with delivering Indian flavors to New York's fine dining scene, died at a hospital in New Jersey on March 25, his family confirmed to Scroll.in. He was 59. 

Hunger Inc. Hospitality, Cardoz's restaurant group, released a statement following the "Top Chef Masters" winner's death, stating that he'd tested positive for the disease on March 18 and had been treated at Mountainside Medical Center in New Jersey.

The day before he reportedly tested positive, Cardoz wrote that he'd admitted himself to the hospital after "feeling feverish" on Instagram, also sharing a photo from the hospital.

The Mumbai-born chef added that he'd recently traveled to India to film Netflix's "Ugly Delicious" but didn't confirm where he was exposed to the disease. 

Cardoz was a four-time James Beard Award nominee and opened multiple critically-acclaimed restaurants in New York and Mumbai. Upon hearing the news that the chef passed away, restaurateurs, food critics, and fellow chefs shared messages mourning his death and paying tribute to his life

Alan Merrill, the "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" songwriter, reportedly died due to complications from the novel coronavirus.

Alan Merrill reportedly died due to the novel coronavirus.

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Alan Merrill, who co-wrote the hit song "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," died after testing positive for the coronavirus at Mount Sinai in New York on March 29, his daughter announced on Facebook. He was 69. 

"The Coronavirus took my father this morning. I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn't be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen," his daughter wrote. 

She continued, "How could this be? I was just at his show a couple of weeks ago. I had just photographed his portrait for his new album. Texted with him earlier. He played down the 'cold' he thought he had."

Merrill spent his music career playing in the UK and Japan, forming a band called the Arrows. The band released songs including "A Touch Too Much," "Toughen Up," and "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." 

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts eventually recorded and released their version of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," which gained immense popularity. Upon hearing the news of Merrill's death, Jett paid her respects to the songwriter on Instagram

"I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side," she wrote. 

Joe Diffie, a country music singer, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Joe Diffie died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Associated Press

Joe Diffie, a Grammy-winning country singer, died from complications related to the novel coronavirus on March 29, his publicist announced in a news release. He was 61.

His publicist previously announced that Diffie had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. 

"I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment. My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic," he said, according to the statement. 

The Oklahoma native released 13 albums and over 20 Top 10 hits during his career and was known for his country ballads including  "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)," "New Way (To Light Up An Old Flame)," and "Honky Tonk Attitude."

More recently, Diffie has been mentioned in younger country star's music, including Jason Aldean's song "1994." Thomas Rhett and Chris Young have also referenced the artist in their work.

When asked how he felt about being mentioned by other country artists during an interview with All Access, Diffie called it an "honor."

"It's super flattering. It really is, but it's taken me a little while to kind of get used to being in that role. I admit, I always heard songs about people like George Jones or Merle Haggard, and I just didn't ever feel like I was at that level. But it's a really big honor, and I'm just kind of happy to roll with it now," he said. 

Andrew Jack, "Star Wars" actor and dialect coach, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Andrew Jack in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Disney

Andrew Jack, known for his role as Major Ematt in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," died on March 31 at St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, his agent confirmed to TMZ and the Mirror. He was 76. 

His representative stated that Jack died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus, adding that his wife was unable to be with him as she remains quarantined in Australia. 

"Andrew lived on one the oldest working houseboats on the Thames, he was fiercely independent but madly in love with his wife; also a dialect coach; Gabrielle Rogers," his agent said in her statement.

She added, "Tragically she is stuck in quarantine in Australia having just flown in from NZ last week. She was unable to see or talk to him at the end of his life and there is a chance a funeral may not be held."

In addition to being an actor, Jack was also a dialect coach and was working on the film "The Batman" until several weeks ago. He's also served as a dialect expert for movies such as "Avengers: Endgame," "Sherlock Holmes," and more. 

"He loved his work and was funny, charming and a joy to be around.  He was a friend first and a client second and I will miss doing silly voices and pissing around with him on set. Dialect coaching isn't just about being good at accents – you need to make actors feel safe and confident – and Andrew's actors adored him," his agent wrote. 

Julie Bennett, who voiced Cindy Bear on "The Yogi Bear Show," died from complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Julie Bennett died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Mark Scroggs/Prestige Talent Agency

Julie Bennett, the actress who voiced Cindy Bear in "The Yogi Bear Show," died due to complications related to COVID-19 on March 31, her agent Mark Scroggs confirmed to Insider. She was 88.

The actress, who later became a personal talent manager under the name Marianne Daniels, found success as a voiceover artist on shows like "The Bullwinkle Show" and "The Rocky." Bennett also used her voice in films such as "Gay Purr-ee" and "What's Up Tiger Lily." 

"She was definitely a personality and a throwback to Hollywood glamour," Scroggs wrote.

 

Wallace Roney, a jazz trumpeter, died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Wallace Roney died from complications from COVID-19.

Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

Wallace Roney, a jazz trumpeter, died at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey on March 31, multiple outlets confirmed. He was 59. 

His fiancée, Dawn Felice Jones, told NPR and the New York Times that the musician died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus. She also shared that he was hospitalized on March 25. 

From his teenage years, Roney became well-known in the jazz world. He played with many bands throughout his four-decade career in addition to learning from jazz legends — most notably his mentor Miles Davis. 

In a 1987 Washington Post profile, James McBride wrote, "His name is Wallace Roney III. He is 27 years old. He is from Washington, and he is one of the best jazz trumpet players in the world."

He continued, "It was something Roney always wanted to be growing up — the best in the world. The first time he put his lips to the trumpet at age 5, it seemed like something inside him caught fire. He was born with perfect pitch, the ability to distinguish any note instantly — ping a wine glass with a quarter and he can tell you what the note is -- but the trumpet meant more to him than that. With the horn, he found secrets and jewels of truth within himself that he never knew existed. When he blew the trumpet, he felt as if he were instant history."

 

 

Adam Schlesinger, a singer-songwriter, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Adam Schlesinger died on Wednesday.

Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Adam Schlesinger, a singer-songwriter for bands such as Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, died in Poughkeepsie, New York, on April 1. He was 52. 

The Emmy winner died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus, Schlesinger's lawyer confirmed to multiple outlets. 

Ivy's Twitter account was the first to announce Schlesinger's condition on Monday night, sharing that he'd been on a ventilator for two weeks. His family released a statement to Billboard on Tuesday, reporting that his condition was "improving." They also stated that he was still on a ventilator at the hospital and had been sedated. 

Schlesinger is very well-known for co-founding Fountains of Wayne but also had a successful career writing for films, television, and theater. He also helped co-write songs for the TV show "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."

In addition to winning multiple Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award, he was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for his title track in Tom Hanks' 1997 film, "That Thing You Do." 

"There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do! He was a One-der," Hanks wrote on Twitter. 

 

Ellis Marsalis Jr., a jazz pianist, died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Ellis Marsalis Jr. died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Ellis Marsalis Jr., a jazz pianist and composer, died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus on April 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana, multiple outlets reported. He was 85. 

The New Orleans native served as a musician, composer, and teacher who has six children. Four of them — Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason — followed in their father's footsteps and became well-known jazz musicians.

Ellis frequently performed at live music festivals in New Orleans and is widely credited for paving the way for the next generation of jazz musicians — including his own children.

"My daddy was a humble man with a lyrical sound that captured the spirit of place--New Orleans, the Crescent City, The Big Easy, the Curve. He was a stone-cold believer without extravagant tastes. Like many parents, he sacrificed for us and made so much possible. Not only material things, but things of substance and beauty like the ability to hear complicated music and to read books; to see and to contemplate art; to be philosophical and kind, but to also understand that a time and place may require a pugilistic-minded expression of ignorance," his son Wynton wrote on Facebook

He continued, "For me, there is no sorrow only joy. He went on down the Good Kings Highway as was his way, a jazz man, 'with grace and gratitude.' And I am grateful to have known him."

Sergio Rossi, an Italian shoe designer, died of COVID-19 complications.

Sergio Rossi died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Gianvito Rossi

Sergio Rossi, an Italian women's shoe designer, died due to complications related to COVID-19 in Cesena, Italy, on April 2, CNN and Harper's Bazaar confirmed. He was 69.

Riccardo Sciutto, the CEO of Sergio Rossi Group, released a statement on Instagram following the founder's death. 

"Sergio Rossi was a master, and it is my great honor to have met him and gotten to present him the archive earlier this year. His vision and approach will remain our guide in the growth of the brand and the business," Sciutto said. 

He continued, "He loved women and was able to capture a woman's femininity in a unique way, creating the perfect extension of a woman's leg through his shoes. Our long and glorious history started from his incredible vision and we'll remember his creativity forever."

Actor Jay Benedict died from complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Jay Benedict died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Ferdaus Shamim/Getty Images

Jay Benedict, an actor known for his role as Rich Twit in "The Dark Knight Rises," died from complications related to COVID-19, TCG Management confirmed on Twitter on April 4. He was 68. 

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear client Jay Benedict, who this afternoon lost his battle with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with his family," the company wrote. 

Benedict also appeared in the 1986 film "Aliens" and the show "Emmerdale." After learning about his death, Benedict's "Emmerdale" costar Vicki Michelle paid tribute to the actor on Twitter.

"Shocked to hear one of our most brilliant actors and kind lovely man Jay Benedict has passed. Married to my lovely friend Phoebe Scholfield," she wrote, adding, "My heart goes out to her and her family at this sad time."

 

 

Lee Fierro, an actress known for her appearance in "Jaws," died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Lee Fierro died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Universal Pictures

Lee Fierro, an actress known for her role as Mrs. Kinter in Steven Spielberg's films "Jaws" and "Jaws: The Revenge," died from COVID-19 complications in Aurora, Ohio, on April 5, The Martha's Vineyard Times confirmed. She was 91. 

"We will miss her terribly. She spent 40 years here on the vineyard," Kevin Ryan, an artistic director and board president for Island Theatre Workshop, where the actress taught more than 1,000 students, told Entertainment Tonight.

While speaking with The Martha Vineyard's Times, he expressed his admiration for the actress. 

"The one word I would think of when I think of Lee is dedication. I've watched her as a performer, director and business woman and then we became friends," Ryan said, adding, "I would still call Lee for artistic discussion and commentary… She was fiercely dedicated to the mission of teaching. She, no matter what it was, would stay at it and get the job done."

 

 

John Prine died due to complications related to COVID-19.

John Prine died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

John Prine, an American country folk singer-songwriter, died from complications related to COVID-19 at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center on April 7, Rolling Stone confirmed. He was 73.

Prine was hospitalized on March 26 after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and was placed in intensive care for 13 days. 

Prine was a revered songwriter, respected by the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, among others. He wrote classic tracks like "Sam Stone" and "Hello In There."

He was also an author, actor, record-label owner, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a two-time Grammy winner (both for best contemporary folk album for 1991's "The Missing Years" and 2005's "Fair and Square.")

Allen Daviau has died due to complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Allen Daviau was 77 years old when he died. This photo was taken in 1990.

AP Photo/Julie Markes

Cinematographer Allen Daviau, known for his work in films like "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Bugsy," died due to complications related to COVID-19 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, multiple outlets confirmed. He was 77. 

Writer and editor Colman Andrews tweeted, "RIP Allen Daviau, my friend of almost 60 years, cinematographer and bon vivant, five-time Academy Award nominee, dining companion extraordinaire, pure soul, who left us last night at the MPTF Hospital, his longtime home, after contracting COVID-19. Salut, mon ami."

During his career, Daviau was nominated for five Academy Awards for his work on films such as "Avalon," "Empire of the Sun," and "The Color Purple" and collaborated with filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and Barry Levinson. 

"He will be remembered fondly for his sense of humor, his taste for the best of foods and his laugh that unmistakably marked his presence from far away," ASC president Kees van Oostrum wrote in an email to members Wednesday, as reported by The New York Times

Matthew Seligman, David Bowie's bassist, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Matthew Seligman died at 64 years old.

Getty Images/ Andy Sheppard

Matthew Seligman, an English musician, died at St. George's University Hospital in London on Friday from complications related to the novel coronavirus, multiple outlets confirmed. He was 64. 

The bassist was well-known for working with top musicians such as David Bowie and Thomas Dolby, who shared news from Kevin Armstrong in a Facebook post about Seligman's condition. 

"Friday: Matthew Seligman has suffered a catastrophic haemorrhagic stroke from which he won't recover. It is expected that he will not survive longer than 12/24 hours. His ventilator will be gradually withdrawn until the inevitable end. I am so sad to have to bear this terrible news. I have loved him as a friend and a fellow musician for 40 years," Dolby wrote, reiterating Armstrong's message. 

Dolby added that the musician had been "on a ventilator in an induced coma for two weeks."

Seligman, born in Cyprus and raised in the UK, became a staple in the 1980s music scene and was part of The Soft Boys, the Thompson Twins, and Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club. He played with David Bowie during his famous 1985 Live Aid performance.

 

Read the original article on Insider