18 celebrities and icons we lost in 2020

Yelena Dzhanova
2020 losses
Clockwise from top left: Demonstrators protesting Breonna Taylor's death, Alex Trebek, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman. Clockwise from top left: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, Amanda Edwards/Getty Images, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV.
  • Americans were overwhelmed with news this year from the coronavirus pandemic, a presidential election, and civil unrest. 

  • In between these large events, Americans also had to find time to grieve the loss of loved ones — either within their own circles or cultural figures who've made an impact on their lives. 

  • Here are some of the most noteworthy figures who died this year. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Americans were overwhelmed with news this year, as they dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, a presidential election, and civil unrest. 

In between these large events, Americans also had to find time to grieve the loss of loved ones - either within their own circles or cultural figures who've made an impact on their lives. 

In chronological order, here are some of the most noteworthy people who died this year:

Kobe Bryant

kobe bryant 2013
Kobe Bryant. Mark J. Terrill/AP Images

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant died on January 26 in a tragic helicopter crash. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was with him. Overall, nine people aboard the helicopter, including Bryant, died. 

Americans were shocked at his sudden death. Business Insider's Scott Davis reported how Bryant's sudden death left questions around his legacy about how to grieve a beloved figure who had been accused of sexual assault.

Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark. Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic

Mary Higgins Clark, a bestselling suspense novelist, died on January 31 of natural causes, according to the Hollywood Reporter

She died at 92 after having amassed huge fan support and becoming one of the most popular and recognized writers worldwide.

Among her bestselling novels are "A Stranger Is Watching" and "Daddy's Little Girl."

Breonna Taylor

breonna taylor emt
Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Courtesy of Taylor Family attorney Sam Aguiar via AP, File

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT, was shot dead by police in her own home on March 13. 

Police shot her eight times in her Louisville, Kentucky, home. Her death spurred nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. 

In September, a grand jury declined to charge two of the three officers involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor. One officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Bill Withers

Bill Withers header
Bill Withers. Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images

Iconic singer and songwriter Bill Withers died at 81 on March 30 from heart complications.

He was best known as the voice behind classic songs he wrote in the 1970s, such as "Lean On Me" and "Lovely Day," that are still beloved today. 

Withers was a three-time Grammy winner. 

Irrfan Khan

Irrfan Khan Jurassic World
Irrfan Khan starred as Masrani in "Jurassic World." Universal Pictures

Irrhan Khan was a famous Bollywood actor who starred in "Life of Pi" and "Slumdog Millionaire." He died on April 29 at 53.

He died in a Mumbai hospital after contracting a colon infection. He was also a "Jurassic World" star.

Jerry Stiller

FILE PHOTO: Actor Jerry Stiller arrives at the American Museum of Natural History for the premiere of the movie "Night at the Museum" in New York, U.S. December 17, 2006. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/
Actor Jerry Stiller. Reuters

Comedian and actor Jerry Stiller died on May 11 of natural causes. He was 92. 

Stiller was known for his roles in TV sitcoms like "Seinfeld" and "The King of Queens." 

His son, Ben, who's also an actor, paid tribute to the elder Stiller. He "was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad," Ben tweeted, along with a photo of his late father. 

George Floyd

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A mural painted by artist Kenny Altidor depicting George Floyd is unveiled on a sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020, in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

On May 25, a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man who died after being restrained with his face on the street's concrete for several minutes. 

His death reignited the Black Lives Matter protests that began earlier in the year after the death of Breonna Taylor. Chauvin was later charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Nick Cordero

nick cordero
Nick Cordero. Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

Broadway actor Nick Cordero died on July 5 after having been hospitalized for COVID-19. 

Cordero tested positive in early April and was hospitalized for more than 90 days afterward. He died at 41 and left behind a wife and infant son. 

Cordero was known for his roles in Broadway shows such as "Rock of Ages," "Waitress," and "Bullets over Broadway."

Naya Rivera

naya rivera
Naya Rivera. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Point Honors

"Glee" star Naya Rivera died on July 8 at 33. 

Authorities found Rivera's body in a California lake five days after she was reported missing. When authorities discovered her body, they noticed she didn't have a life jacket on.

Rivera's son told sheriffs that he and his mom were swimming together until they got to their boat. Her son got on the boat, but when he looked back, he saw his mom disappear below the water's surface.

John Lewis

rep. john lewis
Rep. John Lewis waits to enter the memorial services for US Rep. Elijah Cummings. Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images

Civil rights icon John Lewis died on July 17 at 80 from pancreatic cancer.

Lewis served in the House of Representatives since 1987. He was part of the original Freedom Riders, a group of civil rights activists who protested segregated bus terminals. 

Upon news of his death, activists and lawmakers paid tribute to Lewis and called him "a giant" and the "conscience of the nation."

Regis Philbin

regis philbin july 2013
Television personality Regis Philbin. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Regis Philbin, a television personality and talk show host, died on July 24. He died at 88 of natural causes. 

Philbin was best known as the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" host, as well as a host of various morning shows such as "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee" and "Live! With Regis and Kelly."

Chi Chi DeVayne

Chi Chi Devayne
Chi Chi DeVayne onstage during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8 Finale Party at Stage 48 on May 16, 2016 in New York City. Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Chi Chi DeVayne, a star on two seasons of "RuPaul's Drag Race" died on August 20, according to Entertainment Weekly.

A month before her death, DeVayne had been hospitalized due to high blood pressure. Doctors also believed she had kidney failure. She was released from the hospital later that month. 

"I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chi Chi DeVayne," RuPaul told Entertainment Weekly. "I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all."

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

"Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman died on August 29. He was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, which was not publicly revealed until his death. 

Bolton died in Los Angeles with his wife and family by his side. He was best known for portraying the now-iconic Marvel superhero "Black Panther" and baseball great Jackie Robinson in "42."

Fans were shocked at his sudden death and tributes to the star flooded social media from all over the world. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18 from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court bench.

Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and was recognized as a feminist icon. She was the inspiration behind various books, movies, and dolls. 

Throughout her life, she was credited with advancing the quality of life and legal options women had.

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen.
Eddie Van Halen. Icon and Image/Getty Images

Guitarist and rock legend Eddie Van Halen died on October 6 at 65 after living with cancer for more than a decade. 

He had been the lead guitarist of rock band Van Halen for about 50 years prior to his death.

Sean Connery

sean connery 2007
Sean Connery at the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award event on June 7, 2007. Matt Sayles/AP

Sean Connery, the actor best known for playing James Bond, died on October 31 at 90

Connery was an Oscar winner who played Bond in seven films between 1962 and 1983. Overall, his acting career spanned more than 60 years. He starred in more than 50 movies throughout his lifetime.

Alex Trebek

alex trebek
Alex Trebek. Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Longtime "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek died at 80 on November 8.

Trebek passed at home while surrounded by family and friends after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March 2019. 

Over the course of his 36-year career with the game show, Trebek earned numerous Daytime Emmy Awards. 

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona. Getty/Marcos Brindicci

Soccer star Diego Maradona died on November 25 at 60

He had a heart attack at home in Buenos Aires while recovering from brain surgery earlier in November. 

Maradona was regarded as one of the world's best soccer players. He won the 1986 World Cup with the Argentine national team. 

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