In 2022, we mourned the loss of award-winning actors, groundbreaking musicians, and visionary directors who made a lasting impact on pop culture. From Bob Saget to Sidney Poitier, from Meat Loaf to Louie Anderson, from Nichelle Nichols to Kirstie Alley, The A.V. Club remembers these talented pioneers and performers, their work as artists, and their many contributions.
July 30, 1939 – January 6, 2022
Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated director of The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon, died at 82. The filmmaker’s daughter Antonia Bogdanovich confirmed her father’s death to The Hollywood Reporter.
[The Last Picture Show] earned Oscars for supporting turns from Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson, made big-screen stars of showbiz scion Bridges and model Cybill Shepherd, and moved Bogdanovich to the forefront of a band of young directors whose morally complicated, formally experimental, and auteur-driven pictures re-energized a flagging American film industry. [Erik Adams]
February 20, 1927 – January 6, 2022
Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, died on January 6. His death was confirmed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas. Poitier was one of the last living members of the Golden Age of Hollywood, a trailblazer who helped open doors for Black actors.
In addition to his historic Academy Award win, Poitier was also given an honorary Oscar at the 2001 ceremony. President Barack Obama awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In 1981, he received the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award award, and in 1999 he was awarded the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. [Victoria Edel]
May 17, 1956 – January 9, 2022
Bob Saget, star of Full House, host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and a veteran stand-up comic who took great glee in skewering his own family-friendly image, died on January 9. Saget was found dead in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando, Florida. He was 65.
Saget spent 2o-plus years of his career bouncing between the two sides of his public persona, performing raucous stand-up shows in which he cracked crude Full House jokes one night, and then lending a voice to Casper’s Scare School the next. [William Hughes]
August 10, 1943 – January 12, 2022
As the lead singer of pivotal ’60s girl group The Ronettes, and later an influential solo artist in her own right, Ronnie Spector spent 60 years charting her own course in the music industry, powered by a career-long “bad girl” vibe, and a voice that stayed powerful and clear across the decades. Her death was announced on her personal web site, along with a note that read, “In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund.” She was 78.
Ronnie Spector never broke—in voice, or spirit. The “bad girl of rock and roll” just kept singing, fueling a career marked with a combination of grace, wit, heartache, and, above it all, a voice that never stopped soaring. She, her sister, and her cousin were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007. [William Hughes]
25 November 1984 – 19 January 2022
Gaspard Ulliel, the French actor perhaps best known to US audiences for his roles in Hannibal Rising and for his upcoming role in Disney+’s Moon Knight, died after a ski accident in France. The news was confirmed by AFP. He was 37.
During the late ’90s and early ’oos, Ulliel appeared in a slew of made-for-TV movies and began solidifying his role in the French acting world. However, he achieved international success in 2007 with Hannibal Rising, his first English-language film. Ulliel was thrice nominated for the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2002, 2003, 2004, when he won for his role in A Very Long Engagement with Audrey Tautou. In 2017, he won the César Award for Best Actor for his role in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End Of The World. [Shanicka Anderson and Victoria Edel]
André Leon Talley
October 16, 1948 – January 18, 2022
André Leon Talley, former Vogue creative director and pioneering fashion industry icon, died on January 18. His death was confirmed with a statement posted to his official social media accounts. He was 73.
Talley began his iconic career at Vogue first as a Fashion News Director in 1983. He then became Vogue’s first Black Creative Director in 1988, staying in the role until 1995. Though he briefly left Vogue to work at W, he returned to Vogue as an editor-at-large in 1998, where he remained until 2013. [Tatiana Tenreyro and Victoria Edel]
February 27, 1940 – January 29, 2022
Howard Hesseman, a character actor and influential improv comedy performer best known for his role as disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP In Cincinnati, died from complications related to colon surgery. That news was confirmed by his wife, Caroline Ducrocq, to The Hollywood Reporter. Hesseman was 81.
Hesseman appeared in Rhoda, Mannix, Sanford And Son, Soap, and The Bob Newhart Show—where he had a years-long recurring gig as Craig Plager, a member of the show’s regular therapy group. In 1978, he joined the cast of WKRP In Cincinnati as John “Dr. Johnny Fever” Caravella, whose off-beat persona played off of Hesseman’s history of hippie-type roles and actual DJ experience. [Sam Barsanti]
September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022
The singer and actor born Marvin Lee Aday, and better known to the worlds of both music and acting by his stage name Meat Loaf, died on January 20. The Grammy winner, who pulverized sales records with his 1977 debut album Bat Out Of Hell, and who starred in films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, was 74.
Meat Loaf occupied a perpetually strange place in the pop culture ecosystem, with a legacy that was, frankly, marred by far more failed albums than successes. He often bemoaned, not wholly inaccurately, that he’d never really been taken seriously by anyone. And yet: When he and Steinman (and Rundgren, and Foley, and all their other collaborators across the years) hit, they did so like a freight train, propelled by a voice that could somehow make the corniest anthems and ballads ring undeniable and true. [William Hughes]
March 24, 1953 – January 21, 2022
Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning actor and comedian died on January 21. His publicist Glenn Schwartz confirmed his death to Deadline. The actor had large B cell lymphoma, a form of cancer, and was hospitalized in Las Vegas. He was 68.
After his first TV appearance, his onscreen career really took off. In 1986, he had small roles in Quicksilver, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Ratboy, and became a regular on The New Hollywood Squares. In 1988, he got a sizable role in Coming To America.
He created the animated series Life With Louie in 1994. He won two Daytime Emmys for the show in 1997 and 1998. Anderson also had his own live-action sitcom, The Louie Show, that premiered in 1996 and became the host of Family Feud in 1999. Anderson continued to get steady work throughout his career and won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his role in Baskets as Christine Baskets in 2016. [Tatiana Tenreyro]
April 8, 1942 – February 7, 2022
Douglas Trumbull, the visual effect pioneer behind some of the most groundbreaking work in motion picture history, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, died from complications with mesothelioma. His daughter Amy confirmed his death on Facebook, writing that he had a brain tumor and a stroke during a two-year struggle with cancer. He was 79.
2001 was a breakthrough not just for cinema but also for the young Trumbull. Following 2001, Trumbull took a job doing the effects for Robert Wise’s Michael Crichton adaptation, The Andromeda Strain. The film was one of the biggest box office successes of the year and earned two Academy Award nominations. It also allowed Trumbull to finance ambitious 1972 sci-fi environmentalism film Silent Running, which he directed on a shoestring budget. While Silent Running flopped, it did cement his reputation as an effects master who could turn in top-notch work on a tight budget. [Matt Schimkowitz]
October 27, 1946 – February 12, 2022
Ivan Reitman, the comedy icon who had a hand in some of the most beloved movies of all time—Ghostbusters, National Lampoon’s Animal House, Space Jam, and Stripes, just to name a few—died on February 12. Per the Associated Press, a statement from his children confirmed that he “died peacefully in his sleep.” No specific cause of death was given, but the statement says his death was “unexpected,” and “We take comfort that his work as a filmmaker brought laughter and happiness to countless others around the world.” Reitman was 75.
Working with his comedy buddies to produce Animal House effectively made him (and everyone else involved) a star, and he parlayed that success into opportunities to direct the goofy “Bill Murray goes to camp” movie Meatballs and the goofy “Bill Murray joins the army” movie Stripes, both of which were big hits, but they were nothing compared to Reitman’s next directing gig, a goofy “Bill Murray hunts ghosts” movie—which, obviously, is now one of the most iconic comedy films of all time. [Sam Barsanti]
September 9, 1961 - February 14, 2022
Brenda Deiss, the actor who made her debut in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket as Lexi’s no-nonsense mom Lil, died on February 14 in Clear Lake, Texas. Her cause of death was due to complications from a stroke she had in January. Her death was confirmed to Variety by a spokesperson.
Like many of the stars in Baker’s films, Deiss didn’t have prior experience acting. Variety reports that she never moved away from Texas and had a career as a secretary. She even worked at NASA for a while.
Red Rocket was released at the end of 2021, however, Deiss never got the chance to watch the film. According to Variety, though, she told those involved in the production that she was proud of the scene in which she performs “Hallelujah Square.” The use of the song was something she suggested herself. [Tatiana Tenreyro]
The Amazing Johnathan
September 9, 1958 – February 22, 2022
John Edward Szeles, the magician and stand up comedian better known by his stage name, The Amazing Johnathan, died on February 22. His death, confirmed by his wife, fellow performer Anastasia Synn, was the result of a critical heart condition, a diagnosis he struggled with since 2007. He was 63.
Szeles’ magic was not for the faint of heart. A mix of brazen, aggressive comedy and subversive illusions, The Amazing Johnathan’s bag of tricks appealed to Vegas tourists and magic aficionados alike. His work was riotous, violent, and frenetic. With machine-gun precision, he rattled off bits, tricks, and jokes that left stages covered in faux body parts and audiences in stitches. [Matt Schimkowitz]
November 25, 1964 – February 22, 2022
Mark Lanegan, the singer for the Screaming Trees, frequent musical collaborator, and prolific solo artist, died on February 22. News of the musician’s death came via a post on Twitter from his official account, saying Lanegan passed away at his home in Killarney, Ireland. He was 57.
Lanegan rose to fame as the singer of Seattle rock band Screaming Trees, releasing seven albums and five EPs over the course of the group’s 16-year career, before disbanding in 2000. Starting in 1990 with The Winding Sheet, Lanegan also carved out an impressive discography as a solo artist, releasing 12 albums including the most recent, 2020’s Straight Songs Of Sorrow. He also frequently collaborated with other musicians, including a recurring role in Queens Of The Stone Age, three albums’ worth of material with singer Isobel Campbell of Belle & Sebastian, and his team-up with Greg Dulli from The Afghan Whigs, The Gutter Twins. His most recent release was a collaboration with former The Icarus Line member Joe Cardamone, called Dark Mark Vs. Skeleton Joe. [Alex McLevy]
June 2, 1937 – February 24, 2022
Sally Kellerman, a veteran actor and musician best known for her starring role in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, died on February 24. Kellerman was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of regulation-loving head nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the 1970 film. She died in an assisted care facility in California, as reported by her son, Jack; she was 84.
Kellerman originally tried to break into the business as a singer, scoring a potential record contract with Verve when she was only 18. Instead, though, she pivoted into acting, with a notable run of TV guest star appearances throughout the late ’50s and ’60s.
But despite a few early film roles, Kellerman didn’t break out until M*A*S*H, Altman’s chaotic, sometimes meandering comedy about surgeons in the Korean War. The film’s treatment of her character is unambiguously misogynistic and cruel, but Kellerman’s haughty dignity in the part nevertheless shines through. [William Hughes]
September 28, 1926 – February 26, 2022
Ralph Ahn, who played Nick Miller’s elderly friend Tran in New Girl, died on February 26. He was 95. The news of his death was announced by The Korean American Federation of Los Angeles (KAFLA) on social media.
While Tran became his most recognizable character, Ahn had small roles in various other hit TV shows, including Gilmore Girls, The King Of Queens, The Golden Girls, and The Good Life. His last time onscreen was for the New Girl series finale in 2018. [Tatiana Tenreyro]
February 2, 1963 – February 28, 2022
A veteran voice actor (often credited under the stage name Bo Williams), Kirk Baily was best remembered by live-action audiences for his role on Nickelodeon’s ’90s sitcom Salute Your Shorts, where he played angry, frequently put-upon camp counselor Kevin “Ug” Lee. Per Deadline, Baily died from lung cancer. He was 59.
Although Salute Your Shorts wasn’t Baily’s first job in the world of non-anime TV or film production—he’s got a credit as a sound coordinator on cult classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space—it was one of his most prominent, and enduring. As “Ug,” Baily created a character who was both deeply antagonistic and deeply relatable to the kids watching the show, lording his incredibly tiny amounts of power over the campers under his care. Half drill sergeant, half clown, he is, if nothing else, the reason that we’ll never forget that giraffe’s tongues are black. [William Hughes]
March 20, 1950 — March 13, 2022
William Hurt, the authoritative actor who won an Academy Award for Kiss Of The Spider Woman and landed nominations for Children Of A Lesser God, Broadcast News, and A History Of Violence, died on March 13. The news came from a statement shared by his family (via Deadline), which says simply that Hurt died “peacefully, among family, of natural causes.” No specific cause of death has been given, but he reportedly had undergone treatment for prostate cancer in 2018. Hurt was 71.
To a specific subset of movie fans these days, he is probably best known for playing General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in The Incredible Hulk, which turned into a few glorified cameos (and a new gig, as Secretary Of State in the MCU) in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow. Though he still had a few projects in the works, his final project released before his death was the long-delayed fantasy film The King’s Daughter [Sam Barsanti]
February 17, 1952 – March 25, 202
Taylor Hawkins, who served for 25 years as the legendary drummer for rock band Foo Fighters, died on March 25. The band released a statement, announcing his “tragic and untimely loss.” No cause of death has been revealed. Hawkins was 50.
In addition to his drumming, Hawkins was also a deeply involved member of Foo Fighters, period, sharing songwriting duties, taking on vocals, and becoming a huge part of the group’s identity throughout his long tenure with it. He is, in other words, a huge part of how the band transformed from a Grohl solo project into a cohesive and hugely influential rock band—even beyond being a man talented enough for Grohl to cede custody of the drum part on “Everlong” to him. [William Hughes]
April 22, 1928 – April 2, 2022
Estelle Harris, a beloved character actor best known in live-action for playing George Constanza’s easily frustrated mother on Seinfeld and best known in animation for playing devoted toy matriarch Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story series, died on April 2. This came from Deadline, which said she died of natural causes on Saturday night. Harris was 93.
Her breakout role was, of course, playing Estelle Costanza (Deadline says the character was named before she was cast) on Seinfeld, with her frequently antagonistic relationship with her family painting a brilliantly clear picture of how Jason Alexander’s George Costanza could grow up to be the kind of man he was. Harris’ Seinfeld role is so iconic that a huge number of her subsequent roles were pretty clearly responses or references to her work on Seinfeld. Her final credited film role was her appearance as Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 4. [Sam Barsanti]
February 28, 1955 — April 12, 2022
Gilbert Gottfried, comedian and actor with one of Hollywood’s most distinct voices, died on April 12. He was 67 years old. The news was announced on his official social media page with a statement from his family.
In addition to his comedy career, Gottfried had a long and prolific run as a voice actor, famously in the Aladdin movies as the parrot Iago and as the duck in the Aflac commercials. [Tatiana Tenreyro]
April 10, 1929 — April 15, 2022
Liz Sheridan died on April 15. A veteran TV, film, and stage actor, Sheridan was best known for the 20 or so appearances she made on landmark TV comedy Seinfeld in the 1990s, playing Jerry Seinfeld’s well-meaning mother, Helen. (She had a similar recurring but pivotal role on the same network in the ’80s as nosy neighbor Raquel Ochmonek on ALF.)
Liz Sheridan had a long, strange, and exciting career, one that transcended the two roles she’s almost certainly best known for—which, it’s worth remembering, arrived 10 and 20 years, respectively, into even the most high-profile portions of her long body of work. As Helen Seinfeld, she embodied a very specific incarnation of the “I don’t want to be a bother” type of TV mothering, while also imbuing the role with comic timing that perfectly matched the tone of one of the most successful comedies in TV history. [William Hughes]
May 10, 1954 – April 29, 2022
Michael Hagerty—the veteran character actor and sketch comedian, known for his thick Chicago accent, thick Chicago mustache, and talent for bringing Midwestern charm to any number of blue-collar roles—has died. Hagerty appeared on many of the most popular TV comedies of the last four decades—Cheers, Friends, Community, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and more.
Per Variety, Hagerty’s death was announced on social media today by Bridgett Everett, whose HBO series Somebody Somewhere was Hagerty’s last major role. He was 67. [William Hughes]
January 11, 1946 — April 30, 2022
Naomi Judd died on April 30. As the senior half—with her daughter, Wynonna—of legendary mother-daughter country duo The Judds, Judd was one of the most successful country artists of the 1980s, winning multiple Grammys, charting more than a dozen No. 1 singles, and ultimately being inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Per Variety, Judd’s death today was announced publicly by her daughters, Wynonna and Ashley. Judd was 76. [William Hughes]
December 30, 1942 – May 8, 2022
Ward, best known for roles in Tremors, The Right Stuff, and more, was born in San Diego and led a handful of different lives before breaking into acting in the ’70s. The California native lasted six months as an actor in New York before hitting the road and taking on jobs as a logger in Alaska, working construction in California, and even spending time as a boxer, where he broke his nose three times.
His role as Gus Grissom—the second American to fly into space—in the Oscar-winning true story of the U.S. Space program, The Right Stuff elevated his profile.
29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022
One of film’s most iconic composers has died, with Vangelis—a.k.a. Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou—having died in France while undergoing treatment for COVID-19. Vangelis, a multi-instrumentalist who was best known for his synthesizer work, was nominated for three Grammys and won an Oscar for composing the score (and iconic theme song) for Chariots Of Fire. He was 79. [Sam Barsanti]
December 18, 1954 – May 26, 2022
Actor Ray Liotta, who is probably still best known for playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas—and for decades of roles after it that directly wink at his Goodfellas character—died on May 26. Deadline says that he “died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic” while working on director John Barr’s upcoming film Dangerous Waters. Liotta was 67.
In the mid-‘80s he received a Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild opposite Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith. A couple of years later Liotta put in a quietly iconic performance as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in Phil Alden Robinson’s baseball tearjerker Field Of Dreams.
Liotta never really had a slow period in his long career, though nothing else really reached the heights of Goodfellas. He regularly popped up in things like Hannibal, Blow, Identity, Killing Them Softly, and The Place Beyond The Pines. That’s to say nothing of his many self-aware cameos or little nods to his legacy, like playing himself on Just Shoot Me and in Bee Movie or his voice acting role as main character Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. [Sam Barsanti]
December 1, 1956 – June 9, 2022
With an ethereal and haunting voice, Julee Cruise became a quick favorite of Lynch, who used her song “Falling” as the theme for the iconic ‘90s series Twin Peaks. She also appeared in as a character in the series, reappearing in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks: The Return. Prior to her work on Twin Peaks, Lynch included her “Mysteries of Love” on the soundtrack for his 1986 film Blue Velvet.
In addition to her work on Lynch projects, Cruise released four solo albums over her career, including her 1989 debut Floating Into The Night and 2002's The Art Of Being A Girl. For Wim Wenders’ feature Until the End of the World, Cruise recorded a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Summer Kisses, Winter Tears.” [Gabrielle Sanchez]
Philip Baker Hall
September 10, 1931 – June 12, 2022
Legendary character actor Philip Baker Hall, known for his regular appearances in the early work of director Paul Thomas Anderson and as the dogged library cop Lt. Joe Bookman on Seinfeld, died on June 12. He was 90.
Roles in Anderson’s films turned Hall into a classic “that guy” celebrity, a distinguished character actor that audiences know, trust, and enjoy, but not one they can necessarily name. However, that reputation didn’t slow Hall’s career. Instead, it opened him up to roles on film and TV, appearing on Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and BoJack Horseman, and in movies like Bruce Almighty, Rush Hour, The Insider, and Zodiac. [Matt Schimkowitz]
Lenny Von Dohlen
December 22, 1958 – July 5, 2022
Aside from Twin Peaks and its prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Von Dolen’s made his acting debut in the tv series Kent State in 1981, and marked his film debut in the Oscar-winning film Tender Mercies in 1983. He would go on to have roles in such films like Home Alone 3, Tollbooth, Cadillac, Bird of Prey, Entertaining Angels, and One Good Turn. On television, he starred in Miami Vice, Red Dwarf, Walker Texas Ranger, The Pretender, The Equalizer, Psych, and most recently appeared in an episode of Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville. [Savannah Olson]
March 26, 1940 - July 6, 2022
The 1970s saw an explosion of success for Caan, beginning with the made-for-TV movie Brian’s Song, which saw Caan breaking his mold a bit, playing a dying football player who forged a strong bond with his teammate played by Billy Dee Williams. Caan would earn an Emmy nomination for the role, but the project he wrapped just before Brian’s Song would define his career: Sonny Corleone from The Godfather.
A far showier performance than the understated lead Al Pacino, Caan’s Sonny rocked theaters with his unpredictable rage, smoldering good looks, and undeniable cool. His performance would essentially rewrite the book for how to play gangsters in the modern age: A suave, sexy time bomb that’s impossible to turn away from. He may have been left out of the sequels following an unambiguous end against a hail fire of bullets, but Caan still nabbed a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 1973 Academy Awards, criminally his only nomination for the statue. [Matt Schimkowitz]
July 29, 1942 – July 8, 2022
Tony Sirico died on July 8. Best known for his role as loud-mouthed, frequently buffoonish gangster Paulie Walnuts on all six seasons of HBO’s The Sopranos, Sirico came by his underworld acting chops honestly: He was first introduced to the craft while serving a stint in prison after a multi-year career as a stick-up man who targeted New York’s nightclubs, before an encounter with a visiting company of ex-convicts-turned-actors drastically altered the course of his life.
Sirico’s career changed forever, though, in 1999, when—after four long auditions, and a failed shot at the role of Junior Soprano—David Chase selected him to play Tony Soprano’s most enduring lieutenant, for a series that no one, at the time, realized would become one of the most influential shows of its generation. As Paulie Walnuts, Sirico frequently got to walk the line between The Sopranos’ darker and lighter selves; delivering the funniest lines of an episode one minute, and brutal menace the next. In showcase episodes like fan-favorite “Pine Barrens”—and especially in his relationship with Michael Imperioli’s Christopher—Sirico consistently demonstrated that an absurd, often goofy gangster was never the same thing as a safe gangster; Sirico’s ability to project an almost child-like sense of aggrievement at the world only served to highlight the moments when that same sensibility curdled into threats or violence. [William Hughes]
April 12, 1939 – July 25, 2022
Paul Sorvino, the intimidating tough-guy actor best known for playing mobsters and cops—but who prided himself on the times he was able to do anything else—died on July 25. Sorvino, who was in Goodfellas, Romeo + Juliet, and dozens of episodes of Law & Order, was 83.
He appeared in cult horror film The Stuff and had a fruitful working relationship with Warren Beatty, appearing in Reds, Dick Tracy, Bulworth, and Rules Don’t Apply. His most high-profile film role, though, came from playing mob heavy Paul Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas—a role that, as is the case with most actors from Goodfellas, effectively defined the rest of his career. [Sam Barsanti]
April 13, 1945 – July 27, 2022
Dow was best known for playing the elder Cleaver brother; he later had guest appearances on shows like General Hospital, My Three Sons, and Mr. Novak. He eventually worked behind the scenes writing, producing, and directing, including episodes of Coach, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and more.
According Deadline, he later pivoted to a career as a sculptor and “was one of three United States sculptors chosen for the 2008 Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition at the Louvre.” [Mary Kate Carr]
December 28, 1932 – July 31, 2022
Nichelle Nichols, a groundbreaking figure in both Star Trek and America’s real-life space program and one of the most important and iconic women in sci-fi history, died on July 31 (according to Variety). Nichols played communications officer Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek and later used her status and influence to work with NASA to help the organizations recruit more women and people of color. Nichols was 89.
Nichols’ role in Star Trek went on to define her career and made her an iconic figure in pop culture. Lt. Uhura was not only a prominent Black TV character in an era when that was unusual, but she was in a position of power—an officer on a spaceship—and clearly commanded a lot of authority on the bridge of the Enterprise.
In another famous story from Nichols’ life, she had planned to quit Star Trek after its first year so she could go back to performing onstage, but Martin Luther King Jr. himself personally convinced her to stay after talking to her about how important it was to see a Black woman like Uhura on TV. That obviously meant a lot to Nichols, who started working with NASA after Star Trek ended specifically to try and find more minorities who could be astronauts. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to ride on the Space Shuttle, said that Star Trek had inspired her to join NASA. [Sam Barsanti]
Roger E. Mosley
December 18, 1938 – August 7, 2022
Mosley’s breakout role came in the 1980s with the private investigator CBS series, Magnum, P.I. starring alongside Tom Selleck and Larry Manetti. Mosley played helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin for the series’ eight season run from 1980 to 1988, appearing in a grand total of 158 episodes. Along with Magnum P.I., Mosley acted in the short-lived sitcom You Take The Kids, Night Court, and as Coach Ricketts for ten episodes of Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. [Savannah Olson]
September 26, 1948 – August 8, 2022
On August 8, Olivia Newton-John’s husband, John Easterling, shared the news of the star’s death via her official Facebook page. The star was best known as actor for her role as Sandy in Grease, and netted a number of successful singles both in the United States and in her native Australia. Newton-John’s song “Physical” was ranked by Billboard as the best-selling single of the 1980s.
In her later years, Newton-John became outspoken about her experience with breast cancer. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” Easterling wrote in the post announcing her death. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
May 25, 1969 – August 12, 2022
Anne Heche died on August 12 after being taken off life support by her family. Her death was confirmed in a statement by her family, per People, writing, “Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend.” While, as of this writing, the actor’s heart is still beating in hopes of providing organ donations, she is brain dead, meeting the legal definition of death in California. Heche had suffered a severe brain injury after crashing her vehicle into a Los Angeles residence last week; representatives for the actor revealed on Thursday she was not expected to survive. She was 53 years old.
Heche has been a fixture of Hollywood productions since the 1990s, with prominent roles in films like Wag The Dog and Six Days, Seven Nights. More recently, she worked largely in TV, with recurring roles on shows like Chicago P.D. and All Rise. She recently starred in a new Lifetime movie about human trafficking, Girl In Room 13; participants for the film briefly discussed her passion for the project during a panel at the TCAs.
August 1, 1963 — September 28, 2022
Coolio, born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr., first broke into the music mainstream in 1994 with his debut album It Takes A Thief—and then became an overnight global superstar just a few months later, with the release of the single “Gangsta’s Paradise,” one of the most successful rap songs of all time. Per the New York Times, his death was confirmed earlier tonight by his manager. Coolio was 59.
Born in Pennsylvania, but an early Compton transplant, Coolio came up in the West Coast rap scene in Los Angeles; an early single, “Whatcha Gonna Do?” pulled some attention, although he ultimately signed on to perform with WC And The Maad Circle on their debut album, Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed. A few years later, though, he signed as a solo artist with Tommy Boy Records, releasing It Takes A Thief in 1994. Led off by hit single “Fantastic Voyage”—which took both its name, and its funk groove, from the 1981 Lakeside song of the same name—Thief checked many of the boxes that would define Coolio’s career: Heavy use of samples and interpolation of ’70s and ’80s music, and a lyrical style that was both more thoughtful, and less self-serious, than the prototypical West Coast rap of the era. The album brought in both strong reviews and good sales, charting well, and going platinum that same year.
November 14, 1946-October 2, 2022
Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actor and activist who declined Marlon Brandon’s Oscar on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, has died. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared the news via Twitter on Sunday. No cause of death was given, though Littlefeather revealed in a 2021 interview with The Guardian that she had metastasized breast cancer which had spread to one of her lungs. She was 75 years old.
Born as Marie Louise Cruz on November 14, 1946, in Salinas, California, Littlefeather would go on to change her name as she began to explore her Apache and Yaqui heritage, eventually heading a local affirmative action committee for Native Americans and a public service director at a local San Francisco radio station.
Her name, however, became internationally known after Littlefeather went on stage during the 45th Academy Awards in 1973. Given only 60 seconds to make her speech, Littlefeather cited Brando’s refusal to accept the award due to “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry, and on television and movie reruns,” as well as the ongoing protest by Native American activists at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
April 14, 1932-October 4, 2022
Country music pioneer Loretta Lynn has died at the age of 90. Her family confirmed her death with a statement.
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said in a statement, per The Associated Press.
Growing up in the depths of poverty in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, Lynn was raised amongst seven other children in the midst of the Great Depression. Born a true coal miner’s daughter, she would eventually pack everything up and leave home at the age of 15, where she went on to live with her husband Oliver Lynn in Washington.
The Grammy-winner released her debut album, Loretta Lynn Sings, in 1963. Throughout her illustrious career, she penned hits such as “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “What Kind of a Girl (Do You Think I Am?),” “Fist City,” and “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath.” Other hallmark tracks include 1965’s “Blue Kentucky Girl” and the 1970 No. 1 single “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Her notable work with fellow legend Conway Twitty spurred over a dozen top country hits.
October 16, 1925-October 11, 2022
Born in England, Angela Lansbury fled the country for America as World War II progressed. While still a teenager, she was contracted by MGM, and received an Academy Award nomination for her screen debut as the surly young maid in the 1944 Ingrid Bergman movie Gaslight. She received another nomination the following year for playing Sybil Vane in The Picture Of Dorian Gray.
Throughout her career she balanced her TV and film work with stage work, from classic Shakespearian dramas like Hamlet to musicals like Gypsy, in which she played Mama Rose. When she took on the role of Mame in 1966, it was her first actual lead; she was 41. Some stage roles were captured for the screen, such as in the Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, portraying Mrs. Lovett. She won five Tony awards (tied with Julie Harris and bested only by Audra MacDonald) and hosted the ceremony herself five times, more than any other host.
In 1971 she created her own Julie Andrews-type of benevolent, magical caregiver in the hit Disney film Bedknobs & Broomsticks. But her most iconic role arrived in the ’80s; when offered both a sitcom and a detective series, she wisely chose the latter, and the rest is TV history. Most American TV viewers know Lansbury as the intrepid Jessica Fletcher, homespun detective of the unusually crime-laden small town of Cabot Cove, Maine. The series ran for 12 years, from 1984 to 1996, followed by a few TV movies. Lansbury was nominated for a Best Actress Emmy 12 times for the role, never winning; she also received 10 Golden Globe nominations as Jessica Fletcher, winning three times.
After Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury’s next iconic turn came as the voice of the teapot, Mrs. Potts, in the Disney classic Beauty & The Beast. Although she was also Emmy nominated for a later role on Law & Order, she didn’t win. As she also received an honorary Oscar in 2014, as well as a Grammy for the Beauty & The Beast soundtrack, she was only a hair away from becoming an EGOT winner.
April 29, 1955-October 24, 2022
Leslie Jordan, the actor known for his turns on shows such as Will & Grace and American Horror Story, died at the age of 67. According to a report from TMZ, the comic was driving in Hollywood earlier today, when he suffered a medical emergency at the wheel, causing him to crash into a building.
Jordan was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 29, 1955. He began his acting career in 1986, with a small role on an episode of The Fall Guy. His first major television role would come in 1989, when he played Truman Fipps on Wes Craven’s The People Next Door. Some of his more recent work includes playing Phil on the Fox comedy Call Me Kat, which is currently airing its third season.
The actor was best known for his roles as Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace, Sid on The Cool Kids, Lonnie Garr on Hearts Afire, and for her numerous roles on American Horror Story. He garnered praise for his role was as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in the stage play Sordid Lives, going on to star in the 2000 film adaptation with Olivia Newton-John.
In the last few years, Jordan became a rising star on TikTok and Instagram, gaining 5.8 million followers over the course of the pandemic for his playful, bright demeanor, humor, and thick Southern accent. [Gabrielle Sanchez]
June 18, 1994-November 1, 2022
Best known for his work in Migos with Quavo and Quavo’s cousin Offset, Takeoff first began producing beats in middle school and started laying rhymes with his family members soon after. While Quavo initially had sports dreams, Takeoff was always focused on music. (In a July interview with GQ Hype, Quavo would go on the record to name Takeoff the best rapper in Migos.)
“I ain’t never did no sports, I just always wanted to rap,” Takeoff told The Fader in 2013. “When Quavo was out doing sports, I was in the studio, what we call the bando, making music, going hard.”
After getting tracks from their 2011 debut mixtape Jung Season into clubs with a little money and a lot of persistence, Migos began to carve out a sound. The group’s 2013 breakout single “Versace” showcased Migos’ acrobatic musicality and unforgettable ad-libs, the kind of verse that’s more reminiscent of blood harmony than a rap battle.
“You gotta have fun with a song, make somebody laugh,” Takeoff told The Fader. “You gotta have character. A hard punchline can make you laugh, but you gotta know how to say it.” [Hattie Lindert]
December 7, 1987 - November 5, 2022
The brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter, Aaron Carter released his first album when he was just nine years old, selling 1 million copies of Aaron Carter in 1997, and quickly establishing his status as a rising star at an extremely young age. His follow-up album, 2000's Aaron’s Party (Come And Get It), named for its lead-off single, performed even better, eventually reaching No. 4 on the US Billboard 200. From there, Carter (now 13) was an institution in the kids entertainment world, touring with his brother’s band and Britney Spears, appearing regularly on Nickelodeon, and releasing new albums in 2001 and 2002.
The latter of those albums, Another Earthquake, marked a declining point in Carter’s career: Although he’d continue to tour and act over the next several years—including appearing in a short-lived reality show, House Of Carters, with his brothers in 2006—his adulthood never saw Carter achieve the same professional success that he’d achieved as a child. He became an occasional staple of reality TV, appearing on Dancing With The Stars in 2009, and releasing occasional new music. In 2017, he appeared on an episode of The Doctors, addressing concerns brought on by a physically gaunt appearance and occasional brushes with the law; he was advised to enter a rehab facility due to his use of benzodiazepines and opiates for anxiety and sleep.
July 24, 1946-November 11, 2022
Comedian Leo Gallagher Jr., otherwise known simply as “Gallagher,” has passed away, according to TMZ. Gallagher was a prop comic best known for his recurring bit of smashing watermelons with a sledgehammer. He was 76 years old.
Gallagher had been in ill health after suffering from multiple heart attacks over the years and succumbed to massive organ failure while under hospice care in Palm Springs, California. His manager confirmed the news to TMZ, saying in a statement, “Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades. He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone. While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.”
Gallagher rose to prominence in the comedy scene after appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He eventually became a household name after debuting Showtime’s first standup comedy special, “An Uncensored Evening,” in 1980. He went on to do 12 hour-long specials on the network as well as several programs for HBO, all while performing over 3,500 live shows over the course of his career, per Variety.
The comedian’s sets were known for wordplay and observational comedy, but his most defining joke was a spoof on the Veg-O-Matic commercials that he called “Sledge-O-Matic,” in which he would smash various foods with a sledgehammer, ultimately ending on a watermelon, to the delight of his audience. [Mary Kate Carr]
Born in New York, Irene Cara came up in off-Broadway productions before transitioning to TV and film; early credits include a stint in the house band for The Electric Company, a starring role (as the title character) in Sam O’Steen’s 1976 music drama Sparkle, and a major part in sprawling TV miniseries Roots: The Next Generations.
Already successful, Cara’s career skyrocketed in 1980 when she was cast as Coco Hernandez in Alan Parker’s Fame, bringing her talents to bear as the only multi-hyphenate in the Drama, Music, and Dance programs at New York’s High School Of The Performing Arts. Her presence in both the film, and on its soundtrack, helped launch Cara’s musical career; she’d later produce four studio albums, including one in 2011 with her band Hot Caramel.
After performing twice at that year’s Oscars (on “Fame,” and then the movie’s other big single, “Out Here On My Own”)—and after declining to return as Coco for the Fame TV show—Cara continued to pursue both her acting and music careers. Although she appeared in a number of films throughout the period, her greatest success came off-camera in 1983, when she co-wrote and performed “Flashdance…What A Feeling.” A year later, she’d have both an Oscar and a Grammy on her mantle, honoring the song’s infectious melodic synths, and Cara’s sweeping vocal talents. [William Hughes]
Born Christine Perfect on July 12, 1943, in Bouth, Lancashire, England, McVie was the plutonic ideal of a future Fleetwood Mac member. With her father, Cyril, a concert violinist and music professor at Birmingham University, and mother, Beatrice, a psychic medium, she was seemingly destined to build a witchy and musically sophisticated song library. And she started working on it from a young age, taking up the piano at age four before seriously studying classical forms at 11.
Her early interest in the arts led her to the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham, where she studied sculpture. But it was her extra circulars that charted a course for the future. During her time in Birmingham, McVie took an interest in the blues, playing in the bands Sounds Of Blue and Chicken Shack. While her time in those bands didn’t last, her deep smoky alto didn’t go unnoticed, and in 1969 and 1970, she won Melody Maker awards for female vocalists, and in 1970 she released her first solo album, Christine Perfect.
It was during her touring time in Chicken Shack that she met her future husband and bandmate, John McVie. She married him in 1968, with Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green serving as best man. Fleetwood Mac had already begun charting before she joined the band in 1970, first playing piano on the band’s second album, Mr. Wonderful. The McVies packed up and moved the band to the United States in 1974, when they solidified the band’s lineup, bringing in Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and releasing the group’s self-titled album.
But it was the band’s follow-up that would be their masterpiece. 1977’s Rumours reflected the band’s interpersonal hardships, with Christine penning songs about her ongoing affair with the band’s lighting director. Those tunes would be some of the band’s biggest hits, including “You Make Loving Fun.” While the song would be a top-10 hit for the group, it could not save McVie’s marriage. The two would remain members of the group but divorced in 1978, ahead of the band’s next record, the challenging, experimental, and beloved double album, Tusk. [Matt Schimkowitz]
January 12, 1951 - December 5, 2022
Emmy-award-winning actor Kirstie Alley, the unflappable star of Cheers, Veronica’s Closet, and the Look Who’s Talking film series, has died. The actor’s family recently confirmed that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She was 71.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, to the owner of a lumber company, on January 12, 1951, Alley is perhaps best known as Rebecca Howe, the stern and calculating bar owner on Cheers. However, she didn’t start acting until she was 30. Though she found quick success. After taking an acting class, a friend set helped her land an agent and, soon after, she was cast in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn, the seventh highest grossing film of 1982.
Box office success followed her in the 80s, landing several hit comedies, including Summer School and Look Who’s Talking, which spawned two sequels. However, it was her work on the small screen that made her a star.
Replacing Shelley Long on the hit sitcom Cheers was no easy feat in 1988. Long and co-star Ted Danson had driven much of the buzz surrounding the series. But Alley, who apparently beat out Sharon Stone, entered the bar as a force to to be reckoned with. As the stern and calculating Rebecca Howe, Alley helped carry the series five seasons.
It wasn’t an immediate success. Originally cast as the stern bar owner, a foil to Danson’s cocksure Sam Malone, it wasn’t until the series honed in on Alley’s neurosis that the character came alive. Alley’s talent for playing a smart, confident career woman on the verge of a mental breakdown breathed new life into the show. For her efforts, Alley was nominated for five Emmys and won her first statue in 1991.
Stephen “tWitch” Boss
September 29, 1982- December 13, 2022
Stephen “tWitch” Boss, All-Star contestant and judge on So You Think You Can Dance and longtime DJ for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 13. The television personality died by suicide, a representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 40 years old.
Boss’ wife Allison Holker Boss confirmed his death in a statement to People, saying, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us. Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans.”
Per People, Boss came up on MTV’s The Wade Robson Project and was a runner-up on Star Search. In 2008, he competed on So You Think You Can Dance and became a runner-up in the fourth season. He later returned as an All-Star and became one of the show’s judges in 2022. He met his wife, a fellow dancer, through the show; they married in 2013.
Boss joined The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2014 as the daytime talk show’s guest DJ and became a staple of the program through its final episode, eventually rising to become a co-executive producer in 2020. Following the news of Boss’ death, executive producer Andy Lassner shared a photo of himself, DeGeneres, and Boss on Twitter with the caption, “Rest, my friend.”
Boss is survived by his wife and three children. R.I.P.
It didn’t take long for her to start breaking boundaries. In 1974, she was named the show’s first female co-host, winning her first Emmy award in 1975 for Outstanding Talk Show Host. It would be the first of three Emmy wins and 20 nominations.
In 1976, she became the first female news anchor to be offered a multi-million dollar contract, earning $5 million to co-anchor evening news and host interview specials on ABC. That year, she launched the first of her “Barbara Walters Specials,” interviewing Barbara Streisand. Her interviews catapulted Walters to fame, making her the target of lampooning on Saturday Night Live. Gilda Radner’s impression, the character “Baba Wawa,” mocked Walter’s speech impediment, which made pronouncing “Rs” difficult for the anchor.
She spent the next three decades becoming America’s most famous interviewer. In 1980, she became co-host of 20/20 and, over the next 30 years, spoke to the most famous people in the world, including Monica Lewinsky, Vladimir Putin, Katharine Hepburn, and Christopher Reeve. Each interview was a cultural touchstone, attracting massive viewership numbers and elevating her notoriety.