Every year we lose influential people, but the coronavirus pandemic 2020 played the most ominous role leading to the untimely deaths of so many individuals as more than a million people died from COVID-19.

2020: A year of loss for all

The greatest loss in 2020 has been the over 1 million lives that the coronavirus pandemic took away too soon and from nearly every country on the planet. At the same time, the world lost many influential people, including political and civil rights leaders, athletes and entertainers, many of whom were defining icons in their realm of influence.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87

Ginsburg was a legendary U.S. Supreme Court justice known for her her lifelong, fierce defense of women’s rights. She died on Sept. 18.

US Representative John Lewis, 80

Lewis was a long time Congressman renowned for his work in civil rights and for his opposition to segregation. He died on July 17.

Basketball player Kobe Bryant, 41

Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. During his twenty-year career entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers he was an 18-time NBA All-Star, winning five championships. He died on January 26 at 41 in a helicopter crash.

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen

This rock guitarist’s innovative and virtuoso playing style completely transformed the way in which the electric guitar was approached in songwriting and lead guitar. He was especially noted for his blinding speed at the time. Van Halen’s techniques not only influenced rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but even other genres such as country and jazz-fusion. He died of cancer on October 6.

RIP: Other noteworthy figures lost in 2020


Neal Peart: 67, drummer and lyricist from the rock band Rush, often viewed as the greatest rock drummer of all time.

Buck Henry: 89, screenwriter, actor and Saturday Night Live host, known for co-writing the film “The Graduate.”

Don Larson: 90, MLB pitcher, known for 1956 perfect game for the New York Yankees and only no-hitter in World Series history.

Terry Jones: 77, founding member of Monty Python.

Mary Higgins Clark: 92, one of the greatest suspense and mystery writers of all time.


Kirk Douglas: 103, legendary Hollywood actor and father of actor Michael Douglas.

Robert Conrad: 84, actor famous for the 1960s television series “The Wild Wild West.”

Clive Cussler: 88, million-selling adventure novelist.


Jack Welch: 84, legendary businessman and corporate leadership guru who transformed General Electric Company.

Max von Sydow: 90, legendary actor, and most known for his role as the priest in “The Exorcist.”

Kenny Rogers, 81: legendary country singer who also launched a successful chain of restaurants.

Fred “Curly” Neal, 77: the legendary wizard of basketball dribbling who played with the Harlem Globetrotters for three decades.

Joe Diffie: 61, chart-topping country singer of the 1990s. Coronavirus.

Bill Withers: 81, Singer-songwriter who has written timeless pop hits including “Lean on Me.”


Tom Dempsey: 73, NFL kicker born without toes on his kicking foot, set a long-standing record for a 63-yard field goal. Coronavirus.

Linda Tripp: 70, secretly taped conversations of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky which provided evidence of an affair with President Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment.

Mark Drucker: 91, Mad Magazine cartoonist.

Jane Hull: 84, first woman to be elected governor in Arizona.


Don Shula: 90, legendary NFL coach who led Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history.

Roy Horn: 75, half of the magician duo of Siegfried and Roy. Coronavirus.

Little Richard: 87, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, musician largely credited with inventing rock ‘n’ roll and introducing Black R&B to White America.

Jerry Stiller: 92, comedic actor.

Phyllis George: 70, former Miss America and pioneering female NFL sportscaster.

Fred Willard: 86, comedic actor.

Gerry Sloan: 78, Hall of Fame NBA coach.


Bonnie Pointer: 69, member of R&B’s biggest acts of the 70s and 80s, the Pointer sisters.

Williams S. Sessions: 90, former head of the FBI.

Joel Schumacher: 80, legendary filmmaker.

Carl Reiner: 98, actor, writer and director.

Johnny Mandel: 94, Oscar-and GRAMMY-winning composer, arranger and musician.


Hugh Downs: 99, legendary broadcaster.

Nick Cordero: 41, Tony-award nominated actor. Coronavirus.

Ennio Morricone: 91, Oscar-winning Italian composer must famous for composing the theme for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

Charlie Daniels: 83, legendary country music singer-songwriter and fiddler.

Regis Philbin: 88, long-time television host.

Peter Green: 73, renowned blues guitarist and founding member of the original Fleetwood Mac.

John Saxon: 83, versatile actor.

Olivia De Haviland: 104, two-time Oscar-winning actress.

Herman Cain: 74, former African-American Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of major pizza chain. Coronavirus.

Alan Parker: 76, renowned filmmaker of such movies as “Midnight Express” and “Evita.”


Wilford Brimley: 85, versatile actor.

John Hume: 83, Nobel Peace Prize-winning politician known for fashioning agreement that ended violence in Northern Ireland.

Tom Seaver: 75, Hall of Fame Major League Baseball pitcher.


Diana Rigg: 82, actress known for “the Avengers” series and the Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and numerous other films.

Gale Sayers: 77, Hall of Fame pro football running back who also achieved fame from the film “Brian’s song” about his dying Chicago Bears teammate.

Helen Reddy: 78, a superstar in 1970s pop music, known for her feminist anthem “I Am Woman.”

Mac Davis: 78, legendary country music singer-songwriter, also wrote hits for Elvis and Watts had his own variety TV show.


Bob Gibson: 84, Hall of Fame Major league baseball pitcher, held a record for seven consecutive World Series starts.

Johnny Nash: 80, singer-songwriter, actor and producer known for the reggae anthem “I can see clearly now.”

Whitey Ford: 91, former New York Yankee, known for having the best winning percentage of any major league baseball pitcher in the twentieth century.

Rhonda Fleming: 97, Actress, one of the biggest film stars of the 1940s and 1950s.

Spencer Davis: 81, renowned British guitarist and bandleader of the 1960s.

Billy Joe Shaver: 81, outlaw country singer-songwriter.

Sean Connery: 90, rose to international superstardom in the role of secret agent James Bond, as well as an Oscar-winning career in many other films.


Norm Crosby: 93, comedian of the 60s through 80s and television, nightclubs and casinos.

Alex Trebek: 80, over 30-year host of quiz show “Jeopardy.”

Paul Hornung: Former Green Bay Packers who made points as a quarterback, runner, receiver and kicker.

David Dinkins: 93, New York City’s first African-American mayor.


Alison Lurie: 94, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.

Charles “Chuck” Yeager: 97, former World War II fighter pilot and test pilot who became the first person to fly faster than sound in 1947.

Charlie Pride: 86, singer, country music’s first black superstar and first black member of the country music Hall of Fame. Coronavirus.

John le Carre: 89, renowned author of spy novels who was a former spy himself.

Dawn Wells: 82, actress who is most well-known for playing the role of “Mary Ann” on the timeless 1960s comedy “Gilligan’s Island.” Coronavirus.