Bob Einstein, known for creating the buffoonish stuntman Super Dave Osborne and playing Marty Funkhouser on Curb Your Enthusiasm, died Jan. 2 of cancer. He was 76. Maintaining a career that spanned four decades, Einstein worked as a writer, actor and producer on shows like The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Arrested Development, Crank Yankers and Roseanne. He won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1977 for his work on the variety series Van Dyke and Company,but modern audiences came to know him as Marty on Curb. Beloved for his Super Dave Osborne character, Einstein brought the memorable character to a plethora of shows, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, WWE Monday Night Raw and In Living Color.
British actor William Morgan Sheppard died on Jan. 6 at the age of 86. The actor was known for his many appearances across the Star Trek franchise, including guest roles on episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was also known for his work as Blank Reg in the short-lived ABC sci-fi series Max Headroom and starred in two episodes of Babylon 5. He appeared alongside his son, Supernatural star Mark Sheppard, on a 2011 episode of Doctor Who and enjoyed a bevy of other film, TV and voiceover roles. Sheppard was also an accomplished theater star, having graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and training with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Broadway and film star Carol Channing died at the age of 97 in her home on Jan. 15. The actress had previously suffered two strokes. She was best known for her Tony Award-winning role in Hello, Dolly! and her Golden Globe- and Academy Award-nominated role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. In addition to receiving additional Tony nominations for her work in The Vamp and Show Girl, she was given the Tony's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. Her small screen roles included her long-lived role as Aunt Sylvia Duvall in The Love Boat. She was also a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community and arts education.
Fatima Ali died on Friday, Jan. 25 after a battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. The 29-year old came in seventh place on Season 15 of Top Chef, but was voted Fan Favorite at the end of the season. She was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2017 and declared cancer free in July of 2018, before it returned a few months later and doctors gave her only a year left to live.
Prolific character actor Dick Miller died of natural causes on Jan. 30 at the age of 90. He was perhaps best known for his roles in films like Gremlins and The Terminator. He also had a long-standing tradition of appearing in director Joe Dante's movies, including Piranha, The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers, Explorers and Twilight Zone: The Movie, to name a few. Perhaps most unique to Miller was his tradition of portraying characters with the shared name Walter Paisley throughout various films, including Hollywood Boulevard, The Howling and his most recent movie Hanukkah. In a statement, his family said, "His sense of humor and the unique way he looked at the world won him many lifelong friends and worldwide fans."
The Young and the Restless star Kristoff St. John was reported dead on Feb. 4. He was 52. He was a cast member on the long-running CBS daytime soap opera from 1991 until his death, winning two Daytime Emmys and 10 NAACP Awards for his performance as Neil Winters. He also appeared on Roots: The Next Generations, the groundbreaking soap Generations and sitcoms including Family Matters, Living Single and Everybody Hates Chris.
Iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld died Feb. 19 in Paris. He was 85. The famously tireless German-born designer served as the creative director of luxury brands Chanel and Fendi, as well as his own eponymous label. Lagerfeld, who made an uncredited appearance as himself in Zoolander, was rarely seen without his signature look: dark shades, white ponytail and a high starched collar. "I'm very much down to earth," read one Lagerfeld quote in The World According to Karl, a 2013 collection of his most memorable sayings. "Just not this earth."
Peter Tork, bass guitarist and singer for the Monkees, died Feb. 21 at age 77. His sister Anne Thorkelson confirmed the news to The Washington Post. Tork, who at 24 was the oldest member of the made-for-TV band when their show premiered in 1966, played the lovable self-described "dummy" of the group. In reality, he was a trained musician who left the Monkees in the late 1960s to tend to his solo career, though he regularly joined up with the band for reunion tours beginning in the mid-'80s. "I refute any claims that any four guys could've done what we did," Tork told Guitar World of the Monkees in 2013. "There was a magic to that collection. We couldn't have chosen each other. It wouldn't have flown. But under the circumstances, they got the right guys."
Comedian Brody Stevens was found dead in Los Angeles on Feb. 22. He was 48. Beloved in the Los Angeles comedy community for his truly unique stand-up persona, Stevens appeared as a stand-up, actor, or panelist on numerous TV shows, including Chelsea Lately, Kroll Show, Conan and Childrens Hospital, as well as the movies The Hangover and The Hangover II. He was the subject of a 2013 Comedy Central docuseries called Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!, which followed Stevens as he tried to get his life and career back on track while struggling with severe mental illness.
Katherine Helmond, perhaps most familiar to '80s kids for playing Judith Light's flirtatious mom, Mona, on Who's the Boss?,died of complications from Alzheimer's on Feb. 23. Helmond is best known for starring as Jessica Tate on ABC's Soap from 1977-81, alongside Billy Crystal and Robert Guillaume. The role earned her four Best Actress Emmy Award nominations, but it was her role as Mona on Who's the Boss? -- where she traded barbs with Light and Tony Danza, and nurtured her granddaughter, played by a young Alyssa Milano -- that endeared her to a new generation. Helmond got her start in theater before moving to Los Angeles as part of a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The House of Blue, which won her a Drama Critics Award. Her first TV appearance was a guest-starring role in an episode of Gunsmoke. After appearing in four Broadway shows -- including a role in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown that earned her a Best Supporting or Featured Actress Tony nomination -- she found success in television with her roles on Soap and Who's the Boss? followed by parts on Coach, Everybody Loves Raymond, and True Blood. She voiced Lizzie in all three of the Disney/Pixar Cars films. She's survived by her husband of 75 years, David Christian.
Jeraldine Saunders, writer of the book that inspired ABC's hit series The Love Boat, passed away at the age of 96 on Feb. 26 from complications associated with kidney surgery. Saunders' 1974 book The Love Boats, based on her own experiences as a cruise director, served as the initial inspiration for the long-lived romantic comedy series, two TV movies and the spin-off series The Love Boat: The Next Wave. Saunders was also known for her work on the horoscope column Omarr's Astrological Forecast. She and members of The Love Boat cast were honored with an honorary Friend of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star plaque in May 2018.
Nathaniel Taylor, best known for playing the hip, smack-talking lout Rollo on Sanford and Son, died Feb. 27 in Los Angeles. Born March 31, 1938 in St. Louis, Taylor reprised the role of Rollo in the Sanford and Son spin-off Sanford and later worked alongside Redd Foxx again on The Redd Foxx Show. He also appeared on shows like What's Happening!! and 227. He's survived by his wife, Loretta, four daughters, and two sons among other family members.
Janice Freeman -- a standout contestant from The Voice Season 13 -- passed away unexpectedly at the age of 33 on March 2. The singer made an impression during her time on the show with both her gritty soulful tones and personal spirit of survival. She had beaten cervical cancer by the time she auditioned for the show and vowed to forge a better future for herself, husband, and young daughter. Freeman joined Miley Cyrus' team and made it all way up to the Top 11. Her family revealed that she died of a blood clot that traveled to her heart. Freeman is survived by her husband Dion and daughter Hannah.
Luke Perry died at age 52 on March 4. Perry, who played Archie Andrews' beloved father Fred on The CW series Riverdale, had suffered a massive stroke the week prior. Perry rose to stardom in the 1990s playing heartthrob Dylan McKay on the iconic teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210, but he maintained a presence in film, such as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, while also making turns in TV dramas like Oz and Body of Proof. Raised in Ohio, Perry moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting after high school and never looked back. He starred in dozens of memorable pop culture properties, including Will & Grace and The Simpsons, where he participated in a good-natured lampooning of his own heartthrob image. Perry is survived by his children, Jack and Sophie; his mother, Ann Bennett; and siblings Tom Perry and Amy Coder.
Jan-Michael Vincent passed away on Feb. 10 from cardiac arrest; news of his death was reported March 8. He was 74. Vincent was best known for his work as the helicopter pilot Stringfellow Hawke on the CBS action series Airwolf -- a role that made him the highest paid television actor at the time. Although Hawke was his most recognizable role, Vincent enjoyed a steady career in TV and film that spanned three decades. His credits include shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Nash Bridges,and the mini-series The Winds of War (for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination), as well as the film Hooper opposite Burt Reynolds.
Veteran film and TV actor Richard Erdman died on March 16 at the age of 93. Erdman's career in film began in 1944, when his contract with Warner Bros. resulted in his feature debut as a supporting character in Mr. Skeffington. He would later star in memorable turns in Cry Danger, Stalag 17, and Tora! Tora! Tora! He also starred in one of The Twilight Zone's most memorable episodes, "A Kind of Stopwatch," and spent decades lending his vocal talents to animated shows like Space Stars and Popeye and Son. Most recently, he appeared as Leonard in Community and had a guest spot on Dr. Ken. He was predeceased by his wife Sharon Randall and daughter Erica.
Actress Georgia Engel passed away at the age of 70 on April 12. Engel was best known for her role as the tinny-toned Georgette Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but she was also celebrated for her guest appearance as Pat on Everybody Loves Raymond. Engel's career got off to an auspicious start following her 1971 feature film debut in Taking Off, as she earned a BAFTA nomination for her work. Other notable credits for Engel included Mitzi Maloney in The Betty White Show, Loretta Smoot in Goodtime Girls, Shirley Burleigh in Coach, and her guest role as Mamie on Hot In Cleveland. The cause of her death was not immediately revealed.
Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes on CBS primetime soap Dallas for 14 seasons, died April 21, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 83. Kercheval was one of only two cast members (the other being Larry Hagman's J.R. Ewing) to appear in every single episode during the original series' run from 1978 to 1991; he later reprised his role in TNT's 2012 revival. The actor, who starred on stage in Cabaret and the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, also appeared in episodes of Starsky and Hutch, Diagnosis Murder, and The Love Boat, as well as movies like Network and The Seven-Ups.
Actor Larry "Flash" Jenkins died on April 25 at the age of 63. The film and TV veteran suffered a heart attack, his representatives confirmed to Entertainment Weekly. Jenkins was best known for his film appearances in Ferris Bueller's Day Off as one of the garage hops who took Cameron's dad's Ferrari for a spin, and as the ex-convict "Gummy" in Fletch. He also had several recurring rolls on TV, including as Lynwood Scott in Bay City Blues and Lyman Whittaker in Finder of Lost Loves, as well as appearances on M.A.S.H., Home Improvement, and The Shield. He is survived by a son.
Oscar-nominated director John Singleton died April 29 at age 51, nearly two weeks after suffering a stroke. Singleton is perhaps best known as the acclaimed writer and director of the 1991 crime drama Boyz N the Hood -- for which he earned two Academy Award nominations, becoming the first black filmmaker nominated for a Best Director Oscar. He also wrote and directed Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, Shaft, and Baby Boy. Singleton was celebrated for work behind the lens of the 1997 historical drama Rosewood and 2005 crime drama Four Brothers, and he helmed several studio pictures, including 2 Fast 2 Furious and Abduction. On TV, he directed episodes of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Empire, and Billions. In 2017, Singleton co-created the FX series Snowfall.
Peter Mayhew, the longtime actor behind Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies, died April 30. He was 74. Mayhew portrayed the wookiee -- Han Solo's co-pilot and second-in-command -- beginning with the very first movie back in 1977. He later reprised the role in the third prequel film and most recently in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in 2015. Mayhew then handed the role over to Joonas Suotamo for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. While he recently retired from playing the role, he served as a "Chewbacca consultant" but still remained Chewie inside and out through spirit. Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and his three children.
Peggy Lipton, the Golden Globe-winning Mod Squad actress who played diner owner Norma Jennings on Twin Peaks, died May 11. She was 72. Her death from cancer was announced by her daughters, Kidada and Rashida Jones. Lipton rose to fame as undercover "hippie cop" Julie Barnes in the hit counterculture series The Mod Squad, which ran from 1968 to 1973 and launched a young Lipton to "it girl" status. She earned four Golden Globe nominations for her work, including a win in 1971. In 1990, after a time away from the spotlight, Lipton landed the role of Norma in David Lynch's cult TV series Twin Peaks, a role she later reprised in the 2017 revival. She returned to her other career-making franchise with a cameo appearance in the 1999 Mod Squad film. Lipton's other recent film credits include When in Rome and A Dog's Purpose, as well as TV shows like Alias and Crash.
Doris Day, iconic film star of the 1950s and '60s who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Pillow Talk, died May 13. She was 97. Born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, Day got her start in Hollywood as a big band singer who scored her first No. 1 hit with "Sentimental Journey" in 1945. On the strength of her voice, Day, who had no acting experience, was offered a starring role in 1948's Romance on the High Seas. She became one of the era's most prolific film actresses, starring in movie musicals like Lullaby of Broadway and Calamity Jane and dramas like Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, for which she memorably sang "Que Sera, Sera." Though she was marketed as a squeaky-clean girl next door, the actress herself described that image as "unfortunate," and she found success pushing back against her reputation in movies like Pillow Talk, the first of three romantic comedies she starred in opposite Rock Hudson. From 1966 to 1973, Day starred as a widowed mother in CBS sitcom The Doris Day Show. In her later years, Day was a committed activist for animal rights. She was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.
Comedic actor Tim Conway passed away at the age of 85 on May 14 of complications associated with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. Conway was perhaps best known for his Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning work on The Carol Burnett Show in the mid '70s but had also added to his substantial trophy collection in 1996 and 2008 for his supporting roles as Kenny in Coach and Bucky Bright in 30 Rock. Of his long-lived career in showbusiness, Conway once said, "I don't feature myself as being the head man. I would much rather stand in the background and make small funny things than be up at the head of the class."
Gloria Vanderbilt -- the heiress, fashion icon, and actress who reentered the spotlight in recent years as mother of broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper -- died June 17 of stomach cancer. She was 95. Daughter of railroad heir Reginald Vanderbilt and Gloria Morgan, Vanderbilt appeared on Broadway and on television series like Studio One in Hollywood and Playhouse 90. Most of her TV appearances spanned the late 1950s to early 1960s, but Vanderbilt did return to television as herself in a 1981 episode of The Love Boat. An artist, writer, and fashion icon, she was labeled "a feminine version of the Renaissance Man" by Life magazine in 1968. In 2016, Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper were the subjects of HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, which featured mother and son examining Vanderbilt's life and legacy in a series of candid conversations. In a eulogy that aired on CNN following her death, Cooper said, "Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman who loved life and lived it on her own terms. What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. What an incredible woman."
Actress Stephanie Niznit died at the age of 52 on June 23 of unknown causes. The actress was known for her work as Perim in Star Trek: Insurrection and as Nina Feeney in Everwood. Niznikalso starred in the mystery-action series Vanishing Son and had recurring roles in Diagnosis Murder as well as a regular role in the short-lived family adventure drama series Life Is Wild. She also appeared in guest roles in some of TV's most popular dramas including Grey's Anatomy, CSI: Miami, and Lost.
Beth Chapman, who starred alongside her husband Duane "Dog" Chapman on the reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter, died June 26 from throat cancer. She was 51. "It's 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake up to go hike Koko Head mountain. Only today, she hiked the stairway to heaven. We all love you, Beth. See you on the other side," her husband said on Twitter. The Chapmans rose to fame via the A&E reality series Dog the Bounty Hunter, which followed them as they tracked down bail jumpers in Hawaii and Colorado. The series ran from 2003 to 2012. They also starred in a spin-off called Dog and Beth: On the Hunt from 2013 to 2015, which was followed in 2017 by a special called Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives, which documented Beth's battle with cancer. She'll appear posthumously in a new series, Dog's Most Wanted, on WGN in 2020. She's survived by her husband; four children, Dominic, Cecily, Bonnie Jo and Garry; and 14 grandchildren.
Actor Billy Drago passed away on June 26 at the age of 73. Drago was best known for his villainous role as real-life mobster Frank Nitti in 1987's The Untouchables, but his career spanned decades as he starred in dozens of films and television series after breaking onto the scene in the late 1970s. On TV, the actor played John Bly on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and Barbas in the original Charmed, and he made memorable guest appearances on shows like The X-Files and Supernatural. Drago's other notable film roles include Papa Jupiter in The Hills Have Eyes, Ramon Cota in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, and Deputy Mather in Clint Eastwood's 1985 Western Pale Rider.
Paul Benjamin passed away on June 28 at 81 years old, Spike Lee announced via Instagram on July 2. Benjamin was best known for playing ML, one of the three corner men who provided social commentary in Lee's seminal film Do The Right Thing. His other film credits included Midnight Cowboy, Escape From Alcatraz, CBS's 1979 telefilm I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and John Singleton's Rosewood. He also appeared in a number of shows like ER, Law & Order, and The Shield.
Actor Eddie Jones passed away on July 6. He was 84. Jones was best known for his work as Pa Kent in TV's Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, but he also enjoyed several memorable small-screen turns in shows like The Equalizer, Dark Shadows, Sneakers, and The Invisible Man. In movies, he made his feature film debut in 1978's Bloodbrothers and went on to appear in films like The Grifters, A League of Their Own, Seabiscuit, and The Terminal.
Actor Cameron Boyce passed away on July 6 at the age of 20. The young actor's family confirmed the news of his death in a statement, explaining that he died in his sleep as a result of a seizure related to a medical condition he was being treated for. Boyce was perhaps best known for his work as Carlos on the Disney Channel's Descendants films and Descendants: Wicked World TV series and had completed work on Descendants 3 prior to his passing. He was also well known for his role as Luke Ross on Disney's family comedy series Jessie. Boyce also starred in Disney Junior's animated series Jack and the Never Land Pirates and Disney XD's Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything. He could also be seen in the films like Mirrors,Grown Ups, and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer and was tapped to star in HBO's Mrs. Fletcher and the TV follow-up to American Satan titled Paradise City.
Actor Rip Torn died on July 9 at the age of 88. Torn, a Texas native, got his start in show business in the mid-'50s and was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role as Marsh in 1983's Cross Creek. In 1996, he won his first and only Emmy for his turn as Artie in The Larry Sanders Show and was nominated five additional times for his work on the series. The actor, known for his husky baritone voice and gift for deadpan, notched three more Emmy nominations for his appearance in the 1985 true-crime miniseries The Atlanta Child Murders, his guest role in Chicago Hope, and for his guest role as Don Geiss in NBC's hit comedy series 30 Rock. On the silver screen, Torn was also known for his work in films like Payday, Defending Your Life, Men In Black, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. The actor reportedly passed away peacefully in his Connecticut home in the company of his wife, actress Amy Wright, and two daughters.
Actress Denise Nickerson died on July 11 following a stroke. She was 62. Nickerson was best known for her role as Violet Beauregard in the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The actress also starred on the small screen as Amy Jennings in the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows and as Allison in the educational series The Electric Company. Her final role before she quit acting was the 1978 film Zero to Sixty.
Actor Rutger Hauer died on July 19 at the age of 75. The Golden Globe winner was best known for his role as Roy Batty in 1982's Blade Runner but was also celebrated for his work in the British TV film Escape from Sobibor and HBO's Fatherland. The thespian's sprawling career in film and television began in the late '60s, when he earned the title role in the Dutch series Floris, and he went on to make his mark in movies like The Hitcher, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman Begins, Sin City, and Hobo with a Shotgun, to name a few. He also appeared in several recurring TV roles in series like True Blood and Channel Zero. The actor passed away in his home in the Netherlands from an undisclosed illness.
Actor Gabe Khouth, who played Sneezy, aka Mr. Clark, on ABC's Once Upon a Time, died July 23. He was 46. Actor Peter Kelamis shared on Twitter that Khouth died after apparently suffering a cardiac arrest during a motorcycle ride. The Canadian actor's other TV roles included Supernatural, Psych, iZombie, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and, most recently, ABC's The Crossing. Khouth also appeared in a number of TV movies and voiced roles in shows like Fruit Ninja and Beyblade Burst.
Actor Peter Fonda, who co-wrote, produced, and starred in the 1969 film Easy Rider, for which he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, died Friday, Aug. 16 at his home in Los Angeles. The son of legendary actor Henry Fonda, younger brother of actress Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget Fonda was 79. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer. Born on Feb. 23, 1940, Fonda was part of the counter-culture of the 1960s. In addition to his nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Easy Rider, he also received an Oscar nod for Best Actor for 1997's Ulee's Gold. For his performance in The Passion of Ayn Rand, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
Speed racer Jessi Combs died at the age of 39 on Aug. 27. Known as the "fastest woman on four wheels," Combs was reportedly attempting to break a speeding record when she crashed into a dry lake in Oregon's Alvord Desert. Combs had taken her love of jet cars to the small screen on several occasions, including appearances on Mythbusters, Jay Leno's Garage, and as a host of TLC's Overhaulin'.
Valerie Harper, who won four Emmys playing the iconic role of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Rhoda, died Friday, Aug. 30, according to ABC. She was 80. Harper had battled first lung and then brain cancer over the last several years, as well as leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. Following her long career as Rhoda, Harper starred in the NBC series Valerie, as well as made appearances on shows like Touched by an Angel, 2 Broke Girls, and Drop Dead Diva. She eventually reunited with her Mary Tyler Moore co-stars Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, and Georgia Engel on White's series Hot in Cleveland and appeared on Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. Additionally, she lent her voice to various episodes of The Simpsons.
Haley Smith, who competed on Season 11 of American Idol, died Aug. 31 at age 26. Entertainment Weekly reported that Smith's death resulted from a motorcycle crash in Millinocket, Maine. A native of Utah, Smith made it through Colorado auditions in 2012 but was eliminated in the second round in Hollywood.
Chris March, who placed fourth on Project Runway Season 4 and went on to become a celebrated designer, died September 5 at age 56 from a heart attack. After appearing on Project Runway in 2007, March returned to the franchise to star in the All-Star Challenge TV special in 2009 and Project Runway All Stars series from 2014-2016. He also had his own Bravo show, Mad Fashion, that aired in 2011, documenting his life. Though he lost to Christian Siriano on Project Runway, he flourished as a designer, creating garments for Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Meryl Streep, who wore gowns by March to the Oscars and Golden Globes in 2010.
Actor John Wesley died at the age of 72 after a long battle with multiple myeloma, Deadline reported on September 8. The actor enjoyed a long career in TV, films, and theater, with memorable appearances in series like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In the Heat of the Night, Martin, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Wesley was also the Artistic and Producing Director of the Southern California Black Repertory Company and was celebrated for his work in short films.
Journalist Cokie Roberts died Sept. 17 from complications due to breast cancer. She was 75. Roberts was ABC News' chief congressional analyst and worked for the network for over 30 years. She was also a senior news analyst for NPR and the author of several bestselling books. Roberts won numerous TV and journalism awards, including an Emmy, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. She was considered a pioneer for women in journalism. Born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs on Dec. 27, 1943, she was the daughter of Hale and Lindy Boggs, both of whom represented Louisiana in the House of Representatives. Roberts is survived by her husband of 53 years, journalist Steven V. Roberts; her children, Lee Roberts and Rebecca Roberts; and several grandchildren.
Suzanne Whang, a host and narrator on HGTV's House Hunters, died Sept. 17. She was 56. Whang was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and in 2011 was told she had less than a year to live, but she beat the disease for years until it returned in October 2018. Initially the first onscreen host on the HGTV show, she transitioned into a role as off-camera narrator, becoming known for her smooth, soothing style that helped calm anxious homebuyers and viewers alike. Whang was also a stand-up comedian and actress who starred in the TV series From Here on OUT and appeared in shows like Las Vegas, Criminal Minds, Arrested Development, Brothers and Sisters, and NYPD Blue.
Actor Aron Eisenberg died on Sept. 21 at the age of 50, his wife Malissa Longo confirmed in a Facebook post. Eisenberg was best known for his frequently recurring role as Ferengi Starfleet officer Nog in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. However, he also appeared as other characters throughout the Star Trek universe, including Kar in Star Trek: Voyager and Fnaxnor in Star Trek: Renegades. He also enjoyed guest roles in other series, including The Wonder Years, Tales from the Crypt, and The Secret World of Alex Mack.
Actor Sid Haig died Sept. 21 from complications associated with an unspecified accident. He was 80. The actor was best known for his role as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpsesfilms, including The Devil's Rejects and a part in 3 From Hell that had to be reduced as a result of his health problems. Haig also appeared in Zombie's films Halloween and The Lords of Salem. In addition, he worked multiple times with Quentin Tarantino, who cast him in Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol. 2.
Actor and writer Jan Merlin died on Sept. 20 at the age of 94. Merlin was best known for his work on the small screen in series like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, The Rough Riders, Kitty Foyle, and Laramie, and he also starred in films like Hell Bent for Leather and Cole Younger, Gunfighter. He won a Daytime Emmy in 1975 for his work as a writer on Another World, and he co-wrote several books on Hollywood history, including Hanging with Billy Budd and Troubles in a Golden Eye.
Pioneering actress and singer Diahann Carroll died Oct. 4 at 84 after a battle with cancer. She was the first black woman to win a Tony for best actress in a leading role, which she received in 1962 for her performance in the musical No Strings, and the first black woman to star in a non-stereotypical role on a primetime network series on the sitcom Julia, which ran from 1968 to 1971. She was also known for her groundbreaking role as diva Dominique Deveraux on the '80s soap opera Dynasty.
Comedian Rip Taylor died at age 84 on Oct. 6. Taylor, known as"The King of Confetti" and "The Crying Comedian," became famous for dousing his audience with confetti, a gag he developed by accident on The Merv Griffin Show where his last-minute decision to save a bombing routine by tearing up colored note cards turned into a full-time schtick. With appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Jackie Gleason's variety show, andThe Gong Show, Taylor racked up more than two thousand small-screen credits during his career. He also hosted the beauty show parody The $1.98 Beauty Show for two seasons from 1978 to 1980. In addition to his television career, Taylor appeared in many films including the first three Jackass movies, The Gong Show Movie, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, and Indecent Proposal.
Karen Pendleton, one of the original Mouseketeers from The Mickey Mouse Club, died of a heart attack Oct. 6 in Fresno, California. She was 73. Pendleton, born Aug. 1, 1946, was one of the youngest cast members on the show; she appeared on the seriesthroughout its entire first run, from 1955-59, and was one of only nine cast members to do so. However, Pendleton left show business after her stint on the series and was later paralyzed from the waist down after a car crash in 1983. She later earned her bachelor's and master's degrees and worked at a women's shelter. She was also an advocate for those with disabilities.
Prolific actor Robert Forster died Oct. 11 at age 78 after a brief battle with brain cancer. Forster was best known for his role as bail bondsman Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. However, he also appeared in over 100 films across his storied career, including Reflections in A Golden Eye, Mulholland Dr., Me, Myself & Irene, and more. On television, he had roles on Karen Sisco, Heroes, Breaking Bad, and Twin Peaks: The Return.
Saved By the Bell creator Sam Bobrick died Oct. 11 after suffering a stroke. He was 87. The late screenwriter also penned scripts for a number of popular shows, including Captain Kangaroo, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Flintstones, Get Smart, The Kraft Music Hall, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Bobrick was also a celebrated playwright, having written over 40 works, including Norman, Is That You?, Hamlet II (Better Than The Original), and The Psychic, which won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award. He is survived by his wife Julie; children Lori, Stefanie and Joey (Linda); grandchildren Ariel and Josh; and pet Albert the Wonder Pug.
Actor John Clarke died on Oct. 16 at the age of 88 from complications associated with pneumonia. Clarke was best known as Mickey Horton on Days of Our Lives, a role he played from 1965-2004. He also starred as Officer Joe Huddleston on TV's The New Breed and appeared as a variety of characters on the long-running Western series Death Valley Days. Clarke, who'd been nominated for an Emmy for Best Daytime Actor in 1979, won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys in 2004.
Bill Macy, who played Walter Findlay on Maude, died Oct. 17. He was 97. Macy was best known for his role as Walter, the fourth husband of Bea Arthur's Maude, in the All in the Family spin-off, which ran from 1972 to 1978. His other TV roles included two episodes of Seinfeld and guest appearances in L.A. Law, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, and Las Vegas. Macy's film credits include The Jerk, The Holiday, and Analyze This.
Character actor Josip Elic died Oct. 21 at age 98. Elic was known for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in which he memorably carried Jack Nicholson on his shoulders; his other movie roles included The Producers and Black Rain. On TV, he played two characters on Rod Serling's original Twilight Zone and appeared in The Phil Silvers Show, Peter Gunn, and The Untouchables.
Robert Evans, the legendary former head of production at Paramount, died Oct. 26 at the age of 89. After acting in films like Man of a Thousand Faces and The Sun Also Rises, Evans went on to find success as a studio executive, ushering in classic films such as The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby, and Chinatown. His headline-grabbing personal life was chronicled, along with his professional highs and lows, in the 2002 documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, based on his 1994 autobiography of the same name. Evans wrote a second memoir, The Fat Lady Sang, in 2013. He also voiced an animated version of himself in the short-lived Comedy Central sitcom Kid Notorious. Evans' final producing credit for a feature film was for 2003 romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
Comedian and actor John Witherspoon died Oct. 30 at the age of 77, his family announced on social media. Witherspoon was best known for his roles as Mr. Jones in the Fridayfilm series and as "Pops" in The Wayans Bros. TV series, but he also appeared in films likeHouse Party, Boomerang,and Bulworth. Recently, he starred in TV's The First Family and Black Jesus and voiced the character of Robert Freeman, aka Granddad, in The Boondocks. Witherspoon earned a BET Comedy Award nomination for his work on The Tracy Morgan Show in 2004.
Rick Ludwin, the NBC executive responsible for bringing Seinfeld to the air, died Nov. 10 after a brief illness. He was 71. Ludwin oversaw late night and specials for NBC for over 30 years. His tenure included the early days of Saturday Night Live, as well as seeing Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon host The Tonight Show. Ludwin's most notable achievement may be getting Seinfeld, which tested historically low for NBC in 1989, on the air. He canceled a Bob Hope special to get the fledgling comedy four extra episodes in its first season, which gave the show enough juice to make it to Season 2 and set the comedy on the path to become one of the most lucrative shows in all of television.
Jane Galloway Heitz, a casting director and actress best known for her work on Glee died of congestive heart failure on Nov. 13. She was 78. Galloway Heitz had a small but impactful role on the Fox dramedy as the glee club director who inspired Will Schuster (Matthew Morrison) to take over the glee club at McKinley High. She was even featured in the last shot of the show. As a casting agent, she helped boost the early careers of Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, and Eric Stonestreet.
Academy Award-nominated character actor Michael J. Pollard died Nov. 20 due to cardiac arrest. He was 80. Pollard's acting career spanned seven decades after his breakout role in Bonnie and Clyde, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and included roles in Scrooged, Dick Tracy, Roxanne, and many more films. His TV credits include guest-starring spots on Lost in Space and Star Trek. He was also the inspiration behind Michael J. Fox's middle initial after the younger actor realized there was already a Michael Fox in the Screen Actors Guild. Pollard is survived by his daughter, Holly; son, Axel; and cousins Alicia, Joseph, Elizabeth, Julie and Peter.
Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao died Nov. 27 after collapsing on the set of the Chinese reality competition series Chase Me. He was 35. Gao was known for his role as Magnus Bane in 2013 movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and also appeared in television series like Momo Love, Never Give Up Dodo, and God of War Zhao Yun. His final film performance was in the movie Shanghai Fortress.
Actress Shelley Morrison died at the age of 83 on Dec. 1. Morrison was best known for her role as the sharp-witted maid Rosario Salazar on Will & Grace, a recurring role she portrayed throughout all eight seasons of the show's original run, from 1999-2006. She also enjoyed a series-long role as Sister Sixto from The Flying Nun and appeared in films like Fools Rush In and Shark Tale.
Dorothy "D.C." Fontana, Star Trek's first female writer, died Dec. 2. She was 80. A pioneering figure in sci-fi television, Fontana wrote a number of the franchise's most memorable episodes, including "Journey to Babel" from the original Star Trek series; she also co-wrote the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation with the brand's creator, Gene Roddenberry. Fontana's writing credits also included Dallas, The Waltons, Bonanza, Babylon 5, and War of the Words. She was honored with the Writers Guild of America's Morgan Cox Award in 1997 and 2002.
Actor Robert Walker Jr. died Dec. 5. He was 79. Walker was best known for his guest appearance as the creepy titular teenager in "Charlie X," the second-ever episode of Star Trek. He had a long career as a guest star in many different TV shows, including L.A. Law, Murder, She Wrote, Dallas, The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo, and Naked City, among many others. He starred in the '60s movies Ensign Pulver and Young Billy Young, and had a supporting role in the landmark 1969 movie Easy Rider. He won a Golden Globe in 1964 for New Star of the Year -- Actor for his performance in The Ceremony. He was the son of Strangers on a Train star Robert Walker and Oscar-winner Jennifer Jones.
Ron Leibman, a talented actor whose career in show business spanned six decades, died Dec. 6. He was 82. Born in New York in 1937, Leibman won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning two-part play Angels in America, and he took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the short-lived '70s television series Kaz, which he also created and co-wrote. Throughout his career he appeared in films like Where's Poppa?, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Norma Rae. On TV he had recurring roles on NBC's long-running drama Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit, HBO's critically acclaimed The Sopranos, and NBC's popular sitcom Friends, in which he portrayed Dr. Leonard Green, the no-nonsense father of Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green. He is survived by his wife, Emmy-winning actress Jessica Walter.
Long-time Sesame Street actor and puppeteer Caroll Spinneydied at the age of 85 on Dec. 8. Spinney was best known for his voice and puppet work with the characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, from the series' 1969 premiere until his retirement in 2018. Spinney won several Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on the series as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.
Prolific TV and film star René Auberjonois died at the age of 79 on Dec. 8. Auberjonois enjoyed a long screen career that dated back to the early '70s, when he starred as Father John Mulcahy in the film M*A*S*H. He was perhaps best known for his role as Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but he was also celebrated for his work in other series, including his Emmy-nominated turn as Clayton Endicott III in TV's Benson. He was also nominated for an Emmy in 2001 for his guest role as Judge Mantz in The Practice. In addition to his on-camera work, Auberjonois was an accomplished voice actor who could be heard in films like The Little Mermaid and animated series like The Legend of Tarzan,Justice League, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Archer.
Marie Fredriksson, the breathy lead singer of the 1980s and 1990s Swedish pop duo Roxette, died Dec. 9 after living with cancer for 17 years. She was 61. Fredriksson, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2002, continued recording and touring until 2016. She lent her signature rich, whispery voice to tunes like "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart," and "Joyride," but no song captured Fredriksson's gifts more than Roxette's biggest hit, "Must Have Been Love" from the 1990 Pretty Woman soundtrack.
Former child actor Philip McKeon, who was the older brother of actress Nancy McKeon, died Dec. 10 after battling a longtime illness. He was 55. The elder McKeon was best known for his role as Tommy Hyatt, the loving son of Linda Lavin's title character on Alice, a role he played from 1976-1985. The CBS sitcom was based on the 1974 Martin Scorsese romantic comedy Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. After the sitcom came to an end, McKeon worked in the news department of a Los Angeles radio station for a decade and then moved to Texas to be closer to family. Other acting roles include appearances on CHiPs, Fantasy Island and The Love Boat.
Actor Danny Aiello died Dec. 13 at the age of 86. He was best known for his performance as pizzeria owner Sal Fragione in Spike Lee's seminal 1989 film Do the Right Thing, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He made his film debut in 1973's Bang the Drum Slowly, and appeared in dozens of movies, including classics like The Godfather Part II (where he ad-libbed the famous line "Michael Corleone says hello!"), Once Upon a Time in America, Moonstruck, and Jacob's Ladder. He was also known for playing Madonna's father in the "Papa Don't Preach" music video.
Lee Mendelson, the executive producer of more than 40 Peanuts TV specials, died Dec. 25 at his home in Hillsborough, California, following a long battle with lung cancer. He was 86. After forming his own production company in 1963, he produced the documentary A Man Named Mays, about Willie Mays. Shortly thereafter came 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas, which launched the Peanuts gang into TV history. Mendelson won 12 Emmys over the course of his career, most recently for It's Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown!, in 2015. His work with animator Lee Melendez also brought him four Peabody Awards, an Oscar nomination, and two Grammy nominations.
Don Imus, the radio personality famously fired from CBS Radio and MSNBC in 2007 after making racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, died Dec. 27. He was 79. His cause of death was not disclosed, but he had previously been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Imus was best known for his three-hour radio program, Imus in the Morning, which inspired other shock jocks like Howard Stern. Born in 1940, Imus got into radio following a stint in the Marines, honing his brand of say-anything outrageousness on local stations in Southern California, where he was born and raised. Imus in the Morning debuted on WNBC-AM in New York in 1971, and at its height, the program became a template for other hosts. After his firing from CBS Radio and MSNBC in 2007, he signed a multiyear contract with Fox Business Network in 2009 to simulcast Imus in the Morning, andFox anchors appeared on the show. He retired in 2018.