Celebrities and personalities who passed away in 2020

2020 has been a difficult year for all us.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has claimed thousands of lives and many have been forced to go on lockdown for extended periods of time. Some of us had to adjust to working from home, essential workers had no choice but to sacrifice their health, plenty businesses closed down, and many lost their jobs altogether.

As we endure in the face of the pandemic, calamities, and economic uncertainty, many sought refuge in the cultural sphere — be it watching online concerts, bingeing films and series on Netflix, following vloggers, or joining the TikTok craze.

But the arts and entertainment industries were not immune to tragedy. So many cultural icons passed away this year, and many tears were shed by those who hold them dear.

Before the year ends, let’s look back on those we lost, remember the legacy they left behind, and celebrate their best moments in life.

1. Kobe and Gianna Bryant

The death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash shocked the world in January. The father and daughter were on their way to a basketball game when disaster struck, taking with it a legend of the sport and a young talent full of promise.


Kobe won five NBA championships and a Most Valuable Player trophy in 20 seasons of wearing the Los Angeles Lakers’ purple and gold. Nicknamed the Black Mamba, he is known for his many game-winners and a work ethic which inspired many to tirelessly hone their craft.

Gianna idolized her dad and dreamed of attending the University of Connecticut, the most successful women’s basketball program in the United States. Fondly called “Mambacita,” she wanted to become one of the best players in the WNBA and create her own legacy as Kobe’s hoops heir.

2. Chadwick Boseman

The sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman, who played the iconic Marvel superhero Black Panther, also shocked the world in August. The 43-year-old actor died of colon cancer, a disease he fought privately for years.

Aside from Wakanda ruler King T’Challa, Chadwick is known for playing other African-American icons such as baseball player Jackie Robinson, singer James Brown, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Among his final films include “Da 5 Bloods,” “21 Bridges,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Marvel recently announced that his role in Black Panther will not be recast to pay tribute to his legacy as an actor who admirably represented his people with honor and dignity.

3. Emman Nimedez

The popular Filipino vlogger passed away in August after battling acute myeloid leukemia. He announced in May that he was diagnosed with the disease.

Throughout his treatment, Nimedez kept his fans updated with his condition. He stayed strong and remained positive that he could beat the illness.


The YouTube star began making videos in 2011 but rose to fame in 2017 when some of his works went viral. His channel has 2.75 million subscribers. His song “Teka Lang” is the most streamed Pinoy hip-hop song on Spotify this year.

4. Lloyd Cadena

After the death of Emman Nimedez, the vlogging community mourned another loss with the passing of Lloyd Cadena. He was only 26 years old.

His family said he tested positive for COVID-19, but he suffered a heart attack in his sleep less than a week after getting confined to the hospital with high fever and cough.

Fondly called Kween LC by his fans, Cadena started vlogging in 2011 and he became known for his charm, philanthropy, and kindness. His YouTube channel has 5.84 million subscribers.


5. Diego Maradona

The Argentine football legend died of a heart attack in November after battling health issues. He was 60 years old.

Argentina declared three days of national mourning after his death, which saw Argentinians go out in droves to pay their final respects to their sports hero.

Maradona was catapulted to superstardom after leading Argentina to a World Cup title in 1986. His team battled England in the final, which ended with a score of 2-1. He scored both goals, with the first later becoming known as “Hand of God.”

6. Eddie Van Halen

The rock legend, who founded the band Van Halen together with his drummer brother Alex, died of cancer in October. He was 65 years old.

He is considered one of rock music’s best guitar players and is known for popularizing the finger tapping technique.

Van Halen became one of the most successful American rock bands in the 1970s and 1980s. Among their popular songs include “Jump,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” and “Panama.”



7. Jamir Garcia

The music world was stunned when Vladimir “Jamir” Garcia, the frontman of heavy metal band Slapshock, died in November at 42 years old.

He was found lifeless in his home and was rushed to the hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival.

Many Filipino musicians paid tribute to Jamir, the voice of the band which popularized new metal in the Philippines. Among their popular songs are “Agent Orange,” “Ngayon Na,” “Langit,” “Anino Mo,” “Salamin,” and “Luha.”

8. April Boy Regino

The OPM icon passed away in November. He was 59 years old.

April Boy was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, but in 2013 he announced that was already cancer-free. Two years later, he shared that he was suffering from diabetic retinopathy, a condition which causes loss of vision and blindness. He revealed in 2016 that his left eye had gone blind and his right eye could only see some light.

Popular in the 90s for his swagger, he was known for his criss-crossed arms and signature cap-throwing during his performances. Among his hit songs include “Di Ko Kayang Tanggapin,” “Paano Ang Puso Ko,” and “Umiiyak Ang Puso Ko.”

9. Dennis Garcia

Before Jamir’s and April Boy’s passing, OPM lost a legend early in 2020.

Dennis Garcia, the founding member of iconic Filipino band Hotdog, died in January at the age of 69.

With his younger brother Rene, the two Garcias wrote some of the biggest OPM hits including “Manila,” “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko,” and “Bongga Ka Day.”



10. Naya Rivera

Fans of music comedy-drama series “Glee” were shocked with the death of Naya Rivera in July. She was 33 years old.

She was initially reported missing after going for a swim in a California lake with her son, who was found alone in a rented boat. She was presumed to have drowned and her body was recovered days later.

Rivera who was known for playing high school cheerleader Santana in “Glee.” She appeared in several television shows in the US, such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Baywatch,” and “Step Up.”

11. Park Ji Hoon

The Korean actor passed away due to stomach cancer in May. He was 31 years old.

His family confirmed his death in an Instagram post and thanked his fans for their support.

Park Ji Hoon worked as a model before appearing in the K-dramas “Chicago Typewriter” and “Dal Soon’s Spring.”

12. Peque Gallaga

The film industry showed an outpouring of grief when the award-winning Filipino director passed away in May. He was 76 years old.



A day before his death, Gallaga’s family confirmed that he was hospitalized for “complications arising from past health conditions.”

He was best known for his 1982 film “Oro Plata Mata,” which became a classic of Philippine cinema. His other notable works include “Magic Temple,” “Scorpio Nights,” and “Magic Kingdom.”

13. Ramon Revilla Sr.

The former senator and film actor died of heart failure in June. He was 93 years old.

Revilla was best known for his roles in “Nardong Putik” and “Pepeng Agimat.” He also won the FAMAS award for Best Actor in 1973 for “Hulihin Si Tiyagong Akyat” and was hailed as the Box Office King in 1979.

As a legislator, he served in the Senate from 1992 to 2004 and became known as the “Father of the Public Works Act” for authoring Republic Act 8150 or the Public Works and Highways Infrastructure Program.



14. Edgar Quizon

The son of the late Comedy King Dolphy, Edgar Quizon, passed away in December. He was 63 years old.

He died of pneumonia and his family had him cremated.

He appeared in the films “Dancing Master,” “Dolphy’s Angels,” “Good Morning Professor,” and “May Pulis, May Pulis sa Ilalim ng Tulay.”

15. Sean Connery

The award-winning British actor who played the fictional spy James Bond in seven films died in November. He was 90 years old.

His widow revealed that he suffered from dementia in his final years.

Connery, who was knighted in 2000, won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in “The Untouchables.”

16. Diana Rigg

Another actor from the James Bond franchise passed away this year. Diana Rigg died in September at the age of 82.

She was popularly known for playing Teresa “Tracy” Bond, the wife of James Bond in the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

Rigg also played Lady Olenna Tyrrell, aka the sharp-tongued “Queen of Thorns,” in the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.”



17. Anita Linda

In June, the film industry lost another in icon in Anita Linda, known as the “oldest living actress” in Philippine cinema. She was 95 years old.

Born Alice Buenaflor Lake, the veteran actress won international acting accolades for her roles in the films “Lola,” “Adela,” and “Sta. Nina.”

At the age of 74, she came the oldest actress to win a FAMAS award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Ang Babae sa Bubungang Lata.”

18. Mila del Sol

The veteran Filipina actress passed away in November at the age of 97.

Born Clarita Villarba Rivera, she was among the best actresses from the Golden Age of Philippine cinema.

Among her works include “Ibong Adarna,” “Isang Ngiti Mo Lamang,” “Kuba Sa Quiapo,” “Tatlong Magdalena,” and “Kahit Wala Ka Na.”

19. Ian Holm

The award-winning British actor died of a Parkinson’s related illness in June. He was 88 years old.

He was best known for his role as Bilbo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

Holm won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as an athletics coach in “Chariots of Fire.”

20. Dave Prowse

The British actor, bodybuilder, and weightlifter passed away in November after a short illness. He was 85 years old.

Prowse was best known for playing Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. He also appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.”

As a weightlifter, he was a multiple-time British champion and represented England in the Commonwealth Games in the 1960s.


Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

21. Domingo “Menggie” Cobarrubias

The veteran Filipino actor died of pneumonia while waiting for his COVID-19 test results back in March. He was 66 years old.

He said goodbye on Facebook one day before his passing.

Cobarrubias last starred in the GMA Network series “Beautiful Justice” as President Ricardo San Jose. Among his notable works include “Jaguar,” “Sakada,” and “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis.”

22. Leila Benitez

The television and radio icon died of COVID-19 during the early weeks of the pandemic in April. She was 89 years old.

Benitez was based in New York, the first epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.

She is a former host of “Student Canteen,” the popular noontime variety show which ran for over 30 years. Known as the “First Lady of Philippine Television,” she also hosted her own program, “The Leila Benitez Celebrity Hour.”

23. Kim Idol

The comedian passed away July after battling Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a brain condition in which the blood vessels get tangled and disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen. He was 41 years old.

Back in 2015, Kim Idol revealed he had AVM. Before his death, he offered his services as a volunteer frontliner amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim performed shows in Allan K’s popular comedy bars Klownz and Zirkoh. He also appeared in “Eat Bulaga.”

24. Chi Chi DeVayne

The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star, whose real name was Zavion Michael Davenport, passed away in August. She was 34 years old.

She revealed in 2018 that was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune rheumatic disease.

Chi Chi placed in the top four of “Drag Race” Season 8 and appeared in the third season of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars.”

— LA, GMA News

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