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Updated: February 20, 2020 @ 1:55 am
A roll call of notable people who have died in 2020:
David Stern, the basketball-loving lawyer who took the NBA around the world during 30 years as its longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse, died Jan. 1. Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. He was 77.
Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory in 1956 for the New York Yankees when he threw a perfect game and the only no-hitter in World Series history, died Jan. 1. Larsen was the unlikeliest of characters to attain what so many Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off in the Fall Classic. He was 81-91 lifetime, never won more than 11 games in a season and finished an unsightly 3-21 with Baltimore in 1954, the year before he was dealt to the Yankees as part of an 18-player trade. He was 90.
Buck Henry, “The Graduate” co-writer who as screenwriter, character actor, “Saturday Night Live” host and cherished talk-show and party guest became an all-around cultural superstar of the 1960s and 70s, died Jan. 8. Henry, who also co-created the TV spy spoof “Get Smart” with Mel Brooks and others, managed to pull off the rare Hollywood coup of screenwriter-as-celebrity, partly through inserting himself in his films in small-but-memorable roles. He was 89.
Edd Byrnes, who played cool kid Kookie on the hit TV show “77 Sunset Strip,” scored a gold record with a song about his character’s hair-combing obsession and later appeared in the movie “Grease,” died Jan. 8. He was 87.
Neil Peart, the renowned drummer and lyricist from the influential Canadian band Rush, died Jan. 10. Peart placed fourth on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time, just behind Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and John Bonham. Peart’s jaw-dropping percussion skills, though, were matched by his wondrous skill with lyrics as Rush composed song after thought-provoking song that deftly explored the human condition or conjured up mysterious realms beyond the humdrum life of the band’s heyday in the 1970s, ‘80s and ’90s. Peart was precise, deliberate and skilled behind his sprawling drum kit, but his innovative lyrics helped set Rush apart from other prog rock bands. He was 67.
Terry Jones, a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, died Jan. 21. He had been suffering from dementia. With Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam, Jones formed Monty Python's Flying Circus, whose anarchic humor helped revolutionize British comedy. He was 77.
Jim Lehrer, longtime PBS NewsHour anchor, died Jan. 23. He moderated a total of 12 president debates, more than any other person in U.S. history, including all of the presidential debates in 1996 and 2000. PBS announced that Lehrer died at home. He was 85.
Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Bryant's career was remarkable for its longevity and because he played all 20 seasons with the Lakers — the most ever for one team. Bryant was the fifth player to last two full decades. He was 41.
Fred Silverman, the only TV executive who steered programming for each of the Big Three broadcast networks and who brought “All in the Family,” “Roots,” “Hawaii Five-O” and other hit series and miniseries to television during his more than three-decade career, died Jan. 30. He was 82.
John Andretti, a member of one of auto racing's most famous families and the first driver to attempt the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's 600-mile race in North Carolina on the same day, has died. Andretti made 49 consecutive IndyCar starts from 1990-92 before moving to NASCAR, where he started at least 29 races every season from 1994-2003. He won three times and helped raise money for Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis through his initiative Race 4 Riley. He was 56 and had spent the last three years battling colon cancer.
Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning "Queen of Suspense" whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world's most popular writers, died Jan. 31 at age 92. Widowed in her late 30s with five children, she became a perennial bestseller over the second half of her life, writing or co-writing "A Stranger Is Watching," "Daddy's Little Girl" and more than 50 other favorites.
Anne Cox Chambers, a newspaper heiress, diplomat and philanthropist who was one of the country's richest women, died Jan. 31 at the age of 100. Chambers, a director of Cox Enterprises Inc., promoted Jimmy Carter's political career and served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium during his presidency. Forbes estimated her net worth several years ago at nearly $17 billion. She was well known for her charitable giving.
Kirk Douglas, the intense, muscular actor with the dimpled chin who starred in "Spartacus," "Lust for Life" and dozens of other films, helped fatally weaken the blacklist against suspected Communists and reigned for decades as a Hollywood maverick and patriarch, died Feb. 5. He was 103. His granite-like strength and underlying vulnerability made the son of illiterate Russian immigrants one of the top stars of the 20th century. He appeared in more than 80 films, in roles ranging from Doc Holliday in "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" to Vincent van Gogh in "Lust for Life."
Roger Kahn, the writer who wove memoir and baseball and touched millions of readers through his romantic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in "The Boys of Summer," died Feb. 8. The author of 20 books and hundreds of articles, Kahn was best known for the 1972 best-seller that looked at his relationship with his father through their shared love of the Dodgers, an object of nostalgia for the many fans who mourned the team’s move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. He was 92.
Robert Conrad, the rugged, contentious actor who starred in the hugely popular 1960s television series "Hawaiian Eye" and "The Wild, Wild West," died Feb. 8. With his good looks and strong physique, Conrad was a rising young actor when he was chosen for the lead in "Hawaiian Eye." He became an overnight star after the show debuted in 1959. He was 84.
Orson Bean, the witty actor and comedian who enlivened the game show "To Tell the Truth" and played a crotchety merchant on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” was hit and killed by a car in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, authorities said. He was 91.
Joseph Shabalala, the founder of the South African multi-Grammy-Award-winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died Feb. 11. He was globally known for his leadership of the choral group founded in 1964 that shot to world acclaim, collaborating with Paul Simon on the “Graceland” album and many other artists. The haunting, often a cappella singing style known as isicathamiya helped to make Ladysmith Black Mambazo one of South Africa's most recognized performers on the world stage. He was 78.
Lynn Cohen, an actress best known for playing the plainspoken housekeeper and nanny Magda in “Sex and the City,” died Feb. 14. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Cohen had a long and diverse career as a stage, film and television performer. Her dozens of credits ranged from “Nurse Jackie" and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to the feature films “Across the Universe” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” She was 86.
Donald Stratton, one of the remaining USS Arizona crew members who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, died Feb. 15. Stratton was one of the survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aerial attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. More than 1,100 crew members died on the battleship. Following Stratton's death, Lou Conter and Ken Potts remain the last living members of the Arizona's crew. Stratton was 97.
Mickey Wright, the golf great with a magnificent swing who won 13 majors among her 82 victories and gave the fledgling LPGA a crucial lift, died Feb. 17. Wright joined the LPGA in 1955 and the Hall of Famer's 82 wins place her second on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth, who won 88. The Associated Press in 1999 named Wright the Female Golfer of the Century and Female Athlete of the Year in 1963 and 1964. She was 85.
Ja’Net DuBois, who played the vivacious neighbor Willona Woods on “Good Times” and composed and sang the theme song for “The Jeffersons,” has died. DuBois’ song “Movin’ on Up” provided a joyous intro to “The Jeffersons” during the show’s 10-season run.
Following Stratton's death, Lou Conter and Ken Potts remain the last living members of the Arizona's crew.
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