In a year defined by a devastating pandemic, the world lost iconic defenders of civil rights, great athletes and entertainers who helped define their genres.
Many of their names hold a prominent place in the collective consciousness — RBG, Kobe, Maradona, Eddie Van Halen, Little Richard, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, Christo — but pandemic restrictions often limited the public’s ability to mourn their loss in a year that saw more than a million people die from the coronavirus.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — known as the Notorious RBG to her many admirers — was one of the many noteworthy figures who died in 2020.
The world also said goodbye to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement who died in July.
Other former political figures who died this year include Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, New York Mayor David Dinkins, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull, Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and FBI Director William S. Sessions.
Some of the year’s deaths struck down relatively young people, leaving mourners with the heartbreak of a life gone too soon.
Basketball great Kobe Bryant died along with several others in a January helicopter crash at age 41. And in a shock to fans, actor Chadwick Boseman, who inspired audiences with his portrayal of comic book superhero Black Panther, died of cancer in August at age 43.
Others in the world of arts and entertainment who died in 2020 include actors Olivia de Havilland, Kirk Douglas, Irrfan Khan, Max von Sydow, Diana Rigg, Ian Holm, Rishi Kapoor and Franca Valeri; musicians Ellis Marsalis Jr., John Prine, Bonnie Pointer, Kenny Rogers, Juliette Greco and Toots Hibbert; filmmakers Nobuhiko Obayashi, Joel Schumacher and Ivan Passer; authors Mary Higgins Clark and Clive Cussler; TV hosts Regis Philbin and Jim Lehrer; magician Roy Horn; and fashion designer Kenzo Takada.