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In Memoriam – Remembering the TV Stars We Lost in 2020

I don’t know about you but these last 365 days sure have been rough. Fortunately, however, we’re alive to remember them. Many people unfortunately aren’t that lucky. As this turbulent year comes to a close, it’s only fitting that we take a moment to look back on some of the television stars we lost in 2020. Let’s celebrate their lives rather than mourn their loss. Chances are, they would want it that way.

In the past year, we’ve had to bid farewell to a number of notable people that have made a lasting impact on the world of television. We had to say goodbye to some of the most memorable show creators, theme song writers, soap-opera stars and starlets, sci-fi legends, western warriors, and many other fixtures of the small screen.

Here are 22 stars that we lost in 2020. Chances are, you probably didn’t even know that some of these folks died, so stick around to pay your respects.

Jerry Stiller

Perhaps best known as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, Stiller passed away this year at the age of 92. Alongside his wife, Anne Meara, he made up one-half of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara. In addition to appearing on 26 episodes of Seinfeld and fathering Ben Stiller, Jerry was also known for having a recurring role on the King of Queens as Arthur Spooner – father of Leah Remini’s character, Carrie.

Ken Osmond

You might remember him as Eddie Haskell, the obnoxious suck-up from Leave it to Beaver. He died at the age of 76 back in May. After playing Eddie for six seasons, he later reprised that role for the made-for-TV film Still the Beaver and the reboot series The New Leave it to Beaver. Later on in life, Osmond also worked as a police officer.

Carl Reiner

The legendary comic icon, co-star, and co-creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show died in June of natural causes. He was 98 years old. Reiner had a pretty prolific career in Hollywood. He won nine Primetime Emmy Awards, a Grammy and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in his multi-decade career as actor, producer and screenwriter. He starred in literally dozens of TV shows but also had a notable Broadway presence and wasn’t shy of appearing in Film. Do you remember him as Saul Bloom in the Ocean’s Eleven films?

Hugh Downs

After co-anchoring the news magazine television program 20/20 for many years, Downs retired in 1999. He was a veteran in the world of Broadcasting. He got his start in radio but quickly made the leap to television where he worked on shows like Hawkins Falls, Fran and Ollie, and Jack Parr’s The Tonight Show. Hugh earned himself seven primetime Emmy nominations during his illustrious career. Sadly he passed away in July at the age of 99.

Naya Rivera

One of the stranger deaths this year befell this young actress. At the age of 33, Rivera drowned in California’s Lake Piru in July. She rose to fame as Santana Lopez on Glee. After Glee wrapped up in 2015, she went on to play Blanca Alvarez on the Lifetime series Devious Minds. She also guest-voiced a character on American Dad in addition to serving as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Grant Imahara

Mythbusters fans received some terrible news in July when they learned that co-host and member of the show’s’ build team’, Grant Imahara, died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 49. Before signing on with Mythbusters in 2005. he had previously worked for LucasFilm’s visual effects department. In 2016, he also hosted the Netflix series White Rabbit Project.

Regis Philbin

Few television personalities have had as enduring of careers as Regis. He got his start in show business in 1955 as a page for the Tonight Show. In 1967 he became Joey Bishops side-kick on The Joey Bishop Show. He’s probably best remembered for co-hosting Live With Regis and Kathy Lee and the supremely successful trivia game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Philbin died in July at the age of 88.

Wilford Brimley

Most people recognize Brimley as the face of ‘Dia-beet-us’ awareness on those Liberty Medical commercials. He also appeared in films like The China Syndrome, Cocoon and The Natural. His first big role however was way back in 1974 when he landed the part of Horace Brimley on The Waltons. Brimley passed away in August at the age of 85.

Chadwick Boseman

When the news broke that Boseman had passed in August, the entertainment industry was rattled to it’s core. After battling colon cancer for four long painful years Chadwick lost his battle at the age of 43. Most people probably recognize him as The Black Panther but he got his start on TV with roles in shows like Fringe, ER, Law & Order and Third Watch.

Clark Middleton

He recently played Audrey Horne’s husband Charlie in the Twin Peaks revival and DMV employee Glen Carter on NBC’s The Blacklist. Middleton died in October after coming down with the West Nile Virus. He was only 63 years old.

Tom Kennedy

Kennedy was one of the reigning kings of game shows. He hosted a number of iconic shows including Name That Tune, Password Plus, Don’t Say and Split Second. In 1975 he hosted his own short-lived talk show, The Real Tom Kennedy Show.

He also dabbled in scripted series making appearances on shows like That Girl, The Ghost, Cannon and Hardcastle and Mr.s Muir. Kennedy died of natural causes in October at the age of 93.

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Stay tuned to find out who else we lost in 2020. Sadly, we still have quite a few stars to talk about.

Conchata Ferrell

She was best known for playing the housekeeper Berta on Two and a Half Men. She joined the cast of that series in 2003 and stuck with it for its entire 12-season run. For her performance, she received two Emmy nods for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Ferrell died in October at the age of 77 after having a heart attack.

Alex Trebek

Arguably one of the hardest-hitting losses of the year came in November when longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek passed away at the age of 80. He had been fighting for his life for quite some time with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek, who had previously hosted game shows like Double Dare and High Rollers, started hosting Jeopardy in 1984 when the show’s daily syndicated version launched. In total, Trebek hosted well over 8,000 episodes of the series. It’s hard to imagine anyone else ever standing behind that podium.

Terry Jones

This Welsh comedian co-created the sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Eric Idle in 1969. He made his directorial debut in 1975 with Monty Python’s Holy Grail. He subsequently directed Life of Biran and The Meaning of Life alongside Gilliam. In his later life, Jones, unfortunately, suffered from dementia. After losing his ability to speak Jones passed away in January at the age of 77.

James Lipton

After battling bladder cancer, the Inside The Actors Studio host died in March at the age of 93. Lipton created the series back in 1994 and hosted the show for 22 seasons. When the show made the move from Bravo to Ovation in 2019, he retired. Lipton also guest-starred on shows like Arrested Development and Suburgatory.

Lee Phillip Bell

Bell helped create award-winning soap operas like The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. She died in February at the age of 91. She won a Daytime Emmy in 1975 for her work on The Young and the Restless and received a Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy award in 2007. Additionally, she had hosted Chicago talk show The lee Phillip Show for some 30-plus years.

Ja’Net DuBois

Best known for playing Willona Woods on Good Times, DuBois died in February of natural causes. She was 74 years old. After playing Florida and James Evan’s next-door neighbor on the Norman Lear situation comedy from 1974 to 1979, DuBois had a recurring role on The Wayans Bros sitcom in the 1990s. Additionally, she had small roles on shows like ER, Home Improvement, and Touched by and Angel.

Lynn Cohen

Most remember her as Magda in Sex and the City. She died in February at the age of 86. Some of her other acting credits include roles on Law and Order and its various spin-offs, The Affair, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Blue Bloods just to name a few. Her final credit was in January for an episode of God Friended Me.

Robert Conrad

His heart may have given out on him in February but at least he had a long and successful life. Conrad, who was 84 when he passed, starred in dozens of TV shows throughout his multi-decade spanning career. He got his start on shows like Mat Masterson and Maverick before he starred in Hawaiian Eye on ABC for four seasons. Later on his career he starred in The Wild Wild West, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and was a also regular contestant on ABCs Battle of the Network Stars.

Orson Bean

Bean had an impressive acting career that spanned seven decades. He got his first role back in 1952 on the NBC anthology series Goodyear Television Playhouse. He’s starred in literally dozens of TV shows and films ever since. Some of his standout credits include parts in The Facts of Life, Dr. Quinn the Medicine Woman, and Being John Malkovich. He died back in February at the age of 91 after being hit by a car while he was attempting to cross the street.

Kirk Douglas

Even though he was best known for his film roles, Douglas had quite a few TV credits under his belt as well. He certainly was a versatile actor and one of the last surviving actors from the golden age of cinema. He starred in quite a few TV films, mini-series, and guest-starred on series like The Simpsons and Tales from the Crypt. He died in February at the age of 103.

Silvio Horta

In addition to co-creating Ugly Betty, Horta had also worked on shows like UPNs Jake 2.0 – which he created – and SyFy’s The Chronicle – which he wrote and produced. He was just 45 years old when he died of an apparent suicide.

Well, that’s all we got for you today. Take a moment if you will to pay your respects not only to all of these TV stars and actors that took their last breaths in 2020 but also to all the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic who won’t be with us in 2021.

And we’d love to hear a little feedback from you. Do you think that 2021 will be a better year than 2020 or do you think it will be more of the same? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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