In Memoriam 2023

So that’s 2023 over and done with. Now I can declare that Nickie is our winner with 428 points!!! Congratulations, the trophy will be with you as soon as the Flying Monkeys get their act together. Well done everyone and good luck for 2024.

The past year saw a number of unexpected deaths of much-loved celebrities, along with the  loss of veterans from the entertainment industry.

Here are some of those who were mourned during the past 12 months.

January

Lisa Marie Presley: was an American singer and songwriter. She was the only child of singer and actor Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley, as well as the sole heir to her father’s estate. Presley suffered a cardiac arrest at her home aged 54. 

Gina Lollobrigida: was an Italian actress, model, photojournalist, artist and politician. She was one of the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. Lollobrigida died at a clinic in Rome at the age of 95.

David Crosby,: was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He first found fame as a member of the Byrds, with whom he helped pioneer the genres of folk rock and psychedelia in the mid-1960’s, and later as part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, who helped popularise the California sound of the 1970’s. Crosby died in his sleep from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 81. 

February

Annie Wersching: was an American actress. She was known for her television roles as Renee Walker in 24, the Borg Queen in the second season of Star Trek: Picard, and Rosalind Dyer in The Rookie, as well as the voice and performance-capture for Tess in the video game The Last of Us. Wersching was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2020, though she kept her diagnosis private and continued to act she sadly died at the young age of 41. 

Lisa Loring: was an American actress. She was best known for her work as a child actress from age six playing Wednesday Addams on the 1964–1966 sitcom The Addams Family. Loring had a stroke, possibly caused by smoking and hypertension, and died at a medical centre at the age of 64. 

Paco Rabanne: was a Spanish fashion designer. He rose to prominence as an enfant terrible of the fashion world in the 1960’s with his use of unconventional materials such as metal and plastic in his clothing, and for his incorporation of futuristic elements in his designs, gaining notoriety for his space-age style. Rabanne died at home in France aged 88. 

Burt Bacharach: was an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential figures of 20th-century popular music. Starting in the 1950’s, he composed hundreds of pop songs, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 94. 

Raquel Welch: was an American actress. Welch first garnered attention for her roles in  such films as Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C. Welch developed a unique film persona that made her an icon of the 1960’s and 1970’s helping her break the mould of the traditional sex symbol. Welch died from cardiac arrest at her home in Los Angeles. She was 82. 

Dickie Davies: was a British television sports presenter who anchored World of Sport from 1968 until 1985. One of the very greatest presenters and a Saturday afternoon staple for all sports lovers, Davies died at the age of 94.

John Motson: was an English football commentator. Beginning as a television commentator with the BBC in 1971, he commentated on over 2000 games on television and radio. From the late 1970’s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC. Motson often wore a sheepskin coat (his ‘Motty’ coat) during winter months making him instantly recognisable to his audience. He died at the age of 77. 

March

Betty Boothroyd, Baroness Boothroyd: was a British politician who served as a member of Parliament for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000. A member of the Labour Party, she served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 to 2000. She was the first woman to serve as Speaker. Boothroyd died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital at the age of 93.

Tom Sizemore: was an American actor. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sizemore started his career with supporting appearances in Born on the Fourth of July, Lock Up, and Blue Steel. Sizemore died from heart failure caused by a brain aneurysm at age 61. 

Chaim Topol: mononymously known as Topol, was an Israeli actor, singer, and illustrator. He is best known for his portrayal of Tevye, the lead role in the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof and the 1971 film adaptation, performing this role more than 3,500 times from 1967 through 2009. Topol succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87. 

Mystic Meg: Margaret Anne Lake, best known by her stage name Mystic Meg, was an English astrologer who had a regular astrology column in The Sun and the News of the World. Meg lived in Notting Hill with her seven cats. She died from influenza at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, aged 80.

Jacqueline Gold: was a British businesswoman who was the executive chair of Gold Group International, Ann Summers, and Knickerbox. Gold was estimated to be the 16th richest woman in Great Britain, worth £470 million in 2019 according to The Sunday Times Rich List. Gold died  aged 62, after seven years of treatment for breast cancer.

Lance Reddick: was an American actor and musician. He played Cedric Daniels in The Wire, Phillip Broyles in Fringe, and Chief Irvin Irving in Bosch. In film, he starred as Charon in the John Wick franchise and as General Caulfield in White House Down. Reddick died from heart disease, aged 60. 

April

Max Hardcore: Paul F. Little was an American pornographic actor, producer, and director better known by his stage name Max Hardcore. He rose to prominence in 1992 with the film series The Anal Adventures of Max Hardcore. His abusive and misogynistic films and work methods had reportedly made him relatively unpopular in the porn industry. He died at the age of 66 due to complications of thyroid cancer.  

Paul O’Grady: was an English comedian, broadcaster, drag queen, actor, and writer. He achieved notability in the London gay scene during the 1980’s with his drag persona Lily Savage, through which he gained wider popularity in the 1990’s. He subsequently dropped the character and in the 2000s became the presenter of various television and radio shows, including The Paul O’Grady Show. O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at his home in Kent at age 67, from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. 

Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby: was a British politician and journalist. A member of the Conservative Party, he served as Member of Parliament for Blaby from 1974 to 1992, and served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet from 1981 to 1989. Lawson was the father of six children, including Nigella Lawson, the food writer & celebrity cook. Lawson died at his home in Eastbourne from bronchopneumonia at the age of 91. 

Paul Cattermole: was an English singer and actor. He was best known for being a member of the pop group S Club 7 from 1998 until his departure in 2002. Cattermole returned to the band in 2014 for their reunion tour and was originally due to return in 2023 for a planned second reunion tour before his death at the age of 46. The cause of death was later revealed to be natural causes, specifically heart failure. 

Dame Mary Quant: was a British fashion designer and fashion icon. She became an instrumental figure in the 1960’s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements, and played a prominent role in London’s Swinging Sixties culture. She was one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hotpants. Quant died at home in Surrey aged 93.

Barry Humphries: was an Australian comedian, actor, author and satirist. He was best known for writing and playing his stage and television characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson. Humphries’ characters brought him international renown. Humphries died following complications from hip surgery. He was 89 years old.

Len Goodman: was an English professional ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance competition adjudicator. He appeared as head judge on the UK television programme Strictly Come Dancing from its beginning in 2004 until 2016. Goodman died from bone cancer in a hospice in Royal Tunbridge Wells, three days before his 79th birthday. 

Harry Belafonte: was an American singer, actor, and civil rights activist, who popularised calypso music with international audiences in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Belafonte’s career breakthrough album Calypso was the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte was best known for his recordings of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”, “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)“, and “Mary’s Boy Child”.  Belafonte died from congestive heart failure at his home at the age of 96.  

Jerry Springer: was an American broadcaster, journalist, actor, producer, lawyer, and politician. Springer was best known for hosting the sometimes controversial tabloid talk show Jerry Springer from 1991 to 2018. Springer died at his home at the age of 79. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months prior to his death. 

May

Martin Amis: as an English novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels Money and London Fields. A lifelong smoker, Amis died from oesophageal cancer at his home in Florida at the age of 73. 

Rolf Harris: was an Australian musician, television personality, painter, and actor. He often used unusual instruments like the didgeridoo and the Stylophone in his performances, and is credited with the invention of the wobble board. He was convicted in England in 2014 of the sexual assault of four underage girls, which effectively ended his career. Harris was suffering with neck cancer, unable to talk, and was being fed via a tube when he died at the age of 93. 

Ray Stevenson: was a British actor. He portrayed Titus Pullo in the television series Rome. Blackbeard in the third and fourth seasons of Black Sails, and most recently portraying Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka. Stevenson died aged 58. No cause of death has been revealed.

Tina Turner: was a singer, songwriter and actress. Known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the husband-wife duo Ike & Tina Turner before launching a successful career as a solo performer. She was recognised for her “swagger, sensuality, powerful gravelly vocals and unstoppable energy. Turner died at her home in  Switzerland, aged 83, following years of illness.

June

Ted Kaczynski: also known as the Unabomber, was an American mathematician and domestic terrorist. He was a mathematics prodigy, but abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski murdered three individuals and injured 23 others in a nationwide mail bombing campaign against people he believed to be advancing modern technology and the destruction of the natural environment. Kaczynski was found unresponsive in his jail cell. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at the age of 81. Prison officials believe his death to be a suicide. He was also in the late stages of cancer. 

Silvio Berlusconi: was an Italian media tycoon and politician who served as the prime minister of Italy in four governments from 1994 onwards. With a net worth of $6.8 billion, Berlusconi was the third-wealthiest person in Italy at the time of his death aged 86. 

Cormac McCarthy: was an American writer who authored twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and three short stories, spanning the Western and post-apocalyptic genres. He was known for his graphic depictions of violence and his unique writing style, recognisable by a sparse use of punctuation and attribution. McCarthy died at his home in Santa Fe at the age of 89

Glenda Jackson: was an English actress and politician. She was one of the few performers to achieve the American Triple Crown of Acting, having won two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Tony Award. Best known for her role in Women in Love Jackson died at her Blackheath home at the age of 87 following a brief illness.

July

Julian Sands: was an English actor. His break-out role was as George Emerson in A Room with a View, and he also appeared in The Killing Fields, and Warlock. In January, Sands went missing while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles. His remains were discovered in  July. 

Tony Bennett: was an American jazz and traditional pop singer. He received many accolades, including 20 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Bennett died aged 96 at his home in New York City following a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

George Alagiah: was a British newsreader, journalist and television presenter. From 2007 until 2022, he was the presenter of the BBC News at Six. From 2014, Alagiah was being treated for colorectal cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs, liver and lymph nodes. Alagiah died at the age of 67.

Sinéad O’Connor: was an Irish singer, songwriter, and activist. Her debut studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and achieved international chart success. However her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is what she was most known for. O’Connor was found unresponsive at her flat in South London, and confirmed dead at the age of 56. 

August

Paul Reubens: was an American actor and comedian, widely known for creating and portraying the character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theatre in 1991. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention which postponed Reubens’s involvement in major projects until 1999. Reubens died aged 70 from cancer which he had been suffering from for six years. 

Mark Margolis: was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the character Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. His performance in Breaking Bad was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2012. Margolis died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City following a short illness at age 83. 

William Friedkin: was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter who was closely identified with the “New Hollywood” movement of the 1970’s. He is best known for his crime thriller film The French Connection and the horror film The Exorcist. Friedkin died from heart failure and pneumonia at his home in the Bel Air just 22 days before his 88th birthday. 

DJ Casper: William Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper, was an American disc jockey. Born and raised in Chicago, he was known as “Casper” due to frequently being clad in all white attire on stage. Perry’s first and only hit record, “Cha Cha Slide” hit No1 in the UK charts. He died of kidney and liver cancer at the age of 58. 

Sir Michael Parkinson: was an English television presenter, broadcaster, journalist and author. He presented his television talk show Parkinson from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007. Parkinson died at home following a brief illness, aged 88. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin: was a Russian mercenary leader and oligarch. He led the Wagner Group private military company and was a close confidant of Russian president Vladimir Putin until launching a rebellion in June 2023. Prigozhin died in an airplane crash which was orchestrated by Putin’s right-hand man Nikolai Patrushev.

September

Mohamed Al-Fayed: was an Egyptian businessman whose residence and chief business interests were in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s. His business interests included ownership of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Harrods department store and Fulham Football Club. Al-Fayed died of old age in London at the age of 94, almost exactly 26 years after his son Dodi. 

Mike Yarwood: was an English impressionist, comedian and actor. He was one of Britain’s top-rated entertainers, regularly appearing on television from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Yarwood died in hospital of an undisclosed illness at the age of 82. 

Jean Boht: was an English actress, most famous for the role of Nellie Boswell in Carla Lane’s sitcom Bread, remaining one of several actors to remain with the show for its entire seven series tenure from 1986 to 1991. Boht died from complications of dementia aged 91.

Roger Whittaker: was a British singer-songwriter and musician. His music is an eclectic mix of folk music and popular songs, the latter variously in a crooning or in a Schlager style. He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability as well as his guitar skills. He died in a hospital near Toulouse aged 87.

October

David McCallum: was a Scottish actor and musician. He gained wide recognition in the 1960’s for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His other notable television roles include Simon Carter in Colditz and Steel in Sapphire & Steel. McCallum died at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital of natural causes, six days after his 90th birthday. 

Sir Michael Gambon: was an Irish-English actor. Gambon started his acting career with Laurence Olivier as one of the original members of the Royal National Theatre. He received a BAFTA Award for The Singing Detective but gained wider recognition through his role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series. Gambon died in Witham aged 82 following a bout of pneumonia. 

Piper Laurie: was an American actress. She is known for her roles in the films The Hustler, Carrie, and Children of a Lesser God, and both television miniseries’ The Thorn Birds and Twin Peaks. Having been unwell for some time, Laurie died in Los Angeles at age 91. 

Suzanne Somers: was an American actress, singer, author, and businesswoman in the health and wellness industry. She played the television roles of Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. Somers died at her home in Palm Springs one day before her 77th birthday. 

Sir Bobby Charlton: was an English professional footballer who played as a midfielder or centre-forward. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, he was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Charlton died at Macclesfield District General Hospital at the age of 86, from complications of a fall he sustained at the nursing home where he resided. 

Richard Roundtree: was an American actor. He was best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft and four of its sequels. Roundtree died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 81.

Matthew Perry: was an American and Canadian actor. He gained fame for starring as Chandler Bing on the NBC television sitcom Friends. Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 54. Perry’s death was revealed to have occurred due to “acute effects of ketamine”. 

November

Joss Ackland: was an English actor who appeared in more than 130 film, radio and television roles, including the television serial Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the film Lethal Weapon 2. Ackland died at home in Clovelly, at the age of 95.

Rosalynn Carter: was an American writer, activist and humanitarian who served as the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. Throughout her decades of public service, she was a leading advocate for women’s rights and mental health. She died in her home in Plains, Georgia, of natural causes, at the age of 96. 

Terry Venables: often referred to as El Tel, was an English football player and manager who played for clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers and won two caps for England. Venables died aged 80 following a long illness.

December

Henry Kissinger, was an American diplomat, political scientist, geopolitical consultant, and politician who served as the United States secretary of state and national security advisor in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1977. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut, at the age of 100. 

Shane MacGowan: was a British-born Irish singer-songwriter and musician best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of Celtic punk band the Pogues. He co-wrote the Christmas hit single “Fairytale of New York”, which the Pogues recorded as a duet between MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl; the song remains a perennial Christmas favourite in the UK. MacGowan died from pneumonia at his home in Dublin with his wife by his side; he was 65. 

Glenys Kinnock: was a British politician and teacher who served as Minister of State for Europe from June to October 2009 and Minister of State for Africa and the United Nations from 2009 to 2010. She was the wife of Neil Kinnock, who was leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992. She died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at her home in London aged 79. 

Norman Lear: as an American screenwriter and producer who produced, wrote, created, or developed over 100 shows. Lear created and produced numerous popular 1970’s sitcoms, including All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. Lear died at his home in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest, as a complication of heart failure. He was 101. 

Benjamin Zephaniah: was a British writer, dub poet, actor, musician and professor of poetry and creative writing. In his work, Zephaniah drew on his lived experiences of incarceration, racism and his Jamaican heritage. Zephaniah died at the age of 65, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks previously

Ryan O’Neal: was an American actor. Initially he trained as an amateur boxer before beginning a career in acting in 1960. In 1964, he landed the role of Rodney Harrington on the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place. It was an instant hit and boosted O’Neal’s career.  O’Neal died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica at the age of 82. His cause of death was congestive heart failure. 

Andre Braugher: was an American actor known for his roles as Detective Frank Pembleton in the police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Captain Raymond Holt in the police comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Braugher died from lung cancer, having been diagnosed with it a few months prior. He was 61.

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