This year was marked by trying times, including the passing of some iconic and beloved actors. Before it comes to a close, we want to recognize some of the incredible on-screen talent we lost in 2020. Keep reading for a compilation of a number of stars that left us this year, as we remember their storied Hollywood careers and their work that lives on.
Chadwick Boseman – 43
Boseman’s breakout role was portraying Jackie Robinson in the Warner Bros. biopic 42. When we interviewed the film’s casting director, she had only good things to say about the star. “He was always just himself and never tried to be anything different,” remembered Victoria Thomas. And who he was on the inside is reflected on screen; his integrity shines through.” Boseman went on to star in a string of big-name films that includes titles like Marshall, Get On Up, and Black Panther. His groundbreaking performance in the latter as T’Challa was the first major superhero film to star an African protagonist and a predominantly Black cast. The actor privately battled colon cancer, and before he died in August, Boseman completed two films that have him in the running for posthumous Oscar nominations: Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Regardless of what happens at the upcoming Academy Awards, though, Boseman will be remembered for his impressive body of work, as well as for his character. “[He was] a truly blessed, loving, gifted, and giving human being,” Wolfe recalled of the late actor.
Kirk Douglas – 103
Over the course of his long career, Douglas received an honorary Oscar, as well as three Best Actor nominations for The Bad and the Beautiful, Champion, and Lust for Life. The legendary actor was also well-known for Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, in which he both starred and produced. Douglas played an integral role in helping break the industry’s boycott of suspected communist figures during the McCarthy Era via his public support for the film’s blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. The thespian acted in over 80 films before his retirement from the business in 2004, and he died of natural causes in February. Actor Michael Douglas honored his father’s memory and legacy in a public statement on Instagram. “He was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, [and] a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to,” wrote the younger Douglas.
Sean Connery – 90
Connery was perhaps best known for originating the role of James Bond and playing the character in multiple films within the popular spy series. But the Scottish actor’s credits display a varied body of work that includes playing opposite Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, opposite Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, and amidst a star-studded cast in The Hunt for Red October. Connery passed away in October, and the death certificate listed “pneumonia, respiratory failure, old age [and] atrial fibrillation” as the cause. Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play 007, honored the icon in a statement. “The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster,” Craig asserted. “He will continue to influence actors and filmmakers alike for years to come.”
Kelly Preston – 57
Preston was known for a number of titles that include Twins, Jerry Maguire, Jack Frost, The Cat in the Hat, What a Girl Wants, and Gotti. She appeared in the latter with her husband John Travolta, who emphasized in an Instagram post the legacy Preston left behind. “Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered,” wrote Travolta. Preston died in July after a two-year battle with breast cancer, and her passing brought an outpouring of fond memories of the star. “She was a bright, beautiful and loving soul who cared deeply about others and who brought life to everything she touched,” a family rep told People.
Boseman, Douglas, Connery, and Preston were not the only big names that passed away in 2020. Other onscreen talent we lost this year include Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, TV personality Regis Philbin, and Glee actor Naya Rivera. This year has been a hard one, but as we approach January 1 hoping for better things, let’s take a moment to honor the legendary talent we said goodbye to in 2020.