dpa/GNA – In a year where death became far too common thanks to a new disease which seemed to strike across lines of age, race and social status, there were still some lives that drew global attention when they came to an end.
Here are some of the more notable deaths of 2020:
Kuwaiti emir SABAH AL-AHMED AL SABAH took charge in 2006 and spent much of his reign trying to steer the small, oil-rich country clear of the Gulf region’s devastating feuds, casting himself as a peacemaker in the process. He died on September 29, aged 91.
KOBE BRYANT was drafted as a 17-year-old basketball child prodigy made his NBA debut at 18 and became an All-Star at 19. He had an illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and led America to two Olympic golds. He died aged 41, along with his daughter, in a helicopter crash on January 26.
He created the legendary “New Look” for Christian Dior in 1947. Then, three years later, PIERRE CARDIN founded his own haute couture company and revolutionized fashion. He was 98 when he died on December 29.
His works were preposterously ambitious in scope. But Bulgarian-American artist CHRISTO, known for his vast installations covering huge objects in miles of fabric and rope, did not take himself too seriously. He died on May 31, aged 84.
For many movie fans, there was no other James Bond: Nobody did it better. But SEAN CONNERY didn’t let that role define his career, playing everything from an Irish cop to a Russian submarine captain and spending a stint as the sexiest man alive. He died on October 31, aged 90.
KIRK DOUGLAS, son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, had to fight hard for his career. Born Issur Danielovitch, he grew up with six sisters in the poor district of the industrial city of Amsterdam in New York state, but went on to make a name as the star of movies like “Spartacus” and “The Bad and the Beautiful.” He was 103 when he died on February 5.
Hardly any other Palestinian leader had more experience with Middle Eastern peace talks than SAEB EREKAT, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s secretary general, who had been involved in the process since the 1990s. He died aged 65 on November 10, a victim of Covid-19.
His final words were “I can’t breathe.” GEORGE FLOYD was no celebrity, but his death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer set off a wave of anger at racism in policing and US society in general that still resonates. He was 46 when he died on May 25.
MIRELLA FRENI retired in 2005 after a 50-year career, but is still remembered for famous roles like Mimi in Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme.” She died on February 9, aged 84.
“It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the Notorious RBG,” Supreme Court justice RUTH BADER GINSBURG, once said. “I am now 86 years old, yet people of all ages want to take their picture with me. Amazing.” The liberal icon of American law died on September 18, aged 87, her death sparking a major political fight.
A French president from 1974 to 1981, VALERY GISCARD D’ESTAING had a reputation for being cool and technocratic, but worked well enough with Germany’s Helmut Schmidt to lay the groundwork for what is today the eurozone. He died on December 2, aged 94.
DENIS GOLDBERG was a veteran of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement who spent more than two decades in prison for resisting racist rule, often treated as a race traitor by the country’s white elite. He died aged 87, on April 30.
She was Melanie Hamilton in “Gone With the Wind,” Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and Charlotte Bronte in “Devotion.” Hollywood lost one of its last greats of its golden age when OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND died on July 26, aged 104.
Later generations probably associated him mostly for a smallish role as Bilbo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, but IAN HOLM had a long acting career, with major roles in films like “Chariots of Fire” and the “Wars of the Roses.” He died on June 19, aged 88.
ROY HORN was best known as the second half of the wild animal act Siegfried and Roy. He thrilled generations with the lions and tigers – especially his prized white tigers – until one of the animals turned on him in 2003. He died on May 8, aged 75, of Covid-19.
JOHN HUME shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for working to end Northern Ireland’s ethnic and sectarian divide. Although he long worked to reunite Northern Ireland politically with the rest of Ireland, he was also praised for his adherence to non-violence during The Troubles. He died on August 3, aged 83.
He might not have been one of the troupe’s obvious standouts, but TERRY JONES never shied up from dressing in drag – or nothing at all – if it got a joke in for Monty Python. One of the troupe’s founders, he also did a lot of writing and directing for the group. He died on January 21, aged 77.
Indian actor IRRFAN KHAN was known for his roles in “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Life of Pi” and numerous award-winning Bollywood films. He died in Mumbai after prolonged treatment for cancer on April 29, aged 53.
He was born David Cornwell, but people knew him as JOHN LE CARRE, the writer of spy thrillers such as “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” A former intelligence worker, he brought insights to his work that made them all page turners. He died on December 12, aged 89.
Born in 1923, LEE TENG-HUI championed Taiwan’s independence and ruled from Taipei from 1988 to 2000. Taiwan’s first locally born president, he oversaw the country’s democratization. He was 97 when he died on July 30.
Born the son of sharecroppers in Alabama, JOHN LEWIS was considered one of the most prominent civil rights activists in the US and one of the few people with living memories of working with Martin Luther King Jr. He died on July 17, aged 80, but lived long enough to see the street in front of the White House rechristened Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Hers was the voice that maintained so much British morale during World War II, with songs like “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.” One of Britain’s most famous singers, VERA LYNN died on June 18, aged 103.
He was a footballer known for scoring one of the most impressive and one of the most controversial football goals … within minutes of one another against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final. DIEGO MARADONA broke a lot of rules, but will be remembered as one of the sport’s greats. He was 60 when he died on November 25.
Kenya’s second president, DANIEL ARAP MOI grew more authoritarian as his rule stretched from 1978 to 2002. Eventually unable to get his chosen replacement into office, he was ousted and is remembered for consolidating power, allowing human rights violations and turning a blind eye to corruption. He died on February 4, aged 95.
An eclectic composer who used whips, bells, hammers, gunshots, voices, whistling and coughing as special effects in his scores, Italian ENNIO MORRICONE is probably best known for his film scores from Western movies like “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” though his Oscar win came in 2016 for “The Hateful Eight.” He died on July 6, aged 91.
He might have been Egypt’s last pharaoh, but he was the first leader in the country’s history to face justice for his actions. HOSNY MUBARAK died on February 25, aged 91. He was eventually acquitted of ordering the killing of protesters, but will long be remembered as one of the few leaders toppled in the 2011 Arab Spring.
Originally a copywriter, ALAN PARKER went on to direct everything from “Bugsy Malone” to “Fame.” But he also wrote novels and essays and drew cartoons. He died on July 31, aged 76.
With the help of the British and Oman’s military, SULTAN QABOOS overthrew his father, Said, in a bloodless palace coup in 1970. He made his place in history as the man who led the Gulf sultanate of Oman out of the Middle Ages and into modernity. He died on January 10, aged 79.
“A wop bop a loo lop a lop bam boo!” Known for his eccentric clothes, hairdos, songs ranging from “Tutti Frutti” to “Good Golly Miss Molly” and an ability to turn just about any sound into a lyric, LITTLE RICHARD changed music. Born Richard Wayne Penniman, he died on May 9, aged 87.
One of her first big career breaks was as a hero on “The Avengers,” when she was in her late 30s. One of her last came as a villain on “Game of Thrones,” when she was well into her 70s. DIANA RIGG even played the one Bond girl that James Bond married. She died on September 10, aged 82.
FLORIAN SCHNEIDER-ESLEBEN co-founded the electronic music group Kraftwerk in 1970, changing music forever and influencing hundreds. Although he left the group in 2008, his influence on electronica remains undisputed. He died aged 73 on April 30.
Considered one of Iran’s most influential military leaders, wielding influence in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East where Iran has a foothold, QASSEM SOLEIMANI died when the US killed him with a missile strike on an Iraqi base. His funeral brought Tehran to a standstill. He died on January 3, aged 62.
The STAR WARS franchise lost two of its originals in 2020. First there was DAVID PROWSE, a bodybuilder whose bulk gave Darth Vader his menace. He died on November 28, aged 85. Then JEREMY BULLOCH died on December 17. The 75-year-old was the main in the suit playing Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi.”
He might have created the biggest problem the Romans ever saw. ALBERT UDERZO was the French artist who put pen to paper and created Asterix and Obelix, some of the most beloved comic figures of all time. He was 92 when he died on March 24.
The band might have had his name, but he was happiest playing guitar and acting as an inspiration to rock acts to come for decades. EDDIE VAN HALEN powered the chords to such hits as “Jump” and “Panama.” He was 65 when he died on October 6.
Not everyone has the acting chops for a career that spanned “The Seventh Seal,” “The Exorcist” and “Conan the Barbarian.” Swedish-born actor MAX VON SYDOW was just such an actor. He died on March 8, aged 90.
Until he came along, no man had flown faster than the speed of sound. CHUCK YEAGER was born in the hills of West Virginia, but was picked for the top secret mission when he was only 24, secretly naming the plane the Glamorous Glennis, after his wife. He died on December 7, aged 97.