By Thomas Sellers Jr.
We can all agree it is time for 2020 to come to an end.
This had been one of the toughest years in history. Along with a global pandemic, we have endure a crazy election, multiple changes to everyday life and the departure of several celebrities and iconic figures since January.
Normally The Best Sellers’ List waits until the next to last week in the calendar year to countdown the top 10 passing. But with so many significant deaths, four weeks in December will be dedicated to paying tribute to important figures moving on to the afterlife.
The series will begin with a look at Hollywood, actors and actresses who said goodbye in 2020. Then The Best Sellers’ List will focus on the music industry, cultural icons and finally sports figures.
A couple of honorable mention for acting are Kelly Preston and Robert Conrad. These two name help illustrate the diversity, range and timeline of departures we had from the entertainment industry. There were several other passing to note but the 10 below are figures who had an impact on my life through the big screen and my television.
- Jerry Stiller
June 8, 1927-
May 11, 2020
Gerald Isaac Stiller is better known as Jerry. He is also known for his talented wife Anne Meara who passed away in 2015. And most know Jerry through his son Ben.
Jerry enjoyed a marriage more than 60 years with Anne. They were a comedy duo. Jerry build an impressive resume’ on his own starting in 1993, playing George Costanza’s father Frank on the sitcom Seinfeld. It earned him an Emmy nomination. Stiller brought to life Arthur Spooner on the sitcom The King of Queens. Stiller’s contributions to Hollywood continues through his son Ben Stiller.
- Carl Reiner
March 20, 1922-
June 29, 2020
Carl Reiner makes this list because he was the genius behind a lot of other greats who graced the camera. He shared the stage with his colleagues but his greatest contributions came through comedy writing and directing.
His brilliant career span six decades before his passing on June 29 at the age of 98. Reiner’s work was through television, film, and the stage, earning him nine Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
His career started in 1945. During the early years of television comedy from 1950 to 1957, Reiner acted on and contributed sketch material for Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour, starring Sid Caesar.
- Ann E. Todd
August 26, 1931-February 7, 2020
When the 88-year-old passed away in February, a few historic scholars had to research her career from 1939 to 1953. Ann E. Todd was part of the Golden Age of Hollywood when child actors became legends. With a face that didn’t seem to age throughout the years, Todd appeared in nearly 40 films in her youth.
Some of her credits are Intermezzo, How Green Was My Valley, Kings’ Row, Blood and Sand, and All This, and Heaven Too. After appearing on The Stu Erwin Show from 1950-53, Todd left show business and pursued a career as a librarian, author, and publisher. She became a music reference librarian at the University of California Berkeley.
Todd was a success story and the opposite of several outcomes for many child actors. Her life deserves a moment in the spotlight one more time.
- Chadwick Boseman
November 29, 1976-August 28, 2020
Those close to him, his death was not a shock. But to the rest of the world, we were not aware of Chadwick Boseman’s battle with colon cancer. He kept his illness private while still working, making appearances and inspiring others.
Boseman became an acting icon with his Marvel superhero role of T’Challa, a.k.a. Black Panther, in 2018’s Black Panther. Leaving us too soon at the age of 43, Boseman tackled other historic figures on screen.
He portrayed black icons, including barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, music icon James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.
- Wilford Brimley
September 27, 1934-August 1, 2020
I got one word for you — diabeetus. My generation knows the legendary actor Wilford Brimley from those commercials about diabetes and his unique pronunciation. But the man is more than just a meme. He served our country in the Korean War and was part of the military from 1953 to 1956. Then in 1967 he took his talents to Hollywood. Before passing away in Utah, Brimley build an impressive resume’ with movie credits like The Thing, The Natural, Hard Target, The Firm, and Cocoon.
I will remember his performance in The Firm filmed here in Memphis. He was a great bad guy and you wanted to see Tom Cruise’s character beat the crap out of him.
Then the U.S. Marine would be a lovable figure in movies like Cocoon. He was a great father figure and was trustworthy when he came into your home on TV. That’s why he was a great spokesperson.
- Ja’Net DuBois
August 5, 1932-February 17, 2020
Her voice will live on forever through the theme of The Jeffersons. Ms. Ja’Net DuBois’ charisma, style and essence will survive thanks to her roles in front of the camera. She stole the show many times of the sitcom Good Times.
DuBois most famous role was the sexy and sassy Willona Woods on the popular 1970s sitcom. Then she became more of a legend singing and co-writing The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up.”
You might see DuBois’ face pop up on other movies and shows like A Man Called Adam, Sanford and Son, Kojak, The Facts of Life, Roots: The Next Generations, A Different World, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Everybody Loves Raymond. She won two Emmy Awards during her career, both for her voiceover work on The PJ’s. And her character in the movie ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’ kept up her reputation of stealing a screen with greatness once the director said “Action!.”
- Brian Dennehy
July 9, 1938-
April 15, 2020
One of the best products to come out of the state of Connecticut, Brian Dennehy had range. He made a great lead actor and did a solid job as a supporting figure. He could be mean while you cheered him on. Then he could make you despise his character.
He was funny and lovable in some portrayals. Brian Manion Dennehy was simply a great actor. Whether stage, television or film, he had skills to be award-winning. He won two Tony Awards, an Olivier Award, and a Golden Globe, and received six Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Dennehy racked up 180 films and in many television and stage productions over five decades. Two notable roles for Dennehy were starring opposite Sylvester Stallone in First Blood and opposite Chris Farley in Tommy Boy.
- Sam Lloyd
November 12, 1963-April 30, 2020
He might be the least known actor on this list but he has a special place in my heart as the lovable Teddy Buckland on my favorite sitcom Scrubs. Sam Lloyd proved he was a great character actor. He also displayed his musical skills through that role.
The man who brought the hangdog lawyer to life passed away from cancer at the age of 56. It was a shock to my heart and it broke my spirit. It was like losing a member of my Scrubs family. I’m blessed to have the memories of Mr. Lloyd.
Make sure to check out him in Cougar Town, Modern Family, Desperate Housewives, The West Wing and Galaxy Quest. But his best work was the singing lawyer Ted Buckland.
- Sean Connery
August 25, 1930-October 31, 2020
Sir Thomas Sean Connery, one of the sexiest men to ever walk the earth, departed this planet on Halloween. Better known as Sean Connery, the Scotland-born actor became a superstar by first playing James Bond.
The franchise is still going strong today on the shoulders of this man. The list of other credits reads like a Hollywood A-List of movies. From 1954 to 2021, Connery shined on the screen. He was an Oscar winner but more importantly he won over many hearts with his skills on film and natural charm.
- Kirk Douglas
December 9, 1916-February 5, 2020
Longevity, legendary and legacy are three words to describe Kirk Douglas. Form 1946 to 2008, Douglas was an actor, producer, director, philanthropist, and writer. He made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers with Barbara Stanwyck.
With more than 92 acting credits to his name, Douglas starred in Hollywood classics like Spartacus, The Bad and the Beautiful, Out of the Past, and Paths of Glory.
Douglas passed way at the age of 103. This countdown comes out just a few days short of his birth date of Dec. 9. Douglas’ longevity was proven by living 103 years.
Movies like Spartakus and Lust for Life are legendary. And his legacy lives in his movies, roles and family who followed in his footsteps.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.