Celebrity deaths of 2022: The Queen, Sidney Poitier, Taylor Hawkins, Pele and more

The world said a final goodbye to many high-profile figures over the past 12 months

Naomi Clarke,Ellie Harrison
Friday 30 December 2022 15:17 GMT
2022 deaths: The much-loved public figures we said goodbye to this year

Queen Elizabeth II, actor Sidney Poitier, Foo Fighters star Taylor Hawkins, legendary footballer Pele and fashiond designer Dame Vivienne Westwood are among the many high-profile figures who died in 2022.

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.


Sidney Poitier

The Bahamian-American Hollywood star, known for films including In the Heat of the Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, died aged 94.

He was the first Black man to win the Oscar for best actor and US president Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey were among those who paid tribute to the “trailblazing” actor.

Bob Saget

The US comedian, known for starring in US sitcoms including Full House, died at the age of 65.

After it was announced he had been found dead in a Florida hotel room, celebrities including Steve Martin and Jim Carrey expressed their shock and sadness over his sudden death.

Meat Loaf

The American singer, known for hits such as “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” died at the age of 74.

Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday but was also known as Michael, sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and starred in more than 65 movies during his career which spanned six decades.

Thierry Mugler

The French fashion designer, whose dramatic designs were worn by celebrities including Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Madonna, died aged 73.

He launched his brand in the early 1970s but extended his name beyond fashion and launched a successful perfume line in the 1990s.

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Barry Cryer

The veteran comedy writer and performer died aged 86 following a seven-decade career which saw him appear on stage, screen and radio.

He penned jokes for legends of British comedy including Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper and had a long-running partnership with Sir David Frost, with their collaborations including BBC’s The Frost Report.


Ivan Reitman

The influential filmmaker and producer behind beloved comedies from Animal House to Ghostbusters died aged 75.

He also directed the 1979 summer camp flick Meatballs and a number of films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger including Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Junior.

Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards
Jamal Edwards (AFP/Getty)

The music entrepreneur died at the age of 31, prompting tributes from industry heavyweights including Ed Sheeran, Idris Elba and Hollywood actor Terry Crews.

He gained fame setting up the music platform SBTV – helping to launch a string of UK music careers including Dave and Jessie J.

William Hurt

The actor, who starred as General Thaddeus Ross in several instalments of the Marvel Comic Universe, died aged 71.

He also won the best actor Oscar and Bafta for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985 and was nominated for the Oscar for his roles in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News.


Taylor Hawkins

Hawkins, who had played in Foo Fighters, the band fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, for more than two decades, died aged 50.

Musical stars from around the world paid tribute and a special concert featuring a star-studded line-up was held at Wembley Stadium and the Kia Forum in Los Angeles in his memory.

Tom Parker

The Wanted star died at the age of 33 after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

The singer died surrounded by his family and bandmates – 17 months after being diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.

Shane Warne

The legendary Australian spin bowler, considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time, died aged 52 of a suspected heart attack while in Thailand.

England Cricket paid tribute to Warne on Twitter, writing: “One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius. You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne.”


June Brown

June Brown played the chain-smoking Dot Cotton in EastEnders for 35 years
June Brown played the chain-smoking Dot Cotton in EastEnders for 35 years (PA)

The EastEnders star, best known for her role as chain-smoking Dot Cotton, died at the age of 95.

A spokeswoman for the soap said: “There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten.”

Jack Higgins

The best-selling thriller writer died at the age of 92.

Henry Patterson, known to the public under his pseudonym Jack Higgins, published 85 books during his lifetime.


Dennis Waterman

The actor, who starred in TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks, died at the age of 74.

Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and he first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney opposite John Thaw.

Ray Liotta

The actor, best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, died at the age of 67.

He found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in 1986 black comedy Something Wild and also starred as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field of Dreams.

Hilary Devey

The former Dragons’ Den star died aged 65 after a long illness.

She joined the BBC Two programme in 2011 and left in 2012, going on to present Channel 4’s The Intern.

Anne Heche

The Hollywood actor was “peacefully taken off life support” nine days after suffering a “severe anoxic brain injury” in a car crash in which her vehicle hit a building and burst into flames.

Heche, 53, was among the biggest film stars of the late 1990s, starring opposite actors including Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford, and was also the former partner of US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Andrew Fletcher

The keyboardist and one of the founding members of Depeche Mode died aged 60 after an aortic dissection.

He was part of the Eighties synth band that made catchy pop hits such as “New Life”, “Just Can’t get Enough” and “People are People”.


Dame Deborah James

The podcaster, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, died aged 40.

In her final weeks, the presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C raised millions of pounds for research and was made a dame for her “tireless” work improving awareness of the disease.


James Caan

James Caan
James Caan (AP)

US actor and star of The Godfather, Stephen King adaptation Misery and Christmas film Elf died aged 82.

While the actor was initially cast as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, he had his heart set on Sonny and successfully suggested that Al Pacino play the role of Michael instead. He eventually faced his co-star alongside another Godfather actor, Robert Duvall, in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 1973 Oscars; all three lost to Joel Grey, who won for Cabaret.

Caan told The Independent in January 2021: “I really do wish I had an Academy Award. But listen, here’s what you gotta know. Number one: anybody who gets cancer [in a movie] automatically wins the Academy Award that year. Number two: I sound like I’m bitter, and I am!”

Bernard Cribbins

The children’s TV star and entertainer died aged 93.

The veteran actor starred in the Carry On films, Doctor Who and the 1970 film The Railway Children.


Queen Elizabeth II

Britain’s longest-serving monarch died aged 96, with her son Charles succeeding her as the nation’s new king.

The Queen died “peacefully” at Balmoral, having spent 70 years as head of state, outlasting her predecessors and overseeing monumental changes in social and political life.

Dame Olivia Newton-John

Dame Olivia was best known for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, in which she acted opposite John Travolta as Danny.

The British-born singer died “peacefully” at her ranch in Southern California aged 73, surrounded by family and friends.

Raymond Briggs

The author and illustrator, best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, died aged 88.

The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and Briggs also created the beloved children’s books Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Man and When the Wind Blows.

Darius Danesh

The singer and actor who rose to fame on Popstars and Pop Idol died at the age of 41.

He was found dead in his US apartment, in Rochester, Minnesota. The death was ruled an accident by the medical examiner.


Bill Turnbull

Bill Turnbull
Bill Turnbull (PA)

The TV presenter and journalist died at the age of 66.

The BBC Breakfast presenter died “peacefully” at home in Suffolk after a “challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer” which had been diagnosed in November 2017.

George Ward (known as Cherry Valentine)

The drag performer, known by his stage name Cherry Valentine, died at the age of 28.

He appeared on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before launching a TV career and fronting the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud.

Dame Hilary Mantel

The author, best known for the Wolf Hall trilogy, died aged 70.

The British writer won the Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel Wolf Hall and again for its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, in 2012.


The famed Nineties rapper died aged 59.

Real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, he was best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which was released as the soundtrack for the Michelle Pfeiffer film, Dangerous Minds. The song spent three weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

Jean-Luc Godard

The revered filmmaker, regarded as a giant of the French New Wave movement, died at the age of 91.

He was known for directing a run of radical, medium-changing films throughout the 1960s, including Breathless and Alphaville.


Dame Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury (AP)

The Irish-British and American actor was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in the drama series Murder, She Wrote.

A Broadway icon who excelled as Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, she died “peacefully” in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.

Robbie Coltrane

The Harry Potter and Cracker actor died aged 72.

The Scottish star, whose real name was Anthony Robert McMillan, was best known for playing both McGlone brothers in John Byrne’s Tutti Frutti (1987), beloved Hogwarts gamekeeper Hagrid and for starring as criminal psychologist Dr Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in ITV’s crime drama Cracker.

Leslie Jordan

The Emmy-winning actor, who was best known for his roles in Will & Grace and American Horror Story, died aged 67 after a car crash.

His wry Southern drawl and versatility made him a comedy and drama standout.


Aaron Carter

The singer and brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter died aged 34.

The US musician first found fame as a child star in the 1990s with singles like “I Want Candy” and opened for the US boy band on a number of tours and concerts.

Leslie Phillips

The veteran actor, famed for starring in the Carry On films, died at the age of 98.

He spent eight decades in the spotlight and became well known for his suggestive catchphrases, which included “Ding dong”, “Well, hellooo” and “I say!”

Christine McVie

The Fleetwood Mac star died following a short illness at the age of 79.

The British-American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever.


A member of rap trio Migos, Takeoff was shot dead in Houston, Texas.

The rapper, whose full name was Kirshnik Khari Ball, was 28, and celebrities from Drake to James Corden paid tribute to him after he died.


Kirstie Alley

The US actor died from cancer at the age of 71.

She was best known for her breakout role as Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom Cheers from 1987 to 1993 and received both an Emmy award and a Golden Globe for the role in 1991.

Terry Hall

Terry Hall
Terry Hall (Universal Music/PA)

The lead singer of The Specials and Fun Boy Three died aged 63.

The singer-songwriter rose to fame as part of the band, who were pioneers of the ska scene in the UK.

Shirley Watts

The wife of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died aged 82 less than 16 months after the musician’s August 2021 death.

She was an accomplished sculptor and highly respected as a breeder and showwoman in the International Arabian horse community.

Jo Mersa Marley

The grandson of Bob Marley and son of Stephen Marley died aged 31.

Many paid tribute to the young reggae artist, whose debut album Eternal arrived in 2021. Jamaica’s minister for culture, gender, entertainment and sport, the honourable Olivia Grange, said his death was “a huge loss to the music as we look to the next generation”.


The legendary Brazilian footballer passed away aged 82.

Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Pele is the only man to have won the World Cup on three occasions, as he helped Brazil to success at the 1958, 1962 and 1970 tournaments, also winning the Golden Ball for best player at the latter. During a 21-year playing career, he is said to have scored 1,283 goals in 1,363 senior matches for clubs and country.

Dame Vivienne Westwood

The iconic British fashion designer died aged 81.

Dame Vivienne emerged from the British punk scene of the late 1970s and quickly became known for her androgynous designs, slogan T-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the Establishment, later making waves as an activist on causes close to her heart. The Victoria and Albert Museum described her as a “true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion”.

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