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Notable deaths in 2020

Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the screen and the Hollywood establishment, died February 5 at the age of 103, his son Michael Douglas said. "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to," Michael said. Douglas made more than 90 movies in a career that stretched across seven decades and films such as "Spartacus" and "The Vikings" made him one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and '60s. He also played a major role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist - actors, directors and writers who were shunned professionally because of links to the communist movement in the 1950s. Douglas said he was more proud of that than any film he made. Douglas had a distinctive chin, razor-sharp cheekbones and a jutting jaw - looks that he passed along to Michael - and that made him a natural for playing all manner of rugged characters. He also had a demanding nature that earned him a reputation in his prime as the actor who directed directors.

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the screen and the Hollywood establishment, died February 5 at the age of 103, his son Michael Douglas said. "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the...more

Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the screen and the Hollywood establishment, died February 5 at the age of 103, his son Michael Douglas said. "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to," Michael said. Douglas made more than 90 movies in a career that stretched across seven decades and films such as "Spartacus" and "The Vikings" made him one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and '60s. He also played a major role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist - actors, directors and writers who were shunned professionally because of links to the communist movement in the 1950s. Douglas said he was more proud of that than any film he made. Douglas had a distinctive chin, razor-sharp cheekbones and a jutting jaw - looks that he passed along to Michael - and that made him a natural for playing all manner of rugged characters. He also had a demanding nature that earned him a reputation in his prime as the actor who directed directors. REUTERS/Fred Prouser
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Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA's all-time greatest players, was killed at age 41 on January 26 in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Bryant rocketed to fame as an 18-year-old rookie drafted straight out of high school, at the time an unusual career path and spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers before retiring in 2016. Apart from the five championship rings, he made 18 All-Star teams and in 2008 was named league MVP. Bryant called his daughter Gianna "Mambacita" after his own court nickname, "Black Mamba," confident she would follow in his footsteps and become a professional basketball player. He had been coaching her middle-school team since his retirement.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA's all-time greatest players, was killed at age 41 on January 26 in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Bryant rocketed to fame as an 18-year-old rookie drafted...more

Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA's all-time greatest players, was killed at age 41 on January 26 in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Bryant rocketed to fame as an 18-year-old rookie drafted straight out of high school, at the time an unusual career path and spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers before retiring in 2016. Apart from the five championship rings, he made 18 All-Star teams and in 2008 was named league MVP. Bryant called his daughter Gianna "Mambacita" after his own court nickname, "Black Mamba," confident she would follow in his footsteps and become a professional basketball player. He had been coaching her middle-school team since his retirement. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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Terry Jones, one of the Monty Python comedy team and director of religious satire "Life of Brian," as well as an author, historian and poet, died January 21 at the age of 77. Jones was one of the creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the British TV show that rewrote the rules of comedy with surreal sketches, characters and catchphrases, in 1969. He co-directed the team's first film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with fellow Python Terry Gilliam, and directed the subsequent Life of Brian and "The Meaning of Life." One of Jones' best-known roles was that of Brian's mother in Life of Brian released in 1979, who screeches at worshippers from an open window: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy." Another was the hugely obese Mr Creosote who explodes in a restaurant at the end of an enormous meal after eating a "wafer-thin mint." As well as his comedy work, Jones wrote about medieval and ancient history, including a critique of Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale."

REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Terry Jones, one of the Monty Python comedy team and director of religious satire "Life of Brian," as well as an author, historian and poet, died January 21 at the age of 77. Jones was one of the creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the British...more

Terry Jones, one of the Monty Python comedy team and director of religious satire "Life of Brian," as well as an author, historian and poet, died January 21 at the age of 77. Jones was one of the creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the British TV show that rewrote the rules of comedy with surreal sketches, characters and catchphrases, in 1969. He co-directed the team's first film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with fellow Python Terry Gilliam, and directed the subsequent Life of Brian and "The Meaning of Life." One of Jones' best-known roles was that of Brian's mother in Life of Brian released in 1979, who screeches at worshippers from an open window: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy." Another was the hugely obese Mr Creosote who explodes in a restaurant at the end of an enormous meal after eating a "wafer-thin mint." As well as his comedy work, Jones wrote about medieval and ancient history, including a critique of Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale." REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
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Former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, who died February 4 aged 95, held power for longer than any other leader since independence and left a legacy of corruption that still haunts the East African nation today. Moi was usually pictured carrying an ivory baton and described by critics as a virtual dictator. But, for all its poverty, he left Kenya more stable than many other countries in the region emerging from colonial rule. The then vice-president came to power in 1978 when President Jomo Kenyatta died. Diplomats said an attempted coup four years later transformed him from a cautious, insecure leader into a tough autocrat. His government set up torture chambers in the basement of Nyayo House, a building in Nairobi's city center that now houses the immigration department. Thousands of activists, students and academics were held without charge in the underground cells, some of them partly filled with water. Prisoners say they were sometimes denied food and water. He won elections in 1992 and 1997 amid divided opposition. But he was booed and heckled into retirement when term limits forced him to step down in 2002 and he lived quietly for years on his sprawling estate in the Rift Valley.

REUTERS/George Mulala

Former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, who died February 4 aged 95, held power for longer than any other leader since independence and left a legacy of corruption that still haunts the East African nation today. Moi was usually pictured carrying an...more

Former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, who died February 4 aged 95, held power for longer than any other leader since independence and left a legacy of corruption that still haunts the East African nation today. Moi was usually pictured carrying an ivory baton and described by critics as a virtual dictator. But, for all its poverty, he left Kenya more stable than many other countries in the region emerging from colonial rule. The then vice-president came to power in 1978 when President Jomo Kenyatta died. Diplomats said an attempted coup four years later transformed him from a cautious, insecure leader into a tough autocrat. His government set up torture chambers in the basement of Nyayo House, a building in Nairobi's city center that now houses the immigration department. Thousands of activists, students and academics were held without charge in the underground cells, some of them partly filled with water. Prisoners say they were sometimes denied food and water. He won elections in 1992 and 1997 amid divided opposition. But he was booed and heckled into retirement when term limits forced him to step down in 2002 and he lived quietly for years on his sprawling estate in the Rift Valley. REUTERS/George Mulala
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Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush, died January 7 at the age of 67. Among the most admired drummers in rock music, Peart was famous for his massive drum kits -- more than 40 different drums were not out of the norm -- precise playing style and onstage showmanship. He joined Rush in 1974 alongside frontman and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The Canadian band played a final tour in 2015 culminating in a final show at the Forum in Los Angeles. Often used as a punchline in movies and pop culture, Rush was among the biggest bands of the last 50 years, selling millions of albums in a career that spanned 19 studio albums and multiple live collections as well as elaborate box sets.

REUTERS/Ethan Miller

Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush, died January 7 at the age of 67. Among the most admired drummers in rock music, Peart was famous for his massive drum kits -- more than 40 different drums were not out of the norm -- precise playing style and onstage...more

Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush, died January 7 at the age of 67. Among the most admired drummers in rock music, Peart was famous for his massive drum kits -- more than 40 different drums were not out of the norm -- precise playing style and onstage showmanship. He joined Rush in 1974 alongside frontman and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The Canadian band played a final tour in 2015 culminating in a final show at the Forum in Los Angeles. Often used as a punchline in movies and pop culture, Rush was among the biggest bands of the last 50 years, selling millions of albums in a career that spanned 19 studio albums and multiple live collections as well as elaborate box sets. REUTERS/Ethan Miller
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Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure, died January 1 at the age of 77. Under Stern, the NBA experienced extraordinary growth, with seven new franchises - including expansion to Canada in 1995 - a more than 30-fold increase in revenue, a dramatic gain in national TV exposure and the launch of the Women's National Basketball Association and NBA Development League. He also had a role in many other initiatives that helped shape the league, including a drug policy, salary-cap system and dress code. Stern's greatest accomplishment as commissioner is widely considered to be the way he transformed the NBA, once largely an unknown commodity outside the United States, into a globally televised powerhouse.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure, died January 1 at the age of 77. Under Stern, the NBA experienced extraordinary growth, with seven...more

Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure, died January 1 at the age of 77. Under Stern, the NBA experienced extraordinary growth, with seven new franchises - including expansion to Canada in 1995 - a more than 30-fold increase in revenue, a dramatic gain in national TV exposure and the launch of the Women's National Basketball Association and NBA Development League. He also had a role in many other initiatives that helped shape the league, including a drug policy, salary-cap system and dress code. Stern's greatest accomplishment as commissioner is widely considered to be the way he transformed the NBA, once largely an unknown commodity outside the United States, into a globally televised powerhouse. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died January 10 at age 79, transformed Oman during his 49-year reign from a poverty-stricken country torn by dissent into a prosperous state and an internationally trusted mediator for some of the region's thorniest issues. He became sultan in July 1970 after deposing his father in a palace coup with the aim of ending the country's isolation and using its oil revenue for modernisation and development. Qaboos healed old rifts in a country long divided between a conservative tribal interior and seafaring coastal region. He became known to his countrymen as "the renaissance," investing billions of dollars of oil revenues in infrastructure and building one of the best-trained armed forces in the region. While brooking no dissent at home, Qaboos charted an independent foreign policy, not taking sides in a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or in a Gulf dispute with Qatar. Muscat kept ties with both Tehran and Baghdad during the 1980--88 Iran--Iraq War, and with Iran and the United States after their diplomatic falling out in 1979. Oman helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to an historic international nuclear pact two years later.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died January 10 at age 79, transformed Oman during his 49-year reign from a poverty-stricken country torn by dissent into a prosperous state and an internationally trusted mediator for some of the region's thorniest...more

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died January 10 at age 79, transformed Oman during his 49-year reign from a poverty-stricken country torn by dissent into a prosperous state and an internationally trusted mediator for some of the region's thorniest issues. He became sultan in July 1970 after deposing his father in a palace coup with the aim of ending the country's isolation and using its oil revenue for modernisation and development. Qaboos healed old rifts in a country long divided between a conservative tribal interior and seafaring coastal region. He became known to his countrymen as "the renaissance," investing billions of dollars of oil revenues in infrastructure and building one of the best-trained armed forces in the region. While brooking no dissent at home, Qaboos charted an independent foreign policy, not taking sides in a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or in a Gulf dispute with Qatar. Muscat kept ties with both Tehran and Baghdad during the 1980--88 Iran--Iraq War, and with Iran and the United States after their diplomatic falling out in 1979. Oman helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to an historic international nuclear pact two years later. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS
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Legendary journalist Jim Lehrer died January 23 at the age of 85. Lehrer, who co-founded "PBS NewsHour," anchored the show for almost four decades before retiring in 2011. He moderated 12 president debates -- including all of the debates in 1996 and 2000 -- more than any other journalist in U.S. history.

REUTERS/Chip Somodevilla/Pool

Legendary journalist Jim Lehrer died January 23 at the age of 85. Lehrer, who co-founded "PBS NewsHour," anchored the show for almost four decades before retiring in 2011. He moderated 12 president debates -- including all of the debates in 1996 and...more

Legendary journalist Jim Lehrer died January 23 at the age of 85. Lehrer, who co-founded "PBS NewsHour," anchored the show for almost four decades before retiring in 2011. He moderated 12 president debates -- including all of the debates in 1996 and 2000 -- more than any other journalist in U.S. history. REUTERS/Chip Somodevilla/Pool
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Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, died January 24 aged 83, drawing tributes from across a political divide he helped to bridge. Mallon was a major political figure in Northern Ireland during the three decades of violence between Catholic nationalists seeking union with Ireland and Protestant unionists wanting Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. He went on to jointly head the devolved power-sharing administration that followed the peace deal and was remembered as a peacemaker who recognized, in his words, that Northern Ireland's divided communities could "live together in generosity and compassion or we can continue to die in bitter disharmony."

REUTERS/Paul McErlane

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, died January 24 aged 83, drawing tributes from across a political divide he helped to bridge. Mallon was a major political...more

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, died January 24 aged 83, drawing tributes from across a political divide he helped to bridge. Mallon was a major political figure in Northern Ireland during the three decades of violence between Catholic nationalists seeking union with Ireland and Protestant unionists wanting Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. He went on to jointly head the devolved power-sharing administration that followed the peace deal and was remembered as a peacemaker who recognized, in his words, that Northern Ireland's divided communities could "live together in generosity and compassion or we can continue to die in bitter disharmony." REUTERS/Paul McErlane
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