27 December 2022

Celebrity deaths of 2022: Olivia Newton-John, Meat Loaf and Deborah James among sad roll-call

27 December 2022

Actress Dame Olivia Newton-John, singer Meat Loaf and podcaster and activist Dame Deborah James were among the stars who died in 2022.

The past year saw a number of shocking and unexpected deaths of much-loved celebrities along with the loss of veterans from the entertainment industry.

Here are some of the high-profile figures who were mourned during the last 12 months:


Sidney PoitierThe 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 SagetThe 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 LoafThe American singer, known for hits such as Bat Out Of Hell, 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 MuglerThe French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, 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.

Barry CryerThe 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 ReitmanThe 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 EdwardsThe 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 HurtThe 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 HawkinsHawkins, 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 ParkerThe 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.


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

An EastEnders spokeswoman 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 HigginsThe 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 WatermanThe 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 LiottaThe 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 DeveyThe former Dragons’ Den star died aged 65 after a long illness.

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

Anne HecheThe Hollywood actress 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.


Dame Deborah JamesThe 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.


Bernard CribbinsThe 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.


Dame Olivia Newton-JohnDame 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 BriggsThe 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 and When The Wind Blows.


Bill TurnbullThe 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 ValentineThe 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 MantelThe 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.


Dame Angela LansburyThe Irish-British and American actress was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in the drama series Murder, She Wrote.

She died “peacefully” in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.

Robbie ColtraneThe Harry Potter and Cracker actor died aged 72.

The Scottish star, whose real name was Anthony Robert McMillan, was best known for playing the beloved Hogwarts gamekeeper Hagrid and starring as criminal psychologist Dr Eddie ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald in ITV’s crime drama Cracker.

Leslie JordanThe 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 CarterThe 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 PhillipsThe 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, hello” and “I say!”

Christine McVieThe 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.


Kirstie AlleyThe US actress 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

The lead singer of The Specials 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.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox