Remembering the Black Stars Lost in 2020Dec 30, 2020 08:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
This year, we've sadly said goodbye to many notable celebrities and other influential people. FunTimes Magazine commemorates some of the Black stars we lost this year and remembers their achievements.
Actor Chadwick Boseman sadly lost his four-year battle with colon cancer at the age of 43 on August 28. He is best known for his role as T’Challa, the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His role as the King of Wakanda won Boseman the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Performance in a Movie and Best Hero.
Best known for her role in the comedy series Glee, Naya Rivera was found dead on July 13, after missing for five days while boating with her son. The 33-year-old actress-singer had rented a pontoon boat for them to enjoy the water but three hours later, it was spotted adrift with only her son on board in his life jacket. She won several awards as a cast member of Glee, including a Screen Actors Guild Award, Teen Choice Award, and a Grammy Award.
NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in January. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were traveling for a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy. The helicopter reportedly crashed amid foggy conditions and a small brush fire erupted. Fondly called The Black Mamba, Bryant won two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his 2017 film Dear Basketball.
American singer, guitarist, and professional baseball player Charley Pride passed away from COVID-19 complications on December 12 at the age of 86. A pioneer for Black country singers, he is the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Grammy award-winner is known for his hit songs ‘Kiss an Angel Good Morning’ and ‘Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone’. He received the 2020 Country Music Association Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award in November.
Actress Natalie Desselle-Reid best known for her roles in the film B.A.P.S, TV series Eve and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, passed away from colon cancer at the age of 53. Tributes to Desselle-Reid poured out from social media and B.A.P.S co-star Halle Berry said she was in total shock and heartbroken. “ Natalie represented actual Black women, not what Black women are perceived to be. For that she was often underrated, passed over-deprived of the platform she truly deserved,” said Berry.
Source: Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage/Getty
Zindziswa, a.k.a Zindzi, Mandela, South Africa's ambassador to Denmark and the youngest daughter of South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, died on July 13 at age 59. Mandela served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996 until 1998, between her parents' divorce and her father's remarriage. It was revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19 but the virus has not been said to be the cause of her death. She was buried next to her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at Fourways Memorial Park.
Tommy "Tiny" Lister
Actor Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister best known for his roles in movies like Friday, and voicing the character Finnick in Zootopia passed away on December 10. He was 62 and sadly died after experiencing coronavirus symptoms again four months after he first tested positive for COVID-19. He was a professional wrestler from the late 1980s to the late 1990s and was given the 1982 NCAA Division II National Shot Put Champion.
Bermudian actor Earl Cameron, one of the first Black actors to make it in the mainstream British film and TV industry, passed away at the age of 102 on July 3. Some of his notable roles include appearing in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball, The Interpreter, and Christoper Nolan’s hit movie Inception. Cameron was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2009 for his accomplishments, and in 2019, the Earl Cameron Award was established in his honor by the Bermuda Arts Council.
On May 10, the Grammy-winning soul singer Betty Wright died from endometrial cancer at age 66. Several of Wright's works have been sampled over the years by hip hop, rock, and R&B musicians and was known for her hits like ‘Clean Up Woman’ and ‘Tonight is the Night. Wright won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song award for composing ‘Where Is the Love’ at the 18th Annual Grammy Awards in 1976.
Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
One of South Africa’s leading veteran actresses, Mary Twala passed away at the age of 81 on July 4. Some of her most memorable roles include acting on Sarafina in 1991 as Leleti Khumalo’s grandmother. Her last role was in Black Is King, an American musical film and visual album directed, written, and executive produced by Beyoncé. In 2019, Twala was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the highest honor for an artist in South Africa.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.