Some famous people who passed away in 2022

Robbie Coltrane, Olivia Newton-John, Taylor Hawkins, Dame Deborah James, Dame Angela Lansbury, Vivienne Westwood, Pele and Queen Elizabeth II are among the famous faces we have lost

The past year has seen a number of celebrities and famous figures lose their lives.

The biggest figures who died in 2022 include, of course, Queen Elizabeth II, as the longest reign in British history came to an end.

Other notable names who passed away include Sidney Poiter, the first black man to win the Oscar for best actor, Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane, cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James, and Grease actress Olivia Newton-John.

As the year draws to a close, the Standard looks back at some of the famous faces who have died this year.

The late Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

It really was the end of an era when the Queen died peacefully in September at her Balmoral home in Scotland aged 96.

Born in London on 21 April 1926, she became Queen in 1952 at the age of 25, following the death of her father, King George VI. She was also head of the Commonwealth, commander-in-chief of the British armed forces, and supreme governor of the Church of England, as well as patron of more than 600 charities and organisations.

Away from her official duties, she was a devoted wife and mother to four children, and dedicated grandmother to eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

“Trailblazing” Bahamian-American actor and diplomat Sidney Poiter was the first black man to win the Oscar for best actor, taking home the famous statuette in 1964 for his performance in Lilies Of The Field.

Known for highlighting issues faced by black people at the time, the Hollywood star appeared in dozens of films and TV shows including In The Heat Of The Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

As well as being a decorated actor, he was also an international diplomat, serving as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan between 1997 and 2007, and to UNESCO between 2002 and 2007. Knighted in 1974, in 2009 he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US, by Barack Obama.

Poitier died aged 94 in January, primarily of heart failure after also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer, according to his death certificate. Obama led the tributes to a star who “epitomised dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together”.



Tributes poured in from across the globe to the great Pelé  following his death aged 82 on December 29.

The Brazilian forward, widely regarded as one of the best footballers of all time, had been in hospital in Sao Paulo since late November.

In a statement, the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo said Pele died at 3.27pm local time on Thursday “due to the failure of multiple organs as a result of the progression of colon cancer”.

Brazil’s government announced it would hold three days of national mourning for the “great man and superb athlete”, who scored an incredible 1,281 goals across the length of his career.

Pele won the World Cup with Brazil three times, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Ivana Trump

The first wife of former US president Donald Trump, Ivana Trump was the mother of his three eldest children, Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric.

Partners in love and business – with her playing roles such as manager of one of his Atlantic City casinos – they were fixtures of New York’s social scene before their divorce in 1992; this came after Mr Trump met Marla Maples, the woman who would become his second wife.

Following the divorce, Ivana Trump went on to become an entrepreneur in her own right, starting a fashion line and writing various books. She married and divorced her third and fourth husbands and even made a movie cameo as America’s most famous ex-wife in The First Wives Club, in which she delivered the line: “Don’t get mad – get everything!”

She died aged 73 after falling down a flight of stairs at her home in New York City, suffering “blunt impact injuries” to her torso.


Dancer, producer and DJ of the Ellen Show Stephen Boss, best known by the name tWitch, died by suicide in Los Angeles, leaving the entertainment industry and his fans shaken by his loss.

Boss’s manner of death was ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, and was caused by a gunshot wound to the head.

Boss was found dead at the Oak Tree Inn in Encino, California, where he checked in on Monday, after he did not check out and management went to check on him, according to Entertainment Tonight.

Tom Parker

Parker was was one of five members of British-Irish boyband The Wanted, known for hits including Glad You Came, All Time Low, and Chasing The Sun.

In October 2020 he revealed he had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and had gone through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In later interviews, he told how the growth had shrunk and said he was feeling well – and even reunited with his bandmates on stage for their first show in seven years.

In the last few months of his life, he used his platform to raise funds and call for better treatment for those suffering from brain illnesses, telling an all-parliamentary group that he was “staggered” the COVID vaccine had been developed so quickly “but, for decades on end, they haven’t found better treatments let alone a cure for brain tumours”.

Parker died aged 33, leaving behind his wife Kelsey and their two children, Aurelia Rose, born in 2019, and Bodhi, who born in October 2021, as the star was being treated.

The Brain Tumour Research charity joined his bandmates and other stars who paid tribute following his death, saying he would be remembered for his “passion, intelligence, eloquence and determination in the face of such adversity”.

Dame Deborah James

Podcaster and campaigner Dame Deborah James’s frank accounts of life with bowel cancer sparked an extraordinary deluge of charity donations in the weeks before and after her death.

The driving force behind the BBC podcast You, Me and The Big C, Dame Deborah broke the news to followers that she had moved into end-of-life hospice care at home in May 2022, and within 24 hours had raised more than £1.6m for research into the disease.

The Bowel Babe fund continued to rise, reaching more than £7.5m following her death.

Her family said the 40-year-old passed away peacefully, saying she had told them: “I am not brave – I am not dignified going towards my death – I am simply a scared girl who is doing something she has no choice in but I know I am grateful for the life that I have had.”

James Caan

Actor James Caan’s big break came in 1972, when he played the hot-headed and turbulent Sonny in The Godfather – a role which saw him nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor, as well as a Golden Globe. He later reprised the role in Godfather II.

He also played Paul Sheldon, the author held captive by Kathy Bates’ manic Annie Wilkes in Stephen King horror Misery, and found a different generation of fans with his performance in Christmas comedy Elf, playing the strict businessman father of Will Ferrell’s Santa’s helper.

Other films included Honeymoon In Vegas, Bulletproof, Mickey Blue Eyes and Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.

He died at the age of 82, his family confirmed.

Shinzo Abe

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving leader, was assassinated in a close-range shooting at a campaign rally in the city of Nara.

More than 4,300 people attended his state funeral, which sparked protests across the country over its cost and widening economic disparities caused by the former prime minister’s policies. State funerals in Japan have historically been reserved for the emperor.

Abe served two terms as prime minister before stepping down in 2020, saying a chronic health problem had resurfaced. He had suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager.

Robbie Coltrane

Best known for playing Hagrid in the Harry Potter film franchise – and for starring as criminal psychologist Dr Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in the 1990s TV crime drama Cracker – Robbie Coltrane was always known as a larger-than-life presence on screen and off.

Other roles included dictionary creator Samuel Johnson in Blackadder The Third in 1987, Big Jazza in Tutti Frutti, and he appeared in eight films alongside former members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus; Eric Idle was his opposite number in Nuns On The Run (1990) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985).

Coltrane also played KGB man Valentin Zukovsky in the James Bond film Goldeneye (1995), a role he took on again in The World Is Not Enough.

He won three BAFTA awards for his work on Cracker and also an outstanding achievement award from BAFTA Scotland in 2011. In 2006, he collected an OBE from the Queen for services to drama.

He died aged 72, with his agent describing him as a “wonderful actor” and “forensically intelligent”.


Takeoff, real name Kirsnick Khari Ball, was best known as a member of Atlanta rap trio Migos along with his uncle, Quavo, and cousin, Offset.

The trio rose to fame with the viral single Versace in 2013 and went on to have a number of hit tracks including the 2016 Grammy-nominated Bad And Boujee, Motorsport (with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, who is married to Offset) and Stir Fry.

The 28-year-old was shot outside a bowling alley in Houston, Texas, with Migos’s label saying he was killed by a “stray bullet” and condemning “senseless violence”.

Paying tribute, Offset said his heart was “shattered”, while Quavo described his nephew as “our angel”.

Dame Vivienne Westwood

Legendary British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood died on 29 December.

A statement said she died in Clapham, surrounded by her family.

Dame Vivienne found fame in the 1970s when she brought punk fashions into the mainstream, running a boutique on London’s King’s Road alongside Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.

She went on to establish a global fashion brand which today has stores in the UK, France, Italy, America and Asia.

“Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London. The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better,” her fashion house tweeted.

Her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said: “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart.”

Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to step down from the role when he resigned in 2013, citing old age [File: Tony Gentile/Vatican]
Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to step down from the role when he resigned in 2013, citing old age [File: Tony Gentile/Vatican]

Former pope Benedict XVI

Former pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, died aged 95 on 31 December.

The Pope Emeritus had lived in the Vatican since he stepped down in 2013.

He had become increasingly frail in recent years after dedicating his post-papal life to prayer and meditation.

Benedict’s surprise announcement to stand aside shocked the Catholic world, and forced the church to grapple with an event it had not seen in centuries.

He said he wanted to resign as he no longer had the physical and mental strength to run the church.

He held the powerful role for 24 years, earning the nickname “God’s Rottweiler” for his strictly conservative theological views.

Some ultra-traditionalists even refused to acknowledge Pope Francis as a legitimate pontiff after Benedict stood down, criticising Francis for his more welcoming approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community and to Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the Church, arguing both were undermining traditional values.



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