From Queen Elizabeth and Loretta Lynn to Pelé and a Pope: 50 Influential People Who Passed in 2022
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Over the past year, numerous high-profile passings made headlines – from heroic history-makers to prolific entertainers, they all made a profound impact on our world.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II may have captured the most headlines after she reigned longer than any monarch in centuries. After 70 years on the throne, her parting in September was arguably the most high-profile death of 2022, prompting a broad outpouring of grief and respect for her steady leadership and even her public pronouncements of Christian faith.
In the Christian community, CBN noted the deaths of several leading ladies, including CBN's own first lady Dede Robertson, and Pastor Beni Johnson, wife of Bethel Church Pastor Bill Johnson.
Other major headlines included the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who played a key role in the collapse of Russian communism and the end of the Cold War.
The year ended with several more exceptionally notable losses, including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Brazilian national soccer legend Pelé, and groundbreaking journalist Barbara Walters.
Others had contributed to the world through arts and entertainment, like groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier; Country singers Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd; singer-actor Olivia Newton-John; and actors Angela Lansbury, Tony Dow, and James Caan.
Here are 50 familiar and less-familiar names who entered eternity, listed in the order of their passing. Most of them contributed in positive ways while there were also some notorious individuals of note:
- Peter Bogdanovich, 82. The ascot-wearing cinephile and director of 1970s black-and-white classics like “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon,” and comedies like "What's Up Doc?" Jan. 6.
- Sidney Poitier, 94. He played roles of such dignity and intelligence that he transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen, becoming the first Black actor to win an Oscar for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw. Jan. 6.
- Bob Saget, 65. The actor-comedian known for his role as beloved single dad Danny Tanner on the sitcom “Full House” and as the wisecracking host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Jan. 9.
- Ronnie Spector, 78. The cat-eyed, bee-hived rock ‘n’ roll siren who sang such 1960s hits as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as the leader of the girl group the Ronettes. Jan. 12.
- Fred Parris, 85. The lead singer of the 1950s harmony group the Five Satins and composer of the classic doo-wop ballad “In the Still of the Night.” Jan. 13.
- Charles McGee, 102. A Tuskegee Airman who flew 409 fighter combat missions over three wars and later helped to bring attention to the Black pilots who battled racism at home to fight for freedom abroad. Jan. 16.
- Luc Montagnier, 89. A French researcher who won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the HIV virus and more recently questioned the mainstream narrative about the coronavirus. Feb. 8.
- Betty Davis, 77. A bold and pioneering funk singer, model and songwriter of the 1960s and ‘70s who was credited with inspiring then-husband Miles Davis’ landmark fusion of jazz and more contemporary sounds. Feb. 9.
- P.J. O’Rourke, 74. The prolific author and satirist who re-fashioned the irreverence and “Gonzo” journalism of the 1960s counterculture into a distinctive brand of conservative and libertarian commentary. Feb. 15.
- Gail S. Halvorsen, 101. A U.S. military pilot known as the “Candy Bomber” for his candy airdrops during the Berlin Airlift after World War II ended. Feb. 16.
- Dr. Paul Farmer, 62. A U.S. physician, humanitarian and author renowned for providing health care to millions of impoverished people worldwide and who co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health. Feb. 21.
- Autherine Lucy Foster, 92. The first Black student to enroll at the University of Alabama. March 2.
- Brent Renaud, 50. An acclaimed filmmaker who traveled to some of the darkest and most dangerous corners of the world for documentaries that transported audiences to little-known places of suffering. March 13. Killed in Ukraine when Russian forces opened fire on his vehicle.
- Don Young, 88. The Alaska congressman was the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House. March 18.
- Madeleine Albright, 84. A child refugee from Nazi- and then Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe who rose to become the first female secretary of state and a mentor to many current and former American statesmen and women. March 23.
- Estelle Harris, 93. She hollered her way into TV history as George Costanza’s short-fused mother on “Seinfeld” and voiced Mrs. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” franchise. April 2.
- Mimi Reinhard, 107. A secretary in Oskar Schindler’s office who typed up the list of Jews he saved from extermination by Nazi Germany. April 8.
- Dede Robertson, 94. The wife of Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson and a founding board member of the Christian Broadcasting Network. April 19.
- Orrin G. Hatch, 88. The longest-serving Republican senator in history who was a fixture in Utah politics for more than four decades. April 23.
- Dr. Morton Mower, 89. A former Maryland-based cardiologist who helped invent an automatic implantable defibrillator that has helped countless heart patients live longer and healthier. April 25.
- Naomi Judd, 76. Her family harmonies with daughter Wynonna turned them into the Grammy-winning country stars The Judds. April 30. Died by suicide.
- Midge Decter, 94. A leading neoconservative writer and commentator who in blunt and tenacious style helped lead the right’s attack in the culture wars as she opposed the rise of feminism, affirmative action and the gay rights movement. May 9.
- Leonid Kravchuk, 88. He led Ukraine to independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as its first president. May 10.
- Rosmarie Trapp, 93. Her Austrian family the von Trapps was made famous in the musical and beloved movie “The Sound of Music.” May 13.
- Vangelis, 79. The Greek electronic composer who wrote the unforgettable Academy Award-winning score for the film “Chariots of Fire” and music for dozens of other movies, documentaries and TV series. May 17.
- Ray Liotta, 67. The actor best known for playing mobster Henry Hill in “Goodfellas” and baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams.” May 26.
- Józef Walaszczyk, 102. A member of the Polish resistance who rescued dozens of Jews during the Nazi German occupation of Poland during World War II. June 20.
- Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, 98. The last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, whose heroics under fire over several crucial hours at the Battle of Iwo Jima made him a legend in his native West Virginia. June 29.
- James Caan, 82. The curly-haired tough guy known to movie fans as the hotheaded Sonny Corleone of “The Godfather” and to television audiences as the dying football player in the classic weeper “Brian’s Song.” He later acted as the father in the Christmas comedy "Elf.” July 6.
- Shinzo Abe, 67. Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, he was also perhaps the most polarizing, complex politician in recent Japanese history. July 8. Fatally shot during a campaign speech.
- Ivana Trump, 73. A skier-turned-businesswoman who formed half of a publicity power couple in the 1980s as the first wife of former President Donald Trump and mother of his oldest children. July 14. Injuries suffered in an accident.
- Tony Dow, 77. As Wally Cleaver on the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” he helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s. July 27.
- Bill Russell, 88. The NBA great who anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years - the last two as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport - and marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. July 31.
- Ayman al-Zawahri, 71. An Egyptian surgeon who became a mastermind of radical Islamic terrorism against America and the West. He took over as al-Qaida leader after Osama bin Laden’s death in a U.S. raid. July 31. Killed by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.
- Olivia Newton-John, 73. The Grammy-winning superstar who reigned on pop, country, adult contemporary and dance charts with such hits as “Physical” and “You’re the One That I Want” and won countless hearts as everyone’s favorite Sandy in the blockbuster film version of “Grease.” Aug. 8.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, 91. The last leader of the Soviet Union, he set out to revitalize it but ended up unleashing forces that led to the collapse of communism, the breakup of the state and the end of the Cold War. Aug. 30.
- Bernard Shaw, 82. CNN’s chief anchor for two decades and a pioneering Black broadcast journalist best remembered for calmly reporting the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991 as missiles flew around him in Baghdad. Sept. 7.
- Queen Elizabeth II, 96. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century. Sept. 8.
- Ken Starr, 76. A former federal appellate judge and a prominent attorney whose criminal investigation of Bill Clinton led to the president’s impeachment and put Starr at the center of one of the country’s most polarizing debates of the 1990s. Sept. 13.
- Loretta Lynn, 90. The Kentucky coal miner’s daughter whose frank songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia pulled her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music. Oct. 4.
- Angela Lansbury, 96. The scene-stealing British actor who kicked up her heels in the Broadway musicals “Mame” and “Gypsy” and solved endless murders as crime novelist Jessica Fletcher in the long-running TV series “Murder, She Wrote.” Oct. 11.
- Jerry Lee Lewis, 87. The untamable rock ‘n’ roll pioneer whose outrageous talent, energy and ego collided on such definitive records as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and sustained a career otherwise upended by personal scandal. Oct. 28.
- The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, 73. He fought poverty and racism and skillfully navigated New York’s power structure as pastor of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. Oct. 28.
- Jason David Frank, 49. He played the Green Power Ranger Tommy Oliver on the 1990s children’s series “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” Nov. 19.
- Jiang Zemin, 96. He led China out of isolation after the army crushed the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989 and supported economic reforms that led to a decade of explosive growth. Nov. 30.
- Kirstie Alley, 71. A two-time Emmy winner whose roles on the TV mega-hit “Cheers” and in the “Look Who’s Talking” films made her one of the biggest stars in American comedy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dec. 5.
- Franco Harris, 72. The Hall of Fame running back whose heads-up thinking authored the “Immaculate Reception,” considered the most iconic play in NFL history. Dec. 20.
- Pelé, 82. The Brazilian king of soccer who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century - as soccer's most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team. Dec. 29.
- Barbara Walters, 93. An intrepid interviewer, anchor and program host, she led the way as the first woman to become a TV news superstar. Dec. 30.
- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 95. A German theologian who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe and who will be remembered as the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. Benedict announced in 2013 that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church. Dec. 31.
This list was primarily compiled using Associated Press material.
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