Vol. 5 Num 215 Fri. December 31, 2004  

Entertainment stars lost in 2004

A number of major figures from the entertainment and arts world died in 2004. To the vast majority of us every one of these writers, performers and artists was a complete stranger, yet they regularly connected with us through their work. Their loss will remain keenly felt by their admirers, who are nevertheless certain of their enduring influence.

Here is a selection of those cultural figures who passed away over the last year:

Actress Janet Leigh, whose performance as a woman stabbed to death in the shower in Psycho remains a horror archetype, died aged 77 in October, while Hollywood musicals and Dallas star Howard Keel passed away in November aged 85.

Screen legend Marlon Brando, whose 60-year career was built on a series of emotionally intense roles, died aged 80 in July. Having won best actor Oscars for On the Waterfront and The Godfather, the brooding performer retained his privacy until the end, with the cause of his death remaining secret.

Superman star Christopher Reeve, who became paralysed after a riding accident in 1995, died of heart failure in October at the age of 52.

Actor and raconteur Sir Peter Ustinov, who starred in Spartacus and made the role of Agatha Christie sleuth Hercule Poirot his own, died aged 82 in March from heart failure.

Singer, pianist and soul pioneer Ray Charles died in June aged 73, barely a year after he played his 10,000th concert. Blind since the age of six, Charles' intense renditions of classic songs earned him 12 Grammy awards and the nickname The Genius. He died of acute liver disease.

US funk star Rick James, best known for his 1981 hit Super Freak, was found dead at the age of 56 following a heart attack in August. American rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of influential hip hop act Wu-Tang Clan, died aged 35 in November after a drug overdose.