Stars We've Sadly Lost So Far In 2024

Each year, we take time to honor the iconic performers who are no longer with us. While the passing of every beloved artist, actor, or performer is a sad event, it's also an occasion to look back and celebrate their lives and their creative contributions. We may revisit personal memories of times when they touched our own lives as we watched them perform or give interviews. In this way, these legendary individuals' lives are inextricably bound to our own experiences.

As we learn about the legacies of these stars, we might also be driven to seek out previously unfamiliar films, music, or other creations that they participated in during their careers. These new experiences can enhance our appreciation of these individuals and prompt us to continue learning about their lives, both personally and professionally. We can also read the final posts these celebrities made and gain insight into what they were thinking about at the end of their lives.

In 2024, it didn't take long before we lost our first Hollywood legend. Join us to discover the careers and lives of notable celebrities who passed away this year.

Glynis Johns

Tony Award-winning actor Glynis Johns died on January 4, 2024. Johns' manager Mitch Clem reported that the 100-year-old actor died of natural causes. While Johns is famous for her role as suffragist Mrs. Banks in Disney's "Mary Poppins," her film and TV career stretches an impressive 61 years and includes 91 roles. On stage, Johns got an even earlier start, performing in her first role when she was 12. A year later, she had a pivotal role in "The Children's Hour." Decades later, in 1973, Johns won the Tony for Best Actress for her performance in "A Little Light Music." In the musical, Johns debuted the song "Send in the Clowns" to great acclaim.

While Johns' ancestors were actors for generations, she had ambitions to become a scientist. However, her plans were upended by World War II. Johns decided to put all her energy into acting, imbuing her performances with authenticity. Even if it wasn't her first career choice, Johns discovered she felt inseparable from the theater. "Acting is my highest form of intelligence, the time when I use the best part of my brain," she explained to The New York Times in 1973.

In her personal life, Johns married and divorced four times. She and her first husband, actor Anthony Forwood, had one son, Gareth Forwood, who died in 2007. Johns' grandson, screenwriter Thomas Forwood, has expressed pride in his grandmother's legacy and advocated for her to receive a damehood for her 100th birthday in September 2023. 

Christian Oliver

On January 4, 51-year-old Christian Oliver and his daughters, 12-year-old Madita and 10-year-old Annik, tragically lost their lives after a plane crash near a Caribbean island, the Associated Press confirmed. Shortly after their deaths, Jessica Klepser, Oliver's ex-wife and mother to his children, released an emotional statement via Instagram. "[Madita] was known for her lively spirit and excelled in academics, dance, singing, and performances," she wrote. "[Annik] was recognized for her gentle yet strong demeanor." 

The statement requested donations instead of flowers to help Klepser honor their memory through a memorial and a funeral. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Oliver's final Instagram photo seems to have been taken during their Caribbean vacation and it featured silhouettes of his daughters witnessing a breathtaking sunset on a seashore. According to The Guardian, Oliver and Klepser had a nearly 10-year-long marriage, which lasted until 2021. They reportedly agreed to share joint legal custody of Madita and Annik.

Oliver worked as an actor for nearly two decades and started his career as Brian Keller in Season 2 of "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" in 1994. He is perhaps best known for playing Snake Oiler in the 2008 flick "Speed Racer." Oliver has also worked alongside George Clooney for "The Good German" and Tom Cruise for "Valkyrie." In December 2023, he took to Instagram to share that he had wrapped up filming for "Forever Hold Your Peace." He has also earned himself a writing credit for the 2009 comedy "Ready or Not."

Cindy Morgan

On January 6, Florida's Palm Beach County Sheriff's office confirmed that "Caddyshack" star Cindy Morgan had died at the age of 69, The Independent reported. Although officials didn't disclose the exact date of her death, they revealed that she had passed away due to "natural causes." In a Facebook post, her long-time friend, Donna Ratliffe Ballenger Cheatham, shared that she had learned of Morgan's passing on New Year's Eve.

Morgan landed her first acting role in the 1979 erotic comedy "Up Yours," and followed that up with her breakout role of Lacy Underall in "Caddyshack." In a 2012 interview, Morgan shared why she pursued the film, saying, "I had nothing to lose to audition. It was fun. All I did was focus on making the person sweat. Look 'em in the eye, do that thing many women know how to do." However, embracing her sexuality didn't come naturally to Morgan. 

Speaking to The Global Townhall, Morgan explained that she didn't grow up at a time when women were taught to be expressive with their sexuality. She also spent a large portion of her childhood in a Catholic school, which only contributed to her mental battle with her sexuality. Thankfully, an empowering feminist wave occurred when she was at college and helped her find acceptance. Morgan also played the lead role of Lora in the 1982 sci-fi film, "Tron." She even made it on the small screen through the 1981 soap opera "Falcon Crest" and a small role in "ChiPs." 

Amalija Knavs

The mother of former First Lady Melania Trump, Amalija Knavs, died at 78 on January 9, 2024, after being hospitalized for an undisclosed illness for weeks. Trump released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, on the evening of her mother's death, describing Knavs as "a strong woman who always carried herself with grace, warmth, and dignity." The younger of Knavs' two daughters commended her late mother for her dedication to her family. 

Knavs was born to a seamstress mother and a cobbler and red onion farmer father in Slovenia, which was then a republic of Yugoslavia. She worked as a pattern maker at a local children's clothing factory, which Trump would later say inspired her pursuit of a fashion career. Knavs met her husband and future father of her two daughters, Viktor Knavs, in 1966. The couple had their first daughter, Ines Knauss, two years later, and Melania was born two years after that in 1970. After Melania left Slovenia to pursue a modeling career in the United States, her sister and two parents followed, settling in New York City. 

Amalija was a dedicated grandmother, helping her daughter raise her only son, Barron Trump, while living in New York City's Trump Tower, and later, the White House. In her eulogy for her late mother, Melania Trump said, "[Barron] was my mother's compass and focus." She bestowed an appreciation for Slovenian culture in Barron by speaking to him in her native tongue and cooking him traditional Slovenian dishes.

Bill Hayes

After a successful entertainment career that spanned nearly seven decades, longtime "Days of Our Lives" star Bill Hayes died on January 12, 2024, at the age of 98. In an official statement, Hayes' agent, Gregory David Mayo, did not list a cause of death but stated the actor and musician died "peacefully, surrounded by family, including his wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes," per CNN. Hayes was one of the longest-running characters on a daytime serial in TV history, having played the character of Doug Williams on "Days" since 1970. 

Prior to his decades-long career in daytime TV, Hayes fought in WWII as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. Upon the end of the war, Hayes returned to his native Illinois and pursued a degree in Music and English. He would later become a commercially successful singer, performing on variety shows and releasing pop singles before an unexpected role as a chorus member in "Carousel" piqued his interest in acting. Hayes would go on to appear in multiple television shows, feature films, and Broadway productions. 

Hayes had five children with his first wife, Mary Hobbs, to whom he was married from 1947 to 1969. He later married his "Days" co-star Susan, whom he would later marry on the show as well. Hayes told Soap Opera Digest in 2018 that two years after their intimate living room wedding, "[Our characters] Doug and Julie married, and they used exactly the same words that we used in our living room."

Alec Musser

Abercrombie & Fitch model-turned-soap opera star Alec Musser died by suicide at his Del Mar, California, home on January 12, 2024. He was 50 years old. In several since-deleted Instagram posts, Musser's fiancée Paige Press wrote, "I will never stop loving you. My heart is broken. [...] You were the best fiancée I could of ever asked for" (via People). Musser's Instagram profile featured photos of the actor and model enjoying the outdoors while surfing, skiing, mountain biking, and spending time with his fiancée and two dogs, Calle and Rue. 

Musser was recruited by an agent to model for a 2002 Abercrombie & Fitch campaign while working odd jobs in southern California. Three years later, Musser landed a role on "All My Children" after winning the reality TV contest "I Wanna Be a Soap Star." After appearing in 43 episodes over the course of two years, Musser had minor roles in Adam Sandler's comedy "Grown Ups," television drama "Desperate Housewives," and Lifetime sitcom "Rita Rocks." He also co-produced the 2020 musical romance "Best Summer Ever."

Sandler wrote a touching tribute to the late actor on Instagram following the news of Musser's death, calling him "such a wonderful, funny, good man. A true great sweetheart." Musser's obituary in the San Diego Tribune (via Legacy) described him as "an avid adventure seeker" who lived a life of duality as a bookworm athlete, sensitive but fierce competitor, and "public persona with a private struggle with anxiety and depression."

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David Gail

Soap opera star David Gail died due to complications related to heart failure after being on life support for several days on January 20, 2024. An official cause of death is pending on toxicology report results, but a statement made by a representative of Gail's emphasized that the actor's family did not suspect the cause of death was related to anything other than heart failure. The statement lauded Gail for his devotion to his friends and family, adding, "He possessed a unique quality that made everyone feel special in his presence" (via People). 

Gail was featured in several television series and movies in the mid to late 1990s before getting his big break as Dr. Joe Scanlon in the "General Hospital" spinoff "Port Charles." He appeared in over 200 episodes of the series. Gail also played a minor role in "Beverly Hills, 90210" as Shannen Doherty's character Brenda Walsh's fiancé. He later broke into feature films, co-starring with Juliette Lewis in "Some Girl" and playing opposite Bradley Cooper in "Bending All the Rules." After an 11-year hiatus from the entertainment industry, Gail returned to Hollywood as a voice actor for the video game "Blacksad: Under the Skin." 

Gail's sister, Katie Colmenares, shared the news of her brother's passing on her Instagram account, writing, "There's barely been even a day in my life when you were not with me by my side always my wingman always my best friend ready to face anything and anyone [with] me."

Dexter King

The youngest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Dexter Scott King, died in his Malibu, California, home at the age of 62 on January 22, 2024. His passing marked the end of an arduous battle with prostate cancer. In a statement released by The King Center, Dexter's wife, Leah Weber King, wrote, "[Dexter] transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu. He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end. As with all the challenges in his life, he faced this hurdle with bravery and might."

Dexter perpetuated his father's legacy of nonviolent civil activism in spirit and career, becoming the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of The King Center in 2005. The center's statement commended his dedication to learning intellectual property law in order to best manage the licensing and distribution of his father's life work. The youngest of the four King children also bore the most striking resemblance to their father. Dexter used this likeness in his 1999 role in "Our Friend, Martin" and an on-screen appearance as his father in the 2002 film "The Rosa Parks Story." 

Dexter married his longtime partner Leah Weber in a small, southern California ceremony in July 2013. The couple had no children. Dexter is survived by his wife and two siblings, Martin Luther King III and the Reverend Bernice King. The fourth King sibling, Yolanda King, died in 2007, one year after their mother.

Chita Rivera

After a groundbreaking, trailblazing career on stage and television, Chita Rivera died at the age of 91 following a brief illness. Rivera's daughter, Lisa Dormente, released the succinct statement on January 30, 2024. Rivera became one of American musical theater's most beloved icons after forging an immensely successful career on Broadway and, later, on television over almost seven decades. Her New York Times obituary stated she died in New York.

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in 1933, Rivera began studying dance, voice, and piano while growing up in Washington, D.C. After receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York City, Rivera continued her training and began landing progressively larger roles in Broadway productions. By 1957, Rivera had cemented her place as a star for her fiery portrayal of Anita in "West Side Story." She would later star in other notable roles like Velma Kelly in "Chicago" and Rosie in "Bye Bye Birdie."

Rivera received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 from President Barack Obama, in addition to several Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Theatre World Awards. She continued performing well into her 80s, telling in 2015 that she had no plans to retire. "Gosh, no. That's up to God. But in the meantime, life is fabulous, and I'm lucky enough to have lived a long time while surrounded by the greatest creative people. I have too much to dance and sing about yet, and too many people to entertain," the performer said.

Toby Keith

Just under three years after being diagnosed with stomach cancer and after undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments, country superstar Toby Keith died at the age of 62. A statement on his website on February 6 read, "Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage." Keith is survived by his wife, Tricia Keith; two daughters, Shelley Covel and Krystal Sandubrae; his son, Stelen; and four grandchildren.

Before Keith was a multimillionaire musical icon, he worked in Oklahoma oil fields and played on a semi-professional football team to make ends meet. After landing a record deal with Mercury Records, Keith's first smash hit, "Should've Been a Cowboy," propelled him to stardom in 1993. The song was played millions of times on the radio, breaking records as one of the most-played country songs of the 1990s. Keith went on to release other successful hits like "Beer for My Horses," "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," and "I Love This Bar."

The country singer remained a performer until the very end, performing a weekend of sold-out shows at Park MGM in Las Vegas, Nevada, weeks before he died. His final Instagram post featured a photo of Keith raising his guitar over his head toward the Las Vegas crowd with the caption: "And that's a wrap on the weekend, y'all. Back to it." Sadly, he died later that night.

Thomas Kingston

Thomas Kingston was found dead at 45 at his parents' home in Gloucestershire, England, on Sunday, February 25. The ex-boyfriend of Kate Middleton's younger sister, Pippa Middleton, joined the royal family in 2019 when he married Lady Gabriella Kingston (née Windsor), whose father is Prince Michael of Kent. The Gloucestershire Coroner's Court confirmed the English financier died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The cause of death was listed as suicide, per the Mirror.

Before working as a financier, Kingston worked at the International Centre for Reconciliation in Iraq, where he mediated hostage negotiations and had frequent close encounters with improvised explosive device attacks. Former colleagues of Kingston's spoke to the Telegraph following the news of his death, describing the royal as a fearless Christian who devoted himself to his work even amid an active war zone. Those who saw Kingston in the weeks leading up to his death said nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"We are so upset about the news; everybody loved him," a friend told the Telegraph. "He was kind, charming, and thoroughly decent and one of the last true English gentlemen. It is beyond tragic and so hard to get one's head around." A statement from Thomas Kingston's wife, Lady Gabriella, and Kingston's surviving relatives, read, "Tom was an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him" (via the Independent).

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Garrison Brown

On Tuesday, March 6, "Sister Wives" stars Kody and Janelle Brown announced that their son, Robert "Garrison" Brown, had died at the age of 25 the previous evening. TMZ reported that Garrison was found dead, holding a handgun, by his brother, Gabriel Brown. Garrison's three roommates reportedly told police they had heard a loud "pop" on Monday evening, but that no one thought it was a gunshot or checked on Garrison. Janelle reportedly told Garrison's siblings to check on him after he sent a concerning text to a group chat presumed to be associated with "Sister Wives" colleagues, which read, "I want to hate you for sharing the good times. But I can't. I miss these days."

Garrison's rocky relationship with his father, Kody Brown, was well documented on the TLC program that followed Kody, his four wives, and 18 children. Per TMZ, Garrison's roommates said he struggled with alcohol. Otherwise, Garrison's loved ones believed he was doing well. Just days before his tragically premature death, Garrison posted a photo of his new rescue cat, Ms. Buttons, on Instagram.

Garrison Brown joined the Nevada Army National Guard in 2015. He frequently posted photos of his travels, the stars, and spending time with his friends and family. Janelle and Kody Brown's joint Instagram statement said Garrison "was a bright spot in the lives of all who knew him. Our loss will leave such a big hole in our lives, that it takes our breath away."

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Barbara Rush

Actor Barbara Rush died on March 31, 2024. Her daughter, Claudia Cowan, shared the news via Instagram. "There's another star shining on us tonight," Cowan wrote. My beautiful mother was called to heaven on Easter of all days — a nod to the transition and resilience and joy we celebrate on this happy holiday — and I know she will stay alive in our hearts through cherished memories and movie reruns." Rush was 97 years old.

The actor began her long career in Hollywood in the early 1950s, winning a Golden Globe award for "New Star of the Year" for her role as Ellen in the 1954 sci-fi/horror film "It Came from Outer Space." She went on to share the silver screen with an impressive list of leading men. Rush paired with Tony Curtis for "The Black Shield of Falworth," and starred in "Captain Lightfoot" with Rock Hudson. There was also "The Young Philadelphians" with Paul Newman, and "The Young Lions" with Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin. As her daughter noted, Rush was "among the last of Old Hollywood Royalty."

Rush transitioned to television in the 1960s and starred in the primetime drama "Peyton Place" for 75 episodes. In the '80s, she repeated her evening soap opera fame with "Flamingo Road," and in the '90s, moved to daytime to play Nola in "All My Children." Her last television role was the recurring part of Ruth Camden in "7th Heaven."