Actors Who Have Passed Away In 2024 So Far

Every year, the arts community must say goodbye to many of its brightest talents. From solemn farewells to untimely passings, each loss is difficult, but one silver lining always remains; their deaths allow the entertainment community to come together, reminisce, and pay tribute to the incredible work they accomplished across their multifaceted careers. It gives us a moment to appreciate how valuable they were, even if it comes at a cost.

So far, 2024 has brought the deaths of many notable actors, from comedians and beloved character actors, to stars of the Golden Age and beyond who made history for their craft. Each performer we have lost was a singular presence in the worlds of either film, television, theater, or some combination of the three, and a void will surely be left in their perpetual absence. Some had careers that were long and plentiful, while others were forever defined by one outstanding role; regardless, each individual contributed something everlasting to the art form of acting. As we continue progressing through what has already felt like a long year, let's take a look back at some of the most notable stage and screen actors we have lost in 2024.

Chita Rivera

One of Broadway's most vivacious triple threats, two-time Tony winner Chita Rivera died in late January from an undisclosed illness at 91. The beloved actress, singer, and dancer was the originator of several beloved stage roles: Anita in "West Side Story," Aurora in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (for which she won her second Tony), and Velma Kelly in "Chicago," amongst others. She also had memorable roles in revivals of "Nine," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," and "The Visit" later in her career.

Though less frequently, Rivera also took roles in film and television. She reprised her stage role of Nickie in "Sweet Charity" for the film adaptation in 1969, and cameoed in both the film adaptations of "Chicago" in 2002 and "tick, tick... Boom!" in 2021. On television, she held a seven-episode role on "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" and made a scattering of guest appearances on a variety of institutions, including "The Outer Limits," "Will and Grace," and "Dora the Explorer."

Known for her impressive technique and infectiously rousing stage presence, Rivera is one of musical theater's most legendary performers and is often cited by younger generations as a formative inspiration. Along with her two Tonys for acting, she won two Drama Desk Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a third Tony for Lifetime Achievement.

Glynis Johns

One of the longest-surviving members of Hollywood's Golden Age, Glynis Johns died in early January from natural causes. The actress, who had recently passed the milestone of her 100th birthday, is best known to American audiences as Sister Suffragette Winifred Banks, mother to Jane and Michael Banks, in "Mary Poppins." However, before this, Johns had already established a fruitful career across film, television, and theater, beginning with her breakout role in the 1942 British war drama "49th Parallel." The film won her the Best Acting award from the National Board of Review.

Her most memorable films included "Miranda," "The Sword and the Rose," and "The Sundowners," for which she was nominated for an Academy Award in 1960. On television, she appeared on her own sitcom, "Glynis," and made appearances on household shows like "Batman," "Cheers," and "Murder, She Wrote." However, her most notable post-"Poppins" achievement was her originating performance as Desiree Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music." Sondheim wrote one of the musical's songs, "Send in the Clowns," specifically for Johns, and it went on to become one of the biggest hits of his career. Johns would win a Tony for the role in 1973.

David Emge

There are few horror icons with a smaller resume than David Emge, a humble Indiana native who passed away in January for undisclosed reasons. It only took one movie for the actor, who was 77, to be enshrined in legend: George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," the sequel to his revolutionary horror thriller "Night of the Living Dead," and a classic in its own right. Emge's portrayal of Stephen "Flyboy" Andrews, who degrades into a blood-soaked zombie, quickly became one of the genre's definitive depictions of the lurching, brain-craving creature.

Emge's acting career began at the University of Evansville, where he became a jack of all trades in the school's theater program. After serving in Vietnam post-college, Emge had begun working in dinner theater and had garnered limited screen credits when Romero called him to star in "Dawn of the Dead," and the rest was history. Emge only followed up with two remaining credits, the horror films "Basket Case 2" and "Hellmaster," but he remained a horror icon up until his death. Fans would still approach him for autographs at horror conventions around the world and Simon Pegg, co-writer of acclaimed horror parody "Shaun of the Dead," was notably inspired by Emge's character when working on his film, which itself became a beloved zombie film.

Adan Canto

Following an unpublicized diagnosis of appendiceal cancer, actor Adan Canto died in January at 42 years old. It is unclear how long Canto had the disease before his death, but the actor was preparing to return to the role of Armenian mobster Arman Morales in the Fox drama "The Cleaning Lady," which began shooting its third season in December of 2023.

Canto's fascination with film began at age 7, when he was an extra in the 1992 film "Like Water for Chocolate," filmed in his home city of Ciudad Acuña in northern Mexico. He left his later home of Del Rio, Texas, to pursue music in Mexico City at age 16, where he would act in commercials while playing at local bars. Talent agents would eventually cast him in Mexican television shows, which eventually led to American work. Notable roles included Sunspot in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and regular roles in a variety of successful television shows, including "Narcos," "Blood and Oil," and "Designated Survivor."

Canto had just begun dabbling in directing as well. His short film, "The Shot," played at a variety of film festivals in 2020 and won several awards, including the Jury Prize at the San Antonio Film Festival.

David Soul

David Soul, the latter half of beloved television duo "Starsky & Hutch," was 80 when he died in January "after a valiant fight for life," according to a statement by his wife, Helen Snell (via Deadline). Though specific reasons for his death were undisclosed, many assume Soul died from complications of lung cancer.

Soul began his career as an actor in the mid-'60s, and had appeared in shows like "Here Come The Brides" and "Star Trek" before hitting it big with "Starsky & Hutch" in 1975. Alongside Paul Michael Glaser as Sergeant David Michael Starsky, Soul headlined the popular ABC detective series for four seasons. As fellow Sergeant Kenneth Richard "Hutch" Hutchinson, Soul brought a more balanced, midwestern demeanor to Glaser's more erratic street smarts, which made for one of television's most memorable on-screen pairings. The series became a bona-fide hit and is still fondly remembered to this day by an ardent fanbase.

Outside of acting, Soul was also a nationally and internationally recognized vocalist. In 1977, his single "Don't Give Up on Us" went to No. 1 on both the Billboard Top 100 and the UK Singles Chart. He would go on to release five albums, though he continued acting in film, television, and theater until 2013.

Carl Weathers

Best known for his role as Apollo Creed across the first four "Rocky" films, actor Carl Weathers died in early February from natural causes brought upon by heart disease. The actor, who was 76, had been an icon of film and television for his warm, confident affect that would often show dimensions of competitive fervor and emotional gravitas. Prior to his work on screen, Weathers was an accomplished athlete, playing football for the San Diego State Aztecs and, shortly after, the Oakland Raiders. However, Weathers had originally attended university for theater and would later pivot his career to acting.

Weathers starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the beloved sci-fi thriller "Predator" and held main roles in shows like "Street Justice," "In The Heat of the Night," and "Chicago Justice." Weathers also had a knack for comedy; he appeared as Chubbs in Adam Sandler's singular golf comedy "Happy Gilmore," portrayed a fictionalized version of himself in four episodes of "Arrested Development," and voiced G. I. Joe parody Combat Carl in "Toy Story 4," his final film role before his death. 

Weathers' later career was most notable for his portrayal of former Bounty Hunters' Guild leader Greef Karga in "The Mandalorian." He received his first-ever Emmy nomination for the role and went on to direct two episodes of the series.

Richard Lewis

In late February, Richard Lewis died peacefully in his sleep following a heart attack. Despite having been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease three years prior to his death, it was only noted as a secondary cause of death. Lewis was 76.

One of comedy's most influential performers and humorists, Lewis began performing stand-up in the '70s and quickly became known for his anxious, neurotic performance style. Lewis would dress in all-black and often pace back and forth on stage, flail his hands around, and openly discuss difficult topics like alcoholism and drug abuse. He became a well-known comic after becoming a mainstay on several popular late-night shows and would produce four comedy specials, including one for HBO entitled "The Magical Misery Tour." Following his diagnosis, Lewis had retired from stand-up to focus on writing and acting.

Lewis' comedy gave him celebrity status that led to a career in film and television. After co-starring in the popular sitcom "Anything but Love" with Jamie Lee Curtis, Lewis led the short-lived shows "Daddy Dearest" and "Hiller and Diller." However, his most notable television role was opposite Jewish comedian and counterpart Larry David in a recurring part across multiple seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." On film, he also had memorable roles in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and the Nicolas Cage-starring "Leaving Las Vegas."

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M. Emmet Walsh

In March, M. Emmet Walsh, the memorable character actor who brought a seedy charm to every role, died aged 88 of a heart attack in his home state of Vermont. The actor broke through to film audiences after starring in the Coen brothers' directorial debut, "Blood Simple," which earned him a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead and made him a sought-after talent for bit parts in Hollywood. Before "Blood Simple," Walsh had already given memorable turns in films like "The Jerk" and "Blade Runner." Afterward, he pumped out what became a resume of well over 100 credits, including classics like "Critters," "Red Scorpion," "The Iron Giant," "Youth in Revolt," and, later, the Rian Johnson whodunnit "Knives Out." Memorable TV credits include "Tales From The Crypt," "Home Improvement," and HBO's "The Righteous Gemstones." 

Despite his extensive on-screen history, Walsh remained an under-the-radar talent who was appreciated most by ardent cinephiles. No matter where they looked, they would eventually come across Walsh – even if it was for just one juicy scene – making him a standard for quality cinema. In fact, Walsh was half of the inspiration behind Roger Ebert's Stanton-Walsh Rule, which held that "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad."

Chance Perdomo

In one of the year's most shocking developments, up-and-coming star Chance Perdomo died after a motorcycle accident in late March. At 27 years old, Perdomo was best known as Ambrose Spellman, cousin and best friend to Kiernan Shipka's Sabrina Spellman in Netflix's "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," a role he held for all of the series' four seasons. At the time of his death, he was starring as Andre Anderson, a student with the ability to manipulate magnetic force, in Prime Video's "The Boys" spin-off series "Gen V." Production on the series' upcoming second season was delayed indefinitely following the news of his death.

Perdomo grew up in Southampton, England, and eventually moved to London to pursue acting. He trained at the Identity School of Acting, whose notable alumni include John Boyega ("Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens") and Letitia Wright ("Black Panther"). By 2018, at 22, he had already been nominated for a BAFTA for his work on the television movie "Killed By My Debt," which adapts the real-life story of a young gig-economy worker who dies by suicide after accruing inescapable debt from traffic violations.

Louis Gossett Jr.

Many may not be aware of Louis Gossett Jr. by name, but his contributions have literally made history. The actor, who passed away in March from an undisclosed illness at the age of 87, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1983. His award-winning role was as hard-nosed drill instructor Sergeant Emil Foley, whose portrayed authority over a bunch of white recruits was groundbreaking for the time. Gossett was also a civil rights activist who, after meeting Nelson Mandela in the 90s, founded the Eracism Foundation to help foster a world in which racism no longer exists.

Gossett's career began like a rocket when, after a basketball injury led to him discovering theater, he auditioned and earned a role in the 1953 Broadway production of "Take a Giant Step." At just 16 years old, Gossett began what would become an illustrious theater career, acting opposite Sidney Poitier in "A Raisin in the Sun" in 1959 and Sammy Davis Jr. in "Golden Boy" in 1964. The theater star transitioned to Hollywood in the 60s and made a memorable turn as Fiddler in the revered television miniseries "Roots" alongside then-newcomer LeVar Burton. His final film roles include 2023's musical adaptation of "The Color Purple" and a voice role in 2024's fantasy adventure film "IF."

Barbara Rush

Another one of classic Hollywood's holdouts, Barbara Rush died on March 31 for undisclosed reasons. At age 97, Rush had been previously diagnosed with dementia and was residing in an assisted living facility in Los Angeles. The actress was best known for her co-starring role in "It Came From Outer Space," a '50s science fiction film that was credited in part to acclaimed author Ray Bradbury. Rush plays Ellen Fields, a teacher who, along with her aspiring astronomer boyfriend, witnesses an alien spaceship crash onto Earth.

Rush garnered success in her career acting opposite a wealth of popular leading men: Rock Hudson in "Magnificent Obsession," Dean Martin in "The Young Lions," Frank Sinatra in "Come Blow Your Horn," Paul Newman in "The Young Philadelphians," and Kirk Douglas in "Strangers When We Meet," amongst others. Though she was often pigeonholed as an innocent lady or supportive wife, Rush always brought an elegance to each role. The actress also garnered recurring roles in the soap operas "Peyton Place" and "All My Children," as well as the popular drama "7th Heaven," one of her final on-screen roles. On the stage, she was featured in productions of "The Night of the Iguana," "Steel Magnolias," and her solo show, "A Woman of Independent Means."

Michael Culver

In March, British stage and screen actor Michael Culver died for undisclosed reasons at the age of 85. Previously, Culver had been diagnosed with an unspecified cancer

Though he had a long-spanning career in film, theater, and television, there is no doubt that Culver's most memorable appearance was as Captain Needa in "The Empire Strikes Back." The character is notably force choked to death by Darth Vader after allowing for Han Solo to escape the Empire's clutches, leading to one of Vader's more memorable lines from the series: "Apology accepted, Captain Needa."

Culver had already been an established theater actor in Britain, having performed Shakespeare at the illustrious Old Vic Theatre and then making his debuts on Broadway and the West End, before transitioning to screen work. His notable television appearances include "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" and "Secret Army" while other notable film appearances include "A Passage to India" and uncredited roles in two Sean Connery-led "James Bond" films, "From Russia With Love" and "Thunderball." Culver would quit acting in the early 2000s and commit to political activism, specifically opposition to Britain's role in the Iraq War. In 2023, Culver and fellow actor Mark Rylance raised money to help build a statue of longtime activist Brian Haw outside of South London's Imperial War Museum.

O.J. Simpson

Amidst the constant media frenzy surrounding footballer-turned-convict O.J. Simpson, who died in April from prostate cancer at 76, it's easy to forget that he had a successful acting career. When Simpson's athletic career first took off with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, his status as a media icon simultaneously rose. He appeared in commercials for Hertz and opposite sports commentators on NBC and ABC, but his biggest spotlight came from "The Naked Gun" trilogy, a series of police procedural parodies starring Leslie Nielsen. Simpson portrayed Detective Nordberg, the seemingly invincible best friend and former partner to Nielson's bone-headed Frank Drebin.

Though his most well-known film role was driven by slapstick, the majority of Simpson's acting career consisted of dramatic roles in genre fare, from violent crime films like "Firepower" and "No Place To Hide" to the disaster thrillers "The Cassandra Crossing" and "The Towering Inferno." Simpson was also interested in tackling the topic of race, appearing in the seminal television slavery drama "Roots," an episode of the television version of "In The Heat of the Night," and the 1974 film "The Klansman," in which he plays an innocent black man accused of murdering a white woman. 

Simpson was set to star in his own series, a NAVY Seal action drama entitled "Frogmen," when, in 1994, he was charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Despite eventually being acquitted, Simpson's infamous murder trial forever marred his reputation and put his acting career on ice.

Bernard Hill

Days after suddenly canceling a planned appearance at Comic Con Liverpool in May, actor Bernard Hill died for undisclosed reasons at the age of 79. Primarily known for portraying Théoden, revitalized leader of the Rohirrim, in the second and third installments of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy as well as the honorable ship captain Edward John Smith in the historical drama "Titanic," Hill is the only actor who has appeared in two of the three films that hold the record for winning 11 Academy Awards.

Hill was a rare actor who could channel gruff weariness and courageous heroism in equal measure. Part of this came from his working-class Manchester upbringing, which he brought to his breakthrough role of Yosser Hughes, a headbutt-prone Liverpudlian struggling to find work while raising three boys, in both the 1980 TV movie "Black Stuff" and its 1982 miniseries successor "Boys From the Blackstuff." His character became such a phenomenon that his catchphrase, "gizza job" — or "give us a job" in Liverpudlian slang — became a slogan for protests against a rising unemployment rate across England during the reign of Margaret Thatcher.

Other on-screen credits include films like "Gandhi," "The Scorpion King," and "ParaNorman," as well as the second season of BBC's series "The Responder," which premiered mere hours after his death. Hill was also a Shakespearean thespian, having performed many of his works including "Henry VI," "Macbeth," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" both on screen and on stage.