Death in the Family: Celebrities who passed away in 2023

The year 2023 has been one of goodbyes which painted a bittersweet picture for the entertainment industry in Nigeria and elsewhere. While its vibrant music and captivating movies continued to enthrall audiences, the year also saw the passing of several beloved stars whose talent and spirit touched millions.

From veteran actors like Sunday Akanbi Akinola (“Mogaji” from “Feyikogbon”) and Ojo Arowosafe (“Fadeyi Oloro”) whose on-screen presence left an indelible mark, to rising stars like comedian Favour Daniels and singer Ilerioluwa Aloba (“Mohbad”) whose careers were tragically cut short, the losses felt deeply personal.

The industry lost pioneers like trailblazing filmmaker Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, founder of the prestigious Africa Movie Academy Awards, and Adedigba Mukaila, the legendary “Alafin Oro” known for his captivating storytelling. We bid farewell to music legend Chris Mba, whose 80s hits like “Funky Situation” and “Baby Don’t Cry” remain timeless, and mourned the passing of Obinna Nwafor (“Saint Obi”) and Chikezie Uwazie, talented actors who enriched the Nollywood landscape.

Humour too suffered a blow with the loss of Femi Ogunrombi, the unforgettable “Papa Ajasco” whose slapstick antics brought laughter to countless homes. The industry was also shaken by the sudden deaths of Murphy Afolabi and Cindy Amadi, whose promising careers abruptly ended.

Even the physical stature of Nollywood changed with the passing of Afeez Agoro, the towering actor known as the tallest man in Nigeria. His presence, both literal and figurative, will be missed.

Also on the list is veteran nollywood actor, Dejumo Lewis, who died at 80 just a few days into the new year.

But these losses are not simply shadows cast over the year. They are reminders of the power of creativity, the impact of passion, and the lasting legacies left by these stars.

This is not merely a list of names; it is a tribute to the legacies left behind. In 2023, the Nigerian entertainment industry said goodbye to its stars, but the echoes of their talent and the memories they created will continue to resonate for generations to come.

Elsewhere, some of the world’s brightest stars like Matthew Perry, Lisa Marie Presley, Sinéad O’Connor, Paul Cattermole and Paul O’Grady were taken far too soon.

The music world was rocked when the legendary Tina Turner and “Queen of Rock’n Roll” passed away peacefully at the age of 83. Turner’s six-decade-long career produced iconic hits like “Proud Mary,” “The Best,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

Diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016, Turner battled health challenges, including kidney failure and a stroke.

Also lost to death is Shane MacGowan who died just last month.

The world is still reeling from the death of a man who has sound tracked Christmas ever since the release of Fairytale of New York in 1988.

On November 30, the world learnt The Pogues star had died after recently returning home from a five-month hospital stint. He would have turned 66 on Christmas Day.

Matthew Perry died in October aged 54. The actor best known for his work as beloved Friends character Chandler Bing, he died on October 28 after reportedly drowning at his Los Angeles home.

Andre Braugher captured hearts as Captain Raymond Holt. The Brooklyn 99 icon and two-time Emmy winning actor died on December 11, aged 61 from a short illness.

British acting legend Sir Michael Gambon, best known for his iconic portrayal of Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise, breathed his last at the age of 82 on November 27. With over six decades of acting and a staggering 170 credits to his name, Sir Michael’s legacy extended far beyond the wizarding world.

Legendary TV host Sir Michael Parkinson, who spent five decades crafting memorable interviews with the world’s most famous personalities, passed away at the age of 88 in August. His unparalleled career included conversations with icons like Ingrid Bergman, Fred Astaire and Muhammad Ali.

Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor’s untimely death at 56 on July 26 left the world in shock. Known for her activism and unique rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” O’Connor’s influence reached far beyond the music industry.

Her tragic passing came a year after her son Shane’s suicide, intensifying the grief that she openly shared. 

The shocking demise of Angus Cloud at 25 on July 31 left fans and co-stars grieving. Best known for his role as Fezco in HBO’s Euphoria, Cloud’s talent was only surpassed by his sensitivity and kindness.

As we bid farewell to these remarkable individuals, we cherish the memories they left behind and the impact they had on the world. Their legacy will endure through the timeless art they shared with us.

Other notable celebrity deaths in 2023

This year has claimed the lives of numerous famous faces, including but not limited to:

Kole Omotoso

Usman Baba Pategi

Sir Michael Gambon 

Anna ‘Chickadee’ Cardwell

Benjamin Zephaniah

Dave Courtney

Terry Venables

David McCallum

Rosalynn Carter

Ryan O’Neal

Norman Lear

Burt Young

Suzanne Somers

Piper Laurie

Jimmy Buffett

Bob Barker

William Friedkin

Paul Reubens

Tony Bennett

Alan Arkin

Julian Sands

Lance Riddick

Burt Bacharach

Lisa Loring

Cindy Williams

Melinda Dillon

Jeff Beck

Dean Sullivan

Frances Sternhagen

Jean Knight

Annabel Giles

Bill Kenwright

Treat Williams

Sophie Anderson


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date