These Famous People Died In 2022 And Nobody Noticed

It can sometimes feel like famous people — entertainers, politicians, thinkers, artists, influencers, athletes — are immortal. After all, they've risen above the vast swaths of humanity in some way, elevated by their cultural or social contributions, seemingly immune to the frailties and missteps that curse the rest of us. And beyond that, their works, both popular and important ones, can live on forever. But alas, celebrities are people, too, and people die — regardless of their status or what they accomplished in their limited time on this Earth.

When a celebrity dies, it usually makes headlines around the world, because we as humanity collectively mourn our best and most notable. The year 2022 was particularly brutal and monumental in terms of the deaths of famous people — in this annum, we lost some of the most iconic figures of our time, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jerry Lee Lewis, Angela Lansbury, Loretta Lynn, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Russell, and Olivia Newton-John. Those deaths were so major that they overshadowed the demise of other beloved and important people. Here are celebrities who died in 2022, but whose deaths were met with little media fanfare.

Ivan Reitman

In the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Ivan Reitman helped shape American film comedy of the era. Raised in Canada (per Variety) and getting his start in low-budget B-movies, Reitman produced "National Lampoon's Animal House" in 1978, which, adjusted for inflation, remains one of highest-grossing comedies of all time and would make movie stars out "Saturday Night Live" cast members John Belushi and Chevy Chase.

He'd later produce and direct works that would surpass the box-office numbers for "Animal House" while further elevating more early "SNL" stars. Specifically, Reitman directed "Stripes" starring Bill Murray and the blockbusters "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," with Murray and Dan Aykroyd. In the 1990s and beyond, Reitman continued to make films, having a hand in hits like "Dave," "Kindergarten Cop," "Space Jam," and "Private Parts."

On February 13, 2022, The Associated Press reported that Reitman's family had sent word that the producer and filmmaker had died in his sleep sometime the previous evening at his home in Montecito, California. Reitman was 75.

Jean-Luc Godard

One of the most influential and progressive filmmakers to ever work in cinema, Jean-Luc Godard elevated and revolutionized his medium in the mid-20th century, influencing the way movies are made in Europe and Hollywood for the next few generations, as reported by The New York Times. Godard began his career as an outspoken critic for the 1950s magazine Cahiers du Cinema, which influenced that era's young movie-makers to take risks and be more provocative with style and form.

In 1960, Godard's first feature, "Breathless," heralded a new school that French culture writers deemed la Nouvelle Vague, or the New Wave. Big on emotional realism, striking imagery, politics, and deconstruction, Godard also popularized the jump cut and made it palatable for mainstream movies to explore the darker side of the human experience. Among the many acclaimed films of Godard include "Pierrot le Fou," "Contempt," "Every Man for Himself," and "Alphaville."

After experiencing a severe decline in health and a number of issues, Godard died at his home in Rolle, Switzerland, according to his attorney, Patrick Jeanneret. "He could not live like you and me, so he decided with a great lucidity, as he had all his life, to say, 'Now, it's enough,'" Jeanneret told the Times. Godard arranged for an assisted suicide and died at the age of 91.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Guy Lafleur

Born in Quebec where he was a junior hockey standout, Guy Lafleur was drafted No. 1 overall in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, and he lived up to that promise and hype. Suiting up as a right wing for the Canadiens for 14 seasons, Lafleur, nicknamed "The Flower," was named to six All-Star teams, scored the most points in the entire league in three seasons, won the Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the league's most valuable player, and led his team to five Stanley Cup championships, including four straight from 1976 to 1979. His 1,353 points places him among the most prolific scorers in pro hockey history, and as such he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (in 1988).

On April 22, 2022, the National Hockey League, which Lafleur so dominated for the entirety of the 1970s, announced that the French-Canadian hockey superstar had died. Three years earlier, Lafleur had been diagnosed with cancer, preceding his death at the age of 70.

Julie Powell

As the internet democratized and opened up content distribution in the 2000s, a handful of writers who operated weblogs, or "blogs," became famous and earned huge, devoted followings for their personal and specific musings. One of these writers was Julie Powell, who was the writer behind the popular and inspiring blog the Julie/Julia Project for, per The New York Times

Through her blog project, which later turned into a bestselling book (via NPR), Powell spent a year preparing and then writing about every recipe featured in Julia Child's towering tome "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Powell's 2005 book adaptation served as the source material for the 2009 film "Julie and Julia," in which Amy Adams portrayed Powell as she taught herself to cook and became a better writer. Powell's second book caused scandal and generated headlines, as "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession" was a memoir and meditation on the author's sexual proclivities.

On November 1, 2022, the Times published word from Powell's husband, Eric Powell, that the home cook, writer and blogging pioneer had died on October 26 at her home in Olivebridge, New York. Powell experienced cardiac arrest and died at age 49.

Bernard Shaw

In the early 1980s, TV impresario Ted Turner launched the first ever 24-hour news network in the nascent landscape of cable TV. One of the first employees and on-air personalities of Cable News Network, or CNN, was Bernard Shaw, the news service's first lead anchor.

TV news viewers became familiar with Shaw in the 1970s, as he was frequently the reporter of the record and the voice of information and reason on the scene when major news broke and developed. Shaw covered the Watergate scandal for CBS, and while working as ABC News' South America bureau chief and lead correspondent, he helped obtain footage of the Jonestown, Guyana, mass suicide. He left ABC to take a chance on the unproven CNN, and would stay with the network from its inception until his retirement in 2001, during which time he became a full-on news-media celebrity for his dispatches from the first Gulf War, live in Baghdad amidst bombs dropping.

Appropriately, CNN broke the story in 2022 that one of its most notable anchors and personalities had died. Shaw contracted pneumonia, and he died at the hospital in Washington, D.C., where he'd been treated for the viral infection, per the newsman's family. Shaw was 82 years old.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

According to The New York Times, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh's journey as a religious and philosophical leader and activist began in earnest in the 1960s, when he studied and lectured at multiple Ivy League schools, and his staunch and aggressive peace advocacy helped inspire the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Thích Nhất Hạnh was considered for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, nominated by his close ally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also founded the relief organization Youth for Social Services to assist individuals displaced or injured by the Vietnam War and put his pro-peace sentiments and tenets of what he called "engaged Buddhism" to paper starting in the 1960s, eventually publishing numerous bestselling volumes of poetry and philosophical analysis. He founded several monasteries and Buddhism centers around the world while traveling the lecture circuit, returning to Vietnam in the 2000s after a ban by the communist government was finally lifted.

Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, Thích Nhất Hạnh's organization of Buddhist monasteries, announced on its founder's Twitter that the spiritual leader had died at midnight on January 22, 2022, at the Từ Hiếu Temple in Hue, Vietnam. After enduring a debilitating brain hemorrhage and stroke in 2014, he died at the age of 95.

Sally Kellerman

Among the most prolific character actors of the 1970s and 1980s, Sally Kellerman had a career that lasted more than six decades, consisting primarily of quick gigs on episodic television until she landed a massive, star-making role in the 1970 film version of "M*A*S*H." Kellerman portrayed Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the Korean War comedy, garnering an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

"M*A*S*H" would also launch a long collaborative arrangement with filmmaker Robert Altman, who'd further cast Kellerman in "Brewster McCloud," "The Player," and "Ready to Wear." In 1986, Kellerman played college professor and romantic lead Diane in the popular Rodney Dangerfield comedy "Back to School."

Alan Eichler, Kellerman's publicist and manager, told National Public Radio that the actor died at her home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on February 25, 2022. The cause of death was heart failure; Kellerman was 84.

Bobby Rydell

The 1950s and 1960s were lousy with young, handsome guys who could sing a few songs and charm moviegoers. But among the likes of that first generation of rock n' roll-era teen idols who sent hearts racing as their tunes climbed the charts and TV and movie appearances attracted millions of fans, it wasn't Elvis Presley or Ricky Nelson who served as the namesake of the ultimate '50s nostalgia trip — it was Bobby Rydell (as in Rydell High, the setting of the musical "Grease," according to NBC News).

The clean-cut, big-voiced Rydell scored 34 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart between 1959 and 1965, including "We Got Love," "Wild One," "Volare," "Sway," and "Forget Him." When the British Invasion occurred and the Beatles arrived, the star of Rydell and other singers like him dimmed considerably, but at the tail end of his peak era, Rydell co-starred as lovelorn teen Hugo in the 1963 film version of "Bye Bye Birdie," a musical about early rock n' roll teen idols like him, per The Telegraph.

According to The Washington Post, Bobby Rydell's spokesperson Maria Novey related that the singer and actor had died in a hospital in Abington, Pennsylvania, on April 5, 2022, after suffering from a bout of pneumonia. Rydell was 79 years old.

Peter Robbins

Peter Robbins' acting resume isn't extensive, and it spans just nine years, but his work as a kid voice actor is some of the most heard and enjoyed to ever play on television. In 1965, after guest-starring on episodes of "Rawhide," "The Donna Reed Show," and "The Munsters," Robbins landed the uncredited gig of Charlie Brown on "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the perpetually broadcast first "Peanuts" special and a beloved part of the holiday entertainment canon.

Robbins so nailed the personality and voice of sad sack Charlie Brown that he'd reprise the role in five more specials, including "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and the feature film "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." As a teen actor, Robbins portrayed another comic strip character, Alexander Bumstead, on the one-season TV version of "Blondie," but would walk away from showbiz in 1972.

On January 28, 2022, The New York Times reported that Robbins had died 10 days earlier in Oceanside, California. Publicly dealing with mental health issues for many years, Robbins died by way of suicide, per the San Diego County Medical Examiner. Robbins was 65 years old.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.


In 1981, "Chariots of Fire" became an unlikely box office hit and winner of the Academy Award for best picture, the story of two friends grappling with their deeply held religious views on their journey to running for England in the 1924 Olympics. The scenes of athletes triumphantly running in slow-motion to a soaring, synthesizer-based score became often imitated in real life and in movies, always accompanied by that iconic, familiar music — composed and performed by Greek-born New Age musician Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, who performed under the mononym Vangelis. A self-taught piano wiz, according to NPR, Vangelis played with the prog-rock group Aphrodite's Child before striking out on his own. His instrumental main theme from "Chariots of Fire" went to No. 1 on the pop chart, and won Vangelis an Oscar.

Vangelis' assistant, Lefteris Zermas, told NPR that the composer and keyboardist died on May 17, 2022, at a Paris hospital. Vangelis died from complications surrounding heart failure at the age of 79.

Mickey Gilley

With some pop and rock sensibilities injected into his otherwise traditional country tunes, Mickey Gilley topped the country charts often in the mid-1970s, with songs like "Room Full of Roses," "City Lights," and "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time." Gilley also had a keen eye for business and the marketing of country music, and in the 1970s opened Gilley's, a sprawling honkey-tonk-style bar and club in suburban Houston. The crowded Gilley's, and its mechanical-bull competitions, inspired the hit 1980 movie "Urban Cowboy" (per the Los Angeles Times), which in turn led to a pop-country crossover boom in the subsequent years. By the time Gilley would slow down on his recording career to just perform his hits, he had a lot of them — 17 country chart-toppers altogether.

On May 7, 2022, Billboard, on whose country singles and albums charts Gilley so frequently appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, reported that the singer and songwriter had died. Performing at his own Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre in the country tourism hotspot of Branson, Missouri, up until a rapid decline in health a few weeks earlier precluded it, Gilley died at the age of 86.

Budd Friedman

A significant and important person in the history of stand-up comedy, Budd Friedman wasn't a comic or a writer. He was a producer, a businessperson, and a club owner, and he gave so many stand-ups their big breaks, stage time, and exposure that he helped a pop cultural shift take place, which in turn made him a famous and notable figure.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Friedman opened The Improvisation in New York City in 1963, one of the first ever nightspots devoted to stand-up comedy performance. In 1975, he would expand with an Improv in Hollywood (the first of 21 branches), a launchpad to success for most major comedians of the late-20th century, including Richard Lewis, Freddie Prinze, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Larry David, and Jay Leno. The Improv inspired a nationwide comedy club boom, which died out in the 1980s with the arrival of cable TV, a new medium that could frequently and cheaply program stand-up comedy, such as A&E's "An Evening at the Improv," shot at the Hollywood Improv, and frequently hosted by Friedman over its 1981 to 1994 run.

The Hollywood Improv announced on its Twitter account on November 12, 2022, that Friedman had died. According to Variety, the cause of death was heart failure. Friedman was 90 years old.

Jim Seals

Jim Seals made a sizable impact in a couple of very different musical eras. According to The New York Times, Seals formed a musical partnership with Dash Crofts when they were both teenagers in the 1950s, and joined raucous instrumental rock n' roll group the Champs, who soon after took their song "Tequila" to No. 1 on the pop chart in 1958.

The duo, however, soon bristled at the Champs' abrasive, harder rocking tendencies. Seeking an outlet for their closely harmonized country-influenced folk pop, Seals and Crofts would strike out on their own to form Seals & Crofts. That put them at the forefront of the '70s singer-songwriter boom and pop music's move to adult-oriented soft rock; their singles "Summer Breeze," "Diamond Girl," and "Get Closer" all reached the Billboard top 10.

On June 6, 2022, Seals' relative and fellow singer-songwriter Bradley Seal announced on Instagram that the '70s soft rocker had died. His wife, Ruby Jean Seals, confirmed the news, adding that the musician died at his Nashville home after suffering the effects of a long-ago diagnosed but unnamed illness. Seals was 79.