Nollywood continues to produce the best in the African film scene. Nigerian actors and actresses are rated among the best in Africa and the world. When following Nollywood movies, one gets attached to their favourite stars and even follow their off-screen life. This is why the passing of these people is a massive blow to fans, as they feel that a part of them has left. Nigerian actors and actresses who died continue to be praised for their contribution by stakeholders in film and fans across the continent.
One of the craziest thing that happens on set when shooting a film is death. It is not strange to hear that an actor or actress collapsed and died while shooting a movie. This happens when they are exhausted due to burn-outs or when their bodies are unable to support them due to medical conditions.
Nigerian actors and actresses who died
If the death of a star happens when shooting is going on, the set gets postponed until they get a replacement. Some filmmakers choose to eliminate the deceased's character for good, especially if they had a minor role. Here are 20 actors and actresses who died:
1. Sam Loco Efe
Sam Loco is a celebrated Nollywood actor who graced screens for decades. His first acting gig was with a theatre group at his school. They performed a play titled A Doctor Inspite of Himself.
He was also actively participating in drama clubs at his elementary school. The group once performed a rendition of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at an Eastern regional arts festival. Sam was crowned as the best actor.
This earned him a scholarship. Popular movies Sam starred in include:
- Alice My First Lady
- Osuofia and The Wise Men
- One Good Turn
- I’ll Take My Chances
The late actor passed on 7th August 2011. He was found dead in a hotel room.
2. Peter Bunor
Peter Bunor is one of Nollywood actors who is still celebrated even after his death. The late actor worked with big names like Pete Edochie and Nkem Owoh in the Nigerian film industry during his prime.
Some of the renowned movies he starred in are:
- To Rise Again
- Agony of a Mother
- Deadly Kiss 2 Michael Williams
- Polygamy 2: The Final Clash Okafor
Peter had suffered a stroke for about five years before he passed away. He died in 2015 at the age of 60.
3. Justus Esiri
Justus started acting professionally in 1968. He had a career spanning over four decades before death took him away. He became a household name after being featured in The Village Headmaster, and adaptation of Chinua Achebe's book Things Fall Apart.
Other films he is known for include:
- Last Night
- The Tyrant
- The Investigation
- Corridors of Power
- Assassin Practice
- Keep My Will
He was awarded posthumously for his role in Assassins Practice. He succumbed to diabetes on 19th February 2013.
4. Peter Eneh
Nollywood pioneer Peter Eneh is heavily credited for his contribution to the growth of the film industry in West Africa. The late actor was also a producer and filmmaker.
Peter worked with established actors like Pete Edochie, Patience Ozokwor, and Chinwe Owoh. He starred in more than 100 films. Some of them include:
- Perfect Temptation 2
- Heavy Rain
- Royal Palace
Most of his signature roles were an elder, a titled chief, and a traditional ruler. His cause of death was pain after a leg amputation due to an infection. He passed away on 15th November 2012 at age 68.
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5. Dede One Day
Dede One Day was a Nigerian actor and stand-up comedian. Many people loved the actor for his funny takes and hilarious lines. He was a darling to many who enjoyed comic scenes.
Most of the roles he got in Nollywood were funny characters. Some of the movies he was featured in include:
- Keke Soldiers
- Iron Pant
- Corporate Beggars
- My Classmate
- Village Musicians
- Senior Officer
Dede passed away on 14th December 2015. He passed on a few hours after slumping while performing in Aba, following complications of high blood pressure.
6. Enebeli Elebuwa
Enebeli Elebuwa's was one of the many familiar faces on Nollywood films in the 90s and 2000s. He executed his roles so well that fans were thrilled whenever he got into a new movie. The prolific actor's film career consists of about 150 movies.
Some of the movies that made him famous include:
- Abuja Connection
- Mirror in the Sun
- Abuja Top Ladies
- Against My Blood
Enebeli died while receiving medical treatment in India. He had suffered a stroke together with other ailments. The actor breathed his last on 5th December 2012.
7. Clem Onyeka
The life of budding actor Clem Onyeka was tragically cut short at a shoot-out. The young actor was fatally hit by a bullet and died on the spot. He had unfortunately been caught up in the mess where police were going after thugs who were robbing a local bank.
He was pronounced dead on 14th October 2014. He had only started in his career and had even won a Best Upcoming Award a few weeks before he died. Clem is known for his role in the Sorrowful Kingdom.
8. David Ihesie
Lovers of Aki and Pawpaw movies remember David Ihesie as the man who always played the good father or moral man in such films. The actor has been featured in many Nigerian classic comedies that are still enjoyed today.
One of the most notable roles he had was on 2 Rats. He became known for his exemplary performance together with the other two main actors. Other movies he is known for include:
- Things Fall Apart
- King of the Forest
- Goddess of The Sun.
He passed away after battling a short illness. He was 73 years old.
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9. Bukky Ajayi
Bukki studied in the United Kingdom and went back home to start her career in the TV broadcast. It was while being a presenter and newscaster that she began to feature in big films.
Two of the best TV series she was known for were Village Headmaster and Checkmate. Bukky peacefully passed on at her home on 6th July 2016.
10. Amaka Igwe
Amaka Igwe grew from being a little-known Enugu girl to this big actress in Nollywood. Not many of her peers in the film industry could touch her achievements. She was the owner of Top Radio Lagos and Amaka Igwe Studios.
Her legacy to help start the video film era of Nigerian cinema continues to live. Her filmography consists of movies like:
- Rattle Snake 1,2 &3
- Violated 1&2
- To Live Again
- Full Circle
- A Barber's Wisdom
The actress and broadcast executive passed away on 28th April 2014 after suffering an asthma exacerbation.
11. Festus Aguebor
Festus Aguebor’s signature white beards were not the only thing outstanding in him. He is among the famous dead actors still recognized in Nollywood today. The veteran actor was also known for his talent and hard work.
Filmmakers who collaborated with him on various projects termed him as a skilled creative who gave his all. Festus is known for movies like Society Lady, A Kiss From Rose 2, Family Contract, and My Sweet Heart. He passed away in February 2016.
12. Muna Obiekwe
Fans and family were devastated when the death of Muna Obiekwe was announced. The young actor was doing good for himself, bagging roles in major Nigerian films and winning awards.
He was known for playing the roles of a good boy or that romantic guy. His love for film started at a young age. Muna Obiekwe was the first cousin of another Nollywood star, Yul Edochie.
Popular movies he was featured in include Men in Love, Eyes of the Gods, and The Princess of my Life. He died from kidney disease on 18th January 2015.
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13. Elder Maya Martins Njubuigbo
Maya Martins Njubuigbo almost always took the role of a wise elder or village chief priest whom many would listen to. He also played as a witch in some movies. The veteran actor graced Nigerian screens for decades, showing his acting prowess and entertaining viewers.
Popular movies he was featured in are:
- De Prof 2
- Battle of Indemnity.
Maya Martins had been suffering from liver disease for long before his demise. He is among the most missed Nigerian actors who died. Elder Maya Martins Njubuigbo died in October 2016.
14. JT Tom West
Joe Tamuno-Bibidama carried himself with pride in movies but was real darling to many in real life. He was humble and worked well with his peers.
The Nollywood bad boy starred in movies like:
- Operation KTP
- The Rescue Mission
- State of Emergency 2
- Armed Robbers in Charge
JT Tom West passed away after being in a tragic accident that occurred as he was on his way home from filming a movie. He died on 28th September 2006.
15. Ashley Nwosu
Lovers of Nigerian movies will always remember dead Nollywood actors like Ashley Nosu. He is one of the many veterans in the industry who started building their careers in the 1980s.
Ashley Nwosu's first major roles were in a series of the drama titled Tele Movies. He became a household name in the 1990s and 2000s.
His successful career saw him act in more than 200 movies. Some of them include:
- Blind Love
- Passion of Minds
- Baby Guards
- Stone Love
- A Better Place
Like many of his peers, Ashley Nwosu played best the roles of a paramount chief, a ruler, or a great father. He died of liver complications on 21st August 2011.
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16. Jeniffer Okere Ossai
The story of Jeniffer is one of the sad tales of actors who died even before getting to their prime. Okere died in 1999 when she was only 28 years old.
She is among the 90s actors who are still remembered today. Many young Nigerians may not have known her, but her movies are still rated as classics. Two notable films Jeniffer was featured in are:
- Living in Bondage
- Glamour Girls 1 & 2
17. Prince James Uche
The sudden death of Prince James Uche came as a shock to many. The Nollywood actor was known for his exemplary performances in movies and TV shows. He had diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease.
He had been in and out of the hospital for a while. Prince James Uche passed away in March 2017. This was two days before his scheduled appointment to the hospital. Some of the Nollywood classics the late actor starred in are:
- Lost Kingdoms
18. Obi Madubogwu
Obi Madubogwu was not only a talented actor but also an established filmmaker and legend in Nollywood. The actor was famously known for his role in Tokunboh.
The movie opened doors for him, and he soon got many other directing and acting gigs. Other popular movies by him are:
- The Grave Dust
- Sacrifice for Love
- Passion of My Blood
- The Champ
If not for the illness, Obi Madubogwu would have grown to be one of the greatest in the Nigerian film scene. He battled acute diabetes and foot ulcers for years and succumbed to the illness on 28th august 2017.
19. Olumide Bakare
Viewers of the popular TV series will recognize Olumide Bakare as one of the best ever to grace the series. The Nigerian actor played chief Koko, a role that suited him best.
Olumide Bakare was also featured in other TV shows and movies like:
- Ise Onise
- Ofin Kokonia
His death was as a result of cardiac arrest that he suffered in 2017. He was rushed to the hospital but could unfortunately not make it. Olumide Bakare was 65 years old at the time of his death.
20. Francis Agu
TV and cinema actor Francis was known for his role on the TV series Checkmate. He was exemplary in his roles and wowed many fans with his talent.
Francis Agu’s filmography is ranked highly among dead Nigerian actors. His movies include:
- Living in Bondage
- A Minute to Midnite
- Bloodbrothers 1 &2
- Circle of Doom
He enjoyed a successful career through the 90s and early 2000s until illness put him down in 2006. Francis Agu died on 20th March 2007.
Death is inevitable. The death of famous people become a big deal because of the love fans, and friends had for them. The legacy of Nigerian actors and actresses who died lives forever through their films. Young people get to learn about the legends when they watch the movies. Some movies are released posthumously, which makes the deceased’s name even more famous.
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Yen.com.gh reported the highest paid Nigerian actors in 2020. The actors have been reaping massive benefits from the sales and ratings of films.
Nollywood has gained global recognition and respect since Nigerian movies are some of the most-watched ones in Africa. This has turned Nollywood into a very lucrative business venture with the actors taking home large sums of money.
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