Famous black actors who died recently: A list of the 15 most notable

Famous black actors who died recently: A list of the 15 most notable

While death is an unavoidable part of life, it does not make saying goodbye to those who have died any easier. People lose some of their all-time favourite actors every year, and recently, the entertainment industry has lost some A-list names. The list below pays tribute to some of the black actors who died recently.

black actors who died recently
Famous black actors who died recently. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Andrew H. Walker, Jemal Countess/WireImage, Todd Owyoung/NBC (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

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Movies and television are frequently both an escape and a reflection of life as it unfolds. They can also significantly shape and reinforce cultural beliefs and attitudes toward race in the United States and globally. From the Birth of Nation days, Black actors and actresses have systematically grabbed a foothold in entertainment.

Black actors who died recently

The year 2022 was unlike any other year. From the sudden death of Chadwick Boseman, the list of black actors who passed away recently is endless. These deceased black actors have left an indelible mark on the fashion, music, television, and film worlds. So far, in 2023, we've had to say farewell to several notable Black people.

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1. Sidney Poitier

black actors who died recently
Sidney Poitier speaks at the 44th NAACP Image Awards - show held at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Michael Tran
Source: Getty Images

The legendary actor, Sidney Poitier, was the first Black man to win an Oscar Award, passed away on January 6 at 94. The famous actor adds to the growing list of black entertainers that have died recently. Sidney Poitier was born in Miami but raised in an impoverished rural background on a farm in the Bahamas. His childhood was troublesome as he recounted their home was without electricity or running water.

He died at his Beverly Hills, California, home on January 2022 from cardiopulmonary failure at age 94. After a troubled stage career, he found fame on the big screen in No Way Out and Stir Crazy. He earned prestigious awards and accolades for his performances, such as the Academy Award for Best Actor.

2. Chadwick Boseman

black actors who died recently
Chadwick Boseman attends the European Premiere of Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith in London, England. Photo: Gareth Cattermole
Source: Getty Images

What famous black actor just died? Chadwick Boseman was a great American actor and, in equal measure, probably regarded as one of the most decorated black actors. Before his illustrious career was suddenly cut short, he received multiple accolades ranging from Screen Actors Guild Awards, Primetime Emmy Award to a Golden Globe Award. In addition, Chadwick was known for his role as the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

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He also worked as a writer, director, and actor on the stage since junior high. Chadwick won a Drama League Directing Fellowship and an AUDELCO for his work on stage. Chadwick made his professional debut in the TV show Third Watch in 2003. He then appeared on Law & Order and had a recurring role on Lincoln Heights.

Unknown to the public, Chadwick had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016. He underwent numerous surgeries and chemotherapy while still acting, but unfortunately, on August 28, 2020, the family broke the news of Chadwick's death. Chadwick had died from complications resulting in stage IV cancer aged 43.

3. Michael K. Williams

black actors who died recently
Michael K. Williams attends the Los Angeles Premiere Of MGM's "Respect" at Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Leon Bennett
Source: Getty Images

Michael Kenneth Williams was a well-known and acclaimed television actor. He is best known for his acting exploits on The Wire, which aired on HBO for five seasons. Williams established himself as a gifted and versatile performer who mesmerized audiences with his stunning character portrayals. From bringing complicated and charismatic characters to life, he often surprised with tenderness.

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Williams was discovered by Tupac Shakur and made his feature film debut in Bullet. He would also appear in Bringing Out the Dead, The Road, Life During Wartime and numerous other notable films. On September 6, Williams was found dead in his penthouse apartment. He reportedly died from a drug overd*se of fentanyl-laced her*in, according to coroner's reports.

4. Sonya Eddy

black actors who died recently
Sonya Eddy attends the Premiere of Apple TV+'s “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” at Regency Bruin Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Rodin Eckenroth
Source: Getty Images

Sonya Eddy, an American actress, died aged 55 due to complications from a routine surgery. Sonya underwent a routine procedure on December 9 and was released on December 11. However, the soap star became ill and was admitted to the hospital on December 15. Doctors discovered that Sonya had developed an uncontrollable infection.

Sonya Eddy's professional acting career in Los Angeles has lasted more than a decade. Sonya has played nurse Epiphany Johnson at General Hospital since 2006. The Concord, California native also appeared in the spinoff series General Hospital: Night Shift. After graduating from UC Davis, and launched her acting career in the West Coast premiere of Zora, Is My Name.

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5. Clarence Gilyard Jr

black actors who died recently
Promotional portrait of American actor Clarence Gilyard Jr dressed in a pin-stripe suit, for the television series 'Walker, Texas Ranger,' . Photo: CBS Photo Archvie
Source: Getty Images

Clarence Gilyard Jr., a dependable character actor-turned-university professor, passed away at age 66. He had worked as a film and theatre professor for over 15 years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Clarence had been a familiar face in film and television for decades, but his early career was rocky due to alleged drug abuse.

However, after the stuttering start, Gilyard soon found his way to acting after discovering his love of performing in a college theatre class. When he went pro, the roles came quickly, becoming a series regular on the cop show CHiPs. In addition, he made notable appearances in Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger, TopGun and as the villainous computer whiz in Die Hard.

6. Stephen (tWitch) Boss

what black actors died in 2022?
Stephen Boss attends Critics Choice Association's 5th Annual Celebration Of Black Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Frazer Harrison
Source: Getty Images

Stephen Boss was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and earned the nickname tWitch as a child because he couldn't sit still. Step Up star Stephen Cox was a runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance in 2007 and appeared in the film Blades of Glory. He would later appear as a background dancer in Hairspray and Step Up before starring in the blockbuster franchise Step Up 3D and Step Up Revolution.

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On December 13, 2022, tWitch's wife, Allison Holker, went to the police to file a missing persons report. Stephen Boss had left their home without taking his car - quite unusual behaviour. He would later be found dead in an Oak Tree Inn in Encino, Los Angeles. His death was reportedly determined to be a suic*de.

7. Roger E. Mosley

black actors who died recently
Actor Roger E. Mosley attends the Celestial Awards Of Excellence at Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. Photo: Leon Bennett
Source: Getty Images

Roger E. Mosley was an actor, director, and writer best known for his role in the TV series Magnum P.I. He portrayed the character Theodore, Tom Selleck's friend, a helicopter pilot who runs a tourist charter, Island Hoppers. A real-life licensed pilot himself, Mosely wasn't allowed to perform his stunts.

His acting prowess won him ten awards, including two Golden Globes, and he was nominated for 32 other nominations. He would later land the lead actor's role in Leadbelly and a starring role in the film The Big Lebowski.

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On August 4, 2022, Mosley was involved in a car accident in Lynwood, California. He succumbed to the severe injuries sustained from the crash and died at age 83.

8. Nichelle Nichols

black actors who died recently
Nichelle Nichols attends the Ovation TV premiere screening of "Art Breakers" in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Araya Diaz
Source: Getty Images

Who was the black female singer that died? Nichelle Nichols' path in front of the screens began when jazz legend Duke Ellington discovered her in the late 1940s. Nichelle Nichols played Communication Officer Lieutenant Uhura on the popular sci-fi television show Star Trek. She was the first African-American woman to play a lead role on television.

Actress and model Viola Nicholas died at 89 on July 30 2022, from heart failure in Silver City, New Mexico. She was the first African American actress to leave her handprint in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. In 1984, she received NASA's Public Service Award for her contributions to the integration of the US space program.

9. Mary Alice

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black actors who died recently
Mary Alice during Signature Theatre Company's Salute to August Wilson - Arrivals at Ritz Carlton New York in New York City, New York, United States. Photo: Jemal Countess
Source: Getty Images

Who was the black female actress who died recently? Mary Alice, the Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress, had a fifty-year career. Although she demonstrated a natural talent for acting at a young age, her early career was rocky. She did menial jobs earning $200 a week from doing laundry while she also taught at elementary school to meet end meat.

She was on the Best Supporting Actress Emmy for her performance in I'll Fly Away. She began her stage career in New York before appearing in films such as The Matrix Revolutions, Awakenings, and Malcolm X. Mary was inducted into the American Hall of Fame in 2000. Mary resided in Manhattan by herself as she was neither married nor with children. On July 27, 2022, she died of natural causes at age 85.

10. Jak Knight

black actors who died recently
Comedian Jak Knight performs onstage at Room 415 Comedy Club during Colossal Clusterfest at Civic Center Plaza and The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Photo: FilmMagic
Source: Getty Images

Jak Knight was a stand-up comic, author, and voice actor. In addition, he was a Big Mouth writer, consulting producer, and DeVon's voice actor. He began his career as a stand-up comedian and rose to prominence as a writer and story editor for the television show Black-ish.

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On July 14, 2022, Knight was found dead on an embankment in Los Angeles. He allegedly took away his life and died at 28 due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Social media was awash with celebrities and fans of his Netflix Bigmouth paying homage to the slain actor online.

11. Moses J. Moseley

black actors who died recently
Moses Moseley attends the Sneak-Peek Cast and Crew Screening of "Kudzu Zombies" in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Amy Graves
Source: Getty Images

Moses J. Moseley was well-known for his work on The Walking Dead. In addition, he appeared as a guest star on the TV shows Queen of the South, Watchmen and in the film Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. Moseley also modelled working for numerous talented agencies such as Entertainment Weekly Cover Shoot and Supermarket Greek Agency.

During childhood, he suffered from obesity and lost over 150 pounds to get in shape for modelling. As a print model, Moses worked with various photographers to build his portfolio. His first two film appearances were in Joyful Noise and The Internship.

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Unfortunately, past trauma might have led to Moseley's demise. On July 16, 2022, his body was discovered near Hudson bridge bearing evidence of a gunshot wound. He was 31 at the time.

12. Max Julien

Max Julien was an American actor, sculptor, and fashion designer best known for his role as Goldie in the blaxploitation film The Mack. Julien has also appeared in Def Jam's How to Be a Player and featured as a guest star on TV shows such as The Mod Squad and One on One. In New York City, he began his acting career as an Off-Broadway performer and would then go on to launch a stellar career.

He wrote the screenplay for and later co-produced Cleopatra Jones, a Warner Brothers blaxploitation classic. Directing the film Cleopatra Jones while also impressing throughout his long career won him 15 different acting credits. At the age of 88, he suffered cardiopulmonary arrest and died at his Los Angeles home, where he had been living with his wife, Arabella.

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13. Charlie Murphy

black actors who died recently
Charlie Murphy during HBO & AEG Live's "The Comedy Festival" - Maxim Real Men of Comedy at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Photo: Jason Merritt
Source: Getty Images

Charlie Murphy may have followed in his brother's footsteps by pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. Instead, he achieved unexpected fame thanks to some classic bits on Dave Chappelle's Show. But Murphy's early life was troubled as he spent time in prison for various gang-related offences.

Eddie Murphy cast him in several films, including Harlem Nights and Vampire in Brooklyn. Charlie soon became a household name thanks to the infamous Rick James sketch on Chappelle's show. Before his demise, he appeared in other films such as Harlem Nights, Lovesick and Meet the Blacks. Charlie Murphy died of Leukaemia on April 12 at age 57 in New York.

14. Michael Clarke Duncan

black actors who died recently
Michael Clarke Duncan during Ninth Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Nominations Press Conference at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. Photo: Albert L. Ortega
Source: Getty Images

Michael Clarke Duncan cut a commanding figure across the entertainment industry. However, he demonstrated that he was more than his fearsome physicality with his breakthrough performance, The Green Mile. Ducan portrayed the hulking, childlike prisoner in director Frank Darabont's.

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Duncan is among the black actors who died in the last 10 years. He was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center on July 13, 2012, after a heart attack. He died in the hospital on September 3 from respiratory failure. He had been moved from the intensive care unit but remained hospitalized until his death.

15. Ricky Harris

black actors who died recently
Comedian Ricky Harris (aka Richard George Harris II) performs at Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam in New York City. Photo: Al Pereira
Source: Getty Images

Ricky Harris rose to prominence in the 1990s as a stand-up comedian and onscreen in films such as Michael Mann's heist classic Heat. Harris' acting career began in 1993 with Poetic Justice, where he co-starred with Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson, and two years later.

Harris has also appeared on Everybody Hates Chris and Moesha before appearing in the Sundance hit Dope. In December 2016, Harris was pronounced dead at 54 after cardiac arrest.

The black community and the world have lost titans of the entertainment industry in the last ten years. From Chadwick Boseman to Sidney Poitier, many of these deaths were unfortunate and shocked the world inconveniently. However, their legacies will not be forgotten and will live on forever, thanks to their various talents. The list pays homage to black actors who died recently or in the last ten years.

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Famous black actors who died recently
Photo: canva.com (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Yen.com.gh shared an article about dead Ghanaian actors and actresses. The death of talented personalities in the Ghanaian entertainment industry has left a void that cannot be filled. Some died at a young age while others after retiring from the scene.

Nothing is as mysterious and shocking as the death of a person you loved and held dearly. Over the years, many people have been forced to mourn the death of their favourite personalities in the film industry. However, even in death, they remain heroes.

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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