Celebrities who have died from COVID-19

From actors and playwrights to musicians and royalty, these are the famous figures who have died from coronavirus.

With famous figures such as Prince Charles, Idris Elba and Tom Hanks all revealing that they have the virus, the world remains on tenterhooks, waiting for grim news of celebrity deaths.

These are the famous names who we have lost to coronavirus so far.


The man who co-wrote the song “I Love Rock and Roll” – that became a signature hit for fellow rocker Joan Jett – died Sunday in New York of complications from the coronavirus, his daughter said.

Alan Merrill was 69. Laura Merrill said on her Facebook account that he died in the morning. “I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen,” she wrote.

Camera IconSinger and bassist Alan Merrill died on Sunday. Credit: Supplied, Michael Putland

“I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.” Merrill said her father was in good spirits recently. She went to a show of his about two weeks ago and had taken a photograph of him for his new album, Merrill said.

“He played down the ‘cold’ he thought he had,” she said. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona’ and how it’ll “getcha” … boy do I feel stupid.” Jett scored a major hit with “I Love Rock and Roll” in 1982. Alan Merrill wrote the song for his band The Arrows and recorded it in 1975.

On her Twitter account, Jett wrote: “I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed. My thoughts and love go to his family, friends and music community as a whole. I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” Merrill was born in New York and grew up in Switzerland, Los Angeles and Japan before starting his music career in New York.


Country singer Joe Diffie, who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like Home and Pick-up Man, died on Sunday March 29.

He was 61.

Diffie announced he had contracted the coronavirus just two days earlier.

Diffie’s publicist Scott Adkins said the singer died on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, due to complications from the virus.

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years.

Joe Diffie announced he had coronavirus on Friday. He died two days later.
Camera IconJoe Diffie announced he had coronavirus on Friday. He died two days later. Credit: AP, Al Wagner/Invision/AP

His hits included Honky Tonk Attitude, Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die), Bigger Than the Beatles and If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).

His mid-90s albums Honkey Tonk Attitude and Third Rock From the Sun went platinum. Eighteen of Diffie’s singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1.

Diffie shared in a Grammy award for best country collaboration for the song Same Old Train, with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others.

His last solo album was 2010s The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.

Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie, and seven children from four marriages.


Princess Maria Teresa of Spain has died aged 86 on Thursday March 26.

The princess was of the Bourbon-Parma Royal Family.

Members of the late princess’ family once ruled as King of Etruria and as Duke of Parma and Piacenza, Guastalla, and Lucca until 1859.

Princess Maria did not have any children of her own, but she is survived by a number of nieces and nephews, including Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, Princess Margarita and Prince Jaime.


Actor Mark Blum, who starred alongside Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee, and Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, died from coronavirus on Thursday March 26. He was 69.

New York-based theatre company Playwrights Horizons revealed the News Jersey-born star had died via a tribute on social media.

“With love and heavy hearts, Playwrights Horizons pays tribute to Mark Blum, a dear longtime friend and a consummate artist who passed this week.

“Thank you, Mark, for all you brought to our theatre, and to theatres and audiences across the world. We will miss you.”

Mark Blum with Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee.
Camera IconMark Blum with Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee. Credit: Supplied

Madonna, Blum’s co-star in the 1985 classic Desperately Seeking Susan paid tribute to the actor.

“I want to acknowledge the passing of a remarkable human, fellow actor and friend Mark Blum, who succumbed to coronavirus.

“This is really tragic and my heart goes out to him, his family and his loved ones,” the 61-year-old star wrote on Instagram

“I remember him as funny warm, loving and professional when we made Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985! Another reminder that this virus is no joke, nothing to be casual about or pretend won’t affect us in some way.”

Blum also appeared in NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, The West Wing and recently in the cult Netflix hit You, playing bookseller Mr. Mooney.

His onscreen wife in Desperately Seeking Susan, Rosanna Arquette, also expressed her sadness at Blum’s passing.

“I’m so deeply sad for his family and for his fans. he was a wonderful actor and a very good and kind man. May you Rest In Peace and power, Mark. God bless you,” Arquette wrote.

Blum is recalled by his colleagues and critics for the intensely high quality of his work. He was particularly beloved in the theatre community.

Mark Blum with Madonna in the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan.
Camera IconMark Blum with Madonna in the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan. Credit: Supplied, Supplied/Orion Films

“There are actors whose names appear in the announcement of a play, and you instantly think, without knowing any details: This will be work worth seeing,” Washington Post theatre critic Peter Marks posted. “Mark Blum was of that wonderful caliber. Made me believe, every time I saw him. It’s terrible to read of his death.”


Tony award-winning playwright Terrence McNally pictured in 2006.
Camera IconTony award-winning playwright Terrence McNally pictured in 2006. Credit: AP, AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr

Tony award-winning playwright Terrence McNally was one of the first celebrities to fall victim to the virus.

The 81-year-old died in Florida on Tuesday March 24, from complications arising from coronavirus. He had previously survived lung cancer and lived with chronic pulmonary disease.

An openly gay writer whose subject matter included love, homophobia and AIDS, McNally’s notable plays included Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, along with the musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime.

He won four Tony awards and an Emmy for his work, which also included the breakthrough AIDS play Lips Together, Teeth Apart and the farce The Ritz.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda dubbed McNally “a giant in our world, who straddled plays and musicals deftly. Grateful for his staggering body of work and his unfailing kindness.”

“He was an absolute gentleman and his commitment to the theatre was unwavering,” tweeted British actor and comedian James Corden. “He will be missed by so many of us.”

“The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what truth and beauty and kindness really are,” he said in accepting his lifetime achievement award at the 2019 Tonys, the annual awards for excellence in theatre.

“Theatre changes hearts, that secret place where we all truly live.”


Veteran Afro-jazz star Manu Dibango, best known for the 1972 hit “Soul Makossa”, died in Paris on Tuesday March 24 after contracting the new coronavirus, his representatives have confirmed.

The 86-year-old Cameroonian saxophonist was one of the pioneers of Afro jazz and also fused funk with traditional Cameroonian music.

A message on his official Facebook page confirmed that his death had come after he contracted COVID-19.

“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible,” the message said.

His biggest hit was the B-side of a song to support the Cameroon football team in the African Cup of Nations but was picked up and popularised by New York DJs.

In 2009, he accused Michael Jackson of borrowing one of his hooks for two songs on the legendary Thriller album. Jackson settled out of court.


Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz pictured in 2000.
Camera IconFormer Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz pictured in 2000. Credit: Supplied

Lorenzo Sanz, the former Real Madrid president died on Saturday March 21, aged 76, three days after being hospitalised with the virus.

Sanz presided over Madrid from 1995 until 2000, leading the club to two European titles, a Spanish league title and a Spanish Super Cup title.

Under Sanz, Madrid ended a 32-year drought in Europe by winning its seventh European trophy in 1998.

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