Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019

From musicians to writers and actors to architects, the world lost a number of talented figures in the past year

Author Toni Morrison, artist Kamal Boullata and actress Doris Day were among the notable figures who passed away in 2019.
Powered by automated translation

From an Emirati short story writer to a celebrated Lebanese artist, the Arab world has lost its share of stars in 2019. Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died this past year.

Mahmoud El Gendy

The Egyptian actor passed away at 74 on April 11. Throughout his career, Gendi never performed in a leading role but he played significant parts alongside other Egyptian actors and actresses. His most significant role was as Am Salama el-Tafshan in the movie Shams el Zanaty starring Adel Imam.

Mohsena Tawfik

The veteran Egyptian actress died at 79 on May 6. She was associated with the 'golden era' of Egyptian drama. She is fondly remembered for her role in the 1972 film The Swallow. She performed in more than 80 works covering stage shows, films and radio and TV series.

Khalid Al Qasimi

A handout photo of Khalid Al Qasimi (Photo by Mariano Vivanco) *** Local Caption ***  al22ja-fashion-alqasimi01.jpg
Khalid Al Qasimi. Photo by Mariano Vivanco

The son of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, died at 39 in London on July 1. He was also the designer behind the menswear label, Qasimi, and had his clothing showcased at London Fashion Week.

Ezzat Abou Aouf

The Egyptian actor died at the age of 71 on July 1. He first entered the arts world through music as part of a rock band called Les Petits Chats and then another band called 4M that he started with his sisters. He later got into acting with, perhaps, his most well-known role coming from his debut in Ice Cream in Gleam.

Sabrin Burshaid

Sabrin Burshaid. Sabrin Burshaid / Instagram
Sabrin Burshaid. Sabrin Burshaid / Instagram

The Bahraini TV personality died at the age of 34 after losing her battle with lymphoma on July 22. Burshaid, the star of 2012's Zain's Flashlight, worked in Kuwait at the ATV channel and appeared in a number of Ramadan shows.

Farouk Al Fishawy

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Youssef Badawi/EPA/Shutterstock (8823553h)
Farouk al-Fishawi
Actors Day in Damascus, Syria - 17 May 2017
Egyptian actor Farouk al-Fishawi speaks after he was honored during an event held in Damascus, Syria, 17 May 2017, to mark the Actors Day. The event is sponsored by the Syrian Ministry of Culture and is attended by a number of Syrian and Arab actors.
Farouk Al Fishawy. AP 

The renowned Egyptian actor died at the age of 67 on July 25, nine months after revealing he was battling cancer. The United star, who appeared in more than 60 films and TV shows throughout his decades-long career, revealed his health struggles last year. Some of his prominent works include Ightisab, 48 Hours in Israel, A Man with a Past, A Woman Shook the Throne, Al-zaman Al-saab, The Jeans and Katel Bela Ajer.

Kamal Boullata

The Palestinian artist and polymath passed away in Berlin at the age of 77 on August 6. He played a key role in modern Arab art. In the 1970s and '80s, Boullata was part of the hurufiyya movement, when Arab artists experimented with bringing Arabic calligraphy into modernist idioms.

Simon Asmar

Lebanese producer of the popular "Studio al-Fan" talent show, Simon Asmar, presents an award to the program's presenter Elsa Zgheib at the MTV studios in Beirut on June 5, 2010, after announcing that next year's show will be presented as of November 2010 from Tunisia.   AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)
Simon Asmar. Anwar Amro / AFP

The Lebanese producer and director died at the age of 76 on September 12. He became famous in the music and entertainment television industry with shows such as Studio al-Fan, which aired in the 1980s on state-run television station Tele Liban. He was nicknamed the 'Star Maker' and helped launched the careers of a number of Lebanese stars such as Majida Al Roumi, Walid Toufic, Ragheb Alama, Wael Kfoury and more.

Huguette Caland

Artist Huguette Caland. Courtesy Tate St Ives
Artist Huguette Caland. Courtesy Tate St Ives

The Lebanese painter and sculptor died at 88 in Beirut on September 23. A painter of extraordinary, luminous works, Caland became a model for artistic freedom and self-expression. Despite getting involved with art later in life, her works have become well-known and displayed in numerous exhibitions and museums around the world.

Talaat Zakaria

The Egyptian comedian died at 58 on October 8, after battling with illness. In addition to comedy, he was also in film and television, with his first film role coming in 1984's Hadi Badi. His first leading role came in 2006's Haha wa Tuffaha. His latest work was Legend of the Beaches, which was screened in December 2017.

Haitham Zaki

The Egyptian actor was the son of late famed actor Ahmad Zaki. He had roles in Halim and The Group. His last known work was in a TV thriller called A Question Mark.He died aged 35 on November 7.

Mariam Jumaa Faraj

The Emirati short story writer died in December. Her first short story collection Fairuz was published in 1988. Her second collection titled Ma' (Water) was published in 1994 and featured stories revolved around the pursuit of individual freedom in conservative societies. Upon returning from studying abroad, she joined Al Bayan as a translator and columnist.

Shaaban Abdel Rahim

The popular Egyptian singer died at the age of 62 on December 3. He is best known for his catchy music which had political themes. He recently performed at the Riyadh Season but appeared in a wheelchair due to a bone disease. His most famous tracks included I Will Stop Smoking.

Notable deaths from around the world

Michel Legrand

FILE - JANUARY 26: Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand passed away on January 26, 2019 in Paris, France.  He was 86 years old. CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23:  Michel Legrand attends the 'Max Rose' photocall during The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2013 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Michel Legrand. Getty

The Oscar-winning composer and pianist died in Paris at the age of  86 on January 26. His  hits included the score for the '60s romance, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and the song The Windmills of Your Mind. Legrand and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century.

Karl Lagerfeld

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 3, 2015 German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld poses next to a painting of his cat "Choupette" during the inauguration of the show "Corsa Karl and Choupette" at the Palazzo Italia in Berlin.  German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, it was announced on February 19, 2019. / AFP / DPA / Jens KALAENE
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 3, 2015 German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld poses next to a painting of his cat "Choupette" during the inauguration of the show "Corsa Karl and Choupette" at the Palazzo Italia in Berlin. German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, it was announced on February 19, 2019. / AFP / DPA / Jens KALAENE

Lagerfeld was Chanel's celebrated couturier whose accomplished designs and trademark white ponytail, high starched collars and dark enigmatic glasses dominated high fashion for the past 50 years. He died at age 85 on February 19.

Keith Flint

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  (EDITORIAL USE ONLY)  Keith Flint of The Prodigy perform live on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on December 21, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Keith Flint of The Prodigy on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on December 21, 2017 in London, England. Photo: Simone Joyner / Getty Images

The fiery frontman of British dance-electronic band The Prodigy died at 49 on March 4. He was part of the group's two UK number one singles Firestarter and Breathe.

Luke Perry

The American actor passed away at 52 on March 4. He gained instant heart-throb status as wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. He was also on the CW series Riverdale.

Nipsey Hussle

The Grammy-nominated rapper died at age 33 after being killed in a shooting on March 31. He was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards for his debut album Victory Lap. He was also known for his entrepreneurship and created the Marathon Clothing collection.

John Singleton

epa07537064 (FILE) - UD director John Singleton arrives for the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, USA, 18 September 2016 (reissued 29 April 2019). According to media reports, John Singleton has died, citing his family. The 51-year-old writer and director of 'Boyz n the Hood' had suffered a stroke two weeks ago and was in a coma.  EPA/PAUL BUCK *** Local Caption *** 53025183
American film director John Singleton has died 51 following a stroke. EPA

The director died at 51 on April 28, after being taken off of life support following a stroke. Singleton made one of Hollywood's most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated Boyz N the Hood and continued over the following decades to probe the lives of black communities in his native Los Angeles and beyond.

Peter Mayhew

The towering actor, who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy and two other films, died at the age of 74 on April 30.

Doris Day

19th January 1961:  American singer and actress Doris Day smiling as she signs her name in cement by her handprints, in front of Mann's (formerly Grauman's) Chinese Theater, on Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Doris Day. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The sunny blonde actress and singer had frothy comedic roles  opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant that made her one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood. She was 97 when she died on May 13.

I M Pei

Portrait of Chinese-born American architect IM Pei (born Ieoh Ming Pei), New York, New York, September 1956. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
I M Pei. Getty

The versatile, globe-trotting Chinese-born American architect died at the age of 102 on May 16. He revived the Louvre in Paris with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. His other famous works include the JFK Library in Boston and Sunning Plaza in Hong Kong.

Gloria Vanderbilt

The intrepid heiress, artist and romantic died at the age of 95 on June 17. She began her extraordinary life as the "poor little rich girl" of the Great Depression, survived a family tragedy and several marriages and reigned during the 1970s and '80s as a designer jeans pioneer. She was also the mother of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper.

Cameron Boyce

FILE - This April 25, 2019 file photo shows actor Cameron Boyce at WE Day California in Inglewood, Calif. Los Angeles coroners officials said Tuesday, July 30, 2019, that Boyce died unexpectedly from epilepsy. He was pronounced dead at his home on July 6. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Officials from Los Angeles coroners have said young Disney actor, Cameron Boyce, died unexpectedly from epilepsy. He was pronounced dead at his home on July 6. AP 

The young actor passed away from a seizure at 20 on July 6. He's best known for his role as the teenage son of Cruella de Vil in the Disney Channel franchise, Descendants.

Rip Torn

The free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theatre and movies, died at the age of at 88 on July 9. He was seen in films such as Men in Black and won an Emmy in his 60s for The Larry Sanders Show.

Toni Morrison

epa07759057 (FILE) - Literary Nobel prize winning US author Toni Morrison attends an award ceremony to receive the Grand Vermeil medal for her contribution to culture, at the City Hall of Paris, France, 04 November 2010 (reissued 06 August 2019). Reports on 06 August 2019 state Toni Morrison has died, aged 88. Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was the first African American woman to win the prize.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON *** Local Caption *** 02429734
Literary Nobel prize winning US author Toni Morrisonhas died at age 88. EPA.

Morrison was a pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in Beloved, Song of Solomon and other works transformed American letters by dramatising the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race. She died at the age of 88 on August 5.

Robert Forster

epa07914761 (FILE) - US actor and cast member Robert Forster arrives for the premiere of the film 'Damsel' at the ArcLight Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 13 June 2018 (reissued 12 October 2019). Oscar-nominated US actor Robert Forster died on 11 October 2019 at the age of 78, media reported on 12 October 2019.  EPA/PAUL BUCK *** Local Caption *** 54405702
'Breaking Bad' actor Robert Forster has died age 78. EPA

The American actor died at age 78 from brain cancer on October 11. He got a career resurgence and Oscar nomination for playing bail bondsman Max Cherry in 1997's Jackie Brown. He was also in Breaking Bad and reprised his role in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, whose premiere was on the day of his death.

Caroll Spinney 

The American puppeteer and cartoonist gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on Sesame Street. He was 85 when he died on December 8.

Juice WRLD

The American rapper launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut and rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit Lucid Dreams. He died aged 21 on December 8.

Marie Fredriksson

Picture taken on June 12, 2011 shows singer Marie Fredriksson of Swedish band Roxette performing during a concert in Oberursel near Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. As her management announced on December 10, 2019, Fredriksson died on December 9, 2019 at the age of 61. - Germany OUT
 / AFP / dpa / Boris Roessler
Singer Marie Fredriksson of Swedish band Roxette has died at the age of 61. AFP

The female half of the Swedish pop duo Roxette died at the age of 61 on December 9. She achieved international success in the late 1980s and 1990s with hits such as Listen to Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love and The Look.