Who died in 2023: The celebrities the world lost, including Lisa Marie Presley and Matthew Perry


It was a year in which too many beloved celebrities — and some infamous figures — died.

Less than three weeks into 2023, Channel 7 entertainment guru Peter Ford predicted a big 12 months of loss, saying it was “shaping up to be a really bad year for significant, wonderful, talented people leaving us”.

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Ford made the comments after the death on January 19 of legendary musician David Crosby, which came after the passing of celebrated international figures including Lisa Marie Presley and Gina Lollobrigida.

In Australia, fans mourned the loss of home-grown celebrities such as Renee Geyer, Barry Humphries and Johnny Ruffo.

The world would also lose superstars such as singers Tina Turner and Sinead O’Connor, broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson and actor Matthew Perry.

Here, 7NEWS.com.au takes a look back at some of the world’s most famous — and some more notorious — people who died during the year that was.

January

10 – Guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck, known as the guitar player’s guitar player, dies at 78 after “suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis”.

10 – Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, dies in Rome aged 81, from heart complications following hip surgery.

Pell’s 2018 convictions for molesting two teenaged choirboys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 were quashed in 2020 but he remained a divisive figure and was not given a state funeral in Australia.

12 – Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of rock icon Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley, who was once famously married to Michael Jackson, dies after a cardiac arrest at 54.

Lisa Marie Presley. Credit: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Less than two days earlier, she’d attended the Golden Globes awards with Priscilla to celebrate the success of Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, Elvis.

16 – Internationally famous Italian screen siren Gina Lollobrigida, once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world”, dies at 95.

17Renee Geyer, one of Australia’s most successful soul singers, dies of complications following hip surgery.

While being treated in hospital, it was also discovered the 69-year-old had inoperable lung cancer.

Renee Geyer. Credit: AAP

19 – Legendary musician David Crosby, of Crosby Stills and Nash, who co-founded some of the most influential bands of the 1960s, dies at 81.

25 – Actress Cindy Williams, who played Shirley on the popular US sitcom Laverne & Shirley, dies at 75 after a brief illness.

28 – The original Wednesday Addams, Lisa Loring, dies at 64, after a massive stroke.

February

3 – Fashion designer Paco Rabanne, whose real name was Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, dies in France at 88.

9 – Legendary composer Burt Bacharach dies of natural causes, aged 94, in Los Angeles.

Bacharach had more than 70 Top-40 hits, primarily in the 1960s and ‘70s, including Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, Close to You, What the World Needs Now Is Love and I Say a Little Prayer.

Burt Bacharach. Credit: AP

15 – Actress Raquel Welch, catapulted to international sex symbol status in the 1960s, dies at 82 after a brief illness.

Raquel Welch in 1970, in costume for the movie Myra Breckinridge. Credit: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

19 – American actor Richard Belzer, best known as Detective John Munch on Law and Order SVU, dies at 78.

March

16 – Australian television industry leader Brian Walsh, behind the international success of Neighbours, dies at 68.

The Foxtel executive was also credited with launching the careers of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce.

30 – Radio and TV presenter Doug Mulray, a Triple M shock jock throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, dies at 71.

April

7 – ABBA guitarist Lasse Wellander, who played on the Swedish supergroup’s biggest hits, dies at 70 from cancer.

Lasse Wellander on stage with Frida, Bjorn and Agnetha from ABBA. Credit: Getty

11 – Australian artist John Olsen, best-known for his landscapes but also the winner of the 2005 Archibald Prize for a self-portrait, dies aged 95.

13 – Globally influential British fashion designer Mary Quant, widely credited with popularising the miniskirt in the “Swinging Sixties”, dies aged 93.

Mary Quant, one of the most influential figures in the fashion scene of the 1960s. Credit: AP

22 – Comedian Barry Humphries, creator of the iconic Aussie character Dame Edna Everage, dies at 89.

Humphries, whose other characters included “cultural attaché” Sir Les Patterson and “elderly childless man” Sandy Stone, passed away after complications from hip surgery.

Barry Humphries and his most famous character, Dame Edna. Credit: 7NEWS.com.au

25 – Jamaican-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, best known for his song Banana Boat and his political activism, dies of congestive heart failure, aged 96.

27 – Controversial American TV talk host Jerry Springer dies at 79, several months after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

30 – TV personality and MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo, who appeared alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, dies suddenly at 46.

May

5 – Disgraced former Queensland police commissioner Terry Lewis, jailed for corruption as a result of the landmark Fitzgerald Inquiry of 1987-89, dies at 95.

10 – Disgraced Australian entertainer and convicted paedophile Rolf Harris dies in the UK at 93 after a long cancer battle.

Harris was released from Stafford Prison in 2017 where he had served three years of a five-year, nine-month sentence for 12 indecent assaults on four girls aged between eight and 19, between 1968 and 1986.

Tina Turner. Credit: AP

24 – Rock icon Tina Turner dies in Switzerland at 83 after a long battle with colon cancer and kidney failure.

She was loved for solo hits including What’s Love Got to Do with It and Simply the Best, and, with former husband Ike Turner, Nutbush City Limits and River Deep Mountain High.

June

12 – Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a billionaire businessman who created Italy’s largest media company, dies at 86 after suffering from leukaemia and developing a lung infection.

25 – Former Labor luminary Simon Crean, Opposition Leader between 2001 and 2003, dies of a pulmonary embolism while hiking in Germany. He was 74.

29 – American actor and director Alan Arkin, who won an Oscar for playing a heroin-using grandfather in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine, dies at 89.

July

21 – The legendary Tony Bennett, who Frank Sinatra once called “the best singer in the business”, dies at 96.

Sinead O’Connor. Credit: Michel Linssen/Redferns via Getty

26 – Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, known for her haunting 1990 rendition of the Prince song Nothing Compares 2 U, dies at 56.

30 – American actor and comedian Paul Reubens, whose character Pee-wee Herman became a cultural phenomenon, dies at 70 after a six-year, private struggle with cancer.

August

12 – World-renowned epidemiologist, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, who guided Australia through the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, dies at 70.

She revealed in January 2022 that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws. Credit: AAP

16 – Legendary broadcaster and TV talk show host Sir Michael Parkinson dies aged 88 after a brief illness.

Sir Michael Parkinson Credit: Sunrise

30 – Harrods billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose son Dodi was killed in a car crash with Princess Diana, dies at 94.

Watch in the video player below — Remembering Australian icons: A tribute to those we lost in 2023.

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September

1 – Legendary singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, best known for his song Margaritaville, dies aged 76 after a four-year battle with skin cancer.

4Steve Harwell, long-time frontman of American band Smash Mouth, behind the hit song All Star, dies at 56 of acute liver failure.

Ron Barassi. Credit: AAP

16 – Aussie Rules legend Ron Barassi dies at 87 after complications from a fall.

25 – TV actor David McCallum, best known as medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS and as Illya Kuryakin in the classic British 1960s spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., dies of “natural causes”. He had just turned 90.

October

11 – New Zealand comedian Cal Wilson dies at 53 after a “short illness”.

21 – Australia’s 21st Governor-General Bill Hayden dies aged 90, nine years to the day after Gough Whitlam’s death.

28 – Beloved actor Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing in the enduring hit ‘90s TV sitcom Friends, dies at 54 in an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home.

His sudden death sent shockwaves around the world, with Friends having been constantly on the air for three decades, including in reruns after its 10 seasons finished in 2004.

Matthew Perry with Friends co-stars Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow in 1996. Credit: Fotos International/Getty Images

November

10 – Former Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo dies at 35 after a six-year battle with brain cancer.

Ruffo had a legion of fans from his acting and singing career, and he had bravely documented the long fight against his illness on social media.

Johnny Ruffo as Chris Harrington on Home and Away. Credit: Seven

29 – Former US Secretary of State and national security advisor Henry Kissinger, who served presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1977, dies. He was 100.

December

5Norman Lear, the creator of iconic TV shows such as All in the Family and The Jeffersons, dies at 101.

8 – Actor Ryan O’Neal, best known for his roles in the 70s movies Love Story and What’s Up Doc, and as the long-term partner of Farrah Fawcett, dies at 82.

11Andre Braugher, the Emmy-winning star of TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, dies at 61.

25 – Australian cook and restaurateur Bill Granger dies “peacefully” in hospital on Christmas Day, surrounded by his family in London. He was 54.

30 – Two-time Oscar-nominated actor Tom Wilkinson, best known for his role in The Full Monty, dies aged 75.

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