Entertainment

Stars who died on Christmas Day – £311m will, eerie coincidence and harrowing last words


Tributes poured in when singer and former Wham! star George Michael died suddenly on Christmas Day 2016.

His unexpected death left fans in shock and sadness, with fellow stars paying their tributes to the beloved singer and music icon in the days to follow.

George Michael was one of a number of huge stars to have died during the festive period, with some including soul singers, Hollywood actors and legends of stage and screen dying on Christmas Day in decades past.

Daily Star looks back on the lives of some of the talented artists who have died on Christmas Day and their most famous work.

George Michael



George Michael died in 2016
Singer George Michael died in 2016

There was an outpouring of grief from fans when singer George Michael died at his home on Christmas Day 2016 of heart failure.

Aged 53, his death was confirmed by a statement from his publicist, saying: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.”

One of the most successful artists of all time, George had risen to fame in Wham, before going on to create multi-million selling albums including Faith, and even taking part in a Comic Relief sketch alongside James Cordon.

Known to many of his close family and friends by his nickname ‘Yog’, following his death, Wham bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said on Twitter: “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend.

“Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx “

Dean Martin



Rat Pack member Dean Martin died in 1995
Rat Pack member Dean Martin died in 1995

Swing singer Dean Martin died on Christmas Day 1995 at the age of 87 from acute respiratory failure, which spookily was twenty-nine years to the day, and almost to the minute, after his mother died.

One part of the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, he was known across the world for his catchy records including That’s Amore and Ain’t that a kick in the head.

He also released a number of Christmas song covers too, including Baby it’s cold outside and Let it snow! Let it Snow! Let it snow!

It wasn’t just his voice that he was famous for though – he was also a popular talk show host on The Dean Martin Show from 1965-1974, and starred in Hollywood films including the original Oceans Eleven in 1960.

Eartha Kitt



Singer and actress Eartha Kitt died in 2008
Singer and actress Eartha Kitt died in 2008

Eartha Kitt was one of the greatest singers of all time and died on Christmas Day in 2008 of colon cancer.

Her cancer had previously gone into remission after first being diagnosed in 2006, and her a family spokesman told the press that she had been performing on stage right up until two months before her death, with Andrew Freeman telling Reuters: “She came back strongly. She had been performing until two months ago.”

“We had dates booked through 2009.”

Known for her hits including Santa Baby and C’est Si Bon, she also had film roles in Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove in 2000, 2003’s Holes and St Louis Blues opposite Nat King Cole in 1958.

However, she is most fondly remembered for her iconic role as Batwoman in 1967, directed by Orson Welles who described her as “the most exciting woman in the world.”

James Brown



Soul legend James Brown died in 2006
Soul legend James Brown died in 2006

Soul legend James Brown died of congestive heart failure on Christmas Day in 2006.

His friend Charles Bobbitt claimed that in his dying moment, Brown said “I’m going away tonight”, before taking three long breaths and falling asleep before dying as his friend sat at his bedside.

However the day before his death, it is reported that he was at his annual Christmas toy giveaway in Atlanta Georgia, and was planning to perform on New Year’s Eve.

Known for his hit songs including Living in America, I got you (I feel good) and Papa’s got a brand new bag, he was undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of his generation.

Following his death, the Rev Al Sharpton, who toured with James Brown in the 70s paid tribute on social media, saying: “James Brown changed music.

“What James Brown was to music, was to music in terms of soul and hip-hop, rap, all of that, is what was to classical music.”

Charlie Chaplin



Silent film star Charlie Chaplin died in 1977
Silent film star Charlie Chaplin died in 1977

One of the greatest stars of the silver screen and silent films, comedian Charlie Chaplin died aged 88 on Christmas Day in 1977 in Switzerland.

One of his most famous roles was The Tramp, and not only did he star in his films, he also produced and directed a lot of them too.

His iconic bowler hat, suit and wooden walking stick was a memorable site in many of Hollywood’s earliest films, with his life even embodied in a film by Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr.

The acting genes have continued to run in the family too, with granddaughter Oona Chaplin starring in programmes including BBC’s Inside No.9 and Hollywood films including Avatar.

He was said to have left a whopping $100m (£75m) to his wife Oona, which would be around $415m (£312m) after inflation.

Peter Jeffrey



Actor Peter Jeffrey died in 1999
Actor Peter Jeffrey died in 1999

Actor Peter Jeffrey who starred in programmes including Yes Minister and Doctor Who, died on Christmas Day 1999 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

His talents extended to the silver screen, appearing in Hollywood films such as Midnight Express, Becket and The Abominable Dr Phibes alongside horror legend Vincent Price.

Not only was he a famed screen actor, he was also a famous character actor who had a long career on stage performing at theatres such as the Bristol Old Vic and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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