The 10 Most Dead People of 2020


As usual, a lot of people died in 2020, but of course, we say that every year. But seriously, wow, a lot of people died in 2020. And the cold, hard fact is that some of those people are deader than others. They stand out among the death toll. Why? Because they died of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in many cases, they died entirely preventable deaths due to the negligence of their leaders and the selfishness of their neighbors. Put plainly, they were murdered. So, sorry to the people who didn’t make the list because they died of other causes that didn’t count. Better luck next year.

10. David Prowse

David Prowse was most famous as the man who played Darth Vader. Although of course James Earl Jones did the voice. And Sebastian Shaw was the face we saw when the mask came off. And fight choreographer Bob Anderson did the lightsaber fights. And sound designer Ben Burtt did the menacing deep breathing through a scuba-diving respirator. So what exactly did this slab of English beefcake do as Darth Vader, besides letting the cat out of the bag about Luke Skywalker’s paternity in a speech at a university in 1978, before the script to The Empire Strikes Back had even been written? Well, that’s just it. The script hadn’t even been written. Prowse was just making an educated guess. And George Lucas was clearly making things up as he went along. He kept having Leia lay gross, incestuous smooches on Luke as late as the second movie, for god’s sake. Who’s to say Lucas didn’t get the idea from Prowse instead of the other way around? What if David Prowse is actually responsible for coming up with the whole idea of the whole Skywalker saga? Well, then address your complaints about the last movie to him, because he’s dead.

9. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert

The lead vocalist of Toots and the Maytals literally invented reggae, or at least gave it its name. Specifically, the genre took its name from his song “Do the Reggay,” the reggay then being the name of a dance craze in Jamaica; the word subsequently came to be applied to the nascent musical genre providing the soundtrack to said dancing. This raises an interesting alt-history departure point: What if the chart-topping 1990 novelty hit “Do the Bartman” from the animated sitcom cash-in album The Simpsons Sing the Blues had been just a little more popular, to the extent that its name became synonymous with the then-young genre of hip-hop? Well then, bartman music would now be a dominant cultural form, and the song’s co-writer and backing vocalist, one Michael Jackson, could be said to have made a mark on musical history. Anyway, both Dr. Julius Hibbert and King Toot’s Music Store are in fact named after Toots Hibbert, because Simpsons creator Matt Groening is a big reggae fan. You didn’t think this entry was going to tie together, but here we are.

8. Roy Horn

Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn—we’re all on a first-name basis, so let’s drop the formalities—met while working as stewards on a cruise liner. Siegfried did a little magic on the side and drafted in Roy as his assistant, although the latter wasn’t impressed with his act. If Siegfried could make a rabbit disappear, suggested Roy, why not try a cheetah? And that’s when Roy introduced Siegfried to Chico, his pet cheetah, which he had stowed away in his cabin. This is obviously insane, and let’s stop and consider what this says about Roy. First, he had balls of steel. Second, he was obviously an even greater magician than Siegfried to somehow sneak a great cat into a crew member’s tiny cabin and keep it there without anyone noticing, and every show they ever did should have been a reenactment of that feat. Maybe it was!

7. Adam Schlesinger

Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn?
Your mom came out with her face mask on
I could tell she was nervous from the way she stared
And the way she said “You should stand over there”

And I know that you think it’s just a fantasy
But since her COVID test
Your mom could use monoclonal antibodies

Stacy’s mom has got Regeneron
It’s all I want
In an IV infusion
Stacy, can’t you see?
It’s next best to a vaccine
I know it might be wrong but
I’m in love with Regeneron

6. Peter Sutcliffe

Peter Sutcliffe may sound like an early member of the Beatles who got kicked out for having more handsome brain aneurysms than John Lennon, but in fact, he embodied a different sort of British mania, one for bludgeoning and stabbing sex workers. Let’s face it: The Yorkshire Ripper, as he was called, was a real shit dude! No redeeming value, this guy. At least the Moors Murderers inspired a few macabre Smith songs. And if you’re looking for a serial killer to affectionately call by the pet name “puddin’,” well, beat it, Yorkshire Ripper; we already have the Joker. Let’s call this one a rare coronavirus good-news story, since COVID19 finished a job that years of jailhouse attacks by other inmates couldn’t quite see through. Good work, coronavirus!

5. Tiny Lister

A lot of people were really hoping the president would die after catching the coronavirus this year. They just didn’t imagine it would be the president of the galaxy. Though some would argue his role as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element was a rare opportunity for Thomas “Tiny” Lister Jr. to break out of typecast roles as the physically imposing heavy, he was just as often known for heroic characters, such as folksy Southern lawyer Ben Matlock’s prison bodyguard in a special two-part episode, a prisoner who refused to save himself by sacrificing others in The Dark Knight, and Zeus, an ex-con who challenged professional wrestling’s greatest villain, Hulk Hogan, in No Holds Barred. Maybe it’s problematic that he mainly played convicts. Anyway, in a case of art imitates art, he took his grudge with Hogan into the ring in several pay-per-views in the WWF in 1989, teaming with Randy Savage, and renewed their feud in 1996 in WCW, teaming with The Ultimate Solution. The Ultimate Solution? Yikes, now that is problematic.

4. Kamala, the Ugandan Giant

Speaking of giants who could wrestle a little (albeit very little), pity poor Kamala. Not only did he die two days before Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced someone with a very similar name as his running mate, but the fact that his real last name was also Harris—James Harris—made it even easier to confuse the two. As much as you could confuse the VP elect with a guy who looked like Uncle Phil in face paint and a loincloth, anyway. Despite his gimmick as a vicious cannibal, he was known backstage as a real sweetheart, although he did once pull a big gun on Andre the Giant in the dressing room following a disagreement and wrestled him with a smaller gun tucked into his loincloth thereafter. With their relationship now miraculously improved, Andre helped get Kamala into the WWF, where he feuded with the villainous Hulk Hogan. He also holds a notable place in wrestling history for losing to the Undertaker in the first ever televised casket match; he now once again loses to the undertaker in his last ever casket match.

3. John Prine

We lost some country music greats to the coronavirus this year, such as Joe Diffie, K.T. Oslin, and, of course, John Prine, whom you may know as the “old man” from Pawn Stars, although he wasn’t that guy at all. Rather, he was one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, starting out as a singing mailman whose career was launched with a thumbs-up from Roger Ebert, who gave him a rave review even though he wasn’t even a movie! But that’s how much of a critical darling he was, even if he wasn’t a mainstream superstar. (One of the greatest tragedies of his death early in the pandemic was that he could have absolutely cleaned up financially during lockdown by launching Amazon Prine.) Let’s hope he’s happy now in heaven, which he envisioned as “a cigarette that’s nine miles long,” even though losing him is a drag.

2. Charley Pride

Some famous baseball pitchers took a loss to the coronavirus in the 2020 season too, such as Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, minor leaguer Steve Dalkowski, who was the inspiration for Bull Durham’s Nuke LaLoosh, and, of course, Charley Pride, who parlayed a side gig singing the national anthem before games into a groundbreaking career in country music. Actually, he probably should have been up there in the “country music greats” section, come to think of it. Indeed, the African-American superstar was country music’s favorite Pride, next to “White.” He received a lifetime achievement award at this year’s maskless, indoor, not-particularly-socially-distanced Country Music Association Awards, where he almost certainly contracted the coronavirus that killed him. That’s right, they recognized the many great achievements of his life, and then ended it. Not sure who needs to hear this, but the lesson here is probably is to avoid public events full of irresponsible white conservatives who refuse to take a raging global pandemic seriously.

1. Herman Cain

Actually, we absolutely know who needed to hear that: Herman Cain, the Charley Pride of Pizza, as he was frequently known. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and co-chairman of Black Voices for Trump appeared, maskless, at the 2020 Trump Tulsa rally, swiftly tested positive for coronavirus, and then died a month after being hospitalized. Then, miraculously, he refused to stay dead, apparently rising from the grave to tweet over and over in a streak of delusional denial of his own demise. “It looks like the coronavirus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be,” he crowed two weeks after he died. Hey, if you say so! Nevertheless, just as his main man Donald Trump managed to lose the 2020 election again and again with each futile legal challenge slapped down by the courts, Herman Cain managed to die a little over and over again with each new tweet from his account. For this reason, Herman Cain emerges victorious over the stiffest competition in memory as the absolute most dead person of 2020. Congratulations, Herman, and see you at the ceremony.

One Response to “The 10 Most Dead People of 2020”

  1. 1 Elizabeth C

    As cutting and insightful as ever in this bleak year. Thanks for posting this list and take good care!

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