Chadwick Boseman, RBG and Naya Rivera among those honored during Emmys 'in memoriam' segment


The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards show, held on Sunday, was much different than the broadcasts have been in years past, but a few things remained the same, including the inclusion of an “in memoriam” segment dedicated to the many entertainment stars lost in the past year. Their photos flashed on a screen as H.E.R. sang a haunting cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Producers introduced this year’s roundup with longtime morning talk show host and host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Regis Philbin, who died in May from coronary heart disease. He was 88. The segment also honored Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday from cancer complications. RBG, who appeared on news programs and documentaries over the years, also inspired a parody on Saturday Night Live.

The Emmys’ Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Naya Rivera & More Will Make You Cry
Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. took to the stage for the 2020 Emmys in recognition of the many celebrities who died this year. (Photo: ABC)

Two actors whose deaths garnered much attention received prominent placement, too: Chadwick Boseman and Naya Rivera. Boseman, who appeared in shows such as Lincoln Heights and Justified before his starring role in Black Panther, died at 43. The cause was colon cancer, which he had secretly battled for four years. Rivera drowned while boating with her son in July. She was 33.

Julie star Diahann Carroll, comedy icon Carl Reiner and newsman Hugh Downs were also featured.

Every year, the segment leaves some people out because of the limited time, and this year was no different.

Twitter users noted the omission of Grant Imahara, whose credits included hosting Mythbusters and White Rabbit Project. The absence of both Kobe Bryant, the beloved former Los Angeles Lakers player who died in a plane crash in January, and Nick Cordero, a Broadway actor who died in July of COVID-19 were noticed. Fans pointed out that Bryant appeared on TV frequently as an NBA star. They cited Cordero’s work on shows such as Blue Bloods.

Actress Kelly Preston, who died of breast cancer at 57 in July, was left out, too. Preston was best known for her films, but she also graced TV screens in shows such as CSI: Cyber, Medium and Fat Actress.

This year’s segment included a few dozen stars, and producers had a list twice as long to choose from. They featured many more people who worked behind the TV cameras during the non-televised Creative Arts Emmys, which was held virtually over four nights last week.

When RuPaul won his fifth award on Saturday for hosting the reality competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race, he dedicated the award to the late Chi Chi DeVayne, who competed on the show over two seasons. DeVayne died at 34 in August while hospitalized for pneumonia.

“May you rest in power and perfection,” RuPaul said.

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