As 2022 comes to an end, we look back to remember the people the world lost over the year.
Several world leaders, past and present, died. Possibly, the most recognized was Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. She died September 8 after 70 years as ruler.
Elizabeth helped guide the monarchy through periods of social unrest, war, and economic crises, as well as family scandals.
The only monarch known to have served longer than Elizabeth was Louis the XIV of France who died in 1715.
Elizabeth’s death led to a collective expression of sadness and respect for her leadership. But, there was also renewed discussion and criticism of the monarch’s part in British colonial rule of many areas around the world during her lifetime.
Elizabeth likely met more world leaders than anyone in history. And her image was among the most reproduced in the world. It can be found on money, mail and many buildings linked to Britain.
Elizabeth was 96 years old. Her rule passed to her son, Charles.
Another famous world leader who died in 2022 was former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. His efforts to reform the Soviet Union led to the collapse of communism in Russia and the end of the Cold War competition with the West. After an attempted overthrow, he resigned on December 25, 1991, just as the republics declared independence from the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev died on August 30 at the age of 91.
The year also saw the shocking assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July. He was giving a speech at a political campaign event in Japan when a gunman shot and killed him.
Abe was Japan’s longest serving prime minister. He was also a much criticized and complex politician. During his years in office, Abe helped pull Japan out of an economic recession. He built strong ties with the United States and wanted to restrain China’s growing strength in Asia.
However, his goal of rewriting the nation’s constitution failed because of weak public support.
He was 69.
Other former leaders who died this year include Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos; China's Jiang Zemin; Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk; Mexico's Luis Echeverría Alvarez, and former Peruvian president Francisco Morales Bermudez.
Among the entertainers who died was actor Sidney Poitier. His work in television and film helped expand the representation of Black people in the media. Poitier, who died in January, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his part in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field. Queen Elizabeth II honored Poitier with a knighthood in 1974.
Music and film star Olivia Newton John died in August. The Australian singer sold more than 100 million record albums during her career. From 1973 to 1983, she was among the world’s most popular entertainers. She had 14 top 10 singles in the United States alone and won four Grammy awards.
But Newton-John might be most remembered for her performance in 1978’s popular musical movie Grease. She starred as Sandy, a new student at an American high school. There, she reconnects with her summer boyfriend.
Newton-John died of cancer at her home in California. She was 73.
One of the world’s most famous film directors died in September. Jean-Luc Godard was 91. He was known as the “enfant terrible” of the artistic movement known as the French New Wave. Godard revolutionized popular cinema in 1960 with his first full length movie, Breathless.
The world of music lost many including rapper Coolio, Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, country stars Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd and jazz great Ramsey Lewis.
Along with McVie, rock and roll lost Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins; Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy “Fletch” Fletcher; Ronnie Spector, often called the first “bad girl of rock and roll;” and the performer known as Meat Loaf.
And finally, the world of sports lost one of its greatest athletes. Brazilian soccer player Pele died Thursday at the age of 82. Since 2021, he had been receiving treatment for colon cancer. Pele was one of the most commanding sports figures of the last hundred years. He won a record three World Cup soccer championships with Brazil. Pele was the standard-bearer of "the beautiful game," a term he helped make popular with the national team and his club Santos. Late in his career, he helped popularize soccer in North America by joining the New York Cosmos.
I’m Caty Weaver.
And I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Words in This Story
monarchy – n. a form of government in which a country is ruled by a king or queen whose children have some claim to special rights of rulers
scandal –n. an incident in which people are shocked or upset by behavior that is morally or legally wrong
assassination –n. murder by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons : the act or an instance of assassinating someone
entertainer –n. a performer, such as a singer, actor, dancer, etc.
enfant terrible –n. (foreign term) a young and successful person who sometimes shocks others and does things in a way that is different than normal
standard-bearer –n. someone that leads an organization, movement, or party
Who did we miss?
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