Moonyeenn Lee, a legendary South African casting director and agent who cast films such as “Blood Diamond,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” died Saturday due to complications caused by the coronavirus in Johannesburg. She was 76.
Lee’s passing was confirmed by a representative in Johannesburg and announced on a Facebook page for her agency Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA).
Lee was renowned in her native South Africa and boasted 47 years in the film industry, earning a lifetime achievement award named for Lionel Ngakane from the South African Film & Television Awards in 2017. She was also the first South African member of AMPAS and the Television Academy.
Lee was also one of South Africa’s best-known agents through her company Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA). In 2003, Lee was nominated to the National Executive Committee of the Independent Producer’s Organization and to the film board of Create South Africa. She alsoformed the production company Khulisa Productions to specialize in South African films and produced the 2002 movie “Promised Land.”
“Work was central to her life. Her actors were her family. The directors and producers she worked with were all her friends,” her company said in its announcement. “She was brutally honest, a bit too much for some, but she believed in saying things as they were. Her quick wit, her wicked sense of humour and deep understanding of her craft made her interesting company. Her family and friends will remember her for her generosity and kindness to those in need, for her fighting spirit as well as for her unwavering commitment to the local industry.”
Among some of her film credits as a casting director are “The Bang Bang Club,” “Disgrace,” “Tsotsi, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Blood Diamond.” She also worked in TV on shows like “Homeland,” “The Prisoner” and “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” and was nominated for two Emmys for “The Looming Tower” and “Roots” (2016).
Lee is survived by her daughter, Cindy Lee, her son, David Lee and her pets, Hitchcock, Eva and Spice.
Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2020 (Photos)
Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, Naya Rivera (Getty Images)
The former longtime commissioner of the NBA died Jan. 1 following a brain hemorrhage, according to a statement from current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He was 77.
Silvio Horta, creator of the ABC comedy series “Ugly Betty,” was found dead in a Miami motel room Jan. 7. He was 45.
The drummer and lyricist for the ’70s and ’80s Canadian rock band Rush, died on Jan. 7, according to the band’s Twitter account. He was 67.
Harry Hains, an actor and producer who had appeared on “American Horror Story: Hotel,” “The OA,” “Sneaky Pete” and “The Surface,” died on Jan. 7. He was 27.
The actor-screenwriter-director -- who co-created “Get Smart,” co-wrote “The Graduate” and co-directed the hit 1978 Warren Beatty film “Heaven Can Wait” -- died on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles. He was 89.
The actor, who played Vince Fontaine in “Grease” and also starred on the series “77 Sunset Strip” as the teen idol “Kookie,” died on Jan. 8. He was 87.
Ivan Passer -- a pioneering filmmaker in the Czech New Wave, a frequent collaborator with the late Milos Forman and the director of the 1981 film “Cutter’s Way” -- died on Jan. 9. He was 86.
Stan Kirsch, one of the stars of the syndicated '90s fantasy drama “Highlander: The Series,” died on Jan. 11. He was 51.
Rocky Johnson, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, died on Jan. 15 at the age of 75.
Terry Jones, a beloved member of the Monty Python comedy troupe who directed many of its classic films, died Jan. 21. He was 77.
Former “Bachelorette” contestant Tyler Gwozdz, who appeared on the 2019 season of the reality series, died Jan. 22 of a suspected drug overdose at age 29.
Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant was killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., that killed four others. He was 41.
Kirk Douglas -- the prolific actor and producer whose “Spartacus” is credited with helping to end the Hollywood blacklist, patriarch of a successful entertainment dynasty and one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s golden age -- died Feb. 5 at age 103.
F.X. Feeney, a film historian, screenwriter and longtime film critic for LA Weekly, died on Feb. 5 after suffering several strokes over the previous few days. He was 66.
Kevin Conway, known for his roles in films like “Gettysburg” and ‘Thirteen Days,” died on Feb. 5 of a heart attack. He was 77.
Veteran character actor Orson Bean, a regular on shows like “To Tell the Truth” and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and star of “Being John Malkovich,” died the night of Feb. 7 at age 91 after he was struck and killed by a car in Los Angeles.
Raphael Coleman, who starred as Eric in the 2005 Emma Thompson movie “Nanny McPhee" and went on to devote himself to environmental activism, died suddenly on Feb. 7 at the age of 25.
Robert Conrad, who was the star of the '60s TV series “Wild Wild West,” died from heart failure on Feb. 8 at the age of 84.
Paula Kelly, an Emmy-nominated actress known for TV series like “Night Court” and films like “Sweet Charity” and “The Andromeda Strain,” died on Feb. 8 in Whittier, California. She was 77.
Joseph Vilsmaier, a German director and cinematographer behind the acclaimed 1993 World War II drama “Stalingrad" died “peacefully” at his home in Bavaria on Feb. 11. He was 81.
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Daniel Lee Martin, country singer and host of “Brotherhood Outdoors,” was found dead in his Pasco County, Florida, home on Feb. 14 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 54.
Caroline Flack, former host of “Love Island,” died at the age of 40 on Feb. 15. A lawyer for the family told BBC that Flack died by suicide.
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Jason Davis, best known as the voice of Mikey Blumberg on Disney Channel’s “Recess,” died on Feb. 16. He was 35.
Ja’net Dubois, who starred on the CBS sitcom “Good Times” and wrote and performed the theme song to "The Jeffersons," passed away on Feb. 18. She was 74.
Katherine Johnson, a pioneering mathematician and NASA employee who was pivotal in America’s space race and was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the film “Hidden Figures,” died on Feb. 24. She was 101.
Dieter Laser, the German actor best known for his role as the deranged doctor in “The Human Centipede,” died on Feb. 29. He was 78.
"Inside the Actors Studio" host James Lipton passed away on March 2 after a battle with bladder cancer. He was 93.
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Beatrice, who played the beloved French bulldog Stella on the last seven seasons of “Modern Family,” died March 9 shortly after the cast shot the series finale.
Stuart Whitman, a star of Westerns like “The Comancheros” and the war movie “The Longest Day,” died in his home March 16, his son told TMZ. Whitman was 92.
Lyle Waggoner, an actor known for starring on “The Carol Burnett Show” and the '70s “Wonder Woman” TV series, died March 17 at age 84.
Maggie Griffin, Kathy Griffin’s mother and co-star of her Bravo reality series “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” died March 17 at age 99.
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Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally died on March 24 of complications from the coronavirus. He was 81.
Bill Withers, the singer of classics like “Lean On Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” died on March 30 at the age of 81.
Jeff Grosso, the legendary skateboarder who hosted Vans’ “Loveletters to Skating” video series, died March 31 in Costa Mesa, Calif. He was 51.
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Ed Farmer, an MLB player-turned-White Sox radio announcer, died April 1. He was 70.
Eddie Large, one-half of the comedy duo Little and Large, died April 2 after contracting coronavirus while hospitalized for heart failure. He was 78.
Patricia Bosworth, a stage and screen actress who also penned celebrity biographies, died April 2 from complications of the coronavirus. She was 86.
Honor Blackman, the British actress best known for her roles in "Goldfinger" and “The Avengers” series, died at the age of 94, her family announced on April 6.
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Irrfan Khan, the Indian actor who bolstered his fame beyond Bollywood with roles in English-language hits like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Life of Pi,” died April 29 in Mumbai at age 53.
Sam Lloyd, best known for his role as downtrodden lawyer Ted Buckland on “Scrubs,” died on April 30. He was 56.
Legendary NFL coach Don Shula passed away on May 4 at the age of 90.
Brian Howe, the lead singer for the British rock supergroup Bad Company and a former vocalist for Ted Nugent, died on May 6. He was 66.
Longtime music executive Andre Harrell, who founded the hip-hop label Uptown Records and mentored Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, died on May 7 at age 59.
Magician Roy Horn, best known as half of the legendary Siegfried & Roy magic and animal act in Las Vegas, died on May 8 from complications due to coronavirus.
Little Richard, the singer and pianist who became a rock pioneer with his high-energy musicianship and boundary-pushing personality, died on May 9 at age 87 from unspecified causes.
Jerry Stiller, the Emmy-nominated comedy legend of TV sitcoms “Seinfeld” and “King of Queens,” passed away on May 11. He was 92.
Phyllis George, a former Miss America winner who went on to become one of the first female broadcasters covering the NFL — and later, the First Lady of Kentucky — died on May 14 at the age of 70.
Comedic actor Fred Willard, best known for his roles in "Spinal Tap" and "Modern Family," passed away on May 15 at the age of 86.
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Ken Osmond, best known for his role as Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver,” died on May 18 at the age of 76.
Chris Trousdale, a former member of the boy band Dream Street, died on June 2. His former bandmate, Jesse McCartney, said he died "due to complications from COVID-19." He was 34.
Bonnie Pointer, a member of the iconic R&B group The Pointer Sisters, passed away on June 8. She was 69.
"Lord of the Rings" star Ian Holm passed away on June 19. He was 88.
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Legendary entertainer Carl Reiner, perhaps best known as the creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show," died on June 29. He was 98.
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Charlie Daniels, a country music and Southern rock legend known for his song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died on July 6. He was 83.
Atlanta rapper Lil Marlo (né Rudolph Johnson), best known for his 2017 hit “2 the Hard Way" with Lil Baby, was shot and killed in his native Atlanta on July 12, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said. He was 30.
Actress Kelly Preston, who starred in such films as "Twins" and "Jerry Maguire," died on July 12 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. The star, who had three children with husband John Travolta, was 57.
Former "Glee" star Naya Rivera was found dead on July 13 after going missing the week prior while out on a boat with her son in Ventura County, Calif. She was 33.
Grant Imahara, the engineer and roboticist who helped test some of the world’s most famous rumors on the iconic Discovery Channel series “Mythbusters,” died on July 13 at the age of 49.
The dancer and actress, who appeared in classic television shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Twin Peaks,” died on July 14 at the age of 55.
John Lewis, the civil rights icon who played a key role in some of the most important battles of the era, died on July 17 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
Longtime morning television host and five-time Emmy-winner Regis Philbin died July 25 of natural causes. He was 88.
The British guitarist, who co-founded the seminal rock band Fleetwood Mac, died at age 73 on July 25.
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Herman Cain, a former GOP presidential candidate and business czar, died on July 30 from complications of the coronavirus. He was 74.
Wilford Brimley, a beloved character actor who starred in such film as “Cocoon” and “The Natural,” died on Aug. 1 at age 85.
Sumner Redstone, a movie theater owner’s son who became one of the most powerful moguls in Hollywood history, died on Aug. 11 at the age of 97.
Diana Rigg, who was best known for her roles as Lady Olenna Tyrell on “Game of Thrones” and Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series “The Avengers,” died Sept. 10 at her home in the U.K. following a battle with cancer. She was 82.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the celebrated Supreme Court Justice and feminist icon, died due to complications from metastatic pancreas cancer on Sept. 18. She was 87.
Michael Lonsdale, the actor who played the iconic villain Hugo Drax in 1979’s James Bond movie “Moonraker” and starred in 1973’s “The Day of the Jackal,” died on Sept. 21 at age 89.
Dubbed "The Queen of Technicolor," Rhonda Fleming -- who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" and opposite Bing Crosby in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court" -- died in mid-October at the age of 97.
The game show host, known for hosting "Name That Tune," "You Don't Say" and "Password Plus," died Oct. 11. He was 93.
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MLB Hall of Famer and broadcast commentator Joe Morgan died Oct. 12 after suffering from polyneuropathy. He was 77 years old.
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The London-based actor was best known for appearing in the original “Tales of the City” miniseries in 1993. He died on Dec. 16 at the age of 55.
The prolific animator, writer, artist and songwriter whose work included "Spongebob," "The Simpsons," "Hey Arnold" and "The Fairly OddParents," died on Dec. 22 from undisclosed causes. He was 59.
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The professional wrestler with both WWE and All Elite Wrestling was best known under his ring names Brodie Lee and Luke Harper. He died on Dec. 26 from undisclosed causes at age 41.
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The seventh-generation fisherman was a regular on Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” series, appearing as a deck boss on 78 episodes over seven seasons. He died on Dec. 27 at age 33, though no cause of death was given.
@NickMcGlashan via Twitter
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