▶ Watch Video: Hail and farewell: Those we lost in 2022

Lee Cowan remembers and celebrates some of the amazing people who left their mark, and made the most of their time with us:

His class, his style, and his grace made Sidney Poitier (“Lillies of the Field,” “To Sir With Love”) extraordinary among actors, but also a model of social consciousness. Every role he played pushed past the boundaries of what society would allow back then. When the script for “In the Heat of the Night” called for his character, Virgil Tibbs, to be slapped by a White man, Poitier told the studio, “If he slaps me, I’m going to slap him back.”

He explained in a 1975 interview: “Blacks have been going to the movies ever since its inception. They saw themselves rarely, and when they did see themselves, more often than not, they didn’t particularly walk away from the theater with much pride or much sense of personal dignity.”

He broke so many barriers, including becoming the first Black actor to win an Oscar in a leading role. Accepting his Academy Award, he said, “It is a long journey to this moment.”

Sidney Poitier was 94.

We lost another champion: the great Bill Russell. The Boston Celtic was perhaps best known for his prowess on the basketball court, but he, too, fought passionately for equality and inclusion.

In 2011, as he presented a Medal of Freedom to Russell, President Barack Obama said, “He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game.”

Russell left us at 88.

Another sports legend we lost was so good he was known by only one name: Pelé. He helped transform the sport of soccer (or football) by playing it better than anyone. He was 82.

For almost 70 years, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully was baseball’s poet. One of his most famous calls was in 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record: “What a marvelous moment for the country and the world! A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol!” 

With that one call Scully summed up a nation’s simmering racial tensions. The game won’t be the same without him.

Virginia McLaurin lived to see so very much – she was 113 when she died. A sharecropper’s daughter, she lived long enough to dance with the Obamas at the White House.

Obamas meet with 106-year-old at White House


Those who experienced injustice at home helped their country fight it overseas. “We were just as interested in supporting that effort as everybody else at that time,” Charles McGee, one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, said in 2016. He died quietly at 102.

By contrast, Queen Elizabeth II‘s death was announced to the world. She was the longest reigning monarch in British history – 70 years on the throne. Her sense of duty reigned supreme.

In this country, we lost a queen of our own: country music queen Loretta Lynn. Her hearty rural roots resonated – a true coal miner’s daughter who wrote from the heart.

Meat Loaf was certainly himself, too; Marvin Lee Aday had a sound all his own. His “Bat Out of Hell” album showed that rock music could also be operatic.  Meat Loaf left us at 74.

Joanna Simon was true opera, but she was also the sister of pop star Carly Simon. The two of them, along with their other sister, Lucy, all became singer-songwriters.

“Well, I was very sophisticated,” Joanna said in 1975, “and Lucy was sort of an angel, she was very sweet and overly good; and Carly was the character!”

Tragically for the Simon family, the day after Joanna died, her sister Lucy died as well, leaving their early trio now down to just one.

Ronnie Spector was one of a trio, too, as lead singer of The Ronettes. The “Be My Baby” singer died at 78.

Her song helped define the ’60s, a decade of music that culminated in Woodstock, the festival co-created by concert promoter Michael Lang

Those three days in the summer of 1969 summed up a generation’s hopes and fears. “M*A*S*H” tapped into some of those same frustrations, only instead of Vietnam, it was set during the Korean War. We lost Burt Metcalfe, who produced the very last episode of “M*A*S*H,” which to this day holds the record for the most-watched finale on television.

In 1983 Metcalfe said, “Lots of people write and say, ‘I never know from week to week whether you’re going to make me laugh or cry.’ Because that’s what life is about. Life is laughter and sorrow. So, why can’t you do both?”

“Hogan’s Heroes” found humor in perhaps the most unlikely place of all: a prisoner of war camp in World War II Germany. Robert Clary played the funny Frenchman Corporal LeBeau, but he had a very serious side, as a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust. Decades after the series ended, Clary revealed he himself survived 31 months in concentration camps. “There are some people in this world right now denying what happened,” he said in 1983, “and we cannot let them tell those lies. It’s very important to teach those young kids it did happen. Do not forget.”

Sadly, the number of those who lived through those horrors is dwindling. Take Hannah Pick, who was one of Anne Frank’s best friends. She lived to the age of 93. Ilse Scheuer and her sister Ruth survived the camps together, and they died together in September, just days apart. 

It’s impossible for anyone to understand the risks to those who went against the Nazi regime, but Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” gave us a glimpse. Mimi Reinhard was the real-life secretary that typed up the names on that list, mostly Polish-Jewish refugees. She lived to be 107.

Two of our beloved TV shows suffered losses. Liz Sheridan, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s mom, left us this past year. And we also lost Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza’s mom. They were both 93.

“Cheers” lost a member of its family, too: Kirstie Alley, who played Rebecca Howe for so many years. She also played Mollie opposite John Travolta in “Look Who’s Talking.”

Travolta called their relationship special, just like the one he had with another co-star he lost, Olivia Newton-John. Their film “Grease” became one of the highest-grossing movie musicals ever, and in the 1970s and ’80s Newton-John herself became a legend.

She very bravely and publicly battled cancer in her final years, showing us all a dignified and thoughtful end. She told “Sunday Morning” in 2019, “After a time I went, you know what? I don’t know what my time is, but I need to enjoy my life, so I’m going to eat a cookie if I want it. And I’m going to have a cup of tea if I want it. And if I’m going to have a little bit of wine, I’m going to do that. Because the joy of life and everyday living has to be a part of that healing process as well.”

Country star Wynonna Judd is healing after losing her mom, Naomi Judd. She took her own life just a day before she and her daughter were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In September Wynonna told “Sunday Morning” she could still feel her mother nudging her: “And sometimes I say, ‘I really miss you; why aren’t you here, so we could argue?'”

Cher lost her mom, too. Georgia Holt, like her daughter, was a singer, model and actress in her own right.

In grief, maybe that’s the greatest honor we can give – to remember the happiest moments, not the sad ones. 

There was no “yesterday” for those involved in the fashion industry, like André Leon Talley, the pioneering editor at Vogue who was always looking hopefully forward; and Vivienne Westwood, who helped shape our view of the punk movement with style and attitude, a world decidedly breaking with the traditions of old. 

There was no subculture on “Leave It to Beaver,” but fans who loved the sitcom are mourning the loss of Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver. He was America’s big brother, who guided Beaver when Ward, their dad, wasn’t around to do it himself.

Speaking of dads, how could we forget Jim Redmond, who rushed onto the racetrack after his son Derek pulled a hamstring in the 1992 Olympics. They finished the 400 meter arm-in-arm.

When Taylor Hawkins, the legendary drummer for the band Foo Fighters, died at only 50 this year, it was his son Shane who played the drums in his father’s stead.

Bob Saget was perhaps best known as a TV dad. But live stage comedy was really his passion.

One of the nicest guys in the business, Saget had a wit that could be pretty sharp. During a 2008 Comedy Central Roast, Saget remarked about comedian Gilbert Gottfried, “Gilbert, you have the delivery of someone who’s just been pepper sprayed, seriously!”

To which Gottfried responded, “I Googled Bob Saget, and it came back, ‘Why?'”

Gottfried’s voice found its way into so many characters we remember. Iago the Parrot, from “Aladdin,” was annoying and yet oddly lovable – perfect for Gottfried’s talents. 

The same was true for Pat Carroll, the voice of the sea-witch Ursula in “The Little Mermaid.”

Our kids know Angela Lansbury as a singing teapot, from “Beauty and the Beast.” For adults, though, she was Jessica Fletcher in “Murder, She Wrote.” But her talents really burst through on Broadway, where she was a six-time Tony Award-winner. Angela Lansbury was 96.

Robert Morse took his Broadway stardom and turned it into a film career, and then re-emerged decades later on television as one of the stars of “Mad Men,” where his character exited with a true flourish:

In the world of make-believe, few made you believe more than Rubeus Hagrid, from the Harry Potter series. Robbie Coltrane, the Scotsman who embodied that half-giant, left us at 72.

Sometimes giants can be diminutive in stature – and that’s certainly the case for “Will & Grace” star Leslie Jordan. We lost him at only 67.

We lost “Magnum PI” actor Roger Mosley this past year; he left us at 83.

For fans of ’80s and ’90s stardom, it was an especially sad year. We lost Ivan Reitman, the director of a host of fan favorites, including “Ghostbusters,” “Stripes” and “Dave” …

… and Joe Turkel, the congenial, but creepy, bartender in “The Shining.”

One of the biggest mob movies of the ’90s lost two of its stars: Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino, both of them “GoodFellas.”

But when it came to mob hits, Sonny Corleone’s demise in “The Godfather” required actor James Caan to be rigged with a lot of tiny explosives. “On me, I had 147; around the toll booth, 5,000,” he told “Sunday Morning” earlier this year.

Was he scared? “A little, but there were girls on the set, and I had to do it!”

Farewell to him, and to all those we cheered on screens large and small:

Tony Sirico (“The Sopranos”);

Louise Fletcher (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”);

Philip Baker Hall (“Secret Honor,” “Seinfeld”);

Anne Heche (“Wag the Dog”);

Director-actor Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show”)

Bob McGrath and Emilio Delgado (“Sesame Street”);

William Hurt (“Broadcast News”); and 

Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”).

Those of us who work in broadcasting have been mourning our own: David Small, a longtime “Sunday Morning” editor; talented producer Diane Ronnau; Michael “Hoppy” Hopkins, the man in charge of CBS logistics; Victor Paganuzzi, who designed our “Sunday Morning” set; Lenny Mancini, who told everyone how to light it; and artist Robin Metz, who created so many of our beloved suns.   

Our own Bill Plante covered the White House for CBS News for more than half a century. He was family here.

And we’ll certainly miss humorist Roger Welsch, who sent us his “Postcards From Nebraska.” He was our consummate story-teller.

These are just a few of our friends, on-camera and off-, who helped to lovingly find in almost everything a story to tell: former CBS News correspondents Richard Wagner and James McManus; CBS Sports analyst Grant Wahl; CBS News writer Bruce Meyer; former CBS reporter and ABC News anchor Jed Duvall; CNN’s Bernard Shaw; former CBS Washington Bureau chief Janet Leissner; CBS News producer David Caravello; and CBS News photojournalist George Christian

We lost history’s story-teller, too: David McCullough, whose writing and voice enlightened us on the lessons of our past.

One of those lessons is to never repeat this again: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Norman Mineta was one of them. He went on to become the first Asian American Cabinet Secretary, and he helped get the U.S. to formally apologize to Japanese Americans for their mistreatment.

We lost other world leaders, too, like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was nothing if not to the point. While America’s Ambassador to the United Nations in 1996, she condemned the shootdown of unarmed civilian planes by Cuba’s military: “Frankly, this is not cojones. This is cowardice.”

We lost conservative Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in that chamber; and Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister; and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, who helped end the Cold War. 

There are so many we failed to mention: the miraculous (like Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris, known for his “Immaculate Reception”); the wild (like “Great Balls of Fire” singer Jerry Lee Lewis, who lived up to his nickname, The Killer); the groundbreaking (like “Gangsta’s Paradise” rapper Coolio); and the voice of some of the ’80s biggest movie hits (“Fame” singer Irene Cara).

But we thought we’d end with Christine McVie, the Fleetwood Mac hit-maker who reminded us that yesterday is indeed gone. The point is to “think about tomorrow.”

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone
Why not think about times to come?

To all we lost this past year, we bid a fond “Hail and Farewell.”

CBS News

Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Steven Tyler.