/Hound Dog/

The seminal Elvis bop was first recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1952 and immortalised for a new generation when Doja Cat (Amala Zandile Dlamini) sampled it for her 2022 hit ‘Vegas’ for the Baz Luhrmann biopic – ironically the interpolated sample made it ineligible for Oscar consideration. Shonka Dukureh played Big Mama Thornton in the movie and was one of many influential women who died in 2022.

At /explain/, we’re all about celebrating women doing amazing things. So as we close off 2022, we bid farewell to these phenomenal women who passed on this year, after shaping various industries.

Olivia Newton-John 

At the age of 73, our Sandy bid a final farewell to Summer at her ranch in Southern California. The ‘Grease’ star spent more than 30 years battling breast cancer. The Australian singer broke through in the music industry with top singles ‘Physical’ and donated the proceeds of her work to Cancer research – plus established a foundation dedicated to plant-based medicine.

Angela Lansbury

Your mom’s favourite TV sleuth had a diverse, award-winning career on the stage and in movies. Mrs Potts was 96 when she died and kept working far into her nineties as a lifelong ally to the LGBTQ+ community and an AIDS activist.

Queen Elizabeth II

The highest profile death this year, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at her favourite Castle Balmoral at the age of 96. She was the longest-reigning British monarch – only beaten for longevity outside the UK by King Louis XIV, who took the French throne when he was four. She famously had tea with Paddington at her Platinum Jubilee on 5 June 2022 – marking 70 years on the throne. Lizzy was a widely beloved figure, even as she oversaw massive personal and political upheavals – in her family and country. She is succeeded by her son, now called King Charles III, who isn’t quite as popular as his mum. 

Busisiwe Lurayi 

The star of Mzansi’s breakout Netflix hit How to Ruin Christmas unexpectedly left us at the age of 36. Lurayi won the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Comedy in 2006 and repeated for her work on City Ses’la in 2011. HTRC season three – The Baby Shower is streaming now.

This article appeared as part of the year-end issue of our award-winning newsletter /The Wrap/. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.