Chadwick Boseman, Naya Rivera and Regis Philbin were among those remembered during the Emmy Awards' In Memoriam segment.
Singer H.E.R. appeared on stage at Los Angeles' Staples Center to sing an emotional version of 'Nothing Compares 2 U', beginning seated at a piano but later standing up to play guitar as a chorus sang along.
The evening's host, Jimmy Kimmel, had opened the segment with a tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday (Sept 18).
He said: "On Friday, we lost a great American. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a compassionate and tireless champion of equality and justice, who said her legacy was to make her life a little better for people less fortunate than she.
"Sounds like pretty good words to live by to me."
A video montage then played to remember the stars who have passed away over the last year while H.E.R. sang.
As well as Naya and Regis, also included in the tribute were Dame Diana Rigg, Kirk Douglas, Brian Dennehy, Jerry Stiller, John Witherspoon, Diahann Carroll, and Carl Reiner, before it closed with an extract from a speech previously given by Chadwick, who died last month following a secret battle with cancer.
It read: "Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It's the reason you're on the planet at this particular time in history. The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose."
H.E.R. had previously admitted she expected her performance to be "emotional".
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, she told E! News: "I'm definitely gonna be bringing out some instruments and I think it's going to be very emotional.
"And that's all I'm gonna say. I want it to be special, I want it to be a surprise, but I think you're gonna love it."
Meanwhile, the Emmy producers have been criticised for omitting Kobe Bryant, Kelly Preston, Nick Cordero and Sam Lloyd, and other stars who died in the past year.
Zach Braff said Emmy Awards producers "chose" to leave the Nick Cordero, the Broadway star who died from COVID-19 in July, out of the In Memoriam segment of the ceremony.
Zach has claimed he and Nick's widow Amanda Kloots "campaigned" to Emmys bosses to get Nick's name included, but were unsuccessful.
He tweed,"For those wondering: The Emmys chose to leave Nick Cordero out of the memorial montage. I had no idea one had to campaign to get their loved one in. We did. They passed."
For those wondering: The Emmys chose to leave Nick Cordero out of the memorial montage. I had no idea one had to campaign to get their loved one in. We did. They passed.— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) September 21, 2020