A sharecropper's son who rose through the seats of power to become one of the nation's most influential voices. A Republican who went on to lead the U.S. Supreme Court's liberal wing. A lauded writer who brought to light stories overshadowed by prejudice.
This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. It also witnessed tragedy, in talent struck down in its prime.
In 2019, the political world lost a giant in U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. He was born the son of a sharecropper and told by a school counselor he would never become a lawyer because he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly.
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Determined to prove that counselor wrong, Cummings not only became a lawyer but went on to become an influential congressman and champion of civil rights.
Cummings, who died in October, was chairman of one of the U.S. House committees that led an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and was a formidable advocate for the poor in his Maryland district.
Another influential political figure, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, died in July. Stevens was appointed to the high court as a Republican but became the leader of its liberal wing and a proponent of abortion rights and consumer protections.
In Memoriam: Influential People We've Lost in 2019
In Memoriam: Influential People We’ve Lost in 2019
The death of Toni Morrison in August left a chasm in the publishing world, where she was a “literary mother” to countless writers. She helped elevate multiculturalism to the world stage and unearthed the lives of the unknown and unwanted. She became the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize for “Beloved” and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Among those in the scientific world who died in 2019 was Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space. Leonov died in October. Others include scientist Wallace Smith Broecker, who died in February and popularized the term “global warming” as he raised early alarms about climate change.
Hollywood lost '90s heartthrob Luke Perry, who played wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Perry died of stroke in March. Actor Peter Mayhew who gave life to the towering Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars" films died in April.
The year also saw the untimely deaths of two young rappers, leaving a feeling of accomplishments unfulfilled. Grammy-nominated Nipsey Hussle was killed in a shooting in Los Angeles in March. Juice WRLD, who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut, died in December after being treated for opioid use during a police search.
Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2019 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):
Eugene "Mean Gene" Okerlund, 76. His deadpan interviews of pro wrestling superstars like "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan made him a ringside fixture in his own right. Jan. 2.
Bob Einstein, 76. The veteran comedy writer and performer known for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," “Curb Your Enthusiasm" and his spoof daredevil character Super Dave Osborne. Jan. 2.
Daryl Dragon, 76. The cap-wearing "Captain" of Captain & Tennille who teamed with then-wife Toni Tennille on such easy listening hits as "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Muskrat Love." Jan. 2.
Harold Brown, 91. As defense secretary in the Carter administration, he championed cutting-edge fighting technology during a tenure that included the failed rescue of hostages in Iran. Jan 4.
Jakiw Palij, 95. A former Nazi concentration camp guard who spent decades leading an unassuming life in New York City until his past was revealed. Jan. 9.
Carol Channing, 97. The ebullient musical comedy star who delighted American audiences in almost 5,000 performances as the scheming Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway and beyond. Jan. 15.
John C. Bogle, 89. He simplified investing for the masses by launching the first index mutual fund and founded Vanguard Group. Jan. 16.
Lamia al-Gailani, 80. An Iraqi archaeologist who lent her expertise to rebuilding the National Museum's collection after it was looted in 2003. Jan. 18.
Nathan Glazer, 95. A prominent sociologist and intellectual who assisted on a classic study of conformity, "The Lonely Crowd," and co-authored a groundbreaking document of non-conformity, "Beyond the Melting Pot." Jan. 19.
Antonio Mendez, 78. A former CIA technical operations officer who helped rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film "Argo." Jan. 19.
Harris Wofford, 92. A former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and longtime civil rights activist who helped persuade John F. Kennedy to make a crucial phone call to the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960 presidential campaign. Jan. 21.
Russell Baker, 93. The genial but sharp-witted writer who won Pulitzer Prizes for his humorous columns in The New York Times and a moving autobiography of his impoverished Baltimore childhood. He later hosted television's "Masterpiece Theatre" on PBS. Jan 21. Complications after a fall.
Michel Legrand, 86. An Oscar-winning composer and pianist whose hits included the score for the '60s romance "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century. Jan. 26.
Kim Bok-dong, 92. A South Korean woman who was forced as a girl into a brothel and sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II, becoming a vocal leader at rallies that were held every Wednesday in Seoul for nearly 30 years. Jan. 28.
James Ingram, 66. The Grammy-winning singer who launched multiple hits on the R&B and pop charts and earned two Oscar nominations for his songwriting. Jan. 29.
Donald S. Smith, 94. He produced the controversial anti-abortion film "The Silent Scream" and, with help from Ronald Reagan's White House, distributed copies to every member of Congress and the Supreme Court. Jan. 30.
Harold Bradley, 93. A Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist who played on hundreds of hit country records and along with his brother, famed producer Owen Bradley, helped craft "The Nashville Sound." Jan. 31.
Kristoff St. John, 52. An actor best known for playing Neil Winters on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” Feb. 4. Heart disease.
Anne Firor Scott, 97. A prize-winning historian and esteemed professor who upended the male-dominated field of Southern scholarship by pioneering the study of Southern women. Feb. 5.
Frank Robinson, 83. The Hall of Famer was the first black manager in Major League Baseball and the only player to win the MVP award in both leagues. Feb. 7.
John Dingell, 92. The former congressman was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history at 59 years and a master of legislative deal-making who was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry. Feb. 7.
Albert Finney, 82. The British actor was the Academy Award-nominated star of films from "Tom Jones" to "Skyfall." Feb. 8.
Jan-Michael Vincent, 73. The "Airwolf" television star whose sleek good looks belied a troubled personal life. Feb. 10.
Gordon Banks, 81. The World Cup-winning England goalkeeper who was also known for blocking a header from Pele that many consider the greatest save in soccer history. Feb. 12.
Betty Ballantine, 99. She was half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback and vastly expand the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as "The Hobbit" and "Fahrenheit 451." Feb. 12.
Lyndon LaRouche Jr., 96. The political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, including a campaign waged from federal prison. Feb. 12.
Andrea Levy, 62. A prize-winning novelist who chronicled the hopes and horrors experienced by the post-World War II generation of Jamaican immigrants in Britain. Feb. 14.
Lee Radziwill, 85. She was the stylish jet setter and socialite who found friends, lovers and other adventures worldwide while bonding and competing with her sister Jacqueline Kennedy. Feb. 15.
Armando M. Rodriguez, 97. A Mexican immigrant and World War II veteran who served in the administrations of four U.S. presidents while pressing for civil rights and education reforms. Feb. 17.
Wallace Smith Broecker, 87. A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term "global warming." Feb. 18.
Karl Lagerfeld, 85. Chanel's iconic couturier whose accomplished designs and trademark white ponytail, high starched collars and dark enigmatic glasses dominated high fashion for the past 50 years. Feb. 19.
David Horowitz, 81. His "Fight Back!" syndicated program made him perhaps the best-known consumer reporter in the U.S. Feb. 21.
Peter Tork, 77. A talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist whose musical skills were often overshadowed by his role as the goofy, lovable bass guitarist in the made-for-television rock band The Monkees. Feb. 21.
Stanley Donen, 94. A giant of the Hollywood musical who, through such classics as "Singin' in the Rain" and "Funny Face," helped provide some of the most joyous sounds and images in movie history. Feb. 21.
Jackie Shane, 78. A black transgender soul singer who became a pioneering musician in Toronto where she packed nightclubs in the 1960s. Feb. 21.
Katherine Helmond, 89. An Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress who played two very different matriarchs on the ABC sitcoms "Who's the Boss?" and "Soap." Feb. 23.
Charles McCarry, 88. An admired and prescient spy novelist who foresaw passenger jets as terrorist weapons in "The Better Angels" and devised a compelling theory for JFK's assassination in "The Tears of Autumn." Feb. 26.
Jerry Merryman, 86. He was one of the inventors of the handheld electronic calculator. Feb. 27. Complications of heart and kidney failure.
Andre Previn, 89. The pianist, composer and conductor whose broad reach took in the worlds of Hollywood, jazz and classical music. Feb. 28.
John Shafer, 94. The legendary Northern California vintner was part of a generation that helped elevate sleepy Napa Valley into the international wine powerhouse it is today. March 2.
Keith Flint, 49. The fiery frontman of British dance-electronic band The Prodigy. March 4. Found dead by hanging in his home.
Luke Perry, 52. He gained instant heartthrob status as wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills, 90210." March 4. Stroke.
Juan Corona, 85. He gained the nickname "The Machete Murderer" for hacking to death dozens of migrant farm laborers in California in the early 1970s. March 4.
Ralph Hall, 95. The former Texas congressman was the oldest-ever member of the U.S. House and a man who claimed to have once sold cigarettes and Coca-Cola to the bank-robbing duo of Bonnie and Clyde in Dallas. March 7.
Carmine "the Snake" Persico, 85. The longtime boss of the infamous Colombo crime family. March 7.
Vera Bila, 64. A Czech singer dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music or the Queen of Romany. March 12. Heart attack.
Birch Bayh, 91. A former U.S. senator who championed the federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports. March 14.
Dick Dale, 83. His pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like "Miserlou" and "Let's Go Trippin'" earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar. March 16.
Jerrie Cobb, 88. America's first female astronaut candidate, the pilot pushed for equality in space but never reached its heights. March 18.
Scott Walker, 76. An influential singer, songwriter and producer whose hits with the Walker Brothers in the 1960s included "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." March 22.
Rafi Eitan, 92. A legendary Israeli Mossad spy who led the capture of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann. March 23.
Larry Cohen, 77. The maverick B-movie director of cult horror films "It's Alive" and "God Told Me To." March 23.
Michel Bacos, 95. A French pilot who's remembered as a hero for his actions in the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane to Uganda's Entebbe airport. March 26.
Valery Bykovsky, 84. A pioneering Soviet-era cosmonaut who made the first of his three flights to space in 1963. March 27.
Agnes Varda, 90. The French New Wave pioneer who for decades beguiled, challenged and charmed moviegoers in films that inspired generations of filmmakers. March 29. Cancer.
Ken Gibson, 86. He became the first black mayor of a major Northeast city when he ascended to power in riot-torn Newark, New Jersey, about five decades ago. March 29.
Billy Adams, 79. A Rockabilly Hall of Famer who wrote and recorded the rockabilly staple "Rock, Pretty Mama." March 30.
Nipsey Hussle, 33. A Grammy-nominated rapper. March 31. Killed in a shooting.
Sydney Brenner, 92. A Nobel Prize-winning biologist who helped decipher the genetic code and whose research on a roundworm sparked a new field of human disease research. April 5.
Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings, 97. The silver-haired Democrat who helped shepherd South Carolina through desegregation as governor and went on to serve six terms in the U.S. Senate. April 6.
Cho Yang-ho, 70. Korean Air's chairman, whose leadership included scandals such as his daughter's infamous incident of "nut rage." April 7.
Marilynn Smith, 89. One of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour whose 21 victories, two majors and endless support of her tour led to her induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. April 9.
Richard "Dick" Cole, 103. The last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who carried out the daring U.S. attack on Japan during World War II. April 9.
Charles Van Doren, 93. The dashing young academic whose meteoric rise and fall as a corrupt game show contestant in the 1950s inspired the movie "Quiz Show" and served as a cautionary tale about the staged competitions of early television. April 9.
Monkey Punch, 81. A cartoonist best known as the creator of the Japanese megahit comic series Lupin III. April 11.
Georgia Engel, 70. She played the charmingly innocent, small-voiced Georgette on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and amassed a string of other TV and stage credits. April 12.
Bibi Andersson, 83. The Swedish actress who starred in classic films by compatriot Ingmar Bergman, including "The Seventh Seal" and "Persona." April 14.
Owen Garriott, 88. A former astronaut who flew on America's first space station, Skylab, and whose son followed him into orbit. April 15.
Alan García, 69. A former Peruvian president whose first term in the 1980s was marred by financial chaos and rebel violence and who was recently targeted in Latin America's biggest corruption scandal. April 17. Apparent suicide.
Lorraine Warren, 92. A world-wide paranormal investigator and author whose decades of ghost-hunting cases with her late husband inspired such frightening films as "The Conjuring" series and "The Amityville Horror." April 18.
Mark Medoff, 79. A provocative playwright whose "Children of a Lesser God" won Tony and Olivier awards and whose screen adaptation of his play earned an Oscar nomination. April 23.
John Havlicek, 79. The Boston Celtics great whose steal of Hal Greer's inbounds pass in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers remains one of the most famous plays in NBA history. April 25.
Damon J. Keith, 96. A grandson of slaves and figure in the civil rights movement who as a federal judge was sued by President Richard Nixon over a ruling against warrantless wiretaps. April 28.
Richard Lugar, 87. A former U.S. senator and foreign policy sage known for leading efforts to help the former Soviet states dismantle and secure much of their nuclear arsenal but whose reputation for working with Democrats cost him his final campaign. April 28.
John Singleton, 51. A director who made one of Hollywood's most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated "Boyz N the Hood" and continued over the following decades to probe the lives of black communities in his native Los Angeles and beyond. April 29. Taken off life support after a stroke.
Ellen Tauscher, 67. A trailblazer for women in the world of finance who served in Congress for more than a decade before joining the Obama administration. April 29. Complications from pneumonia.
Peter Mayhew, 74. The towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy and two other films. April 30.
John Lukacs, 95. The Hungarian-born historian and iconoclast who brooded over the future of Western civilization, wrote a best-selling tribute to Winston Churchill, and produced a substantial and often despairing body of writings on the politics and culture of Europe and the United States. May 6.
Peggy Lipton, 72. A star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show "The Mod Squad" and the 1990s show "Twin Peaks." May 11. Cancer.
Leonard Bailey, 76. The doctor who in 1984 transplanted a baboon heart into a tiny newborn dubbed "Baby Fae" in a pioneering operation that sparked both worldwide acclaim and condemnation. May 12.
Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, 98. The former patriarch of Lebanon's Maronite Christian church who served as spiritual leader of Lebanon's largest Christian community through some of the worst days of the country's 1975-1990 civil war. May 12.
Doris Day, 97. The sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant made her one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood. May 13.
Tim Conway, 85. The impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred in "McHale's Navy" and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for "Spongebob Squarepants." May 14.
I.M. Pei, 102. The versatile, globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. May 16.
Niki Lauda, 70. A Formula One great who won two of his world titles after a horrific crash that left him with serious burns and went on to become a prominent figure in the aviation industry. May 20.
Binyavanga Wainaina, 48. One of Africa's best-known authors and gay rights activists. May 21. Illness.
Judith Kerr, 95. A refugee from Nazi Germany who wrote and illustrated the best-selling "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" and other beloved children's books. May 22.
Murray Gell-Mann, 89. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist who brought order to the universe by helping discover and classify subatomic particles. May 24.
Claus von Bulow, 92. A Danish-born socialite who was convicted but later acquitted of trying to kill his wealthy wife in two trials that drew intense international attention in the 1980s. May 25.
Prem Tinsulanonda, 98. As an army commander, prime minister and adviser to the royal palace, he was one of Thailand's most influential political figures over four decades. May 26.
Richard Matsch, 88. A federal judge who ruled his courtroom with a firm gavel and a short temper and gained national respect in the 1990s for his handling of the Oklahoma City bombing trials. May 26.
Bill Buckner, 69. A star hitter who made one of the biggest blunders in baseball history when he let Mookie Wilson's trickler roll through his legs in the 1986 World Series. May 27.
Thad Cochran, 81. A former U.S. senator who served 45 years in Washington and used seniority to steer billions of dollars to his home state of Mississippi. May 30.
Patricia Bath, 76. A pioneering ophthalmologist who became the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent after she invented a more precise treatment of cataracts. May 30. Complications of cancer.
Leon Redbone, 69. The blues and jazz artist whose growly voice, Panama hat and cultivated air of mystery made him seem like a character out of the ragtime era or the Depression-era Mississippi Delta. May 30.
Frank Lucas, 88. The former Harlem drug kingpin whose life and lore inspired the 2007 film "American Gangster." May 30.
Leah Chase, 96. A New Orleans chef and civil rights icon who created the city's first white-tablecloth restaurant for black patrons, broke the city's segregation laws by seating white and black customers, and introduced countless tourists to Southern Louisiana Creole cooking. June 1.
Dr. John, 77. The New Orleans singer and piano player who blended black and white musical styles with a hoodoo-infused stage persona and gravelly bayou drawl. June 6.
John Gunther Dean, 93. A veteran American diplomat and five-time ambassador forever haunted by his role in the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia during the dying days of the Khmer Republic. June 6.
Sylvia Miles, 94. An actress and Manhattan socialite whose brief, scene-stealing appearances in the films "Midnight Cowboy" and "Farewell, My Lovely" earned her two Academy Award nominations. June 12.
Lew Klein, 91. A broadcast pioneer who helped create "American Bandstand" and launched the careers of Dick Clark and Bob Saget. June 12.
Pat Bowlen, 75. The Denver Broncos owner who transformed the team from also-rans into NFL champions and helped the league usher in billion-dollar television deals. June 13.
Charles Reich, 91. The author and Ivy League academic whose "The Greening of America" blessed the counterculture of the 1960s and became a million-selling manifesto for a new and euphoric way of life. June 15.
Gloria Vanderbilt, 95. The intrepid heiress, artist and romantic who began her extraordinary life as the "poor little rich girl" of the Great Depression, survived family tragedy and multiple marriages and reigned during the 1970s and '80s as a designer jeans pioneer. June 17.
Jim Taricani, 69. An award-winning TV reporter who exposed corruption and served a federal sentence for refusing to disclose a source. June 21. Kidney failure.
Judith Krantz, 91. A writer whose million-selling novels such as "Scruples" and "Princess Daisy" engrossed readers worldwide with their steamy tales of the rich and beautiful. June 22.
Dave Bartholomew, 100. A giant of New Orleans music and a rock n' roll pioneer who, with Fats Domino, co-wrote and produced such classics as "Ain't That a Shame," “I'm Walkin'" and "Let the Four Winds Blow." June 23.
Beth Chapman, 51. The wife and co-star of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" reality TV star Duane "Dog" Chapman. June 26.
Lee Iacocca, 94. The auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford's lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later. July 2.
Eva Kor, 85. A Holocaust survivor who championed forgiveness even for those who carried out the Holocaust atrocities. July 4.
Joao Gilberto, 88. A Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter considered one of the fathers of the bossa nova genre that gained global popularity in the 1960s and became an iconic sound of the South American nation. July 6.
Cameron Boyce, 20. An actor best known for his role as the teenage son of Cruella de Vil in the Disney Channel franchise "Descendants." July 6. Seizure.
Martin Charnin, 84. He made his Broadway debut playing a Jet in the original "West Side Story" and went on to become a Broadway director and a lyricist who won a Tony Award for the score of the eternal hit "Annie." July 6.
Artur Brauner, 100. A Polish-born Holocaust survivor who became one of post-World War II Germany's most prominent film producers. July 7.
Rosie Ruiz, 66. The Boston Marathon course-cutter who was stripped of her victory in the 1980 race and went on to become an enduring symbol of cheating in sports. July 8. Cancer.
H. Ross Perot, 89. The colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice mounted outsider campaigns for president. July 9. Leukemia.
Rip Torn, 88. The free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theater and movies, such as "Men in Black," and win an Emmy in his 60s for "The Larry Sanders Show." July 9.
Fernando De la Rúa, 81. A former Argentine president who attracted voters with his image as an honest statesman and later left as the country plunged into its worst economic crisis. July 9.
Johnny Kitagawa, 87. Better known as Johnny-san, he was a kingpin of Japan's entertainment industry for more than half a century who produced famous boy bands including Arashi, Tokio and SMAP. July 9.
Jim Bouton, 80. The former New York Yankees pitcher who shocked and angered the conservative baseball world with the tell-all book "Ball Four." July 10.
Jerry Lawson, 75. For four decades, he was the lead singer of the eclectic cult favorite a cappella group the Persuasions. July 10.
Pernell Whitaker, 55. An Olympic gold medalist and four-division boxing champion who was regarded as one of the greatest defensive fighters ever. July 14. Hit by a car.
L. Bruce Laingen, 96. The top American diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian protesters in 1979 and one of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year. July 15.
Edith Irby Jones, 91. The first black student to enroll at an all-white medical school in the South and later the first female president of the National Medical Association. July 15.
John Paul Stevens, 99. The bow-tied, independent-thinking, Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court's leading liberal. July 16.
Johnny Clegg, 66. A South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers imposed under the country's apartheid system decades ago and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela. July 16.
Elijah "Pumpsie" Green, 85. The former Boston Red Sox infielder was the first black player on the last major league team to field one. July 17.
Rutger Hauer, 75. A Dutch film actor who specialized in menacing roles, including a memorable turn as a murderous android in "Blade Runner" opposite Harrison Ford. July 19.
Paul Krassner, 87. The publisher, author and radical political activist on the front lines of 1960s counterculture who helped tie together his loose-knit prankster group by naming them the Yippies. July 21.
Robert M. Morgenthau, 99. A former Manhattan district attorney who spent more than three decades jailing criminals from mob kingpins and drug-dealing killers to a tax-dodging Harvard dean. July 21.
Li Peng, 90. A former hard-line Chinese premier best known for announcing martial law during the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that ended with a bloody crackdown by troops. July 22.
Art Neville, 81. A member of one of New Orleans' storied musical families, the Neville Brothers, and a founding member of the groundbreaking funk band The Meters. July 22.
Chris Kraft, 95. The founder of NASA's mission control. July 22.
Mike Moulin, 70. A former Los Angeles police lieutenant who came under fire for failing to quell the first outbreak of rioting after the Rodney King beating verdict. July 30.
Harold Prince, 91. A Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theater with such groundbreaking shows as "The Phantom of the Opera," “Cabaret," “Company" and "Sweeney Todd" and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards. July 31.
D.A. Pennebaker, 94. The Oscar-winning documentary maker whose historic contributions to American culture and politics included immortalizing a young Bob Dylan in "Don't Look Back" and capturing the spin behind Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign in "The War Room." Aug. 1.
Henri Belolo, 82. He co-founded the Village People and co-wrote their classic hits "YMCA," “Macho Man" and "In the Navy." Aug. 3.
Nuon Chea, 93. The chief ideologue of the communist Khmer Rouge regime that destroyed a generation of Cambodians. Aug. 4.
Toni Morrison, 88. A pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in "Beloved," “Song of Solomon" and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race. Aug. 5.
Sushma Swaraj, 67. She was India's former external affairs minister and a leader of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Aug. 6.
Peter Fonda, 79. The actor was the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counterculture classic "Easy Rider." Aug. 16.
Richard Williams, 86. A Canadian-British animator whose work on the bouncing cartoon bunny in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" helped blur the boundaries between the animated world and our own. Aug. 16. Cancer.
Kathleen Blanco, 76. She became Louisiana’s first female elected governor only to see her political career derailed by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Aug. 18.
David H. Koch, 79. A billionaire industrialist who, with his older brother Charles, was both celebrated and demonized for transforming American politics by pouring their riches into conservative causes. Aug. 23.
Ferdinand Piech, 82. The German auto industry power broker was the longtime patriarch of Volkswagen AG and the key engineer of its takeover of Porsche. Aug. 25.
Baxter Leach, 79. A prominent member of the Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation workers union whose historic strike drew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to the city where he was assassinated. Aug. 27.
Jim Leavelle, 99. The longtime Dallas lawman who was captured in one of history's most iconic photographs escorting President John F. Kennedy's assassin as he was fatally shot. Aug. 29.
Valerie Harper, 80. She scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the brash, self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s. Aug. 30.
Jimmy Johnson, 76. A founder of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and guitarist with the famed studio musicians "The Swampers." Sept. 5.
Robert Mugabe, 95. The former Zimbabwean leader was an ex-guerrilla chief who took power when the African country shook off white minority rule and presided for decades while economic turmoil and human rights violations eroded its early promise. Sept. 6.
Robert Frank, 94. A giant of 20th-century photography whose seminal book "The Americans" captured singular, candid moments of the 1950s and helped free picture-taking from the boundaries of clean lighting and linear composition. Sept. 9.
T. Boone Pickens, 91. A brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts. Sept. 11.
Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, 83. A former Indonesian president who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto. Sept. 11.
Eddie Money, 70. The rock star known for such hits as "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight." Sept. 13. Esophageal cancer.
Phyllis Newman, 86. A Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to host "The Tonight Show" before turning her attention to fight for women's health. Sept. 15.
Ric Ocasek, 75. The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery and lanky, sunglassed look defined a rock era with chart-topping hits like "Just What I Needed." Sept. 15.
Cokie Roberts, 75. The daughter of politicians and a pioneering journalist who chronicled Washington from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump for NPR and ABC News. Sept. 17. Complications from breast cancer.
David A. Jones Sr., 88. He invested $1,000 to start a nursing home company that eventually became the $37 billion health insurance giant Humana Inc. Sept. 18.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, 83. The former Tunisian president was an autocrat who led his small North African country for 23 years before being toppled by nationwide protests that unleashed revolt across the Arab world. Sept. 19.
John Keenan, 99. He was the police official who led New York City's manhunt for the "Son of Sam" killer and eventually took a case-solving confession from David Berkowitz. Sept. 19.
Barron Hilton, 91. A hotel magnate who expanded his father's chain and became a founding owner in the American Football League. Sept. 19.
Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, 85. The 1955 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State and running back for the Detroit Lions. Sept. 20.
Karl Muenter, 96. A former SS soldier who was convicted in France of a wartime massacre but who never served any time for his crimes. Sept. 20.
Sigmund Jaehn, 82. He became the first German in space at the height of the Cold War during the 1970s and was promoted as a hero by communist authorities in East Germany. Sept. 21.
Jacques Chirac, 86. A two-term French president who was the first leader to acknowledge France's role in the Holocaust and defiantly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sept. 26.
Joseph Wilson, 69. The former ambassador who set off a political firestorm by disputing U.S. intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion. Sept. 27.
José José, 71. The Mexican crooner was an elegant dresser who moved audiences to tears with melancholic love ballads and was known as the "Prince of Song." Sept. 28.
Jessye Norman, 74. The renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor. Sept. 30.
Samuel Mayerson, 97. The prosecutor who took newspaper heiress Patty Hearst to court for shooting up a Southern California sporting goods store in 1974 and then successfully argued for probation, not prison, for the kidnapping victim-turned terrorist. Sept. 30.
Karel Gott, 80. A Czech pop singer who became a star behind the Iron Curtain. Oct. 1.
Diogo Freitas do Amaral, 78. A conservative Portuguese politician who played a leading role in cementing the country’s democracy after its 1974 Carnation Revolution and later became president of the U.N. General Assembly. Oct. 3.
Diahann Carroll, 84. The Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as "Julia." Oct. 4. Cancer.
Ginger Baker, 80. The volatile and propulsive drummer for Cream and other bands who wielded blues power and jazz finesse and helped shatter boundaries of time, tempo and style in popular music. Oct. 6.
Rip Taylor, 88. The madcap, mustached comedian with a fondness for confetti-throwing who became a television game show mainstay in the 1970s. Oct. 6.
Robert Forster, 78. The handsome and omnipresent character actor who got a career resurgence and Oscar nomination for playing bail bondsman Max Cherry in "Jackie Brown." Oct. 11. Brain cancer.
James Stern, 55. A black activist who took control of one of the nation's largest neo-Nazi groups — and vowed to dismantle it. Oct. 11. Cancer.
Alexei Leonov, 85. The legendary Soviet cosmonaut who became the first person to walk in space. Oct. 11.
Scotty Bowers, 96. A self-described Hollywood "fixer" whose memoir offered sensational accounts of the sex lives of such celebrities as Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Oct. 13.
Harold Bloom, 89. The eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal "The Anxiety of Influence" and melancholy regard for literature's old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends. Oct. 14.
Elijah E. Cummings, 68. A sharecropper's son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Oct. 17. Complications from longstanding health problems.
Alicia Alonso, 98. The revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of artistic loyalty to Cuba's socialist system. Oct. 17.
Bill Macy, 97. The character actor whose hangdog expression was a perfect match for his role as the long-suffering foil to Bea Arthur's unyielding feminist on the daring 1970s sitcom "Maude." Oct. 17.
Marieke Vervoort, 40. A Paralympian who won gold and silver medals in 2012 at the London Paralympics in wheelchair racing and two more medals in Rio de Janeiro. Oct. 22. Took her own life after living with pain from a degenerative spinal disease.
Sadako Ogata, 92. She led the U.N. refugee agency for a decade and became one of the first Japanese to hold a top job at an international organization. Oct. 22.
Kathryn Johnson, 93. A trailblazing reporter for The Associated Press whose intrepid coverage of the civil rights movement and other major stories led to a string of legendary scoops. Oct. 23.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believed to be 48. He sought to establish an Islamic "caliphate" across Syria and Iraq, but he might be remembered more as the ruthless leader of the Islamic State group who brought terror to the heart of Europe. Oct. 26. Detonated a suicide vest during a raid by U.S. forces.
John Conyers, 90. The former congressman was one of the longest-serving members of Congress whose resolutely liberal stance on civil rights made him a political institution in Washington and back home in Detroit despite several scandals. Oct. 27.
Ivan Milat, 74. His grisly serial killings of seven European and Australian backpackers horrified Australia in the early '90s. Oct. 27.
Vladimir Bukovsky, 76. A prominent Soviet-era dissident who became internationally known for exposing Soviet abuse of psychiatry. Oct. 27.
Kay Hagan, 66. A former bank executive who rose from a budget writer in the North Carolina Legislature to a seat in the U.S. Senate. Oct. 28. Illness.
John Walker, 82. An Arkansas lawmaker and civil rights attorney who represented black students in a long-running court fight over the desegregation of Little Rock-area schools. Oct. 28.
John Witherspoon, 77. An actor-comedian who memorably played Ice Cube's father in the "Friday" films. Oct. 29.
Walter Mercado, 88. A television astrologer whose glamorous persona made him a star in Latin media and a cherished icon for gay people in most of the Spanish-speaking world. Nov. 2. Kidney failure.
Gert Boyle, 95. The colorful chairwoman of Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Co. who starred in ads proclaiming her "One Tough Mother." Nov. 3.
Ernest J. Gaines, 86. A novelist whose poor childhood on a small Louisiana plantation germinated stories of black struggles that grew into universal tales of grace and beauty. Nov. 5.
Werner Gustav Doehner, 90. He was the last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster, who suffered severe burns to his face, arms and legs before his mother managed to toss him and his brother from the burning airship. Nov. 8.
Raymond Poulidor, 83. The “eternal runner-up” whose repeated failure to win the Tour de France helped him conquer French hearts and become the country’s all-time favorite cyclist. Nov. 13.
Walter J. Minton, 96. A publishing scion and risk taker with a self-described "nasty streak" who as head of G.P. Putnam's Sons released works by Norman Mailer and Terry Southern, among others, and signed up Vladimir Nabokov's scandalous "Lolita." Nov. 19.
Jake Burton Carpenter, 65. The man who changed the game on the mountain by fulfilling a grand vision of what a snowboard could be. Nov. 20. Complications stemming from a relapse of testicular cancer.
Gahan Wilson, 89. His humorous and often macabre cartoons were a mainstay in magazines including Playboy, the New Yorker and National Lampoon. Nov. 21.
Cathy Long, 95. A Louisiana Democrat who won her husband’s U.S. House seat after his sudden death in 1985 and served one term. Nov. 23.
John Simon, 94. A theater and film critic known for his lacerating reviews and often withering assessment of performers' physical appearance. Nov. 24.
William Doyle Ruckelshaus, 87. He famously quit his job in the Justice Department rather than carry out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. Nov. 27.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, 101. The former Japanese prime minister was a giant of his country’s post-World War II politics who pushed for a more assertive Japan while strengthening military ties with the United States. Nov. 29.
Irving Burgie, 95. A composer who helped popularize Caribbean music and co-wrote the enduring Harry Belafonte hit “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).” Nov. 29.
Allan Gerson, 74. A lawyer who pursued Nazi war criminals and pioneered the practice of suing foreign governments in U.S. courts for complicity to terrorism. Dec. 1.
Juice WRLD, 21. A rapper who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut and rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit “Lucid Dreams.” Dec. 8. Died after being treated for opioid use during a police search.
René Auberjonois, 79. A prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows “Benson” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and his part in the 1970 film “M.A.S.H.” playing Father Mulcahy. Dec. 8.
Caroll Spinney, 85. He gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street.” Dec. 8.
Paul Volcker, 92. The former Federal Reserve chairman who in the early 1980s raised interest rates to historic highs and triggered a recession as the price of quashing double-digit inflation. Dec. 8.
Pete Frates, 34. A former college baseball player whose battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide. Dec. 9.
Kim Woo-choong, 82. The disgraced founder of the now-collapsed Daewoo business group whose rise and fall symbolized South Korea’s turbulent rapid economic growth in the 1970s. Dec. 9. Pneumonia.
Danny Aiello, 86. The blue-collar character actor whose long career playing tough guys included roles in “Fort Apache, the Bronx,” "Moonstruck" and “Once Upon a Time in America” and his Oscar-nominated performance as a pizza man in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Dec. 12.