Year in Review 2012: In Memoriam

Take a look back at the most notable deaths of the year.

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CIRCA 1988: Pop singer Whitney Houston performs onstage in 1988. (Photo by David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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As the year comes to a close, we take a look back at those we've lost in 2012. Gen. H. "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, 78, who commanded the U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait, died on December 27. Click forward to check out other notables we lost this year.
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Sen. Daniel Inouye, the influential Democrat from Hawaii who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died of respiratory complications, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. He was 88.
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This August 1969 photo shows Ravi Shankar performing at the Woodstock music festival in New York. Shankar, who is credited with connecting the world to Indian music, died at the age of 92. He has been described as the best-known contemporary Indian musician.
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Fontella Bass, a St. Louis-born soul singer who hit the top of the R&B charts with "Rescue Me" in 1965, died at 72. "Any room she entered she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat," her daughter said.
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Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, died Oct. 21. He was 90. As a senator, McGovern was an exemplar of modern American liberalism. He became most known for his outspoken opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
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Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's longest serving senator, who played a key role in several Supreme Court nominations and who later switched from Republican to Democrat, died at his home Oct. 14 from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 82. Specter served 30 years in the U.S. Senate and was known as a moderate.
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Whitney Houston, who once reigned as pop music's queen, died on Feb 11 at age 48. At her peak, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."
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Etta James, the R&B legend and Grammy winner who recorded enduring and soulful hits such as "At Last" and "Tell Mama," died at 73. Born Jan. 25, 1938, in Los Angeles she formed a trio in her mid-teens called the Peaches that caught the attention of bandleader Johnny Otis, launching her career.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Where the Wild Things Are" author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away on May 8 at age 83 after complications from a recent stroke. Sendak was widely praised for his work in children's literature and was also a renowned theatrical set designer.
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Gary Collins, an actor, television show host and former master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant, died Oct. 13 at the age of 74. Collins was married to former Miss America and Mississippi native Mary Ann Mobley.
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The Bee Gees founding member Robin Gibb died on May 20 after a long battle with cancer. He was 62. The Bee Gees helped define the disco era with a string of hits including "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever."
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Detroit Lions' Alex Karras died Oct. 10 after suffering from dementia and kidney failure. He was 77. The former All-Pro defensive lineman and actor had starred in the sitcom "Webster" and famously punched a horse in the 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles."
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Legendary singer Andy Williams, 84, passed away Sept. 25 at his home in Branson, Missouri. Pictured here with his first wife French singer and actress Claudine Longet, Williams was best known for his long running TV show and the hit song "Moon River".
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Big Jim Sullivan, guitarist for Tom Jones, suffered from heart disease and diabetes. He died Oct. 2 at age 71.
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Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Aug. 25, 2012, weeks after having heart surgery. He was 82. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft radioed back to Earth after walking on the moon with Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on July 20, 1969.
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The iconic "Queen of Disco" Donna Summer, née LaDonna Adrian Gaines, passed away on May 17 after battling with cancer. The five-time Grammy winner was known for hits "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," and "Bad Girls." She was 63 years old.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Green Mile" actor Michael Clarke Duncan died at the age of 54 after being hospitalized following a heart attack in July, The Associated Press reported. His publicist Joy Fehily released a statement that he died in a Los Angeles hospital after nearly two months of treatment.
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As the president of NFL Films, Steve Sabol was the creative force behind the unique brand of storytelling and cinematography that brought America closer to the game of football. Sabol died Sept. 18 at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.
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A founding member of the Beastie Boys, "MCA," aka Adam Yauch, died on May 4 at the age of 47. The rapper was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland. Auch co-founded Beastie Boys in 1979 with Mike D and Ad Roc, and remains a legendary pioneer in the 1980s and '90s rap scene.
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Writer Ray Bradbury, who penned the thought-provoking "Fahrenheit 451" and other novels, died on June 5. His grandson, Danny Karapetian, told io9 this: "His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him."
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Sally Ride was the first American woman to enter into low Earth orbit in 1983, and the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space. She passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61 on July 23. Ride was an inspiration to countless women and remains an icon to this day, especially after co-authoring six children's science books.
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Helen Gurley Brown -- author of "Sex and the Single Girl" and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazines' 64 international editions -- died on Aug. 13, according to the Hearst Corporation. She was widely credited with being the first to introduce frank discussions of sex into magazines for women. The iconic editor was 90.
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Famed hair stylist and fashion icon Vidal Sassoon, 84, was found dead on May 9 from natural causes at his California home. The London-born Sassoon’s creative, geometric hair cuts required little styling. They were an integral part of the look of Mary Quant, the superstar British fashion designer shown here who popularized the miniskirt.
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Singer Dorothy McGuire was part of the popular 1950s musical trio, the McGuire Sisters. The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical costumes. McGuire died Sept. 7 at the age of 84 in Paradise Valley, Arizona. She had Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia.
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Actor Andy Griffith, who starred in two iconic TV series — "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" — died on July 3. His death certificate says the actor died of a heart attack. He was 86 years old.
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Jack Klugman, shown here after winning an Emmy for his role as divorced sports writer Oscar Madison in the 1970s sitcom “The Odd Couple,” died Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. He was 90. Klugman, who trained himself to speak again after battling throat cancer in the 1980s, was also known for playing a crime-fighting coroner in “Quincey, M.E.”
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Rodney King, the man whose brutal beating by Los Angeles police officers sparked the L.A. riots in 1992, died at the age of 47.
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Singer-songwriter Joe South, whose real name was Joseph Souter, penned hits like "Games People Play," and "Down in the Boondocks" in the 1960s and '70s. He died Sept. 5 at age 72 of heart failure.
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Jan Berenstain — co-creator with her husband Stan of the popular Berenstain Bears children's book series — died on Feb. 24 of a stroke at the age of 88. (Her husband died in 2005.) The couple met in art school and served together in World War II before they began writing and illustrating the hit series together.
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Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the controversial Unification Church, died on Sept. 3 in South Korea at age 92.
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Joe Paterno died at 85. The former Penn State head football coach boasted more wins than anyone in major college football, but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that marred his reputation. "He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been," his family said in a statement.
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Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist Hal David, who worked with Burt Bacharach and wrote top songs like "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head," reportedly died from a stroke on Sept.1 in Los Angeles. He was 91.
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Jerry Nelson, who charmed audiences for decades as the voice of the Sesame Street character, Count von Count (aka "The Count") died Aug.23, multiple outlets reported. Nelson, who retired from puppetering in 2004, also played Gobo in "Fraggle Rock." He was 78 years old.
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Groundbreaking comedienne Phyllis Diller—who paved the way for Chelsea Handler, Roseanne Barr, Joan Rivers, and Ellen DeGeneres—passed away Aug.20 at her Los Angeles home. She was 95.
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Director Tony Scott, known for such Hollywood blockbusters as "Top Gun," ''Days of Thunder" and "Beverly Hills Cop II," died Aug.19 after jumping from a Los Angeles County Bridge.
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Emmy-winning actor William Windom, pictured here with "Murder She Wrote" star Angela Lansbury and former first lady Nancy Reagan at the 1996 Caritas Awards, died Aug.16 of congestive heart failure at his California home.
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Mikey Welsh (third from right) and Rivers Cuomo (right) of Weezer at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards. Former band member Welsh, 40, was found dead in a Chicago hotel room on Oct. 8. A drug overdose is suspected as the cause, but he tweeted on Sept. 26 "dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today."
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American actor Ron Palillo—who played goofball Arnold Horshack on the 1970s TV series "Welcome Back, Kotter"—died Aug.14 of a heart attack in his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was 63.
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Davy Jones, singer in the American pop-rock group The Monkees, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Florida. He was 66. The band had a number of international hits including "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," and "I'm a Believer."
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Famed composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch won multiple Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, and a Tony, and was known for his work "The Sting." He also won a Pulitzer Prize for his show, "A Chorus Line." He was 68 years old.
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Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He died on July 31 at his home in the Hollywood Hills, due to complications from pneumonia. He was 86. Vidal was known for such best-selling novels as "Burr" and "Myra Breckenridge."
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Singer Chavela Vargas became a major figure in Mexico City's artistic explosion of the mid-20th century. Her interpretations of Mexico's classic ranchera songs made her a star in Latin America and Spain. She died Aug. 5 in Cuernavaca, Mexico at the age of 93.
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Maeve Binchy, a best-selling Irish author whose novels portrayed women confronting all manner of adversity, died in Dublin after a brief illness. She was 72. Binchy's work has landed her on the New York Times' bestseller list and in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.
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Sherman Hemsley, best known for his role as the cantankerous George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and later in "The Jeffersons," died July 24 at the age of 74.
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Actress Celeste Holm, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1947 movie "Gentleman's Agreement," died at her home in New York City on July 15. She was 95. Holm also received Academy Award nominations for "Come to the Stable" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950).
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Bob Babbitt (R), pictured here with Uriel Jones and Eddie Willis of the Funk Brothers, died of complications on July 16 from brain cancer. He was 74. The bass player has recorded with music greats such as Bette Midler, Jim Croce, Bonnie Raitt and Frank Sinatra.
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Bill Asher, who directed and produced television classics such as "I Love Lucy" and "Bewitched," died at a facility in Palm Desert, Calif., due complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 90.
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Singer Kitty Wells, who was the first female to reach #1 in the country charts, has died due to complications from a stroke at age 92. After being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976, the legendary "Queen of Country Music" continued to tour with her family show until 2007.
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Actor Sage Stallone, the son of "Rocky" star Sylvester Stallone (left), was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home July 13 at the age of 36. Although he got extensive dental surgery weeks before his death, Sage died of natural causes due to a hear condition. Sage was also an American actor, film director, producer and screenwriter.
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Ernest Borgnine, known for his myriad of roles in the 50s and 60s and his Oscar win in "Marty," as well as his spots in more modern sitcoms the likes of "Airwolf," "Single Guy" and "Spongebob Square Pants," passed away on July 8. He was 95.
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Award-winning screenwriter, author, essayist, journalist, producer, director and journalist Nora Ephron earned Hollywood fame for the screenplays "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle." She died June 26 at the age of 71 after a private six-year battle with a blood disorder.
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Artist LeRoy Neiman stands by his rendering of the last minute of the 1946 football game between Army and Navy. As a young artist, he would go to sporting events with a sketch pad under his arm to capture athletes in action. Neiman, who also painted racetrack scenes and Olympic contests, died at age 91.
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Bob Welch, a former member of Fleetwood Mac who went on to record a handful of hit tracks during a solo career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Thursday. He was 65. Welch's biggest hit was "Sentimental Lady," which reached No. 8 on the Billboard chart.
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Richard Dawson, the former host of the game show "Family Feud," died on June 2 at the age of 79. The wisecracking British entertainer, who was also known for his role in the 1960s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," kissed thousands of female contestants as host of "Family Feud."
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Actress Kathryn Joosten won two Emmys for her work on "Desperate Housewives." She passed away on June 2 after battling lung cancer for several years.
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Doc Watson, the Grammy award-winning folk musician, whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking that influenced guitarists around the world, died on May 29 at age 89. Arthel ‘‘Doc’’ Watson’s mastery of flatpicking helped make the case for the guitar as a lead instrument in the 1950s and 1960s.
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Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of Go-go" who created such hits as "Bustin' Loose," died on May 16 in Baltimore at age 75. Go-go, a high-energy dance/party music, influenced many hip-hop artists but never gained widespread popularity outside of Washington, D.C., where Brown was a pioneer.
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Carroll Shelby, who was an American automotive designer and race car driver, created legendary high-performance cars like the Shelby Cobra. He passed away after a bout with pneumonia on May 10 at the age of 89.
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George Lindsey spent nearly 30 years as the grinning gas station attendant Goober Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw." He died on May 6 at the age of 83.
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Junior Seau, regarded as one of the NFL’s best linebackers over a 20-year career with the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, died of a gunshot wound to the chest at his home in California. He was 43.
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Dick Clark is a legendary television icon who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand" and hosted an annual New Year's Eve special on ABC. He died on April 18 of a heart attack at the age of 82.
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Saxophonist Greg Ham of Australian rock group Men at Work, known for songs "Who Can It Be Now" and "Down Under," was found dead in his Melbourne home on April 19. He was 58 years old. "We played in a band and conquered the world together," Men at Work frontman Colin Hay said in a statement. "I love him very much."
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CBS newsman Mike Wallace died on April 7 at the age of 93. Wallace was on the founding staff of "60 Minutes" and was famous for his tough interviews with politicians, celebrities and other public figures.
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Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who helped profoundly change country music with Bill Monroe and later with guitarist Lester Flatt, died on March 28. He was 88. Scruggs started playing the banjo at age 4 and developed his three-finger style at the age of 10.
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Long-time Doobie Brothers drummer Michael Hossack died of cancer on March 12. He was 65. Hossack played with the group from 1971 to 1973 and rejoined in 1987. His drumming can be heard on early hits including "Listen To The Music," "China Grove" and "Blackwater."
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Conservative activist and web publisher Andrew Breitbart died on March 1 at age 43. In addition to publishing a number of websites devoted to repudiating what he saw as the liberal-dominated coverage of politics and culture, Breitbart once served as an editor for the Drudge Report.
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The New York Mets' former catcher Gary Carter, who helped lead his team to the World Series victory in 1986, died on Feb. 16 at 57 after battling a brain tumor. His eternal optimism always made Carter, nicknamed "the Kid," seem like he was playing in Little League instead of the big leagues.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Soul Train" creator and host Don Cornelius, 75, was found shot dead in his L.A. home on Feb. 1. The musical tastemaker and pop culture legend provided a television stage to some of the greatest music acts of our time, and would sign off each show with “Love, peace and soul.”
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Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Luis Pedro Philippo DeHuevos Epstein on 1970s hit "Welcome Back, Kotter," died on Jan. 26 at the age of 60. The show, which also starred a young John Travolta, ran on ABC from 1975-79, and had high school kids around the nation taunting one another with lines like, "Up your nose with a rubber hose."
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James Farentino, who starred in dozens of films and TV shows including "Dynasty" and "ER," died Jan. 24 of heart failure. The four-time divorcee was also known for his tumultuous personal life. He pleaded no contest to stalking his ex-girlfriend, Frank Sinatra's daughter Tina Sinatra.
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Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke died Jan. 19, nine days after suffering “irreversible damages to her brain” in a crash while training at a superpipe in Utah. Burke was a four-time Winter X Games champ and played a major role in persuading Olympics officials to include superpipe skiing at the Sochi Games in 2014.
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Bob Weston, a former guitarist for Fleetwood Mac, died at the age of 64 in his North London home. Weston, who played in the band in the early 70s, was later fired by drummer Mick Fleetwood when he found out Weston was having an affair with his wife, Jenny Boyd.
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Veteran actor Harry Morgan, best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died Dec. 7 in Los Angeles. He was 96. Morgan was in more than 100 movies playing roles like bad guys, judges, sheriffs, soldiers, thugs and police chiefs.
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Essayist and atheist Christopher Hitchens passed away from esophageal cancer complications late Dec. 15 at the age of 62. The British-born author of the best-selling "God Is Not Great" died in the hospital of pneumonia, publisher Conde Nast announced.
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Rapper Heavy D, who had a string of hits in the '90s including "Nuttin' But Love," died Nov. 8 in Los Angeles. He was 44. The Heavy D & the Boyz frontman, born Dwight Arrington Myers, tweeted "BE INSPIRED" hours before his death.
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Legendary boxer Joe Frazier (left) died Nov. 7 after losing the fight against liver cancer. He won two fights against fellow legend Muhammad Ali (right) and another two against George Foreman in the heavyweight crown.
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Andy Rooney, a commentator for decades for "60 Minutes," died Nov. 4 in New York from complications after surgery. The wry CBS writer and producer announced on Oct. 2 in his 1,097th essay that he would no longer contribute regularly.
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Norman Corwin succeeded in many facets of the entertainment business, but radio was his true passion. He was credited for being a creative giant of the Golden Age of radio. He died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home at 101.
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Two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon died Oct. 16 in a fiery 15-car wreck during the Las Vegas Indy 300. He was 33.
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Sue Mengers was Hollywood's first female super-agent and was said to be "more powerful than the stars she handles" by the Times. She represented celebs like Barbra Streisand, Candice Bergan, Faye Dunaway, and countless others. She died Oct. 15 at the age of 79.
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Roger Williams, a famed pianist who topped the Billboard pop chart in the 1950s and played for 9 U.S. presidents, died Oct. 8 at the age of 87 of pancreatic cancer. "Roger was one of the greatest pianists in the world and could play anything to classical music to jazz," friend and musician Sen. Orrin Hatch said of Williams.
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Sylvia Robinson, known as the pioneer of rap music, died at the age of 76. The singer-turned-producer was also known 1973's sexually explicit "Pillow Talk." In 1979, she produced The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," hip-hop's first commercially successful single.
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Dolores Hope, a singer who put her career on hold to marry Bob Hope but later accompanied the late comedian on USO tours and recorded albums, died Sept. 19 at the age of 102. She was also a noted philanthropist, golfer and adoption advocate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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Frances Bay, a Canadian housewife who started acting at age 50 and went on to play grandmother roles on "Happy Days" and "Happy Gilmore," died on Sept. 15. She was 92. Bay also played the "marble rye lady" on "Seinfeld" and starred in "Blue Velvet."
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Andy Whitfield, 39, played the lead role in the Starz drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." His wife Vashti said in a statement, "Our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer. He passed peacefully surrounded by love."
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Cliff Robertson, the handsome movie actor who played John F. Kennedy in "PT-109," won an Oscar for "Charly" and was famously victimized in a 1977 Hollywood forgery scandal, died. He was 88.
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The music industry lost two greats on Aug. 22. Nick Ashford, who was part of singer-songwriting duo with wife Valerie Simpson, composed hits for greats like Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye. Jerry Leiber, right, penned hits for Elvis and many hits for The Coasters, including "Yakety Yak."
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Jerry Leiber, who wrote lyrics for such classic tunes as "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock," died Aug. 22 at age 78. Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, told the AP the music world "lost one of its greatest poet laureates."
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Nick Ashford of the famed Motown songwriting team Ashford & Simpson died after a battle with throat cancer on Aug. 22. The duo had penned such greats as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By," and "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand." He was 70.
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Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra, who was known in Italy as the "new Pavarotti," died Monday after nine days in a coma following a motor scooter accident in Sicily. He once stood in for the famed singer in a Metropolitan Opera production of "Tosca." He was 43.
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Warrant lead singer Jani Lane was found dead in a Comfort Inn outside of Los Angeles. The "Heaven" and "Cherry Pie" singer was 47 years old.
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Former NFL star and "Police Academy" actor Bubba Smith died Aug. 3 at his L.A. home at age 66. Smith, shown here at Michigan State University during a 2006 ceremony to retire his jersey number, was a three time All-American. He was the Baltimore Colt's first pick in 1967 and went on to tackle Hollywood after nine years in the NFL.
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Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead of an apparent suicide in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes, authorities confirmed. He was 42.
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Actress Ann Rutherford,who played Scarlett O'Hara's sister Carreen in the 1939 movie classic "Gone With the Wind," died at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Monday, June 11, 2012. She was 94.
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