In Memoriam

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

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Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, center, delivers a speech to soldiers in La Fria, Venezuela, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. Chavez said he is cancer-free because a series of medical exams in Cuba showed no recurrence of the illness following two months of chemotherapy treatments. Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. He has not revealed where the tumor was located nor the type of cancer with which he was diagnosed. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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Gen. H. "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait, died Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.
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David R. Ellis, pictured here with actor Samuel L. Jackson at Comic-Con International in San Diego, has died at the age of 60. Ellis' directing credits included "Snakes on a Plane," "Shark Night 3D," The Final Destination," Cellular," and "Final Destination 2," among other films.
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Mike Hopkins, pictured here at the 78th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, has died in a rafting accident in New Zealand. He was 53.
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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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Charles Durning, pictured here accepting a lifetime achievement award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, died of natural causes at his home in Manhattan. He was 89. The two-time Oscar nominee, who was dubbed the king of the character actors, portrayed everyone from blustery public officials to put-upon everymen to Big Daddy in a Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
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Lee Dorman (second from right) was the bassist for the rock band Iron Butterfly, best known for their heavy, psychedelic 1968 hit song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Dorman died on Dec. 21, 2012. He was 70.
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Inouye, the influential Democrat 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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The Ravi Shankar Foundation
Indian musician and sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and introducing traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career. He died at the age of 92.
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Mexican-American singer and reality TV star Jenni Rivera died in a plane crash in northern Mexico while she was en route to a concert in Monterrey. The mother of five and ex-wife of baseball player Esteban Loaiza was 43. Click to see more memorable deaths in 2012.
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Brubeck, a pioneering jazz composer and pianist died Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 of heart failure, after being stricken while on his way to a cardiology appointment with his son. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.
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American actor Larry Hagman, who found worldwide fame in his role as J.R. in the American soap opera "Dallas," died Friday, November 23, at a Dallas hospital.
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Boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho, who had fought the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, died November 24 as a result of being shot in the face in his home town, Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
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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 at a South Dakota hospice, surrounded by family and friends. He was 90. McGovern was a bomber pilot in World War II who became an early critic of the Vietnam War and a leader of the Democrats' liberal wing. He was elected to his first of three Senate terms in 1962 and ran unsuccessfully for president three times.
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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. He earned an endorsement from President Barack Obama after switching his party affiliation in the 2010 primary, but still lost to another Democratic challenger.
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Gary Collins, an actor, television show host and former master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant, died at the age of 74. Collins was married to former Miss America and Mississippi native Mary Ann Mobley.
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Detroit Lions' Alex Karras died 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." Click to see more of those we have lost.
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Legendary singer Andy Williams, 84, passed away 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 at age 71.
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"Green Mile" actor Michael Clarke Duncan has 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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NFL Films President Steve Sabol, for five decades the creative force behind the unique brand of storytelling and cinematography that brought America closer to the game of football, died at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.
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Singer Dorothy McGuire, seen here in a file photo taken Thursday, Oct. 10, 1986, was part of the popular 1950s musical trio, the McGuire Sisters. The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos. McGuire died of natural causes at the age of 84 in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, Arizona. She had Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia.
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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 at age 72 of heart failure.
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Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the controversial Unification Church, died in South Korea at age 92.
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Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday, 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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Hal David arrives at the 42nd Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards in New York. David, who along with partner Burt Bacharach penned dozens of top 40 hits for a variety of recording artists in the 1960s and beyond, died Saturday Sept. 1, 2012 in Los Angeles.
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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 Thursday, multiple outlets reported. Nelson, who retired from puppetering in 2004, also played Gobo in "Fraggle Rock." He was 78 years old. Click to see others we've lost.
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Groundbreaking comedienne Phyllis Diller—who paved the way for Chelsea Handler, Roseanne Barr, Joan Rivers, and Ellen DeGeneres—passed away 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," has died after jumping from a Los Angeles County Bridge.
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William Windom, pictured here with "Murder She Wrote" star Angela Lansbury and former first lady Nancy Reagan at the 1996 Caritas Awards, died of congestive heart failure at his California home.
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American actor Ron Palillo—who played goofball Arnold Horshack on the 1970s TV series "Welcome Back, Kotter"—died of a heart attack in his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was 63.
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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. The iconic editor was 90.
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The award-winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch, has died. Hamlish 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, celebrated author and playwright, died at his home in the Hollywood Hills of 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.
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Irish author Maeve Binchy 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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Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away at the age of 61. Ride was an inspiration to countless women and remains an icon to this day.
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Actress Celeste Holm, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1947 movie "Gentleman's Agreement," has died at home in New York City at age 95. She 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 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., of 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. His cause of death was not immediately known. His father said in a statement that he was "grief-stricken over the sudden loss of his son."
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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, 2012. He was 95.
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Actor Andy Griffith, who starred in two iconic TV series — "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" — has died. Griffith is survived by his third wife, Cindi Knight, whom he wed in 1983, and his daughter Dixie Nan, from his first marriage to Barbara Bray Edwards. He was 86 years old. Click to see others we've lost.
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Award-winning writer and author 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 died at age 91.
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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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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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Writer Ray Bradbury, who penned the thought-provoking "Fahrenheit 451" and other novels, has died. His grandson, Danny Karapetian, told <a href="http://io9.com/5916175/rip-ray-bradbury-author-of-fahrenheit-451-and-the-martian-chronicles" target="blank">io9</a> 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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Richard Dawson, the former host of the game show "Family Feud," died Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 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, 2012 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 influenced guitarists around the world has died 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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Bee Gees founding member Robin Gibb died 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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The iconic "Queen of Disco" Donna Summer, née LaDonna Adrian Gaines, is dead after battling 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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Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go who created such hits as "Bustin' Loose," died 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 legend.
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Carroll Shelby, the Texas chicken farmer turned auto racer turned car builder who created legendary high-performance cars like the Shelby Cobra, passed away after a bout with pneumonia. He was 89.
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Famed hair stylist and fashion icon Vidal Sassoon, 84, was found dead of 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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"Where the Wild Things Are" author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away 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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George Lindsey spent nearly 30 years as the grinning gas station attendant Goober Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw." He died at the age of 83.
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A founding member of the Beastie Boys, "MCA," aka Adam Yauch, died at the age of 47, multiple news outlets reported. 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.
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Junior Seau, regarded as one of the N.F.L.’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, the 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, died 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 home in Melbourne recently. 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 has died 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. 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. 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." He stopped performing with the band two years ago while struggling with cancer.
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Conservative activist and web publisher Andrew Breitbart has died 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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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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Whitney Houston, who once reigned as pop music's queen, died 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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Jan Berenstain — co-creator with her husband Stan of the popular Berenstain Bears children's book series — has died 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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The New York Mets' former catcher Gary Carter, who helped lead his team to World Series victory in 1986, died at 57 after battling a malignant 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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"Soul Train" creator and host Don Cornelius, 75, was found shot dead in his L.A. home on Wednesday morning. The musical tastemaker and pop culture legend gave 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," has died at 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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Joe Paterno has died at 85. The former Penn State head football coach, nicknamed "JoePa," 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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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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Etta James, the R&B legend and Grammy winner who recorded enduring and soulful hits such as "At Last" and "Tell Mama," has died. She was 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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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 succumbed to 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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Maggie Daley, wife of Chicago's long-time former mayor Richard M. Daley, died on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2011, at the age of 68 after an almost decade-long battle with cancer.
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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 succumbing to liver cancer. The fighter 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 Sunday, 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 was 79.
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Pat Wilson, Brian Bell, Mikey Welsh (third from right) and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer arriving at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards. Former band member Welsh, 40, was found dead in a Chicago hotel room on Saturday, Oct. 8. A drug overdose is suspected as the cause.
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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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Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who transformed personal computing before introducing the world to the iPhone and iPad, died Oct. 5 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 56. Jobs formally stepped down at Apple CEO six weeks before his death. <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/tech/_DO_NOT_USE_In_Memoriam__Steve_Jobs__1955-2011_Bay_Area-129546748.html" target="blank">Watch</a> a tribute to Steve Jobs.
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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 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 also 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 LA 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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