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Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2012
Created on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:38 Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 14:49 Published on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:38 Written by Bernard McGhee Associated Press Writer Hits: 4121
Neil Armstrong would always be taking that first step onto the moon, and Dick Clark was forever "the world's oldest teenager." Some of the notables who died in 2012 created images in our minds that remained unchanged over decades.
Sadly, for others an established image was shattered by a fall from grace. Whitney Houston ruled as a queen of pop music, but years of hard living harmed her voice while erratic behavior and a troubled marriage took a toll on her image. And Joe Paterno, Penn State's longtime coach, won more games than anyone in major college football, but was ultimately fired amid a molestation scandal involving an assistant coach that scarred his reputation.
Some whose deaths we noted weren't known by image or even name but by contributions that changed our lives — like Eugene Polley, inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, and Norman Joseph Woodland, co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores.
Among the political figures who died were George McGovern, Democrat presidential nominee who lost to Richard Nixon in a historic landslide, and ex-Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist.
The year also saw the deaths of a number of TV stars including Larry Hagman, who played oil baron J.R. Ewing on "Dallas."
Others in entertainment and the arts who died included: Etta James, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Sherman Hemsley, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, Don Cornelius, Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck.
Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2012. (Cause of death cited for younger people if available.)
Bob Anderson, 89. Olympic fencer and movie sword master, he donned Darth Vader's black helmet and fought light saber battles in two "Star Wars" films. Jan. 1.
Lowell Randall, 96. Pioneer rocket scientist who helped launch the U.S. space program and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles. Jan. 3.
Jessica Joy Rees, 12. She became a nationally recognized face of child cancer with a blog that chronicled her fight against brain tumors. Jan. 5. Brain cancer.
Don Carter, 85. Bowling great who flourished as a genuine sports celebrity during the game's golden age on TV. Jan. 5.
Edward Derwinski, 85. He represented Chicago's south side and adjoining suburbs in Congress for nearly a quarter-century before becoming the nation's first secretary of veterans affairs. Jan 15.
Jimmy Castor, 71. Funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune, "It's Just Begun," morphed into an anthem for generations of musical acts. Jan. 16.
Johnny Otis, 90. He wrote and recorded the R&B classic "Willie and the Hand Jive" and for decades evangelized black music to white audiences as a bandleader and radio host. Jan. 17.
Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her performance of the enduring classic "At Last." Jan. 20. Complications of leukemia.
Joe Paterno, 85. Longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity. Jan. 22.
Robert Hegyes, 60. Actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show "Welcome Back Kotter." Jan. 26.
Kevin H. White, 82. Former Boston mayor who led the city for 16 years including during racially turbulent times in the 1970s and was credited with putting it on a path to prosperity. Jan. 27.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88. Retired head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and an uncharged central figure in a child sex-abuse case that involves the alleged shuffling of predator priests to unwitting parishes. Jan. 31.
Don Cornelius, 75. As host of "Soul Train," he helped break down racial barriers and broaden the reach of black culture with funky music, groovy dance steps and cutting edge style. Feb. 1. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Angelo Dundee, 90. Trainer who helped groom Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard into world champions. Feb. 1.
Ben Gazzara, 81. Actor who brought intensity to roles in such iconic productions as the original "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway and the film "The Big Lebowski." Feb. 3.
Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
Gary Carter, 57. Star catcher whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball. Feb. 16.
Katie Hall, 73. Former Indiana congresswoman who was a key sponsor of the 1983 legislation that established a national holiday for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Feb. 20.
Remi Ochlik, 28. Photojournalist who covered riots in Haiti and the upheaval sweeping across the Arab world. Feb. 22. Killed in a shelling attack in Syria.
Marie Colvin, 56. Journalist, recognizable for the eye patch that hid a shrapnel injury, who covered conflicts from Sri Lanka to Syria in her quest to bring stories about the world's most troubled places to light. Feb. 22. Killed in a shelling attack in Syria.
Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, 90. Veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." Feb. 25.
Davy Jones, 66. Actor turned singer who helped propel the TV rock band The Monkees to the top of the pop charts. Feb. 29. Heart attack.
Andrew Breitbart, 43. Conservative media publisher and activist who was behind investigations that led to the resignation of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. March 1.
James Q. Wilson, 80. Political scientist whose "broken windows" theory on crime-fighting helped launch a nationwide move toward community policing. March 2.
James T. "Jimmy" Ellis, 74. As frontman for The Trammps, he belted out the refrain "Burn, baby burn!" in the 1970s-era disco hit "Disco Inferno." March 8.
Harry Wendelstedt, 73. Longtime umpire who worked five World Series and made a call involving Don Drysdale that became one of baseball's most disputed plays in the late 1960s. March 9.
F. Sherwood Rowland, 84. Nobel prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth's ozone layer and crusaded against the use of chemicals that were harming earth's atmospheric blanket. March 10.
Michael Hossack, 65. Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer whose work is heard on the hits "Listen To The Music" and "China Grove." March 12. Cancer.
John Demjanjuk, 91. He was convicted of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp, but his 35-year fight to clear his name made him one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions. March 17.
Abdullahi Yusuf, 78. He rose from guerrilla warrior to president of Somalia only to watch his administration crumble under an Islamic insurgency. March 23. Complications from pneumonia.
Bert Sugar, 75. Iconic boxing writer and sports historian who was known for his trademark fedora and ever-present cigar. March 25.
Earl Scruggs, 88. Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer who profoundly influenced country music with Bill Monroe in the 1940s and later with guitarist Lester Flatt. March 28.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, 76. He designed Porsche's classic 911 sports car, the sleek model that evokes power, wealth and envy among aficionados. April 5.
Mike Wallace, 93. Dogged CBS reporter who took on politicians and celebrities in a 60-year career highlighted by on-air confrontations that helped make "60 Minutes" the most successful prime-time television news program ever. April 7.
Dick Clark, 82. Ever-youthful television entrepreneur who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted game shows and the year-end countdown from Times Square. April 19.
Levon Helm, 71. Key member of the rock group The Band who lent his voice to classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." April 19.
Charles "Chuck" Colson, 80. Special counsel to President Richard Nixon who went to prison for his role in a Watergate-related case and became a Christian evangelical helping inmates. April 21.
George Vujnovich, 96. Intelligence agent who organized a World War II mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia. April 24.
Patricia Medina, 92. Actress who became a Hollywood leading lady in the 1950s opposite Glenn Ford, Alan Ladd, Karl Malden and Fernando Lamas. April 28.
Tomas Borge Martinez, 81. Last surviving founder of the Sandinista guerrilla movement that overthrew Nicaragua's U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship in 1979. April 30.
Junior Seau, 43. Homegrown superstar who was the fist-pumping, emotional leader of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years. May 2. Apparent suicide.
Lloyd Brevett, 80. Renowned double bassist who helped carry ska music from Jamaica to the world as a founding member of the band The Skatalites. May 3.
Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop. May 4. Cancer.
George Lindsey, 83. He made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw." May 6.
Vidal Sassoon, 84. Celebrity hairstylist whose 1960s wash-and-wear cuts freed women from endless teasing and hairspray. May 9.
Carroll Shelby, 89. Legendary car designer and champion auto racer who built the Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford's Mustang and Chrysler's Viper. May 10.
Donald "Duck" Dunn, 70. Bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs. May 13.
Chuck Brown, 75. Widely acclaimed as the "Godfather of go-go" for styling a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds. May 16.
Doug Dillard, 75. Banjo player who helped shape rock 'n' roll and introduce the nation to bluegrass music during a run on "The Andy Griffith Show." May 16.
Donna Summer, 63. Disco queen whose pulsing anthems such as "Last Dance," ''Love to Love You Baby" and "Bad Girls" became the soundtrack for a glittery age of drugs, dance and flashy clothes. May 17.
Warda, 72. Algerian singer known by just one name whose sultry voice and range helped make her one of the giants of Arab song. May 17.
Robin Gibb, 62. One of the three Bee Gees whose falsetto harmonies powered such hits as "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" and defined the flashy disco era. May 20.
Eugene Polley, 96. Inventor of the first wireless TV remote control. May 20.
Wesley Brown, 85. First African-American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. May 22.
Johnny Tapia, 45. Five-time boxing champion whose turbulent career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and run-ins with the law. May 27.
Doc Watson, 89. Grammy-award winning folk musician whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world. May 29.
Kathryn Joosten, 72. Character actress best known as Karen McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives" and the president's secretary on "The West Wing." June 2.
Richard Dawson, 79. Wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s TV comedy "Hogan's Heroes" and later the contestant-kissing host of the game show "Family Feud." June 2.
Herb Reed, 83. Last surviving original member of 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like "Only You" and "The Great Pretender." June 4.
Ray Bradbury, 91. Science fiction-fantasy master who transformed his childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters, and the high-tech, book-burning future of "Fahrenheit 451." May 5.
Bob Welch, 65. Former member of Fleetwood Mac who went on to write songs and record several hits during a solo career. June 7. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ann Rutherford, 94. Actress who played the sweetheart in the long-running Andy Hardy series and Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister in "Gone With the Wind." June 11.
Henry Hill, 69. Associate in New York's Lucchese crime family, a mobster and FBI informant whose life was the basis for the Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas." June 12.
Rodney King, 47. Black motorist whose 1991 videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers was the spark for one of the most destructive U.S. race riots. June 17. Accidentally drowned.
Nora Ephron, 71. Essayist, author and filmmaker who thrived in the male-dominated worlds of movies and journalism and was loved, respected and feared for her wit. June 26. Leukemia
Don Grady, 68. One of television's most beloved big brothers as Robbie Douglas on the 1960s hit "My Three Sons." June 27.
Norman Sas, 87. Mechanical engineer who created electric football, a tabletop game with a vibrating metal field and unpredictable plastic players that captivated children and grown-ups. June 28.
Doris Sams, 85. Pitcher and outfielder from Knoxville who helped inspire the movie "A League of Their Own." June 28.
Yitzhak Shamir, 96. Former Israeli prime minister who maintained that Israel should hold on to territory and never trust an Arab regime. June 30.
Andy Griffith, 86. He made homespun Southern wisdom his trademark as a wise sheriff in "The Andy Griffith Show" and a rumpled defense lawyer in "Matlock." July 3.
Ernest Borgnine, 95. Beefy screen star known for blustery, often villainous roles, but who won the best-actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in "Marty" in 1955. July 8.
Celeste Holm, 95. Versatile actress who soared to Broadway fame in "Oklahoma!" and won an Oscar for her portrayal of a lonely secretary in "Gentleman's Agreement." July 15.
William Raspberry, 76. He became the second Black columnist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his widely read syndicated commentaries in The Washington Post. July 17.
Oswaldo Paya, 60. Cuban activist who spent decades speaking out against the communist government of Fidel and Raul Castro and became one of the most powerful voices of dissent against their half-century rule. July 22. Car crash.
Sally Ride, 61. She blazed trails into orbit as the first American woman in space. July 23. Pancreatic cancer.
Sherman Hemsley, 74. Actor who made the irascible, bigoted George Jefferson of "The Jeffersons" one of TV's most memorable characters and a symbol for urban upward mobility. July 24.
John Atta Mills, 68. He was elected president in the closest vote in Ghana's history and then led the West African country amid newfound oil wealth. July 24.
Chad Everett, 75. Star of the 1970s TV series "Medical Center" who went on to appear in such films and TV shows as "Mulholland Drive" and "Melrose Place." July 24.
Gore Vidal, 86. Author, playwright, politician and commentator whose novels, essays, plays and opinions were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom. July 31.
Judith Crist, 90. Blunt, popular film critic for the "Today" show, TV Guide and the New York Herald Tribune whose reviews were at times so harsh that director Otto Preminger labeled her "Judas Crist." Aug. 7.
Carlo Rambaldi, 86. Special-effects master and three-time Oscar winner known as the father of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." Aug. 10.
Johnny Pesky, 92. Player who spent most of his 60-plus years in pro baseball with the Boston Red Sox and was beloved by the team's fans. Aug. 13.
Nellie Gray, 88. Founder and chief organizer of an annual anti-abortion march in Washington and a leader in efforts to overturn the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Aug. 13.
Ron Palillo, 63. Actor best known as the nerdy high school student Arnold Horshack on the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter." Aug. 14.
Tony Scott, 68. Director of such Hollywood blockbusters as "Top Gun," ''Days of Thunder" and "Beverly Hills Cop II." Aug. 19. Died after jumping from a bridge.
George Hickman, 88. One of the original Tuskegee airmen and a longtime usher at University of Washington and Seattle Seahawks games. Aug. 19.
Phyllis Diller, 95. Housewife-turned-humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating her jokes with her trademark cackle. Aug. 20.
Neil Armstrong, 82. He became a global hero when as a steely-nerved astronaut he made "one giant leap for mankind" with a small step onto the moon. Aug. 25.
Chris Lighty, 44. A hip-hop mogul who helped the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey attain hit records and lucrative careers outside music. Aug. 30. Apparent suicide.
Hal David, 91. Stylish, heartfelt lyricist who teamed with Burt Bacharach on dozens of songs for movies, television and a variety of recording artists in the 1960s and beyond. Sept. 1.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 92. Self-proclaimed messiah who turned his Unification Church into a worldwide religious movement and befriended North Korean leaders as well as U.S. presidents. Sept. 3.
Michael Clarke Duncan, 54. Hulking character actor whose dozens of films included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inmate in "The Green Mile" and such other box office hits as "Armageddon," ''Planet of the Apes" and "Kung Fu Panda." Sept. 3. Heart attack.
Joe South, 72. Singer-songwriter who performed 1960s and '70s hits such as "Games People Play" and "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and penned songs including "Down in the Boondocks" for other artists. Sept. 5.
Art Modell, 87. Former owner of the Baltimore Ravens and longtime NFL stalwart who incurred the wrath of Cleveland fans when he moved the team from Ohio. Sept. 6.
Chris Stevens, 52. U.S. ambassador to Libya and a career diplomat. Sept. 11. Killed during an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
John Ingle, 84. Actor who for two decades played a scheming patriarch on the daytime drama "General Hospital." Sept. 16.
Andy Williams, 84. Silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner whose hit recording "Moon River" and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over. Sept. 25.
Barry Commoner, 95. Scientist and activist who raised early concerns about the effects of radioactive fallout and was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement. Sept. 30.
Turhan Bey, 90. Actor whose exotic good looks earned him the nickname of "Turkish Delight" in films with Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn before he left Hollywood for a quieter life in Vienna. Sept. 30.
Alex Karras, 77. Feared NFL defensive tackle who went into acting, playing the lovable dad in the 1980s sitcom "Webster" and the cowboy who punched out a horse in "Blazing Saddles." Oct. 10.
Arlen Specter, 82. Outspoken ex-U.S. senator from Pennsylvania whose switch from Republican to Democrat ended a 30-year career in which he played a pivotal role in several Supreme Court nominations. Oct. 14. Complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
George McGovern, 90. Former U.S. senator and a Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a landslide. Oct. 21.
Antoni Dobrowolski, 108. Oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he was a teacher who taught defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers. Oct. 21.
Russell Means, 72. Former American Indian Movement activist who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee and also appeared in Hollywood films. Oct. 22.
Letitia Baldrige, 86. The White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration, an authority on etiquette. Oct. 29.
Milt Campbell, 78. First African-American to win the Olympic decathlon in 1956, he went on to play professional football and become a motivational speaker. Nov. 2.
Carmen Basilio, 85. He wrested the world middleweight boxing crown from Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957 and lost an epic rematch six months later. Nov. 7.
Darrell Royal, 88. Former Texas football coach known as much for his folksy approach to life as for his creative wishbone offenses and two national championships. Nov. 7.
Lee MacPhail, 95. Longtime baseball executive who ruled in the celebrated Pine Tar case and later became part of the only father-son Hall of Fame pairing. Nov. 8.
Bernard Lansky, 85. Memphis retailer who helped a young Elvis Presley establish his flashy, signature clothing style in the 1950s. Nov. 15.
Warren B. Rudman, 82. Former U.S. senator who co-authored a budget balancing law, championed ethics and led a commission that predicted the danger of terrorist attacks years before 9/11. Nov. 19. Complications of lymphoma.
Art Ginsburg, 81. Delightfully dorky television chef known as Mr. Food. Nov. 21.
Ewarda O'Bara, 59. Miami woman who spent 42 years in a coma. Nov. 21.
Larry Hagman, 81. Actor whose predatory oil baron J.R. Ewing on television's nighttime soap opera "Dallas" became a symbol for 1980s greed. Nov. 23.
Hector "Macho" Camacho, 50. Puerto Rican boxer known for skill and flamboyance in the ring as well as for a messy personal life and run-ins with the police. Nov. 24. Gunshot.
Marvin Miller, 95. Soft-spoken union head who led baseball players in strikes and legal battles that won free agency, revolutionized sports and turned athletes into multimillionaires. Nov. 27.
Zig Ziglar, 86. Motivational speaker who wrote more than 30 books and focused on positivity and leading a balanced life. Nov. 28.
Dave Brubeck, 91. Jazz composer and pianist whose pioneering style in pieces such as "Take Five" caught listeners' ears with exotic, challenging rhythms. Dec. 5.
Jenni Rivera, 43. California-born singer who became a superstar adored by millions in a male-dominated genre of Mexican-American music. Dec. 9. Plane crash.
Norman Joseph Woodland, 91. He was the co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores and has boosted productivity in nearly every sector of commerce worldwide. Dec. 9.
Ravi Shankar, 92. The sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career. Dec. 11.
Jack Hanlon, 96. He had roles in the 1926 silent classic "The General" and in two 1927 "Our Gang" comedies. Dec. 13.
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