Tamron Hall Says Her Former Today Show Position 'Doesn't Define Me'
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The violet-eyed Hollywood icon, who dazzled the world for 60 years with her stunning looks, collection of jewels and numerous husbands, died of congestive heart failure on March 23 at 79. Taylor left behind four children, 50 films (including Cleopatra and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, both alongside her 4th and 5th husband Richard Burton) and a successful beauty empire. In later years, the Oscar winner became an HIV/AIDS pioneer at a time when few spoke out about the disease, helping raise more than $465 million through amfAR, the AIDS research organization she cofounded.
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"The only way to do great work is to love what you do," said Apple visionary Steve Jobs, who revolutionized technology and entertainment globally with innovations from the iMac to the iPod. After losing his seven-year battle with pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5 at 56, tributes for the charismatic entrepreneur poured in from around the world. "Steve was among the greatest of American innovators," said President Obama. "Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."
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The CBS broadcast journalist ended his 33-year tenure on 60 Minutes just one month before he passed away on Nov. 4 from complications resulting from a minor surgery at age 92. The former World War II veteran presented 1,097 essays on the current affairs show before signing off for the last time on Oct. 2. Fellow CBS newsman Morley Safer summed up Rooney's inimitable talent, describing his longtime colleague as “the man who had a special gift for speaking for every man.”
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"A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine" – that's how longtime pal Russell Brand described the British soul icon's undisputed talent. Achieving international fame after sweeping the 2008 Grammys with her breakthrough album Back to Black, Winehouse's musical acclaim was marred by her ongoing battle with drugs and alcohol addiction. The 27-year-old singer was found dead in her London on July 23, the result of accidental alcohol poisoning.
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The former first lady, who founded the world-famous Betty Ford Center for drugs and alcohol rehabilitation, passed away on July 8 from natural causes, at the age of 93. "She was a powerful advocate for women’s health and women’s rights," said President Obama in a tribute to the widow of the late President Gerald Ford. Though she was most known for crusading against the stigma of addiction, Mrs. Ford also worked tirelessly to promote women's rights, breast cancer awareness and the arts.
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Falk cemented his place in pop culture as the beloved yet absented-minded detective Columbo, a role he played for four decades and one that earned him four Emmys and legions of fans. "I think people identify with Columbo because he is an average man," said the actor, who passed away on June 24 at 83. Though he appeared in many films, including The Princess Bride and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Falk "struggled with loving Columbo, but also breaking away from it," according to his daughter, Catherine.
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The four-time Oscar nominee's directing career spanned more than 50 years and 40 films, including such iconic films as 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976) and The Verdict (1982). Six years before passing away from lymphoma at 86 in April 2011, Lumet received an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who starred in the director's final film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, said of Lumet, "He was a true master who loved directing and working with actors like no other."
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One of Hollywood's most iconic sex symbols, the brunette bombshell set the big screen alight in the 1940s and 1950s with The Outlaw and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, alongside Marilyn Monroe. After leaving movies to focus on music and family, the actress founded the Hollywood Christian Group gospel quartet and the World Adoption International Fund, after adopting three children with her first husband, Bob Waterfield. She passed away from respiratory complications at the age of 89 on Feb. 28.
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During an acting career that spanned more than 60 years, Robertson scooped a Best Actor Oscar for the 1968 drama Charly. He was reintroduced to audiences three decades later as Tobey Maguire's kindly Uncle Ben Parker in the recent Spider-Man trilogy. Described as "a loving father, devoted friend, dedicated professional and honorable man" by his daughter Stephanie Saunders, the actor passed away from natural causes at his home in Stony Brook, NY, on Sept. 10, just one day after his 88th birthday.
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Dubbed "Smokin' Joe" Frazier, the former world heavyweight champion set the boxing world alight with his world-famous win against the then-undefeated Muhammad Ali in 1971. "No one can hit as hard as Frazier," conceded Ali after his loss. When Frazier, 67, passed away on Nov. 7 after a short battle with liver cancer, Ali, his biggest foil in the ring, graciously said, "The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration."
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Conaway's scene-stealing performance as suave T-Bird Kenickie in 1978's Grease (alongside John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John) was his springboard to the popular '80s sitcom Taxi, playing cabbie Bobby Wheeler. After leaving the show, Conaway's life spiraled out of control as he battled cocaine, painkiller and alcohol addiction – all of which were documented in his 2008 appearance on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Unable to achieve sobriety, Conaway died on May 27 at age 60, days after being found unconscious in his home – the apparent result of pneumonia and physical damage from prolonged drug use.
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Dubbed "the father of the biggest health movement in the world" by Dr. Mehmet Oz, LaLanne lived to an inspiring 96 years old. The Californian fitness guru turned to healthy living at 15, opened America's first health club in 1936 and hosted his eponymous exercise TV show for 34 years. Known for his amazing feats of strength, like swimming to Alcatraz while pulling a 1,000-lb. boat, he passed away peacefully on Jan. 23 after developing complications from pneumonia.
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The former child star, who died on May 3 at 88, was the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actor Oscar at age 9 for 1931's Skippy. Though he didn't win the Academy Award, an adult Cooper went on to nab an Emmy for his directorial talents on M*A*S*H, and is best remembered for his performance in four Superman films as Clark Kent's gruff editor Perry White at The Daily Planet.
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Bruce Springsteen's legendary saxophonist, who died at age 69 of complications from a stroke, backed up The Boss in the E Street Band since the 1970s, playing on such hits as "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." "He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music," Springsteen said in a tribute to The Big Man.
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The Jackass star's off-the-wall stunts made him a star on MTV – that seemingly reckless abandon cut the daredevil's life short at age 34. On June 20, an intoxicated Dunn crashed his Porsche on a Pennsylvania highway, killing him and a friend. "Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn," Jackass co-star Johnny Knoxville Tweeted. "My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie [Cuturic]. RIP Ryan, I love you buddy."
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Sporting his signature red cowboy hat and electric-yellow sunglasses, "Macho Man" Randy Savage reigned alongside "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan in the wrestling boom of the '80s and '90s. The WWF star, who died at age 58 after suffering a heart attack in Tampa, Fla., had a larger-than-life personality in the ring that led to a memorable spokesperson gig for Slim Jim. "He had so much life in his eyes amp in his spirit," Hogan Tweeted. "I just pray that he's happy and in a better place and we miss him."
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Best known for his hit '90s single "Now That We Found Love," the larger-than-life hip-hop star influenced artists from Diddy to Jennifer Lopez with his uplifting music. "Heavy D is the person who gave me my 1st chance in the music industry," blogged Diddy shortly after the rapper (real name Dwight Meyers) collapsed outside his L.A. home on Nov. 8 at the age of 44. A self-described optimist, the musician left a fittingly upbeat final message for fans just hours before his death, Tweeting, "BE INSPIRED!"
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The prolific character actor, who played Violet Beauregard's father in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, lost his battle with cancer on Nov. 2, just one day before he would have turned 88. His career in television, film, and theater spanned over 50 years, but it was his dedication to his family that those closest to him remember best. "Being a parent and grandparent was a huge and wonderful part of his life," his granddaughter, Frankie Stone Solomon, told PEOPLE. "He was a really amazing man and a phenomenal grandparent."
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The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner lost his life on Oct. 16, shortly after sustaining fatal injuries in a horrific 15-car crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. One of Indy Racing's most popular stars, the 33-year-old British driver attributed his success to his dedication, once saying “I put everything into my racing, and I expect the same back.” Leaving behind a wife and two young sons, fellow Indy car driver Dario Franchitti called his good friend Wheldon "such a good guy."
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In an eerie prediction two weeks before his death, the former Weezer guitarist Tweeted, "dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today." On Oct. 8, the 40-year-old musician-turned-artist was found dead in a Chicago hotel room from an apparent drug overdose. Remembered by his alt-rock band mates as a "beautiful, creative, hilarious and sweet friend," the troubled musician played bass guitar with Weezer from 1998 to 2001.
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Known for his confrontational stand-up routines and appearances on Arrested Development and The Office, the 6-foot., 5-inch O'Neal made his last TV appearance at September's Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. On Nov. 28, the Boston comic passed away at the age of 41 after a diabetes-related stroke. "I will forever be inspired by his nobility, his grace and his epic talent," Sheen wrote in a tribute to O'Neal.
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Better known as Uncle Frank, Jimmy Kimmel's kooky uncle who was a fixture on his late-night talk show since making his debut in 2003, lost his battle with cancer on Aug. 23 at the age of 77. Two weeks after his death, a Kimmel gave Uncle Frank a tearful send-off, telling his studio audience, "Uncle Frank loved being a part of this show…And thanks to all of you who came to the show and watched, for indulging me and letting me put my crazy uncle on television.”
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The television actress almost passed up her most famous role as "Cha-Cha" DiGregorio alongside John Travolta in the 1978 iconic musical Grease. "I was working really hard to become an actress and didn’t want to be thought of as just a dancer," she recalled. Charles later switched careers to become a speech professor at California State University under her real name, Annette Cardona. She passed away on Aug. 3 at the age of 63, after suffering complications from cancer.
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Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong's 47-year-old estranged husband shocked family, friends and reality fans when he committed suicide on Aug. 15 at a friend's L.A. home. "Besides being upset about his divorce and its effect on his kids, he didn't show any outward signs of depression," his attorney, Ronald Richards, told PEOPLE in the wake of the tragedy. Four months after his death, his wife Taylor went public with her new memoir, Hiding from Reality, documenting the trauma she endured during their tumultuous marriage.
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Athlete-turned-actor Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith's impressive 6-foot, 7-inch physique brought him NFL glory when he won the 1971 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts. His imposing height also won him his most famous movie role, as mild-mannered rookie cop Moses Hightower in six Police Academy movies. Smith died Aug. 3 at age of 66 – the result of heart disease, high blood pressure and toxic levels of the weight-loss drug Phentermine found in his system.
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The handsome Welsh star of Spartacus: Blood and Sand announced his exit from the show in Sept. 2010, after suffering a recurrence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Whitfield succombed to the cancer on Sept. 11 at age 39. His wife, Vashti, told the AP the "beautiful young warrior" died in the "arms of his loving wife."
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Performing as Ashford amp Simpson alongside his wife, Valerie Simpson, Nick Ashford co-wrote some of Motown's most memorable hits, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand." "Being married is the best thing that ever happened to me," Ashford told PEOPLE in 1978 of the union that produced two daughters and an impressive musical legacy. The singer-songwriter passed away on Aug . 22 in New York City at age 70 after suffering complications from throat cancer.
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Morgan starred in iconic westerns High Noon and How The West Was Won, but it was his Emmy-winning role as Col. Sherman Potter in the popular and long-running TV series M*A*S*H that turned the Detroit-born actor into a household name. After his Dec. 7 death from pneumonia at age of 96, his daughter-in-law Beth Morgan told the AP he remained "humble" despite his success. "He was side-splittingly funny," she added. "A very gentle and loving father-in-law."
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The daughter-in-law of cosmetics entrepreneur, Estée Lauder, Evelyn Lauder forged her own impressive career, becoming a well-respected executive in the family firm. But Lauder will likely be remembered most for her philanthropy: as the founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, she raised breast cancer awareness with the pink ribbon campaign. "Her phenomenal work for breast cancer will never be forgotten," said Estée Lauder ambassador Elizabeth Hurley after her "wonderful friend" lost her battle with ovarian cancer on Nov.12 at the age of 75.
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