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The Oscar nominee and devoted dad was only 28 when he was found dead of an accidental overdose in his Manhattan residence on Jan. 22. The acclaimed actor left behind his daughter Matilda (with ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams), and a groundbreaking performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, which has many in Hollywood calling for a posthumous Oscar award.
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The gentle, blue-eyed Oscar winner had quietly battled cancer before succumbing to the disease Sept. 26 at his Westport, Conn., home. Newman left a legacy of more than 80 films (among them, The Hustler and The Sting) and impressive philanthropy (since '82 his Newman's Own brand has donated more than $250 million). But it was as a family man that he was celebrated most. Married 50 years to Joanne Woodward, he was remembered by his daughters as "a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special."
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After battling complications from pneumonia, the actor-comedian died on Aug. 9. Mac, who was 50 when he passed, suffered from sarcoidosis, which his sister-in-law Mary Ann Grossett told PEOPLE was in remission at the time of his death. Thousands mourned the comic at a Chicago memorial service – including his wife of more than 30 years, Rhonda, who told PEOPLE her grief .
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The whiskey-voiced actress – best-known as the wisecracking wife on '70s sitcom The Bob Newhart Show – died of respiratory failure at her Los Angeles home Jan. 19 at age 70. The actress – who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006 – passed away just two weeks before she was due to get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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Shortly after a family vacation in Rome with son Luke and wife Maureen, the Meet the Press host and NBC Washington bureau chief died on June 13. Russert, who was 58, went into sudden cardiac arrest after collapsing in his office. "This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice," Tom Brokaw announced in an NBC bulletin on the afternoon of his death. Said son Luke, 22, at his father's funeral, "My dad was my best friend."
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An Oscar nominee for The French Connection and All That Jazz, it was his iconic role as Chief Martin Brody in the 1975 horror hit Jaws – and its sequel – that made Scheider a household name. The actor was 75 when he died on Feb. 10, after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.
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Six years after announcing his diagnosis with Alzheimer's, the Academy Award winner and onetime president of the National Rifle Association died in his Beverly Hills home April 5 at 84. Longtime friend Dick Van Patten told PEOPLE, "He was just a nice man. I'm going to miss him very, very much."
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The Country Music Hall of Fame member died just a week shy of his 90th birthday on May 15 in a Nashville-area care facility. The singer was considered a pioneer to the "countrypolitan" sound, and was the first-ever winner of the Country Music Association's entertainer of the year award.
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A director, actor and producer, Pollack was renowned for his work both onscreen (Eyes Wide Shut, Michael Clayton and The Sopranos) and offscreen (he won the Oscar as director and producer of Out of Africa). After battling cancer for 10 months, the beloved Hollywood fixture died in his Pacific Palisades, Calif., home on May 26 at 73. "Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better," Michael Clayton star George Clooney said. "He'll be missed terribly."
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The soul music pioneer – whose 1971 "Theme from Shaft" won an Oscar – died from a stroke Aug. 10 in his Memphis home. The 65-year-old Hayes, known in recent years as the voice of "Chef" on South Park, suffered from high blood pressure." "While he was an iconic figure to many, to us he was husband, father and friend," his family said in a statement. "We will ever miss his love, wisdom, humor and the familiar comfort of his voice."
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A counterculture icon famous for his raunchy routines – including the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" – died at 71 from heart failure in a Santa Monica hospital on June 22. "The world is a big theater-in-the round as far as I'm concerned, and I'd love to watch it spin itself into oblivion," he told Playboy of his idea of the afterlife. "Tune in and watch the human adventure ... That's what I want heaven to be." While many fellow comics paid tribute to the trailblazer – "If there was ever a comedian who was a voice of their generation it was George Carlin," said Jay Leno – his daughter Kelly said, "I just know him as Dad. And what a dad he was."
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After a troubled youth that included arrests for drug possession and a stint in rehab, the Apt Pupil and The Client star was found dead on Jan. 15 at age 25. His death was later ruled an accidental heroin overdose. Renfro's former lawyer, Blair Berk, told PEOPLE, "All I did was cry when I heard the news ... We all failed."
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Beloved as the acid-tongued scene-stealer Sophia Petrillo on Golden Girls, Getty, 84, died on July 22 after a long battle with Lewy's Body Dementia, which has been described as a type of Alzheimer's disease. "She was loved throughout the world in six continents, and if they loved sitcoms in Antarctica she would have been loved on seven continents," her son Carl Gettleman told the Associated Press. "She was one of the most talented comedic actresses who ever lived."