Remembering the Stars We Lost This Year
Known simply as The Voice, Houston ruled the '80s and '90s pop charts with such hits as "The Greatest Love of All," "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." But the troubled star, whose personal struggles with addiction and tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown often overshadowed her talent, will best be remembered for her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" – the mega-selling track from her 1992 film debut in The Bodyguard. Fittingly, it was that Houston classic that played nearly 20 years later during her funeral at her childhood church in Newark, N.J., where the 48-year-old was laid to rest a week after being found dead from accidental drowning in the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11.
Armstrong's own words – "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" – aptly summed up the NASA astronaut's historic Apollo 11 journey to the moon with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On July 20, 1969, more than half a billion people watched as Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the Moon. Despite the enduring attention he received for his space mission, the modest Ohio native preferred to live his life outside the spotlight, taking a teaching post at the University of Cincinnati after his retirement from NASA. Following his Aug. 25 death at age 82 of complications from heart surgery, President Obama said Armstrong "delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.
The TV legend, who crystallized the idyllic American small town in his eponymous hit series, died of a heart attack July 3 at the age of 86. On his long-running show, Griffith played wise patriarch, sheriff Andy Taylor, the foil to the antics-filled Don Knotts. Decades later, Griffith continued to have success on the small screen with his title role in the courtroom series Matlock. "His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations and shaped my life," said director Ron Howard, who played his son Opie on the The Andy Griffith Show. "I'm forever grateful."
Best known for his iconic role as lovable villain J.R. Ewing on the popular '80s primetime soap Dallas, Hagman also costarred with Barbara Eden as the astronaut Major Anthony Nelson on NBC's popular I Dream of Jeannie, which ran for five seasons starting in 1965. But it was his portrayal of the scheming oilman on Dallas, a role he recently reprised on the TNT reboot of the show, that made him an international sensation – one who "was loved by everyone," his agent Joel Dean tells PEOPLE. Among those were Hagman's dear friends and Dallas costars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy, who said of his friend, who passed away Nov. 23 after a battle with throat cancer at the age of 81, "Friday, I lost one of the greatest friends ever to grace my life."
One-third of the seminal rap group the Beastie Boys, Yauch – simply known as MCA – died May 4 after a long battle with cancer at age 47. Along with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, Yauch put out groundbreaking albums, including Licensed to Ill (the first-ever rap album to reach No. 1), Paul's Boutique, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty. When not recording, he threw himself into the Free Tibet movement, organizing several benefit concerts for the cause. "Adam was incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist who I loved dearly," music mogul Russell Simmons said. "I was always inspired by his work. He will be missed by all of us."
"She was a true pioneer," Diller's longtime agent Fred Wostbrock told Entertainment Weekly of his client, who died Aug. 20 at her Brentwood, Calif., home. She was 95. Diller, an Ohio housewife whose fledgling act got a huge boost from Bob Hope, was the first woman to make it to the top in comedy thanks to her trademark wild hair, bizarre outfits and rapid-fire cracks about her own unconventional looks and housekeeping skills. "The only thing domestic about me is that I was born in this country," she often quipped. Diller is survived by three children.
The master of the hard-nosed TV interview and a longtime stalwart on 60 Minutes, Wallace died in Connecticut on April 7 at age 93. Throughout his 38-year tenure on the top-rated news show, the celebrated journalist cut down the famous and mighty with pointed questions, taking on everyone from President Nixon and Barbra Streisand to Big Tobacco. Wallace earned 21 Emmys, the last for an exclusive interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he scored after he retired in 2006. "Mike was an old school journalist and one of the most astute people I've ever met," former first lady Nancy Reagan said. "The news business will be a different place now."
MICHAEL CLARK DUNCAN
Two months after being treated for a heart attack, Clark Duncan died Sept. 3 in Los Angeles at age 54. The 6 ft., 5-in., 300-lb. actor worked as a bodyguard to stars including Jamie Foxx and Will Smith before his breakout role in the Green Mile, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1999. He also appeared in such films as Sin City, Daredevil and Planet of the Apes. "I am terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike," costar Tom Hanks said. "He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of The Green Mile He was magic. He was a big love of man and his passing leaves us stunned." Duncan is survived by his fiancée, former Apprentice reality star Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
The former Democratic presidential candidate lost to Richard Nixon in the 1972 election, but is remembered for having helped spark Watergate. After earning a Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II, McGovern become a name in national politics, serving three terms as senator from his home state of South Dakota before receiving the Democratic nomination for President. At a time when the nation was divided over the Vietnam War, McGovern vowed to end the conflict, stating, "I am here as your candidate tonight in large part because during four administrations of both parties, a terrible war has been chartered behind closed doors. I want those doors opened and I want that war closed." After reportedly being in failing health, the 90-year-old passed away on Oct. 21.
The Grammy-winning blues singer, who gave the world the most popular version of "At Last," died of complications from leukemia at age 73 on January 20. James's songs of pain and eventual triumph mirrored her own life, which was marked by a troubled childhood, early showbiz success, drug addiction and run-ins with the law. Beyoncé, who portrayed the Matriarch of RampB in the 2008 film Cadillac Records and covered her classic song at President Obama's inaugural ball, paid tribute to the late singer, saying: "Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen."
Before there was Justin Bieber, there was Davy Jones, the British-born lead singer of the made-for-TV pop group the Monkees whose chart-topping hits "Daydream Believer" and "A Little Bit me, A Little Bit You" turned him into a '60s teen heartthrob. With his boundless energy, Jones performed just two weeks before his Feb. 29 death at 66 of a heart attack near his home in Florida. Fellow Monkee Peter Tork said of his friend, "Some of my best heart-to-heart moments have been with him. And he was a tremendous presence and a world-class performer." Jones is survived by his wife, Jessica Pacheco-Jones, and four daughters.
A familiar TV figure throughout the '80s as both an actor and show host, the 74-year-old resided in Biloxi, Miss., prior to his death from natural causes on Oct. 13. Known for his all-American looks, Collins starred in three short-lived TV series and made a number of guest appearances on successful shows like Perry Mason, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Love Boat and Charlie's Angels. Best known as the host of the syndicated Hour Magazine – for which he won an Emmy in 1983 – and emcee of the Miss America Pageant from 1982 to 1990, Collins was married to a former Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley, from whom he separated in 2011.
The mass-marketed painter created images of peaceful glens, slumbering small towns, Christian steeples and cozy cottages, amassing a fortune with an estimated 1 in every 20 Americans having his artwork in their home. "There's been million-seller books and million-seller CDs," said Kinkade, who died at age 54 on April 6 of an accidental overdose. "But there hasn't been, until now, million-seller art. We have found a way to bring to millions of people an art that they can understand."
Without Ephron, we wouldn't have seen Meg Ryan's mock orgasm in When Harry Met Sally, or Tom Hanks falling in love atop the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle, or Meryl Streep cooking up a delectable portrayal of Julia Child in Julie amp Julia. As a journalist, author, playwright, screenwriter and director, Ephron recast the way cinema perceived the modern American woman – with intelligence, tears and laughs. "Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, ‘Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?'" Streep said of her beloved director and friend, who died of leukemia on June 26 at age 71.
Affectionately called Joe Pa, the legendary Penn State football coach succumbed to lung cancer on January 22, dying at the age of 85 in the "Happy Valley" where he reigned for nearly five decades – State College, Pa. Revered in college football, Paterno held a still-unbroken record for the most Division I victories (409) and bowl-game (24) wins in history, but his last year as coach was darkened when he was forced from the position he held for 46 years as a result of a scandal involving his longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys.
The award-winning director of Top Gun died Aug. 19 after jumping off a bridge into Los Angeles Harbor. He was 68. Scott – the younger brother of director Ridley Scott – was best known for helming big-budget films with A-list actors, including Days of Thunder, also starring Tom Cruise, and Crimson Tide and Unstoppable, which featured frequent collaborator Denzel Washington. With his brother, he also built the production studio behind CBS hits The Good Wife and Numb3rs. "He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable," Cruise said of his 'dear friend." Scott is survived by his wife and twin sons.
The gravel-voiced character actor, known to mainstream audiences as sad-eyed porn kingpin Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski, died of pancreatic cancer on February 3 at the age of 81. The New York-born actor made a name for himself in the 1950s as Brick in the original theater run of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and as a soldier accused of homicide in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. A decade later he earned two Emmy nods for his role in NBC's Run for Your Life, before starring in three acclaimed John Cassavetes films in the 1970s, including The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night. In 2002, Gazzara finally won an Emmy for Hysterical Blindness, an HBO movie costarring Gena Rowlands, who said of her frequent collaborator: "It breaks my heart to have this era come to an end. Ben meant so much to all of us."
The creator of Soul Train forever changed America's television and music scenes in 1971, when he launched the successful syndicated series as a way to introduce mainstream Americans to soul music. For 22 years Cornelius served as the show's producer, writer and host, coining the catchphrase "We wish you love, peace and soul!" and helping launch music stars like Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and James Brown. Cornelius, who was plagued by health and legal issues in his later years, committed suicide in his Los Angeles home on February 1 at the age of 75. "Don Cornelius single handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood … with the unforgettable creation of Soul Train," Franklin said.
The brunette actress, most known for playing Scarlett O'Hara's little sister Carreen in Gone With the Wind, died June 11 at age 94. Rutherford was a regular leading lady in Westerns throughout the 1930s and found success as Mickey Rooney's loyal girlfriend in the Andy Hardy movie series. Of her bit part in Gone, Rutherford said in 1979, "[I] would have carried a basket of cotton to be in it," adding that the film was her "passport to the world."
At 27, King, a part-time laborer at Dodger Stadium, was struck 56 times by LAPD officers in 1991 – all caught on videotape for the world to see. But it was the acquittal of the four officers that sparked the South Central, Calif., race riots – which was the worst rioting in recent U.S. history. "Can we all get along?" famously pled King, who suffered brain damage from the beating and was later awarded $3.8 million in a civil trial. Twenty years later, after a life filled with tabloid drama, from DUI arrests to rehab stays, King, 47, was found dead in his swimming pool on June 17.
The science-fiction master, who contemplated a future world without books in his best-known work Fahrenheit 451, died June 5 at the age of 91. Bradbury was credited with helping bring sci-fi to the masses and went on to earn an Emmy Award and a special citation from the Pulitzer Board for his writing. "He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career," filmmaker Steven Spielberg said. "He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal."
Oscar-winning actress Celeste Holm, who played bright, sharp-tongued women who often got the last word but rarely got the man, died July 15 in New York City at age 95. Holm got her start as the fun-loving Ado Annie in the original Broadway production of Oklahoma!, but earned her Academy Award for 1947's Gentleman's Agreement, a drama about anti-Semitism. In tribute to the actress, the marquees of all Broadway theaters were dimmed three days after her death.
Deemed the Godfather of Go-Go, Brown dominated the thriving Washington, D.C., music scene in the 1960s and 1970s, and is best remembered for the 1979 song "Bustin' Loose" – which was sampled in rapper Nelly's 2002 hit "Hot in Herre." "It's about love, the communication between performer and audience," said Brown, who died at 75 after suffering from pneumonia on May 16. "When you're on stage, the people put that love to you and you give it back. There's no other music like it."
Dawson commanded the survey board on Family Feud for a decade and served time in Stalag 13 for six years on Hogan's Heroes. On the former, his signature move was to kiss every female contestant on the lips – so it came as little surprise when he married one of them, Gretchen Johnson, with whom he had a daughter. The game show host died at age 79 of esophageal cancer on June 2. "We used to have such fun," Betty White, Dawson's frequent co-panelist on Match Game, said after his death.
Best known as short-fused neighbor Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives (for which she won two Emmys) and take-no-guff presidential secretary Mrs. Landringham on The West Wing, Joosten was revered for her sharp-tongue, lovable nature and resilience. "So far, I am a cancer survivor, but cancer will be with me for the rest of my life, be it as a nodule, tumor or cell someplace, or in my fears and anxieties," the actress, a spokeswoman for cancer patients, wrote in 2011 – a year before her death from lung cancer at age 72 on June 2. "Therefore I've decided that I am 'living with cancer.'"
An icon of the disco era and one-third of the musical group the Bee Gees, Gibb died May 20 after a struggle with colorectal cancer at 62. The British-born, Australian-raised singer formed the musical group that brought him fame with older brother Barry and twin brother Maurice in 1958, creating such hits as "Saturday Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive," and "You Should Be Dancin'" and earning nine Grammy Awards. At Gibb's funeral, brother Barry – the only surviving Gibb brother – was overcome by the hundreds of fans who came to say goodbye: "The three of us have seen a lot of crowds but I've never seen so much love in one crowd as I'm looking at today – for Rob, you know, for the music."
HELEN GURLEY BROWN
The iconic Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief who helped usher in a sexual revolution of the 1960s with her monthly magazine for "fun, fearless females" died Aug. 13 in New York City. She was 90. Best known as the author of Sex and the Single Girl when she took over Cosmo in 1965, Brown reinvigorated the periodical by making it relevant to women who wanted to take pleasure in sex and enjoy work. "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere," Brown once said. "She lived every day of her life to the fullest and will always be remembered as the quintessential 'Cosmo girl,'" said Frank A. Bennack, Jr., CEO of Hearst Corporation. She will be greatly missed."
The blind bluegrass and folk musician was heralded as a guitar genius at the flat-picking playing style, earning seven Grammy awards and a National Medal of Arts in 1997 from President Bill Clinton. "There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn't at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson," Clinton said of Watson before his death on May 29 at age 89.
The Alabama character actor, better known to audiences as TV's Goober Pyle, died at age 83 on May 6. Lindsey, who played the amiable, dimwitted auto mechanic on three series (The Andy Griffith Show; its successor, Mayberry, R.F.D.; and the variety show Hee-Haw) used his fame to raise funds for the Special Olympics and students at the University of North Alabama. "I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, 'I love you,'" said costar Andy Griffith, who died a month after his friend. "That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other: 'I love you.' "
Best known to audiences as nasally voiced underachiever Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter, Palillo died of an apparent heart attack on Aug. 14 at his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. He was 63. Following his successful run on Kotter from 1975-79, Palillo suffered a crippling depression and agoraphobia that left him in seclusion for years. But in the last years of his life, he rediscovered stage acting and taught drama at a Florida-based school of the arts. "Ron was a wonderful person and talent," Palillo's Welcome Back, Kotter costar John Travolta said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. "We will miss him."
On General Hospital Edward Quartermaine was a Machiavellian CEO who ruthlessly manipulated friend and foe alike. In real life, the actor who portrayed him for two decades was a philanthropist, beloved family man, and treasured member of the soap opera's cast. Ingle died on Feb. 16 at his California home at the age of 84. He had been battling cancer, according to reports. He took over the role of Quartermaine in 1993, and grew so popular that producers were forced to cancel plans to kill off the character in 2003. "We love him and will miss him. John will always be a part of the #GH family," Tweeted executive producer Frank Valentini.
A children's book author who urged children to embrace the monsters that populate their imaginations, Sendak became an institution in 1963 when he published Where the Wild Things Are. "I don't believe in children. I don't believe in childhood. I don't believe that there's a demarcation," the Brooklyn-born writer and illustrator – who died at age 83 on May 8 – said of his work. "'Oh you mustn't tell them that. You mustn't tell them that.' You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it's true. If it's true, you tell them."
As the Queen of Disco, Summer set feet dancing, hips swaying and fingers pointing in nightclubs across the country with songs like "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and "She Works Hard for the Money." Over the course of her four-decade career, which spanned pop to disco to rock, the stunning singer won five Grammys before her May 17 death at age 63 from non-smoking-related lung cancer. "She had an amazing voice and was so talented," praised Barbra Streisand, with whom Summer dueted on "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)."
A medal-winning World War II Navy vet, the burly Borgnine turned early roles as movie villains – as in 1951's From Here to Eternity – into more sympathetic turns that suited his affable, bigger-than-life personality, which he exhibited in the 1960s series McHale's Navy. In 1955, he won the Best Actor Academy Award for Marty, but audiences today will remember him best for 1972's The Poseidon Adventure and as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants's Mermaid Man. "Somebody said there was no such thing as small roles; only small actors," said Borgnine – who died July 8 at age 95. "I think it was Mickey Rooney. Anyway, it ain't true."
A radio deejay who thrived in the transition to TV, Clark used his 30-year role as master of American Bandstand to introduce much of America to rock 'n' roll – as well as such musical luminaries as Little Richard and Chuck Berry. From 1972 on, he was the host of New Year's celebrations in New York via broadcasts of his annual countdowns in Times Square. Even a massive stroke in 2004 couldn't stop Clark from joining the party. On April 18, the ever-smiling TV icon died of a heart attack at the age of 82. "I know this guy – he's in a better place, saying, 'Hey, let's get on with the show, okay?'" Clark's mentee and New Year's Rockin' Eve successor Ryan Seacrest said after his passing.
"Moon River" propelled Williams to music stardom in the early '60s, marking the height of a decades-long career with 17 gold and three platinum records to his name. He started singing in his family's church choir with older siblings Bob, Dick and Don, and eventually formed the Williams Brothers quartet. Following their 1952 breakup, Williams's solo career took off with his romantic rendition of "Moon River," the 1961 Oscar winner for Best Song from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. The hit recording led to his own NBC series, The Andy Williams Show, which remained on the air until 1971, and then returned as an annual Christmas special. The 84-year-old died at his home in Branson, Mo., following a battle with bladder cancer.
The veteran TV, movie and theater actor was best known for his roles on The Odd Couple and Quincy, M.E. A Philadelphia native, Klugman began acting in college, and later appeared in the all-star courtroom drama film 12 Angry Men and the original production of the Broadway musical Gypsy. But his most iconic character was The Odd Couple's Oscar Madison, the sloppy foil to Tony Randall's neatnik Felix Unger, in ABC's TV adaptation of the smash Neil Simon play and movie, which aired from 1970 to 1975. Though Klugman had lost his voice to throat cancer in 1980, he taught himself to speak again through breath control before passing away on Dec. 24 at the age of 90. "He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam Klugman said.
A versatile character actor since the mid-1970s, perhaps Durning's best training was his background as jack of all trades. Besides teaching ballroom dance and singing on the radio, he was an usher in a burlesque house, which led to on-stage appearances as a comedian. Durning was also a World War II hero and the only member of his Army patrol to survive the Battle of the Bulge, with the Purple Hearts to prove it. Post-war, he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside Jason Robards and Grace Kelly. A string of off-Broadway roles followed, until he landed a break as the corrupt cop in The Sting. Also among the Oscar nominee's credits: The showstopping governor in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Dustin Hoffman's love-smitten suitor in Tootsie and Warren Beatty's law-enforcement boss in Dick Tracy. Durning died of natural causes at age 89 at his N.Y.C. home on Dec. 24.
GEN. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF
The Army general who commanded coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, H. Norman Schwarzkopf became a familiar face from his many press conferences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Known as "Stormin' Norman" for his volcanic temper, the decorated Vietnam War combat soldier led the charge to drive Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded, with relatively few coalition casualties (though the Iraqi leader remained in power). After the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf became a TV military analyst, delivered occasional speeches and went into retirement in Florida to write his memoirs, It Doesn’t Take a Hero. Former president George H.W. Bush said in a statement that Schwarzkopf was a "true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation." He died Dec. 27 at age 78.