Entertainment :: Culture

Final Goodbye: Roll Call of Some Who Died in 2012

by Bernard McGhee
Tuesday Dec 18, 2012
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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. Other scientists who died in 2012 included Lowell Randall, Martin Fleischmann, F. Sherwood Rowland, George Cowan and Bernard Lovell.

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. Others from the world of politics: Bill Janklow, Norodom Sihanouk, Charles "Chuck" Colson, Warren B. Rudman, Andrew Breitbart and Miguel de la Madrid.

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, Maurice Sendak, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Doc Watson, Richard Dawson, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, Don Cornelius, Jan Berenstain, 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.)


JANUARY:

Kiro Gligorov, 94. First democratically elected president of Macedonia who shepherded his nation through a bloodless secession from the former Yugoslavia and narrowly survived an assassination attempt. Jan. 1.

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.

Keith Little, 87. One of the most recognizable of the remaining Navajo Code Talkers, whose code helped confound the Japanese duirng World War II. Jan. 3.

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.

Bill Janklow, 72. As South Dakota’s attorney general, governor and congressman, he dominated the state’s political landscape for more than 25 years. Jan. 12. Brain cancer.

Manuel Fraga Iribarne, 89. Blunt-talking politician who founded Spain’s ruling conservative party and was the last surviving minister from Gen. Francisco Franco’s right-wing regime. Jan. 15.

Hulett C. Smith, 93. Former West Virginia governor who signed bills in the 1960s that abolished the state’s death penalty and implemented its first strip mining laws. Jan. 15.

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.

Jonathan "Jack" Idema, 55. Former Green Beret convicted of running a private jail in Afghanistan. Jan. 21. AIDS.

Roy J. Britten, 92. Pioneering molecular biologist who discovered the crucial fact that humans and animals have multiple copies of some DNA segments. Jan. 21.

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.

Theo Angelopoulos, 76. Award-winning Greek filmmaker known for his slow and dreamlike style as a director. Jan. 24. Killed in road accident.

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, 91. Heiress to a vast Gilded Age fortune built on tobacco and a member of the family that endowed Duke University. Jan. 25.

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.

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 93. Past president of Italy who held the post during the sweeping corruption scandal of the early 1990s that reshaped the country’s political landscape. Jan. 29.

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.

FEBRUARY:

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.

Jimmie Begay, 86. Navajo Code Talker who in World War II transmitted messages in a code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. Feb. 1.

Zalman King, 70. Actor and filmmaker who became known for his erotic work after writing and producing his breakthrough film "9 1/2 Weeks." Feb. 3.

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.

Florence Green, 110. Last known veteran of World War I. Feb. 4.

John Fairfax, 74. First known person to row alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Feb. 8.

Jill Kinmont Boothe, 75. Skiing champion who became a painter and a teacher after she was paralyzed during a race and was the subject of a book and two Hollywood films. Feb. 9.

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.

Mohammed Lamari, 73. General who led Algeria’s military during a decade of civil war that crushed Islamic rebel groups. Feb. 13.

Charles Anthony, 82. Character singer who set the record for most appearances at the Metropolitan Opera - 2,928 - during a career that spanned from 1954 to 2010. Feb. 15.

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.

Jan Berenstain, 88. With her husband, Stan, she wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers for 50 years. Feb. 24.

Dennis Gomes, 68. Co-owner of the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., and a former mob-busting Las Vegas prosecutor whose exploits were chronicled in the movie "Casino." Feb. 24. Complications from kidney dialysis.

Erland Josephson, 88. Swedish actor who collaborated with legendary film director Ingmar Bergman in more than 40 films and plays. Feb. 25.

Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, 90. Veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." Feb. 25.

Edna Milton Chadwell, 84. Last madam of the Chicken Ranch brothel, which inspired the movie and Broadway show "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Feb. 25.

William Hamilton, 87. Theologian who was a member of the Death of God movement of the 1960s that reached its peak with a Time Magazine cover story. Feb. 28.

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.

MARCH:

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.

Ralph McQuarrie, 82. Artist who developed the look of the first "Star Wars" trilogy’s signature characters, sets and spaceships. March 3.

William Heirens, 83. Dubbed the "Lipstick Killer" after three murders in Chicago in the 1940s, he became Illinois’ longest-serving inmate. March 5.

Robert B. Sherman, 86. Songwriter who wrote "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in "Mary Poppins" and other songs for Disney classics. March 5.

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.

Minoru Mori, 77. Property tycoon who was one of Japan’s most influential developers and built China’s tallest building. 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.

Jean Giraud, 73. French comics artist known by fans from Hollywood to Japan as Moebius and the creator of unsettling, eye-opening fantasy worlds in print and on film. March 10.

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.

Censu Tabone, 98. Former Malta president who hosted a U.S.-Soviet summit that declared an end to the Cold War. March 14.

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.

Pope Shenouda III, 88. Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt’s Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims. March 17.

Chaleo Yoovidhya, in his 80s. Self-made Thai billionaire who introduced the world to "energy drinks" and co-founded the Red Bull brand. March 17.

King George Tupou V, 63. Tonga’s king, who gave up most of his powers to bring a more democratic government to his Pacific island nation. March 18.

Lincoln Hall, 56. Mountaineer who was rescued a day after being given up for dead near the summit of Everest in 2006. March 21. Cancer.

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.

Larry Stevenson, 81. Skateboard maker who helped take the pastime from an early 1960s kids’ gimmick to a professional sport. 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.


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