Notable deaths of 2012

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Those we lost in 2012

This year we lost icons and mavericks, celebrities and sports figures. See gallery

The list includes the first man to walk on the moon, a fearsome NFL defensive player and a voice of an angel. Click through to read about notables who passed away in 2012.

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Norman Schwarzkopf

Died Dec. 27 (b. 1934)
Norman Schwarzkopf (see photos), widely known as "Stormin' Norman," was a US Army general who served as commander of coalition forces in the Gulf War. He is best known for commanding the US-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait in 1991. 


Search: Norman Schwarzkopf

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Fontella Bass

Died Dec. 26 (b. 1940)
Fontella Bass (see photos) was a soul singer who topped charts with her 1965 hit "Rescue Me" (hear it), which she also co-wrote.


Search: Fontella Bass

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Jack Klugman

Died Dec. 24 (b. 1922)
Jack Klugman (see photos) was a film character actor who played the ultimate everyman. As a pioneer of television, he is best known for portraying Oscar Madison on "The Odd Couple" (see clips) and the medical examiner on "Quincy, M.E." (see clips).


Search: Jack Klugman

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Charles Durning

Died Dec. 24 (b. 1923)
Charles Durning (see photos) was a highly sought-after supporting actor during his 50-year stage and screen career. He played everyone from a lusty Nazi colonel in "To Be or Not to Be" to Dustin Hoffman's would-be suitor in "Tootsie." (see clips). 


Search: Charles Durning

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Ravi Shankar

Died Dec. 11 (b. 1920)

Ravi Shankar (see photos), born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, was an Indian sitar virtuoso best known for his work with the Beatles’ George Harrison (hear his songs). Harrison organized the charity Concert for Bangladesh, at which Shankar participated, and the album garnered Shankar a second Grammy Award.




Search: Ravi Shankar

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Dave Brubeck

Died Dec. 5 (b. 1920)

Dave Brubeck (see photos) was an American jazz pianist and composer (check out his albums), considered one of the foremost exponents of progressive jazz. His best-known piece, “Take Five,” written in 1959, endures as a classic five decades later.




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Jovan Belcher

Died Dec. 1 (b. 1987)

Jovan Belcher (see photos) was an American football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. After not being selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, Belcher was signed by the Chiefs as a free agent in 2010 and eventually became a steady starter until his tragic end.




Search: Jovan Belcher

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Rick Majerus

Died Dec. 1 (b. 1948)

Rick Majerus (see photos) was a men's college basketball coach whose career spanned more than four decades. As the head coach at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis, Majerus compiled a record of 517-215. His best season was 1997-98, when he guided Utah to a national runner-up finish, losing to Kentucky in the title game.




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Héctor Camacho

Died Nov. 24 (b. 1962)

Héctor "Macho" Camacho (see photos) was a Puerto Rican boxer who held major championship belts in the super featherweight, lightweight and junior welterweight divisions. During his 30-year career, Camacho had many memorable fights, defeating Roberto Duran twice and knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard, sending the latter into permanent retirement.




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Larry Hagman

Died Nov. 23 (b. 1931)

Larry Hagman (see photos) was an American actor best known for his role as ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing (remember this famous quote?) on the popular 1980s TV soap opera “Dallas.” After making guest spots for years on TV, Hagman’s acting profile was raised when he was cast as Anthony Nelson in the 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie.”




Search: Larry Hagman

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Emily Squires

Died Nov. 21 (b. 1941)

Emily Squires (see photos) was an American television producer and director best known for her Emmy Award-winning work on “Sesame Street.” She also was nominated for 15 Daytime Emmys for her work on such programs as “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns.”




Search: Emily Squires

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Bernard Lansky

Died Nov. 15 (b. 1927)

Bernard Lansky (see photos), a men’s clothier in Memphis, Tenn., was instrumental in creating Elvis Presley’s signature look (see photos of the two together). In 2001, Lansky Bros. created a line of clothing titled “Clothier To The King,” which provides reproductions of clothing that Elvis (hear his songs) wore combined with 1950s-inspired clothing. A book released in 2010 chronicles the nearly seven-decade history of the iconic business.  




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Lee MacPhail

Died Nov. 8 (b. 1917)

Lee MacPhail (see photos) was a longtime front-office executive in Major League Baseball, serving as the American League president for 10 years, as well as in various capacities with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. He and his father, Larry MacPhail, are the only father-son pair to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, with Lee entering in 1998.




Search: Lee MacPhail

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Darrell Royal

Died Nov. 7 (b. 1924)

Darrell Royal (see photos) was the most decorated coach in Texas Longhorns football history. In his 20 years at the helm, he amassed a record of 167-47-5, which stands as the most wins in school history. Royal’s teams won three national championships (1963, 1969, 1970) and 11 Southwest Conference titles (the league dissolved in 1995).




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Natina Reed

Died Oct. 26 (b. 1979)

Natina Reed (see photos) was an American rapper, actress, singer-songwriter and beat boxer. For the past 13 years, she was a member of the R&B trio Blaque (hear their songs). 




Search: Natina Reed

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Russell Means

Died Oct. 22 (b. 1939)

Russell Means (see photos) was a leader in American Indian rights and the occupation of Wounded Knee. He later earned fame as an actor and became an increasingly visible activist.



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George McGovern

Died Oct. 21 (b. 1922)

George McGovern (see photos) was an American politician most notable for losing the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history. He also staged a brief nomination run in 1968 after fellow Democrat Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. After his failed presidential bid, McGovern held onto his U.S. Senate seat until 1981.




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Arlen Specter

Died Oct. 14 (b. 1930)

Arlen Specter (see photos) was an American politician who switched parties twice during his six decades in office. Specter was a moderate who represented the Democratic Party from 1951 to 1965, the Republican Party from 1965 to 2009 and finally the Democratic Party again for his final three years. Specter entered the 1996 presidential race briefly before suspending his campaign later to endorse Bob Dole.  




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Gary Collins

Died Oct. 13 (b. 1938)

Gary Collins (see photos) was an American film and television actor (see his filmography) and award-winning talk-show host. Collins served as the emcee of the Miss America pageant from 1982 to 1990 and won a Daytime Emmy for his work on “Hour Magazine,” which aired from 1980 to 1988.




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Beano Cook

Died Oct. 11 (b. 1931)

Carroll Hoff “Beano” Cook (see photos) was a college football historian and commentator who worked for ESPN for 36 years. (How did he get his nickname?) Often referred to as the “Cardinal of College Football,” Cook delivered his wisdom all over the ESPN media spectrum – ESPN News on TV, various sports radio shows and even a podcast.




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Alex Karras

Died Oct. 10 (b. 1935)

Alex Karras (see photos) was an American football player, actor and professional wrestler. He is best known for his role as Mongo in “Blazing Saddles” and as the father in the ABC sitcom “Webster.” Before his acting career, Karras played 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection in addition to being named to the 1960s All-Decade NFL team.




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Sammi Kane Kraft

Died Oct. 9 (b. 1992)

Sammi Kane Kraft (see photos) was an American recording artist, child actress and baseball player best known for her role as Amanda Whurlitzer (who player her in the original?) in the 2005 remake of “Bad News Bears.”



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Sahara Davenport

Died Oct. 1 (b. 1984)

Sahara Davenport (see photos) was an American drag queen (what was his birth name?), reality-television star, classically trained dancer and musician. Davenport was a contestant on the second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”




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Andy Williams

Died Sept. 25 (b. 1927)

Andy Williams (see photos) was an American singer who recorded 17 gold and three platinum records (hear his songs). Williams turned the Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini song “Moon River” into a massive hit, but since it was never released as a single it never emerged as a chart topper for Williams.  




Search: Andy Williams

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John Ingle

Died Sept. 16 (b. 1928)

John Ingle (see photos) was an American actor (see his filmography) notable for his role as scheming patriarch Edward Quartermaine in the soap opera “General Hospital.” After leaving “General Hospital” in 2004, Ingle joined the “Days of Our Lives” cast.       




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Dorothy McGuire

Died Sept. 7 (b. 1926)

Dorothy McGuire (see photos) was part of the American pop singing trio The McGuire Sisters (hear their songs). Two of their tunes reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, “Sincerely” in 1955 and “Sugartime” in 1957.




Search: Dorothy McGuire

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Art Modell

Died Sept. 6 (b. 1925)

Art Modell (see photos) was a former NFL team owner, businessman and entrepreneur. He owned the Cleveland Browns from 1961 to 1995, uprooted the franchise to Baltimore in 1996 – prompting a lawsuit – and was the Ravens owner until 2004.




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Michael Clarke Duncan

Died Sept. 3 (b. 1957)

Michael Clarke Duncan (see photos) was an American actor (see his filmography) best known for his breakout role in “The Green Mile.”  He received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor for his role as gentle giant John Coffey. (The movie was based on this book.)




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Neil Armstrong

Died Aug. 25 (b. 1930)

Neil Armstrong (see photos) was an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the moon. In July 1969, Armstrong embarked on his final spaceflight as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing (see videos). For their efforts, Armstrong and his crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon.




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Phyllis Diller

Died Aug. 20 (b. 1917)

Phyllis Diller (see photos) was a silver-tongued American comedienne and actress (see her filmography) whose career spanned 60 years. Best known for her wild hair and eccentric clothing, Diller performed tirelessly on the stand-up circuit, appeared in hundreds of TV specials and movies and did voices for several animated films.




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Tony Scott

Died Aug. 19 (b. 1944)

Tony Scott (see photos) was a British movie director and producer (full filmography) whose credits include “Top Gun” and “Beverly Hills Cop II.” He is the younger brother of Hollywood director Ridley Scott. The pair collaborated on various movies and TV shows, including “The A-Team” and “Numb3rs.”




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Helen Gurley Brown

Died Aug. 13 (b. 1922)

Helen Gurley Brown (see photos) wrote a groundbreaking singles book and rescued Cosmopolitan. She was the queen of lipstick feminism and an outspoken advocate.




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Joey Kovar

Died Aug. 17 (b. 1983)

Joey Kovar (see photos) was an American reality-TV star who made his mark on the 20th season of MTV’s “The Real World,” called “The Real World: Hollywood” in 2008. In 2010, Kovar appeared as a patient on the VH1 reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” for treatment of addictions to a variety of drugs




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Johnny Pesky

Died Aug. 13 (b. 1919)

Johnny Pesky (see photos) was a Major League Baseball player, manager and coach. Pesky was associated with the Boston Red Sox for 61 of his 73 years in baseball, leading to the right-field pole at Fenway Park being named after him. His No. 6 jersey also was retired in 2008.



  • Pesky was the first American League player to do this


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Marvin Hamlisch

Died Aug. 6 (b. 1944)

Marvin Hamlisch (see photos) was an accomplished American composer and conductor who was bestowed with numerous awards throughout his life. He was one of only 11 people to be awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, affectionately known as an EGOT. Not only that, but Hamlisch also is one of only two (who is the other?) to win those four and a Pulitzer Prize.




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Gore Vidal

Died July 31 (b. 1925)

Gore Vidal (see photos), an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays (see his filmography) and Broadway plays, honed his craft for seven decades. In 1960, the lifelong Democrat made a brief run at Congress, losing an election in New York’s 29th congressional district, a traditionally Republican region.




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Sherman Hemsley

Died July 24 (b. 1938)

Sherman Hemsley (see photos) was an American actor best known for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS sitcom “The Jeffersons.” (Remember its iconic jingle?) The show was a spinoff from “All in the Family,” in which Hemsley also played Jefferson.  




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Jon Lord

Died July 16 (b. 1941)

Jon Lord (see photos) was a British composer, pianist and Hammond organ player who co-founded the hard-rock band Deep Purple (hear their songs). Lord was a pioneer when it came to fusing rock with classical or baroque forms.




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Sage Stallone

Died July 13 (b. 1976)

Sage Stallone (see photos) was an American actor, film director, film producer and screenwriter (see his filmography), and son of actor Sylvester Stallone. Sage made his acting debut in “Rocky V” in 1990 alongside his father.




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Ernest Borgnine

Died July 8 (b. 1917)

Ernest Borgnine (see photos) was an American movie and television actor (see his filmography) whose career spanned six decades. Borgnine’s most-acclaimed role was in the 1955 film “Marty,” for which he won an Oscar, Golden Globe, National Board of Review award, BAFTA Award and New York Film Critics Circle Award for best actor.




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Andy Griffith

Died July 3 (b. 1926)

Andy Griffith (see photos) was an American actor (see his filmography), television producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer and writer. He is most renowned for playing the lead roles in the popular TV shows “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock,” spanning a total of 19 seasons between the two.




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Nora Ephron

Died June 26 (b. 1941)

Nora Ephron (see photos) was an American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director and blogger. She gained fame for writing the screenplays for “Silkwood,”“When Harry Met Sally …” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” earning Academy Award nominations for all three.




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Rodney King

Died June 17 (b. 1965)

Rodney King (see photos) was an African-American construction worker who became nationally known after being beaten with excessive force by Los Angeles police officers following a high-speed car chase in 1991. Four of the officers were acquitted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, leading to the 1992 Los Angeles riots (see photos), in which 53 people were killed.




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Bob Welch

Died June 7 (b. 1945)

Bob Welch (see photos) was a former guitarist of the rock band Fleetwood Mac (hear their songs) before enjoying a successful solo career (hear his songs). Welch resigned from Fleetwood Mac in 1974 and was replaced by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.




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Ray Bradbury

Died June 5 (b. 1920)

Ray Bradbury (see photos) was an American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery writer best known for his dystopian novel "Fahrenheit 451." Several of Bradbury’s creations have been adapted into television shows or films, including "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes."




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Richard Dawson

Died June 2 (b. 1932)

Richard Dawson (see photos) was an English-American actor and game-show host. He's remembered as the original host of "Family Feud," running the show from 1976 to 1985 and from 1994 to 1995. He also played Cpl. Peter Newkirk on "Hogan’s Heroes."




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Orlando Woolridge

Died May 31 (b. 1959)

Orlando Woolridge (see photos) was an American basketball player with a knack for scoring who spent 14 seasons in the NBA. He also coached the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks for two seasons and the ABA's Houston Takers and Arizona Rhinos for two more seasons.




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Doc Watson

Died May 29 (b. 1923)

Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson (see photos) was a seven-time Grammy-winning musician who delved in bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music (hear his songs). Blind as an infant, Watson later developed a flatpicking style (watch it here) of guitar playing that led a folk-music revival and influenced musicians such as Tony Rice (hear his songs) and Clarence White (hear his songs).




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Johnny Tapia

Died May 27 (b. 1967)

Johnny Tapia (see photos) was a boxer who held title belts in three divisions. Tapia went undefeated in his first 47 bouts and finished his career 59-5-2 with 30 knockouts.




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Donna Summer

Died May 17 (b. 1948)

LaDonna Adrian Gaines, who went by her stage name Donna Summer (see photos), was an American singer-songwriter (hear her songs) affectionately called the "Queen of Disco." At her peak, Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart. She charted four No. 1 hits in a 13-month period and won five Grammy Awards.




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Vidal Sassoon

Died May 9 (b. 1928)

Vidal Sassoon (see photos) was a British hairdresser, credited with creating the wedge bob (see photos). The style’s popularity allowed him to open the first chain of worldwide hair salons, which were complemented by his hair-treatment products.




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Maurice Sendak

Died May 8 (b. 1928)

Maurice Sendak (see photos) was an American writer and illustrator of children’s literature best known for his book "Where the Wild Things Are." (The book was adapted into a 2009 movie.) His book "In the Night Kitchen" regularly appears on the American Library Association’s list of "frequently challenged and banned books" because of its drawings of a young boy prancing naked.




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Junior Seau

Died May 2 (b. 1969)

Junior Seau (see photos) was a 10-time All-Pro linebacker in the NFL. Seau started for the San Diego Chargers for 13 seasons, being named to the 1990s All-Decade Team, and finished his career with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.




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Dick Clark

Died April 18 (b. 1929)

Dick Clark (see photos) was a TV and radio personality who hosted America's television’s longest-running variety show, "American Bandstand," and the iconic "Dick Clark’s Rockin' New Year's Eve." The ageless wonder often was referred to as "America’s oldest teenager."




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Mike Wallace

Died April 7 (b. 1918)

Mike Wallace (see photos) was an American journalist, game show host, actor and media personality best known as one of the original correspondents, along with Harry Reasoner, on CBS's "60 Minutes." Wallace's final "60 Minutes" interview was with retired baseball star Roger Clemens, who was accused of performance-enhancing drug use (hear the interview).




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Thomas Kinkade

Died April 6 (b. 1958)

Thomas Kinkade was an American painter (see his paintings) who characterized himself as "Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light." (He attributed the moniker to this painter.) Before his death, it was estimated that one in every 20 American homes owned a copy of one of his paintings.




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Earl Scruggs

Died March 28 (b. 1924)

Earl Scruggs (see photos) was an American musician (hear his songs) who perfected and popularized a three-finger banjo-picking style (watch videos) known as "Scruggs style," a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. Scruggs and Blue Grass Boys (hear their songs) and Foggy Mountain Boys (hear their songs) band mate Lester Flatt wrote the theme song for TV sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies" (hear the song).




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Davy Jones

Died Feb. 29 (b. 1945)

Davy Jones (see photos) was a British recording artist, actor and businessman, best known as a member of the pop group the Monkees (hear their songs). Among his acting credits, Jones played the Artful Dodger in "Oliver!"




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Trayvon Martin

Died Feb. 26 (b. 1995)

Trayvon Martin (see photos) was a Florida teenager who was shot and killed during an altercation with neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in a controversial case. (What are the latest developments?) Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in April.




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Jan Berenstain

Died Feb. 24 (b. 1923)

Jan Berenstain (see photos) was an American writer and illustrator who, along with her husband, Stan, created the children’s book series the "Berenstain Bears." The Berenstain Bears franchise included more than 300 titles and sold in excess of 260 million copies worldwide.




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Whitney Houston

Died Feb. 11 (b. 1963)

Whitney Houston (see photos) was one of the most-celebrated and best-selling music artists (hear her songs) of all time. She released six studio albums, one holiday album and three movie soundtrack albums (see them here), all of which reached diamond, platinum or gold certification. Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits.




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Angelo Dundee

Died Feb. 1 (b. 1921)

Angelo Dundee (see photos) was a boxing trainer and cornerman, most notably for Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Dundee was the cornerman in all but two of Ali’s fights. Dundee also worked with Sugar Ray Leonard.




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Joe Paterno

Died Jan. 22 (b. 1926)

Joe Paterno, aka "JoePa," (see photos) was a college football coach whose decorated career was tarnished when he was fired by Pennsylvania State University in what is regarded as one of college athletics’ greatest scandals: the child sex-abuse case involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse. (Paterno's 409 wins were reduced by 111 because of NCAA sanctions.



An appeal hearing in the Sandusky case is set for January

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Etta James

Died Jan. 20 (b. 1938)

Etta James (see photos) is a six-time Grammy Award-winning American singer who bridged the gap between blues and rock 'n' roll. (Hear her songs.) Rolling Stone ranked James No. 22 on its list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time."




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Sarah Burke

Died Jan. 19 (b. 1982)

Sarah Burke (see photos) was a Canadian freestyle skier who was a pioneer of the superpipe event. Burke successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to have the superpipe added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.




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Next slideshow: Biggest news stories of 2012

Biggest News Stories of 2012

Clockwise from top left; The scene of the mass shooting outside the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20; supporters of immigration reform rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 25; boats enter the port in front of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island on Jan. 21  & Barack Obama & Afghan President Hamid Karzai shake hands after signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on May 2.