Notable January deaths

Clockwise from top left
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Notable January deaths

This month, we lost one of baseball's greatest hitters, an iconic advice columnist, a young Internet activist and the man who introduced Elvis to the world. See gallery

Click through to read about these individuals and others who passed away in January.


Skip ahead to read about:


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Leroy Bonner

Died Jan. 27 (b. 1943)


Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (see photos) was a frontman and guitarist for the popular funk band the Ohio Players. Bonner teamed up with core members of the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players (hear their songs) in the 1960s, and the band wrote a string of Top 40 hits in the 1970s.



The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered "Love Rollercoaster" in the 1990s

Four of the band's singles and three albums reached gold record status

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Stanley Karnow

Died Jan. 27 (b. 1925)


Stanley Karnow (see photos) was an award-winning author and journalist best known for his highly regarded book, "Vietnam: A History." Karnow covered the Vietnam War for Time magazine, the Washington Post and other major publications in the 1970s.  



Cause of death
Karnow drew upon his experiences in a Pulitzer Prize-winning PBS documentary

Karnow reported on the first two American deaths in Vietnam

Sally Starr in 'The Outlaws Is Coming,' 1965 (Courtesy of the Everett Collection)
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Sally Starr

Died Jan. 27 (b. 1923)


Sally Starr, born Alleen Mae Beller (see photos), was a prominent celebrity television personality in the 1950s who also made a name in movies, on radio and on Broadway, and as a recording artist. She played a sharpshooter in the Three Stooges feature film "The Outlaws is Coming" in 1965.



Starr got her start on Philadelphia TV station WFIL
She was the first top-rated female DJ in the country


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Stan Musial

Died Jan. 19 (b. 1920)


Stan "The Man" Musial (see photos) was a Hall of Fame outfielder who spent his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. During his decorated career, Musial was a 24-time All-Star, won seven National League batting titles, was named MVP three times and won three World Series titles. 



Cause of death
Musial's good friend, John Wayne, urged him to do this
Two statues in St. Louis honor Musial

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Earl Weaver

Died Jan. 19 (b. 1930)


Earl Weaver (see photos) was a feisty manager of the Baltimore Orioles during their glory years. During his tenure (1968-1982, 1985-86), the Orioles won one World Series title, four American League pennants and six Eastern Division titles, topping the 100-win mark six times in the process. His No. 4 was retired by the franchise in 1982.


Cause of death

Weaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996

He was ejected from games 91 times

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James A. Hood

Died Jan. 17 (b. 1942)


James A. Hood (see photos), along with fellow student Vivian Malone, helped integrate the University of Alabama in the 1960s. Hood and Malone were two of the first African-Americans to enroll at the southern school in 1963. Gov. George Wallace initially blocked them from enrolling, but President John F. Kennedy federalized several hundred Alabama National Guard members, and Wallace allowed them entry. Hood left the university after just two months.



Hood returned to Alabama in 1999 to earn his doctorate degree

This PBS special chronicled Wallace's life

Hood later forgave Wallace for his actions

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Robert Chew

Died Jan. 17 (b. 1960)


Robert Chew (see photos) was an American actor best known for his role as rueful gangster "Proposition Joe" on the HBO show "The Wire."


Cause of death

The well-regarded stage actor taught at this Baltimore theater

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Pauline Phillips

Died Jan. 16 (b. 1918)


Pauline Phillips (see photos) was an advice columnist who introduced “Dear Abby” to the world. Starting in 1956, Phillips wrote a syndicated column that was published in more than 1,200 newspapers and read by 9 million people daily. 


Cause of death

Her twin sister also was an advice columnist

Phillips' pen name came from this biblical figure

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Conrad Bain

Died Jan. 14 (b. 1923)


Conrad Bain (see photos) was an American stage and film actor who played Philip Drummond on the popular TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." The series, a comedy which tackled race and social issues, aired for eight seasons.


Cause of death

The show's star died at the age of 42
This co-star died of a drug overdose

From left
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Eugene Patterson

Died Jan. 12 (b. 1923)


Eugene Patterson (see photos) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and civil rights activist. He was lauded for his tireless attention to the civil rights movement, eventually being inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2010.



Cause of death

Patterson read this column on CBS Evening News

Getting these documents into print also a landmark

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Tom Parry Jones

Died Jan. 11 (b. 1935)


Tom Parry Jones (see photos) was a Welsh scientist, inventor and entrepreneur who developed and tested the first electronic roadside blood-alcohol measurement device. The Alcolyser, through Jones' Lion Laboratories in Cardiff, Wales, was approved for police use in 1979 and marketed worldwide in 1980.



Jones earned this honor for his invention

Click here for 2012 statistics on drunken driving

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Aaron Swartz

Died Jan. 11 (b. 1986)


Aaron Swartz (see photos) was an American computer programmer, writer and Internet activist whose tragic death has been shrouded in controversy. He co-founded the social news and entertainment website Reddit, co-authored a specification of RSS and created the architecture for Open Library, among other achievements.




Circumstances of his death

Swartz was arrested for allegedly hacking academic articles

He co-founded a political action committee

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Claude Nobs

Died January 10 (b. 1936)


Claude Nobs (see photos) was co-founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the second-largest music festival in the world. (Which is the largest?) Originally a pure jazz festival when it opened in 1967, the event now features artists of nearly every music style and annually attracts 200,000 people.



Circumstances of his death

Nobs was a champion of this cause in Switzerland
See what people are saying on social networks

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Frank Page

Died Jan. 9 (b. 1935)


Frank Page (see photos) was an American radio personality who introduced Elvis Presley to worldwide audiences. Page was the voice of Louisiana Hayride, the state's version of the Grand Ole Opry radio show.



Cause of death

Page also helped launch this artist's career

Courtesy of PFLAG National
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Jeanne Manford

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David R. Ellis

Died Jan. 7 (b. 1952)


David R. Ellis (see photos) was an American stuntman and director best known for directing "Final Destination 2,""The Final Destination" and "Snakes on a Plane." He also was second-unit director on a number of well-known movies, including "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."



Circumstances of his death 
Ellis' most well-known stunts were in this movie

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Harvey Shapiro

Died Jan. 7 (b. 1924)


Harvey Shapiro (see photos) was a poet and longtime editor at The New York Times. As a poet, he used epigrammatic style to write about everyday things in his life.



Circumstances of his death
Shapiro suggested Martin Luther King Jr. write these

Click here to find some of his poems

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Richard McWilliam

Died Jan. 5 (b. 1953)


Richard McWilliam (see photos) was the chairman and co-founder of Upper Deck Company, which specializes in trading cards for major spectator sports. In 2005, McWilliam was honored as the sports collectible industry's "most influential" person of the past 20 years.



McWilliam had open-heart surgery in 2008
This card was the most-prized possession the year of Upper Deck's founding

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Pete Elliott

Died Jan. 4 (b. 1926)


Pete Elliott (see photos) was a football player and coach who later in his career served as the executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame for 17 years. As a player, Elliott was an All-American quarterback on the 1948 Michigan Wolverines squad that won the national championship.



Cause of death

Elliott was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994

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Sammy Johns

Died Jan. 4 (b. 1946)


Sammy Johns (see photos) was an American country singer-songwriter best known for his gold-record hit, "Chevy Van" (listen to his songs here). Johns also wrote a number of hits for other artists, namely Waylon Jennings and Conway Twitty.



This Johns single hit it big for Jennings

"Desperado Love" was Twitty's final gold record

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Tony Lip

Died Jan. 4 (b. 1930)


Tony Lip (see photos) was an American actor best known for his role as crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi on the HBO series "The Sopranos." Lip, born Frank Anthony Vallelonga, met Francis Ford Coppola while working at the world-famous Copacabana nightclub in New York City and wound up landing a small role in "The Godfather."  



See Lip's filmography

How did he get the nickname "Lip"?

Courtesy of the Blackwell family
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Charles W. Blackwell

Died Jan. 2 (b. 1942)


Charles W. Blackwell (see photos) was the first tribal ambassador from any Native American government to the United States. He served as ambassador of the Chickasaw Nation to the United States from 1995 until his death.



Blackwell helped revive tribes' diplomatic relations


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Ian McKeever

Died Jan. 2 (b. 1972)


Ian McKeever (see photos) was an Irish mountaineer, broadcaster and motivational speaker who once held the record for the Seven Summits Challenge. In 2007, he climbed the highest peaks on each of the seven continents in 156 days. Danish climber Henrik Kristiansen eclipsed that mark in 2008.



Cause of death

McKeever's 10-year-old godson summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 2008

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Ross “Satchel” Davis

Died Jan. 1 (b. 1918)


Ross “Satchel” Davis (see photos) was a pitcher in the Negro Leagues in the 1940s. Davis threw a no-hitter with Roy Campanella as his catcher.



Cause of death

Satchel Paige gave Davis his nickname

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Patti Page

Died Jan. 1 (b. 1927)


Patti Page (see photos), whose real name was Clara Ann Fowler, was one of the best-known female artists in traditional pop music. (Hear her songs.) Known for such hits as "Tennessee Waltz" and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window," Page sold more than 100 million records in her career.



Here's a look at Page's billboard chart history

Page will be posthumously honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award next month

Her work with Benny Goodman helped launch her career

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Barbara Werle

Died Jan. 1 (b. 1957)


Barbara Werle (see photos) was an American actress best known for her roles in "Seconds" and "Battle of the Bulge." Werle also appeared in a few movies starring Elvis Presley, including "Charro" and "Harum Scarum." (See her filmography.)



One of her children is a famous entertainment lawyer