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Neil Armstrong

Remembering notable people who died in 2012. See gallery

Aug. 5, 1930 - Aug. 25, 2012

The first man to set foot on the moon, pronouncing it "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," described himself as a "nerdy" engineer, but was heralded as a hero around the globe by the 600 million people who watched him. The moonwalk capped a series of accomplishments for Neil Armstrong that included piloting the X-15 rocket aircraft and making the first space docking during the Gemini 8 mission. He died from complications following cardiovascular procedures.

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Letitia Baldrige

Feb. 9, 1926 - Oct. 29, 2012 

Having served as the White House social secretary to John F. Kennedy, and as chief of staff for first lady Jacqueline Kennedy from 1961 to 1963, Letitia Baldrige was regarded as an authority on etiquette. After leaving the White House, Baldrige started her own marketing and public relations agency and was the author of more than 20 books. She died of cardiac complications at a nursing facility in Bethesda, Md.

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Maeve Binchy

May 28, 1940 - July 30, 2012

One of Ireland's most popular writers who sold more than 40 million books worldwide, Maeve Binchy was best known for her depictions of human relationships and their crises in best-sellers such as "Nights of Rain," "Tara Road" and "Scarlet Feather." Binchy also wrote for Gourmet Magazine, Modern Maturity and Good Housekeeping. Binchy died after a short illness.

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Ernest Borgnine

Jan. 24, 1917 - July 8, 2012

Perhaps best known for his role on television's "McHale's Navy," and the commanding officer in 1967's "The Dirty Dozen" alongside Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine began his six-decade career on the stage. He won an Academy Award for his role as a lonely Bronx butcher in the 1955 film "Marty." Borgnine died of kidney failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Read more:  Celebrities who died this year

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Ray Bradbury

Aug. 20, 1920 - June 5, 2012

Science fiction-fantasy master Ray Bradbury transformed his childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters and, in uncanny detail, the high-tech, book-burning future of the classic "Fahrenheit 451." Bradbury continued to write new novels, plays, screenplays and poems well into his 90s. Bradbury died peacefully after a lengthy illness.

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Andrew Breitbart

Feb. 1, 1969 - March 1, 2012

Conservative media publisher, columnist, commentator and activist Andrew Breitbart made a name for himself with his penchant for pushing the buttons of politicians and the mainstream media. Breitbart was central to the investigations that led to the resignations of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and former U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. He was also behind a video that embarrassed the community group ACORN when workers were shown counseling actors posing as a prostitute and pimp. Breitbart collapsed while walking near his home and later died.

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Dave Brubeck

Dec. 6, 1920 - Dec. 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck's career as a pioneering jazz musician spanned more than 60 years. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine. His exotic, challenging tempos helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and '60s club jazz. He died of heart failure on his way to a doctor's appointment.

Read more:  Jazz musician Dave Brubeck dies the day before his 92nd birthday 

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Helen Gurley Brown

Feb. 18, 1922 - Aug. 13, 2012

Helen Gurley Brown served as Cosmopolitan magazine’s editor from 1965 until 1997, and is widely credited with being the first to introduce frank discussions of sex into magazines for women. Few magazines before or since have been so closely identified with a single editor as Cosmopolitan was. As The New York Times put it, Brown was 90 when she died, but "parts of her were considerably younger." Brown died after a brief hospitalization at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia.

See more:  25 iconic Cosmo covers you've never seen before

See more:  Photos of Helen Gurley Brown

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Sarah Burke

Sept. 3, 1982 - Jan. 19, 2012

Sarah Burke was the best-known athlete in her sport and will be remembered for the legacy she left for women in freestyle skiing. She set the standard for skiing in the superpipe, a sister sport to the more popular snowboarding brand that has turned Shaun White, Hannah Teter and others into stars. She died after a traumatic crash during a training run in Utah.

Read more:  Tributes to Sarah Burke begin before Winter X games

See more:  Photos of Sarah Burke

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Hector Camacho

May 24, 1962 - Nov. 24, 2012

Former boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho died in November, four days after he was shot outside a bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Camacho held major championship titles in three different weight classes during his 30-year career.

Read more:  Ex-boxer "Macho" Comacho dead at 50 after shooting

See more:  Hector "Macho" Comacho through the years

Read more:  Hundreds bid goodbye to "Macho" Comacho

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Dick Clark

Nov. 30, 1929 - April 18, 2012

Dick Clark, the ever-youthful television host and tireless entrepreneur who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," also later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the year-end countdown from Times Square on "New Year's Rockin' Eve." Clark continued to perform even after suffering a stroke in 2004. He died of a heart attack at a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital.

Read more:  ABC to honor Dick Clark on New Year's Eve

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Charles Colson

Oct. 16, 1931 - April 21, 2012

Charles Colson served as special counsel to President Richard Nixon and was known within the administration as the "evil genius." Colson was indicted for his role in the Watergate cover-up, and spent seven months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the Watergate-related Daniel Ellsberg case. In prison, he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, bringing Bible study to inmates. Colson died from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage.


Charles Colson

Watergate scandal


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Beano Cook

Sept. 1, 1931 - Oct. 11, 2012

Former college football analyst Beano Cook joined ESPN in 1986 and was known for his quick wit, storytelling ability and a historical knowledge of college football that earned him the nickname "the Cardinal of College Football." Cook died in October from natural causes.

Read more:  Commentator Beano Cook dies at 81

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Don Cornelius

Sept. 27, 1936 – Feb. 1, 2012

“Love, peace and soul!” That was Don Cornelius’ signoff for 35 years as the host of “Soul Train,” which broke cultural ground in the United States by bringing black music and artists to mainstream television. The show, which ran from 1971 to 2006,  was a stage for singers such as Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson, who otherwise might have received less exposure. Cornelius also hosted David Bowie and Elton John. In recent years, he had faced marital troubles and health issues. Cornelius shot himself to death in February. He was 75.

Read more:  Don Cornelius brings the 'Soul Train' to a stop

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Gary Carter

April 8, 1954 – Feb. 16, 2012

Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter was a former catcher for the Montreal Expos and New York Mets and was an 11-time All Star. He won a World Series ring in 1986 as captain of the Mets. He was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, in his sixth year on the ballot after retiring in 1992. Carter died in February after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Read more: Carter's life was short, but intense

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Hal David

May 25, 1921 – Sept. 1, 2012

Hal David, the sophisticated lyricist who teamed with Burt Bacharach on dozens of signature pop songs of the 1960s, wrote a soundtrack for that decade with hits like “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” The Oscar- and Tony-winning songs penned by David, who died at 91 on Sept. 1, still resonate today, with artists such as Alicia Keys and John Legend recording his music.

Read more: Legendary songwriter Hal David dies

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Phyllis Diller

July 17, 1917 – Aug. 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller was instantly recognizable with her crazy cackle, wild blond hair and sleek cigarette holder. Her trademark humor centered on her looks and her fictitious husband “Fang.” A typical crack: "When I told Fang I was going to have my face lifted, he said, 'Who'd steal it?'" But the former housewife’s true cultural significance may have been in how her stand-up act blazed a trail for the female comedians who came after her. Diller died in August. She was 95.

Find:  Phyllis Diller

Related:  The 10 Funniest Female 'SNL' Alums



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Michael Clarke Duncan

Dec 10, 1957- Sept. 3, 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan, at a muscular 6 foot 4, seemed just right in the role of bodyguard for Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and other stars. But he turned to acting in his 30s and used his imposing figure to make a mark in such roles as his Oscar-nominated performance in “The Green Mile,” as a convicted murderer with remarkable healing powers. His prolific second career was cut short when he died on Sept. 3 following a heart attack in July. He was 54.

Read more:  Actor Michael Clarke Duncan dead at 54

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Angelo Dundee

Aug. 30, 1921 - Feb. 1, 2012

Famed boxing trainer Angelo Dundee was the cornerman for all but two of Muhammad Ali's fights. He also worked with other boxing champions such as Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman. Dundee was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. He died in February.

Read moreGallery: Angelo Dundee

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Nora Ephron

May 19, 1941 - June 26, 2012 

Nora Ephron, the best-selling author and director, was known for her rapier wit, with which she skewered herself as well as others. Ephron wrote and directed such hits as "Julie & Julia" and "Sleepless in Seattle.” Her books included the novel "Heartburn," a roman a clef about her marriage to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, and the essay collection "I Feel Bad About My Neck." She died June 26 at 71 of leukemia.

Read moreNora Ephron: Her life in films

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Robin Gibb

Dec. 22, 1949 - May 20, 2012 

Robin Gibb, with brothers Maurice and Barry, created the pop group the Bee Gees, synonymous with the disco era of the 1970s. With their falsetto vocals and throbbing beats, they filled clubs around the world with dance-floor classics such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should be Dancing.” Those songs epitomized the era and were part of the soundtrack for the iconic 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever,” in which John Travolta strutted to their hits. From 1977 to 1979, the Bee Gees had six No. 1 singles. Robin Gibb, who had cancer, died in May at 62.

Read more: Biography of Robin Gibb

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Andy Griffith

June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012 

In Mayberry, the sheriff didn’t carry a gun, everyone was family, and lessons were learned in acts of kindness. Andy Griffith presided over the fictional North Carolina town on “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960 to 1968. Griffith set the tone as beloved Sheriff Andy Taylor, who dispensed homespun wisdom and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. He told The Associated Press in an interview in 2007 that he wasn’t as wise as the sheriff, but "Andy Taylor's the best part of my mind. The best part of me.” Griffith also starred in the TV series “Matlock.” He died in July at 86.

Find: Andy Griffith

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Larry Hagman

Sept.  21, 1931 – Nov. 23, 2012

With his devious grin and ruthless charm, Larry Hagman embodied no-holds-barred capitalism as J.R. Ewing on the CBS evening soap “Dallas,” which ran from 1978 to 1991 and was popular worldwide. Hagman first gained fame as the besieged nice guy on “I Dream of Jeannie,” but his signature role was the scheming Texas oil baron, which he reprised this year in a new edition of “Dallas.” "I know what I want on J.R.'s tombstone," Hagman said in 1988. "It should say: 'Here lies upright citizen J.R. Ewing. This is the only deal he ever lost.'" Hagman died at 81 of complications from his battle with cancer.

Read more: Actor Larry Hagman, TV's JR Ewing of Dallas, dies

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Levon Helm

May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012 

Levon Helm helped turn a group of musicians that started as Bob Dylan’s backup band into one of rock’s most legendary acts. Known simply as The Band, the group mixed blues, rock, folk and gospel in songs like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," ''The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek." Helm, the band’s drummer and a singer, died of cancer at 71 on April 19.

Find: Levon Helm

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Sherman Hemsley

Feb. 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012

White folks had Archie Bunker and blacks had George Jefferson, an insufferable bigot who relished using the epithet “honky.” The man behind Jefferson was Sherman Hemsley, whose character started on “All in the Family” and moved to his own show, “The Jeffersons,” from 1975 to 1985.  The sitcom dealt with racial themes, but also reveled in George Jefferson’s arrogance and bravado. Hemsley used his considerable acting skills to create a character that reached across racial lines to entertain. He died in July at 74.

Find: Sherman Hemsley

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Whitney Houston

Aug. 9, 1963 - Feb. 11, 2012 

Whitney Houston, an international singing megastar listed by Guinness World Records as the most awarded female artist of all time, sold more than 170 million copies of her works during a wildly successful singing career in which she was popularly known as "The Voice."  She was the first artist with seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard hits. She also performed as an actor, debuting in the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard." Houston died Feb. 11 of accidental drowning at age 48.

Find: Whitney Houston

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Etta James

Jan. 25, 1938 - Jan. 20, 2012 

Etta James, a versatile rhythm and blues singer known for her huge range, tone and volume, rose to fame in the 1950s. Her hit recordings and performances over the years garnered four Grammy Awards and membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. James died Jan. 20 of complications from leukemia at age 73.

Read more: Etta James' album sales spike 378% since her death

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Davy Jones

Dec. 30, 1945 - Feb. 29, 2012 

Davy Jones became wildly famous in 1966 on "The Monkees," a TV sitcom about a pop music group. Though the series was broadcast for only two years, his boyish good looks and charm made him one of the most popular teen idols of all time, inspiring millions of lifelong fans. He continued to act, record and perform. Jones died Feb. 29 of an apparent heart attack at age 66.

Find: Davy Jones

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Alex Karras

July 15, 1935 - Oct. 10, 2012 

As a football player, former NFL defensive tackle and actor Alex Karras was named to the Pro Bowl four times after his 1958 debut with the Detroit Lions. He retired in 1970. Afterwards he turned to acting, where he is best known for his role as George Papadapolis, the father on the 1980s TV show "Webster." Karras died in October of kidney failure.

Read more: Alex Karras, former NFL lineman, actor, dies at 77

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Thomas Kinkade

Jan. 19, 1958 - April 6, 2012 

Thomas Kinkade, a prolific American painter of scenes known for glowing highlights and pastel colors, captivated millions of Americans with his work, which he mass marketed and licensed via his own company. During his life, he was purportedly known as America's most-collected living artist. Kinkade died April 6 of an accidental mix of alcohol and medication at age 54.

Find: Thomas Kinkade

Movies: 'Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage'

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Mary Kennedy

1960 - May 16, 2012 

Mary Kennedy, an architect and advocate of green design, married Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 1994. She was a strong supporter of treatment and research for food allergies and asthma. She had battled drug and alcohol problems, and was estranged from her husband, a son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968. She died May 16 at age 52.

Find: Mary Richardson Kennedy

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Sun Myung Moon

February 25, 1920 - September 3, 2012 

Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean who immigrated to the United States, led the controversial Unification Church, offering a mix of Christianity and ideas that provoked many to deride the church as a cult and its followers as "Moonies." He became a multimillionaire through diverse businesses and land purchases. Moon died Sept. 3 of complications from pneumonia at age 92.

Find: Sun Myung Moon


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George McGovern

July 19, 1922 - Oct. 21, 2012 

George McGovern, a World War II pilot who later served in both the U.S. House and Senate, lost his bid for president in 1972 as the Democratic Party nominee against President Richard Nixon, who won 520 electoral votes against McGovern's 17. He was a strong opponent of the Vietnam war, a champion of liberal causes and a constant voice in public affairs. McGovern died Oct. 21 of several health issues at age 90.

Read more: 1972 White House hopeful George McGovern dies

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Russell Means

November 10, 1939 - October 22, 2012 

Russell Means championed the rights of American Indians and gained notoriety in 1973 as a leader of the armed occupation of Wounded Knee, the South Dakota site of the 7th Calvary's massacre of the Sioux in 1890. He later appeared as an actor on television and in movies, including "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Natural Born Killers." Means died of cancer Oct. 22 at age 72.

Read more: Indian activist and "Mohicans" actor Means dies

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Art Modell

June 23, 1925 – Sept. 6, 2012

Art Modell, the former owner of the Baltimore Ravens, purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1961 for $4 million. The team resided in Ohio until the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1995. The Browns franchise was deactivated after the move and a new Cleveland Browns team started play in 1999. The Ravens won the 2001 Super Bowl, just three years before Modell would sell the team to minority owner Steve Bisciotti. Modell died in September from natural causes.

Read more: Former NFL owner Art Modell, 87, dies

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Joe Paterno

Dec. 21, 1926 - Jan. 22, 2012

One of the most successful college football coaches ever, "JoePa" spent 45 years as head coach for Penn State University, winning two national titles in 1982 and 1986. His legacy was tarnished when one of his assistants, Jerry Sandusky, was found guilty of sexually abusing children. Paterno was fired in November 2011, just months before his death. Paterno had a 298-136-3 record in his 45 seasons with the Nittany Lions, before 111 wins were vacated from his record due to the scandal, leaving him as the 12th winningest coach in NCAA history. After his death, the NCAA punished Penn State with the most severe sanctions it's ever handed down, including $60 million in fines, a bowl ban and loss of scholarships.

Read more: Penn State legend Joe Paterno dies at 85

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Johnny Pesky

Feb. 27, 1919 - Aug. 13, 2012

Former baseball player, manager and World War II veteran Johnny Pesky played shortstop and third base for the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators before retiring in 1954. He would later manage the Red Sox from 1963 to 1964 and 1980. The right field foul pole at Fenway Park in Boston is called "Pesky's Pole" in honor of him. Pesky died in August.

Read more: Red Sox legend Pesky, 92, dies

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Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

Aug. 3, 1923 - March 17, 2012 

Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria served for four decades as spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church for millions of followers in the Middle East. In 1973, he visited Pope Paul VI in Rome and signed a declaration of common faith, in the first meeting of Alexandrine and Roman pontiffs since 451. Pope Shenouda III died of cancer March 17 at age 88.

Find: Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

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Sally Ride

May 26, 1951 - July 23, 2012 

Sally Ride simultaneously became the first American woman and the youngest American to be launched into space in 1983 at age 32. After leaving NASA in 1987, she became the only person to sit on panels investigating both the 1986 Challenger explosion and the 2003 Columbia crash. She also co-authored six science books for children. Ride died of cancer July 23 at age 61.

Find: Sally Ride

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Darrell Royal

July 6, 1924 - Nov. 7, 2012

College Football Hall of Famer and former Texas coach Darrell Royal won three national titles (1963, 1969, 1970) while coaching the Longhorns from 1957 to 1976. He also coached at Mississippi State and Washington and for the Edmonton Eskimos before heading to Texas. Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin -- where the Longhorns play -- was named after him in 1996. Royal died in November.

Read more: Legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal dies

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Vidal Sassoon

Jan. 17, 1928 - May 9, 2012

Known for modernizing women’s haircuts in the late 1950s and 1960s, Sassoon rose to international renown for his signature “wash and wear” look. The native Londoner eventually built an empire with salons, products and celebrity clients, such as Mia Farrow, who sported a Sassoon pixie cut in “Rosemary’s Baby.” He was 84.

Find: Vidal Sassoon

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Junior Seau

Jan. 19, 1962 - May 2, 2012

One of the greatest linebackers to ever play in the NFL, Junior Seau took his life in May. Seau spent 13 seasons with his hometown San Diego Chargers, during 12 of which he was named to the Pro Bowl and was an eight-time, first-team All-Pro, before stints with Miami and New England in the later stages of his career. He appeared in two Super Bowls, leading the Chargers in 1994 and the Patriots in 2008, but would fail to win either game. He retired in 2009.

Read more:

Junior Seau, 43, found dead in apparent suicide

Hall of Champions to induct Seau


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Tony Scott

June 21, 1944 - Aug. 19, 2012

British film director and producer Tony Scott made Hollywood's A-list when he directed the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun." After that, his stock rose directing popular movies such as "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Days of Thunder," "Enemy of the State," "Spy Game," "Man on Fire" and most recently "Unstoppable." Scott died in August after taking his own life.

Read more: Tony Scott died from blunt force in LA bridge jump

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Earl Scruggs

Jan. 6, 1924- March 28, 2012

An innovator who pioneered the modern banjo sound, Earl Scruggs used new techniques to bring the banjo to the forefront as a lead instrument in country music. A North Carolina native, he became a Nashville regular playing with the likes of Bill Monroe and guitarist Lester Flatt. Scruggs and Flatt teamed up for the popular banjo theme song of “The Beverly Hillbillies” in 1962. He was 88.

Find: Earl Scruggs

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Maurice Sendak

June 10, 1928 - May 8, 2012

Author of the 1963 children’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak was a children’s book illustrator-turned-author. He lived to see his classic book become a film in 2009. Sendak grew up in Brooklyn and also was an adviser to the Children’s Television Workshop and “Sesame Street.” He died from complications of a stroke at 83.

Find: Maurice Sendak

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Anthony Shadid

Sept. 26, 1968 - Feb. 16, 2012

Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid died of an asthma attack while reporting in Syria. Shadid wrote for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Associated Press and others on the Middle East conflict for nearly two decades. The Oklahoma City native was 43.

Find: Anthony Shadid

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Yitzhak Shamir

Oct. 22, 1915 - June 30, 2012

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir served from 1983 to 1992. His term was marked by the Palestinian uprising against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and the 1991 Gulf War. He believed Israel should possess all of the biblical Holy Land. Shamir died in an Israeli nursing home at 96.

Find: Yitzhak Shamir

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Ravi Shankar

April 7, 1920 – Dec. 11, 2012

An icon of world music who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences, sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar became a musical hero to hippies in the 1960s through his close relationship with Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison. Shankar also pioneered the concept of the rock benefit with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. To later generations, he was known as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones.

Read more:

Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies

Norah Jones breaks silence on father Ravi Shankar's death

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Carroll Shelby

Jan. 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012

Legendary auto racer and car designer Carroll Shelby was the namesake of the Shelby Cobra sports car, and also helped redesign the Ford Mustang and Chrysler Viper. In addition to his racing career, the Texas native owned a racing team, operated safari tours and had a chili business. Shelby died at age 89, as one of the nation’s longest-living heart transplant recipients.

Find: Carroll Shelby

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Arlen Specter

Feb. 12, 1930 - Oct. 14, 2012

Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter was an outspoken Pennsylvania centrist whose 30-year career ended with a controversial switch from Republican to Democrat. He attracted media attention first with his involvement with the Warren Commission after President Kennedy’s death, and later with various Supreme Court candidates such as Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. He died at 82 from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Find: Arlen Specter

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Teofilo Stevenson

March 29, 1952 - June 11, 2012

One of Cuba's greatest boxers, Teofilo Stevenson is one of three Olympics boxers to win three gold medals, earning gold in the heavyweight division at the 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal and 1980 Moscow games. Stevenson died from a heart attack in June.

Find: Teofilo Stevenson

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Emanuel Steward

July 7, 1944 - Oct. 25, 2012

Boxing trainer and commentator Emanuel Steward trained 41 boxers who would go on to be world champions, including: Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Thomas Hearns. He died in October after undergoing surgery for diverticulitis.

Read more: Famed boxing trainer Emanuel Steward dies

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Donna Summer

Dec. 31, 1948 - May 17, 2012

The undisputed queen of disco and five-time Grammy winner Donna Summer topped the dance charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her many hits, such as “She Works Hard for the Money,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Hot Stuff,” defined an era. Summer continued to make music until 2008. Born LaDonna Andrea Gaines, Summer died at 63 after battling cancer.

Read more: Donna Summer dead at 63

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Gore Vidal

Oct. 3, 1925 - July 31, 2012 

American author, playwright, essayist and commentator, Gore Vidal was an outspoken liberal figure in the 1960s and 1970s, tackling everything from politics and literature to sex and religion. He feuded openly with Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley and others, and unsuccessfully ran for political office twice. He died at age 86 from complications of pneumonia.

Find: Gore Vidal

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Mike Wallace

May 9, 1918 - April 7, 2012

CBS newsman Mike Wallace was the merciless reporter and interviewer who took on politicians, celebrities and other public figures in a 60-year career highlighted by the on-air confrontations that helped make "60 Minutes" the most successful prime-time television news program ever. He was known for getting the truth out of people, sometimes through the controversial “ambush-style” interviews he pioneered. The Brookline, Mass., native began his news career in Chicago radio in the 1940s. He died at 93.

Find: Mike Wallace

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Kitty Wells

Aug. 30, 1919 - July 16, 2012

The first female country music star, Kitty Wells had her first No. 1 country hit in 1952, the first by a woman soloist. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” proved women could be headliners. Wells went on to record 24 more Top 10 country hits and garner numerous accolades. Born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, Wells took her stage name from an old folk song. She was 92.

Find: Kitty Wells

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Andy Williams

Dec. 3, 1927 - Sept. 26, 2012

“Moon River” crooner Andy Williams was part of the easy-listening, family-friendly soundtrack of the 1960s and 1970s with hits such as the “Love Story” theme and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” from his beloved Christmas TV specials. In the 1990s, he settled in Branson, Mo., and built his own theater where he performed for many years, bolstering the town’s reputation as an entertainment destination. Born Howard Andrew Williams in Wall Lake, Iowa, the singer died of bladder cancer at 84.

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Orlando Woolridge

Dec. 16, 1959 - May 31, 2012

Chicago's sixth overall pick in the 1981 draft, NBA journeyman Orlando Woolridge spent five seasons with the Bulls before moving on to the New Jersey Nets in 1986. He would play for seven different teams in his career, which ended in 1994. His best season was 1990-91 with Denver, where he averaged 25.1 points per game before he was sidelined for eye surgery after detaching his retina in a collision during a game. Woolridge died in May after a long battle with heart disease.

Read more: Ex-NBA player Woolridge dies at age 52

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Adam Yauch

Aug. 5, 1964 - May 4, 2012 

Adam Yauch co-founded the wildly popular hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, whose 1986 album "Licensed to Ill" became the top-selling rap album of the 1980s and the first to reach the top of the Billboard charts. Yauch also was deeply supportive of the movement for Tibetan independence from China, helping create the Milarepa Fund, an awareness and fundraising group. Yauch died of cancer May 4 at age 47.

Read more: Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys dead at 47

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Richard D. Zanuck

Dec. 13, 1934 - July 13, 2012

Richard D. Zanuck was the Oscar-winning producer of movies such as "Jaws," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Zanuck was the son of famed 20th Century Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck and was named by his father at age 28 as Fox's head of production, making him Hollywood's youngest-ever studio boss at the time. Zanuck died of a heart attack at his home.

Read more: Film producer Richard D. Zanuck dies at 77