By Monica Land
The year 2012 was filled with highs and lows, shock and disbelief – as notable movers and shakers, politicians and hit makers departed this world, but not without leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of many.
While the death of any individual is noteworthy, the following deaths are significant and stand as a testimony that greatness is achievable – even for the lowly and humble.
Listed below is a partial list of those we lost in 2012:
Robert L. Carter was a former federal judge in New York who, as a lawyer, was a leading strategist and a persuasive voice in the legal assault on racial segregation in 20th-century America. He presided over the merger of professional basketball leagues in the 1970s and was instrumental in opening the New York City police force to more minority applicants. He died on Jan. 3 in Manhattan at 94.
Jimmy Castor – Funk legend Jimmy Castor died on Jan. 16 in Las Vegas at 71, Jimmy Castor, a New York funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune, “It’s Just Begun,” morphed over 40 years into an anthem for generations of hip-hoppers and mainstream musical acts, died of apparent heart failure in a Las Vegas hospital.
Johnny Otis – musician, bandleader, songwriter, impresario, disc jockey and talent scout – was often called “the godfather of rhythm and blues.” He helped steer a long list of performers to stardom, among them Etta James, Jackie Wilson, Esther Phillips and Big Mama Thornton – whose hit recording of “Hound Dog,” made in 1952, four years before Elvis Presley’s, was produced by Mr. Otis. He died on Jan. 17 at his home in Altadena, Calif. He was 90.
Etta James – Born Jamesetta Hawkins, Etta James, the powerhouse singer who combined blues, gospel and R&B and emerged as a major star in the ’50s and ’60s, died on Jan. 20 after a long battle with leukemia. According to CNN, the sad news was confirmed by her friend and manager, Lupe De Leon. She was 73.
Eiko Ishioka – The designer Eiko Ishioka brought an eerie, sensual surrealism to film and theater, album covers, the Olympics and Cirque du Soleil, in the process earning an Oscar, a Grammy and a string of other honors. She was for decades considered the foremost art director in Japan; she later came to be known as one of the foremost in the world. She died on Jan. 21 in Tokyo at 73.
Charla Krupp – Charla Krupp gained a national following by offering women advice on looking younger and thinner with best-selling books like “How Not to Look Old” and in more than 100 appearances on the “Today” show on NBC. She died on died on Jan. 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 58.
Camilla Williams – Camilla Williams, the daughter of a chauffeur and a domestic in the Jim Crow South, was the first black woman to secure a contract with a major United States opera company — a distinction widely ascribed in the public memory to the contralto Marian Anderson. Miss Williams died on Jan. 29 at 92 in Bloomington, Ind.
Don Cornelius – The smooth-voiced television host Don Cornelius brought black music and culture into America’s living rooms when he created the dance show “Soul Train,” one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history. He was found dead on Feb. 1 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75.
David Peaston – Sources close to R&B/gospel singer David Peaston are confirming the St. Louis native has died. Peaston died on Feb. 1, from diabetes complications. He was 54. Peaston’s longtime battle with diabetes led to the amputation of both his legs, beginning with his right leg in 2004.
Angelo Dundee – The renowned trainer Angelo Dundee guided Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard to boxing glory in more than 60 years of professional boxing. He died at 90 on Feb. 1 in Clearwater, Fla.
David Peaston – Gospel and R&B singer David Peason died on Feb. 1, reportedly from complications from diabetes, Peaston was 54. Peaston fought a long battle against diabetes for years. In 2004, it resulted in the amputation of both his legs. Known for his vocal range, the singer was a winner at “Showtime at the Apollo” and like many young artists, that’s where it all began. His rise to fame began with hits “Can I” and “Two Wrongs (Don’t Make a Right)” (hear it below) and later his debut album, “Introducing … David Peaston.”
Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R&B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine use and an abusive marriage. Her voice was an instrument of power and purity – plush, vibrant and often spectacular – and she cultivated the image of a fun-loving but ardent good girl, the voice behind songs as perky as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and as torchy as “I Will Always Love You.” She died on Feb. 11 in Beverly Hills, Calif., at 48.
Dory Previn – Dory Previn was the lyricist for three Oscar-nominated songs and a composer and performer who mined her difficult childhood, bouts of mental illness and a very public divorce to create a potent personal songbook. She rose to prominence as a singer-songwriter with a substantial following in the early 1970s, a period in which Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Laura Nyro also emerged. She died on Feb. 14 at her home in Southfield, Mass. She was 86.
Dick Anthony Williams – Born Aug. 9, 1938, actor Dick Anthony Williams died on Feb. 15. Williams is known for his starring performances on Broadway in “The Poison Tree,” “What the Wine-Sellers Buy,” and “Black Picture Show.” He is also remembered for playing the character of Pretty Tony in “The Mack,” which starred Max Julien and Richard Pryor.
Davy Jones – The singer Davy Jones was, by long-held public consensus, the handsomest and most popular of the Monkees, the collectively young, longhaired, wildly famous and preternaturally buoyant pop group of the 1960s and afterward. He died on Feb. 29 in Indiantown, Fla., at 66.
Robert B. Sherman – Robert B. Sherman was half of the fraternal songwriting team (with Richard) that produced the ubiquitous “It’s a Small World (After All)” and batches of whimsical tunes for the likes of Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh to sing. He died on March 6 in London at 86.
Jamaa Fanaka – A filmmaker who had considerable success in 1979 with “Penitentiary,” the first movie he made after graduating from film school, but who claimed to have been blacklisted afterward for raising questions about the dearth of jobs for black directors in Hollywood, died from complications of diabetes on April 1 in LA. He was 69.
Thomas Kinkade – Thomas Kinkade, a prolific painter of bucolic and idealized scenes, estimated that his mass-produced works hung in one out of 20 American homes. He died on April 6 at his home in Los Gatos, Calif. He was 54.
Mike Wallace – “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace died on April 7, at the age on 93.
Dick Clark – Broadcast icon Dick Clark, the longtime host of the influential “American Bandstand,” died on April 18. He was 82. Clark suffered a heart attack while at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica for an outpatient procedure, his publicist said Wednesday. “Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.”
Bill Skowron – Bill Skowron, the slugging first baseman who played on seven pennant-winning teams with the Yankees in the 1950s and early ’60s, died on April 27 in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.
Adam Yauch – Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer on May 4 at the age of 47.
Maurice Sendak – Children’s book author Maurice Sendak died on May 8 of complications from a stroke. He was 83.
Vidal Sassoon – The hairdresser Vidal Sassoon changed the way women wore and cared for their hair with a kind of architectural cut in the late 1950s and early ’60s and later with his own line of beauty products. He died on May 9 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Carroll Shelby – Carroll Shelby, a Texas chicken farmer turned hot-rodder, built innovative sports cars like the Cobra that challenged Europe’s longtime dominance of road racing, as well as high-performance versions of production cars like the Ford Mustang. He died on May 10 in Dallas. He was 89.
Belita Karen Woods – The former “Parliament-Funkadelic” and “Brainstorm” singer, Belita Karen Woods, passed away on May 14 from heart failure. She was 64 years old. Brainstorm had a disco hit in 1977 called “Lovin’ Is Really My Game”. Their follow-up album, 1978’s Journey To The Light, featured a more soul-funk sound, anchored by the album tracks “We’re On Our Way Home” and “If You Ever Need To Cry”. Prior to joining Brainstorm, Woods released a single “Magic Corner”/”Grounded” on Detroit’s Moira label in 1967.
Carlos Fuentes – Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and grand man of letters, wrote panoramic novels that captured the complicated essence of his country’s history. He was one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world, a catalyst, along with Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar, of the explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and ’70s known as El Boom. He died on May 15 in Mexico City at 83.
Chuck Brown – Chuck Brown, who styled a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds to create go-go music in the nation’s capital, has died after suffering from pneumonia. He was 75. Brown, widely acclaimed as the “Godfather of go-go” for his pioneering sound, died on May 16.
Donna Summer – Donna Summer, the multimillion-selling singer and songwriter, captured both the giddy hedonism of the 1970s disco era and the feisty female solidarity of the early 1980s. She died on May 17 at her home in Naples, Fla., at 63.
Robin Gibb – Robin Gibb was one of the three singing brothers of the Bee Gees, the long-running Anglo-Australian pop group whose chirping falsettos and hook-laden disco hits like “Jive Talkin’ ” and “You Should Be Dancing” shot them to worldwide fame in the 1970s. He died on May 20 in London at 62.
Hal Jackson – Hal Jackson was a veteran broadcaster who broke down racial barriers, becoming one of the first black disc jockeys to reach a large white audience and an omnipresent voice on New York City radio for more than 50 years. He died on May 23 in Manhattan. He was 96.
John Kennedy “Jack” Twyman – Jack Twyman, a Hall of Fame basketball player and sports broadcaster, became the legal guardian for his teammate Maurice Stokes, who sustained a paralyzing brain injury during the 1958 season. Tywman died on May 30 at the age of 78.
Richard Dawson – Richard Dawson, the British-born actor and comedian who played a larcenous prisoner of war on the comedy “Hogan’s Heroes” and became a star as the dapper and gregarious host of the game show “Family Feud,” died on June 2 in Los Angeles. He was 79.
Kathryn Joosten – Actress Kathryn Joosten (“Desperate Housewives”) died at the age of 72 on June 2, after battling lung cancer.
Rosa Guy – Rosa Guy was a Caribbean-born writer known for her unflinchingly direct novels for young people about black life in urban America. She died on June 3 at her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at 89.
Herb Reed – Herb Reed was an original member of the Platters, one of the first pop groups to break the color barrier in the 1950s, and the last surviving member who sang on the group’s crossover hits like “Only You,” “The Great Pretender” and a soaring street-corner version of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Reed died on June 4 in Boston. He was 83.
Ray Bradbury – Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction whose imaginative and lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America, died on June 5 in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Ann Rutherford – Actress Ann Rutherford, Scarlett O’Hara’s youngest sister in “Gone With the Wind,” died on June 11 at the age of 94. She had heart problems and was in declining health.
Erica Kennedy – Erica Kennedy, a music writer turned novelist who came to wide attention in 2004 with the publication of her first novel, “Bling,” a satirical roman à clef about the world of hip-hop, was found dead at her home in Miami Beach on June 13. She was 42.
Yvette Wilson – Yvette Wilson died on June 14 after battling cervical cancer. She was 48. The actress was best known for her role on the UPN sitcom Moesha as Andell Wilkerson. She starred in five seasons and its spinoff, The Parkers.
Rodney King – Rodney G. King, whose 1991 videotaped beating by the Los Angeles police became a symbol of the nation’s continuing racial tensions and subsequently led to a week of deadly race riots after the officers were acquitted, was found dead on June 17 in a swimming pool at the home he shared with his fiancée in Rialto, Calif. He was 47.
Ann Curtis – Ann Curtis, who was widely regarded as one of the greatest female swimmers, winning 2 Olympic gold medals in 1948 and 34 United States championships, died on June 26 at her home in San Rafael, Calif. She was 86.
Nora Ephron – Nora Ephron, an essayist and humorist in the Dorothy Parker mold (only smarter and funnier, some said) who became one of her era’s most successful screenwriters and filmmakers, making romantic comedy hits like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally,” died June 26 in Manhattan. She was 71.
Andy Griffith – With his folksy Southern manner, the actor Andy Griffith charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on albums and especially on television, most notably as Andy Taylor, the small-town sheriff of the fictional Mayberry, N.C., in the long-running situation comedy “The Andy Griffith Show.” He died on July 3 at 86 at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina.
Ernest Borgnine – The rough-hewn actor Ernest Borgnine seemed destined for tough-guy characters, but he won an Academy Award for embodying the gentlest of souls, a lonely Bronx butcher, in the 1955 film “Marty,“ and later showed his comic touch as the title character in the popular 1960s sitcom “McHale’s Navy.” He died on July 8 in Los Angeles at 95.
Lionel Batiste – Lionel Batiste, the vocalist, bass drummer and assistant leader of the Treme Brass Band, died July 8. He was 81. Family and others close to Batiste were with him when he died at the Ochsner Health System’s hospital just outside New Orleans.
Maria Cole – The widow of Nat “King” Cole, the mother of Natalie Cole and a singer in Duke Ellington’s band in the mid-1940s, died of cancer in Boca Raton, Fla., on July 10. She was 89.
Sage Stallone – Actor Sage Stallone (“Rocky V”), the son of actor Sylvester Stallone, died on July 13 from natural causes due to a heart condition. He was 36.
Ms. Melodie – Amid the bull market of young women in hip-hop today, one of the first ladies of the genre passed away on July 17. Ms. Melodie, born Ramona Parker, was a founding member of the group Boogie Down productions and the ex-wife of landmark artist KRS-One. Her cause of death at the age of 43, is unknown.
Celeste Holm – Celeste Holm, the New York-born actress who made an indelible Broadway impression as an amorous country girl in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!,” earned an Academy Award as the knowing voice of tolerance in “Gentleman’s Agreement” and went on to a six-decade screen and stage career died on July 15 in Manhattan. She was 95.
Kitty Wells – Kitty Wells, who was on the verge of quitting music to be a homemaker when she recorded a hit in 1952 that struck a chord with women and began opening doors for them in country music, died on July 16 at her home in Madison, Tenn. She was 92.
Bob Babbitt – Prominent Motown studio musician and Funk Brothers member Bob Babbitt, whose bass playing pounded through the Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” and Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” died on July 16. He was 74.
William Raspberry – William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist for The Washington Post who for 39 years in more than 200 newspapers brought a moderate voice to social issues, including race relations, died on July 17 at his home in Washington. He was 76.
Sylvia Woods – Sylvia Woods, whose eponymous Harlem soul-food restaurant was frequented by local and national politicians, international celebrities, tourists, epicures and ordinary neighborhood residents, died on July 19 at her home in Westchester County, N.Y. She was 86.
Sally Ride – Sally Ride, a physicist who was accepted into the space program in 1978 after she answered a newspaper ad for astronauts and who later became the first American woman to fly in space, died on July 23 at her home in San Diego. She was 61.
Sherman Hemsley – Sherman Hemsley, the bantamweight comic actor who portrayed the scrappy, nouveau riche George Jefferson on the hit CBS sitcom “The Jeffersons,” died on July 24 at his home in El Paso. He was 74.
Robert S. Ledley – Robert S. Ledley, a dentist turned biomedical researcher and computing trailblazer who invented the first CT scanner capable of producing cross-sectional images of any part of the human body, died on July 24 in Kensington, Md. He was 86.
Gore Vidal – Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on July 31 at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003 after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.
Sir Bernard Lovell – Sir Bernard Lovell, a pioneer in radar and radio telescopes from the days when the technology helped save Britain in World War II until the beginning of the space age, died on Aug. 6 at his home in Swettenham Village, England. He was 98.
Marvin Hamlisch – Conductor Marvin Hamlisch died after a brief illness on Aug. 6. He was 68.
Michael Dokes – Michael Dokes, the World Boxing Association’s heavyweight champion from 1982-83, died on Aug. 10. He was 54. Dokes died of liver cancer after spending time at an Akron, Ohio, hospice center, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
Al Freeman Jr. – Actor Al Freeman Jr., perhaps best known for his portrayal of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X,” died on Aug. 10, Howard University confirmed. Freeman was 78 years old.
Helen Gurley Brown – Helen Gurley Brown, who as the author of “Sex and the Single Girl” shocked early-1960s America with the news that unmarried women not only had sex but thoroughly enjoyed it – and who as the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine spent the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more – died on Aug. 13 in Manhattan. She was 90.
Johnny Pesky – Johnny Pesky, the star Red Sox shortstop of the 1940s and early ’50s who spent seven decades at Fenway Park as a player, manager, coach, broadcaster and instructor, becoming one of Boston’s most beloved figures, died on Aug. 13 in Danvers, Mass. He was 92.
Ron Palillo – Actor Ron Palillo, who played Arnold Horshack on “Welcome Back, Kotter,” died of a heart attack on Aug. 14. He was 63.
Tony Scott – Director Tony Scott died after jumping off a Los Angeles bridge on Aug. 19. He was 68.
Meles Zenawi – Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s repressive prime minister, who lifted his country from the ruins of civil war and transformed it into one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and one of the United States government’s closest African allies, died on Aug. 20, state television reported. He was 57.
Phyllis Diller – Phyllis Diller, whose sassy, screeching, rapid-fire stand-up comedy helped open the door for two generations of funny women, died on Aug. 20 at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was 95.
Steve Van Buren – Steve Van Buren, the Honduras-born son of an American fruit inspector who took up the unfamiliar game of football in high school and went on to stardom with the Philadelphia Eagles, becoming a Hall of Fame running back and, many said, one of the greatest to play the game, died on Aug. 23 in Lancaster, Pa. He was 91.
Neil Armstrong – Neil Armstrong, who made the “giant leap for mankind” as the first human to set foot on the moon, died on Aug. 25. He was 82.
Chris Lightly – Chris Lighty, who managed the careers of icons like LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and Mariah Carey reportedly committed suicide on Aug. 30. Sources said Lighty was found dead inside his apartment from a gunshot wound to the head. He was 44.
Hal David – Hal David, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist who in the 1960s and ’70s gave pop music vernacular the questions “What’s It All About?,” “What’s New, Pussycat?,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?,” died on Sept. 1 in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Michael Clarke Duncan – Michael Clarke Duncan, the hulking, prolific character actor whose dozens of films included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inmate in “The Green Mile” and such other box office hits as “Armageddon,” died on Sept. 3 at the age of 54 from complications of a heart attack.
Andy Williams – Andy Williams, the affable, boyishly handsome crooner who defined both easy listening and wholesome, easygoing charm for many American pop music fans in the 1960s, most notably with his signature song, “Moon River,” died on Sept. 25 at his home in Branson, Mo. He was 84.
R. B. Greaves – R. B. Greaves, a pop singer whose “Take a Letter, Maria” was a 1969 hit, died in Los Angeles on Sept. 27. He was 68. Greaves died of prostate cancer said Craig Harvey, Los Angeles County coroner. Greaves was a nephew of the legendary R&B singer Sam Cook.
Barbara Ann Scott – Barbara Ann Scott, who became a Canadian heroine at 19 when she won figure skating gold at the 1948 Winter Olympics, succeeding Norway’s Sonja Henie as the premier women’s skater in a sport Europeans had dominated for decades, died on Sept. 30 at her home on Amelia Island, Fla. She was 84.
Alex Karras – Alex Karras, a fierce and relentless All-Pro lineman for the Detroit Lions whose irrepressible character frequently placed him at odds with football’s authorities but led to a second career as an actor on television and in the movies, died on Oct. 10 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 77. Later in his television career, Karras starred as the adoptive father of Emmanuel Lewis’ character, “Webster.”
Arlen Specter – Arlen Specter, the irascible senator from Pennsylvania who was at the center of many of the Senate’s most divisive legal battles only to lose his seat in 2010 after quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat, died on Oct. 14 at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82.
George McGovern – George McGovern, the United States senator who won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972 as an opponent of the war in Vietnam and a champion of liberal causes, and who was then trounced by President Richard M. Nixon in the general election, died on Oct. 21 in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90.
Russell C. Means – Russell C. Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux who helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests that called attention to the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Oct. 22 at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72.
Margaret Osborne DuPont – Margaret Osborne duPont, a tenacious and durable American tennis champion who won six Grand Slam singles titles in the middle decades of the 20th century while becoming one of the most dominant doubles players of her era, died on Oct. 24 at her home in El Paso. She was 94.
Emanuel Steward – Emanuel Steward, the owner of the legendary Kronk Gym and a standout trainer for boxers including Thomas Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya, died on Oct. 25. He was 68.
Natina Reed – R&B singer and star of teen cheerleading movie, Bring It On, Natina Reed died on Oct. 26, after she was hit by a car. The 32-year-old mother-of-one was struck by a vehicle in Georgia as she walked along a major roadway and was killed almost instantly.
Letitia Baldrige – Letitia Baldrige, the imposing author, etiquette adviser and business executive who became a household name as Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House chief of staff, died on Oct. 29 in Bethesda, Md. She was 86.
Lee MacPhail – Lee MacPhail, a former president of the American League, a general manager of the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, and the oldest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, died on Nov. 8 at his home in Delray Beach, Fla. He was 95.
Larry Hagman – Larry Hagman, whose portrayal of one of television’s most beloved villains, J. R. Ewing, led the CBS series “Dallas” to enormous worldwide popularity, died on Nov. 23 in Dallas. He was 81.
Hector Camacho – Hector Camacho, a boxer known for his lightning-quick hands and flamboyant personality who emerged from a delinquent childhood in New York’s Spanish Harlem to become a world champion in three weight classes, died on Nov. 24 in San Juan, P.R., four days after after being shot while sitting in a parked car. He was 50.
Dr. Joseph E. Murray – Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who opened a new era of medicine with the first successful human organ transplant, died on Nov. 26 in Boston. He was 93.
Marvin Miller – Marvin Miller, an economist and labor leader who became one of the most important figures in baseball history by building the major league players union into a force that revolutionized the game and ultimately transformed all of professional sports, died on Nov. 27 at his home in Manhattan. He was 95.
Rick Majerus – Rick Majerus, who never headed the elite programs in college basketball but who became a leading coach, winning more than 500 major-college games, died on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles. He was 64.
Dave Brubeck – Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s and ’60s with recordings like “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and “Take Five,” the still instantly recognizable hit single that was that album’s centerpiece, died on Dec. 5 in Norwalk, Conn. He would have turned 92 the following day.
State Sen. Alice Harden – A passionate advocate for public education, Alice Varnardo Harden passed away after a lengthy illness on Dec. 6. Harden, D-Jackson, served in the Legislature since 1988. She is a former teacher and a native of Pike County. Serving as the first black woman in the Mississippi state Senate, Harden represented a state that was over 35 percent black, but only held 3 black members in the Senate.
Jenni Rivera – Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as “the Diva of Banda,” died on Dec. 9 when the plane in which she was traveling crashed outside Monterrey, Mexico, after a performance there. She was 43.
N. Joseph Woodland – N. Joseph Woodland conceived the modern bar code, a technology that helped revolutionize the retail industry and graces nearly every surface of contemporary life. He died on Dec. 9 at 91.
Ravi Shankar – Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso and composer, created a passion among Western audiences for the rhythmically vital, melodically flowing ragas of classical Indian music — a fascination that had expanded by the mid-1970s into a flourishing market for world music of all kinds. He died on Dec. 11 at 92.
Daniel K. Inouye – Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, who went to Washington at the birth of his state in 1959, dominated public life in the Hawaiian islands for more than 50 years and became a quiet voice of national conscience during the Watergate scandal and the Iran-contra affair, died on Dec. 17 in Bethesda, Md. He was 88.
Charles Durning – Charles Durning, who overcame poverty, battlefield trauma and nagging self-doubt to become an acclaimed character actor, whether on stage as Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” or in film as the lonely widower smitten with a cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie,” died on Dec. 24 at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.
Jack Klugman – Jack Klugman, the rubber-mugged character actor who leapt to television stardom in the 1970s as the slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple” and as the crusading forensic pathologist of “Quincy, M.E.,” died on Dec. 24 at his home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. He was 90.
Fontella Bass – Fontella Bass, a U.S. soul singer who hit the top of the R&B charts with “Rescue Me” died at the age of 72 on Dec. 26. Bass died at a St. Louis hospice of complications from a heart attack suffered weeks earlier.
Harry Carey Jr. – Character actor, best known for roles in classic Westerns like The Searchers and Red River but who also had a memorable turn in 1984’s Gremlins, died Dec. 27. He was 91 and was thought to be the last surviving member of director John Ford’s go-to casting circle.
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf – Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the American-led forces that crushed Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and became the nation’s most acclaimed military hero since the mid-century exploits of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, died on Dec. 27 in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.