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Dozens of celebrities take their final bows in 2012

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Dec. 20, 2012 at 5:30 AM   |   Comments

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The entertainment world mourned the loss of numerous titans and dozens of supporting players this year.

Among the notable deaths of 2012 were veteran television personality Dick Clark; broadcast journalist Mike Wallace; actors Andy Griffith, Jack Klugman, Charles Durning, Sherman Hemsley, Michael Clarke Duncan, Ernest Borgnine, Chad Everett, George Lindsey and Larry Hagman; singers Etta James, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Adam Yauch, Levon Helm, Davy Jones and Jenni Rivera; and painter Thomas Kinkade.

We also said goodbye to film director Tony Scott; screenwriter Nora Ephron; children's book author Maurice Sendak; science-fiction giant Ray Bradbury; composer Marvin Hamlisch; hairstylist Vidal Sassoon and magazine publisher Helen Gurley Brown.

A gold hearse with a picture of Whitney Houston on the window pulls away from The New Hope Baptist Church for the Funeral of Whitney Houston in Newark, New Jersey on February 18, 2012. UPI/John Angelillo
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Among the most highly publicized deaths of 2012 was that of New Jersey-born singer-actress Whitney Houston, who accidentally drowned in a Los Angeles hotel bathtub Feb. 11 after using drugs on the eve of the Grammy Awards ceremony she was in town to attend.

Just 48 when she died, the celebrated recording artist's once-dazzling career was tarnished for years by her addiction to drugs, erratic behavior and stormy marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown, whom she divorced in 2007. The "Bodyguard" star has been the subject of numerous memorials and tributes in recent months, showing how beloved she was, but while her death was tragic, it was not entirely shocking due to her self-destructive lifestyle. Her final film, the movie musical "Sparkle," was released months after her death.

British singer, songwriter and musician Davy Jones suffered a fatal heart attack in Stuart, Fla., Feb. 29 at the age of 66. Jones is best known for his work with the pop band The Monkees, famous for their hits "Daydream Believer," "I'm a Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville." The group's eponymous sitcom ran on NBC from 1966 to 1968. Jones also memorably guest starred as himself on a classic episode of "The Brady Bunch" when Marcia, played by Maureen McCormick, persuades her celebrity crush to go to her high-school dance.

Former "American Bandstand" host Dick Clark died April 18 in Los Angeles after a massive heart attack at the age of 82. He had previously suffered complications resulting from Parkinson's disease, diabetes and a series of strokes, the first of which he had in December 2004. In 1972, Clark began his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" program from Times Square. He shared emcee duties with "American Idol" star Ryan Seacrest from 2005 to 2012.

Disco icon Donna Summer died of cancer in Florida May 17. She was 63. At the time of her death, she had been working on a new album.

The five-time Grammy Award winner is known for the 1970s anthems "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls." She is to be posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.

Writer, director and renowned wit Nora Ephron lost her private fight with leukemia June 26. She was 71.

Ephron was nominated for three screenwriting Oscars, for "Silkwood" with Alice Arlen, and "When Harry Met Sally ..." and "Sleepless in Seattle" with David S. Ward and Jeff Arch. Her screenwriting credits also include "Julie & Julia," "Hanging Up," "Michael," "My Blue Heaven" and "Heartburn" -- based on her novel of the same name. Her film directing credits include "Julie & Julia," "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle."

Television lion Andy Griffith was buried on his family farm in North Carolina hours after he died of a heart attack July 3 at the age of 86. He was best known as the star of the classic sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show" and legal drama "Matlock." His film credits include "A Face in the Crowd," "No Time For Sergeants," "Angel in My Pocket," "Adams of Eagle Lake," "The Treasure Chest Murder," "Hearts of the West," "Spy Hard," "Waitress" and "Playing the Game."

Not long before his death, Griffith spoke warmly about his "Andy Griffith Show" co-star George Lindsey, who died May 6 at the age of 83, following a brief undisclosed illness.

"Our last conversation was a few days ago," Griffith said in a statement at the time. "We would talk about our health, how much we missed our friends who passed before us and usually about something funny. I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our 80s, we were not afraid to say, 'I love you.' That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. 'I love you.'"

British filmmaker Tony Scott's suicide by jumping off a Los Angeles bridge Aug. 19 still remains a mystery. The director of blockbuster action flicks like "The Taking of Pelham 123" and "True Romance" was reportedly working on a sequel to his 1980s classic "Top Gun" when he took his own life at age 68.

Although initial speculation in the media was that he was ill, his family vehemently denied this and no one has publicly offered a possible motive. He was the younger brother and producing partner of Oscar-winning director Ridley Scott.

Michael Clarke Duncan, a bouncer and bodyguard from Chicago who earned an Oscar nod for his heart-wrenching portrayal of a death row inmate with special powers in "The Green Mile," died Sept. 3 at the age of 54.

Regarded by his fellow actors, directors and journalists as a gentle giant with a 1,000-watt smile, the star of "Armageddon," "Daredevil" and "Sin City" died in a Los Angeles hospital two months after suffering a heart attack at his home where his fiancee, "The Apprentice" competitor Omarosa Manigault, was credited with performing CPR and reviving him.

Larry Hagman, the actor who became one of TV's favorite villains as J.R. Ewing in the 1980s nighttime soap "Dallas," died Nov. 24 at the age of 81 after a battle with cancer. He died in the show's titular city where he had been reprising his role of J.R. in an updated version of "Dallas."

The son of Broadway star Mary Martin also was known for his work on the genie-themed sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie."

Latin music star and TV personality Jenni Rivera was killed, along with six other people, in a Learjet crash shortly after takeoff Dec. 9. She was 43.

The recording artist has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and was recently named one of People En Espanol's 25 most powerful women. The mother of five children also starred in the reality TV show, "I Love Jenni," and was set to headline an ABC sitcom called "Jenni."

Not to be forgotten are "Waking Ned Devine" scene-stealer David Kelley, "Once is Not Enough" actress Deborah Raffin, "Moon River" singer Andy Williams, "General Hospital" patriarch John Ingle, mob turncoat-turned-author Henry Hill, "Gone with the Wind" belle Ann Rutherford, "Welcome Back Kotter" classmates Robert Hegyes and Ron Palillo, and "My Three Sons" player Don Grady.

Also lost in 2012 were Ben Gazzara, who created the role of Brick in the original production of Tennessee Williams' play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," as well as conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, banjo master Earl Scruggs, "I Love Lucy" cast member Doris Singleton, "Moesha" co-star Yvette Wilson and "Soul Train" founder Don Cornelius.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Notable deaths of 2012
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"Ruscue Me" singer, Fontella Bass
Singer Fontella Bass, shown in this November 2002 file photo, has died of a heart attack at the age of 72, in St. Louis on December 26, 2012. It was announced on December 27, 2012. Bass, who sang soul, R&B and pop, was accociated with Mary Wells, Dionne Warwick and the Supremes. Bass is best known for her hit "Rescue Me." UPI/Wiley Price.
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