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At year's end: Hollywood icons mourned: Gandolfini, Monteith, Walker

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Dec. 22, 2013 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

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2013 saw the sad passings of numerous titans of the entertainment industry, including "Bathing Beauty" star Esther Williams, "All in the Family" matriarch Jean Stapleton, "Rebecca" actress Joan Fontaine and "Lawrence of Arabia" actor Peter O'Toole.

Their deaths in their 80s and 90s were met with celebrations of their long lives and recognition of their illustrious careers.

However, the sudden loss of three, decades-younger actors shook Hollywood to its core this year, with news related to their demises dominating headlines for weeks and heartbroken fans and colleagues mourning the men's unfulfilled potential.

James Gandolfini, an actor who won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of a New Jersey mob boss seeking self-improvement in the HBO drama, "The Sopranos," died of a heart attack while on vacation with his family in Italy June 19. He was 51. Gandolfini was this month honored with a posthumous Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his funny, touching performance in the romantic comedy, "Enough Said."

Cory Monteith died July 13 of a heroin overdose, alone in a Vancouver hotel room after a long battle with substance abuse. He was 31 and left behind his girlfriend, singer-actress Lea Michele, who was also his co-star on the music dramedy TV series, "Glee." Together, the couple's vocals are featured on numerous Billboard 200-charting "Glee" soundtrack albums.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast and the Furious" racing film franchise, was 40 when he died as a passenger in a fiery car crash Nov. 30. The circumstances of the single-car collision remain under investigation.

We also said goodbye in 2013 to "Walk on the Wild Side" rocker Lou Reed, pop singer Patti Page, actors Dennis Farina, Richard Griffiths and Ed Lauter, "Family Ties" writer-producer Gary David Goldberg, country singers Jack Clement, Mindy McCready, Ray Price and Slim Whitman, comedian Jonathan Winters, rapper Chris Kelly, and actresses Karen Black, Eileen Brennan, Annette Funicello, Bonnie Franklin, Julie Harris, Lisa Robin Kelly, Eleanor Parker and Marcia Wallace.

Taking their final bows this year, as well, were soap stars Jeanne Cooper and Maxine Stuart, jazz musician George Duke, Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, Merchant Ivory screenwriter Ruth Prawar, "The Bachelor" contestant Gia Allemand, special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, authors Andrew Greeley, Elmore Leonard and Barbara Park, broadcast journalist David Frost, and celebrity psychic and TV personality Sylvia Browne.

© 2013 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.
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