Sadly, for others an established image was shattered by a fall from grace. Whitney Houston ruled as a queen of pop music, but years of hard living harmed her voice while erratic behavior and a troubled marriage took a toll on her image. And Joe Paterno, Penn State's longtime coach, won more games than anyone in major college football, but was ultimately fired amid a molestation scandal involving an assistant coach that scarred his reputation.
Some whose deaths we noted weren't known by image or even name but by contributions that changed our lives -- like Eugene Polley, inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, and Norman Joseph Woodland, co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores. Other scientists who died in 2012 included Lowell Randall, Martin Fleischmann, F. Sherwood Rowland, George Cowan and Bernard Lovell.
Among the political figures who died were George McGovern, Democrat presidential nominee who lost to Richard Nixon in a historic landslide, and ex-Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist. Others from the world of politics: Bill Janklow, Norodom Sihanouk, Charles "Chuck" Colson, Warren B. Rudman, Andrew Breitbart and Miguel de la Madrid.
The year also saw the deaths of a number of TV stars including Larry Hagman, who played oil baron J.R. Ewing on "Dallas."
Others in entertainment and the arts who died included: Etta James, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Sherman Hemsley, Maurice Sendak, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Doc Watson, Richard Dawson, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, Don Cornelius, Jan Berenstain, Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck.
Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2012. (Cause of death cited for younger people if available.)
Kiro Gligorov, 94. First democratically elected president of Macedonia who shepherded his nation through a bloodless secession from the former Yugoslavia and narrowly survived an assassination attempt. Jan. 1.
Bob Anderson, 89. Olympic fencer and movie sword master, he donned Darth Vader's black helmet and fought light saber battles in two "Star Wars" films. Jan. 1.
Keith Little, 87. One of the most recognizable of the remaining Navajo Code Talkers, whose code helped confound the Japanese duirng World War II. Jan. 3.
Lowell Randall, 96. Pioneer rocket scientist who helped launch the U.S. space program and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles. Jan. 3.
Jessica Joy Rees, 12. She became a nationally recognized face of child cancer with a blog that chronicled her fight against brain tumors. Jan. 5. Brain cancer.
Don Carter, 85. Bowling great who flourished as a genuine sports celebrity during the game's golden age on TV. Jan. 5.
Bill Janklow, 72. As South Dakota's attorney general, governor and congressman, he dominated the state's political landscape for more than 25 years. Jan. 12. Brain cancer.
Manuel Fraga Iribarne, 89. Blunt-talking politician who founded Spain's ruling conservative party and was the last surviving minister from Gen. Francisco Franco's right-wing regime. Jan. 15.
Hulett C. Smith, 93. Former West Virginia governor who signed bills in the 1960s that abolished the state's death penalty and implemented its first strip mining laws. Jan. 15.
Edward Derwinski, 85. He represented Chicago's south side and adjoining suburbs in Congress for nearly a quarter-century before becoming the nation's first secretary of veterans affairs. Jan 15.
Jimmy Castor, 71. Funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune, "It's Just Begun," morphed into an anthem for generations of musical acts. Jan. 16.
Johnny Otis, 90. He wrote and recorded the R&B classic "Willie and the Hand Jive" and for decades evangelized black music to white audiences as a bandleader and radio host. Jan. 17.
Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her performance of the enduring classic "At Last." Jan. 20. Complications from leukemia.
Jonathan "Jack" Idema, 55. Former Green Beret convicted of running a private jail in Afghanistan. Jan. 21. AIDS.
Roy J. Britten, 92. Pioneering molecular biologist who discovered the crucial fact that humans and animals have multiple copies of some DNA segments. Jan. 21.
Joe Paterno, 85. Longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity. Jan. 22.
Theo Angelopoulos, 76. Award-winning Greek filmmaker known for his slow and dreamlike style as a director. Jan. 24. Killed in a road accident.
Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, 91. Heiress to a vast Gilded Age fortune built on tobacco and a member of the family that endowed Duke University. Jan. 25.
Robert Hegyes, 60. Actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show "Welcome Back Kotter." Jan. 26.
Kevin H. White, 82. Former Boston mayor who led the city for 16 years including during racially turbulent times in the 1970s and was credited with putting it on a path to prosperity. Jan. 27.
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 93. Past president of Italy who held the post during the sweeping corruption scandal of the early 1990s that reshaped the country's political landscape. Jan. 29.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88. Retired head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and an uncharged central figure in a child sex-abuse case that involves the alleged shuffling of predator priests to unwitting parishes. Jan. 31.
Don Cornelius, 75. As host of "Soul Train," he helped break down racial barriers and broaden the reach of black culture with funky music, groovy dance steps and cutting edge style. Feb. 1. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Angelo Dundee, 90. Trainer who helped groom Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard into world champions. Feb. 1.
Jimmie Begay, 86. Navajo Code Talker who in World War II transmitted messages in a code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. Feb. 1.
Zalman King, 70. Actor and filmmaker who became known for his erotic work after writing and producing his breakthrough film "9 1/2 Weeks." Feb. 3.
Ben Gazzara, 81. Actor who brought intensity to roles in such iconic productions as the original "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway and the film "The Big Lebowski." Feb. 3.
Florence Green, 110. Last known veteran of World War I. Feb. 4.
John Fairfax, 74. First known person to row alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Feb. 8.
Jill Kinmont Boothe, 75. Skiing champion who became a painter and a teacher after she was paralyzed during a race and was the subject of a book and two Hollywood films. Feb. 9.
Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
Mohammed Lamari, 73. General who led Algeria's military during a decade of civil war that crushed Islamic rebel groups. Feb. 13.
Charles Anthony, 82. Character singer who set the record for most appearances at the Metropolitan Opera -- 2,928 -- during a career that spanned from 1954 to 2010. Feb. 15.
Gary Carter, 57. Star catcher whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball. Feb. 16.
Katie Hall, 73. Former Indiana congresswoman who was a key sponsor of the 1983 legislation that established a national holiday for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Feb. 20.
Remi Ochlik, 28. Photojournalist who covered riots in Haiti and the upheaval sweeping across the Arab world. Feb. 22. Killed in a shelling attack in Syria.
Marie Colvin, 56. Journalist, recognizable for the eye patch that hid a shrapnel injury, who covered conflicts from Sri Lanka to Syria in her quest to bring stories about the world's most troubled places to light. Feb. 22. Killed in a shelling attack in Syria.
Jan Berenstain, 88. With her husband, Stan, she wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers for 50 years. Feb. 24.
Dennis Gomes, 68. Co-owner of the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., and a former mob-busting Las Vegas prosecutor whose exploits were chronicled in the movie "Casino." Feb. 24. Complications from kidney dialysis.
Erland Josephson, 88. Swedish actor who collaborated with legendary film director Ingmar Bergman in more than 40 films and plays. Feb. 25.
Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, 90. Veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." Feb. 25.
Edna Milton Chadwell, 84. Last madam of the Chicken Ranch brothel, which inspired the movie and Broadway show "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Feb. 25.
William Hamilton, 87. Theologian who was a member of the Death of God movement of the 1960s that reached its peak with a Time Magazine cover story. Feb. 28.
Davy Jones, 66. Actor turned singer who helped propel the TV rock band The Monkees to the top of the pop charts. Feb. 29. Heart attack.
Andrew Breitbart, 43. Conservative media publisher and activist who was behind investigations that led to the resignation of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. March 1.
James Q. Wilson, 80. Political scientist whose "broken windows" theory on crime-fighting helped launch a nationwide move toward community policing. March 2.
Ralph McQuarrie, 82. Artist who developed the look of the first "Star Wars" trilogy's signature characters, sets and spaceships. March 3.
William Heirens, 83. Dubbed the "Lipstick Killer" after three murders in Chicago in the 1940s, he became Illinois' longest-serving inmate. March 5.
Robert B. Sherman, 86. Songwriter who wrote "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in "Mary Poppins" and other songs for Disney classics. March 5.
James T. "Jimmy" Ellis, 74. As frontman for The Trammps, he belted out the refrain "Burn, baby burn!" in the 1970s-era disco hit "Disco Inferno." March 8.
Minoru Mori, 77. Property tycoon who was one of Japan's most influential developers and built China's tallest building. March 8.
Harry Wendelstedt, 73. Longtime umpire who worked five World Series and made a call involving Don Drysdale that became one of baseball's most disputed plays in the late 1960s. March 9.
Jean Giraud, 73. French comics artist known by fans from Hollywood to Japan as Moebius and the creator of unsettling, eye-opening fantasy worlds in print and on film. March 10.
F. Sherwood Rowland, 84. Nobel prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth's ozone layer and crusaded against the use of chemicals that were harming earth's atmospheric blanket. March 10.
Michael Hossack, 65. Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer whose work is heard on the hits "Listen To The Music" and "China Grove." March 12. Cancer.
Censu Tabone, 98. Former Malta president who hosted a U.S.-Soviet summit that declared an end to the Cold War. March 14.
John Demjanjuk, 91. He was convicted of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp, but his 35-year fight to clear his name made him one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions. March 17.
Pope Shenouda III, 88. Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims. March 17.
Chaleo Yoovidhya, in his 80s. Self-made Thai billionaire who introduced the world to "energy drinks" and co-founded the Red Bull brand. March 17.
King George Tupou V, 63. Tonga's king, who gave up most of his powers to bring a more democratic government to his Pacific island nation. March 18.
Lincoln Hall, 56. Mountaineer who was rescued a day after being given up for dead near the summit of Everest in 2006. March 21. Cancer.
Abdullahi Yusuf, 78. He rose from guerrilla warrior to president of Somalia only to watch his administration crumble under an Islamic insurgency. March 23. Complications from pneumonia.
Bert Sugar, 75. Iconic boxing writer and sports historian who was known for his trademark fedora and ever-present cigar. March 25.
Larry Stevenson, 81. Skateboard maker who helped take the pastime from an early 1960s kids' gimmick to a professional sport. March 25.
Earl Scruggs, 88. Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer who profoundly influenced country music with Bill Monroe in the 1940s and later with guitarist Lester Flatt. March 28.
Miguel de la Madrid, 77. Former president of Mexico, who led his country from 1982 to 1988 during an economic crisis and a devastating earthquake. April 1.
Giorgio Chinaglia, 65. Italian soccer great and former New York Cosmos star. April 1. Complications from a heart attack.
Neslisah Osmanoglu, 91. Ottoman princess who married an Egyptian prince and was twice forced into exile when both royal households were abolished. April 2.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, 76. He designed Porsche's classic 911 sports car, the sleek model that evokes power, wealth and envy among aficionados. April 5.
Bingu wa Mutharika, 78. Malawi's president who was hailed as an economic hero and decried as an autocrat.. April 5.
Thomas Kinkade, 54. Artist whose paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been big sellers for dealers across the U.S. April 6.
Mike Wallace, 93. Dogged CBS reporter who took on politicians and celebrities in a 60-year career highlighted by on-air confrontations that helped make "60 Minutes" the most successful prime-time television news program ever. April 7.
Raymond Aubrac, 97. One of the last major figures of the French Resistance who got away from the Nazis' grasp in a now-legendary escape. April 10.
Ahmed Ben Bella, 95. Algeria's first president and a historic leader of its bloody independence struggle from France. April 11.
Julio Aleman, 78. Mexican television and movie actor who starred in the first telenovela ever produced in the country. April 11.
Arnold Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller, 98. Denmark's richest man who created the country's largest enterprise, a shipping and oil conglomerate. April 16.
Dick Clark, 82. Ever-youthful television entrepreneur who helped bring rock `n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted game shows and the year-end countdown from Times Square. April 19.
Levon Helm, 71. Key member of the rock group The Band who lent his voice to classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." April 19.
George Cowan, 92. Manhattan Project scientist who also helped found the Santa Fe Institute. April 20.
Charles "Chuck" Colson, 80. Special counsel to President Richard Nixon who went to prison for his role in a Watergate-related case and became a Christian evangelical helping inmates. April 21.
George Rathmann, 84. As founding CEO he helped turn Amgen Inc. from a small company with an unclear mission in a strange new field into the world's largest biotech drugmaker. April 22.
George Vujnovich, 96. Intelligence agent who organized a World War II mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia. April 24.
Patricia Medina, 92. Actress who became a Hollywood leading lady in the 1950s opposite Glenn Ford, Alan Ladd, Karl Malden and Fernando Lamas. April 28.
Thomas Austin "Amarillo Slim" Preston Jr., 83. A poker champion whose brash style, fast talking and love of the spotlight helped broaden the professional game's appeal. April 29.
Tomas Borge Martinez, 81. Last surviving founder of the Sandinista guerrilla movement that overthrew Nicaragua's U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship in 1979. April 30.
Junior Seau, 43. Homegrown superstar who was the fist-pumping, emotional leader of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years. May 2. Apparent suicide.
Lloyd Brevett, 80. Renowned double bassist who helped carry ska music from Jamaica to the world as a founding member of the band The Skatalites. May 3.
Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop. May 4. Cancer.
George Lindsey, 83. He made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw." May 6.
Dennis Fitch, 69. Airline pilot who helped save 184 people during a plane crash in Sioux City, Iowa. May 7. Brain cancer.
Maurice Sendak, 83. Children's book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like "Where the Wild Things Are." May 8.
Vidal Sassoon, 84. Celebrity hairstylist whose 1960s wash-and-wear cuts freed women from endless teasing and hairspray. May 9.
Baby Andrei, 9 months. Romanian baby born with virtually no intestines who confounded doctors by tenaciously clinging to life and captured international attention and offers of medical help. May 10.
Gunnar Soensteby, 94. World War II resistance fighter who earned Norway's highest military decoration for daring raids against the Nazis. May 10.
Evelyn Bryan Johnson, 102. Known as "Mama Bird," she was a pioneering female pilot and Guinness world record holder. May 10.
Carroll Shelby, 89. Legendary car designer and champion auto racer who built the Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford's Mustang and Chrysler's Viper. May 10.
Donald "Duck" Dunn, 70. Bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs. May 13.
Jim Abdnor, 89. Former Republican U.S. senator who ousted George McGovern from the Senate only to lose his seat after one term. May 16.
Chuck Brown, 75. Widely acclaimed as the "Godfather of go-go" for styling a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds. May 16.
Mary Richardson Kennedy, 52. Estranged wife of Robert Kennedy Jr.; her life's highlights and troubled moments played out publicly because of the famous political family she married into. May 16. Apparent suicide.
Doug Dillard, 75. Banjo player who helped shape rock `n' roll and introduce the nation to bluegrass music during a run on "The Andy Griffith Show." May 16.
Donna Summer, 63. Disco queen whose pulsing anthems such as "Last Dance," `'Love to Love You Baby" and "Bad Girls" became the soundtrack for a glittery age of drugs, dance and flashy clothes. May 17.
Warda, 72. Algerian singer known by just one name whose sultry voice and range helped make her one of the giants of Arab song. May 17.
Frank Edward "Ed" Ray, 91. California school bus driver who was hailed as a hero for helping 26 students escape after three kidnappers buried them underground in 1976. May 17.
Katie Beckett, 34. Her struggles with disease and bureaucracy brought landmark changes to the federal-state Medicaid program allowing children with disabilities to live at home. May 18.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, 60. Libyan intelligence officer who was the only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. May 20.
Robin Gibb, 62. One of the three Bee Gees whose falsetto harmonies powered such hits as "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" and defined the flashy disco era. May 20.
Eugene Polley, 96. Inventor of the first wireless TV remote control. May 20.
Eddie Blazonczyk, 70. Grammy Award-winning polka great who earned the nickname "Polka King" after starting his own band and label. May 21.
Wesley Brown, 85. First African-American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. May 22.
Klaas Carel Faber, 90. Dutch native who fled to Germany after being convicted in the Netherlands of Nazi war crimes and subsequently lived in freedom despite attempts to try or extradite him. May 24.
Johnny Tapia, 45. Five-time boxing champion whose turbulent career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and run-ins with the law. May 27.
Doc Watson, 89. Grammy-award winning folk musician whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world. May 29.
Kathryn Joosten, 72. Character actress best known as Karen McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives" and the president's secretary on "The West Wing." June 2.
Adolfo Calero, 80. He led the largest force of U.S.-backed rebels against Nicaragua's Sandinista government in the 1980s and found himself entangled in the Iran-Contra scandal. June 2.
Richard Dawson, 79. Wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s TV comedy "Hogan's Heroes" and later the contestant-kissing host of the game show "Family Feud." June 2.
Herb Reed, 83. Last surviving original member of 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like "Only You" and "The Great Pretender." June 4.
Ray Bradbury, 91. Science fiction-fantasy master who transformed his childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters, and the high-tech, book-burning future of "Fahrenheit 451." May 5.
Bob Welch, 65. Former member of Fleetwood Mac who went on to write songs and record several hits during a solo career. June 7. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ann Rutherford, 94. Actress who played the sweetheart in the long-running Andy Hardy series and Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister in "Gone With the Wind." June 11.
Henry Hill, 69. Associate in New York's Lucchese crime family, a mobster and FBI informant whose life was the basis for the Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas." June 12.
William S. Knowles, 95. Chemist who shared the Nobel Prize for discoveries that led to a treatment for Parkinson's disease and other medicines. June 13.
Crown Prince Nayef, late 70s. Interior minister who headed Saudi Arabia's fierce crackdown crushing al-Qaida's branch in the country after the 9/11 attacks and rose to become next in line to the throne. June 16.
Rodney King, 47. Black motorist whose 1991 videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers was the spark for one of the most destructive U.S. race riots. June 17. Accidentally drowned.
Richard Adler, 90. Composer-lyricist who won Tony Awards for such Broadway musicals as "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" and who produced President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration featuring a breathy Marilyn Monroe. June 21.
Barry Becher, 71. Infomercial pioneer best known for introducing American TV viewers to Ginsu knives, the miracle kitchen tool that sliced through tin cans and chopped wood. June 22.
George Randolph Hearst Jr., 84. Board chairman of Hearst Corp., oldest grandson of media titan William Randolph Hearst. June 25.
Nora Ephron, 71. Essayist, author and filmmaker who thrived in the male-dominated worlds of movies and journalism and was loved, respected and feared for her wit. June 26. Leukemia
Doris Singleton, 92. Actress who played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's neighbor on "I Love Lucy." June 26.
Don Grady, 68. One of television's most beloved big brothers as Robbie Douglas on the 1960s hit "My Three Sons." June 27.
Norman Sas, 87. Mechanical engineer who created electric football, a tabletop game with a vibrating metal field and unpredictable plastic players that captivated children and grown-ups. June 28.
Doris Sams, 85. Pitcher and outfielder from Knoxville who helped inspire the movie "A League of Their Own." June 28.
Yitzhak Shamir, 96. Former Israeli prime minister who maintained that Israel should hold on to territory and never trust an Arab regime. June 30.
Andy Griffith, 86. He made homespun Southern wisdom his trademark as a wise sheriff in "The Andy Griffith Show" and a rumpled defense lawyer in "Matlock." July 3.
Ernest Borgnine, 95. Beefy screen star known for blustery, often villainous roles, but who won the best-actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in "Marty" in 1955. July 8.
Eugenio de Araujo Sales, 91. Rio de Janeiro's former archbishop who provided shelter to thousands opposed to the military regimes that once ruled Brazil, Argentina and Chile. July 9.
Marion Cunningham, 90. Home-cooking champion whose legacy can be found in the food-spattered pages of "Fannie Farmer" cookbooks in kitchens across America. July 11.
Donald J. Sobol, 87. Author of the popular "Encyclopedia Brown" series of children's mysteries. July 11.
Dara Singh, 84. Bollywood action hero best known for his TV portrayal of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman. July 12.
Celeste Holm, 95. Versatile actress who soared to Broadway fame in "Oklahoma!" and won an Oscar for her portrayal of a lonely secretary in "Gentleman's Agreement." July 15.
Stephen R. Covey, 79. Author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and three other books that have all sold more than a million copies. July 16. Complications from a bicycle accident.
Jon Lord, 71. British rocker and keyboardist whose driving tones helped turn Deep Purple and Whitesnake into two of the most popular hard rock acts in a generation. July 16.
Kitty Wells, 92. Singer whose hits such as "Making Believe" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" made her the first female superstar of country music. July 16.
William Raspberry, 76. He became the second black columnist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his widely read syndicated commentaries in The Washington Post. July 17.
Forrest McCartney, 81. Retired Air Force lieutenant general and former director of Kennedy Space Center who was crucial in getting NASA's shuttles flying again after the Challenger tragedy. July 17.
Rajesh Khanna, 69. His success as a romantic lead in scores of Indian movies made him Bollywood's first superstar. July 18.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, 102. He was revered by Jews worldwide as the top rabbinic authority of this generation for his scholarship and rulings on complex elements of Jewish law. July 18.
Oswaldo Paya, 60. Cuban activist who spent decades speaking out against the communist government of Fidel and Raul Castro and became one of the most powerful voices of dissent against their half-century rule. July 22. Car crash.
Sally Ride, 61. She blazed trails into orbit as the first American woman in space. July 23. Pancreatic cancer.
Sherman Hemsley, 74. Actor who made the irascible, bigoted George Jefferson of "The Jeffersons" one of TV's most memorable characters and a symbol for urban upward mobility. July 24.
John Atta Mills, 68. He was elected president in the closest vote in Ghana's history and then led the West African country amid newfound oil wealth. July 24.
Chad Everett, 75. Star of the 1970s TV series "Medical Center" who went on to appear in such films and TV shows as "Mulholland Drive" and "Melrose Place." July 24.
Suzy Gershman, 64. Her "Born to Shop" travel guides have helped readers find where to browse and buy from Paris to Hong Kong. July 25.
Gore Vidal, 86. Author, playwright, politician and commentator whose novels, essays, plays and opinions were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom. July 31.
John Keegan, 78. British academic whose studies of men at war are counted among the classic works of military history. Aug. 2.
Martin Fleischmann, 85. British chemist who stunned the world by announcing that he had achieved nuclear fusion in a glass bottle. Aug. 3.
Chavela Vargas, 93. She defied gender stereotypes to become one of the most legendary singers in Mexico. Aug. 5.
Ignacy Skowron, 97. Last known Polish survivor of the opening battle of World War II. Aug. 5.
Mark O'Donnell, 58. Tony Award-winning writer behind such quirky and clever Broadway shows as "Hairspray and "Cry-Baby." Aug. 6.
Bernard Lovell, 98. Pioneering British physicist and astronomer who developed one of the world's largest radio telescopes exploring particles in the universe. Aug. 6.
Judith Crist, 90. Blunt, popular film critic for the "Today" show, TV Guide and the New York Herald Tribune whose reviews were at times so harsh that director Otto Preminger labeled her "Judas Crist." Aug. 7.
Carlo Rambaldi, 86. Special-effects master and three-time Oscar winner known as the father of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." Aug. 10.
Joe Kubert, 85. Groundbreaking comic artist and educator best known for co-creating DC Comics' iconic Sgt. Rock character. Aug. 12.
Gregory Powell, 79. He was convicted of killing a Los Angeles police officer during an infamous kidnapping that inspired the true-crime book and movie "The Onion Field." Aug. 12.
Johnny Pesky, 92. Player who spent most of his 60-plus years in pro baseball with the Boston Red Sox and was beloved by the team's fans. Aug. 13.
Nellie Gray, 88. Founder and chief organizer of an annual anti-abortion march in Washington and a leader in efforts to overturn the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Aug. 13.
Ron Palillo, 63. Actor best known as the nerdy high school student Arnold Horshack on the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter." Aug. 14.
Svetozar Gligoric, 89. Legendary Serbian and Yugoslav chess grandmaster who was the national champion 12 times and one of the world's top players in the 20th century. Aug. 14.
Tony Scott, 68. Director of such Hollywood blockbusters as "Top Gun," `'Days of Thunder" and "Beverly Hills Cop II." Aug. 19. Died after jumping from a bridge.
George Hickman, 88. One of the original Tuskegee airmen and a longtime usher at University of Washington and Seattle Seahawks games. Aug. 19.
Phyllis Diller, 95. Housewife-turned-humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating her jokes with her trademark cackle. Aug. 20.
Dom Mintoff, 96. Former prime minister of Malta who was in power when the island nation became a republic. Aug. 20.
Meles Zenawi, 57. Ethiopia's long-time ruler who held tight control over the country and was a major U.S counter-terrorism ally. Aug. 20. Undisclosed illness.
James Fogle, 75. He wrote "Drugstore Cowboy," an autobiographical crime novel that led to an acclaimed 1989 film starring Matt Dillon. Aug. 23.
Jerry Nelson, 78. Puppeteer behind a delightful menagerie of characters including Count von Count on "Sesame Street" and Gobo Fraggle on "Fraggle Rock." Aug. 23.
Neil Armstrong, 82. He became a global hero when as a steely-nerved astronaut he made "one giant leap for mankind" with a small step onto the moon. Aug. 25.
Juan Valdez, 74. Land grant activist who fired the first shot during a 1967 New Mexico courthouse raid that grabbed international attention and helped spark the Chicano Movement. Aug. 25.
Shulamith Firestone, 67. Feminist writer who published her influential "The Dialectic of Sex" at age 25 and then retreated into isolation and mental illness. Aug. 28.
Chris Lighty, 44. A hip-hop mogul who helped the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey attain hit records and lucrative careers outside music. Aug. 30. Apparent suicide.
Hal David, 91. Stylish, heartfelt lyricist who teamed with Burt Bacharach on dozens of songs for movies, television and a variety of recording artists in the 1960s and beyond. Sept. 1.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 92. Self-proclaimed messiah who turned his Unification Church into a worldwide religious movement and befriended North Korean leaders as well as U.S. presidents. Sept. 3.
Michael Clarke Duncan, 54. Hulking 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," `'Planet of the Apes" and "Kung Fu Panda." Sept. 3. Heart attack.
Joe South, 72. Singer-songwriter who performed 1960s and `70s hits such as "Games People Play" and "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and penned songs including "Down in the Boondocks" for other artists. Sept. 5.
Art Modell, 87. Former owner of the Baltimore Ravens and longtime NFL stalwart who incurred the wrath of Cleveland fans when he moved the team from Ohio. Sept. 6.
Verghese Kurien, 90. Engineer known as "India's milkman" who helped revolutionize the country's dairy industry despite his own dislike for milk. Sept. 9.
Stanley Long, 78. British filmmaker whose cheap and cheerful soft-core romps saw him dubbed the "king of sexploitation." Sept. 10.
Edwin Wilson, 84. Former CIA operative who was branded a traitor and convicted of shipping arms to Libya but whose conviction was overturned after he served 22 years in prison. Sept. 10. Complications from a heart valve replacement surgery.
Chris Stevens, 52. U.S. ambassador to Libya and a career diplomat. Sept. 11. Killed during an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
Peter Lougheed, 84. As Alberta's premier, he turned the province into an oil-powered modern giant and an equal player in Canada's confederation. Sept. 13.
John Ingle, 84. Actor who for two decades played a scheming patriarch on the daytime drama "General Hospital." Sept. 16.
Andy Williams, 84. Silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner whose hit recording "Moon River" and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over. Sept. 25.
Avalanna Routh, 6. Her love for Justin Bieber -- she called herself Mrs. Bieber -- encouraged physicians and nurses at a Boston hospital to organize a pretend wedding to the pop star as she battled a rare brain cancer. Sept. 26.
Herbert Lom, 95. Czech-born actor best known as Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering boss in the "Pink Panther" movies. Sept. 27.
Barry Commoner, 95. Scientist and activist who raised early concerns about the effects of radioactive fallout and was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement. Sept. 30.
Turhan Bey, 90. Actor whose exotic good looks earned him the nickname of "Turkish Delight" in films with Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn before he left Hollywood for a quieter life in Vienna. Sept. 30.
Robert F. Christy, 96. Former California Institute of Technology professor who helped design the trigger mechanism for the atomic bombs used in World War II. Oct. 3.
Keith Campbell, 58. Biologist who worked on cloning Dolly the sheep. Oct. 5.
Eric Lomax, 93. Former British prisoner of war whose moving tale of wartime torture and forgiveness was being turned into a film. Oct. 8.
Paddy Roy Bates, 91. He occupied an abandoned fort in the North Sea and declared it the sovereign Principality of Sealand -- with himself as its prince. Oct. 9.
Sam M. Gibbons, 92. Former U.S. congressman who served 17 terms in Congress and rose to head the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Oct. 9.
Alex Karras, 77. Feared NFL defensive tackle who went into acting, playing the lovable dad in the 1980s sitcom "Webster" and the cowboy who punched out a horse in "Blazing Saddles." Oct. 10.
Basil Plumley, 92. Veteran whose unit's actions in Vietnam were turned into a book and then the movie, "We Were Soldiers." Oct. 10.
Arlen Specter, 82. Outspoken ex-U.S. senator from Pennsylvania whose switch from Republican to Democrat ended a 30-year career in which he played a pivotal role in several Supreme Court nominations. Oct. 14. Complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Norodom Sihanouk, 89. The revered former king who was a towering figure in Cambodian politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval. Oct. 15.
Koji Wakamatsu, 76. Japanese director who ruthlessly challenged authority with the grotesque and sexual. Oct. 17. Traffic accident.
Sylvia Kristel, 60. Dutch actress and star of the hit 1970s erotic movie "Emmanuelle." Oct. 17. Cancer.
E. Donnall Thomas, 92. Physician who pioneered bone marrow transplants and won the 1990 Nobel Prize in medicine. Oct. 20.
Paul Kurtz, 86. He founded an international center devoted to debunking psychics and UFO claims, promoting reason over what he viewed as myths. Oct. 20.
George McGovern, 90. Former U.S. senator and a Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a landslide. Oct. 21.
Yash Chopra, 80. Bollywood movie mogul whose classic love tales made him the Indian film industry's "King of Romance." Oct. 21. Dengue fever.
Antoni Dobrowolski, 108. Oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he was a teacher who taught defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers. Oct. 21.
Russell Means, 72. Former American Indian Movement activist who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee and also appeared in Hollywood films. Oct. 22.
Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo, 77. He went from commander fighting alongside Fidel Castro to a foe launching commando raids against Cuba before settling there as a pro-dialogue dissident. Oct. 26. Heart attack.
Letitia Baldrige, 86. The White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration, an authority on etiquette. Oct. 29.
Teri Shields, 79. She launched daughter Brooke's on-camera career when she was a baby and managed the young star into her 20s, sometimes with controversy. Oct. 31.
Milt Campbell, 78. First African-American to win the Olympic decathlon in 1956, he went on to play professional football and become a motivational speaker. Nov. 2.
Frances Hashimoto, 69. Little Tokyo business and civic leader whose Los Angeles company popularized the Japanese-style treat known as mochi ice cream. Nov. 4. Lung cancer.
Patriarch Maxim, 98. He weathered a revolt over his communist-era ties to lead Bulgaria's Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years. Nov. 6.
Carmen Basilio, 85. He wrested the world middleweight boxing crown from Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957 and lost an epic rematch six months later. Nov. 7.
Darrell Royal, 88. Former Texas football coach known as much for his folksy approach to life as for his creative wishbone offenses and two national championships. Nov. 7.
Lee MacPhail, 95. Longtime baseball executive who ruled in the celebrated Pine Tar case and later became part of the only father-son Hall of Fame pairing. Nov. 8.
Bill Tarmey, 71. Actor who for 30 years played lovable rogue Jack Duckworth on the British soap opera "Coronation Street." Nov. 9.
Bernard Lansky, 85. Memphis retailer who helped a young Elvis Presley establish his flashy, signature clothing style in the 1950s. Nov. 15.
Bal Thackeray, 86. Hindu extremist leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India. Nov. 17.
Warren B. Rudman, 82. Former U.S. senator who co-authored a budget balancing law, championed ethics and led a commission that predicted the danger of terrorist attacks years before 9/11. Nov. 19. Complications of lymphoma.
Art Ginsburg, 81. Delightfully dorky television chef known as Mr. Food. Nov. 21.
Ewarda O'Bara, 59. Miami woman who spent 42 years in a coma. Nov. 21.
Larry Hagman, 81. Actor whose predatory oil baron J.R. Ewing on television's nighttime soap opera "Dallas" became a symbol for 1980s greed. Nov. 23.
Hector "Macho" Camacho, 50. Puerto Rican boxer known for skill and flamboyance in the ring as well as for a messy personal life and run-ins with the police. Nov. 24. Gunshot.
Joseph E. Murray, 93. Doctor who performed the world's first successful kidney transplant and won a Nobel Prize. Nov. 26.
Marvin Miller, 95. Soft-spoken union head who led baseball players in strikes and legal battles that won free agency, revolutionized sports and turned athletes into multimillionaires. Nov. 27.
Zig Ziglar, 86. Motivational speaker who wrote more than 30 books and focused on positivity and leading a balanced life. Nov. 28.
Inder Kumar Gujral, 92. Former prime minister who sought to improve India's relations with its neighbors during a term in office of less than a year. Nov. 30.
Jack Brooks, 89. Longtime Texas congressman who was in the Dallas motorcade in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Dec. 4.
Besse Cooper, 116. She had been listed as the world's oldest person. Dec. 4.
Dave Brubeck, 91. Jazz composer and pianist whose pioneering style in pieces such as "Take Five" caught listeners' ears with exotic, challenging rhythms. Dec. 5.
Ignatius Hazim, 92. Patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church. Dec. 5.
Oscar Niemeyer, 104. Architect who recreated Brazil's sensuous curves in concrete and built the capital of Brasilia as a symbol of the nation's future. Dec. 5.
Jenni Rivera, 43. California-born singer who became a superstar adored by millions in a male-dominated genre of Mexican-American music. Dec. 9. Plane crash.
Mary Ann Darling Fischer, 79. She gave birth to the U.S.'s first known surviving quintuplets in 1963 in an event that brought intense media interest in her family life. Dec. 9.
Norman Joseph Woodland, 91. He was the co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores and has boosted productivity in nearly every sector of commerce worldwide. Dec. 9.
Galina Vishnevskaya, 86. A world-renowned Russian opera diva who with her husband defied the Soviet regime to give shelter to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and suffered exile from her homeland. Dec. 11.
Ravi Shankar, 92. The sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career. Dec. 11.
Joe L. Allbritton, 87. He became one of Washington's most influential men through a media conglomerate of newspapers and television stations and a financial empire that once included Riggs Bank. Dec. 12.
Sheikh Abdessalam Yassine, 84. He was the charismatic religious leader of Morocco's largest opposition movement and longtime opponent of two Moroccan kings. Dec. 13.
Jack Hanlon, 96. He had roles in the 1926 silent classic "The General" and in two 1927 "Our Gang" comedies. Dec. 13.
Maurice Herzog, 93. He became the first person to scale an 8,000-meter peak but lost all his fingers and toes to frostbite on the way down. Dec. 14.