Notable Deaths: The Decade in Memoriam

From musicians to politicos to Oscar winners...

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Anna Nicole Smith, 1993 Playmate of the Year who famously married billionaire J. Howard Marshall, died Feb. 8, 2007. Details about the model's death, ultimately caused by a prescription drug overdose, are still being uncovered as doctors and her former boyfriend are still under scrutiny.
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Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, world renowned for his Peanuts characters, announced his retirement in December 1999 and that his last Sunday comic strip would run in February 2000. The artist died Feb. 12, 2000, the day before his final Sunday comic strip was published in papers across the country.
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Oscar winner Walter Matthau, known as the fast talking Hamilton Bartholomew in Charade and the ornery Oscar Madison against Jack Lemmon in The Odd Couple, died July 1, 2000 of a heart attack. He was 79.
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On Feb. 18, 2001, top NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt was on his last lap of the Daytona 500 when he hit another car, sending his car careening toward the concrete retaining wall. He died months shy of his 50th birthday.
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John Phillips, co-founder of The Mamas and the Papas and known for songs including "California Dreamin'' and "Monday, Monday," died March 18, 2001. Phillips' daughter, actress Mackenzie Phillips alleges in her recent memoir that she and her father had an incestuous relationship.
Blues great John Lee Hooker, the four-time Grammy Award winner who helped shape the genre, died June 21, 2001 at age 83.
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Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner Carroll O'Connor, best known for his role as Archie Bunker in All in the Family, died June 21, 2001 of a heart attack. He was 76.
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Jack Lemmon, the two-time Oscar winner whose career spanned comedy and drama in films including The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Grumpy Old Men and Tuesdays with Morrie, died June 27, 2001. He was 76.
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Aaliyah worked with such music heavyweights as Gladys Knight, R. Kelly and Missy Elliott and had embarked on an acting career. But all that was cut short when she and other members of her record company were killed in a plane crash Aug. 25, 2001. She was 22.
George Harrison, "The Quiet Beatle," died Nov. 29, 2001 of cancer. The band's lead guitarist was strongly influenced by Indian music, and wrote the Beatles songs "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Here Comes the Sun." He had solo hits with "My Sweet Lord" and "Got My Mind Set on You."
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Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's who appeared in more than 800 of the company's TV commercials, died Jan. 8, 2002. He was 69.
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Two-time Grammy Winner and country music great Waylon Jennings died Feb. 13, 2002 at the age of 64. His hits included "Are You Sure Hank Done It That Way," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," and the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.
Oscar nominee and two-time Golden Globe winning actor Dudley Moore died March 27, 2002 at the age of 66 of complications with pneumonia. He's best known for his roles in Arthur and 10.
Britain's Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, died March 30, 2002. She was the queen of the United Kingdom from 1936 to 1952, and is the mother of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
Bill Blass, the fashion designer whose signature designs set standards for casual American style, died June 12, 2002. He was 79.
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John Entwistle, the bassist for the classic rock band The Who, died June 28, 2002 of a heart attack induced by cocaine use. He was 57.
Eppie Lederer, known to millions of her readers as advice columnist Ann Landers, died June 22, 2002. She was 83.
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Baseball great Ted Williams, who was the last Major Leaguer to hit .400 in a single season, died July 5, 2002. The World War II and Korean War vet was 83.
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was an original member of the R&B trio TLC, who took over the airwaves in the '90s with their hits "Creep," "Waterfalls" and "No Scrubs." She was working on a second solo album and on the fourth TLC record when she was killed in a car accident in La Ceiba, Honduras April 25, 2002.
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Johnny Unitas, an NFL Hall of Famer who won three championships with the Baltimore Colts during his 18- year career, died Sept. 11 2002 at age 69.
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Fred Rogers, the friendly sweater-wearing host of the children's program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, died Feb. 27, 2003 of cancer. The puppeteer and actor hosted the show for more than 30 years.
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Four-time Oscar winner and 12-time nominee Katharine Hepburn, known for her roles in The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond as well as for her distinctive style, died June 29, 2003 at the age of 96.
Maurice Gibb, (l.), one of the three brothers who made up the Bee Gees, died Jan. 12, 2003 at the age of 53. Gibb suffered cardiac arrest related to an intestinal issue. He and his siblings topped the charts in the late '70s with hits like "Stayin' Alive" and "More Than a Woman."
Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were the quintessential music couple. They started touring together in the '60s and married in 1968. Both died in 2003 - June on May 15 due to complications from heart surgery and Johnny nearly 4 months later on Sept. 12 from diabetes complications.
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Gregory Peck, the movie star whose career included such classics as Roman Holiday, Moby Dick and his Academy Award winner, To Kill a Mockingbird, died June 12, 2003. He was 87.
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Crooner Barry White, whose hits include "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and "You're the First, My Last, My Everything," died July 4, 2003. He was 58.
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Comedian and actor Bob Hope died July 27, 2003. He is perhaps best remembered for his countless USO performances for troops overseas.
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Three's Company star John Ritter died Sept. 11, 2003 at the age of 54 from an undiagnosed heart defect. The actor won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance as Jack Tripper on the show.
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Bob Keeshan, who entertained and educated generations of children as television’s mustachioed Captain Kangaroo, died Jan. 23, 2004 at age 76.
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Estee Lauder, the American beautician and businesswoman who built an empire from simple face creams created by her uncle, died April 24, 2004 at age 97.
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Ronald Reagan, the 40th U.S. president and an ex-movie star, died June 5, 2004 at 93. The former leader of the free world had battled with Alzheimer's disease for ten years.
Soul legend Ray Charles, a 12-time Grammy Award winner with hits including “What’d I Say,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” died June 10, 2004. He was 73.
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Two-time Oscar winner Marlon Brando, acclaimed for his roles in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather, Julius Caesar and On the Waterfront, died July 1, 2004 at the age of 80.
Funk musician Rick James, best known for the 1981 hit “Super Freak" which resurfaced when it was sampled in M.C. Hammer's 1990 song "U Can't Touch This," died Aug. 6, 2004. He was 56.
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Chef Julia Child, who made French cooking accessible to her TV viewers, died Aug. 13, 2004, at the age of 91.
Johnny Ramone, co-founder and guitarist of The Ramones, died Sept. 15, 2004 after battling prostate cancer for 5 years. The musician, whose band pioneered punk rock, was 55.
Richard Avedon, a portrait photographer renowned for redefining fashion photography, died Oct. 1, 2004. He was 81.
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Psycho star Janet Leigh died Oct. 3, 2004. The actress, who acted with Frank Sinatra and Charlton Heston in The Manchurian Candidate and Touch of Evil respectively, was the mother of actresses Kelly and Jamie Lee Curtis.
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Comedian and film star Rodney Dangerfield starred in several hit movies including, Caddyshack, Easy Money, and Back to School. He died of heart complications Oct. 5, 2004.
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Christopher Reeve, the strapping Superman star who became a spinal cord research advocate after a horse-riding accident made him a quadriplegic, died Oct. 10, 2004 at age 52 of complications from an infection.
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Nobel Peace prize winner Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority President and PLO founder who sought a homeland for his people but was labeled by his opponents as a terrorist, died Nov. 11, 2004. He was 75.
Broadway star, Law and Order alum and Dirty Dancing dad Jerry Orbach died Dec. 28, 2004 of prostate cancer.
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Johnny Carson, the legendary host of The Tonight Show, died Jan. 23, 2005 of emphysema at the age of 79. Carson hosted the show for 4,531 episodes and nearly 30 years.
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Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller, who wrote Death of a Salesman and was once married to Marilyn Monroe, died Feb 10, 2005. He was 89.
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Johnnie Cochran Jr., best known as part of the "Dream Team" that helped clear O.J. Simpson of murder charges, died March 29, 2005. He's known for the now infamous quote, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit." He was 67.
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Pope John Paul II, the first Polish leader of the Roman Catholic Church, died April 2, 2005. The pontiff served as the pope and the leader of Vatican City for 26 years.
Anne Bancroft, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Helen Keller's teacher in The Miracle Worker and will forever be ingrained in pop culture history as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, died June 6, 2005. She was 73.
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Grammy Award winner Luther Vandross, who crooned the romantic songs “Here and Now” and “Any Love," died July 1, 2005. He was 54.
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Peter Jennings, the anchor of ABC's World News Tonight for more than 20 years, died Aug. 7, 2005 of lung cancer.
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Former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died Sept. 3, 2005 of cancer.
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Don Adams, who played the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s TV series Get Smart and voiced Inspector Gadget, died Sept. 25, 2005. He was 82.
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Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man got her arrested and sparked the modern civil rights movement, died Oct. 24, 2005. She was 92.
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Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid earned him an Oscar nomination, died Nov. 24, 2005. He was 73.
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Richard Pryor, the groundbreaking comedian known for his oft-profane insights into race relations, died of a heart attack Dec. 10, 2005. He was 65.
Lou Rawls, the singer known for the classic songs “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and "Love is a Hurtin' Thing," died Jan. 6, 2006 of cancer. He was 72.
Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique became a best seller in the 1960s and laid the groundwork for the modern feminist movement, died Feb. 4, 2006 of congestive heart failure. She was 85.
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Don Knotts, one of TV's most lovable character actors, died Feb. 24, 2006 at age 81. Knotts is best remembered for his roles as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show and Ralph Furley on Three's Company.
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Life magazine photographer and director of Shaft Gordon Parks died March 7, 2006 at age 93. Parks was the first African-American to work as a staff photographer at the famed magazine.
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Aaron Spelling, the hit series mastermind behind Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, died June 23, 2006. He was 83.
Steve Irwin, Australia's beloved "Crocodile Hunter," was filming in the Great Barrier Reef Sept. 4, 2006 when a stingray's spine pierced his chest. The wound was fatal and Irwin died that day at the age of 44.
Ed Bradley, the award-winning television journalist who broke racial barriers at CBS News and created a distinctive, powerful body of work during his 26 years on 60 Minutes, died Nov. 9, 2006. He was 65.
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Director Robert Altman, a five-time Academy Award nominee whose filmography included M*A*S*H, The Player and Gosford Park, died Nov. 20, 2006 of complications from cancer.
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Peter Boyle, the actor who hilariously transformed into a tap-dancing monster in Young Frankenstein and played Ray's ornery dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, died Dec. 12, 2006. He was 71.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"The Godfather of Soul," James Brown, died Dec. 25, 2006. He established his role in pop music with Billboard #1 singles "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Living in America."
American author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the satirical novelist of works such as Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle died April 11, 2007 at age 84.
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Former President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, who pushed for the fall of the Soviet Union and was the first popularly elected president of the federation, died April 23, 2007 at age 76.
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The Rev. Jerry Falwell, an evangelical preacher and founder of megachurch Thomas Road Baptist Church, died May 15, 2007. He's also known for losing his court case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, in which the Supreme Court decision ultimately strengthened free speech in the U.S. in relation to parodies of public figures.
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Designer Liz Claiborne, who created fashions for career women starting in the '70s, died June 26, 2007. She was 78.
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Merv Griffin, the one-time singer who created Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, died Aug. 12, 2007. He was 82.
Luciano Pavarotti, an opera singer and member of The Three Tenors, died Sept. 6, 2006. He was 71.
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Norman Mailer, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of books including The Naked and the Dead, died Nov. 10, 2007. He was 84.
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Evel Knievel, the motorcycle daredevil known for jumping over daring obstacles including Greyhound buses and live sharks in the 1970s, died Nov. 30, 2007. He was 69.
Ike and Tina Turner were a pop music sensation and won a Grammy Award for their 1971 album "Proud Mary." But Ike is ultimately most known because he was admittedly abusive in their relationship. Tina ultimately left him. Ike went on to win another Grammy in 2006. He died Dec. 12, 2007.
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Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first female elected to lead a Muslim country, was assassinated Dec. 27, 2007 when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing himself, Bhutto and 14 others.
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Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 Best Actor Oscar as the chariot-racing Ben-Hur and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, died April 5, 2008. He was 84.
Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack died May 26, 2008. Pollack won acclaim through the '70s and '80s for films such as The Way We Were, Out of Africa, and Tootsie.
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French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent died June 1, 2008 of brain cancer. He was 71.
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Longtime Meet the Press moderator and respected journalist Tim Russert suffered a heart attack and died June 13, 2008. He was 58.
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Comedian George Carlin, best known for his edgy, provocative material, died of heart failure June 22, 2008 at age 71.
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Australian actor Heath Ledger, known for his work in The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountan and Lords of Dogtown, was found dead from an accidental prescription drug overdose in New York City Jan. 22, 2008 at the age of 28. He was awarded an Oscar posthumously for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Estelle Getty, best known for portraying Sophia in the hit TV show The Golden Girls died July 22, 2008 at age 84.
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Comedian Bernie Mac died Aug. 9, 2008 at the age of 50 from complications caused by pneumonia.The actor appeared in The Original Kings of Comedy, the new Ocean's Eleven series and The Bernie Mac Show.
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Academy and Grammy-award winning musician Issac Hayes, who composed the theme song to the movie Shaft, died Aug. 10, 2008 at age 65.
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Legendary actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul Newman died Sept. 26, 2008 of lung cancer at age 83. The actor was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and took home the Oscar in 1987 for his role in The Color of Money.
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Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and Congo and creator of the TV hit ER, died Nov. 4, 2008 in Los Angeles, at age 66. He had been privately battling cancer, according to his family.
Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model who set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Dec. 11, 2008. She was 85.
Mark Felt, a.k.a. "Deep Throat, died Dec. 18, 2008 of congestive heart failure. The former FBI second-in-command tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled President Nixon.
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Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike died Jan. 27, 2009 at the age of 76. Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic.
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Actress and AIDS activist Natasha Richardson died March 18, 2009 after suffering a head injury during a ski lesson. Richardson, a Tony Award winner for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in Cabaret, was married to actor Liam Neeson.
The TV pitchman Billy Mays, known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean, died June 28, 2009. He was 50.
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Beatrice Arthur, whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows Maude and The Golden Girls and who won a Tony Award for the musical Mame, died peacefully at her Los Angeles home April 25, 2009. She was 86.
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Kung Fu and Kill Bill star David Carradine was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room due to alleged auto-erotic asphyxiation June 4, 2009. He was 72.
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Long-time The Tonight Show announcer and Star Search host Ed McMahon died June 23, 2009 at the age of 86. He served as Johnny Carson's announcer for thirty years.
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Actress and icon Farrah Fawcett passed away June 25, 2009 after battling cancer for two-and-a-half years. The actress was best known for her role on Charlie's Angels and her long, blonde locks.
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Pop superstar Michael Jackson died at the age of 50 after suffering cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home June 25, 2009. Jackson was rushed to a UCLA medical center, but arrived in a coma and died shortly thereafter.
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The "Most Trusted Man in America" and anchor of the CBS Evening News for 19 years, Walter Cronkite had a lauded journalism career. He died July 17, 2009 at the age of 92.
Irish born author and teacher Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer Prize for Angela's Ashes, an epic tale of woe about his childhood that was made into a film. He died of cancer July 20, 2009 at age 78.
Director John Hughes died of a heart attack at the age of 59 Aug. 6, 2009. Hughes wrote and directed Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He also wrote Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, National Lampoon's Vacation and The Breakfast Club.
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Les Paul, the guitarist and inventor who changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multi-track recording, died Aug. 13, 2009. He was 94.
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Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, brother of JFK and Robert F. Kennedy, died Aug. 26, 2009, after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 77.
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DJ AM, a.k.a. Adam Goldstein, was found dead in Manhattan Aug. 28. He was 36 years old. The disc jockey narrowly escaped death in 2008 when he survived a small plane crash in South Carolina.
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Patrick Swayze, the star of romance movie classics Dirty Dancing and Ghost, died Sept. 14, 2009, surrounded by family at the age of 57 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Renowned televangelist Oral Roberts died on Dec. 15, 2009 from complications of pneumonia. Roberts himself claimed to have been healed of stuttering and tuberculosis at the age of 17 at an evangelical meeting and carried the message on.
Actress Brittany Murphy went into full cardiac arrest on Dec. 20, 2009. The 32-year-old was best known for her roles in hit films like Clueless, 8 Mile and Don't Say a Word.
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