Notable Deaths of 2011

by M-Gillies

The entertainment, sports and political worlds have lost many famous and infamous figures in 2011.

Whether you’re rich or poor; a health fanatic or a couch potato; a thrill-seeking risk-taker or a play-it-safe recluse, death comes to everyone. There’s no death-proof body armour; no sanctuary that can insure longevity; and no failsafe against death. When the time comes, everyone will die accordingly.

Though 2011 may seem like the year of death, with the news of prominent figures sparking the headlines per month, from Steve Jobs, Osama Bin Laden, Joe Frazier, Christopher Hitchens and Kim Jong-Il, has compiled a list of some of the many prominent deaths that have occurred in the past year.

From the deaths of innovators, actors, musicians, politicians, sports icons to terrorists and dictators, below is just a condensed list of some of the deaths that inked the pages of newspapers across the world, became trending topics and memes on twitter, and further dominated the homepage of many online news providers.

Notable Deaths of 2011:

Kim Jong-Il (February 16, 1941- December 17, 2011): Deemed the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il ruled his country from 1994-2011 after the death of his father Kim Il-Sung. Upon his death, his son, Kim Jong-Un was announced his successor.

Christopher Hitchens (April 13, 1949, December 15, 2011): Controversial rhetorician, Christopher Hitchens became known for his journalistic career, essays un which he spoke against the likes of Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Britain’s Royal Family. His book, God is Not Great propelled him into the public spotlight in 2007.

Harry Morgan (April 10, 1915, December 7, 2011): Known for his role as Colonel Sherman Potter, M.D. in the television show M*A*S*H, Harry Morgan had a lengthy career in both film and television that spanned over five decades.

Hubert Sumlin (November 16, 1931, December 4, 2011): Influential electric blues guitarist and singer, Hubert Sumlin was perhaps one of the best guitarists of his generation. Rolling Stone magazine listed Sumlin as number 43 of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, and had also heavily influenced such musicians as Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

Patrice Oneal (December 7, 1969, November 29, 2011): American Stand-up Comedian, radio personality and actor, Patrice Oneal began his career as a comedian in 1992, and as he grew to establish himself, saw successful roles in shows such as The Office, Arrested Development, Web Junk 20, as well as landing a writing position for the WWE. Oneal’s last appearance can be seen on Comedy Central’s Roast of Charlie Sheen.

Ken Russell (July 3, 1927, November 27, 2011): With a flamboyant and often controversial style, Ken Russell attracted as much criticism as praise with his story-driven biopics that often featured various composers. His most famous works are the Oscar-winning film Women in Love (1969), The Who’s Tommy (1975) and his science fiction-horror film, Altered States (1980).

Bill Keane (October 5, 1922, November 8, 2011): Debuting on February 29, 1960, Bill Keane’s Family Circus is considered the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world, and has been in continuous production since its inception, and continues to be drawn by his son Jeff Keane.

Joe Frazier (January 12, 1944, November 7, 2011): Known as the first man to defeat Muhammad Ali in the highly-anticipated Fight of the Century in 1971, Smokin’ Joe Frazier became an undisputed heavyweight champion until he was defeated by George Foreman.

Andy Rooney (January 14, 1919, November 4, 2011): For three decades, America took a few minutes of their time while watching the CBC News program 60 Minutes to listen to Andy Rooney. It was during his segment A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, where Rooney would indulge in exasperated insight on whimsical, absurd and sometimes illogical topics regarding modern living.

Muammar Gaddafi (June, 1942, October 20, 2011): Seizing power in a bloodless military coup in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi ruled over Lybia for over four decades in a tyrannical autocratic dictatorship, until the Arab Springs protests saw him overthrown in 2011.

Dan Wheldon (June 22, 1978, October 16, 2011): Winner of the Indianapolis 500 Championship in both 2005 and 2011, Daniel Wheldon was a British racing driver who’s life was subsequently cut short after a 15-vehicle collision at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship in Las Vegas.

Mikey Welsh (April 20, 1971, October 8, 2011): Former bassist for the band Weezer, Mikey Welsh shortly left the band after suffering a mental breakdown. Retiring from music in 2002, Welsh spent his final years focusing on his art, while occasionally performing with Weezer for select shows.

Al Davis (July 4, 1929, October 8, 2011): With the moto “Just win, baby” Al Davis, was an American football executive and principal owner of the Oakland Raiders from 1970-2011. During his career, he was considered highly controversial for his ownership, and was involved in multiple lawsuits involving Los Angeles, Oakland, Irwindale and the NFL.

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955, October 5, 2011): Revolutionary inventor and businessman, Steve Jobs spent his life pioneering the personal computer and further revolutionizing the world of technology with the release of the iMac, iPod, iPad, and many other Apple products.

Arch West (September 8, 1914, September 20, 2011): Credited with the development of Doritos, Arch West was an American marketing executive. Upon his death, West’s family sprinkled Doritos chips onto his grave and over his urn during his burial on October 1, 2011.

Dolores Hope (May 27, 1909, September 19, 2011): Singer, philanthropist and the wife of actor/comedian Bob Hope, Dolores Hope was the only female entertainer allowed to perform in Saudi Arabia in 1990. She lived to be 102 years old, and while her 100th birthday was celebrated on The Today Show, she said the following year, “I’m still recovering from my 100th birthday bash, so I’m going to keep this year’s celebration much quieter.”

Tom Wilson (August 1, 1931, September 16, 2011): Former American Greetings executive, Tom Wilson began his syndicated cartoon strip Ziggy in 1969. During the comics run, Ziggy has appeared in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers, as well as numerous merchandising which includes, plaques, t-shirts, buttons, glass tumblers, lunch boxes, coffee mugs and greeting cards.

Kara Kennedy (February 27, 1960, September 16, 2011): The daughter of US Senator Ted Kennedy, Kara Kennedy served as a board member for numerous charities and was a film maker and television producer. She died of a heart attack after visiting a health club during her daily workout at the age of 51.

Frances Bay (January 23, 1919, September 15, 2011): With an acting career that began in her mid-50′s, Frances Bay was best known for her portrayals as quirky, elderly women on film and television, working with such celebrities as Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and David Lynch.

Richard Hamilton (February 24, 1922, September 13, 2011): In 1956, Richard Hamilton’s collage, “Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?” became the first work of pop art to achieve iconic status. He was 89 at the time of his death.

Andy Whitfield (July 17, 1972, September 11, 2011): At the age of 39, Andy Whitfield died of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, 18-months after his initial cancer diagnosis. His death ended his career as an actor in the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Salvatore Licitra (August 10, 1968, September 5, 2011): Italian operatic tenor, Salvatore Lictra achieved international recognition. However, for Lictra, his career in opera was more accidental then planned. While working as a graphic designer for the Italian Vogue, he attended singing classes before his debut in 1998, which saw a flurry of contract opportunities.

David “Honeyboy” Edwards (June 28, 1915, August 29, 2011): Considered the earliest form of blues music, Delta Blues originated in Mississippi Delta and influenced such musicians as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Big Joe Williams. However, for Honeyboy Edwards, he was known as the last Delta Bluesman before his death in 2011.

Mike Flanagan (December 16, 1951, August 24, 2011): Left-handed pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles, Mike Flanagan had a successful career in the MLB. However, with financial worries, Flanagan took his own life at the 59.

Jack Layton (July 18, 1950, August 22, 2011): Canadian politician for the NDP, Jack Layton rose to prominence as a leading voice for his party. However, after suffering from an undisclosed type of cancer, Layton died at the age of 61.

Bubba Smith (February 28, 1945, August 3, 2011): A former professional football player turned actor, Charles “Bubba” Smith found a successful career in comedic film and television roles. He is notably known for his portrayal as Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies. Smith died from acute drug intoxication and heart disease at the age of 66.

Lucian Freud (December 8, 1922, July 20, 2011): Grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud became recognized for his artistic abilities. After his death in July, his 1952 portrait of Charlie Lumley titled “Boy’s Head” earned just under $5 million during the 2011 fall season auction at Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art evening auction.

Amy Winehouse (September 14, 1983, July 23, 2011): After succumbing to alcohol poisoning in July, 27 year-old English singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse died, leaving her last album, Back to Black becoming the UK’s best selling album of the 21st century.

Sherwood Schwartz (November 14, 1916, July 12, 2011): Infamously known for creating such television hits as Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, Sherwood Schwartz died in his sleep of natural causes at the age of 94.

Betty Ford (April 8, 1918, July 8, 2011): First Lady of the United States and wife of Gerald Ford, Betty Ford was noted for her active social policies, which included raising the awareness of breast cancer, promoting the Equal Rights Amendment. Her candid views of cultural issues during the time saw her become a leader in the Women’s Movement as well as an advocate in raising the awareness of addictions.

Peter Falk (September 16, 1927, June 23, 2011): Best remembered as the disheveled, seemingly slow-witted, overly polite, and often fumbling police detective Columbo, Peter Falk cemented his career as the epitome to the character from 1968-2003.

Ryan Dunn (June 11, 1977, June 20, 2011): After an alcohol-related vehicle crash claimed his life at the age of 34, Ryan Dunn is remembered as one of a number of daredevil stunt performers of the reality television show Jackass and Viva La Bam.

Clarence Clemons (January 11, 1942, June 18, 2011): Since 1972, Clarence Clemons was recognized as a prominent memver of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, playing the tenor saxophone. After showing signs of recovery from undergoing two surgeries due to a stroke suffered on June 12, 2011, Clemons died from complications caused by the stroke.

Jack Kevorkian (May 26, 1928, June 3, 2011): Known around the world as the controversial Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian is remembered for his publicly championing a terminal patients right to die with the aid of a physician-assisted suicide. After claiming to have assisted 130 patients, Kevorkian served eight years in prison for second-degree murder.

Jeff Conaway (October 5, 1950, May 27, 2011): Having starred in the hit film Grease, and the television series Taxi, and Babylon 5, Jeff Conaway maintained an impressive resume of acting roles. However, after years of battling drug addiction, which hindered his ability to recognize the severity of his ill health, Conaway quickly began suffering pneumonia with sepsis, as a result, he was placed into an induced coma before family member stook him off life support. Conaway was 60 years old at the time of his death.

Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949, May 27, 2011): Soul and Jazz Poet, musician and author Gil Scott-Heron was considered by many as an influential figure in today’s music, particularly in hip hop and neo soul, and is often cited as the godfather of rap.

Randy Savage (November 15, 1952, May 20, 2011): Better known for his ring name, “Macho Man” Randy Savage was an American professional wrestler. Savage died of a heart attack while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida at the age of 58.

Mia Amber Davis (July 25, 1975, May 10, 2011): Achieving fame as a plus-size model, Mia Amber Davis died at the age of 35 from complications of a blood clot in her lungs.

Dolores Fuller (March 10, 1923, May 9, 2011): Actress and songwriter Dolores Fuller was perhaps best known as the one-time girlfriend of low-budget film director Edward D. Wood, Jr. While she had starring roles in “Glen or Glenda” “Jail Bait” and “Bride of the Monster”, Fuller was also an accomplished songwriter who’s work was performed by Elvis Presley, Nat “King” Cole and Peggy Lee.

Osama Bin Laden (March 10, 1957, May 2, 2011): Toping the list of the world’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists, Osama Bin Laden became the primary target of the War on Terror for his involvement in the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-causality attacks against civilian and military targets.

Sidney Lumet (June 25, 1924, April 9, 2011): Academy Award winning director Sidney Lumet has been considered one of the most prolific directors of the modern era, making more than one movie per year on average since his directorial debut in 1957. Prior to his death of lymphoma in April, Lumet said in an interview of how he wanted his sendoff by responding, “I don’t think about it. I’m not religious. I do know that I don’t want to take up any space. Burn me up and scatter my ashes over Katz’s Delicatessen.”

Elizabeth Taylor (February 27, 1932, March 23, 2011): Considered to be one of the greatest screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Elizabeth Taylor starred in such films as “Cleopatra” (1963), “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966), and “Ash Wednesday” (1974). Well known for being unpunctual to any event, Taylor requested that her funeral begin 15 minutes after it was scheduled with her representative telling the media, “She even wanted to be late for her own funeral.”

Jack LaLanne (September 26, 1914, January 23, 2011): Fitness, exercise, nutritional expert and motivational speaker Jack LaLanne was often called “The Godfather of Fitness” and the “First Fitness Superhero”. Inducted to the California Hall of Fame and with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia at the age of 96.

John Dye (January 31, 1963, January 10, 2011): For nearly a decade, John Dye portrayed Andrew, the Angel of Death on the television series “Touched by an Angel”. However, at the age of 47, Dye was found dead due to heart related problems and interred in the Amory, Mississippi Haughton Memorial Park.

Anne Francis (September 16, 1930, January 2, 2011): Winner of a Golden Globe and nominated for an Emmy award for her role in “Honey West”, Anne Francis was not only recognized for her role in the science fiction film classic “Forbidden Planet” (1956), but also for also starring in a television series with a female detective character’s name as the working title. In 2007, Francis was diagnosed with lung cancer, and as of January 2, 2011, died due to complications of pancreatic cancer, a month after the death of “Forbidden Planet” co-star Leslie Nielsen.

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