Not a Good Year For Celebrites, AP Provides List of Notable Deaths in 2009

December 15, 2009

imageOf all the notables who died in 2009, the one who most changed the world could have walked down any Main Street USA without causing a stir.

Scientist Norman Borlaug, who died Sept. 12 at age 95, developed crops that enabled Third World farmers to wrest more food from their land. His “green revolution” was credited with averting global famine ? and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver were born into America’s pre-eminent political family and spent decades living up to its tradition of service.


Michael Jackson helped create his own family dynasty, this one rooted in show business, as the lead singer for The Jackson 5 when he was just a child. He grew up to become one of entertainment’s most influential and controversial figures as the King of Pop, and his death at age 50 was as mystifying as his life.

They are just four of the men and women of achievement who died in 2009.

The political world said goodbye to Jack Kemp, Claiborne Pell, Robert McNamara, Jody Powell and writers William Safire, Irving Kristol and Robert Novak. Overseas, we lost two courageous dissidents who went on to lead their countries ? Corazon Aquino of the Philippines and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea.

In the arts, those who died in 2009 include groundbreaking choreographer Merce Cunningham; photographer Irving Penn; painter Andrew Wyeth; and novelist John Updike.

We lost scholars John Hope Franklin and Claude Levi-Strauss; broadcast journalists Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt; and TV stars Ed McMahon, Bea Arthur and Farrah Fawcett.

Here, a roll call of some of the people who died in 2009:


– Claiborne Pell, 90. Six-term Rhode Island senator, force behind Pell college grants. Jan. 1.

– Adolf Merckle, 74. German billionaire; business ran into trouble in financial meltdown. Jan. 5. Suicide.

– Griffin Bell, 90. His friend Jimmy Carter’s attorney general. Jan. 5.

– Cornelia Wallace, 69. Gov. George Wallace’s wife, who threw herself over him when he was shot in 1972. Jan. 8.

– Claude Berri, 74. French actor, director (“Manon of the Spring”). Jan. 12.

– Preston Gomez, 85. Managed Padres, Astros, Cubs during long baseball career. Jan. 13.

– Ricardo Montalban, 88. Actor in splashy MGM musicals; Mr. Roarke in “Fantasy Island.” Jan. 14.

– Andrew Wyeth, 91. Artist whose portraits and landscapes combined realism, modern melancholy. Jan. 16.

– Edmund de Rothschild, 93. Oversaw modernization of family’s Rothschild merchant bank. Jan. 17.

– John Updike, 76. Pulitzer-winning novelist, essayist. Jan. 27.

– Ingemar Johansson, 76. Swede who knocked out Floyd Patterson in 1959, stunning boxing world. Jan. 30.


* Millard Fuller, 74. Founded Habitat for Humanity. Feb. 3.

* James Whitmore, 87. Many-faceted actor; did one-man shows on Harry Truman, Will Rogers. Feb. 6.

* Jack Cover, 88. Invented Taser stun gun. Feb. 7.

* Paul Harvey, 90. Radio news, talk pioneer; one of nation’s most familiar voices. Feb. 28.


– Sydney Chaplin, 82. Tony-winning actor; son of Charlie Chaplin (“Bells Are Ringing”). March 3.

– Horton Foote, 92. Playwright (“The Trip to Bountiful”), screenwriter (“To Kill a Mockingbird”). March 4.

– Anne Wiggins Brown, 96. Soprano; original Bess in “Porgy and Bess.” March 13.

– Ron Silver, 62. Won Tony as tough Hollywood producer in David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow.” March 15.

– Natasha Richardson, 45. Heiress to British acting royalty (“Patty Hearst”). March 18. Skiing accident.

– Jade Goody, 27. British reality TV star. March 22. Cancer.

– George Kell, 86. Hall of Fame third baseman; Tigers broadcaster. March 24

– John Hope Franklin, 94. Towering scholar of African-American studies. March 25.

– Jack Dreyfus, 95. Mutual fund pioneer. March 27.

– Raul Alfonsin, 82. Argentine president; guided return to democracy following dictatorship. March 31.


– Dave Arneson, 61. Co-created Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game. April 7.

– Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, 54. Colorful Detroit Tigers pitcher; captivated fans in ’70s. April 13. Accident.

– Jack Cardiff, 94. Oscar-winning cinematographer famed for innovative use of Technicolor (“The Red Shoes”). April 22.

– Bea Arthur, 86. Her sharp delivery propelled “Maude,” ”The Golden Girls”; won Tony for “Mame.” April 25.

– Venetia Phair, 90. As schoolgirl interested in mythology, she suggested name for the planet Pluto. April 30.

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Photo: MARIO ANZUONI, The Associated Press/file. Usher performs at the casket during the memorial service for the late pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles on July 7.

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