Neil Armstrong would always be taking that first step onto the moon, and Dick Clark was forever “the world’s oldest teenager.” Some of the notables who died in 2012 created images in our minds that remained unchanged over decades.
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 he ultimately was fired amid a molestation scandal involving a former assistant coach that damaged his reputation.
The year also saw the deaths of a number of TV stars, including Larry Hagman, who played oil baron J.R. Ewing on “Dallas,” and Jack Klugman, who starred at Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple” and as the title character in “Quincy M.E.”
Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2012.
Don Carter, 85. Bowling great who flourished as a genuine sports celebrity during the game’s golden age on TV. Jan. 5.
Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her performance of the enduring classic “At Last.” Jan. 20. Complications of leukemia.
Joe Paterno, 85. Longtime Penn State University coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity. Jan. 22.
Robert Hegyes, 60. Actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the ‘70s TV show “Welcome Back Kotter.” Jan. 26.
Don Cornelius, 75. As host of TV’s “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. Boxing trainer who helped groom Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard into world champions. Feb. 1.
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.
Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
Gary Carter, 57. Star catcher whose ninth-inning single while playing for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball history. Feb. 16.
Jan Berenstain, 88. With husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers for 50 years. Feb. 24.
Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, 90. Veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.” Feb. 25.
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.
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.
Harry Wendelstedt, 73. Longtime umpire who worked five World Series and made a call benefiting Don Drysdale that became one of baseball’s most disputed plays in the late 1960s. March 9.
John Demjanjuk, 91. He was convicted of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp during World War II, but his 35-year fight to clear his name made him one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions. March 17.
Bert Sugar, 75. Iconic boxing writer and sports historian who was known for his trademark fedora and ever-present cigar. 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.
Giorgio Chinaglia, 65. Italian soccer great and former New York Cosmos star. April 1. Complications from a heart attack.
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.
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 such as “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” April 19.
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.
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.
Junior Seau, 43. Football star who was the fist-pumping emotional leader of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years. May 2. Apparent suicide.
Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal hip-hop groups. May 4. Cancer.
George Lindsey, 83. Had 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 such as “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.
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.
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.
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.
Johnny Tapia, 45. Five-time boxing champion whose career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol and run-ins with the law. May 27.
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 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 Andy Hardy series and as 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.
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.
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
Don Grady, 68. One of television’s most beloved big brothers as Robbie Douglas on the 1960s hit “My Three Sons.” June 27.
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.
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.
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 of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Judith Crist, 90. Blunt, popular film critic for the “Today” show, TV Guide and the New York Herald Tribune whose reviews were so harsh at times that movie director Otto Preminger labeled her “Judas Crist.” Aug. 7.
Johnny Pesky, 92. Player who spent most of his 60-plus years in baseball with the Boston Red Sox and was beloved by the team’s fans. 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.
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.
Phyllis Diller, 95. Housewife-turned-humorist aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating jokes with a trademark cackle. Aug. 20.
Neil Armstrong, 82. He became a global hero as an astronaut who made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step onto the moon. Aug. 25.
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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 National Football League stalwart who incurred the wrath of Cleveland fans when he moved the team from Ohio. Sept. 6.
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.
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.
Herbert Lom, 95. Czech-born actor best known as Inspector Clouseau’s long-suffering boss in the “Pink Panther” movies. Sept. 27.
Alex Karras, 77. Feared National Football League 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.
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.
George McGovern, 90. Former U.S. senator and a Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a landslide election. 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.
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.
Carmen Basilio, 85. Wrested world middleweight boxing crown from Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957 and lost epic rematch six months later. Nov. 7.
Darrell Royal, 88. Former University of 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.
Art Ginsburg, 81. Delightfully dorky television chef known as Mr. Food. Nov. 21.
Larry Hagman, 81. Actor whose predatory oil baron character J.R. Ewing on television’s nighttime soap opera “Dallas” became a symbol of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Inouye, 88. The senator from Hawaii and influential Democrat who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. Dec. 17.
Robert H. Bork, 85. He stepped in to fire the Watergate prosecutor at President Richard Nixon’s behest, and his failed 1980s nomination to the Supreme Court helped draw the modern boundaries of cultural fights over abortion, civil rights and other issues. Dec. 19.
Charles Durning, 89. He survived D-Day and being taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bulge, went on to become a consummate Oscar-nominated character actor, playing everyone from a Nazi colonel to the pope to Dustin Hoffman’s would-be suitor in “Tootsie.” Dec. 24,
Jack Klugman, 90. His portrayal of sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison on TV’s “The Odd Couple” left viewers laughing, but it also gave him the leverage to create a more serious character, the gruff medical examiner in “Quincy M.E.,” part of a six-decade acting career.
Fontella Bass, 72. The St. Louis-born soul singer hit the top of the R&B charts with ``Rescue Me'' in 1965. Dec. 26.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf, 78. General who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991. Dec. 27.