Notable Deaths 2011
Notable Deaths 2011_ In 2011 we lost many of the world’s most interesting people, including a Motown singer, Bob Dylan’s muse and a reclusive heiress. Scroll through to read more about these and others who passed away this year.
Died Jan. 2 (b. 1945)
Pete Postlethwaite was a film actor who starred in “Inception,” “The Usual Suspects” and “Romeo + Juliet,” among many more. He received an Oscar nomination for his role in this IRA drama.
Died Jan. 23 (b. 1914)
Jack LaLanne was an American fitness guru before health and fitness were at the forefront of most people’s minds. He opened a health spa in 1936 and completed a number of fitness challenges, including swimming underwater the length of the Golden Gate Bridge wearing 140 pounds of equipment.
Died Jan. 26 (b. 1945)
Gladys Horton was the lead singer of the Motown group “The Marvelettes” (listen to their songs). See photos of the singer, who suffered several strokes in her later years.
Died Feb. 5 (b. 1956)
Jean Paul Getty III, known as Paul Getty, is a member of the famous Getty family. Specifically he was the grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty and the father of actor Balthazar Getty. Although extremely wealthy, Getty had a somewhat tragic life. In 1981 he took a mixture of drugs and alcohol, had liver failure, a stroke and was left a quadriplegic. Read about the kidnapping he endured in his youth.
Died Feb. 25 (b. 1943)
Suze Rotolo was Bob Dylan’smuse in the 1960s. The couple met at a concert when she was just 17 and later lived together in this New York neighborhood. The couple broke up after Rotolo met film editor Enzo Bartoccioli, who would become her husband, during a trip to Italy in 1970.
Died March 15 (b. 1969)
Nate Dogg was a rapper known for his collaborations with Dr. Dre, Warren G and 2Pac. He signed with Death Row Records in 1993 and earned four Grammy nominations in his short life.
Died March 23 (b. 1932)
Iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor is known for a number of films, including “Butterfield 8” and , both which earned her Academy Awards. The actress is also famous for her marriages and her work with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Died March 26 (b. 1935)
Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major U.S. party ticket. Although she and presidential candidate Walter Mondale were defeated in a landslide , she stayed in politics for the rest of her life.
Died April 25 (b. 1927)
Joe Perry was a football hall of famer, playing fullback for the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts in the late ’40s, ’50s and early ’60s. Perry, the first player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.
Died May 12 (b. 1956)
Ron Springs played fullback for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the ’80s. He went on dialysis in 2006, before receiving a kidney from a former teammate in 2007. Seven months later he went into a coma after a routine procedure to remove a cyst from his elbow.
Died May 20 (b. 1952)
Randy Savage was a professional wrestler. He actually played minor league baseball for the Cardinals and White Sox before switching to wrestling. He moved into acting later in life, appearing in “Spider-Man” and “Mad About You.”
Died May 24 (b. 1906)
Huguette Clark was a multi-millionaire heiress who lived in seclusion for her final 22 years. She left behind a vast fortune , as well as empty multi-million dollar mansions in Manhattan, Santa Barbara and Connecticut.
Died May 27 (b. 1950)
Jeff Conaway was an actor who starred in “Grease” and TV’s “Taxi” and, more recently, “Celebrity Rehab.” He battled drugs and alcohol for much of his life and spent his last month in a medically-induced coma.
Died May 27 (b. 1949)
A poet and recording artist, Gil Scott-Heron was often credited as a major influence on hip-hop. He first made his mark on the music scene with his spoken-word composition, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. He considered himself a “bluesologist,” but his style strongly influenced artists such as Public Enemy. Though he struggled with addiction in his later years, he released his first album of new material in 16 years in 2010.
Died June 2 (b. 1947)
Geronimo Pratt was a member of the Black Panther Party. He was convicted of murder and spent 27 years in prison before his conviction was overturned.
Died June 3 (b. 1928)
Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known as this, was an advocate for assisted suicide, helping more than 100 people die. He spent eight years in jail on a second-degree murder charge. An HBO film, “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino documented Kevorkian’s life.
Died June 23 (b. 1927)
Peter Falk was an actor, known for his role in the detective show “Columbo.” He received four Emmys for his portrayal of Lt. Columbo. Falk suffered from Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Died July 6 (b. 1941)
John Mackey was a pro football hall of famer. He redefined the tight end position during his time playing for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers. He famously caught a touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas , then ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
Died July 8 (b. 1918)
Betty Ford was a former first lady who established the Betty Ford Center for drug abuse and addiction. Married to former President Gerald Ford for 58 years, she was an abortion-rights advocate and raised awareness about breast cancer after her diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy in 1978.
Died July 23 (b. 1983)
Amy Winehouse was an English singer who won five Grammy Awards for her second album, “Back to Black.” Although most agree her powerful vocals were incredible, it was her drug and alcohol binges that often landed her in the press.
Died Aug. 3 (b. 1948)
Annette Charles was an actress, best known for her role in “Grease”. After retiring from acting, she became a speech professor at this California university.
Died Aug. 3 (b. 1945)
Bubba Smith was an NFL star and actor. After retiring from football, he appeared in commercials for this beer and starred in six “Police Academy” movies.
Died Aug. 6 (b. 1944)
Bernadine Healy was a well-known and controversial cardiologist and the first female director of the National Institutes of Health. She is the former president of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.
Died Aug. 22 (b. 1941)
Nick Ashford was a Motown songwriter who wrote songs for Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Died Sept. 4 (b. 1954)
Lee Roy Selmon was a hall of fame defensive end in the NFL . He won six Pro Bowls and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1979.
Died Sept. 6 (b. 1947)
Michael Stern Hart was an author and the creator of the e-book. He also founded the online library “Project Gutenberg,” where users can download free e-books.
Died Sept. 15 (b. 1919)
Frances Bay was a character actress who had parts on “Happy Days” and “Seinfeld” . She also played Adam Sandler’s grandmother in this humorous golf flick.
Died Sept. 30 (b. 1942)
Pete Gent was a former NFL player who wrote the novel “North Dallas Forty,” which was later made into a movie. The novel gave a behind-the-scenes look at life as a footballer, depicting players’ drug and alcohol use.
Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 and went on to create the iPhone, iPad and iPod, forever changing the way the world communicates. Read what President Obama said about Jobs’ passing.
Died Oct. 8 (b. 1929)
Al Davis was the owner of the Oakland Raiders for 31 years. He made history when he went to court and won the right to move his Oakland team to Los Angeles, although it eventually moved back. He also played a big part in merging the American Football League with the National Football League.
Died Oct. 12 (b. 1941)
Dennis Ritchie was a computer programmer who designed the C programming language and co-developed the Unix operating system. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Died Oct. 16 (b. 1978)
Dan Wheldon was an English race car driver. He won the Indy 500 in 2005 and 2011 but died tragically in an accident at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. Friend and fellow race car driver Dario Franchitti had this to say about Wheldon.
Died Oct. 24 (b. 1927)
John McCarthy was a computer scientist who coined the term “artificial intelligence.” He is also credited with laying the foundation for today’s Internet by developing “computer time-sharing” in the 1960s. He was the recipient of many awards, including the Turing Award.
Died Nov. 1 (b. 1919)
Dorothy Howell Rodham was the mother of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rodham overcame a difficult childhood, and although she didn’t see much of the world herself, was an inspiration to her daughter.
Died Nov. 2 (b. 1923)
Leonard Stone was a character actor who had roles in many TV shows and films, including “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” He was nominated for an award in 1959 for his role in the musical “Redhead.”
Died Nov. 4 (b. 1919)
Andy Rooney was best known for his weekly commentary “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney,” part of “60 Minutes,” a broadcast he did from 1978 to 2011. Watch video of his commentary.
Died Nov. 7 (b. 1944)
Joe Frazier was a heavyweight boxer, holding the undisputed heavyweight champion title from 1971-73. Frazier was known for his fights against this boxing great. This boxer-turned-grillmaster took Frazier’s title away in 1973.
Died Nov. 8 (b. 1922)
Bil Keane was the creator of "Family Circle," the most widely syndicated single-panel daily cartoon in the world. The comic, which came out in 1960, is now drawn by this artist.
Died Nov. 8 (b. 1967)
Heavy D was a rapper and record producer. He led hip-hop group Heavy D and the Boyz , the first act signed to this record label.
Died Dec. 7 (b. 1915)
Harry Morgan was an actor best known for his roles on “M*A*S*H” and “Dragnet.” He appeared in more than 100 films, but it was his role as Col. Sherman Potter on “M*A*S*H” that won him many fans, as well as this award in 1980.
Died Dec. 15 (b. 1949)
Writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor and columnist for several noted publications including The Atlantic and Vanity Fair. He was known for his acerbic writing style and celebrated atheism, which was the subject of his 2007 best-selling novel “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” The British-born, Oxford-educated writer eventually became an American citizen.
Died Dec. 17 (b. 1941)
The elusive leader of North Korea, founded by his father Kim Il-sung after World War II, ruled the nation from 1994 until his death . Under his leadership, North Korea became a nuclear power and a nation isolated from much of the world. Kim Jong un , the late dictator’s youngest son, succeeds him.