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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.
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 was ultimately fired amid a molestation scandal involving an assistant coach that scarred his reputation.
Some whose deaths we noted weren't known by image or even name but by contributions that changed our lives - like Eugene Polley, inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, and Norman Joseph Woodland, co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores.
Among the political figures who died were George McGovern, Democrat presidential nominee who lost to Richard Nixon in a historic landslide, and ex-Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist. Others from the world of politics: Bill Janklow, Norodom Sihanouk, Charles "Chuck" Colson, Warren B. Rudman, Andrew Breitbart and Miguel de la Madrid.
The year also saw the deaths of a number of TV stars including Larry Hagman, who played oil baron J.R. Ewing on "Dallas."
Others in entertainment and the arts who died included: Etta James, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Sherman Hemsley, Maurice Sendak, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Doc Watson, Richard Dawson, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, Don Cornelius, Jan Berenstain, Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck.
Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2012. (Cause of death cited for younger people if available.)
Bob Anderson, 89. Olympic fencer and movie sword master, he donned Darth Vader's black helmet and fought light saber battles in two "Star Wars" films. Jan. 1.
Jessica Joy Rees, 12. She became a nationally recognized face of child cancer with a blog that chronicled her fight against brain tumors. Jan. 5. Brain cancer.
Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her performance of the enduring classic "At Last." Jan. 20. Complications of leukemia.
Robert Hegyes, 60. Actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show "Welcome Back Kotter." Jan. 26.
Don Cornelius, 75. As host of "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. Trainer who helped groom Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard into world champions. Feb. 1.
Zalman King, 70. Actor and filmmaker who became known for his erotic work after writing and producing his breakthrough film "9 1/2 Weeks." Feb. 3.
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.
Florence Green, 110. Last known veteran of World War I. Feb. 4.
Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
Charles Anthony, 82. Character singer who set the record for most appearances at the Metropolitan Opera - 2,928 - during a career that spanned from 1954 to 2010. Feb. 15.
Marie Colvin, 56. Journalist, recognizable for the eye patch that hid a shrapnel injury, who covered conflicts from Sri Lanka to Syria in her quest to bring stories about the world's most troubled places to light. Feb. 22. Killed in a shelling attack in Syria.
Jan Berenstain, 88. With her husband, Stan, she wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers for 50 years. Feb. 24.
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.
Ralph McQuarrie, 82. Artist who developed the look of the first "Star Wars" trilogy's signature characters, sets and spaceships. March 3.
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.
Jean Giraud, 73. French comics artist known by fans from Hollywood to Japan as Moebius and the creator of unsettling, eye-opening fantasy worlds in print and on film. March 10.
Michael Hossack, 65. Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer whose work is heard on the hits "Listen To The Music" and "China Grove." March 12. Cancer.
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.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, 76. He designed Porsche's classic 911 sports car, the sleek model that evokes power, wealth and envy among aficionados. April 5.
Thomas Kinkade, 54. Artist whose paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been big sellers for dealers across the U.S. April 6.
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 like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." April 19.
Patricia Medina, 92. Actress who became a Hollywood leading lady in the 1950s opposite Glenn Ford, Alan Ladd, Karl Malden and Fernando Lamas. April 28.
Lloyd Brevett, 80. Renowned double bassist who helped carry ska music from Jamaica to the world as a founding member of the band The Skatalites. May 3.
Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop. May 4. Cancer.
George Lindsey, 83. He made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw." May 6.
Maurice Sendak, 83. Children's book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like "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.
Eddie Blazonczyk, 70. Grammy Award-winning polka great who earned the nickname "Polka King" after starting his own band and label. May 21.
Kathryn Joosten, 72. Character actress best known as Karen McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives" and the president's secretary on "The West Wing." June 2.
Richard Dawson, 79. Wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s TV comedy "Hogan's Heroes" and later the host of the game show "Family Feud." June 2.
Herb Reed, 83. Last surviving original member of 1950s vocal 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, 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 long-running Andy Hardy series and 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.
Richard Adler, 90. Composer-lyricist who won Tony Awards for such Broadway musicals as "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" and who produced President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration featuring a breathy Marilyn Monroe. June 21.
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
Doris Singleton, 92. Actress who played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's neighbor on "I Love Lucy." June 26.
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.
Marion Cunningham, 90. Home-cooking champion whose legacy can be found in the pages of "Fannie Farmer" cookbooks in kitchens across America. July 11.
Donald J. Sobol, 87. Author of the popular "Encyclopedia Brown" series of children's mysteries. July 11.
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.
Stephen R. Covey, 79. Author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and three other books that have all sold more than a million copies. July 16. Complications from a bicycle accident.
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 in 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.
Chavela Vargas, 93. She defied gender stereotypes to become one of the most legendary singers in Mexico. Aug. 5.
Mark O'Donnell, 58. Tony Award-winning writer behind such quirky and clever Broadway shows as "Hairspray and "Cry-Baby." Aug. 6.
Judith Crist, 90. Blunt, popular film critic for the "Today" show, TV Guide and the New York Herald Tribune. Aug. 7.
Carlo Rambaldi, 86. Special-effects master and three-time Oscar winner known as the father of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." Aug. 10.
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 who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating her jokes with her trademark cackle. Aug. 20.
Jerry Nelson, 78. Puppeteer behind a menagerie of characters including Count von Count on "Sesame Street" and Gobo Fraggle on "Fraggle Rock." Aug. 23.
Neil Armstrong, 82. He became a global hero when as a steely-nerved astronaut he made "one giant leap for mankind" with a small step onto the moon. Aug. 25.
Juan Valdez, 74. Land grant activist who fired the first shot during a 1967 New Mexico courthouse raid that grabbed international attention and helped spark the Chicano Movement. Aug. 25.
Shulamith Firestone, 67. Feminist writer who published her influential "The Dialectic of Sex" at age 25 and then retreated into isolation and mental illness. Aug. 28.
Chris Lighty, 44. A hip-hop mogul who helped the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey attain hit records and lucrative careers outside music. Aug. 30. Apparent suicide.
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.
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." 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.
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.
Turhan Bey, 90. Actor whose exotic good looks earned him the nickname of "Turkish Delight" in films with Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn before he left Hollywood for a quieter life in Vienna. Sept. 30.
Alex Karras, 77. Feared NFL 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.
Koji Wakamatsu, 76. Japanese director who ruthlessly challenged authority with the grotesque and sexual. Oct. 17. Traffic accident.
Sylvia Kristel, 60. Dutch actress and star of the hit 1970s erotic movie "Emmanuelle." Oct. 17. Cancer.
Antoni Dobrowolski, 108. Oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he was a teacher who taught defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers. Oct. 21.
Bernard Lansky, 85. Memphis retailer who helped a young Elvis Presley establish his flashy, signature clothing style in the 1950s. Nov. 15.
Art Ginsburg, 81. Upbeat television chef known as Mr. Food. Nov. 21.
Larry Hagman, 81. Actor whose predatory oil baron J.R. Ewing on television's nighttime soap opera "Dallas" became a symbol for 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.
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.
Galina Vishnevskaya, 86. Renowned Russian opera diva who with her husband defied the Soviet regime to give shelter to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and suffered exile from her homeland. Dec. 11.
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.