2012 review: people we lost

By Ian Jones, MSN UK news editor Reuters, Getty Images, Rex Features
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Famous faces who passed away during the last 12 months

World-famous singers, entertainers and politicians were among those who died in 2012, along with some of the 20th century's most pioneering musicians and writers. We also lost one of history's most famous adventurers. Here's a tribute to these and others who passed away during the last 12 months.

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Bob Holness

The British presenter and broadcaster Bob Holness (born 1928) was best known for fronting the TV quiz show Blockbusters, which ran on ITV from 1983 to 1994. Much earlier in his life he had played the role of James Bond, when he starred in a 1956 South African radio production of Moonraker. He died on 6 January 2012.

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Etta James

The American singer Etta James (born 1938) found fame as a performer in a wide range of styles, from jazz and blues to soul and rock. During her career she won six Grammys and enjoyed a number of hits including At Last and I Just Want to Make Love to You. She died on 20 January 2012.

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Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston (born in New Jersey in 1963) sold over 170 million albums worldwide, making her one of the planet's most popular artists. Her biggest hits included Saving All My Love for You, I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), and I Will Always Love You from the soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard, which remains the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. Houston died on 11 February after accidentally drowning in the bath due to the effects of chronic cocaine use and heart disease.

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Frank Carson

Born in Northern Ireland in 1926, Frank Carson was one of the UK's most well-known comedians. He won nationwide fame from his appearances on the 1970s ITV shows The Comedians and Tiswas, but performed as a stand-up throughout his life, including into his 80s. He died on 22 February 2012.

Rex Features
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Davy Jones

Best-known as lead singer of the US group the Monkees, Davy Jones (born in Manchester in 1945) first made his name as an child actor in the musical Oliver!. His role in the Monkees - both the band and the TV series - made him an international star and teen idol. Jones reunited with the band in 1996. He died on 29 February from a heart attack.

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Jocky Wilson

John Thomas 'Jocky' Wilson was a professional darts player who was born in Fife, Scotland in 1950. He was best known for winning the World Professional Darts championship in both 1982 and 1989, along with a host of domestic competitions including the British Open and Matchplay titles. He died on 24 March 2012.

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Adam Yauch

As a founding member of the hip hop group the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch (born in New York in 1964) helped popularise rap around the world. Yauch adopted the stage name MCA and, along with his bandmates, sold over 40 million records. He went on to work as a film director and human rights activist, campaigning regularly for the Tibetan independence movement. He died from cancer on 4 May 2012.

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Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb (born on the Isle of Man in 1949) was a founding member of the Bee Gees, along with his brothers Maurice and Barry. The group became one of the most successful in music history, scoring hits such as Massachusetts, Stayin' Alive, Tragedy and You Win Again. He died on 20 May 2012 from liver and kidney failure.

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Ray Bradbury

The American writer Ray Bradbury (born 1920) penned some of the most famous science fiction and fantasy stories in modern literature. He was best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953 and made into a film in 1966. Some of his well-known collections of fiction include The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. He died on 5 June after a lengthy illness.

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Nora Ephron

The award-winning American writer and journalist Nora Ephron (born 1941) enjoyed international critical and commercial success with her screenplay for When Harry Met Sally. She also wrote Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia, as well as working as a novelist, playwright, producer and director. She died of pneumonia on 26 June 2012.

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Eric Sykes

One of the most influential figures in British comedy of the last 100 years, Eric Sykes (born 1923) wrote for the likes of Spike Milligan, Tommy Cooper, Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock. During his life he penned thousands of scripts for radio and television, as well as appearing on screen in a number of hit shows (including the eponymous BBC sitcom Sykes). He also enjoyed a film career and worked as a director. Sykes died on 4 July 2012 after a short illness.

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Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal was a commanding and controversial personality in American journalism, literature and politics for over half a century. He was born in New York in 1925, and went on to a career that embraced film (the screenplay for Ben Hur) and politics (he stood for office twice) as well as numerous books, essays and magazine columns. His radical and often outspoken views both delighted and appalled his fellow Americans. He died on 31 July 2012.

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Maeve Binchy

The Irish novelist Maeve Binchy (born 1940) sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and had her books translated into 37 languages. By the time of her death she was regarded as Ireland's most famous and best-loved writer. Binchy penned dozens of novels, plays and short stories during her life, including Circle of Friends, Tara Road and Scarlet Feather. She died on 30 July 2012.

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Marvin Hamlisch

American songwriter, composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch (born 1944) was one of only a very small number of people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. He wrote the soundtrack for a number of hit films, including The Sting, The Way We Were, The Spy Who Loved Me and Sophie's Choice, as well as penning the hugely successful musical A Chorus Line. He died on 6 August 2012.

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Sid Waddell

Sid Waddell (born 1940) began his career as a university lecturer, but moved into television journalism in the late 1960s and ended up commentating on live sport. It was here that he found national fame as "the voice of darts" on the BBC and, later, Sky Sports. He also created the ITV series Indoor League in the late 1960s, which helped popularise pub games, as well as producing over 600 editions of the local news programme Calendar. He died on 11 August 2012.

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Tony Scott

The British director Tony Scott (born 1944) was best-known for films such as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, True Romance and Enemy of the State. He made his name directing advertisements in the UK, before moving to Hollywood in the early 1980s. He died on 19 August 2012 after taking his own life.

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Neil Armstrong

As the first person to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong (born in Ohio in 1930) will enjoy a place in history forever. He was an officer in the US Navy before training to become an astronaut in the early 1960s. Armstrong made his first space flight in 1966 and three years later commanded the Apollo 11 mission to land on the surface of the moon. He spent the rest of his life teaching and lecturing. He died on 25 August 2012.

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Max Bygraves

One of Britain's most popular and enduring entertainers, Max Bygraves (born 1922) enjoyed a long career as a comedian, singer and actor. He appeared at the Royal Variety Performance 20 times, recorded a number of hit albums - including four volumes of Singalongamax - and hosted the ITV quiz show Family Fortunes for three years in the 1980s. He died on 31 August 2012.

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Hal David

The American lyricist Hal David (born 1921) was best known for his writing partnership with composer Burt Bacharach. Together they penned hundreds of songs, many becoming chart hits: The Look of Love, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head, (They Long To Be) Close To You, I Say A Little Prayer, Anyone Who Had a Heart, I'll Never Fall in Love Again, and dozens more. In 2011 David and Bacharach were awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the American Library of Congress: the first songwriting team to be given the honour. David died on 1 September 2012.

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Herbert Lom

Czech-born actor Herbert Lom (born 1917) made his name internationally in the Pink Panther films, playing the hapless Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus opposite Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau. He also appeared in films as diverse as The Ladykillers, Spartacus, El Cid and The Phantom of the Opera, as well as enjoying regular work on television. Lom died on 27 September 2012.

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Eric Hobsbawm

One of the most influential historians of the last 100 years, Eric Hobsbawm (born 1917) wrote from a left-wing perspective based on Karl Marx's ideas about history being an ongoing political struggle between different classes. He worked in British universities for many decades after the second world, and won many followers  - and detractors - through his articles, essays and books. For much of his life Hobsbawm was a member of the Communist party, but in later years welcomed the rebranding of the Labour party begun by Neil Kinnock and continued by Tony Blair. He died on 1 October 2012.

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George McGovern

George McGovern (born 1922) was the Democratic party candidate in the 1972 presidential election. A former congressman and senator, McGovern lost the election to incumbent Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American history, winning just one state. McGovern fought the election campaign from a position of being strongly opposed to Vietnam war: a subject that had split both his own party and the country. He remained in the US Senate until 1980, and later served as US ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. He was widely praised for his work in combatting world hunger, and was named World Food Prize co-laureate in 2008. McGovern died on 21 October 2012.

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Larry Hagman

The American actor Larry Hagman (born 1931) was best-known as the oil baron JR Ewing in the 1980s US soap opera Dallas. He played the role of the wily yet lovable rogue for 13 years from 1978 to 1991. When his character was apparently shot dead by a mystery assassin in 1980, the story made headlines around the world. Hagman had earlier appeared in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. His last TV appearance was in a Dallas revival earlier this year. He died on 23 November 2012.

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Dave Brubeck

American jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck (born 1920) was responsible for some of most groundbreaking music of the 20th century. Compositions such as Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk, which married unusual time signatures with memorable tunes, became huge hits and brought jazz into pop music charts. Often working with saxophist Paul Desmond, Brubeck innovated throughout his life and continued experimenting with rhythms and melodies into his 80s. He died on 5 December 2012.

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Oscar Niemeyer

Born in Brazil in 1907, Oscar Niemeyer was one of the giants of 20th century architecture. His most famous works include the United Nations headquarters in New York, which he co-designed with the equally influential architect Le Corbusier, and many buildings in Brasilia, which was created as the new capital of Brazil in the 1950s. He worked mostly with reinforced concrete, an approach that gave his creations a very distinctive appearance that won both praise and criticism. He continued designing up to the end of his life, and died at the age of 104 on 5 December 2012.

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Patrick Moore

Astronomer and writer Patrick Moore (born 1923) became a household name through his 55-year stint as the host of The Sky at Night, in the process becoming the world's longest-running presenter of the same programme. Moore was known as much for his stargazing as his prodigious talent on the xylophone and his eccentric habits, including his monocle, rapid speech and fondness for keeping cats. During his life he fronted a number of landmark BBC TV broadcasts, including coverage of the moon landings. He died on 9 December 2012.

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Ravi Shankar

The Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar (born 1920) played a crucial role in popularising Indian music around the world. He toured Europe and the Americas from the 1950s onwards, but it was through his later associations with classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Beatles guitarist George Harrison that he became most widely known. Shankar wrote and performed music that combined eastern and western musical styles, in turn pioneering new sounds and winning huge audiences. He died on 11 December 2012.