Notable deaths this past year around the world.

Share story

The video doesn’t lie: Michael Jackson was looking ahead to a smash opening in London — and giving it his all. And then he was gone. With his thrilling music and dance, enigmatic personality and worldwide reach, Jackson led the list of notables who died in 2009.

Of all the notables who died in the past year, 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.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The political world also 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.

Some, like Jackson, departed without warning. Some, like actor Patrick Swayze, waged a very public struggle with illness. But others still were active in their 80s and 90s, including painter Andrew Wyeth, broadcaster Paul Harvey and those two giants of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt.

We also said goodbye to writers John Updike, Horton Foote, John Hope Franklin, Budd Schulberg, and Larry Gelbart.

TV fans mourned sidekick Ed McMahon, delightfully sharp-tongued Bea Arthur, “Kung Fu” star David Carradine; and the decorative Farrah Fawcett.

Here, a roll call of some of the notable people who died in 2009. (Cause of death cited for younger people if available.)

— The Associated Press


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

Pat Hingle, 84. Tony-nominated stage actor; Commissioner Gordon in “Batman” movies. Jan. 3.

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.

Patrick McGoohan, 80. Emmy-winning actor; star of TV classic “The Prisoner.” Jan. 13.

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

Andrew Wyeth, 91. Acclaimed artist whose portraits and landscapes combined traditional realism, modern melancholy. Jan. 16.

David “Fathead” Newman, 75. Jazz saxophonist; played with wide range of luminaries. Jan. 20.

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.


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

Blossom Dearie, 84. Jazz singer with unique baby-doll voice. Feb. 7.

Louie Bellson, 84. Jazz drummer; performed with Duke Ellington, wife Pearl Bailey. Feb. 14.

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


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

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

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

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

Irving R. Levine, 86. Bow-tied NBC newsman who explained the fine points of economics. March 27.

Maurice Jarre, 84. Oscar-winning film composer (“Lawrence of Arabia,” “Doctor Zhivago”). March 28.


Tom Braden, 92. Helped launch CNN’s “Crossfire”; wrote memoir “Eight is Enough” that inspired a TV show. April 3.

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

David “Pop” Winans Sr., 76. Grammy-nominated patriarch of gospel-music family. April 8.

Marilyn Chambers, 56. She helped bring adult films into mainstream with “Behind the Green Door.” April 12. Heart disease.

J.G. Ballard, 78. British author known for dark vision (“Empire of the Sun”). April 19.


Jack Kemp, 73. Quarterback turned politician who crusaded for lower taxes, was Bob Dole’s running mate. May 2.

Dom DeLuise, 75. Portly actor with offbeat style (“The Cannonball Run”). May 4.


Koko Taylor, 80. Regal, powerful singer known as “Queen of the Blues.” June 3.

David Carradine, 72. Actor (“Kung Fu,” “Kill Bill”). June 4.

Bernard Barker, 92. Ex-CIA operative, Watergate burglar. June 5.

Omar Bongo, 73. He ruled Gabon for 42 years, making him world’s longest-serving president. June 8.

Ed McMahon, 86. Ebullient “Tonight” show sidekick who bolstered Johnny Carson. June 23.

Gale Storm, 87. Perky actress; one of early television’s biggest stars (“My Little Margie”). June 27.

Billy Mays, 50. Burly, bearded television pitchman. June 28. Heart disease.

Harve Presnell, 75. His booming baritone graced Broadway musicals (“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”). June 30.


Karl Malden, 97. Oscar-winning actor; a star despite his plain looks (“A Streetcar Named Desire”). July 1.

Robert S. McNamara, 93. Pentagon chief who directed escalation of Vietnam War despite private doubts. July 6.

Frank McCourt, 78. Former schoolteacher who enjoyed post-retirement fame, and a Pulitzer, for memoir “Angela’s Ashes.” July 19.

E. Lynn Harris, 54. Best-selling author who pioneered gay black fiction (“Love of My Own”). July 23. Heart disease.


Corazon Aquino, 76. Former Philippines president who swept away a dictator with 1986 “people power” revolt. Aug. 1.

Budd Schulberg, 95. Novelist (“What Makes Sammy Run?”) and Oscar-winning screenwriter (“On the Waterfront”). Aug. 5.

John Hughes, 59. Writer-director of smash youth-oriented comedies (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Home Alone”). Aug. 6. Heart attack.

Les Paul, 94. Guitar virtuoso; invented solid-body electric guitar, multitrack recording. Aug. 13.

Kim Dae-jung, 85. Dissident who became South Korean president; won Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to reconcile with North Korea. Aug. 18.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, 59. A kingmaker in Iraq’s politics, head of its biggest Shiite political party. Aug. 26. Lung cancer.

Hildegard Behrens, 72. German-born soprano hailed as one of the finest Wagnerian performers of her generation. Aug. 18.

Don Hewitt, 86. TV news pioneer who created “60 Minutes,” produced it for 36 years. Aug. 19.

Dominick Dunne, 83. Best-selling author who told stories of shocking crimes among the rich and famous. Aug. 26.


Army Archerd, 87. His breezy Daily Variety column kept tabs on Hollywood doings for more than a half-century. Sept. 8.

Jim Carroll, 60. Poet, punk rocker; wrote “The Basketball Diaries.” Sept. 11. Heart attack.

Larry Gelbart, 81. Slyly witty writer for stage and screen (“Tootsie,” “M-A-S-H”). Sept. 11.

Norman Borlaug, 95. Iowa farm boy who became acclaimed scientist, developed a type of wheat that helped feed the world. Sept. 12.

Patrick Swayze, 57. Dancer turned movie superstar for “Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost.” Sept. 14. Pancreatic cancer.

Henry Gibson, 73. Comic character actor; recited offbeat poetry on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Sept. 14.

Jody Powell, 65. President Jimmy Carter’s press secretary, top adviser. Sept. 14.

Irving Kristol, 89. Writer, editor known as godfather of neoconservatism. Sept. 18.

Susan Atkins, 61. Member of Charles Manson “family”; killed actress Sharon Tate. Sept. 24.

Mary Travers, 72. One-third of the hugely popular 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary (“If I Had a Hammer”). Sept. 16.

Alicia de Larrocha, 86. Spanish pianist who thrilled music listeners for decades. Sept. 25.

William Safire, 79. Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist and word warrior. Sept. 27.


Mercedes Sosa, 74. Argentine folk singer; the “Voice of Latin America” who inspired pro-democracy activists. Oct. 4.

Irving Penn, 92. Photographer famed for stark simplicity in portraits, fashion shots. Oct. 7.

Al Martino, 82. Singer (“Spanish Eyes”); played the Frank Sinatra-type role in “The Godfather.” Oct. 13.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, 70. Spiritual leader of Church Universal and Triumphant, predicted nuclear Armageddon. Oct. 15.

Jack Nelson, 80. Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles Times reporter, bureau chief. Oct. 21.

Soupy Sales, 83. Rubber-faced comedian whose anything-for-a-chuckle career was built on thousands of pies to the face. Oct. 22.

Claude Levi-Strauss, 100. French intellectual who was considered father of modern anthropology Oct. 30.

Michelle Triola Marvin, 76. She fought a landmark “palimony” case in the 1970s against former lover Lee Marvin. Oct. 30.


Vitaly Ginzburg, 93. Nobel-winning Russian physicist, helped develop Soviet hydrogen bomb. Nov. 8.

Bruce King, 85. Former New Mexico governor; an institution in state politics. Nov. 13.

Patriarch Pavle, 95. Serbian Orthodox leader during 1990s Balkan unrest. Nov. 15.

Jeanne-Claude, 74. With her husband, Christo, she created large-scale, highly publicized art projects. Nov. 18.


Gene Barry, 90. He was TV’s well-dressed man of action in “Bat Masterson,” “Burke’s Law” and “The Name of the Game.” Dec. 9.

Thomas Hoving, 78. Former director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who championed the “blockbuster” exhibit. Dec. 10.

Paul Samuelson, 94. Economist who won a Nobel Prize, helped shape JFK’s tax policy and wrote a textbook read by millions. Dec. 13.

Sol Price, 93. He founded Price Club, which pioneered the warehouse superstore sales model. Dec. 14.

Oral Roberts, 91. TV evangelist who built a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university that bears his name. Dec. 15.

Roy E. Disney, 79. Nephew of Walt Disney; exerted strong behind-the-scenes influence on The Walt Disney Co. Dec. 16.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, 87. Spiritual father of Iran’s reform movement. Dec. 20.

Brittany Murphy, 32. Actress (“Clueless”), of cardiac arrest. Dec. 20.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.