Each year a group of talented singers, musicians, actors, directors, athletes, and business giants dies. Celebrities, like the rest of us, are mortal and we mourn for them when they die. Here is a list of ten of the celebrities who have passed during 2011:
1) Elizabeth Taylor: 1932-2011. From the time she appeared in her very first role in the film National Velvet the public fell in love with this beauty. She went on to have a great career landing quite a few good roles in films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant, Butterfield 8, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Not allowing the public to simply dismiss her as simply a stunning, Elizabeth Taylor proved her acting mettle. All throughout her career she had a mystique and aura around her that few others matched. Besides her beauty she had a glamour about her with all her furs and jewels. Though her career was solid her personal life was a mess and she became the butt of several jokes due to her numerous marriages. Using her power as a celebrity she became quite an activist as well. One of the first celebrities to speak out about HIV before it became fashionable, Miss Taylor was a trailblazer. After a series of illnesses late in her life, she finally succumbed to congestive heart failure in Los Angeles.
2) Steve Jobs: 1955-2011. Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in Palo Alto, California. The CEO of Apple made one of his last public appearances at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June. After defeating cancer the first time he returned from his sick leave to introduce Apple’s new iCloud storage system and the most recent versions of Apple IOs and Mac OSX. His battle against cancer lasted 7 years. During his time with company, Apple became synonymous with his name. The news was broken with the posting of a simple but emotional online memorial that dominated apple.com.
3) Andy Rooney: 1919-2011. A popular reporter for many years on the television show 60 Minutes. Andy Rooney was nothing if not consistent. The man was who he was and made no apologies for it. At some point he made even his biggest fans angry but you had to give him kudos for never bowing to pressure or changing his viewpoints. A man of conviction. He died in New York City due to complications from surgery.
4) Amy Winehouse: 1983-2011. Despite her outlandish appearance, Amy Winehouse was quite shy and unsure of herself. That was not the case onstage. As a performer she displayed plenty of courage. Never was one to play it safe musically, Amy took chances. In essence, she was a jazz singer and had a phrasing that was influenced by the greats of that genre. An absolute original, she did not follow music trends. What is most tragic is that we, the music fans, will not get to see that talent mature and develop. Winehouse died in London of accidental alcohol poisoning.
5) Pete Postlethwaite: 1946-2011. Postlethwaite died of cancer in Shrewsbury, England. With his distinctive cheekbones the British character actor worked right up until his death. 2010 was a good year for him as he appeared in two Oscar nominated films – The Town and Inception. He was regarded as a hero in Ireland for his role in In The Name of the Father.
6) Jane Russell: 1921-2011. She died of respiratory-related illness in February of 2011. Remembered by many as one of the leading Hollywood sex symbols in the 1940s and 50s. One of her biggest roles was when she starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She was involved in both films and music until the 1960s. Russell was also deeply involved in adoption and even went on to found the World Adoption International Adoption Fund.
7) Harry Morgan: 1915-2011. A very committed actor who accomplished much during his career. Morgan died of complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles. It was almost as if he was born to play hard-boiled characters. His most famous roles were in M.A.S.H. and Dragnet. Before his death he had been retired from the industry for about 11 years.
8) Clarence Clemons: 1942-2011. For the past couple of years Clemons had been dealing with serious health issues. Clemons died of complications from a stroke in Palm Beach, Florida. Thought of as the spiritual center of the E Street Band. Best known for playing saxophone with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. A larger than life personality, he suffered a stroke on June 12th and underwent two surgeries shortly after that. Most recently he had worked on Lady Gaga’s latest album.
9) Peter Falk: 1927-2011. Falk died in Beverly Hills after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Suffered from Alzheimer’s over the last four years of his life. He is best remembered for playing the misleadingly intelligent detective Lt. Columbo. Falk had an untraditional acting style (kind of improvisational) which served him well in comedies. Appeared in films like A Woman Under the Influence, The In-Laws, Big Trouble, and Corky Romano.
10) Joe Frazier: 1944-2011. He was a legendary former heavyweight boxing champion. “Smokin” Joe Frazier is best remembered for his infamous rivalry with fellow champion Muhammad Ali. Frazier died a mere couple of weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer.