By Emily Feimster
The end of 2009 is near and so we must bid farewell to some of our most cherished celebrities who passed away this year. While some lives were cut way too short, others were lucky enough to have had a long journey on this Earth. Join us as we remember their lives and celebrate their legacies.
One of the most shocking deaths came this summer with the passing of pop icon Michael Jackson, who left the world in mourning as his plans for a comeback were cut short. On June 25th, Jackson collapsed at his rented home and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. It is estimated that a billion people watched his memorial service, which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. However, as in life, controversy followed Jackson to his grave. At the time of death, he had been administered propofol, lorazepam, and midazolam. Law enforcement officials are currently conducting a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray.
Just days before Jackson's death, America lost one of its most memorable sweethearts when Farrah Fawcett succumbed to cancer. The former "Charlie's Angels" star, who had become an international sex symbol in the '70s, had been bravely battling the disease for three years with her longtime partner Ryan O'Neal by her side.
Another beloved entertainer, Patrick Swayze, also lost his battle with cancer at the age of 57. Swayze was an icon of the '80s and early '90s with movies such as "The Outsiders," "Ghost," and the unforgettable classic "Dirty Dancing."
Journalism took an enormous loss this year with the passing of legendary reporter Walter Cronkite, who lived a very full life up until the age 96. The anchor of the "CBS Evening News" was known as the most trusted man in America. He was also known for his time as a war correspondent during World War II and his coverage of the Kennedy assassination.
In fact, Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, recently passed away as well at the age of 88. She was most known for being the founder of the Special Olympics. The Kennedys then faced another hardship when Senator Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer at his home in Massachusetts. He was 77.
We also said goodbye to several other icons. Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary died at 63 from complications from chemotherapy. Cancer struck beloved "Golden Girls" and "Maude" actress Bea Arthur as well; she died peacefully in her Los Angeles Area home. And famous Johnny Carson sidekick Ed McMahon died at the age of 86 from cancer. The former "Star Search" host had made news recently for going bankrupt, but his legacy as one of the world's most well-liked entertainers will remain intact.
Of course 2009 didn't come without its share of mysterious passings. A lot of questions still surround the shocking death of veteran "Kung Fu" actor David Carradine, who was found dead in a hotel room at the Park Nai Lert Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The initial police investigation stated that Carradine had hung himself with a cord from the hotel curtains, but later reports revealed that a rope was tied around his genitals. The pathologist stated the incident met four of the criteria for accidental death involving autoerotic asphyxiation.
Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein was found dead in his New York City apartment where he died accidentally from "acute intoxication." He also had a lethal mixture of painkillers, cocaine, sleeping pills, OxyContin, Vicodin, Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan and Benadryl in his system. The popular DJ, who was once engaged to Nicole Richie, had famously survived a plane crash alongside Blink 182's Travis Barker.
On March 16, Natasha Richardson was severely injured while skiing in Mont-Tremblant, Québec, Canada. She was taken to the hospital for a "severe head injury", and was listed in critical condition. Fans all over the world were shocked when the actress and wife of Liam Neeson died.
The king of teens, John Hughes, who directed such classics as "The Breakfast Club", "Sixteen Candles", and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," died of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan. He was only 59.
Exuberant infomercial star Billy Mays, who hawked OxiClean, Mighty Putty and other household products, also died way too early, passing away at the age of 50 from heart failure.
The world certainly lost its share of larger than life entertainers. Dom DeLuise died peacefully in his sleep in a Los Angeles hospital, where he had been suffering from kidney failure and respiratory problems. He was 75. Singer, comedian, and impressionist Danny Gans died unexpectedly at his Las Vegas home. The cause of death was a drug toxicity caused by the combination of hydromorphone and a pre-existing heart condition, but it was not drug abuse-related. "Fantasy Island" actor Ricardo Montalbán died at the age of 88. "Laugh In" actor Henry Gibson died at the age of 73 from cancer.
Comedian Fred Travalena died of lymphoma. And Soupy Sales, the beloved comedian known for getting hit in the face with pies, died of cancer at 83.
We sadly also lost: former wrestler Lou Albano; Creator of "60 Minutes" Don Hewitt; "Angela's Ashes" author Frank McCourt; Alan Livingston who created Bozo the Clown; revered veteran actor Karl Malden; former longtime quarterback of the Tennessee Titans Steve McNair, who was murdered at 36; former jazz guitarist and electronic mastermind Les Paul; Ean Evans, Lynard Skynard guitarist; Actress Gale Storm; writer Dominick Dunne; NBA coach Chuck Daly; Emmy-winning actor Patrick McGoohan; singer Ellie Greenwich; and "Remote Control" host Ken Ober.
May their souls rest in peace.
Syndicated Columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are featured in over 100 print publications and other media outlets with cutting edge celebrity news and insider scoop. Enjoy their columns daily on CompuServe and Netscape.