In Memoriam 2009

Karla Knauff

As 2010 approaches, we mourn the loss of the many celebrities that passed in 2009. We lost many class acts, such as “The King of Pop," “The Most Trusted Man in America," a member of The Brat Pack, a guitar legend, “the Sexiest Man Alive,” one of Charlie’s Angels and a man who could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. June 28 was the day local star Billy Mays died. He was probably one of the best known TV salesmen, most notable for Oxiclean and Orange Glo and most recognizable for his dark beard and distinct voice. Mays was born in McKee’s Rocks, PA and attended Sto-Rox High school. Perhaps one of the greatest losses of the decade was Michael Jackson, who died June 25th at age 50. MJ was one of the most, influential entertainers of all time, releasing legendary hits such as "Thriller," "Billie Jean," "Beat it," "Black or White," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in The Mirror," and "You Are Not Alone." Other major hits with the Jackson 5 are "I Want You Back" and "I’ll Be There." Jackson lived a highly publicized life that made him known for his changing appearance and many accusations of abuse. He is notable for making the moonwalk and the robot. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; he has multiple records held in Guinness Book of World Records one of which includes “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time.” Jackson won 15 Grammy Awards, a “Living Legend" award, a “Lifetime Achievement" award, 26 American Music Awards (24 Solo, 2 with Jackson 5), “Artist of the Century,” 17 number one singles with sales between 350-750 million which made him the Best Selling Artist of History. Jackson donated over $300,000,000 to support 39 charities, as well as founding Heal the World Foundation. Thriller remains to be the best selling album of all time. Another prominent figure in music passed in 2009 was Les Paul. He was a jazz and country guitarist, songwriter, and inventor; he developed the solid body electric guitar that made the sound of rock and roll. Les Paul hosted radio programs on NBC radio and “The Les Paul Show”; he died of pneumonia August 12. American broadcast journalist and anchorman Walter Cronkite died July 17. He worked for CBS News for 19 years and was nicknamed "The Most Trusted Man In America." He reported many historic and important events such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the start of WWII, the Nuremberg Trails, the Vietnam War, the death of JFK, Watergate, and the Iran Hostage Crisis. He had extensive coverage on the US space program during Project Mercury and the space shuttle launch. The Beatles’ first TV broadcast in America was with Walter Cronkite. Farrah Fawcett, a beautiful ’70s icon and starlet died June 25. Fawcett was most recognized for her role as Jill Monroe in the popular television series, Charlie’s Angles. She won multiple Golden Globe Awards. Fawcett was a pop culture icon and sex figure of the ’70s and ’80s. She was known for her iconic picture of her smiling face in a red bathing suit and her trademark blonde hair. She was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, and fully recovered. Unfortunately Fawcett’s cancer came back and she died shortly after her second diagnoses. Patrick Swayze: actor, dancer, singer-songwriter. He was most known for his films including the iconic “Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost,” “Roadhouse,” and “Point Break.” Some of his other movies include “The Outsiders,” “Skatetown USA,” “Red Dawn,” and “Young Blood.” He was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991. Swayze not only acted on camera but also on stage staring as Danny in the production of Greese, and major roles in Guys and Dolls and Chicago. In late January 2008 Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with stage IV Pancreatic Cancer and died September 14, 2009. Speaking of The Brat Pack, many included with that mourn the loss of John Hughes. He died at age 59 of a heart attack. Hughes was the producer and writer of many hit films like “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” "Ferris Buellers Day Off,” “Weird Science,” “The Breakfast Club," “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink," “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck,” “Home Alone,” and “Home Alone 2.” Although Hughes died, his movies will live on as some of the greatest classics of all times. The young and beautiful Brittany Murphy unexpectedly passed away December 20th of cardiac arrest. She was a popular actress and singer, staring in many top films such as “Clueless,” “8 Mile," “Uptown Girls,” “Sin City,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “The Devils Arithmetic,” “Just Married,” “Little Back Book” and “Happy Feet;” She voiced Luanne Platter on TV’s King of the Hill. Her final film, “Abandoned,” is to release in 2010. Another young talented star that died at the end of December 2009 was James “The Rev” Sullivan. He was the drummer and backup vocalist for the band Avenged Sevenfold. Sullivan was also the lead singer of the band Pinky Smooth and the drummer for a band called Suburban Legends. He not only played the drums, but also piano and guitar. He wrote many hit songs such as “A Little Piece of Heaven,” “Almost Easy,” and “Afterlife.” The cause of his death is undetermined. Many other celebrity deaths of 2009 include Natasha Richardson of The Parent Trap, John Updike, Ricardo Montalban, Don Hewitt, the creator of 60 Minutes, Bea Arthur from TV’s "The Golden Girls," James Whitmore, and Dom DiMaggio of the Boston Red Sox.