As we close the doors on 2011, it's time to take a look back at some of the well known people we lost who touched our lives.
Steve Jobs did something very few people actually accomplish, he changed the world. The founder of Apple, Jobs brought the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac into the lexicon. He also helped shepherd Pixar and made the unveiling of a product into an event. He cast such a long shadow that, when he died in October at the age of 56, many questioned if the company he led could survive without him. The fact that so many people learned of his passing on devices he helped create may answer that question better than anything else can.
Betty Ford may be the most influential First Lady the United States has ever had. By the time of her death in July at the age of 93, Betty Ford had raised awareness about breast cancer, women's rights and drug and alcohol addiction. Ford's work continues to this day through the treatment center she founded after revealing that she was both an alcoholic and a drug addict.
Geraldine Ferraro made history in 1984, becoming the first woman to run on a major party's presidential ticket when she accepted Walter Mondale's offer to become his running mate. Before that, she was an attorney, teacher and member of the US House of Representatives. After Mondale lost to Reagan in 84, Ferraro ran for the Senate and became Bill Clinton's first Ambassador to the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights. She died in March at the age of 75.
Arthur Nielsen, Jr.
Arthur Nielsen, Jr. may be the most influential person you've never heard of. That's because the company his father founded, and he ran, was responsible for the success or failure of almost every TV show you've ever watched. Founded in 1923, what was once known as ACNielsen uses market research to measure audience reaction to television, radio, newspapers and digital media. Nielsen died in October at 92-years-old.
For many people, Sherwood Schwartz created the TV of their childhoods. The man behind The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island started out as a radio writer for Bob Hope and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet before moving on to television where his creations became cultural icons. Schwartz died in July at the age of 94.
Chances are you know a Sidney Lumet movie. A director who averaged one film a year over a 54-year career, Lumet was most known for the films 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network and Verdict. Throughout his career, Lumet's films earned an astonishing 46 Oscar nominations. His last film came in 2007 with "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Sidney Lumet was still at the top of his game at 86-years-old when he died in April.
For a time, Elizabeth Taylor may have been the most famous woman in the world. Beginning as a child star, Taylor went on to become an Academy Award winning actress. However, she became more known for her tempestuous personal life when she married her co-star Richard Burton. Taylor went on to become a champion of HIV and AIDS awareness before dying in March at the age of 79.
He was best known as Columbo, the detective every criminal underestimated, but Peter Falk's career went beyond the shabby "absent-minded" detective. Beginning in the 1950s, Falk appeared on stage and the silver screen before moving on to TV and Lt. Columbo, where he was always asking "Just one more thing." Peter Falk died in June at the age of 83.
Actor Harry Morgan will forever be known as the regular Army Colonel Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077 th Army surgical hospital on M*A*S*H. But before that, he served and protected the people of Los Angeles as Detective Bill Gannon during the early days of television on Dragnet. Born in Detroit, Morgan began his career in radio during the 1940s and retired at the turn of the millennium. He died in December at 96.
Jackie Cooper began acting at the age of three and earned an Oscar nomination at the age of nine, before moving behind the scenes when he became an adult and the roles began to dry up. However, he re-emerged in the 1970s and 80s, playing Perry White to Christopher Reeve's Superman. He died in May at the age of 88.
A socialite and philanthropist, Evelyn Lauder was a member of the family behind cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, where she created the Clinique brand. However, she will also be remembered for helping to create and popularize the pink ribbon now associated with breast cancer awareness. She died in November at 75-years-old.
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
During his long life, civil rights leader Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was almost killed in a bombing, attacked by the Ku Klux Klan and participated in the Freedom Rides. At the time, this made him a very unpopular figure in his home of Birmingham, Alabama. By the time he died in October at 89, the city's airport
had been named after him and the governor had ordered the flags on state buildings to be lowered to half-staff in his honor.
Andy Rooney was known as a likeable curmudgeon. For years, he ended CBS's 60 Minutes by complaining about anything and everything, and watchers of the show loved him for it. But Rooney was also an award-winning writer and journalist who was awarded Emmys and a Peabody. He died in November at the age of 92, a little over a month after his last commentary.
Since their introduction more than 50 years ago, The Family Circus has become like family to many comic strip readers. It's fitting then that Bill Keane, the strip's creator, modeled the family after his own. When Bill died in November at the age of 89 he'd already turned the strip over to his son, ensuring that his creation would keep entertaining fans after his death.
Joe Simon wasn't a household name, but when he died December 14 at the age of 98, many of the characters he helped create became household names. Working with the legendary Jack Kirby, Simon helped create Captain America for Marvel before moving over to DC Comics. His career in comics ran from the Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s all the way to the Silver Age in the 1970s.
Amy Winehouse exploded onto the music scene in 2006 with her second album, the Grammy Award winning "Back to Black." However, by the time she died in July at 27, Winehouse was better known for her troubled personal life than her music. Her untimely death made her a member of what is morbidly known as the "27 Club." Other "members" include Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.
He was and will always be "The Big Man." Clarence Clemons played with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for decades after meeting each other in an incident that has become a rock and roll legend. Through dozens of songs, Clemons backed Springsteen with a soulful saxophone. He also became known as a prolific solo artist and actor before his death in June at 69.
As one half of Ashford & Simpson, Nick Ashford helped give the world the Motown "sound" by writing songs for Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Gladys knight, Smokey Robinson and the Supremes, among many others. The duo later married and found success as recording artists in their own right. Nick Ashford died in August at the age of 70.
Smokin' Joe Frazier was known for being the bad guy, mostly because he had the misfortune of facing off against Muhammad Ali in three of the greatest boxing matches of all time, culminating at the "Thrilla in Manila." After retiring, he was inducted into both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame, and named one of the ten greatest heavyweights of all time. Joe Frazier died in November at the age of 67.
Called one of the best to ever play the game by many, Harmon Killebrew played for the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals during a major league career that lasted 22 years. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984, Killebrew became a broadcaster after leaving the diamond. He died in May at the age of 74.
Dan Wheldon lived his life doing what he loved, racing cars. The love of racing earned him the crown jewel of auto racing twice, when he won the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and earlier this year. Months later, he was killed during a spectacular crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the age of 33.
Bubba Smith started out as a football player, winning All-American honors at Michigan State University where he participated in the legendary 10-10 tie with Notre Dame in 1966. After college, Smith played for the Colts, Raiders and Oilers in the NFL, playing in two Super Bowls. He went on to even greater fame after football when he was cast as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movies. Smith died in August at the age of 66.
Jack LaLanne became America's first fitness fanatic in the 1950s when he brought the country's first physical fitness program to the airwaves. However, his dedication began long before that. In 1936, LaLanne opened the country's first physical fitness gyms at the age of 21. He was still preaching his gospel of physical fitness when he died in January at the age of 96.