Annette Funicello was a child star on TV and a movie teen star. (AP)
It’s the time of year when we hear “Auld Lang Syne” and take a moment for a nostalgic look back at the many of the notables we lost this year. Some were famous in southeast Michigan, many were international icons, but each one had an impact on our culture that won’t soon be forgotten.
1: Patti Page, 85. One of the most popular singers of the 1950s, died in Encinitas, Calif. She was known for such lush, sentimental ballads as “The Tennessee Waltz” and “Old Cape Cod,” as well as the novelty song “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?”
Rod Hicks, 71. Detroit bass player who gained international renown playing for a diverse roster of acts, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, jazz stars Art Blakey and Milt Jackson, and in the Woodstock-era Paul Butterfield Blues Band, died of cancer.
14: Conrad Bain, 89. Veteran stage and film actor who became a star in middle age as the kindly white adoptive father of two young African-American brothers in the TV sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes.” Died of natural causes in Livermore, Calif.
16: Pauline Friedman Phillips, 94. Under the name of Abigail Van Buren, she wrote the long-running “Dear Abby” newspaper advice column read by millions. Died in Minneapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
17: Robert F. Chew, 52. Actor best known for his role as Proposition Joe in “The Wire,” died of heart failure in Baltimore.
26: Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, 69. Lead singer and guitarist for The Ohio Players since 1971, died of cancer in Trotwood, Ohio. The Dayton-based Ohio Players came to fame in the 1970s with such pure funk hits as “Fire,” “Skin Tight” and “Love Rollercoaster.”
27: Mike Novak, 57. Attorney for Bob Seger and attorney/agent for many local TV and radio personalities, died of a heart attack at his Grosse Pointe Shores home. Novak was much loved in the music and media community for his willingness to help and advise, often for free, for his sense of fun, and his strong support for local charities.
Patty Andrews, 94. Lead singer and last surviving member of the Andrew Sisters, died in Los Angeles Wednesday of natural causes. The trio was known for such World War II-era hits as the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” (later covered by Bette Midler).
1: Ed Koch, 88. Served three terms as mayor of New York from 1978-1989. Later served as judge on “The People’s Court” from 1997-1999. Died of congestive heart failure in New York.
Donald Byrd, 80. Another of Detroit’s many gifts to the jazz world, Byrd died in suburban Detroit. He studied music at Wayne State and left for New York in 1955. The hard bop trumpeter recorded with such luminaries as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey. He dabbled early in what was later called jazz fusion, and formed the Blackbyrds with some of his Howard University music students (they hit with “Walking in Rhythm” and “Rock Creek Park.”)
17: Mindy McCready, 37. She hit the top of the country music charts before personal problems sidetracked her career. She was found dead on the front porch of her Arkansas home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Cleotha Staples, 78. The eldest sibling in The Staple Singers, the group that brought gospel into the pop Top 10 with such hits as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There,” died at her Chicago home of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
18: Otis “Damon” Harris, 62. Former member of the Temptations, died of prostate cancer in Baltimore. Harris was a Temptation from 1971-’75. His high tenor voice can be heard on the group’s 1972 hit “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” as well as on “Superstar.”
19: Lou Meyers, 77. Actor best known for his role as Vernon Gaines on the NBC sitcom “A Different World,” died from complications of pneumonia in Charleston, W.Va.
Van Cliburn, 78. internationally celebrated pianist died at his Fort Worth, Texas, home of bone cancer. His triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular career that made him a rock star among classical musicians.
Richard Street, 70. The former member of the Temptations died in a Las Vegas hospital of a pulmonary embolism. Born in Detroit, Street started out in Otis Williams’ group The Distants, a precursor to the Temptations, but didn’t join the Tempts until 1971. He was a Temptation until well into the 1980s, and was heard on “Superstar,” “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone” and other hits.
1: Bonnie Franklin, 69. Star of the ’70s sitcom “One Day at a Time,” died from complications of pancreatic cancer in her Los Angeles home.
3: Bobby Rogers, 73. Rogers was one of the founding members of the Miracles, the first group recorded by Berry Gordy, and the one that brought singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson to worldwide fame. The tall, bespectacled singer, a cousin of Claudette Rogers Robinson, co-wrote many songs, some with Smokey, including “Going to a Go-Go” for the Miracles, “First I Look at the Purse” for the Contours and “My Baby” for the Temptations. Died at his Southfield home from complications of diabetes.
16: Robert “Bobbie” Smith, 76. Founding member of The Spinners died in Orlando, Fla., of complications from influenza and pneumonia. Smith helped formed the Spinners at Lincoln High School in Ferndale and sang lead on their first single, “That’s What Girls Are Made For” in 1961, for Tri-Phi Records. He sang lead on several of the group’s Atlantic hits, including “I’ll Be Around” (1972), “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” (1973) and “Games People Play” (1975).
22: Bebo Valdes, 94. Renowned pianist, composer and bandleader who recorded with Nat “King” Cole and was a key participant in the golden age of Cuban music.
30: Phil Ramone, 79. the Grammy Award-winning engineer, arranger and producer whose platinum touch included recordings with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon, died of complications stemming from heart surgery.
2: Milo O’Shea, 86. Character actor best known for his role with Paul Newman in “The Verdict” and nominated for two Tony Awards, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
3: Paul Williams, 64. Pioneering rock music journalist who founded “Crawdaddy” magazine, died in an Encinitas, Calif., care facility. Williams died of complications of early onset dementia triggered by head injuries from a 1995 bicycle accident. He was just 17 when he launched “Crawdaddy” as a student at Swarthmore College. That was 18 months before Jann Wenner founded Rolling Stone, and two years before Creem Magazine started publishing in Detroit.
4: Roger Ebert, 70. Most famous and popular film reviewer of the modern era and the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism, died of cancer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He was 70. Ebert wielded the most influential thumb on his long-running TV program “At the Movies” with the late Gene Siskel.Ebert was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967. On the day before his death, Ebert had announced on his blog that he was undergoing radiation treatment after a recurrence of cancer.
8: Annette Funicello, 70. Child star on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1950s who then teamed with Frankie Avalon on ’60s fun-in-the-sun movies with names like “Beach Party Bingo.”
11: Jonathan Winters, 87. Comedian whose antic, improvisational genius and misfit characters inspired Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, died at his Montecito, Calif., home of natural causes. Winters made memorable appearances in such films as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “The Loved One.”
18: Cordell “Boogie” Mosson, 60. Guitarist whose bass line drove the funk group Parliament-Funkadelic for four decades, died of liver failure in New Brunswick, N.J.
19: Al Neuharth, 89. Founder of USA Today, the nation’s most widely read newspaper, died in his home in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
22: Richie Havens, 72. Folk singer and guitarist famed for his strong performance at the Woodstock festival, died of a heart attack in New Jersey. The Brooklyn native was known for his deft guitar work and cover songs. His performance at 1969’s three-day Woodstock Festival was a turning point in his career.
26: George Jones, 81. Hard-living country singer whose mournful, eloquent voice was rated as highly as any in the country genre, producing such classics as “The Race is On,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “She Thinks I Still Care,” died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
1: Chris Kelly, 34. Member of the 1990s hip-hop duo Kris Kross, died of a drug overdose that included heroin and cocaine, in Atlanta. Kelly and partner Chris Smith were discovered at age 13 in 1991, at an Atlanta mall by producer Jermaine Dupri. Their partnership yielded the hit “Jump” in 1992.
8: Jeanne Cooper,
84. Veteran soap opera star who played grande dame Katherine Chancellor for nearly four decades on “The Young and the Restless.” She died peacefully in her sleep, according to her son, actor Corbin Bernsen.
20: Ray Manzarek, 74. Co-founder and organist for The Doors, died in Germany after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He and singer Jim Morrison formed The Doors in 1965. His organ played the memorable riff that opened The Doors’ hit “Light My Fire.”
31: Jean Stapleton, 90. Most famous role was her portrayal of Edith Bunker on the 1970’s show “All in the Family,” died at her New York home of natural causes. She had roles in the Broadway shows “Bells are Ringing” and “Damn Yankees,” and yet she won three Emmys for her portrayal of Edith Bunker, the likeable, dizzy wife dubbed “Dingbat” by the perpetually angry, prejudiced Archie Bunker.
6: Esther Williams, 91. Swimming champion-turned-actress who starred in glittering, aquatic Technicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s.
19: James Gandolfini, 51. Best-known role was as suburban mob boss Tony Soprano from 1999-2007 in “The Sopranos,” he died of a heart attack at Policlinico Umberto I Hospital in Rome while on vacation with his son Michael.
19: Slim Whitman, 90. The yodeling country star died in Orange Park, Fla. He had a number of moderate hits over the years, notably in 1952, with “Indian Love Call” and “Keep it a Secret,” but he really scored in 1979 when he started selling his albums by mail order, advertised on late night TV.
23: Bobby Blue Bland, 83. The blues singer died of natural causes at his home in Germantown, Tenn. Bland’s best-known recordings were cut between 1958 and 1968, and veered toward the smooth side of soul, including “I Pity the Fool,” “Turn on Your Lovelight” and “Call on Me.” Bland also had a trademark “squall” that he said he adopted after hearing “Aretha’s daddy,” the Rev. C.L. Franklin of Detroit, do one of his patented, singing sermons.
12: Pran, 93. India’s legendary actor, who played some of Bollywood’s most memorable villains in a career that spanned six decades, died of pneumonia.
12: Amar Bose, 83. Acoustic pioneer and founder and chairman of an audio technology company known for the rich sound of its tabletop radios and its noise-canceling headphones.
13: Cory Monteith, 31. The singer/actor on NBC’s “Glee,” was found dead in his hotel room in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian-born Monteith was 31. Police said that the actor, who had gone through rehab several times (most recently in April), had been injecting heroin and drinking champagne in the hours before his death, which they described as due to “mixed drug toxicity.”
22: Dennis Farina, 69. The character actor best known for his roles in the movie “Get Shorty” and the NBC drama “Law & Order,” died of a pulmonary embolism in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital.
28: Eileen Brennan, 80. Actress who starred in a number of films and television, most notably “Private Benjamin,” died of bladder cancer in her Burbank, Calif., home.
5: George Duke, 67. Keyboardist proficient in jazz, fusion, R&B and rock died in Los Angeles of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Duke played with artists such as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderly and Stanley Clarke. He toured with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, then produced a number of R&B singers in the ’80s, such as Jeffrey Osborne (“On the Wings of Love”), Deniece Williams (“Let’s Hear it for the Boy”) and Anita Baker (“Same Ole Love”).
8: Karen Black, 74. Character actress best known for roles in “Five Easy Pieces” and “Easy Rider” died of complications of cancer in Los Angeles.
10: Eydie Gormé, 84. Singer who performed for decades with her husband Steve Lawrence died in Las Vegas after a brief illness.
14: Lisa Robin Kelly, 43. Best known for her role as Laurie Forman in the sitcom “That ’70s Show,” died in Los Angeles.
19: Lee Thompson Young, 29. Star of the TNT drama “Rizzoli & Isles” died in Los Angeles of an apparent suicide.
20: Elmore Leonard, 87. Dubbed “the Dickens of Detroit” and widely considered to be one of the most important crime writers of the modern era, died at home in Bloomfield Hills from complications of a stroke. He was working on his final novel when he died and consulting on the hit FX series “Justified,” which was based upon his novella “Fire in the Hole.”
20: Marian McPartland, 95. Pioneering female jazz pianist, died at her Port Washington, N.Y., home of natural causes. The British-born McPartland said one of her key influences was Duke Ellington, and she was lauded for her mastery of the many styles of 20th century piano, and her harmonic complexity.
24: Julie Harris, 87. A native of Grosse Pointe Park who was dubbed “the first lady of the American theater,” died in West Chatham, Mass., of congestive heart failure. The famed actress appeared in more than 30 Broadway plays, earning a record five Tony Awards and 10 Tony nominations. She also was nominated for an Academy Award in 1952 for her indelible performance in “The Member of the Wedding,” a role she had created on Broadway. In later years, she co-starred on the CBS drama “Knots Landing” as Lilimae Clements. The actress also appeared in Elia Kazan’s 1955 film “East of Eden”
31: David Frost, 74. Veteran broadcaster who won fame around the world for his interview with former President Richard Nixon. He died of a heart attack on board a cruise ship.
12: Ray Dolby, 80. American inventor and audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories died in San Francisco after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and a recent diagnosis of acute leukemia.
18: Ken Norton, 70. The boxer who broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in their first of three fights and acted in several films, most notably 1975’s “Mandingo,” died after years of failing health in Henderson, Nev.
29: Polly Anthony,
59. One of a handful of women to head a major record company, she died of pancreatic cancer at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Anthony was the president of Epic Records from 1997 to 2003, when she worked with Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Rage Against the Machine. Later she led Dreamworks, and became co-president of Geffen Records.
1: Tom Clancy, 66. His high-tech, Cold War thrillers such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games” made him the most widely read military novelist of his time. Died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a brief illness.
14: Maxine Powell, 98. Finishing school maven who became one of the pillars of Motown’s Artist Development Department, died of natural causes in Southfield.
16: Ed Lauter: 74. Longtime charactor actor died of mesothelioma in Los Angeles.
22: Noel Harrison, actor and musician (and son of the late Rex Harrison), died in Devon, southwest England of a heart attack, after a performance. He was 79. Harrison was a champion skiier, competing in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, before turning to music. He sang the Oscar-winning ballad “The Windmills of Your Mind,” the theme song for 1968’s “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
25: Marcia Wallace, 70. Actor best known as the sassy receptionist Carol Kesteron “The Bob Newhart Show” and voiced the teacher Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” died at her Los Angeles home from complications of pneumonia.
27: Lou Reed, 71.Founding member of The Velvet Underground, and a hugely influential songwriter and guitarist on his own, died after a long struggle with liver disease. Reed “married beauty and noise,” as Rolling Stone reported. Sometimes the noise won out, as with his album “Metal Machine Music,” which prompted Creem Magazine’s Lester Bangs to write an entire review consisting of the word “No” over and over.
26: Jane Kean, 90. Performer who got her start in musical theater but was best known as Trixie alongside Jackie Gleason on a TV revival of “The Honeymooners.” Died of a hemorrhagic stroke in a Burbank, Calif., hospital.
28: Robert Mulrooney,
59. Known to Detroit music fans as “Bootsey X” from his days on the nascent punk rock scene of the ’70s, died from complications of brain cancer at a Detroit hospital.
28: Dwayne X. Riley, 84. veteran Detroit TV anchor died at St. John Hospital in Detroit after heart surgery. Riley anchored several newscasts daily for both WWJ radio and WWJ-TV (Channel 4).
30: Gene Elzy, 81. Longtime Detroit blues and jazz radio personality died in Detroit of natural causes. Elzy worked at WCHB-AM and FM, WJZZ-FM, WJR-AM and WDET-FM. His “Gene Elzy Program” aired Saturdays on WDET-FM until he retired in 2006.
30: Paul Walker, 40. Star of “The Fast and Furious” movie franchise, died in a car crash in Valencia, Calif., when a Porsche Carerra GT driven by his friend Roger Rodas careened out of control and hit a light pole.
9: Eleanor Parker, 91. The three-time Oscar nominee who played the scheming baroness in “The Sound of Music,” died from complications from pneumonia in Palm Springs, Calif.
12: Tom Laughlin,
82. Actor/writer/director known for the pioneering independent film “Billy Jack,” died at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif., of complications from pneumonia.
14: Peter O’Toole, 81. The eight-time Oscar nominee, best known for his role as British Army officer/archeologist T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia,” died in a London hospital following a long illness.
15: Joan Fontaine,
96. Actor who won an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film “Suspicion,” died at her northern California home of natural causes. The actress famously feuded with her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, 97, of whom she said to People magazine in 1978: “Olivia has always said I was first at everything — I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first. If I die, she’ll be furious, because again I’ll have got there first!’ ”
16: Ray Price, 87. One of the last of the great 1950s country music singers, died of pancreatic cancer in hospice care at his Mount Pleasant, Texas, home.
16: Jeff Marx,
62. Detroit-born jazz saxophonist died at his father’s home in suburban Detroit after a long battle with cancer. Marx, who left for California in the ’70s, played with musicians such as Donald Byrd and cut several albums.
18: Larry Lujack, 73. Legendary Chicago disc jockey died at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., of esophageal cancer.
23: Yusef Lateef, 93. Legendary Detroit jazz musician and composer came of age in the 1940s and ’50s and helped shape modern jazz. The Grammy award winner, who taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for many years, struggled with age-related complications and died in his Shutesbury, Mass., home.
23: Ricky Lawson, 59. Native Detroiter who became a top sessions drummer for the likes of Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, died in a Long Beach, Calif., hospital after suffering a brain aneurism during a show in early December.
Detroit News Staff Writer Susan Whitall and the Associated Press contributed.