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10 Most Notable Celebrity Deaths of 2011
We lost many famous faces over 2011 & with every death the loss of an icon generated an outpouring of grief.
Hollie Woods, WDW Entertainment Reporter, looks at 10 of the most notable deaths of 2011.
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Even though Elizabeth Taylor was unwell for many years the death of this legendary actress still sent shock waves throughout the world.
Taylor was a staunch advocate for the fight against HIV/AIDS with some of her closest friends having succumbed to the illness. She was also notorious for her many marriages and attempts to find true love... and only just before her death she was fighting rumours of a ninth marriage.
Taylor was also well known for her brilliant character acting - most notable as the starring role in the 1963 classic "Cleopatra".
She finally lost her battle with ill health on the 23 March dying of congestive heart failure at age 79. Taylor is survived by her four children, her 10 grandchildren and her 4 great-grandchildren.
It seems that Amy Winehouse was destined for an early death. Her trouble life and destructive behaviour had most of her family, friends and fans worried for her safety.
Winehouse was a great singer and musician but it was her stints in and out of rehab, her fight with drugs and alcohol and her relationships with bad boys that made her notorious in the public eye.
It's a shame that when it seemed she was attempting to clean up her life she succumbed to alcohol and literally drank herself to death on the 23 July, alone in her North London flat.
At 27 years of age many lament the passing of such a talented and young lady - but in celebrity world its becoming all too familiar a story!
Jane Russell was one of the leading ladies of the 40s and 50s. Russell, the brunette star of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", was a true sex symbol and quite controversial for her time.
A staunch Christian she once again caused controversy at age 60 when she was the model for an ad campaign for a brand of bras for "full figured" women. She was famously quoted as saying "Christian women have bosoms as well".
Russell died 01 March at age 89 from respiratory failure.
A former child model and radio actress Francis first came to the big screen in the early 1950s. She had acting roles in over 30 movies and she achieved cult status in the movie “Forbidden Planet”.
Although well versed as a movie actress Francis never became a major star of the silver screen instead preferring to appear on TV with a popular appearance in “The Twilight Zone” which she played a mannequin that comes to life.
Frances is best remembered for her starring role in “Honey West” where she played the first female detective to be featured in a weekly TV series. In an era of TV series focused on females as housewives Francis portrayed a sexy, take-charge, independant woman and provided a role model for young baby-boomer women.
Frances died of pancreatic cancer in a nursing home on 02 January at 80 years of age.
Rapper and Hip Hop star Nate Dogg (real name Nathaniel Dwayne Hale) died as a result of complications, likely congestive heart failure, from multiple strokes. Nate Dogg was left paralysed down one side of his body following a major stroke in 2007 and suffered second stroke in 2008. He died in his Long Beach Californian home on 11 March at age 41.
Nate Dogg began his singing career as a child in bapist churched under the supervision of his father who was a pastor. Upon his death tributes poured in from the rap royalty including Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Eminen and Warren G (who feature Nate Dogg on his popular song “Regulate”)
Another hip hop great died in 2011. Rap legend Heavy D died on 08 November at the age of 44. The cause of his death still unresolved he had just returned from a day of shopping when he complained of difficulty breathing, collapsed and died a short time later at a local hospital. It is believed that his death is not suspicious and likely related to a medical issue.
Public devastation over a death was never so great as when Apple co-founder and IT revolutionary, Steve Jobs, died on 05 October.
Jobs waged a long fight with pancreatic cancer, a liver transplant and many other heath complications and his actual cause of death remains a mystery.
What doesn't remain a mystery is his massive impact on modern day life - with his Apple products changing the way we live and being revered by many.
Another IT great, Dennis Ritchie, also passed in 2011. Probably more deserving of the public outcry his death was largely overlooked. Ritchie was the father of the C programming language, and he co-built UNIX, the operating system that so much of the world is built on — including the Apple empire overseen by Steve Jobs. Unlike Jobs, who was the ultimate showman, Ritchie preferred to remain low-key and he died in that manner as well.
Another Hollywood actor fighting addiction resulted in another early death when Jeff Conaway’s family took him off life support on the 27 May – he died aged 60. Conaway who found fame playing Kenickie in the film musical “Grease” alongside John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and then cabbie Bobby Wheeler on “Taxi” was hospitalised on May 10 after being found unconscious in his LA home.
The actor’s issues with drugs and alcohol were on public show in 2008 when he was part of the TV series “Celebrity Rehab”. But it wasn’t drugs or alcohol that killed him – it was pneumonia and a major internal infection that resulted in him falling into a coma and never waking back up again.
And just two months after Conaway's death another "Grease" cast member passed away - actress, Annette Charles, who played "Cha Cha" died on 05 August after losing a battle with cancer. She was 63 years old.
Joe Frazier lost the fight of his life on 08 November at age 67 after a short battle with liver cancer.
Tributes poured in from the sporting and celebrity world for "Smokin Joe" the relentless fighter who dared to take on Muhammad Ali and became the first person to win a fight against him.
Clarence Clemons, legendary sax player in Bruce Springsteen’s backing group the “E Street Band” died on 18 June from complications of a stroke. He was 69 years of age.
Clemons and the E Street Band revived the old school 1950s R&B spirit through rock and roll and provided a soulfull element that shaped Bruce Springsteen’s music for almost 4 decades.
Married to the late President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford became America’s first lady in 1973 when Richard Nixon resigned as president after the Watergate scandal. Ford was renowned for causing controversy by bucking the trend of “ladylike” first ladies and instead talking about taboo subjects such as marijuana, equal rights for women, abortion and her battle with breast cancer. In 1978, a year after her husband was voted out of the presidency she was publicly battling an alcohol and prescription painkiller addiction that she eventually won.
Having battled her own demons Ford wanted to provide a place for others to do the same and her Betty Ford addiction centre remains one of the most well-known and respected places in the US for treatment for addiction and dependencies... many celebrities these days have done a stint or two at her clinic.
Betty Ford, died of natural causes on the 09 July at the age of 93.
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