In memoriam 2011: The famous (and infamous) who passed away

By Herald Online staff

Clockwise from top left: Singer Amy Winehouse, 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, Apple guru Steve Jobs, and boxer Joe Frazier. Photo / AP
Clockwise from top left: Singer Amy Winehouse, 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, Apple guru Steve Jobs, and boxer Joe Frazier. Photo / AP

Global political figures

Osama bin Laden: The mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and a number of deadly bombings around the world, Osama bin Laden had eluded capture for more than a decade despite the best efforts of the world's most powerful military and its allies. The Saudi al Qaeda leader was eventually found on May 2 - not in Afghanistan where he had been harboured by the Taliban, but across the border in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. The circumstances surrounding the 54-year-old's death are disputed, but it is known he was shot dead by US Navy Seals before his body was dumped at sea at a secret location.

Kim Jong Il: North Korea's "Dear Leader" came to power following the death of his father Kim Il Sung in 1994.

Kim Jong Il's reign saw the country remain one of the poorest in the world, with two million people dying in famines during the 1990s. In 2009 the isolated state tested its first nuclear bomb, further straining North Korea's relationship with neighbouring South Korea and its allies. Following a stroke in 2008 Kim's days were numbered, and on December 19 state television announced that the 69-year-old had suffered a heart attack and died on a train two days earlier. Kim was seen as something of a demigod by his countrymen, and his death triggered scenes of hysterical wailing in the streets of North Korea.

Muammar Gadhafi: The longest reigning Arab leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was a victim of the Arab Spring movement North Africa and the Middle East this year. Gaddafi came to power in a bloodless coup in 1969 but was overthrown this year in the midst of a bloody civil war. Vilified by the West for his alleged involvement in the Lockerbie bombings, Gaddafi was hailed as a hero by many within Africa and other impoverished countries. The autocrat ruled with an iron fist, and is accused of human rights violations both before and during this year's uprising. Like bin Laden, the nature of Gaddafi's death is disputed, however it is known that upon being captured alive in the town of Sirte by the Libyan National Liberation Army on October 20, he was beaten and killed.

Vaclav Havel: The last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel steered his country peacefully to independence from Soviet rule in 1989. The dissident playwright was a vocal opponent of the country's communist regime, and was repeatedly persecuted and imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s. Havel's plays and essays were banned by the regime, and was imprisoned for five years from 1979. Havel became a leading figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989 which eventually overthrew the Soviets. The Czech hero died in Prague on December 18, aged 75, after a lengthy illness.

Powerful Kiwis

Allan Hubbard: Allan Hubbard was considered something of a saint in South Canterbury, lending money to individuals and businesses through various corporate entities. He was also a well known philanthropist. The biggest of his companies was South Canterbury Finance, which collapsed in 2010, owing investors about $1.7 billion. The taxpayer bailed them out.

The SFO later laid 50 charges against former Hubbard of theft by a person in a special relationship, false statements by a promoter and false accounting. Hubbard was killed in a car crash

Hubbard, 83, was killed on September 2 while in a car driven by his wife, Jean Hubbard, 82, which collided with a ute about 5km north of Oamaru.

Roger Kerr: Roger Kerr died in October aged 66 after a year-long battle with metastatic melanoma.

Kerr headed right-wing public policy think tank the New Zealand Business Roundtable for 25 years and was once described by beer baron Sir Douglas Myers as a "national treasure".

Kerr, a vocal proponent of Rogernomics and free market policies was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business. Kerr was also a leading figure in the campaign against MMP.

Sir Paul Reeves: Sir Paul Reeves, the Anglican archbishop who became New Zealand's first Maori Governor-General, died in August, aged 78.

Sir Paul became a deacon in the Anglican Church in 1958, a priest in 1960 and was made the Bishop of Waiapu in 1971, Bishop of Auckland in 1979 and Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980. His rise through the ranks culminated in his becoming Archbishop of New Zealand from 1980 to 1985.

Queen Elizabeth appointed Sir Paul - then 53 - as Governor General in November 1985, on the advice of Prime Minister David Lange. He was the first person of Maori descent to take the position, and iwi leaders welcomed his appointment as a significant step toward the spirit of cooperation described in the Treaty of Waitangi.

Sir Paul belonged to the Puketapu hapu of the Te Atiawa of Taranaki.

Allan Peachey: Politician and educationalist Allan Peachey died in November, aged 62.

Peachey, who as principal built Rangitoto College into the country's largest school before entering Parliament in 2005 in the safe National seat of Tamaki, was marked as a potential cabinet minister before being diagnosed with cancer soon after his election. He was also president of the secondary Principals Association of New Zealand (1998-2000). He wrote a book, published in 2005, called What's up with our schools? a New Zealand principal speaks out.

NZ arts, media and entertainment

Kerry Smith: Broadcaster and actor Kerry Smith passed away in April after losing her battle with melanoma. Smith began her television career in Tasmania in the 1970s, where she worked first as a weather presenter and then as the host of children's programme Razzamatazz. She returned to New Zealand in 1981 and worked as a continuity announcer for TVNZ before becoming the co-host of Weekend. The late '80s saw her switch to acting, taking on the role of Magda McGrath, a deputy magazine editor in Gloss. Other television roles were to follow, with presenting roles on Lotto and Changing Rooms. In recent years Smith returned to radio, a medium she had first worked in during her time in Australia. She took leave from her role as a presenter on The Breeze radio station in January due to her illness and had previously worked at Radio Pacific and RadioLIVE.

Frank Whitten: Better known in recent years for his role as 'Grandpa' Ted West on popular local drama Outrageous Fortune, Frank Whitten was, to quote his Outrageous co-star Shane Cortese, "one of our most talented but underrated actors". Prior to finding fame with the Wests, Whitten, who grew up in the Waikato, worked as an actor and improvisational tutor in England and co-founded a children's community theatre. Returning to New Zealand in the 1980s, he gained a number of film roles in both local and international productions - including Vincent Ward's Vigil - and appeared in many New Zealand television productions. In addition to this work, he was well known to many as the iconic Kiwi bloke with the "Good on ya, mate!" catchphrase from the Speight's advertisements.

Graeme Moody: Graeme Moody worked for The Radio Network in Wellington and was the voice of Wellington and All Blacks rugby for the best part of two decades. He also covered a number of Commonwealth and Olympic Games as well as many other sports. The 60-year-old radio stalwart drowned in a surfing accident in Australia in August, only weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

Sir Peter Siddell: Renowned New Zealand artist Peter Siddell was a self-taught painter who retired from teaching to concentrate on his art only after his first exhibition in 1972 was a sellout. His landscapes depicted the places he knew best, including the wild coastlines of West Auckland and the majestic mountains of the Southern Alps - a reflection of his early love of mountain climbing. Major art galleries bought many of Siddell's works and his art could often be seen in corporate board rooms and institutional collections. He was made a companion of the Queen's Service Order in 1990 and knighted in 2008.

Carmen: Born Trevor Rupe in Taumaranui 75 years ago, legendary drag queen Carmen was to become an icon on both sides on the Tasman. An advocate for gay and transgender rights, she made her name as a drag performer in Sydney in the mid 20th century, before returning to New Zealand in the late 1960s. She opened several businesses in Wellington - including a notorious massage parlour - and in 1977 ran for mayor with the slogan "Get in Behind". In recent years she had returned to Sydney, where she remained a colourful figure in the Kings Cross community. Carmen died of kidney failure after months of poor health and is buried at Sydney's Rookwood Maori Cemetery.

Global entertainers

Ryan Dunn: Ryan Dunn was one of MTV's best known daredevils, starring in shows such as Jackass and Viva la Bam.

Dunn shocked the world one last time when he died early on the morning of 20 June when his Porsche, pushing speeds of over 130 mph, left a Pennsylvania road and collided with a road barrier before landing in some trees and catching fire. The accident killed him and his passenger. Dunn was 34 years-old.

Amy Winehouse: Talented British singer Amy Winehouse was found dead on the morning of 26 July in her London flat. While her family insisted her passing was not the result of an accidental overdose, Amy was widely known for her problems with drug and alcohol addiction. The coroner, amid rife speculation, was to eventually find alcohol poisoning to be the cause of her death.

As an artist, Amy's music received glowing reviews and her album Back to Black received six grammy nominations, five of which she won, making her the highest winning British female to date.

Winehouse died at at 27, making her a member of the legendary '27 club'.

Elizabeth Taylor: Elizabeth Taylor is renowned as one of the greatest screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden age, appearing in movies such as Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Whilst championing an award winning acting career, Taylor also had eight husbands, a stunning jewellery collection, sponsored many charities including the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation and received many awards for her humanitarian work.

After many years of poor health, Elizabeth Taylor passed away in March of congestive heart failure. She was age of 79.

Gil Scott-Heron: Gil Scott Heron, the massively respected rap revolutionary and 'bluesologist' passed away on 27 May this year.

Scott-Heron hugely influenced hip-hop culture and many of his tracks and sentiments have been inspiration for artists such as Common, Mos Def and Kanye West. His final album, 2010's 'I'm New here' was created alongside Jamie xx and received critical acclaim worldwide.

After a returning from a European trip and falling ill, Scott-Heron passed away in a New York Hospital. He was 62.

Sports stars

Jason Richards: Kiwi racing star Jason Richards died after a 14-month battle with cancer. He was 35.

The supercar driver was a three-time Bathurst 1000 runner-up, and three-time New Zealand touring car champion before to moving into the Australian V8 series in 2001.
He was known as one of motorsport's true "nice guys".

The last team he drove for, Brad Jones Racing, paid tribute to him as a racer who knew how to tread the fine line between rivalry and friendship.

Richards is survived by his wife Charlotte and children Sienna and Olivia.

Dan Wheldon: Two-time Indy500 champion Dan Wheldon was cut down in a horrific 15-car crash on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 33-year-old Englishman was one of IndyCar's most popular and recognisable stars.

He was killed while trying to progress from 34th place on the starting grid to win at the lightning fast 2.4km Nevada circuit on October 17.

His death sparked soul searching over safety controls in the IndyCar racing series.

Socrates: There will never be another sportsman like Socrates.

On the pitch, the former Brazilian football captain was famed for his the seemingly effortless way he amassed goals.

Off it, he mixed loud political dissidence with a lifetime of heavy drinking and smoking.

Those habits eventually led to his death of septic shock following food poisoning at just 57 years old.

Tributes honoured him as one of the most enigmatic players of his generation.

Arthur Beetson: Arthur Beetson was the heart and soul of State of Origin.

The Australian Rugby League hall-of-famer captained Queensland in the first origin series in 1980 and went on to coach the Maroons to series wins from 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1989.

He died this year, age 66, after suffering a heart attack while out biking on the Gold Coast.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh honoured him as a state legend as she broke news of his death to parliament.

Marco Simoncelli: Rising MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli was just 24 when he was struck and killed during a race in October.

Simoncelli, nicknamed Sic or SuperSic, was just four minutes into the Malaysian MotoGP event when he lost control of his bike and swerved across the track into the path of American rider Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi of Italy.

Rossi, a seven time world champion, was distraught and unable to speak after the death of his good friend.

Gianni Petrucci, president of Italian sport's governing body CONI, called the day of Simoncelli's death "one of the saddest" of his tenure.

Joe Frazier: Smokin' Joe died in November after a brief battle with liver cancer, aged 67. His storied rivalry with the great Muhammad Ali was one of professional boxing's greatest.

The beautiful people

Evelyn Lauder: Evelyn Lauder, who with her husband Leonard helped build the Estee Lauder Companies into a global cosmetics giant, died in November from complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer. She was 75.

The cosmetics queen was born in Vienna, Austria, and came to New York when her parents fled from Europe with her during the Nazi occupation. She worked for a number of philanthropic causes in health and human services, education and inner-city schools, the environment, women's causes, and the arts and in 1992, co-created the Pink Ribbon, now recognized as the worldwide symbol of the fight against breast cancer.

James Van Doren: One of the founders of Vans and the creator of their trademark waffle sole design, James Van Doren died in October, at the age of 72 after a long illness. It was his high-grip sole design - featuring the distinctive nine vertical lines and diamond pattern tread made of specially developed pure raw rubber with no fillers- that made the shoe so popular with skateboarder.

The brand gained national recognition when Sean Penn donned a pair of checkerboard slip-on Vans to play the spaced-out Spicoli in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Loulou de la Falaise: Loulou de la Falaise, who created jewellery and hats for fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, died in November after a long illness, aged 63.

Born in Britain, Louise Vava Lucia Henriette de la Falaise was the daughter of an Irish mother, Maxime Birley, who modelled for Elsa Schiaparelli, and a French father, Alain de la Falaise.

She grew up in London and New York City, becoming a fashion writer, photographic model and designer, and met Saint Laurent in 1968, joining his house four years later. Saint Laurent praised her for her charm and perceptiveness as well as her talents as a designer, whose work was noted for its contrasts and range of colours.

Famous, infamous, history-makers

Steve Jobs: The college dropout who helped popularise the personal computer and created the iPod, iPhone and iPad, died on October 5. That was two months after Apple, which Jobs started in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.

Jobs cultivated a countercultural sensibility and a minimalist design ethic. He rolled out one sensational product after another, even during the recession and as his health was failing.

He first helped change computers from a geeky hobbyist's obsession to a necessity of modern life. In recent years, he upended the music business with the iPod and iTunes, transformed the smart phone market with the iPhone and created the tablet market with the iPad.

Christopher Hitchens: The author of the best-seller God is not Great, Christopher Hitchens took on everyone from Mother Theresa to Bill Clinton. The writer - who counted George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Gore Vidal among his heroes - fought with both liberals and conservatives, whether it be over religion or the Iraq War, which he supported.

Hitchens was admired for his way with words, and while many didn't agree with what he had to say, people respected the way he said it.

An avid smoker and drinker, Hitchens died aged 62 on December 16, following a long battle with cancer.

Betty Ford: Former US first lady Betty Ford, whose battles with cancer and substance abuse inspired millions to seek treatment , died in July aged 93.

The often outspoken wife of US president Gerald R. Ford was active in social policy, endorsed legalised abortion, and spoken in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Her personal battles became the inspiration for her establishment of the Betty Ford Center in 1982 - one of the United States most well-known drug rehabilitation and alcohol treatment centres.

"No one confronted life's struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced," former President George Bush said at the time of her death.

Jack Kevorkian: Jack Kevorkian was a controversial US doctor who campaigned for the right to die and earned the nickname "Dr Death" for helping dozens of terminally-ill patients commit suicide.

Kevorkian reportedly asked to spend his final hours listening to music by Johann Sebastian Bach and he declined treatment that might have prolonged his existence. He was hospitalised with kidney problems in May and died the following month.

Kevorkian became an international talking point in the 1990s, when in contravention of US law he began using a home-made "suicide machine" to help sufferers of severe diseases end their own lives.

In 1999 he received a 10 to 25-year sentence for second degree murder. He was released in 2007 on condition that he agree not to assist in any further suicides.

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